David Henry Sterry
Laura never talks about It. Never tells her dad. Can’t tell her mom. In fact, the only person Laura ever told was the Belgian Birgit Behood, who she thought was her best friend. Birgit pretended to be all sympathetic, then launched into some lame-ass story about how somebody stole her backpack in Brussels. Like that was somehow the same. Laura never talked to the Belgian Birgit Behood again.
Laura steams off the night shift and out of Barnes & Nobles like an empty train, clanging up the tracks of the sidewalks, locomoting fast, all steel and glass, making only scheduled stops, an enormous engine driving that ghostly vessel, a shrunken heart in the club car and a too-big brain steering her train. Sometimes Laura can’t believe everyone doesn’t peer through her translucent skin and stare at the virus violently downloaded into her hard drive. Can’t believe they don’t gape at her violated motherboard, stare at her twisted innards, as she struggles with every ounce of her power to pretend it’s all normal. But nobody ever does. They all act like everything is perfectly fine. Which just makes it worse. Laura wishes she didn’t have those fine high Irish cheekbones and that ivory cream German skin. Wishes her legs weren’t long, lean and lithe. Wishes her breasts hadn’t turned out so round, soft and smooth. Wishes her lips weren’t so cherry, ruby and thick. Wishes her belly was not so flat, white and nice. Wishes her ass was not such a firm, round mound. Laura wishes she wasn’t a man magnet. Wishes that men were not always pretending to be nice so they could penetrate her steel casing and pound her insides like a mallet hammering veal.
Laura keeps waiting for It to go away. Keeps waiting to be able to make out and fool around and get jiggy without wigging out, without feeling that click! that starts the movie screens in the multiplex theaters in her mind replaying It in nightmare scenes she’s seen over and over, that make her skin crawl and brain scream: “Get off me, leave me alone, please just GO!” But she can’t find the stop button. Where is the stop button? There’s no stop button!
Laura understands, in theory, what an orgasm is, but she’s never actually come within sniffing distance of one. In a fit of optimism she let her gay friend Tre´ (that’s how he prefers to be referred to: “my gay friend Tre´”) take her to an upscale erotica emporium, where he helped her pick out and purchase a vibrator, a blue, three-speed Slim Jelly Lady’s Helper. It sits still in its box, lonely and neglected, forlornly calling out to her: “Laura, come play with me.”
She thought that once she graduated from college everything would be different, that It would fade away like fog disappearing in the wind. Six months on the Night Shift at Barnes & Noble have lifted the fog not one jot, and Laura’s empty train keeps hurtling from station to station, never taking on passengers, never making any unscheduled stops.
Laura pauses, as she always does on her way home, as she passes the Last Tango Dance Studio and peers in through the window like a starving orphan looking in a bakery, filled with envious awe for all those avid tango fanatics, swept away with their mad passion. At least a dozen times, Laura has started to walk through that door and become a mad tango-er. But the steel’s so thick around her that it clangs on the door frame and she gets flustered and has to chug away fast so no one will notice.
Tonight, Laura is hungry, so she pulls into Big Al’s All-Nite Diner, kitty corner from the Last Tango Dance Studio. It’s rafter-packed as usual, only more so, no room at the counter even. Sally, the sullen, dumpy yet upbeat waitress, says it’ll be at least twenty minutes. Laura doesn’t want to wait. Hates waiting. So Sally sits her across from a spiky gray-haired dude in tan jacket and khaki pants. As she sits she looks at the bright blue in his eyes, and it takes her by surprise. So does the simple smile he hands her, accompanied as it is by a welcoming head nod. Half of Laura snaps shut, the steel doors clanging heavy as they close: “Stand clear of the closing doors.” Half of Laura takes the warm in and it swells her heart. The result is that a smile begins to play on her face, then gets blown away by a jolt of cold wind whipping in from her frozen lake. She doesn’t know it yet, but his name is as plain as he is. Dan. He looks like a man named Dan. But as Dan goes back to reading his book, Laura feels like Dan has something she needs, while utterly not trusting this information. The problem is, it’s so noisy inside Laura’s head that she usually has no idea which voice is hers, and which belongs to the taskmaster ticket-taker, or the cruel brakeman, or the punishing conductor, making sure no passengers board.
