Chapter 90:     Melly Meets the Competition

MELLY reports events of Wednesday, 27 August--

Liss and I got back from LA two days ago; Dad picked us up at the airport.  
I knew Addy couldn't do it without a flock of journalists following him 
all the way, but allowed myself to get mad at him for not doing me that 
courtesy anyway.  I was trying to keep my bitchiness level at Full Blast 
for when we finally met.  It wasn't easy, but I was dedicated.

Dad offered to let us stay at his place if I didn't want to go back to the 
Forest Hacienda right away, but I was set on reclaiming my right to Addy's 
bedroom again and nobody was going to get in my way, not even if they were 
way bigger and hairier than me.  Liss was a little worried about me.

But when we got there Adam had prudently hidden himself out in the woods 
somewhere and Elaine greeted us, practically ushering Liss and me up to 
Addy's room so that we could unpack.  I can never be mad at Elaine and two 
minutes later I was bawling like a baby while she held me, like the mommy 
she'd always been for me.

She was telling me that Adam still loved me and I was saying "I know that,  
but so what if he's so fucking unfaithful?"  "But he's not by squatch 
standards," she reasoned, "and that's what Addy IS, he can't help that."  
I had to accept that. "I know, but right now he's going to have to accept 
that I'm pissed off and broken-hearted."  We had a nice little talk.

But I couldn't put off meeting with Addy--and his girls--forever. Elaine 
said he had his same old cell phone with him and was waiting for me to 
call.  So I did.

I controlled myself, was polite, cool even, although he sounded so glad to 
hear my voice that it was all I could do to keep up the facade.  We oh-so 
cordially arranged for him to come up to the house, along with his two 
"wives" so that we could negotiate terms.  They'd come right away.

Liss was in a quandary, she wanted to check out our new mortal enemies, but 
felt she should let me meet Addy alone.  I told her, "He's not going to be 
alone.  I need you to be my backup, please."  So she couldn't bail.  We 
waited outside on the terrace.

