Giving Thanks

a story conceived by Goddess Marquesa

            The staff had asked me to arrive at the Whispering Angel Shelter at 5 AM, since that is when setup begins, but I was not inclined to get up that early on a holiday. When I arrived with my entourage at 9 on Thanksgiving morning breakfast was already being served. By the time Francine, the cute young photographer I had hired for the occasion, had finished taking pictures of me entering the shelter from various angles, it was almost 9:30 when I finally strapped on an apron and joined the other volunteers serving the last few breakfasts.

            At first I didn’t notice her there. I was too focused on making a show of my magnanimity. My secretary Joel had me pose next to Fred Johnson, the shelter’s manager, holding a ladle over a big pot of porridge. As Francine took several shots, I heard a soft “Ahem” behind me and turned to see her there, a look of bemused impatience on her face.

            “You’re holding up the line,” she complained, giving me my first real taste of that voice.

            “Well, hello,” I replied after turning to look at her for the first time, instinctively turning on the charm for someone I found instantly attractive.  Even in street clothes and an old apron she was sexy- there is not attire drab enough to conceal the thrilling curviness of her form. And the green eyes I found myself peering into were disarmingly luminous.

            “Move over,” she said, ignoring my attempt to flirt. “Or better yet, use that ladle you’re holding and start serving.”

            Her brusqueness transmuted my smarm into pique. “Hey lady,” I bristled, “do you know who I am?”

            “I do,” she said, her lip curling slightly in mild revulsion, “and I’m not impressed. I watch the news. I can guess why you came this morning…and I don’t care. This shelter does important work. While you are here, you should help, learn, or get out of the way.”

            This made me angry. I pushed her, pressing my hand against her shoulder so that she was forced to take a step back. A light flashed in her eyes that looked like emerald fury. For a moment I thought she might strike me, and I braced for a blow, but she collected herself and seemed to make a decision after a moment’s hesitation.

             “Please,” she said, with an air of exaggerated courtesy, gesturing broadly to the line of homeless vagrants that were quietly watching our altercation, patiently waiting for food. I was still angry, and thought to give her more of my mind, but the sallow look on the face of the young woman next in line deflated my ire. I dipped my ladle into the porridge and held my hand for her plate.

            Because I was late, there was only a few people left to serve. Twenty minutes later, while the staff of the shelter began breaking down the breakfast service, I saw the familiar shape of Gloria, my press agent, walk through the door.

            “The reporters for the city newspapers will be here when the turkey dinner is served…” she began, all business as usual. I grabbed her and pulled her toward a screened spot in the pantry at the back of the service area, where I could have some privacy with her. Before we were quite out of sight I slipped a hand around her waist and tried to draw her in for a kiss.

            “Not now!” she protested, though her pelvis pressed against mine yieldingly.

            “C’mon, baby…” I said, “you know it drives me crazy when I see you in one of your power suits.”

            “Henry…” she moaned, partly in arousal, partly in exasperation, pulling me into the less visible part of the pantry. “You’re not helping…Besides, you can’t fool me…I’ve watched you flirting with that new photographer…what’s her name?”

            I was too smart to fall into that trap. “I’m not sure….” I grunted, “Is the photographer new? I hadn’t noticed.” In fact, Francine and I had already slept together twice, but Gloria didn’t know that. At least, I don’t think she did.

            “Anyway,” she pivoted, having forced me off the topic of sex, “today is about cleaning up your image, remember? You are a good family man, an upstanding businessman, and a philanthropist. And you are thankful for your many blessings. So thankful that you give back to the community.”

            “The community can go fuck itself…” I joshed, placing my hand on her breast. “Look at the washed-out hobos in here…it’s enough to make you want to puke.”

            “Well…” she replied, slapping my hand away in irritation… “convincing people that you care about these washed-out hobos, and love your wife and kids, is the only shot you will have of becoming governor someday. Do many male politicians have soured voters on wealthy playboy businessmen who cheat on their taxes.”

            “I settled with the IRS…” I complained, rehearsing an argument we’d had before. “why should the public care if Uncle Sam is happy?”

            “We’ve gone over this,” she sighed, rolling her eyes, “you’ve seen our private polling…Once the news about your taxes broke, your numbers on questions like ‘he cares about people like me’ went into the toilet. This is the only way you can get the RNC to come knocking at your door when the governor’s mansion is next up for grabs. So get out there and feed some homeless.”

            I leaned in, and she didn’t resist. After one long kiss I said, “Okay, boss. Message received. Reading you clearly.” I threw a mock salute and walked out of the pantry toward the other volunteers. As I emerged from the pantry followed by a disheveled Gloria I could see the woman with the stunning green eyes watching me with a knowing grin.

            “All right everybody,” Fred Johnson, the Shelter captain, called out in a loud voice, “we are going to be serving a full turkey dinner this afternoon, so we have a lot of prep to do. Please see my deputy director Stacy. She will give you assignments.” Fred finished by gesturing toward a young woman with a clipboard.

