This was his idea of hell. Of having his neediness hung out in front of him for an obligatory four hours like a man in the stocks but with bathroom breaks as people went carefully around him smiling and avoiding eye contact as though he were ill or contagious, his sharpie pen ever at the ready and a stack of trade paperbacks ready to sign. "Carnival of Flesh". His latest erotic urban masterpiece which no one would quite read, at least none he knew of. Still small checks dribbled in every month from somewhere. He had found a couple of his older minor masterpieces in the book stores rock bottom remainders bin, marked down even from half price. Rather gauche of them not to hide them to spare his feelings until he'd passed through. Soon they might give them away for compost with the spent coffee grounds from the Starbucks.
From where he sat on his little desert isle of a book signing table he could see a sign advertising Oliver North here next Saturday. He would be signing his latest spy thriller, and because it was Oliver North and this a red state with an army base in town the line would probably be sure to form around the block. But not today.
He could not sigh. Did not dare for one instant look sad or scared. He didn't actually hope any longer for his long line stretching around the block, only for a friendly face to stop by and chat. Maybe a writing student from the local college shyly asking for some advice from the big deal author.
Pay attention to me. Talk to me.
Praise me. Please somebody tell me how much you love my stuff. Please please pretty please.
Hell is lonely. And I have an hour to go. Somebody tell me how much you love me.
On the nearest bookshelf were some eye catching coffee table books. He wanted desperately just to get up and look at them, be a customer again, a reader of books, not some lonely pimp on a street corner with his sharpie pen hoping to button hole some poor sailor of a book reader to come over and see his wares.
"Stone Tools of the Neolithic and Paleolithic Eras"
Now that looked like a mighty interesting read - he rose slightly at the knees to reach it - but no. Could not. Would not. Reading someone else's book? At a signing table? Are you insane? Wasn't that the most abject admission of defeat?
The hand axes on the cover were finely polished black stone, probably obsidian. He knew these tools. Had studied them when he had thought he would be a paleontologist. The men who had crafted them 50000 years ago had chipped edges in the material a micron thick, actually sharper than a razor blade. Far sharper than they needed to be for chopping up meat and bone. And why did cave men do these things?
To impress women.
Beautiful hand axes. Books. Why would any man work so hard except to get laid?
But writers, he thought, even erotica writers, we don't get babes. Its the dudes with the phallic guitars and surf boards under their arms, the bad boys with the new stone axes that get laid.
Carpe librum - bitch.
He rose, reached across and seized the goddamn book.
I admit no one reads my shitty books. I'm defeated. So I'll read someone else's. So fuck it. Sleep till noon and screw 'em all I say.
He flipped open the cover and felt a heave of sadness. Even one person, please tell me how great I am. Someone must like these books because they send me a little money for them on Paypal. Let there be people who think I'm good. I wish I had readers. I wish I had fans. I wish I had attention. I conjure them - appear to me.
He flipped the pages admiring the spear heads and perfect arrow heads with their rippling edges. Those cave ladies must have been some great piece of ass for men to do work like this, he thought.
A shadow fell across the page.
A young woman was there with a plastic bag of books in her arms. Tall, twenty something, thick blonde hair tied back. Her face was oddly exotic and full of temperament. A T shirt with a burst of stars expanded outward from her ample breasts and over the stars the words "Procul His".
"Hello," he said. "Looking for the food court?"
"You are totally Edgar Black," she declared.
"I'm your biggest fan ever. Your stories drive me wild."
He looked behind her, around her to see who was watching, giggling. No one had put her up to it.
"Can I see?" He held out his hand and she set down her stack of books. People were looking at them now. Her adoration crackled through the book store.
"Some of these I forgot I wrote. You want me to sign them all? I will."
"No, why would I want that?"
His face burned. "Look. I don't understand." He waited. She said nothing. He pointed at her T Shirt. "So whose Procul? You're his girlfriend? He's the guy who really likes my stuff?"
"No, it's just - " Christ, the girl was turning red.
"Are you okay?"
