Penis theft panic hits city
--Joe Bavier

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men’s penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.


It had been three days since he killed Mackie.

His dried blood was all over his clothes, all over the deck. Odets had been talking to himself for the last 48 hours. He had begun to be outside of himself, looking down on this wretched man who had outsmarted himself, actually murdered his first mate, veritably murdered the other 11, his face blistered and raw, rail-thin, with 2 gallons of water remaining, and he began to laugh, and laughed himself to sleep.

He stopped laughing when he was awakened with the taste of salt water in his mouth. Half his body was immersed in brackish water. There was a leak. The hull had held, but there must have been a crack in the bilge, and a slow, ever-enlarging leak had developed. The urgency of imminent sinking and becoming shark chum shot adrenaline through him and instantly cleared his mind. He grabbed a piss pot from what had been the galley, and began to bail as quickly as he could. The leak was slow, and he was making headway. His arms were giving out, so he rested and napped. When he awoke, there was as much water as there had been when he had first awakened to this looming fatal surprise. It became a zero-sum game between the leak and the bailing which he knew he would inevitably lose.

Like a general in war, like a quarterback in the playoffs, he had the ability to tune out the artillery shells or linemen or anxiety.  It helped enormously in business negotiations.  

He went to that place and quieted the turmoil that was grabbing at his mind. The tool box had been bolted down. In it, he found some plastic sheeting and hyper-sticky tape that would hold out salt water. He jumped in the water, ducked under the stern, and taped the plastic over the hole. The water pressure sucked the patch up against the hull and immediately sealed the leak. It held. If only he could hold on.

The stars were bright when he ran out of water. He slipped and banged his head on the rotting wood of the bunk, and a beeping began. He accepted that auditory hallucinations from sunstroke or concussion had begun, and the end stages were setting in. When he saw the flashing light from under the bunk, he assumed that seeing visions was the next phase.
 One of the crew had been sensible enough to ignore his edict that no electronics were allowed. He looked under the bunk and found a blinding, flashing light and a deafening beeping device taped there. Next to it, there was a cell phone which was turned off. He turned it on and saw that it was equipped with a GPS tracking application. He looked up at the night sky and saw a small jet plane overhead. He held the light above his head and turned it in a circle. The beeping was earsplitting, but he would gladly trade deafness for survival. He dialed 911. Nothing rang, but there was a different beeping from the phone.

He let all the devices run until they ran out of power. No one had come, no ships, no helicopters, no circling airplanes. He drank the last of the water with two fentanyl he had kept in a pill case in his ditty bag that had survived the typhoon, curled up in a fetal position under the sweaty, fetid mattress, and went to sleep.

When he awoke, he was in a helicopter with a dextrose/saline IV in his right arm, a blood pressure cuff on his left, and an Air Force medic taking his vitals.

Book One


Chapter One
Delilah sat in the 8:00 a.m. meeting of Odysseus, Inc. She’d brought her delicious pastries. She used butter like a French chef, to the detriment of waistlines and health of the middle-aged men who sat at that table.

The subject of the meeting was the return of Ulysses Odets, the CEO and major stock holder. PR roll-out for the grand reception of their photogenic leader, with his eye-catching red hair and beard, was the order of business.

He’d taken two years--twenty months to be exact--to sail around the world on a small ship with only wind power and a crew of twelve. They were thought to be lost at sea.

The voyage had taken three times longer than planned. They had made port--if you could call it that--at many uncharted islands and battled some extreme weather. Satellite imagery and Air Force rescue helicopters sent to rescue this important military consultant could not find him. Mr. Odets had obstinately refused to install any tracking devices on his little sailing ship. Several months later, a private jet noticed a speck in the ocean below and called it in. The crew had perished; only Odets survived. Now he came home to a hero’s welcome. The company was going to make the most of it.

Penny Odets and her son Telly had refused to give up hope.  Board members lobbied to declare him dead and appoint a new leader, but his wife and his only son with their battalion of lawyers held them off.  Penny was an astonishingly beautiful woman with a figure that men had to remember to avert their eyes from when Odets was in the room. He had been violent more than once with oglers. She was active in many charities, and held grand parties, even in her husband’s absence, never once having any doubt of his return. Some thought she was heavily in denial and should seek counseling, and, perhaps, pharmaceuticals. But she was steadfast. Many men pursued her, trying to convince her she should start to live her life again--with them, of course. She laughed them off. More than once, Telly had taken men aside who attempted to court his mother over what they imagined to be his father’s beached corpse.

Delilah had not yet met Ulysses Odets. She was fascinated that he, too, had red hair. She had read only one or two percent of all the people in the world had it. “We should start our own society,” she mused.

Chapter Two

News crews. News Crews. News Crews. In his mind, Odets repeated the rhyme. It calmed him.

The procession of cars and cheering crowds passed the white vans with satellite dishes on top. There were big video cameras, and everyone in the crowd had their cell phones aimed in his direction.

They were nearing the downtown 32-story corporate office building with “Odysseus” emblazoned in gold. If anyone called the office that morning, they heard a phone message suggesting they call back later. Every employee was outside to receive their long-lost leader. Fans and curiosity seekers extended for a dozen city blocks beyond. The cheering went like a wave down those blocks. It was a conquering hero’s return, the kind reserved for astronauts and winning sports teams. They went mad for the chance to applaud this adventurer and his glorious rescue. It got them out of work, broke the boredom, and gave them the rush that comes from cheering the home team.

Odets sat on the back of his Bentley Silver Cloud convertible like a politician or a beauty queen. His son Telly drove, and his adoring wife Penny sat on the back-passenger seat instead of up beside him because she knew it was important for him to be the sole attraction. She looked up to him and held his hand adoringly. A couple of times, she kissed his hand; when she did, the crowd roared.

He hadn’t conquered the sea like he set out to. His triumph was escaping Neptune’s wrath. He had come within days of being a victim of his own hubris. His penchant for risk-taking--the characteristic that had made him billions--proved to be very costly. Things had happened. Things that captivated him. Things that had compelled him to put everything at risk.  All because he wanted to swagger through The Club and hear them whisper that there goes Ulysses Odets, who had done it as the ancients had, risking all, no net, that Romantic notion of the lone man against the storm, that indeed Ulysses Odets was by far the most intrepid among them.

Twelve men had followed him, bet their lives on him, and lost. Remorse dogged him, and the parade made regret bite at him with even sharper teeth.

He had objected to this ostentatious display, but the board was adamant; he owed it to the company, they said. They said that the employees needed festivities; they needed to witness the coming of the man in the flesh whose name was on their paychecks. Revering him, cheering him would be good for morale, they said. But mainly because, they said, they were personally overjoyed that he had been resurrected, and they wanted to honor him. This band of sycophants had had many knives at the ready. Those knives had been stayed by Penny’s shield and sharp maneuvering. His long record of infidelities notwithstanding, he idolized her.

