Love & Sex

Shot in the Dark

Pin it
 PERSONAL ESSAYS
  Send to a Friend
  Printer Friendly Format
  Leave Feedback
  Read Feedback
  Nerve RSS

I always found out B. was back in town when, early in the morning, he'd slide open my bedroom window. I'd met him when I was fifteen and would spy on him and his friends down at the White Hen, as they perched on benches, swallowing acid and waving down cars for rides. He was a born sexual deviant, so when I walked by — slowly, on purpose — it didn't take him long to talk to me. Back then, when he wasn't out on manual-labor jobs and he hadn't yet gone to boot camp to avoid jail time, B. was skinny, waiting with a gracious patience for something to happen. Anything. I'd sip beer, pretending to be drunk while listening to them bicker. Then B. would walk me home and slip me some punk-rock mix tapes, along with his tongue.

Then I wouldn't see him for awhile. B. was always leaving town (for girls, out-of-state jobs, secret reasons), traveling, then getting stuck till he'd scrounge enough money to get back. One day our friend Josh handed me a torn-off piece of lined paper that read:

D., I was wondering if you wood lyke to be my pencil-pal and hang out through the postal service.

promotion

I'm in trouble and I'm going to be away for a while. If you don't like the fact that I'm a jail-bird or if you have a boyfriend who wouldn't like it it's okay and I'm still your friend —> but I will cry and be rilly sad if you cannot write. — bored B.

After that it was always the same: letters from all over the country, hidden under my mattress. Or his return: hands infiltrating my bed, taking my underwear hostage. I always resisted him just slightly, and he ignored my reluctance just enough to give us both something. Then we'd get up, talk about books, art projects, people we wanted to fuck and people we did. We'd smoke leisurely, make plans for later. I never asked why he always cut our time short. I assumed he had other windows to sneak into.

He was exciting for someone like me, alone, in high school, stuck on a dirty street in a small town, nestled alongside a chain of lakes, like mucky freckles across the top of Illinois. You know, close to Great America. We had water sports and four-lane-highway, midnight teen-drag-racing. If you got busted, you could read the town's motto — "For the Fun of It" — written in cursive on the side of the cop car, next to a picture of a sailboat.

He admitted that he wouldn't mind being a male model, with his half-naked picture in magazines.

All I had was an old, manual camera. No car. Some steadily drying-up paints. A disconnected telephone, an old house full of dog hair, pork roasts and ketchup, and a stereo system. I practiced with my camera, imitating photos I'd seen in books. Setting up still-lifes on the carpet. Naked self-portraits and heaps of metal in the backyard. Still, I was shy. I never used it at parties, or held it out, facing me as I hugged a friend. The first person I took pictures of was my reluctant mom. The second person in line was B.

B. had just returned from a month-long job his uncle gave him, something to do with quarries up in the U.P.-Michigan wasteland. He was dried out, toned up, and had been completely deprived of women. He rapped on my window and came in slow and silent, gripping the sides of my neck. I slid my knee between his legs, and he pressed his hard cock against me. I told him my fantasy: that magazines would pay me to travel the world and take pictures of half-naked women. B. said my dream was perfect. I was eighteen then and believed him; I'm twenty-four now, and it hasn't happened yet. I'm pretty sure it never will.

But when we went for a walk downtown and passed an alley, B. nudged me into it so I could take his picture. He admitted that he wouldn't mind being a male model, with his half-naked picture in magazines. "Don't tell anyone," he made me promise. We slid back out of that narrow strip, looking both ways, real casual in case we'd been spotted. As we crossed a set of train tracks in the center of town, we spotted a freshly dead fish at rest on a railroad tie. Untouched. No hook attached. No lake for miles in any direction. We laughed over how the hell it got there, but B. was distracted.

           

RELATED ARTICLES
The Celibate Glam Rocker's Lament by Izzy Cihak
Why I won't sleep with you.
Shazam! by Sarah Clyne Sundberg
Me and the fetish wrestlers next door.
A Life in Lips by Elizabeth Manus
Twelve men, twelve kisses.
By Any Other Name by Hugh Ryan
How my GLBT students taught me to love a forbidden word.
Family Vacation by Joseph Lazauskas
Who's the last person you'd want to take to a sex resort?
March Madness by Jen Matlack
I went to Spring Break a virgin.
 PERSONAL ESSAYS

              

promotion

"I think I'm in love. She's kinda mean, but real sexy." B. could fall in love once every three hours, but the look on his face made me believe him. "She likes drugs, and art and porn. I told her you take pictures." They wanted to enter an amateur photo contest; first prize was five-hundred dollars. "I want you to take our picture," B. said.

