Irresistible (3 & 4)

Jan 11, 2016 by

Irresistible (3 & 4)

Serialized Novel

 

So they are in a taxi on their way to the apartment of the artist. Martine was glad they were going to his place and not to hers.

She remembered returning a phone call to him after they had met. She had reached his answering machine. The voice on the other end sounded muffled, like someone had tried to make it inaudible on purpose. She had been able to make out the artist’s name and the name of a woman and she had spent some time wondering whether or not he was living with a woman.

Although it had been difficult to talk into the machine with the woman’s name on it, Martine had left him a message anyway.

That evening he called her back from a noisy payphone. She was so happy that he called her back that she was able to ignore the woman’s name on his answering machine. She did not bring it up. The artist was surprised that she did not, but also happy not to have to explain. Not to have to repeat his often told story of how he and his wife were separated but still kept both of their names on his answering machine for business purposes.

That answering machine had in fact never left her mind until the moment when he was hailing a cab to take her to his home.

Now she would not have to ask whether or not he was living with a woman.

Inside of the cab, he took her hand. To Martine this gesture felt private, intimate, and kind. Just as he had intended it to.

“Are you scared?”

“No.” She smiled at him. “I’m not scared.”

“That’s good. That’s very, very good. Do you like cats?”

“Yes,” she said. “I used to have one as a child. His name was Diamond because he was black with a white diamond shaped patch between his eyes. Do you have a cat?”

“Not as exotic as your Diamond I’m sure, but yes, I do have a cat.”

They got out of the cab in an industrial section of town.

“Do you have any money for the fare?” he asked.

Martine was surprised that he was asking her for money, but she stuck both hands into both of her pockets and pulled some out anyway. She did not count it, she simply handed it over to him in two fistfuls. Her habit of keeping her money loose in her pockets served her well at that moment. It helped her to pretend to him that she cared nothing for money. Mostly, she didn’t but recently she had begun to care more because she had stopped working in order to make clothes at home.

She did not tell him this. Nothing to break the mood. Nothing to make him change his mind.

He had already guessed that she had no money and liked the fact that she would give him the last of what she had.

Once out of the cab, they had to cross a highway in order to get to his apartment. The artist took her hand and they ran across the road as fast as they could, making it to the cement island in the center before being stopped by the traffic.

Standing on the island he grabbed her around the waist and acted as though he was going to throw her out in front of a car.

He pushed her out, but held onto her tightly and drew her back in, at the last possible second.

The driver of the oncoming car was upset and leaning on his horn.

“Fuck you asshole,” he yelled out of his window.

The artist laughed and Martine laughed with him. She was not scared. It happened too fast for her fear to catch up.

4

They entered his home. It was remarkable. Astounding. She had never seen anything remotely like it. Of that she was sure. For once in that evening she knew something right at the moment that it was happening.

The first light he turned on cast an eerie yellow glow across a small front room, its walls lined with red velvet.

“Come in here, I want you to meet my cat, Amber.”

She stepped inside and came face to face with a black Siamese cat with pale blue eyes. It sat on top of a marble pedestal. It was stuffed.

Pedestals of varying heights circled the red gold room, each one home to a taxidermist’s delight. There were stuffed monkeys, and bats in jars. There was a human brain in formaldehyde and white rats standing on their hind legs. From the ceiling hung dozens of tiny stuffed hummingbirds with blue stomachs and black and white wings. This menagerie took up the entire front room. It turned out to be the least interesting room in the artist’s home. Almost clichéd compared to the rest.

Martine passed through the room slowly.

“Can I look around?” she asked, already in the next room.

He was a little surprised by her lack of fear.

She guessed by his surprise that the kind of women he most often dated were hair sprayed blondes, prissy, rich, and easy to scare or disgust.

She knew that her own lack of fear would charm him.

She moved into the next room, also painted a blood red. This room was lined with church pews.

“Those are for praying before sex.”

“What?”

There was a confessional booth draped in blue velvet curtains encircled by rows of thick black candles, and long thin white ones too.

“And this is for after sex?”

Martine continued to move from room to room. Everywhere there were crucifixes. Tiny ones in unexpected places. Nailed under antique dressers. Dangling from chains that pulled down to turn on lights. There were wooden statues taller than herself with skeleton faces and bony hands holding out huge crosses.

She lifted her head to see sheer white winged angels floating on ceilings of baby blue sky with clouds of spun gold. And eastern facing windows of blue stained glass held red stained glass crosses in the middle.

She moved to the kitchen. It’s walls were matte flat black and covered with upside down dead flowers. Their muted, dusty tones lit by the long white candles of a wildly branching chandelier of floral decorated Murano glass.

Huge, heavy medieval brass cups and bowls filled the sink.

The bathroom walls were covered with the largest collection of crosses she had ever seen in one place. There was no wall space, only the covering of the nailed crosses. INRI. Those letters were etched into every cross. Later that night Martine would lay in his bed thinking about INRI. She would think of meanings for the letters. In newness resides ignorance would be the first sentence that came into her head. She would ask him what the letters meant, and he would say that he did not know. He liked the idea of pretending to have a room full of images that he knew nothing about. It was a fun idea for him. One that would deny conversation. One that would separate the two of them instead of bringing them together.

On the ceiling in the bathroom was a chandelier. Hanging crystals of dim tiny yellow lights and real candles.

She had never seen a chandelier in a bathroom. She had never seen anything like any of this.

The bedroom was glorious. The bed covered with a burgundy velvet spread embroidered with a large gold cross. Marble angels held an oval headboard with a carved pastel Madonna. Dragon’s mouths breathed low light onto the pillows. Rose and blue and ancient oriental rugs held pale pink Louis Seize loveseats. Daylight and street lamps obliterated by thick velvet curtains with gold tasseled ropes.

He waited patiently while she traveled through his home. Through his masterpiece.

He waited for the sensuality of his vision to sink into her senses.

And when it did, and when she looked upon him as a romantic without equal, and when she looked up at him, happy to have been brave enough to come back to his home, he undid her buttons and shoved his hands down her pants.

She was momentarily startled by the discrepancy between the lush, old-fashioned slowness of his home, and the speed of his hands.

He removed her jeans and smiled at her thighs. He stared straight ahead as he began to undo his belt. His moves, his expressions, seemed rote to her, as if he were in a long running play that he had long ago lost interest in.

She went immediately from feeling special to feeling like one of many, many women in his life. She did not care. The room itself softened that particular reality.

The visual impact of both him and his home had succeeded in overwhelming the feelings inside of her. Her sense of adventure helped to do the same.

With that man, in that room, in that home, whatever was left of her gut instincts had no place and no chance.

Margot Berwin is the author of Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire and Scent of Darkness.

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