The Further Adventures of Louis and Elle
Chapter Sixteen: Mutual Admiration
Elle Murphy, hypnotherapist and hypnodomme, woke slowly and luxuriously out of a sleep so delicious and deep she at first could not remember her own name, how old she was, or where she lived. Those details came back, but, as she dozed with her eyes still shut, she realized she actually had no idea where she was, and her eyes popped open.
She found herself staring into the eyes of her husband, the writer and hypnosub Louis Wentworth. He was plainly half asleep, but his half-open eyes were fixed on hers, and his face bore the loopy smitten smile she had noticed more and more often these days. She reflexively thought of being stern with him, just on general principles, but could not manage it; she felt a big, smug smile crossing her own face. There was no way she could portray the strict, hard-to-please mistress at that moment—she was t aglow from the endorphin release of what was clearly recent sex, the luxuriance of the rug beneath her body, and the warmth of a fire on her back.
“Hello, old tiger,” Louis said.
Which brought her back to the question of where she was. She levered herself upright—cautiously, so as not to suddenly disarrange the intricate human sculpture formed by her naked body tangled with Louis’s—and saw the picture window of the living room of the house they shared in the East Hills of the Tri-County area. Outside, a heavy snow was pounding down—a blizzard, really—in a pitch-black night, the flakes jewel-like against a pitch-black night.
“Are you warm enough, darling?” Louis asked her.
She stretched languidly, managing as she did so to rub her body lightly against his, which clearly blurred his concentration and secretly amused her. “Yes, Louis, for the moment. I could use a glass of wine, though.”
“At once, Elle.” He leapt lithely to his feet. Like her, he was naked, but he seemed so focused on carrying out her whim that as to be unaware of that. As he turned to go to the kitchen, however, he paused. “Elle,” he said. “How did we end up here? What happened?”
The question might seem unusual, but not for Louis; he was quite familiar with his wife-mistress’s sexy hypnotic tricks, and had several times before awoken undressed, with no memory of how he had gotten that way. Usually Elle allowed him to remember at some point afterwards, but whether she did or not, he had long ago told her that if she enjoyed using him that way he was completely fine with it.
What happened next, however, was not usual. It was this: Elle answered, “I don’t know, Louis.”
The answer brought him to a halt, and he seemed about to speak again. This time her domme nature did kick in. “We can talk about it once you’ve brought me my glass of wine. Go on—off you go!”
He turned and trotted off to the kitchen. She used his brief absence to try to pull her thoughts together. Clearly something had happened—something that seemed quite good—but what? How? Both she and he had amnesia—had someone hypnotized them both? She had recently learned for the first time that she was an excellent subject for hypnosis, and of course Louis was so hypnotizable that she had had to implant in him strong post-hypnotic suggestions that no one could hypnotize him without her permission.
But who would come through a blinding blizzard, put both of them under, and then leave them writhing together in ecstasy on the living-room rug? The TV was still on its stand, nothing in the room was disarranged—no third person could have been here during their sexual riot.
She thought of a way to interrogate Louis without letting him see that she was as clueless as he was. He came back into the room with a glass of wine for her. (She had forgotten to tell him he could have one as well, but that could wait and anyway it was a good reminder to him of his place.) She said up, gathered her knees in front of her, and took the glass. “Louis, what’s the last thing you remember?”
He looked puzzled. “I remember…I remember thinking—what? I remember thinking, ‘It’s starting to snow.’”
It’s starting to snow, Elle thought, looking out the window of her ground-floor study. The room faced the garden, and she could see that the weather in the Tri-County area had, as predicted, turned truly malign. All morning the sky had been lowering, and from time to time—more and more often—it had been spitting sleet and freezing rain that had coated the ground, the roads, the cars, and everything else with a treacherous coat of ice.
The snow didn’t dismay Elle. She had read the weather forecast and had declared a snow day. She’d called her two afternoon clients and warned them to stay off the roads, rescheduling for a few days hence. The roads were really too treacherous—she had clients who were dying to consult her for help, but not literally. There was no need to go out; Louis was such a conscientious housekeeper that the larder was stocked for at least a week.
She’d reached into her file cabinet and brought out the partial manuscript and chapter outline of her new book on hypnotized husbands and the joys of marriage. She’d been at a roadblock in the project for a few weeks, feeling that something was missing—but not knowing what it could be. Now she knew.