Maybe the grief over his sailors made him relent. The old Odets would have said no, and not permitted another word or argument. When they left, they exchanged looks of astonishment at getting their way, but they all knew not to utter a word about this new vulnerability they just witnessed.

Guilt was a new experience for him. Chief Executive Officers, builders of economic empires, as well as the heads of more unseemly organizations, often lack that soul-crushing emotion or bury it deep in their psyches.  As astute as he was in assessing others’ vulnerabilities, his own psychiatrist had to point out to him that he may well feel guilty because he had survived.

He descended from his “chariot” into the arms of his people--with security guards clearing the path. The oversized glass double doors parted, and he entered his kingdom, this palace of commerce he’d built, with a gymnasium, gourmet food courts, and even a movie theater and a bowling alley to keep the troops amused, make them feel beholden, and made it so that they had no need to ever leave.

The executives lined up on the grand, curved double staircase. Halfway up the left staircase, a saturated, crimson color caught his eye. Even with Penny on his arm, his eye would often wander, but now he quickly looked away and kept his eyes on his wife, and on the crowd. Though only a glimpse, the glimpse stuck. A familiar longing made him catch his breath. With that transient glance, fear and curiosity were once again at war inside him.  Mr. Ulysses Odets, the owner of this domain, was, by that afterimage, admonished, and reminded that, though he may well be master of all he now surveyed, he was certainly not master of his fate.

Chapter Three
She saw him, too.

“Red head, pissed the bed, blamed it on a cabbage head.”

That childhood taunt came loud and clear into her memory. It came to mind every time she passed a “ginger,” which was another name that made her cringe.

She knew he saw her, too.

She was sad for the beautiful woman beside him because Delilah knew instinctively what would happen between her and that fellow “ginger.”  There was no stopping it, even if she wanted to. Kismet, kiss me, fate, fatal, destiny, chemistry, helpless, mess, breathless, jealousy, devilry. She saw the words lined up like a crossword puzzle.

When and how, she could not reckon, but she was eager to watch it happen in the same way we want to know the end of a novel or short story we are reading, but still enjoy the ride.

She wished she was on speaking terms with her mother, so she could ask her about what this might hold. And how dangerous it would turn out to be.

Chapter Four
Delilah Kirke was not your average witch. She had an MBA and worked in several different corporate environments, and she had charmed everyone in those different cultures.  She had made several lateral moves that turned into vertical moves in the short time since she graduated Wharton.

Not bad for a girl raised on a “clothing optional” commune in Humboldt County, California.

She dressed corporate, and spent lavishly on her apparel. Evenings and occasions, she wore haute couture.

Delilah was a redhead. It was that shade of classic auburn that is notoriously exciting to the eye. Many remarked with amazement that in some lighting it became distinctly crimson.

When she was a child, her hair fell in ringlets, but now she kept it short to be taken seriously in the businessman’s world. Her skin had no freckles, and went beyond fair toward pearlescent. Her eyes were blue, but did not flash or sparkle. In business, that is a plus for they did not give her away; their lackluster somberness helped her keep a poker face. Her figure was slim, her bustline was small, there was not much ratio between hips and waist. She was 5’2, but wore 4” heels which made her calves shapely and caught the attention as she walked away.

Delilah’s lips were full and shapely. One was drawn to When she gave a presentation, some executives around the table would watch her mouth move when she spoke would have their eyes glued to her mouth, you might surmise from their dreamy expressions they were in the midst of a lecherous fantasy. With those features, you would expect great beauty or at least pretty, but though her face was symmetrical, she was neither. 

The ways she moved, the ways she gestured, captured the attention. Her voice was mellifluous, like listening to a cello.

But it was the way she smelled that made those below her and those above her smile when she passed.

The corporate world uses the term, “meteoric” for such a rapid ascent through the ranks. She was Odysseus corporation’s new wunderkind and made six figures. Six high figures. They knew they were lucky to get her, and wanted to keep her. There were other non-cash bonuses, perks of the job.  Executives of her station should not have to ride the IRT or the MTA.

When the Odysseus corporate car picked her up from her high rise at 5:45 each morning six days a week, she had already been to her gym, eaten a protein-filled breakfast from her blender, and was waiting at the curb regardless of the weather. Wet days, cold days did not daunt her. As it had been from her childhood, she never got ill. She often wondered about her immune system.

Delilah dated often and nearly always those in vertical positions—sometimes positions to which she aspired. However, when horizontal, she was superior in all ways. Occasionally, she would allow herself to be romanced by a colleague of the same station, but only if he--or she--were a competitor with similar ambition. She liked the challenge.

What was it about Ms. D. Kirke that made her so special?  Ask the men who dated her. However, they most likely would be reluctant to disclose what had occurred.

Ms. Kirke stole penises.

And she turned men into pigs.

Chapter Five
Little Delilah had fair skin that did not get on well with the sun. Both she and the skin she lived in did not get on well with the naked, sun-worshipping children, all of whom had California tans and blond hair, or, at minimum, blond streaks. She preferred the company of the adults who worked in the gardens with only the benefit of sunscreen slathered all over their bodies. SPF 100 applied hourly would not have rescued Dilly from blisters and burns.

Dilly was what the commune had diminished her name to, and it took its toll on her spirit. It was a name from early childhood, when her father called her that at one of their weekly Saturday get-togethers.

It was an unseasonably hot California night. The closest thing the rural yurt dwellers had to air conditioning were cans of cold beer applied to the armpits or between the thighs then poured down the throat. A vinyl disk played “Sugar Magnolia” on the battered stereo under an old poster of a red and blue skull split with a white lightning bolt. The women were dancing that wavy way people do after they drank a brew of Lilith’s, Delilah’s mother. She used almonds, fennel seeds, watermelon kernels, rose petals, cardamom, saffron, milk and sugar. She ground edible grasses and sugar, to make a green paste to which she added her own hybrid cannabis. As children often do, six-year-old Delilah sneaked sips from the hand-thrown ceramic mugs that held the delectable concoction. After her third serious sip, little Delilah took a Rubik’s cube off the coffee table next to the bong, twisted it a few times to take its measure, then in a flurry of turns and clicks, got all the colors to align.

Her father’s buddy was bug-eyed.  “Fuck, man! Am I high, or did your little girl just blow our minds?”

“Both, dude. That’s my girl. She is a dilly!”

When they use that phrase, “…and the name stuck,” they don’t take into account how that stickiness can hold a person back. It did not matter that it meant, “an excellent example of a particular type of person or thing.”  Delilah wanted her name back.

