Authors: Florence Dugas
Tags: #Masquerade Books
There were three of them, emerging from the shadows, and they seemed to be watching my return under the arches.
"So, little one, are we taking a walk?"
Leather, a mustache: a hoodlum a bit off the rails, that was pretty clear. But what did they want with me?
"I think she came to beat off," another said. And then they all joined in.
"You think she came to get off?" "Maybe faggots excite her?" "That's very possible."
"You're not a faggot, are you?" "Because we don't like faggots." "Could be a faggot."
"That wouldn't surprise me—looks like a faggot."
"Is that true, are you a faggot?" "A cocksucker, at
The last to speak opened his fly and took out, with a flick
of the wrist, a thick and respectable dick. I felt the situation was getting out of hand.
"Leave me alone, guys. I'm not bothering you."
"You were right," said the exhibitionist. "It's a cunt." "Well, we like everybody, don't we, fellas?"
They barred my way. I tried to pass, but one of them
pushed me back, striking me on the shoulder. "Do you really think it's a cunt?" asked another one. "It's definitely a cunt, but that doesn't mean it didn't come
here to get off." "A cunt
a cocksucker, if you want my opinion!" And the circle closed around me.
I tried to resist, to force my way through. They struck me immediately, suddenly, forcibly. I was almost lifted off the earth by the fist that pierced my belly. My breath was cut off.
Somebody tore off my raincoat.
Another blow, on one of my breasts, hurt me horribly. Then a slap, very hard, and I saw stars. Two fists in the belly chopped me in half. I fell to my knees.
The one who had already half beaten me to death grabbed me by the hair and jammed his cock in my mouth.
He thrust in so deeply I gagged. I pulled back, tried to spit out that repugnant flesh. Someone gave me a kick in the kidneys.
In several seconds, they had torn off my jacket. In an instant of total panic, I saw a blade shine in the night. The guy slashed vertically across my stomach, cutting my belt and pants. Another guy tugged, and my pants fell off.
I dropped to my hands and knees with the next blow.
I sensed the blade of the knife slide down my back, and on its way back up, cut my shirt and the bottom strap of my bra.
Only my wrists were holding me up. Somebody kicked me in the side.
After that, I have only a linear vision of events. Somebody lifts my head, and a cock is stuffed into my mouth.
The blade of the knife weighs on my throat, the tip jammed under my chin.
I take another violent blow to the kidneys—a sharp blow— a belt buckle, probably. Then another.
A guy behind me tries to force open my buttocks, and I contract them, resisting as best I can. Other kicks in the belly follow.
The best and worst that could have happened did; I collapse and almost lose consciousness. The icy chill of the wet stones keeps me from completely passing out.
Other kicks, other blows with the belt.
The guy who wields the knife leans over and stabs it into my right breast rather deeply from below.
He plasters me to the ground, my arms crossed, and again I
feel hands trying to pull apart my buttocks. Fingernails dig into my flesh. Burning.
A violent blow on the nape of my neck, and for an instant there is no one, nothing.
When I come to, one guy is humping against my labia, and another is thrusting in my ass.
I convulse, throwing them off.
I hear a voice: "Whore, you're going to get it now!"
An avalanche of kicks. Someone hits me very hard in my
cunt with the point of a military pistol, and I faint for good.
I hear a barely audible voice from very far away: "Miss? Miss? Wake up! Come on! Come on! Help is here!"
I feel myself floating. I don't even hurt anymore. I am in a soft, snowy place. I need only close my eyes again to slide into sleep.
I get a dose of water on the face; I choke a little, snort, then wake up altogether.
The pain sets in. The impression of being no more than a wound. A broken doll.
I open my eyes. Leaning over me is a guy in his fifties who smells good.
To the side, no less curious but more reserved: a dog with strangely clear eyes. I learn afterwards it is a Weimaraner, whom his master calls Wagner, "although he was born in the year when you were supposed to choose only names beginning with a G."
