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The Poacher 3 by Kiva

Hi there, how are ‘ya?
 It’s been a long time
Seems like we’ve come a long way
My, but we learn so slow
And heroes, they come and they go
And leave us behind as if
We’re supposed to know why
Why do we give up our hearts to the past?
And why must we grow up so fast?
And all you wishing well fools with your fortunes
Someone should send you a rose
With love from a friend,
It’s nice to hear from you again
And the storybook comes to a close
Gone are the ribbons and bows
Things to remember, places to go
Pretty maids all in a row
-Joe Walsh

I just finished an hour on the elliptical machine when I got the call. After cooling down and towelling off, holding my water bottle, I took a seat on the bench…and watched Kristin. With exceptional balance and posture, knees slightly bent, her MMA gloves up high, she again approached the heavy bag, firing jab, jab, right hook combinations. She jabbed again, feinted, then buried a hard right to the rib cage – if the bag had a rib cage. She paced her breathing, danced to her right, then threw a vicious left cross. Her shoulder glared from the reflection of light off her sweat. At 5’7” and a tight athletic body, she made any physical activity look graceful. I was proud to call Kristin my friend and colleague. There are very few people, men or women, I respect more than Kristin, but it was hard not to admire her agile lithe movements as she went to work in her gym bra and shorts.

She stopped to cool down, then joined me at the bench, as I handed her water. “Ready, Brad?” she asked, “Paperwork awaits.” Her work phone dings. I know what it is. The same message I got. Her eyebrows furrowed as she read the message. “The chief wants to see us.”

The Deputy Special Agent in Charge, named Petrillo, with his balding grey hair and hanging jowls, peered at us from across the desk. “Brad, Kristin, you’re getting a new assignment. We’re bringing you into an ongoing case. You’re going on an undercover investigation.”

I immediately bristled with excitement. Kristin and I joined the FBI at the same time as special agent criminal investigators. I went undercover once but it was rather uneventful. I posed as a street vendor assigned to surveillance but no action came my way. Kristin, on the other hand was a pro with several undercover assignments under her belt, some of them dangerous. As an undercover agent, Kristin had been a homeless woman, a prostitute, a drug addict, and an arms dealer among other things. It sure sounded scary but Kristin, a born actress, loved it. Working with her would be an honor. I struggled to control the mix of excitement and apprehension as I prepared to learn our assignment.

I watched Kristin reach into her leather brief bag, pulling out a notebook and pen. Post workout, dressed in her white blouse, grey slacks, and pumps, the woman was a consummate pro. She flicked her long straight light brown hair, set her pretty green eyes straight ahead, and prepared to listen. Pretty, athletic, and smart, Kristen could have been the prototypical All-American girl.

I’d known Kristin very well, and for a long time,…a really long time. We were practically brother and sister. The two of us were born just a few months apart, having grown up on the same suburban street. As toddlers, our mothers made us play date buddies. We were close friends through grade school. Kristin was a rough and tumble tomboy who more than held her own with the guys. Then during middle school, puberty happened…and everything changed. My buddy who could run, jump, roughhouse, hit baseballs, and shoot hoops with the best of them turned into another creature. And I was changing too.

We never dated, except when we were a couple for two weeks in seventh grade. That relationship consisted of exchanging a few messages during school. I couldn’t compete with Daniel Radcliffe and Aaron Carter. So, we awkwardly drifted into separate social circles. In high school, Kristin wasn’t in the most popular clique, but she was pretty high on the ladder, with her good looks, perky personality and athletic prowess in soccer and gymnastics. I ran track as a distance runner. Both of us were members of the National Honor Society. We really didn’t socialize much, but we both recognized a certain brother-sister bond, fondly recalling our shared childhood experiences.

After high school graduation, I went to a local university while Kristin attended college out of state. We both received degrees in criminal justice. We were pleasantly surprised when we learned we both were accepted into the police academy. Kristin, of course, had the highest physical fitness score among the female trainees. Although we worked in the same city, we saw each other only occasionally. After several years as a cop, I was accepted into the FBI Academy in Quantico. After five months of basic training, I started my career as a federal criminal investigator. Several months later, Kristin followed my footsteps. Now we work in the same building with our offices close together and I couldn’t have asked for a better colleague. We laughed at the trajectories our lives have taken. We’re both 31 years old. I’m now married to a wonderful woman; Kristin attended our wedding. My wife and I have two children. Kristin hadn’t married but has been with the same boyfriend for years.

Petrillo turned his laptop screen toward us. “Take a good look at this couple,” he ordered.

The image on the screen was that of a man and woman dressed in hunting camouflage gear. The man was large, looked to be about 50 years old with graying hair and goatee, wearing a broad friendly smile. The woman appeared to be in her late thirties, her hair flipped up at the shoulders beneath her hunting cap. She had a half smile. Or are her lips always turned up? The brows curved high above her eyes as she whimsically stared at the camera.

“This is Jim and Paula Coleman,” Petrillo explained. “We’ve been investigating them for over a year. He’s a high tech genius who apparently does amazing things with holographic technology. He owns several patents. She’s a hospital administrator who seems to change jobs every few years. They’re big game hunters who have been all over the world.”

“We believe the Colemans are international poachers, killing protected wildlife both in the U.S. and abroad. They are players in the ivory trade, killing elephants, than harvesting tusks for ivory products to be sold in the international black markets. They’re involved in smuggling their animal parts and products to various countries. We believe some of that is in the U.S.”

“How does it get here?” I asked.

“Through a network of international criminal organizations,” Petrillo explained. “To be a big time poacher, you need to do business with gangs, organized crime networks, drug cartels. The Akashi network based in Kenya controls poaching across Africa. From there, animal parts are sent to Mexico, Columbia, China, Russia. A lot of it comes up from the Mexican border through drug cartels. Recently, a load of ivory tusks from Russia was sent to Alaska by a professor passing them off as wooly mammoth tusks for a museum. He even had authentic looking documentation.”

“But here’s the deal,” our boss continued, “We think poaching may be just the tip of the iceberg with this couple. Poaching comes with a price. This criminal networks helping poachers expect to be paid. Sometimes it’s money. Sometimes they want a cut of the goods. But sometimes they want to be paid by your service. You see, nearly all these gangs are involved in drug trafficking. Some are into human trafficking.”

“Do you think the Colemans are involved in that,” I asked.

“Could be,” he replied, “What I’m saying is that if these rings want this couple’s help, they’ll get it. For instance, they could be part of an underground drug smuggling route. Or worse.”

“So far, our investigation hasn’t turned up much. We confirmed their connection to overseas gangs but nothing to nail them on. Then we may have gotten a break. The couple owns several properties. One of them is a hunting lodge, way up in the hills. We didn’t give it much attention. Then, a nurse reported she was inside the lodge and witnessed a collection of tusks and other animal products inside a room. We interviewed her and have her affidavit. Bizarre story. She was lead to believe she was going to the lodge for a party. Turned out to be an elaborate set up so Paula could fight another woman. More on that later.”

This already sounded strange. I watched Kristin write copious notes as I nervously wondered about our undercover roles.

