“Do you want a printed receipt or an email?”
She hesitated. A moments fantasy fluttered through like a moth among old clothes. Handsome beast, tallish, the wisp of a beard, beneath the uniform blue polo shirt was implied a body like the captain of a swim team, which maybe he was. Email me darling, followed by your illicit entreaties of passion to meet me alone.
“Printed,” she said.
The cash register spit out the receipt and he passed it to her.
“Carry these out for you?” said another young man, duller, less handsome, an easy conquest. As if.
“No,” she said, ”Thanks, I’ve got it.”
Approaching the glass double doors, pushing the cart with the reusable environmentally green cloth bags of groceries. Her reflection in the glass, good breasts that didn’t sag under a jersey cloth pullover, though she had not yet dared to go braless for fear of which direction her nipples would actually run to when freed. Mom jeans, sensible mary janes. A good body, she thought. Not a gym body, but good enough. Isn’t it? Can’t it be? Women, my age. Ridiculous. In the glass reflection she saw the eyes of the cashier and the bag boy both watching her as the doors snicked apart to let her pass. Don’t talk about me when I’m gone, boys.
The ridiculous thing, she thought, really, is that either of them would love to be seduced by the likes of me. Some oedipal thing, they fantasize about having a full grown woman bring them to bed and make men – no - personal studs of them. They want that too. What stops us? Decency? Fear. Of what?
The cart, once on the asphalt rattled, clinking the wine bottles as she tried to remember which row her dowdy Honda civic was parked in.
How time catches up, she thought. When I was a kid the only sliding doors like that were on the Starship Enterprise. Now they’re everywhere. The future rushes. Its sits on you like a weight, remembering a past, recent enough, but old enough that they make movies now mocking the time period when you were young. Time passes, no, it stampedes. It strikes us dumb with the crush of years.
I want to seduce someone. I want to someone to seduce me.
At home, she unpacked the cloth bags and put the wine bottles on the counter along with the tortilla chips, organic hummus with roasted red pepper and artisan cheese. She turned on the kitchen radio where NPR was discussing a deathbed interview with Jack Ruby.
“ Had you realized you had done anything?”
“ Well, really it happened so fast, and anything else I cannot recall what happened from the time I came to the bottom of the ramp until the police officers had me on the ground.”
She found the corkscrew and undid the wine bottle, a bottle of Hungarian Tokay, very hard to find. She had always wanted to try it since it was the wine Count Dracula had served to Jonathan Harker in the novel.
She listened to the interview and remembered her father. He had been the managing editor of the small town newspaper. He had been watching TV when Ruby had shot Oswald. But it was what she had been doing in that moment that she remembered. She had been reading a comic book about a scientist who had gotten super speed from a lab accident. She had gone to refrigerator to mix things together to give her super powers. That hadn’t worked out. As a girl her favorite TV show had been about the witch who did things by twitching her nose, married to a stupid man, always telling her to hide her powers as though he were ashamed of her instead of celebrating her.
She listened to the radio, remembering. She looked at the groceries. She twitched her nose.
In the cabinet she found a candy dish that looked vaguely ceremonial in a pagan kind of way. She opened up the Tokay and the other bottle, a cheap red and poured equal amounts whispering pretend Latin sounds. She took the blue cardboard jar of salt and poured a ring around it. She had seen it in an old zombie movie and it seemed like the right thing to do. She picked an almond from a jar of nuts and dropped it in the dish of wine.
“Eye of newt.”
Drew a gooey piece of red pepper from the hummus.
“Tongue of bat.” It did look like a tongue.
One more thing to drop in the wine. What, what, what – perfume!
This is fun, she thought, skipping girlishly through the living room to the bedroom. Whee! I’m Sorceress Barbie.
She brought the perfume, unused since her bad date from an online matching service for mature singles. She unscrewed the cap and poured a dab.
“Blood of birth strangled babe,” she said remembering her Shakespeare.
Something next, something. A doll?
She went to the living room, to the flat screen with the red haired, blue skinned smurf perched on the top, grabbed it up and brought it back to the kitchen.
The kitchen felt distinctly different somehow. The smell, not of perfume so much. Something sulfurous.
She put the male (it was a male?) smurf doll next to the candy dish. She touched it between the legs with a finger and an odd intuition.
Where - where – her shoulder bag. She stopped, found the shoulder bag in the closet and rummaged through it, found it, the paper receipt. He had touched it, the handsome young man. She held it.
