PRIEST OF SALES
D. Scott Cole
Based on characters and ideas from
Priest of Sales
By D. Scott Cole
Copyright 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999
Dorian Scott Cole
Contact: Primary Contact.
GINA'S MEDITATION ROOM - NIGHT
Gina is about to enter her meditation room. Travis is with her. She is smiling and very pleased. Travis looks as if he has not yet recuperated from his encounter with Gina and himself. He seems uncertain, almost timid and self-absorbed, stumbling all over himself and unable to stay out of Gina's way.
Gina raises a hand to stop Travis. "Wait, right here," she tells him. She enters the room and closes the door. After a moment she calls out to him, "OK, come in now."
Travis opens the door and immediately has vertigo, thinking he's going to fall in. Gina laughs with delight, but Travis is beginning to turn green. "There's no floor," he stammers.
"Come on in. The floor is a mirror."
Travis tests the glass tile with one foot, then cautiously enters. An image seems to be everywhere. He focuses on one of them and sees it is a poorly illuminated image of a man's face. It reflects off the walls, the floor, the ceiling. He searches for the source of the image and locates a computer monitor behind Gina, aimed at an angle toward the back wall. Satisfied, he sits on a cushion beside Gina and after a moment he visibly relaxes. Gina closes her eyes and sits with them closed, breathing deeply and rhythmically while Travis acclimates himself.
After a while Travis realizes he is sitting on the floor in a walk-in closet with the door closed with a woman who is slightly known for off-the-wall behavior. He is definitely not prepared for this. "This is unreal. What do you do in here?" he asks.
"I meditate. This room helps set my mood and focuses my attention. Then sometimes I go into a trance."
"Don't.... don't scare me with that," Travis cautions, as he prepares to bolt out the door.
Gina gently puts her hand on his chest, restraining him. "I have this dream that I can't figure out. It's driving me crazy."
"Did you look in a book of dream symbols?" Travis asks warily.
"Universal symbols are bogus," Gina asserts. "It all has to do with what it means to you. But I'm having a difficult time with this mystical stuff. My spiritual growth has been kind of stunted."
Gina shakes her head, quite serious.
"For some reason I'm not in tune with myself. I can't figure out why. It's as if I don't want to know, so I'm... tortured." She looks at Travis as if he should have the answer.
Travis shirks from her expectant look, but then realizes it is rhetorical. "I've never met anyone as together as you are. You could start another religion - Ginamania."
"And I could go on TV and build a golden stairway to heaven. How many stairways does the world need? I already have my own stairway, I just need to figure out what all this mystical stuff means." She sees Travis staring at her, half fear, half disbelief - too much talk about bizarre things even she doesn't understand. She decides she had better get on with it.
"Now, I'm going to read from this book. I'll bounce ideas off of you. OK?"
"I can bounce, but that's about all," he replies morosely.
"This is a book written by a thirteenth century mystic. This is what being a mystic is supposed to be about," she says, showing some skepticism about herself. She doesn't think of herself as a mystic - it's just a term that seems best fit to describe what happens to her - it isn't something she strives for. In fact she feels far too undeserving and irreligious to be in that category.
She begins to read aloud the words of the mystic from seven hundred years ago. "Nothing matters to me. Neither shame nor honor, not poverty or wealth, nor even discomfort. Even love and hate don't affect me. Not even Heaven and Hell influence me." Gina looks up from the book, her look saying, "This stinks."
"Sounds really ignorant to me. What does this person care about? Not drawn to Heaven, not afraid of Hell?"
"Yeah, this is weird. I think she was burned at the stake. Maybe she was depressed. Do you think being depressed could make you not care about anything - even lead to being burned at the stake?"
A light goes on for Gina and she continues, "This reminds me, when I was analyzing my dream the other day, I was trying to think of what I was afraid of and I realized it is not fear of death that bothers me, but fear of not having lived."
Travis is studying her, his jaw slack with shock, as if he could not imagine Gina not having lived.
Gina hands him the book. "Here, you read."
Travis gingerly takes the book from her and looks at it for a long moment. He takes a deep breath and begins. "'This is a gift from God, who has given me abundant knowledge but no understanding. All that knowledge has made me nothing. I possess everything, but nothing, I desire everything, but really nothing, I know everything but I know nothing.'" He flops the book down. "This lady is nothing but confused."
"I think I can understand that. I know something - that's my dream that I can't interpret - and I don't understand it. Read some more," she urges.
