Monday, December 24, 2012


Here is a short story that was published in Chum Literary Magazine last August.


As she moved his hand to her throat her blue eyes expanded in ritual fright and desire. The less she could breathe the more she knew she would feel him and if his penetration was true then abortions would follow. It had happened this way three times in the space of six months and while the abortions weren't exactly Celtic cannon she had told him nothing. In her own way she may have even loved him, expressing herself in a comfortably confused pot-pourri of ideas that she'd acquired from her father, grandfather and the internet.

The bedroom where he would take her faced the beach and the Gulf Stream and was on the twentieth floor of a high-rise next to the shipping channel. She would have preferred an imitation Bauhaus with sweeping white lines and protective stonewall, but the waterfront was public property and even with all her wealth there apparently were limits to what you could buy in America. Looking at her building from the beach he often thought that like his lover, its unblemished, blinding white fa├žade was far too distant and severe and whispered of future disasters.

She was not from Miami, but appreciated its lack of traditions and the way that men looked at her when she drove her Aston Martin down Ocean Drive or parked next to one of her favorite boutiques in Coconut Grove. They loved her eyes and her diamond watch, her legs and her small but well shaped breasts. But most of all they could never get enough of the way that she would look at a man. As if he were the only person in the room or on the street and as if nothing else mattered. Her focused but ephemeral attention giving each of them their 15 seconds of fame. It was a drug and she needed it as much as they did.

The monthly events were altogether different from the chance encounters. Only old friends were ever invited and always in groups of three. Three being the minimum number for a Celtic quorum, even if you couldn't really call it a quorum in a deliberative sense. It was more a celebration of humiliation and dominance, although in that particular sect they liked to refer to it as a “trust building” experience. With just three friends for dinner they'd use the ropes. But with six or nine or twelve they could take turns holding her down. There was always an objective and the objective depended on the month and the ancient saying for that month, the father is fear, trust derives from pain, what to do when Leos collide, etc. It was difficult to remember everything but from the age of six she'd been raised for this, following the old ways, the ceremony and their language (a mix of pre-destination and romantic brutality). Her friends after all were depending on her for guidance and she had never let them down.

She believed in her cult and its future and initially had chosen him as a kind of designated pinch hitter. This Italian-Cuban native of the Keys would bring new blood to her decadent line of Uber-menschen businessmen. He was relatively young, younger than her, and poor, certainly compared to what she had, and this she figured was a good match. He was a barman on a cruise ship and that was where she'd seen him serving mojitos and daiquiris. She drank a lot and paid in cash when she was alone, which wasn't too often. She had a foreign accent, German or Swedish, and she liked the company of men.

The cruise was to the far reaches of the Lesser Antilles and Suriname, and on the fifth day out of Miami she arrived later than usual, ignored the others who were hovering about her and waited for him to finish his shift. “Take me back to my room” she whispered as he brought her her last drink. They stopped briefly on the deck to look at the sea and the full moon and he felt her waist and her hands, which were small and fine. They didn't have much to say. It was time and they knew it and at the door to her cabin he pushed her into the room and onto to her bed where he took her from behind, making her feel his pain. She, of course, appreciated the gesture and remembered, as he drilled into her, that there had never been a moment in her life without fear and that the fear had tempered and protected her from the things that would bring her down. Hadn't her father himself told her that he would always love her and that if another man even so much as looked at her that he would take the matter into his own hands. Wasn't this fear on his part? And wasn't he instilling it in her, wondering as she always would as a girl if any boy who ever looked at her would live to see another day? And didn't he also teach her how to come from the age of four, fingering but never penetrating, preparing her for the eventual public deflowing? Indeed he had, and she was as grateful as a Celtic daughter could be, given the circumstances.

