Attorney At Large [M/sw, gentle giant, light kink]
A Brooklyn artist stumbles across an interesting find in the trash and brings it home. Turns out “it” is a curt and demanding Manhattan lawyer who has been mysteriously and maliciously shrunk down to 12 inches tall. Will she ever get her hyperproductive, busy life back, or will the artist have time to show her how much sweeter things taste when you slow down to enjoy them?
Giving that idea a go, @tiny-ivy !
CHAPTER 1: THE MAIL KEY
Keith Morgan hauled himself up the 100 year-old stairs of his Flatbush loft. They creaked louder than a setpiece in the Haunted Mansion ride, and he winced. It was almost 3am, and seventy-year-old lady on the first floor always seemed to notice when he was coming home by the noise. She liked sticking her head out to mention it when he was grabbing his mail, and would sometimes ask when he was getting a real job. Wait–mail!
“Ah, shit,” he hissed, louder than intended, and spun back around on the third-floor landing. Keith had realized, while out to dinner with some friends, that he’d accidentally thrown out his mail key that morning–it had gotten swept into the trash along with some old magazines and taken out. Being five glasses of wine in, however, would make it a nearly impossible task to find it. He was going to try, though.
Nearly stumbling down the last few stairs, he surged outside and toward the pile of garbage bags on the sidewalk. His would have been the one right on top. Street trash was already accumulating on it, though, and with a wince he brushed away banana peels, pop cans, and other whatnot.
Underneath a bag of Lays, though, was something that distracted him from his mission. It looked like an arm. Not a person’s arm, of course, but a doll’s arm. He lifted his bag of garbage away from the pile, then, and saw, bathed in the buzzing orange light of a Brooklyn streetlamp, what looked like the most lifelike toy he had ever seen.
“Weird,” he said. Grinning, Keith grabbed it gently by the waist and lifted it free. When he could see it better, he realized that it was so lifelike that it had perfectly sculpted breasts and genitals. He gasped before bursting into laughter. This was so fucking bizarre! As an artist himself, he could tell that a lot of work went into this. There was an inner structure he could feel through the skin, but it didn’t seem able to hold a pose. Why include one if it was going remain limp? He imagined the artist’s statement already: a feminist piece about how women are required to be strong but punished for exercising agency. Maybe someone doing sculpture at Cooper Union made it. But why would it be thrown away? It probably cost a fortune in materials.
Keith was fascinated by the find in his drunken state, and with a sloppy grin he brought it upstairs, hoping to learn more about it in the morning and forgetting altogether about the mail key. If nothing else, she’d make an interesting coffee table piece. Maybe he could have some people over for life drawing with it.
The doll weighed maybe three or four pounds and seemed to be about a foot tall, just big enough to be slung over his shoulder. Soon he’d climbed the stairs back up to the third floor without dropping her. Inside the loft, he flicked a switch and a long line of Christmas lights lit up along the whitewashed brick walls. He swayed across the open floor and put her down on the couch. Something about the way she felt made him want to be very careful… she seemed very fragile.
“Jesus,” he murmured as he pushed and pulled the doll into laying prone on her back. It was, um… it was an attractive little thing. Through the wine he could see that there was a slit between her legs, small enough to be able to cover with the pad of his thumb. A blush reddened his cheeks at the thought. It’s just a doll, he reminded himself. This wasn’t a person, there was nothing wrong with looking. He lifted one leg a askew so he could satisfy his curiosity, but scowled deeply and let go when he thought he saw a clitoral hood. “Oh come on, it didn’t need to be this real,” he said to the cavernous loft, as if the walls themselves were judging him.
He hoped to god that it was a feminist piece, and left it there as he crossed the floor to his room on the other side of the building. He collapsed into bed and thought about the strange piece of art until he drifted off to sleep.
Keith’s head was pounding when he woke up the next day around noon. His hands smelled like the garbage he’d been digging through, so he shambled into the adjacent bathroom and washed up in a porcelain sink older than his great aunt. The tile work beneath his feet was charming and old, just like most other things in the building, and everywhere the high ceilings were covered in pressed tin. He loved the old loft, and rent was good for someone like him because he didn’t need to have a separate studio and clients could meet him here.
The summer sun was blasting through the windows. Keith winced as he shed last night’s clothes on his way back to the bedroom. His hands weren’t the only things that smelled funny. Finally down to his underpants to cool off in what was sure to be another sweltering summer day, he went about his next task.
“Coffee,” he grunted. “Coffee, coffee, coff–”
Keith froze when he passed by the couch and the doll was no longer there. For a brief moment, he wondered if it happened at all, if maybe he hadn’t dreamt up the whole thing. No, no, the smell on his hands had been real.
The man glanced wildly around the space, expecting to see it anywhere, at any moment. He’d never believed in things like ghosts and demons, but maybe it was time to start.
Sweat prickled on the back of his neck as he thought up his next move. That’s when he decided to go get coffee somewhere else. Buy himself some time. In record speed he was dressed again, key held in a shaking hand as he bee-lined out the door.
“Something’s in my apartment,” he muttered to himself, and headed for the diner a few blocks away. “M-maybe it’ll let itself out while I’m gone…”
He sat at the counter at Ray’s for over three hours. At some point he’d ordered food, one more coffee, a Coke, and gotten through two different newspapers.
“Hey buddy, you can’t sit here all day. I got other payin’ customers that want that spot.”
Keith glanced around. “There’s only six people in here, Ray.”
“Get goin’, Picasso.”
“Where am I supposed to go?”
“Go? Go home, buddy.”
“I-I can’t go home.”
“Then go see a movie or somethin’. All I know is you’re not staying here all night.”
A movie. Yeah, yeah he’d go see a movie. Theaters were nice and cool, too, and he’d save on water by not sitting in the bath like he did every day when it got too hot.
