Archive for February, 2012

The Dustbin of the American Century

I’ll tell you what I’d do, if I had the time and money. I’d buy up one of those abandoned malls, the sprawling, multi-acre kind that litter the country, that had their own on-ramps and used to be filled with cruising tweens and rent-a-cops; Mrs. Field’s Cookies and Sears and cheap-o ear piercing joints and are now just a waste of real estate.

I’d gut the place. I’d brick up all the doors. All except two, one on each side of the building. Those two I’d replace with oversized metal security doors, painted black, with big yellow signs on them, one labeled “ASTERION” and the other labeled “ARACHNE”. I’d install electronic locks on them, so I could control them from my computer, right here, where I’m sitting.

I’d knock down all the interior walls. Demolish all the shoppes, all the movie theatres, the food court, all the potted plants and decorative fountains, pull down all the drop ceilings and inoffensive public works of art. Maybe I’d leave a fountain, trickling away in the semi-darkness; it’d be kind of creepy.

I’d design up a maze, draw it out on graph paper, one square equals five feet. The maze would have two entrances, one at each door, and it would wind through the building; up and down stairs, full of dead-ends and wrong turns and long passages to nowhere. In the heart of the building there would be a central chamber, which each half of the maze would eventually lead to.

I’d have workmen construct it, stud walls and three-quarter inch plywood, floor to ceiling. I’d bring in illegal laborers from Thailand, pay off the local inspectors. There would be low-level light throughout, compact fluorescents, a perpetual twilight. I’d install security cameras everywhere, fancy high-end models, super high resolution, quality optics, the kind you can control with your keyboard: pan and tilt, zoom in and out.

The central room would be more brightly lit, with recessed dimmable LED fixtures. There would be a big, industrial-sized refrigerator, stocked with food. Racks and racks of freeze-dried and canned food, everything from diced pineapples to Meals, Ready to Eat. There would be a microwave, a sink, some dishes and utensils. There would be a bathroom, a toilet and a shower with two towels but no curtain over in the corner. There would be a futon mattress and a cabinet filled with every sex toy I could think of. There would be a full-length mirror that took up most of one wall, the kind with a pair of angled panels that displays three images at once. There’d be a chin-up bar, a weight machine, a treadmill; and reams and reams of pornography. I’d stock a library with all kinds of ink-on-paper porn: everything from the Kama Sutra to Anais Nin; everything from Playboy to Hustler magazine, and everything in between.

When it was all done, I’d send my carpenters home to Cambodia or wherever it was they came from, pockets stuffed full of cash. I’d bribe the local fire marshal, it never takes much; he wouldn’t even take a peek inside. Then I’d settle in for the wait, cameras trained on the two outer doors rigged with motion detectors, wired straight into my computer.

It might take months or even years. The parking lot would sprout brambles and poison ivy, scrub oak and skinny pine. The walls would crawl with graffiti and kudzu. Eventually a likely prospect would come along.

Oh, there would be others before him. Homeless dudes looking for shelter; groups of teens out scrounging around for trouble; looters and vandals and petty criminals in search of scrap. They’d all find the doors locked, impregnable.

This one would be different. Say he’s a teenager, a smart kid, but a bit of a loner. An aspiring poet maybe, from a broken home, the kind who always looks like he needs a haircut, and slouches around in hand-me-down jeans that are a size or two too big.

He comes furtively snooping around one night. Maybe he’s just had another fight with his dad. Maybe he wants to find someplace quiet to write, maybe he is looking for somewhere to have a smoke, or to jerk off, I don’t know. Anyway, he walks up to that big metal door labeled ‘ASTERION’, and when he tentatively nudges it, it swings smoothly and silently open on oiled hinges.

He steps inside, and the door swings shut behind him with a click. Being a sensible guy, he checks the handle, and finds it locked. He might spend a little while trying to get it to open again, but he’ll have no luck. The door is locked, and nothing short of an oxy-acetylene torch or a large-scale battering ram will open it again without my say-so.

Eventually, he gives up on the door. His eyes adjust to the dim lighting. He starts to explore, and I track him on my cameras as he wanders up and down the empty corridors; past the eerie fountain tinkling away in the semi-darkness, where he stops for a drink because he’ll be thirsty by then; groping along passages that all look the same, coming to dead ends, retracing his steps, getting more and more profoundly lost.

In the end, of course, he finds the central chamber. By then he is famished; thirsty, disoriented and exhausted. He slurps water straight out of the tap and scarfs down one of the energy bars that I had conveniently left sitting on the counter, and then he falls asleep fully clothed on top of the futon. I leave him there, make a run to the Seven-Eleven to stock up on junk food: chips and salsa and pretzel bits and Cheetos; and spend the next few hours padding around my apartment in my bunny slippers, nervous as a cat, jumped up on caffeine, just waiting for my motion sensor to tell me he was up and about.