“Now here’s where you two come in,” Petrillo explained. “We’ve focused our investigation on that hunting lodge. We’ve done some surveillance but haven’t gotten much. We tried to infiltrate their hunting circle but that didn’t work. Paula and Jim are very exclusive regarding their friends. We considered a search warrant but feared it’s too soon and may blow our investigation. So we got approved for a Delayed Notice Warrant also known as a ‘sneak and peek.’ It permits us to search the lodge without Jim and Paula’s consent or permission. But we need to get access to that lodge and gain entry.”

“How do we do that,” I asked.

The chief answered. “The Colemans have another hobby in addition to hunting and poaching. And that hobby is …female catfighting! No kidding.”

“What on earth…”

“You heard that right. Paula meets other women for the purpose of an arranged fight. The woman, usually accompanied by a man, is invited as a guest at the lodge. The Colemans first entertain them, then Paula and the woman get down to business by rolling on the floor, rasslin, hitting, slapping, pulling hair. Here’s a clip of them we found on the internet.”

Petrillo typed in a website address before locating a particular video. “Watch this,” he instructed.

The footage was of poor resolution but clearly displayed an image of Paula Coleman and another woman on a floor topless wearing only panties or bikini bottoms, wailing away at each other, each woman with a fistful of the other’s hair as the audio consisted of little more than high pitched screeching and screaming.

“There you have it,” said our chief.

“What’s next,” I queried. The answer sent a chill through my body.

“You and Kristin are going undercover as a married couple with the same hobby as Jim and Paula. Kristin is a catfighter and Brad, you are the supportive husband. You will arrange a fight between Paula and Kristin to be held in the lodge. While there, you will conduct a clandestine search.”

“You got to be kidding,” I groaned. Up to this point, Kristin continued to listen and take notes but remained silent. “Someone might get hurt,” I added.

“We chose Kristin because of her MMA training, knowing she has a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. She’s had tough assignments before and we know she can handle herself. Hopefully, you can find the contraband early and make the arrests so there won’t even be a fight. But if they do fight, judging by that video, I don’t think Kristin has anything to worry about. But, Kristin, if you’re not comfortable doing this, we won’t force you to do it. You may decline this assignment.”

Finally, I told myself, he said something reasonable. We won’t be sending Kristin to fight. My sense of relief was short lived.

“No,” Kristin said, “I’ll do it. I’ve been in more dangerous situations. And she’s got nothing. If I have to fight, it’ll be no big deal.”

So that was it. Petrillo provided us with the website address where Paula finds potential opponents, obtained from irl data from her internet provider. Over the next few weeks, Kristin and I worked on the details of our new identities. We memorized thousands of bits of information about our new personas and phony pasts. Kristin was a real estate agent. I worked in the insurance industry. That, of course, required a working knowledge of those fields. It is said a good liar must have a great memory to not get trapped in a web of his own contradictions. We created fake pasts, lived in unfamiliar locations, met nonexistent people. We posed in deceiving photos, and created false wedding pictures complete with gown and tux.

Then Kristin ventured into cyber land to meet Paula. The website was fascinating. We read stories of female catfighters and wrestlers, trying to understand what would motivate women and couples to engage in that kind of activity. We watched a lot of video clips. Perhaps Kristin had the best explanation. “Inside every woman,” she suggested, “is a bitch that wants to tear someone’s hair out. Most keep her locked up inside them. These women found a way to bring her out”.

Finally, it happened. Paula responded to Kristin’s message left in her box. For days they chatted about light hearted topics before Kristin set the bait. “I think I might be interested in a fight with you. How do you feel. Smily emoji.” There was vetting, more chatting, exchange of pictures, more vetting. And then…Voila! We were in. Kristin and I were invited to the hunting lodge where would stay overnight. Kristin and Paula would have their fight the next day. Leave it to Kristin.

A date was set. We put the final touches on our new identities. Our new names were Kayla and Bryce, we’ve been married five years. We focused on the objectives of our mission, to search the property for contraband. In addition, I would collect information about Jim’s video and computer equipment for possible hacking and spying purposes.

Finally, the day arrived. We packed clothes for a few days. I brought the necessary equipment for the mission, including my hand gun, which I would carry and conceal during the operation. We caught a two hour flight and drove an additional hour to Paula and Jim’s lodge in a rental car.

The drive off the main highway wound a few miles up hilly terrain, through dense forests on dirt and gravel roads. The lodge, a beautiful two story log structure, finally appeared on a cleared property in the midst of thick woods. “Kristin, it looks like this is it. Ready?” She nodded.

“I know I keep bringing this up,” I said, “but this wife fighting thing is utterly absurd. Don’t do it. We go in, we go out. We’ll say we’re leaving due to a family emergency.”

“Relax, Brad,” she replied, “I’ll do whatever is needed to complete the mission.”

We ascended the stairs to the large wrap around porch and rang the doorbell. As the large entryway opened, we were greeted by a large imposing man dressed in hunting gear from cap to boot, with a big gregarious smile lighting up his graying goateed face.

“Hi, I’m Jim,” he said with a loud cheery voice. “May I presume I have the pleasure and privilege of meeting Kayla and Bryce?”

“Well, come on in.”

Upon entering the foyer, we immediately sensed the rustic charm of the building with its wooden walls, scent of pine, and country style decor. The main room sported a large Persian rug and stone fireplace. The walls were lined with mounted animal trophy heads of various species of large game. From down the hallway, a woman approached. It was clear that she was the woman from Petrillo’s photos, and the catfighter on the video tapes. Her listed size of 5’6” and 130 lbs seemed accurate.

“You must be Kayla,…and Bryce? Welcome. Kayla, I knew from your photos that you’re a beautiful girl but meeting you in person is stunning. What a gorgeous couple,” Paula cooed.

“Please sit down and take a breather from your travel,” Jim said as he guided us to an antique sofa. “Do yo like red or white wine? Or beer?”

So there we were. Two undercover special agents posing as a married couple sipping wine as we made light talk with a criminal couple. Kristin and I held hands as we informed our guests about our nonexistent life together. I was impressed with Kristin’s acting as her chipper voice longingly talked about our future. Suddenly, I felt myself drowning in irony.

Age 5, Play date:
“Mom, Brad and I are married.”

“Kristin, look at you. My lipstick is all over your face. You were in my makeup bag, weren’t you? And the way your clopping around in my shoes, you’re going to fall and hurt yourself. And your dragging my night gown all over the floor. And what’s Brad doing wearing Joe’s hat?……Oh this is just too adorable. Where’s the camera?”

“When I grow up, I’m gonna marry Brad for real.”

“Brad, do you want to marry Kristin when you grow up?”

“I dunno. I wanna go home.”

“I’ll show you your guest room,” Jim said. “It has a side bathroom. You can unpack and freshen up. Then I’ll give you a tour.”

Alone in the bedroom with Kristin felt a bit…awkward. “You can have the bed,” I offered. “I’ll sleep on the floor.” She called me a gentleman and joked I left the toilet seat up.

“Kristin, don’t fight this woman.”

Age 8, the backyard.
“Brad, I’m so mad at Jenny Carson. I’m gonna punch Her in the nose. She’s mean to me.”

“No Kristin, girls don’t fight.”

“Yes, they DO.”