Something unusual had happened a week earlier. She’d given herself a treat by sneakily hypnotizing Louis and making him dance for her half-naked.* It had seemed like a pleasant pastime—he was quite handsome and his blank gyrations had been sexy. But something unforeseen had happened. She’d turned him into her cage-dancer by talking to him about a famous short story in which a hypnotist makes his victims dance, and then she’d gone smoothly on to talk to him about what it must feel like to find oneself in a trance, dancing foolishly and blankly at another’s command, until Louis’s eyes had rolled back and he’d stripped and begun to gyrate at her command. But as she watched him smugly, suddenly her own eyes had rolled back and she’d entered her own blank dancing frenzy, the two of them moving to invisible music until their bodies came together in joyous sex.
But it wasn’t something she could recommend to her readers because she had no idea at all how it had happened. The book, however, seemed incomplete unless she could point them toward something comparable; it seemed to have moved their hypo-marriage to a whole new level of intimacy. Then she thought of the classic 1967 psychological paper that described what had happened when a hypnosis researcher had two subjects hypnotize each other, going back and forth three times to deepen the trance. The experience sounded a bit like what had happened to Louis—and perhaps it was something couples could use to learn.
She took out her notepad and jotted down a set of instructions for Louis to follow, then picked up her phone and called Louis, who was somewhere upstairs. “Louis, what are you doing?” she asked.
“I finished writing,” he said. “Then I cleaned up the house. The plan was to go to the gym next but the weather has kind of put the kibosh on that.”
“Yes,” she said. “Anyway, I have another plan. Make me some tea and meet me in the living room.” Then, as she was about to hang up, she added. “Oh, yes—make yourself some tea too if you want. And make us a fire.”
A few minutes later, they were together on the living room couch, watching the logs in the fireplace catch and flame up. Louis poured her some tea, while she explained what she wanted to do.
He had some trouble with following at first. “OK, let me see—you want to hypnotize me to hypnotize you to hypnotize me to hypnotize you—”
“Stop,” she said. “You’ll confuse yourself. You know how to hypnotize me as we have—ahem—established—” she blushed slightly remembering the time when he had lulled her into trance and then “persuaded” her to enact three of his adolescent fantasies—“So all you need to do is follow the instructions on this paper. I will hypnotize you, you will wake up, you will follow the instructions, etc. You can do that, right?”
Louis’s eagerness to please her was so adorable, she thought. He was nodding vigorously. “Yes, of course. … if that’s what you want. I am just not sure what is going to happen—”
“Neither am I,” she said. “But I want to explore this for the book—and since what happened last week was fun—it was, wasn’t it?”
“I guess it was,” he said. “The truth is I don’t remember it.”
“Oh!” She giggled slightly. “Totally my bad.” She leaned forward slightly and touched the center of his forehead with one red-lacquered nail. “Look at me, darling, let go, you can let yourself remember….”
His eyes lost focus, then his face flushed crimson. “Elle, you had me dancing in my underwear?”
“And you were quite lissome and delicious to watch, my dear—I was planning to get you to give me a lap dance, too—” she made a mental note for future use— “but then I got…caught up in it…and we ended up on the floor.”
She could see him remembering that part too. “My God, how long did that go on?” he said.
“I wasn’t keeping track.”
“You think that will happen again?”
“I really don’t know what will happen,” she said. “I know the professionals urge people only to do this with a third person, but given our experience I think we can give it a short trial on our own.”
“And I just follow the instructions?”
“Yes, darling. You’re very good at that, aren’t you?” She waved a finger in the air in front of him and his eyes followed helplessly. He nodded.
“And you trust me, don’t you?”
“And it’s sexy when you please me, isn’t it?”
He gave an almost inaudible gasp of pleasure, then nodded.
“It would please me very much if you did this for me.”
“Yes, Elle, of course, Elle, whenever you say, Elle.”
“Good. Now let’s just sit here a moment and get ready for what we are planning to do. You can just sit comfortably and I will drink this nice tea you made for me—have I thanked you?”
“No,” he said. “But that doesn’t matter. What matters is you getting your tea.”
“That’s quite true, dear.” She took a sip. “It’s delicious,” she said. “Have you ever heard of Joan Brandon?”
He shook his head.