Laura waits for Dan to make a play, flag her down, move in and try to board her. Instead he picks up his book and dives back into it. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: the Hidden Crippler Within. Laura gives this a good working over in her head. Post-Traumatic. After trauma. A flash of It whacks her between the eyes, and everything tightens down. Focus on the book! she shouts to her head, and the image is shuttled from the giant IMAX screen to one of the smaller ones in the way back of the theater, downstairs, in the basement, where it’s dark and smells bad. Stress. Yes. That’s what this is. This is stress. Yes. Stress. Where you don’t know what the hell’s going on, and you think the top of your head’s gonna blow off, and your brains are gonna splatter all over the ceiling. Disorder. Out of order. Not working right. Broken. Smashed. Shattered. Cracked. Laura searches through her files for all relevant information regarding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Just drips and drabs: Laura knows a little about almost everything, but most of is vagaries, little bits of sound bites with no substance. She tries to dismiss the whole thing, but the bell won’t stop ringing in her caboose. CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! Laura glances at the menu, but she can’t get it into focus, and suddenly hunger is a distant memory.
The more Dan ignores her, engrossed in that big fat book that holds all those deep dark secrets, the more Laura feels her hidden crippler within sneaking around sabotaging her train, stabbing his pricks of pain into her brain. Finally Laura just can’t stand it anymore, and curiosity kills her cat. Before she knows it, this sentence slides past her crossing guard and between her lips, hurtling towards Dan before he can stop it:
“Excuse me, but what is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?”
Dan looks up as if he’s been dragged back from a galaxy far, far away. He gives himself a moment to land, and says:
“Oh, uh… well, simply put, it’s a mental illness caused by extreme trauma. It can cause Depression. And what they call Intrusion – which is when you have kind of a flashback, you know, sudden vivid memories of the traumatic event, and painful emotions that flood all over you, sometimes they’re so strong you actually feel like you’re going through the horrible event again, like seeing it played out before your eyes, or in terrible and often vivid nightmares. Sometimes it leads to what they call Avoidance – which is when you stay away from close emotional relationships with family and friends, you feel numb, removed from yourself, like you’re watching yourself go through life, you can’t express anything, and you end up avoiding the activity that caused the trauma in the first place, and ‘cause you can’t work out the grief and anger, the trauma continues to affect your behavior, without you even be aware of it. And then there’s what they call Hyperarousal – which is when you feel constantly threatened, you get irritable or explosive , you have trouble concentrating, you sleep all the time, then you can’t sleep at all, you keep feeling like there’s danger everywhere even when there isn’t. And ‘cuz you don’t wanna think about it, and you don’t wanna feel bad all the time, you end up self-medicating a lot, and sometimes you become a drug addict. You have poor impulse control, and you do stuff you shouldn’t oughta do, only you can’t help yourself, even though you know it’s not in your own best interest. And if it’s really bad, you end up wanting to kill yourself, kill someone else, or get someone else to kill you.” Dan stops now and lets it all sink in. He looks even deeper inside Laura and says:
“Does that make sense?”
Laura wants to jump right out her skin and scream away like a moving Munch painting. Instead she sits like a gutted fish, hoping no one notices that she’s been sliced open and her insides are spilling all over the table. Luckily, having had so much practice, Laura is a master at revealing nothing while the head horrors rage and blare, and as a result her fine white face remains a field of snow with no footprints. She takes a moment to let the shouting in her skull die down. Searches for a coherent thought she can catch and express. Finally she corrals one. This is it:
“What kind of trauma can, uh, cause it?”
Her voice, trained from years of concealing virtually everything important, does not betray the creepiness creeping and seeping like toxic waste into her water hole from a leaking power plant.
“Well,” Dan says with a voice packed full of patient calm, “you can get it from being in battle, like I did. I was in Nam. Shell-shock they used to call it. But you can also get it from being in any really horrible thing, like an earthquake, a plane crash, a terrorist attack, a violent crime, domestic violence, or rape.”
Laura’s mental jaw drops and this thought races towards her lips:
“Oh my God, I think I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, please you’ve got to help me!”
However, this time her crossing guard stops it cold and kills it dead.
