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Fighting Slave of Gor
The Gorean Saga: Book 14
By John Norman
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1980 John Norman
All rights reserved.
The Restaurant; The Cab
"May I speak to you intimately, Jason?" she asked.
"Of course, Beverly," I said.
We sat at a small table, in a corner booth. The small restaurant is located on 128th Street. A candle burned on the table, set in a small container. The linen was white, the silver soft and lustrous in the candlelight.
She seemed distracted.
I had never seen her like this. Normally she was intellectual, prim, collected and cool.
She looked at me.
We were not really close friends. We were more in the nature of acquaintances. I did not understand why she had asked me to meet her at the restaurant.
"It was kind of you to come," she said.
"I was pleased to do so," I said.
Beverly Henderson was twenty-two years old and a graduate student in English literature at one of the major universities in the New York City area. I, too, was a student at the same university, though pursuing doctoral studies in classics, my specialty being Greek historians. Beverly was a small, exquisitely breasted, lovely ankled, sweetly hipped young woman. She did not fit in well with the large, straight-hipped females who figured prominently in her department. She did her best, however, to conform to the standards in deportment, dress and assertiveness expected of her. She had adopted the clichés and severe mien expected of her by her peers, but I do not think they ever truly accepted her. She was not, really, of their kind. They could tell this. I looked at Beverly. She had extremely dark hair, almost black. It was drawn back severely on her head, and fastened in a bun. She was lightly complexioned, and had dark brown eyes. She was something in the neighborhood of five feet in height and weighed in the neighborhood of ninety-five pounds. My name is Jason Marshall. I have brown hair and brown eyes, am fairly complexioned, am six feet one inch in height, and weigh, I conjecture, about one hundred and ninety pounds. At the time of our meeting I was twenty-five years old.
I reached out to touch her hand.
She had asked if she might speak to me intimately. Though I appeared calm, my heart was beating rapidly. Could she have detected the feelings I had felt towards her in these past months since I had come to learn of her existence? I found her one of the most exciting women I had ever seen. It is difficult to explain these things. It is not, however, that she was merely extremely attractive. It had rather to do, I think, with some latency of hers that I could not fully understand. Many were the times when I had dreamt of her naked in my arms, sometimes, oddly enough, in a steel collar. I forced such thoughts from my mind. I had, of course, many times asked her to accompany me to plays, or lectures or concerts, or to have dinner with me, but she had always refused. It did not seem, however, that I was unique in collecting this disappointing parcel of rejections. Many men, it seemed, had had as little luck as I with the young, lovely Miss Henderson. As far as I could tell she seldom dated. I had seen her once or twice about the campus, however, with what I supposed might be male friends. They seemed inoffensive and harmless enough. Their opinions, I suppose, conformed to the correct views. She would have little to fear from them, save perhaps boredom. Then, this evening, she had called me on the telephone, asking me to meet her at this restaurant. She had not explained. She had said only that she had wanted to talk with me. Puzzled, I had taken a subway to the restaurant. I would take her home, of course, in a cab.
She had asked if she might speak to me intimately. I touched her hand.
She drew her hand back. "Do not do that," she said.
"I'm sorry," I said.
"I don't like that sort of thing," she said.
"I'm sorry," I said.
I was irritated. But I was now more puzzled than ever.
"Do not try to be masculine with me," she said. "I am a woman."
"Did that come out right?" I asked, smiling.
"I mean 'I am a person'," she said. "I have a mind. I am not a sex object, not a thing, a toy, a bauble."
"I'm sure you have a mind," I said. "If you didn't, you would be in a very serious condition."
"Men do not value women except for their bodies."
"I did not know that," I said. "That sounds like something that would be said only by a woman whom it would be very difficult to value for her body."
"I do not like men," she said. "And I do not even like myself."
"I do not understand the purport of this conversation," I said.
In so brief a compass it seemed to me that she had touched on two of the major ambiguities afflicting the politics she espoused. First there was the insistence on womanhood coupled simultaneously with the suppression of womanhood, exalting the neuteristic, sexless ideal of the person. One must be insistent on being a woman, rhetorically, and yet the last thing one must be is honest to one's womanhood. The ideal of the person was the antithesis to honest sexuality, a device to inhibit and reduce, if not destroy, it. It was, of course, a useful instrumentality to certain types of women in the pursuit of their political ambitions. In a sense I thought this wise on their part. They had the good sense to recognize that the sexuality of human beings, and love, was the major obstacle to the success of their programs. The desire of women to find love might yet prove fatal to their designs. The second major ambiguity in the politics involved was the paradoxical combination of hostility toward men coupled with envy of men. Most briefly put, on the level of primitive simplicity, such women hated men and yet wished to be men. They hated men because they were not men. A natural consequence of this, of course, was that they, unhappy with themselves, felt hostility toward themselves as well. The answer to this latter difficulty might be a simple one, namely to accept what one is, in its fullness and depth, for the man to accept manhood, and the woman womanhood, whatever it might involve.
