"Look at this shit," Craig told Mike and Yancey as they made their way to the restroom.
All three looked at the sign, having nearly the same thought, somehow all cognizant enough to get its meaning despite how high their blood-alcohol levels seemed.
"Men to the left because women are always right."
"How....pro..." Mike snickered, trying to act more tipsy than he already was. "...stitue? Progre...ssive?"
Craig didn't hold back his laughter as he tried to remain upright, holding onto Yancey who chuckled at his friend's word snafu.
Someone had suggested they all go to the ladies room like a group of women. The sensation was there for one of them, but it was a leisurely trip there as they stopped to comment amongst themselves every little silly thing they noticed in the club they stumbled into looking to change up their Thursday bar-hopping routine. It was done condescendingly as they were aware this was more of a ladies club, catering to ladies and men of all kinds surprisingly, but wore its bias with pride.
"Is that sign right?" Yancey asked, trying to solve the conundrum of remembering if every men's room he's ever been to was actually on the left. He tried recalling an architect in the family he knew that often worked on bathrooms like this, and one of the boring, yet then relevant facts might've confirmed such a standard layout.
"Nah, man, it's just you're supposed to go r-"
"The sign is actually right, sirs."
From behind them, their waitress for the night, Marilyn, happily regarded the trio.
"The men's room really is to the left."
"Shh," Mike tried to be subtle about leading his friend in the wrong direction. He tried using hand signals and winks to let her know what he was up to, but they nor the flirtatious winks he'd been giving her all night were even in the same state as subtle.
Marilyn shook her head at his juvenile display, something she had to get used to no matter where she waitressed. But her current place of employment was much more friendly toward its women patrons, and she found herself not willing to extend her career-experience anywhere else.
"Because women are always right," Marilyn's smile returned, speaking as if she was finishing an incomplete statement. "You guys shouldn't play tricks on your friend like that."
"Trick?" Mike asked as intoxication let the thought slip away from Yancey's friend's heads.
"You guys look really sloshed. Too much to drink before you got here?"
"Indeed milady," Craig spoke. "The three musk...ke...woah..of us spread our bounty with pride." He held onto his friends shoulders as a dizzy spell almost brought him down.
"Well, maybe some time in the restroom will help you clear your head."
"Hope so.." Yancey shook his head, trying to keep his vision fastened on the men's room entrance.
"Trust me. Women are always right," she pointed out. "Or so I've heard," her voice laughing as if playing along with the ridiculous of it, with a hint of believing it. "And women love it when you call them milady. Chivalry is alive and well in a place like this."
"Of course milady," Mike tried presenting himself as a gentleman, before having to be pulled back up from tumbling to the floor.
"Mike, is it?" Marilyn queried.
"That's right honey. I mean, 'milady'" he added with another bow and stuffy accent.
"Quite a nice....amount of mousse you're using. Makes you want to call me 'milady' and nothing else."
"I'm not wearing that much mousse," he lied.
"Oh, sorry. I meant..." Marilyn had to stop and think for a second. Mike was the stereotypical pretty-boy of the group, and measured so much of himself around the genetic luck he was blessed with. It wasn't uncommon to receive praise for is whole look from interested women, or certain neutral parts of him from women feigning not being interested sometimes. It was a little annoying, but moreso cute to see the waitress in-front of them search for the right complementary word she wanted to use.
"Oh! Right, dummy" she tried to whisper verbally kicking herself, but it was still audible enough to make all three men chuckle. "Nice hair is what I meant. Sorry for being a little scatterbrained. Careful, it may be catching."
A light bulb went off in Mike's head, almost chiding himself for not realizing what she was trying to say. "Of course she meant the hair," he told himself. Complimenting his hair to him was just a wrung below complimenting his face, which translated to "want to fuck?" in his mind. He would've levied his way to sweet-talking Marilyn, except thoughts that could've levied such talk actually did scatter in his head. Words he wanted to use evaded him, and he looked as confused as Marilyn had.
She smiled at him. "I'm sorry. Guess it really was catching. No need to pull your hair out over it or anything, you'll remember it, just like your time on stage too."
Some of the words he wanted to use came up, but were pushed aside as memories of actually being on-stage came back to him. "Must be that sloshed if I forgot that." The end came up to him first, and he remembered coming up from what felt like an absent daydream. He adjusted his hair out of habit, and believed the clapping and jeers from the ladies in the audience were directed at his coveted follicle crown.
Standing nearby was the show-woman, a hypnotist or something. Called herself Berta, a memorable name just for how simple it was, with no exaggerated moniker before it. It was also a name he'd only seen or heard of heavy, unattractive women bearing it, and she was closer to stick-figure skinny, with a beauty worthy of a pity-fuck if he was in the mood. Her outfit didn't do her any favors in that department, dressed very casually in blue-jean jacket, a blouse underneath, and tight jeans covered by black knee-high boots. Waving to the crowd as if she was the one receiving praise showed confidence, which was enough of a turn-on though. She had a way of moving, subtly, lacking any veneer suggestive of her appearance being just a show. She barely looked like she was moving at all from Mike's vantage point, but her the swinging silver watch moving back and forth suggested otherwise. Settling on the watch itself unlocked more, stranger memories to recall. Vaguely remembering Craig was also on-stage next to him. They both started out as trying not to laugh at what Berta was proposing to them on stage, crazy ideas for them to put their minds toward, that made the audience freely laugh. Out of the corner of his eye, Craig seemed less humored by it, which surprised Mike. He wasn't upset by what he was hearing. Craig's friend swore he seemed more content than anything.