            I walked dutifully over to Stacy and inquired about my post. “You and Goddess Marquesa will be making the pumpkin soup,” she said.

            The name of my co-worker intrigued me, until on reaching my work station I saw that it was the same woman I had tussled with earlier. “Goddess Marquesa?” I said mockingly. “Are you kidding? What kind of hokey moniker is that?”

            She only smiled at this. “You may learn how serious my name is sooner than you expect,” she said mysteriously. “But right now there is work to do. Do you know how to cut onions?”

            I had never done such work, but I was not going to admit any incapacity to her. I got to work on the onions while she prepped the other ingredients of the soup. After about an hour, copious stinging tears, and a couple of band-aids, we were standing in front of a simmering pot. The forced proximity was uncomfortable. I searched the room to see if Francine or Gloria were available to grope. While I was scanning, Fred Johnson walked up to our work station.

            “Goddess….” he said, giving my co-worker a familiar hug, “it is so good to see you again. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without you.”

            “I’m always honored to come and help,” she replied.

            “Well…” Fred sighed, a pained expression coming over his face, “this may be the last time we have the pleasure of your assistance.”

            “What do you mean?” Goddess Marquesa asked in shock and concern.

            “Our budget shortfall this year was very severe, and the cuts in federal funds made by the White House has driven us further into the red. It looks like this is going to be the last year of our operation.”

             “That is terrible!” she said. She gave Smith a consoling hug, and he moved on to speak with some of the other volunteers.

            Delicious smells were emanating from the pot over which we were standing. Goddess Marquesa was visibly upset, but she remained focused on the work at hand. Picking up a long wooden spoon, she began to stir the ingredients in the pot.

            “Good thing they were still open when I needed them…” I mused, half to myself.

            “Yes…” the Goddess remarked drily. “Once the reporters from the press get here you can show everyone how you really aren’t a snake-oil salesman, but a pillar of charity…”

            “What do you know about anything, ‘Goddess Marquesa?’” I bridled. “I’m not the only one of this pair that plays a part. You’re as phony as I am.”

            This was met with silence. The Goddess stirred wordlessly for a few minutes, a thoughtful look on her face. Finally, she said, “Henry, isn’t it?”

            “Wha?” I grunted, surprised by the break in the tense quiet.

            “Your name….it’s Henry,” she repeated. “You’re the famous playboy tycoon who claimed fraudulent tax deductions on fake improvements to low-income housing projects that you own.”

            “Playboy tycoon is right. The rest is hogwash. Never been proven.”

            A few more moments of silence. When she spoke again, her tone was changed, though in what way is hard to describe. Her delivery was still laced with caution and tinged with disapproval, but her words were more….musical. “You find me attractive, don’t you Henry?” she intoned.

            “As if,” I whined, “Get over yourself…”

            “You’re lying,” she said. “I saw it when we first spoke…”

            “You have a nice figure,” I admitted, “but I have plenty to keep me occupied. You don’t really stand a chance with me, lady.”

            “I’ve seen the photographer and press agent that you are having affairs with,” she said, surprising me with her intuition. “They don’t really have any hold on you that I can’t break.”

            “Stop embarrassing yourself,” I spat. “Have you looked in a mirror? You are even older than me, much less my girlfriends. Give it up. You and I are never going to fuck.”

            “Oh, you are right about that” she declared, “but are otherwise quite misguided. Your friends are very young and very pretty, but they understand nothing about real power. Just look at whom they have chosen as a consort. They find you attractive because they think that your money gives you power.”

            “Doesn’t it?”

            “Not really,” she replied. “Not the kind of power that really counts. Real power comes from character. From strength of soul.”

            “Are you telling me I have no character?”

            “Isn’t that obvious?” she declared. “Thanksgiving is a day that reveals character. You can take a man’s measure by what he is grateful for, and from what I can see you are not grateful for anything. You feel entitled to all of your wealth, and don’t really have the sense to know what your other blessing are. That, in essence, is your biggest problem- life hasn’t given you the wisdom to even know what to be grateful for, much less feel gratitude itself.”

            This made me laugh. “”Drivel!” I barked, sneering. “And this ‘strength of soul’ you say I lack, I suppose you have it?”

            “Yes,” she said bluntly. “You can feel it even as you mock. It is why you can’t help wanting me even though I’ve touched off all of your insecurities.”

            At these words her emerald eyes locked on mine. I tried to look away but she held me in her gaze. To my dismay, an erection began to grow in my pants as I looked into those green pools.

