A Meeting of
at the Pussywillow
Darla Derwood (also known as "Double-D" to her fans) walked
into the dressing room she shared with three other strippers and sighed. She
wore nothing but a G-string, four-inch heels, and a small frown as she dumped
the thin wisps of fabric she called a costume on the make-up table when she
She lifted a red silk robe off a hanger on the back of the door and
pushed it closed with her hips. Her full round DD breasts bounced and shifted
as she slipped the robe on and tied it shut around her tiny waist. The fabric
clung to her generous hips as the rest of the robe slithered down over her legs
on its way to the floor.
Without thinking, she pulled her long curly red hair out from the back of
the robe and let it fall across her shoulders. Then she slid gracefully into
the director's chair in front of her make-up mirror, looked at herself in the
glass, and stuck out her tongue.
This is going to have to stop, she thought. All of it. It has
gone on too long already. Time to pull the curtain.
"Endora?" Her voice was sweet, soft, and musical. "Are you
She sighed again and glanced at the clock. Her next turn on the stage
wasn't for another twenty minutes, but she had nothing else to do but sit here
and stare at the woman she had become only a few short days ago. Samantha and
the children had been going away for a week to visit with her father, and
Darrin had told her not to worry. He'd be perfectly okay alone. After all, he
was a grown man. Sam smiled, gave him a quick kiss, and she was gone.
But Endora had wasted no time. One minute he was stepping out of the
shower, soon after his family had gone, and the next she was stepping
onstage here at the Pussywillow Lounge, peeling off her clothes to an
overpowering disco beat and trying very hard to smile instead of cry.
Three days of stripping and lap dances, and the manager's wandering
hands. Three days of simulated sex with a pole, baring everything to drunken
men with money to spend. And smiling, always smiling, like it had always been
her dream to take her clothes off in front of frustrated husbands in Bayonne,
And always just on the edge of tears. Until this morning. Until she
realized that nothing would change between her and Endora unless she MADE it
"You rang, Darla?" A sharp voice voice drifted down from above.
Darla looked up into the overly made-up eyes of her mother-in-law, the witch
who had tormented her male self nearly non-stop for almost seven years. She sat
on nothing, suspended in mid-air just below the ceiling, wearing brightly
colored silks and a big smile. She looked very happy.
"Did you call to threaten me? To bluster and to huff and puff, like
you always do? As if that would change my mind. It never has, you know."
Her smile grew. "Given your current state, maybe you should 'throw a hissy'
or pull my hair instead. Maybe threaten to scratch my eyes out. Although just
between us girls, that won't help either."
Darla just looked at her. Endora let the silence grow, until she realized
suddenly that the former Darrin was not playing his part in the script, as he
had always done. Her eyes narrowed.
"All right, Darwin, I'll bite. What's going on?"
Darla bowed her head, almost a nod, then raised it to look in Endora's
"I want to talk with you."
The witch wrinkled her nose. "Talk?"
"Yes, talk." The red-haired woman waved to a nearby chair.
Endora remained where she was. "Over the years, we’ve shouted, snapped,
bickered, growled, traded insults, or ignored each other. Maybe it's time we
tried to talk for a change. Because the rest of that is getting us
Endora's lip twitched. "Oh, I don't know. It's got you here, doing
five shows a night while men drool and stuff good money into your
G-string." Darla looked back at her, impassively. Like a stone statue in
flesh tones and shades of red, the witch realized. Sterner stuff than Dilbert
had shown her before. Endora sniffed, and looked away. "Besides, what
could the two of us possibly have to talk about?"
"The one thing we two share, above all else," Darla answered.
"Our love for Samantha."
Endora's eyes flashed. "How dare you compare my love to yours!
Mortal love is a pale shadow of what we witches can feel."
Darla shrugged, and didn't raise her voice a hair. "I'll have to
take your word for it, since I'm not a witch. But I know Samantha loves me, and
I can feel how strong that is. You're probably right."
"She doesn't love you," Endora insisted, derision in
every word. "She can't. She's infatuated, that's all. Nothing more."
"She loved me enough to agree not to use her magic so we could be
together." Darla reached up and closed her robe with her hand, covering
her cleavage without taking her eyes off of her mother-in-law. "She loved
me enough to bear two children ... our children ... your grandchildren. And to
hold tight to our marriage despite your disapproval and ... hatred of me. You
raised a smart and beautiful daughter. She's not mistaken, or misguided, or
wrong. Samantha loves me. And I love her."
Endora jerked her head in dismissal. It was Darla's turn to be angry.