I imagine that when he wakes up, he starts to explore his surroundings. He probably won’t stray too far from the room at first, for fear of getting lost. I haven’t done anything stupid, like supply him with a ball of twine or a bag of M&Ms to make a trail with. After poking around the maze a little bit, and it pretty much all looks the same, he retreats to the central chamber. He examines the contents. Makes himself a meal from the supply of freeze-dried and canned foods. He leafs through some of the pornography, and gives the cabinet of sex toys a puzzled look; there are dildos, butt-plugs and vibrators of every size, shape, and description. He holds up a string of anal beads, looking charmingly quizzical; probably not his cup of tea, and certainly far outside his realm of experience. God, I’d love to know what he’s thinking about now!

Eventually he takes a shower – at least there’s hot water, and plenty of it! – and boys being boys, he’ll probably jerk off.

He has a nice body. Smooth, slender, almost like a girl. He could have been an athlete: a long distance runner, or a rock climber, or a gymnast, if he’d ever put his mind to it. He has a little bit of fluffy, sandy body hair, and a surprisingly big dick. I wonder what he smells like.

I zoom in with my hidden security camera, admiring his hardness, watching the way he touches himself, the way he starts slowly, almost tenderly, before the excitement overtakes him, and his hand is ratcheting up and down his cock almost too fast for the camera to pick up. I feel a warm rush of satisfaction when his face is drawn up tight into a twisted grimace of pleasure as he orgasms, and his semen jets out from his swollen cock in a beautiful arc, splashing across his belly so crisp and clear that I can almost reach out and touch it. I watch, glowing, as he lays there panting, his tired cock slowly diminishing. Maybe he plays idly with the puddle of come as he recovers, dipping his finger in the pearlescent lake and spreading it about. Finally he cleans off and resumes exploring.

In time, he traverses the entire maze. There is nothing particularly remarkable, no lurking Minotaur, no Shelob, nothing but raw plywood and CFLs. He makes his way back to the place he came in from; eventually he finds the other entrance. Both doors are locked. He might bang on them for a while, he might scream silently against the cold steel, but it doesn’t make any difference. They stay impassively shut.

He will commit the entire maze to memory. It doesn’t matter, there’s nothing there, no secret passages, no cryptic message, no fiendish riddle that will unlock a hidden door to freedom. Sometimes; not often, but sometimes; he wonders if there actually is an outside, or if that was just a dream, and the maze is all there is.

I never get tired of watching him masturbate. It feels like an act of intimacy. I know his body by heart. He usually does it about once a day; sometimes more, sometimes less. Time doesn’t mean very much in there; the lights dim in some approximation of circadian rhythms, but the days quickly blur together.

I always feel my heart rate increase when he whips it out, coaxes it to full erect hardness. He experiments with the toys: I made sure to stock the place with plenty of lube. He is tentative at first, barely tickling his anus with the smallest, least intimidating of the dildos. Apparently he likes the sensation. His dick seems to curve up and out from his body as he eases the toy inside. His forehead is wrinkled with concentration. He fucks himself, and I can see his cock bobbing and waggling, he is watching himself in the mirror, and when he orgasms, the come seems to shoot halfway across the room.

Eventually he moves on to the bigger, scarier looking toys. He spends hours sprawled out across the bed, hard-on pointing up at the ceiling, balls drawn up tight, carefully working an enormous dildo up his ass. He inserts a large butt-plug, and walks around with a boner all day, plug in his asshole, just torturing himself. He leafs through the porn, hands on his knees, dick pointing straight down, hard and thick, until he has memorized every single picture. He’ll even practice deep-throating the dildos and occasionally lick his own come out of his palm.

He grows a fringy little beard, and when his hair gets long enough he pulls it back into a pony tail, binding it like a bonsai. Sometimes he writes feverishly in a little spiral notebook, erasing and scratching out what he’d written before until the pages are thin as onion skins. I’ll never know what he is writing; he cups the notebook in his hand and hunches over it like a secret agent. Otherwise he passes the time by reading, jerking off, lifting weights, and doing sit-ups and chin-ups and running on the treadmill. It becomes a routine for him: work out, jerk off, shower, read, nap, repeat. It may be the only thing that keeps him sane. He gets skinnier. All the extraneous fat melts away. The old, shaggy clothes that he brought with him hang off him like rags. He mostly doesn’t bother to wear them; I keep the temperature inside comfortably warm. He is almost unrecognizable as the boy who wandered in. He is ripped, a far-out warrior monk, a Jedi recluse.

Outside, the unemployment rate continues to soar. The suburbs whither, atrophy, withdraw into themselves. The shell of the old mall starts to seem more and more like an organic part of the landscape. The parking lot has become a jungle. Visitors to the abandoned shopping mall are fewer and further between. And yet they still come.

Eventually the right one comes along. She is older, in her thirties, maybe pushing forty. She keeps her dishwater blonde hair piled up inside a battered blue baseball cap.

She has an MFA in sculpture, but no job. Maybe she still lives with her parents; maybe she squats in one of the innumerable half-finished McMansions that litter the country like toadstools. She wears a lot of black, and walks aimlessly through the woods and fields in an ankle-length skirt and hiking boots, looking for something but she doesn’t know just what.

When she finds the door labeled ‘ARACHNE’, she pauses. Thinks it over. Maybe she walks away, but she comes back, the next day or the day after. She finds a comfortable place to sit in the sun, and just looks at the door as she eats the cheese sandwich she packed for herself. There is something disturbingly significant about that black door, menacing or monumental. The proportions are off; it is slightly too large for comfort, and it is not marred by a single scratch of graffiti, though the walls around it are an overlapping tapestry of spray paint and markers.