“No they don’t.”

“Well, I DO!…Watch this!”

“Kristin, what are you doing? Stop it. Get off of me.”

“Pinned ya!”

“OK, now let me up.”

“Not until you say Kristin is the bestest fighter.”

“OK, Kristin is the bestest fighter”

“That’s right. Girls RULE!”

“Brad,” she answered, “there’s nothing to worry about. If it comes down to a fight, I’ll play along. I’ll do the hair pulling and screaming bit to make it look good. Then I’ll take her down and submit her. Then that will be all. No muss. No fuss.”

As Kristin unpacked, I noticed no gym shorts or sports bra, or tank suit. “Kristin, what would you wear for the fight?” I asked.

“This,” she replied, holding up a scant Americana Stars and Stripes red, white and blue bikini.

“Are you kidding me?” I protested.

“That’s how Paula wants it.”

“Aren’t you concerned about a wardrobe malfunction? About ending up topless like we saw in the videos?” I asked as I tried to resist imagining what Kristin would look like in or out of the 35C star spangled cups.

Age 13, Summer camp.
“Hey Brad, Mike said Kristin wears this white bikini to the pool. And when it gets wet, you can see the outline of her….”

“Oh man, I got to get to the pool. So Steve, what do you think a bare tit feels like?”

“Like rubber…you know…like the squishy kind of rubber.”

”How do you know?”

“Mike’s older brother told me. He’s felt lots of girls’ boobs.”

“Oh man, he’s lucky…Hey Steve, did you ever have a dream about a girl and…like…and..uh..like…you know…”

“Brad, I can take care of myself,” Kristin replied….”Thanks.”

Next, we rejoined our hosts back in the main room. “Kayla, Bryce,” Jim exclaimed. “While Paula gets some drinks and snacks, I will give you a tour. Come this way.”

The entire lodge had a country decor. Animal trophies were everywhere, either mounted on the wall or treated by the taxidermist. The main room certainly seemed cozy enough with the large thick Persian rug, fireplace, and bearskin. “My favorite room is right up there,” Jim informed, pointing to a large loft, overlooking the main room. “In fact, let’s go up now.”

The loft seemed to double as a game room with pool and ping pong tables and as some sort of technical equipment workshop with computers, cameras, video equipment, consoles and more. “I come up here to tinker,” Jim explained. “I think Paula told you I work in holographics. So Kayla, where are you from?”

“Minnesota”

Jim rubbed his forehead as he seemed to search for keys on a console. “Minnesota….ah yes…here we go…perfect!”

In front of us, a beam of light appeared in a vertical column. Within the beam appeared shifting shapes and undulations. Colors swirled and changed becoming predominantly purple. The nebulous light seemed to take form, from which we could make out arms, legs, and a head, until the features of the face and body took on a remarkable clarity to become a detailed life-sized image of…Prince!”

“Oh my God, that’s AMAZING!” Kristin squealed. “I LOVE Prince.

Music with a familiar funky beat filled the lodge as Prince, arrayed in his trademark purple began to move, then dance…spinning, shaking, gyrating, with quick sharp movements. And Kristin…danced with him.

You don’t have to be rich
To be my girl
You don’t have to be cool
To rule my world
Ain’t no particular sign I’m more compatible with
I just want your extra time and your….Kiss

Kristin and the purple specter glided across the loft, dancing, clapping, grinding, bumping. Then my view of her became obscured by camouflage as Jim hulking frame joined her.

“OK if I dance with your wife?” Jim asked.

“Bryce, get in here and join us,” Kristin urged. What an actress. I was impressed. No wonder she gets picked for under cover jobs.

Women not girls rule my world
I said they rule my world
Act your age, mama
Not your shoe size
Maybe we could do the twirl

So there I was, stumbling around in a hunting lodge with my childhood friend, an enormous man in a hunting outfit, and a moving singing image of a deceased performer. Weird.

Age 17, Kristin’s house
“OK Brad, you have two days before the prom. You know Michelle is expecting you to be on the dance floor. You can do it. Put your left arm around my waist like this. Hold my hand with right hand. Now watch my feet and follow.

“Thanks for doing this, Kristin.”

One…two…three…four…One…two…OUCH…three….four. Let’s try again. Follow my feet…That’s better….Now you lead…One…two…three…alright, let’s take a break…I’ll change the music. Let’s see your fast dance to this song…Oh Lord…no rhythm. Michelle’s going to have her hands full.”

“Oh, I see Jim’s at it again,” Paula chimed from the main room below the loft. “He’s like a little boy in a toy store.” As she stood on the Persian rug, it occurred to me that was the site of the catfight I saw on the video clip. I felt a sense of eeriness realizing that was the likely site of Kristin and Paula’s battle. “Come on down,” she continued, “We have more wine and more to show you.”

There was the impressively large medieval dining hall, the country style kitchen, and a hallway with guest rooms on each side. I remembered the nurse’s affidavit. Second door on the left. That’s where she saw elephant tusks, a rhino, a tiger, a bald eagle, and many guns. That room would be of prime importance. There were more trophy rooms, antique artifacts, artwork, many framed portraits of the couple in diverse locations. More guest rooms were upstairs.

With wine glass in hand, we strolled the grounds. There were woods, a pond, a shimmering swimming pool. I took pictures, plenty of pictures with my hidden body cam. There seemed like a palpable potential to conceal illegal activity here. Using my training, I was on high alert for clues.

Back in the main room, it was more wine and cheese and snacks. And lots of lying. Kristin and I regurgitated our false narrative; where we met, our occupations, our hopes for the future. It was hard not to admire Kristin’s fluency for making stuff up on the fly.

“So Kayla,” Paula asked, “why in the world did you take up catfighting?”

“I believe women are competitive with each other by nature,” Kristin answered. “Catfighting gets us in touch with something very true about ourselves. All social pretenses are removed. Fighting for me is very liberating. It’s a form of self expression. It gives me a sense of freedom unlike anything else.”

“Well that’s the best answer I’ve ever heard,” Paula crowed. “You go, girl.”

Paula paused for a moment, then addressed us again, “Kayla, Bryce, I need to inform you of a scheduling complication. You see, Jim invites three couples to spend a week here each year. The guys are all his work colleagues and collaborators who share his interests. They come to the lodge for a week. He takes the guys hunting while I entertain the girls. Jim and I had our dates mixed up and…well, they’re coming tomorrow. They all like watching a good scrap. Is it OK with you if they watch our fight tomorrow.”

“Did you say three couples?” Kristin asked.

“They’re just science geeks like me,” Jim added, “I promise they’ll all be very well behaved.”

“Well…um…OK…I guess I’m all right with that,” she replied.

“If you’ll excuse us,” I interjected, “I think it’s time for Kayla and I to go to bed. After all, we have a big day tomorrow.”

“Kristin, what the hell are you thinking?,” I scolded back in the guest room. So, you’re going to wear a bikini and roll around on the floor with that woman. In front of strangers? Let’s leave in the morning. We’ll say there’s an emergency.”

“No Brad, if anything, that may invite suspicion. We’ll do what we have to do and get out. All it will take is one submission hold and we’re done.”