"If I didn't love her ..." she said hotly, "if I were
truly weak, I would have run the first time you threatened me. Or the first
time you changed me into something else. Or the second, Or the third. Or the
two hundredth." Darla turned and looked into the mirror -- into those deep
green eyes Endora had given her. "And I never begged you to stop. Never
pleaded for mercy. Never ran from you, either, no matter how much I could see
you despised me. I held onto my love for her, and put up a brave front whenever
we fought. I had to be strong. For her." She turned back to Endora and her
eyes flashed. "I think I've proven my love, by what I've had to put up
with for the past seven years."
"What I've done to you in the past is nothing compared to what I
could do!" Endora raged above her. Darla became calm again.
"Oh, yes," she said. "What you've done to me this time
shows there are depths you still haven't explored. The humiliation of having me
parade and ... debase out there for those ... men. Trapping me like this ... in
this body. In this life." Darla shivered. "Without even the flimsy
excuses you've given yourself in the past. This time, I didn't argue with you,
or insult you, at all. With Sam and the children gone, I thought I wouldn't
have to see you at all. A nice quiet week for everyone. But then, out of
nowhere, without a reason, you do this to me. The husband of your daughter. The
father of your grandchildren. Turned into a cheap stripper and turned out on
display. This isn't even a sham of justice, Endora. It's just hateful. And wrong."
The witch gasped. "You dare ...?"
Darla nodded. "I dare. Because this time is different. This little
adventure will end one of two ways. I will endure this for the remainder of the
week, and Sam will come home and realize I'm gone. She will discover the truth
of what you've done to me and be horrified, and demand you return me to my male
self. You will play at refusing, as you always do. But eventually, you'll give
in. Because you love her. You always bend because you love her, and you know I
make her happy. Because as much as you hate it, she loves me. And she loves you
too, which is why she'll be angry at you for a time, but she'll let it go.
Because she loves you."
Darla turned back to the mirror. "The other way this ends turns out
differently. Maybe this time, you don't bend. Because you hate me so much, you
did this to me out of spite -- just to hurt me, because you can. Maybe you
don't care if you hurt her, too, or my children. I don't know. Maybe deep down,
you don't really care about anyone but yourself. Why should you? You can do
whatever you want ... have whatever you desire. Certainly you didn't mind the
hours of aggravation and heartache you've caused my wife in the past because of
your hatred for me."
"But if you choose the second course ... if you don't bend ... she
will still come home and find me gone. And if you don't return me to her, she
will hate you. The children too, when they realize you've taken their Dad away
forever. As strong as a witch's love can be, I know the depth of a witch's
hate. Because I've felt yours, Endora. And Samantha is still your
daughter." Darla shivered. "You'll lose her. Forever."
Endora thought about it, and realized Dustbin was right. She would have
to give in or lose her daughter and her grandchildren. Still, it galled her.
"It isn't right, what you've done to her in the name of love. Stolen her
heritage away, her magic. Made her a shadow of the witch she was."
Darla nodded and looked at Endora in the mirror. "You're
Endora's eyes widened. "I'm ..."
"I said, you're right. I've been thinking about this for a long
time. I was wrong to insist she cut herself off from her past, her people. Her
birthright. Just to satisfy my need to earn what I make, on my own? That's my
business, not hers. When she returns, the ban ends. She can do what she likes.
I only ask to be consulted on matters pertaining to myself and the children,
but she is free to use as much or as little magic as she chooses. If you agree
to my proposal."
"Proposal? Are you bargaining with me, mortal?"
"No," Darla said with a shrug that set her breasts quivering.
"If you leave me like this, or worse, I will have no power over what
Samantha does or doesn't do. It won't matter to Darla whether Sam uses her
magic or not. Oh, I could call her, but you could make it impossible for me to
reach her. You could make me so stupid I wouldn't be able to figure out how to
use a telephone. Or you could send me somewhere else, too far away to reach
her. But if we agree, and I am returned to my family, then Samantha is free to
do as she wishes with her magic."
Endora considered the red-haired stripper before her. "What do you
"Détente." Darla's voice was flat. "You let me be, and at
least try to be civil with me in front of Sam and the children. In turn, I will
do the same with you. Samantha has her magic, and we can both move on."
"How does this benefit me?" Endora sounded suspicious.
"In three very important ways," Darla replied, looking at the
clock and picking up her brush. She continued speaking as she fixed her hair.
"First, you make Samantha happy, because you love her and she will be
overjoyed that we're actually getting along. Second, you make your
grandchildren happy, because you aren't hurting their Dad anymore. And finally,
because you will eventually realize that time is on your side, and you will win
in the end."
"What does that mean?"
"You said it yourself a few minutes ago. You called me mortal, and
mortal I am. You and Samantha and the children will live thousands of years.