Keith paid his bill and left. A movie was perfect. There was no way he was going home now. Not with that thing there. He had to buy his time until he thought of some way to deal with it, somehow. Was there a chance that he maybe brought home a squirrel or something? Keith balked. No way, that was the most realistic human vagina he’d ever seen on a sculpture.
Maybe he could go to animal control, or the police. Or maybe they’d laugh him out of the building if he said anything about what they could be looking for.
In the meantime, Keith resolved to go see a movie. With subway token in hand, he headed for the station across the street from his building to take himself to Manhattan. Then afterwards, maybe he could have a nice stroll through the botanic garden, go out to dinner again, maybe call up one of his friends to meet up for a late-night game of pool…
No. Keith pocketed the token. From where he stood with his hand on the brass handrail leading down to the station, he looked up at his loft and its tall windows, expecting to see something, but he didn’t. He couldn’t avoid this forever, that was ridiculous. Setting his jaw, the man crossed the street and returned to figure out what was going on once and for all.
He paused on his doorstep after making that damned creaky climb up the stairs, listening through the door. There was nothing for a long time, and Keith finally let himself in. He groped for the umbrella stand, grabbing one and wielding it like a sword as he stalked through the loft. He started on the main floor, carefully winding his way around the foyer, to the living area, then around to his partitioned 600 square foot studio.
It was a mess, as all good studios should be, with plaster and wood and unfinished pieces strewn about. He held still, eyes darting around, looking for movement before slowly circling through the space. He poked at a few things with the end of the umbrella, things where a small creature might hide, but there was nothing. He headed toward the guest room next.
“I know you’re here,” he said, trying to sound commanding and fearless. Another section of the ancient wooden floor creaked as he passed over it. “I know… you’re… here…”
He stood in the doorway of the guest room, did his initial survey of the space, then ventured further in. He stood in front of a wardrobe and flung it open, but it was empty. There was nothing under the bed.
“Damn,” he said, and stroked his chin. He was now more baffled than before. Maybe he had just imagined all of it.
Moving with a little less tension now, he headed back out and to the stairs that would take him to the kitchen. There was nothing up there either. Last place to check was his own bedroom.
He crossed the floor again, more confidently this time, and went through the same motions as before. He poked and prodded at the curtains, checked under the bed, looked through the closet. He even went through his pile of dirty clothes on the floor. Nothing.
“Christ, I must be going crazy.”
CHAPTER 2: DISCOVERED
Later that evening the man ordered pizza and Dawn could smell it when it arrived. He had neglected to check under the couch earlier, and out of sheer terror she hadn’t dared leave her sanctuary all day, but the fatigue, thirst, and hunger were finally getting to her.
She had woken up that morning to find herself in a most impossible and horrifying situation: shrunk down to the size of a Barbie doll, and taken into some stranger’s apartment. She’d spent all day trying to figure out how it all happened, and where she’d wound up. By the street noise outside, she knew she was at least still in New York City. Good. That was a good start.
The owner of the apartment–she only knew it was a man by his voice–thanked the delivery driver and drew nearer to where she hid in the under-structure of the sofa. Dawn bit back a yelp when he sat down right above her, but she resolved to stay hidden. When he went to bed, she’d come out to find the phone. That’s it. She’d call the firm, let them know something terrible happened…
The man clicked the TV on. It was one of those older ones that didn’t have a remote. She’d think he was some bohemian if the rest of his apartment wasn’t so clean and white and spartan, and judging by what she could see from under the couch, she guessed that he was an artist of some sort. There were a few paintings on the walls and there were interesting wooden or plaster carvings in various corners of the loft. She recognized an elephant-headed god from India, as well as some other hyper-intellectual pieces, that resembled… well, they didn’t resemble anything that she could think of. Those were probably from just across town. Hmph. Art was such a waste of time and money.
The woman made a face as her stomach growled, hoping he wouldn’t hear–he didn’t–and tried to take her mind off her misery when he put on the news. God the pizza smelled good. She imagined the phone ringing and the man getting stuck talking long enough for her to slip out and make off with a gob of cheese…
But that didn’t happen, and the anchorman continued droning on and Dawn felt more and more scared and sorry for herself. The segment ended, though, and she froze when she heard her name.
“A Manhattan lawyer has been missing since Thursday night, a police spokesman said. Thirty-two year old Dawn Cooper, a defense attorney with the firm Raymond Thurlow, was last seen leaving the Bistro Les Amis in SoHo at about 9:30 that night, when eyewitnesses say they they saw the victim get into a taxi cab. If you have any information regarding Dawn’s whereabouts, police have opened their tipline…”
A sob wracked her body, she couldn’t help it.
The exhaustion, the fear, the hunger, it was all too much. She’d been hoping that this was all somehow just a bad dream, but any lingering doubts were now gone. It was real.
The crying wasn’t stopping, and she didn’t have the energy to try and fight it anymore. Dawn shakily released herself from her uncomfortable and precarious perch under the couch and sunk to the floor, where she let the tears flow. Who did this and why? Was there any hope in going back to normal? What would the police say when they found her like this? She’d make headlines all right, and not the good kind.
She was so tired that she didn’t notice that the man had gotten up from the couch and was in the process of getting down on hands and knees to see what that sound was. It was when he gave a startled yell that she screamed and darted out into the open.
Looking wildly around, she finally grasped just how small she was. The back of the couch loomed above her, and behind it, standing even taller, was the man. His face was slackened in pure shock and he kept a finger pointed at her.
"What did you do to me! Change me back!"she hollered at him through the tears.
“I-I didn’t do anything!”
“I found you in the trash! I-I thought you were a-an art piece or something!”
Dawn’s frustration just made her cry more; it didn’t happen often, and she hated when it did. She started at him as he took his eyes off her to pace.
