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Perverts.com

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 FICTION







Perverts.com by Laurie Stone

  



When you go on the Internet and check out the pervert sites, it refreshes your respect for range. It’s a rainbow world out there, and depending on where you stand on the pervert spectrum, it can make you feel small-time or pretty pleased with yourself. Take Aboveaveragedicks.com. It’s modestly named. The dicks are substantially above average. The dicks of my acquaintance that are anatomically attached to people do not look like the cocks of stud racing horses or the limbs of 300-year-old trees. The “above average dicks” do. One was photographed from a worm’s-eye view and curled up toward its host’s ripped abs like an elephant’s trunk. I wouldn’t be surprised if it could pick up peanuts. Recently, my friend Bruce offered to show me a video of a guy pissing into his own mouth. I was eating dinner at the time and asked if I could take a rain check. Mr. Elephant Dick could certainly accomplish that feat.

    
The sites endeavor to protect the young. “Leave now if it is illegal for you to see naked women,” they entreat grade-schoolers who may not have boned up on the law. Even if they have, they’re free to view pictures of naked men employing their orifices in imaginative ways. There is no evangelizing, unless, of course, you’re into that. It is a come-as-you-are environment. Although many of the menu choices strike me as ingenious, they are presented as if you, yourself, have already thought them up. Fuckmeharder.com and oneblondefingeringanother.com are unlikely to surprise as options, but I was impressed by the novelty of pregnantandlactatingsluts.com and sodatbitchruinedyourlife.com. Domain names can be a mouthful.

    
Exxxtremegermanmovies.com doesn’t offer Nazi porn, as might be expected, but rather blasé hetero couples performing vanilla sex while speaking German. It’s a spin on tongue perversion. Some people just want you to talk German to them. Clitcritic.com is an orgasm-friendly site, with a soupçon of gynecological-exam perversion. Facials.com is for those who enjoy watching semen ejaculated on women’s faces and for women who like to use jism for pore-reducing masks. Puckerup.com heralds the joys of anal penetration with objects attached to strings. And the homepage of spanking.com sports a businessman in shirt and tie with a naked woman across his lap, her butt high and her face near the floor. As his hand beats a regular tattoo, her rump turns bright pink.

    
While some perverts prefer other people’s fantasies, an alternative group (among whom I number myself) enjoys inventing their own. For us, there are such sites as newbiepornsters.com, for beginners, mentalspycams.com, for erotica themed around surveillance and paranoia, and poetsandfilth.com, about which I can speak from personal experience. We assemble in chat rooms and arouse each other either during real-time conversations, on which others may eavesdrop, or in emails sent to individuals or posted to the group. The rooms tend to be genre specific. The members of “Futuristic Switch Hitters” write about people who have multiple sets of genitalia and are therefore not, strictly speaking, either male or female, though butch and femme role-playing is still big in this world. “Fabio’s Secret” hosts bodice-ripping pornographers. “Prufrock Sent Me” attracts mongers of sleaze with a bent toward pantoons and villanelles. I gravitate toward “Fetishes R Us.”

                                   

  




©2000
Laurie Stone and Nerve.com

 FICTION









    
In general, we are a permissive community, and my chat room of choice is open to fetishists of all stripes. Recently, two newcomers entered with the screen names: scratchandsniff and everydayfiend. They arrived at nearly the same time, though I don’t know if they had prior knowledge of each other, and I don’t know either’s sex. People can declare whatever they like, or refrain from declarations, without fear of detection. Sometimes, members of our group collaborate on a chain story, leaving off at a cliffhanger and passing it to the next writer. Some of the tales are more comical than lubricious, though they can be both. A chubby chaser might begin about removing the underpants of a 400-pound virgin — “They flapped like the sail of my childhood Sunfish.” A voyeur might shift the point of view to a neighbor with a peephole. And next might come an installment about wet suits, or one about toe sucking.

    
Scratchandsniff and everydayfiend didn’t collaborate. Rather, each presented installments of two separate erotic diaries. Scratchandsniff wrote as Peg, everydayfiend as Alex. Peg was a nineteen-year-old ex-street punk, who was bartending at a club on Avenue B and writing poetry and music reviews for the online ‘zine Bristle. Alex, a former heroin addict in his mid-thirties, lived in Tribeca and composed electronic music. I became captivated by these characters and felt irritable if, for some reason, their authors failed to post an update.

