Authors: Florence Dugas
Tags: #Masquerade Books
The car stopped beside us at the red light. Driver and passenger looked straight ahead, saying nothing. The woman's cheeks were creased with silent tears.
Nathalie turned toward me, taking me by the hand.
"Save her, Florence, save her!" she said.
Already too late, the light changed to green, and the car
ulled away. "It's too stupid," she said. "Stupid." She appeared on the brink of tears.
(Here is interpolated a scene I don't remember without feeling confused and irritated—the state in myself that comes closest to guilt.)
She had disappeared for several days, as she did sometimes. She arrived one afternoon, beautiful and fresh, a tormented look in her eyes. I was working; she was bothering me, and I let her know it.
"I know," she said. "I know I'm disturbing you." "Then why did you come over?" "I want you to explain why you treat me this way." "What way?" "You loved me two weeks ago."
"But I still love you. It's just that I don't have the time to take the time. The days go by, the deadline for my presentation is drawing near, and I still haven't decided anything. I think I'm going to forget about Oedipus and write a play with the double as its theme—the double torn apart: the original androgyne, and the myth of Tiresias: dance, mime, and theater. Didn't J. P. mention it?"
"No, I don't know anything about it, and I don't give a damn. I just want to know why you treat me like this." "Like what?"
"Worse than a dog. A dog gets touched. Sometimes it gets beaten. It's given a hand to lick. It gets loved."
"Here," I said. "Lick my hand."
I held out my closed fist. She seized it, unfolded my fingers slowly, traced the interior of my palm, kissed my luck line.
"Nathalie, I don't want to."
"Take me," she said, as if she had heard nothing.
Anyway, that's how things were. No longer hearing each
other, no longer getting along. "Very well," I said. I freed my hand. "Where were you?"
"In Jersey," she said.
Among all her exotic destinations, that was one of the most unexpected.
"Are you kidding me? You visited the land of the Anglo-Normans in January?"
"Banks have no seasons."
"So it's true, Nathalie? You launder dirty money?" "Temporarily dirty. It comes out clean, as clean as a new penny. I'm the only thing that stays dirty." "How much money do you have on you?" The question surprised her.
"I don't know. Two, three hundred francs, perhaps." "It's not enough. I won't do it for that price. Come back when you're richer."
She had tears in her eyes, and the scene had begun to
please me. "How much would it take?" "That depends on what you want. For two or three hundred francs, I'll take off my clothes. But you can't touch me." "Suppose I kiss you?" "Not on the mouth. Never with clients. You can have every- thing else, if you have enough money. But not my mouth." "Your breasts?"
"Two hundred more. What do you want to do to them?" "Love them," she said.
"Well, then, four hundred more. You may kiss them, suck
them, bite them, cut them, then do it all again. But my feelings are not for sale today." "Your cunt?"
"What do you want to do?"
"Kiss it. Suck it. Bite it."
"A thousand francs. But I don't come. And I won't take
care of you." "I don't give a damn. But I'll make you come in spite of
yourself." "That would surprise me. You have to be a little bit in love
in order to come."
"Very well," she said. "Your anus?" "That most charming rosette is not for sale this season,
okay? No, not my ass. Only men get my ass." She looked at me. I had worked myself up into an artificial
anger, and as often happens in these cases, was now truly angry. My eyes must have flashed red.
"Slap me," she said. "Beat me."
"That's not available, either. It takes a specialist for that. I don't think you can afford those kinds of fantasies. Even one jab of my heel in your pussy is out of your price range."
"I see," she said.
She went to the chair where she had put her purse, opened it, removed an envelope, and tore it open with her teeth.
Bundles and bundles of five-hundred-franc bills. She picked up one of them, removed the clip, and threw the money in my face.
"What does this much get me?" she asked.
The bills flew about the room and fell noiselessly at my feet. There must have been at least ten thousand francs in small denominations.
'"Where did you get this money, Nathalie? I thought you had only two or three hundred francs."
"None of your business. Shall
we?" Play the game?
I backed up a little bit and undressed down to my last piece of lace. I stayed there, mute, arms crossed. "Come here," she said. She undressed in her turn and thrust herself against me.
Her breasts were marvelously warm, still infused with the moist heat of her sweater.
"Kiss me," she ordered.
"Not on the mouth, remember—"
She stared at me. She leaned toward me and began to minister to my breasts, nibbling them with her teeth, teasing them with her tongue. My nipples responded before I could do any- thing about it.
"You're hard," she said.
She slid a hand between my thighs and caressed me with an assertive rudeness, as an inexperienced boy might. It excited me more than I wanted it to.
"You're hard," she repeated.