We'd seen Adam's return press conference on TV Monday evening, along with the rest of the planet. Liss felt we should have been there for that, but I was glad not to have been. Especially when he introduced his fellow Nokhons and put them on screen. So I--Liss and I--got a good look at our competition, the infamous Magga and Masnia. There were also three other squatches, but I barely saw them, couldn't help staring at those two Female Bigfoot who'd stolen my man. They looked nice. I hadn't expected that. I mean, they looked like nice girls, nice people. I'd been hoping they were sleazos or bitches so I could hate them easier. And then, to make it even worse, the entire media industry is now going totally ga-ga over Masnia: that face, those eyes! I should know, we were in Hollywood and that must be the very center of the storm. Monday Liss and I were going to meetings about Squatch & Friends, Tuesday all anyone wanted to talk to us about was HER. Everybody in Hollywood is absolutely frantic to sign a deal with Masnia and they figure that Liss and I can give that to them because of our partnership with Addy. They really started hounding us, by SMS, unsolicited phone calls, agents waiting in our hotel. It had been fun being in LA up to then, but now it was time to get out of there.
Normally there were language school activities going on on the terrace at that time of day, I later learned, but everyone had cleared out of Dodge for the showdown. So when Adam came out of the woods with two female squatches, there were only the five of us in sight. For some reason, it HURT to look at Addy. It made me angry-- unreasonably so, as if the SIGHT of him was worse than anything he'd ever actually DONE to me. It felt so bad that I had to avoid looking directly at him. Then I felt okay. I recognized the squatches from TV. So I don't need to describe them, since everyone knows what they look like by now, "surprisingly majestic beauties" probably being the most clichéd term these days. But I may have had a more critical eye for them than anyone else. They WERE definitely shaggy, messy uncombed hair dangling everywhere. Masnia might be a potential beauty under all that fuzz but she needed work. Magga had a pretty face and a hell of a good figure (although WAY too muscular to be considered feminine). Bitchy stuff like that went through my head. But it did no good, when they smiled at me, bowed so respectfully and said in a pretty fair version of English, "Welcome home, First Woman Ma-ell-ia," I was slapped silly with the realization of what I was being offered. They were not only Adam's: they were also mine. Adam had told me about the pecking order of squatch family relationships, "First Woman" being the queen--I had not been put out, I had been put in charge. Below-the-belt revelation #2 was the remembering of a very important detail, which I had totally forgotten in all my snotty self-pity and emotional greed: I'm an anthropologist! Somehow I gathered up just enough cool to say, "Yr ha ya'handarha ahatli, Masnia yr Magga." Good thing I'd been reviewing all our Nokhontli videos on my laptop while in California, ever since Addy had called and told me he was bringing some extra squatches home. I had rehearsed that little phrase, but intending to say it very formally, cold and nasty-- it just didn't come out that way in real life. And I'm glad, because both girls looked so RELIEVED and happy. I finally caught on that they'd been afraid of meeting ME! But all the sudden feel-good went away when I turned my attention to Add... Adam. That he was also afraid of meeting me was obvious, but I liked that. I wanted to make him squirm. Okay, I also wanted to throw myself at him in total abandonment of any dignity I thought I should maintain, but steeled myself instead to administer all the punishment I could muster. Pretty good strategy, eh? But he sensed all that and spoke to Liss first, "Hi girls, good to have you home. I've missed you both." Liss folded, she threw herself into his arms and got a meaningfully passionate kiss. "Missed you too, Freakfoot." Some damn backup, bitch! "We saw you on TV," I said, maintaining that cool I was so proud of, "an okay presentation. It'll be good to get that Secret Project unwrapped, now that we can officially apply for the government grants we need to for the Nokhon Nation Territories. Make Your Vision come true." "I missed you too, Mell." "Yes, well, get used to it, Da-adam-ee."
A meeting had been arranged for that evening to deal with all the business that had been awaiting Adam's return. And maybe even decide the fate of our happy little band of world-famous musical fools... if Adam was still at all interested in such trivialities, that is. I went into the office. There was a ton of work waiting for me. For Liss too, but her mother was expecting her only daughter to come and visit her in Shohomish once she got back from LA and she jumped at the chance to put off work another day, said she'd be back in time for the meeting. Not me, what else did I have but work and duty? Certainly not a dedicated lover to take me away from it all--hell, he was the bum who piled all this onto me! As you can tell, I was grumpy. But once I started looking into the paperwork concerning our "Nokhon Nation Territories Project" (previously identified as "secret") I saw that a lot of progress had been made in the last three weeks, especially considering that we were dealing with US Governmental agencies. Somebody high up must have pushed a "Priority" button. Elaine had been busy while I was away. There was already a hearing scheduled to take place at the Federal Building in Seattle on Friday, concerning our applications for a land grant. But there was also a counter-attack in the makings, a lobbyist group would be representing the lumber industry, who were unwilling to leave any trees standing just for the sake of some aborigine jigaboos. Familiar old story. There was not as much unfinished business as I thought and what there was couldn't be dealt with until we had our