"Oh my god I'm talking to Edgar fucking Black! I don't want your autograph."
"I get that."
She leaned in close. He could feel her breath on his face, smelling of Juicy Fruit, her lips an inch from his. "It's just - I want . . . I want you to do something really, really special for me. And it has to be you. Something personal. Tonight. My place. Say yes."
He glanced down at the glossy color photographs of obsidian hand axes. "Yes," he said.
He pressed the door bell again and waited looking down at the hallway carpet. He clenched his fists around the sweating bottle of Pinot Noir and the yellow legal pad filled with penciled script. The patter of bare feet running. Feet stopping. Deep nervous inhale behind the door, then the knob turned and she was there all in a see through red negligee. She smiled and the bulky profile of her bare breasts beneath swayed with possibilities.
I have a groupie, he thought. I may be the first writer since Bukowski to have a groupie.
She held open the door, he swallowed from a dry mouth and came in, his eyes slightly down seeing her bare feet, her girlish toes. "I did it," he said, holding up the yellow legal pad. "It's yours." He held it out to her.
She closed the door. She looked down at the legal pad suddenly disappointed. "You don't understand?" she said. "I thought I was clear."
"Maybe not," he said, feeling his spirit sag.
"This is for us together. I want you to read it to me. In there." She pointed at the bedroom door.
"Wow," he said and felt instantly stupid. He walked to confess to her he had never had much experience with women. Especially women who seemed to know what they wanted and weren't afraid to ask. Everything he knew came from books; sex manuals and other people's romance novels mostly. "I don't know."
She held out her hand assertively and he took it. She walked him to the bedroom by the hand, then stopped and snatched the legal pad from him. At the bedroom door, she ran her eyes over it, her lips moving gently as she flipped the first page and read the next. "This is some sorry shit," she said.
"You don't like it? It's your story, you're in it like you asked."
"Noooooooo . . . . " She tossed the legal pad over her shoulder and gave him an exasperated curtsy. "Edgar Black. The Edgar Black. Standing at my bedroom door. You'll have to do better than that if you want to impress me." She put her arms around him and squeezed him to her body. She pressed her breasts against him and held him tightly whispering into his ear, the puffs of breath tickling him like drumbeats. "I told you I wanted you to write an erotic story just for me with my name in it. But I want something good. Whisper it in my ear. Whisper it so you make me come with your words." She gently touched her cheek to his cheek, her lips brushing his ear as she whispered almost into his head. "Can you do that for me? Move the earth under me. Talk dirty to me. I want to gobble up your words."
She pushed the door open. The room was full of blazing scented candles. The double bed was simple, with a thick comforter and several pillows and a clean white bath towel folded clinically at the foot of the bed. Above the bed was a painting of shooting stars and the words "Procul His: Beyond These Things".
She let go of his hand and stretched out on the bed, wiggling her toes, sitting up comfortably against the bed stand. She hiked the hem of the red negligee up to the tops of her thighs and patted the place beside her.
It not occurred to him until this moment that he was wearing pants. Rumpled and unironed from hotel to hotel and airport to airport, but suddenly in the way. Should he take them off?
He took off his shoes instead, hesitated at taking off his socks. He had ugly middle aged feet. At what moment would another false move spoil the mood?
He went over to the bed climbed up and sat next to her, stretching out his legs. Quietly trembling.
She cuddled close to him, almost climbing onto his lap. "So," she said. "Tell me a story."
Fear left him as he felt himself rise to the challenge. "Okay." he said. "Do you masturbate?"
"Tell me a sexual fantasy of yours, something you use when you masturbate."
"Okay," she said. She pressed in tight to him, their thighs touching. "It's a dark and stormy night. I'm horny as a toad and I'm about to play with myself and lightning hits the house and knocks the lights out and I'm really scared to be alone in the dark. Then the door bell rings and a man from the power company is there, the most gorgeous man ever. 'Can I come in ma'am and fix you?' And I let him in and I've forgotten I'm naked but he turns on his flashlight and sees me and his clothes are soaking wet. I say to him you'd better take off all those wet clothes so you don't get zapped when you're working. 'You're right ma'am,' he says and he drops it all and he's got big balls that hang down and this thick stiffy sticking straight up and he sees me looking at it. He shoves me down onto the bed and licks and kisses me and he lays on top of me so I can't move and twaddles me expertly with his fingers down there and he says - ?"