            “You see, I am an erotic hypnotist,” she continued. “Your desire for me gives me a doorway into your mind. Once I am inside, I can do all sorts of wonderful things…”

            “I…I…I…” a thought was trying to get out of my throat, but it was stuck somewhere in the thickening murk of my consciousness. I couldn’t focus on anything expect her voice, her eyes, and the shape of her mouth…

            “Look here,” she said, gesturing toward the surface of the soup that she was stirring. “Look at how the turning liquid forms a spiral…”

            I looked down, and my mind went blank. I remember the impression of her voice, the way it felt inside my head, but I cannot remember the specific words. The next clear memory I have is of kneeling on the floor at her feet, still in front of the soup. A fire was burning in me. A need to kiss her, to run my hands over her curves. But at the same time I was frozen, unable to will myself to act. All I could do was kneel before her and worship her with my desire.

            “Are you okay?” Gloria gasped, running over to see why I was on my knees.

            “He’ll be fine,” Goddess Marquesa explained, “he just needs some fresh air. Like me he was upset by the news of the shelter’s financial difficulties. Come, pet, let’s go outside.”

            She untied her apron and, apologizing to Fred Johnson, explained that we would be going out for a while, but would be back in time for the dinner service. She snapped her fingers as she walked toward the entrance of the shelter and I followed her like a trained puppy. As I reached the door Gloria grabbed my arm, “The press will be here any minute,” she hissed, “you are blowing the whole plan.”

            “I must be with Goddess,” I muttered, brushing her hand away.

            In the parking lot Goddess Marquesa strode over to my Mercedes.

            “This must be your car,” she declared. “Give me the keys.”

            I obeyed wordlessly, and before I had time to wonder what was happening we were buckled in to the front seats and on the open highway, Goddess Marquesa at the wheel.

            “This is a beautiful ride,” the Goddess noted as she shifted gears, drawing back her skirt to reveal the garters and stockings clinging to her shapely thighs. I was transfixed by the curves of her legs and the rhythmic rise and fall of her luscious breasts with the excitement of the open road. I was too drunk with desire to be alarmed by the strangeness of the scene, literally carried away with longing.

            I do not know how long we drove. Eventually, I found myself seated behind the desk of my office at home. Goddess Marquesa was standing beside me, her hand arm draped around my shoulders so that her hand dangled gently over my chest on the left side.

            “I need you to get me some papers,” she whispered, bending down so that her mouth was right next to my right ear. Her tongue probed the sensitive passage of my ear canal, making my cock stiffen and my whole body shudder with arousal.

            “You can’t be in here,” I gasped.

            “You would like to touch me, wouldn’t you, Henry?”

            “Oh, God, yes…” I moaned.

            “Do what I say and it might happen. Tell me you will obey.”

            “I will obey….”

            A series of whispered commands followed. The next thing I knew, we were in my bedroom. She was seated on my bed, facing me, her legs crossed irresistibly.

            “You may touch me on two conditions,” she declared.

            “Anything…” I moaned, swaying with delirious need at the sight of her.

            “First, get undressed.”

            I stripped naked as fast as I had ever done, flinging the pieces of my expensive suit erratically about the floor of the room.

            “Good,” she cooed. “You may crawl forward and kiss my foot…” she began.

            I fell to my hands and knees and made to approach, but she held up a hand in restraint.

            “But before I allow you to do that, you must confess. Admit that you lied about your taxes. You knowingly defrauded the government over those fake improvements.”

            I was laser-focused on her feet, I yearned to feel the nylon of her stocking against my lips.

            “I confess!” I cried. “I planned the whole thing from the start. My secretary helped me forge permits and invoices. I never spent a penny of the money that I claimed as deductions.”

            “Good boy,” Goddess Marquesa purred. “Come accept your reward.”

            I crawled forward and worshipfully kissed her foot. As I did, flashbulbs popped, and the scene changed. I was no longer in my bedroom, but back in the shelter, where the dinner service was about to begin. I was naked on the floor of the main dining hall, my clothes strewn about the room. Goddess Marquesa was seated on one of the plastic chairs used by diners, accepting my kiss to her foot.

            As the newspaper photographers recorded the scene and reporters jotted down notes, Goddess Marquesa addressed the startled spectators.

            “Henry has obviously made mistakes, as you just heard him admit” she said as if speaking from a podium in church or after sounding the judge’s gavel, “but he seeks to make amends. Holding up two pieces of paper, she continued, “He would like to donate the pink slip of his Mercedes-Benz and this check for $50,000 to the Whispering Angel Shelter, so that the good work of this organization may continue.”

            Everything of course changed after that day. My political ambitions collapsed, as did the rest of my fortune. The divorce and the renewed IRS investigation of my finances eventually left me penniless. My donation to the Shelter was an object lesson in karma, as I have had plenty of occasion to seek their help in recent months. One thing has not changed from that day, though. My love and worship of Goddess Marquesa has burned as brightly as when I first fell under her spell. And the Goddess was right- Thanksgiving does reveal character. When the Goddess allowed me to kiss her foot this Thanksgiving before receiving my meal from Her hand, it gave me more joy than any of the wealth and empty pleasure of my past days. Life has finally given me the wisdom to see true blessings, and to feel proper thanks where thanks is due.