Folie a Deux, Episode 02

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Reaction to the first chapter in this ongoing story was polarized. Some loved it and others didn’t – and the ones who didn’t really didn’t! Most of the objections concerned the format of the story, since some folks didn’t like the documentary transcript style (or even the first person narration). I assumed this would be the case, since it’s dramatically different from anything else I’ve read – and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to write it this way! I’d started this story a dozen different ways before I thought of this, and this seemed to me to be the ideal vehicle for blending the accounts of several unreliable narrators with some objective evidence of their relative truthfulness (based on their reactions to the unseen interviewers). This was an experiment for me to see if this format worked for a story; I write for an audience of one, but since I liked the results I decided to share it. That means that this and all future chapters in this story will be in the same format. Other stories I might write in the future may or may not be, but that depends wholly on what works best for the story in question. Also, if this tickles your fancy and you’d like to try a story of your own with this sort of format, I strongly encourage it, since it’s at once liberating and confining in such a manner as to stimulate creativity.

*****

Folie à Deux

Episode 2: Homecoming

By Senor Smut

The screen is black as we hear a man speak. The voice is young, strong, vibrant, and deep, with a solid Midwestern accent. “I’ve never been as uncomfortable as I was with mom over the next few days. How could we discuss what we did? How could we not discuss what we did?”

We now see a closeup of a young man against a black background. He is white, in his early 20s at the most, and very handsome. His face is composed all of bold lines, from his high cheekbones to his striking jawline and his cleft, pointed chin. His mouth is a thin line that shows a certain determination and strength of character, while his icy blue eyes hint at depth and reserves of intelligence and thoughtfulness. His hair is short, straight, and dark.

Below, we see the legend Mike Larsen.

“There was a massive thing between us now, and neither of us could figure out a way to get our arms around it,” he continues. “I knew that if we didn’t figure it out, I mean just how to live with it, it was going to tear our family apart. And I didn’t have the first idea how to begin.”

Mike disappears, replaced by a black screen with the words:

Folie à Deux

Episode 2: Homecoming

The title is replaced by another familiar face: a woman in her early 40s who bears a striking family resemblance to Mike, but for her generous lips, her dark eyes, and especially her wild mane of untameable blonde locks. She’s wearing a red shirt with a narrow collar, hinting that this is a different day from the first interview.

Her name is given as Emily Larsen.

“The next several days were more awkward for me than actually doing what the Visigoths had forced us to do,” she relates. “When we were there and being forced to have sex in front of the gang, we didn’t focus on anything but the moment. We simply couldn’t afford to. We had to do what we were told under threat of death, and when one is in that sort of a situation one doesn’t have the luxury of looking ahead. We were forced to focus on the moment.”

Mike reappears, looking pensive. “In the moment, there was nothing but the moment. I mean, the furthest ahead I could think was to the period immediately after we got done having sex, where I didn’t want my mom to be thinking ‘Damn, that was bad sex in addition to being sex with my son.’ That was, like, as far ahead as my mind could even conceive of. And once we got done, it was like…my mind still couldn’t conceive of anything after that sex. It was like we were both stuck there.”

“Looking back on it, it was very clearly a mistake not to address it right away,” Emily says. “I think, had we talked during that short period after we’d finished having sex but before the bikers drove us into town, we’d have been able to find words much more easily. We were both traumatized, however, and rather…lost in our own thoughts. It was difficult to find words that didn’t feel trite or tremendously inappropriate. And of course, the longer we let the silence go, the more difficult it was to breach it.”

Mike is rubbing his chin and looking to the side. “I remember…uh…I remember sitting on the airplane, sitting right next to mom, and absolutely not knowing the first word to say. Like not even how to start the first sentence. I kept opening my mouth and – well, no, I kept thinking about opening my mouth and then not doing it because whenever I thought about talking to her, I could feel my throat squeeze closed. Seriously.”

“Whenever I thought I knew how to start a conversation,” bağdatcaddesi escort Emily says, “I would remember what we did. It wasn’t simply that we’d done it. We’d loved it. I’d begged him in the most obscene terms possible. It seemed humiliating simply to start a conversation.”