She seems to make a decision. She gets up, puts the remains of her lunch away in her pack for later, dusts off the crumbs from her dress. She tries the door. It swings easily inward. She looks around one last time, and steps inside. The door swings closed behind her.

I can almost hear the click as it shuts. She doesn’t appear particularly surprised to find it locked. She tries for a minute or two, just to be sure, but of course the door is unyielding. She composes herself, shoulders her pack, lets her eyes adjust to the low light, and sets off to explore her surroundings.

It takes her a long time to find the central chamber. The maze was designed that way. The destination is obscured, but inevitable. She must be tired, footsore and hungry and thirsty by the time she finds the room, but it doesn’t show.

He is asleep, nude, on the futon when she enters the room. The lights in the central room are dim right now, in twilight mode, though outside it is early morning. If she is surprised to see a naked young man asleep on the bed before her, she doesn’t show it. This one doesn’t give much away. She sits down, eats the last of her sandwich, drinks water out of the tap, and waits.

I wish I could hear the words they speak to each other when he wakes up and finds her there, but I don’t have microphones in the place. I have that much decency, at least.

He is embarrassed by his nudity; she is amused by it. He covers up, wearing dirty jeans that are three sizes too big and blown out in the knees and butt.

She takes stock of the contents of the room. There is still enough food for many years, even with a population of two. She raises an eyebrow at the cabinet of dildos; he blushes so red I can see it on camera. Apparently she asks if she can use the shower; he steps out of the room while she disrobes.

She doesn’t have a bad body, not at all. She would have been pretty as a twenty-year old. She is a little bit heavy, a little utilitarian. Her breasts are not large, but they aren’t as perky as they once were. She has large, dark areolae, and dimpled nipples. Unbound, her hair falls halfway down her back. Her bottom is wide and rounded, and her legs are thick.

Together, they explore the maze all over again. It has been a long time since he has strayed very far outside the room. What’s the point? There isn’t anything new to find: the fountain still trickles creepily away, a fine layer of green slime spreading across the damp room. The doors are still resolutely locked.

They don’t fuck, certainly not right away. They aren’t really each other’s type. They learn to co-exist. They share the bed, because there is nowhere else comfortable to sleep, but they don’t touch at night. He sleeps in his ancient boxers; she keeps her underwear on. The rest of the time, they divide up the space between them, dancing around each other like fish in an aquarium.

She goes for long walks in the maze, all by herself, searching even though there is nothing to find. She must know that. Maybe this is just a way for them to give each other a little privacy.

Sure enough, probably sooner rather than later, she comes back to the room in time to catch him masturbating. He is lying on the floor, naked, a dildo shoved up his ass, and his hand wrapped around his cock. She freezes. They make eye contact. He doesn’t stop. She stands there for a long moment, a dozen heart beats. Then she turns around and leaves him to it.

She finds a convenient dead end, and sits down with her back against the wall. She piles up her skirt on her lap and masturbates right there, sitting on the floor. She jerks off primly, one hand squeezed between her thighs. Even with my high-tech camera gear, I can’t see any of the goodies. It doesn’t matter: it is a beautiful thing. When she comes, she squeezes her eyes tightly shut and bites down hard on her lower lip.

I wish I could hear what they say to each other, but I feel that I owe them at least that modicum of privacy. In any case, it isn’t long before he is jerking off while she watches. She sits, fully clothed, on the futon mattress while he does his thing. The first time is awkward, tentative, but soon enough he loses his inhibitions. He shows her how he uses the different toys; stretches the act out for an hour or more, balancing himself on the edge; does a shoulder stand so he can jerk off into his own mouth.

When he is done, she always excuses herself, walks out into the maze, sits down in her private corner, and gets herself off with one expertly minimalistic finger. I know he wants to watch her, but either he can’t bring himself to ask, or she won’t let him.

They finally fuck, of course. I am surprised by how long it takes; but given the circumstances, it was pretty much a guarantee. They go straight to the main event, that first time, no fooling around or making out first. It is the first time he has seen her naked, and I try to see her through his eyes. She is flat on her back on the bed, he climbs carefully on top of her, cock jutting out like a figurehead. He is tender about it. His movements are slow and gentle. She responds eagerly, wrapping her limbs around him, pulling him closer. When he has stopped moving, they lie like that together for a long, long time.

It is like a sea wall bursting. Suddenly, they are doing it all over the place, in every way, every day, sometimes more. I can barely keep up with them. I see them, conjoined and bouncing joyously, reflected three times over in the big mirror. The image is etched into my mind like a tattoo.

From my bird’s eye view, I watch their negotiations. He wants to go down on her, she isn’t sure she wants to let him do that. I only figure that out later, of course. I play back the tapes, reconstructing their conversation, making up my own words for them. In the end, he convinces her to try it.

She takes a shower, achingly self-conscious under his watching eyes. His dick is already hard. Surely she must take that as a compliment, a vote of confidence.

