Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's a Mystery! OR... Whodunnit?

Image: New York Public Library Digital Gallery

My suburban tale of debauchery, "Blind Tasting," appears in the newly-released eBook and paperback, Coming Together: Against the Odds, a short story anthology edited by the altruistic Alessia Brio as part of her Coming Together series published by Phaze Books. All proceeds will benefit the charity Autism Speaks. (The profits are highest when books are ordered directly from the publisher). The Kindle version is available from Amazon. The print edition can also be purchased from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The singular, inimitable noir/erotica writer and editor, Maxim Jakubowski, has penned the introduction. Behold! Here is the stellar lineup of contributors:

Introduction Maxim Jakubowski
Will She Kiss Me? Giselle Renarde
Under a Moving Star Angela Caperton
Blind Tasting EllaRegina
Undercover Angel Alessia Brio
Always a Bridesmaid Andrea Dale
Choke Gregory L. Norris
The Booty Call Caper Kathleen Bradean
Sen-Sen Alicia Night Orchid
It Had To Be You GS Wiley
Missing Pieces Jasmine Black
Claim Mate Brenna Lyons
Sixth Sense Teresa Noelle Roberts
No Boundaries Moondancer Drake
The Arch Eva Batonne

When I first read the submission call, soliciting "mystery-themed erotic fiction," I wasn't sure I had anything that fit the bill, though the accompanying description gave food for thought:

All behavior is communication. The trick is to figure out just what it's saying. No behavior communicates as clearly or on as many levels as sex. All the physical and emotional senses are engaged. Add the element of intrigue, and the intellect is engaged as well.

Then I heard Alessia Brio interviewed on Gracie Passette's Cult of Gracie internet radio program. Towards the end of the hour-long discussion, Ms. Brio talked about the anthology, providing the exact words I needed to hear. She said the story could be "any sort of mystery -- it doesn't have to be a crime-drama type of mystery -- it could be a 'which one of these party guests is licking your backside while you're blindfolded?' type of mystery." Ms. Passette laughed and said she'd much prefer that to "the dead dinner guest" while I practically screamed into my computer's loudspeaker holes, "Alessia, have I got a story for you!"

In fact, "Blind Tasting" does involve -- among other things -- dinner guests (though none are killed off), and it's closer to what Ms. Brio proposed: not exactly a whodunnit, but rather a "who done it to whom?"

I find it particularly ironic and poignant, given my story's scenario, that the profits from Coming Together: Against the Odds go to Autism Speaks. The majority of autistic people do speak -- contrary to popular misconception. "Blind Tasting" offers an interpersonal counterpoint: four couples who, at a strategic point in the narrative, are not permitted to communicate with speech or sound or even by using physical/body language, if doing so causes the "message transmitter" to be identified by the recipient.

Image: New York Public Library Digital Gallery

To whet your proverbial whistle,* here is an excerpt -- a wee taste of "Blind Tasting." I shall begin as most mystery stories do: at the beginning...

Blind Tasting
by EllaRegina

They called themselves The Montridge Eight, after the metropolitan area suburb in which they lived, a thirty-nine-minute commute to the City, and though the name sounded like an underground terrorist group from the 1960s, their most incendiary efforts had involved turning on a Viking stove or lighting a Weber grill. A four-couple gourmet cooking club, The Montridge Eight met once a month, their homes revolving as venue, to travel the world gastronomically, one country and cuisine at a time. Creative professionals all, they were detail-oriented: an evening's theme would extend well beyond the food, to the decor, the wine, the music, sometimes even to the furniture.

The Greens, the Blacks, the Grays, the Whites: a box of crayons -- an odd one since the Blacks were not, the Whites were light brown and the Greens and Grays beige variations. They were the epitome of sophistication and urbane modern living. The men had long been vasectomized, completely relieving their marriages of pregnancy scares and latex fluid barriers. The couples were close and getting closer. The Montridge Eight gatherings elicited flirtatious behavior that grew stronger over the years. It began with one foot finding another under the table, or venturing further, toes slowly massaging a crotch. Hands would sneak inside waistbands from behind. Soon, parlor games were incorporated: first dirty Mad Libs -- "Name of Person in Room" particularly revealing -- then adult Charades, followed sequentially by Twister, strip tease, Strip Poker and Spin-the-Bottle. The Blacks, who lived in a former firehouse, offered their pole for dancing when they hosted, a mirrored ball on the high ceiling throwing sparkles over the dimmed space as each woman spun around the shiny brass upright, inspired by the thumping disco groans of Donna Summer and company. With each installment of the cooking club The Montridge Eight became increasingly daring and experimental. Perhaps it was the Cabernet, or the Pinot Grigio, or the Riesling, or the Rioja.

