Monstrosity: Tales Of Transformation
Without Him (and Him, and Him) There is No Me
I could see the small imperfections in his back tattoos from this angle in this light. One was of a large, grayish dove that circled an oblong skull. The dove's eye was a little off, and I could see its unevenness best as he breathed. His buddy had done that one at the back of a garage. He said it represented how life was short of some such bullshit. They always fed me bullshit, and I ate it up.
The light was coming in high in this piece of shit motel. He was still passed out on the cheap beer and whiskey he’d bought at the gas station last night. I got up and pulled on his shirt.
It reeked of him, his dried sweat, spilled beer and the dust of the desert. Just yesterday I’d found that smell attractive, but it was losing its luster. Now it smelled like distaste, a gross substitute for a body melting in front of me.
I knew he liked it when I looked like this. When he would wake up, he’d find me in his worn shirt, my eyeliner from last night smudged in the right way, my hair half out and teased and a lit cigarette hanging out my mouth at an angle. He’d look at me, without a second thought, but I know that if I give him that bitch-tired look, he can't stop his dick from twitching. We have a lot in common, he and I, we both like to feel like shit.
He’ll probably pull me on top of him and we’ll fuck. It wouldn’t be lovemaking, that’s not what I’d call it. No, we’d rut like animals for a few minutes. He won't wait for me to get wet, he'll just jam his hands between my thighs, pushing his calloused fingers into my skin to pull them apart. He thinks his roughness is hot. He gives himself too much credit. My cheeks will burn, not from flush but from the wire of his beard as he pushes his tongue down my throat. He'll grab my tits, not to titillate me, but for his own amusement. Then he'll jam his withering half-hard dick into me and I'll have to force out a convincing moan, not that he needs convincing.
A few days ago, that would have been the thing that kept me. I’d feel fulfilled for a few moments, warm in the embrace, in the attention, in the knowledge that I’d won the game. But that’s not me today. Today it feels like it’s going to be a chore. And this life, that I had hoped wouldn’t be routine, has its own slow, stupid rhythm. And now I'm getting bored, just like with the rest of them.
We’d met four months ago in a small, no-name hole north of Reno, but he followed a string of my lovers. Men. I need to taste new flavors and I crave the ones I’ve yet to taste. I’ll play with the flavor on my tongue, but soon the taste is bland and burnt. I look to taste men to fit my moods.
* * *
I started out, like most people did, with Vanilla. Not even regular vanilla, vanilla sweetened with Splenda. He was a homegrown, good old boy. The captain of our football team with me, the homecoming queen. Small town clichés. He’d pray apologies to Jesus after we made out. I wanted more, but all he’d let me get away with was a nervous teenage hand job once in a while. He smelled like wet grass and sweat from team practice. I still see his perfect teeth, his dimpled chin. His fake masculinity and confidence was the gross aftershave left in a closed-mouthed kiss. When I was with him, I wore knee-length skirts and cardigan sweaters to prayer group. As prom queen, I learned to smile so prettily to hide my disinterest.
After a messy breakup with my football captain that included him crying at my front door, threatening suicide, I moved on to the class clown. He had the pop and lightness of Ginger Ale. His freckles dotted his face and body down straight to his pelvis. He was skinny and bare chested, with those same freckles dotting his shoulders and torso. The head of his circumcised dick had a solitary freckle on the tip that I first thought was cute, but became an obnoxious blemish. He smelled like weed, deodorant and fabric freshener.
I wore loose jeans, dark t-shirts and crooked eyeliner to get his attention. I let my hair get greasy and taught myself to smoke weed when I set my eyes on him. He was on the scent like I was a bitch in heat before the week was out. His jokes and his moves (a total of five) got stale. But with him I got to play it as one of the guys. I was cool, I was funny and low maintenance.
The performance was draining.
And then there was Chocolate, he was an aspiring designer or some nonsense. We went to a lot of clubs, a lot of parties where he bullshitted his talent and his business prowess. I was the in-person model that he showed off like the latest phone.
He put me in skin-tight jeans and dresses with slits up the side. I pranced in heels that I had to abuse myself to walk in. And he fucked me, with eyes open so wide it looked like it hurt.