It’s night time but my work is just starting. I set my watch alarm for 1 AM. I can complete this mission by finding the contraband – ivory tusks, drugs, whatever. If all goes well, I’ll have this couple in jail tomorrow. No catfight.

I didn’t need an alarm for I didn’t sleep at all. I waited a few hours after Paula and Jim went to bed. I let Kristin sleep as I gathered my equipment including my lock picking tools, radar device to see shapes of objects through walls, flashlight, infrared night vision goggles, camera and video recorders and, of course, my handgun.

I did a sweep through the first floor through all the unlocked doors. I inspected Jim’s video equipment and computers in the main room, where he presumably tapes Paula’s fights. For eavesdropping purposes, I collected serial numbers, make and models. I planted audio bugging devices in several rooms.

Then it was time to unlock some doors. I started with the second guest room on the left where the nurse reported seeing poached items. A quick radar scan showed nothing. I unlocked the two deadbolts plus the door handle lock, turned the handle, opened the door, slowly entered and saw….absolutely nothing. There were a few guns in racks but nothing appeared illicit. A search of all the guest rooms, including closets and other storage rooms yielded the same results – empty. I ran a radar scan searching for secret rooms and hidden compartments. I found none. Nothing upstairs or downstairs.

Next, I inspected the outside property. I entered the storage shed and found only maintenance and landscaping supplies. Nothing hidden under the patio. I walked toward the back of the house. Wearing my night goggles, I walked along the grass, turned the corner of the lodge, and what happened next scared the living shit out of me. Rounding the corner, I nearly collided with another man as we both jumped and jolted backwards. The fellow night crawler was about 5’8”, muscular, tan and with thick short curly hair and mustache. I instinctively started for my handgun. Was he doing the same?

“Holy shit, you scared me,” he panted. “I’m Luis. I’m a landscaper and handyman for Jim and Paula.”

“I’m Brad…I mean Bryce. I’m a guest here. I’m out for a walk trying to cure my insomnia. Are you working at this hour?” I ignored the fact I was wearing night vision goggles.

“Yes, they have a problem with one of their electrical breakers. We’re on call 24/7.”

“Sorry to disturb you sir. I’m going back to bed.”

Back in the guest room, Kristin was still asleep. I could hear faint whispers outside but they were beyond the detection of my audio equipment. Taking a position at the window, I peered out but saw no one. About an hour later, from about 100 yards away, three sets of tail lights, apparently belonging to jeeps, traveled down the gravel road before disappearing down the hill. I recorded what I could.

“Sounds like you had an eventful night,” said Kristin, the dawn dimly lighting our room. We breathed in the morning air as we walked around the house looking for evidence of the previous night’s activity. Even the morning light revealed nothing – no tracks, no objects of interest. We made our way to the back of the lodge.

“Brad, look!” Kristin urged. “The swimming pool. It’s empty. It was full of water yesterday. All the water has been drained…overnight. Where did it go?”

“There must be a drainage system that sends the water down the hill,” I answered, “but why in the middle of the night?”

The crisp morning sun started its rise as we sat on the front porch, admiring the beautiful pond supported by a majestic wooded landscape as the backdrop.

“Good morning, kids,” Jim’s voice boomed as he entered the porch from the front door. “Who would like coffee?” For reasons known only to him, he was again dressed in his hunting outfit. The four of us sat at the kitchen table as Paula served up, ironically, poached eggs with bacon and orange juice. Jim explained the day’s plans. His guests of three couples would be arriving very shortly. The men would go hiking along a five mile trail, while Paula took the women sight seeing and shopping. Afterward, we would all regroup at the lodge for a social mixer, followed by Krista and Paula’s catfight. Dinner was planned in the medieval styled dining hall.

I felt a gnawing sensation deep in my stomach, nervously thinking about Kristin fighting. And in front of other people, with her body exposed. Kristin, on the other hand, was cool as ice, looking completely relaxed without a care in the world as her opponent, who planned to rip her hair out, served her breakfast. Paula seemed noticeably different. Where she was bubbly and effervescent the previous night, she was now starkly quiet. Although she performed her hostess duties, it was done with a certain coldness in her demeanor. She barely looked at us.

“What’s up with Paula,” Kristin whispered. “Do you think she knows something.”

“Maybe it’s just her game face,” I answered. Either way, I didn’t like it.

Over the next hour, Jim’s friends and their wives arrived. There was Scott from Silicon Valley, who collaborated with Jim in developing holographic technology products. Then there was Chris from Cal Tech, a quantum physicist involved in translating quantum theory into technological applications. Finally, Mark and Myra arrived. Jim met this couple when they were all grad students at MIT. Now subatomic particle physicists, they flew in from Switzerland, on a break from their work with the Hadron Collider. The men, all of them scientists, were average to above average size with stylish mustaches, beards, or goatees; not your stereotypical dweebs.

After unpacking, we mingled with the new guests over lunch. I fielded questions on insurance advice, for which I was completely unqualified. Silicon Valley Scott’s wife Sue turned to Kristin. “So Kayla, I understand you’re Paula’s opponent today. We’re looking forward to watching your fight. That Paula is tough cookie, you know. So tell us, how did you become a fighter?”

Kristin repeated the same philosophy as the previous night about freedom and self expression which drew nods of approval from all over the room. “Sounds like a girl after my own heart,” Cal Tech Chris added.

“So…are all of you ladies catfighters?” I asked.

“Not yet,” Chris’ wife Connie replied, “but Paula almost has me converted.”

“Same with me,” answered Sue, “I get more excited everyday thinking about it.”

“I fight” replied Myra. “I had my first fight last week…I won.” The announcement resulted in whoops and high fives all around. With her bony physique, mousy expression, black hair bun, and large thick framed glasses, I had a hard time imagining this female atomic physicist as a fighter. She could have passed for Olive Oyl’s sister.

“I knew you had it in you, sis,” Paula exclaimed. “Do tell us about it.”

“Well, this big blonde thought she could bully and overpower me but I stood my ground. She couldn’t take my belly punches. We were on the ground and I caught her in a head scissors which really wore her down. Then I sat on her chest and worked over her belly some more throwing punches with twisting motions, just like Paula taught me. Then I schoolgirl pinned her, pulling her head into my crotch until she gave up.”

More whoops and cheers. “Did you bring home a trophy?” Connie asked, rushing out her words in excitement.

“Yep, right here,” Myra answered as she pulled a woman’s green panties out of her handbag, holding it high in display. The room erupted in loud raucous cheers.

“I’ll tell you,” said her husband Mark. “The sex that night was out of this world. It was the most excitement I’ve had since the discovery of the Higgs boson particle.” More cheers.

“Alright everyone, I hate to break up the joviality, but we need to get the day started,” Paula announced. “Guys, follow Jim for your hike. Girls, come with me, we’re going into town. Let’s meet here at 3:00.”

Throughout the strange discussion, Paula was certainly animated, but not to Kristin and I. Never addressing us, her looks were cold steel. At one point, she shoulder brushed Kristin as she glanced at me with a look of ….hatred.

The hiking trail wove through hilly terrain without becoming treacherous. It offered beautiful views from elevated lookouts and breathtaking panaramic skylines. The conversation was …different to say the least.

