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Authors: Barbara Bell

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Stacking in Rivertown (22 page)

BOOK: Stacking in Rivertown
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“Don’t forget,” he whispered right before he shot it in my arm. “You belong to me.”

I notice Miriam watching me. I shake my head because my eyes are acting funny.

“Please give me some time.” I take her chin, kissing her strong. She becomes fluid. I run my hand along her back, feeling her warmth. Reaching up to her bedpost, I remove the blindfold hanging there. It’s for keeping out the streetlights at night.

“I want to put this on you,” I say.

“Kind of a metaphor, don’t you think?” She kisses me, opening my mouth with her tongue.

I pull back. “You’re too smart,” I say as I fit it over her eyes. I kiss her again, Miriam leaning forward now, searching for me. I hold her head still with both my hands, kissing her cheeks, her neck. I move down her body, kiss her breasts, then spread her legs and kneel between, holding her wrists by her sides, still kissing, now teasing first one nipple, then the other. Her body stretches. I see the gleam between her legs.

Leaving the bed, I find my skirt thrown over a chair.

“Where are you?” She’s breathing heavy, turning her head in my direction.

I don’t answer. Instead, I slide the belt out of the loops and return.

“How are you?” I say.

“God, I want you.” She reaches for me. I lie the belt across her stomach and take hold of her wrists.

“I want to tie these together,” I say. “Can I?”

Her breathing deepens. “It’s scaring me a little.”

“Then I won’t do it.”

“No. It’s okay.”

“Have you ever done this before?”

“No.”

“Have you ever wanted to?”

She chews her lip, stretches toward me with her hips. “Yes .”

“I’ll be careful. I won’t do it tight. You’ll be able to get free if you want.”

She nods.

I turn her on her stomach and tie her wrists together in back. She tests the strap, this new tension redefining the lines of her shoulders and back.

I separate her legs and kneel between them, not touching her, taking her in. I wait. She moves like waves are coursing through her. I reach with one hand and follow along her back.

She gasps.

I lean forward, whispering in her ear. “Do you want it?”

“Yes .”

“Are you sure?”

She licks her lips, her breath coming in short gasps. “Please.”

I lie myself against her. “Your body is mine now,” I whisper. “For me to use.”

Her breathing goes up a notch.

Turning her, I guide her mouth to first one breast, then the other as I circle her waist with my thighs. Miriam’s body is rapt, thrusting slightly. I slide back against the headboard and grasp her head, lying her mouth against me. She takes me in so gentle, so careful. When I come, I almost start crying.

“Are you okay?” She’s lifted her head, as though she can see me.

I lie my finger on her lips, shoving back the darkness, the ache, and that drop into the river. “Shh.”

Miriam shudders, resting her cheek along my thigh.

I take her by her arms. “Sit up.” I lift her and push her to the edge of the bed so her feet dangle over the side. And I sit behind, straddling her, spreading her legs.

“Lean back against me.”

She does as I say. So obedient.

I reach around to her nipples. She moans, arches again and lets her head fall on my shoulder.

“Good,” I say, still fondling. I slide my hand between her legs, push her closer to the edge of the bed, and hook my feet over her knees, stretching her legs wide. My fingers go inside of her.

“Touch me,” she says. “I’m so turned on. You have to touch me.”

“Not yet. Wait,” I whisper. “You can wait a little.”

“I hate to wait,” she says between breaths.

“It’s good for you,” I say, pulling her knees farther apart. “Can you feel it in your whole body? The desire. Is it all over your skin? Is it pouring out inside?”

“Yes,” she gasps. She chews her lip again. I feel her pull against the belt holding her wrists. I wait a little longer.

“Please?” I say.

“Please.”

Now I stroke her, feeling how swollen and wet she is. She comes so strong that I have to hold her up with the hand I have inside of her so that she doesn’t fall on the floor.

I lie her back then and rest beside her, leaving her tied and blindfolded. I run my fingers down her side. “Did you like it this way?”

She turns her face to me. I lean forward and we kiss.

“Yes,” she says, whispering. “You’ve done this before?”

God, what’s a person to say? “Yes.”

“Do you like it done to you?”

“Yes .”

“The waiting thing killed me.”

I run my hand over her breast. “It’s good for you to wait. It flushes you good. Makes your skin sing.”

She turns her face to me. “So, are you going to let me go?”

“You’re gorgeous like this,” I say. “I could come just looking at you.” I stay as I am, touching her, letting her scent and her shape fill my eyes. Then I turn her on her side and let loose her hands. I remove the blindfold. When she turns back, her eyes seize on me, and I recognize that desperate look. She curls against me, and I hold her tight.

She’s mine now. I trapped her good.

For a minute, I forget that it’s me that’s trapped. I’m in way too deep.

I can’t move except for my head, and the beat is shaking the floor. The man in the dust mask paces back and forth along the far wall. Even in the red glow, I can see that he’s getting a hard-on. He sits again suddenly, then unzips his fly, his prick poking straight up. He watches me look at him.

The door flies open. In come the boys with Violet. Her wrists are cuffed behind. She looks at me with miserable eyes, and I don’t know what it means. I stare back toward the man. His attention is full on Violet, but something in his manner, a thing I can’t pin down, gives me a shiver. Maybe he’s thinking of germs, I think. I glance at the video eye again. Nothing seems right.

The man stands. He’s breathing hard, fixed on Violet as though wooden, as though not a living thing.

I can’t move. I can’t scream.

The music beats.

“Hey. Wake up. Becca. It’s okay.” When I open my eyes, it’s Miriam’s face that I see. Sunlight is pouring over the blue water of the bay. She’s staring at me, trying to read me. “You were having a bad dream.”

“What time is it?” I sit up. “I’ve got an appointment today.”

“A little after nine.”