Her mother, however, never used Dilly, but always her full name. Never “sweetheart” or “darling” or any of those names by which mothers everywhere address their sweet, darling daughters. Some mothers in the commune thought Lilith was cold, since she only addressed her very smart daughter formally by her first name. The name was biblical and foreboding, not at all like Sunshine or Sequoia.  But every time her mother called her name, Delilah treasured the sound and came. She was her mother’s daughter, more than her daddy’s little girl. She loved him, but it was only her mother who could put her to bed, and it was her mother’s lap she curled up in.

That her mother Lilith had a name somehow like hers made them on the same side against the world.

Chapter Six

“Dilly is a monkey, Dilly is a monkey!”

They children would point up at the big live oak Delilah was climbing like she was in one of the Tarzan movies she watched on the sole TV set at the commune. “Dilly” would walk out onto the limbs like a tightrope walker, testing their strength, then back slowly away when she felt a little give. She could descend in a sort of a free fall, catching branches like Tarzan. She was fearless, and would scale the limbs until she was almost out of sight. The entire commune gathered around the tree to urge her to come down, some crying and begging, some chanting and praying for protection for the small figure perhaps two stories or more above the ground.

It was eventually seen as entertainment by the children with the same nail-biting as watching a tightrope walker. Delilah was one of those children who had a high tolerance for fear, and needed danger to get her blood up. Also, like her mother, Dilly was never sick, never a cold or the flu, never vaccinated.

She was enthralled with watching the former Olympian turned actor on the little black and white TV. Living in a tree with a chimp. Bathing in the lake with Jane. She didn’t yet know the words erotic, romantic, primitive. They were nearly naked when they bathed or swam in the river. Naked like she was. But this was safe, rural California where you could scare away a coyote with a shout and a flashlight, and there was little worry about having to kill a monster crocodile with a knife. Plus, the security detail of men on dirt bikes with automatic rifles to guard the crop was reassuring.

Her daddy tried to talk to her about how he worried, and how he would be crushed if anything happened to her. But Lilith never said a word. When her husband asked her to speak to her, Lilith just gently shook her head and with a shrug said, “It’s better to die doing what you love than to live without testing yourself.” His jaw dropped. Her strangeness, the way she thought and spoke, going her own way, unswayed by others’ opinions, he found to be both fascinating and disturbing. She was impossible to persuade, quietly convinced that she knew the way, or at least her way, and it made him respect her. She never argued, just smiled. Her husband always kidded her that there was more cat in her than Scots-Irish.

More than once he’d heard, “That’s my way. It might not be yours, but that’s what I think, and I know what’s good for me.” To that she’d add, “...and what’s good for my daughter.”

Chapter Seven
The women would dance under the full moon every month even in the chilly wet winter. It rained a lot in that renown county.

As teenagers do, Delilah had grown peevish and rebellious, and her relationship with her mother had taken that typical turn from duckling love to ferocious malice. She snarled the word “Fine!” whenever her mother asked her to do something or told her she couldn’t.

Menarche can make a girl crazy. Lilith knew this well. In her role as the commune’s pharmacologist, she helped many girls with cramps and mood swings. But when it entered her own domain from her exceptional red-headed daughter, she had to repress that phrase that echoed in her mind, the one she had heard back in the Kentucky hill country: “Beat her like a red-headed step-child.”

The third time Delilah asked her mother for the home-made Kotex, Lilith decided it was time.

 “Tonight is the full moon, and you’re coming with us to dance. You’re a woman now, and you should know some things.” It was not an invitation so much as a directive.

“Are you crazy? It’s 58 degrees and raining. I’m not going out in that!

Lilith did not respond, but when it came time for her to go and dance and pray and do homage with the other women, she told her daughter, “All right, it’s time.”  Delilah replied, “No, fuck you, I’m not going.”

Delilah had never spoken to her mother like that before, and a cold rush went through them both. Though Lilith was seen as stern by comparison with the other mothers who let their children do as they like, she had never laid hands on Delilah. She went over to her daughter, bent down and kissed her on the forehead. When she stood up, in her right hand she had Delilah by her thick, red hair. She did not speak, but walked out with Delilah in tow. She did not even pause for her to put on a sweater or a slicker, but hauled her out into the wet night. Delilah protested vehemently with a burst of profanities. Lilith stopped and looked at her in a way that made all resistance cease.

The ceremony began with passing a ceramic goblet that held a different brew tonight, an acrid mushroom brew. Delilah took a sip and spit it out. The chanting stopped and a dozen women stared aghast at the sacrilege.

 “Drink.”  That one word from her mother resonated and echoed like it was amplified. Later, Delilah would wonder how anyone could speak that loud and not shout.

She drank.

One by one, the women went into the bushes to vomit up the residue, while the others continued the worshipful singing. When Delilah returned from her turn at regurgitating, there was a wonder in her eyes the women could see, and they smiled at one another knowingly, all remembering their first time.

Her mother took her into the middle of the circle, and announced her installation into their ranks. The women droned her name, which was easy to make melodious. Lilith kissed her daughter on both cheeks. Delilah looked at her mother again with that love that comes from first imprint and years of nurture.

Then her mother slapped her hard, hard enough to knock her down, and hollered, “Wake up, bitch! You’re one of us now!”

The coven cheered and gathered round Delilah, boosting her onto their shoulders and carried her deeper into the woods still chanting her name.

No one in the commune ever called her Dilly again.

Chapter Eight

The morning after the celebration, the meeting commenced at 9:00 a.m.

The croissants were buttery; since they were hot, they cried out for more butter and, of course, apricot jam. Which then begged for crispy bacon. With triple-shot lattes. How Delilah kept it all hot and fresh was her secret.

Delilah sat at the middle of the long table so she could serve. The CFO Randall Cunningham-Blake sat at the head. The middle seat on the opposite side was reserved for Odets, which placed him immediately opposite this employee he had not yet met.

Cunningham-Blake asked for another croissant, then reached under the table to loosen his belt a notch. Fifteen pounds in the last three months, and twelve points added to his cholesterol, the bad kind. Yet, it was worth every bite, he told himself. Mrs. Cunningham-Blake did not like fatties, but it did not matter since the pool-boy with the six-pack --yes, that cliché-- had been at her service ever since he had arrived from Chihuahua and taken off his shirt. Mr. Cunningham-Blake would rather eat than fuck anyway.

Cunningham-Blake had been CFO for ten years, and done a damn good job.

Delilah wondered what it would be like to be in charge of all that money.

At nine minutes after 9:00 a.m. -- just long enough to make an entrance but within the corporate culture’s unspoken ten-minute time limit after which one was considered tardy--Odets entered. They stood and applauded till he sat and slid his hand across his throat to cut it out.

“Good morning. Thanks for the outlandish greeting. Now let’s get to work.”

No bullshit, back in the saddle, Odets in fine fettle, the same as before. Almost.

Odets did not look at Delilah.