    
In her first entry, Peg wrote: “Dear Cyberpals, Rolled out of bed around eleven. The sun was like a disgusting eyeball. Everything hurt. I stumbled into the bathroom and checked myself for damage. Face okay. There was a man-in-the-moon–shaped bruise on the top of my left thigh. Have no idea how it got there. I didn’t do any shit last night, though one of the regulars was handing out Ecstasy as if he’d sold all his shares of AOL. I wasn’t going to go home with anyone, because I wanted to kick living like a vampire, but around three Goldie comes in looking hot. She’s got this blond pageboy wig on. She looks like she could fucking eat the world and suck on the pit. She knows I like a little pain, but not in public. I really want to go home so I can write the next day. That review of the Puff Adder concert is due. But she says, ‘Come in the bathroom. I wanna show you something.’ I wipe my hands on a towel and follow her like a dog. Traffic at the bar is thinning. It’s almost time to close. We’re in the dark hallway near the phone. It stinks from cigarettes and spilled beer, and I get a whiff of piss that’s overshot the toilet. What she has to show me is a pair of lace undies she is going to give me after she takes her knife and slices off the ones I’m wearing.

    
“She pushes open the bathroom door. She tells me to bend over, with my hands on the sink, and put my ass in the air. Real romantic. I hear her flip open her switchblade, and now I wish we weren’t in a toilet and having to be quick but were back at my place, sipping beer and talking about what we were gonna to do before we did it.

    
“Gotta split. Love, Peg.”

    
Alex wrote, “Dear Friends, Lila and I are in the kitchen when I ask what I could do that would scare her. There is no irony in my voice. I can’t maintain a sense of the absurd and an erection at the same time. She’s leaning against the fridge. There’s a shopping list attached to it with a magnet. ‘Semolina bread with raisins and fennel.’ Lila likes it. I forgot to shop. She doesn’t laugh, doesn’t even crack a smile. She’s wearing the bustier with the laces in the back, the nice fetishy thing she bought for two hundred and fifty dollars earned by proofreading legal briefs, so I would get a woody when I saw her.

    
“Lila has on a trancy look. Her eyes are at half-mast, and she licks her bottom lip. A part of me wishes that, in bed, she would reach underneath it and retrieve not the riding crop I keep there but a seltzer bottle. If she did, I would probably look for another girlfriend. She says, ‘Tying me up and leaving the apartment.’ It sounds like she’s saying, ‘Sweetie, I made that chocolate mousse you like,’ or ‘You’ll win a Guggenheim with that piece you just finished.’ She asks what would scare me to do, and I think: Nothing. Do I have limits? Well, yes, eating dead people. Not that I wouldn’t if I were in the Andes and my plane crashed . . .

  

                                   

  




©2000
Laurie Stone and Nerve.com
 FICTION









    
“I make up something I would actually do, so we can look forward to someday doing it. ‘Piercing your navel.’ I don’t want to do this now, even though I still have a sweet spot in my heart for needles. I want to spank her a little and watch her squirm. I want to put my hand inside her while I give her whacks, spacing them out, making her wait for me to give her more. Tonight, we don’t do anything for a while, except kiss. Lila knows how to swirl her tongue. She’s taking acting classes. When you role-play with an actress, it makes you wonder whether she’s acting the role-playing or really into it. If I think about this too much, I can get that ‘do not resuscitate’ look on my face, but Lila knows how to lure me back. She doesn’t attract me apart from sex, which is a relief, because that way I’m not liable to fall in love and make the usual mess of things that causes women to hate me.

    
“Over and out, Alex.”

    
These letters were different from the postings I was used to finding in my mailbox. In the mornings, after preparing a double espresso and playing with my cat, I check my email. Typically the porn goes like this: “Late last night, thinking of you, I made myself come. I came hard. Hit my face. I imagined you tied, very tightly, so you could scarcely move. My come was on your nipples. You looked up at me as I rubbed and pinched my come into your nipples until it was gone. I studied your eyes, your sounds, your odors and your wetness. I used my fingers, hands, teeth, lips, tongue, nipples, hair, cock and toys on you. I played with your anticipation. After prolonged teasing, my fingers pushed deeply into you, and my tongue made you come — long and hard. I like to orchestrate and control my lover’s arousal. I’d like to fuck and dom you. What are your thoughts on this? I think of you as attractive. You need to know my looks, and perhaps you will. You will be pleased.”

    
Variant letters propose that I do the “orchestrating” and use my body and toys for stimulation. Given my screen handle, “privateparts,” my correspondents can’t be sure of my sex or erotic preferences, though most assume they are writing to someone who has them. One writer addressed me as “mischiefdujour.” Sometimes the scenarios I receive are long and detailed, with several sessions of sex, the inclusion of voyeurs and the possibility of being discovered. Women write, men write — at least people identifying themselves as men and women. I hear from tops, bottoms, leather freaks, rubber devotees, whip masters, et cetera. The letters are intended as lines to inhale or substances to roll up and smoke. Throwaway intoxicants. Something to make me come or to make the writer come. New ones arrive as regularly as pigeons on the sill and The New York Times at the door.

    
The letters from Peg and Alex hardly ever culminated in coming, didn’t even get that far into sex.