“You’re one lucky guy, Bryce,” Silicon Valley Scott offered, “Being married to a catfighter, that’s like the Holy Grail of marriages.”

“How long have you been interested in …um…women fighting?” I asked Scott.

“All my life,” Steve replied. “When I was a kid, my two favorite authors were Stephen Hawking and J.T. Edson.”

“Bryce,” Cal Tech Chris queried, “What’s your favorite part of a catfight?”

“Um…the end,” I said.

“Oh you mean seeing the winner strike a victory pose and the loser humiliated,” Chris replied “Yes sir, I get it. For me, it’s the intense stare down before the fight when the two women are chest to chest, nose to nose, both of them glaring and posturing opposite from each other. It reminds me of dark energy facing off against gravitational force, ready to determine if the universe will continue to expand or contact depending on which force is superior. It gets me so hot.”

“I know what you mean,” added MIT Mark. “Sometimes when I think of two electrons joined in quantum entanglement, I think of two beautiful women rolling across the floor in a catball joined together in leg entanglement. Two of my favorite phenomena.”

“See Bryce,” Jim commented, “We’re just a group of science nerds who love the outdoors and female fighting.”

“You certainly all seem to have that in common,” I said, as the hike continued.

After meeting the women back at the lodge, Kristin pulled me aside into our guest room. “Brad, Paula knows something,” she cautioned. “She didn’t speak to me during the entire outing. She looks at me with utter contempt. And the other women? They’re now giving me cold stares. Do you think the man you saw outback told her something.”

“Hard to say,” I responded. “Jim’s still friendly with me if he was told anything. Maybe it’s a female thing. After all, you came here to fight her. You’d expect her friends to side with her. You’re the outsider. And by the way, how did come up with that bullshit about catfighting being about liberation and all that?”

“”Who said it’s bullshit? Kristin replied. You don’t think women are competitive. Or fantasize about getting physical with each other? Look at all the female wrestling programs springing up in high schools and colleges. Or women competing in boxing and MMA. Catfighters just removed a few more social mores than the rest of them.”

“All you’re doing,” I countered, “is putting on a spectacle for guys.”

“And you don’t think I know that?” she retorted. “Women may get aroused too. There has always been a connection between fighting and sexuality. I accepted this assignment. I know the risks. I’m going to finish the job.”

“Everybody, come take a seat in the main room,” Paula called out. “Jim put a show together for us today. We’re going to see live performances of ten of the greatest female vocalists of all time. Jim spent weeks bringing them all to life and ready to sing for us right here. And I want everyone to know this was MY idea.”

“That’s right,” said Jim, “I was going to show you ten of the greatest sharp shooters of all time before Paula changed it.”

Kristin and I took our seats at the edge of the thick Persian rug with all the other couples as all the furniture had been pushed aside for the fight.

“At number 10,” Jim began, “Miss Billie Holliday.”

A beam of light emitted from a disc morphed into the beautiful but haunting form of the African-American Billie Holliday delivering her shocking 1939 classic, “Strange Fruit” about the horrors of lynching in pre-civil rights America. Next, another hologram appeared in the form of Janis Joplin, her soulful guttural voice belting out “Piece of My Heart.” Next up was Judy Garland. And so it continued, one holographic singer after another. Finally, after Maria Callas at number three, and Whitney Houston in second, Jim announced Paula’s choice for best female singer of all time, Aretha Franklin.

“Wait, Jim,” Paula implored, “Before we hear Aretha, I want to dedicate her song to…my dear husband Jim. As you know, Jim came along at a low point in my life. He got me on my feet again. He introduced me to big game hunting,…and catfighting. I don’t know where I’d be today without him. Jim, here’s to you, the love of my life.”

“Here, here,” chanted the other couples raising their wine glasses in a toast. “To Paula and Jim.”

Looking out on the morning rain
I used to feel so uninspired
And when I knew I had to face another day
Lord, it made me feel so tired
Before the day I met you, life was so unkind
But you’re the key to my peace of mind
‘Cause you make me feel
You make me feel
You make me feel like
A natural woman

When my soul was in the lost and found
You came along to claim it
I didn’t know just what was wrong with me
‘Til your kiss helped me name it
Now I’m no longer doubtful, of what I’m living for
And if I make you happy I don’t need to do more
‘Cause you make me feel
You make me feel
You make me feel like
A natural woman

At that point, Kristin and I excused ourselves to our guest room.

“Kristin, can I try one last time to talk you out of this.”

“No Brad.”

“It’s just that these people are fucking nuts and I don’t want you to get hurt. You see, you’re not just a colleague. You’re like…my sister.”

“I know. And I always considered you a brother.”

“Aren’t brothers supposed to protect their sisters?”

“How about if I call for help, you can rescue me.” At least I got that out of her. We agreed to a use of hand signals we would use if she felt threatened or unsafe in any way. And, of course, I would have my handgun with me.

She went in the bathroom to change, emerging a few minutes later, looking beautiful and sexy in her stars and stripes bikini, her hair tied back into a tight bun. I felt like a nervous wreck while Kristin was the very picture of calm. Maybe when you’ve been in the presence of drug lords, pimps, and arms dealers, fighting a fruitcake in a bikini doesn’t seem so dangerous.

The tap on the door got our attention. It was Jim. “OK guys, we’re ready. Come out to the main room.”

We closed the door to the guest room. In the hallway, Kristin stood in front of me in her bikini and bare feet. As she started down the hall, with me following closely behind, I felt like a manager walking a prize fighter to the ring. My nerves were jumping, my heart was racing. As we approached the main room, I could see Paula, wearing a camouflage bikini stretching on the carpet. She and Jim were the only two in the room. The three other couples were all seated up in the loft like spectators in a balcony looking down on the action.

Jim reviewed the rules. No closed fist punches or kicks to the head. A few things like biting, eye gouging and fish hooking were banned. The fight would continue until one woman submitted or was rendered unconscious.

“Bryce,” said Jim, “We’ll need you up on the loft with the others. Trust me, I will not interfere but I will stay close and stop the fight if I think someone will get hurt.”

“I’d prefer to also stay close by,” I protested. I looked at Kristin. Our eyes locked.

“Bryce,” she said, “Go.”

“Good luck, Kayla.” Without thinking, I instinctively bent forward and planted a kiss on her lips, like a devoted husband. Reluctantly, I climbed the stairs to the loft to take my seat behind the guard rail.

“Kayla, stand here,” Jim instructed. “Paula, take your position there. Are you ladies ready? Let’s FIGHT!”

The two women immediately rushed at each other, their bodies making a smacking sound on contact. Like two hellcats, they wasted no time seizing each other’s hair, pulling the other’s head in every direction. The high pitched screams were startling. I heard the other women yell out, “Get her, Paula.” Any doubt that we were in a hostile environment vanished.

Kristin’s tight hair bun stayed intact, giving her the hair pulling advantage. She took control of Paula’s head, swinging first left, then hard to the right, throwing her entire body off balance and stumbling to the floor. Kristin wound up on top as Paula squirmed and kicked and tried to hit with her arms with her back to the rug. Kristin landed a series of slaps to the face and two punches to the belly. Kristin planned to conceal her BJJ credentials and appear untrained, doing just enough to win. She allowed Paula to buck her off as the two women grabbed each other’s arms, wrapped legs and rolled together across the rug, all the way to the wall before reversing direction. It was a very uneasy feeling watching Kristin play down to her opponent.