Cunningham-Blake piped up, “Ulysses, we have same new faces here, shall I introduce--”

“I’m sure I’ll meet them in due time. Let’s start with the financials. How much have we lost in our absence, and what is our stock price? I haven’t had the cojones to look for fear it would kill me when the ocean couldn’t.” Abuse and sarcasm were his style, and it kept all the underlings in line. Those men who spoke out too loudly and insistently were not at the next meeting.  Once, one disrespected him. He walked to where the upstart sat, pulled him out of his chair by the collar, grasped the seat of his pants and bum-rushed him to the door. A security officer opened it so Odets could give the objector a swift kick to facilitate his exit. Once a woman had objected to an “inappropriate” joke he’d told. He walked around to her, humming a waltz. He extended his hand in a bow in the way that men ask women to dance. She looked around, confused, but stood, and he caught her up in a swirling dance worthy of any ballroom. With a final twirl, he spun her out the door which closed behind her.

Cunningham-Blake was quick and happy to reply to the question of profits. He beamed, “Actually, we’ve made money. Stock price up 2.5% in the last quarter, 4.5% since you embarked. Since the withdrawal from the Middle East, the consulting practice is down, but other subsidiaries have more than made up for any losses, but we are sure that since you’re back with your strategic insights, that the Pentagon will be thrilled to increase their investment. Everyone at this table has put in lots of hours to figure out how to do it better so you would be pleased upon your return--”

“Thanks, everyone. I appreciate your hard work. But I don’t think anyone here thought I was coming back; I know I didn’t. So, let’s cut the apple-polishing.” 

“Absolutely, Ulysses. Business mode only. Just wanted to finish my kudos to a particular individual who has been an extraordinary asset to the company with her insight into the market and her prognostication of where the economy would be even when there were no discernible markers. She out-guesses the economists regularly, guides a lot of our strategies and investments, and is a bit of a marketing genius on top of it. Everyone at this table acknowledges it. Let me introduce you to De--”

“Delilah Kirke. Of course. How could I not know your name? Congratulations, and happy to have you aboard.”

His ever-assessing blue eyes did not land on Delilah. His gaze was all around her. To the others, it seemed like he was looking at her, but he looked at her shoulder, at the top of her head, past her.

Delilah’s thoughts sounded an alarm. He’s afraid of me. That’s terrible. Why would he fear little old me? How could she get to a man who wouldn’t look at her?

“So nice to meet you, Mr. Odets. I’m glad we both lived to see the day. They say I make a mean croissant. Sir, can I tempt you?”

The timbre of her voice made his insides churn.

Without giving him time to answer--which was good because Odets was frozen and unable to reply--she continued to tell him how she made this ambrosial breadstuff while she prepared him a plate with tart, sweet apricot preserves on top, and poured him a cup. He was looking down at the table, but because she stole the show no one noticed. She set the plate down in front of him.  If you won’t look at me, then look at my delicacies.

When he bit into it, the only sound was an extended “Mmmm”. The sound continued through the last bite and his licking his fingers. He drank the latte like mother’s milk.

All around the table, the execs were speechless at the scene played out before them at 9:22 a.m. on this Monday morning.

He finished, and said nothing. But, as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, he looked Delilah straight in the eye and smiled.

Chapter Nine
The uncomfortable moment of the Great Leader and man-of-the-hour grinning like a schoolboy at the pastries of the brilliant young executive was cut short when Odets abruptly rose from his chair.

“Thanks for the meeting. Good to see you all. I’ll have my assistant make appointments with each of you. That way you can tell me what you really think instead of worrying about the group-think.” Then he marched out.

A pen dropped, and everyone looked at it on the table. The CFO dropped it at his astonishment at being blindsided by Odet’s imperious dismissal of the meeting for which he had long prepared.  Behind it was his exasperation with the man who had abandoned his responsibilities to flaunt his bravado to the world so that he could parade it before members of his social class and other CEOs. He had pitched the seafaring as a great publicity stunt, but there was never any inquiry into what the board thought, just a “letting them know” what he was going to do. Stockholders be damned. Executive Board be damned. Probably his Penelope be--well, not damned--but very likely not consulted.


The next Monday morning meeting, matters got worse. As the meeting was concluding, Delilah cleared her throat.

“I have some questions.”

Her questions were incisive and aimed at Odets about the decision to close the dog food factory, a “shoot from the hip” decision as his first action “back in the saddle.” Her marketing skills were exacting, as were her powers of persuasion, and her points were peppered with many “all due respects,” as she projected spreadsheets and charts which make an overwhelmingly convincing case for why it should stay open. Which implied that his decision was hasty and unfounded. At one point, it smelled of a lecture.

Odets said nothing, just stared at her.

CFO Cunningham-Blake tried to move on twice, but she continued as if he hadn’t spoken. Everyone’s attention was so focused on Delilah, that none seemed to hear him.

On her way out, Cunningham-Blake took her aside and chided her. “Are you out of your mind? He’s just back, he doesn’t have his land legs yet, you’re new, he doesn’t know you from Adam, and I don’t care how good a baker you are or how much revenue you’ve brought in, I’ll be surprised if you’re not gone by the end of business!”

She smiled, put her hand on Randall Cunningham-Blake’s chest, and replied, “I’m so glad you look after me.” She adjusted his tie, saying. “By the way, were any of those decisions I pointed out your idea? It will make him feel better to have someone to share the blame with. Or just to blame.” She patted his ever-expanding belly, and said, “And I am a good baker, aren’t I?” She winked at him and walked away.

Randall Cunningham-Blake took a quick look left and right. No one was watching, or if they had been, they had the good sense to avert their eyes. He checked to make sure that no one was looking, then he reached down and adjusted his erection so it was not pointing outward but tucked up in his tighty-whities, and buttoned his coat over it. When he did, he noticed that the button was about to pop.

When she passed Odets in the cafeteria, he glanced up at her and smirked, then looked away. He admired her boldness, and could not wait to find out about what end-game she had in mind.

Chapter Ten
The secretaries loved Delilah. She was no beauty, so gave no cause for jealousy. She treated them as colleagues.

Women who reach the corporate heights often behave as men or else have a faux sweetness about them. Delilah overheard a secretary expound on the difference. “A male boss will say, ‘I need this done today.’ He means that he expects you to stay until it’s on his desk. A woman boss will say, ‘If you can get this done today, that would be great.’ Which in female boss code means the same thing. But, if you don’t know the code, you might think, ‘Well, okay, it’s not that urgent. I’ll do it first thing tomorrow.’ Then you come in next morning and she’ll be all pissy and tell you, ‘I needed that done yesterday.’  Or, worse yet, she won’t say anything, and you won’t know what the peeved look is about. Until review time.”

They admired Delilah’s taste in clothes, which was never to turn a man’s head, but made them want to reach out and touch the fabric.

