Nooooooo… I don’t want to think about apocalypse, dystopia, anything like that. I’ll face up to those…maybe…when it’s my turn to discuss the topic. But this is my day for promo, and, while I don’t write apocalyptic fiction, I do occasionally face up to some pretty dark situations. In this story, “Danger,” I manage to include shades of war, a certain degree of PTSD, extreme violence, and, at the very same time, an historical event when resistance triumphed.
Here’s about half of the story. All of it can be found in my anthology Lesbian Lust, and also in Thunder of War, Lightning of Desire: Lesbian Military Historical Erotica.
Thunder of War
Sex. Anonymous, no-strings, cunt-clenching, blast-furnace sex, enough to get me through a few more months of repression. That’s all I was looking for. But deep down, it wasn’t that simple. What I needed was danger, or pain, or pleasure; anything intense enough to fill the void.
Cruising Greenwich Village wouldn’t block out flashbacks to Vietnam. Not a chance. But the war had cursed plenty of us with more than nightmares and memory lapses and the whole PTSD bag. Only somebody who’d been there could understand the addiction, the need for adrenaline highs. Sometimes sex was the closest you could come. If you got really, really lucky, it might even make you forget for a while.
After a year at a field hospital at Pleiku in the boonies and six months at the main facility in Long Binh, I'd finally been rotated “home” and assigned to an Army orthopedic ward. It didn’t feel like home. I didn't fit stateside any more, didn’t fit anywhere, and over there the war still ground on into a future I wanted no part of.
There wasn’t much of anything I did want, except enough of what passed for sanity to get me through my days. But I was needed; broken men who deserved far more depended on my care; and to keep from flaming out at my job I had to get away from it, if only briefly. So, on a rare weekend off, I took the train from DC to New York, and then the subway, rolling into the Christopher Street station at half-past midnight on June 28th, 1969.
Sweat, piss, and pot smoke soured the underground air. The street-level atmosphere was more breathable, but with an electric edge to it, a manic energy driving the crowds. I wasn’t the only one looking for trouble. Local talent and weekend wannabes, hippies, hustlers, aging beatniks, tourists sucking up the scene; they wound in and out of bars and side streets along Sheridan Square. Mostly guys, but a few women of interest caught my attention as I edged through the throng.
The fringe on a leather jacket brushed my arm in the crosswalk. A sideways glance showed me a lean, tanned face framed by black hair, small feathers tucked into each long braid. A swift jolt of attraction—but my interest would fizzle if the body beneath the Indian regalia turned out to be male. I couldn't make up my mind until I'd dropped back far enough to watch her hips and long legs. Nice ass under the worn jeans, slim, but definitely female. Hippie role-play getups usually leave me cold; on the other hand, a nice touch of sexual ambiguity heats me up, so she'd scored at least a draw.
Once on the sidewalk, she turned and eyed me with more than the usual speculation, as if she thought she'd met me somewhere. Or was considering trying that line of approach.
I needed some decompression time. My gaze drifted past hers with only the subtlest pause at her slim, strong hands, as brown as her face. Maybe later, if she turned up at one of the bars I’d be checking out. I kept on toward my friend's apartment just off the Square on Grove Street, and felt the stranger watching me, felt my own stride alter subtly. My ass tingled. Then I heard her boots on the pavement as she moved away in another direction.
The leather-fetish shop just up the way was closed, but I took a look into its brightly lit windows anyway, reinforcing the sense that no, Dorothy, we weren’t in Kansas any more, thank-you-very-much. Or in Washington DC at Walter Reed Army Hospital, although some of the S/M gear with its metal rivets and buckles gave me an unsettling flashback to the orthopedic ward.
I shook it off. Something different niggled at my mind as I dug out my keys and let myself in through the outer door. Kansas, Dorothy…a headline glimpsed at the newsstand in Penn Station… Oh, right. Judy Garland's funeral had been today. Maybe that explained the crowd's tension, maybe not. I hadn't been a huge fan, but still… I paused for breath on the fourth floor landing, and murmured sincerely, "Thank you, Dorothy, really, thank you very much." Then my key clicked in the old lock, and I went on in.
My college friend, off in Kenya now with the Peace Corps, still hung on to her rent-controlled apartment. I chipped in for occasional weekends. The anonymity of the city suited me, and the edginess of the Village. Not to mention the potential for sex, with all its dangers. Okay, especially with all its dangers.
By ten past one I was showered and ready to roll. Jeans and a denim vest over a gray T-shirt, auburn hair just brushing my earlobes. Not advertising, exactly, but not discouraging anybody who might be shopping.
Sheridan Square was boy-bar territory. I took a look around, though, the memory of the tall stranger percolating to the surface of my mind. The notion of slipping my hands under that fringed suede jacket took on considerable appeal. The thought of her fingers under my own shirt roused my nipples to parade-ground attention. Had I missed my chance?
The crowd was even edgier now. Some folks went about business as usual, whether strutting or furtive, while others clustered in muttering groups. I paused outside the Stonewall Inn. The usual go-go boys didn't interest me, although some of the drag queens could be as much fun to watch as high femmes, when I was in the mood.
