The Beginning
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The Raven

The Brunette, Michelle, Diane, and the Goblet

"This is a bad one.

In the beginning, all was wonder. We would meet, sit with a drink or something to eat, and discuss all manner of life. Her big, beautiful eyes conveyed every emotion without words. When she smiled, I melted. And some of those smiles came with an additional gesture of a hand over part of her face. That was so cute... I nearly passed out from the vision. Her features can be summed up by describing a combination of two actresses. Her eyes, eyebrows, and the motions which made them come alive were very similar to those of Annabella Sciorra. Her eyebrows became slightly pointed at the middle when she smiled, and the resulting look was incredibly beautiful and unique. Looking lower, her lips would turn slightly downward at the corners just as Lorraine Bracco. When coupled with the look of her eyes, the resulting feeling within me was overwhelming. The woman would sit across the table, giggle a bit, and look like nothing else on this earth. She was so beautiful that the words are impossible. There is simply no way to adequately get across just how she appeared on a given day. Needless to say, I became drawn to her immediately and completely. Gawd.

Along with her unending beauty, inside was a woman with vast knowledge, wisdom, and compassion. And she demonstrated all of these on a daily basis. And toward anyone. Yes, she cared much, thought constantly, and went out into the world with the intention of capturing, exploring and connecting with whomever may come along. Her desire was to experience life on many levels and in varying locations, both for the photographic aspects as well as the human side. She spoke to everyone with the same kind and open heart, captured images of everything from the rusted locks on abandoned gates to the smiling homeless man on any given corner, and looked upon me as if I created the beauty of the universe. She was unique, and a person I could not avoid nor get out of my head in any situation.

The Brunette and I spent much time together, both at home and out. Every single moment was wondrous, glowing.

There is just no way of adequately describing the smile, the heart and the feelings within me when being near the Brunette. She quickly became everything in the world. All else melted away... work, home, friends, family... everything. Issues arose because of my feelings toward her, and the paragraphs which follow outline one of them. The situation at home was already laid out here -- as painful as it was to write -- so the remaining sections of life which I subsequently destroyed will be published in time. The first is below.

She had exaggerated features everywhere

The Brunette and I visited a photography club in the city every other week during the spring and summer. Each time we joined the others at the meetings she tended to wear glasses due to the overhead projector and lessons which were always provided. The combination of the style of the glasses and her eyes was unreal. The aforementioned smile with its details shown on her face expanded into something I almost cannot describe. In fact, the words fail -- even with such stark and clear memories. Sitting here now, the thoughts are all over the map. Her demeanor pushed me into ethereal territory and clouded any hope of reasonable thought. Eventually, and through our nearly constant time together both day and night, I faltered badly. She did as well. Together we became a cocktail of one part depression and two parts alcohol. The end result of that type of situation can be very harsh.

Regardless of the downsides or impending tilt of life, we ran together.

The trip came very soon after I had moved into her apartment. The story there is told in spades, and did not help either of us from avoiding further damage. Such took place before, during, and after that trip, and combined with our furtherance of the drunken, reckless disregard for our own well-being, the coming month turned into a very bad situation. We went on with the uncaring behavior right into the middle of the month. At that point, my suicidal nature became a turning point and forced me out of her apartment and into the home of a relative (sans vehicle). She transferred my things to the new location, cried the entire time, and would not see me for some days afterward.

Roll back to the evening prior to her tossing me out, and there we were... half in the fucking bag, and unwilling to bend in our respective positions regarding control of our own lives. The fact is she was in a situation similar to mine. Her drunkenness and haphazard nature were the result of a destroyed long-term relationship -- at her hands. Whenever the subject was illuminated, the anger rose in both of us and pressed us into a perpetual debate. On the night in question, I threatened to commit the act, tossed my keys to the ground, and proceeded to walk to the ocean with whiskey in hand. Hours later she drove to pick me up -- worried for my mood -- and poured me into bed. The next day she handed me my bag of clothing and brought me across the bay. As soon as she had learned that I was out of that house for a day, my things were dropped there.