“So yeah, whole flight, not a word,” Mike sighs. “We land, I called dad to tell him we’d arrived safe and everything. Said we’d meet him at the hotel. Then mom and I waited for our bags. Just…stood there. Not talking. Not even looking at each other, because every time I looked at her all I could see was her down on her knees, naked with my cock in her mouth. So we just…stared.”

“The taxi ride to the hotel was silent,” Emily says. “For a time I was lost in a sort of…a fugue, I suppose, reliving the event to the extent that I was even smelling what I’d smelled the day before, the urine smell of the drug lab and the roasting pork.”

“How were those recollections making you feel?” asks an offscreen voice. This interviewer is male with a slight English accent and he sounds older than the woman who interviewed the pair in the first episode.

“That was a very interesting thing, because they were making me feel very nearly the opposite of what I felt at the time,” Emily says. “As it was going on, I was caught up in a spiral of lust that quickly got out of control. My son is an exceptional lover and we both managed to lose ourselves in the moment. However, as I relived it, all I could feel was shame and self-loathing.”

“Did you feel loathing toward Mike?” the interviewer asks.

“No, of course not,” she says, though a quaver in her voice indicates that the answer may be more complex than that.

“How did I feel toward mom then,” Mike muses, then exhales heavily. “I felt…I felt like she was…I don’t know. I did feel bad for her, because in the house I grew up in there’s no hiding loud noises and I’d never, ever heard her make sounds like I made her make. So, like, she wasn’t getting that from dad at all. But then I started wondering if that made me a better lover than my dad, and when you start wondering whether your mom thinks you’re a better lay than your dad is, you’ve gone down a real weird fucking road. So basically whenever I started to think about her, I’d force myself to think of something else, but I couldn’t think of anything else for more than about thirty seconds before I’d start thinking about her again.”

“Did you want to have sex with her again?” the interviewer asks.

“Not then!” Mike laughs. “I wasn’t even sure I could ever look at her again. Fucking her was the last thing I had on my mind.”

“I didn’t want to have sex with Mike again,” Emily says, “but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It had been extraordinary – revelatory, as I said last time. I found I was relieving specific moments over and over again. They were just instants, really, sensations or impressions.”

“Such as?” the interviewer asks.

“Well…just little things,” Emily says uncomfortably, her awkwardness when discussing sex in full play. “Things he did or things I felt. Things that were different from what I was used to. Certain comparisons were inevitable, and I felt incredibly guilty making them but I couldn’t help myself.”

“Why not?”

Emily looks truly uncomfortable, and she shrugs.

“When we got to the hotel,” Mike says, “I think it was the first time either of us realized that we were about five minutes from seeing dad and Olivia. I…I freaked, I’ll be honest. I had a straight-up panic attack.”

Emily still looks shaken. “When we pulled to a stop and I looked up and saw the rather severe white facade of the Hotel Whitcomb and realized that my husband and daughter were waiting for us inside, I felt as though someone had punched me in the stomach. And then I…”

“And then you what?” the interviewer asks.

“Mom opened the cab door and puked on the sidewalk,” Mike chuckles, “so at least I handled it better than she did! Not like I handled it well or anything. I sort of hyperventilated.”

“In the time since we’d…in the time since it had happened, I had thought almost continuously about how I would ever face Mike again,” Emily says. “I had thought very little about how I would face Bob or Olivia. Somehow, seeing them again always felt distant, even when we were on the way to the hotel. And now I was faced with seeing them in moments and I didn’t have any idea what to say or do.”

“I didn’t even really know what mom had told dad,” Mike says. “I knew she’d told him we had an accident but I didn’t know if she’d told him anything else, or what. I mean, we hadn’t discussed it, right? But it was going to be obvious that something had happened between us, something really big and really traumatic, and I didn’t know what the hell to tell dad or Olivia.”

“The doorman helped me out of the taxi,” Emily says. “I’m afraid I didn’t stop to say anything beykoz escort to Mike. I know I should have, but suddenly all I could think about was the foul taste in my mouth. I went inside and immediately went to the restroom to try to clean up.”