meeting. All potential Squatch & Friends projects required solid decisions to be made soon, which the whole band had to agree upon. I loved our little band, but had a bad feeling about what Addy had said on TV, "...when I get the time." When I was satisfied that I'd done enough real-live work for today I went out to the terrace, where I'd been hearing voices. Everybody was there, it was language class again, just like back when Dagrolyt had been visiting us. I saw Pokey and ran to give him a hug. He was teaching the two squatch guys I hadn't met how to use a video camera, which seemed pretty amazing to me. I was introduced to Daworget and Dabababet, remembering their names from TV. A new female squatch joined us and I met Mazaha, the only girl not lovers with Addy--officially. So I tried to be friendly, but she spoke so little English that we couldn't understand each other at all. Elaine was serving food for the hungry masses, veggy tacos, which were being gobbled at impressive velocity. Magga was helping her serve. A big flat screen was running a video of Art pronouncing various greetings in English, but nobody was watching. The real-life Art was talking with my Dad, so I went over to get my welcome home hug. Art likes hugging me because I always put a little extra boob into it for him, our little secret. Adam was there too, working under the hood of his car, the thoroughly beat- up old Chevy Camaro he stupidly calls "the Squatchmobil". I wondered if he knew he was rich enough to buy a new car? Masnia was leaning on the car to watch him work, looking just like an airhead teen-ager in love, probably totally impressed by such he-man high-tech stuff. I know I would be, if I cared. In other words, I was in the middle of a pretty fantastic scene: my home. Even if Addy and I never...well, whatever, even so, this was home. Elaine was here, Liss would be later, Art and Doug my two dads, Pokey my friend, squatches all over the place! Suddenly I knew that the music would be back too, somehow. I realized that I didn't have to wait for the music any more. I went into the house, to the old upright piano in the living room and began to play it. I had barely touched a piano for three weeks in California, so was a little stiff, but soon got into swing with a little Mozart, going deep enough to lose myself in it for a while. I heard nothing, but a shadow fell on me from behind. Anyone that quiet had to be Adam and I was still not ready to make it easy for him, so I played on until finished. Then I turned to ask what the hell he wanted, but it wasn't Adam at all. Masnia stood there, politely waiting for me to finish playing. She looked nervous, her hands folded before her, slightly bowing in a show of respect, waiting for me to talk first, I guessed. "Khara, Masnia," I said, trying to be a good anthropologist. "Hell-o, First Woman Ma-elli-a," Masnia said, trying to speak my language, "I come to please ask fa-vor you." "You want ME to do YOU a favor?" "Oh yes, please friend, thank you." "Ohhh..." I was interested in them as anthro subjects, not yet convinced that I wanted to go so far as being actual friends with either of those squatch chicks, but Masnia's sweetly respectful demeanor got to me anyway. "Ooookay, what is it?" It took a blending of languages and gestures for Masnia to explain that she wanted to have her body hair clipped short, like the summer trim I usually give Adam. I felt unwilling to take the time and uneasy about such close physical contact, so I said, "Dadamet knows how, he can do it for you." Masnia waved her hands frantically and said, "No no, must be First Woman!" Asking WHY would have been too great a task for the vocabularies we had in common, so I surrendered and agreed to do it. I just couldn't stand being a bad sport, or acting like a bitch to this innocent young girl, why be mad at her? Besides, I knew she'd look a lot better without all that long shaggy hair dangling everywhere. Might be fun to style a squatch chick. I got the electric trimmer and had Masnia sit on the front porch steps, on the other side of the house away from all the activity on the terrace. She was nervous, not sure it wouldn't hurt, so I had to force myself to be extra sweet and even found myself smiling. The buzz of the trimmer was kind of soothing and we both relaxed as tufts of light brown hair fluffed to the ground. I set the trim comb for three inches, which gave a nice neat furry effect and revealed Masnia's elegantly slender figure to a distinct advantage. Masnia watched me work the clipper with obvious fascination and finally asked, "May touch?" her finger hovering over my bare arm. She was curious, I could respect that. I gave permission and she ran her finger softly along the weird hairless skin of a Nokhso, so strange to her. Then she reached up and ran her fingers through my hair as well. Squatches get funny about blond hair. "Ma-elli-a TOO bea-ti-foo." "So are you, Masnia and even more so when we're done clipping you." "May I..." Masnia began, then snatched up two new words she had just learned, "...see you all skin?" I eventually understood that Masnia wanted to see me naked, more curiosity. We were alone and it was a nice warm day so I was barely wearing anything anyway, as usual, figured why not. I took off my clothes and let Masnia study what a hairless Nokhso woman looked like. She was evidently impressed, because she suddenly wanted all her body hair shaved off so that she could look like me. I was flattered but talked her out of it, saying that Dadamet had done so once when he was younger and it had not looked good. "We have different kinds of skin," I explained, remembering Adam's full-body 5 o'clock shadow. No, not pretty. She compared her boobs to mine, the shapes more or less similar, but Masnia preferred the way my nipples were so visible while her own were hidden by hair. She wanted them bared, please. "That might be just a little too sexy," I warned her. "Yes! Too sexy I WANT!" Well, I thought, oh great, this girl's already sexy enough, but now she wants me