B. said he'd call my pay phone at seven. My home phone had been disconnected for months. My mom was sick and my stepdad was trying to screw her by bailing on the bills, but it'd turned out we didn't miss the phone much. For the eight months it was gone, I used the White Hen's payphone; when it rang, it was always for me. I'd stare down the occasional lost driver or drunk dialing for a cab, letting them know expedience was required. It worked great until one day it was just gone. Ripped right out of the wall, wires exposed, and brick that was a shade darker in the shape of the missing phone. At this point, however, it still had another three months to go, so I waited until B. called.



B. drove a beat-up maroon Dart that summer. To counteract the oven effects of its tin-can roof, he borrowed an electric miter saw and sardined the top right off, making it roof-less forever. Losing the extra support made the frame quiver and grind, so I heard B. and his girl before I saw them, a distinct sound of humping steel. I had a work lamp and a tripod with me. I had rolls of film and rope. I had wet panties under my short skirt. They pulled up with tight-fitting t-shirts, whiskey, and forty dollars to burn on a room.

They pulled up with tight-fitting t-shirts, whiskey, and forty dollars to burn on a room.

They had John, too, though he didn't know about our plans for later. B. and John sat up front and I nestled in the back, next to Jamie. She was thin, endowed, loud with a raspy voice, and half-drunk. She gave me a warm hug.

You can't just jump into a porno shoot. So we drove down by the train station, climbing the hill above the platform, over to the grassy spot where cement blocks spelled out "LION'S CLUB." We each took a letter, the under-curve of the U cupping my ass. People filed out of trains, conductors shouted, commuters raced awkwardly in suits. We yelled at them — kid stuff, and dirty — using the descending echo unique to our hideout, and watched as they glared at each other. It was perfect.

Jamie talked dramatic bullshit. John was his usual self: high-energy, with violent mood swings and Nazi-youth ideals. He was also the first one to try and fuck the only black chick at any given party. He competed with Jamie, their stories growing louder as we drank. B. somehow fused the battling ego streams, allowing them seem relevant, even appealing. I was mostly silent. I hadn't yet learned that it doesn't matter what you say, as long as you say something.

B. grabbed a tree branch casually as he listened. He'd told me how, as a kid, he'd slipped and fallen down this hill, turning unintentional cartwheels over the thorny bushes, the rocks and letters where we now perched. When he hit bottom, his shorts, underwear, and scrotum had all been ripped open by a twig, and his right testicle had spilled out onto the sidewalk, next to a couple of commuters. This time, his boot-heel dug strong into the dirt.

We stayed until we were out of drinks. Back in the car, Jamie asked if I wanted to kiss her. I answered by leading in with my mouth slightly open. We made sure our shirts were pulled down, revealing our cleavage. I rested my hand on the back of her thigh. She giggled and her spit tasted like bourbon. We made out like a lot of girls do: until the boys yelped with jealousy.

              
RELATED ARTICLES
The Celibate Glam Rocker's Lament by Izzy Cihak
Why I won't sleep with you.
Shazam! by Sarah Clyne Sundberg
Me and the fetish wrestlers next door.
A Life in Lips by Elizabeth Manus
Twelve men, twelve kisses.
By Any Other Name by Hugh Ryan
How my GLBT students taught me to love a forbidden word.
Family Vacation by Joseph Lazauskas
Who's the last person you'd want to take to a sex resort?
March Madness by Jen Matlack
I went to Spring Break a virgin.
 PERSONAL ESSAYS

           

 

promotion

We left John at his place and drove to a motel far past town, fifteen rooms huddled on a highway lot, B. and Jamie compiling $39.95 in singles and fives, me with the only credit card. They hid out while I signed the guest book, assuring the tired clerk it would be just one for the night. He never saw B. and Jamie safely smuggled past the office and up the stairs, lights and film littering the floor, Viagra consumed, bedspread stripped.