“I’m calling the police.”
“No? You’re a lawyer, give me one good reason not to!”
“Please! I have a reputation!”
“And you know what? That’s not my problem.”
He sped over to a side table and grabbed the receiver. Dawn found herself sprinting over to him.
“Please, please. Just give me time to process things. I don’t even know what day it is! I’m starving and thirsty and I have to pee!”
He looked down at her with thoughtfully panicked brown eyes for a moment, fingers hovering over the keypad. Eventually, he set the phone down.
“Alright. Let me get you some water. And, uhm, something to cover up with,” he muttered.
As he dashed up the stairs to the kitchen area, Dawn looked down at herself and remembered that she was completely naked. A blush reddened her from head to toe and she sat down on the floor to hug her knees to her chest while she waited. She was surprised that he hadn’t seemed distracted by her body.
He returned with a shot glass and a tea towel, which she snatched from him with a sniffle. He turned around while she wrapped it around herself.
“I’m Keith Morgan, by the way,” he said, peeking over his shoulder after a few moments. “It’s Saturday night and you’re in Flatbush.”
Dawn lifted the glass and gulped half of it down.
“Nice to meet you, Keith.”
“You don’t sound convinced.”
"And why should I be?"she snapped.
He frowned. “I’m trying to help, remember? Now come on, you said you were hungry. I’m not going to eat this whole pizza myself.”
Keeping their distance, they both went back to the couch. It quickly became apparent that she would need help to get to the food.
“Do you… want a lift?” he asked awkwardly, holding out his hand.
“No! I can get up there myself.”
Both the coffee table and couch were several inches taller than she was, which was something she hadn’t thought through. The tiny woman tried to see if she could hoist herself up–maybe she had some kind of bug strength now–but to no avail. She growled in exasperation.
Keith sighed. “Here.” He reached under the glass table and pulled out a few large books. Each of them had an artists’ name on the front in big letters, with a photo of their work. They looked expensive. Out of them, though, he managed to create something of a staircase for her, and when Dawn stepped up to the top, she was much closer to the table, and she was able to climb up the last few inches without too much trouble.
Keith circled around to turn the volume on the TV set down, presumably so they could talk.
He watched her warily as she went for the smallest slice of the pie and began to wolf it down.
“So… what was the last thing you remember?”
Chewing mozzarella cheese with a mouth this small was strange and difficult, while at the same time the flavors seemed just that much more pronounced. It was… fascinating.
“I remember leaving the restaurant and hailing a cab home.”
“Do you remember getting out of the cab?”
She nodded and took another bite. “I remember pulling my keys out of my purse to go inside…”
Dawn thought about it. Things were hazy. “There was a… man behind me. He pulled something out of his pocket, I thought it was a gun.”
“What did he look like?”
She shook her head. “I don’t know. His face was covered.”
Keith nodded, reaching for another slice for himself. Dawn watched as his enormous hand drew near, grabbing it by the crust, and she couldn’t help but compare it to a piece of construction equipment grabbing a tree or chunk of concrete and dragging it away. It was… incredible.
They sat in silence like that for a little while, and it occurred to her that she was technically an uninvited guest in this man’s home. He deserved to have her hold up her end of the social contract, at least.
"So… are you an artist or something?"she asked.
“I’m a sculptor and furniture designer,” he said. Well that explained it. “The coffee table’s one of mine.”
The tiny woman looked around at the expanse of table under her. It was a big piece of glass held up by some kind of contrived shape in wood. She didn’t like it.
“Very nice. Could you show me the restroom, please?”
“Oh! Uh, yeah.”
Keith stood up, towering over her again as he brushed passed, and it was almost enough to give her vertigo. His long strides devoured the floor and on his way to the bathroom he grabbed another armful of books from a stack on the floor. By the time Dawn caught up to him, he had already had them arranged into stairs next to the commode.
“Try not to fall in,” he joked with a little chuckle, and eased the door shut. “I’m just outside, give me a knock when you’re ready to come out.”
She did almost fall in. Almost. Reaching for a scrap of toilet paper had thrown off her careful balance, but in the end she succeeded at doing her business.
“I’ll leave the books there for you I guess.”
“Have you decided what you’re going to do?”
Dawn looked at the wood grain in the floor and worried her now very small lip. She was not calling the police, that was for sure. This story didn’t need to get any bigger than it already was–she just need to call her firm, the people who probably reported her missing when she didn’t show up to work Friday, let them know she was still alive. There was just a medical emergency that came up, and she’d be taking some time off work. They could shift her caseload to Tim and Joyce in the meantime.
The worrying turned into full-on chewing. Keith seemed to sense her anxiety because he crouched down to get a little closer as he waited for her reply.
“Can I… can I stay through Monday?”
Stupid, stupid! What a stupid thing to ask! He was going to say no, she knew he was. But there was nowhere else to go. Not home, not even to her friend’s. Not yet.
He studied her with expressive eyes and thought for a moment.
“Why the hell not,” he sighed, and stood up again.
“Great! I-I’ll call the firm first thing in the morning. Crystal’s usually there at 8:30 sharp, she’ll answer. She may not recognize my voice, but one of the partners will, they have to… Thank you Keith. I owe you, I really do.”
“It’s, ah, no big deal, really. It’s not like you can eat me out of house and home,” he laughed nervously.
“As soon as I get back to normal, I’ll cut you a check to cover expenses.”
“That’s really not necessary.”
“Surely your time is worth something?”
“Yeah, if you were wasting it,” he retorted. “Frankly, Miss Cooper, this whole thing has been quite a trip. What’s a couple more days?”