    
“Dear Cyberfreaks,” Peg signed on again, “I was nursing a bagel at Limbo and feeling majorly pleased with myself for not being hung-over. Like my mind could see all the way across the Hudson to New Jersey, to the fucking Palisades Parkway, where I think there are picnic tables my dad once pulled over to. I picked up a copy of New York Press and saw an ad for a writer’s workshop. I don’t have the bucks, but it got me thinking I should try and save. I’ve never been able to do that without tricking, and I can’t look at another dick and pretend to be happy to see it. Then I think: Why the hell not? A lot of stuff people have to do is gross. Like cleaning bedpans.

  

                                   

  




©2000
Laurie Stone and Nerve.com
 FICTION









    
“I’m wondering why I am making a case for myself as a hooker or as someone who cleans up other people’s shit, when Goldie comes in. She seems surprised to see me and goes to the bar to get a coffee, giving me a little wave. She takes forever adding milk and sugar, then decides she wants a scone and waits at the bar again. I’m thinking of leaving so I don’t have to see her deciding whether or not to sit with me, but I don’t want to go. I want to think about the rest of my life. Goldie places a packet of jam next to the scone. Her coffee is in an aquamarine cup. The saucer is salmon and the plate with the scone is lilac. Festive. She turns and walks in my direction, still not making eye contact. I look at my bagel. It’s cold and hard. After what seems like forever, Goldie stands in front of me, places her coffee on the Formica table and pulls out a chair with her free hand.

    
“‘Hi,’ she says, with a lopsided grin that works on me like a hot knife in butter. She’s not even pretty when you look closely. There are little lines around her eyes that are way premature. Maybe from the sawdust she kicks up building people’s lofts. She asks what I’ve been up to. I want to tell her about my writing, but when I do she looks like she’d rather be waiting at the dentist’s. She likes to hear about my turning tricks. She likes to imagine me working over guys, having the upper hand, which I never have.

    
“She tells me she is building a set at a theater on Franklin Street. It’s a challenge, because the stage slopes down toward the audience and, because the play is about a dream, the walls have weird angles, too. I ask if she’s read it. She says no, then breaks off a piece of her scone, puts jam on it and offers it to me without saying anything, expecting me to tilt back my chin and open my mouth. I do. She places the morsel on my tongue like a communion wafer. I lick the tips of her fingers, which taste salty and sweet, and now I don’t care about saving money or the writing workshop. I can’t see to New Jersey, can’t see to the next block. I want Goldie to invite me back to her place. If she does, I will go knowing that, when I leave, she won’t say when we will meet again. I will tell myself it doesn’t matter, even though it does.

    
“Later, Peg.”

    
The same day Alex wrote: “Dear Fellow Pervs, ixt warms me knowing you are out there. Otherwise, my heart is cold, and this sometimes worries me, but not today. Today I feel hopeful, though everything that sucked yesterday is the same today. The leaves of the maple tree outside my window are glossy and rustling in a whipping breeze. I haven’t seen Lila in a few days, and maybe this explains my optimism. It has become difficult even fucking her. I never thought I would say this, but I’m bored with sex. No matter what we do. No matter that if I just fantasized them with an unknown partner I would come in two minutes. She is rehearsing a play. I feel guilty not calling. I repainted my bathroom, which had been looking like a bog since the pipe busted. Every time I feel like jacking off, I sit down at my keyboard.

    
“Fancy that, Alex.”

    
Some members grumbled about Alex’s defection from our focus. If anything could be said to be taboo, it was admitting you were bored with sex. I was not among the naysayers. I liked Peg and Alex, not merely as sources for titillation. I still read the other letters, feeling a jump in my groin or a flutter in my chest if an image or fantasy hit the right receptor button, but I did not look forward to these postings as much as to those of Peg and Alex. I felt a bit off my feed about the chat room too, in the same way that Alex had gone off Lila.

  

                                   

  




©2000
Laurie Stone and Nerve.com
 FICTION









    
In his next posting, Alex wrote: “Dear Pervs, I was pacing the streets last night. The air caressed my skin, and I started imagining a woman on her stomach, stretched out on a beach towel, her muscled legs extending from a well-toned butt. I begin to rub lotion on those legs, very slowly, inching toward her thighs, as if a massage was what she needed and had been waiting for, though she didn’t know me before I touched her. She feels the pressure of my hands, the warmth and firmness of my palms. I smell coconut oil, and it reminds me of summers as a kid, when my mother would rub suntan lotion on my freckled shoulders.

    
“I cannot see the woman’s face, but I can tell from her skin that she’s young, barely past girlhood, though there is something knowing in her flesh, the way it receives my pressure. I see the back of her neck, exposed under her short, boyish bob. Little ridges stick out in her backbone. She is naked, and there is no one else around. The sun is going down, and the sky is ribboned with orange and peach. Gulls circle and swoop. I hear the waves breaking, but the sea, for the moment, is glassy. Still, she doesn’t turn to see who I am. I begin to tease her, allowing my hands to slip between her thighs and lightly flicker over her silky hairs. My hands take possession of her ass, massaging the cheeks, giving her more pressure, which she takes. Little moans escape her. Her skin is reddish brown. She could be Middle Eastern or from North Africa.