I immediately began to formulate a plan to get the hell out and away from everyone's prying attention. With my car still parked outside her apartment, and my keys under the control of my relative (until such time as I was deemed fit to be alone), I had to show improvement, real or otherwise. For a few days I spoke and went on with daily activities until one morning when I was handed my keys, driven to my car, and left there with the understanding that I would run errands and be back that evening. Naturally, it was a long line of bullshit as I had absolutely no intention of allowing any other living soul into my head. I grabbed the car and drove to my original home. On the way I learned that a credit card I had applied for in a bank branch had arrived in the mail some time earlier.

That was the clincher and one tiny step which allowed me to escape everyone.

Michelle's hair was a destination all its own

Upon reaching my home, I quickly called to activate the card and cleaned up a bit before heading back out. Most of my things were still there, which meant I was free to pack up whatever I needed. I then left for the bank and drew cash off the new card. From there I dashed back across the bay and stopped into a bar/restaurant for lunch. While sitting there with beer and whiskey, I was focused entirely upon my phone to make a plane reservation to the Promised Land. Apparently, my connection to the phone drew the attention of a woman next to me. Upon inquiring if I was working, I told Michelle of the flight and my need to flee the norm and the crowds. She seemed intrigued that I was behaving so impulsively, and immediately asked if she could accompany me. I was taken aback, but in the mindset of that day the idea was not so crazy. I figured someone traveling with me was harmless, so we left for her apartment allowing her could pack some things for a few nights. Then it was off to SFO and the wondrous international terminal and its vast array of bars for waiting. We checked in (first class) and headed to a watering hole near the gate.

Cut to several drinks later, and I was already feeling as if I had less control over my judgement. Slurring became the norm for the remainder of the day.

We boarded the plane and sunk into the luxury that is first class. Drinks arrived almost immediately as did the gorgeous attendant. I sat there and admired the others coming aboard with drunken eyes and unhealthy thoughts. At some point during boarding, we began to discuss music. While in Michelle's apartment earlier, I had noticed a sextet of framed NIN album covers. That gave me an idea of the type of person she might have been, and the music conversation was fantastic. On and off while we waited, she placed her headphones on me and asked me to listen. I concentrated on every note and syllable, and eventually realized she had a unique library of musicians -- none of which had I previously been familiar. Upon takeoff, I began thinking that her tagging along on that trip was becoming a good idea. I could benefit from her vast musical knowledge, and she in turn could benefit from my intention to comfortably drown into the goblet that is Las Vegas.

The flight landed a short time later and Michelle and I grabbed a taxi to the center of the universe, commonly known as the Mandalay Bay.

Diane and her gorgeous shape

We checked in, freshened up, and headed down to the casino floor to find dinner. That was not difficult, as I had previously spent much time at Stripsteak and knew full well we could eat like king and queen -- cost be damned. The bar was welcoming, as always, and dinner flew by just like all of the cocktails. When I attempted to pay the check twice, the bartender politely informed me that I had already taken care of it, and perhaps a good idea would be to head upstairs and sleep. By that point we were both polluted, I had no memory of eating, and the room quickly became our best option. To the elevator, the door, and into the bed we went. Neither of us was thinking about anything aside from rest, and though other ideas may have seemed natural, we slumbered next to each other.

The morning arrived and Michelle slowly moved about the room trying to locate a charger for her phone. I helped and laid back down. She crawled up next to me in her lingerie and we discussed the prior evening's pitfalls. She also stated that the idea of us becoming physical had been on her mind from the word go. I was hesitant of being that close, but her thoughts were not out of line, especially considering the outlandish circumstances. Her eyes conveyed desire, and for whatever reason I could not help but think that she wished to show gratitude for my including her in such an adventure. I told Michelle that we could shower together and head to a restaurant for a comfortable brunch. She agreed and proceeded to lean into me. We embraced, and I told her that some conversation should take place before we went any further -- if that was to happen at all.

The shower brought both of us back to a more stable condition, and once dressed we left the room for food. As is my fashion, we took a seat at the House of Blues and its very isolated lounge. Unfortunately, I feared that would be the last meal we shared together.

