PART 3: Healers
Chapter 17: Licensed to Heal
Kaitlyn and I woke the next day for our first Monday back at our old day jobs.
This forced my wife to finally put some clothes on, locking up the family’s new record for longest time nude in doing so, over two weeks solid!
“Beat that, Davie!” she exulted.
I replied speculatively, “I suspect that record will stand a long, long time.” With a peck on her lips, I added, “Congratulations, my nudist mage masseuse.”
Our licenses arrived a few days later, much earlier than we’d expected from the State of Utah bureaucracy, so after we’d danced our initial glee off in our back yard, we enclosed the ornate testaments in a pair of waterproof and UV-proof document frames we’d ordered online and hung them near the outdoor shower.
The local sign-painters delivered our orders a few days prior, but we’d held off planting them until we were official.
First to go up was our new roadside Magic Hands Massage business sign, its arrow pointing up the house’s access road.
Next, one well up that newly tree-screened drive, saying:
Clothing Is Optional Beyond This Point.
Be advised: Nude people may be found here.
Below this text were two clearly nude human silhouettes, a man and a woman, drawn from reference by Carlo using one of the art photos he’d taken, the extra work half gift, half in-joke.
The sign marked the start of a widened spot in the drive prepared for this very purpose, a last-chance turnaround area, just in case. We wanted no complaints from people driving up and finding either Kaitlyn or I in our skin, much less seeing one of our clients that way should they stray out of our tree-screened back yard. As well, Kaitlyn and I would have to come out front from time to time to maintain the grounds, as it were, and that meant being in our skin.
My first official act of business was to call a woman who’d all but ordered me to service her company’s upcoming retreat here in one of the town’s several upscale B&Bs. “Dr. Carolyn R. Condon, PhD, IAEE,” the card read. Below that, it said, “CEO, Avery Research Associates.”
We’d just barely made it: the CEO’s frightfully effective executive assistant informed us that the retreat was scheduled for this weekend! We arranged matters with her assistant, accepting the company’s offered price for our services without haggling since it was about twice as high as we’d thought of asking.
“Wow, you really must have impressed her,” said Kaitlyn with a slow shake of her head when I told her this news. “This is the one you said almost ate you, right? The one from the Alexanders’ Christmas party?”
“Yeah, like a lion eats filet mignon,” I confirmed.
“Well then, I hope the two of us live through it,” she said wryly.
“We’re nature mages with blue belts in Krav Maga, right? What’ve we got to be scared of?” I said, psyching myself up for this.
“Unfortunately, my love, you can’t sink their bodies into the bedrock if they annoy you. Bad for business,” she joked back. Then when I didn’t respond, pensive as I was, she added, “How bad could a B&B full of entitled type-A personalities be?”
‘Time to fly, Davie,’ I told myself, feeling a virtual boot kicking my bare mage ass out of the nest. ‘Time to fly.’
We decided to ease into it, inviting Kristen’s boss Sherry and her long-term boyfriend Officer Jasper Poulsen over as our first official clients.
“Righteous setup, Kaitlyn!” exclaimed Sherry the following evening on seeing our new backyard retreat. Then letting her age show a bit more, she added, “Wicked!” while pointing at the soccer ball sized chunk of quartz in the corner of the massage area.
“He’s called Billy,” I offered.
Sherry cocked her head to the side for a bit, then burst out in a belly laugh, getting our shishyas’ little joke.
Poulsen just looked confused while Sherry squatted to stroke a finger over one of Billy the Crystal’s smooth angular planes.
After all of the oohs-and-ahs were over with, I told the couple, “We’re a bit torn on how to do this. Primarily, we want to run our professional massage therapy practices past you two for a critical review. That means we have to stay dressed.”
Poulsen interrupted sardonically, “My favorite nudists, dressed? I’m shocked!” adding a wry grin.
My wife explained, “We initially thought we’d be able to offer to undress to the client’s comfort level; fair’s fair, right? But then my dad guessed that one of your friends in law enforcement could choose to apply laws meant for strip clubs, so we gave up on that idea and came up with these uniforms instead.”
“Your dad’s probably right,” opined the officer. “I wouldn’t arrest you for it, but if word got around, you could end up a sting target.”
“They’re nice uniforms,” offered Sherry. “Very…” she began critically, ending in a squint, “you.”
“Thanks, boss! Hand-sewn from homespun cloth, our own designs.”
I resumed my speech to our clients, “There’s also the matter of compensation. Poulsen, we owe you for arranging the renter for our house while we were away at school. It really helped with the finances of setting all of this up, so this massage is free for you. But you, Sherry, you’re Kaitlyn’s boss, so if we give you a freebie, isn’t that ethically dodgy, a form of fraternization?”
“Yeah, probably, but I’m happy to pay for mine. I’ve already had one freebie, so I know the value of your skills. What do you charge?”
