Thursday, May 24, 2007

Charlie and Bess

Note: This one is a little more harsh than what I normally write. It's not what it looks like if you read it right. Go with an open mind.

She knows everyone at the party and he knows no one. She works the room, introducing her husband, always with an uncouth poke in his chest, “This is Charlie,” she says to everyone, “that husband I’ve been telling you about.” He smiles and shakes their hands, when they offer, these strangers that hardly look at him. They tell her how beautiful she looks tonight, that dress, always the perfect dress! They take her arm and swing her to see it flip in the air. He lets go of her hand to let her do it, looking down at his drink and faking a smile for anyone who might be looking. He wants to tell them that he bought the dress, in another effort to get her attention, he sat outside of the changing room and waited for her, staring at a fleur-de-lis pattern in the carpet, avoiding the lingerie section just to his left. She didn’t come out to show it to him as she used to do, to stare up at him with those doe-eyes, “Do you like it, my love?” She simply popped out with the saleswoman and walked right past him to the cash register.

She flirts with all the men, always has, probably the only way she’s ever gotten to know them. She touches the ear of one and his eyes shut involuntarily. He’s relieved to see the man annoyed until the man’s jaw drops for a moment, a partial orgasm right here in front of him! She whispers in the ear of another, something about him, Charlie, and the man smiles more than he should before he catches it. Charlie runs his hand down his wife’s back, sure that no one is looking, and fires a warning shot, his thumb in the valley of her ass. He feels her smile. He gets himself a drink, another bourbon on the rocks with a splash of soda. She says he drinks too much at parties. He doesn’t know why else he should be there.

“This is my first husband,” she says to a howling group of white-hairs, all republican haircuts and beer bellies. He’s managed to keep himself in shape over the years, his stomach flat and his ass round. He probably looks at himself in the mirror too much, but who cares? The young girls in his proximity, at the grocery store or at church or crossing his front lawn, they take a look at his wedding band and get that drape in the side of their eyes. He notices, and he wonders if he’d ever have the guts to go through with it. He feels desired for a moment, only to feel like half a man the next. It’s what she’s done to him over the years, made him love her, a wooden stick sharpened and whittled by her knife. What would make him do it? What would be enough?

“Bess,” he says to her, at an angle over her ear that tells her he’s angry, “let’s go get some dinner.”

“You said you weren’t hungry,” she says, all bile across smiling teeth.

“I know what I said,” Charlie responds, and slides his hand around the small of her back, this territory still his own, full of wild, thorny blackberry brambles, but his anyway, his name on the gate. She sighs and rolls her eyes before she makes another, final round in the crowd. He goes outside for a cigarette before he has to take the jokes, the sighing hands-in-the-air exasperation about this half-man that she married, who still imagines that he has some sort of clout with her and what she does.

The drive home will be long and silent. He taps his thumbs in a drumroll on the steering wheel and looks at her legs in the side of his eye. He sees a turnoff in a few miles, a scenic overlook, closed at sunset nominally, but everyone knows is unpatrolled by anyone but tourists consulting their maps and teenagers steaming their windows. It looks from one mountain to another, a black void with bacterial towns in growth on one pass or another. They flash and wobble in the heat, their little lights orange and graded from center to fuzzy circumference. He thinks of the scenic overlook as a grain of joy, some sort of reminder that there are couples out there still in earthquake mode, still trying to get their jagged sides to fit instead of rubbing them raw.

“You said you wanted to eat,” Bess says, predictably.

“I know what I said,” Charlie says, just as predictably.

He makes a cursory glance for Important Things around the lot and picks a spot without the best view, but far enough away that there won’t be a fight for privacy. He can still make out her legs, a little blue-white in the phosphor of the far-away floodlight. She pulls her dress tight around them and he takes her hand away. He’d do anything to make her look at him, anything for the doe-eyes again.

“Come with me into the back,” he says, he thinks politely enough, though he’s aware that any suggestion on his part will be met with deep skepticism. She laughs. “Bess,” he says, “come with me into the back.” He takes her hand tight to his crotch, a bulge due entirely to her loose and hot in his pants. She does not fight this, but doesn’t grip either. She breathes to the side of him, facing forward, staring at the evergreens which block her view of the landscape.