The special agent managed to roll on top of Paula and took control by digging her knee into the belly, throwing punches to the chest and slaps to the face. Paula again wriggled and pushed before rolling herself from under the knee as Kristin let her escape. Paula sprung to her feet and as Kristin was still rising, the huntress executed a hard kick to the belly. I know it hurt as Kristin dropped to her knees. Paula rushed in but my colleague shot in seizing the legs around the knees and lifted sending Paula on her butt and onto her back. Kristin pounced on her opponent’s chest and again the two women rolled across the floor with one on top, then the other, their nails digging into each other’s shoulders. Finally, Kristin ended up on her back, her thighs wrapped around her foe’s waist, her ankles locked together.

Paula attempted to lunge at Kristin’s throat but Kristin’s legs completely controlled Paula’s movements. Using the strong lower limbs, she pushed and pulled Paula in different directions. In BJJ, this guard position is highly advantageous, but at this point, my childhood friend chose to pull hair and throw more slaps to the head before Paula dug her nails into her opponent’s thighs, before Kristin released her. The woman in the camo bikini pounced on Kristin, both hands aimed at the other woman’s C cups. The hostess dug her right hand fingernails into the left breast but Kristin caught her foe’s left hand before it could make contact. I’m sure Kristin was in pain but she managed to apply a wrist lock to Paula’s captured hand forcing a release. For once, Kristin finally showed her capability with a skillful move. Fortunately, her bikini top remained in tact as the women stood on their feet. I was now hoping Kristin decided to stop playing around and end it.

That appeared to be the case. Kristin now seemed to have an added intensity as she assumed an MMA style stance with her hands up high, and cautious leg work. Paula, for her part, also appeared differently. Her hands were also up high with her left shoulder pointed at her opponent, like a…boxer?

Kristin circled around while Paula stalked her. Then, with lightening speed, Paula fired a slapping jab right between her opponents hands landing hard on Kristin’s nose. This was followed by a second hard jab, followed by a crunching right hook to the ribs. The offensive flurry resulted in a burst of cheers from the other guests. I knew Kristin was hurt and I was sure she decided enough was enough.

A trickle of blood ran from Kristin’s nose. Staying with what was working, Paula continued to jab but this time Kristin blocked most of the shots. She used her mobility and arms to avoid more damaging right hooks. Seeing her opportunity, my athletic coworker shot in like a grappler, her shoulder striking Paula’s hip, knocking the woman backward. Kristin quickly dove to the right side of the fallen woman, swung her legs over her opponent’s chest and captured the right arm. I knew what was coming next – the arm bar. Yes, Kristin was about to end it and we’d be going home. Before she could extend her victim’s elbow, Paula reached her left hand across and interlocked fingers with the right hand blocking the submission hold. She threw her right elbow into Kristin and rolled into her, pulling her arm to freedom.

The escape came with a price as Paula rolled into Kristin’s guard and once again found herself trapped between her rival’s thighs. Kristin was on her back, but with all good BJJ practitioners, much damage can be inflicted from this position. With Paula trapped between Kristin’s legs in the guard, the red, white, and blue clad fighter placed her hands around the back of Paula’s neck, pulling it down toward her own chest, attempting a front naked choke. As if she was familiar with the maneuver, the poacher threw her head down, slapped Kristin’s hands away, then clawed at the breasts, allowing her to spring her head out of reach. With the leg control loosened, Paula was able to stand, eventually prying Kristin’s legs off her waist as Kristin rolled away before a counterattack.

Both women again squared off from a standing position. It was remarkable to me how the fight had changed. What began as a scratching, hair pulling catfight evolved into an MMA style fight between a grappler and a striker. I knew Kristin was waiting to show her true skills, but what about Paula? What training did she have? And why did she wait? Who was sandbagging who? I was now more nervous than ever.

The two fighters circled each other, their hands held high, as they both jabbed and feinted at the other. Paula, then danced on her toes, firing a series of jabs, while Kristin dodged them. Crouching low, Kristin countered one of the jabs by charging underneath it, sweeping Paula’s legs from under her, sending the hospital administrator to the floor. Paula wisely twisted her body to end up on her belly, while Kristin wrapped her legs around her opponents thighs in a chest to belly back mount. In control, Kristin fired a series of closed fist punches to the back and side. Seeing her opportunity for another choke hold attempt, she reached for her opponent’s neck. However, the crafty big game hunter tucked her chin in and used her hands to protect her neck, thwarting the attempt. Unable to dig Paula’s arms out for an arm bar submission hold, Kristin, clearly frustrated, resumed pounding the body. Paula, arching her back and shifting her weight to her knees, clawed at her opponents legs wrapped around her body. Able to loosen the hold, she managed to stand, with Kristin still clinging to her back. Holding on to the legs, the criminal charged backward, slamming Kristin into the wooden wall.

The special agent slumped as Paula freed herself, then turned, driving a knee into Kristin’s belly. My colleague let out a gasp as the wind was knocked out of her. Doubled over against the wall, Kristin was vulnerable as Paula threw a series of closed fist body punches and hard slaps to the head. My heart sunk seeing Kristin in trouble.

“Get her Paula, put her away,” shouted the ladies.

Another punch to the kidneys and a hard slap to the head sent Kristin down to the floor in a fetal position. Paula, like a predator, waited as Kristin rose shakily to her feet. Moving in stealthily, she seized her prey, then threw her down again in a judo type hip toss, Kristin’s body landing with a thud. As my faux wife lifted to her knees, Paula fired a vicious roundhouse kick to the shoulder, knocking her sideways, then flat on the floor.

I had seen enough. “Jim, stop the fight,” I yelled. “Kayla has had enough.”

Jim walked onto the rug close to the action. “Kayla, do you want to quit?”

“Don’t ask her,” I shouted from the loft. “I’m her husband. You should only listen to me.”

Age 18, the locker room.
“Brad, I usually don’t talk like this because I’m a gentleman with the ladies. But I think you need a reality check. You see, Kristin and I did it.”

“Did what?”

“What do you think? We fucked.”

“You’re a liar, Greg. Kristin doesn’t fuck anyone,”

“And I definitely wasn’t her first.”

“Kristin is not a slut.”

”Who said she’s a slut, Brad? Talk about a double standard. You should hear yourself. Look, she’s at an age where she can make her own decisions. She’s not her dad’s property and she sure isn’t yours. Here’s a news flash. Women enjoy sex. And it’s up to them to determine who, what, when, and where. Get over it.”

“Kayla, should we stop the fight,” Jim asked.

“No, I’m fine. Let’s keep going,” Kristin answered.

With those words, Paula wasted no time moving in. Kristin moved into a crouch position as Paula pounded at her back. Waiting for her opportunity, Kristin sprung out her crouch, again taking out Paula’s legs sending the woman falling backwards. Kristin dove onto her and the two women rolled across the floor grabbing at each other’s arms, their legs trying to kick or wrap around each other. With neither one able to take advantage, they regressed to catfight tactics, grabbing each other’s hair, and clawing at the arms, shoulders, and breasts. They squealed, gasped, and panted as the fight was taking a toll on both fighters. Finally, with Paula face down, Kristin took position on her back, seizing the right leg. As she was about to apply the figure four ankle lock, Paula spun to her left just in time and with a corkscrew roll, escaped to safety.

