The Copper Conundrum

by Luigi Thicket
 
In the Spring of 1902 in Bisbee, Arizona everyone had a light coating of copper dust on their hats, clothes, and exposed skin.  At this time, Bisbee was home to one of the largest copper mines in the world and was the biggest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. 
 
Bisbee’s Queen Mine penetrated half a mile into the crust of the Earth.  Over 10,000 men worked within this enormous crevasse to pull out the precious metal.  Despite the vast copper and other rare mineral deposits that were withdrawn each day, the worldwide demand was never satiated.  These precious metals were required for modern machinery and to produce copper wiring for electricity on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific.
 
Phinneus Brewer, who had recently arrived in town, stepped up to hear the mayor’s speech in front of the Copper Queen hotel.  “Ladies and Gentlemen, I hereby proclaim the Copper Conundrum Challenge.  We are mining copper at a rate that far surpasses our ability to transport it to ports in California.  Orders are flowing in from New York to Paris to Hong Kong.  And yet, our railroads to the coast are painfully slow.  This is our Copper Conundrum.  The first person to solve this stupendous challenge will receive $10,000 and a 5% stake in the mine.  On this coming Friday, all entries must be entered, and our esteemed committee will select five finalists to build working models of their ideas.  May the best man, or woman, win.”

That evening, Phinneus walked into one of the forty-seven saloons that dotted the Brewery Gulch district.  Upon entering, he walked past numerous conversations and heard both shouts and wisps of ideas.  Airships, tunnels, camel powered wagon trains, helium, steam-powered stage coaches, flying bicycles, and more.  He found a seat on one of the few open bar stools at the end of the long L-shaped bar. 
 
Having arrived in Arizona for the first time, he was struck by the clash of styles and people in the room.  Bearded and muscled miners and ranchers mixed with gentleman and ladies dressed in the latest European fashions.  Rough planked floors and nicked wooden chairs blended with beautiful fabric wallpapers and elaborate chandeliers.  This saloon was even lit with a flickering amber glow.  It was rare to see electrically-powered lighting in most parts of Arizona, but this room was likely powered by the same mountain-sized steam turbines that operated the mining machinery at the end of town.
 
As Phinneus contemplated the odd mix of the rough western outpost and modern industrial hub, he was distracted by an equally compelling vision.  Walking down the bar was a woman in a broad black velvet hat.  A silk see-through veil allowed him to glimpse at her beauty and yet wonder at the mysterious woman behind that gauze.  Her black dress with red ribbon was held tight at the bosom and waist and then flowed out around her hips in magnificent spectacle.  He caught his breath as he realized the only empty bar stool was next to his.
 
“Absinthe,” she requested while adjusting her skirts around the bar stool.  As she did so, Phinneus couldn’t help but notice the shiny black boots laced tight and disappearing beneath her skirts.
 
As the green haze of her absinthe closed in on the bottom of the glass and his bourbon was nearly gone, he found the courage to ask, “Miss, would you be so kind as to accept a second cocktail?”  Eyeing him more closely, she noticed a few items such as the fabric of his scarf and the silver in his belt buckle.   
 
“I would be happy to accept your offer sir, as long as your thoughts on how to win this contest are as intriguing and beguiling as the green fairy within the next absinthe.” 
 
“What assures you that I intend on entering this contest?”
 
“Most men from these parts would not affix their trousers with such a buckle, one of silver from Seville, Spain no less.” 
 
“Why I’m flummoxed!  How are you so skilled in metallurgy and its origins?”
 
“My parents were in the watch business in Zurich.  I now find myself in a similar trade, but the users of my implements want to make time disappear not keep track of it.  I’ll take that second drink now sir.”
 
Phinneus ordered the second round and their conversation turned to the contest.  He explained to her his involvement in the railroad business and a few of the half-conceived ideas he had for improving on rail transportation between Bisbee and the growing port of Los Angeles.  Yet as he did, he could not concentrate.  As the lady crossed and uncrossed her legs, he noticed more of those black laced boots.  The laces flowed through a series of small golden gears as they reached higher up her legs. 
 
“Miss, I’m Phinneus Brewer.”
 
“Katherine Flumet.  I’m pleased to make your acquaintance.”
 