Throughout the entirety of the trip, I could not help but nearly constantly consider the thoughts and feelings of the Brunette. Just because we had a flap about our shared destructive behaviors did not mean that we should have split for good, and even moreso that I would have been better avoiding spending time with a woman whom I did not know. The amplification of those considerations took place upon waking that morning. The talk between Michelle and myself, the shower, the walk to the House, and brunch found me worsening over the idea that I had dashed away without a word to anyone, and without the Brunette knowing that my condition was no longer dire. She needed to know that I was ok, and soon. All of that added up had become quite a sum, and all the while I feared that the Brunette -- being the insecure soul that she was -- might know where I was and come searching. At that point I made the decision to inform Michelle of my worry, and that perhaps we should not spend any more time together.

Ugh... that did not go well at all.

Was I even needed? Heh.

Of course, she thought I was losing my mind (and, she was not far off the mark). I told her that I would make sure she remained comfortable for the next two days and that I would get her a room next door at the Luxor, just to be safe. Michelle's reaction was as expected, and I could see the disdain in her eyes. I felt for her, deeply. She reluctantly agreed to move to the other hotel.

Once underway, relocating her to the Luxor was a simple affair. I checked her in, and then took a seat above the registration desk at Aurora. I waited a little while for Michelle to get her things in order, and after an hour or so I saw her walking back toward the Mandalay Bay. I closed my check and followed along to the Island Bar. She spied me approaching and gestured for me to take a seat next to her. At that point, she seemed quite upset at the change after such a short period of time. I did my best to be understanding and apologized profusely. She calmed a bit, and informed me that I appeared extremely out of balance mentally, and that remaining close to her could help. That was also her hope, despite the risk. She also mentioned the newly missing phone charger. I asked her to sit there for a few while I went shopping.

Upon my return, her eyes expressed sympathy. I sat again and handed her a charger which was immediately taken by the bartender. He provided the power for her phone and dropped off two more drinks. Michelle and I sat there for a while longer and discussed improving the visit. We had decided that the best course would be to sink further into the goblet and enjoy. So... there it was. I went straight to the desk at the Luxor and dropped the fee for her room and she moved back into the Bay. Both of us felt much more comfortable and proceeded to head for Cathouse. Along the way we stopped off for a little gambling and then poured ourselves into the dark red lounge.

The idea of visiting Cathouse at that point in the trip turned out to be one of the best of those few days.

And one of the worst.

We entered, were guided to a booth, and then I sighted a lanky goddess approaching, clad in beige from head to toe. Lingerie, stockings, heels, and a flail. Oh boy. The server's name was Diane and she looked right at home in that business. She helped us to find the appetizers and drinks we desired, and all the while had the look of both predator and prey. Her appearance sent me into the stratosphere and Michelle looked on in wonder... happy to see me comfortable and gazing at a work of art. We sat there for quite a time and talked of sex, society, and the woman who brought us what we needed. The lounge was very comfortable and with the details of a finely-crafted brothel. The staff was both dreamy and discreet. The hostess brought to mind thoughts of dancing girls from days long passed. The bar and menus were very classy and well-thought. Cathouse was a first-class establishment and such a fantastic addition to the newly adult-oriented Luxor. Unfortunately, feeling the way I did on that particular afternoon left me unable to fully appreciate the nature of such a venue. I could not help but stare at Diane, during which Michelle stared at me as if she was in heat. The whole of the afternoon became a test -- one which I would soon fail. Yikes to the nth degree.

The time rolled by and the remarks and simple conversation between myself, Michelle, and Diane had become very flirty. Diane's eyes expressed both desire and danger, the combination of which sent me flying. More than once had Michelle mentioned the idea of bringing Diane along on some sort of bar fling, and the idea was as frightening as it was exciting. After a few more glances and some simple wording, we exchanged a bit of information with Diane and left the lounge. I needed some fucking air like never before. Fortunately, the street was a quick walk.

We decided to stroll back to the Bay on the Strip rather than through the club. We spoke at length regarding what the late afternoon had become, and the possibility of spending time outside Cathouse with Diane. My hesitation was thick with worry, but Michelle was very pointed in her words of desire. Time for a drink.

Sitting between them was frightening

By the early evening, the entire affair had become an exercise in restraint. We enjoyed the Nile bar for a short time and then wandered back to the elevator. Once in the isolation of our room, she asked about showering again in order to prepare for a 'dinner not to be overstated'. My taste in restaurants dictated a certain level of dress, so a shower did not seem out of order. The thought that she wished to be close also entered into my mind again, but I was not feeling like pushing her away. The shenanigans at Cathouse left me with a similar desire.

