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(This is a somewhat new direction for me. I kept searching for a different kind of voice to narrate my story and stumbled onto this late 19th century idiom. I’m pleased with the results. Let me know if you are as well.)
July 12, 1899
I hope this finds you well. I write to you because you are my brother in faith, and we have been constant companions on the great prairies of Kansas since childhood. I still recall fondly the first day we met, outside Thayer’s Dry Goods on the dusty streets of Salina. You welcomed me as a newcomer and have remained my steadfast friend, even through my recent difficulties. As you know, I am forbidden to write to Elizabeth. My father has made it clear that any communication might place her reputation in jeopardy and foreshorten my future. (The old man is still a steady shot with his trusty Remington!) I will admit that young love often exceeds the fences laid down by elders. I will confess that I was foolish, but only because I was driven by a deep and sincere love.
Onward. I arrived in San Francisco four days ago after a long but none too arduous rail trip. I tell you – – the vast plains of Colorado and the snowy peaks of the Sierras are wonders to behold. They are evident proof of our nation’s special place within god’s plan. San Francisco itself is gray and chilly. I stepped off the train into a morning fog of supernatural thickness with the sounds of the city’s bustle ringing like the clatter of ghosts in my ears. It was strange indeed, especially for one so acclimated to the open spaces and grand skies of Kansas.
My grandmother, to whose care I have been exiled, lives in a rather ornate mansion on Stockton Street, only a half dozen blocks from the infamous Barbary Coast. The house is, by Kansas standards, imposing and ornate, with several hidden staircases, tall windows covered over in damask, velvet furniture, and complicated gas chandeliers. Its exterior is gothic in the extreme; elaborate scrolling and carvings decorate its front like icing on a demented wedding cake. My room is spacious and I write to you now with a view across the flickering street lamps of the city. There are several servants to attend grandmother and myself and there appear to be other persons in regular visitation of the house. I hear their boots upon the hallway late at night, but have yet to discern their identities.
Of my grandmother, I will say that I was surprised to my boot heels when I met her after being delivered from the ferry building. She is rather tall and buxom with silver white hair and a pair of dark black eyes. She greeted me warmly with a kiss on each cheek in the continental style. Her fingers and wrists tinkle with silver bracelets, gold rings, and jewels. She is given to luxury, as is evident from the interior of her house, her thick, rich silk skirts, and her jewelry. I recall from my first night here that as I studied a gallery of daguerreotypes lining the front hall I was arrested by the likeness of a comely woman, of our age, seated in a garden beneath palm fronds. Thinking she might be a cousin, I asked grandmother her identity. With a light laugh, she informed me that it was indeed a likeness of herself, taken in Egypt when she was an actress. Perhaps she played Cleopatra en vivant? In any case, I hope to continue to write to you as I settle in here. I cannot expect any news of Elizabeth, though if you happen to pass her on the street or sit next to her on Sundays, I am sure you will communicate my deep, unerring affection for her.
James G. Phelan
July 22, 1899
I hope this finds you well. And, I hope you will accept my deepest thanks for your recent, brief correspondence. You are a true friend, indeed. As for Elizabeth, I am sure she will respond to your delicate inquiries when the fog of parental displeasure lifts from her. I am sure you wonder, residing as I do in such close proximity: No, I have not visited the Barbary Coast. It is quite dangerous and excepting that you are a sailor in search of “grog” or immoral company, there is no necessity to traipse through its gin mills, saloons, and gentleman’s parlors. I assure you.
San Francisco, I must admit, is none too hospitable to me. The weather is disagreeable – – continuously foggy and wet with perhaps an hour of sunshine in the afternoon. The people are by and large uncouth and loud. I confess that I find Chinatown to be quite fascinating. And, I have taken up regular visits to a delightful tea house only five blocks away. The Chinese are industrious and polite people who seem to revel in respect for tradition and duty. I quite like them.
Grandmother and I continue our cordial and warm relationship. She is really quite elegant, more elegant than one would expect from the humble home and character of her son, my father. We typically dine together and retire afterwards to the salon where I drink a cup of hot tea and lemon while she sips on an aperitif of thick rubied liqueur. Some nights we antalya escort converse into the long hours. She compliments me in ways that I am unaccustomed to, frequently noting how handsome and hale I am or my refined comportment. I am happy to demonstrate a higher order of culture to her. Though I usually prepare for sleep well before midnight, I know that grandmother is a night bird for I often hear her talking to others and traversing the stairs as I lie in bed reading or wakefully dreaming of sunshine and Elizabeth’s delicate, pale hands.
