A Dirty Angel
My good writing friend, Michael Wells, a.k.a “Biggie,” author of I Shot Bigfoot & other stories, invited thirty or so of his Authonomy friends to participate in a short story anthology. Participants were assigned a song, selected at random from his iPod, and asked to write stories that the song inspired. I had the great fortune of receiving Elvis Presley’s Devil In Disguise, and this is what came from it. It deals with a sexual theme, but shouldn’t shock the conscience of anyone inured to the rough and tumble of contemporary fiction.
Winters are long and cold in Burlington, Vermont, so when the spring mud finally dries and things start to look and smell green, I’m not the only guy on campus who starts looking for love. “It’s spring, and I wanna fall in love,” were my precise words. What a fucking idiot.
I wasn’t really desperate or anything. I skied all the time at Mad River Glen over the winter, and the place is crawling with women from campus. Which is cool, because they’re in really good shape, and at the end of an exhilarating day of skiing and a few beers at the bar in the lodge, it isn’t hard to find a shower mate when you get back to town, if you get me. It’s an extension of the exercise. In and out, nobody gets hurt. Thanks for the nookie, that was fun. You really know what you’re doing, maybe we can do that again. It’s all kind of emotionless, though, even if it is good practice for the real thing.
And the real thing was on my mind the day I walked into the student union building and literally ran right into her. Or she ran into me, really. I saw her coming through the inner door as I was going in the outer door, and I stopped, but she wasn’t looking forward and WHAM! She clocked me, forehead right into my nose. Books flying everywhere. Then the blood began to gush. Hilarious.
She was so cute, the big deal she made out of it. I pinched my nose and went outside to sit on the steps so I wasn’t bleeding all over the hardwood floor, and she ran inside and came out with a huge wad of napkins. The brown, scratchy ones. She practically shoved them in my face and sat down close to me and kept apologizing and asking me if I was okay. “I feel like such a klutz, I’m a total dipshit, I can’t believe I did this to you. Oh my God you’re bleeding like a motherfucker. Did I break your nose? Can I take you to the hospital? Are you in pain?”
She kept going on like this, yammering away, until it started to bug me. You know, like you’re about to just holler shut the fuck up, and then I looked at her and holy shit, she was fucking stunning! She was so stunning she took my breath away. Left me speechless. Cross-my-heart-and-die-in-my-sleep angelic.
You think I exaggerate. I pity your lack of imagination. It was not just her face, the color of her eyes, the proportions of her features, her mouth, her teeth, her chin – or even the sound of her voice, sing-songy in its frantic guilt. It was her movement, the way her head moved between her shoulders and her shoulders rolled from side to side as she swore at herself for being such a ditz. And the gauzy white peasant blouse with the black bra beneath didn’t suck, either. Or the shin-length Indian print skirt that slid over her tanned calves above the hand-made blue leather clogs. Or the rangy tanned arms, with their perfect tone, like she’d been twiddling a lacrosse stick since birth.
So I must have been staring – or ogling – because all of a sudden she stopped her cascade of apologia and stared back at me. I had taken the blob of bloody napkins away from my face and was staring at her, slack-jawed like I was watching the aurora borealis on mushrooms, and her eyebrows wandered up and her eyes brightened and her mouth stretched into this smile and she started laughing.
She started laughing! Laughing like a loon, pointing at my face.
“What?” I asked. I figured I must have had a wad of napkin stuck to my teeth or something. But she just laughed harder and harder, and she had a great laugh.
Boy, did she have a great laugh. I fell in love with that laugh. Then I laughed too.
“You look like a train wreck,” she blathered. “You look like you got hit by a Manhattan cab.”
“Like Chuck Wepner after Muhammed Ali,” I said.
She cackled. “The Bayonne Bleeder.” More guffawing.
That died down just before I was about to start hyperventilating, and she sighed and put her hand on my forearm. She had beautiful hands. Artist’s hands. Flawless lines, and strong. I wanted that hand on my cheek.
“Come on, let me take you to your place and get you cleaned up,” and she stood up, held out her hand and began to move down the steps. I wasn’t sure I heard her right. I looked at her hand like a retard. Then she jiggled it and furrowed her brow and said, “well come on.”
I could have cried.
I took her hand and she pulled me up, but she didn’t let go like I expected. She kept it, and the way her hand fit mine was, well… intuitive. Primitive. It belonged there. Should have been there all along. And she shot a look sideways at me that said, yes, yes it did.
She walked me to a beat-up topless jeep at the curb, and she let my hand go and clambered up the passenger side, one foot to the running rail, next foot to the top rim of the door, pulling herself up deftly with the roll bar, and the breeze billowed her skirt out as she hopped to the driver’s seat and I snuck a peek, and she was commando under there. She glanced back at me like she knew and it said ‘you’re welcome.’
