Kay Russell was asked personally by her managing editor Ronald Jacobson to cover the ‘free spirits in the desert’ as he put it, between taking gulps of black coffee from his chipped classic diner mug. Ronald Jacobson was nearing the 60 year mark, a sticky note with his retirement date written on it in black Sharpie clung to the side of his computer monitor. Kay had joined the local paper after getting her BA in Mass Communications with an emphasis on Print Journalism. She had been with the paper for just over a year and this was her first out of town field assignment.
After getting settled at the Friendly Budget Inn on I-80 Kay got her things together and headed over to check out the festivities. The ‘free spirits’ in this case were a group of artistic, free minded individuals nummering around eighty. Their ‘Free Minds, Free Bodies, Free Expression’ moto hung on a hand painted banner that was fastened to two poles and stretched out over the dirt road that lead into the Black Hills Desert. Kay found a place to park, exited her car and started wandering through the crowd of half dressed individuals.
She bumped into a guy walking the other way.
“Sorry,” she said in passing, the guy nodded and continued on.
Then Kay heard it from behind her.
“Hey, Kay? Kay Russell is that you?” the voice of the guy she had bumped into asked as he made his way back towards her.
Kay knew exactly who it was she had randomly run into. Richard Boyd, Richie the guy she had had a schoolgirl crush on throughout High School. Kay and Richie had many classes together over there four years in Roosevelt High School, from the first time Kay saw Richie in Mrs. Thompson’s Intro to Literature class to the last AP Biology class they had together senior year Kay was love sick. His broad shoulders, wavy brown hair and square jaw, gave him that a Superman look. When he took up playing football during Junior year her crush intisnefied, his toned, muscular body along with that grin and charm. It melted her, even though she could never bring herself to ask him for more than to borrow a pencil.
Kay took a deep breath, turned to face Richie and said, “Hey Richie, what brings you out here?”
“I’m freelancing for a small independent rag. Came to see what all the hype was about.”
“Nice, I guess I’ll see you around.” Kay said turning to walk away.
“Hey, wait a minute.” Richie said grabbing her upper arm. Kay faced him slightly surprised by his actions.
“Can I talk you into getting a drink and helping me with something?”
Kay gave him a sideways look.
“Maybe, depends on what you need help with.”
“I’ll explain over a drink.”
~ ~ ~ ~
Kay and Richie found a small tiki bar that had been set up amongst the festivities.
“What can I get ya?” The Bartender asked as they took a seat at the bar.
“Whatever your having.” Kay said.
“In that case we’ll have two Zombies, please.”
The Bartender nodded.
“So what do you need help with?”
“This” Richie said taking out his phone, holding it up and pushing record.
“Hello everybody, this is my friend Kay, say hi Kay.”
Kay gave a false smile and said hi to the recording phone.
“We’re out here checking out the festivities, no need to worry. Talk to you all later.”
Richie pushed stop on the phone.
“What the hell was that?”
“Thanks for helping, my family worries so I send them videos to show that I am fine.”
~ ~ ~ ~
Kay was about half way through her drink when Richie struck up a conversation.
“Can I ask you something?”
“I don’t see why not.”
“There was a, let’s call it a rumor in school about you, Kyle Sheridan and a dry handjob in the back of Wendy’s.”
“What? You may need to elaborate on that one.”
“Well according to Kyle you gave him a handjob in the back room at Wendy’s. Of which he said it was dry and not very good.”
“Wow, that’s one way to twist the narrative.” Kay said finishing off her drink.
She motioned to the Bartender.
“Can we get two shots of Jack, please.”
They downed the shots.
“OK, now would you like to hear the real story?”
“Yes, hit me.”
“Kyle and I were in the backroom at Wendy’s before it was time to open the doors. We had done all the prep work and had a few minutes to kill. Now Kyle is a big flirt and I was game at the time, so we went into the backroom and I got on my knees in front of him.” Kay ordered another shot of Jack and downed it.
“And?” Richie asked.
“And I sucked him off and he enjoyed it, there was no handjob, let alone a dry one. Kyle’s a fucking asshole.”
“Yeah, Kyle’s an asshole. So you up for a walk, take in the insanity of ‘Free Minds, Free Bodies, Free Expression’?”
~ ~ ~ ~
Twilight had began bathing the dessert in an eerie blue light, people had started building bonfires around the area. Kay and Richie walked through the groups of people, small groups dancing, and singing together. They entered a large tent, full of oversized floor pillows scattered around on the floor. There were a few couples sitting around some talking, some making out.
“Would you like to partake?’ a short man in a silk robe asked holding out a pipe.
Richie gave Kay a look.
“You game?” He asked.
Kay took the pipe and inhaled, holding the smoke in her lungs as long as she could, then slowly exhaled.
“Nice.” She said handing the pipe to Richie.
He took the pipe and inhaled, held and exhaled. Richie handed the pipe back to the man and took Kay’s hand. He lead her over to a pile of floor pillows and sat down. He pulled her down next to him. Kay leaned over and whispered. “Now what?”
“Now we wait.” He said leaning back and getting comfortable. Kay sat back next to him, and closed her eyes.