When she started to bring them goodies from her kitchen, the younger ones and the ones who hadn’t given up and were still counting calories had mixed emotions. “Are you trying to get us fat?” one of them piped up. “I’m only kidding.”

 Delilah always paid attention to the underlying message. She had anticipated this one. “Not to worry. I eat them, too. Enjoy them, and if you put on more than a pound or two pounds, let me know, and I can adjust the recipe.” None of them gained much weight. Delilah had been taught how to use sweet roots which, when mixed together, didn’t add calories yet tasted like butter. This was the version of her baked good she fed to them. She could have made a fortune by starting her own baked good company, but then she’d have to put up with the troubles of starting her own company. The secretaries begged for the recipe, but Delilah said, “I swore to my momma I’d keep this recipe a secret. It’s one of the family things, passed down and all.” She said it in a Kentucky accent, the way her momma talked, which softened it, and they laughed at how well she did it. It made them wonder if she had a little "hillbilly" in her background and rose in spite of it. She was a little bit of mystery to them, but she soon became their hero. Her pastries became their heroin.

To get access to Odets, one had to go through Randall Cunningham-Blake who served as his chief-of-staff. Randall Cunningham-Blake had an Irish secretary named Marjorie who served as his Cerberus. She was a no-nonsense woman who was extremely proficient at her job, and took no “bollocks” --which everyone soon found out was what they called “bullshit” in Ireland. If one tried to schedule an appointment for that day, she would look up at them as if they were asking something ridiculous, and say, “Ask me bollocks!” which everyone came to understand stood for “Not a chance.” Behind her back, she was known as Marjorie Bollocks. She knew it, and waited for the day someone’s tongue slipped, and they said those words out loud. Cunningham-Blake, who she referred to as “CB,” prized her candor and let her be. He liked her nickname for him since it sounded like one of those old-time movie producers. Marjorie was not charm-able. When Freud said the Irish were impervious to psychoanalysis, he was talking about Marjorie; outside of irascibility, she seldom revealed true feelings.

Soon after beginning at Odysseus, Delilah went to Marjorie and introduced herself with respect and without any ingratiating smiles. She called her Missus Halloran rather than Ms., because Delilah had heard her correct another secretary on the title, telling her, “I’m married thirty years, and I’ve earned the Missus.”

Whenever Delilah went to her to schedule an appointment, she brought something. First time, it was Irish soda bread. Like the rest of her breadstuffs, it was extraordinary. She warmed it in the small oven she’d brought to the break room. She came in at fifteen minutes of noon to make the appointment-- just before Marjorie’s lunch break--with the soda bread wrapped in a white cloth napkin and smelling grand.

The week before Christmas, she’d given her a $100 bottle of Redbreast 15-year-old Irish Whiskey. Not too expensive, but top-shelf. “From one Irishman to another” was what the card read.

By late January, Marjorie took to asking when Delilah would like to see him instead of dictating the time of the appointment as she did to all others.

Valentine’s Day, Delilah brought a devil’s food cake and told her, “Just between us? I’ve moved around a lot from job to job, but I like it here, and I plan to stay. When Mr. Cunningham-Blake retires, I’ll be shooting for his job. Some new executives like to use the “new broom sweeps clean” approach, but they’re fools. If I’m ever lucky enough to sit in  that office, and if you would consent to it, I’d like you here to advise me on the things I’d need to learn that only you could tutor me on. I hope your husband likes the cake.”

Delilah turned to leave but looked back and saw her wipe her eye with the same Irish linen napkin Delilah had wrapped the soda bread in. Delilah had sealed the deal.

Chapter Eleven
She had behaved badly with Mr. Cunningham-Blake, and knew she had to make amends. Her first stop was Marjorie’s desk.

At 4:45, Delilah stood outside the glass door so Marjorie could see her. Delilah stood there for a few minutes, then got out a handkerchief to blow her nose that could easily be interpreted as coming from tears.

Finally, Marjorie gestured for her to come in. Delilah’s lip quivered, but she stood erect to regain her composure, and faced Marjorie.

“Oh, darlin’. Not a smart move. He’s fumin’. What in God’s name did you say to him?”

Delilah’s hard work was paying off. Marjorie, if not on her side, was being kind to her. Anyone else who had crossed her boss would be persona non grata until CB specified otherwise.

“I need to see him to straighten things out, to make amends.

“My advice is to let it rest a bit. I’ll feel him out and call you tomorrow. He’s going to Atlanta tomorrow night, so it’ll give him a chance to cool down. Go home, pour yourself a whiskey, and have a hot bath. Worry is interest paid on trouble.” Delilah had a friend on the inside for sure.

The next day. Marjorie rang her.

“No need to see him, he says. But not in a bad way. He mentioned that you might be right. I think he just didn’t want to hear it from someone who hadn’t been here for a mere two years. Coming from a woman, too. But in my opinion, and I’ve been around him a lot, just don’t bring it up; no apologies, and bygones will be just that. These men see an apology as weakness. Just carry on like whatever donnybrook you two had never happened.”

“Don’t know what I’d do without you, Marjorie.” 

On Wednesday, Delilah phoned Marjorie and said, “I got a note that Mr. Odets wants to see me. I know the protocol is to go through Mr. Cunningham-Blake” --Delilah always used his full name to show proper respect-- but he’s in Atlanta. Should I wait till he gets back? Will Mr. Odets think I’m putting him off? What’s your advice?”

 “I can’t ask for an appointment with The Man behind the Great Wooden Doors without Mr. CB’s approval. But I do know that Himself stays late on Fridays. His secretary tells me he exercises at the gym downstairs, then sits in his office and has a drink. My advice would be to wander through the office after his secretary is gone. She told me that when she’s not there, he leaves the door open to see if anyone’s approaching. Seems he’s still a little jumpy from his ordeal, the poor man. Maybe bring him some of that pie, or whatever you fed him that caused such a stir. About 7:30, after everyone has left to get a pint and wash away the week.”

Delilah sat back in her chair, and smiled. Her months of strategy had paid off. She had entrée to the “Great Wooden Doors” and the chamber of “Himself.”

Chapter Twelve
This is the California State Correctional Facility calling with a collect call from--”

“I accept, operator,” Delilah interrupted. “Hi, Dad, how’s it going?”

“I’m good, honey. Nothing bad. Reading a lot of Thich Nhat Hanh. Got into mythology, too, which is very illuminating. You?”

“I’m good. I work a lot. The guy who runs the company--”

“Yeah, yeah, I saw that big parade on TV. I was going to ask you about that.”

“I met him, but haven’t really spoken to him yet. I started after he went off on the expedition, or cruise, or journey, or whatever.”

“We’re all on a journey, honey.”

“Right, dad.”

“On the TV it looked like he had red hair, too, pretty much the same color as yours. Freaky, huh? But that was on TV. and the colors could be different.”