She sits on the bed, back against the wall, looking at their triple reflections in the mirror. He lies on his stomach, between her legs. She shuts her eyes and folds her hands behind her head. He is patient. It takes him a long time to bring her there, but when he finally does, the results are spectacular, a flower blooming in fast forward. She writhes and bucks and heaves, caressing his hair as he continues to lick her, staying with her to the very end.

She learns how to suck his dick. I have the impression that she has never participated in oral sex before, or that it has been a long time, and was not an especially pleasant experience the first time around. She starts out tentative, but once she gets going, she is doggedly persistent. That first time, she isn’t able to bring him off; in the end he has to push her away and jerk himself off, spilling his come all over her breasts.

Practice makes perfect, and she is an excellent student. Before too long she is swallowing him whole, taking his entire length and girth into her mouth; jamming wet fingers up his asshole; playing him like a musical instrument.

Slowly, they get kinkier. With much giggling, they try out different poses from the Kama Sutra. They sixty-nine. He fucks her in the ass. She seems to approve; this becomes a regular part of their repertoire. She finally masturbates for him, sitting shyly across from him on the bed, legs just barely spread so that I can see a flash of brown fur and her finger drawing tiny circles until she stiffens and clenches. It makes him so hot that he stands up and masturbates right there, and his come falls on her like a warm summer rain. This only makes her start up again. When they are done, they are both grinning and ravenous.

I don’t know whether they are trying to get her pregnant, or trying to avoid it, but either way it doesn’t happen. Maybe she is too old, maybe they aren’t fertile, maybe that’s just the way the dice roll. It is, I suppose, probably for the best.

When she comes now, she completely lets go. She explodes outward, bursting like a chrysanthemum: fists clenched, hair flying wild, head thrown back, face contorted and red, ecstatic. It is amazing to watch.

Inevitable, they start to grow old together. She has a head start, but as the years go by it matters less and less. They have sex somewhat less frequently, and rather less acrobatically, but it is still just as beautiful.

One day, for no reason in particular, maybe they’d go for a walk hand in hand through the maze. He’d be wearing his ragged old jeans, worn spiral-bound notebook tucked into the back pocket. She’d be wearing her old black skirt, and nothing else. Her hair will have gone grey, but she’d seem taller and leaner. If anything, her breasts would have improved with age; they’d seem larger, rounder, more perfect. Maybe she has just gotten more comfortable with her body as she has gotten older.

The maze will also have aged. It would be darker; many of the fluorescent tubes will have burned out, and some of the ballasts may have gone bad over the years, and would flicker epileptically. The fountain will have slowed to a trickle, choked with algae. There’d be a fine layer of dust coating the floors, and on the cameras I’d be able to see where they have walked like footprints in new snow.

When they got to one of the big steel doors, they’d give it a push, out of long habit more than any kind of expectation. This time, they’d find it unlocked. It would swing outward with a complaining creak of metal on metal as the long unused hinges pivot. They’d step blinking and half-dressed out into the natural light, moving slowly as if in a dream. Outside. It is the same old sun shining down on them, but the world has changed.

END

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Videos Galore

It’s amazing how quickly a dream can unravel. Leap-extend-land-spin, and then the world exploded and I was lying on the marley floor like an unfolded origami, a broken swan. The other dancers crowded around me, peering down at me from on high and asking if I was alright, offering helpful advice, circling like jackals. The pain was unlike anything I’d ever known before: I peed in my leotard, I threw up.

I had completely destroyed my knee; torn right through my ACL in a particularly ugly way. They were able to staple it back together in surgery, but my career as a dancer was over.

Dancing was my entire life. Literally. I’d been a ballerina since I was five; I’d never had a boyfriend, never learned to drive. I’d skated through high school with a straight ‘C’ average. I’d been supposed to fly to New York and audition for the Met next month. Now I might as well fly to the moon. There was a void inside of me the size of a basketball. I’d never known depression before; I’d never had time for it. After the surgery, I put all my energy into rehab, learning to walk again. As I slowly recovered, and realized that all my hopes and dreams, everything I had worked for had been torn down, crushed and burned like the twin towers, depression settled over me like a thick winter coat.

I limped through graduation. I got an apartment, got a job working behind the counter at Videos Galore. The pay was crap, but it covered rent. My mom worried about me, but I told her I was ok. I was treading water.

Clara was my shiftmate, and nominal manager, and the moment I met her, my life started to change for the better. It wasn’t so obvious and dramatic of course; but looking back, I had hit the bottom, and from then on, slowly at first, but inexorably, things started to improve.
Clara was a cheerful little person. She was built like a pumpkin, or a fairy godmother. We were almost exact physical opposites. She was short and stocky and curvy and round, standing at least a full head shorter than me, with unruly reddish-brown hair, an infectious gap-toothed grin, an up-turned nose, and beautiful china-white complexion. She favored baggy clothes: she mostly wore sweat pants and men’s flannel shirts or oversized t-shirts with snarky slogans printed on them.

The customers at Videos Galore were few and far between: the business had gotten the shit kicked out of it by Blockbuster in the previous decade, and was now slowly being euthanized by Netflix. There were basically two kinds of customers: old people who didn’t know how to use a computer or didn’t own a dvd player; and younger guys who rented porn.