She took me in her arms and we found ourselves on the floor, her hands all over me, her mouth buried in my sex. I began to pant, then got control again. I remembered some advice J. P. had given me when I had asked him how he could keep from coming for so long. It had stayed with me forever.
"It's simple," he had said. "You must be able to control your breathing, as if you were diving at the bottom of an angry sea, and recite to yourself a text that has nothing at all to do with the situation. Something from Corneille, for example. How many times have I found myself mumbling lines from the battle of El Cid against the Moors while buried deep in an asshole or a mouth—"
That had nothing to do with the current situation. The first
thing that came to me was Tartuffe—"Oh, close my heart, seat of human weakness," as Orgon says to Marianne—and I was the one playing Marianne. But there was still too much sensuality in Tartuffe. Corneille, perhaps? Well, nothing's more un-erotic, if I may say so, than to say to oneself, "Rome, the sole object of my feeling," while an expert mouth explores each fold of your vulva, a tongue wriggles up your clitoral flower, and innumerable fingers dig inside of you...
It's true, then. The sublime kills eroticism in a single blow. She finished by lifting her head, surprised, disappointed. "I see," she said.
She got up.
"You want to play the whore? Then I'm going to treat you like a whore."
Without warning she slapped me, hard.
"I'm warning you, you've got to show results."
She went to the dressing table where I kept my trinkets and
baubles and dug through them rapidly, returning with a long silk scarf. "Lie down on the bed. No, on your back." She took my wrists, bound them together, then tied them to the headboard—just as I had myself so often attached her. She opened my legs and put her pussy against my mouth. "Lick me," she said.
Her voice was sharp, so cold it was almost unrecognizable. All the while I caressed her, she did not stop talking.
"Do better than that; put in your tongue; no, deeper; go back to the clit now. No, not so hard. Don't pull on the ring as if you were going to tear it out. I don't want you to hurt me today. You, however, are going to get hurt, Flo. I know, you hate it when people call you Flo. Lick my cunt—better than that! Wait, I'll pull apart my ass cheeks. Stick in your tongue—deeper than that. Harder with your tongue...way down to the bottom—"
She was extremely wet, like always, but although I strained to hear her falter, or speak with a different inflection, it was in vain—she spoke with icy mastery, her orders clearly articulated with the most precise words she could dispose of.
"You're lousy, you poor girl. Hasn't anyone ever told you you're lousy? It would take a stretch of imagination for me to come right now. Poor little faggot, you've got no dick! You get yourself fucked, then pout about having to suck it afterwards, under the pretext it smells of shit! What were you saying earlier when I was eating you? Whore! You pitiful whore! Lick me better than that! I paid you, didn't I?"
She freed herself and, standing near the bed, leaned over me.
"You're not worth it," she said.
In a corner of the room, she found the long black whip; she came back holding it in her palm.
"J. P. has already hit you with this, right?"
She cracked it with all her strength across my thighs.
I screamed—what else could I do?
I screamed with each blow, which didn't seem to move her
At a certain moment—very quickly, in fact—I understood she would go farther than anyone ever had—that she was going to exceed my limits, go beyond the pain principle, the point at which pain can still become pleasure, the burning warmth, the whip a caress. I understood I would be hurt—and nothing but hurt. I would be at once the thorns and the forehead, the wrists and the nails, the lance and the side, passion and death. There was no doubt of it.
Worked over. Open, covered with long lacerations in all directions, from my belly to my knees. The blows followed so closely I didn't have time to catch my breath, and my successive cries drowned out each other.
She hit me with all her strength, and the skin swelled and
burst open a little bit everywhere, especially on my nipples where the whip struck sideways, and at my hips and shoulder blades. She came back up towards my breasts, and I thought I was going to faint—it would have been so nice, so comfortable to faint. But no, the pain merely changed tone, biting into the soft flesh of my breasts.
She seemed enraged, for the moment. Bacchanalia. Lost in that drunkenness of inflicting pain I had known myself, when I tortured her.
I thought afterwards it was her love for me she was punish- ing, or herself, perhaps, in the person of the object of her love. Or was it jealousy-—the idea that until now only J. P. had had the right to chastise me? Or did she want to teach me something, something I had been refusing to learn these long months?
As for me—I was a little piece of panting flesh. An uninterrupted cry, as in Paul Eluard's uninterrupted poetry.
I am the pen and the paper, I am the ink and the blood. Scratched, torn.
The words ran together.
In place of the precise pain of the beginning, which leapt from me with each blow, was substituted an undifferentiated, throbbing suffering. I felt as if I were a blind pupa caught in a terrifying cocoon.
She stopped long enough for me to turn over. Because I had jumped a lot and twisted away to escape the bite of the whip, which continued to strike me with mechanical regularity, she paused long enough to attach my ankles to the bed with two other scarves. My legs were slightly spread apart.