    
“I press my hand into the small of her back, where, just below, two dimples etch the cheeks of her ass. I work my way up her back to her shoulders, making her wait for me to return to her ass, which she lifts slightly in anticipation. When she is relaxed and soft to my touch, I open her legs wider, so I can explore her with my eyes and fingers. She lets out a little gasp and closes her legs. I push them apart a little roughly, and she doesn’t resist, rather waits for what I will do next.

    
“By this time, I had arrived at Avenue B and 6th Street. I noticed a club where people were crushed against the bar and hanging around outside. It was late, but the energy was up. The jukebox was blasting ‘Start Me Up,’ and it seemed that Mick was telling me I needed a new train. I was thirsty and lonely. Not for anyone in particular. I worked my way to the bar, and the girl serving drinks looked exactly like the one on the beach. Her small face was oval, with wisps of short dark hair feathering her forehead and cheeks. Her nose was narrow but long and swerved slightly to the left, giving her a peculiar authority. Pure symmetry would have made her just another pretty chick. Her dark eyes met mine when I ordered a Coke. ‘Designated driver?’ she asked, dryly. I said, ‘Yeah, but no passengers.’

    
“Later, Alex.”

    
The letter drew me further into Alex’s life. I didn’t know what he looked like, but I imagined him rangy, about six feet tall and slim, with a shag of light-brown hair over a wide brow. I saw him with long fingers that could play the scales of a keyboard and the corridors of a body with equal dexterity. I could imagine him floating through the city, at once guide and ghost. His beach was real, and I could see from his perspective as well as the girl’s. When I went out for walks, I found myself looking for him, as well as for Peg.

    
Somehow, I was sure it was Peg he had met at the bar, sure he would have more to say about her and that she would comment on him, and I speculated now that the creators of Peg and Alex had meant to bring them together all along. Or maybe not. Perhaps the game was unspooling as they read each other online, unfolding in cyberspace the way romance does in life — a gradual peeling back of layers.

  

                                   

  




©2000
Laurie Stone and Nerve.com
 FICTION









    
The next day, Peg reported in. “Dear Readers, what attracts me to Goldie is that she doesn’t care if she never sees me again. There is freedom in this for me. I just can’t enjoy it. I’m not sure if I should work on appreciating it or get rid of Goldie. The next time she shows up, I will leave the room. She has nothing to talk about except sex. She’s leather. She doesn’t whisper ‘Baby’ or ‘Honey’ when we fuck. I’m supposed to ease into the absence. I’m supposed to hold my breath the longest.

    
“This guy came into the bar last night. He had a sad look on his face, even when he smiled. Made me wonder whether I look that way when I’m not falling on the floor laughing. Maybe I’m a gloom magnet. Turned out he was feeling good, just has a kisser that doesn’t show it. He smelled like a bakery. It’s weird me liking a guy’s smell. Most of them remind me of rusting iron or balloons. Turns out he was carrying bread. He’s got these deep-set eyes that look like they’re strip-searching you — something between a narc and a pimp. He orders a Coke. I think, good, he’s not going to get weird on me.

    
“The whole time he’s there I don’t think about Goldie, except to realize she’s not in my head for five minutes. The guy asks what I do. He doesn’t mean will I blow him. I lean over so my nose is five inches from his and then straighten up, because I don’t want to come on to him. My body just does that automatically. The bar is zinc, and I can see my reflection, wavy, like in water. My eyes have dark circles under them, and I look like roadkill. I say I write for Bristle, as if anyone’s heard of it. I don’t know why, but I say, ‘I scare myself.’ He laughs. ‘Yeah, well, it’s either that or heroin.’

    
“Gotta sleep, Peg.”

    
Our bulletin board jumped with the kind of debate you see on subway walls and public toilets:

Chickenfingers: Alex, fuck someone, anyone, just do it. Then you can write about it.


Headgirl: The guy can have something on his mind besides sex.


Sizematters: Hey, this here’s a porno site. Haven’t you noticed?


Holehearted: Don’t define sex so narrowly.


Ninewide: Are you getting hot from this stuff?


Holehearted: I can’t say I get off, no.


Chickenfingers: I wanna see him spread-eagle her, backside up, and drill her in every hole till everyone’s happy.


Holehearted: I didn’t know happiness was our goal.


Headgirl: I think they’re sexy.


Chickenfingers: Maybe she won’t do it with him.


Holehearted: Maybe that’s not what he wants from her.


Sizematters: What else could he want?


Headgirl: Maybe he wants to know her.


Ninewide: People don’t know each other on a porn site!


Headgirl: People don’t know each other, period.


Scratchandsniff and everydayfiend didn’t respond to the messages. That a romance was budding no one could miss, however. And romance was deviant in our midst.

