To recap: Mark (24 years old) meets an “older woman” named Bridget (mid thirties) by stopping to help her change a flat tire on the streets of Burbank, California. Since Bridget’s dog is sick in the back of the car, Mark drives the woman and her pet to the animal hospital and subsequently gets fired from his job for not coming in. To remunerate Mark’s sacrifice, Bridget takes him out to breakfast, insists he accept payment for his services and then invites him to a private party as her date. In Segment 3, Mark discovers the “party” to be much different than what he expected. As we begin part 4, Bridge is about to introduce Mark to her secret world.
HOW TO ENJOY PUBLIC SEX – even when you’re not. [Part 4 of 12]
Their paneled passage fills with rouge hues fanning from the huge salon they are about to enter. Nurse Bridget claps Mark’s nervous sticky hand and assuredly leads him into a flare of dazzle and boom of bass notes. But it’s hard to see, coming from bright light into subdued shapes and shadows, and Mark surveys the ground like a terrified point man of a jungle platoon. This feels like a night raid and his eyes dart back and forth scoping out camouflaged and unseen danger. Who is the enemy? Where is he lurking? Or she? Not to his left. That’s the bar with a few silhouetted bodies standing in front, and what looks like a suit and tie server behind it. Not to his right, where a long table is set up with what looks like appetizers of some sort. More people are milling there in the darkened red glow. Makes sense. Frank Sinatra, liquor, food, a gathering of guests, seems normal enough. But wait. Huh? What’s that back at the table? It’s so underlit it’s hard to see. But isn’t that… Isn’t that…a naked guy?
Whoa! It IS a naked guy! Well, he’s got socks. But the rest of him is white butt bare, and his schlong is hanging over the chips and dips. The woman next to him? Jeez! She naked too! Not even socks! And like, even in the dark, you can tell she’s old! Like, your Aunt Gertrude type old, with limpy breasts and a flabby, wrinkled behind. Even from here he can see that! And so can everybody else! Isn’t she embarrassed?
The room, it’s feeling brighter now, as his eyes dilate in the dim light. It was better before, when he couldn’t see. ‘Cause now the enemy’s creeping out of the bushes and they’re all… Well, most…are stripped to the skin! Oh God! There’s even belly to belly slow dancing behind him, with girl-girl porn projected onto the wall. Actually, that’s not so bad.
A smoldering joint travels and parks before Mark’s nose. “Wanna hit?” comes from a giddy female voice beside him. She moves into his view. She’s amazing, about thirty, with glittered eyes, ruby lips, and chocolate skin exposed to all. And this is all in close-up. Nope. No droopy breasts here. This girl’s a hard brown body. Maybe a ballerina. A naked ballerina.
“Hey kid!” she says. “You want it or not?” She just lost the allure.
“Pass it here,” responds Bridge.
Thank God! She’s still here, still guarding him, just to his left, but looking bored with a yawn. Bridget takes the weed and draws a drag. “Thanks,” she says, passing it back to the rude ballerina. Seconds later she exhales the sweet smoke and leans into Mark.
“You’re so pure. You really are Adam. And this room, my moral protégé, is your apple.” She gestures to the spectacle before them. “Behold, the Lord’s creation.”
And Mark beholds. He beholds the mattresses on the floor along the walls. He beholds a grand staircase winding up to a second floor with two couples going there arm in arm. He beholds the spinning glass ball reflecting white twinkles onto nude, pumping, humping bodies standing, sitting, and lying in the shadows. He beholds three woman entwined in a sexual pretzel. He beholds a group watching them, with two dudes whacking off into towels. He beholds, in his memory, every porn flick Roque watched over bowls of Froot Loops. And now, turning to Bridget, he beholds that…she’s gone! Disappeared! Vaporized! And he’s standing in the middle of the room, fully clothed, surrounded by sex, drugs, and Frank Sinatra!
A dream he once had flashes into his mind, where he was unclothed on the streets of New York and everyone else was dressed. This is the negative image of that. He’s dressed, with everyone else naked! And it’s just as embarrassing!
Where’s the kitchen? There’s gotta be people with pants on in there. Like eating food and stuff, not each other.