For an instant, I thought we were going to stop there. She slid her hand between my thighs and grabbed me, crablike, opening my legs without gentleness, forcing my cunt open with her thumb, scratching me on the way in, tearing me, exposing the interior of my inundated cunt.
I'd never experienced anything like it before. When J. P. would whip me, he would dole out the strength and frequency of his blows, stopping just when excitation would disappear beneath the
pain—probably because in the end he beat me as much for him as for me. But Nathalie had beaten me with a rage that resembled altruism, had horsewhipped me with a savagery that immediately surpassed erotic subtexts. I was only an immense pain, and my sex ran like skin recovering from a terrible burn. She let go of me.
I heard her rummaging in the bureau; then she returned.
I still had the strength to scream when she jammed the dildo between my buttocks, dry, pushing it in with all her weight.
I reflexively resisted the intrusion by tightening and contracting my buttocks. That only made things worse. When she forced me more, she tore my anus—at least that's what it felt like—I was going to remain wounded for life, definitively open.
In a sort of spasm my loins lifted, and she profited from the way my back involuntarily arched to push the synthetic dick all the way in to the flange. Then she tied the whip tresses together, tightly, to close me up.
I sobbed convulsively.
"Poor little baby," she murmured, caressing my cheek. "Poor little girl whose little fanny hurts—"
I screamed again, though more weakly, when the whip began to strike me again, just as pitilessly, from the backs of my knees to the middle of my back.
Then there was a strange sort of floating, in which I passed into a state beyond pain.
Several times, between blows, I murmured, "I love you," as if the bite of the whip had forced the words from me, but it was as if I did not know who I was talking to, as if I were reaching
beyond Nathalie, to have myself heard by the quick and the dead.
The whistle of the hard lash beating down, my skin being opened, my back getting flayed, and these sobs escaping from me: "I love you, I love you, I love you—"
All of this made it abundantly clear that my words were not addressed to Nathalie nor to anyone in my present life. They were addressed to a phantom, the first one whom I had—so badly—loved, whom I had betrayed when I left with my mother, the first one who had loved me, body and soul—to whom I was always a little girl or boy. My tears changed in nature and destination. There was something terribly soft in my despair, something that deconstructed me at the same time as it made me emerge from my ruins.
Did Nathalie understand where she had taken me? She stopped beating me and threw the whip to the other side of the room.
I turned my head towards her. She was picking up the bills scattered about the floor. She must have felt me watching her, for she smiled without enthusiasm.
"This money is not mine," she said. "And you're not worth this much, anyway."
She stuffed the wad back in her purse, put on her coat, dug into her pocket.
She came close to the bed. In her hand she had a one-hundred-franc bill.
"Here," she said. "For the pain."
She leaned over me and thrust the bill between my buttocks, jamming it beneath the tip of the dildo still planted deep inside me.
"I love you very much, you know."
She seemed to be thinking of something else.
She left without untying me.
I slowly returned to myself. My whole body was on fire. I
was terribly thirsty.
I tugged without success on the scarves binding me. There is nothing less compassionate than silk.
I thought she would come back, untie me, kiss me.
No. Not that day. We had done too much together.
J. P. untied me the following morning.
I had brooded and cried for hours—as if all those tears had
accumulated in me for years, without my being able to get out, and a floodgate had suddenly opened. I was very cold. Then I fell into a comatose sleep. Waking, I pissed myself.
The bill jammed between my buttocks stuck out, J. P. said, like an obscene provocation.
He removed the dildo gently—it felt as if he were extracting one of my internal organs. The pain returned en masse.
I was dying of thirst. He gave me a glass of water, then made coffee, and while waiting for it to be ready, put me under the shower.
I was one huge abrasion. The whip had flayed me like arable ground.
"Nathalie?" he asked, soaping me with infinite precautions. I nodded. He made no comment.
He opened the window to air out the room, but to little
avail. When I came back from the bathroom, the bitter odor of adrenaline, blood, and shit leapt to my nostrils. He made the bed, tucked me in gently, and served me a large cup of coffee. We hadn't exchanged three words.
I wanted him to take me right there, immediately. Luckily, he did nothing. Expressed or not, there are some desires that others do well to resist.
He kissed me tenderly, paternally. I was nothing more than a rag doll. Lazarus must have felt like this when he emerged from his winding sheet. I started to cry, then fell asleep against my clean and slightly damp pillow.
When I wake up several hours later, he is sleeping next to me. As if he were dead.
The impression of being no more than an immense scar. A dull pain, with sudden, more violent flashes, sears my loins.
On the nightstand lies Nathalie's one-hundred-franc bill, full of bloodstains.