“So, Katherine, exactly what do you use your watch making skills to produce?”
 
“I came to the States to explore the expanding possibilities of steam powered electricity for the family business.  On my first trip I ended up in Las Vegas where they are harnessing the power of torrential rivers to energize the vast saloons and gambling houses.  I was soon impressed by the sensuality and power of the women who live in that town.  Here in the States women have a confidence, independence, and a power that is not often exhibited by the women of Europe.”
 
Katherine placed the crystal glass to her lips more firmly than before.  The green liquid swirled around the glass and a faint print of her lipstick remained on the rim.  She continued her story.
 
“These women wanted me to make them watches that matched their own strength and beauty.  Then I began making jewelry using some of your beautiful Western materials such as turquoise, azurite and malachite.  After some time, the Western women started making more direct requests of me.  These self-made women had a desire to prolong their intimacies.  They wanted to ensure that their sexual gratification was as frequent and as satisfying as that of their partners.”
 
Phinneus’ fingers adjusted the scarf around his neck.  His neck perspired lightly due to both the desert evening air and the warmth of the conversation.
 
Katherine continued.  “These women were initially concerned that the men were removing their garters and other under-garments too quickly and not allowing enough time for the moment to build.  But why should I explain when I can show you?”
 
Phinneus breathed in as she turned and summoned two women sitting near a low table by the stage.  The ladies walked up, each in dresses as well cut and held as tightly around their corsets as that of Katherine’s.
 
“Phinneus may I introduce you to Elizabeth and Bianca.”
 
“A pleasure,” he replied.  
 
“Ladies, Mr. Brewer is intrigued by some of my inventions.  Would you be so kind as to show him?”
 
Elizabeth stepped closer.  Close enough so that Phinneus noticed a scent of citrus and creosote that reminded him of a walk through the desert after a thunderstorm.   As this aroma drifted around him, she reached down to the lowest folds of her skirts.  She drew them up, first over her crimson ankle boots and then past her black silk adorned calves.  He followed every movement as the skirts went higher revealing a beautiful floral pattern in the silk culminating at a point midway on the thigh.  Here the silk met a band of crimson leather surrounding porcelain-smooth skin.
 
On this crimson leather was affixed a set of copper gears with miniature numbers and dials locked firmly into a metal tipped crimson strap that reached even further up the leg.
 
“I think Mr. Brewer has enough of an idea Elizabeth.  Thank you.”  At which point, she released the skirts which slid rapidly back down the length of her legs.
 
Katherine explained.  “I designed these puzzle clasps to ensure that the process of removing the stockings would take a bit of time.”  The lady can provide the code as slowly or as quickly as she prefers.  The difference between a man’s fumbling and exasperation versus a firm grasp around the thigh coupled with a light tickling of the gears can result in very different outcomes.”
 
“Indeed,” Phinneus sighed, shifting in his seat.
 
“Bianca will show you a few more of my creations.”
 
The second lady stepped forward.  This time, she was closer than the first.  She first stretched out her leg beyond her skirts to show a boot that rose just below her knee.  She reached down towards the place where the heel and underside of the boot connected.  As she did, the muscles in her lower thigh tensed just enough to reveal a slight furrow that is common in a well-toned leg. 
 
Bianca pressed at the underside of the leather.  Phinneus heard a slight click and then a soft brushing sound of metal on leather.  He glanced up and saw the handle of a dagger now protruding from the top of the boot and up against her thigh.
 
“This is extremely useful,” Katherine said, “When a gentleman is exhibiting a bit too much attention.” 
 
“Bianca has one more of my devices but decorum would prevent her from showing it to you.”
 
“Would it?” Phinneus asked in an elevated manner suggesting that there might be a possibility.
 
“Well maybe just a peek.”
 
Bianca gently grasped at the folds of her dress below the navel.   In doing so, she was able to gradually spread apart the fabric.  Phinneus could see delicately laced lavender ribbon beneath the shadows of the dress.  At the top of her undergarment was a stronger-looking band of violet ribbon with a slender silver cylinder attached.
 