What am I doing? Am I taking this seriously? God help me. Am I that desperate?
Of course its stupid, but it’s a game. I live alone. My games are my own, aren’t they?
She brought the receipt, the thermal inked receipt for the groceries the young man had briefly held in his fingers. She had stopped walking, without realizing. Had been holding her breath without knowing it. The top of her head tingled.
She brought the square of paper to her lips, parted her lips and exhaled on it.
She felt immediately embarrassed for herself. This is fun, she thought. But its kind of pathetic too, isn’t it honey? If you say so honey. She looked at the candy dish, the smurf doll and thought, no. It’s not pathetic. Its me being a goddess. It’s me messing around like a kid again. If I were doing this with a guy, with a playful guy, with a sexy imaginative guy, with the right guy, we’d be jollying our way to bed right now. A witch and her obedient incubus or whatever they’re called. What fun. A guy with imagination, he’d even know what to do next to carry the game further. Men my age, they’re such bores most of them. They talk sports. They talk real estate. They try to impress you. But not one is in touch with their feelings.
Headlights in the drive way, an engine shutting off. The door bell.
She went to the door and looked through the peep hole lens. It was the young man from the grocery store. He was waiting, looking down, sweating innocence, and yet strangely dazed.
She opened the door. “Good evening,” she said.
“Hello ma’am,” he said slowly. He lifted his hand and held up her blue VISA card. “You left this.”
She took it from his hand. “Thank you,” she said. He continued to stand there in that bewildered, expectant way. Was he waiting for a tip? “Are you feeling all right?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Such a polite young thing. Darling boy.
“Would you like to come in?”
His mouth opened, closed, his eyes focused than un-focused. “Yes, ma’am.”
She stood aside, he entered. She closed the door and fingered the card. “How did you know how to find me?”
He stood a little stiffly as though at attention. Somehow he was not all there. “I don’t know,” he said vacantly.
A wave of guilt swept over her. And then a feeling of something a little frightening. A hard, gem like flame. She stood quietly with the card in her fingers watching him for signs of pent up violence. Should she ask him to leave? But he was as docile as a lamb. As if his male brain had shifted into neutral. She raised her hand, searching and touched his shoulder. He continued to stand without moving. Without awareness.
She thought of the candy dish with its wine and felt a wave of guilt, and a wicked zing. Suddenly she wanted to show it to him. To see if he understood it. To see what he would do.
But what would he do? Laugh at her? Go back and brag of his adventure the way boys did? He was a strapping young bull. Maybe strong enough to wrestle her down to the floor – and then?
And yet he continued to stand passively, strangely vacant and calm as a glass of water. Not quite looking at her.
“Tell me how you found me. Did you call the card company? How do they do it these days with our private information?”
He turned his head, looked down at the carpet. “I don’t know,” he said. “I just knew. I had to come.” He looked up at her with eyes that seemed strangely begging, like a dog who’s just peed on the rug. “You told me to come to you. So I had to come.”
This is what an entranced man looks like. He’s entranced, she thought. She put her fingers to her mouth. A bewitched man. “Close your eyes,” she said softly. He closed his eyes. “Open your eyes.” He did so. He looked at her, quietly. Waiting. “You came here because I told you? How did I tell you?”
That odd begging look. “I just had to. Because you said so. I had to.”
“If I told you to take off your shirt, would you do it?”
“Take off your shirt then.”
He obeyed. He held them neatly over his arm.
He removed his shoes, his socks, finally his underwear revealing his thick penis and stood nude, holding his clothes in his arms. She held her breath looking and looking, his youth. His virile potency. His perfect helplessness in her hand. “Can you . . .” she said hesitantly, and pointed between his legs. “Can you - ?”
The young man, whose name she didn’t know, Smurf perhaps, stood nude, bluntly tumescent, utterly under her control. She looked at him long and long, imagining him on her bed. Imagining him obediently riding her from above. His sleek symmetry. Youthful rigidity. Delicious docility. A love doll. A human doll. A sex toy with a heart beat.
She folded her arms and sighed. “No,” she said.
He continued to wait obediently for whatever she would say, the swelled knob of his hard phallus raised high, bobbing slightly with his heart beat.
She wiped away a tear and turned away. This is wrong, she thought. This isn’t seduction. It would be a kind of date rape, he may as well be drugged. He doesn’t want me. I could command him to, but it wouldn’t be the same. Maybe there’s magic, but there’s no magic inside. This is empty.