"'I don't live in love. My love would make me do things. But love lives in me.'" Travis pauses, reflecting, and then continues slowly, "'Because I have no desires of my own, and am empty, the will of God, which is the Love of God, works through me to do good.'" Travis lets the book hang from his hands. His spirits low, he asks, "I wonder... if I am able... to love? Do I even... know... what love is?"
Gina was not wanting to depress Travis with these readings - this was her time. "These seem like the ramblings of a dispirited woman no doubt trapped in a role she doesn't want and having finally given up hope of fulfilling her own desires she's turned into a zombie," she says, discrediting the woman for Travis's sake. "Close it up."
"There's only one more," Travis says, reluctant to leave his pain unfinished.
Travis continues, "I do nothing for God. God has no use for anything I do, and the only thing I have use for is what God does."
Gina sighs. "So, this mystic cleaned house of herself, turned it all over to God, and said, 'OK, here I am God, your depressed little robot, use me to heal the sick, sweep the floor, whatever - I just really don't care.'"
"Or she really does care, and she's happy so long as God is driving. Right now I'm feeling like it would be good to let someone else drive for a while - I've had enough wrecks."
"That's a good insight," Gina commends him, with a note of surprise. "Maybe you're right, but is that what it's all about - becoming a person with no desires? That's making a martyr of yourself. People who martyr themselves usually have psychological problems."
"Isn't that what you're trying to do about sex? Just give it up?"
Gina punches him in the arm. "Who let you in here anyway? I'm master here, it's your job to figure out what I want you to say."
But anger wells up in Gina. "You know, I hear this mystic's voice and something in me cries, 'NO!' I don't want to be dead. Possessed! That isn't me."
She takes the book from Travis and drops it unceremoniously on the floor.
"So much for that. What does it all mean, Travis?" She knows that there
are many aspects to spirituality, and she probably reacts negatively to
this 13th. Century mystic because this is not where she is in her life
and her spirituality. Neither her nor Travis's interpretation reflect what
this mystic really feels. She will have to keep looking to find what is
right for her, and for this time in her life. It seems like an endless
task - will it never end?
GINA'S LIVING ROOM - THE NEXT DAY
Gina and Travis are sitting on the couch. Travis is finishing a book and puts it down.
"Did that book on Casanovas help?" Gina asks.
Travis inhales deeply and then slowly exhales. "I probably have some kind of problem with self-esteem."
"So what are you going to do about it?"
Travis has had no time to think about it. "Try to build up my self esteem, I guess."
"Hmmm, sounds interesting. How do you propose to do that?" Gina is genuinely curious, and also wants to know for Travis's benefit. Possibly she can help him do it.
Travis just shrugs. He obviously has no idea.
"What does self-esteem mean?" Gina asks. She picks up the book and looks at it.
"I guess it means how you value yourself. I don't know, I'm not a psychologist."
"How would you value yourself more?" Gina asks.
"I don't know. Maybe I'll go see a therapist. Or maybe I'll just try and do good things so I'll feel good about myself."
Gina digs in her purse and pulls out some change.
"Let me see if I understand this. You seem to base your value on pleasing women... sexually. How much is a good screwing worth?"
Travis is embarrassed. "I have no idea."
Gina asks with mock incredulity. "So you need to build your esteem, but you don't know what you're worth?"
Travis nods emphatically. This idea has obviously never occurred to him.
"Well, lets say it's worth ten cents, since I have a lot of dimes. Now how long does this last?"
"Well... all night."
"Not that, you dope. I mean, how long does the self-esteem last before you have to do it again?"
"I guess I do this probably two - three times a week."
"OK, so you're worth about a nickel a day?" Gina smiles.
Travis laughs. The idea is monstrously sordid and stupid and... laughable. "Let's just say each dime is worth a hundred," he says, standing up for himself.
Gina holds up several dimes. "Now, what is something else you might do to feel good about yourself?"
"Invent a cure for cancer."
"Wow, that ought to be worth at least fifty cents. You could go for two weeks on that. Then what?"
"I guess I would have to cure AIDS."
Gina holds up imaginary dimes. "And in two more weeks you would have to cure something else."
"Sounds like the same old addiction in a new package. Instead of screwing women, I cure people. What is wrong with me? Where did I go wrong?"
"I think somehow you got focused on your value instead of other qualities, like.... like, maybe self-confidence. When did you start feeling like you weren't worth much?"