Although beyond familiar, the Greens, Blacks, Grays, and Whites -- a living version of the board game Clue -- decided from the onset that during these occasions they would refer to each other, including their own spouses, as Monsieur or Madame, evoking old black and white movies where the husband called the wife "Mother," lending the evenings a certain frisson of staged formality -- an interesting counterpoint to the sub-table footsie and miscellaneous lusty doings -- often inspiring unscripted postprandial role-playing once the couples were back in their own bedrooms:

"Would you do it to me in the Library with The Lead Pipe, Monsieur Gray?"

"Most assuredly, Madame Gray. My very large one. Where shall I put it?"

Across Montridge's verdant tree-lined streets, a parallel scene was unfolding at the Green house:

"In the Billiard Room, on the table, with The Rope, Madame Green?"

"Of course, Monsieur Green. A hog-tie is definitely in order," she replied, spreading her excited legs as Monsieur Green undid his perfectly slip-knotted neckwear, anxious to truss Madame's limbs, rigid cock pointed towards her from an unbuttoned fly.

To be continued, dot dot dot. Buy the book, dot dot dot!

Copyright 2009 EllaRegina. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without prior written permission from the author.

A clue relating to a key scene in "Blind Tasting."

One of my inspirations for the story.

"Blind Tasting" was initially featured on the Erotica Readers & Writers Association website in their February 2009 Erotica Fiction Gallery. Kisses to Rose and Adrienne! And a special hug to Donna George Storey for plugging "Blind Tasting" so nicely at the time on her blog.

*A big thank you to phantaglyph of thefreesoundproject for the 2-second wolf whistle recording.


Donna said...

Congratulations, ER! "Blind Tasting" is a luscious and wonderfully creative story with a Carnivale spirit. And indeed it is a very special kind of mystery, although I understand the "whodunnit" part is optional ;-)?

EllaRegina said...

Thanks, Donna! I'm glad you liked the story. Brazilian foods abound -- even, um, Brazilian waxing!

Dunno about the whodunnit part being optional. Everybody plays in this story, but, like I said, nobody gets killed. Instead, they die "La Petit Mort"...

Erobintica said...

omg - I loved this story! congratulations ER.

EllaRegina said...

Thank you!

Craig Sorensen said...

An exceptional story, EllaRegina.


Alessia Brio said...

Wonderful blog post! I was honored to include your story in Coming Together. Thank you.

EllaRegina said...

Why, thank you, Craig! So happy you enjoyed it!

Thanks, Alessia! I'm glad you like my post. I hope the book raises lots of money for Autism Speaks.

Jeremy Edwards said...

Congratulations! I love the atmosphere of festive libertinage in this colorful, sensual story.

Do you think the Montridge Eight would consider taking on some new ... members?

EllaRegina said...

Thank you, Jeremy! Ah, libertinage! Long may it reign! New members? Sure, bring yours. ;-) But I think Helia, would need to, um, come, too. No odd-man-out business.

Then there is the name change question. The Montridge Ten... Hmmn. Yeah, I think they could go for it. I shall ask!

Emerald said...

Congratulations ER!! I did quite enjoy that story back when I read it. What a lovely place it seems for it to be published!

Congrats again and thanks for sharing!

EllaRegina said...

Thank *you*, Emerald City!

P.S. Haven said...

Ahhh! The dreaded "dot dot dot"! ;)Nice tease. Love it! not that I needed an excuse to support a good cause.

EllaRegina said...

. . .

Thanks, Haven!

Elise said...

Yay!!! I always enjoy pondering through submission guidelines to find just that perfect piece. It's like a puzzle inside my head.

EllaRegina said...

Thanks for commenting, Elise. Yeah, it's cool when that happens, right?