I must convey to you a rather unsettling series of events that has transpired recently. When I reflect upon them, I am fearful. Who knows that this alien place might not harbor equally alien sentiments and forces. A week ago, the damp and heavy Bay atmosphere – – which mingles damp fog, coal smoke, and sundry noxious aromas into a regular witch’s brew – – seeped into my bones in a kind of rheumatism. One morning, I was overtaken by lethargy and dull pains populated my joints. My pulse seemed to tighten across my temples and I could barely raise my head from the pillow. Around noon, perhaps surprised by my absence from breakfast and the morning’s activities, Wen Chan, grandmother’s servant, entered my chamber after knocking. I begged him for a glass of cold water and he ran his papery hand across my forehead and retreated from the room. A rustle of skirts announced grandmother’s arrival. She sat on the edge of my bed and also rubbed her palm across my forehead.
“Dear child,” she intoned sweetly. “You have taken the San Francisco ague. All newcomers suffer from it. It only signifies that you are acclimatizing to our fair city.”
She left and some time later a rather curious man entered my chamber. To be honest, my fevered brain may have exaggerated his oddness. He wore long sideburns and a large pair of spectacles perched on his beak of a nose. His hair was pomaded into a kind of tower of ginger extravagance. He appeared to wear a black frock coat and green corduroy trousers. Across the lapels of his coat were stitched obscure and esoteric designs in thick gold filament. They appeared like runes from some ancient and forgotten civilization. He gazed at me and wrapped his fingers around my wrist. After several minutes, he huffed, poked my eyes wide open and felt with his forefinger around my chin and neck. He huffed again and left.
An hour or so later, Wen Chan returned. He bathed my forehead with a cold cloth and then produced from within his folds a narrow vial no more than three inches in length. He withdrew a spoon from the vial. Several drops of a bright green tincture glowed upon the spoon. I gazed at him in surprise. He nodded and pushed the spoon to my lips. The liquid seemed to expand and thicken as it passed my lips until it felt like I had swallowed a whole cup of the infernal chemical. Wen Chan smiled and patted me on the shoulder, then left.
Needless to say, this strange tincture induced a deep sleep, yet a sleep crowded with shadowy figures and movements. I felt as if I were watching some distant world through the curling, dark smoke of an oil fire. At one point, I felt as if my body were lifted and carried out of the room and down the hall. Candle flames glowed about me and dim, shapeless figures chanted words of indecipherable origin or meaning. I woke in my own bed early in the evening.
Again, grandmother sat by my side, gently stroking my cheeks and forehead.
“Feeling better?” She asked in her silvery voice.
I nodded and she trailed her long, warm fingers down my neck. The sensation was marvelous and extraordinarily curative. As her hand gently brushed my skin, I felt the fever ebb away from my mind and a sense of clarity and well-being suffuse my body. I opened my eyes to meet her gaze.
“Thank you,” I whispered hoarsely.
She nodded sweetly and produced the medicine bottle that Wen Chan had used earlier. Drawing out the spoon, she laid several drops of the strange green liquid on my lips. Again, as the tincture passed across my tongue, I felt it expand in volume and density. Its taste, I could discern now, was bitter but enveloped in a musky, earthy flavor. I swallowed and this time I felt the liquid work through my entire body. It seemed to spread a kind of vitality from my throat to my stomach and down across my groin where it gathered force. Grandmother rested her hand on my brow and I grew uncomfortable as a surge of excitement coursed through my manhood. I fell asleep under her smile, beaming down at me like the gift of some silver-haired madonna.
I tell you this only because it seemed such a marvellous and novel experience. Today, though still lethargic, I feel a new man. So, no worries. Please say hello to your brothers and, again, if perchance you can slip Elizabeth the enclosed note, I would be extremely grateful.
James G. Phelan
July 27, 1899
I hope this finds you well. I know that the long distance serik escort between myself and Salina prevents me from reading your latest epistle. Perhaps, it will arrive tomorrow. But, indulge me, as I must communicate to you the most recent shocking and horrid developments in this devilish house in a diabolical city.