When I smell strong cologne or hear the heavy bass of a rap song, I think of him.
It was Chocolate’s investor that took me on. He liked fine things and he had the money to get those things. It wasn’t his money that bought me as a mistress. It was the way he looked at me over a glass of overpriced scotch. Like I was already his.
He was older, married and in his forties, but he looked good. He had the chiseled and styled features of a well-kept vintage. He tasted like leather, cigars and old Hollywood. He kept me in furs and tailored wear.
We’d cruise to some event with me on his arm, a starlet’s smile on my lips and a long cigarette on my fingertips. I was a trophy for him too. I’d prance and slither like a charming sex kitten, hidden in silk. He didn’t need to tell me, he wanted other men to want me. He wanted them to covet his property, his car, his clothes, his money and his mistress.
I was a seductive flirt to every man we met. From the balding business partners to the young, hot muscular waiters. Their eyes would focus first on my lashes, then creep slowly down to my lined and plumped lips, then continue on down to my breasts. When they got there, I’d time a breath to heave them up and down, the exhalation directing them lower still. And when they reached my waist, I’d shift my weight from one foot to the other so that my hips swayed from one side to the other.
The message was clear: Imagine this young body writhing beneath you. Imagine the kind of man you could be. I was a living fantasy for the wolves. And if he saw them watching me, saw them scouting his object, he’d get hot for me.
Looking back, the sex was dull. He was only into foreplay if it subdued me. But all I needed was the memory of those eyes on me, of the hungry stares that ate me up. That filled me with a delicious, caramel flavored warmth. Rich, sweet, bad for you.
We traveled, a lot. Hopping from one glittering city to another and staying in penthouses, each one a gilded cage where I was on display. I learned to fix cocktails and do my nails quietly. I learned to subtly hint that I needed money for things and in some ways, it was bliss. He was strong in a way I wasn’t, in a way that didn’t care for people or consequences.
I didn’t want to leave, but his wife caught up with us in Miami and chased me out.
The newspapers never got him right. The headlines read “Tragic Murder-Suicide: Heiress Kills Husband and Self After Going Broke.” She killed the love of my life. Sometimes I think maybe she should have taken me too. Our death would have been so artistic. So beautiful with my young beautiful body bleeding out with his refined older one.
* * *
Las Vegas made me feel like an empty soda pop bottle.
The men there were as empty as me, none could give me what I needed as I hollowed my day down the strip. The artificial scent they pumped through casinos, the cheap buffets and fake jewelry, the vapid heat that made the sweat disappear from your brow before it forms made me sick. The most sickening was the cloud of complimentary bathroom perfume that choked the air like a sunken cloud.
I was sick.
I was empty.
Then I saw them.
They drove by in their bikes clad in leather. Driving though the strip like they owned the place, and suddenly I was hungry again.
How self-assured they were, a pack of animals prowling for what they wanted. I could smell it, the oily tar from cigarettes and gas fumes. It all cut through the pristine casino and hotel lobbies. It hacked away at the artificially perfumed air, the cologne and the buffets like a machete. I wanted one. I needed one. I wanted to ride those bikes to the desert. I wanted to fuck and be fucked.
I wanted the older, leathered skin to contrast against my tight young body.
The ride was nice but Reno turned out to be suburban hell. Fortunately, just a few miles and bottles West, there was a little Piece-of-Shit half city with all the essentials: a strip club, three bars, two tattoo parlors and a Walmart. It was like their breeding ground.
My first stop was the tattoo parlor. My skin, despite everything, had remained virginal.
Would I bleed for one of them?
Yes. Yes, I would.
“Fresh meat,” one of them growled as I walked in. You could see in my shorts and my top didn't cover much, it was obvious nothing had been inked before. It was cute, like he was trying to scare me. It took most of my control not to laugh and bark at him.
I just winked at the one with ink and he was putty.
By the end I had “Margaret” tattooed on my shoulder and two other obvious pieces done.
“Why Margaret?” he asked, dipping the needle into the pot.