Keith let her watch TV as he put the pizza away upstairs, and mentioned that he would cut one of the slices up for her into more manageable pieces. He asked if there was anything else she wanted, and Dawn knew that her usual routine of slimming shakes and freshly pressed carrot juice was probably out of the question. Maybe he could run down to a video store and rent her an aerobics tape tomorrow. Staying fit helped her stay focused. She liked getting the blood pumping.
Before Dawn knew it, it was ten o’clock and Keith said he was ready to head to bed. He brought out a clean pillowcase for her to sleep in if she wanted, but it was still so warm that she wasn’t sure if she wanted to sleep under anything. Still, she took it with thanks and he went to shower off before disappearing behind the closed door of his bedroom.
Clambering onto the coffee table and from there jumping onto the couch, the little lady realized that the pillowcase would be cooler than the tea towel, and quickly she slipped out of the one and into the other.
Feeling much less panicked than earlier, Dawn gave into her exhaustion and fell asleep.
tiny-ivy last edited by tiny-ivy
@kisupure Oh my goodness, this is wonderful so far. The sweetness, the descriptions, the details, I’m invested!
(Enjoying the pre-2000’s Brooklyn setting, too! My personal nostalgia is a sucker for that.)
@tiny-ivy Glad you’re enjoying it so far! I know these kinds of stories can be kind of meandering at first, but I’ll get to the meat of things here quick I hope. (I’m sick at home with covid so… not much else to do other than write!)
And it’s 1980’s NYC to be precise! A bit rougher, but truly AuthenticTM. I wanted to be able to leave room for some Seinfeld-esque gags, hehehe.
CHAPTER 3: THE VICTORIAN SMOCK
Keith laid sprawled on his bed and stared at the ceiling the next morning.
Jesus, what a turn of events.
In a way, he had to remind himself that there was a tiny woman in his apartment. A tiny. Woman. In his apartment. And her name was Dawn Cooper. Oh god and he’d looked at her snatch like a fucking creep.
Keith groaned and rolled over.
It wasn’t that he’d never seen one before, his love life was about as colorful as any 40-year-old artist in this town, and he’d been to his fair share of life drawing and sculpting classes. The human body was beautiful, definitely, but it was conditioned out of him in college that it was inherently sexual. That didn’t exactly make him feel better about it, though. Thankfully she’d been unconscious and didn’t remember? Nah, that sounded even worse. Just stop, he thought.
He didn’t really want to go out there, if he was honest with himself. She hadn’t been in a good mood, understandably, but underneath that she was still very much a lawyer, and he wasn’t too fond of lawyers. Kill 'em all, Shakespeare had said, and he was usually in agreement. He imagined Dawn with her shoulder-length hair brutally coiffed for the courtroom, with shoulder pads on her pantsuit big enough to put a linebacker to shame. She must be something to see at a deposition.
Maybe she was feeling a little better today. Less fearing for her life, more open to a little conversation. If he was stuck with her for another day, he hoped she’d help pass the time a little bit at least.
Keith got out of bed and looked out the window, squinting into the bright morning light. He turned the radio on for the weather, and after a few minutes learned that it was going to be a sweltering 92 degrees. There was no way he was going to stay in here all day, baking like a pie. He hoped she didn’t mind staying behind.
Slowly, Keith opened the door to his room, stepped out of the short hallway and glanced around the floor of the loft.
She popped up from where she sat on the couch, and seeing her again almost startled him. Tiny. Small. Very small. Mucho petito. Oy vey.
“How do you live without air conditioning?” she said, clearly tired. Alright, so maybe that was better than a flat-out no.
He chuckled weakly. “You spend a lot of time at Rockaway and movie theaters.”
She didn’t appear to mind when he stepped out in plaid boxers, which was just as well because it was just too early for shorts and too hot for pajama pants. Keith crossed the floor and headed up to the kitchen to get a pot of coffee going. Even in the heat, he would sooner die than miss his morning cuppa.
“How do you like your coffee?” he called down to her.
“Black, please and thank you.”
He set out a shotglass next to his coffee mug, and pondered their differences. It occurred to him then that she might fit in real doll’s clothes.
“Here’s an idea: what if I got you something to wear?”
The coffee maker began steaming and burbling and her voice was too faint to hear over it so he went back downstairs and leaned against the back of the couch.
“Wh… how? What?”
Keith shrugged. “There’s a store a few blocks away that might have something. I call it a shit-store, they sell stuff that the discount stores can’t even get rid of. They might have some doll outfits in the toy section.”
Dawn visibly deflated. “Doll… outfits.”
“It was just a thought,” he said, and began walking away.
“No, no, wait. Wait. You’re right, you’re totally right. I’m going to need clothes. Thank you.”
“Let me get some clothes on myself and see what they have. I’ll be back before the coffee’s done brewing.”
He was out the door a few minutes later, almost giddy with the absurdity of the situation. He composed himself enough to appear like a normal guy when he walked into the cluttered store, though. That’s right, just a normal guy buying doll’s clothes…
Or, as luck would have it, whole dolls. He couldn’t decide between the Cabbage Patch knockoff and the Barbie knockoff, so he bought both for a cool $10. He figured if the Barbie clothes didn’t fit, then at least the Victorian smock on the bigger toy would.
Something told him little miss Midtown wasn’t going to like her options.
“This was all they had?” she balked as he poured them their coffee and stuck a bagel in the toaster.
“I’m afraid so. Bagel?”
“Would you like a bagel.”
“Oh. Uh, yes, thank you.” A pause as he came back down the stairs and took a seat near her on the sofa.
It was a sectional, really; enough for two people to sleep on without bumping heads. The upholstery was a soft, fire engine red, and against all the white of the loft, it had quite the presence. It was a beautiful piece; Keith wished he’d designed it, but he stayed far away from seating. He’d need a whole design team just to do the ergonomics justice.