Oh," he said. "Okay. Here." He put his arm around her shoulders, held her tight and put his lips to her ear.
I owe you my life ma'am. I'd have been electrocuted if not for you. I'm going to stay here with you all night. Use me. Use me like your love bitch. Play with my body. Don't be afraid of me. I won't hurt you. Use me. That's it. Kiss me with your mouth open. Do it."
As he whispered these words into her ear, his hand wandered over her shoulder, moving down her neck caressing, lightly hovering over the warm skin and fuzz of her arm in the candle light as he turned her face to him and pressed his lips into the warm wet of her mouth and felt her fearful tongue reach out and shyly touch his.
"Bob," she said. "The power guy, his name is Bob."
"Bob says to her I'll do anything for you. Use me, sweetness. Any dark thing. Any silly thing. Anything you've ever wanted to do with a man's body and were scared to ask, ask me and its yours. You can do it with me. Whip me. Tie me. Beat my meat. Suck me off. Explore me. Explore your desires through me. And if you don't, then I'm going to explore you. Every inch of your beautiful body. Every crack in your body.
"What if I want to eat you up?" she whispered dreamily.
"Eat me up?"
"But what if I want to really eat you up?"
"Not if I eat you up first."
He knew it was his cue. Here in the candle light of her room, his dreams were coming true. He lifted the hem of her T shirt and pressed his lips to her belly and held them there, lingering, savoring. No more thinking. Bringing himself to her, breathing the scent of her skin as he held his lips there. No more words, as he slipped her panties past her knees and pressed his face deep into her warm wet hair.
She stopped and shivered as his lips touched the spot, he felt her go vulnerable and open. Her legs moved, he parted them and pressed the flat of his tongue against her wet nether lips and kept it there, breathing hotly on her skin, enjoying the scent and taste of her until her breathing became ragged and she began to move her hips into him. He pursed his lips around her clitoris and sucked at it, in and out, sucking in and out, letting his breath fall on her skin as she tipped her head slightly seeking his touch.
"I want to eat you up," she sighed.
He wanted to speak but he pushed the words away from his thoughts. This was not a time for words. For once words would get in the way. He sucked her clit. In and out. In and out. Gently thwonking the tiny shaft. Sucking in and out and then gently rubbing at it with the tip of his tongue, setting up a rythem. Suck. Rub. Suck. Rub. Feeling it. Getting his tongue in deep. Then suck. Rub. Suck in. Rub out. He ran his hands up over her belly as he sucked and tapped at her clit, in and out, in and out. He twined his fingers in her wet wiry hair and caressed it lovingly, then her belly, ran his fingernails lightly, maddeningly along the delicate skin inside her thighs and waited with infinite patience as her body awakened to him.
Reaching up, stroking her breasts, smoothing outward like the beating of angel wings, his hands stroking her breasts in perfect time with his lips mesmerizing her. He had imagined this. He had rehearsed this a million times with a million fantasy women. Sometimes at the keyboard. Sometimes with himself. But this . . . This was life. Woman. Primal and dangerous.
He felt her nipples expanding under his fingers. He resisted the urge to climb up and suck them. Not now when she was so bravely opening herself to him, abandoning herself to him. She didn't thrash or twist as she would in a story. She didn't make a big deal out of it. He would have to remember all this the next time he wrote a love scene. It wasn't like that. Sometimes. She stopped moving. Stopped breathing. Became deathly still as though waiting for something inside that was rising to the surface.
"Fuck!" She banged herself hard against his nose. Ramming his face hard with her pussy so that he saw squirming starbursts behind his eyes.
