Article in the Hartford Herald – July 17, 2007
In what is hoped by many to be the final chapter in the case of the UNH coed who was kidnapped in the late summer of 2005, and tortured and raped over a six month period of time, a grand jury, for the second time, has declined to bring murder indictments against the woman known only as Jane Doe.
Victims-rights advocates hailed this as a victory for victims of sexual assault everywhere, reiterating their position that “charges should never have been filed in the first place, given the circumstances, and that this was clearly a case of self-defence.”
London – Summer 2009
Steel-tipped stilettos tap a beat on the sidewalk. Ignoring the “look left” admonition on the roadbed, I walk out into the street, focused on the white and blue sign across the road. Black Audi honks angrily. “Bitch!” The epithet acknowledged with a raised finger. Camden Town… New York City… Portland; drivers speak the same language.
Two teenage girls walk out as I approach the bank door. Sharp inhalation… a too loud whisper… “… you see her arm? Bloody mess…” I turn as they pass by. The redhead turns and looks back… our eyes meet… blood rushes… her face the color of her hair now. Her eyes avert and head dips in shame. Trace of sadness… I turn and open the door… remind myself… I don’t mind… I don’t mind…
The interior of Barclay’s smells and sounds like a hundred other banks I’ve been in, the only difference here is the accented voices. Pretending not to notice the arm – you can see it in her eyes – the dark-haired young clerk smiles as I approach her window. The smile slowly slips as she reads the note I hand her. Eyes look down, then dart to the left and back to me. A barely perceptible shake of my head, grim determination on my face. She quietly fills the large envelope with banknotes.
A week later, as has been custom for the past two years, a local charity receives a large envelope in the post.
Dropping keys and purse on the small table in the foyer, I walk in to the parlor. She is sitting on the white leather sofa… a tall, mocha-skinned woman, completely naked except for a pair of white sheer stockings and garter belt. A pair of five- inch orchid stilettos adorns her slender feet.
The woman turns her head as I enter the parlor. I stop, returning her gaze… we take measure of each other. After a few moments, she tilts her head slightly, motioning to a spot on the carpet in front of her. A small black leather whip lies coiled on the sofa cushion.
Wordlessly, I disrobe and kneel on the plush carpet in front of her. She spreads her legs apart and I move in closer… scent of cinnamon and musk rising up. She picks up the whip, uncoiling it in her hands. I lean forward, placing my hands on the warm flesh of her upper thighs. My head dips down… the sound of braided leather slicing the air…
Later that night, in bed with Charrlote… her voice rising up in the quiet… “So, ma chere… how did you find Mistress Emeline?” I sit up and turn to face her. “Satisfactory.” A pause… “Do you think me odd, Charrlote? What I do?”
“We all do our emotional penance in our own way, Veronique… I do not judge.” She pulls the camisole over her head, revealing her naked breasts. Smiling, she reaches for mine. I put my hand on her arm, stopping her. Slender fingers touching me… “I really don’t mind the scars.” she says.
Charrlote draws me into her arms… the silk sheets pull us down into their embrace.
Portland – Autumn 2009
Home… Not Home
The turn of the century stone building in downtown Portland looms in front of me. Entering the lobby… street sounds hush as the door closes quietly behind me. Dark-paneled walls echo the beat of the steel-tipped stilettos on the hardwood floor.
Gloved finger presses the elevator button. Second floor – attorney – broken promises. Third floor – physical therapist – broken bodies. Fifth floor – psychiatrist – broken minds.
Dr. Kay sits back in her chair… I stand at the tall window across the room, looking out at the night lights of the city. She continues… “Bank or dominatrix?” The good doctor knows me well. “Both.” I reply.
“Veronica… what happened… none of that was your fault… why do you still punish yourself?” Why do you keep asking me questions to which we both know the answer? I think to myself, looking out at a full moon.
Turning away from the window, tears pricking the back of my eyelids… “I don’t mind the scars… really… I don’t.”
~finis~23 February 2011 Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw