Chapter 3: Dinner and a Show
Mama Mary released me from my task of explaining why there were files in the Music folder on Carmen’s Mac which didn’t appear in iTunes, calling out into the living room “Dinner’s on! Come and get it!”
My eyes immediately went to one of the two salads we’d prepared, sitting on the table, one dish among a feast. My gaze roamed from there over corn on the cob, pork chops, fresh biscuits, and home-made gravy, all of it laid out on antique upscale place-settings that had clearly been passed down over generations. Off in the corner was a chocolate cake. Vicente also saw it and grinned cheekily, saying, “This is what I’m having.” His siblings rolled their eyes at what was apparently an old joke.
As we all got better acquainted after dinner, Kaitlyn’s mother Mary asked excitedly, “So, when is this wedding?”
“We haven’t quite decided that yet, mother,” said Kaitlyn.
“I was thinking about a month, while it’s still warm,” I put in. I got nods all around, so I went on, “Kaitlyn and I met out in a canyon near here, and we want to hold the wedding on the spot where we met.”
“Oh, that’s so romantic!” Allison said.
Kaitlyn smiled and said, “The entrance is about half an hour’s drive from here, then it’s a bit of a hike up the wash from there, about half a mile in. Is everyone okay with that?” All eyes went to the parents.
Her mother responded first, “Well, I was thinking you’d hold it in our church…?”
“Mom,” Kaitlyn said, soothingly, “you know I’m not religious. Neither is Davie. We’d feel about as welcome holding the wedding in a church as doing it in Miguelito’s repair shop. Nature is my holy place. That spot’s one of the holiest to me.”
“Well, when you put it that way…” Mary took a clearing breath, then declared in a no-nonsense accepted tone, “My dearest daughter Kaitlyn, I will be happy to hike up this canyon and see you married!”
“I like the occasional hike,” commented her father. “Never done it in a suit, though.”
“On that note,” I put in, “we were thinking of making it into something of a camp-out. There are some good spots for it in the canyon, and while we’d ask that you put some distance between your spot and ours,” there was a bit of chortling and smiles hidden behind hands around the table at this point, “you’re welcome to join us out there for a night or two. You can backpack in and change in your tents or whatever. Get the pictures done, and then we can relax and enjoy the rest of the day casually.”
The menfolk were unanimously in favor of this, but the women were a mixed story.
Kaitlyn’s mother was on the hook for it, so she couldn’t back out on it now. She remained silent, accepting.
“Sounds like a great adventure to me,” answered Allison. “I haven’t been camping in forever!”
That left Carmen as the lone holdout. “It’s not really my idea of a wedding, either,” she groused, seeming to side with Mary, “but I’ll go along with it. When was the last time we were camping, Miguel? A couple years now?”
“About that,” he agreed.
So it was settled.
As dinner was winding down, Kaitlyn’s father broke a conversational lull, slightly startling me since he’d said hardly anything through the whole meal. He was the embodiment of the word “reserved.”
“So,” he said in a low slow drawl, “I was saying earlier about how we had a trespasser out here on the farm.”
“D’ja shewt ’im?” Miguelito joked, affecting a Southern hick accent.
Carmen elbowed him.
Ramón grinned, but said, “No, but I did go out and have stern words with him. He was just out there wandering on the edge of the property, carrying a clipboard and making notes. Wouldn’t tell me his name, company, or business being on my land, so I grabbed that clipboard and started reading. Any of you know anything about maganeze?”
I didn’t know whether he was mispronouncing manganese or magnesium, but I decided to ignore it, guessing that the distinction didn’t affect his story, so I simply said, “It’s a mineral. Valuable enough to mine.”
“Yeah,” said her father, “well, I also saw his company’s logo on the form he was jotting notes on, Jurkovich Resource Extraction.”
“Sounds like a mining company to me,” put in Kaitlyn, supporting my guess.
“So anyway,” her father continued, “I demanded to know what this Jurkovich outfit wanted with maganeze on my land, but he wouldn’t say. I damn near kicked his recalcitrant ass off my land, and I haven’t seen anything more since.”
Vicente stepped into the conversation at this point, asking, “So, couldn’t you now sell to these guys at a huge profit, knowing what they’re after? Go look up the prices on the Internet and figure out what it’s worth?”
“Sell the land‽” his mother said, shocked.
“Never mind sellin’, boy. The fact is, we don’t need the money. My family managed this land well, and I expect to keep on doin’ so. Look around. We’re doing just fine,” Vin’s father affirmed.
And they were. It was a beautiful farm, clearly prosperous, a result of generations of hard work, its resources and profits carefully managed.
“Anyway,” her father went on, “who wants to live next door to a quarry or a strip mine? It’d ruin this whole area.”
All the eyes went down to the table. It was universal, no voice vote needed: the farm wasn’t going anywhere.