Clara and I had gone to high school together; we had even graduated together, but I didn’t know her at all; she wasn’t a dancer. She was the first friend I ever had outside the dance studio, the first real friendship I made in my life.

She was smart and funny. She did outrageous caricatures of the customers, had opinions about everything, was working on a novel, and when she got it published, she said, she was splitting this town for good

Oftentimes on slow nights, which was most nights, Clara would take a porno dvd or two off the shelves and disappear into the back room, sometimes for hours on end. The disks had names like Anal Intruder VII, or Sapphic Sorority Sluts. Sometimes she asked me if I wanted to watch them with her. “It’s not like any customers are going to come in,” she said, “and even if they do, we’d hear the door chime.” Which was true, but I always politely declined. I whiled away the hours working Sudokus and doing logic puzzles.

It’s not like I had anything particular against pornography; I’m no kind of prude. It was just that I had zero interest in sex in general.

A lot of the girls I danced with had been positively obsessed with sex. They would compare notes about the guys they’d boinked in gratuitously gory detail. I knew that some of the girls had fooled around with each other too. I was never into any of that. I just wanted to dance.

The poor guy had to ask me twice. The first time I wasn’t paying attention, nose buried in my puzzle book as I rang him up on the register. He was actually really cute about it, bravely shy and blushing but determined, and when I realized he was asking me out, I was so flustered I just said ‘Yes’.

He was sort of a regular, one of those dudes who always tried to bury the pornos he was renting under two or three regular movies: Casablanca, On the Waterfront, and Buttman’s European Vacation. It always made us laugh. Like we cared what kind of videos people like to watch!

I felt at least as flustered as he must have. We traded phone numbers, and he walked out the door with his videos in hand. I’d been asked out before, but I’d always blown it off; I’d never actually been out on a date. And then it occurred to me I didn’t even know his name.

It turns out his name was Dave. I was incredibly nervous, opening night jitters in the worst kind of way. I didn’t know what was expected of me, what do you do on a date? Clara tried to calm me down: “Just relax and be yourself. Have fun.”

I shouldn’t have been so nervous. Once I got past the initial stage fright, I actually had a really good time. I don’t think Dave really knew what to do either. I had the impression he didn’t go out on a lot of dates. He wasn’t a bad looking guy, not at all, but he was a bit of an introvert.

We ended up getting pizza, and then going to an old arcade where you could play antique video games and Whack-A-Mole for a nickel a pop. We had a blast just hanging out and goofing around, and after an hour or so I more or less forgot I was out on a date. Dave was a little older, fresh out of college with a BS in marine biology. He was taking a year off to concentrate on surfing before grad school. He worked part-time at a surf shop, and taut a few scuba classes. He was obviously crazy smart, and he wore it well. He was a bit of a geek. It was pretty cute.

After the arcade, Dave drove me home, to the tawdry orange-and-brown apartment complex with the defunct swimming pool. He lingered hesitantly in the driver’s seat of his cavernous old Ford as we said our good-nights. Feeling brave, I figured ‘What the hell’, and invited him in. Like I said, he was pretty cute.

We ended up on the futon sofa that doubled as my bed in my dreary, under-furnished apartment. I hadn’t had the heart to decorate. My Baryshnikov posters and all the rest were still rolled up in tubes; most of the stuff my mom had sent with me when I had moved out was still in cardboard boxes. I’d only unpacked the bare essentials: computer, coffee machine, microwave. The place had the look and feel of a storage unit.

He wanted to kiss me, of course. I don’t know why that surprised me, but it did. I kissed him back, as best I could. I felt like I was dancing a routine that I had never practiced. His hands roamed tentatively up and down my body, straying boldly across the front of my shirt before darting away. I decided to oblige him. All those years spent half-naked backstage and in crowded dressing rooms hadn’t left much modesty in me. I peeled off my t-shirt and disconnected my bra, baring my breasts for him, such as they were.

I was kind of gratified by the reaction I got. You’d think I had Playboy-style melons or something, the way Dave attacked my chest. He sucked each nipple, one at a time, into his mouth, making it all red and erect. He fondled my bare breasts, and kissed me more and more urgently.

All that touching and kissing actually felt pretty nice. Mostly I was enjoying being the recipient of his focused, worshipful attention, but partly it just felt nice to be touched, kissed, and caressed.

We did that for quite a while, I’m not sure just how long. I was starting to get tired. I could sense his nervousness and his neediness, but I wasn’t sure what to do for him.

He answered the question for me. Our fingers were laced together, squeezing each other as we kissed (Hey, I was getting the hang of this!). He tugged my hand, directing me. I could feel him trembling as he pressed my hand against the bulge in the front of his jeans.

“Is this ok?” he asked.

“Sure, why not?” I replied, and then watched, fascinated and mildly aghast, as he proceeded to unbutton his pants, pull down his underwear, and extract his erect penis.

It was my first good look at male genitalia. I had, of course, seen illustrations in health class and biology, and I had looked at my share of naughty pictures, but I hadn’t really been prepared for the real thing. I have to say, I was a little underwhelmed. I don’t know, I guess I had been expecting something… sexier, more aesthetic-looking. What I saw projecting from Dave’s crotch, hard, red, swollen and angry-looking, reminded me more than anything of a chicken neck at the grocery store, plucked and raw.