Laura stares at Dan. He seems to be waiting for her to say something. Because he is. When she doesn’t, he goes right back to reading that damn book.
Laura stares at Dan. Confused. This guy’s a Vietnam vet? Where are the twitches? Where are the crazy killer eyes? The acid rants? The camouflage that can never hide the mask of Nam madness? But Dan just sits there, eating his damn hamburger, reading that damn book, like he’s never suffered a day in his life. Not wanting anything from Laura. With strange discomfort, Laura realizes it’s she who wants something from him. And she wants it like she’s never wanted anything. She can barely resist the urge to purge, to blurt It all out, spurt It all over him, testify, confess until the vile bile has been exorcised from her as her head spins round and round. This, of course, she does not do. Note again: Laura never talks about It. So instead, she settles for this:
“Sorry, I don’t mean to be intrusive, but, uh… what is it like to have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?”
“Well,” Dan pauses, trying to condense a book into a sentence, “it pretty much sucks.”
Dan’s deadpan takes Laura completely by surprise and a big huge laugh bellyflops out of her, so big everyone in Big Al’s All-Nite Diner stops everything they’re doing and when they stare at Laura, her chagrin assassinates the laugh. Understand this: Laura does not laugh. Chuckles, sure. Guffaws, absolutely. Chortles, of course. So the laugh comes as a great surprise to her. And after she recovers from her embarrassment , a great relief. She makes a mental note to laugh more if possible.
Dan chuckles like a creek running downhill on a sunny spring day in early May, then says:
“I was a mess, and I didn’t even really know it. People tried to be nice and kind and understanding, but unless you’ve been through It, you have no idea in Hell, emphasis on Hell, what It’s like, so it just used to end up pissing me off when people just gave me this bullshit lipservice, plus I was so tainted with Avoidance that I looked for any excuse to push people away anyway. See, what happens is the part of your brain that’s responsible for emotion engorges-”
So that’s the fever in my brain-
“And the part of the brain responsible for communication shrivels-”
So that’s why the lips lock-
“And I ended up walking around like a ticking time bomb, an apt metaphor under the circumstances, don’t you think?”
Having just gotten the big laugh, Dan pauses for another, but is not rewarded in any way. This is because Laura’s double green eyes are the size of JFK silver dollars as the puzzling jigsaw puzzle of her life finally forms into a picture she can see clearly, and she realizes in an instant, for an instant , why she is the way she is. Then it all goes fuzzy again, the pieces fall apart, and she’s left waiting again for the other shoe to drop.
Dan, unfazed, plows ahead:
“The good news is that, with the right kind of help, and a lot of ridiculously painful work, you can work through it and live a happy harmonious life.”
Encouraged by this glimmer of light at the end of her long tunnel of torture, Laura says:
“So eventually It goes away?”
“No,” Dan says with a tiny shake of his head, “no. It’s not that It goes away, but you can learn techniques so you don’t have to be enslaved by It, you can live in every moment fully aware of what’s going on inside you, and what you want, your head and your heart and your soul all get connected to your mouth, and when you feel that click in your head, you know, that disconnect, you don’t ignore it, you don’t push it away, you acknowledge it, you set your controls for the heart of the sun, as I like to say, you face down that image, that feeling, and you get into the center of it, and you unravel those knots, one by one, and you get it out of you, by talking or by writing, and you stop it from haunting you.”
When Dan studies Laura deep, she feels naked inside and out, trying so hard not to reveal one single thing, while revealing everything. When she says nothing, he says:
“Does that make sense?”
It’s all Laura can do not to scream:
“Oh God yes!”
But of course she doesn’t. Can’t. Instead she says:
Then she watches Dan go back to his hamburger, waits for him to come after her, take advantage of the beauty that has marked her as a target from birth.
But Dan doesn’t. He just sits there, eating and reading, eating and reading.
Frankly, it’s maddening.
Suddenly Dan is done with his hamburger, and he’s paying his check, and he’s leaving, smiling while saying:
“It was really nice meeting you.”
There is a pause now. In this pause, Dan starts to say something. Very clearly starts to articulate it, then very noticeably stops.
Laura wants to say:
“What? Please tell me, I really want to know !”
