In the heyday of the Hippie Counterculture, Jim, a disaffected postgraduate, goes on a rural retreat in quest of his identity. He finds a cool alternative abode, which initiates in a bizarre relationship with the housemother, Celia, who turns out to be an undercover police officer, but also with dubious connections. Things develop, including a delicious one—off with Celia, and Jim is drawn towards the edges of nefarious activity. He ends up waiting for his Barrister, convinced he will clear him.
So, how did I, Jim Herrington, come across this place? By inspired fumbling, which is the way most things cross my path. In those far off days, like so many people of my ilk, I was an impassioned hitchhiker. Somewhat fashionably and rather typically, I followed a long, meandering route around the country, taking occasional prompts and directions from my Alternative Organic Living magazine. My destination house was charted there.
Having previously been socialized into the YHA, I didn’t really foresee any problems getting on with whomsoever I might encounter, unless they were the problematical ones, in which case I would split.
The girl who came to the door, wearing a long patchwork robe, obviously home-made, looked rather like an alternative Youth Hostel warden. “What brings you here,” she asked me, as if I were one of many who had passed through the house, “Time warp? Culture shock?”
“A bit of both.” I felt that my turgid, disordered thesis and my messed-up academic career merited those tags.
“So, life got you into a bit of a tangle, and you’re interested in straightening yourself out? That’s cool.” Not as a stranger! We could have taken those words out of each other’s mouths.
“Your bread’s ok?” She gave me a suspicious, sidelong look which she quickly covered with a tight smile. “This is a safe address for giros,” she said, “within reason.”
“I’m into grants and fees,” I replied.
Her eyes lit up. “OK, Jim, then there’s room for you. I guess you are familiar with the kind of set-up we have here. There’s a rota of weekly tasks to keep the place shipshape—the living rooms and the other shared rooms. What you do with your own room is your own affair, again within reason, of course. And you must be prepared to attend house meetings. Domestic business is done on a communal basis, that is, based on democratic majority decision.”
“I’ve been an aspiring student politician, honey, so that’s second nature to me.”
“Do you…take anything?”
“Only the soft ones, in harmony with organic diets and herbal medicines.”
“That’s perfectly cool. We’ve just got to draw the line at the hard stuff. Well, stick around. You’ll meet the others in a couple of hours or so.”
Jim Herrington has found himself wandering and hitchhiking across America, trying to find his place in the world after some difficulties in his Academic workplace. Staying at a cross between a commune and youth hostel, he struggles to fit into the alternative, volatile situation he finds himself in. Ceila, the “house mother” is a strange, mysterious woman prone to sudden changes of heart, yet Jim finds himself unaccountably attracted to her.
This is a slightly strange book, unlike most anything else I’ve read. Told in the first person in some ways it’s difficult to understand what’s going on, as we can only see things from Jim’s perspective and experience. Also, while much is alluded to throughout the story, I didn’t feel as if some things were very clearly explained, things like why – exactly – Jim found himself at this hostel, what he was running from and whether he was complicit in much of the drug trafficking and such. In some ways this felt to me like one of those “confessions of” stories, and while I did enjoy it, I spent most of the time mystified as to where the story was going, what was fully happening with the plot, and what the thrust of the plot really was. Despite this I wanted to understand, the author’s writing was quick, precise and interesting and so I continued to read in the hopes of illumination. While even upon completion I still didn’t get most of it, I didn’t feel as if I had wasted my time either, reading something completely alternative and refreshingly different.
There’s no traditional romance or erotica in this short story, the sex is held pretty much behind closed doors (there’s no graphic content to it, merely a build up to it and then declaration of the act having been performed) and while it’s clear the main relationship is between Jim and Celia, I didn’t personally find any romance between them. For an erotic short story this surprised me, but seemed to resonate with the first person, slightly disjointed, mysterious tone and presentation of the whole tale. I feel that readers who are looking for something completely outside the box and different might truly enjoy this, but readers wanting just a quick, sexy read mightn’t find what they’re looking for here.
A really different read, but still enjoyable.
Originally posted at Long and Short Reviews
Perry has a desire for the right woman to spend some time with, enjoying each other’s company, a romantic interlude that would lead to that one fabulous encounter, bringing complete ecstasy.
Rowena is a therapist who has endured a repressed childhood. She loves dressing up and feels that the clothes have a way of caressing her body. She wants him to open up his mind to his dreams.
He begins to ache for Rowena. He finds her dark, sultry and somewhat reserved. He finds hard professional women sexy, and she happens to be just the one he believes could bring out that strong urge that he needs to release. Rowena wants him to incorporate his dreams into a healing process. She is able to help him release his inner self as the two have some romantic interludes that lead to total satisfaction. By giving into what their hearts and mind desires, they are able to find that one medium that captures their souls. After everything is over, will they be able to face the world positively?
A breeze smiled on me, soothing the migraine of the day’s travelling.