He showed me how to wrap my hand around it, and to massage him, moving my hand rhythmically up and down the shaft. It felt sort of nice in my hand, and it was gratifying to see his reactions as I varied the pace and my grip, sometimes squeezing harder, sometimes barely touching. I was fascinated by his balls – how weird to have external genitals! – and I stroked and petted them, all the while moving my hand up-down, up-down his hot, hard penis.

“Faster”, he moaned, and I obliged. “Please don’t stop!” he begged, and I didn’t.

He came with a moan and a grunt. His whole body went rigid and jerked, and semen squirted out the end of his cock in an arcing trajectory, all the way up past his belly button. I kept pumping until he made me stop. The whole process was pretty neat; I was amazed at how much pearly-white come he shot out, and how far it squirted. Now that was cool! It must have felt really good too; he was grinning blearily when it was all over, and that made me feel sort of proud and obscurely jealous.

After that, we cleaned up, said our goodnights and kissed a little bit more. We were both much more at ease now. Maybe I should have started the date by jacking him off, I thought. We agreed to see each other again soon, and then he left.

When he was gone, I sat down on the futon where we’d been necking, and attempted to masturbate. I’d tried before of course, out of a spirit of experimentation, or because I was bored, but it didn’t seem to work for me. At best I would end up wet, over-stimulated, tender, and frustrated. And that is where it left me that night. I went to bed late, annoyed and wet and over-stimulated.

The next day at Videos Galore, Clara wanted to know how the date went. She wanted all the details, and she wouldn’t let up until she got them. In the end I gave up and told her everything, all the gory details, as much as I could remember.

–Did he have a nice dick?

–I don’t know, I guess so.

–You didn’t go down on him? Not at all?

–I don’t know, it didn’t occur to me.

–He didn’t do anything for you? He didn’t go down on you? Or at least finger you?

–No, I didn’t ask him to.

Clara sighed. “My friend,” she said, “You need a coach.”

The funny thing was I had been thinking the exact same thing as I recounted my first awkward sexual adventure. I would never have said anything of the sort though.

“You should have me come along on your next date,” she went on, “and I’ll give you pointers and tell you what to do.”

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“Do I look serious?”

She was wearing paint-spattered grey sweatpants and an oversized Ralph Wiggum t-shirt that proclaimed “I Beat The Smart Kids”. I declined to answer.

The next time I talked to Dave, I asked him if it would be ok if my friend came with us on our next date. I know it sounded weird, and I wasn’t sure what he’d say. There was a barely perceptible pause on the other end of the line, and then he said “Sure, no problem.” I’m sure he was thinking ‘What the fuck?’

Dave picked Clara and me up at my place. He drove a blue Ford station wagon with the turn radius of a supertanker that was older than me. We all three piled into the front seat.

Dave asked what I wanted to do. “I don’t know,” I said.

There was a pregnant pause as the cranky old V8 engine idled.

Then we both spoke at the same time, blurting out the first thing that came to mind. Dave suggested a film, I suggested getting dinner.

“Why don’t we just fast-forward to the action scene?” Clara said, “The part where you two get it on?”

That made Dave blush a lot, but it sounded like a pretty good plan to me, and he wasn’t arguing. So he turned off the engine, and we all piled back out of the car and up into my apartment.

Clara made herself comfortable while Dave and I got busy on the couch. I felt more confident about the kissing this time, and I kind of liked the fact that Clara was watching. It was like having an audience.

“You guys have way too many clothes on” Clara commented from her perch on my swivel chair. Dave took her comment to heart; he seemed to have lost any remaining vestiges of shyness. His t-shirt, pants, shoes and socks and underwear went flying.

“Nice dick!” Clara said to the room in general, and then to me, “Now you’re the one who’s overdressed.”

I had no qualms about getting naked, though I didn’t know what they’d make of my body. I was still skinny as a rail, but I’d lost a lot of muscle tone since I’d stopped dancing. I possessed about as many curves as a ten-year old boy, and I felt like I had as much in common with the women in Clara’s pornos as I had with a Martian.

There were no complaints as I stripped down. I started from the top, peeling off shirt and bra, then dropping my trousers and stepping out of the tiny red panties Clara had picked out for me earlier. Dave’s dick seemed to get harder and harder as I stripped; the poor thing was quivering like an over-excited Chihuahua. I could feel the intensity of Clara’s stare, and I kind of liked it.

“What a pretty little pussy she’s got,” Clara said gratuitously, “Don’t you think you should kiss it?”

Dave had no objections, and I was willing to give it a go, so I lay back on my beleaguered old couch and spread my legs into an approximation of the splits. Dave crawled down between my thighs and started kissing, nuzzling, and licking while Clara wheeled her chair closer, ogling us greedily like a kid turned loose at a toy store.

I know cunnilingus is supposed to be the be-all-end-all for women, and Dave certainly put his heart and soul into the effort, but honestly all it did for me was tickle a little and get me really wet. After a while I started to get bored, and I could tell Dave was getting tired, so I wriggled away.

“Did I do good?” he asked from between my legs, looking a little forlorn. He actually looked really cute like that, all naked with his hair tousled up and my wetness all over his face.

“You were fantastic,” I assured him.