Berta eventually caught his attention moving past his seated self, bringing out the silver watch for the first time, but intently looking at someone else. Weirdly insulting, yet not, was how she talked to the person about a watch swinging and how he would just lock his attention on it, only the watch swung in-front of Mike. The blow to his ego of not being the center of a woman's attention softened as he reasoned she was taunting him with talking about something he couldn't see, something Mike could as she spoke of "loving how the watch just moves before you with the grace of a dancer. Seamless, calculated motions, made for you to follow, unable to measure how good it feels to watch the watch. The muscle control needed to draw your attention is as uncomplicated as the flick of my wrist. The smallest motion creates an arc of a dance that is small and almost rapid, or wide and slow, and you follow regardless of where it leads you."
Mike's wondering of how the other man could possibly envision the watch when it was in his face faded with every change in the arc Berta described. In his mind's eye, he imagined what Berta's watch-swinging hand would look like as it controlled the watch's movement. Her wrist barely moving synced with the muscles of his neck adapting to the watch's arc. The faded reflection of himself on the silver surface matched how his awake self felt. Confusion fused with fascination, waiting for Berta to make sense of it all.
"It doesn't matter if the watch is visible to you. It doesn't matter if it's invisible to you. It exists. It swings. It is something you follow, like my words. You can't see them, can't tell me what color they are or the font they might take, but you know they're there, you know they have your attention, and you like what you're hearing so far."
She had such a casual, matter-of-fact way of speaking, in a consistent low tone that borderline droned on, but every syllable spoken had something nice-sounding to it that made the words she spoke still relevant, at least to some part of him.
"And it's perfectly okay if you find your mind wandering a little while I have your attention. Sometimes people will wander to recent things they've heard. Like hearing about what my words might look like or feel like if tangible. Maybe your imagination has some ideas, conjuring a soft, silvery substance, wisping like a stream of smoke around you, pleasing to the skin upon contact..."
Mike had to shake himself back to reality, something past his eyes focusing on a silver swinging watch shifted to his eyes that saw Marilyn happily covering her hand, holding back an laugh lacking context. He found he'd been out of it for a minute, though it felt like it was longer, just in time to notice everyone was walking away from him. Craig being the first to head into the bathroom, dragging his friends in with him, hearing genuine laughter as they headed in.
The three stepped into a turquoise-colored, heavily-patterned room. The structure was standard for the average men's room, but it looked to them like the club owner let their decorator go ham and over-decorate, even on the walls of the stalls and everywhere except the mirrors. They were surprised the patterns didn't overwhelm their eyes as they came in, especially Craig as he was an interior designer himself. Despite a sense of overkill, there was still something professionally commendable about it. Even in a liquored haze, he could appreciate the aesthetic composite, like fine art. The lighting was perfectly low and spaced out well, as to not shine and exacerbate how many patterns there were. The patterns themselves were a wavy combination of lighter and darker shades of turquoise, blending into something cohesive. The more he paid attention to it, the more it looked clean and distinct enough to be drawn on the wall instead of wallpapered.
Mike and Yancey felt the same in a way they couldn't describe, noticing familiar patters as they used the facilities. Unfocused eyes got lost searching for whatever shapes their minds could decipher. Yancey had it the easiest as he was able to sit down in his stall while his older brother and friend had to keep themselves awake and upright at the urinals. After relieving himself, being enclosed in wall-to-wall patterns overtook Yancey. His subconscious felt like he was trapped inside a box-shaped puzzle, and had to discover its secret before he could escape. Escape of any kind seemed like a novel concept as parts of his body loved how still he could stay and just enjoy the bliss of the puzzle. One pattern bleeding into another, over and over, ever on the verge of solving the puzzle. Unconsciously, his eyes unfocused as they felt like they were catching onto something, only to be interrupted by a loud sound.
"Don't fall asleep in there, Nancy-boy," his brother pounded on the door.
"Yeah, still need a ride h-hey, wash those hands first."
"Don't keep us waiting sis'."
Yancey heard the faucets run, and the sound of water splashing on someone's face, followed by nothing but the interrupted flow of the water for several minutes. No footsteps, no creaking door swinging open or closing; just that faucet running for a few minutes. It soon turned into white noise as his eyes refocused on the pattern, and unfocused to clearly see another dimension amongst the patterns, like words trapped between fancy shapes, words encouraging feelings already prevailing his sleepy self.
"Feels good," he thought he saw.
"Let go," easy to do as there was nothing to grab onto except the words, once he found them.
"Listening feels good." It admittedly did for someone who was more follower than leader all of his life.
"Obeying feels good." If obedience meant listening, Yancey had no problem with that.
"Women's words feels good." He wasn't gender-specific with whom to listen and obey, but now a female voice narrated his new thoughts.
"Women's logic feels good." Women were pretty logical, and they seemed to make so much sense to him all of a sudden.
"Women's will feels good." The idea of a willful woman suddenly gave him a nice buzz, all over his body.
"Let go to what feels good." Everything else was slippery and couldn't be grasped if he wanted, while the words spoken to his mind grabbed him.
"Listen to what feels good." The circular logic began to make him smile.
"Obey what feels good." Unblinking eyes and nodding heads agreed.
"Feels good." The voice in his head gained clearer distinction, more than obviously female, very familiar to his own head.
"Feels good." Beyond the patterns, he saw a pair of red lips mouthing the words, a compelling visual to the audible aphrodisiac. More features came into view until the patterns and stall completely went away and there was just the woman he was nearly face to face with. Looking down at him, she grinning as she spoke. Some of what she said escaped him, but it felt like he understood enough of what she wanted. Passing thoughts of a swinging silver watch came and went with consistency, inspired by her words, and had his eyes been closed, it could've been all that was on his mind. But his eyes were open, taking in all the features of the persuasive creature looming over him.
She had a pixish hair cut to compliment the shape of her face, a few freckles strewn about her face, and very little lines on her face to suggest being barely above 20, yet carrying herself and sounding like a confident middle-aged woman with years of natural seduction. Something about her looks belied the kind of voice she could produce, but then he never thought a voice could do to him what hers was. Berta's words seemed cursory, the kind you hear from a friend who happened to be a girl, on the verge of sounding like a girlfriend with something sensual on her mind. The only thing pulling his attention away from her was the disbelief of such attention. Mike was the primary recipient of such forward femininity, and Yancey usually attracted shy-yet-assertive-enough-to-engage-him kind of of women. But unlike either of those types, Berta's attention seemed affectionate, eying Yancey up and down approvingly, matching his shy reactions with endearing looks.