“No, you’re right. I hadn’t thought about that, but you’re right. It is just like mine. Huh.” Sometimes Delilah lied just to keep in practice.

“Be careful, though. Guys like that don’t have much of a conscience. Are you happy, honey?”

“Sure, dad. I’m good at my job, I’m healthy, I’m not lonely.”

“Are you gettin’ laid?”

“Dad! How inappropriate!”

“That’s the new word, huh? I hear that word a lot on TV. Dilly, it’s a natural thing that keeps the hormones flowin’. It keeps you young and balanced.”

“Dilly, huh?”

“Sorry, I’ll never remember. Delilah. I love you, Delilah.”

“I love you, too, Dad. Shall we do it?”

They had a ritual. It kept him sane and her hopeful.

“Seven years, 10 months, 12 days down.”

“Two years, 1 month, 28 days to go.”

Then together they said, “Or sooner for good behavior!”

“I love you, dad.”


“I know what you’re going to ask, and no. No reply, no contact. She doesn’t want to talk to me, dad.”

“She can be a hard woman, honey. Kentucky redneck raw-bone redhead hard, and hill-country proud. Stubbornest woman ever, and the best. I miss her, Delilah. She comes to visit a little less, but still some.”

“Have you talked to her lately?”

“Yeah, sure. Every week. When I ask her to call you, the line goes quiet, so I stopped trying. She got her midwife license. She’s got a little shop in Santa Rosa where she sells her potions and lotions, so she gets along.”

“Dad, it is fucking crazy that you are in prison when it’s now legal. Please let me hire a lawyer to see what he can do about early release”

“Honey, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. As you now know, we made a shitload of money sellin’ weed, and that’s not allowed no how. When I get out. I’ll come up to New York City, and you can show me around. That’s why I really want to do the whole time of my sentence. I don’t want some parole officer comin’ around to break into my place and roust me or tell me I can’t leave the state to visit my Delilah in the Big Apple. Sounds tempting. Hell, it sounds biblical!”

“I love you, dad. Next week.”

“Same bat time, same bat channel.”

“I still don’t know what that means, but I love to hear you say it.”

“Good night, honey. Keep the faith.”

“Good night, Dad.”

Lilith would not answer her calls, her emails, nothing. Radio silence ever since Delilah transferred from astrophysics to business. Ever since she gave up the faith. Ever since she stopped worshipping, and had no “group.” Ever since she used what she knew and what she was given for her own advancement, her own aggrandizement, and her own profit, instead of healing and trying to help.

Delilah had gone from hurt to anger to numb to accepting.

Chapter Thirteen
It was 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, and time to play. Nothing like hot sex to make you forget your heartache.

John Braxton Mann was 32, GQ handsome, and from old Virginia stock who had the good sense to invest in Northern factories when they saw the “War of Northern Aggression” coming. He had a marvelous cock, seven and a half inches in length. Delilah kept stats. Ultimately, it was the girth that matters, and his was a pleasingly snug fit. If only he knew how to use it. But then, no matter; she did.

It was time to sign off with Mr. Mann. One Last Time. There were bigger fish to fry. Much bigger.

He was a pretentious snot, Skull and Bones, who thought he had a treasure in his pants, His attitude reminded her of that old Pompeii fresco she’d seen where the man has his enormous member laid on one side of the scales, and the other side is balanced with gold.

He admired her work, he said. He said he was surprised that a woman could be so savvy. He had married a Tri-Delt from Duke, a simpering, size 00 blonde whose world was the Junior League and Spin Cycling. He couldn’t make her come, he whined. Delilah was tempted to show him how, but then she met her at a cocktail party and found her snotty and supercilious, so she decided to leave her to her rabbit.

John Braxton Mann had succeeded Delilah in the previous three positions from which she had been promoted. Thus, she was the one who oriented him all three times in her nearly two-year rise within the ranks of Odysseus. It seemed he was chasing her in more ways than one.

The last time they were together, he had overpowered her and tried to sodomize her. She always suspected his intentions were not just to do her, but to undo her, and that confirmed it. Getting ass-fucked against your will is not about sex, it’s about power. She did a little maneuvering to slip it into the proper orifice, and from there she had control.

She had been vacillating about leaving him a going-away present, but after that little episode there was no question. Hers would be a memorable gift, utterly unforgettable, as hard as one might try.

She prepped the ingredients from memory. It was one recipe she did not have to consult the book for. Saltpeter was an urban legend from summer camp that was reputed to be added to the pudding so boys wouldn’t get erections. However, if combined with other herbs in the correct proportions, there was some truth to it. Sort of an anti-Viagra. Her going-away present would present him with a lifetime of responding to ED medication ads and trips to the psychiatrist. That he and Mrs. Tri-Delt were trying to get pregnant made Delilah relish it even more.

She soaked green olives in the brew. The tartness of the olives would mask the taste.

“I want you to fuck me hard tonight, just do it, and do it, and do it, and see how many times you can make me come. I need it, I need your cock, that exquisite treasure you carry around between your legs, I’ve never had anything in me that can do what it does to me. I’m so lucky that you fuck me.”

Thus, Delilah’s improvisation began. Two martinis and two bong hits into it, she sat with her knees curled up under her, and whispered those words into his ear, punctuating them with little audible kisses. Every time she gave him one of those little kisses, she could feel the soft shafts of the hairs on the nape of his neck stand on end.

She plucked olives from the bowl, put them into her mouth, then slid them into his. The warm sensual slipperiness of olives and mouths was lovely, and she was almost swept away with it, until he opened up his mouth wide like a Baby Bird as if begging Mama Bird to plop in the food. It was laughable, pathetic, and just the chilling effect that Delilah needed to remind her of what the mission was, and not to get lost in her own love-making.

She slipped off his pants, pushed a little on the inside of his thighs to get him to spread them, and began the performance others had actually applauded. Slow. With eye-contact. Ravenous. Dirty.

Alas, Mr. Braxton Mann, thanks to that little potion in the olives, was not up to the task. It had never happened to him before, he protested. She consoled him, with a “don’t worry about it.” She snuggled up to him, and they turned on the TV.

She tried to arouse him again, and though his mind was all for it, the flesh failed him.

The third time, she giggled.

“What the hell is so funny?”

“Nothing. Nothing.” The irrepressible giggling continued.

“What the fuck, Delilah, are you laughing at me?”

“No, no, John. I just think it’s funny that, well, that, oh, I don’t know, your wanting to get your wife pregnant, and spending your seed on me, and now you’re up in your head or something, and you can’t...oh, god, I’m horrible, but....”

Delilah was laughing so hard, she had to hold her belly. If she didn’t have the corporate bent, she could have been an Oscar-winner.

“Why is that so fucking funny to you?”