“Well, as fashionable as the Barbie clothes are,” Dawn said carefully, referencing the hot pink blazer, crop top, and faux-jeans, “I think the… dress… thing is more appropriate for this weather.”
Keith grabbed the “Flower Kid” box and opened it, eventually pulling off the pastel blue garment and handing it to his guest. He turned around for her as she put it on. When he turned back around, he had to bite back a laugh.
The neck was too wide to hang neatly on both shoulders, much to her frustration, and underneath that it ballooned out like a parachute.
Dawn looked at him in a cutting deadpan, and he knew that must’ve been a look she perfected in court.
“The lace is a nice touch,” he said, unable to hold back his chuckle.
“I can’t be seen in this!” she groaned, flopping back onto the couch. He handed her the shotglass of coffee and she took it ruefully.
“Well, you probably won’t, remember?”
They sipped in silence for a moment.
“Will you be alright by yourself for a few hours?” he asked, remembering that he had once made plans this weekend.
“Why? Where are you going?”
“I usually do a Sunday stroll through the botanical gardens, grab lunch. Might go to a museum to cool off.”
She looked at him and blinked, looking quite surprised. “But that’s more than a few hours, that’s all day!”
Keith shrugged, feeling a little guilty. “I can leave you an ice bath to jump in if it gets too hot?”
But that didn’t seem to help. “What do I do?”
“I can leave the TV on.”
“There’s no remote, I can’t change the channel.”
“The radio?” No, that clearly wasn’t what she wanted to hear. “I have a lot of books. Do you read?”
“Not really, I don’t usually have time to.”
“Well see? You’ve got time now. I’ve got biographies, classics, poetry, a few pulps, a ton of magazines…”
Keith was about to stand up when her little hand shot out. He quirked a brow.
“I don’t really want to… be alone.”
He sat back down and sighed. Well that was another matter entirely, and he couldn’t blame her. Keith enjoyed being alone, on the other hand; it was when he got some of his best thinking and problem-solving done. He could blast his music in the studio and just get down to work. But putting himself into her shoes, it made sense. Unfortunately, there was just no way he was going to be stuck in here all day.
“How about you come with me?”
“What? No. No, no, nuh-uh…”
“I have a backpack you’ll fit in. I can leave the main compartment open on the side so you can see out? Here, let me show you.” He jumped up, quite proud of himself for having thought it up, and went over to the closet by the door to pull it out. “Ta-da! See, I can roll up a sweatshirt or something to put on the bottom so you can sit down and still see.”
“W-won’t they check your bag at the museum?”
“Nah. They don’t check anything.”
“What if I have to go to the bathroom?”
“Just let me know and… well, you’ll have to use the men’s room.”
“This is ridiculous,” she said with a crazed little laugh. “And I can’t believe… I can’t believe that I’m going to do it.”
Keith clapped his hands together. “All right, now this is going to be interesting. Let me rinse off and I’ll be ready to go.”
In his strange, elated mood, he was about to leave her again when a small “wait!” interrupted him. Dawn’s cheeks were red. He wondered what was going to come out.
“I’m just as sweaty as you are, believe it or not,” she huffed with a grimace. “And I still smell like the street. Is there a way I could… you know? Freshen up?”
“Ah. Sure thing.”
He bounded upstairs and wracked his brain for an appropriately-sized container to simulate a bathtub. Aha! The loaf pan. He yanked open the warming drawer under his stove and dusted off the pyrex baking dish that he hadn’t used since two Christmases ago to make fruit cake. He filled it with some lukewarm water, cool enough to be refreshing in this heat, and grabbed a sliver of soap from the dish by the sink.
“You can have the guest room I guess,” he announced, making a left at the bottom of the crooked stairs and disappearing into the room. He set the pan down on the rug and then darted all the way back out and across the floor to the bathroom to grab her a washcloth to dry off with. Not that he had plans to leave any time soon, but he swore his next place would have at least one and a half baths. When he returned, Dawn was inspecting the makeshift bathtub.
“It’s no clawfoot,” she joked uneasily, “but it’ll do.”
He ignored her negativity–was she always like that?–and headed for the door. “Gimme five minutes and I’ll be good to go. Not sure if you’re strong enough to handle the doors, but I’ll leave this open a crack for privacy.”
She glanced out the large, sheer-curtained window.
“It’s just a brick wall out there, no one can see in here.”
“Alright. Thanks… Keith.”
He slapped at the door on his way out. “Back in a jiffy.”
@kisupure So, you gonna draw Keith in his boxers?
It’s probably apocryphal, but back in the 90s I heard about female lawyers putting their testosterone levels on their resumes.
@olo As soon as I toss back my next dose of dayquil.
And holy moly that’s definitely a joke waiting in the wings.
As I was writing this I kept thinking that the name Keith sounded familiar, and I realized that it was the name of the “previous generation” SW author that wrote all the stories that I cut my teeth on in my first days exploring the kink. Sigh. His presence in the community is still missed, I wish he hadn’t left. I guess this is a small homage to him.
CHAPTER 4: THE MUSEUM
Dawn went to the “crack” in the door after he’d padded away just to make sure that he was indeed preoccupying himself with something else, and that there was no chance for a last-minute “oh and I forgot to say–” that would catch her off-guard.
But he was out of sight already, disappeared beyond the large plywood boxes, painted the same eggshell white as everything else, that served to divide up the immense space. It was a unique loft, she had to admit; clearly a turn-of-the-century industrial building, with the boss’s space in what was now the upstairs kitchen, a storage area that was now the guest room, and a walled bedroom and bathroom that must’ve been later additions, still from the pre-war era judging by the furnishings. It was not especially to her taste, she preferred a modern look: silky black lacquer and polished metal made her weak at the knees. But as an artist, he did at least have some semblance of taste and this was clearly no bachelor pad.