Mama Mary broke the silence by proposing a gaming night.
As the outsider, I just went along with their plans. They broke out several well-worn games, so I decided this wasn’t going to be too bad; beware the new-in-box game, still in the cellophane!
Over the next few hours, they thoroughly kicked my arse.
“Noob!” Vicente needled me as we were packing the games back up, grinning impishly. Kaitlin swatted lightly at his hair on my behalf.
Then Mama Gutierrez handed out room assignments to her visiting guests, and we all started preparing for bed.
Kaitlyn led me out onto the back patio, not turning on the lights, just sitting down in an A-frame porch swing her parents had back there.
Once I was sitting beside her, Kaitlyn explained, “Mornings and bedtimes were always a bit of a circus here when we were growing up. Now we’ve got two more here, you and Carmen, so let’s sit out here and wait for things to settle down.”
That worked for me, so we just sat there in the dark and listened to the insects and occasional pop of early fireworks around the rural neighborhood.
We were far enough off the highway that there wasn’t any traffic noise, not even neighborhood traffic, since the farm was backed right up against the base of the bluff. I’d have to say the house I now shared with Kaitlyn is more isolated, but not by much; it was closer to the nearest major road than the Gutierrez farm was to its, but unlike the farm, our home has no neighbors in sight due to the up-and-down nature of the land around the house and the much sparser settlement north of town. Out here on the valley floor, you could see the neighbors all around, but the farm had a lot of acreage to separate it from the nearest ones.
That gave me an idea. “Kaitlyn, how would you like to go explore the local patch of nature?”
She got a small grin on her face. She knew what that meant: stripping down and communing with Gaia in our purely natural state. “We’ll have to be sneaky, Davie.” But she got right up without another word and led me down the patio and up to the edge of one of the corn fields.
It was dark out here, so although we could still see the few lights on in the house, concentrated mainly in the bedroom wing, we felt comfortable stripping right here. We were out of our outer clothes in seconds without hesitation, it being a regular thing for us: we did this in my back yard often now that we’d reconsecrated the ground after the peeping incident last month.
Kaitlyn and I peeled off our socks standing up, balancing easily on one leg. That’s one of the stranger benefits of bicycle riding: it gives you the strength and balance to make this easy.
Then as Kaitlyn was about to start removing her underwear, I stopped her. She was wearing a loose cotton panty and cami set, and I wanted to watch her in them for a while. I removed my briefs, then got down into a seiza pose and had her walk around in her white cotton underwear for a few minutes, admiring the show from my kneeling position before her, a supplicant before his goddess.
Eventually, I curled my toes under my body and swayed up smoothly into a stand, sliding my hands up along her flanks, not for support, but for the sheer joy of it. Kaitlyn squirmed with the tickling, but lifted her arms rather than force them down by her sides. She wanted the cami off as much as I did. I lifted that off as I stood, then returned to my kneeling pose, watching her walk around topless in the moonlight. Kaitlyn posed, swayed, and danced before me.
As she came around one time, I pulled her gently into an embrace, pulling her panty front up to my face, deeply inhaling the smell of Kaitlyn, the smell of love. I squeezed her buttocks, then stroked them through the panties as my face stroked her front. She began to moan, so I slowly pulled the panties down, then off, tossing them aside and laying down. I decided I wasn’t quite ready to get down to business, so I patted the ground beside me rather than draw her down atop me.
We sat down in the dirt bordering the corn field, looking out toward the dark bluff bordering the East edge of the farm, watching the occasional firework fly up above the houses and fields, bursting above the darkening horizon.
Shortly after we lay down to watch the neighborhood show, one went off about twenty feet away: fhup!…BAM! It burst above us, illuminating our nakedness. We both startled; I felt like I rose a few inches off the ground, and Kaitlyn’s soft hold on my hand turned into a grip.
“Vicente! Stop that and get to bed!” Kaitlyn’s mother shouted from somewhere nearby. This was answered by a faint, “Yes, ma,” followed by the thunk of the back door closing.
“He’s such a little firebug,” commented Kaitlyn from the quiet darkness by my side, laughing quietly, her grasp relaxing.
We resumed looking up at the stars, holding hands for a few more minutes. Moab doesn’t have much light pollution, and we were a few miles out of town besides, so the stars were sharp against the deep blackness of space.
Kaitlyn broke our silence. “What would you say if I wanted to go poking into this JRE business?”
“How do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, first some Internet digging to figure out who they are and all that, but then I want to go investigate the company itself on their home turf. I want to know who’s coming after the family farm. Davie, I really, really want to stop this, hard. This is my family home. I love coming back here. It’d break my heart if it were turned into a mine.”
“Then so it shall be,” I agreed, lifting her hand up to my lips and kissing it to seal the promise, then returned to watching the stars and listening to the odd night sounds.