We showered, embraced, talked, and enjoyed the warm water. Afterward we did finally kiss a bit, but the situation never blossomed into anything else. As nice as that type of thing can feel, she knew full well that I was not in the space which would allow me to relax that much. And the thought of Diane being within the privacy of our room left me wishing that the trip had taken place during more comfortable circumstances.

No longer had I processed that thought when Michelle's phone began to ring. Diane wished to have dinner with us, and that meant we needed to leave the Mandalay Resort Group ownership in order to accommodate her. So, we took to the street and walked all the way down to First Food and Bar in the Palazzo. Jesus Harold Christ that is a long walk, but worthwhile to see Diane perched at the bar... back arched... heels... hair down to her ass... gawd. I immediately became uncomfortable due to the fact that I looked like some sort of playboy with those two women flanking me. There were not many others in the place, so sitting for a little while was fine. The bartender was equally enthralling, helpful, and just the right type of personality to be available during such a dramatic and frightening situation. She regarded our trio with immediate understanding, and her gorgeous demeanor slowly began to dictate the mood. The feeling was wonderful, but at the same time... yikes.

We drank for a while, snacked on some things, and Diane turned to me and expressed her apparent ongoing desire to dine at her house. That was unexpected, and my initial reaction was to decline her request. I simply wanted to enjoy First and just relax for a while with some cocktails and snacks until such time to head back toward the southern end. Michelle and I had a few quiet words and decided the best thing for us would be to avoid entering into an evening with that woman. Vegas can be quite enticing, but it can also be dangerous. Diane was very forward and vocal, and she seemed to be a bit too much. We wished her well and said our goodbyes. Michelle took my hand and we made our way out of the Palazzo to stroll south for a while. During the walk, we talked about the time with Diane and the idea of perhaps laying low for the remainder of the trip. That type of encounter was not something we had planned, nor was it the least bit comfortable. The walk afforded us time to think about what traveling to that town provided each of us, and after a little while we made our way (somewhat instrictively) into the Monte Carlo and that same cozy lounge which became a hideout for Jasmine and myself years earlier.

We sat there a while and continued to discuss the Diane encounter, the hotels, and everything leading to life in general. She looked upon me as if what I was saying took priority over everything around us. The feeling of being so far from home, isolated, hidden, and comfortable there with her pushed me to enjoy every second. Michelle appeared to feel the same way, and eventually we gazed at each other as if the trip created a new outlook for each of us. The lounge was nice, and the conversation was better. We had reached some sort of understanding with regard to her snap decision to come along, and both of our expectations as to what may happen. That conclusion helped to make the remaining trip much more comfortable."

Michelle's sleepwear was jeweled, too. Wait... what?

After enjoying each other's company at the Monte Carlo, we again took to the street in search of something else. The idea of running into another gorgeous woman was no longer anything holding our interest, so we headed into the pyramid but avoided Cathouse. Instead, Michelle suggested Aurora once again. We sunk into the outer lounge and kept the conversation subdued. The server (her name was Grace) was wonderfully discreet and sensed our desire to be alone (as much as possible in that place, anyway). She avoided appoaching us until we wished it.

Once again Michelle and I spoke of life within the goblet and elsewhere. Her eyes expressed much comfort in knowing we found the time and space to speak again. Her position in the oversize and very plush chair was compelling, and I could not avoid gazing upon her beautiful form -- nor could I refrain from telling her of how I felt. She smiled lovingly and told me in clear terms that I was free to do as I pleased. During the quiet moments when neither of us was speaking, we caressed each other gently and expressed genuine appreciation for the time and place. Michelle's eyes began to help me relax, and the physical contact between us allowed for a deep understanding and respect for her need to be there. As the afternoon progressed, the thought of being intimate once again surfaced, but we both knew the consequences could be damaging. Closeness maintained with limits became our most important goal.

