Friday, May 21, 2010

Specular Highlights

Copyright 2010 rbb/apostrophe, all rights reserved
by Riccardo Berra

Naomi was with Sean, an A-list soundman and personal friend that Riccardo hired whenever he could. Riccardo adored his friend, but had always had the hots for Naomi. He kept this to himself. Then Sean left Naomi and New York for a NPR staff job in New Orleans that Riccardo with his contacts, had helped him land. In Sean’s absence, shortly after the birth of his daughter, Riccardo began a desperate affair with the 26 year old waitress and aspiring veterinarian. That’s the simplest chain of events, but chronology is where all simplicity ends.

Sean’s departure was quietly orchestrated to cauterize the raw end of a love affair that had careened from bad to worse most years, now headlong toward a crash into multiple flair-ups of physical and emotional abuse. Riccardo had been a patient intermediary and confidante to both parties. It was so indescribably hard for him to reconcile what he felt and what he knew of this couple. Most nights that the three of them were together, it was the Sean and Naomi show, starring Sean who could tear a Nagra down blindfolded with a live joint in his mouth and make you laugh to the point of pissing with his Don Rickles send-ups of stars and scenes from his photographic recall of classic film and TV. Then there was straight-man Naomi, broody and impulsive, with her whip-smart mouth and soft bleeding heart, this patroness of stray dogs, cats and all pitiful creatures. Strange, contradictory outcast souls, but then so is Riccardo.

He’d arrived on the scene of their Brooklyn apartment just in time to talk one of NY’s finest out of hauling the soundman in. Sean, with a blackening welt under one eye, was cuffed and bent over the hood of the squad car. But his face was passive and repentant in the glare of the flashing lights. Naomi had apparently gotten a good shot in. Riccardo talked quickly and quietly with the indignant policewoman for some minutes. Fortunately for all, Sergeant Willie Mikulski turned out to be a hardcore indie film buff who dated a grip. She’d seen Riccardo’s "Failure of Will." She had her own script about “a woman’s life on the job.” She took his card and his promise that there’d be no more drama that night. With a stern warning she uncuffed Sean who slunk back to the apartment and while the cops withdrew, Riccardo walked Naomi around the block for cigarettes. This fight had been about Sean’s imminent departure. She’d changed her mind and begged him to stay. Some people would see that as romantic, but it made Sean absolutely crazy and he began screaming and throwing things. Naomi changed her mind again. She ‘d been threatened one too many times. Sean’s puffy eye withstanding, nobody’d been hurt—this time—but she was entirely ready to see the back of him that night and for all nights to come. As they walked and talked, Riccardo believed her, but could not puzzled out his own feelings to a satisfactory conclusion. When they returned, Sean sat chilling on the couch.

Riccardo grieved Sean’s impending absence but was secretly horrified by how much he looked forward to it. Two days after Sean’s U-Haul rumbled off into the night, Riccardo took Naomi out for “tea and sympathy.” Standing in the doorway, eyeing her leather-clad silhouette, he wrestled with an inconvenient stab of conscience. He followed her in, like so many nights before, but this night different, Sean’s absence a whistling vacuum, the pull of the threshold implying a different specific gravity inside the unlit apartment, where with each step, one by one his altruistic motives fell like scales until finally, there was no innocent reason to be there, if in fact there ever had been.

When she brushed past him to turn on the lights, he took her by the shoulders and kissed her, unfazed by the reproach in her dark, dark eyes, the acknowledgment that their chaste companionship had already transmuted and would now spiral into nights of torrid lovemaking, twice weekly for the next two months. Sex –incredible with this cinnamon-skinned, sloe-eyed West Indian beauty with her cowboy hips, tight butt and abundant breasts. Everything about Naomi was a revelation, a study, not just in contrasts but extremes.

Eyes smoldering in foreplay, but when he penetrated her, like flicking a switch, they went blank, impassive, these eyes that said ‘Do what you want, I’m no longer here.’ He secretly called it her abused child stare and had no desire to analyze why it aroused him so, certain only that it did, convinced in the throes of their couplings that if he could only fuck this blankness off her face that there might be something he could touch at her core, however strange or tenuous.

His education in the murkier aspects of the female sexual response began the very next night they met.

