Mister McIntyre’s Secret
I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t know what I was wearing. I remember a flash of small white polka dots on a sea of black. Some little pill box hat. My face got flushed if I thought about Miss Peterson pulling up the stockings that clipped to the garters under the dress. Every thought in my head made me blush. Every memory of the past few hours and every expectation about what was to come in the future.
We were walking down the street and she hailed a taxi. It was something I was never able to do. People always seemed to walk in front of me and take mine. We were going to the train station. I sat, still wet under my dress and frilly underwear. I wanted to stop being wet desperately, but thoughts were attacking me like Miss Peterson’s fingers and having almost the same effect.
I followed behind Miss Peterson, the world a blur of men in suits and pretty women. She bought tickets, she bought magazines and cigarettes. I shook my head to coffee after she asked me the third time. She had a smile as she looked at my hazy confusion, like she’d just won a bet.
On the train she sat in front of me, legs crossed and reading the French Vogue. She smoked, she radiated sexiness and power. I wanted to radiate that. Apparently all I radiated was a signal that I was obedient.
As I watched the city fade into trees and water I realized I still didn’t know where we were going. Some of the landscape seemed familiar, but I was not very well travelled. As the stops shifted from odd Indian names to things that ended in Hampton I started to realized exactly how fancy the place I was going was. Then it was more people, more following Miss Peterson into crowds. Busy train station, a shiny black car waiting for us. Tinted windows and a quiet ride.
We arrived at the most unlikely of places; a stable. I followed Miss Peterson into the place, trying to walk on heels I was already clumsy in the hay and grass. Miss Peterson met a young woman who was my age with very large pouting lips and curly copper hair pulled back in a ponytail. The two exchanged a few words and the girl’s eyes narrowed on me.
She walked over to me and looked me up and down. She had pinkish white skin that was covered in freckles. She seemed to be constantly pouting and frowning and bratty. She said nothing, but started walking giving me a nod that said to follow her. We walked through this strange world of horses, which I’d never really been up close to but seem almost alarmingly large and powerful. I almost couldn’t look at the rippling muscles of the animals because they seemed so nakedly masculine.
We came to a huge wall that looked like an outdoor theater, but as we entered I realized it was some kind of track. I wondered if it was a horse race, but it seemed the wrong size. We walked past men in white suits and women in elaborate dresses with huge hats. These people were rich and probably famous. I hadn’t read enough of the gossip column to really know who was who. We walked and walked and then there he was sitting in a booth wearing a suit I had never seen and sunglasses of all things.
Mister McInytre in a blue stripped seersucker suit. He looked like a movie star. To his right was a younger man in a white suit who was very thin and had sharp almost feminine features. His blond hair was combed back dramatically and he wore a bright periwinkle ascot. The girl led me to there booth and the two men stood up to greet me, which made my face flush. Looking up at Mister McIntyre, who towered over me I had to squint in the sunlight.
“Abigail. I’m glad you made it.” he took my hand and held my arm out so he could look at my dress.
I squirmed as he looked me up and down. He was touching me. He was looking at me. He was showing me off. I looked down. I wanted to crawl out of the spotlight. Then as sudden as I thought that the vision of Marcy on top of me popped into my head for some reason and my knees almost buckled.
“Marcy did a lovely job.” he said looking at the man next to him who gave a begrudging shrug of approval.
“Abigail, this is Chase Daniels.” he fair bow smiled noncommittally and then took a pair of opera glasses from his pocket and looked at the field.
“And of course you’ve met Gertrude.” mister McIntyre said, and as he moved towards her the pout melted a bit and her eyes got larger.
“Say hello to Abigail, Trudy.”
Her snotty facade gone, the girls green eyes sparkled above her high freckled cheeks. “Hello, Abigail.”
I smiled. I tried to smile politely, but it may have came out as a little too happy at her change in attitude. I realized that Mister McIntyre had the same sway over her. It was strange to think of that. I watched their body language, how she teetered next to him, wanting to be at his side, but knowing her place at the moment.
“I… I’m going to get a pop. Would you care for one, Abigail?” she offered, her cheeks reddening at the forced kindness. Mister McIntyre smiled and put his hand on her shoulder. This caused her body to tense.
“Oh, yes. Thank you. A coke, please.” I said, politely.
She walked off, her eyes on mine communicating something, maybe ownership?
“Have a seat Abigail.” Mister McIntyre motioned to a chair beside him.
I sat down, I remembered Alice in Wonderland suddenly because that’s what I felt like. Looking out at the field I realized it wasn’t a race but some sort of jumping and riding competition.
“Dressage.” said Chase, pronouncing the word with a certain French flair.