You will see the future, as you have seen the past. But in forty years or so,
I'll be gone. Dead and buried. And you will have Samantha and the children all
to yourself. Without me." She put down the brush. A hint of sadness crept
into her voice. "You'll have thousands of years with her, Endora. With
them. Can't you spare me the rest of my short human life? Just to make your
only daughter happy?"
There was a chime, and Darla looked up. Endora was gone. The new woman
sighed again. She had hoped she had finally gotten through to her mother-in-law
-- that maybe there was a shred of decency buried under all that self-interest.
Darla leaned over to touch up her make up. A few more days until Sam and the
children get home, she thought sadly. Then we'll see. I can do this
until then. I have to.
She felt a hand squeeze her bottom and then slap her hip. She jumped and
squealed in spite of herself.
"Stop primping, girl!" It was the stage manager, an aging lech
with a leer that seemed permanently fixed on his face. "You look just fine
to me. And you're on in thirty seconds anyway. So go shake your money maker and
make the customers happy." He stood back and watched as Darla shrugged off
the robe and hung it behind the door as she left the room. She glided quickly
across the backstage wing, draping her skimpy costume across her curves as she
When Darla was ready, she nodded to the DJ. The music began, and she
stepped through the curtains ...
... and he found himself back in the bathroom at home, a towel in
one hand and Darla's "come hither" look plastered across his very
male face in the mirror above the sink. Darrin smiled his own smile and leaned
over to wipe some fog off the glass for a closer look. Instead, he found
himself looking at Endora's face instead. He took a step backward and covered
himself with the towel.
"Very well ... Darrin," she said with a reluctant smile.
"For the sake of Samantha and the children, you'll have your life
together." She shook her head and looked down. "And you're right. I
did ... go too far, this time. Nothing I've ever done to you before could shake
you. Could make you leave my daughter and run. I became ... frustrated."
"I don't know if I'll ever ... like you, but after all this time, I
have to respect you ... " Her eyes narrowed. "... a little. And you
must really love her to put up with all this for so long. She certainly loves
you." She shrugged. "So the games end now, forever. Have your time,
and treat her and my grandchildren well. Because if you ever hurt them,
remember ... there is always an empty seat in the dressing room at the
Pussywillow Lounge." For a moment, the reflection wavered to show a
shocked stripper staring back at Darrin. "And I know just the shapely
bottom to fill it ... dear."
There was a chime, and the reflection vanished. Endora returned, threw
her hands in the air, and disappeared.
And after a long moment staring at his old self in the mirror, Darrin
laughed, and once again wished for the end of the week to arrive ... just so he
could hug his kids, and hold his wife in his arms again.
"Wish granted," Endora's voice purred. There was another chime,
and he could hear Samantha's key in the door, and the voices of his children
"Be right there!" he called. Only it came out in Darla's voice.
He heard her laughter again, and turned to see her standing in the doorway to
"Endora! You promised!" He felt a twist in his throat, and knew
his own voice had returned.
"Old habits, Derwood," she said sweetly. "Last trick,
witch's honor!" Endora held out her hand. "Truce ... Darrin?"
He had to smile. "Truce," he said, and shook her hand.
Maybe ... finally ... things were going to change.
And after seven years, it was about time.
All the goodbyes had been said. Samantha, Tabitha, and Adam had waited
with him for days, watching over him and holding his hand while the minutes
between Darrin and death shrank to a precious few. After Darrin descended into
a deep sleep, his family decided to go across the street to a diner for dinner.
The staff had Samantha's cell phone number and swore they would call when
Darrin woke up.
Although the looks the doctors and nurses gave each other made it clear
they thought "if" was a more appropriate word than "when."
As soon as it was quiet in Darrin's room, there was a chiming sound.
Endora appeared next to the bed. She hadn't changed a bit in the years since
the incident that had so completely altered her relationship with her
daughter's mortal husband.
Not changed physically, at any rate.
She looked down at the frail form lying there.
So fragile, she thought sadly, and sighed. I am sorry now, for
everything I did to him ... before. I really didn't understand mortals then. To
be fair, I didn't really want to. Now I see there is more to them than I
thought. Because once we stopped sniping at each other, I could see that he
really was a good husband, and a good father. A good ... man.
"Darrin?" Endora whispered, touching his cheek. He started and
opened his eyes to see her standing beside him. Then he smiled.
"It seems I'll never get used to you using my real name," he
"I could call you 'Dustbin' if it would make you feel better,"
she replied with a wink.
"I don't think anything could make me feel better at this
point." Darrin looked over at all the machinery helping to keep him alive,
and the morphine drip to cut the pain. "But I appreciate the sentiment ...