But flashy drama wasn't on my wish list tonight. I needed the touch of smooth, unscarred skin, the press of an unbroken body needing no more healing from me than the frenzy of mutual friction could provide. I needed a woman.
No drama? So what the hell am I doing on the streets of Greenwich Village after midnight?
And there it came, like the answer to a subconscious prayer. Four black-and-whites and a paddy wagon squealed to a halt in front of the Stonewall Inn. Cops poured out like circus clowns, rushing to get an eyeful in the bar before the "degenerates" slipped out the back.
It was a regular routine. A flurry of arrests, a few fleeing customers who couldn’t afford to be outed, some stiff fines, and then business as usual by the next night. But this time was different, and if you travel in the circles I do, or even if you don’t, there’s no need to explain the difference. Stonewall is in the history books.
My first instinct was to back off and head for more likely hunting grounds. Other folks seemed to have the same reaction, and the square was emptying fast. I walked a few blocks, going with the flow. But then the sirens of police reinforcements tore through the heavy air, and, instead of accelerating our retreat, turned the tide. Why did they need reinforcements? Something was happening. Something we didn’t want to miss.
Back in the square screams and shouts and the crash of breaking furniture came from the Inn. A tangle of cops with billy clubs and drag queens wielding lethal spike heels came flailing out onto the sidewalk. The queers were fighting back!
And so, suddenly, was the crowd, scream by scream, stone by stone, chaos racing on a torrent of long-repressed rage.
I was near the front, with no thought but to ride the wave of excitement, until I saw her thirty feet away. Dark braids flailed like whips as four cops tried to drag her toward the paddy wagon. I stared, caught her eye, and for an instant she flashed me a cocky grin, the fire of battle flaring in her eyes. She wrenched one arm free long enough to give me a “thumbs up” sign. That brief glimpse of her hand hit me where it counted.
I swerved on impulse to charge to her aid, but a bottle shot past me from behind and exploded against a wall. War-zone reflexes slammed me to the pavement. When the crowd closed in it was move or be trampled, so I struggled upright and moved. By then there was no sign of her, and the cops were crouching behind their vehicle.
For an hour or so I hung around on the periphery of the action, not quite feeling like I had a right to be in the front lines. I’d never been hassled by the law, and in the military I’d kept a low, clean profile because my nursing was needed. Or so I told myself. Now I played medic to a few victims of shattered glass and pavement abrasions, applying disinfectants and band-aids from an all-night drugstore and ice packs rigged up in nearby bars. In between I cheered on the drag queens and pretty boys and bears of all flavors who turned the tables on the cops until the boys in blue had to barricade themselves inside the Stonewall Inn and call for more reinforcements.
Once in a while I caught distant glimpses of long black braids and a fringed jacket in the heart of the fight, where uprooted parking meters and benches were being used as battering rams to try to get at the police pinned down inside the tavern. She’d got loose, of course. Whenever I tried to get closer she disappeared into the shifting masses.
Frustration gnawed at me. All geared up, and nowhere to go. I’d come looking for sex, and the charged, manic atmosphere just pumped up my need, but this time groping in a secluded booth at a girls’ bar wasn’t going to do it for me. Even a wrestling match in a grubby restroom would be too tame. Even…
“Hey, medic, over here.”
She was down a blind alleyway, slouching against a wall just at the blurred border where dim light gave way to darkness. Her fringed jacket was off, and slung over one shoulder.
Medic. She must have seen me patching up the wounded, but I hoped she wanted something more than first aid. Either way, I didn’t hesitate for an instant. “Are you okay?” I didn’t see any obvious signs of injury even when my vest brushed against her sweat-streaked tank top. “What do you need?”
No smile now, just a long, searching look into my eyes. My breathing quickened. So did my pulse rate, and an aching knot of need tightened my groin.
“What do you need, medic?” It wasn’t a question. Her voice was low, husky, and certain. My answer was a half-step forward that brought me up firmly against her. One thigh pressed into her crotch. I straddled her slightly raised knee. Just a little more pressure, the slowest of movements…the need was building, along with the haunting fear of giving in to a need for more than I could get.
A glare of blue light flashed past the end of the alley as a cop car sped by. My back was exposed, vulnerable. What if I were caught, arrested, disgraced, fired…
The prickle of fear down my spine made my pulses beat even faster, my body strain harder to feel the responding pressure of hers. I clutched at her back, my hands already under her thin shirt, raising it. Her arms were around me, and she gripped my ass, forcing me to move, to rub against her in a rhythm that demanded fierce acceleration. “What do you need, what do you need,” she muttered over and over, a low, compelling chant, and all I could do was move faster, rub harder, feel her hardened nipples flick across my aching breasts, and slide my cunt along her thigh while my own thigh met her thrusts.
Distant crashes…panic threatening to take hold…but she edged a hand inside my jeans and wrenched all my awareness back to where our bodies merged. Her fingers slid through my folds into my hungry cunt, her thumb went at my clit with hard, sure strokes—and I plummeted over the edge, all defenses gone, all trust given, nothing mattering but to get more, and more, harder, please, more!—until the whole battery of sensations, fear, urgent need, loss of control, came together in one massive jolt of pleasure.