We settled in, joking and insulting each other. Our room was avocado-green and ugly-orange, the linoleum marbled with particles from forgotten travellers. Jamie took off her shirt, commenting sarcastically about the white, plastic lawn chair sitting where an armchair should've been. I could see B.'s cock was hard. I was dripping in anticipation, like just before you have sex with someone new.

B. lowered Jamie onto the cigarette-burned sheets, and pulled out new polyester rope. He didn't look at me or my lens. He flipped her face-down, leaned back and smirked at the pussy below him. Then he grabbed Jamie's ankles, tied her up with skill and flair. I remembered letters from B. — ones Jamie didn't know about — full of fantasies, promises, sometimes threats. I'd be tied down and helpless; that way, there wouldn't be any guilt when my boyfriend found out. I pictured B.'s handwriting, and saw his scenarios played out on Jamie, secrets from generations of sailors cinched around her wrists and thighs. My eyes traced the angles of B.'s hands and arms, the sunken divots in his veins from heroin. I tapped and pulled at my camera as fast as I could.

When I adjusted the light they played it up. When I came in close, they played it down.

B. lowered Jamie onto the cigarette-burned sheets, and pulled out new polyester rope.

The scene spun out at slow speeds, over arched backs. Poses in hosiery. They were pretty, entrancing each other, and I was in old shoes and a dumb haircut, wanting to set my camera down and join in. From beyond the bed, I snapped as Jamie lifted her head, closed eyes, oven mouth. She came, or said she did. But it was fake, like B.'s unruffled composure, like me claiming to be a photographer.

I hesitated, saw the inevitable tragedy of it: B. gripping my hair and hips, pushing his dick into me after years of waiting and mailbox persuasion. We'd be lost in it for only a second — then caught, exposed. Then long, desolate time with no notes, no early-morning sneak-ins. I stayed to the side.

In the end, B. tired of the bed and pulled his girl over to the forsaken lawn chair. Jamie spread her legs, so that when I knelt on the filmy tile I could capture a good angle of her pussy.

"Piss all over that stupid thing," B. demanded. "I think it'll look kinda cool."

"I'll try." Jamie gave her dry laugh, and maintained a pose as water fell off the sides of the chair in every direction. B. smirked, and so did I. When she noticed us, she pushed out harder. A stream of urine braved two feet in front of her, and I used my last frame of film. We were done, and after a minute I told them so.

Then they lay down, soft and alone, turned from each other. I left the key on the floor, and walked home, slow in the dark heat. I saw B.'s hands and scars in the shadows after cars passed. I can see them even now.

I didn't expect to see him the next day, but then days trudged into weeks. I waited for B. to climb through my window. Where was he? I stashed the photos under my mattress, next to his letters. They were never claimed.


Word about B. traveled fast. He'd been grasping a phone receiver when he overdosed. He'd fallen deep from me, from all the other women who knew they were his number one.

Suddenly the world was barren, wide open, and long. Losing him was like whole characters in the alphabet being erased. You can't make all the words you need. But now when I think about the person my mom can blame for sculpting my sexual identity, I think of my dead-end street. I think of my white house and my tiny window, and the streets of our town at night. I think of lying drunk on hills in short skirts. I think of riding on trains and driving in cars. I think of touching secrets in the dark, reading letters like you see in Civil War photos. I remember it all, and I can't keep my grudge.  

           
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Diane Reynolds grew up in the Midwest taking pictures with a found camera, among backyards and gas stations. For years, she pursued a career in pornography as well as fine art photography; more recently, she's been writing short stories. She now resides in Milwaukee with a room of her own.
RELATED ARTICLES
The Celibate Glam Rocker's Lament by Izzy Cihak
Why I won't sleep with you.
Shazam! by Sarah Clyne Sundberg
Me and the fetish wrestlers next door.
A Life in Lips by Elizabeth Manus
Twelve men, twelve kisses.
By Any Other Name by Hugh Ryan
How my GLBT students taught me to love a forbidden word.
Family Vacation by Joseph Lazauskas
Who's the last person you'd want to take to a sex resort?
March Madness by Jen Matlack
I went to Spring Break a virgin.
©2009 Diane Reynolds and Nerve.com