Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Another real-life, successful Lysistrata

Leymah Gbowee was on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart a week ago, talking about the protests she lead against Charles Taylor in Liberia.

Once again, she called a sex strike that lasted for TWO YEARS. It worked. Awesome.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Liz A. Stratton Closes the Store: Chapter Twelve

Maren Bradley Anderson

This is the twelfth chapter of Liz A. Stratton Closes the Store.
Did you miss a chapter? Click here for the previous chapter.
Click here for Chapter One.

Can’t wait to see what happens? Download the entire book at Smashwords.com or Amazon.com!

Published by Maren Bradley Anderson
Copyright 2011 Maren Bradley Anderson

PRUDE ALERT: This book contains ADULT CONTENT. Enjoy!


Cal could hear Liz speaking on stage from the green room where she was hiding. Liz’s strong, confident voice rang in her ears as tears left trails of anger behind them. How could he? How could he not understand? Hadn’t she been up front with him? What right did he have to be angry with her?

But, like many women in her predicament, the weak little voice in the back of her head said quietly, “But, are you sure it’s not your fault?” Cal bit her lip and replayed the day in her head carefully, analyzing the minutia while Liz spoke on stage about equality and chastity.

Nicolas and Cal had been playing phone tag and missing appointments with each other for days. Cal was bitterly disappointed when Nicolas had to cancel the trip to Ohio at the last minute. His excuse of grading papers had sounded suspect, and it had been, in fact, a lie. He had sent poems to her email as tiny gifts, and they were a little comfort.

 She had tried not to take out her frustrations on the campaign staff, but she did snap at them over the next couple of days. Most people chalked it up to the same tension and frustration that everyone on the tour was feeling.

Cal expected Nicolas to bail out on their next try in Chicago, too; that is, she tried to tell herself to expect it so that she wouldn’t be disappointed if he blew her off again. She was doubly delighted, then, when she got a text message from Nicolas saying that he had landed at the airport and found the driver she had sent for him. He was on his way! She was over the moon.

The campaign had arrived in Chicago two days ago and had done all the campaigning yesterday. Today was a little break, a reward so tired campaigners could go to a museum or a zoo or shop or sleep in late. Cal had left her day wide open and had two plans: Plan A included touring the city with Nicolas followed by dinner and snuggling. Plan B involved trying not to eat more than one gallon of ice cream by herself as she dove into unnecessary busy work to keep from feeling rejected and depressed.

Cal waited for Nicolas in the hotel lounge, watching each car as it rolled to the curb. Finally, his dark head emerged from a black SUV. Cal leapt from her chair and nearly ran to the door. It took all her composure to greet him with a discrete kiss. She felt like jumping and squealing like a cheerleader on the 50 yard line.

Nicolas took Cal into his arms and held her tightly for a moment. “I am so glad to see you!” he said.

“Me, too,” she said. “Let’s get you checked in so that we can go have some fun.”

“Okay. I could use a shower.”

Upstairs, Cal stood next to Nicolas as he opened his room. She took one of his bags and followed him into the room. “Where do you want thi-is!” she yelped as he grabbed her and tossed her onto the bed.

“Right here will do,” he laughed, kissing her.

Cal laughed, too, and ran her hands through his hair. “I’ve got a whole day planned, Nicolas,” she protested mildly.

“Me, too,” he said. “First, I’m going to ravish you, then I’m going to make sweet love to you, then we’re going to cuddle and order room service until we’re sick of hotel food.” He stripped off his shirt and gnawed on Cal’s neck.

“Ooh,” Cal groaned. “Sounds lovely, Nicolas. But the rules from before still apply. Nicolas, did you hear me? The same rules...apply?”

“Are you sure?” Nicolas nibbled on her collar bone. “You really want to...miss this?”

“No, I mean, yes...I mean, Nicolas!” Cal sat upright when Nicolas’s hand slid up the inside of her thigh. “It’s not what I want, Nicolas. I want you with every inch of me. But it’s not happening today, or tonight. You understand, right? We have to be strong because we want the war to end. Right?”

Nicolas knelt surprised and shirtless on the bed, looking at the mildly disheveled and wild-eyed Cal. He sat back on his heels shook his head. “Oh, God, I want you so badly,” he said softly.

“But you understand?”

“Yeah,” he said. He threw his legs over the edge of the bed and looked out the window at the grey city. “This isn’t going to be easy.”

Cal wrapped her arms around him and rested her chin on his shoulder. His skin tingled. “You said you owed me five or six dinners before we tried this again,” she reminded him. “I’m going to hold you to that.”

“Can I at least expect the cuddling and room service part tonight?” Nicolas asked hopefully.

“Let’s think about it,” Cal said. “We’re a little more...public here than we were in South Hadley, Massachusetts.”


For all the exciting things to do that Chicago has to offer, Cal and Nicolas ended up sitting in a cafe, sipping warm drinks and talking. They had a strong second-date aura around them, and people smiled to see two people so obviously in the first stages of love. Nicolas stroked Cal’s hand, and she idly caressed his shirt cuff as they chatted about philosophy, politics, poetry and past pets. A local artist who spent his time loitering in the cafe when his paintings weren’t going well sketched them in profile and thought they might make an interesting study if he could only capture the glow of their giddiness and restraint.

They moved from the cafe to a dim private little restaurant and had wine and cheese and all those foodstuffs poets and lovers indulge in by candlelight. Nicolas was nothing if not a romantic. Cal was normally far more pragmatic, but something about Nicolas made her forget herself and her past wounds. She even forgot about Ohio.

So, when they found themselves back at his hotel room ordering movies on the television and room service, Cal was relaxed and happy. She even changed into her pajamas and crawled into bed with Nicolas. An action flick boomed on the TV, greasy finger food balanced on their knees, and the wine flowed. Eventually, however, the wine and heavy food caught up with Cal and she drifted off during a plot-heavy portion of the film.

When she woke up, the room was dark, but the TV was still on, but the noise that she had heard in her sleep didn’t match what was happening on screen. She propped herself up on one elbow and squinted at the pictures flickering across the room and realized that the TV was muted. What was that sound? There was a grunt and a little whine and...the bed jiggled a little.