  

                                   

  




©2000
Laurie Stone and Nerve.com
 FICTION









    
Alex wrote next. “Readers, I took her home. I had to go to the bar four times before she’d leave with me. The first three nights she told me her name was Alice. We walked across Canal Street, then down West Broadway to my place. I suggested a cab, but she said, ‘Christ, I could live on that money for a week.’ I didn’t give it to her, didn’t want her to think I was buying her, though the thought crossed my mind. So much easier that way. The first night I was carrying bread, the kind Lila likes. Peg acted like it was catnip, so I got some for her. I’m wondering if it’s me or the bread they go for.

    
“We get inside my place, and I ask if she wants anything. She says bread and tea. She sits in the kitchen, and I put water up to boil and slice the bread. The fennel smells like licorice, and it feels as if I’m making tea for my grandmother. She puts her head on her thin arms, and her body looks like it doesn’t have bones. Don’t get me wrong, sex is in me. A junkie pal used to say that sex is the buzz you hear in the jungle when everything is quiet and asleep. Sometimes I can’t tell if I want to punch my fist through a wall, tear pieces of meat off a bone or stick my tongue in a funky hole. I ask Peg if she wants toast. She says okay in a sleepy voice. The toast smells even more intense. I put out some butter, and honey for her tea, and she opens her eyes and smiles, and I wonder why I want to be kind to her. I’m suspicious of it, like there’s a trick that’s going to spring out at me. After she eats, she curls up on the couch and falls asleep. I don’t touch her.

    
“Later, Alex.”

    
I didn’t know if I wanted to watch these two tangled in each other’s limbs or if I wanted to see what else could happen. Sex was why they had come together — sex in the sense of the buzz. Thinking about Alex and Peg, I felt a bittersweet tug, wanting them to stay and knowing that in time they would have to leave. Or change. I liked their candor, which did not cost them anything. I saw them as bold in comparison to myself, though I think we reveal ourselves, too, in our methods of concealment.

    
“Dear Pervs,” Peg wrote, “I asked Alex if he’d ever sucked a guy’s cock, apart from his own. He said he couldn’t reach his cock, though he’d tried a number of positions. He wasn’t limber enough, and his torso was too long, or, as he put it, ‘You could also say my cock is too short.’ As for other guys’ cocks, he said that when he was doing dope, he got all liquidy and that almost anything was possible. He said junkies’ll go pretty far to stay high and they’d think an idea was swell that, if they were straight, they wouldn’t be able to wrap their brains around. So he guessed at some point he’d sucked a cock, sucked a crack pipe, sucked milk out of a tit. Made me feel better. I could see how living a long time had given him this acceptance, though God knows you can be old as dirt, like my old man, who is not a helluva lot older than Alex — maybe like eight years — and who would kill himself if he ever sucked a cock.

    
“I told him about Goldie, even though it’s not like I’m involved with her or anything. He said he had someone, too, a woman named Lila. She wasn’t a shit, but he was going to break up with her, because he didn’t feel anything, and it was making him feel bad to feel nothing. Feeling nothing sounded good to me. Alex picks me up after work, and we go back to his place. I fall asleep, and he leaves me alone. Like I’m his kid sister, or something, but I know it’s not that. Even if I really were his sister, there would still be this vibe there. I sit in his bathtub, because the tub in my place is cold and grotty. I don’t mind when he pees while I’m there. Afterward, he puts down the toilet seat and watches me, and we talk. I tell him about the times I tricked, and he explains why he started shooting heroin and how kicking was the hardest thing he’d ever done. He doesn’t want me to be impressed. We eat breakfast in the morning, and then I leave. He hasn’t touched me, not even a kiss. Exciting.

    
“Gotta run. Love, Peg.”

  

                                   

  




©2000
Laurie Stone and Nerve.com
 FICTION









On the bulletin board:



Ninewide:Jeez, I could watch Oprah if I wanted this shit.


Sizematters: Hey, man, everything we talk about could be on Oprah.


Headgirl: They’ll hate each other if they fuck. She’s better off with him as a friend.


Holehearted: Bring back Lila! She’s the kinda girl you could give a butt plug to for Christmas.


Sizematters: You’d give your mother a butt plug for Christmas.


Holehearted: I have a big heart.


Chickenfingers: Bring back Goldie. Let her beat the crap outta Alex, that pussy.

    
As if prompted, Peg’s next installment began: “Hey Maniacs, I haven’t seen Goldie in I don’t know when, like maybe two weeks. I told Alex I had a story in Bristle, and he went to the website to read it. Like Goldie’d ever do that. Like she can read! My story is about having sex in Central Park with an alien who looks like one of the chicks on Baywatch, with tawny skin and green eyes, and she has two little velvet-covered horns in her head. Alex touched the back of my neck, ruffling my hair, saying the story made him laugh and that my writing was musical. I felt good, and it scared me.