Then, under Clara’s direction, I got down to the business of sucking his dick.

The taste wasn’t bad, actually: a little stale and nervous sweat, but that went away quickly. Clara showed me how to do it, how to move my mouth up and down the top of his dick while I stroked his shaft, how to tease him by licking up and down like a popsicle, and kissing his balls and nibbling his thighs and darting my tongue between his butt cheeks; how to swallow as much of him as I could without gagging; how to swirl my tongue and rub my negligible breasts up and down his saliva-slick length until he was absolutely delirious.

I liked it better than jacking him off. It was sort of like flying a light airplane: every time I touched the controls, his whole body responded. It was fun, and gratifying. I was really getting into it.

“I’m going to come!” Dave suddenly blurted out. That was supposed to be a warning, so I could remove my mouth, I suppose. I wasn’t actually that surprised, his excitement had been building for a while. I clamped my mouth down over the swollen crown of his penis, and sucked as hard as I could, while I slid my hand rapidly up and down his shaft. He came right in my mouth, growling like a bear with indigestion.

I swallowed all his ejaculate, and tenderly milked the remains out of his softening dick. He was breathing hard, and sort of jerked every time my tongue made contact with the head of his penis.  I basked in the glow of a successful performance. I didn’t really mind the taste of his come, though I wouldn’t call it delicious. I’d never tell Dave this, but it kind of reminded me of snot.

Then we both got dressed, Clara extracted her hand from the front of her jeans, and we all went out and got corndogs and sat on the pier together, watching the boats and the water and talking. Dave got excited all over again, so gave him another blowjob, right there on the quay. Actually, it was more like he jerked himself off into my mouth, but he and Clara both seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. Then the three of us sat there, kicking our legs over the edge and chatting until it was dark, talking about Life, the Universe, and Everything.

*

“So are you going to fuck him?”

We were at work, and as usual there were no customers. We could only speculate how long Videos Galore could hold out against the rising tide.

“Yeah, I guess so,” I said. I had been reading a biography of Ada Lovelacethat someone had been throwing away. “I mean that’s the next logical step, right?”

“So when are you going to do it?”

“I don’t know, you tell me.”

“How about right now?”

“Here? Now?”

“Sure, why not?”

Clara had a point. It was Wednesday night; there had been no customers all evening, and there would be none before closing time. Why not? It would relieve the tedium anyway. I picked up the phone and dialed Dave’s number.

He was over in five minutes.

The three of us retreated to the back room, where there was a tv with a dvd/vcr player, a dorm-sized refrigerator, a bunch of cleaning supplies and cases of microwave popcorn, and a surprisingly comfy old sofa. Clara shoved a porno tape into the antique vcr, which clicked and hummed ominously before it agreed to play the tape.

The porno reminded me of a really badly choreographed dance piece, with really unattractive dancers. I thought it was boring and repetitive, and I was vaguely embarrassed for the actors. Clara and Dave, however, were rapt.

I decided to play the aggressor. I got down on my knees, and extracted Dave’s cock, which was already hard as bone. I gave him my very best performance, sucking, licking, stroking, fondling, but purposefully backing off every time he seemed to be getting too excited.

That got their attention. When I looked up, Dave had pulled his shirt off, and Clara had stripped down to her panties. She has pretty large breasts, practically giant compared to mine, and I was obscurely envious of them.

I stood up, stretched, and took off my own clothes. The porno was still playing in the background, but Clara and Dave’s eyes were glued to me. Clara had Dave go down on me for a little while, enough to get me sopping wet.

We traded places and Clara handed Dave a condom, which he carefully rolled down his erection, pinching the air out of the end. Then he sat naked on the sofa with his shrink-wrapped dick standing straight up like a flagpole, and I straddled his lap, and gingerly lowered myself onto his erect penis.

It hurt a little bit as it went in, but I’m a ballerina, I know a thing or two about pain, and this was nothing. Dave’s eyes practically bugged out of his head. It felt weird to have an actual penis inside of me. I experimentally tried moving around. It didn’t feel bad, not really bad at all.

A little trial and error determined that the position prosaically known as ‘doggy style’; me on my hands and knees on the floor, with Dave thrusting from behind, was most comfortable for me.

Clara was reclined on the couch, watching us screw with the intense concentration of a sports fan at a title match. She had produced a vibrator from somewhere, and was grinding it hard against the damp crotch of her panties. The little toy buzzed and whined obnoxiously.

Dave’s cock made a squishing-squooshing noise as it pistoned in and out of my pussy, rather like the sound of someone jogging through mud. Overall, the sensation was not unpleasant.

In any case, the main event didn’t last very long. Dave’s breathing quickly became fast and raspy, and he started humping against me harder and more erratically, and then, with a noise like a choking hyena, he came, squirting his come into the condom lodged deep inside my body. Then he collapsed like a sweaty, boneless chicken on top of me.

There was a gasping, choking, drawn-out moan, and it took me a moment to realize that Clara was coming too. Her breasts were mottled red and her nipples were pink and erect, and her whole body shook and spasmed as she orgasmed. She looked beautiful as she came, hair tousled up, legs splayed wide, head thrown back in ecstasy, and for a startling moment I was rocked with an unexpected wave of jealousy, envy for the raucous, joyous, unrestrained sexuality that she possessed in spades and that I seemed to utterly lack.