Did I hear footsteps? And a quiet crack?
“What was that?” I asked, startled.
Kaitlyn answered, “Deer, maybe. They come down out of the hills at night and wander around the fields. Nibble the leaves, drink from the irrigation.”
“Do you lose much crop to them?” I wondered.
“No, not really. Not so much that papa’s ever really gotten serious about shooting one anyway,” she said, laughing lightly.
“Is that even legal out here?” I asked.
“Ummm…quasi-legal, I think,” she answered. “More socially unacceptable than anything else. We’re outside the city limits here, but shooting near other houses is bad ju-ju. Dad told me about it once… There’s like a 600 foot limit around buildings. There are places on the farm where you’re farther than that from any building, so if you had a deer tag in season, you could technically shoot it from there, but it’s still not very neighborly. If you want to go deer hunting, you go up in the hills, not shoot the nearly tame ones down here.”
“Good to know,” I said.
“Bird hunting is different,” she went on. “There you use shotguns, which aren’t nearly as dangerous, as long as you’re aiming upward. About the worst that usually happens is that you get the sound of rain in the house as the shot that misses your target rains down on the neighbors. It’s a bit startling, but no more dangerous than…oh…a bit of hail, I suppose.”
“Doesn’t that scatter lead everywhere? Kind of poisonous, you know,” I said.
“You can still get lead shot, but there’s environmentally friendly stuff now. Some places even require it. Dad’s got a few bird guns. We had several duck and goose dinners here while I was growing up. Maybe he’ll show you how to use them.”
“Do you know how?” I asked her.
“Oh, sure,” she answered, “but I think it’d be better if he taught you. I’m not sure how well you’d take me being the teacher and you the student. It’d flip our whole dynamic on its head.”
Since meeting her out in the canyonlands a couple of months back, Kaitlyn had become my student, my shishya in the language of my homeland, and I was her guru, her teacher.
“I was thinking about that,” I responded. “How much longer will you be my shishya? It could go on for years in principle, but you’re coming along so fast, and with us getting married…?”
She was quiet for a while, then said, “I see your point. We aren’t going to let our dynamic remain stable, are we?”
“It’s changing already,” I pointed out. Tentatively, I went on, saying, “Maybe we should cut it off with the wedding. At that point, we’ll be life partners. Why not be magical partners then, too?”
She didn’t answer immediately, but she eventually said, “I’m not sure if that’s artificially arbitrary or sweet and sensitive. What if I’m not done learning by then? What if you’re not done teaching?”
“It could go the other way,” I pointed out. “I could run out of stuff to teach you before we get married, and then where would we be?”
“I suppose I’ll just have to tell you when I’m done being your shishya, then,” she said.
“All right, and if I’m done teaching, I’ll let you go, not try to hold onto the position,” I promised.
That settled, we returned to silence.
Maybe a minute later, Kaitlyn said pointedly, “My mom will bug me for a wedding date again tomorrow.”
“Hmmm… How about we pick a symbolic date?” I thought for a bit then snapped my fingers. “Marvin Minsky’s birthday is coming up on August 9th!”
“Who?” Kaitlyn asked, mystified.
“Pioneer in artificial intelligence research,” I supplied. “A bit of a Renaissance man, actually. As much as you can be these hundreds of years after the birth of modern science.”
“How do you even know that?” Kaitlyn asked, startled.
I shrugged. Then realizing she might not notice in the darkness said, “I just know stuff. How’d you figure out how to be so beautiful?”
“One tries. Anyway, somewhere around then. You know my feeling on the matter: I want to do it this summer while it’s still warm. Winter camping in the canyons is fun if you do it right, but I’d rather not get married in my winter coat and thermals. Besides, it’d put a crimp in my plan to do our honeymoon out there, too.”
“Yeah, I know exactly what you want to do out there,” she responded, a naughty grin in her voice.
“Yup, same thing I want to do right now.”
“Oooh, wow! That’s a little outré even for me, and of the two of us, I’m the exhibitionist one,” Kaitlyn said nervously. “Here in my parents’ back yard?”
“Better than in your old bedroom, squeaking the springs next to your sibs’ bedroom walls,” I pointed out. I made the sound, “Ee-ee! Ee-ee! Ee-ee!” Kaitlyn smacked my upper arm, but I went on steadfastly in the face of this domestic abuse. “It’s either that or nothin’, and we skipped last night because of the trial.”
We’d gotten up early this morning to avoid being late at the trial that started first thing in the court day. It didn’t take us much longer to get into the city center on our bikes than in a car, but we’d had to change from our biking clothes into our court clothes this morning, which had required that we get up uncommonly early.
“Well, when you put it that way… We’ll still have to be quiet,” Kaitlyn said.
“We’ll take it as a challenge: I’ll try to make you wail, and you try not to!” I countered lasciviously.