I wrote to you earlier of my suffering with San Francisco ague. That ague has largely passed and I am now feeling as fit and right as the day I left dear Salina. Yet, events here are not consonant with my restored health. Indeed, I may be physically healthy but I fear that I have contracted some moral contagion. Pray for me.
Within a few days of taking Wen Chan’s tincture, my fever subsided completely and I felt as vital and strong as an Angus bull. I rose one morning and dressed for breakfast. The maid served me plate after plate of eggs, bacon, sausage, and grits. My hunger was interminable. Grandmother entered the room as I was wiping every last bit of egg from my third plate. She pulled a dining chair next to me and rested her hand on my knee.
“You’re feeling better, child,” she said, bowing her head toward me.
I replied that indeed I was feeling about as good as a man could. She smiled brightly and congratulated me on my speedy recovery. Then, from within the folds of her dress, she drew out the medicine bottle. I gazed at it – – the liquid contents seeming to radiate and caste a green glow on grandmother’s hand. And equally suddenly, I was seized with an urgent, violent need to taste the tincture again. I looked at grandmother who, as if understanding, quickly drew the tiny spoon from the cylinder and proffered it to me. Greedily, indeed I could almost hear myself grunting with insatiable appetite, I pulled her hand toward my lips. The liquid worked its strange magic again and I felt my body fortified with new strength and vitality. My groin seemed to churn with insistent energy. I sat back in my chair and closed my eyes.
It seemed that I had only blinked. Yet, when I woke, I was lying on a divan in a foreign room. Three gas lights glowed above me, shedding a soft light on the rich tapestry of wallpaper that surrounded me. I blinked and sat up. As my eyes focused, I saw that the dark crimson of the wallpaper was populated with figures in silhouette. And these figures, my friend, were represented in the most obscene poses – – male and female bodies twisted together, huge, exaggerated genitalia thrusting upward toward the heavens, mouths and heads gaped in agony or ecstasy. I could not tell which. A chill ran across my shoulders, even as my nethers seemed to twitch in excitement.
The dark mahogany door opened and grandmother entered. She smiled at me and turned to a figure behind her. They entered and I saw that the second figure was a woman of grandmother’s age yet not so well preserved or, rather, more ravaged by time. She sported wrinkles around her eyes and her flesh while taut in some parts of her face in others seemed to droop. The crone smiled at me and grandmother took her hand. They seated themselves next to me.
“This is Widow Douglas,” Grandmother said to me sweetly. “She is your new friend.”
Evidently registering my surprise and unhappiness, Grandmother patted Widow Douglas’s hand gently. From within the folds of her skirt, she again withdrew the vial. I stared at it, transfixed with need.
“Do you wish for more tincture?” Grandmother asked me.
I nodded hungrily, my rational and moral senses overwhelmed by my appetite for that strange green liquid. Grandmother smiled and withdrew the spoon. I opened my mouth greedily. Grandmother disbursed more than the usual amount – – four or five drops fled the tip of the spoon onto my tongue.
I felt then, dear friend, like a locomotive was pounding through my body. My heart raced. My muscles seemed to swell. And, more horrible still, my manhood ballooned within my trousers. But under the influence of grandmother’s magic potion, I cared not. All of my moral sense had fled and I reveled in the feeling and gasped with delight.
Grandmother put her arm around Widow Douglas and squeezed her shoulder. She pulled the widow down onto the divan and pushed her skirt and petticoats up over her hips. The harridan’s withered shanks appeared – – gray and mottled. Grandmother pulled her knees up to reveal the woman’s pale liverish pudenda. Paradoxically, as I gazed at it, my cock swelled to unimaginable proportions. Without thinking, driven by the need to relieve my restlessness, I unbuttoned my trousers and my manhood shot out like a tiger escaping from its cage. I gasped in surprise. It had doubled in size and in girth. Its bulbous head gleamed under the gaslight like a polished apple. It was a monstrous and alien appendage, yet I was transfixed by it. The rustle of silk woke me from my reverie and I glanced at Widow Douglas’s exposed organ.
Suddenly the crone’s withered, defeated legs were transformed into smooth, pearlescent side escort flesh. Her voluptuous thighs, swelling with life and health, trembled. Her tiny ankles, encased in boots, led to upward to firm, strong calves. I gulped and gazed down again at my significantly enhanced phallus. When I looked up, grandmother had disappeared from the room. The widow’s pudenda now glowed with ruddy health. Growling, I approached the old woman on the divan. She looked up at me fearfully. I parted her legs and grasped my cock. The woman whimpered and turned her head away from me.