“Don’t be silly, honey,” she says finally. “You want to fuck me in this car? Why?”

“Please, Bess, for me.” Charlie leans into her neck, the form of yellow white steel foundation and the curve of her earlobe. “I want to.”

Bess pulls her hand away and crosses her arms. “What are they going to think?” she says to the evergreens. “We’re there and we just leave for no reason and now I’m here, me and you, pretending we’re seventeen years old!”

“Come on. Please.”

“No!” she says. He decides that she’s managed to have a couple more drinks than he noticed, quick to start a fight and sour when she doesn’t get it. He regrets, then, parking where he has nothing to look at, nothing to change the subject with, just a few unremarkable evergreens and a bitter wife.

He turns to look at her instead, her profile, the bottom lip out like it wants to be kissed, but it doesn’t. He tries anyway.

“Charlie!” she says, pushing him away.

“What? You’re my wife!”

He kisses her neck, the little baby hairs up the back of it that have grown since her last haircut. He loves her still.


Impatience finds its way into him, a spike of rage with it. He sweeps his hand up the inside of her dress and pulls at the pantyhose. Fucking annoying things too. He reaches around her and pulls her pelvis to him. She tries to fight, but has no luck. “You don’t want the back seat?” he hears himself say. “Fine.” She reaches for the door handle but he’s locked it. “Fine. We’ll do it here.”

“Charlie, no!” she says, but she not fighting enough for him to believe it. All part of her sickening martyrdom, he says to himself, all part of her whittle. Well if he’s going to pay the fucking piper, might as well enjoy the tune. He rolls the pantyhose down her thighs. They grip her knees tight, tying up this part of her body anyway. She puts one arm back to push him away, but he takes it. She foolishly reaches back with the other and he simply adds it to his grip, both of her little wrists between thumb and palm. He reaches into the back seat, groceries that he’d bought that day, hoping she’d agree to ditch the party for a nice meal. When he got home she was already dressed. He removes a bottle of olive oil, extra virgin, still green and expensive. He nudges her dress up with his face over her hips and pours oil over her asshole. She’s having trouble balancing, one knee in the storage area below the radio, the other on the lid of the console, its lock no doubt jabbing into her. He puts the bottle down, takes his pants down and picks it up again. He drips some oil onto his cock, this gift to her, signed in a contract and on file down in city hall, that she rarely opens.

He twists his fingers in the excess oil around her asshole, coating them shiny in the blue-white light. She’s hoping he’s only going to fuck her pussy. She doesn’t know a fucking thing. He sweetens her little pucker with them, glazing the entrance, the thing pink even in this light, and darker too. She cracks out a “no,” but not a believable one. She doesn’t expect him to do this. She thought she carried his balls around with her in her purse. He looks at his nails and pushes his forefinger, slippery and bent, into her ass. She jerks. She says, “I hate you Charlie.”

“But I love you,” he says, and he means it.

He puts another finger in and twists it. She whines. A convincing one, but he’s seen her crocodile moans before, knows the real ones. He holds her a little open and pushes his cock down to her asshole. It’s burning. He can feel it. She squirms, her hands free now, but doesn’t make for the door or her dress. She just feints. He pushes in. She yelps. Her moans get more guttural as she loosens up to take it. She grips the glove box and the armrest on the door. She shakes. He pumps.

“I hate you, Charlie,” she says. “I hate you so fucking much.” She’s pumping back. Her right hand disappears below and he can feel the twitch in her muscles when she makes contact with her clit. He pushes her head into the door and fucks harder. “I hate you, you fucked up little piece of shit,” she says. “What the fuck do you want from me?” She grunts. “What the fuck is this? You think I’m a fucking boy or something, you little fucking pervert?” She puts her hand between her forehead and the door so it doesn’t hurt so much. Her body vibrates, involuntary half-calls to God escaping beneath him. Finally, her shoulders give and her back arches violently, her ass gripping him so hard she pushes him out. He goes back to her, but finds her slipping away, climbing the door and one knee falling into the footwell. He comes anyway, a buckshot of white dot on her right thigh, dripping, useless, his face vexed and delirious. He falls on her back, his face in her thigh, thinking of how he’s going to have to roll the come off later when it dries.

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