“She was a famous stage hypnotist in the 1950s, one of two, the other being Miss Pat Collins. Joan Brandon was actually on a network TV show where the panel tried to guess which of three women was the real hypnotist, and none of them guessed her because she was so quiet and self-contained. She used that in her stage work. She didn’t do any induction, really. She would just tell the volunteers that when she counted to five their eyes would close and they would go into a hypnotic sleep. Even people who’d never been hypnotized responded well to it—they just relaxed, probably because she was so authoritative, and she took them deeper and deeper as her show went on. And another method she used was to use drinking—drinking either a glass of water or something else, maybe even something like this cup of tea, she’d say, ‘I’m going to drink this tea, and when I drink the third time you will be in a deep hypnotic trance,’ if you can imagine that working, and then she’d drink like this—once—mm, that’s good, you’ve really learned to make tea the way I like it, haven’t you?—and again, that’s twice—and then, this is the third time—yes, darling, that’s right, let it all go and listen only to my voice.”
Louis’s head fell heavily into her lap; on his face was a look of blank bliss.
Idly she stroked his hair. “That’s a good boy, Louis,” she said, “You’ve gone so deep and you can let yourself go deeper if you need to, deep enough to follow my commands, to know that the suggestions I can give you are your truth, that all you want to do, all you need to do, all you really can do is listen to my voice, my suggestions, and follow them at once because it feels so good and I am your mistress and you are proud of how quickly and completely you obey, do you understand?”
She felt Louis’s head nodding. “All right, Louis, listen carefully. In a minute I will count from 1 up to five and when I do you will wake up, feeling wide awake but still completely following the hypnotic suggestions I will give you. When I count to 5 you will wake, and when you wake the only thing on your mind will be hypnotizing me. You know how to hypnotize me, you have done it before, and you will access that part of you that is a good hypnotist and you will hypnotize me as deeply as you are hypnotized now, and when you have done that, you will read the instructions I have given you and follow them. Nod.” He nodded again.
Slowly she counted to five; when she reached the last number, her husband lifted his head, then stood up slowly until he was standing in front of her. She watched him curiously; he seemed different somehow. It was his posture. He seemed to be standing more upright; he seemed more commanding. And that was true of his face now; in place of his usual sunny expression—his look of adoration when he looked at her—he seemed to be staring down at her from a very great height, with acute, almost predatory, awareness of her, an awareness that almost extended through her, as if he could see into her mind. She felt a flash of alarm; what had she started?
Then Louis spoke. “Elle,” he said, “have you ever seen the original 1924 stage play of “Dracula”?”
She gave a little start of surprise. The film of “Dracula,” starring Bela Lugosi, had made a deep impression on her as a girl. After her mother and father had disappeared, she had grown up in a place and time where no one could really compete with her in sheer confidence and dominance. Boys, girls, even teachers, had been easy to bend to her will. But when she saw “Dracula” she recognized in Lugosi’s Count a will she would not be able to conquer easily—if at all. In one scene, the Count attempts to lure Van Helsing to his side, where he can kill him. He makes a hypnotic pass and says, “Come!” And the old Dutch scientist is swayed—he takes a long step closer to the monster before shaking off the spell and repelling Dracula with a crucifix. When Elle saw the old man step forward, a shiver had run up her spine. And then, shamefacedly, she felt aroused, she felt for a second helplessly eager to be in the old man’s place and to give way to Dracula’s will. Lugosi’s posture, his voice, his face, all seemed so powerful that she wondered whether if he really had been Dracula she would have been able to resist—and whether she would have wanted to.
“No, Louis,” she said. She found her eyes drawn to his. Lugosi’s eyes—so deep, piercing, and feral—had fascinated her as a girl. Did Louis know this? She’d never told him. Had he read her mind? Now Louis was holding her gaze with a look that was so much like the Count’s she couldn’t bring herself to look away.
“There is a scene when Van Helsing and the others have placed garlic wreaths at the windows of Lucy’s bedroom, remember? Dracula won’t be able to enter as long as they are there. So he begins chatting to the maid. She tells him she has been having headaches. He offers to help her with hypnosis. She says she’s afraid of being hypnotized. He looks into her eyes, deeply into her eyes, and says, “No doubt you think of hypnosis as a matter of clumsy passes. … Those … are … not … my … methods. S L E E P!”
Elle’s world went dark and quiet, though in the background she could hear Louis’s voice like a distant buzz. It was telling her things that were important, but she didn’t need to listen; she could just drift and imagine Dracula’s piercing eyes, his cruel mouth, his fierce teeth drawing her to him, draining her will, draining her blood, making him his thrall and then his unholy bride, his slave . . . .
