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By Jeep
published August 1, 2021
2641 words

Two couples make a visit to a very special perfume factory where scent is memory…

This is a story of altered reality told from the viewpoint of the four main characters Sydney, her husband of twelve years Drew, Sydney’s best friend Alexandra and her new boyfriend Joseph, first individually and then together again as they attend a couples workshop at Alchemy the hottest parfumerie in town..


Everyone hits that place in any relationship, that point where you love each other, but everything feels so ordinary, so mundane. We were so there in my marriage, my whole life if you come right down to it. I look up at Sydney, who is obviously waiting for me to respond to something she’s just said… oh God, what was it? Something about the pork chops? No we talked about them already, didn’t we … or was that last week, last month, last year? It wasn’t about her work, one of our rules is no “shop talk” at the table… is it her Mother? That airhead friend of hers, Alexandra? She’s giving me that we’re about to start an argument look, so i say, “I’m not sure, what do you think?”

Thank you Jesus, that seems to be an acceptable answer, cause now she’s all excited and talking about how much fun we’re going to have, just the four of us, and how lucky she was to win the chance in that charity auction for stray animals, or foster kids, or whatever we attended the other night at the country club… hey Jesus, you set me up bud, sounds like I’m going to be trapped this Saturday at some fancy perfume factory with her, Alexandra, and that new boyfriend of hers, old uh, whats-his- name, Jack, Jacob… Jerry? Does it matter, it just means no golf on the day, better move my tee time to Sunday… fuck it all to Hell, why do i get myself into these things?

The rest if the week is just like every day before, get up, get dressed, go downstairs, coffee, the list of things we need to do, dry cleaning, her dentist appointment, my client dinner tomorrow, breakfast, the look at the clock and rush out the door, her towards the Children’s Hospital where she works as a therapist, me toward forty minutes of gridlock as I inch toward the office for eight hours of files, spreadsheets, and meetings, another forty minutes driving home, dinner, an hour or so of tv, then up to bed, no sex, another hour of news, lather, rinse, repeat ad infinitum…

Saturday, dawns one of those perfect days, warm, cloudless, low humidity… the perfect day to be on the course… wish I was smart enough to come up with a way to ditch, but one look at her face, and I know I can’t be that big a dick, she actually looks happy, and pretty in a way she hasn’t for awhile, she’s brushed out her hair instead of pulling it into a ponytail, and has done full makeup like we’re going to a party, wearing a top that shows a little breast and those jeans that make her ass look amazing… fuck it all, maybe this day will end up with a little sex, guess i can deal…

“Wow, babe, you look great,” I say as I wrap my arms around her… she pushes away a bit, and tells me i’ll wrinkle her top… yeah Drew, thinking you might get lucky, c’mon man!

So we get in the car, and head to her friend Alexandra’s place… I never understood what Sydney sees in her, not only is her life a constant mess, switching careers like most people change underwear, she is constantly in LOVE with someone new, although like i told Sydney once, the name may change but the guy stays the same, nerdy, quiet, organized, the yin to her yang, and this latest one “Joseph” as I’m reminded on the ride over is no exception, he’s probably six two, maybe 145, with some tee shirt for a comic convention on under a slightly wrinkled oxford shirt. I may not be Mr. GQ, but at least i look respectable in my navy polo and khakis. Alexandra is her typical hot mess, giant tee shirt, long crinkly skirt, about 100 necklaces and bracelets… Sydney tells me the look is Boho chic, but to me it looks like a forty year old trying to hard to be young.

They get in the car, hello, hello, small talk, small talk, small talk, until we run out of things to say, and lapse into fifteen minutes of bored silence interspersed with “sure is pretty today” and “are you sure you want to take 69 toward town, lots of roadwork” and the like… thank God, GPS is telling me the building is 500 feet on the right… I pull up, and look at the sign, white neon against the old brick, “alchemy” it says in lowercase letters. A valet dressed head to toe in something kind of shiny and black runs up and takes the car, handing me a claim ticket for later. We walk up to the door, and two more guys in this clingy, shiny black open the front doors, which read “alchemy” on top with “parfumerie” on the bottom. I guess they are really trying to sell the idea of sex, because i swear I can see the whole outline of an eggplant sized cock in both the doormen’s shiny black pants, along with their nipples and abs, this place is looking like its going to be every fucking thing I worried about, I look over at …Jason? and see him trying to avert his eyes, while the girls are busy talking away as we go into the big main room, where roughly a dozen other people are sipping on champagne They all look like us, middle aged, middle class, average in every way. Suddenly a bell sounds and over the speakers comes a voice asking us to find a seat for the presentation. We do, and the lights dim except for one spotlight. Into that spotlight steps a Dracula looking guy, pale white skin, black slicked back hair, dressed all in black, turtleneck, suit, pointy shoes, belt, all black…he’s speaking in a heavy European accent talking about how scent brings memory, and memory shapes reality, blah, blah, blah and now he’s talking about our “chance” to explore that by creating a scent for ourselves, and then giving three of the ingredients to our partner to add to their fragrances and vice versa, so we could “build harmony into our relationship,” blah, blah, lights up and one of those shiny clothes guys is taking me into a room, where there are rows of beakers with cork tops on them. The voice of the Dracula guy comes over the speaker telling us to each pick a vial at random, open it, smell it, and think about what it means to us… he says to repeat it a total of six times, and then to mix the vials together to determine our personal fragrance… after we mix up our scent we are to choose three of the vials we used to give our partner to mix into their perfume… please God, shoot me now… guess its time to begin, so we can get out of here.