    
“We go out to the deli. Alex is at the counter, ordering bagels, and I’m at the front, getting apples and chips, when Goldie comes in. She’s wearing tight jeans, worn out at the butt, and I feel that jolt go through me. She comes up and stands close enough for me to smell Marlboros on her breath, and I say she looks good, because I’m one of those dolls where you pull its string and out comes a recorded message. But all of a sudden, I don’t want anything. It’s because Alex is there, though I don’t know exactly what this means. I’m not trading one mean fucker for another, because Alex isn’t mean. Yet. He sees me talking and he doesn’t come over, and I think that’s cool.

    
“Goldie is used to seeing me whipped, so she doesn’t know what to do with the new information. She catches me glancing at Alex. ‘You with that guy?’ I tell her we’re friends, and she laughs so hard she looks pretty. She takes a step back, and then she squeezes my left tit like she needs it to develop the muscles in her hand. I let out a little gasp, but I don’t want to give her too much. She says she’ll come by the bar tonight, and I shrug. She buys a pack of cigs and a cup of coffee and leaves. I don’t say anything to Alex, and he doesn’t ask me anything. I say I have to split, and he says okay, but he looks sad.

    
“Later, Peg.”

    
The next letter was from Alex. “Hello from downtown. I’m writing a new piece of music, and I’m forgetting the other parts of my life, except wanting to get off, and I don’t know whether it’s from the excitement of composing or the anxiety of maybe failing. Before, I’d shoot skag, but now it’s only sex. I feel like one of those chimps that got launched in early space shots. He must have known he was in the hands of people who did not, shall we say, have his best interests at heart. He’s catapulted up in a rocket and his brain fills with fear, and what can he do but jam his paw into his space pants and hang onto his pud for dear life, fiddling away and doing a little dance.

    
“I’m cheerful today, and I attribute this to Peg. Fellow drooling idiots, don’t worry, I have designs on her silky, unblemished flesh. I contrive scenes in which I take her in every imaginable way, scenes of delight for me. I like that she is a child. It’s possible she only likes girls. It’s possible she doesn’t like sex. But she comes to me every night. I gave her a key. Maybe what I like is that she asks for nothing. I don’t see need in her eyes, the thing that usually makes me want to smash someone. Maybe we are easy, because I don’t like women and she doesn’t like men.

    
“Gotta work, Alex.”

    
Then suddenly the letters stopped. Neither scratchandsniff nor everydayfiend posted messages of any sort. Some members of the chat room complained. They wanted a conclusion to the story. Others said good riddance. Each morning I would turn on my computer, but now, instead of a quickening pulse, I felt deflated, and I either opened my email with a sense of duty or just deleted it.

  

                                   

  




©2000
Laurie Stone and Nerve.com
 FICTION









I am masked by temperament, not as a strategy, but after a while, to others, it amounts to the same thing. I might be straining your patience now, relating my experiences, yet offering no clues about my life. But what I tell you is the most salient thing I have to share — my responsiveness — which can be conveyed independent of my sex, or what I like to do in bed, or how I make my living, or whom I spend time with. None of these things weighs in, especially with my reactions to Alex and Peg.

    
I wished for their return, not to see a resolution to their tale but just the opposite. I wanted them never to conclude it. They made me feel a little less numb, a little more alert. They were my companions, even though I only eavesdropped on their lives. Unlike the characters in a book to whom one might become attached but whose fates were typeset by the time you read the first page, Peg and Alex were in a constant state of becoming. Or so it seemed to me.

    
I had never written to either scratchandsniff or everydayfiend, but now seemed the time. “Dear scratchandsniff and everydayfiend,” I wrote, “I am saddened by your absence and wish you would return, for I have greatly enjoyed your revelations. You give flesh and personality to horniness. How many times have I masturbated in the arms of a blank? No name. No face, sometimes. Often, no words. The script is engraved on the brain, the code scribbled on the laughing part of the double helix. I am a droid. (Not really.) Have you grown tired of displaying yourselves? I see Peg at the bar, with her miniskirt and fishnet hose, leaning over to get a glass and flashing her rear, as if it were in a spotlight. The mini’s made of leather, and I smell it. Ah! Peg wears red lipstick, though she chews if off and has to reapply it often in a little round mirror — a gift from Goldie. I see Alex in his loft. He’s sitting at his keyboard, when his gaze drifts to the leather-covered bench across the room and beside it the set of barbells. He feels less like a ghoul when his body looks fit. He’s been lifting lately and sometimes walks around bare-chested in front of Peg. She asks him to show her his scars, and she runs her fingers over the insides of his arms. The first time she touches him.

    
“I could go on, but you know them better than I could ever hope to! Please return. Faithfully yours, privateparts.”

    
When there was no immediate response, I became melancholy, as I do at the exit of a beloved person. I sought consolation in the flesh. The need would sneak up or would dog me all day, until I could find a few minutes to be alone. What is it about the thoughts that are summoned, the pulsing of the body, the going out for those moments of bliss until the shudders subside and you return to the place you left, no better no worse, though feeling peculiarly detached from the desire that only minutes before seemed so urgent, and you wonder when the desire will return?