But there It is: CLICK, the picture in her head, the clenching in her womb, the catch in her throat, the clenching in her chest, and the words are gone, all of them, just the picture in her head, and the gripping grasping gasp that’s trapped inside.
Dan waits, an oasis of patience. When it’s clear that Laura’s well has run dry, he leans in almost imperceptibly, slides a business card across the table, and speaks low so no one can hear:
“Call me when you’re ready to get some help.”
Suddenly Laura’s fear that her exterior is transparent becomes a horrible reality, and she has to stop herself from sliding right under the table and hiding there like a whipped child, resist the pull of gravity and darkness.
Then Dan is walking out of Big Al’s All-Nite Diner, and Laura feels her chance slipping away, so her legs, rebelling against the brain’s command to stay put, propel her out of her chair and towards him.
Now Dan is walking away from Big Al’s All-Nite Diner, not fast, not slow, just walking. So he’s no match for Laura’s locomotive, which drives her longlean&lithe legs so fast that in a moment she’s pulling in behind him. From a distance she looks like a professional assassin stalking her prey, about to shove a shiv in his neck and end his life. Just as she gets there, Dan feels all that steel and glass hurtling at his back, and CLICK, he has a flashback. When the vivid picture fills his screen, Dan relives a piece of It, and becomes hyperaroused, explosively reacting to danger where none actually exists.
Dan’s body whips him around with a vicious spin, eyes firing white hot rivets, fists balled blocks of granite, body cocked to clock the enemy, drive the nose bone up into the brain of the train barreling at him.
Laura doesn’t frighten easily. She’s the cool head in a panicked room. But Dan’s blood anger rushing at her scares the holy Hell out of her, and her body pulls back, assuming a defensive posture while she screams fierce, imitating a Self-Defense video she rented and watched over and over in secret until she mastered the moves. Her scream sounds like this:
Laura’s verbal expulsion time-transports Dan back from the jungles of Viet Nam, and crashlands him on the sidewalk right by Big Al’s All-Nite Diner. When he realizes how inappropriate this overpowering urge to kill the beautiful troubled girl from the dinner really is, his body goes limp and he breathes deepdeepdeep.
Laura is surprised by the power of her grrrrrrrl yell. She likes it. But when all the air leaks out of Dan, she feels really bad that she snuck up on him, and thinks about all the times a boy touched her there, and she felt like scratching their eyes out. A strange thing now happens. Instead of feeling the need to desperately flee, Laura is drawn to this man she barely knows, wants to take him in her arms and make him feel better. But of course this pure and beautiful impulse gets re-routed somewhere after it’s gone from her heart to her brain, and before it gets to her central nervous system. So she just stands there, feeling bad she made him feel bad, and then there it is, the numbing fog, and she has to stop herself from drifting off away into it.
Dan closes his eyes and replays It, blow by blow, sees it again, telling himself it wasn’t his fault, he wasn’t to blame, and that he did the best he could under the cruelest of circumstances. Then he creatively visualizes a sweet-faced gramma who bares a remarkable resemblance to Santa’s wife, Mrs. Claus, who gives him a hot chocolate chip cookie in his mind, and then wraps him up in the warmest hug, melts him until he’s a little loved child.
Slowly Dan’s soul descends into his body, as if it’s re-materializing from another dimension.
Laura wants to know what he’s doing there with his eyes closed, so far inside his own skull that he disappears, she feels like all the answers are in there waiting for her. What are you doing in there? she wants to ask so bad, but can’t.
Slowly Dan opens his eyes. Suddenly they’re kind again.
How the hell did you do that? Laura wants to ask, is it some kind of a magic trick? Smoke and mirrors? Some sleight of hand you see in the circus: Watch the amazing Killing Machine turn himself into a Wise Man right before your eyes!
But of course she doesn’t.
“I’m sorry,” Dan softly says, “You scared me and I had a flashback. Hope I didn’t upset you.”
You upset me? Please! I’m a big numbnut, it’s totally my fault, Laura wants to say. Instead she says:
“No, uh, I’m sorry, really…”
“It’s okay,” Dan’s smile soothes the savage beast right out of Laura, and that allows these words to come out:
“I wanna find out more about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, cuz I think-”
I’m suffering from it-
Are stopped by Laura’s crossing guard.