“How about I try to make you bellow instead?” she challenged right back.
“I’d love for you to try,” I said, entirely honestly.
She climbed on top of me and gave it a good solid shot. I had her clamping her hand over her mouth several times, too. Oh, how we tried to get the other to emit more than sighs, low moans, and grunts. We tried for a good half hour, but we managed to stay quiet…I think. I had my mind on other things most of that time.
A big mortar burst in the sky just over the corn field, shot from a neighboring farm. “I’ll take that as a sign of approval!” joked Kaitlyn. I just laughed quietly as charred cardboard tubes pattered down into the nearby field.
As we lay naked in each other’s arms, Kaitlyn lying atop me, me atop Gaia, we heard another noise. “Deer again?” I whispered.
Kaitlyn was silent for a few seconds, but then she whispered back nervously, “Not sure. I spread out into Gaia, but ran up against the patio over that way and the fence over that way.”
Not only do mages have to be naked and in nature to wield our power, that power is attenuated by any manufactured item, the severity according to its complexity along the technological curve: a simple finger ring impedes our magic a little, a modern manufactured sewing needle more, and on up the scale to our most common everyday Kryptonite, smartphones.
Proximity also affects our magic, which is why clothing is a problem for mages. An everyday casual outfit made from 100% natural fibers is pretty low on the technology scale, but because it’s well up from zero and it’s right next to us all the time and covering most of our bodies, it’s basically impossible to do magic while wearing even such simple clothes. This is in part because modern fabrics are artifacts of mechanical weaving machines that produce perfectly regular unnatural patterns, which we then cut and sew into still less natural shapes, all creases and crisp angles. Next comes an even bigger problem: the higher-tech buttons, snaps and zippers; and on some clothing, rivets and studs and other products of the Industrial Age and beyond. And finally, the killer: the high tech contents of our pockets, everything from pens on up to smartphones.
Kaitlyn has resolved to nail down the scientific principles of magic once she solidifies her basic skill set, with my help as her lab partner and Igor. (Yettth, marster!) In the meantime, we’ve got a growing list of planned experiments, one of which is to try doing magic wearing a simple robe made of all-natural fibers. Our hypothesis is that this is why long flowing robes are associated with wizards and witches. We’ll see. Even if it’s successful, I don’t know how helpful it’ll be: long flowing wizard robes aren’t much more socially acceptable on the streets of Moab than is stark nudity. It’s difficult to do magic on the sidewalk anyway, requiring that we do it purely from internal reserves, which are quickly depleted. So, what use will robes be to us? It’s mainly a matter of curiosity.
Anyway, the rebar-reinforced concrete of the patio and the steel rail fence were well up the tech scale from wizard robes, so they were solid barriers to our magical senses. And the sound wasn’t coming out of the corn, acres of it to our other sides.
“Hmmm. Gone now anyway,” I answered in a low tone, trying to be sanguine. Have to keep up the guru image, after all.
“Yeah,” Kaitlyn answered, still on edge, whispering nervously, “but the weird thing is that it went back towards the house, not away out into the fields like a frightened deer! I felt its life energy as it fled.”
“Time to get inside, I think.” So, we slipped on pants and shirts only, snuck inside barefoot, tossing our other things into Kaitlyn’s old bedroom before getting ready for bed in the now-uncontested bathroom.
In Kaitlyn’s old bedroom, I asked, “How do we do this? We normally sleep nude at home, but here…?”
Kaitlyn reassured me, “Don’t worry, it’s fine. I used to do it a bunch as a kid. I don’t know if I was ever caught, but I started to lock my door at about 14. You’ll have to at least put on a robe to get a shower, but here in my bedroom… Well, no one will pop the lock and bother us.”
“Good,” I said, and stripped off again to get into bed with my lover. “Kind of silly to dress and undress and re-dress and undress again so many times over a few hours time, don’t you think?” I asked, once she was in bed with me.
“Sure, but I don’t think you want your first impression on the fam to be you walking all nakey from the bedroom to the shower, casual as at home,” she answered sleepily.
“I thought you liked me all nakey,” I protested in a teasing tone. Then I ground my pelvis into her behind a bit to punctuate it.
“I do, but what I’m not sure about is whether my little brother and sister will like you all nakey,” she replied.
“Yeah, I’m beginning to see your point.” This got me to thinking about them all nakey, especially Allison, which then had me diving for a centering trance before I revealed my thoughts between Kaitlyn’s warm soft buttocks. ‘Shut that down, Davie!’ I admonished myself.
“Not to mention my parents,” she added with a yawn.
That helped with my little problem. The thought of them at the end of the hallway as I scooted from bedroom to bathroom in my skin… Not nearly so sexy. Rather anti-sexy, in fact.
And so we fell into sleep together, spooning naked.