to trim her tits so that Adam can suck on them without getting hair in his mouth? But I did it anyway. At one point I was holding Masnia's nipple to clip carefully around it, when she gently laid her hand on my arm, a little caress. At first I got concerned that she had misunderstood our relationship, then realized there was nothing erotic about the way she was touching me. This was a sister thing: doing hair together. The hair on her head was a thick tangled bush, even though she had used shampoo and balsam since arriving in the world of Proctor & Gamble. Just to try something new I tried to put her hair into a ponytail with an elastic, but it looked all wrong. She had too much hair, but while I could do a simple body trim I wasn't good at cutting hairstyles. Liss was, she'd even worked in a beauty parlor for a few weeks (although I never asked why they fired her) but she was away visiting her mother. So I told Masnia, "Lissandra can do hair better than me." She nodded-- Masnia had learned to nod instead of bobbing her head--"If First Woman Ma-elli-a say so, I welcome Lissandra help." "Oh, I do say so. But I'm wondering, if I am First Woman, what number is Lissandra? Or you or Magga?" She was confused by my question, later Adam reminded me that squatches are not good at numbering things, neither years nor logical sequences. There was only a First Woman, all others were subservient. I must remember to inform Liss that she's now my sub-servant. That'll go well. So we just brushed her hair until it looked long, smooth and shiny. When Masnia stood up for me to study the finished work, she looked fantastic: sleek and neat, the squatch of the future. "Wow, you could get a job modeling, Masnia, you have The Look. The next cover of Vogue, coming up." "What Coveravogue is?" I tried to explain but had to give up. There wasn't a copy in the house to show her, style and fashion magazines were wasted on us natural beauties living at Hacienda Forest and showing her a copy of National Geographic only confused her. I thought we were done, but Masnia had something else on her mind. "I want more favor, Ma-elli-a, pleease." Well, give her an inch, I thought. But she did say pleease so nice... "Yeah? What now?" "Myøsik" she said, pointing in at the piano. "Ma-elli-a show how?" She made the motion of playing a piano. I studied my new best friend, wondering just how much effort I was willing to spend on Addy's teenage mistress, then decided that what Masnia was asking for would be my honor to give her. She wanted to become a musician herself. It was my turn to show some respect. "Sure, sweetie, let's see if you've got any talent." Besides, I might have to end up loving this kid if we become family.
Later that same day everyone gathered for the day's Nokhontli/English "class", which had become a routine while Liss and I were away. Magga was there, she and I exchanged glances several times so a contact was already happening, although we were both shy about it. I wanted to get to know Magga better and could sense that she was interested in me too, but neither of us had enough common language for a real heart-to- heart conversation. We had traded the few polite phrases we both knew, so they were already used up. The last thing I wanted was for Adam to translate for us. So I asked Pokey to help me, since he was our second most fluent bilingualist. At lunch I asked Magga if we could go somewhere and talk, with Pokey as our translator. She was eager to. Like Masnia, she showed me all sorts of "First Woman" respect (which seems weird considering how intimidatingly huge and strong even a girl squatch can be), but she was hardly timid and quickly warmed to a real conversation. I expected her to be wise but was surprised that she was also funny. We all three laughed about her perceptions of the Nokhso world so far. I wanted to avoid talking about Adam and she picked up on that, although she did insist on asking if I still loved him. She obviously knew about the problems he and I were having. I hesitated (it's hard to do girl-talk with a guy translating) then told her, "Yes I do, but it's not working right now." She bobbed her head and told me that she and "Dadamet" had also gone through that too, it would pass. She seemed so wise and un-jealous that I took hope in that--and found myself really liking her. We talked about her earlier life and studying women's shamanistic lore. I was surprised to learn that she had graduated as Sha-haka-ma just a day before they had to escape from Aket. But when I tried to ask her about the mysteries of their birth-control or how they control genetics to breed specific talents, she let me know that she could not tell those things with Pokey translating because he was a male. She could tell ME, woman-to-woman, but only if I made a sacred promised never to reveal women's secrets. But it was obvious that it would be impossible for me to actually understand any of it until I had a much better command of Nokhontli. I did however, understand that it might be a conflict of interests for me to write and publish any of those secrets as part of any anthropology dissertation I might be considering. So now I had checked out my competition, those two squatch bimbos I had dreaded meeting. I had been so jealous of my fantasy-them, but in real life I was excited to be in this weird relationship with them both. As an anthropologist, sure, but also because I sensed that they could become as good friends as Liss. And hell, I was already sharing Addy with Liss. The only real problem I had with all this was Adam Himself.