Oddly, this doesn’t stop Dan from hearing them.
Dan nods. He understands. He starts walking. Laura has no choice but to walk with him. She expects him to start talking about It, expects him to pull It out of her. But he doesn’t. He just keeps walking, and as they walk through the park he looks up into the night sky, takes a sweet breath and says:
“La belle luna.”
Laura speaks just enough Italian to know that means:
“The beautiful moon.”
She looks up and sees a little sliver of a pink moon grinning at them and says:
“Yeah,” Dan sighs and starts softly singing: “Mr. Moon, Moon, Mr. Silver Moon, won’tcha shine down on me, keep a’shinin’ on me, won’tcha please shine down on me.”
With no effort whatsoever, Laura smiles.
Across the street from the park Dan takes out his keys, unlocks a big sliding door and opens it. Understand this: Laura is not one to enter a strange man’s loft. But in this instance she never hesitates for an instant.
Laura steps into a 3,000 square foot loft, windows running from floor to twenty foot ceilings, wooden beams and brick walls, it just seems to go on and on forever. As Dan shuts and locks the door, Laura enters and takes it all in: the Upick dreamcatcher, the chicken bone mobile, the giant Russian deconstructionist Chaplin Modern Times poster, the massive record collection, the rows and rows of overflowing books, Shakespeare to Shaw to Dr. Seuss. Dan hands Laura a glass of red wine. Puts on the swirling Brazilian bassa nova classic, “The Girl from Ipanema”. Laura sinks into the large soft comfy couch, and as the happy-yet-still -melancholy music washes over her, she sips her red wine, and Dan lowers himself into the couch on the other end.
Suddenly Laura can’t quite remember why she’s here. Suddenly it’s all she can do to not get her ass up and march it as far away as she can from this man Dan. But again her legs commit mutiny, and refuse to carry her away.
Dan looks at her. Waits and this wafts over them:
“Tall and tan and young and lovely…”
Laura takes a snip and tries to stop one of the 17,000,000 thoughts careening past her. She sighs. She starts tell about herself but stops. Instead she says:
“This music is beautiful.”
“Yeah, it is, isn’t it. It’s sweet and it’s sour, hard and soft, joyful and yet so sad.”
Laura does love the music. But that’s not what she wants to talk about. Dan knows that. She knows he knows that. He knows she knows he knows that. And on and on, as this wafts over them:
“And when she passes each one she passes goes: “Ahh!”
“Would you like to hear my story?” Dan asks.
With much gratitude, Laura replies:
Dan lays it all out for her: the 18 year old burb boy son of a WWII vet, the war after the War to End All Wars, BANG! he’s in boot camp learning all the tricks of the killing trade, finding he has a real aptitude for it, finding he likes the blood lust, rewarded for it, ignoring the pangs and twangs of the Jiminy Cricket chirping in his Conscience, BOOM! he’s in the jungle, strapped to his automatic weapon, stalking though the bush, CRASH! his best friend is getting shredded by a landmine, flesh flying, limbs splintering, head exploding all over him, and he’s running his knife though a yellow chest and into a red heart, cutting down a row of soldiers, crazed with hate and raging pain the animal unleashed roaring ripping everything to pieces, the perfect killing machine destroying everything in his path, until he comes to and KERTHUNK! he’s standing there with a baby skewered on his bayonet , and then THUD! he’s in a VA hospital, hooked up to the machine that offers him sweet succor and he’s back in the U-S-A, only he ain’t a hero, he’s a babykiller and a morphine addict and a lunatic who loses his shit like other people breathe, and he’s a barroom brawler, a domestic abuser, a heroin user, a ladybruiser, a violence-drenched juicer, trying to stop that CLICK! that he can never stop and SMACK! one day he wakes up in an alley in the dark part of town and some big bad guy is trying to have his way with him and Dan’s wig flips, he pummels the big bad guy to a bloody pulp until one big bad eye is hanging out of its socket, and it’s Epiphany Time, and Dan sees himself clearly, and realizes that he will always be a babykiller until he makes himself stop being one, and suddenly he’s talking to every therapist, healer, crackpot and crank he can locate, until he finds the one, and she teaches him the techniques, helps him figure out his passion, helps him pursue it, helps him be of service to the world, and then suddenly, here we are tonight.