The little lady shrugged off the Cabbage Patch dress (really, that’s all it took) and lifted her leg to swirl it around in the warmish water. The temperature was perfect, and without further ado she slipped in and sighed contentedly. It might not have been a clawfoot, but it nearly fit her like one.
She too was back out and ready to go in a matter of minutes. Dawdling was one of her least favorite things in the world, especially when there were plans made. The thrill-seeker in her was relishing what strange challenges lay ahead. Dawn felt like she did before a case: figuring out ways to underplay her hand, fly under the radar, and come out the winner. Surely, today could be had like any game of strategy, with Keith her willing accomplice. Right?
Talking herself up like that was almost working. The prospect was still terrifying, of course. And she was quite literally putting her life in this strange man’s hands. In fact, it wasn’t anything like a court case at all, when she thought about it, and when it came time to get into the backpack, Dawn hesitated. He handed her a piece of cold bagel while she sized up the bag.
“Are you sure about this?” Keith asked, crunching into one of the yeasty rings.
She looked up to him, and his eyes bothered her. They were soft and warm, like a bag of gummy bears left sitting in the sun. Around them were laugh lines, and above, a head of tousled black hair. She wondered if he had some Spanish ancestry; his skin seemed to hold a tan well. How in the world did someone who ran their own business find so much time to go to the beach, anyway? Well, he clearly didn’t need to make much for rent.
“No, but it’s better than sitting around here all day.”
He hefted a sigh and she ignored him as he rolled his eyes. Finishing her bite, she climbed up inside, careful that her doll’s shift didn’t fall away. Inside was just as he’d said: a few rolled up garments to keep her away from the deep bottom of the pack, along with a small paperback and what looked to be a water bottle straight from the freezer.
“In case you get a little warm in there on the way,” he said.
“That’s very kind of you.”
With that he closed the zipper, leaving about three inches undone on the side so she could peer out without being noticed. “How’s that?”
His voice carried strangely inside the bag, surrounding her, and she shivered. It was a charismatic voice, but not the kind of charisma she employed in her own work. In many ways she was still in denial about her state of affairs, about her new dimensions. But it was the little things that were reminding her. The way even his soft words seemed loud, the way his breaths were much longer and deeper than her own, the sheer amount of detail she could see in his hands and face when he got close enough.
“It think it just might work…”
Suddenly his eyes were all she could see and Dawn started. “Jesus!”
“Sorry, you’ll have to speak up when you’re in there.”
“I said… I think it just might work.”
“Alright,” Keith gently boomed, and the backpack shifted around her. “Hold tight, I’m picking you up.”
Her stomach lurched as he did so, and even though it was clear he was trying to be careful, she was still surprised how much like the Coney Island roller coaster this felt. Up the long inches of his body she went, until, with one last jostle, the bag was seated securely on his shoulder.
“How are we feeling?”
“Like Tweety bird being harassed by Sylvester,” Dawn said, making sure to project her voice more than usual. “But I think I’ll survive.”
“You ready for the subway?”
Her heart sank. “The subway??”
“Yeah,” he chuckled, and the backpack moved with him. He yanked open the zipper a little more so he could look at her out of the corner of his eye. “What, you think we’re walking to the Brooklyn Museum?”
“Only the poor take the subway!” she cried. “Get a cab, please!”
“I’m not paying for a cab, it’s one, two, three… six stops away. Besides, nothing interesting happens in a cab.”
“I don’t care about interesting! I care about my safety and sanity! Half those subway cars don’t even have windows, you know! And people get stabbed! Robbed! What if someone stole this backpack??”
“No one’s going to be stabbed, or robbed, or stolen. Now if you don’t like it, you can stay here and get some reading done, but I’m going out, and I’m taking the train whether you like it or not.”
His tone of voice changed a little, it was clear he was getting tired of her protestations. But that didn’t matter, “My god Mr. Morgan if I get so much as as scratch on me from this little adventure of yours, I’ll see you in–”
“No,” he firmly reminded her, “You won’t see me anywhere because you’re a grown woman and you’re not my responsibility.” Keith shrugged her further forward so she was forced to look up at his enormous face as he raised a brow at her. “Now this is the last time I’m asking. Are you coming, yes or no? Your decision, not mine. And don’t make me get it in writing.”
Dawn folded her arms into a pout. “Fine. I can’t believe I’m letting myself be bossed around by an artist…”
The station itself was worse than sweltering, it was downright hellish. It had to be at least 100 degrees, and Dawn found herself reclining against the water bottle to cool down. Keith, on the other hand, had no such comfort. She heard him take off his baseball cap and wipe the sweat from his face with a heavy sigh as they waited.
Finally, she heard the screeching of the damn thing as it approached the station, and the dead air started to move. As the train pulled in, it whipped cooler air into the backpack, mussing Dawn’s fine, bottle red hair.
“Looks like we got AC,” Keith murmured just loud enough for her to hear, and as soon as the doors dinged open, the blast of climate-controlled air hit her and she could have almost died then and there.
Fortunately, from what she could see, there weren’t many people in the car, and he sat down before maneuvering the backpack into his lap. With a jolt and an incomprehensible announcement over the PA, they were moving again.
With due care, Dawn peered outside of her hiding spot. Everything looked just as she remembered: shabby, caked in graffiti, and vaguely smelly. An empty can rattled around the floor as they stopped and went. After a while, she realized that she was feeling another kind of movement, a subtle rise and fall with Keith’s breaths, and she was perplexed to find it… soothing. He likely had no idea this was happening, though, and like hell would she mention it. Fortunately he was right about the length of the trip, and it was two more stops when he rose again.
“You ever been to the Brooklyn Museum?” he asked as they crossed the street to climb the great steps of the institution. Soon the massive building threw them into sweet shadow.