Katherine explained, “Pulled just the right way, this cylinder will release a powerful sleeping gas to any unwanted nose or mouth that gets too close.  The toxin only lasts 10 to15 minutes, but that is certainly ample time for a lady to make her exit.”
 
“Thank you Bianca,” Katherine said with just a note of assertion.  Bianca closed up the dress as Phinneus noticed a warm and intoxicating scent, but not that of sleeping toxin.  It was the smell of roses as they just pass their point of perfection.  A scent he knew all too well as it lingered on his upper lip or fingers after he had passed his own point of perfection.
 
The ladies returned to their table by the stage.  “Now I’d like to buy the next round.  I insist,” said Katherine.  The two spoke for a while about their respective businesses and their families that inspired their latest efforts.  They found that the worlds of minute machinery and railway building and management had more in common than they would have expected.
 
After a period of lively conversation, a few moments of silence passed as they savored their drinks.  They then turned to each other at the same time.  “I think the rest of my drink would taste better upstairs,” Katherine suggested.  “Undoubtedly,” Phinneus replied as he stepped off his stool and held out his hand.
 
Their fingers entwined together, warm and firm.  They proceeded slowly, savoring each step as they rose above the din of the saloon and up to the second floor hotel level.
 
As soon as the door to room 11 closed behind them, his hand went to her hips, hers to his muscled shoulder.  His slightly dry lips pressed against the moistness of hers.  The tips of their tongues met and then reached further.
 
She pulled away slightly and caught her breath.  She was still holding the absinthe and stepped to the corner of the room and placed it on a small table next to a cowhide armchair.  Behind the chair a glass-encased lamp protruded from the wall on a curved iron shaft.  It produced a soft flickering light that cast a subtle shadow as she slowly sat back in the chair and stretched out her boots.
 
Phinneus walked up and reached down past her, placing his bourbon on the table next to hers.  He was now standing between her boots with his legs almost in contact with her knees.
 
He reached down again, this time picking up her absinthe and taking a slow sip.  Their eyes met and neither broke the gaze.  He again reached down placing the glass on the table at the same time as his lips met hers.  The absinthe on his lips reminded her of the growing light-headedness that was overcoming her.
 
A few minutes more and he was on his knees, this time mystified at the laces and small gears on her boots that he now knew reached up to her mid-thigh.
 
“Feel for the same place on my boots as you saw on Bianca’s.”
 
Phinneus slipped his hand underneath the leather sole and reached to the heel.  He found a small dial and slowly rolled the metal edges under his finger.  A small hum started as all the gears in place of the boot’s eyelets started to turn.  Almost miraculously, the laces fed themselves through each turning eyelet and slowly wound themselves up into some place in the foot of the boot.  This motion caused the leather to open from the thigh to the ankle, showing wondrous cotton stocking that reminded him of fabrics from India. 
 
He pulled off her first boot, allowing his hand to graze the underneath of her thigh and then her calf, all the way to the bottom her foot.  She gasped a slight sound somewhere between a laugh and a moan as his hand rounded the balls of her foot and then touched her toes.  He removed her second boot the same way.
 
Katherine spread open her skirts.  At the top of the stockings were garters similar to those of Elizabeth.  But in place of the coded dials were extremely smooth brass buttons.  But these were not holding fabric as normal buttons would.  Instead they seemed to be attached to the garters in a more secure fashion.  He gently tried to pull the buttons away from the fabric but they did not move.  He tried a bit harder. 
 
After a few more seconds of firm tugging, Katherine laughed.  “I won’t make you struggle any longer.”  She reached down and in a firm and swift motion, slid the button away from another button beneath it.  The strap snapped away from the garter leaving only a red imprint of the strap against her thigh.
 
“And what was that puzzle my dear?” inquired Phinneus. 
 
“Rare earth magnets, more powerful than ones most people have seen.  My family uses them in watches and I’ve just started experimenting with them myself.  They have incredible hold unless you separate them in just the right way.  Let’s see how you do on my other leg?”
 
And then her skirts were up around her waist, draping over the arms of the chair.  He placed his hands on her hips and then slid them against the sides of her undergarments until the fingers were up against her waist.
 
“I hope there are no sleeping gasses here,” he laughed. 
 
“None that I plan on releasing on you, at least not tonight,” she said returning the laugh.
 