As both women rose to their feet, Paula’s torn bikini top was evident as she discarded the remains and resolved to continue topless. Kristin shot low again, executing another takedown and chose to take position on her back, shifting her legs from the guard to Paula’s neck for a triangle choke. Astonishingly, Paula ducked and weaved her head slipping out of the hold before it could be tightened.

Frustrated by Paula’s repeated defensive maneuvers against her submission and choke hold attempts, Kristin tried a new strategy, ground and pound. After another leg tackle led to Kristin on a top mount, she delivered a series of body blows. On her back, Paula blocked most open handed blows to the face but was absorbing punishment to the belly, flank, ribs, and breasts. For several minutes, Kristin had her opponent trapped, throwing punch after punch. Paula absorbed some of the impact with her arms, but before long, the arms were in pain. Out of desperation, she reached for her opponents chest, snapping the front clasp of the bikini top apart, causing both cups to dangle. The fight appeared to be reaching its end game as Paula would not be able to go much longer. The struck blows were now resulting in yelps and whimpers. Jim looked on intently. Paula’s friends were nervous. “Come on girl, we believe in you,” they called.

As the situation looked dim for Paula, the wily fighter somehow caught Kristin’s arm during a punch. Bending the risk backwards and pulling the arm to the side, Paula forced her opponent off balance and freed one leg from the guard and used it to kick Kristin off of her.

Both women, visibly tired, got to their feet slowly. Paula attacked first, wrapping her arms around her opponent’s shoulders. Kristin shook her off but Paula departed with Kristin’s top tossing it aside. The two topless fighters stood opposite of each other, one in a camo bottom, the others in the colors of Old Glory.

“Show her who has the better tits,” Paula’s friends urged. It felt strange and awkward seeing Kristin’s breasts unencumbered. At this point, I wanted the fight to end before anyone is hurt.

Kristin planned to resume her ground and pound strategy. She lowered her shoulder, tilted her hips, then shot in. This time, Paula sprawled back, then dodged out of the way. As Kristin readjusted, Paula threw a devastating roundhouse kick, striking the outside of Kristin’s left thigh. Kristin froze in her tracks as Paula launched a diagonal kick to the inside of the right thigh. Kristin was stunned, seemingly paralyzed at the legs. These were kicks typically seen in Muay Thai.

Paula danced around her foe as Kristin stood stationary. Paula flicked open jabs and closed fists to the body. Kristin, with her legs gone, fended them off the best she could. Finally, a hard right to the mid section doubled Kristin over. With her vulnerable opponent bent at the waist, Paula, her leg cocked, kicked straight up to the chest. My heart was torn out seeing Kristin collapse to the floor on the Persian carpet.

Kristin pulled herself up to a kneeling position, all her weight on her knees. She looked confused as Paula was nowhere to be seen in front of her. From behind, Paula’s arms, like deadly snakes, wrapped around Kristin’s neck and head, into a rear naked choke.

“That’s it, Paula, put her to bed now,” Myra called out.

From a standing position behind and above her victim, Paula bore down. Kristin, on her knees, had no way to power out. Her arms reached up and frantically grasped at her foe’s arms.

“You got her now, Paula, you got her,” the women yelled.

With no leverage and unable to use her lower body, Kristin could only ineffectively paw at her opponent. The gnawing in my stomach turned into a sickening nausea as I watched my dear friend’s arms fall to the side…dangling…lifeless.

“Break the hold, Paula,” Jim ordered, “She’s out.”

Time seemed to come to a complete stop, the next few seconds expanding into eternity, those words echoing forever, “She’s out…She’s out……..She’s…out…………She’s……..out……Sheee’s out……..Ssheee’s……oouut.

I thought I would pass out. From my elevated position I watched Kristin’s topless body, from her knees dropping face first onto the rug.

My instinct took over, I sprung for the door of the loft but Jim had locked it. Down below I could see Kristin start to move but by now, Paula was perched on her back yanking her head up by the hair to face Jim’s cameras.

“MOTHERFUCKERS! LET ME DOWN FROM HERE!” I screamed as I pounded on the door. I saw Jim shoot two laser lights at Kristin’s head before heading to the loft.

“Coming,” he said, “Kristin’s fine.”

I’m only 170 lbs. but the second Jim opened the door, I blew by him, ahead of the other guests, and tore down the stairs. When I got to the bottom, I was confronted with the horrifying site of Paula stripping the bikini bottom off of Kristin, who was still lying groggily on the rug, leaving her nude body lying in a heap.

“GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM HER,” I growled as I ran to my friend’s side. Kristin stumbled as she tried to stand.

“No Kristin, stay down. You’re not ready yet,” I told her. I tried to apply some training i had in assessing head injuries. To my relief, she was recovering, able to correctly answer the orientation questions. Meanwhile, Paula was basking in the congratulations of her other guests as once again, laughter and wine glasses lifted through the air, leaving Kristin and I to ourselves. “Let’s get the fuck out of here,” I whispered, “I think you’re ready now.”

I draped her arm around my shoulder and wrapped my arm around her waist with my first priority to cover up her nakedness. Then I stood her up, assisting her with her steps.

Age 25, My wedding reception.
“Congratulations, Brad, I’ve been waiting all day for my chance to dance with the groom.”

“Thanks for coming, Kristin”

“My pleasure. I knew the first time I met Joanne that she was the one for you.”

“How are things with you and Dan. You’ve been together for ages.”

“Good, but we don’t have any clear plans yet. You know, I am upset with Joanne. She took the guy I married when I was five years old.”

“I remember that. Kristin, thanks for being such a friend all these years.”

“And thank YOU……you know, Brad,…Joanne is very lucky to have you.”

“This way, Kristin, let’s get our stuff.” I barely finished the last word, when some force struck Kristin from behind, jolting her out of my arms, sending her stumbling several feet forward before falling again on the hardwood floor in the entry way between the main room and foyer.

“What the FUCK,” I snapped. Startled, I turned to see Paula, her fists clenched, her scowl ugly. She was still wearing camo bottoms with her breasts partially covered by a camo hunting jacket. It was another second before it became apparent to me she kicked Kristin in the back.

“GET OUT!” She growled.

I backed up toward Kristin, who pulled up to her hands and knees. Paula ran past me, delivering a hard kick to Kristin’s bare ass as the poor woman was on all fours.

“I SAID GET OUT. WHAT THE FUCK DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?” Paula repeated. Jim looked stern but was silent as he stood beside his wife.

Without thinking, I immediately dove to Kristin’s side. I don’t remember pulling it out of my shirt. In a blur, my handgun was pointed at our host couple. “IF EITHER OF YOU MOVE ONE MORE INCH TOWARD HER, SO HELP ME, I’LL BLOW YOUR FUCKING HEADS OFF.”