    
About a month after the letters stopped and just as my hope was nailed in its coffin, everydayfiend returned. There was no explanation for the break, and I took it for a game of suspense. “Readers, I took her. Peg, that is. Took her in every part,” the note began.

    
“Last night around three, I hear the key in the door. I’m not asleep. I know when the traps are being loaded and how to nab the cheese without getting my snout snapped off. It’s gotten so all I think about is the soft skin of her inner thighs and the tiny hairs that glisten there. I can taste her pussy, though I have never so much as sniffed it. Her youth, coupled with her brash attitude, make her seem innocent. She trusts me. I want her to split herself open for me. The tape just loops in my brain. I’ll risk anything to make the pictures there dance in real life. She’s trying to be quiet. She stifles a yawn, and the sight of her in silhouette, with her little shoulders slightly bent from fatigue, fills me with tenderness, and it’s confusing, because a part of me wants to fold her in my arms and protect her from harm, and another part wants to consume her, until there’s nothing left but her miniskirt and the stockings that make her look like a downtown cliché. She places her backpack and jacket on my workout bench and tiptoes to the bathroom, where I hear her run water into the tub. I’m on the bed. I ask myself why I can’t continue as her friend. Why I can’t allow her to come to me, if that is ever her choice.

    
I swing my body off the bed and knock lightly on the bathroom door, as I push it open. She’s in the tub, her knees drawn to her chest, with bubbles floating around. I smell gardenias. I’m wearing a shirt and boxer shorts. Ones she bought me, with little red hearts pieced by an arrow. Fresh towels hang on the hooks. She’s draped a large purple one over the edge of the tub. I see a dab of toothpaste in the sink and the wet bristles of her brush sticking out of its cup. There is a brick of glycerin soap in the dish beside it and another by the tub. We were walking past a shop with expensive stuff like this, and she looked at it longingly. She doesn’t turn around, just waves over her shoulder. I want to hold on to things before they change. I feel like wax.

  

                                   

  




©2000
Laurie Stone and Nerve.com
 FICTION









    
I have not thought what I would do if she wanted to be with me, wanted me there for her, and I push down the idea, because the possibility that she will refuse me drains my cock. On the other hand, my cock will say anything to get what it wants. I think of Peg when she is away, as I write the score for the play, see her plump lower lip when composing themes. What is sex without an open question?

    
“‘Were you awake?’ she asks, languidly. She trusts me. To do what? Not to do what?

    
“I kneel on the mat beside the tub, feeling shy, as if she is the one with designs and I’m not sure how to respond. ‘You look sad,’ she says, pulling damp fingers through my hair. She runs an index finger along the lines in my forehead, as if to erase them. I take her hand and kiss it. I think my chest will explode when she lifts her chin and laughs, and I see her nipples peak out from the bubbles. The feeling surprises me. It’s fear.

    
“‘You want me.’ she says, matter-of-factly.

    
“‘I do.’

    
“‘I don’t like men,’ she says, but not with distaste, rather to remind herself.

    
“‘You don’t have to think of me as a man.’

    
“She laughs again. ‘What do you want to do?’ she asks, as if willing to eat some ice cream, though not every flavor.

    
“‘I want to wash you everywhere, dry you and carry you to the bed. I want to explore every inch of your skin, and hurt you a little if you like. You have to tell me what you want. I want you to feel the same way about my body. I will not do anything unless you ask for it.’

    
“‘I like the way you smell,’ she says, enjoying the power of not wanting. I feel she has the upper hand, my little top, and to test her, I pick up a washcloth and soap it for a long time. I make her wait, so her mind can catch up with her breathing. I begin washing her slowly, and she says nothing as I work my way down her back and part her legs and slip my fingers into her slick parts. She says nothing, but she meets my eyes and says, ‘Take off your clothes.’ I do, easing myself beside her, and when we kiss, I plunge my tongue deeply into her mouth, though I can’t tell whether she wants me to or has no choice.

    
“Later, Alex.”

    
I did not believe a word of this and therefore wasn’t surprised when, the next day, Alex admitted he’d imagined the seduction and that Peg actually “got out of the tub and went to sleep.”

    
The next letter was from Peg. “Dear Freaks, I don’t see Goldie for weeks, and I think, good, she’s gone. My life feels regular, which is weird. I write, go to my job, sleep at Alex’s. I’m not having bad dreams. Alex is working on a new score. He’s eating and working out. We’re good for each other, I guess. How much longer? No guy has ever left me alone. They want something they think is there. I’m like a magic trick they are sure they can figure out, and when they can’t they feel cheated.

    
“Maybe that’s how I see Alex, like a promise I’m afraid is a lie. Or maybe that’s how everyone sees everyone else, until they understand that the promise is what they want and the lie is what has been there all along. I’m in this space, after shit happens and before more shit happens, and I’m trying to remember it for the time when I don’t have it anymore.