Cal turned around. There was Nicolas, lying beside her, curled in a “C,” and he was...

“Oh, my God!” Cal shrieked, leaping off the bed and clutching her shirt to herself.

“Jesus, Cal,” Nicolas moaned. “I’m so sorry!”

“What are you doing?” she asked and immediately felt stupid.

“What does it look like I’m doing?” Nicolas snapped. He sat up and yanked the sheet over himself. “Don’t tell me you’re surprised,” he said, not meeting her eyes.

Cal plunked down in a chair next to the bed. “I’m surprised...to see you...” she couldn’t finish for a moment. “I mean,” she began again, “I’m sorry to react like that. I was just not expecting, in bed next to me, I mean, of course...” She staggered to a stop again.

They sat together in mortified silence as the television flickered ghastly blue light over them. Cal felt like there was something that could be done here. One of them could say something to make light of this, or make it into a good thing, but she was so befuddled that her brain only came up with one solution.

“Maybe I should go,” she said very quietly.

“Maybe you should.” Nicolas’s voice cracked as he spoke and he looked away as she padded out the door in her bare feet.

This time when Cal stood under the hot water of her shower, she was trying to stop shaking and feel as warm as she was while in bed with Nicolas. She never did and slid between her own cold sheets too stunned still even to weep.  


 Cal lay on her bed in agony all night knowing that Nicolas was less than fifty feet away thinking God-knows-what about her. She stood up at least three times determined to knock on his door and apologize, or kiss him, or something, but each time she scurried back to her bed in fear, shame, and defeat. She watched the colorless dawn ease into the day wrapped in her comforter seated in an uncomfortable chair by the window.

All Nicolas wanted to do was escape. He crawled out of bed when it was light enough to see that he was too cowardly to go to Cal’s room and apologize, or kiss her, or something. Anything. He began to pull on the clothes he wore the day before, but they reminded him of her, so he put on a fresh shirt from his suitcase. He didn’t bother to comb his hair or brush his teeth. He just dragged his suitcase into the hall and let the door close behind him.

Liz rounded the corner on the last leg of her early-morning jog, Secret Service detail trotting along behind her. She had been going crazy with the demanding campaign schedule until she realized that no one wanted her before 7 a.m. For a week, she had been running for an hour a day beginning at 5:30 a.m. and she felt great. She even had a whole 30 minutes to get a shower before her breakfast meeting. She had never felt so perky at breakfast.

Liz checked her stopwatch/pedometer as she stepped into the hotel lobby. She wasn’t the runner she’d been in college, but she was pleased with her improvement over the past week. She was wiping her brow and making her way to the elevator when she saw Nicolas at the check-in desk. She smiled and walked over to him.

“Hi Nicolas,” she said, still breathing a little hard. “I’m surprised to see you up this early. I had it from Cal that a late night of pay-per-view was the order of the day.”

“Oh, Ms. Stratton. Hello,” Nicolas stammered. He looked terrible. Dark circles sagged under his eyes and he was hunched over. He looked cold and pained.

Liz furrowed her brow. “What’s up, Nicolas? Where’s Cal?”

“I expect she’s still in her room,” Nicolas said.

The clerk handed Nicolas his credit card back and said, “I’ve credited your account for the remaining nights, Dr. Brown,” she said. “I’m sorry your plans have changed, but remember us in the future. Can I call you a cab?”

“Yes,” said Nicolas.

“No,” said Liz taking Nicolas by the elbow and dragging him to a seating area in the lobby where she sat him down on a couch. “Your ‘plans have changed?’” she said in a hushed voice. “What does that mean?”

Nicolas looked as if he might become indignant for being drug around like that, but then he withered into his coat. “Ms. Stratton,” he said. “Cal hates me and she has good reason to.”

“Cal does not hate you,” Liz said. “What makes you think she hates you?” 

“She left me in my room last night.”

“And? Come on, just going to her own room doesn’t mean she hates you. What else happened?”

Nicolas shrank more into his coat. “She, uh, caught me,” he muttered.

“Caught you? Caught you doing what?” Nicolas was turning a purply-red before her eyes. “Oh, Jesus,” she said before she could stop herself. “But Cal knows that all men do that. Why would that make her leave?”

If possible, Nicolas blushed even more deeply. “Maybe it was where she c-caught me.”

Liz sat back in her seat and pondered what she would have done if she’d caught Zeke masturbating in bed beside her while she slept. She knew that not much bothered Cal, but given enough of a shock, even cool-as-a-cucumber Cal might stumble through something like this.

Liz put her hand on Nicolas’s knee. “Honey, do you really want to break off this thing with Cal, or do you just want to crawl into a hole and die?”

“If it were a deep enough hole...” Nicolas smiled weakly.

“Good.” Liz stood up. “Don’t move. I mean it.” She turned on her heel and marched to the elevators, Secret Service detail trailing.

Liz found Cal still wrapped in her comforter. After opening the door, Cal went back to her chair and looked out at the ever-lightening sky. Liz sat next to her and stared out the window, too.

After a moment, Cal asked, “What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done, Liz?”

“Before or after the event with the showgirls?”

“No, I mean really mortifying, Liz.”

Liz thought back. “The second time I got my period, I was in seventh grade and I didn’t know it had happened. I bled through some of those acid-washed jeans. I didn’t have any other clothes, so even though I begged her, the school nurse wouldn’t let me go home, so I had to spend the rest of the day in those stained pants. I eventually borrowed a sweater to tie around my waist, but it was too late by then. The whole school knew. I faked sick for three days after that.”

Cal nodded. “That’s what this feels like.” She turned to her friend. “I don’t know how you know, but you know what happened last night, don’t you?”

“I caught Nicolas trying to check out downstairs.”

Cal began crying. “Oh, Liz, I couldn’t think of what to do! I mean, he was so embarrassed, and I just...ran!”

Liz hugged her friend. “I know. I probably would have, too.”

“And now I’ve lost him forever! I was too chicken-shit to go and, and...”

“And what?”