“I’m just too high, honey. Here, let’s try again.”

“No. No. Don’t laugh at me.”

“I’m sorry. Really. Here, give me a hug.” He crossed his arms and turned away from her like he was a cartoon of a little boy pouting. She hugged him from behind.

“Come on, sweetie. I’m so sorry I hurt your feelings. Have another hit, and I’ll do something special that I bet will fix this little temporary problem. You refill it, and I’ll be right back.”

Delilah went to the bathroom, ran the hot water, got two washcloths, one wet, one dry. A warm wet cloth makes everything fresh and relaxes all the muscles around the sphincter. She had read about prostate massage, and watched a porn video of it. She’d read that it was possible for a man to have an orgasm without an erection this way.

 She kissed and licked the inside of his thighs. She ran her fingernails up and down his belly and around his nipples. She took off his socks and massaged between the bones in the ball of his foot, dug her fingers into the heel and ran her thumbnail across the arch. She had his legs bent back like he was going to get fucked. She kept kissing and licking closer to the little star. She languidly stroked the top of his foot, running up the outside of his thigh to behind the knee. When she tickled there, she was afraid he’d jerk away, but he stayed motionless, trembling for fear she might stop. She used her thumbs to massage under his buttocks up into the muscles and tendons between his legs. She dug her fingernails into his buttocks in little grabbing motions. She took her hands away completely, and he raised his ass in the air, begging for more. From between the cushions of the couch, she retrieved a small bottle of Astroglide (she smirked at the name) and a plastic ring with a vibrator in it. She poured a little lubrication on her fingers, and circled the place he wanted her to go. She dipped her finger in about a half inch and made a little circle inside of him. She tugged her finger back and forth. and his inside muscles hung on, sucking the tip of her finger. She dropped a tad more lube onto her finger and, bit by bit, worked her finger inside, first to one side, then the other, then in the smallest of circles. She began to lick the place between his balls and his ass that some laughingly refer to as the “taint.” (When she asked a friend why it was called the taint, they told her, “‘T’ain’t one place and ‘t’ain’t the other.) Everything combined would have given most a raging erection, but nothing happened.

She got more aggressive, always with more lube, and started fucking him with her petite index finger all the way in and out more quickly. She found his prostate. She put the ring on her finger; the ring vibrated, and she moved it all around where she had been.

She could feel the bulb of his prostate swell, then felt it pulse and twitch. His breath came more quickly, the little moans growing louder, and, without a sign of an erection, he ejaculated. He came a lot more than she expected, since it was coming out of a flaccid penis. Delilah caught it in the washcloth so it wouldn’t stain the couch. He flopped over on the couch and was snoring a moment later.

They awoke about 3 am. She pulled him up, and they toddled down the hall to the bedroom.

Cuddling in her oversized bed, Delilah said, “John, can I ask you something.”

“Sure,” he muttered.

“When you were in prep school, did you ever, you know, fool around, like with other boys, maybe your roommate, I mean, like when you were drunk and horny?”

His eyes popped open. “What? No, fuck no. I’m no faggot!”

“Calm down, sweetie. I did.”

“Yeah. That’s cool. But it’s different with girls. You see two girls doing it in all the skin mags. But the idea of two dudes going at each other’s hairy assholes is just beyond disgusting. Puke, gag, blahh!”

A beat. A long beat.

“Why did you ask me that?”

“It’s just, well, the way you came. Like never before. You liked it so much in your ass, and I was just wondering, I mean, I think bisexuality is cool, it’s the thing now, and--”

“Wait, you think because you...because I... that that makes me queer?”

“No, no, no, I know for sure you’re not queer--I mean gay. It’s just that the guys I’ve been with who like that kind of stuff, are--most of the time--bi. That’s all I’m saying. But it’s no big deal. Forget it.”

“Hard to forget.”

“Hey, not to worry. You came so much. You are a super-duper-stud. Your other half should be knocked up in a twinkling now that you guys are trying, right?”

“Yeah. Right. Thanks. I came a lot, huh?”

“Yeah. Like more than ever before. More than I can ever remember ANYTHING squirting like that! Now, go to sleep, super-stud.”

Chapter Fourteen
His wife was at a spa in the Caribbean, so he stayed over.

Delilah handed him his coffee, and inquired, “What are you doing for lunch?”

“I was supposed to meet with marketing, but I got a text that their main guy has the flu, so they had to cancel. Why?”

“I want a rematch. I’ll get a room at the Carlton. Meet me there at 12:30. I’ll order room service, and we’ll be back by two. Cool?”

“Uhhh. Ok. Sure. You randy little thing, you!”

“Wait a second, Mr. Mann! You were the one who got off last night--and without an erection, which is really cool. I never saw that before! BUT I had to DIY to get to sleep, so you owe me one.”

“Ok. Deal.”

“I’m out of here. Lock up, ok?”


“In a hurry, in a hurry.” She was putting on her coat, gathering her keys, phone, purse. She didn’t have anything to rush for. It was part of the improv.

“You never had a guy come without an erection?”

“Darling, that would be something I would have remembered. It was brilliant; I’m impressed. See you at 12:30. I’ll text you what room. Don’t you cancel on me, stud!”

She was out the door. Mann looked into his coffee and felt a dark heat surround him.

Chapter Fifteen
Delilah waited in the coffee shop until she saw him exit her building. She hurried back to her apartment to retrieve the zucchini bread from the fridge.  She baked it with more preparation in. A longer-lasting mixture. She was amused by the symbolism that she had used zucchini bread.

During their afternoon delight, as expected, things failed to function. Delilah began to feign frustration. She noticed that his substantial member had shrunk a bit even in the flaccid state, as if it were shy and embarrassed. He ate all the zucchini bread. But then everyone ate all of anything Ms. Kirke baked.

She decreed, “Listen here. I want you at my place at 8:30 tonight. I’ll make dinner. If we keep trying, we’ll have a breakthrough. If I don’t feel your dick inside me soon, I’m going to kill something.”

“But I have to…”

“Don’t give me any grief, John. If you ever want get any of this ass again, have YOUR ass there at half past eight!” 

As an executive, she knew how to command.

At 8:32, she met him at the door in a raincoat and nothing else, flashed him, then ran into the bedroom. He did not give chase. She came out a few minutes later out in a silky Japanese robe.

“You didn’t follow.”

“I don’t know, I…”

“Forget it, let’s eat.”

Fettuccine alfredo with crispy garlic bread. Garlic covered the stronger taste of the final dose.

Afterwards, when he failed for the third time, her charm dissolved. She went from ridicule to disgust and back again. Then she ordered him out.

When John Braxton Mann got up to urinate the next morning, he practically had to reach up inside to bring it out. He sat down on the toilet to pee, and cried like the little boy he’d never grown out of being.