“It was my grandmother's name,” I lied. I just like that name.
He finished the belladonna flower on my inside thigh the next afternoon.
And I finished him, because I had no money.
I didn't stay because he didn't have a bike.
* * *
This one I found when the pieces came together.
The Licorice that is fucking me in this cheap motel. I saw him across the room in one of those bars in that little shithole place. I had my trap set and he was like a fly to the spider, with my torn stockings, fraying shorts and stolen leather jacket. My cheap, poorly drawn drugstore makeup and boxed dye just screamed “Daddy Issues” and he was hooked. He bought me a shot, and then four and then a ride to the closest motel.
He smelled like beer, but that was fine.
He was the heat of summer, an unconcerned, unwavering, and unsympathetic summer. He was who he knew he was: a man in his early fifties still pushing drugs as a means to shift from place to place. A man with fierce loyalty to his buddies and his own set of issues set in stone.
Or he was.
Now I think he's too old to be pushing drugs like he did at that age. And his buddies are fine, I guess, but not worth his sense of loyalty.
What I loved most about him was his bike.
The other love in his life. It wasn't just a machine. It was an experience. On the road I felt like the me I should be. Every moment racing on the open road felt like flight. I'd let the wind cut between my open fingers and the kicked-up dirt get tangled in my hair. It smelled like gasoline and freedom.
* * *
It's late in the afternoon and I make the excuse to go to the ice machine. At the back of the motel I steal a cigarette. Here there's a flimsy wire fence that divides us from the desert. I look out to that landscape and I can breathe. It's void and yet beautiful. It exists for itself, for its emptiness. Sure, there are the shrubs, the rock and desert critters, the odd, random pieces of trash but they only make the quiet louder. It's got a hell of a palette that we paint on its surface with our bike tracks. It's a place impermanently marked by our footsteps. Eventually the wind comes and blows over those steps making it new. The desert's changes are makeup, wiped away to reveal the skin of it.
There's that bright blue sky, that golden ocean of sand and I realize I'm miserable. He kept my attention for a bit, but the sweet taste is gone. I've got to find a way to ditch him.
The little hotel corner market has dry shampoo and powdered flea insecticide of all things and I start to hatch a plan to get rid of him but keep the bike. As much as I don't like him, I love the power of that machine between my legs. I pick them up in cash and head back to the hotel. He's got a stash he only uses for himself, it's not for sale. It's for us, when we want, but I never partake. I tell him it'll ruin my figure, and “baby, you're all the drug I need”.
He's in the shower when I cut the stash.
And I wait.
* * *
Two days later and he's finally feeling it.
We're riding on his bike in a lonely stretch of desert. The bike starts wobbling and he pulls over to the side and starts retching behind a fallen road sign. Out here, we're alone and I'm thankful. It couldn't be better. I'd hoped he'd just get sick enough to have an ER pick him up somewhere and keep him out of my hair.
“Give me a sec babe, I need to sit for a bit,” he says, looking like death.
He's pale, and old.
I hold my breath and touch his forehead. He responds by puking next to my boots. A little bit of vomit dots the black toe and I hold my temper to keep from socking him. “Baby, you've got a fever.” I don't really know if he does, but I'm sure he thinks he does.
“Our cell doesn't have any bars.” It does but I know he won't check as his eyes are glazing over with illness.
“Give me the keys baby, I'll get help.”
And he looks up at me, weak. Gross. He looks like a wounded animal, like a raccoon that's been run over but isn't quite dead yet, just suffering. If I had a gun, I would put him out of his misery.
He hands me the keys. So trusting. I blow him a kiss and drive off on the bike he only started to teach me to ride a few weeks ago. It feels lighter than I remember. I look out at the sunset and turn in that direction.
And it's just me, the road, and the desert.
And I'm free.
Free like the expanse of it.
But I think about him for a minute after I leave.
Maybe someone will find him and get him help.
Maybe he'll die and the sand will cover his body as he disappears into the landscape.
The desert righting itself.
That thought fills me with an inexplicable calm, and then I think, maybe I should head to San Francisco. Maybe catch me a Silicon Valley mogul.