“No. I rarely come this way at all.”
“Ah, you’re one of those types who only leave Manhattan to go to Florida, aren’t you?” he laughed. He needed to pipe down, someone was sure to think he was a crazy man.
“I’d rather be there than here right now. Now shut up! I don’t want you drawing any unnecessary attention to yourself!”
Once inside, he paid his admission and began to stroll.
“What are we going to look at?” she asked at a volume only he could hear.
At that he took out the map and stepped into a corner the lobby. “Let’s see,” he said aloud as he hummed and hawwed over it. “Maybe the American art first… then the Egyptian wing… and then maybe a bite at the cafe…”
He spoke like he was mumbling to himself, a clever cover. Dawn had to give him a little credit at least, he wasn’t a complete goof. With that, though, he folded the map up again and she suddenly found it being shoved in her face.
But Keith ignored her, and finished slipping it into the backpack before setting off. Further inside the galleries, things grew very quiet, and he didn’t say anything more for a little while. Keith ws clearly enjoying himself, it seemed to her like he was visiting with old friends. Most of the time she wasn’t able to see the paintings he was looking at until he had turned to stroll over to the next one, but he was doing his best to give her the same view. Not that it helped any, because she couldn’t figure out what was so impressive about them.
Alright, sure, they were old, and detailed, and probably took a lot of time and skill to complete. But the same could be said of the dictionary, and no one ever gazing longingly at a Webster’s. There were a lot of men doing things on horseback, like fighting, dying, crossing deserts, and working in fields. There were a few landscapes that she could only describe as “very leafy”, and the rest was rolling hills and bowls of fruit with the occasional dead bird.
There was just no way Dawn would hang any of these on the wall of her own apartment. New work, at least, had the decency to be novel and stimulating instead of trying to bog her down with theory and philosophy. Art was all so damn stuffy, and it demanded so much of one’s time, like a pet.
She perked up a little when Keith brought them to the Egyptian wing, finally. It’s not that she has a special affinity for the culture at all, but she could respect ancient art a little more because it was all quite useful. No one ever sat around panting color fields for Pharaoh to ponder, no. Jewelry was jewelry, furniture was furniture, toys were toys, manuscripts were manuscripts, and art depicted real things for reasons she could understand. She’d sooner display a sarcophagus in her home than a Basquiat for just that reason.
The artifacts soon disappeared though, as Keith appeared to take them down a hallway. After a short while he stopped, and she was shuffled around before being set down on a solid surface.
Zip. His face was above her again, looking earnestly in.
“How’s it going?” he whispered.
“I’d prefer to be window-shopping on Fifth but at least it’s cool in here.”
He rolled his eyes again and shook his head. “There’s no pleasing you, is there? Look, I gotta take a leak. Are you cool with that?”
“Do I have a choice?”
He glanced around then turned back to her and began zipping up again. “Not really.”
Dawn was knocked down onto her back against the now-wet water bottle as he shouldered her again and rounded a corner. Thankfully, he was gentleman enough to pick a stall before unbuttoning his fly and letting nature call. How humiliating, Dawn thought as she was forced to listen to the heavy stream. At least he washed his hands, unlike some men.
“I’m starving,” he said when he was finished. She couldn’t have agreed more, and a few minutes later she heard the sounds of silverware on plates and the clinking of glasses.
“Table for one, please,” Keith said.
“Right this way, sir.”
holy shit I’m tired now, goodnight
@kisupure Those are some cuddly-looking calves.
All I can think of while I write this
CHAPTER 5: THE MONKEY-TRAINER
Keith sat down in the crowded cafe attached to the museum. He sat with his back to the wall, and carefully placed the backpack next to him. A waitress came by to bring him water and a menu. He decided he was in the mood for brunch.
“How long are we going to be here?” came the small, muffled voice from inside his bag.
He zipped the bag open a little more, startling Dawn–her feathers were surprisingly easy to ruffle, he was discovering–and she ducked down as his hand brushed past her to reach for his book. “Why, you need to be somewhere?” he said so that only she could hear. Keith watched her indignant expression before grinning and tugging the zipper shut again. “Gimme half an hour. In the meantime… here.”
He turned the backpack so that she could just see out over the table and into the busy cafe. Surely Dawn knew how to people-watch?
When his eggs benedict and glass of house white came, he set the book down and, grabbing a knife and fork, carved out an appropriately-sized bite of bread and egg, giving it the smallest dollop of hollandaise, and went to share it with his guest.
He placed the bite of food at the edge of the table just in front of the hole in the backpack, and watched as two little arms reached out to snatch it up. It was, for lack of any better word, quite adorable.
As he ate, Keith did some reading (Michael Crichton was one of the few popular fiction writers he trusted with his time), and he did some listening. There was a family of tourists in the corner, a frumpy looking couple and their two children who might’ve been from Cleveland (they couldn’t possibly have chosen a worse time to visit the Big Apple!) and he smiled to himself as he listened to them try to make sense of Georgia O’Keeffe. The wife liked the flowers, but the husband thought the rolling landscapes resembled the sensuality of human flesh a little too much. By his breadwinning measure, the western scenes were more stimulating for the whole family.
A few seats away was a couple who appeared to only be here to have an argument. They leaned in over their plates at the small table like two alley cats standing off, staring intently at the other and speaking in hushed voices as they angrily shoveled sandwiches into their mouths. Keith guessed a divorce was imminent, if not already underway.
Beside him was a businessman shaking out the crisp pages of the Sunday Times every few minutes in a rather uncivilized way. There were several different ways to read a paper, and this man had apparently mastered none of them. He fought with the thing like a knight with a dragon, forcing the newspaper into various contortions as he poured over some bit of text, then grumbling to himself and jotting notes down on a napkin, started the process all over again.