"And it's perfectly okay if you find your mind wandering a little while I have your attention. Sometimes people will wander based on recent things they've heard. Like hearing about what my voice might look like or feel like if tangible could make your imagination conjure a soft, silvery substance, wisping like smoke around you, pleasing to the skin upon contact, the more you hear it, the more you feel surrounded, the more you can't help but breath it in, inhale it, make it a part of you. So like yet unlike cigarette smoke, how it calms you down, with slight addictive quality to it, yet it's completely healthy for you. You can inhale my voice and breath out anything you don't want, negative thoughts, tension, even the busy parts of your mind if you want. You can let that leave all your thoughts behind while you're filled with mine."
Yancey's breathing deepened along with his smile, and in turn, Berta's. He felt ticklish beneath his clothing from something he couldn't describe filling the gap inside his shirt and pants. Whatever it was, it had his permission to cover as much of him as it could.
"And while you're filled with my thoughts, I wonder how it would feel to you I described my voice in another way. What my voice does to you, how it makes you feel, it all can be taken a step further transforming from smoky wisps to flowing water. More than just surrounding you, you can dive deep into it, sink easily into it, and as another healthy and safe distinction, drown in my words."
The last time he could imagine drowning of any kind was Craig tossing his 8-year-old self in the public pool, out of torment, preventing him from wanting to learn swimming until his mid-teens, miles away from Craig. Berta's shining down interest and reassurance on him still prevented bringing the bad memory back to interrupt things. From the comfort of her words, drowning was already submerging himself, carelessly floating along, inexplicably able to breathe normally and deeply as he wanted. He could've drifted away somewhere in the vast ocean of mindlessness, but seeing Berta's face kept him anchored.
"That happens to be tonight's theme you know - water. There are so many ways to describe my voice and what it does to you. Some ways work better than others, but water works well with everyone's brains, probably because it's such a big part of everyone's lives. Doctors recommend multiple glasses of water a day, probably as much as they recommend their patients get as much rest and relaxation as possible. Listening to me, having my voice inside your head, is practically doctor-recommended. And it's not like you could ignore what I say to you. Water can break concrete, stone, metal, or whatever your mental defenses are made of, if it wanted to. But at the same time it's soft, serene, and rejuvenating."
The more the hypnotist talked, the more Yancey was convinced every breath was expelling something bad or unnecessary, and every intake was just more of Berta, and more of Berta cleansed and nourished his mind. A soft touch across his cheek trailing to the back of his neck produced a significant reaction despite how dulled his senses were of any other stimulus but the sight and sound of Berta.
"Feels good, doesn't it?"
The freckled hypnotist's visage brightened even more as the subject she had her sights on nodded profusely without any direct prompting, seemingly needy of what she was doing to him. The hand stroking Yancey moved to his hair, entangling fingers and ruffling it. She gave him five pats on the head, causing sounds of disappointment amongst women in the crowd nearby. Berta turned her head back and shrugged her shoulders as if to respond to the noises made. The next time Berta looked at Yancey, her lips moved yet produced no sound. Something in Yancey's head clued him into it being a personal message just for him, making it even more important to respond accordingly to it.
"Come see me later."
* * *
Yancey started blinking his eyes, his consciousness rose to the surface, taking him away from the memory of being on stage and back to the stall he'd sat in for however long he sat. The slight strain of getting up meant he was there longer than he should've been. He waited for the sink to produce hot water like he preferred, but once he it came, his hands got stuck under the running tap, the hand soap he used already washed away. His eyes closed, prompting flashes of Berta and her words on-stage again, persuading blood to travel southward from his head. A soft whisper of "come see me later" prematurely woke him from another daydream. He shook himself awake to dry his hands and finally exited the restroom. The directional sign outside caught his eye again before he could look for his party. The repeated messaging made him chuckle, but not in the mocking way Mike or Craig saw it. On his own it would've been just anecdotally clever, but now he chuckled because of something made it feel good to read just a few more times.
"Hey handsome. Doing some studying?"
A southern accent turned his head to see an older woman dressed in gold, about to step into the ladies room to the right, amused at how laser-focused he looked just standing here.
"Seems like a good read. I guess you know for sure why men's rooms are always to the left."
"Because women..." Yancey answered automatically, but stopped, surprising himself and the woman. Nervously, yet feeling something incomplete, he finished "...are always right."
The southerner's gaze turned absolutely cougarish. "You sound like an excellent pupil. I think you'd like to learn..." she stopped herself as a thought crossed her mind, her charm put on hold. She looked him up and down, and sighed a sigh of dashed hopes. "...to learn where the lady you're looking for is."
It took him a minute to remember what woman he was looking for, but consciously knew he was after it being mentioned.
"Yeah, how'd...you know?"
"Women's intuition, honey. And, you know..." gesturing toward the sign, Yancey shook his head, agreeing with the sentiment but still unconsciously replying "Women are always right."
Before another cougarish sensation could flare, she pointed out a table in the center of the room, where Mike and Craig were sitting.
"Thanks," he said walking in that direction.
In a row of three square tables put together, Yancey found Craig and Mike sitting across from a few women who'd introduced themselves as Rita and Sarah. Next to Craig and sitting across from a vacant was their hypnotist, gesturing with a friendly smile, and a little something else in her face, toward the seat. Breath almost catching, he had to keep himself in check before just the sight of her caused involuntary physical reactions unbecoming a gentleman.