“Pardon?” I said, wondering if he was telling me something or asking me something.
“Dressage; horse ballet. It’s expensive to learn, insufferably boring to watch and taxing on the animals. We all love it.” his dry sarcasm hanging in the air coldly.
“Marcy’s been doing it since she was a girl.” said Gertrude, suddenly startling me. She handed me a coke and her eyes were somewhat less aggressive. She looked at the seats and I realized I’d taken hers. She shrugged and sat down next to me.
Just then out on the field I saw her. Marcy Peterson in gray riding pants and a crisp white shirt with a vest. Her little hat and her tall black boot and her little whip. There was something about it that was so formal, so neat and tidy, so imposing. I wanted to see it up close, examine all the details of it. I wondered what it felt like to wear those tall heavy boots and to straddle a horse like that. Looking to my left I saw similar questions in Gertrude’s eyes.
“Have you ever done it?” I asked her.
Gertrude smiled. “Nope. But I tried the outfit on. The boots are a pain, but you feel wonderfully… constricted.” she give me a look then that made me bite my lip.
And so we all watched. Ladies sitting up tall rode their horses around, making them bow and dance and do all sorts of poses both graceful and unnatural. The first few minutes were interesting as Gertrude explained the scoring to me. Then we got to see Marcy go. She got a nine, which from what I was told means “very good”. After that things got a bit boring. I turned to see Gertrude nodding off. Chase took out a little book and was silently reading. Only Mister McIntyre watched from under his dark sunglasses. I was sort of glad I couldn’t see his steely blue eyes because I wouldn’t be able to relax at all if I could.
Then it was over. Polite clapping, someone won something. I’d stop being able to follow it as my eyes got heavy in the sunlight and boredom. Then we were up with the milling crowd, making our way out. At some point Mister McIntyre left our group and I was ushered by Chase and Gertrude to the car I’d been driven in. Then we were off.
Another long drive. Chase was deep in a book, I think I saw Oscar Wilde on the cover. Gertrude was pouting and watching me like a cat watches a canary.
“So you’re Jacob’s secretary.” she said flatly.
“Y… yes. I’ve been working for Mister McIntyre for a while now.” as I said his name the two of them looked at each other and smirked.
We arrived at a huge house and I followed the two through a huge wrought iron gate up a cobblestone path to the front door where a butler met us. If I was Alice in Wonderland before now I was little orphan Annie wide eyed at the lavish place.
We came to a large drawing room, complete with fainting couches and a fireplace. Books lined the walls and there was large globe in one corner. McMcIntyre was there, standing next to Marcy. It felt so strange to see the two of them. I can’t remember ever seeing them together before, but there they were. He towered over her as they spoke, just out of ear shot.
My hands felt cold, I wondered what they were talking about. Marcy’s strong eyes and confident sarcastic grin were gone. She looked down when he spoke to her, just like I did.
Mister McIntyre didn’t look pleased, he was asking her a series of questions and she was answering with meek yeses and noes. She looked so much younger like this, with her riding unifom and her hair pulled back. She fidgeted under his gaze and fingered her riding crop.
As I watched I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Chase, smiling at me.
“Jacob told me that you were here to record the proceedings of our little meeting. I know you are used to a typewritter, but I couldn’t carry one all the way out here so just use this.” he handed me a five by seven black moleskin notebook and a heavy expensive looking silver pen.
“What am I supposed to write?”
Chase moved in and whispered conspirotorally. “Well, ‘Mistre McIntyre’ is going to…” he searched for the words “fuck Marcy and probably Gertrude” he smiled “and possibly me.”
My eyes grew wide. I stopped breathing. Was be kidding? I was young and inexperienced and innocent, he was probably playing a joke on me. A sharp crack brough my attention back to Mister McIntyre. He’d taken Marcy’s riding crop and was flexing of in his large hands. Her eyes were saucers as he gave the thing a practise smack against his hand.
Chase continued. “You should start now. I think Mister McIntyre is about to do something interesting with Marcy’s riding crop. Just write everything down as you see it, as if you were recalling a dream in your diary.”
I blushed as I opened the book. He knew, this stranger knew. All of them knew my every secret. As I looked up I saw Mister McIntyre move in on Marcy. She backed up against the wall and he was on her. I gasped and covered my mouth. I knew I should be quiet. They didn’t notice me. He was pressed against her and she squirmed. My legs closed tightly. I felt the weight of Chase sitting next to me on the couch. I saw Gertrude sitting on a chair watching Marcy and Mister McIntyre the same was I was.
My hands shook as I opened the notebook. I put the pen to the paper as I watch and wrote down every dirty detail.