“Well, that’s what stopped me. I don’t know what to do. I could apologize, but I don’t know what I did wrong, if I did anything wrong.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“But then, what else could I do?” Cal began crying anew. “Look at me! I’ve been reduced to a blubbering fourteen-year-old! I hate myself like this!”

“Let’s get you dressed,” Liz said. “Nicolas is waiting downstairs. I’ve put Nelson on him so he won’t try escaping before we get down.”

“Oh, I couldn’t face him again, Liz!” Cal said.

“You will. Go take a quick shower and brush your teeth. I’ll find something for you to wear.”

Fifteen minutes later, Liz and Cal emerged from the elevator, Liz still in her running outfit and Cal with wet hair, but wearing a clean suit. Liz waved for Nicolas to follow them into the restaurant where she got a waitress to bring them coffee. They sat at a table where Cal and Nicolas stared at the table. Finally, with three steaming cups in front of them, Liz began negotiations.

“First of all,” Liz said. “Let’s establish that what happened is not anyone’s fault, all right? Second, no one has been injured, correct?” Small nods answered her. “All right then. I want both of you to sit up and look into each other’s eyes. Now.”

Slowly, Cal and Nicolas raised their gazes. Almost at once, the both began to talk.
“I’m so, so sorry,” Nicolas said as Cal said, “I didn’t mean to run out like that, I was just surprised...”

It didn’t take long after that for the two of them to be holding hands and whispering sweet nothings again. They didn’t even notice when Liz stood up and left to take the world’s quickest shower and take on less sticky issues with the state’s senators. 


 Governor Bill Ostrem rode in the back of a town car in his favorite part of town...the part with all the tittie bars. He fancied himself a connoisseur of tittie bars since he’d been to at least one in every state. There was always one near the airport for those long layovers. He favored a certain kind, the kind with steaks and “chili night” promotions.

Nothing like steak and tittie, he thought, peering out of the window as the neon-lit buildings rolled past. He hated private escorts because every one of them reminded him of his wife when she was young, glamorous and rich, even though he knew the girls were faking the rich part. He liked unpretentious pussy. That’s why he liked real strip clubs.
“Jim, where’s this place at?” he hollered up to the driver.

“Just down a piece.”

“They got steaks and big guns, right?”

“Sure do,” answered Jim. “Plus a champagne room, if you know what I mean.”

Ostrem did know what Jim meant, and sat back in satisfaction. He loved a good driver who knew where the best attractions were. He passed his tongue over his teeth and tried to remember where he was. It had been tough to keep track as he found all small Midwestern towns as indistinguishable as the backwater towns of his own state. All auditoriums looked the same to begin with, but all the towns did, too. He missed the charming little places of his childhood. He blamed McDonald’s, but they had contributed a million dollars or so, so he kept his mouth shut. He decided that wherever he was was fine.

He was glad that there were tittie bars everywhere. The damned sex strike had made the choices somewhat more limited, but most strippers and prostitutes couldn’t afford to pay attention to politics, so they continued working. They worked because they needed money. Ostrem smiled. He had money.

Jim pulled the car into the lot of a particularly squat building painted inexplicably to look like an English pub: red and black with a shingle hanging over the door bearing a coat of arms adorned with naked girls in outline. “Ye Olde Countryside Inn” read the sign. Ostrem was impressed.

He stepped out and peeled a $100 off of his wad and handed it to Jim. “Well done, sir,” he said as he patted him on the shoulder and walked in.

The bouncer may not have recognized Ostrem, but he knew an expensive suit when he saw it, and led Ostrem to the premier seat near the stage. A waitress in far too much clothing for Ostrem’s taste instantly produced a dirty martini and received a smack on the bottom for her trouble. He settled back with his drink as the DJ announced the next girl: Amber Waves.

The young blonde strode on stage in a red-white and blue sequined tailcoat and panties sporting an eagle. A dance mix of “America the Beautiful” blared on the sound system. Ostrem liked her style and clapped enthusiastically, though with some difficulty since his arms had recently become too short to reach across the widening expanse of his belly.

She saw him and also recognized the expensive suit and the premier seat. She stalked over to give him a jiggle. “Hi, honey,” she purred. “Are you a patriot?”

“Darlin’, I am tonight!” roared the governor.

She smiled and threw herself at a pole in the center of the stage. Ostrem had tried to convince his mistress to take a pole exercise class, but she’d been “too busy,” so he still had no idea how dancers defied gravity like Amber did, hanging upside down and flicking her heels at him. He liked it, though, and threw some more money onto the stage.

Amber’s coat came off and she had on a bikini top with nice big titties that jiggled like they were mostly real. Ostrem didn’t mind fake ones, mind you. He had a taste for some silicone, but he respected natural beauty, you see. Amber slithered her way back to Ostrem to pick up the $50 from the table with her teeth. She looked in his face and said, “Thank you, darlin’,” and slithered back. He put another $50 in front of him.

Amber’s top came off and Ostrem took time to admire her. He loved young, creamy skin, and Amber glistened like ripe fruit. He peeled off a hundred dollar bill, but kept his paw on it. When she ambled over to him again, he wiggled it and said, “You wanna date, young lady?”

She opened her green eyes wide at the sight of the money. “I like dancin’, sweet-pea,” she said.

Ostrem peeled off another hundred and set it down beside its brother. “Are you sure you don’t wanna dance with me?”

Amber stared at the money with obvious interest. Then she looked Ostrem in the eye. “What’s your name, darlin’?”

“Bill,” he said.

“Are you somebody famous, Bill?”

“Me? Nah. Just a rich fucker on a business trip.”

“You look famous,” Amber said and danced away.

She came to his table when her song was over and she had replaced her coat and panties, bikini top in her hand. “Are you sure you’re not somebody I know?” she asked, sitting very close to him. “I swear I’ve seen your face somewhere.”

Ostrem slung a fat arm around her tiny waist. “I ain’t nobody important,” he chuckled, pulling her close. She smelled like a stripper should: coconut oil.

“No touching, sweetie,” she said, slithering from his grasp. “Not here. Would you like a dance in the Champagne room?”

“Would I!” chortled Ostrem. He pulled his bulk from his chair and followed her to the back of the place, through a beaded curtain.