"We meet again, Yancey. Nice to put a name to a face finally." Berta extended her hand to be shaken. Yancey took it, unsure of whether to simply shake it or kiss it. The exchanged warmth between them made the handshake last seconds longer than normal for either, but Berta didn't seem to mind.
"And you're Berta. Likewise. With putting a name to a face, I mean."
"Didn't you already hear her name when you were up on-stage earlier?" The Raven-haired woman next to him, Rita, asked. Yancey panicked while Craig and Mike snickered at their whipping boy being put on the spot.
"It's perfectly ok," Berta eased Yancey's worries. "You all be surprised at what some forget with their time with me. It's not that it's forgettable per se, but when the mind gets to relax, stretch a little, and open itself to some fun suggestions, you never know what will be remembered or not. I consider it a compliment in some ways."
Something clear but definitely liquored in the glass near him, Mike's lowered inhibitions allowed free-flowing thoughts out loud. "Not that I would've forgotten your name, but if I did, I never would've guessed 'Berta.' Usually women I've met named Berta are pretty..."
It was obvious he was searching for an adjective that would come off as insulting; the implication itself shouldn't have been expected to come off well, at least to Yancey who'd been the least-intoxicated of the men. But the three women there took it in stride. No one seemed to even frown, though it seemed like the ladies were holding something humorous back to themselves.
"I used to go by Roberta a lot when I was younger," she interrupted the silence. "But I found that I didn't mind being called Berta by some, though they just called me that to annoy me, cause they didn't think I looked like a Berta either. I've always been a fan of subverting expectations. You wouldn't think me a 'Berta' just by looking at me. You wouldn't think me a lot of things, which makes your discovery of me all the sweeter."
Berta threw a sweet smile in Yancey's direction, making his lips curl into his own smaller version.
"Like, amongst you hopefully honest gentleman, before meeting us, which one of us ladies would you expect to have the most profound effect on you?"
"The cute one in-front of me," Craig responded, and was awarded a smile from Rita for his compliment.
Mike caught sight of Marilyn walking by, and gave her a wink, making Sarah across from him roll her eyes.
Yancey's gaze never left Berta's, the look on his face the most sincere answer given.
"Would you believe the real answer was something a little out of left field?"
"What's that?" Mike turned his attention back to the table.
"The answer is 'all of the above.'"
All three men were confused.
"Remember that sign by the restroom, boys?"
"Something about 'men' and...what, 'west?'" Craig thought.
"Close. Men are to the left..."
"Because women are always right," Yancey and Craig finished in unison.
Mike turned to his friends, wondering if there was a joke he'd missed out on.
"I'm glad two out of three get it," Sarah commented.
"Oh, they all get it," Berta corrected. "We're always right, no matter how hard it is to believe, so of course the answer is 'all of the above.' We're all above you in some small significant ways, or others."
"Heh...whatever you say ladies," Mike chuckled
"Finally cluing in, are we?" Sarah asked, making Mike pay the woman in front of him more attention, but still the least of any coupling at their table.
"Like I said. 'Whatever you say.'"
"Whatever we say is more apt." Berta corrected again. "Like me for example, earlier I mentioned water as a particular subject while on-stage. You may not remember that I brought it up, but you find it hard to dispute that I did, right?"
Mike and Craig gave it some thought, trying to remember exactly what she talked about on stage. Yancey was the closest to the memory and thought hard about what was virtually on the tip of his mind.
"Exactly," taking their silence as confirmation. "And just because hypnosis often works that way, the words seem to vanish, but they're just beneath the surface, and yield incredibly receptive results. I linked temperature to water, to liquids in-general, and told you they would make you feel specific ways when exposed."
Berta flagged Marilyn down who already seemed to be approaching their table, two fairly large teacups that she sat in-front of Berta and Yancey. Hers looked like green tea, and Yancey could smell that it was black coffee before he could see it.
"I was told you were tonight's designated driver for guys-night out. You'll probably need this sooner rather than later."
Yancey didn't disagree, bringing the cup to his mouth, but stopping to see Berta wanting to clink their cups together. He did so with a smile, and nodded to the guys who raised their glasses and drank too. The liquid pressed to his lips, the coffee tasted good, but seemed like it had an aftertaste to it, something past his tastebuds and went deeper into himself. Part of him saw Berta in a flash of something nearly pornographic, even though he was still looking at her fully clothed. The heat of it fanned the flames of his thoughts; he almost took the cup away from his mouth, but to his surprise, Berta's fingers pressed against the thick edge of the bottom, avoiding the heat and urging him to take more. He looked at her over the rim of his cup, seeing her eyes twinkle and smile, the rim of her own cup giving him the shapely impression of a Cheshire smile. She wanted him to take it all, and he wasn't in any position to stop. With every slow sip, his thoughts of her got hotter, even resembling the mood of Berta on-stage, in-control of everything, staring down and what she had her eye on, what she'd claimed that he couldn’t' refute. Sweat trickled from his pores for some reason, his back arched to take in the last bits of the liquid, and to reflect the sudden arousal surging through his body. He didn't know where or why, but it made it alright that Berta wanted it this way. She downed her tea with the same enthusiasm and leaned her face in to her hot and bothered companion.
"Now you remember what hot does to you," the words meaning was generalized, but really meant for Yancey. Eager nodding made everyone else begin to laugh. "You know what else is hot?" She whispered into his ear the last thing he expected to hear. He leaned back in innocent shock, eyes looking down, then back at her, then down again. Mike and Craig caught on to the implication and waited for him to chicken out of such public lewdness. Craig had even seen his brother bail on opportunities to kiss girls in public who really wanted to be kissed.
"You know you want it," Berta whispered into his ear again. His eyes rolled back gently as his body slid under the table like melted butter. The sounds of unbuckling and unzipping followed by moans and oral attention produced shock around them. Berta took to Yancey's worship like a professional recipient, but couldn't totally maintain her composure as his goal was to produce as much hot liquid from her crotch as possible, creating a vicious cycle of wanting, getting, and then needing more.