In the middle of Clara’s orgasm, the chime rang, indicating that a customer had walked in the front door, and there was a hilarious general mad scramble to get dressed. Clara was the first to pull her clothes on, and went out front to help a bewildered old lady find a copy of All About Eve on VHS.

*

Over the next few weeks, we settled into a kind of happy equilibrium.  The three of us would get together; Clara would watch while Dave fucked me, or I sucked him off or gave him a handjob. Sometimes, just before he came, Clara would have me slip a wet finger up Dave’s asshole; this embarrassed the hell out of him and produced an explosive reaction that was absolutely precious. Then we’d all get cleaned up and go out. We’d see a movie or eat pizza or play video games or just hang out. Later on, if Dave was still horny, or if Clara egged him on, I’d get him off again. It was one of the happiest times in my life. I had friends.

When I was dancing, I never had any close friends. There was camaraderie with the other girls, sure, and we were friendly, but just below the surface we were always in cutthroat competition. It was like swimming with sharks. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, it was my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But this was different. For the first time in my life I felt like I could relax and open up and be myself. I wished I was more into the sex, the way the rest of the world seemed to be, but I certainly didn’t mind doing it. In a way it was kind of fun.

One night over after work we were over at Dave’s. His apartment was an oversized broom closet, stuffed with surfboards, scuba gear, biology textbooks, academic journals and pornography. The three of us barely fit inside; his oversized Ford was roomier. I had my period, so I was planning on sucking his dick until he was absolutely begging for mercy. I was sort of looking forward to it: I thought I’d gotten pretty good at blowjobs.

We were just getting warmed up when Clara blurted out “Why don’t you fuck her in the ass?”

Dave looked at me with a big fat question mark posted all over his face. “Go ahead,” I said, “If that’s what you want to do.” Like I said before, I’m no kind of prude.

I got down on my hands and knees on the cluttered floor, and Dave poured chilly lube all over my backside, rubbing it between my cheeks and all over my anus. That part actually felt really nice, though not especially erotic.

He slathered lube all over his own dick, and very gently and gingerly nudged the tip up against my anus. He slowly and carefully started pressing himself up inside, taking great pains not to rush anything. I kind of wished he’d hurry it up; it wasn’t like he was going to break me or anything.

Finally, at long last, his cock slid all the way in, past the sphincter muscles, and he was fucking my ass. My tampon popped out; there was going to be blood everywhere.

The sensation was distinctly weird. Not painful at all, or even really uncomfortable. Just weird. I found it hard to imagine that people actually thought this was sexy. But Dave was already making his ‘I’m about to come’ noises; and Clara was slouched down on a chair, panties dangling from one ankle, and about three fingers crammed up her neatly trimmed, plump, juicy pussy. She had a neatly-trimmed red-brown exclamation point between her legs, in contrast with my blonde, fluffy, unruly little patch.

It felt just like I was a sausage getting stuffed. The visual image gave me an irrepressible case of the giggles that lasted all the way through Dave’s orgasm, and left me writhing and snickering and hiccupping on the floor while Clara finished whacking off. I was smeared all over with menstrual blood and Dave’s come was leaking out of my butt. In retrospect, I can understand that being a bit of a buzz-kill, and I think Dave was a little offended, even though I apologized afterward.

Not long after that, Dave left a voicemail for me saying he wanted to be ‘Just Friends’, by which apparently he meant he didn’t want to be friends anymore.

I was surprised at how deep it cut me, being dumped. I missed him; I missed his company and hanging out; I even missed the sex. I think my body had gotten used to it, even craved it, like a demanding workout. I’d grown fond of his penis. It no longer reminded me of some bizzaro deep-sea worm; I’d come to think of it as an exuberant, energetic pet, a weasel or a ferret or something.

Clara convinced me to put down my logic puzzles one slow evening and join her in the back room to watch a porno with her. The porn still didn’t do it for me, but I gamely tried masturbating, which, as usual, was a slow and slippery road to nowhere.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when Clara offered to go down on me. I wish I could say that she rocked my world, that I saw fireworks and surfed tsunamis; but she didn’t. The fact is, it felt pretty much like it did when Dave did it: sort of tickly and frustrating. I could tell she really wanted me to reciprocate, but I really didn’t want to go there.

*

Clara got fed up with waiting for her novel to get published, and moved to New York City. She promised that we’d stay in touch. Videos Galore lurched slowly along toward oblivion, like a terminal patient gasping through the last stages of pneumonia but refusing to die.

I joined a women’s rowing club, and started doing crew. It turned out I was pretty good at it, and I loved it, though not the way I used to love dance. A few of the girls on the team hit pretty hard on me, but I gently and firmly turned them down. I started doing math proofs – at the time it just seemed like a natural extension of my Sudoku and logic game habit; but the more I got into it, the more obsessed I got.

I started playing online chess late into the night with old Russian men and tweens from Duluth or Onalaska. I dialed Dave’s number a few times, but he never called me back. I suppose he’d gotten himself a girlfriend who was actually interested in sex. I started to think seriously about applying to college.

END

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