"The sexes are identical," she said.
"I did not know that," I said.
"I am just the same as you," she said.
"I see no point in entering into an argument on this issue," I said. "What would you accept as counterevidence?"
"Some unimportant, minor differences in anatomical details are all that divide us," she said.
"What of ten thousand generations of animal ancestry and evolution, of the genetic dispositions in billions of cells, not one of which is the same in your body as in mine?"
"Are you a sexist?" she asked.
"Perhaps," I said. "I do not know. What is a sexist?"
"A sexist is a sexist," she said.
"That is a logical truth," I said. "An apple is an apple. The argument is not much advanced."
"The concept is vague," she said.
"There is little if any concept involved," I said. "The expression is a 'signal word,' a word selected for its emotive connotation, not its cognitive meaning. It is to be used as a slander tool to discourage questioning and enforce verbal agreement. Similar expressions, once meaningful, now largely of value as rhetorical devices are 'chauvinist', 'sex object', 'person', 'conservative' and 'liberal'. One of the great utilities of these words, long since evacuated of most of their cognitive content, is that they make thought unnecessary. It is little wonder men value them so highly."
"I do not believe you," she said. "You may not share my values."
"Does that disturb you?" I asked.
"No," she said, quickly, "of course not!"
I was growing angry. I slipped from the booth.
"No," she said, "please do not go!" She reached forth and took my hand. Then, swiftly, she released it. "Forgive me," she said, "I did not mean to be feminine."
"Very well," I said, irritably.
"Please, don't leave," she said. "I do wish, desperately, to talk to you, Jason."
I sat down. We scarcely knew one another, and yet she had used my first name. I suppose I was weak. I felt mollified. Too, I was curious. Too, she was beautiful.
"Thank you, Jason," she said.
I was startled. She had thanked me. I had not expected that. I felt then that perhaps, truly, she did wish to speak with me, though for what reason I could not conjecture. Surely our politics were insufficiently congruent, as she must now understand, to motivate any expectation on her part that I would supply much positive reinforcement for her own views.
"Why do you wish to speak to me?" I asked. "Before you scarcely passed the time of day with me."
"There are reasons," she said.
"Before you would not speak with me," I said.
"You frightened me, Jason," she said.
"How?" I said.
"There was something about you," she said. "I do not know really what it was. There is a kind of power or masculinity about you." She looked up, quickly. "I find it offensive, you understand."
"All right," I said.
"But it made me feel feminine, weak. I do not wish to be feminine. I do not wish to be weak."
"I'm sorry if I said or did anything to alarm you," I said.
"It was nothing you said or did," she said. "It was rather something which I sensed you were."
"What?" I asked.
"Different from the others," she said.
"What?" I asked.
"A man," she said.
"That is silly," I said. "You must know hundreds of men."
"Not like you," she said.
"What were you afraid of," I asked, "that I would tell you to go into the kitchen and cook?"
"No," she smiled.
"That I would tell you to go into the bedroom and strip?" I asked.
"Please, Jason," she said, putting her head down, reddening.
"I'm sorry," I said. Inwardly, however, I smiled. I thought it might be quite pleasant to direct the lovely Miss Henderson to enter the bedroom of my small student's apartment and remove her clothing.
"There are various reasons I wanted to speak to you," she said.
"I'm listening," I told her.
"I don't like you, you understand," she said.
"All right," I said.
"And we women aren't afraid of men like you any more," she said.
"All right," I said.
She didn't speak, though. She put her head down.
This evening she was dressed as I had never seen her before. Normally she wore garb of the sort tacitly prescribed for her in her intellectual environs, slacks and pants of various sorts, and shirts and jackets, sometimes with ties. Imitation-male clothing, interestingly enough, is often adopted by individuals who are the most vehement in their claims to be women. It is possible, of course, that those who make the most noise about being women are the least feminine of all. But such matters are perhaps best left to psychologists.
"You look very lovely tonight," I said.
She looked up at me. She wore an off-the-shoulder, svelte, white, satin-sheath gown. She had a small, silver-beaded purse. Her wrists and neck were bare. She had lovely, rounded forearms, and small wrists and hands. Her fingers were small, but lovely and delicate. She did not wear nail polish. On her feet were golden pumps, with a wisp of golden straps.
"Thank you," she said.