~ ~ ~ ~
A deep warm feeling washed over her, the pillows felt softer, the air warmer. She moved her hand and realized that he was still holding her hand. She glanced down looking at her fingers interlaced with his, how soft his skin was. Kay’s gaze moved up looking into Richie’s dark eyes. He meet her gaze and moved towards her. Kissing her gently on the lips. Kay let out a sigh, put her hand on the back of his neck and kissed him again. She sat back against the pillows, he leaned over her and whispered into her ear. Kay giggled, she couldn’t help herself, his breath on her neck sent a shiver down her back as her arms broke out in goosebumps.
Richie stood up, holding his hands out to help her to her feet. She took his hand and stood up, the room spun. She took a quick step into his arms.
“You OK there?”
“Yeah, head rush.”
They walked out into the cool night air. Kay looked up the sky was littered with bright stars, they made their way over to a bench and sat down. Kay closed her eyes and took a deep slow breath, letting the high wash over her.
“Any thoughts on what time it is?” She asked. Richie checked his watch.
“So back to the Friendly Budget Inn? That is where you’re staying?” Kay asked.
Richie leaned in and kissed her, slower and deeper this time.
~ ~ ~ ~
The sun streamed through the slit of the heavy rust colored curtains, falling upon Kay’s face. She turned her head away at the realization that it was morning. Her head pounded and her body ached, she moved her arm towards the other side of the bed. Her fingers hit something, it was soft and cold.
“What the…” Kay quickly moved and fell onto the floor.
“What the fuck?” a groggy voice from the other side of the room asked.
“Richie? If you’re over there who the fuck is in the bed?” Kay asked trying to get up off of the floor.
“What are you going on about?” He asked getting up and walking towards the bed.
Richie looked over the nice looking blonde that appeared to be sleeping, except that her bright blue eyes were open and her skin was pale. He moved closer touching her wrist and then her neck.
“Well whoever she was she is most definitely dead now.”
“Who’s room are we in?” Kay asked standing next to Richie.
“Mine, I think.” He answered looking around.
“Do you remember anything from last night?” Kay asked gathering her clothes and getting dressed.
“Not really. Except…”
“Except what?” Kay asked pulling her shirt over her head.
“You’re not going to like it. But given the circumstances.”
“Not like what?”
Richie wandered over to the far wall that faced the bed. He ran his hand over the top of a painting of sunflowers pulling down a small black box.
“What the fuck Richie…”
“I told you, you wouldn’t like it.” He said turning on his laptop.
“Can we at least not do this in here, with her?” Kay asked.
Richie got dressed taking his laptop with him to Kay’s room.
~ ~ ~ ~
“I can watch that on an empty stomach.” Kay said calling room service. After two cups of coffee, scrambled eggs with sausage and an english muffin Kay was ready to face the events from the previous night.
“OK, fire it up. Let’s see what we’ve gotten ourselves into.” She said taking a seat next to Richie.
He pushed play, the timestamp read 11:15 pm. Kay watched as they made out, undressed and thoroughly enjoyed each other on a carnal level. She could feel her cheeks getting hot as the embarrassment and regret of the nights events were being played back to her in high def.
“So you film all your conquests?” Kay asked getting up and rummaging through her bag.
“Not always. What are you looking for?”
“These.” Kay answered pulling out a pack of cigarettes. She lit one and sat back down.
At 1:35 am Kay went into the bathroom, and Richie took a call and then left the room.
“Where did you go?” Kay asked taking a deep drag.
“I have no idea.” He said taking the cigarette from her and taking a hit.
Richie pushed the fast forward button. Kay coming out of the bathroom, having a drink, laying on the bed.
The timestamp read 2:40 am when Richie returned to the room with the blonde on his arm. Kay lit another cigarette.
“Are you ready?” He asked.
“Do you have anything stronger?”
Richie laughed, “Not on me.”
Richie went to push play Kay put her hand over his.
“Maybe we should be on the same page before seeing what happened.”
“What do you think happened?”
“Considering she’s dead something happened.”
He took her hand and gave it a squeeze.
“Let’s see what happened, before overreacting.” He said leaning in and kissing her on the lips.
Richie pushed play. The blonde was introduced to Kay. Kay and the blonde kissed, she then did a striptease and laid on the bed. Kay moved in between the blonde’s legs, eating her out while Richie feed her his cock.
“Fuck.” Kay said under her breath.
Kay watched as the three bodies intertwined fucking each other in various positions. Then they were all still.
“Fast forward it.” Kay said.
The timestamp read 5:15 am Kay watched as the blonde got up took something out of her handbag and went into the bathroom. Richie then got up, leaving just Kay on the bed. Fifteen minutes later the blonde came back to the bed and laid down.
“Well that does and doesn’t answer things.” Kay said looking at Richie.
“Meaning what?” Richie asked.
“Meaning you knew were the camera was. What happened during the fifteen minutes you were both off camera?” Kay asked getting up and getting a bottle of water out of the mini fridge.
As she turned back around, Richie was standing right in front of her.
“Oh Kay, sweet, curious Kay.” He said wrapping his arms around her. He kissed her. Then looked into her eyes and said. “You need to make a choice, either you’re with me or tomorrow’s headline will be ‘Two women found dead at the Friendly Budget Inn’ your choice.”
He kissed her again holding her tightly to him. Kay looked at him, kissed him again and said. “Guess we had better go clean up the other room then.”