A bottle of cheap bubbly sat on a table in the room already, and though it was cloyingly sweet, it was also properly chilled, so Ostrem drank the glass Amber offered him when he sat down. She turned on some music, shed her clothes and began to dance on the other side of the room, out of reach.

“C’mere, baby,” he said.

“No touching,” Amber repeated, staying just beyond his fingertips.

“I’m dyin’ here,” he moaned. “My wife, my mistress, they’ve cut me off.”

“Poor baby,” she purred. “What did you do to deserve that?”

“Nothing!” he cried. “It’s this fucking sex strike. I can’t catch a break anywhere.”

“Poor thing,” Amber pouted as she gyrated.

“Couldn’t you help relieve an old man?” Ostrem pleaded, grabbing her wrist roughly. “Please?”

“I don’t know...”

“I’ll give you $500.”

“How much?” Amber asked, amazed.

“$500,” he repeated.

“For a dance?”

“No, no, no, you stupid cunt. I need to have sex. I want you bouncing on me like a puppet on a popsicle stick.”

“I don’t do that,” she said carefully.

“I’d give $250 for a blowjob right now,” grumbled Ostrem.

“I don’t do that, either,” Amber said. “Could you let go of my arm please?”

“Fuck if I will,” he said and pulled her into his lap. He was strong for a fat guy.

“Let go of me!” Her eyes were wide. “Let go!”

“Shut up, cunt. I’m tired of you talking. I know you need the money, and I need your little twat.” His other hand made grabs for her breast, but she swatted him away as best she could. “Stop that!” he hissed, snatching her arm out of the air, and then holding her two thin wrists in one meaty paw.

“How do you like that, honey?” he said, pulling her face next to his.

“Danny!” Amber shrieked.

The bouncer appeared in the doorway instantly, but he wasn’t exactly as Ostrem remembered. His outfit was the same, but there was something different about it...perhaps it was the shining star on the breast pocket. Yes, Ostrem decided that was it. He let go of Amber.

“Why, hello, officer,” he said in as syrupy a drawl as he could muster. “I was just having a little chat with this kitten here. She’s feisty, isn’t she?”

“Sir, could you stand up, please?” said the officer/bouncer.

“I’d rather not,” Ostrem said. “I have a bit of a condition.”

“Stand up, sir.”

Ostrem stood, but he needn’t have worried about his erection showing. His belly fat more than disguised it.

Amber re-clad herself and stood behind Danny the officer/bouncer. “Did you get any of that?” she asked him.

“Yes. It’s all on tape,” he answered.

“Tape?” Ostrem was suddenly interested and the wad of bills he had been pulling out of his pants to bribe his way out to his car suddenly disappeared into his pocket. “Tape? Of what?”

“Tape of you first soliciting sex from a legal dancer and then, when she refused, of you attempting to force yourself on her.”

“Oh, that,” Ostrem said. “That was just a little misunderstanding, wasn’t it, darlin’?” He looked desperately at Amber. “You knew I was just kidding around, right?”

Amber was still rubbing her wrists. “Governor Ostrem, I don’t know how or why you walked into our sting tonight, but I am so very glad you did. You are a legendary asshole, and I’m glad we caught you.”

“Amber, darlin’!” Ostrem cried as Officer Danny stepped behind him and tried to get cuffs on his chubby wrists. “Don’t be so cruel!”

“Won’t work,” said Danny, resorting to using two pairs of cuffs on his perp. “She’s working for us.”

“She’s a, a...”

“An officer, yup. Plus, she a she-devil in the sack.”


“She’s my wife, fucker,” Officer Danny said, cinching the cuffs very tight until Ostrem yelped. “Oh, too loose? I’ll fix that.”  Ostrem yelped again.

Jim saw the cruisers with the flashing lights arrive and put two and two together even before he saw Ostrem led from the back of the building to a police car. He put out his cigarette and started the drive back to the garage. He was glad that Ostrem had tipped him in advance. It was nice when things worked out that way.


Liz was laughing so hard that tears streaked down her cheeks. “He did what to a who?” she asked Zeke.

“No, he didn’t really,” said Cal, still in disbelief.

“No, no, that’s what my source in Sioux City says,” Zeke said. “Bill Ostrem was caught on video tape trying to rape an undercover police woman who was posing as a stripper.”

“In Sioux City?” hooted Liz. “Really? Sioux City?”

“What a scumbag.” Cal shook her head. “I mean, I knew he was a lech, but a rapist?”

“Sioux City has, what, four strip clubs? And he picks the one with the stakeout?” Liz put her head on the table and laughed more.

“This is great news!” Zeke said. “Ostrem is out of the race! His Vice President doesn’t have the recognition or name-power that Ostrem had. He’s not really a threat. We’ve got three weeks to the election, and one opponent is G-O-N-E, gone!”

Cal smiled. “You’re right. And probably the best part about it is that that scumbag is never winning another office in his life.”

“...And she was a cop!” Liz couldn’t stop laughing, so Zeke and Cal began adjusting their strategy while Liz hiccupped with glee in her chair.


Go to Maren’s author page at Smashwords.com to download my other stories to your e-reader. 
Can’t wait to see what happens? Download the entire book at Smashwords.com!

About the Author
Maren Bradley Anderson is a writer, teacher, podcaster, blogger, and alpaca rancher who lives in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. She has written short stories and plays for years, and has recently taken to writing screenplays and novels. She teaches live and online classes on literature and writing at Western Oregon University. She has Master’s Degrees in both Literature and Teaching Writing from Humboldt State University and a B.A. in English and Studio Art from Mount Holyoke College. Maren hosts a podcast about alpacas (Paca Talk) with her husband, and blogs about alpacas and writing. Her alpacas win ribbons for conformation and fleece, plus she thinks they are darned cute. 

Connect with me online!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Liz A. Stratton Closes the Store: Chapter Eleven

Maren Bradley Anderson

This is the eleventh chapter of Liz A. Stratton Closes the Store.
Did you miss a chapter? Click here for the previous chapter.
Click here for Chapter One.

Can’t wait to see what happens? Download the entire book at Smashwords.com or Amazon.com!

Published by Maren Bradley Anderson
Copyright 2011 Maren Bradley Anderson

PRUDE ALERT: This book contains ADULT CONTENT. Enjoy!


How was it possible that Liz Stratton, Queen of all that is daytime television, was at this moment nibbling his ear?

They had locked the greenroom door under the pretences of hacking out a new speech before the rally, but they were actually trying to set a land-speed record for necking. Liz had his earlobe in her teeth, and Zeke had his hands up her skirt, kneading her ass.

“Goddamn sex strike,” she hissed through her teeth softly into his ear. “I so want you to nail me to the wall.”

“Don’t say things like that, or I won’t be able to stop, Liz.”

“Sorry,” she said, nuzzling his neck with her nose.

“I hope I live up to all this.”

“What do you mean?” Liz sat back and looked at him.

“Only that, with all this waiting, aren’t you afraid that we’ll fall short of each other’s expectations?” asked Zeke.

Liz grinned. “You won’t disappoint me,” she purred. “And no one’s ever told me that he’s been disappointed.”

“Come here,” he said, pulling her to him.

Someone rapped loudly on the door. “It’s Cal!”

Liz pulled her skirt down and opened the door. Cal took one look at Liz and closed the door behind her quickly. “Jesus, Liz! Zeke! Aren’t you pushing the risky business stuff too far?” She grabbed Liz’s chin. “I can’t believe I have to check my Presidential candidate for hickeys.” 

“I know that I’d be castrated if I left any marks,” said Zeke. “Relax, Cal.”

“I’ll relax when you two behave like adults and not over-hormoned teenagers.”

“What crawled up your pantyhose?” asked Liz, not unkindly.

“Nothing,” Cal snapped and slammed a stack of papers onto the table.

“Wait. Isn’t that professor of yours supposed to be here tonight?” asked Liz.

“Nicolas can’t make it,” sniffed Cal.

“Oh, Cal. I’m sorry.” Liz gave Cal a hug. “You don’t think it’s because of the strike, do you?”

“I hope not. Because then he’d be an asshole instead of just a lame-o who has papers to grade.”

“Oh, sweetie. You don’t deserve this,” cooed Liz, rubbing Cal’s back.

“Nicolas was coming?” asked Zeke. He was more annoyed now when they forgot he was in the room.

“Yes, he was supposed to fly out here for a date,” explained Liz.

“A ‘date’?” Zeke asked. “He was going to fly out to Ohio from Massachusetts for a no-sex date? Does he carry his halo around with him, or is it in the saint bank?”

“It’s not too good to be true,” Cal said, pouting. “You’re waiting.”

“I’m the exception, remember? There are guys all over America trying every trick in the book to get back in bed with their women. I’ll bet stock in jewelry companies has tripled since this began.”

Cal sniffed again and sat down. “Well, I’m still disappointed. I thought he might be different.”

“Maybe he is, Cal,” Liz said.

“I’m not going to hold my breath anymore,” said Cal. “Ever onward. Just do me a favor and don’t flaunt it anymore, okay?”

“Will do,” said Zeke. “I could go kick the guy’s ass, too. Would that help?”

Cal laughed. “I guess I sound like a little girl, sitting by the phone, wondering if some dick is going to call me back, don’t I?”

“We’ve all been through it, Cal. It doesn’t get easier, does it, Zeke?”

“Living proof, right here,” Zeke said thumping his chest. “Ten years of sitting by the phone, she finally calls back, and we can’t have sex for who knows how long?”

“You’re right. It could be worse,” Cal agreed. “I am really happy for you two, you know that?”

“Thanks,” said Liz. “Persistence and luck.”

“Persistence and luck. That should have been our campaign slogan,” said Cal.

“‘Luck’ is too close to ‘fuck,’” said Zeke. “We’d have had to change it.”

The lights blinked on and off. “Two minute warning,” said Cal. “You ready?”

 “Sure thing, chief,” Liz said. “What are we doing today?”

“Well,” said Cal, all business again. “This is an elementary school, and there’s a school carnival today. We’re going to be rallying in the gym before the festivities and then we’re going to mingle with the crowd.”

“Should be fun,” said Zeke. “Security must be going mad, huh?”

“Yeah. At least we’re inside.”

Liz, Zeke and Cal emerged from the greenroom and walked to the stage. Liz parted the curtain and peeked at the crowd of parents and little kids. Way in the back on some bleachers were the television cameras and reporters. She called Cal over.

“Hey. There are little kids out there.”

“This is an elementary school.”

“I, I mean, I’m not supposed to talk about sex with little kids out there, am I?”

Cal took Liz’s cards from her. “Here,” she said, handing one back. “Do this.” The card read “education.”
“I can’t talk for the whole time on this.”

“So don’t. Do what you can and then we’ll go to the carnival. The parents will be relieved that you didn’t talk until the kids melted down.”

Reassured, Liz stepped through the curtain to applause.

Liz’s spiel on education only lasted fifteen minutes, but that seemed to be plenty for the eight-year-olds in the audience who were jittery with desire for the blow-up trampoline humming in the corner of the gym. After the speech, Liz walked down the steps on the side of the stage and shook hands. Finally, the principal of the school stepped up to show her around.

“I’m Mr. Duval,” said the pleasantly plump man who was losing his curly black hair. “What say we start at this end an make our way around?”

The various television crews followed them as they wandered around the carnival along the perimeter of the gym. They visited the fishing booth where a clothespin was lowered into a “lake” where someone would clip a prize to it. Liz caught a happy-face sticker that she stuck to her lapel. There was a horseshoe pitch where Liz failed miserably. At the face-painting booth, she let someone paint a wiggly American flag on her right cheek. Liz was having a really good time.

A loud fan-fare blared over the loudspeakers and everyone in the crowd pushed back toward the stage.
“What’s happening, Mr. Duval?” Liz asked.

“It’s the big event,” he said. “It’s the hotdog eating contest.” He led her to the front of the crowd. “It’s always fun to watch.”

Long tables had been set up where Liz had just been speaking and piles of hotdogs, sans buns, were stacked in front of six seats. Five people ranging in age from seven to eighty stood behind the table variously readying themselves for the task at hand.

“Why is that seat empty?” asked Liz.