She comes to the door so hot in her scoop neck top and usual ass hugging black leather—tonight a skirt—and kisses him, nothing passive about it, mashing his lips against his jaw until his teeth cut his lip and he complains. She suggests that he spank her. And it’s not really a suggestion, more of a taunt or a dare. As much as the idea appeals to him, he confesses he’d never done it, so how … she cuts him off impatient, lecturing as a teacher would a particularly dull pupil that she would lay across his lap and he would flip her tight leather skirt up and yank her panties to her ankles and punish her bare ass as much as she needed. He drops his pants. He frees her breasts from their black lace prison. They flop warm and heavy over his naked calves as she prostrates herself over his lap. Using a short belt, then his own hand, he straps her narrow cinnamon ass across his knee until crimson welts raise on the brown soft mounds and his entire lap was slippery with her unguent come, and then in a shattering moment, his own. Bright raw red brown ass lay under his thumbs; her pussy dark at edges, pink at the center, weeping and engorged, open to probing. He inserts a finger, then another, a third and then a fourth, screaming fuck when he explodes … Suddenly she seems bored perhaps and stands tentatively, rubbing her sore ass. A string of his ejaculate clings to her heavy right breast which she smears over one nipple then the other, stepping closer, cupping her bounty for him to kiss, straddling his lap like a stripper, her entire bearing implying that what he’d done was barely adequate, that he should hit her now and whenever he feels like it. When he refuses, the rank salinity off her nipples is forced into his mouth and this is the closest he’d ever come to tasting a man’s, his own, essence.

That next month, at her insistence, he bound her wrists and ankles with the leather collars and straps from the large drawer in her closet. He’d been an idiot, he’d told himself, for taking so long to realize what the collection was for. Chokers. She loved them. She wore them all the time and wanted them tight, very tight when coming. She got angry that he wouldn’t do it hard enough, when he wanted to play it safe. He’d never be able to go as far as she wanted. He knew this. He also refused when she wanted to restrain him. It wasn’t that he was opposed to a little light bondage on principle, but there was no trusting this one and her limits—if she even had any. He didn’t ask if she’d done all this with Sean. What point to a question whose answer was so evident?

Their last night together began as others had, drinking in her tiny kitchen. This night they were polishing off the last of Sean’s Kentucky bourbon. The phone jangled impossibly loud in such tight quarters, startling them both. Guilty expressions flew across the table. Sean, of course, from New Orleans, missing her. Riccardo stood stiffly, desperate to flee, wanting them to have their privacy, but she reached for his hand and pressed it desperately to her bosom, the most sentimental or was it desperate gesture he’d ever seen her make. Riccardo could hear his friend’s voice well enough through the receiver to note that the pleading tone of it, irony free and far away, was so sad. Where is the clever banter, the cutting wit, Mr. Funny Man? The conversation was tense and painful, concluding with her empty promise to “tell him when I see him.”

Naomi replaced the phone, stood up, drained her glass like a man. She dropped and dropped the empty Bookers bottle into the trash, wryly pronouncing, “End of an era.” Weaving slightly, she unbuttoned her man’s plaid workshirt, unclasping her bra from behind to expose a shocking livid set of stripes and welts that neatly crisscrossed her abundant cafĂ© au lait breasts and tiny belly. One chocolate nipple had at its circumference an ugly purple wound that could only be a bite mark. Riccardo began to shake. He was furious. He was terrified. Her expression said she knew he’d be. She cocked her head in that taunting way of hers. She said only one word.


He exploded with rage.

“What the fuck is wrong with you? Who Naomi? Who?”

She turned without response, coyly dangling the immense brassiere over her shoulder, dropping it as she sashayed across the livingroom. The impulse to run to her was overpowering, to grab and shake her, to push her to the floor and knock some fucking sense into her. He planted his feet until it passed. Heart racing, he waited for the wooden echo of her footsteps on the hardwood stair and the slam of the bedroom door. Warily he went up to the bathroom and pissed, splashed water on his livid face, telling himself to collect his thoughts, surprised slightly to discover there were none to collect. When he opened the bedroom door she stood by the bed with a silk scarf meekly folded across both hands. He tried to kiss her softly but she turned away in boredom and disgust.
“That’s how you want to play it.”

He snatched the scarf from her hands and tightened it about her eyes. The smirk on her mouth waivered. Her lips parted in a soft O. He grabbed her wiry hair, kissed her hard and she didn’t resist. When her lips rose to meet his again, he pushed her back on the bed, momentarily entranced by the way her breasts rippled and bounced about as her body absorbed the impact of the mattress, becoming even more aroused by the notion that he saw this and she didn’t. Her hands tunneled between her thighs. He forced his way between her legs, attacked her slack mouth with his only angry one, grabbing abundant handfuls of breasts and pinching her nipples until she moaned.

“Finally a response. This … this is how you like it, isn’t it?”

No response.

“It’s the only way you like it, isn’t it?” Disgust, anger and powerful arousal toyed with him. “You don’t want it gentle, do you?” he snarled, grabbing her chin.

No response.

“You think I’m weak, don’t you?”

“Yes!,” she hissed triumphantly.

His hand jerked up, trembling, poised to slap her beautiful helpless, blindfolded face. Her lips parted in a wry smile. She knew. She knew she’d won.