She waved her hand over her shoulder dismissively, without looking. “Get dressed,” she said. There were the sounds of clothes rustling. With a pang of regret she turned to take a last look at his penis, maybe change her mind, but already he had his underwear on and was zipping his pants. She watched him put on his shirt covering that flat belly which might have felt so good tensed up against hers. After the final shoe was on he stood waiting again in that bewildered stance for the next thing. She went up to him, stood close and caressed his placid cheek.
“Don’t think about this,” she said commandingly. “Just don’t think about it. You brought me my card. That’s all that happened. Thank you. Go.” She opened the door. He glanced at her, moved forward and out the door with a broken air of cast-offness. She watched him drive away. She leaned against the door, listening to the fading engine.
She went to the kitchen and poured the wine conjuration into the sink, and ran water in the dish. She swept the salt into a dustpan and threw it away.
I don’t want to think about what just happened, I’ll think about it in the morning. Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket, see how that works out.
She sat in front of the TV, flipping through the channels. Then the oldies channel, the only channel she really watched. The show was “I Dream of Jeannie”. Again, the dull male fantasy of the servile woman. A genie – a fucking genie! It was insane, this perky little woman, a supernatural being of devastating power, a virtual goddess in harem pants, reduced to simpering submissiveness to a man who could never appreciate her gifts. A man just like the witches’ husband who only wanted her to be ordinary. Yes, master. Yes, master. Why did she not crush him with a gesture?
The door bell rang.
She got up and opened it immediately. It was the same young man, his eyes red with fierce tears. “What the fuck just happened to me?” he said.
“What is your name?” she said.
“Jack,” he said. “Please don’t hurt me.”
“Of course not Jack,” she said. “Are you upset? Why are you here? I don’t know if you should be here.”
“I’m really confused.” He wiped his eyes on his forearm. “Can we talk?”
She searched her thoughts, sniffed the air for danger. And then “Sure.” She opened the door wide and he entered. She waved him to the large wide sofa in front of the TV. “Sit. Do you need a Kleenex?” She pulled one from a box and handed it to him.
“I’m not trying to scare you,” he said, “but some really weird shit just happened to me. ”
She looked at him searching, but there was no danger in him. Just a beautiful young man. “What?”
“You were inside me,” he said.
“It felt intense. You were inside my head.”
“Lola,” she held out her hand. “Name’s Lola.”
He shook her hand. “Jack.”
“Yes, I know.”
“I know you,” he said, with fervent intensity. “I feel like I really, really know you like I’ve never known anybody ever because I felt you in my head. Like we were joined. I don’t want to scare you. Am I too weird? Does that make sense? Do you want me to go away?”
He’s really kind of sweet, she thought. “Jack. Would you like to stay here on the sofa and watch TV with me awhile? Maybe talk?”
“Would you like something to drink? Maybe wine?”
“Okay. I just want to be here with you for a while. Is that all right?”
“Sure,” she said. She went to the kitchen and noticed the candy dish in the sink filled with water. I don’t know this world anymore, she thought. This is some other world. Maybe this is heaven. She poured him some Tokay in a little jelly jar and brought it to him. He sat nervously, sipping, eyes down almost fearfully and yet his exhilaration at being here with her thrilled her to the core. An intense intimacy radiated from him. She sat next to him, allowed herself to move closer to him as if comforting a dangerous animal. He seemed so troubled by her. So deeply stirred. She lifted her hand, touched his cheek with her fingers. He leaned his face into her hand; she felt his warm lips brush her palm as if seeking her there. The little fruit jar in his hand was shaking, making ripples in the wine. He sighed into her hand as she caressed him with the other, gently taming him.
“Dear boy,” she said. “Dear, dear boy.” She put her arms around him and drew him closer, cautiously and gently, not because she was afraid of him, but because she was afraid for him. That he might fall apart in her hands and lose himself. She pressed his head to her breast, felt his hands travel up her arms and snug her closer. His warm breath pulsing against the skin over her heartbeat.
I know what to do, she thought. I know another magic, the most ancient and primal magic. The magic of woman with a man. Let’s try that.
“I’ll be back after I change,” she said, rising. He remained on the sofa, tranquil and happy. She crossed the room and opened the door to her bedroom, looking back over her shoulder. “We’ll get to know each other tonight.”C Sanchez-Garcia