"You sure I can't have what you're having?" Sarah asked Berta with sincerity. Berta gave a lustful look, biting her bottom lip as her body started to involuntarily ride her new steed. No one seemed sure if Berta had one or two orgasms before she told Yancey "Time to stop. For now." She patted his head as he rested kneeling, head on her lap, everyone else bewildered but not as bewildered as they should've been. The two women were regulars at Berta's club and for her act, but could still be amazed by what she could get guys to do. Craig and Mike would have been loud and rowdy without the suggestion already given in relation to the temperature of their drinks.
After several deep breaths and whispers directed at the remaining men, Berta replied "How are your drinks treating you fellas? Nice and room-temperature?"
They found they'd been asked a question after a few minutes of shock, but only responded with nods and grunts indicating approval of their drinks.
"What are you guys even drinking?" Rita wondered out-loud.
"Sc-cotch," Craig got out, quickly downing what was left in his glass and signaling Marilyn for another.
"Vodka," Mike said absently, "which I think I've had enough of."
"Or maybe you haven't," Sarah told him. Mike questioningly looked at her. "Be a shame to waste a good drink like that." She eyed him, confidently waiting for him to take the hint. He looked down at his own drink and sighed as he downed his, not wanting it to go to waste, resolute in it being his last until he heard "See, I bet in a few minutes you're going to want another."
Thoughts betrayed him as the desire for more built up immediately, just like Sarah said it would, resigning and finally signaling to Marilyn.
"Are you going to tell them what's 'ale'ing them?" Rita joked, something only the women seemed to understand, but only thought of as whimsical.
"One," Berta replied, "nice attempt at a pun. Two, yeah I intend to tell them. It tends to be more fun if they know."
"Know what?" Craig asked.
"To know that you're drinking apple bourbon. And it taste's good right?"
"Yeah," was his only response to the hypnotist. Craig was more interested in the intoxicated part of drinking that night, and bourbon was just a taste he agreed with more times than not, but it took Berta's mentioning it to realize there was a fruit flavor there.
"I think the chance of something spectacular happening tonight will increase if you let me try some of that bourbon you have."
"Really?" Craig asked his companion.
"Could be," Rita responded, taking the drink easily out of his hand. She recoiled from a sip of it.
"No no," Berta interrupted, "Apple bourbon. Remember how I explained it girls. 'Lukewarm liquid intoxicates, opens even more to suggestion.' Alcohol makes no difference."
"They don't taste the difference?" Sarah questioned.
"They don't pay it any mind, often their brains rationalize for them what it ought to be, unless there's some female persuasion to guide them."
"So...what's he drinking?" Sarah looked at Mike's glass.
"Tap water probably, knowing Marilyn. But he thinks it's Vodka, albeit the weakest but most intoxicating he's ever tried." Berta looked at Mike as she spoke before looking down at his drink, sipping it again to notice how absolutely sterile it tasted, as if it was...
"But it is vodka," Sarah spoke confidently to Mike. "The kind you love to drink, the kind you love me to tell you when to stop or have more."
"Whatever you say, babe." He said more absently than suavely after another sip.
"Where was this guy or you the last time I had to deal with every other alcoholic asshole out there," Sarah mockingly accused Berta.
"Hopefully we hadn't met already by then, otherwise I apologize."
Rita leaned over to whisper in Sarah's ear, whatever it was made them both giggle, piquing the curiosity of even Berta.
"Hey boys," Rita started. "I think I-" Sarah nudged her arm. "We, had it wrong. Do you know what you're really drinking?"
Craig and Mike looked at each other, addled minds unsure of what was to come.
The two women looked at each other and giggled while the men's brains were failing to interpret to their tastebuds anything but an alcoholic beverage and a sandwich thrown in a blender and served warm in a cup. They didn't catch on to the fact that their drinks were different colors, textures, or flavors, or even how they tasted the same at the same time; they just knew what they knew thanks to the informative women seated across from them. An aftertaste formed that wasn't there before, and both formed small looks of disgust.
"But you won't stop drinking it," Sarah told them
"There's just something amazing about it that makes you want more." Rita encouraged.
Berta watched raptly at the type of suggestion she never would've considered before, stroking her heat-driven pet's face, proud of her fan's creativity. Clear and brownish liquid-alike were equally, regrettably swallowed while Rita and Sarah clinked their glasses together.
"Mike, it's time to be honest with me. Like brutally honest. What's the worst thing you've ever told a woman?"
Before speaking, Mike saw Sarah gesturing with her finger, to come close and say it in her ear. Sarah listened carefully, eyes widening for what she heard, and backed away to throw the icy contents of her own glass in his face.
"Real subtle Sarah," Rita commented.
"What?" she asked innocently. "He had it coming for what he just told me. And yeah, I didn't want to be left on tenterhooks for much longer to find out what cold does to them."
Both women expectantly looked at Berta, who shook her head at how entertaining it all was.
"I keep forgetting you ladies got here post-show. Well, for those so impatiently inclined, the answer is written all over his face, if you'd care to look."
Rita, Sarah, and Craig looked back to see Mike with a dull, incognizant look on his face. Eyes vacant, mouth agape, barely breathing, no one could tell if the liquid trailing from around his mouth was Sarah's drink or drool. Hands waived across his face, producing no reaction at all. He seemed dead to the world.
"You want to leave Mike be, Craig," Berta told him before he could try to shake his friend awake.
"So he's like really mindless? Nobody home in there?" Sarah asked.
"With the right kind of make-up, he could be the Walking Dead for Halloween," Rita joked.
"'Mindless' in-general, but more specifically he's blank. Appropriately frozen for the temperature."
"Like 'Let it Go' Frozen? Can we make him sing that one," Sarah asked with the same enthusiasm found in an eleven-year-old.
Berta snickered at her blonde friend's girlish questioning. "He'll seem zombified and still to the average person, but he's simply waiting for the right stimulus."