In a red rage, he swore and tore her jeans and panties off. He whipped her belt out of the loops and lashed her ankles tightly together so her knees could only spread a few inches. She liked making things difficult. Fine. He’d make them difficult for her. Her sightless hands sought and gripped the headboard making him wish for handcuffs as he smothered her, oh my little dog, pushing, retreating; then again, getting frustrated, he slid his hips up to straddle her stomach. He took a bottle of baby oil from the nightstand and drizzled it over the purpled head of his raging hard-on. Scooping up overflowing moundfuls of the abused breasts which spilled from her chest onto his thighs, he mashed them together, sliding under, against her sternum, rubbing and kneading to create a bright, slippery passage. Nearly to the point of coming, he stopped, panting hard, and slid back down and covered her, stabbing once again into her dry, tight pussy which relented at once with an efflorescent rush, his poundings producing juicy, slapping reports, everything, everywhere, her geyser eruption, saturating her thighs, his thighs, the bedsheets beneath them.

He tested this slippery terrain as you’d probe an open wound and finding her rectum as receptive as her other hole, with one, then two fingers finding no resistance; no quarter asked or given, he flipped her over and pushed through her clenched anus, sliding easily in and out until she gave a small pained whimper and begged him not to move. For a split second he worried that he’d hurt her—a n absurd notion with this girl. She dug furiously at her clit which sent powerful spasms through her, around his prick until the urge to move became overwhelming. Frantically, he drove in as far as he could go, she howled, exploding again, as he flooded her, pumping waves upon convulsive waves of his sticky release over her own copious wash, collapsing, pinning her, gripping her as if she might escape.

“You’re the first. The first man since Sean,” her wet fragrant hand cupped to his ear.
“I’m obviously not,” he said, cupping the nipple with the bite mark.
“Yes you are.”
“The first man what?”
“To make me come.”
He found this indescribably sad without knowing why.

For all their desperate intimacies, he’d soon learn how little he knew her. One bitter January night, he’d crunched through the ice and salt-crusted walkway to her apartment but was met at the door by one of her co-workers, a very handsome, very young Puerto Rican busboy, who demanded his name, then explained that he’d just returned from taken Naomi to the ER because she’d overdosed on meth.

“She’s got a real problem, you know?”

He didn’t. He hadn’t wanted to. The boy’s look told him what he already suspected in his snake black heart, that in trying to fuck her two ways from Sunday, he’d conveniently ignored the fact that she was coming apart at the seams. She was released two days later. He tried to see her but the busboy stood guard like a jealous dog. She wouldn’t take his calls. The next week, Riccardo was booked in Miami on a shoot. He phoned from the plane and this time she answered. Her voice chilled him. It was cool and deadpan and contained no speck of emotional connection to him. She’d made some decisions. She’d gone through detox and was reconciling with Sean. They were going to be married in California. No, in answer to his unspoken question, she wouldn’t see him again. Ever.

A week later, the other shoe dropped. Sean called. His former friend’s voice choked with emotion confirmed, as Riccardo had since anticipated, that Naomi would hold nothing back. That’s what honest lovers do, right? He’d seen these two hurl insults and harder missiles at each other. He’d broken up screaming fights seen them chained with eyes blackened by the others’ fists, but he’d never felt more degraded than them—until that call.

When he hung up, he saw then as his heart leapt through his gullet, how had he missed her entrance, Ruth, frozen, eyes shock-widened like a doe in the headlights, silently trapped in the corner of the study, as invisible as a person could be. He slept in his downtown office for three months. Nothing was made of it nor was it ever spoken of again by either of them. Terrified by the experience, by the stomach twisting awareness of his abundant culpability, Riccardo slunk once again under the reluctant mantle of marital celibacy. It is hard, hard thing to discover that you aren’t near as good a person as you’d thought yourself to be.

He tells himself that his seduction of Naomi had been calculating and vile. Perhaps it was. The pleasures of sexual predation and conquest though intense, sit unbalanced on the soul. For every conquest a defeat, for every victor a victim and always unpredicted, unintended consequences. He swears a private oath, to never again prey on a woman’s weakness to satisfy his appetites. But he does not, and this is telling, he does not foreswear the thousand infidelities in his heart since their last night together, nor, though he knows he should, can he ever bring himself to repudiate what they shared.

She, so beautiful, so troubled, so beyond his comprehension, was lost forever. More dark than light, thoughts of Naomi always tangle back upon themselves, a tenebrous trail down which he strayed and never completely returned. Many nights she returns unbidden but never unwelcome to a place where there is no guilt or blame, just the unanswerable empty ache of the lover for the dark absent lady, who for a short time, was his.

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