Jumping out of bed, I roam the house, finding my bag where I dropped it at the front door. I haul it up to her bedroom. “The appointment’s at ten.”

She watches as I pull on underwear and jeans.

“You know,” she says. “There’s something about you that’s familiar. Like I’ve seen you before.”

“Clarisse Broder,” I say, throwing a T-shirt over my head. “Everybody says I’m a dead ringer, pardon the pun, for the famously drowned Ms. Broder. Josh and Greg want me to make appearances dressed as her. They’re like little boys about this.” I put on socks and gym shoes.

“You’re right! Clarisse Broder. God, did you read that book?” She pauses and leans back.

I shrug and head for the john like a coward.

While I’m happily peeing, I hear, “What the hell is this?”

I crack the door. She’s holding the Uzi like it’s a less than adequate filet mignon. She glares at me.

As for myself, I’m beginning to get a clear picture of her nosiness problem.

“I don’t believe you’d bring a thing like this here. I hate guns.” She looks like she’s going to pitch it across the room.

“God. Be careful,” I say, throwing myself out the door, my jeans at my knees. “The thing’s loaded.” I take it out of her hands, pointing it away.

“You can’t bring shit like that here.”

“Look,” I say, sounding like Burt, like I picked up my speech patterns during some nasty war. “If I come, the Uzi comes.”

We stand glaring at one another. Packing the Uzi in my bag and then zipping up my jeans, I drop onto the bed, sitting with my head in my hands. My brain is screaming for me to leave. Get out.

But I can’t.

“What’s the matter with you?” she says, still glaring at me with her arms crossed. “Are you some kind of nut?”

I rock back and forth like an imbecile. Maybe I should cock my arm over my head. But in my mind I see shot after shot, stills of that night trapped in murder. And more than that. I see Vin, his eyes having gone dead. I see the ash heap. Love disappears without warning, without a whisper.

“Okay,” I say, looking up. “You want to know about the scar? I was stabbed.”

Her face goes blank. She stares at me in shock.

“I was stabbed by a really weird guy. And you want me to tell you about my last lover?” I’ll make her pay. The snoop.

“Well, that breakup really did kill her. He fucking cut her neck . . . her neck,” but I can’t finish. I start bawling like some kind of idiot.

“She was so . . . She was so . . .” I start to rise from the bed, looking for one more in a long series of escapes.

But she pushes me back and drags me full on the bed, holding me like I’m an imbecile all right. I see her beaten face. So much like Violet, but not. Violet is at Tutti, I remember. Some night I’ll find her.

“Jesus,” Miriam keeps saying. “Oh God.”

I can’t stop sobbing.

“Are you seeing anyone about this?”

I nod. “That’s my appointment this morning.”

“You saw it? He killed her in front of you?”

“It’s why I need the guns,” I say. I glance at the clock. “I’ve got to go.” I break out of her embrace and stand. She looks lost, beaten back.

“Miriam,” I say. “You don’t know how much I want you with me. How much I crave you. I feel like I’m going to die. I haven’t had a lover since that happened. I’ve had sex, but not like this. Not how I feel with you. Maybe we shouldn’t see each other.”

“No.” She jumps up and takes me in her arms, kissing me so tender that it wounds me. I pick up the gym bag filled with its unwanted objects.

“Leave it,” she says. “I want you back tonight.”

All I can do is nod. I turn and run down the stairs as though something is chasing behind.

Once I get to my therapist’s, she takes one look at me and starts talking about a psychiatrist again.

“I’m in love,” I say. “It’s like a gun to the head, like jumping off a bridge, like taking a bottle of Valium.” I notice what I’m saying and stop.

She tries to get me to calm down, breathing slow and even. Breathing appears to be one of my grosser failures.

I hit Tutti with whiskey on the brain. Josh sidles up to me. “A picture of Miriam Dubois with Clarisse Broder would bring in a pile of money,” he suggests. I think I’m having an imminent headache.

Tom has the
Time
article with all the Betty and Dave pictures. He wants to talk about it, but leaves off when I start shaking.

Miriam shows up for dinner again. It’s all I can do not to start crying.

When I get to her place after closing Tutti and having another encounter with the Dumpster, her eyes are even deeper, like she can see all the way into me. I see that she’s taken out Bates’ envelope and has the pictures arranged on her kitchen table. I look the other way.

God, I’m going to have to train her out of her little snoopy thing.

She leads me up to her bed again and lies me down, holding me.

“What was her name?”

“Violet. You look like her, by the way.”

She’s quiet, staring out at the water and sky.

“Did you have to testify at the trial?”

I look away. “There was no trial. They never caught him.”

“Oh my God.”

“He smashed her face. They found her in a Dumpster. A fucking Dumpster. Like sushi, like veal, like . . .” Her eyes look terrified.

“Sorry,” I say.

“Here? In Berkeley?”

“No. No. Far away. Those pictures on your table, the detective sent them for me to look at.”

“And the other scars. He did that too?”

God, why doesn’t she stop? “No. That’s something else. I really can’t talk about that.”

She holds me tighter, stroking my head. I look at her face again, like Violet, but not. A new thing. She kisses me a long time, then runs her lips along my cheek. After a few minutes she holds my head still so I can’t look away. “Tell me more about Violet.”

“Not tonight. I know I keep putting you off. I can’t remember all of it, and what I do remember, I want to forget.” I swallow and close my eyes. “And I can’t get the pictures out of my head. The ones the police showed me. Can you imagine? A bunch of stupid cops with cameras, shooting picture after picture of her like that. It makes me sick.”

She stops with the questions then and we lie together, watching moonlight play the sea. I fall asleep, unsure in my mind which thoughts are of Violet and which are of Miriam.

BOOK: Stacking in Rivertown
3.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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