“I paid the taxi and made sure the porters got everything inside,” Mike says. “But I was still, like, panicking. My heart was just hammering and my mind was racing. I couldn’t think of anything to say or do. I knew mom went to the bathroom and I absolutely no way wanted to be the first one up to the rooms. But then it was weird to wait for her because I didn’t even want to look at her, much less talk to her. So I paid the porter a twenty to take the bags up to the rooms and I went for a walk.”

“You sent the bags up but you didn’t go up yourself?” the interviewer clarifies, sounding incredulous.

“Yeah, I went out,” Mike nods. “Walking. Walking around. Just…walking.”

“For how long?”

Mike shifts a bit and looks embarrassed as he says, “Um…four hours. Closer to five.”

“When I got out of the restroom about…half an hour later, I didn’t see Mike or the bags,” Emily says. “I naturally assumed he’d gone up first with the luggage and had already seen his father and sister. That was when my telephone rang. Bob was wondering where we were – he said the bags had been brought up twenty minutes before but neither of us were there, and he was worried.”

“What did you say?”

“I didn’t know what to say,” Emily shrugs. “I didn’t know where Mike had gone. I thought he might have run off – run away, I mean – so as not to face me. To face the family. I’m afraid I got rid of Bob very brusquely and called Mike.”

“I actually had my phone turned off,” Mike said. “On the way in the taxi the buzzing from texts and Facebook and shit was driving me nuts, so I turned it off. I didn’t even think about how it would all play, with the luggage showing up and then mom showing up sometime after and me not showing up at all. I really wasn’t thinking at all.”

“When he didn’t answer his phone, I…” Emily paused, thinks for a moment, and then laughs. “I lost my mind. I began…making a fuss.”

We now see a closeup of a man who appears to be in his early-to-mid 40s. He is handsome with icy blue eyes that resemble Mike’s. His hair is dark brown except for several strands of gray at the temples; this, coupled with the care lines around his eyes, give him an air of weary wisdom. He looks familiar to those who saw Episode 1, and his identity is confirmed when he is given the name Bob Larsen in a subtitle below his face.

“I’d been worried the night before, when I heard about the accident,” Bob says in a deep, steady voice. “Emily called me and she sounded very shaken up, very upset. At the time I thought it was due to the wreck of the minivan she loved so much – she really did have a love affair with that vehicle. She told me the accident wasn’t bad, but I assumed she was minimizing it to keep me from worrying, which is a habit she’s always had. Anyway, I was looking forward to seeing her in the morning.

“I knew something really odd was going on when the suitcases showed up without either her or Mike,” Bob continues. “It was Emily and me in one room and Mike and Olivia in another, and Olivia thought it was pretty odd too, so after we waited a few more minutes I called Emily. When she freaked out and basically hung up on me, I knew something more had happened than just a car accident – of course, I had no idea what. Then about five minutes later, hotel staff called and told me my wife was making a scene in the lobby.”

“I recall…talking loudly,” Emily says judiciously. “I demanded that the staff notify the police that my son was missing, and when they explained that he had apparently left of his own volition, I demanded that they send someone to look for him. I freely admit that I may not have been entirely rational at that moment.”

“When the elevator doors opened in the lobby,” Bob says, “the first thing I heard was Emily screaming. Now, Emily isn’t a screamer, so hearing that, I knew that there was something going on that I didn’t know about. I tried to get her calmed down, but she was…irrational.”

“It was all coming out,” Emily says. “The emotion, I mean, not the facts. I had been keeping all of the anxiety and fear and pain and confusion bottled up very tightly inside. I hadn’t even allowed myself to speak to the only person who understood the situation – Mike – and now I was confronted by hotel staff who had absolutely no idea what I was going through and all of those emotions…exploded out of me.”

“What were you thinking?” the interviewer asks.

“I don’t believe I was thinking,” she shrugs.

“Not at all?”

“I wanted my son there,” she replies. “I wanted to know where he was at the very least. I imagine it was the motherly instinct of protection acting in a…maladaptive manner.”

“Explain?” caddebostan escort the interviewer probes.