Frank S. changes songs. “Strangers in the night. We were two lonely people, we were strangers in the night.”
The kitchen, Mark concludes, it’s gotta be close to the appetizer spread. So he dashes across the room, jumping bodies, looking for a door someplace. Yeah, there it is, with regular light coming from it. He scurried fifteen feet more into that sanctuary, only to find…two more naked people, like fifty five or something, kissing like crazy against the refrigerator. It’s one of those super big, double stainless steel restaurant type refrigerators. Yep. This food room, it could handle a submarine crew. Everything’s giant in this house. And expensive. The dudes who live here, they gotta be rich! Rich and weird, with secret sex, and humongous Black bouncers outside. Bazaar!
Well, he can’t stay in here. Those old people, now they’re touching private parts. Like right out in the open! Next to the lettuce! Do their kids know about this? Humm… Maybe their kids are here too, making out on one of those mattresses in the big room, in front of everybody. How can people do it in front of everybody? Where’s the turn on?
Uh oh! The old people next to the salad bowls, they’re getting’ into it. Gotta split. But were to hide? Oh! Oh… Got it. Get back to the bar, where there’s still shirt and ties.
Marks scurried up to the bartender and skids to a stop. “Orange and ice,” he orders, trying to sound nonchalant and very grown up, like James Bond.
“Sorry,” the man responds. “This is a wine bar. We’ve got Perrier.”
“Sure. With ice.”
Mark HATES Perrier! It’s salty. And gassy. But he’s gotta have something to hold, besides little Willy! And something to do, as he looks for a place to disappear. Where the heck would that be, except outside?
Of course! Outside! He could call a cab. Except… Shoot! He left his cell phone home. Darn! Darn! Darn! Where’s a phone? Where’s sanity? Where’s Bridget?! He scans the dark. No Bridget, no hiding place. This room, like most rooms, is square with only four shadowed corners. And they’re all occupied.
Wait! A couple is getting up off a pile of pillows. They’re kinda young, and the dancing twinkles from the turning glass ball show sweaty backs and breasts. They must have been doin’ it, on those pillows, making them sweaty too. Maybe stinky, and gooey. Mark hates sweat. And goo. On himself. On everyone else. Perspiration, it’s like sticky oil. It feels dirty, like this party. Oh sure, it’s every dude’s dream-come-true. But everybody can see everybody else. Why isn’t anybody bothered by that? Isn’t sex supposed to be private? ‘Cause, let’s face it, people. Unless it’s your orgasm, it looks really dumb. But maybe that’s the turn on. Getting’ raw. Gettin’ real. Feeling real. And dirty.
Dirty or not, Mark needs an exit plan. He scampers to that now vacant corner and dives under four giant pillows. Covered now, no one can see he’s hiding in clothes. It’s like waiting in a foxhole for enemy fire. Naked Death, he’s out there, ready to clutch your heart at any moment.
Oh boy! Oh no! Death…he’s a comin’! But it’s a SHE Mark’s age, looking like a skinny fem-spook in makeup. She’s wearing black lacy panties and bra, has blue spiked hair, tattoos covering her left arm from wrist to neck, and piercing every eight inches. At inception, Mark thinks, this ink and metal had to hurt. And now, with job done, she’s a head-turner, bending down over his shoulder in search of something. She lifts cushion after cushion, ignoring the shirt and pants covering Mark’s bod. “Have you seen a red bag around here?” she asks, in just about the sweetest, heavenly voice Mark has ever heard.
“No,” he answers. She repeats her lifts, pillow by pillow, the same ones. She’s now concerned. That’s obvious. Her eyes shift back to Mark.
“It’s about this size.” She defines a foot square in space. “With a shoulder strap.”
He moves a foot to his right and feels something hard against his bottom. He reaches down, grabs soft leather and lifts it to her view. It’s a foot square tote bag. She sighs in relief.