We told her our original number, not the inflated one the Avery retreat organizers offered us, and she said, “Sounds fair, but I’ll get my full money’s worth, I’ll have you know,” adding a droll smile at the end.
“Yes, ma’am!” replied my wife with a mock salute.
Privately, I suspected she’d enjoy it even more this way, not just because we’d gotten better since they’d last seen us, just after Christmas, but also because paying for a thing makes you value it more, all else being equal. Well-known psychological phenomenon, studied to death by now.
Getting my professional voice on, I said, “If you two will go get showered, we’ll get started setting things up out here. Please come out undressed to your level of comfort. There are towels draped over the dressing screen for you. You can use them to dry off only, or come out wearing them. We will take our draping cues from the way you are when you come out. This yard is reasonably private, so you can safely come out in any state up to fully bare, as you prefer.”
“As for ourselves,” my wife added, “we will re-dress to any level you choose, from this outfit you see now,” referring to the skimpiest of the magewear outfits we’d sewn over the winter, “up to full scrubs.”
“You’re fine,” Sherry judged. “Too bad we can’t get you to be nude again,” she added, referring to the way we’d done their massages back at Christmas. She shook her head sadly and took her boyfriend off by the hand behind the screens, which we’d set up so we couldn’t see them shower. I guessed they’d have let us watch if we’d asked, but we were trying to take a professional stance for this session with them now.
We didn’t actually have anything to do, saying so only as part of our fixed patter, having taken care of it before our friends arrived, so Kaitlyn and I retreated to the massage area to await our clients while low giggles, murmurs and splashes emerged from behind the dressing screen.
“That went reasonably well,” Kaitlyn offered in a low tone as she knelt upon the sand we’d magically re-tumbled to make it even softer than Gaia had managed in her eons of slow unfocused work.
“Yeah. Too bad we’ve got to do this one professionally.”
“Yeah,” she said, eyes downcast, sighing. She melded with Gaia and I, and I saw that she was remembering the explosive handjob she’d given Poulsen last time.
I wanted to hug her, comfort her, but decided I had to keep this professional, too. Then I thought of something. “Treat it like an incentive, my love: let’s work to the point where you can get your friend back by getting so busy doing this that you can quit the BLM for good.”
“Quit the BLM?” came Sherry’s voice as she rounded the dressing screen, utterly starkers, bare-skinned Poulsen in tow. She’d clearly heard just the last bit. “I just hired you back on again!”
After Kaitlyn explained the situation as we saw it, Sherry said, “I understand, and you’re right, it’s awkward. Given the choice, I’d rather have you two as friends than keep Kaitlyn on as an employee, so I think I’d best do what I can to help you get this business successfully launched.”
“Sounds fair,” I said as I began rubbing sun-warmed oil into her bare back, having laid the couple down on the baking sand as we discussed this.
Sherry replied to the both of us, “You two claim Magic Hands here, so prove it.”
We proved it, fixing all kinds of minor problems for the couple, who despite being in their early middle age with largely sedentary jobs were both in reasonably good health, since both went to the gym regularly.
And we knew the two had been getting plenty of after-hours exercise together; wink wink, nudge nudge.
Sherry’s worst problems were shin splints and foot malformations from wearing high heels all day. Jasper’s was stomach irritation from the coffee and stress of his job plus assorted aches and pains from the occasional bar fight or domestic squabble he had to break up.
I’m sure Jasper suspected why he came away from that session feeling much better than he ought to have from a simple massage, but we hadn’t told Sherry about our powers yet. If she married Jasper, maybe we would. Perhaps he already had, but she certainly never mentioned it. Good. The last thing we needed was our status as mages going viral.
An hour later, the happy couple were sprawled face-up on the sand, our new reed-and-bamboo portable awning moved over to shield their eyes from the lowering sun.
We helped them first to their knees, using our wide soft brushes to clean the sand from their upper bodies, then to their feet to clean their calves as well.
Standing before the employee kneeling servilely at her feet, Sherry said, “Kaitlyn, your massage rates here are about three times your salary, hour for hour. I’ll make you a deal: for every three hours you take off work to do massages instead, you owe me a coupon for one massage to be used within the BLM at my discretion. I intend to use them for work incentives among the rest of the employees. How does that sound?”
Kaitlyn looked over at me from her position straddling Jasper’s calves, working on his upper thighs. I just shrugged; it sounded fair to me, but she was the one signing up for it, so I let her decide. “All right, Sherry, we’ll try it that way for a while. I reserve the right to renegotiate.”
“Of course,” Sherry replied, holding a hand down to her employee to shake on the deal.
My wife shook it from seiza pose, then bowed low to seal the deal.
Sherry laughed in delight, then took Jasper off to the showers to clean up and re-dress.
“That went well,” I told my wife after they’d driven off. “This thing might just work out.”
“Oh, I hope so, Davie.”