Phinneus hesitated, but just for a moment.  He curled his fingers around her underthings and slid them down as Katherine lifted her bottom.  Then his lips were on her navel, slowly kissing and lightly licking his way down.  His hands under each of her buttocks, bringing her moist brunette patch closer.  Her scent rising to his nose, his manhood rising in return.
 
His tongue parted her.  First slowly, and then pressing in.  His tongue glazed the underside of her clitoris, then around it and back inside.  She started to shift her hips, letting out first a soft moan and then a louder one.
 
As his mouth moved hard up against her, and she felt waves of pleasure riding up her torso, she felt another sensation.  Indistinct at first and then firmer.  A pressure at her most sensitive spot.  Slightly uncomfortable, certainly exhilarating.  Her mind leapt between two now distinct feelings.  The rising tingling in front and then the deeper pleasures of a finger pressing further into her backside and up behind her clitoris.  The paring of these penetrations soon reached their height.  Her entire pelvis heated uncontrollably and waves of warmth emanated up to her chest and down her thighs.  She shook and screamed until the waves slowed and she gently pushed Phinneus away and out of her.
 
“Don’t say a word,” Katherine said in the same tone in which she had instructed Elizabeth and Bianca.  Phinneus obeyed.  She stood up and so did he.  She pushed the chair out of the way and picked up both glasses.  She had a sip of hers and handed him the bourbon.  “Drink,” she said.  He did and she returned both glasses to the table.  She put her hands on his shoulders and guided him back against the wall.  She undid his vest and shirt and took them off completely.  He was still wearing his trousers and cowboy boots and she could see that he was quite aroused.  “Men give away their desires so much more obviously than women,” she thought with a smile.  He still wore the scarf she had first noticed.
 
She undid the scarf and tied it around one wrist.  She lifted that wrist and guided the silk through the iron shaft of the lamp that protruded out of the wall above his raised arms.  She fed the silk down and tied the other wrist so that both arms were above his head and his clasped hands were holding the iron lamp shaft.
 
Katherine pulled off his boots and socks.  Phinneus lifted each foot and leg to accommodate her as much as possible.  Now she reached for the belt and pulled it around his waist.  As she unbuttoned his fly her fingertips felt the waxy curls of his hair.  “Mmmnn” she sighed signaling her approval of his lack of undergarments.  Either this was his way to beat the Arizona heat or he enjoyed the both soft and rough feel of skin on denim.
 
With his pants now off and tossed on the chair, he stood up straight.  The lamp above him flickered down, casting shadows on the floor of his member as it twitched in the open air.
 
Still silent, he watched her intently.  She faced him and slowly pulled off her dress.  She stood in front of him, taking another sip of her absinthe.  Her brunette hair was at her shoulders.   A royal blue satin corset pressed at her waist and accentuated her breasts.  She was naked between the lower tip of her corset and the tops of her garters.  Her generous pubic hair was dark and shiny as she stood below the shifting light.
 
She lightly brushed her fingers down his chest and across his stomach.  He murmured a sigh of satisfaction.  She then gently kissed him on the cheek before scraping her nails once again across his chest.  Her nails came to a rest on his nipples.  She stood back and flicked her nails across his red and erect nipples as he breathed faster.
 
Katherine leaned into him until their lips met.  With his arms above he had a difficult time moving, but she had no trouble grabbing his shoulders and pulling him closer. She could feel his hardened cock up against her stomach.  Their tongues intertwined until she backed away with another small kiss.
 
She kneeled down in front of him.  Gently, she took his quivering flesh in her hand and touched her lips to the head.  A salty moistness greeted her kiss, spreading softly on her lips.  She took more of him into her mouth wetting it with her tongue.  She placed her other hand under his testicles and pushed up ever so gently.
 
Katherine slid her mouth down while massaging his testicles.  Phinneus could feel the liquid pressure welling up in him but bit his lip to resist.   He was feeling overcome and almost dizzy trying to stand up and withstand the pleasure.  Throbbing started at the base of his shaft and his precious liquid welled up and into her waiting mouth.  She moaned as she swallowed his semen.  When his manhood weakened, she pulled away.  She stood up and kissed him deeply.  They shared a salty and satisfying kiss.
 