“And wide awake feeling wonderful!” Louis’s voice said, and Elle’s eyes popped open. She felt so rested, so deeply peaceful, so focused, and so . . . well . . . sexy. She did not spend a moment trying to remember what just happened. Instead, she leaned forward and looked at Louis. He had a slightly smug expression on his face, but she vowed to wipe it off. “Hello, Man-cub,” she said in a husky contralto that she knew he loved, “Look at me, man-cub. Look … at Kaa.”
She knew that Louis, like most hypnosubs, had seen Disney’s “Jungle Book” cartoon at an early age and had been affected by the scene in which the python Kaa nearly devours Mowgli by hypnotizing him with her eyes. She suspected that, if everyone told the truth, more than half the people at any showing of the film were sitting there shame-facedly hoping that Kaa would swallow Mowglie—and then them—whole, leaving nothing behind. She knew that Louis had felt that way; he’d confessed as much to her early in her hypnotic interrogations of him.
“I can help you, man-cub,” she said. “But first you have to trust me.” Sinuously she slithered closer to him on the couch, until his face was only a few inches from hers, and her face was all that he could see. She looked into his eyes. “Trust in me,” she sang softly. “Just in me… Close your eyes, trust in me.”
His eyelids were already sagging; she wouldn’t need to sing the entire song to put him out. “Slip into silent slumber,” she sang. “Float on a silvery mist. Sooner or later your senses will cease to resist.”
The room had become very quiet all of a sudden. Louis’s head had fallen back against the couch, and he was breathing slowly and softly, his mouth hanging slightly open as his eyes danced behind his closed lids.
“Good, Louis,” she said now. “Listen carefully. You know what to do when I count five. You will open your eyes, feeling wide awake but in fact remaining deeply hypnotized and controlled by my will and my eyes, and when you do you will hypnotize me and put me deep into trance and then obey the instructions. Nod.”
The entranced young man inclined his head ever so slightly.
“Good man-cub,” she said. “Now 1-2-3-4-5! Open your eyes, feeling awake but remaining in deep trance.”
She was prepared for Lugosi this time; she would let Louis hypnotize her, to be sure, but she wouldn’t fall prey to that ridiculous tingly feeling between her legs when she thought about Lugosi’s voice, his eyes, his hands, his cape.
So she almost missed Louis’s opening words, which were uttered in a quite genial, easy conversational tone. “Elle, look at this diamond.” He held up the palm of his hand close to her face. “There is a diamond in my hand.”
“No, there’s no dia—” She realized dimly that the diamond induction was one from the mutual-hypnosis article that had inspired this experiment. But how was that possible? Louis didn’t know about the article, only she did! Anyway, the induction was … silly … it would never … work ….
“Elle, look closer, closer, there is a shimmering diamond, it reflects the light, it draws your eye, look more carefully” and there was something there, a shimmer, and then a shine and then a big blue and white stone reflecting light into her eyes and making her want to shut them and sleep… sleep… sl….
There was no sun, no moon, no stars, no sky. The place was bright and alive with motion and in the background she could almost hear the music that was playing and behind that she could definitely hear the sweet song of flowing water not far away. They were in a long passage, the ceiling so high above that she could not see it. There were birds; or maybe they were fish, because they flew above them but they did not flutter from place to place. Instead, they floated gently, like jellyfish, or darted and hovered in shoals, or swam along through the air ponderously, or appeared and disappeared from the soft porous rock—but was it rock, she was lying on it and it felt soft as a bed of grass—like ocean dwellers emerging and withdrawing into a coral reef.
The air wasn’t warm or cold. It was, like the soft surface under her, like the music she could almost hear, perfect.
And there was Louis, standing above her and smiling that same loopy smitten smile he always smiled.
She knew it was him, not a dream of him; that she was there, not just dreaming she was there. That whatever “reality” was, this time, this place, these sounds and sights were part of it just as much as she was.
“Hello, old tiger,” he said, and reached down a hand.
“Louis, where are we? What is happening?”
“We’re inside, darling.”
“What do you mean, ‘inside’? Inside what?”
“Inside everything. Inside ourselves. Inside you. Inside me.”
“You hypnotized me twice.”
“I left instructions for a third time…”
“You didn’t need it, Elle. After two, you were ready.” He took her hand, and gently pulled on it, guiding her down the passage. “Let’s go.”
She felt the impulse to pull her hand away; she was not used to being guided, she was usually the guide. But her feet moved toward him and she began to follow, and as she did she noted that, in the same way that he had been different when imaging “Dracula,” he was different here, in this place—not commanding and Lugosi-like but confident and welcoming, like a host bringing a dear friend into a new home. “Where are we going?” she asked.