At one point Grace visited the table and asked if we needed anything, to which Michelle replied that the world was just perfect at that moment and her instinctively understanding service was equally such. Grace simply smiled with her Egyptian features and slid one hand across Michelle's cheek, then glided away. Neither of us could believe our incredible fortune of sitting where the courtesy was undending, and the comfort was unreal. We stayed a while longer and spoke further of life.

As the evening wore on, we decided to head back to the center of the universe and freshen ourselves for some dinner.

The room was inviting -- as always in that plush resort -- and we took advantage of the shower once again. Though the weather outside was quite cool, the walking and drinking created a tiredness that only hot water can alleviate. We showered together without words, dressed, and proceeded back to the casino floor. Naturally, dinner is an affair and that evening was no different. Straight to Stripsteak we strolled once again, and the bar welcomed us with open arms. Their impeccable staff provided both dinner and conversation the likes of which only a handful of venues can equal. We sat for a few hours and enjoyed all of it. Michelle expressed her desire to rest, so we headed back up the elevator for the night. In the room she once again displayed beautiful and exotic lingerie. We plopped into bed, intertwined, and slumbered. I had begun to feel as if I needed to know her outside the goblet, and that was not an easy consideration. Home meant an entirely different situation and the Brunette which awaited my arrival. She had communicated with me on and off during my absence and through such I knew she wished me to return soon. The combination of the sensitive comfort I felt with Michelle and the disjointed reality that was the remainder of my life was a tough cocktail to digest. The fear within me began to well -- like so many tears -- and took the peaceful right out of any sleep. I knew all too well that the trip home was approaching at breakneck speed.


In the morning I was able to place the items in my head into some sort of order before waking the woman next to me. As she slept, I moved about the room, a bit scattered, and attempted to make sense of all that had taken place throughout the past several months. I looked upon the phone to see no messages, and checked with the desk as well. We had been undisturbed for nearly nine hours and that thought was both comforting and not. I worried for the feelings of the Brunette and worried further for my situation so far from home. Part of me needed to stay there forever, and another smaller part needed to get the fuck out of the goblet. As comfortable as that resort and room can be, the reality had to intrude at some point. With some home considerations and quiet time aside, I decided that we should delude the day once again.

After making ourselves presentable -- including Michelle wearing yet another dynamite outfit over her unending display of lovely underthings, we ventured to the elevator, doors and into a cab. The destination was the forum shops. We were dropped at the main entrance to Caesar's Palace and wandered along through the casino floor ending up at the entrance to the mall. On our left was the Palm, and that became our brunch locale of choice once the walking ceased (or the need to drink became paramount). After browsing around for a little bit, we ran across a lovely pair of bar stools at the Cheesecake Factory. While sitting there, we discussed the impending trip home and all of the repercussions which doubtless would run us out of our minds. The idea of leaving the dripping coziness of the goblet had become alien to both of us. Another thought was equally intimidating: separating ourselves from each other upon resuming life. As we sat and pondered the pitfalls of not being within the comfort we both so badly needed, the second cocktail disappeared. That meant hunger was approaching, so we headed out toward the Palm.

By that point in the trip, Michelle had become much more than I had anticipated. Confidant, partner, friend. The more we spoke and gazed at each other, the closer I felt to her warm heart. And to imagine that chance meeting during the most dire of circumstances? Jesus the fucking odds are into the stratosphere -- just the idea that she was always out there and I had no knowledge. The situation seemed very similiar to the Brunette, yet the adventure was far different than the earlier trip to the Sea. That week was a rollercoaster of emotion and turmoil mixed with love and closeness. The Vegas days with Michelle had turned into some sort of calming therapy which we needed in spades. Her reasoning for jumping ship and catching a plane with me with nearly zero notice was still not known by our last evening together.

Looking ahead...

Michelle and I flew the next afternoon. The plane home was not quite the overblown party as the flight out, and we were a measure more subdued because of the intensity of some aspects of our weekend. We sat in first class again and held each other very close during the entire flight. Her eyes and hands made it clear that there was no other place she wished to be. I felt the same, and the thought of landing at SFO was not a pleasant one. I wanted to stay in those plush seats forever.

We sauntered through the terminal toward parking and transportation, and held hands the whole way. Just as I began to think about the upcoming difficulty in dropping Michelle at her home, I looked ahead and saw something which swept all else away. Holy crap.

To be continued."

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