I climbed into the passenger seat, feeling woozy. She wheeled away from the curb, and the wind felt good for a moment, but the jeep’s movement made me dizzy and nauseous and I groaned and hung my head outside in case I blew lunch. All I could think about was don’t puke on the girl’s jeep you stooge, and then I felt a hand on my knee, rubbing and patting it, and I heard her sing-songy voice say, “Ooooo, poor baby, hold on we’re almost there,” and I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on the cool breeze and that felt better.
Practically the next second, she pulled the jeep over and I looked up and we were in front of my apartment – the bottom floor of a triple-decker on Spruce Street. I opened the door and wobbled out onto the walk. She’d jumped out and scurried to my side, and took my arm. I had a splitting headache and my nose throbbed, but the dizziness had passed. I took the opportunity to slip my arm over her shoulder, and she slipped hers around my waist. By the time we got to my door, I was certain that my arm was not there for support, and I chose to believe hers wasn’t either. Over the clanging in my head and the throbbing in my nose, I felt in my chest that dull ache of springtime.
She led me to my bathroom, where she carefully dabbed the dried blood from my face, and we laughed at my rosy honker. Dark slivers had begun to show under my eyes.
“You’re going to look like a baboon,” she said, with that brassy guffaw again.
She dumped a few pills in my hand, drew some water from the tap into a stale coffee cup, I swallowed, and she turned me out and pushed me toward my bedroom. I felt her fingertips on my shoulder blades. She prodded me to my bed, and I crawled into it and rolled onto my back.
She sat at the edge of the bed and put her hand on my chest. I covered her hand with mine.
“You’ll be fine in a little bit,” she assured me. “Just close your eyes and take a nap.”
“But if I close my eyes, I can’t look at you.” I reached up, swept her hair away from her shoulder and brushed her cheek with a finger. “It’s spring, and I want to fall in love.”
She blushed. “Silly man.” She took my hand from her cheek and kissed the palm. The feel of her lips sent a sizzle up my arm, tickled my heart and continued south. It stirred, you bet. And I swooned.
Oh. Swoon. Be still my heart. Oooo, wait. Swoon. She got fuzzy. The room spun. Did she put my hand on her breast? Wait. Spinning faster now. Have to close eyes. How’d she know where I lived? Eyes rolled up into head. Closed now. There’s a movie on my eyelids. Nice color. Fantasia. Echoes. Bed jiggling. Giggle giggle. What was that wiggle? Hey! Arms behind my head. Something tight on my wrist. What is that? One eye open. Ooo, kinky girl. Tie me to the bed post will ya? Heh, never done that befo – hey that’s kinda tight. Mmmm sleepy. Just a little nap now…I’ll be ready for…Hmmm, my pants are leaving. Bye bye, pants. Ooo that tickles. Unhhhhh, oh my…
By the time my eyes opened, the clock said 11:57, but I didn’t know what day. My head was full of cotton and my ears wouldn’t stop ringing. I was naked, I had scratches on my chest and red marks on both wrists. I took a shower, and washing down there, I felt tender, chaffed. I tried to piece together what had happened. I could remember the bump and the girl, and recalled the welling in my chest and feeling all bubbly and weak. After that, nothing. I must have passed out from a mild concussion. I should have gone to the hospital.
But what about the wrists, and why did I feel like I’d been jacking off for a week? I put my face into the shower spray and exploded in pain. I looked in the shower mirror and saw a guy with an eggplant on his face looking back at me. He had a Zorro mask on, too. He was fugly. What was her name? I never learned her name.
For weeks, I walked through the student union a million times, unsure of what I was looking for or what I’d do if I found it. One day, a ski bunny friend invited me back to her place, and I went along with her, but when she started taking my pants off, I was dead inside. No, not dead. Repulsed. Her sexy smile was nothing but an ugly, menacing leer. She asked me what was wrong and if I wanted to talk about it, but why should I trust her? The slut.
Then one afternoon, I saw the Jeep parked in front of the union. I skipped my class and sat on the grass, leaning against a big old elm tree and boiling inside. As the afternoon faded and I thought of giving up, what’s-her-name ambled out the front door. She skipped down the steps, holding the hand of some guy with a stupid grin on his face. She went right to her Jeep and hopped up, just like she had before, with her skirt billowing to flash her fly trap at the fool. When she glanced her “you’re welcome” back at him, she spied me sitting in the shade. She was still standing on her driver’s seat, holding onto the roll bar. She looked down at the guy, smiling for him. She looked back at me.
Her grin said, hey you! Her grin said, our little secret. Her grin said, you stupid fuck.
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Tags: college, date rape, fiction, sex, short story