    
“Then boom, Goldie’s back. She walks into the club like she was there the day before. In one minute, I bite. She is the promise and lie wrapped in one. She looks me up and down, taking her time. Other people know how many plants grow in Brooklyn, or what the population of China will be in 2005, or how much money it would take to cure AIDS. Me, I know how to feel all the parts of a second.

  

                                   

  




©2000
Laurie Stone and Nerve.com
 FICTION









    
“‘So is that guy fucking you?’ Goldie says, leaning toward me, as if she doesn’t want people to hear, although she is speaking loud enough for everyone in the bar to be clued in.

    
“I say, ‘Goldie, how come you can’t talk about anything but sex?’

    
“Her eyes uncloud, and she shoots me a goofy grin. She seems like a girlpal now, and I think she isn’t as mean as she is simple. She scoops up a handful of bar mix and cascades the pretzels, rice crackers and peanuts into her mouth. She doesn’t chew. She’s a fucking machine you fill with fuel. ‘I’ve been thinking,’ she says. I grip the edge of the bar in mock suspense. ‘Maybe we should do a threesome with what’s-his-name.’

    
“‘Alex.’

    
“‘I could show him how much you like me to eat your pussy, and how I make you so wet before I even touch you that you drip on my hand when I put my fingers inside you, and how I rub my spit and your cunt juice around your little asshole and make you wait for me to go inside and how I never know whether you are going to laugh or burst into tears after you come.’

    
“This is the longest string of words I have ever heard Goldie unspool. I say, ‘So what’s he supposed to do?’ I’m getting hot listening to her, and I’m sort of imagining the scene as she talks, seeing Alex watching, and I wonder how one minute I can be thinking about him as a friend and see myself curled up on his couch, and the next minute I can slink him over the edge of the pot Goldie is stirring up.

    
“She takes a drink from her beer and wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. ‘He holds his dick and entertains himself. He asks me to whip him and fuck him in the ass with my strap-on. After that, I say he can fuck you, while I watch and you suck me off.’ Her mouth curls in contentment, and if I didn’t know she was incapable of irony, this would be it.

    
“Since she mentioned this, I can’t get the pictures out of my head. Knowing Alex, he’d probably go for it. If he did, I would feel let down.

    
“Confused, Peg.”

    
The message boards revived like dogs after a nap:

Holehearted: I want the threesome!


Chickenfingers: I want to see Goldie do Alex with the strap-on.


Headgirl: He’d probably like it.


Sizematters: They’re much hornier now than they used to be.


Ninewide: They haven’t been fucking anybody for weeks.


Headgirl: How long can they go without it? Anybody want to get up a pool?


I would have said, “They can go on without it forever.”

  

                                   

  




©2000
Laurie Stone and Nerve.com
 FICTION









I have a small confession: I recently suffered the loss of love. In the first part of our romance, we used each other like spoons, to dig ourselves out of our lives. There was no second part. My lover left, uninterested, perhaps, in seeing what would happen next. There is nothing like part one. It makes you feel most alive, though it may be the least real part of life. When you are left, what you need is a suspension bridge, solid enough to absorb the shocks of wind and tremors. A bridge to a time when life will again barge in, demanding names, dates and serial numbers, demanding you strip off disguises, spread yourself open for inspection, turn your attention outward, to the other’s fragility, until you well with so much tenderness it seems an oasis in a desert. Until then, there are imagined smells and drumbeats sounding across a wilderness.

    
What can happen between Alex and Peg? Can he bear their relationship if it doesn’t move to sex? Will he still want her after they have sex in every imaginable way? In time he will leave her or she will leave him. Or maybe not. Perhaps one day years off we will see them at a party, a fabulous event with tables of food. He will go to the desserts and pile up a plate of meringues, tarts, cookies and chocolates. He will move slowly, and young people will watch him return to her with the spoils. He will place the plate before her. He will select a miniature blueberry tart and lift it to her lips. She will tilt her head back and open her mouth, as if on command and as if it still excites her.

    
Perhaps in time they will disappear from this website. Perhaps in time I will be more occupied with my life than theirs.

    
But not yet.

  

                                   




©2000
Laurie Stone and Nerve.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Laurie Stone is author of the novel Starting With Serge, the memoir collection Close to the Bone and Laughing in the Dark, a collection of her writing on comic performance. A longtime writer for The Village Voice and The Nation, she has been critic-at-large on Fresh Air, has received grants from The New York Foundation for the Arts and MacDowell Colony, and in 1996 won the Nona Balakian Prize in Excellence in Criticism from the National Book Critics Circle.
  For more Laurie Stone, read:

Perverts.com
Two on One: Survivor
Tail
Two on One: Dirty Pictures
Two on One: “Picturing the Modern Amazon”
Struck
Souvenir
Eat and Be Eaten