I scooped up Kristen, holding her across my chest with my arms around her. Opening the door with one hand, we exited the lodge. I placed her gently in the back seat, her nude sweaty body sticking to the leather upholstery.

I saw a suitcase bounce on the lawn, followed by an overnight bag. Jim was in the doorway throwing our belongings outside. Articles of clothing were strewn across the grass. I quickly gathered them up, giving Kristin a chance to cover up. Finally, I started the car and we were on our way returning from a disastrous mission.

Kristin had bruises on her legs, belly and breasts. I know the dangers of a chokehold. “I’m taking you to a hospital.”

“No, I’m fine,” she protested.

“Just to get checked out.”

“No,” she insisted. “I was out for just a few seconds.” I relented.

“Kristin, I’m so sorry,” I said.

“For what?”

“I never should have let this happen.”

“Brad, that wasn’t your place.”

“I failed to protect you,” I retorted

“I agreed to this assignment knowing I’d probably be in a fight. It was my fight, not yours. I have to admit the fight was fair. It was my fault I lost. But…it was after the fight…you did a nice job of protecting me…Thanks, Brad….Are you OK?” She asked.

“I guess I’m just a little choked up…Just a little overwhelmed. You just mean a lot to me.”

“Brad, pull over. There’s a rest stop ahead. Right there, pull over.” I complied.

“Now, come back here so I can give you a hug,” she suggested. I complied again.

With tearing eyes, I wrapped my arms around my colleague, my friend, the woman who was there when I learned about playing as a toddler, learned about sports, about teenage lust, about how to treat girls on a date, about respecting women, and about…courage and responsibility. My friend forever.

“Brad, one more thing,” she added. “I know I said this before, but I’ll say it again. Joanne is very lucky to have you…But….you still can’t dance.”

EPILOGUE

The six foot blonde appeared to be in agony. Lying on her side, she wriggled, hoping to gain some relief from the crushing sensation of her opponent’s thighs wrapped around her rib cage in a suffocating body scissors. With rapid shallow breaths, she managed to get to her knees and, with her free arms, began to pry at the thick lower extremity muscles encased around her torso. Her hope was short lived. The aggressor swung her hips to the right, then hard to the left, sending her victim helplessly falling back into a horizontal position on the elegant Persian rug.

The huntress then moved in for the kill. Grasping the chin with both hands, she jerked her opponent’s head up while squeezing her thighs with all her might, stretching the unfortunate woman’s neck and spine. The woman seemed to be verbally submitting but unable to articulate. The hands frantically waved and tapped in surrender. “That’s enough Paula, you win,” said a man’s voice off camera.

“Are you guys in the monitor room getting this?” asked the voice on the radio.

“Yes we are. This is Brad. I’m with special agent Andrews. Everything is streaming clearly. I’m glad my mission wasn’t a total failure. We hacked into Jim’s computer and cam equipment.”

On the screen, Paula stripped off the loser’s bottom, then held her head for trophy pictures.

“Oh Christ, it’s hard for me to watch this,” sighed Brad. “There’s that weird laser camera again. I’ll tell you, there’s more to Paula than we know. We didn’t deep dig enough into her past.”

The defeated nude and tearful woman’s husband tenderly picked her up, kissed and covered her before departing the lodge.

Paula and Jim remained in the main room alone, The lights darkened as the couple turned into a pair of silhouettes. The animal trophy heads on the wall were no longer visible, but in their place, new lights appeared. Lights on the wall. Glowing lights that took the form of human heads. Female human heads. Female human heads mounted like trophies. Blondes, brunettes, redheads, a variety of skin tones.

“Holy fucking shit,” Brad exclaimed. “Look at that one on the right. It’s…it’s…it’s KRISTIN!

Paula, wearing only a camo bottom, fell into her husbands arms as the two embraced and kissed. The winning fighter unbuttoned her man’s hunting shirt, caressing the large hairy chest. The couple engaged in a long session of tongue wrestling before Paula dropped to her knees. With an unbuckling of the belt, unzipping of the fly, the camo pants dropped to the big man’s knees, as the large erect penis bursted free from its confines. Holding the shaft with both hands, she nuzzled her face to the head before tenderly planting a series of soft kisses along the entire member. The kisses became larger and wetter as her mouth traveled from the shaft back to the head. The tongue snaked around the organ alternating in straight and circular motions. Finally, the entire head was engulfed by her tender lips, taking more of the manhood inside her mouth. Rhythmically, she moved, the wet lips sliding along the unit back and forth as her man’s hips also rocked in rhythm.

Then, releasing her man’s organ, she held both his hands as she carefully fell backwards onto the rug, pulling her partner forward. “Come to me, my love,” she whispered. On her back, the woman felt herself become separated from her camo bottom as her husband lovingly descended on top of her.

Let us become enjoined my love. Let me feel you. Your face. Your strong arms. Embrace me. Encircle your body around me. Place your manhood between my breasts, let my bosoms cover it. Anoint my nipples with your precum. Anoint my lips. They belong to you. Your manhood is power and virility. My breasts are nurturing. Let us tit fuck. Let us join together. That’s it my love…I feel you.

I see the vanquished losers on the wall. There forlorn faces solemnly watch us in obeisance. Foolish women…Unenlightened….Ignorant as the beasts, for that is their lot. The Goddess has given them to us.

Your masculinity excites me. You belong to me and I to you. Enter into me now. That’s it my love. Let me feel you in another way. Yes, I feel you. Together we travel upwards to the light. The light embraces us. In this light, we realize we are, in fact, one. Faster honey, faster and harder. We are two unique entities, but we shall become one person. Yes..Yes…He is the intellect. I am the will…Oh my.. Oh my..yes..yes…He is the rational mind…I am the intuition. Keep going, honey..That’s it. Oh my, that’s it. He’s going faster. We are like drops of water. Separate. Yes! We won’t stay that way. Water drops merge together into one.. Oh yes..That’s how the Goddess planned it. Oh my..Oh my! The light is brighter now. It’s blinding. My body shudders. It tingles all over. I know he’s in me but I can’t locate him. It’s as if he’s everywhere in me. He is. He’s part of me. And I am in him. Now I know what he sees and feels. Oh my!

We’re blurred together. I can know longer tell where I end and he begins. WE ARE ONE…WE ARE ONE..the Goddess has merged us. The light..THE LIGHT..IT IS ALL SO BEAUTIFUL. YES……..YES…….YES…..YES……YES….YES……YES…

YES…….YES.YES.YES ..YYYEEESSSS
YYYEESSSS…YYYEEESSS….YYYYYYYYEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!

“Maybe we shouldn’t be watching this,” Agent Andrews suggested.

“No,” Brad replied, “there could be important evidence.”

On the screen, the coupled lied on the floor for several minutes in a tender embrace. Jim lifted up his head, staring straight into the lens.

“What’s he looking at?” Brad asked.

The big man rose, his now flaccid cock filling up more of the screen as he approached the cam equipment. As he draped a towel over the lens, he barked out only two words when the screen suddenly turned to black.

“Show’s over.”

Credits

“Kiss”
-written and performed by Prince

“A Natural Woman”
lyrics by Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Jerry Wexler
performed by Aretha Franklin

Continued in The Poacher 4. Click Here to Move on to That Story!

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