"My words, Sarah. Mike, get up and go straight to the bathroom. Pay no mind to anything else; your intent is to go into the bathroom, relieve yourself in the stall, and be taken in by your surroundings. Go now," she spoke in a tone more dominant than her stage one.
They all watched as he slowly lurched himself to the restroom, fortunate enough to not have a lot of people or furniture in his way to his destination. Rita and Sarah watched him momentarily stop to stare at the sign in-front of the bathroom, laughing at how he voluntarily needed to remind himself of what seemed the law of the land. The ladies turned back to see Craig also watching Mike's journey to the restroom, but unaware of his hand being placed in a glass of water. Berta gestured for them to remain silent, and they did, their laughing and their need to hold it back both increasing. They could tell it was warm water, as he didn't look particularly blank or sweaty and sultry. Awareness and confusion were written all over his face, his body shifting as if his bodily fluids were trying to tell him something. He looked like he was in a meeting or movie theater, lamenting to step away but the sensation getting worse from him. The ladies didn't know which would break first between their laughter and his liquor. His hand leapt out of the warm liquid as he moved away from the table to follow Mike.
"Use the stall, Craig." Berta told him. A hurried "ok" was the last thing they heard before laughter consumed even Berta. Tears rolled down female eyes as they enjoyed the moment.
* * *
The void Mike found himself floating through was liberating. It felt like all the benefits of sleep and some of the benefits of being awake, able to walk around and process things in the most lucid way possible. The void was gratefully supplied with what sounded like soothing background music, telling him what he already knew felt good. The words sounded familiar as unfocused eyes saw the words narrated to him, filling him with what felt like purpose. Other men came into the restroom at some point during his time there, and none of the noise they made disturbed him, not that they were inclined to as the walls left them at least somewhat spaced out too.
He could've easily fallen asleep in the stall he sat in, succumbing to near-continuous programming if it wasn't for his habit of leaving the stall once he was done and no female command to stop him. Making his way to the sink, a female command actually did stop him in his tracks.
"Dance," a command from what sounded like Berta, told him.
Looking into the mirror, seeing past himself and more the words in the walls, he found encouragement to aid the random command he was given.
"Dance," the voice told him again. "You can do it."
Hips began to move of their own volition.
"You want to do it."
Not just because she said so did the desire rise to do so, but it helped.
"You've done it before. Show me how good you were, how good you still are."
The moves came natural to him, muscle-memory ready to bring the dormant, primal side of him back. The rest of his torso found the rhythm to follow his hips, and his hands gripped at the shirt and pants he knew he would shed soon. A conscious Mike wouldn't have been able to remember when he told her how he did exotic dancing at ladies clubs as a high schooler and through college. The money was good, but the catering to his vanity felt even better.
"So many women want you, and you want to be wanted by so many women. Entice them, show the worthy why you are worthy."
The young and the old of the opposite sex loved to watch him dance over the years, and up until that point, he thought they came to service him, despite what he was paid for. To have his logic shifted to him being the one with something to prove went uncontested, and accepted. The speed and vitality he was used to in his dancing was slow to come, bolstered by the need to do so for Berta and muscle memory.
"It's almost too easy for you, like you were born to do this."
He felt the same way with a center-stage spotlight and excited, supportive surrounding sounds, and as if on cue, yelps and hollers came as if from a memory, along with a low, pulsing beat he could move to. There was a bright light on his back, making him shake his ass teasingly. Even the sounds of an announcer got him going.
"There's nothing you'd rather be doing that this right now; make the most of it."
"Ladies, give a warm-no, a sizzling welcome, to tonight's entertainment..." a male voice boomed around the soft commands from Berta.
There was a chair right in-front of him on whatever stage he'd walked onto. Boldly, one foot was placed on the chair to make him look like a conquering hero, a man's man who couldn't stop moving his hips provocatively. His other foot replaced the first, showcasing his ass again, teasing the belt that slid out of the confines like a snake in his hands, before throwing it down. Teasing his pants opening, but zipping back up before facing the crowd. Despite everything he was able to do, he still looked rather stiff, and facially seemed not totally into it.
"Spread your wings in that chair. Prepare to let yourself really feel it."
"For your dancing pleasure, taking the chill out of your cool, autumn night..." the announcing wingman provided, adding flair to the show.
Lying chaste on the chair for a moment, he was overcome by a tidal wave of hot water splashed onto his body and the stage. Berta smiled in Marilyn's direction and Marilyn smiled back, cheering with an empty bucket in-hand.
The heat-based suggestion knocked the blankness completely out of him, stoking the fire in him reserved for the dancer he knew he was. Mike arched his back, moaning in ecstasy at how tingly his skin became, an unmistakable bulge in his pants protruding through his jeans while muscles loosened for the flexibility he'd need to prove his worth to the crowd. The mostly female crowd immediately noticed the change and stood up loudly cheering to the sight of Mike ripping his wet shirt off, his bare chest glistening in the light as he twirled the wet remains of his shirt in circles, tossing in into the crowd.
"And to present tonight's handlers, a pair of rambunctious wranglers, give a warm welcome to Rita and Sarah!"
Coming at him from both sides, the women he'd casually talked and flirted with an hour ago, approached like pack animals at cornered prey. In his past, the occasional woman joined him on stage, and he quickly learned to improvise. But Rita and Sarah took adjusting to as they tantalized him while he was trying to be tantalizing, caressing his face, taking turns teasing his bare chest. He looked ticklish on stage reacting to the his new dance partners.
"It's quite the dance of seduction ladies. Who will win? I think you all won't even need a spoiler alert this time."