“Oh wow, I thought I lost it,” she says, her glow returning. “All my stuff’s in there.” The girl thrusts her lanky arm into the bag, moves girl gear around and lifts out pink framed vintage spectacles, the kind that look like Easter eggs floating on a face. They drop over her straight, ringed nose, under perfectly shaped, purple brows. Glasses in place, she’s a stunning glamour clown. “Without my contacts, I’m blind without these,” she explains, curling up black lined lips. Mark is curling nothing. There’s nothing to smile about.
“What’s the matter?” she asks. “You look sad.”
“Uh…not sad. Just, uh… Didn’t expect all this.”
“What? The fucking?”
“Didn’t know what this was?”
He shakes his head.
“And it’s not for you?”
“Don’t think so.”
“Where’s you’re partner?”
“She took off some place.”
“And you don’t want to leave without her.”
Goth Gal looks over her shoulder into the room. It’s pretty much a total group grope now. She turns back go Mark. “I don’t know where my date is either. You need a ride home?”
“You’d do that?”
Cars, like dogs, pretty much tell you about a person’s inner self. Goth Gal is no exception. Her skin is covered with pictures and so is her car. It’s a vintage Volkswagon painted with 60’s peace signs and polka dots. Inside, it’s “stock” and surprising new looking; clean, decisive…resolute.
Driving north through Hollywood, it’s quiet in the car. Mark’s no conversationalist. Goth Gal isn’t either, until now, as she waits for the light to turn green on Highland. “What’s your name?” she asks.
Mark answers, staring ahead. “Adam.”
She turns to him. “It’s Mark.”
He meets her gaze. “How’d ya know?”
“Bridge always names her dates, Adam. And she told me about you.”
“Oh…” ‘Boy’ finishing in his mind, as he looks back through the windshield. He thought he was special. Guess not. He was just another “Adam” dude she picked up on the road. Probably has a whole routine worked out with phony flat tires and dogs that act sick.
The light goes green. Tattoo gal pulls ahead. Mark turns back to her. “She told you about me?”
“Did you know who I was, at the party?”
“No. But I had a feeling.”
“Is Bridget gonna be mad at me?”
“Bridge? No worries. I’ll explain.”
He nods, considering how super wow she could be without the flowers and birds on her arm, and the blue hair, and the metal all over. Some girls have pins between their legs. He saw that on one of Roque’s breakfast porns.
“You’re wondering about my rings,” she voices, bearing right onto Olive. “I’ve got three down there.”
How’d she know what he was thinking? But more importantly, how bad did it…
“Hurt? A little,” she answers, perceiving his question. “But pain feels sexy. It makes me feel sexy.” She reaches into her purse and retrieves a cigarette. “You don’t smoke, do you?”
He shakes his head.
“Mind if I do?”
He shakes again. Whereupon, she rolls down her window.
That was considerate, Mark thinks. She’s bringing air into this car. She really is nice. Wonder what she calls herself.
“Amy,” she answers.
To be continued…10/07/2011
When a writer begins a fictional piece, she must determine, “Who’s story is this?” Even if one writes a love story about a couple, it’s a good idea to determine who the primary protagonist is. This gives the writer and the reader more focus and it simplifies the theme. Of course there are always exceptions. “Kindness” is not an exception. I decided to make Mark my hero, devoting most of the words and pages to his side of the story. In this recent swing party segment, the narrative is written entirely from the young man’s point of view; from the fish-out-of-water perspective. It’s more intimate, more internal, more identifiable, and hence more humorous. By writing this scene from Mark’s point of view, I was justified in changing the “voice” from the author’s to the character’s. Description is conveyed the way Mark thinks and talks, which puts the reader into his head.
Regarding dialogue, I try to make it as truncated and abridged as possible. It reads faster and seems more natural. Americans rarely speak with complete sentences anymore. And people interrupt each other as well. So finishing a sentence on the page isn’t always necessary. When I starting writing a later scene, I used the overlapping dialogue technique, and that’s when I got the idea of making Amy a psychic, through her interruptions. I then came back to this scene to establish that element. It added more complexity for Amy and another layer of behavior prompts for Mark.
So what do you think? Is young Mr. Sidwell going to stay in this brave new world of casual sex? Would YOU, if you were Mark? And hey, what happened to Bridget? Does her story end here?