The Jessie Incident 

Christine Ackum

© Copyright 1999 by Christine Ackum


Photo of a flower arrangement by Sherry Loller. (c) 2004 by Sherry Loller.

“Sing a little more for me.”

That was the line that stuck in her head. Of all the comments strewn about like discarded clothing, Jessie remembered that one alone.

She was a singer. A glance would find a girl barely out of school, in a sparkly little black dress and a single string of pearls. She seemed to be trying to look uncomplicated, even juvenile, with understated makeup and her hair in a childlike pageboy. Yet an awareness in her soft brown eyes betrayed her. She knew who she was - and just who he was. She therefore played it all out. Almost before she knew it, there she was, in one of his studios, leaning on his piano.

Off-angle, yellow light spilt from a bare bulb in some corner. The whole room was stark and moody, a suitable housing for the spark of the creative force. The photographed estate the public thought of as Bill’s home reeked of elegance and opulence to the point of being sickening. This studio was raw and totally functional - the classy piano and potently humming PC indicated his job and his income, but it ended there. The unpainted walls surrounded a work space with one purpose only.

He played this or that in easy swells, almost without looking at the keys. She followed his lead in a clear, girly soprano, ever so innocent. Yet somewhere in her body language, she was whispering anything but . . . She smiled at him; her elbows conveniently pushed her cleavage a little deeper.

“Sing a little more for me.”

Nothing was below her if it was for her good. Men, she had noticed, were real suckers for one thing - something which she just happened to have. Bill was a talented man, a rich man, an influential man, a man who could give her career a real kick. Most importantly, he was a man . . .

Again, almost before she knew it. One kind of music melded into another. Hands found hands, lips found lips, flesh found flesh. There was a bedroom adjacent to the studio, though she was too busy too be suspicious of the convenience.

He was irritatingly dominant for one of such light build. Actually, he had the stamina of a bull - and a machoist streak that inclined him to keep shoving that fact in her face. She could barely keep up with him. He was quick to bore, so to sate his appetite she needed to keep the novelty fresh - and he had an immense appetite. It might’ve been more work than she had planned on, but there was no going back now.

When at last he collapsed, trembling, atop her, she smiled into the dark. She took pleasure in the sensation of so mighty a man reduced to a quivering heap, all because of her. He had been challenging her the whole time - could she match his energy? His creativity? Apparently, she matched and surpassed, for here he lay in her arms, tremulous and weak and utterly vulnerable. From here on it was easy. He would promote this great new voice he had found - she would see to it. She had every intention to sap him to the last possible benefit he could offer. Poor bastard, she thought, as she finally let herself drift off to sleep, how badly you’ve been used. It was business doing pleasure with you . . .

Uggg . . . The sunlight in her face was just not what she wanted now. She was still mentally exhausted, slightly hung, and sore in places she hadn’t known she had.

Not to mention, Bill was gone.

Jessie sat up with a start, looking around the room. She awoke easily, so how he’d managed to disentangle himself without disturbing her was alarming. Warning bells were going off in her head: Not a scrap of his clothing anywhere. Not the slightest careless touch to show that this building belonged to him. Everything of hers lay where she had thrown it, half the pieces of an upset puzzle. It made the previous night seem like some bizzare fantasy of her own hallucinations - Bill? There had never been any Bill . . .

Frantically now, she ran to the door that led into the studio and wrenched at the knob.

Locked. It could’ve been accidental, but somehow she suspected he didn’t want her back in.

She redressed quickly, snatching up purse and shoes and pearls as if the horrible room might swallow them first. The room was bare, now that she looked at it. Nothing but the bed. It dawned on her that he made no attempt to communicate. She didn’t know so much as his beeper number, and it would do no good to go to his well-known, well-guarded home. All she would find was his lovely little Jackie, and how does one ask the wife of the man she just slept with where he is? He must’ve had a thousand little studios, a thousand private homes with addresses only he could disclose. And he certainly hadn’t disclosed anything. No note, no rose on the pillow. Not even a few hundred bucks on the floor, which, insulting or not, would’ve been better than nothing. She scanned the room again, and, seeing one other door, rushed to try it.

It opened easily, and it led to a stairwell going down. A way out! Thank God!

Clutching her possessions to her chest, Jessie rushed down the back stairway, desperate not to be trapped. Why would he want to trap me? she realized as she pounded down the flights. When he doesn’t want to let me back in either? She stumbled out the door at the bottom of the steps, into the sunny morning.

The door closed with a click behind her.

“Aw, shit,” she said aloud.

Christine Ackum was born in Chicago, IL, and spent her early years traveling the U.S. with her parents, both of whom were in sales. Throughout her youth, she recieved a highly unorthodox education in music, performance and other fine arts, while aquring a total of nine adopted siblings. She has traveled Europe and performed in a touring production of Peter Shauffer's "Equus", as well as the classic "The Music Man". She now resides with fellow musicians in what she calls "the drum-and-bachelor pad" while she continues her education with an equally unorthodox, hands-on study of human (esp. pubescant) psychology. She works as a messuse, a roadie, and ocassional hairstylist, and hopes to one day have a home with her best friend since girlhood, Regina.

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