“I don’t know,” said Mr. Duval.

Someone official looking stepped forward to introduce the contestants.

 “First is Angie from fourth grade, and her Dad, Steven. Parker from the fifth grade and his granddad Abe.” Cheers from their classmates rose from the audience.

“Last is Benny from the second grade. Benny’s dad was going to eat with him, but he’s home sick with the flu.” Benny looked around a bit worried.

“So, no one else is on his team?” asked Liz.

“Well, no. He wanted to go on, anyway,” said Mr. Duval.

“Can I go up there with him?” Liz asked.

Mr. Duval peered at Liz over his half-glasses. She was wearing a slim suit that showed off her trim figure.

“Are you sure you want to do that?”

Liz smiled. “Sure.” She made her way through the crowd and mounted the stairs. She spoke to the announcer and then stood by Benny.

“We have a late contestant,” said the announcer in surprise. “Ms. Liz Stratton is going to be on Benny’s team in place of his father!” A cheer rose up. Liz could see the cameramen shaking with excitement. Here’s a scoop that would be played all over America.

She leaned over to Benny and whispered, “Hey Benny. I’m Liz. Do you like hot dogs?”

The little boy grinned and nodded yes.

“Do you have any tips for me?”

“Eat fast.”

A buzzer went off and the contest began. Liz leaned over the table and snatched a hotdog off the pile and shoved it into her mouth. Blech. It was the cheapest, nastiest little hot dog she’d ever eaten. Suddenly, this didn’t seem like such a good idea.

She looked down to see Benny chewing the ends off of three hot dogs at once. As he chewed, he looked at her and waved one hand in encouragement. The crowd cheered.

Liz swallowed and shoved another dog in her mouth. She cursed the egg-white omelet she’d had for breakfast. After the next one, she cursed the Caesar salad she’d had for dinner the night before. Before long, Liz was cursing every cappuccino she’d ever drunk. She cursed the zipper on her skirt. She cursed the German town of Frankfurt. By the time the end buzzer indicated the end of the contest three minutes later, Liz, who normally lived on espresso drinks and salads, had eaten six hot dogs.

Benny had eaten ten.

The winner ate fifteen. Angela was a healthy girl.

Liz watched footage on the news from her hotel bed with Zeke and Cal perched on the edge.

“You look like a pro,” said Cal. “Look at that. Not a speck on your outfit. How did you do that?”

“I like your technique,” said Zeke. Cal swatted him. “No, really. One at a time, end first, sucking them in like spaghetti. It works for me.”

Liz laughed at a close-up shot of her inhaling a hotdog. “It does look like I’m blowing a chain of wieners.”

“The fake news shows are going to love this,” said Zeke. “I’ll see if I can’t get John Stewart to give us an interview.”

Liz smiled. “Let’s be sure to bring him a pound of wieners if I go.”


A few days later, Liz stood. She stood in the wings of the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart awaiting her cue marveling at Cal’s connections. She held a small pail of wieners.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Jon Stewart said when the music bringing him in from commercial stopped. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are honored tonight to have an actual presidential candidate in our studios tonight. She is the first woman to run for the highest office of the land...and have a chance at winning it. She’s also the force behind the most popular talk show on daytime television, Spare Me! Now she’s here to explain to me why I can’t stand up to shake her hand on air! Ms. Liz Stratton!”

The music rose and Liz strode onto the stage smiling to very loud cheers. Jon did stand and shake her hand, and she gave an extra wave as she sat, placing the pail on the desk before her. Several women in the crowd kept cheering even after the music stopped.

After a moment, Jon said, “Ms. Stratton, can you make them stop that, too?” The crowd laughed. “How are you?”

“Just fine, Jon. Call me Liz. Thanks for having me on the show.”

“Thanks for being here,” Jon said. “Now, I was start off by asking, why?” The crowd chuckled as he cringed a little. “Why a sex strike? But…um…you seem to have brought something on stage with you.”

“Just a little present,” Liz said with a smile, sliding the pail towards him.

Jon peeked into it and sat back in mock shock. He peeked again. “Uh, this appears to be a bucket of…wieners.”

“It is. It’s the exact number of wieners I ate during the contest. This show broadcast the clip earlier this week.”

“Did we?” Jon gingerly tipped the pail over and the hot dogs slid out. “Gee, that’s not as many as I thought.”

“What do you mean?”

“Uh, well, I mean…”

“I know. A ball-buster like me should be able to eat more than six wieners in one sitting, right?”


“By that logic, the little girl who won should run for President. She ate fifteen.”

“Fifteen? Oh, my God.”

“I know. Look out for Angie Olson in 2036!” The crowd laughed.

Jon tried to regain control. “Okay, Ms. Stratton. Why a sex strike? I mean, why not a shoe strike? Or a PMS strike?”

“Jon, I think you’re missing the point,” she said. “Men want those kinds of strikes. If we had a, say, leftover casserole strike, no one would do anything to end it, right?”

“Tell me how this particular strike came about,” Jon said, leaning forward over his desk. “I mean, have you…used it before? Like on a boyfriend or anything?”

Liz laughed. “Well, to be honest, what woman hasn’t? Think about it. Let’s say you had a fight with your wife, Jon.”

“Oh, that never happens,” he said with a straight face.

“Really?” Liz grinned. “Okay, pretend you had a fight with Stephen Colbert’s wife.” Jon laughed in spite of himself. “How often do you get to have sex if you are in the middle of an argument?”

“All the time,” said Jon. “And it’s fabulous!”

“I imagine so,” Liz said through her chuckles. “Most of us, however, suffer a dry spell if we’re angry with each other. Eventually, one party apologizes and then there’s the make-up sex.”

“So, this is all a ploy for national make-up sex?”

“Doesn’t that sound wonderful, Jon?” Liz asked.

“That does sound wonderful,” he admitted. “I want them to declare peace tomorrow. You know the whole country would call in sick the next day, though, don’t you?”

“I’m willing to endure a day of lost productivity for this cause, Jon,” Liz said.

“So, tell me, Liz. How did you get from hosting a talk show to running for President?”

“Well, my friend Calliope Talmadge ambushed me.”

