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She has her own office, an important job, with attendant underlings to get things done for her. It wasn't so much her lifelong dream, as something she'd always assumed was going to be her life, and now that she's found her place behind the desk, Eleanor finally feels like she's really herself, really living her own life. It doesn't matter that she doesn't care at all about music & parties, the raison d'etre of Livin' Large Magazine, the important thing she's near the top & moving up. So it's a bit of a come down to see the pictures of the apartments & houses Justin has been checking out for them. It's not his fault of course, she's put them on one income, she's insisted on taking on his car payments, his insurance, plus rent, and in L.A.'s tight housing market, she's not going to be able to afford to live in the manner she expected she'd be living once she started on her career path. Reminding herself of this fact doesn't make the landscaping in this photo she's looking at any more attractive. "The yard on that one is shabby," she says, just wanting it to be 'more'. Justin moves quickly, at first she doen't understand what he's doing: his left hand is in her hair pulling her head back while his thumb wraps around her face, pressing into her cheek. "Don't move," he says, and Eleanor holds herself obediently still as he grabs the digital camera sitting by the computer, and snaps a photo of his left hand holding her head. And she stays still while he pulls at her suit until he's freed one breast, which he grabs with his left hand, pressing hard with his thumb like he did to her cheek. She stays still, but her eyes move, to look at him, though even her eyes cannot tell her what he intends. "Don't look at me, don't move," he commands, and she looks away, so he can snap his picture, of his hand on her breast. He puts the camera down & gently replaces her suit over her shoulder. "What are you going to do with those?" He smiles as he answers, "Look at you when you're not around," and she feels his smile against her cheek as he kisses it, "Because you're mine to look at." His smiles are rare, Eleanor has every one he's ever given her locked in her memory, her most treasured possessions.

Eleanor gets to see for herself what Justin does with the photos he shot when she comes in after her workday to find him working on them on her computer. He's cropped the shot closely, his hand, her breast, his thumb pressed into soft flesh, creating deep shadows, and he's picked up Photoshop remarkably quickly, Eleanor can't even identify what he's done to achieve the effect he's gotten. She just knows she wants a big print of it, to replace the baby themed 'art' the woman she's replacing has currently got all over the office. And they have large format printers at work, she could get a frameable print of it just that easily, "Eleanor you can't bring this to your office," Justin says when she tells him she wants to bring it in to have it printed. "I want to hang it in my office, Justin. I like it. It's art," she explains. He rolls his eyes at that, not impressed with art at all. She took him to a gallery opening once, the artist was doing one color canvases...Justin took one look at the price of a deep red canvas, and then told Eleanor he thought the whole thing was a con. "Seriously, Elle, you can theorize about it all you want, anyone who pays that kind of money for that bullshit is being conned," he said. Eleanor was very tempted to quote him in the article she wrote about that show for Mercedes' magazine...

After he feeds her, Justin shows her the results of the day's househunting: he told her before she left for work in the morning that he was going to look at a house in Marina del Rey this afternoon, explained that it was likely to be out of their price range, but that he was 'in a position' to talk the price down. The pictures show her a large, well landscaped house with a garage, pool...Justin talks while she looks, telling her in detail about everything he saw, enthusiastic & unnaturally expressive. He loves the kitchen with it's metal surfaces, and there's a ridiculously large bathroom with double spa tubs: neither of them are given to lying around in mud, but Justin points out the large shower room, saying it's big enough for them both. The place is stunning, there's no question, if he can get it in their budget, they'll take it...But Justin isn't finished with his pitch yet, he wants to tell her about the bedroom 'closet'. The picture is dark because the only light is from deep ruby stained glass windows, but the 'closet' is clearly larger than her own bathroom, large enough for a lot of things besides storage. "Elle, it was just like this room from one of Jeanette's stories...a bunch of rich people locked themselves in a house to escape a plague, and there was this one room, all dark with red windows, they all die in that room," Justin says, putting the brakes on Eleanor's train of thought. Is he talking about 'The Masque of the Red Death'? He must be...but who is Jeanette? The best way to find out is ask, so Eleanor does. "Jeanette was my sister," Justin replies in his somber tone, "She liked to tell stories." It's just a couple of sentences, but it's so much, from him, it's the first time he's named anyone from his family, revealed anything about his past. And what a revelation, Eleanor has been long puzzled by these odd moments where he'll compare a situation to something in a classic work of literarture, without seeming to know he is referring to a piece of literature. It's always just 'something he heard once'. Now she knows from who. "Tell me about your sister, what happened to her?" Eleanor asks, taking advantage of this unexpected openness from him, hoping he'll give her something new, some window into his mysterious & secretive world. Maybe losing his sister somehow plays into his dislike of being touched by other people...."She got some kind of scholarship & went to college, Elle," Justin answers, his brow knitted at her question, "Jeanette is older than I am, by a couple of years. So she was already gone when I left." Eleanor is almost disappointed to hear this mysterious story-telling sister didn't meet some tragic, horrible & brother-traumatizing end, "You made it sound like she died or something," she says. And he laughs as he apologizes for the mistake, saying he thinks of them as though they were dead & perhaps that's what they think of him, too, since he's had no contact since leaving in his teens. Justin tries to get back to the house pictures, but Eleanor presses on: she's gotten this much from him & means to have more. "Tell me," she demands, "Do you have other sisters & brothers? What about your parents? Why did you leave?" Sometimes, Eleanor knows for sure when he means business, no games. Right now, he tells her wants this house, and will only answer her questions after they've made a decision on that, and she knows he means exactly that. Eleanor smiles, happily telling him they'll take the house, "Now tell me," she says.