Sarah urged him towards her, pulling at his crotch with what seemed like invisible rope as he walked toward her like Elvis, only to be pulled back by a wool scarf in Rita's hands. Mike's hips were more and more insistent to follow Sarah despite the surprisingly strong pull of Rita. She proved to be holding back as one pull jolted him right back into Rita's grasp. Sarah was still making the gesture, except pulling herself to Mike, hands at his zipper, unfastening his pants, lowering them while Rita fastened her scarf into a makeshift leash around Mike's neck. Mike let his body shimmy the pants down his legs, just to step out of them and kick them into the crowd.
"You don't need those boxers either," Berta's unmistakable words urged him. "Them remaining on your body is like an itch you know you'll need to scratch very soon."
Rita and Sarah took turns making Mike go in circles, telling him "You want Rita," "You want Sarah," while the other tugged on his leash, keeping him from fully grasping them, until he did hold one of them by the arm, and was told to pursue the other. The command alone was enough, but stroking and petting his hair gave more flare to his obedience. Both women loved when Berta added small things like that to make the whole package even better, with his coveted hair linked to his obedience. He pursued at arms-length, but it looked like he was guided by the dividing rod between his legs as he make humping motions while walking. They cajoled, touched his hair, his hip gyrations got more reckless, boxers itched more and more, until he faltered and ended up on his hands and knees, desperate to remove his boxers, revealing his bare male organ to the audience finally.
"You all requested a CFNM show, and you shall get a CFNM show!" the male announcer told the women.
"You feel so free now, so good now, especially on your hands and knees like that. Every touch to that dividing rod of yours will overwhelm with pleasure, so much so that you'll sink right back down to your hands and knees again."
Rita and Sarah brightened at the sound of that suggestion as their game with Mike slightly transformed into something like ping-pong. Sarah called to him, waiting impatiently on her hands and hips as he approached with means of seducing her. One simple touch to the head of his cock sent him to the floor landing at her feet. Before he could do anything else, Rita commanded the same of him, and leveled him to her feet with a simple touch, his skin feeling resembling tropical heat conditions the more they went, the hot sweat on his body reinvigorating the hot liquid suggestion he continued to act on. Over and over they put him down below them until he could no longer pick himself back up. The female wranglers took this opportunity to make use of him like that. Rita mounted his back and rode him across the stage like a petting zoo animal, teasing his back with her nails. The ride lasted as long as it took to end up with Mike's face in Sarah's unzipped crotch. Cheers from the crowd reached a fever pitch as Mike ate Sarah out until her climactic scream pierced the overall crowds. Rita received the same treatment after giving Sarah the reins of Mike for a ride around the stage.
After calming down from their pony rides, Rita borrowed a mic from the announcer's booth nearby, and regarded a heavily breathing Mike.
"Why did naked guy cross over to the left side of the road?"
"...because...women are always right," Mike's voice spoke in a lost, yet sure of his words, tone.
Uniform applause, whistling, and chants of the club's unofficial motto rang through the club, before Berta herself came onto the stage herself, with a shirtless Yancey trailing on his own hands and knees by her side. She gave a bow and Yancey bowed his head simultaneously as the crowd clapped again for the show-woman.
"Thank you one and all, I hope you enjoyed the show as much as we did. Seems like we've made a mess up here though. I notice there are a few guys in the audience now. Marilyn and some others have supplied a few mops, towels, and other cleaning agents needed for the stage. I think you'll want to come up and help clean up for us, won't you?"
The few men that were sitting in the audience soon moved to the stage to do exactly as Berta bid of them, nothing but contented looks on their face as they worked until the stage was as clean as before the show.
* * *
Rita and Sarah still retained hold of Mike's leash and hair as they walked off stage toward one of the club's bigger booths. Berta took Yancey and Craig to meet a gold-clad woman who would've spoken with a southern accent if she could find the words she wanted for the show Berta and co. put on.
"Why don't we have a seat over here Mrs. Mackey," Berta gestured to the booth near the recent stage trio.
Marilyn came to their table with more drinks. "Let's see, warm water for Craig, more hot coffee for Yancey, and two chardonnays for the ladies."
"Much obliged," the gold-clad southerner regarded Marilyn, receiving a smile in turn.
"So, did this rank like the 'standard stage hypnotism show' you thought it would?" Berta said with a knowing smile.
"You," Mrs. Mackey cleared her throat. "You said 'treat it like a promenade show,' but it was kind of hard to take my attention away from the ringleader."
"Kind words, I thank you for them, but I really do hope you got a good lay of the land."
"I guess that explains the 'you can even enter the men's room. They won't mind in the slightest' line."
"And they didn't, did they?"
"No, they didn't. They looked almost happy to see me, and not in a perverted way. You've got them so...well-trained. I never even understood the appeal behind 'clothed female, naked male' before tonight."
"Hopefully that might persuade you to invest in my little club here."
"Things are looking on the positive side. A stage hypnotist with little-to-no business experience did sound dubious at best, especially for a marquee property like this. The question of how you think you can keep things under control has more than been answered though. But still, as an investor, I would be interested to know..."
"How I do it all?" Berta finished, making Mrs. Mackey nod.
"Yancey, you enjoy the female voices you hear, like you always do. You barely have to pay them any attention as you just listen. When you've finished your coffee, you'll lay your head down on my lap; you can kiss my thighs if you like."
Yancey breathed heavily but smiled as he downed the rest of his coffee and put his head back on his controller's lap, while Craig just stared into space.
"Well Mrs. Mackey, my showmanship philosophy has always been 'the stage you perform on is more than just the stage.' I can and have operated from just the stage alone, but I've found it rather boring over the years, and I love the freedom to turn a whole club or property into my own little playground. Part of that is thanks to the genius of this starry-eyed young man staring at nothing. Craig Burdell, interior decorator extraordinaire. Did you get a chance to visit McMillian's downtown?"
Mrs. Mackey nodded, realizing why Berta had recommended that restaurant when negotiations had started about investing in Berta's club. It was a known man's man restaurant in-town, where business bigwigs loved to come in and shoot the shit, basically an unofficial male elitist club. Craig helped design parts of it, especially the restroom with a design that made most men laugh, and most women frown.