She took his hand and squeezed.
"You'll have them all to yourself soon, Endora," he said with a
little smile. "I envy you the future. But I thank you for the past. For
the time you allowed me to have."
"I should thank you," Endora whispered. "For making me see
that mortals have their good points. Even ones who marry my daughter."
Darrin smiled and squeezed her hand in return. He closed his eyes.
There was a long companionable silence, but finally, it was broken ... by
"I was thinking back to the incident that changed things between us,
and I believe I know why you were able to endure what I did to you, and make
peace between us."
Darrin's eyes popped open. Endora smiled.
"No secrets between us, 'Darla,'" she said, and Darrin seemed
to relax in the bed. "The truth is, my little trick backfired. You
actually enjoyed being 'Double-D,' didn't you?" Darrin seemed to turn
inward and think. After a time, Endora pressed further. "Didn't you?"
Darrin nodded. "No more secrets. I did like it ... some of it,
anyway. Not all. Not the powerlessness of being a piece of meat for the club
owner or the backstage manager ... of letting them touch me whether I wanted it
or not. But when I was Darla, I was twenty years old again, healthy and alive.
The girls stuck together and helped each other out, like sisters. And when I
stepped out on the stage, every man in that room wanted me. For all of the
things I've done as Darrin ... for everything I've ever accomplished ... I have
never felt so ... desired ... since those three day so long ago."
Endora nodded. "I remember being wanted that way. Intoxicating. How
the men would flock. That feeling of being precious ... of being the center of
a man's universe, even for a short while."
Darrin nodded back. "I didn't want to stay Darla, because of Sam and
the children," he went on. "They needed me. I had a home, and a
family, and a life. But when you turned me into Darla without a reason, I knew
how badly you wanted to punish and humiliate me. My time in Darla's heels was
time for me to think, and I realized we couldn't keep going at each other like
that, or both of us would lose the woman we loved."
Endora bowed her head, just a nod, her eyes closed.
"I wish I could give you immortality," she said softly. "I
wish I could make you ... one of us. I think witches could learn a lot from
mortals, if we ever got past the prejudice for the non-magical. But I can't
even heal you, Darrin. It is forbidden by the Witches Council." He sighed,
and nodded. She opened her eyes and looked down at him. "There is ...
something I can do for you. One gift I can give. If you truly want it."
Darrin looked at her confused.
"Remember when we made our truce? I said you should behave yourself,
or 'there is always an empty seat in the dressing room at the Pussywillow
Lounge, waiting to be filled.'" His eyes widened. She nodded. "I kept
that seat open since that night, more out of nostalgia than anything else. It's
still waiting ... for you. Darla."
She interrupted him. "Samantha can't know, Darrin. Not ever. I'm
taking advantage of a loophole no one knows is there, and I'm just barely
within the rules as it is. If Sam knows and they find out, they'll assume she was
in it with me, and punish us both."
Endora looked deep into his eyes. "This isn't an extension of your
old life. It's a whole new one to live. If you choose. You've always been proud
of making your own way. Here's your chance to start again, and build a better
life. For Darla. And for you."
Suddenly, Darrin's heart monitor began to beep irregularly. He gasped
from the pain, then looked at the machine, and back at Endora. She nodded, and
smiled, and squeezed his hand again.
"Say yes, mortal," she whispered. "Say yes, and live a
while longer. For me."
Darrin nodded, and closed his eyes. His heart stopped.
Darrin Stevens died that night and was buried in a private service.
Samantha and the children grieved for their lost loved one, then disappeared from
the mortal realm soon after -- Sam to finally take her place on the Witches
Council, and the children to explore their heritage with their grandmother.
And Darla? She appeared back in the Pussywillow Lounge forty years
earlier, just in time for her midnight slot on the night she left, so long ago.
She stayed on there for a few years as a dancer, eventually becoming the
headliner. She made enough money to buy the place outright, and surprised
everyone with her business acumen. Her knack for advertising and promotion
turned "Darla's Place" into a Bayonne institution -- and kept
customers coming back, night after night.
Darla was a wonderful boss. She paid the women who danced there well and
treated them like family. Even after she became the owner, Darla kept dancing,
and eventually found a man who didn't care what she did on stage, as long as
she came back to their bed every night.
Sometimes, the other women in the club would see her drift off into
memory, and watch a wistful smile slip onto her face. Even so, she never missed
an entrance. She enjoyed every minute in the spotlight. And she was always
there for a friend.
Because no matter where she'd been before, she knew where she was now.
And Darla Derwood was happy.
"Double-D" was home.
© 2005-2006 as a work in progress, all rights reserved.
Posted with permission of the author.