In the world outside their tribe they called it incest and rape, child abuse and a host of other distasteful terms, but from her vantage point as a five year old it was just love, pure and unadulterated. If a man wanted to take a woman and be truly married to her then it had to be this way, in the circle of trust, from behind, with an initial thrust that would demonstrate once and for all who belonged to whom. That she belonged to her father was clear, or at least that was the plan. They would marry when she was twelve in a conservative rite with vetted friends, good food and wine. As a girl she had dreamed of this, of being united with her father as only lovers are. Deliriously happy as he would attend to her for hours in their wedding bed.

While those dreams never materialized all that had happened was hers to live with and cherish or despise, depending on the day and how she felt or who she was talking to. Of course, she told the pinch-hitter, Giacomo, about her upbringing and her father. At first affecting a kind of shame to see how he would react, blaming her parents and playing the victim. But as the weeks passed and their love-making blended with the drinking and the drinking with the pain, she told him more and he discovered that it was easy to get her to talk. She might not be telling him the truth but what she was saying had a certain coherence to it. He discovered that when she was drunk he could ask her anything and she would answer him so long as he was “matter of fact.” The most intimate details of her father's weekly sessions were his for the taking if his voice was neutral and clear. She liked easy to answer questions and on those rare occasions when he couldn't keep it simple he wouldn't get a response.

“When was the last time you were with your father?” he'd asked her as the two of them were sitting on the couch of her living-room. The apartment was quiet and the glass windows to the balcony were open and you could hear people shouting from the beach. She had half a bottle of Porto in her hand and was leaning against him naked and tanned as she took small steps into the twilight of her past. She had reached that blurred state she so often sought out in the evening, when her mind needed to wind down from the day and recover the stability she'd never had.

“We were with the lawyers and I was 11. It was in their office and they were wearing their robes and so you couldn't see much.”

“They worked for your father?”

“They did. And my grandfather, too.”

“He was also there?”

“No.” she said.

“And what were you wearing?”

“Nothing, of course,” and she told him that there was perhaps a film of the encounter because it was an official meeting and they had an interest in documenting these things for future generations.

Pedophiles with a need to set the record straight, he thought, with an expression that bordered on mild interest. There was a breeze blowing in from the ocean and he looked out the window and then back at her. He'd never asked her age, but assumed that she was at least ten years older than he was, just from the look that her eyes sometimes had. A tired gaze from too much experience, a mental fatigue she couldn't shake off.

“And what did your father do?”

“What he always did. I was on the desk, so that the lawyers could see and he was licking me. Slowly at first, concentrating on my clit and then expanding his scope to include the rest.”

“With the lawyers as passive observers?” he asked.

“No, not exactly,” she told him, “they participated, doing what they'd been told to do.”

“Which was?”

“Curious today, aren't we?”

“Sort of,” he said, feigning disinterest.

“Well, I'll tell you,” she told him taking another drink from the bottle, “but only because I love you, and because it really was beautiful, ceremonially speaking. They were the children of the goddess, Danu, and I became the Lady of the Lake under warm rushes of steam and liquids over my chest, neck and cheeks.”

“They were jacking off?” he asked.

“Of course.”

“You never told me that before.”

“You never asked” and he knew as soon as he'd said it that it was stupid but he couldn't help himself as he looked at his girlfriend and imagined her in a room with these men. It stopped him cold and as she went on describing the scene and its particulars he thought for a second that this was what insanity was like. Not being able to come clean or dislodge from your mind what could never be wiped away.

“Now I want you to fuck me like those old ugly lawyers never would,” she told him as she stood up and moved to the dining room, nearly tripping over a chair and dropping the Porto on the carpet.

“Get me another one,” she said motioning to him with her hands to come closer.

“Should I open it?” he asked, and she nodded a couple of times as she positioned herself against an antique wooden table. It was long and very heavy and he thought that it was the kind of table that you could jump or dance on and it wouldn't break, it was that strong.

“This is how it happened,” she said.


“With my first husband, not here but many years ago.” And she was bracing herself with her arms stretched out of in front of her, her legs spread wide, ready for his pleasure, submitting to him the way she's been taught to.

“Anyone ever tell you that your skin looks good against live oak with termite holes?”

“No,” she said, “now take me, take me here.”