Once again Travis is staring at her with a slack jaw. Her statements are astounding. "I don't know, it's all kind of ... covered up, you know, I've been... making myself feel good for so long doing this with women, even when I was a teen and the neighbor girl used me for sex experiments - "
"The girl next door used you for sex experiments?" Gina interrupts. Now she is shocked.
"She was three years older, and she used to make me do all kinds of things she heard about to satisfy her. I was.... kind of a sex slave for her and her friend."
"God, Travis. No wonder you're screwed up. What.... How did you feel about yourself when you were a child?"
"A child? Well, when I was a little child.... I guess I felt OK."
"When did you start feeling - "
"My father," Travis interrupts, thinking of his later childhood. "When I went into high school, that's when it was. I know, when I was graduating middle school, boy I really thought I knew something. And I would talk to my father - he was based at home port all summer that year - his ship was in dry dock - he just put me in dry dock, too. I think.... that's when I began...." His voice tapers off as he thinks about that time.
After a few moments, Gina asks, "How does your father make you feel?"
"He's a special case. I can't talk to him, he still always has to be right, no matter what."
"So your opinion didn't count much?"
"Didn't. Doesn't. Totally worthless." Travis begins to see some of his plight in perspective. " Do you suppose that's the reason for my problem?"
Gina thinks for a moment, then decides she can't play amateur psychologist - she can't even straighten out her own life. "I don't know, what do you think?"
Travis shrugs. He has a lot to ponder.
"What do you think you should do?" Gina asks.
"Give this some thought," he replies. "If I can come to grips with this low self-esteem thing, maybe I can focus on something else, like... self-confidence."
Gina nods. He has a good point. Now, if he can just do the hard part
- follow through with wrestling with it.
BEAU MONDE OF PETERSBURG
ARABELLA'S BEAU MONDE CLUB - DAY
Gina leaves Arabella's office and sees Tracy in an exercise room giving instruction about an exercise to an instructor. Gina goes to the room and stands in the doorway, waiting.
"This is a large neck muscle and we're not giving it a good workout. It lets the neck get saggy. The secret is, hold your head on one side, then flex the muscle. See, like this. Don't jerk it, flex it." She sees Gina. "Excuse me." She goes to Gina.
"Hi, Tracy. Teaching more beautiful body exercises?" Gina greets her. Gina steps into the hall where it is private and Tracy follows.
"Another new one we added last week. People just don't realize what these exercises will do for firming you up." Tracy pauses waiting for Gina to respond, but she seems hesitant. "What's up?"
"I just want to talk to you about something personal. You can stop me at any time."
"OK." Tracy replies, being a good sport.
"It's about Travis."
Tracy holds up her hand. "Stop right there. I don't even want to hear it."
Gina smiles at her and starts to walk away. Tracy follows her to the door.
"I suppose it was more bad news?" Tracy guesses - intrigued about the news.
Gina shakes her head.
"Good news?" Tracy asks.
Gina shrugs and stays quiet.
Tracy stares at her for a moment. "Well? Tell me!"
"It's you he loves."
"Yeah, sure, like the guy can fuck everything with a skirt and really love me. Why are you telling me this?" Tracy's face is full of anger - angry at Travis, angry at Gina for talking about him, angry that anything can raise her expectations about this loser in her life that she needs to forget, and angry that she still cares enough to get sucked in.
"Because he realizes how wrong he was and how he had hurt all those other women, just like losing you had hurt him."
"He deserved it!" Tracy shouts.
"Then what do you want?" Tracy demands.
"He's trying to change. He needs you. It would be very helpful if you were back together."
"For what? Sex? Let him find a prostitute!" she seethed.
Gina realizes this is a mistake - she has allowed herself to become too personally involved with Travis and now she is doing stupid things for him. "That's OK, Tracy. I just wondered if you felt the same."
Tracy's anger comes boiling out. "I feel hurt. Used! You can't trust any man, period! Not ever! That's what I feel. Don't expect any tears from me over that.... "
Tracy starts to cry. Gina puts her arm around her and
hands her a tissue.
Gina and Travis are quietly traveling together in the evening after a business trip. Travis is driving.
"Whew! That was a long meeting. Are you always this tired after these negotiations?" Travis asks.
"Takes a lot out of you, doesn't it? You get used to it," Gina says comfortingly, then she sees that he really is tired. "Why don't you pull over, let me drive."
"Nah, I'm OK."