A week later, there was a memo on the company’s intranet that J. Braxton Mann had taken a position at another corporation. Through a back channel, she checked the salary. Delilah snickered when she found out that his new position came with a substantial cut in pay.

Chapter Sixteen

She approached the office with the large oak doors at 7:32. Delilah scanned the offices to make sure everyone else had departed. In her bag was a $3,500 bottle of vintage Elijah Craig 22-Year-Old Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon. She loved the description: “butter popcorn, citrus zest, toasted honey, cocoa, and warm, sweet pipe tobacco with an aftertaste of a sprig of fresh mint.” She thought of her momma when she drank Kentucky bourbon. Then she thought of what her momma would think of this indulgence. Then she forced herself to think of where she was headed instead.

Even in high heels, she made no noise when she walked. From behind his glass desk, Ulysses jerked up in alarm. They didn’t speak. She grabbed the neck of the bottle and let the bag fall away to the floor. She walked around his desk, breaching the divide between the master and his minions. She twisted the cap to break the seal and popped the cork, took a big swig, and handed it to him. He was still sitting in his wide leather chair. He took it, sniffed it, inspected the bottle, looked up at Delilah, and took a long swallow. It was instant camaraderie, like sweaty sailors cracking open a fifth after they’d soogied down the portside.

He passed it back to her. She took another long drink, banged in the cork with the palm of her hand, put in on the glass table, swung around, and lowered herself onto his lap in the roomy chair.

Still silent, she ran her fingers through his beard like she had never seen one before, and she had never seen one of such perfect auburn and so exquisitely trimmed. He smelled of Bay Rum. Clove, pimento oil, cinnamon. Their eyes met and latched. She edged toward his lips, backed off a half inch to tease, delicately touched her lips to his. All this with eyes wide open and still locked. Like melting, like the first taste of soft ice cream, their mouths joined, and their eyes closed.

It had begun.

On the desk, over the desk, on the leather couch, on the Afghani carpet. After they wore each other out, they lay in one another’s arms on the carpet with the soft Afghan covering them. They had not spoken a word, except for crying out in nearly religious and very profane ecstasy.

With his head on her, he wept. The naked man with his body pressed up against her and his limbs wrapped around her was in deep grief. What was he grieving?

Even Ulysses wasn’t sure.

Finally, he sat up, wiped his wet face and leaking nose with his palm, and broke the silence with a simple and non-committal, “Well.” He reached over to his discarded trousers and got out his handkerchief. When he blew his nose, it was a like a goose’s honk which sent Delilah into a fit of giggles. He laughed with her, lay down facing her, and they just looked at each other’s face for a full minute.

Delilah kissed him on the nose, arose, and picked up the bottle. She took two glasses from the bar, squatted on the carpet, poured a splash of bourbon into each, and handed him one. He sniffed it. It wasn’t the same nose of the Scotch he always ordered, but a sweeter, homier smell. She held out her glass to clink them, to toast their wordless, abandoned, inevitable fucking all over this magnificent office. Maybe to their success for the company that their synergy of wits and acumen would likely bring. And undoubtedly to the predictable, disastrous finale that anyone could see coming.

 At 9:00 p.m., the phone rang. Ulysses started to it to see if it was Penny calling. Delilah jumped up, got between him and phone, sat on the desk, lifted her legs, clutched his rump with both hands, and pulled him in to her. He had not been hard, but in the moment, it took from her grabbing his ass to the tip of his cock touching her, it swelled to full size and more. The metaphor of her getting between him and the wife was not lost on him. The wife he adored, the beauty queen wife who defended him with a fierce loyalty, whose constancy and faith in him had never waned. Much like the faith of the crew whose skeletons rested at the bottom of the sea or in the belly of a shark. These thoughts, however, didn’t retard his encore performance on the edge of the glass desk.

She used his used handkerchief to wipe between her legs. He reached for another in his desk drawer, gesturing for her to wait till he got her a clean one, but she shook her head and smiled. That lascivious smile while she kept wiping their mixed fluids got him half-hard again.

She dressed. She put her cheek next to his. She whispered one word, “Monday.” He nodded his head.

He always watched women exit the room to admire their derrieres. This woman who was equal to the most entrancing and exuberant partners (he’d had among the hundreds--or could there be a thousand?), had no ass at all, and could have been, with the right clothing and a ball cap, mistaken for a boy.

He took a hot shower to wash off her smell.  His intention was to knock back a quick energy drink, and get to Penelope with a loving expression and a big kiss. As he sat to put his shoes on, he laid back for just a moment, and, exhausted, fell asleep in the chair.  And he dreamed.

They’d hit a fog bank, and were just coming out of it when the helmsman called down, “Captain, you’ve got to see this!”

When he came topside, the men were gazing at it.

“What an incredible mansion,” one sailor said.

“That’s too big for a mansion. Maybe a hotel?”

“Who would put a hotel out here?”

Odets’ baritone always got their attention. “Friends, that is a palace. Make for there, and find their dock. We are out of the fog, and the full moon is out and full. This looks like the start to the adventure I promised you.”


“For the island, man. Sail!”

“Captain, please come up here in the cabin for a moment.”

“For god’s sake, man, what?” he said climbing up to the cabin.

“The compass, sir. It’s spinning.”

“Did you break it? Did someone drain the alcohol from it! Men, line up! Let me smell the breath of each of you.”

The stench of each of their breath was wretched, but none smelled of alcohol.

“I see a dock, sir.”

“Tie up there. We’ll see if we can raise the inhabitants.

They must have hit a shoal. It knocked Ulysses backwards. He fell and banged his head, and....

His phone binged with a message.  “Are you on your way?” 


The Penis Thief

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​​​A  Very Dark  Romance.

(Or, The RIse and Fall and Rise of a  Redheaded witch)

By John McMullen

“Worth its weight in gold”

​​​Fresco of Priapus, Villa dei Vettii 

Delilah Kirke was not your average witch. She had an MBA and was a shining star in the corporate world, rising to its heights in the short time since she graduated Wharton.
Not bad for a girl raised on a “clothing optional” commune in Humboldt County, California.

The Penis Thief is based (loosely) on that first erotic thriller, Homer's "Odyssey."

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Language, Graphic Violence, and Strong Sexual Content. Reader discretion is advised. 

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Editor David Lerner of 

Austin Macauley Publishers, London, writes: ​

"'The Penis Thief'…was found to be winding, visceral, extraordinary. The author know whereof they write, and they have written a raw, erotic, commercial fiction novel.
Sandy’s story... is just one thread that draws the reader in and keeps them in a stranglehold until the final page.

"It succeeds on every front without arrogance and with verve. The intensity of its erotica is easily won and puts the reader in the driving seat, but outside that there is a romping adventure from beginning to end. 

"Characters, situations, and locations all show the practiced hand of an experienced wordsmith. Terrific.”