He uncorked the Porto and took a swig. She was re-enacting her wedding night, the one where she'd been raped by her spouse in a hotel dining room that had been rented for the occasion. At least sixty people had watched, and, if he was to believe her, it was something that she had really looked forward to.

Later on, because of the pain and the blood she wouldn't sleep with another man for 20 years, until the pinch-hitter. The excuse for breaking her vow of chastity was that she needed to conceive but she didn't like the way a fetus felt inside of her and got rid of them with abortion pills. The RU 486 treatments weren't cheap at $500 a shot but that was about what she paid for a bottle of pink Moet et Chandon and comparing them to one of her favorite drinks helped her to keep things in perspective. Life was expensive, but even terminating it had its costs.

She loved her man and if she wanted to continue making love to him then she would have to use the pill every time he succeeded in doing what she wanted him to do. Birth control just wasn't contemplated in her cult and she didn't waste any time worry about it. She was still fertile at 41 and she loved the way he could make her come for hours on end, never letting up, never letting her stop. In bed or against the oak table she would scream at him, act deliriously, swear at her father and her mother and all the Teutonic knights and witches that had come before her. They hovered above her in those moments, laughing at her and her education, her foolish pride and the childlike belief in a love that would some day free her from this carousel of shame.

He took her where she wanted it. Holding her hips and hitting her another home-run as he pinned her against the table and realized that in delicate moments like these he was thoroughly expendable. She didn't need him, she never did and five minutes after he'd finished she announced that it was time to go out. They dressed and she was surprisingly steady considering that it was nine and she'd been drinking since two.

Down on the street it was a short walk to the bar just off Ocean Drive. that had couches or quasi-beds for those who wanted to get comfortable. It was a place that was set up with canopies, which together with the palm trees and the sand gave it an almost Arabian feel. An oasis of booze and attentive waiters that always put her in a good mood. She ordered two mojitos and as the waiter came back and Giacomo paid for the drinks two young men sitting on another couch had already taken notice of her. They were both Cubans and tanned with black, gel covered hair that seemed to reflect light into the darkness beyond the bar.

After her second drink he asked her if she wanted to leave but she pretended that she hadn't heard him and one of the Cubans immediately ordered another round of mojitos.

“I want to live life to the fullest!” she said standing up with her glass in a toast to her new friends as the waiter marched back to the bar.

“A la vida sin compromisos!” said the Cuban closest to her.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

“Means damn the torpedoes.”

“Oh, but I want torpedoes,” and Giacomo looked on saying nothing, raising his glass whenever a new toast was proposed. He was drunk but it didn't matter. They were putting the move on her but he didn't care. She was damaged goods but they didn't know that and anyone could watch. She would want him to watch.

What happened next happened for no particular reason. She announced that she wanted to see the waves and the Cubans offered to take her there. It wasn't too far and he walked behind them as they staggered along in the sand with their mojitos in hand. The tide was coming in and you could hear the surf in the darkness. He followed maybe three feet behind them, the Cubans sometimes holding her, sometimes dragging her to the beach. She was kissing them as she moved along and when they were there at the water's edge she knelt down in front of the quiet one and unzipped his pants. The talkative one pulled her shorts off and came in her from the rear.

At that point Giacomo would have left but a floodlight appeared above them illuminating the scene along with a voice over the sound of helicopter blades and wind telling them to put their hands in the air and to stop what they were doing. The Cubans looked stunned and confused but his girlfriend turned her head for a second to see a camera on the nose of the chopper. The police were filming everything for posterity and she smiled, remembering the old ways and what a daughter had been told to do.

John Hemingway                       Copyright 2012, John Hemingway

1 comment:

Hodad said...

great story thanks I also sent you this message to your FB "saw your vid on recent trip to Cuba I am Fair Trade Fish and hope to go soon there to work with their artisenal fishermen/women, my cuz a great spearfisherman lives near Barracoa, I am in El Salvador and Guatemala since 1994, we have tight relations thanks for your concern about the fisheries there "