“Now it’s my turn,” Phinneus said.
 
He walked to the corner of the room and picked up a small rectangular stool and placed it on an oval rug.
 
“Kneel across this,” he requested.  Katherine agreed.
 
Phinneus walked around her, admiring her beauty from all angles.  She was still wearing the corset laced tight across her back.  It came to a point at the top of the cleavage between her buttocks.
 
He knelt down in front of her and kissed her as he ran his hand through her cascading hair.  They lingered through the deep kiss.
 
“I may not win a contest here,” he said.  “But I’m glad I made the trek.”
 
“Our paths may have crossed for a reason,” Katherine replied.  “I’m just not sure if it is a twelve-hour reason or something more important?”
 
“Let’s finish the twelve hours and then find out,” Phinneus whispered.
 
He reached into her corset, unveiling first one and then the other breast.  Her nipples firming in the evening air that wisped in through the nearby window.  He massaged her breasts and then tugged and pinched at her nipples.  Redness flushed across her chest and then her face.  She opened her mouth and moistened her lips as the sensations flowed through her chest.
 
Katherine spoke.  “I’d like to share my latest find with you.  Reach into my carpet bag and pull out the red velvet pouch.”
 
Phinneus opened the bag and pulled out a small set of two brass pliers chained together.  He was mystified.  “What could these tools possibly be for?” he wondered. 
 
“Bring them here,” she requested and he obeyed.
 
“Now put these on my nipples, but please do it carefully,” she insisted.  Not quite believing, he walked up and opened one slowly in front of her.  He sprung it shut on her erect nipple.  A bite of pain and warmth shot out across her chest and she gasped.
 
He repeated this on the other nipple and she slowly became accustomed to the strong sensations pulsing across her chest and inevitably down to her stomach and further.
 
While the small pliers dangled from her nipples, Phinneus knelt behind her, caressing her upturned rump.  He then reached below and spread her luscious folds apart.  He slipped in two fingers smoothly against her moist flesh.  Katherine could feel the pressure of his strong fingers moving back and forth inside her.
 
She gasped as the first light orgasm washed over her.  He came around and kissed her. 
 
“I want you inside me.  Now.”
 
Phinneus ran his hands and fingernails across her back and down her ass and thighs.  Arranging himself behind her, he guided his own pulsing flesh inside of hers.  He grasped her hips with both hands and pushed himself deep inside her.
 
His movements increased and she could feel him rocking inside her.  His hands moved around her breasts and tugged at the pliers gripping her reddened nipples.
 
Waves of warmth flowed up and down her back, across her breasts, and inside of her.  The miniature pliers strongly pressed into her nipples.  Her moans turned to shouts that were surely heard outside their second story window.  Phinneus let out a deep moan signaling his final wave of satisfaction that flowed into her.
 
~~~~~~~~
 
Katherine opened her eyes to see morning light reflecting in the mirror across from the bed.  Phinneus was already dressed and had his hand on her bare shoulder.
 
“I need to meet with some colleagues this morning about the Copper Conundrum.  I hope I’ll see you again soon.”
 
“You’re not leaving so fast,” she insisted.  “You need to wrap me back up in the clothes you so eagerly removed last night.”
 
When Phinneus came to the twisted garters, he worked to connect the magnetic buttons.  At first they repelled each other through some invisible force.  He quickly realized he had them reversed and soon the crimson garters were again tight against Katherine’s thighs.
 
Observing his actions, Katherine questioned, “How far is it by rail from here to Los Angles?”
 
“About five-hundred miles,” Phinneus answered.  “But, why?”
 
Katherine continued.  “I was thinking about the repelling force of those magnets.  Imagine a length of railroad track lined with powerful magnets and a train car covered with the same.  The two sets would resist with the same force as my garter magnets when they are reversed.  Without any friction, a heavy rail car could float along the track, requiring only a small engine to pull it effortlessly along.  This would make it much easier to pull a load of something heavy, such as, say, copper.”
 
Phinneus slowly smiled.  “I guess I can call off my meeting this morning.  I think I have a more intelligent, and certainly more ravishing, partner.”
 
He took a step closer, removed his clothes, and slid back into her bed.