Liss made it back in time for the band meeting at 8:00 PM and we all gathered for the first time since the night of the concert. Addy, Pokey, Liss and me; the band itself. Art, Elaine and my Dad; our backup team. And Maki, our one and only "groupie". No squatches, except for Addy. I think everyone was as nervous as me about what was going to happen to Squatch & Friends, not so much the potential money involved-- we already knew that we were all going to be rich, no matter what-- but about US, the band. Basically it was all up to Adam, whom we knew had other plans with the Nokhon Nation about to become a reality. And what did Addy do? He showed up with his old Mexican guitar in one hand, since his favorite 12-string was lost somewhere in Aket, and Liss's bass-box in the other, setting them next to the piano. "I think we should start this meeting by remembering who we are. Is there anyone else here who can stand to play I Like to Run one more time?" Everyone cheered "Yeah, yeah, yeah!" Lissandra squealed like the little girl she really is, Pokey gave an Indian war-cry, I think I just sobbed or something inappropriate like that, then we all scrambled for our instruments and got ready to hit it. "A-one, anna two, anna three..." You'd think we would have been out of practice--well, we were, but who really cared? We were HOT anyway, from note one. We had rehearsed that song a thousand times (maybe, who knows?) but it seemed fresh all over again. Our "audience" got up out of their chairs and started dancing, Dad with Elaine, Art with Maki, us turning them on, them turning us on. Squatch & Friends was back in business! But at the same time, I was having trouble playing music with Addy. I wanted to be neutral and numb about him, to get along as musicians, etc, but instead felt myself feeling so negative towards him that it hurt to be in the same room. If I watched him, the music went sour for me. But the weird thing was if I only looked at Liss and Pokey, I felt the happy music all over: tingling fingers and toes, tits and pussy, it felt glorious! I could switch moods back and forth just by turning my head. So I ignored Addy and the music was fun. When the number ended we all sat there pretty much stunned for a minute. Then Lissandra threw herself onto Addy for the second time that day, so did Pokey. I wanted to, but still couldn't do it, keeping my grip on the piano. We had to get down to business anyway. It was obvious that Squatch & Friends was not a dead fish and we had so many potential offers for public appearances, live concerts, studio videos, movies, that we could never do them all. So we could choose and should do so wisely. It was agreed that the band was not only our best way to finance the Nokhso Nation project, but also a high-profile public relations machine, so there was no conflict about priorities. The NN Project was the most noble, but the band was the most fun and they were equally important to us. Liss and I had made a promising contact with a certain music video guy in Hollywood, Sean Argent, we LOVED his work and believed in his visions for S&F. It was agreed that we would contact him. Since that would take us all to LA anyway, we could also schedule a live concert at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which had been begging for us to do a show. But we also wanted something sooner, something local. While on the Great Sasquatch Tour of Monroe just last Monday, Mayor Waller had approached Adam about S&F doing a show for the Evergreen State Fair, which was starting the next day and running for twelve days. "But I couldn't promise him anything until I talked with all of you," Adam said. "Now you know how it's been for us," Liss crowed, "nyah nyah nyah!" Addy shrugged, "Sorry guys, but a man's..." Everyone joined in chorus, "...gotta do wotta man's gotta do!" Lotsa grinning. It was suggested that we could be ready to do our same old set of 12 original songs and some standards by next Wednesday, giving us a week to rehearse. Addy and I had played there before as a duet many years ago, but this might turn into something else. And all the while everybody was so excited about how wonderful it was that the band was finally intact again; I was secretly wondering how long I could stand being in this band with Addy, but not yet willing to betray the others. We were done with business about 10:00 PM, time for some of us to go to bed. Dad said good night and drove home, Pokey and Maki went out to his teepee. Liss was sitting on Adam's lap and sending me eye signals to "get on over here and join us, NOW, stupid!" I ignored her, said "Good night everyone," and went up to bed alone. God, I love that guy. Wish I didn't have to hate him.
I think there's something wrong with me. Every time I look at Addy, or hear his voice, I get so angry! I become this crazy harridan, this evil HARPIE I can't stand to be. I say terrible things to him to hurt him every chance I get. And then I hate myself afterwards. Here and now, away from him, I love him so damn much it hurts. I miss him. Am I jealous? Traumatized? Cursed? Crazy? All of the above? It's just that Magga and Masnia don't make me mad, I LIKE them. I mean, if I was willing to share Addy with Liss, why not with them too? Why not allow him to have a real sex life? So if I'm only jealous it's on some subconscious level I'm not aware of. I definitely was traumatized by the rape. Oh, I know, how can I call it rape when I'd been INSISTING that he fuck me just a minute before? I KNEW there would be consequences if he broke his promise, but was too selfish to worry about that. But it was another kind of rape than just sex, deeper. And now I keep seeing that monster's face looking down at me with idiot eyes, all of Addy's beauty gone from it, more like some dangerous wild animal from the woods. I still catch glimpses of that face in the corners of mirrors or hear it breathing behind me, but when I turn there's nothing there. The dreams can still be pretty bad too. Of course, I know that raping wasn't Addy fault, he'd been possessed. It would be nice if feeling this way was not my fault either. Yeah, maybe I'm possessed, that would be a great excuse. I have to get over this, whatever it is. Maybe Addy and I never can be a real couple again; I think I can survive that. But everything else too? The band, this anthropological adventure with the Nokhontli, even this HOME I am so happy to belong to--I'm going to lose it ALL if I can't solve this problem.

Chapter 91

Adam out of Eden