The man has a nervous but reassuring smile.
"Do you want me to go with you to the police station?"
He gets me on my feet, helps me pull up my pants, retrieves my jacket. As for my shirt, there's nothing to be done. We never find the raincoat. Thrown into the Seine.
"No," I say in one breath.
No, no cops! Definitely no cops! I wasn't going to let a gang of men look at me, get a real eyeful, only to have them note "rape attempt" in a ledger and put me in a clinic where a sleepy intern would measure the extent of my bruises and perform the appropriate blood tests.
He helps me recross the tunnel. I am as weak as a baby learning to walk—and much less well-disposed. The beating of the water against the arches, amplified by the stones, seems enormously noisy. My head hurts, and I have a stomachache. A terrible need to vomit. The odor of cold urine doesn't help.
As we emerge on the other side, a wave laps at my ankles. Only the dog has the reflex to avoid the water's flow.
Dogs dislike getting their paws wet as much as cats do.
It's funny what thoughts will fill your head, once it's been
He repeats his offer to take me to the police station, file a complaint; he says they shouldn't get away with it. Again, I refuse.
I am at the end of my strength. The last fifty feet have finished me. It takes me a considerable period of time to climb the gentle ramp that gives cars access to the quay.
The thought of what I am ravages me, and I begin to cry silently.
He puts his arm around me.
"I live nearby," he says. "Come."
A small building on the Rue Bonaparte.
Louis (that was how he introduced himself) was an antique collector. A boutique below, a beautiful apartment on the second floor. His place was a perfection and a profusion.
Only little, delicate, and gracious things. A frozen avalanche
of Sevres biscuits placed on rosewood pedestal tables; a debauchery of Pompadour parquetry.
I looked at him through the haze of my exhaustion. He was nicely turned out for six o'clock in the morning.
He took me into a room decorated like a chambermaid's boudoir. A door covered with a cheap imitation of a Watteau throw led to a completely white-and-gray bathroom of polished •marble and granite, bright white tiles, the gray reflections of chrome and mirrors.
"Would you like—" he began.
"I'm fine," I said.
I wasn't at all fine. I closed the bathroom door and vomited. It hurt a lot to get undressed—though I didn't have much to
take off. I couldn't manage to get my heels free from my pants legs.
I was a thousand years old and devoid of memories.
I looked at myself in the mirrors, from the front and back at the same time.
I was covered with enormous bruises, especially on my stomach and loins. The skin had been opened in eight or ten places where the belt buckle had struck. I palpated my sides. Enormous pain, but nothing broken. My sex was as shattered as if it had been struck by an invisible stone. Under my right breast was a gash of an inch or so, as deep as a lance blow. Though I had been bleeding badly earlier, it had stopped. I gritted my teeth and disinfected the wound.
I felt flushed with the alcohol's sting and thought I might faint again.
I leaned over and examined my ass in the vertical mirror. I felt nothing, saw nothing. Perhaps those bastards hadn't had me after all.
Retrospectively, in one blow, I felt sick and I vomited again—bile, and nothing else, except for a little bit of blood. What -had they done to me?
I took a very long and very hot shower.
I found a gray peignoir that was a little bit big for me, in which I let myself be lost.
Louis waited for me. I seemed so dazed, no doubt, that he instinctively took me in his arms, and I started to sob, without holding back this time.
He told me he had come by while they were covering me with kicks. Nothing in their attitude suggested they had "subjected me to the final outrages." I appreciated his choice of words as much as his delicacy. Both distanced me from the facts.
"Rest," he said.
I collapsed onto the bed, and fell asleep as one dies: in pain and in an endless void.
I woke up once because in a nightmare the same gray-haired hooded man had sewn up my vagina. The pain of my labia— crushed by kicking, no doubt.
I felt black and blue all over. Beaten to a pulp—that was definitely the appropriate expression.