“Really? So you didn’t know what she was going to propose when she came onto your set that day?”

“No. Actually, she wasn’t even scheduled that day.”


“No, it was supposed to be Ethan Falconwright, but his son fell and broke his arm that morning and he had to cancel.”

“So, if Ethan Falconwright’s son hadn’t broken his arm, I’d be able to go home and get it wrongways from Mrs. Stewart tonight? Damn you, Falconwright spawn!” Jon shook his fist at the camera.

“I’m sure Ethan will write you a letter of apology.”

“Do you know who he is voting for, incidentally?”


“Harvey Birdman.”

Liz laughed again. This was fun.

“Another thing: Why are your news conferences so…entertaining?”

Liz couldn’t help grinning. “Why, what do you mean?”

“I think the media is referring to your last news conference as ‘The Spectacle.’ Do you have any idea why?”

“Why, no, Jon. Whatever do you mean?” she said, batting innocent eyelashes.

“Well, we just happen to have a clip that might explain it.”

The clip showed Liz in her shiny suit, flanked by showgirls and Elektra. When it was over, Jon sat silently a moment.

“You know,” he said. “I think I need to see that again, just to get the full effect.”

She laughed, but the ten second clip did roll again.

“So, that woman standing next to you is your running mate?”

“Elektra Sampson. Toughest, smartest woman you’ll ever meet.”

“She’s hot.”

Liz laughed. “She’s 60 and married.”

“Was this just an attention-getting mechanism? This Spectacle?”

“Did it work, Jon?”

“Yes. Yes, it did.”

“Jon, we want to focus attention on our issues, so we’re using every tool in our repertoire. I’m sure if Bill Ostrem looked good in a two-piece, he’d be out flaunting it, too.”

“Thank you for the image in my head,” Jon said with a shiver.

“So, Liz, when I introduced you, I said you were the first female candidate who actually had a chance at winning the Presidency. Was I lying?”

“Actually, no, Jon. The last time I checked, the race was neck-in-neck. We’re at 29%, and the others are in the 30-35% range. It’s anybody’s guess what will happen come Election Day.”

“Amazing. And you’re not worried that you might be a spoiler for one of the other candidates like Nader or Perot were?”

“Jon, I wouldn’t be running if I wanted either of the other guys to win,” Liz said. “I agree with some positions of each party, but I’d vote third party this election if I weren’t voting for myself.”

“Is that because you are a woman and just can’t commit to one guy?” Jon asked. He winked at her as the crowd laughed.

“No, Jon. It’s because I’m a woman who’s seen her share of losers and doesn’t want to be associated with them anymore,” she responded. “I’d go to a party alone before I went with either of them.”

“So, why is the war such a big issue for you and your constituents?”

“Jon, as good as the war had been for the comedy industry,” she began, “it’s been devastating to the families and economy of this country. We’re running out of young men and money. We’re sick of it, and we are willing to give up the best thing in life until it’s done.”

“So, you admit you like sex?” Jon asked, with interest.

Liz grinned. “Jon, sex is my favorite thing, ever. I like it better than chocolate ice-cream or week-long trips to Hawaii.”

“How about chocolate ice-cream on the beach in Hawaii?” asked Jon.

“Um...nope. Sex is better.”

“So, why a sex strike?” Jon asked again. “If you like it so much?”

“Jon, I love sex. But I can live without it until we end this war. My guess is that the people in charge of ending the war will have less resolve than I will or the people following my lead.”

“So, you’re counting on old men want to have sex in a worse way than the women who follow you.”

“Throwing in the odd gay couple, yes.”

“Do you think it’ll work?”

“Has anything else worked, Jon?”

“Do you think you’ll win the election?”

“Maybe,” Liz said. “But I’m sure we’ll end the war. I have shown that I don’t need an oval office to represent a large portion of the country and incite them to action, or inaction, as the case may be.”

The crowd cheered, and Jon smiled at her. “Ms. Liz Stratton, everybody!” The music rose and carried them out to commercial.

Later in the dressing room, Liz was surprised when Jon Stewart came back to see her. After she let him in, he sat in a chair across from her, leaned his elbows on his knees and looked into her eyes with that earnest gaze.

“What you’re doing is great,” he said. “I wanted you to know that my wife and I support what you’re doing 100%.”


“Yeah. You know I have a lot of politicians on the show.”

“Sure. I’ve been envious of your guest list for a long time.”

“Right. You’ve had your share on your show, too.”


“So you know that ninety percent of them are total sleazebags.”

“Yes!” Liz sat back in her chair and put her hands over her eyes. “They talk out of both sides of their faces! It’s so weird!”

“Liz, I don’t get that from you.”


“No, I’m serious.” Jon said, still earnest. “I wasn’t sure about you before you came on the show. I mean, for research, I watched about five year’s worth of your show.”

“2006 wasn’t my best year.”

“I don’t know, I thought the ‘Tranny Grannies’ episode was gold,” Jon laughed. “But the point is that I wasn’t sure you were the real thing until I met you tonight. You’re serious about this. You’re not in it for the power. You’re not here for the glory. You don’t tell people what they want to hear. You’re here because you think you can make things better.”

“Thanks, Jon,” Liz said. “I, I’m so flattered.”

“It’s the truth,” he said. “I’ve met so many politicians that I can see them, you know? In all their glory. It’s why it’s my job to make fun of them. People need to see them as they are. You do it, too, on your show.”

“They’re afraid of us, you and me, Jon.”

“And they should be.”

“Thank you,” Liz said. “This really means the world to me. It’s been brutal lately, you know? I can’t watch TV anymore because the ads are so mean.”

“You hang in there,” Jon said. “You do good work. Ignore the ads and stuff. That’s where I come in.”

“What do you mean?”

“We’re starting a new segment attacking attack ads. It’s going to be fun. And since your campaign is the only one that doesn’t run such garbage...”

“...You’ll basically be helping us out on the sly.”

“Well, not officially,” Jon said. “We’ll just not ridicule those running ignoble campaigns.” He stood. “I’ll let you go now. It was a real honor to have you on, Liz.”

Liz stood and gave him a hug. “If this Presidency thing doesn’t work out, will you come to LA and be on Spare Me!?”