Rowena, my therapist, was so soothing. Her almond eyes were a warm synthesis of liquidity and matured resin, her lips verging on purple. She was dark, sultry, feline, laid back, reserved, and accommodating, but with such potential for elusiveness! Her low velvet voice melted my reserve and made me ache, my fingers poised to do that touch talk. She had a hold on me, so tender, so yielding, but so firm, I had some token resistance, some caution, but I wanted that, I arranged it, but I did not know what to do about it.
I’d been in my self-protective shell for so long, and always tended to put others down for being conned. It was good that I finally got out of that job. I had had to stretch my upper lip to near the snapping point. Considering what I felt about my supervisor, that good lump of severance pay would give me time so sort myself out. Still, I had committed myself to what I had decided was essential treatment. She had to bring me out, and it would be a sustained operation. She outlined to me that there were a multitude of blocks. We had been consulting together for several months, and at the mental level, we had melted many defensive barriers. How often had our breath felt like a string, pulling us closer to that introductory caress, how often had I felt we nearly touched each other as we delicately paced our minds through those in-depth confessions! Or, how skilled she was at covering up a possible web of stresses and tensions, which was strictly her private area! What traumas must she have experienced to get that delicious equipoise that now faced me, defined me, challenged me, the positives balancing the rejection taboos of my past? Her body language rippled and throbbed—the way she controlled the crossing and uncrossing of her legs, the way she wore skirts of just the right length, or jeans just loose enough to ripple, knowing how to caress herself, knowing how to make her clothes caress her. Her favourite delicate fabrics must really turn her on. She certainly showed me a wide variety of outfits at our various consultations. My wishful thinking simmered. Perhaps there was a coded message underneath her assured professional front. My eyes alternated between her body and her file, between the hand controlling her pen and the eyes, brain and body controlling me. I had laid myself open to her by consulting her…there is always two-way potential…
She had put on no scent, but the natural perfume of her aura permeated me. I was a confused cocktail of trance and clear-headedness.
She had spent one long session struggling to coax me into positive thinking. Through the usual heavy family conditioning and through a good number of snubs and vicious deceptions, I had grown so many defensive membranes, layers that now felt congealing, coagulating.
Next session, I had to go back to her with a progress report on the programme of self-redirection she had drafted for me. As ever, Rowena urged me to incorporate my dreams into the healing process. She switched on some rippling, vaporous meditation music with a background of natural sounds, water and breeze on her sound system, got me comfortable on the couch. She then sat beside me, looking me hypnotically, straight in the face. I felt that she always mentally undressed me in these sessions, putting out laser rays on my buttons and zips. That was what made them so effective and sustained her hold on me.
Her soul embraced me, so that I wanted her to absorb my essence into her own body and mind. Her lips and nostrils were in titillating accord as she faced me and acknowledged me. I ached for her hands, I longed to reciprocate. The buttons on her blouse, the suggestion of the crisp bra within, were so magnetic. When she touched the buckle of her belt, her fingers almost clinching to undo…Rowena induced a trance in me, barely repressed by formality, and I felt it was taking hold of her, as well. It was obeying a non-verbal instruction, tunnelling out of the prison of routine obedience. I ached for her hands to undo my clothes.
I have been reviewing David Russell’s work the past couple of days, and I must say that I have saved the best for last. Therapy Rapture is one of the most eclectic short stories I have come across. It combines a short story, art, and poetry. Crazy cool, huh?
Our male protagonist has an issue separating fantasy from reality. Throw in a therapist and a fitness trainer, and we have all the hot makings of a sensual read. After reading a few of Russell’s short stories, I see that he has an eye for romance and subtle details. His character lives in the moment, and each movement is filed with emotion and meaning. This builds quite the anticipation for lovemaking. And speaking of lovemaking, David has a soft hand for these types of scenes, preferring to keep the erotic details hidden. I find it refreshing and alluring.
I also really enjoyed how Russell changed up things a little with artwork and poetry. It was an unexpected break from the usual short stories, and one I liked very much. After reviewing Russell’s work over the past couple of days, I’ve come to know his work as truly unique. His writing is very abstract, sophisticated, and sensual, and I highly recommend Therapy Rapture!
~Zee [Fire Pages]
b. 1940. Resident in the UK. Writer of poetry, literary criticism, speculative fiction and romance. Main poetry collection Prickling Counterpoints (1998); poems published in online International Times. Main speculative works High Wired On (2002); Rock Bottom (2005). Translation of Spanish epic La Araucana, Amazon 2013. Romances: Self’s Blossom; Explorations; Further Explorations; Therapy Rapture; Darlene, An Ecstatic Rendezvous (all pub Extasy (Devine Destinies). Singer-songwriter/guitarist. Main CD albums: Bacteria Shrapnel and Kaleidoscope Concentrate. Many tracks on You Tube, under ‘Dave Russell’
Find David Here