It even hurt to smile.
I got up and drank a little bit of water. And fell asleep again.
Louis was in his fifties. You never would have guessed it; he took care of himself.
Discretely, but exclusively, homosexual.
"Why did they finally leave me alone?" I asked.
It was six p.m. Nearly one whole revolution of the clock.
Teatime. Buttered bread, scones, and Earl Grey. I felt reborn.
"I know them," he said briefly. "How?"
"I've run into them, mornings—" "Sorry."
That made him smile. This guy was marvelously indulgent.
I stayed with Louis for five days. I had never gotten along so well with a man.
I told him everything. (What was there so important to say, in the end?)
He encouraged me to keep at it. "Search farther," he said. "The physical pain is nothing. It's that other, older pain—a man in a hood, you say? Daddy?"
He snorted. He had said the word with an accent of terrible irony—as if summing up his whole life in two syllables.
I shook my head—to chase away the idea because I didn't believe it.
"And that Nathalie! Ascesis through suffering! Nirvana through the whip! Idiocies! She has a score to settle and that's all, and that's enough, by God. But what score?"
I told him everything I had gleaned from talking with her mother and sister. The mausoleum. The death of her father.
"Maybe she feels guilty," he said. "If it's that, it's irrecuperable. One can be very strong in the face of one's own death—well, one may try—but one can do nothing before the death of others. You cannot accept it. So, when you also feel responsible—"
He questioned me finally about J. P. What he had done to me. What he had made me do.
"The human spirit is funny," he said.
He seemed to be talking to himself.
"Look He's treating you like a boy. You accept the role,
but only through inverting it; then you become the man to Nathalie's woman. She herself is never more than the feminized reflection
of the boy you are forced to be—and on that subject, who for- bade you to be a girl? And you two women act like men with each other! Simultaneously, you want her to be a woman—yet the boy you are does not like women. You torture her; she no longer knows who she is. She loves you, but you are only a means, for her, of finding the solution. She is the only one who really likes to suffer. Not you. I don't believe it."
I told him everything I had felt under the bridge: extreme suffering, feeling as if I were dying, and quasi-beatitude. As if I had pierced the wall of suffering; as if I had found the origin. The separation of my parents. My mother's voice, a night of fighting and insults at home, before their separation—and me, trembling to hear them, hiding in my room:
"What have you done to the child?"
But was that really the sentence I heard?3
My fault? Children always have a tendency to accuse
themselves when their parents make mistakes. To reproach themselves for being born.
"That's a little too easy," I concluded.
"Of course it is, picky girl. Does that mean it's necessarily wrong?"
My bruises disappeared harmoniously. A rainbow revealed in stages.
Two or three times I called my answering machine. There were several affectionate and nervous calls from Nathalie. Because each time I listened, the tape rewound and began at the beginning, I could better discern how her anxiety mounted as she left messages without getting any answer. The fifth time, I kissed Louis tenderly, shook Wagner's paw, and went home.
One day, after I had used up a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and was looking for another, I happened to find pill bottles of
AZT, blessed with a terrible eloquence, in his medicine cabinet.
An antique collector, a homosexual, and HIV positive: the stereotypical nature of the situation hardly diminished its tragic aspects. Indeed, on the contrary. Tragedy is ultimately full of stereotypes. Only the drama itself makes it original.
The second day he came back with a little red dress. Cuddly enough to make me feel pampered again, it skimmed my neck and was long at the wrists—enough camouflage to keep me from feeling frightened. He also brought several small indispensable baubles. "I am not very familiar with all this feminine artillery," he said apologetically as I unwrapped the gift boxes wrapped in tissue paper. But he didn't get it wrong—not even the size of the cups of the brassiere.
The dress was somewhat light for the season, so I waited until a warmer day to return to my place. Good-bye, Louis, I love you.
Nothing in the mail.
In the stairwell, for no reason, my heart beat faster.