“Oh, and Jon? I do, you know?”

“Do what?”

“Miss sex. A lot. I want this war and strike to be over more than you know.”

Jon looked at her face carefully. “Oh,” he said. “Something, or someone new has happened, hasn’t it?”

Liz looked down before she could catch herself.

“Don’t worry. It’s a secret,” Jon Stewart said, smiling. “Goodnight, Liz.”

Liz sat a moment after the door closed behind him, basking in the high praise. It felt good coming from someone in her industry who actually understood where she was coming from professionally. Plus, she knew that Jon Stewart was as smart as they come. He understood politics better than most politicians ever would, but the two of them were on similar missions. And he supported her. That was something she could hang her hat on.


 Liz was still in revelry from her conversation with Jon Stewart that night as she sat in bed with the TV on to some old movie as she killed time before The Daily Show with Jon Stewart came on at eleven p.m. She heard a familiar tap on the door, so she stood and let in Zeke and his bowl of popcorn.

They curled up together on the bed and watched the film together, but Liz wasn’t paying attention to it at all. Finally she put it on mute and turned to Zeke.

“Do you think we’re going to win?”

“The election?” Zeke sat up a little. “I don’t know.” He reached out and traced her lovely jaw with his fingertips. “You should win, if there were justice in the world.”

“I’m serious,” she said, smiling and taking his wrist in both her hands.

“So am I. You’re the best candidate, especially given the scum you’re running against.”

“I’m better than scum, thanks.”

“Much better,” Zeke said, kissing her. “God, the things I could do to you...”

“Mustn’t even talk about it, or we’ll lose control,” Liz said. “Remember the rules.”

“First rule of secret affair: Don’t talk about secret affair.”

“Second rule: Don’t talk about sex re: the secrete affair.”

“Third rule: Don’t have sex re: secrete affair.”

“Last rule: Don’t break rules 1-3.”

She rested her head on his chest and let his heartbeat fill her head.

Finally, Zeke said, “Are you afraid of winning, honey?”

“Yes,” Liz said quietly.

“What are you afraid of?”

“That I’ll fuck up. I mean, if I fucked up at my old job, someone turned off the TV and I didn’t get a paycheck. If I fuck up as President, people could die. Lots of people.”

“Do you want one of the other guys to win instead?”

“No, because I know they’ll fuck up.”

“Then you’re kind of stuck,” said Zeke. “If you can’t trust someone else to do a better job, then you have to do it yourself, right?” He stroked her hair and kissed the top of her head. He did find it ironic that he could be comforting the future leader of the free world, but he assumed that first ladies had always done this kind of thing.

Liz sighed deeply and looked at the clock. “It’s eleven,” she said. Zeke picked up the remote and changed the channel. The theme music for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart filled the room and Jon’s earnest face flashed on screen. Liz smiled and so did Zeke.

“I think we might do it,” said Liz.

“I hope we do,” said Zeke, pride and love swelling him beyond what he thought possible.


“I don’t know what you paid Jon Stewart to give you that kind of interview, but it was worth it!” sang Cal as Liz sat down at breakfast.


“Here.” Cal thrust the morning paper in front of her.

She read “The Daily Show Bump Hits Stratton and Sex Strike.”

“How can they know that already? It’s only been a day.”

“All they need, apparently.”

The article reported that polls since Liz’s appearance on the show had raised her numbers to over 30%. “That’s amazing,” Liz shook her head. “That comedy talk shows could have this much clout.”

“Well, between you and Oprah, you have the book, diet, and pop-psychology markets cornered,” said Cal. “Just try to get on the New York Times bestseller list without O’s approval.”

“This is different than a book club, but I see where you’re coming from,” said Liz. “I’m not sure I like why it happens, but I’m glad for the bump.”

“You are?” asked Cal. When Liz looked at her curiously, she added, “Zeke told me he was concerned about you the other night.”

Liz rubbed her forehead. “I’m glad for the bump,” she repeated. “Winning...we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Zeke sat next to Liz and squeezed her knee in greeting. “How are you this morning, kiddo?”

“Just fine, thanks. Here’s the paper.”

“Wow. I don’t know what you did to Stewart before the show, but I hope you saved some for me later.”
Liz laughed and squeezed his hand. “Be good, or you’ll pay for it.”




Go to Maren’s author page at Smashwords.com to download my other stories to your e-reader. 
Can’t wait to see what happens? Download the entire book at Smashwords.com!

About the Author
Maren Bradley Anderson is a writer, teacher, podcaster, blogger, and alpaca rancher who lives in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. She has written short stories and plays for years, and has recently taken to writing screenplays and novels. She teaches live and online classes on literature and writing at Western Oregon University. She has Master’s Degrees in both Literature and Teaching Writing from Humboldt State University and a B.A. in English and Studio Art from Mount Holyoke College. Maren hosts a podcast about alpacas (Paca Talk) with her husband, and blogs about alpacas and writing. Her alpacas win ribbons for conformation and fleece, plus she thinks they are darned cute. 

Connect with me online!

Nano update 1

I am up to 2252 words in two days of writing. Yippee. :) I'm working on a "C" plot on the alpaca romance novel I started last year.

I'm still sick, but not as sick as before. Husband is now sick. Hoping kids don't get sick. Everything happens during Nano, doesn't it?


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Derailed already

Nothing much stops me. The stomach flu stops me.

What a way to start a month of writing everyday! I spent the evening of November 1 on the bathroom floor and the whole of November 2 trying to recover. I canceled classes today, and I will finally write today, though I still feel gross.

Any words on a page count, though. I'll get "any" today, for sure.

Of course, that's what I said on Nov. 1, just hours before I was unable to write. *sigh*


Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I am, indeed, "doing" NaNoWriMo this year...only, I'm doing a wussy version.

I vow that this November (2011), I shall write every day.

That's all. I'm not going to put a word goal, or a time goal, or a story completion goal or anything. I just want to use Nanowrimo as a way to get back on the horse.

One of my friends is joining me in this write-every-day quest. Yay! Solidarity!

So, now I'm going to stop blogging and start writing before the baby wakes up (oops. too late).