Justin answers her questions, he's careful to only reply to what she specifically asked, listing his sisters (no brothers) by name (they all start with 'J'), tells her he knows nothing about his father (none of them had the same father), and that his mother was Joy. "I left because I wanted to, and there was no reason to stay," he finishes. It doesn't even begin to cover what she wanted to know. "What kind of woman was your mother?" she asks, wishing as the words come out that she had phrased that better, hoping she didn't sound like her own mother. But it doesn't matter how she phrased it, Justin is distracted, his gaze moved over to something on her coffee table. "What's that?" she asks, getting up to go see for herself, a video tape...for a moment she thinks he somehow got 'the' tape from Mercedes, but there's a label, 'The Collared': not very helpful..."I haven't watched it myself yet," Justin says, telling her it's a documentary about the 'fetish subculture', and that's he's in it "From when I was in New York," he says, as though she had known he'd lived in New York at some point. Stunned, Eleanor stands mute for a moment, then pops the tape into the VCR, her curiosity about Justin's past aroused in a different way.

He doesn't perform anymore, he's told her, since he's moved to L.A., he's only engaged in 'private practice'. She's asked him to describe his performances, but he only shrugs & says he whips people on stage. This 'documentary', actually a student film, more than satisfies her curiosity about his performances: the video opens with one, in a dark, cramped & smoky New York nightclub, the audience chants 'Dominus' until he steps out onto the stage....she almost doesn't recognize him, so much younger, smaller in frame. She's used to her Justin, the one who keeps to himself & never lets on what goes on in his private life: this younger Justin is all out there, sporting several piercings on his face, while her Justin only wears piercings beneath his clothes, with a couple of very well-hidden tattoos it took her months to discover. He does indeed 'whip people on stage', just like he told her, he does it while wearing a priest's collar, and there's an air of ritual about the whole thing, his supplicants like worshippers...Eleanor doesn't pay much attention to the voice over during Justin's opening performance scene, so it isn't until the scene changes to a cramped apartment that she realizes Justin isn't just 'in' this documentary, it's about him. Eleanor starts paying attention to the voice over now, because the narrator is talking about Justin, and talking to him, following him around the city, following him & his followers, 'The Collared' of the film's title. They've brought Justin in to live with them, and Eleanor watches him cook & clean up after them like he does here & now. But unlike now, younger Justin's rommates were his submissives, and he'd slap or kick them at the same as he was serving them breakfast. He's told her he's never had any real relationships, no friends, certainly no lovers given his resistance to being touched...knowing him, he didn't consider himself as bearing any relationship with the submissives who had given themselves to him. But Eleanor can see it in their faces, watches with growing anxiety as one of the females confesses to the narrator, her girlfriend, that she's in love with Justin, and can't make him love her back. Justin, her Justin, squeezes her shoulder and whispers for her not to be jealous, tells her she's the only one who has ever touched him. Eleanor knows that, and she can't quite explain why she's jealous of the way he's touched others, like somehow she's having to share him with them...Justin disappears before the end of the film. One day he's there, the next, no one knows where he's gone. The Collared hold vigils for him for nights & nights, their devotion to him growing in his absence, egging each other on with stories about what might have happened, and how soon before he would return. Eleanor knows the answer of course, he's sitting beside her, but she's moved to a rare a tear, which Justin instantly discovers as it falls down her cheek. "Who are you crying for?" he asks. She doesn't really know herself, she just knows she feels blessed to be his in way the others never were, and she pulls him down toward her in a passionate kiss. "Listen, Elle," he whispers, his lips pressed close to her ear, "That was a long time ago. I hardly remembered most of that...but that film isn't my story, it's Alison's story about her friends. Everything I said, everything I was doing, was complete bullshit, it was performance, all the time. Don't get yourself caught up in it like they did. You know who I am." Does she? Eleanor wonders.


Meet the Characters & Read the Stories. Stories are for Mature readers, and may contain content not suitable to children under 16 or more sensitive readers. Tour Sim L.A.: visit the lot screenshot galleries, get links to objects sites. (Lots available for download at calisims yahoo group) All the Misc. stuff: Out-takes section, Links, Calisims award, Contact info