“Deeper,” he said.
They walked for—how long? It could have been ten minutes; it could have been an hour; soon “time” had no meaning as they moved in synch down the glowing path “deeper,” surrounded by the strange friendly lights and hearing snatches of music just behind the world they were moving through, their bodies warm and comfortable in the perfect air. Louis was in the lead, confident and warm, and Elle began to feel that she could follow him forever, deeper and further down.
At last they came to a round wooden door. Hanging next to it on the wall was a key with a tag marked LOUIS & ELLE. “This is our room,” he said.
“What does that mean?” she asked. “What is ‘our room’?”
He looked into her eyes with that full warm smitten smile and she felt suddenly as if she might sink through the floor, the current of love and reassurance that came from him was so powerful that she almost forgot who she was and simply floated away in it. “Elle,” he said. “Ever since we met, we’ve been trying without knowing it to get to this room. Your power, your domination, your hypnosis, my eagerness to obey, my submission and devotion and service—all have been our feeble attempts to get here, to get to this room. All lovers are looking for their key, their room, and we have found ours.”
“Louis, how do you know all this?” She was puzzled, because the husband—the lover—that she knew was adorable and kind and submissive and nurturing but he had never seemed to have some sort of mystical knowledge.
“I have always known,” he said. “I knew at the moment I saw you that you and I were on our way here, sooner or later. And you knew too.” In a gesture that was an echo of the finger touch that she used at her leisure to send him into a trance, he touched her forehead. But his touch did not put her to sleep—quite the reverse—it awoke in her suddenly the knowledge of why they were here—why she had devoted her life to gaining hypnotic power and seeking devotion and obedience from people around her, particularly men—the way that her own quest fit into his and into the larger quest of which each person’s formed a part, and she knew then that she was where she needed to be and that Louis was the friend, the lover, the servant, the husband, the wife, she had always needed.
And by the sudden tingling in her body she knew that whatever else might lie behind that door, sexual bliss was waiting there too.
“Are you ready, old tiger?” he said.
He threw open the door and they stepped through.
“Aren’t you cold?” Louis was asking.
“I would like a blanket, I think—off you go!” As he scampered away, she used the time to think through what she remembered. He returned with a thick Pendleton wool blanket, which he carefully wrapped around her shoulders. “Louis,” she said. “Were there . . . fish . . . there?”
He gave her an odd look. “I don’t think so,” he said. “I think maybe . . . birds?” He shook his head in confusion. “I’m not sure where that came from.”
“What do the words ‘old tiger’ mean to you, Louis?”
He half closed his eyes and recited:
“Tiger, tiger burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”
“It’s a poem by William Blake.”
“Why did that come to mind?”
“I don’t know—when you said ‘old tiger’ I thought of that poem.”
She clutched the blanket more closely around her. The fire was burning down and the snow was still pelting just inches away outside the window.
“I think I’d like to get in bed and get warm,” she said. “Would you be a dear and run me a bath and turn down the bed? And here—” she handed him her wineglass—”I’d like a refill too. You may pour yourself some if you like. Thank you, darling. Off you go.”
Louis hastened to the kitchen. She surveyed the room, still puzzled about what had happened. Her eye lit on her notepad on a side table. She picked it up. “Mutual hypnosis experiment,” read a headline next to the date. “Protocol: hypnotist places subject in trance, elicits hypnotic behavior; subject hypnotizes hypnotist; repeat three times and record results.” Below it was blank space.
She remembered suddenly how this adventure had begun. The details were still missing, but she realized that whether the dim memories were of birds or of fish, whether there were tigers there or not. she and Louis would at least try to revisit whatever strange world they had just left. Picking up her pen, she quickly wrote, “Results: inconclusive. Further research needed. RECOMMENDED protocol revision: Include suggestions of enhanced memory of trance.”
“Come to bed, Elle,” Louis called down.
She thought of her husband—her lover—and for some reason her heart beat faster, as if she were a young girl hearing the voice of her first love, or a virginal bride on her wedding night. How could that be? He was just Louis, her husband, her servant, and her toy, whom she knew so well and enjoyed owning and bossing around.
But did she know everything about him? Were there depths in him she did not know? Where had he taken her just now?
She clutched the blanket more tightly around her shoulders and turned out the living room lights.
“I’m on my way, old tiger,” she called. Then, with light feet and glad heart, she ran up the stairs to her waiting lover.