Driven forward by the strange energies swirling through my body, I kneeled on the divan and thrust my manhood deep into her quim in one savage motion. The widow gasped and her body froze. Her female cave was like a warm, velvet trap and, like a beast, I began hurling my monstrous appendage in and out of her. She groaned and twisted her body back and forth vigorously. And still, I savagely attacked her with my magnificent cock. The widow raised her legs higher and began to shout filthy words. These only goaded me onward. The tip of my cock began to pulsate, throbbing with a life of its own.
It had become, in truth, my insane but benevolent master.
With a final jungle growl, I plunged it back into the widow and buried it deep. My whole lower body seemed then to dissolve into waves of bliss and rapture. I wagged my hips in ecstasy as the old woman beneath me grasped at the couch with her hands and shrieked through her parted lips. My own shriek of animal pleasure joined hers and as the waves of carnal satisfaction washed through me, I collapsed on top of her, exhausted. I remember the wench’s hands clawing through my hair and then I fell into a dark, whirling abyss.
When I awoke, I was in my bedroom and the strange man with ginger hair was once again peering at me through his spectacles. He huffed once or twice and rose from his seat on the edge of the bed. With a final, dismissive glance at me, he left the room. From the jug next to the bed, I poured a glass of water to slake my thirst. The cold water felt like heaven’s sweetest rain on my tongue.
Grandmother entered the room and seated herself on the bed. She drew her cool, soft hands across my brow and smiled.
“What has happened to me?” I asked.
She grasped my hand in hers. “A relapse.”
“But that woman. And, that room. And that ungodly beast between my legs.” I blushed and looked away from grandmother.
Grandmother squeezed my hand. “A fever dream and nothing more. You can forget it if you wish.”
I sighed and squeezed my eyes shut. “I do wish to.”
Images of Widow Douglas in the throes of pleasure flashed across my brain. I fought against memories of my engorged manhood sliding in and out of her wet, tight quim. I was seized with panic as I felt my cock once again stirring. I rolled fitfully on the bed until grandmother’s comforting hands grasped my cheeks.
“Shhhhhh,” she murmured. “Be still, my love. Dreams are the doorways into things you cannot speak, but wish you might.”
I groaned. Grandmother bent down. Her dark eyes gleamed in the dim light. Her pale skin glowed like marble under moonlight. She delivered a soft kiss to my cheeks. Calmness suddenly flooded my palpitating heart. Peace diffused itself through my body like a river pouring onto sere, barren plains. I sighed. Grandmother patted my forehead and I fell into a deep, restful sleep.
I know, dear Thaddeus, that what you read here is shocking in the extreme. It outrages me as well and seems to insult the very ink that I scratch into this paper. I cannot truthfully tell you why I write it down for your pious eyes to read. Yet, I feel compelled to record it. I am worried. I cannot seem to distinguish where reality ends and delusion begins. Will I once again be plunged back into the dizzying, dark currents that seem to lie beneath my waking thoughts? Is there a world, more savage and primitive, that lurks beneath this placid globe upon which we dwell? Pray for me. I beg you.
James G. Phelan
August 4, 1899
No word from you. And yet, I must again chronicle my descent into an inferno of confusion and chaos. I no longer ask for your prayers. I dwell now in a place far from god’s benevolence and alienated from any grace.
In short, I am a slave to the tincture. I cannot breathe without thinking about it – – its color, its taste, its capacity to transport me into another universe. I crave it constantly. Even in sleep, or what passes for sleep in this hellish abode, I feel its siren call filtering through my blood and muscle.
It must be the devil’s own liquor. And yet, what truths it has revealed to me. Most importantly, it has revealed my grandmother’s true nature and avocation. She is the infernal queen of the Barbary Coast! The foundations of her grand mansion rest on the venal corruptions and perversions that transpire daily and nightly only five blocks away. How, you ask, have I discovered this horrifying truth? I tremble to commit these words to paper, but I must. Whether you shall ever read them, I cannot know. Salina is lost to me forever. Whither my fate draws me, only the devil and my grandmother can say with any authority.
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