“I had failed to protect my son the day before. We’d both been put into the worst sort of danger and then he had been forced to…fornicate with me. I blamed myself for those failings and for putting him into that situation. I hadn’t permitted myself to approach those feelings, really, and now my son had wandered off into a strange city to do who knew what.”

“He was 18 years old,” the interviewer says, “not a child.”

Emily frowns, just a bit, and says, “He’s my child. No matter what else happens, to a mother part of her child is always the infant that she bore, always needing protection. I had failed to protect him and now I couldn’t protect him because he wasn’t there. I panicked.”

“And what did you do when you saw your husband?” the interviewer asks.

Distress washes across Emily’s features. “It…wasn’t good.”

“I heard Emily screaming before the elevator doors opened,” Bob recalls with a frown. “I’d never heard her like that. When I got there she was surrounded by five or six staff – the concierge, a desk clerk, bellboys, a janitor even – and she looked like she’d lost her mind.”

“What was she doing?” the interviewer asks.

“Yelling very loudly and rather incoherently that someone needed to find Mike immediately,” Bob says, “while crying and waving her arms around wildly. With her hair the way it is – very uncontrollable – she can sometimes look a little unhinged even when she’s absolutely calm, but with her so frantic and her hair just flying off in all directions, she looked like a complete maniac.”

“What did you do?”

“I went up and tried to get her to settle down,” Bob said. “I mean, she was almost raving. I put my hands on her shoulders and I was as surprised as anyone when she stopped yelling, sort of collapsed against me, and started crying and apologizing.”

“I didn’t notice Bob was there until he put his hands on my shoulders,” Emily says, “and instantly the panic and fear all left me, simply because the guilt it made me feel left no room for anything else.”

“Why did you feel so much guilt when your husband did that?” asks the interviewer.

“Because I’d failed Mike so badly. Because I’d wrecked the minivan that we really couldn’t afford to replace. Because of the things Mike and I had been forced to do. Because the Visigoths had forced me to strip naked in front of them.” Emily sighs heavily. “The main reason, though, was because I had loved the sex with my son so very much more than I ever had with my husband. When Bob put his hands on my shoulders, I had a moment of perfect, crystalline clarity in which I knew that every sexual encounter I ever had with him from then on would be bitterly disappointing. There was simply no doubt of it in my mind. My sex life with my husband, such as it was, had been completely destroyed by our own son.”

“What do you mean, ‘such as it was?'” the interviewer asks.

Emily opens her mouth to speak and then closes it again, and the camera slowly zooms in on her face during the long, and then painfully long moment she takes to compose herself and her answer. She shows a range of emotions – regret, sadness, contemplativeness, and finally a severe curtain of wariness and caution, and when she speaks her tone is measured, careful, and composed. “After the first several months together, Bob and I hadn’t ever been particularly sexually active. We seldom made love anymore.”

“Why not? Is he a bad lover?” the interviewer asks.

“No, of course not,” Emily says instantly and with what comes off as well-prepared certainty. “I should rather say that, as the demands of our careers and child-raising and simply living life took their tolls, sex was one of the things that got sacrificed.”

Back to Bob. “I knew of Emily by sight and reputation before I met her. We were sophomores at the University of Minnesota and we had some overlapping friends so we’d see each other at parties. I thought she was gorgeous, to the point where I was intimidated about talking to her.”

“What was her reputation?” the interviewer asks.

“Word was she was a…a wild girl,” Bob laughs. “She liked to do crazy things, like she was an adrenaline junkie. There was one time people told me about where she got up on the roof of this eight- or ten-story building at night that had this steel girder sticking out of the side. She went out and danced on it.”

“I…did that, yes,” Emily admits with what her smile makes clear is feigned reluctance. “Several friends of mine from dance and I had gotten up onto the roof of a building with a beautiful view of the Mississippi River and downtown Minneapolis. There may have been a small amount of marijuana involved.”

“It must have been quite the adrenaline rush,” the interviewer says. “Is that something you like?”

“I certainly did,” she says. “I did any number of things that I’d be mortified and furious to discover my children doing now. But age and responsibility has a way of calming one down.”

“Your reputation for wildness,” the interviewer says. “Was it only for daredevil stunts, or did you have a sexual reputation as well?”

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