I regarded her. She had lovely, exciting shoulders. I saw that her breasts would be very white. Her bosom, small, but sweetly swelling, concealed, strained against the tight satin sheath. I felt I would like to tear the garment from her and throw her on her back, naked and helpless, on the table. When she was crying to be used, I could throw her to the floor, there to make her mine. I thrust such thoughts from my mind.
"But that is surely not the standard uniform in your department," I said.
"I do not know what is going on with me," she said, miserably. She shook her head. "I had to talk to someone."
"Why me?" I asked.
"There are reasons," she said. "Among them is the fact that you are different from the others. I know what the others will say and think. I want someone who thinks for himself, who can be objective. In our short conversations it became clear to me that you are one who thinks not in terms of words but in terms of things and realities. Your thinking is less analogous to the playing of tapes than it is to the photography of facts."
"Many thousands of individuals think in terms of the world, its nature and promise," I said, "not in terms of slogans and verbal formulas. Indeed, those who control the world cannot afford not to. They may use verbal formulas to manipulate the masses, but, in their own thinking, they cannot be limited in this fashion or they would not have come to their positions of power."
"I am accustomed," she said, "to those who think only verbally."
"The academic world, too often," I said, "is a refuge and haven for those who cannot manage more. Academic thinking does not have the same sanctions of success and failure as practical thought. The aeronautical engineer makes a mistake and a plane crashes. A historian writes a stupid book and is promoted."
She looked down. "Let us order," she said.
"I thought you wanted to talk," I said.
"Let us order now," she said.
"All right," I said. "Would you like a drink?"
"Yes," she said.
We ordered drinks, and later, dinner. The waiter was attentive, but not obtrusive. We drank and ate in silence. After dessert, we sipped coffee.
"Jason," she said, breaking the silence, "I told you before that I didn't understand what was going on with me. I don't."
"You wished to talk to someone," I said.
"Yes," she said.
"Proceed," I said.
"Don't tell me what to do," she said. "Don't tell me what to do!"
"Very well," I said. "Shall I call for the check?"
"Not yet," she said. "Please, wait. I—I do not know where to begin."
I sipped the coffee. I saw no point in hurrying her. I was curious.
"You will think that I'm mad," she said.
"If you will forgive the observation," I said, "you seem to me, rather, to be frightened."
She looked at me, suddenly. "A few months ago," she said, "I began to have unusual feelings, and urges."
"What sorts of feelings and urges?" I asked.
"They are the sort of thing which people used to think of as feminine," she said, "when people still believed in femininity."
"Most people still believe in that sort of thing," I said. "Your official position, whatever its political values, is a perversion not only of truth but of biology."
"Do you think so?" she asked.
"Clearly," I said. "But I would be less worried, if I were you, about what people believed to be true than about what was true. If you have deeply feminine urges you have them. It is that simple. Let people who have never truly experienced femininity argue about whether it exists or not. Let those who know it exists, because they have experienced it, set themselves to different problems."
"But I am fearful of the nature of my femininity," she said. "I have had frightening dreams."
"What sort of dreams?" I asked.
"I hardly dare speak of them to a man," she said, "they are so horrifying."
I said nothing. I did not wish to put her under any undue stress.
"I have often dreamed," she said, "that I was a female slave, that I was kept in rags or naked, that a steel collar was put on my neck, that I was branded, that I was subject to discipline, that I must serve a man."
"I see," I said. My hands gripped the table. My vision, for a moment, swam. I looked at the small beauty. I had not known I could feel such sudden lust, such startling, astonishing, maddening desire for a woman. I dared not move in the slightest.
"I went to a psychiatrist," she said. "But he was a man. He told me such thoughts were perfectly normal and natural."
"I see," I said.
"So I went to a female psychologist," she said.
"What happened?" I asked.
"It was strange," she said. "When I spoke to the psychologist about this she became quite angry. She called me a lewd and salacious little bitch."
"That was scarcely professional of her," I smiled.
"In a moment," said the girl, "she apologized, and was again herself."
"Did you continue to see her?" I asked.
"A few times," said the girl, "but it was never really the same after that. Eventually I stopped."
"You apparently touched a raw nerve in her," I said. "Or perhaps what you said threatened her in some way, perhaps as not being obviously compatible with some theoretical position." I looked at her. "There are many other psychiatrists and psychologists," I said, "both male and female."
The girl nodded.
"There is a variety of positions in those fields, in particular in psychology," I said. "If you shop around you will doubtless find someone who will tell you what you wish to hear, whatever it is."
"It is the truth I wish to hear," she said, "whatever it is."
"Perhaps," I said, "the truth is the last thing you wish to hear."
Excerpted from Fighting Slave of Gor by John Norman. Copyright © 1980 John Norman. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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