Karen and Bridget

One of the Professors of my old Alma Mater had invited me to attend some sort of meeting. I felt obliged - he'd helped me sort out my BSc graduate project - so I turned up, suited and booted.

The Professor showed me something he'd been working on - semi-mobile buildings which could be uprooted in the event of a disaster, so the buildings could be relocated to safer ground, maintaining the infrastructure that depended upon them. I made the usual noises of approval, and then the Prof invited one of his teaching assistants to come in; a woman called Karen. When Karen entered, the Prof took his leave out the opposite door - some business he had to attend to in the next room.

Karen entered. A tall, athletic, statuesque, Amazonian blonde with a short Brigitte Nielsen crew cut. She had some sort of flimsy negligee top on, but she was also wearing jeans and trainers.

I shook hands, and maintained eye contact. And right away, there was something weird. The way she entered the room, pausing a moment at the threshold, glancing left and right; her smooth poise, gait, posture - alert yet relaxed - and the look in her eyes as she approached me.

Reserve, detachment, but a mask for something deeper.

A few moments later, the opposite door opened, and another woman entered, called Bridget. Brunette. Heavy coat, street clothes, scarf. She came up to me, and shook my hand, smiling. Warm, affable, charming. She asked me to look at something she'd just done. She wondered if it was the sort of thing I'd like to see on my wall.

It was a mandala, on canvas. Kind of like this one.

Then Bridget floored me. She told me she'd hand drawn it.

I looked at the mandala, marvelling at it, and looked at Bridget, seeing an expectant look in her eyes for a moment. I looked at her more closely, and saw something pink under her coat lapel, half hidden. Then I turned back to face Karen, who looked grumpy.

'Are you all right?' I asked. 'Have I said or done something to piss you off?'

'You dismissed me,' Karen said.

'In what way?'

'You saw a blonde,' Karen said, 'wearing skimpies, and you immediately dismissed me as dumb.'

I said 'I didn't even have time to speak. Bridget was in the room, asking me about her mandala.' I looked back to Bridget.

'Do you show your mandala to every man you meet for the first time?'

Bridget began to blush. I looked back at Karen, whose posture was really defensive now.

'I'll have you know, I'm the smart one,' she snapped.

'Top one percent of the top two percent?'

'You bet I am,' Karen said, storming off. She paused on the threshold of the door, holding something back.

'Can I ask you something, Karen?' I asked. 'You're a warrior, and your sister here's an artist. You're very different people -'

But Karen and Bridget were gasping in surprise. Karen turned back. 'How did you know?'

'One,' I said, 'Karen can hand-draw mandalas, which speaks to a most incredible hand-eye-brain coordination, akin to that possessed by Galileo, who could hand-draw a perfect circle. Also, her aesthetic is impeccable. She's an artist, just as I'm a writer, blogger, magician and hypnotist. You follow your instincts; you follow your wiring.

'You are a warrior. You sized up the room - a tactical thing. There were, other than you, two people in the room - me and the Prof. The Prof left the room, and it was then just me. The, er, target. Your walk - you entered the room like coming onto a battlefield, only thankfully it's not a FIBUA simulation, CQB, or you'd have been sneaking around to ambush me from behind. Choke hold, struggle, good night Gracie.

'And like a warrior, you sized me up. Quick threat assessment. Small, bit soft physically especially round the middle. Glasses. Bad eyesight. Hair, always a bit greasy - probably eats a lot of chips. Padding, not much smarts. Tell me if I'm right about your assessment of me.'

Karen nodded.

'And you thought I'd size you up, too. Blonde, tall, look at those boobs ... forget the rest, what magnificent boobs, oh and there's someone talking but she's a blonde, I can discount it, no such thing as a smart blonde.' I paused. 'Yes?'

Reluctantly, Karen nodded, her brow creasing.

'I don't think it occurred to you ... either of you ... that I could size you both up differently?'

'In what way?'

I look at Bridget. 'You, I think you're a lesbian, and you're straight, Karen.'

Bridget was blushing again, but a deeper kind. Closed up tight like a restaurant in violation of health regs. I looked at her again. 'No?' I pointed at the pink thing - a pink triangle.

'I thought that the pink triangle was your way of declaring your sexuality,' I said.

'We're both straight,' Karen said, her voice softer, warmer. She was looking at Karen, who had now adopted the defensive posture.

'Wait,' I said, 'you're wearing the badge ... but it's hidden. If you were truly out of the closet, it'd be in plain sight. You'd have probably looked me right in the eye and said "I'm a lesbian," establishing that you're already out - you wouldn't come out to me, a stranger, unless I was making a move on you - which I have done to neither of you, by the way.'

'We noticed,' the girls replied.

'So you're wearing the badge ... under false pretenses,' I said. 'Did the Prof ask you to put it on, a red herring?'

Both girls glanced at the corner of the room, and there I noticed the camera that had been monitoring the room all this time.

'Experiment?' I asked. Both girls nodded. 'And of course, ethically, the experiment is now over since I, as the lab rat, have seen right through the walls of the maze and figured out that I was being tested. For something.'

'We're studying prejudices,' Karen said.

'Male prejudices,' Bridget replied.

'And did I fail this experiment or pass?' I asked.

A while later, possibly in another dream segment:-





'I've got some questions. Bridge, did you really hand draw that mandala?'



'Kaz, can you draw mandalas like Bridge?'

'No, but I could factorise quadratic equations at the age of four.'


Bridge taps my shoulder. 'And we were both speaking in Russian to one another at the age of two.'


'We've got some questions to ask, too.' Kaz.

'Fire away.'

'How did you know we were sisters?'

'You look similar, but the way Bridge was more hunched over, it made her seem shorter - whereas, in truth, you're both the same height. You're twins. Non-identical; you look kind of alike, but you're a natural blonde - I checked the roots, though I had to see you with your head bowed because I was getting a crick in my neck maintaining eye contact, what with my natural eye level being at the height of your chest and all -'

Karen stifled laughter beside me. I ignored it.

'- but it was the way you were both comfortable with each other, because you'd known one another all your lives. And when one of you was defensive, the other would step in. Especially you, Kaz, when it was Bridge getting all concerned about my misperception of her sexuality.'

'So you sized us up better than we did you,' Kaz said.

'I'm learning to be damned good at that,' I replied. 'And I strive to be always full of surprises.'

'Alex, I also have a question,' Bridge asked.

'Fire away, hon,' I replied.

'How did we three end up in bed together?'

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