Keith quite enjoyed watching people in this town, it was something of a hobby of his. There was just no shortage of interesting people doing interesting things, and if one couldn’t strike up a conversation to learn more about a stranger, then letting them talk about themselves through their behavior was almost as good.
In the back of his book were a few blank index cards, and he fished a Bic pen out of the pocket of his shorts to begin a little doodling. With simple, confident lines, he followed the contours of his half-eaten brunch, the plate, the empty glass of wine, the salt and pepper shakers, the little box of sugar packets…
“Hey that’s pretty good,” the businessman said. “You an artist?”
“I am,” Keith replied, quite skilled at graciously taking random compliments by this point in his life without letting them effect him much. “And thanks.”
“Whaddyou, uh… you do drawings or somethin’?”
“Sculpture, actually. Mostly furniture, though. I do a lot of tables.” He grabbed a business card from his wallet and handed it over. KEMO Inc. it read.
“Ah, shame. Was lookin’ for somethin’ new for the office, yannow?”
“I’ve gotta friend showing on 37th right now, at the Stanley Greer Gallery. She’s popular with the corporate crowd. You might check her out.” He knew the businessman wouldn’t, but it never hurt to mention these sorts of things.
“Hey, thanks. And say… you mind me askin’ whatchu got in the bag?”
Keith stopped and the back of his neck suddenly prickled with heat. His eyes darted down to the navy blue backpack, then back up to the man, and Keith found himself laughing nervously to buy him a moment.
“What, uh… what makes you think I’ve got something?”
The businessman smirked and adjusted himself in his seat so he could lean in and speak low. “C’mon… I know a monkey when I see one. You got a monkey in there, dontcha? One of those little guys, like in the movies.”
Keith laughed harder, relieved. Dawn must’ve been furious, if she hadn’t fainted from panic.
“Not so loud,” Keith whispered, playing into it. “I’m still training her. Don’t want the staff to know I brought an animal in here.”
“Gotcha, gotcha. Can I uh… can I see 'er? Just a peek? Only time I seen a monkey was at the Bronx Zoo when I was a kid.”
“No can do, I’m afraid,” he said sagely. “The… the Madagascar, uh, Doll-Faced Monkey is very sensitive to… to socialization. I’m getting her used to voices, right now.”
The businessman blinked and nodded, pretending he understood. “Oh yeah, of course. Of course. Don’t let me throw off your training.”
It occurred to him then, though, that he had the perfect opportunity to make a defense attorney squirm. And dammit, he couldn’t pass it up. Keith leaned over the backpack and gave it a pat.
“She’s doing really well though. Aren’t you, girl? Here, let me get you another bite.”
He broke off a piece of ham and balanced it on his finger before holding it up to the gap in the zipper.
“Come on,” he teased. “You know you want some…”
He pushed his finger just inside, when he felt her snatch up the ham and give him a hard slap.
“Ow!” he laughed. “She’s in a mood today. I think I’d better get going soon. It was nice meeting you.”
As soon as they were outside, Keith had barely adjusted his cap and put on his shades when there was movement coming from the backpack. Angry movement, it seemed. Like something was trying to hit him through the fabric.
“Hey now, hold on,” he said, looking for a secluded spot in the park behind the museum where they could converse. It took him a few minutes, but eventually he found a patch of lawn by some lilac bushes where he could set her down and unzip the bag.
“What the hell was that!” Dawn yelled as soon as she could see him. “You almost gave me a stroke!”
Keith laid down on his side in the grass next to her, and shrugged. “It was just a little harmless fun.” You could really learn to lighten up, he thought.
“Harmless?” she barked in that squeaky voice of hers. “More like humiliating! My god, to add insult to injury…”
He frowned. “Now don’t be like that, I saved your butt just now. Better a pet monkey than a twelve-inch Dawn Cooper, attorney at law, don’t forget.”
She fumed as some people walked by and Keith pretended his attention was elsewhere for a moment.
“Honest question, Dawn.”
“What’s your idea of fun?”
“Oh don’t start with me.”
“No, really.” He rolled over onto his back and looked up through the leafy canopy above. “What do you do to cut loose after a long week?”
“I don’t ‘cut loose’.”
He snorted. “So, what, you do lines of coke and just get more work done?”
“Of course not!” she huffed, also quite adorably. “I like exercising.”
“Exercising? That’s not very relaxing.”
“It is to me!”
“I… I cook, sometimes.”
“I try to make dinner once a week.”
“Uh huh. And what else?”
“What am I, on the stand?”
He grinned up at the tree. “Yeah, sure.”
“I…” Now this one she hesitated with. He knew it was going to be juicy. “I enjoy going on blind dates.”
Keith couldn’t help rolling over again to face her. His expression was one of raw amusement. “Oh! Now we’re getting somewhere!”
“Oh, stop it. I’m a grown woman, I can do as I damn well please.”
But he couldn’t wipe the grin from his face, and the next thing that came out of his mouth surprised him. He could possibly blame it on the wine, at least. “Well, you barely know me, why don’t you pretend this is all just one blind date?”
Dawn looked at him like he’d grown a second head. “Why in the world would I do that?”
“Might have a little more fun that way.”
“Fun, you big, stupid man, is standing six-foot in red heels, and convincing someone you just met that he can’t possibly go on living without you.”
He stroked his chin and grinned wider. “Ah, so you do like 'em big and stupid, then?”
“Ugh! You’re impossible.”
“Incorrigible, I believe is the word.” He zipped the backpack up again. “Now come on, let’s see if you can convince me that I can’t go on living without you by the time we’re done here.”
@kisupure True story: I have a mongrel rescue dog that I take to the dog park. Occasionally people there try to guess his breed, and I have a little fun making up an obscure breed that they’ve never heard of. My go-to is “Madagascan Zebu Hound.”