"Ahhhhhh!" She wailed and he heard her sob. "You fuck," she whispered as if it were a curse. "You fuck." Her body stiffened and twisted "Ahhhhh - " that weird lost wail as he felt the ripples coursing to his lips through her loins. She reached down and twisted her fingers in his hair, rubbed her cunt against his face for one last spasm and fell back.
"Fuck you," she whimpered. "Oh, fuck you to hell. You stupid fuck. Fuck."
He wasn't sure what it meant. Had he done it wrong?
"Come here," she was smiling dreamily, a red faced angel in the candle light and waving her hand to him. "Come up here you beautiful man."
He moved up her body and pressed his glazed wet face reverently on her neck as she lay panting.
"I still want to eat you up," she said, her eyes idiot dazed with the echoes of her pleasure, "You sweet, sweet man." She licked his face and kissed him on the lips.
"What's it like?" he said, mildly. "How does it feel when you come hard like that?"
"Like a little drop in space," she said,"exploding into stars."
She whispered in his ear "Procul His" and gently nipped his ear so that he smiled and jumped. He was about to climb on top of her when she opened her mouth and he saw her lolling tongue as she leaned back and stared into his eyes.
And then her eyes turned black.
When he was a little child in Noble Oklahoma there had been a twister dropped down from the boiling green clouds of a spring evening. It tore away the roof as his mother held him down under the bed. But it was noise of the wind, the rushing, tormented wind like a freight train two inches from his ear that had haunted his nightmares. It was the rushing headlong locomotive wind that filled his head in this moment with the woman with the soulless black eyes that made his ears seem to pop with a hollow deafness as his brain began to ache. Impossible. The rushing was something being sucked out of his head.
He was alone on the bed. The woman had . . . What was the word?
What was the word when someone was . . . When they had . . .
There were names for things. But the names were gone. There were words for what people did. But the names of those things they did were gone.
There were . . .
He was seeing the world the way he knew animals would see it. The timeless endless fugue of the single headlong and indescribable moment squeezed, stripped bare of past and future. The wordless, endless instant.
How to say . . . what . . .?
He could not remember to form words. He could not remember the idea of words. The endless monkey chatter of his thoughts had been stripped to abject silence.
He rushed out the something, stumbled in the something, clattered down the something else. A red something on the wall with painted little warning scribbles - they meant something.
He ran into the street and gibbered at the people who walked past. A woman stopped with a worried face, touched his shoulder as his tongue stretched and strained, opening and closing his mouth like a dying fish. Her lips moved at him; clucking sounds at him that made no sense. He toiled, sweated, searching, for the lost sounds he needed to express what had happened.
"Rah . . . .rah . . . Rah . . ."
People with worried faces gathered around him making senseless monkey sounds he should understand and could not.
"Rah . . . Rah . ." He bit down on his tongue until it bled. Slapped himself hard on the cheek.
"Robbed!" he screamed and fell down.
The sharpie pen twirled in her fingers, moved over the title page with studied indifference and the moving sharpie having writ moved on.
The next in line, a man, stepped up and picked up a fresh skinny little hard back off the stack and pushed it to her. "Can you sign it to - "
"Okay." He waited while she scribbled something across the title page, snapped it shut and passed it back. "Can we get a picture?" he said hopefully.
"Sure," she said.
He passed his cell phone to the next in line, scooted behind the table and they smiled together as the smart phone made a shutter sound. "Thanks!"
She glanced down at her watch and felt her stomach growl. No breakfast. No lunch. Not even a coffee stand in this hick library building. Ridiculously planned, this book tour. She absolutely felt a poem coming on.
A shadow fell across the table and a whiff of patchouli oil. A young woman was standing there blushing furiously with excitement. She wore a t shirt of expanding stars.
"Nice," said the woman at the table. "Who's 'Procul His'?"
"You are - " said the young woman, hopping up and down urgently as though she needed badly to pee, " - the greatest poet ever! Ever! Your introspective lesbian poetry freed me to love and be my true self! You saved my life!"
The young woman leaned in, breathing softly. "I would do anything for you, you deep sensitive woman. Anything. If you'll do something special for me."