I pick up a vial at random like they said to, and i open it… the scent is rich, acrid, pungent… suddenly I’m , twelve years old, in my Grandfather’s study. I’ve opened his humidor, and am smelling his ever present cigars… I remember reaching out to touch one, planning to sneak it and smoke it outside, when Granny interrupted me, and smacked me until I promised to never smoke, and you know I never have, but as I’m inhaling that scent, reaching out Granny never appears… I grab that cigar and make it outside, out to the garage where Granny never comes, and after using the cigar cutter Grandfather keeps in his tool box, I manage to get it lighted, and I stammer, I choke, but I get the hang of it, I smoke my first cigar like a grown man…

The sound of a bell brings me back to reality as I’m asked if I can name the first scent…“easy”, I reply, patting the cigars in the breast pocket of my dark denim shirt, “every smoker recognizes tobacco when they smell it…”

I’m told to pick scent number two, and I do. Again, it’s rich, heavy, somehow elemental, but also a bit sweet… I’m back at Grandpa’s garage, he and I struck a deal last year when he caught me stealing his cigars… if I work with him one day a week, he’ll look the other way about a couple cigars every now and then, well deal and deal, see Grandpa’s a pretty cool guy… well for an attorney anyway, but he’s an attorney who put himself through school working as a mechanic, so he’s always out in his garage tinkering with the cars. I look down at my hands, and inhale the smell of grease and oil, the smell of a man doing something manly, something far removed from my office downtown. I breathe deep and just think about how easy it was for Grandpa, running his repair shop out behind the house, fixing up wrecked cars and selling them to folks from his driveway. He and Granny weren’t rich, but they were happy…

Again, the bell brings me back, I look down at the vial in my hands, and feel the cool glass as it rubs against my callused palms, were they fucking kidding me? First cigars, now motor oil? I could give them that smell, it clung to my fingers, and even though my denim shirt was well washed to the point of being threadbare, it still told of my shifts in the bodyshop fixing cars that Grandpa could only imagine for rich pricks who looked down on me, well fuck em, nothing wrong with a man who made an honest living with his hands…

I pick up another and open it… damn ain’t no mistaking this, it’s the smell of the locker room, of damp clothes, testosterone, sweat, man stink of every kind… I wasn’t ever too smart in school, but I was strong as fuck and played football and wrestled. Shit, those was the days, just me and the boys lifting and grappling, looking to see who was top dog, and fuck if it wasn’t always me. What folks didn’t understand was I was tough cause I had to be, Ma had taken off one day with the latest loser she was dating, and left me with her pa, and a meaner man never drew breath… now don’t get me wrong he taught me more about engines than any fancy school could ever do, and let me earn my smokes from age seven when he got likkered up and bought a pack of Marlboro’s and made me smoke em one after another until i was sick while he drank and laughed with his bar buddies, by twelve I was smoking them nasty stogies from down at the corner store, knowing that a grown ass man smoked and I already almost looked like a grown ass man, almost six foot and gone through an early puberty, so I figured I deserved em…

The bell made me come back to my senses… I thought for a minute, but how could I tell this guy what I smelled, like I said school wasn’t my thing, so all I could say was " I , uhh dunno, like sweat?"

The man told me it was musk and it went into lots of fancy perfumes. I laughed and sniffed at my wet pits, told him then i was in the wrong line of work cause i made lots of “musk” was damn near famous for it… I feel the weight of my heavy two a days, done em for years, my body ain’t pretty but it’s still fucking diesel , the thick heavy muscle of a working man along with a big power belly that strains against that old denim work shirt I’m wearing… it ain’t none too clean, and even with the sleeves cut off cause they were too tight on my arms, they smell like a fucking man should, my man scent caught in every thread, coupled with grease and smoke. My rod starts getting hard as I smell myself…

The fucker running this show is telling me open another bottle.. shit a couple more and I’m outta here, so why not? I pick one up, and again it’s an easy fuckin smell to pick out… ain’t a biker alive don’t recognize the smell of old leather thats been with you out on the road, rain or shine. Always makes me think about when I was 17, almost full grown, six foot four, three hundred ten pounds of muscle, anger, and trouble. Ma had brought home this guy, the latest of the losers she took up with… the bastard was old enough to be her dad, so I took to calling him Gramps… Gramps ran with a hard crew and they run a chop shop taken apart stolen cars, tinkering on their bikes, dealing a bit of this, bit of that… Gramps showed me ways to use my size to earn some coin, gave me smokes, a bit of pot, beer, whatever… when i turned 18 he and the boys took me for my first tats and gave me a new name… since that night no one’s called me nothin’ but Tank…

Damn bell goes off again, and I tell the faggot in front of me that I smell leather… I scratch my belly brushing against my open leather vest that tells folk the name of my crew and my name Tank, like it wasn’t in big letters arching over my belly, course when you’re covered in ink head to toe they might not notice, right?

.I get told to open one last bottle so I can go… goddamn these mother fuckers are just messing with me, don’t know how they got it in a bottle, but this fuckin’ smells like a fuckin’ ass after I’ve seeded it with cum… I think about Gramps gettin all lickered up one night and him comin’ for me… to this day I don’t know what the fucker was thinkin’ I was younger, I was stronger, and damn if I didn’t always know deep down I was a fudge packer… he never got nowhere near my hole, but after a bit, he learned his place as my bitch, all the boys in the crew knew I was the fuckin’ alpha and that i could take any of them at any time… A bell rings somewhere, and some hot fucker in head to toe latex tells me that it’s time for me to pick three of the smells to send out to my bitch, easy I know which ones… Another of the latex boys bring in some that they add to what I been mixin and they bring it over to me, and tell me to spray myself… I don’t fucking know why I’m here, and I can feel the rage buildin’ in me that these plastic pretty boys are tellin’ me what to do, but somehow I just can’t help but do it… I pick up the bottle, and I spray…

Mind Control
Wanking material
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