Laura keeps sighing, sipping her red wine and shaking her head, each detail loosening her, moving It closer to the tip of her tongue, so that by the time he’s done, the shit just pours out of her: The silvery shirt she was wearing the first time It happened, the tugging down of the pants, his fingers digging into her skin, the beer breath stale on her cheek, the cold clammy palms on her ribs, nails scratching into her ass, fingers pulling her hair so hard that her eyes water, the stabbing ache of pain forcing as he forces himself inside while she’s still so dry it feels like her thin skin will rip to shreds, the leaving of the body, floating over the grunting humping animal and the sad blank girl pinned under him, the sad blank Laura, and the tears are flooding Laura now, she tries to stop them, Laura doesn’t cry, never cries, won’t cry, only now there’s no choice, it’s too much, the river is too swollen, the dam too full, the cracks too large and getting bigger and they’re flowing now, no stopping them, the tsunami sweeps through her body and the wet floods out of her eyes while the primal cries fly out of her chest, bone rattling sobs throbbing from the soles of her feet all the way up through soul and out her mouth.
Dan resists the impulse to move in and hold her. He knows enough to let her come to him. Sure enough, Laura is sucked in by the gravitational pull of Dan until she’s collapsed in his arms, draining into him, the salty discharge running down his tan shirt and dropping onto his khaki pants. The warmth of him is such a comfort; his strong arms put her at ease. She shakes and bobs with each new wave of sobs. Dan takes them all in, they make him feel complete and deeply at peace, being of pure service to this girl makes him of service to the world.
Time suspends and bends so that they lose all track of it, and Laura feels like she’s entered some different reality than she’s ever been in, and Dan has made it possible to get there.
Finally the dam has emptied and Laura is a rag wrung dry. She thinks she should move away from Dan, but somehow she doesn’t. She suspects, but can’t quite believe, that he doesn’t want anything from her. But because she’s right, this makes the holding possible.
Then Laura wants to see his eyes. So she leans back and looks into them. There is such a huge quantity of kind in those eyes that Laura’s lips now take over, and move into him as if they have their own agenda and will not be denied. Dan is torn. He doesn’t want to take advantage of this girl’s sudden opening. But he wants her very much. Dan is confused. He wants to honor this brave and damaged young woman. He wants to honor his own desire. So Dan does nothing, and lets her come to him. Which she does. Soft kisses floating on his mouth, and she’s sucking on his lower lip, sending an electric impulse rushing down through his sternum, shooting down the lightning rod of his spine and ringing a bell in his balls as the blood moves down there and collects, causing a stiffness he has no control over, wants to stop, but is incapable of stopping.
Laura, having emptied herself, feels herself filling with the tingling of excitement, thinking. So this is what it’s like, this is nice, playing her tongue inside his lip a little, feeling his tongue playing back, the wet washing now into her floral panties, the ones she was (incorrectly) sure no one would be seeing for a very long time.
Dan leans back and lets Laura lay on him, play on him, touches her hair, kisses her cheek, her neck, her smell overwhelming him, clean and sweet, the aroma roaming around his insides and driving his heart to beat faster: It’s getting hot in here, he thinks.
It’s getting hot in here, thinks Laura, as her body lines itself up on him, so that his hard grinds against her wet soft, and a moan floats out of him involuntarily.
That’s when it happens.
When the solid throb of his blood-filled root rests right there wanting so much to be inside of her, there’s it is:
And the shades come down, the doors shut tight, and Laura leaves the premises, eyes blanking out as the flashback wracks her, fills her screen with the vivid images of It.
Dan, master of the flashback, feels it right along with her.
Gently he touches her cheek, directs his eyes into hers, and says:
Without even thinking, she does, sitting up, moving away into her corner, going over it blow by blow, down to the bone, untying the knot as Dan takes it all in, asks a wee question here and there, nudges her gently forward, revels in her getting it all out, every drop, as she moves back towards him, closer and closer, steel to magnet, and she’s kissing him again, can’t help herself, her body suddenly has a mind of its own. At a touch on the ribs, at a pulling down of pants, at a hand on the hips, each time: CLICK! CLICK! CLICK! But he won’t let her ignore it, won’t let her push it away, even though every ounce of him wants her so bad, needs to feel himself wrapped up in her, surging with this intense and unprecedented desire. But he puts her first, and that makes him happy, makes him feel like he finally has evolved into a man who can puts another human’s happiness ahead of his own. A man who can be of service.