Being a lone business woman herself there, Mackey found it was a place she'd have to attend instead of want, just for the sake of doing necessary business.
"I had that same look when I first saw it, but I had to give the designer points for creativity, and balls. I found Craig a few weeks later, and commended him on his work, but not without giving him a piece of my mind. He seemed to like the piece so much he kept it in his mind," Berta joked.
"He told me that all the blahs was a reflection of how he saw women, women who loved to talk and couldn't stop once they got going. As we talked, I asked him if he thought I had a nice voice, as I asked in a hypnotic tone. He said I did, to which I applied the logic that if women like me like talking so much, which I do, then it stands to reason that you love how much I, or we, talk."
Berta turned toward Craig, and though vacant, Craig knew he was being addressed.
"That bathroom design you made, one blah versus so many blahs, wasn't satire against women, it was really against men." Craig nodded his head. "Men are so boring by comparison, so little to talk about, so little on their minds, while women are full of ideas, and sound so nice as they talk about them. It doesn't matter if you analyze every last word I say or let them pass by you as you if it was just a bunch of 'blah blah blah,' you love hearing it, and your attention goes to all of it whether you admit it or not. You just breath a little deeper, move a little slower, settle yourself into a lovely opportunity to have a woman speak to you and address you, even fill you with important words. And as your breathing gets deeper, as you find it harder and harder to move, you know all of this is what's supposed to happen. You're supposed to listen, because you love the 'blah blah blah.' You feel empty without it. You designed the door painted with 'blah blah blah' because that's what you want, where you want to be."
For every deep breath Craig took, five nods filled that time.
"And you remember your luck because listening to Berta is the opportunity to enter that restroom, where there is only my words, where there is only female words, where all that you are is what I tell you, or what I or a woman wants you to be. You're happy to do this because of the purpose this gives you. A woman's 'Blah blah blah' is the gift that keeps on giving, and you shall cherish it, forever."
"But as I was saying," Berta turned her attention back to Mrs. Mackey, almost hypnotized herself by how easily the male designer was tranced. "He was more brilliant than I had anticipated. He had degrees in marketing and psychology, so he, like me, knew how to work people certain ways with his creativity. We put our heads together and came up with the the restrooms this club has. Laced with the turquoise patterns of the men's room are words designed to help them see the light in regards to female enlightenment."
"In other words, you zap the men on stage, and everytime they use the john, they go deeper?"
"If only it was as easy as zapping, but yes, it's my little deepening room. Their trance state almost never stops after the stageshow."
"And the men who attend are all..."
"A select, happy few. This is mostly a women's club, but we're always happy to have guys here, especially one's like Craig and Mesmerized Mike over there."
"And the boy who's probably looking fondly up at you?"
"Yancey, Craig's younger brother. He told me Yancey was a follower, and I figured hanging out with big brother was a bit like following the wrong crowd. I told Craig, like I tell all my male members' subconsciousnesses, 'don't hesitate to bring your friends.' I'm surprised it took this long for Craig to bring his friends, to be honest. This cute pet was much more respectful of women before, unlike the other two which I could tell right away. Just too shy to go against his brother and friend's will, which won't be a recurring issue. I think he'll not be shy about publically facing down opposition to women anymore, while still lovably shy around said women. They all will eventually, to their and our benefit. Yancey's a little more special for having an agreeable foundation to build upon."
"I see. He's more or less claimed?"
"The head-patting is a claiming system of mine, cause a ringleader has to have her own exclusive fun too, but it's not an indefinite hold. He might be available, or if you like, some strapping young assistant or business rival can be yours if he happens to find himself here one night."
Mrs. Mackey nodded her head at all the possibilities. Berta's establishment seemed all but a lock to invest in, but she still had to ask.
"You mentioned the patterns in the men's room, for deepening. You also have something similar in the ladies room, a goldish-yellow. Should the woman patrons here be concerned of their show-woman?"
"A fair question, but no. Yes, there are similar subliminals in the ladies room, but the words spoken are in-place to give them confidence, empower them, if for no other time their busy or troubled weeks, to let loose and let the part of them that needs to roar, out. Programming on my part is minimal, if any, and Craig has made it much less invasive than what the men get. Women are free to ignore the suggestions in there, or indulge in them at their own pace."
"When is there programming on your part where women are concerned?"
Berta's thoughts ran to when she first met Rita, Sarah, and Marilyn. "A few regulars here have faced debilitating daily lives, heavy, immoral pressure from men, even ranging on physical abuse sometimes. Besides counseling, I've had them visit the ladies room almost daily as a means of building them back up to a place where they can actually believe in themselves. Some take issue with that, helping people outside of a professional setting, but it's something I'll never be sorry for. I hope my answer was candid enough for you."
"It was Berta. Thank you for being so forthcoming. It's high-time women had their own establishment just like this. I think you know that you already have my investment, and there are some other ladies in the city who'll want to hear about this place, for investing, among other things. You might even hear suggestions of expansion."
Berta smiled at that. She wondered if there could be more establishments like hers, headed up by Rita, Sarah, and Marilyn who, with training, could be well on their way to Berta's level of proficiency.
"Of course, as this place gets more notoriety, there will be those who want and find ways to shut you down."
"Would a Mr. Mackey be looking to do that?"
"Not my dear husband; he's one who already treats women equally, otherwise we wouldn't be married. But I'm not opposed to learning a trick or two for the occasional...roaring."
"Any tips I can offer are on the house. But the others you meant, I'm always prepared for that. Men with free-will, so peculiar sometimes to me. Minds change so easily, whether they're thinking from their left vortexes or not. But you know what they often find in the end?"
"No," Mrs. Mackey replied.
"Yancey, when men of all kinds use any or especially the left part of their brains, what conclusion do they come to?"
"Women are always right," Yancey reminded the ladies.