"You have this macho thing about driving. Men are always afraid to let women be in control. They have to be in control. It comes from deep feelings of insecurity."
"You've overdosed on self-help books. Let's stop here for dinner, then you can drive." Travis pulls into a truck stop.
Travis and Gina are seated at a booth, finishing their meal, sipping coffee. Two truck drivers approach them on their way to the counter to pay their bill. They both ogle Gina as they pass. Gina looks at her plate, barely able to suppress a smile. One of them whistles an appreciative sigh under his breath after they pass. Gina works harder at suppressing her smile. Travis studies her the entire time.
"Feeling appreciated are you?" Travis asks with a knowing smirk. "Esteemed?"
"Sure - appreciative glances won't kill me. Some men do this - it's a given - I can't change it."
"So it builds your self-esteem, and that isn't such a bad thing?" Travis asks, wanting to get a better handle on this.
"I don't know." Gina really doesn't know what to tell him.
"Speaking of male psychology," Travis continues, "I've thought about when I started feeling.... not esteemed. It was that summer my father spent based at home. So what do I do about it? Go beat up my father?"
Gina is alarmed. This isn't the reaction she hoped for. Maybe she should quit messing with Travis and make him go see someone who knows what he is doing. "What good would beating up your father do? You have the rest of your life ahead of you to be and do what you want."
"Yeah, so? If that S.O.B. made me this way, I should punch his damned lights out." Travis has gone from denying his situation to feeling depressed, to anger and blame.
"Is hurting him going to make you well?" Gina asks. "Did he do this on purpose?"
"Will beating up your father change him?"
"That old hard shell barnacle? You couldn't steam open his brain," Travis said bitterly. He smiled at the idea, but the smile remained.
Gina mentally breathes a sigh of relief. Thank God Travis is a willing participant, otherwise she probably would have caused a murder. Her gut feeling is that it won't do Travis a bit of good to go stir up trouble with his father - that would just involve him in an endless battle that would prevent him from working on himself. As long as he could make his father the scapegoat, he would work on his father instead of himself.
"You can blame your father for the way you are for the rest of your life, spend your time getting back at him, trying to make him pay, trying to make him sorry, trying to make him see your point of view, trying to make him see reason - this could take a lot of your time just trying to make your father into a different person. Do you think that would work?"
"I don't have the time and energy for all of that," Travis responded, sounding a little defeated.
"What do you want to do?" Gina asked, hoping to get him going some other direction.
"Emotionally? I just want to pound on him until he is the way I want him."
"That sounds normal," Gina agrees. But what do you think you should do? What would be ....the responsible thing?
"You like that word, too, don't you. Responsible."
"It just keeps popping out." For a moment Gina dwells on the word, letting herself feel where it comes from. "It probably comes from Kenrick telling me I'm responsible for everything that happens whether I can change it or not." She looks at Travis apologetically. "Sorry - I'm sticking you with my own problems."
"Well, I guess I'm responsible for the rest of my life. Not my father. I just want to get on with it. Climb this mountain and go on."
Gina can't see anything wrong with Travis. "You know, Travis, maybe it's partly a matter of just getting in tune with your real self and canceling out these other feelings. For example, do people listen to you now?"
"So you don't really have any need to seduce women?"
Travis thinks about that for a moment. "No, I guess not."
"Then why do it?" Gina asks, puzzled.
"Habit? We know I'm addicted to this".
"Do you know the most effective way to stop an addiction?"
Travis shakes his head.
"First you have to want to stop it," Gina replies. If you don't want to stop, all the help in the world won't help."
"I want to stop. This whole thing is getting painful."
"Good. You're already on the patch, so now lay your cigarettes down and don't pick them up again. That's how most people get it done."
"You mean you think I should just stop going after women?"
Gina smiles, but stops herself from continuing. She realizes she is giving advice and she is not the person to do that. "I don't know, I'm not the one responsible for fixing you. You have to take responsibility for yourself, so what do you think you should do?"
"I think I should just stop."
"I think Tracy would agree." Gina smiles at him.
Travis studies her, afraid to hope. "Are you toying with me? C'mon, Gina, don't hurt me this way."
"I think she would like a call, but expect to get a hard time. Tracy has never found a man she can trust and you really let her down." Gina prays she is doing the right thing. She has grown confident of Travis - he certainly says all the right things. But of course he has a history of saying all the right things to women. Her gut and her mind are in conflict.
Next: 6 Sweet Temptation