Then Dan is kissing her on her fine white longleanlithe thighs, and there’s no CLICK! because her predator never did this, so it’s new and untainted. He loves the floral panties, and leaves them on, so she’ll feel protected, unexposed. Laura likes that. Dan hooks his thumb over the band, and slides his mouth down onto her love. My God the incredible, it’s the wettest wet he ever felt, and the smell is a scent of heaven. Dan gently tentatively licks kisses flick & lip-rubs all around, up and down, in and out, and Laura finds her hips bucking unconsciously, her sex taking over and pushing into his mouth with a slow powerful contracting urgency, and he lets her dictate where his tongue will land, how hard and how long. Then her body somehow leads him to her button, and he hits the spot: Jackpot! Laura moans low. Wait a minute, is that moan coming out of me? she wonders, then realizes it is, and how happy she is about that, I’M MOANING, her mind trumpets triumphantly, and before she can even react, he’s gently sucking on exactly the perfect place, and with no effort on her part, the muscles in her thighs start twitching with pleasure, her hips riding higher into him, and when Dan looks up without missing a beat, he sees Laura’s hands gently clenching and unclenching like a kitty kneading while purring, and her tongue peeks out of the side of her mouth, she is all abandon, one of the most spectacular sights he’s ever seen, a sight he will take with him to his grave, and she’s completely at one with Dan and her body, no intrusion, no avoidance, arousal without hyperarousal, they are dancing now, he’s leading her, then she’s leading him, and he’s boarded her train, he make her muscles twitch with each perfectly-placed flick of his tongue, he’s playing her like a violin, her body is singing with him, the red rushing to those fine white cheeks, a direct connection between his tongue, her sex, his brain, her heart, his soul, her body, he’s floating her down the river now, only instead of sadness flowing in it, there’s passion, pure passion, and she can hear the waterfall up ahead, so she rises to meet him, grinds herself into his mouth and this makes Dan moan anon, the sheer pleasure of giving Laura pleasure more powerful than any pleasure he’s ever received, and then her moan mingles with his moan, and she’s floating towards the waterfall, he’s leading her to the edge, guides her towards the ecstatic abyss, she can’t stop herself, doesn’t want to stop herself, higher and higher, hands clutching, breath panting, blood rushing, heart heaving, chest pounding until suddenly she’s right there actually at the edge of the waterfall looking down. Then with a gentle nudge of his tongue he sends her over, and Laura’s crying out in pleasure now, flying on that magic carpet with Dan tourguiding her to that mindblowing explosion of wave after wave of transcendent orgasmic rapture, shaking Laura to her very core, and he with her.
As Laura lands in the pond below and slowly resurfaces, she calms, and pulls Dan up to her. He rests his head on her breasts and as he hears her heart bangbangbanging away, all is right with Dan’s world in a way it never has been, and she sighs, feeling the same.
Slowly they drift off to a cloud of sweet deep sleep.
Dan and Laura do not know what will happen next.
But she knows she is coming back.
And he knows she is coming back.
The next day Laura quits the Night Shift at Barnes and Nobel.
As she walks back to Dan’s place, she stops her train in front of the Last Tango Dance Studio.
Only this time she makes it all the way in.
David Henry Sterry is the author of 13 books, a performer, muckraker, educator, activist, and book doctor. Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent-Boys: Professionals Writing on Life, Love, Money & Sex was featured on the front cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review, and has been optioned by Marta Kauffman, co-creator of the TV show Friends. Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent was an international bestseller, has been translated into nine languages, and is being made into Hollywood movie. He is a Huffington Post is regular. His new novella Confessions of a Sex Maniac was a finalist for the Henry Miller Award. He’s written for The London Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and Penthouse, and been featured in The New York Times, The LA Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Details Magazine, BBC, NPR’s Morning and Weekend Edition and Talk of the Nation.