Excerpt from the novel, Self-Murder

by Robert Scott Leyse

[Note: This is one of the erotic vignettes that appear in Part Two of Self-Murder. As the novel progresses the narrator becomes too unhinged to be capable of communicating with othersmuch less sleeping with themand is propelled into a world of insomina, waking hallucinations, and insanity, where temptations to commit murder continually haunt him.]


Was I speaking aloud when I heard my voice intone, “I want to drink your death!”? In other words, did I whisper it into the ear of she with whom I was spending the night or silently recite it to myself? I wouldn’t bother to ask had I not suddenly become aware that her hands were pressing against—slapping at—my chest in a manner which seemed more strident than playful; aware it was almost as if she was insisting I raise myself off of her, bring the proceedings to a halt. But, then again, perhaps I only imagined anxiety temporarily contracted the smooth oval of her face; only imagined agitated shadows briefly scattered the glow of her eyes. After all, she neither cried out nor persisted in exhibiting indications of disquietude; and so, assuming such indications had actually manifested themselves instead of being a creation of my fancy, they hadn’t managed to take root within her, accelerate to the point of influencing her actions.

All the same, regardless of the quick passing of her attack of doubt (and an unconfirmed attack of doubt at that), I was instantly recollecting the crowded club in which we’d met, informing myself it’s not always possible to appraise with a critical eye, make a well-considered decision, on the dance floor; that, as soon as one’s carried away by dancing—swept into the collective surge of vanquished frustration, giddy release—it’s possible for a woman to strike one as being unabashed, daring, and fearless when she’s nothing of the kind; possible for one to select the wrong partner with whom to spend the night and not discover one’s mistake until well after the music’s ceased to echo in one’s ears. Oh, had I made such a mistake? Had the throb of the music, flicker of the lights, abandon of the crowd distorted my judgment, caused me to bring the wrong woman to the hotel? Was there a chance she’d succumb to distrust and worry, gather her belongings, flee before the night was over? a chance I’d be sentenced to a night alone on account of the fact I was already far too excited to be capable of returning to the streets, searching for another woman, repeating the getting-acquainted ritual—proceeding from glances to words to caresses again? a chance I’d end up pacing about the hotel room with no one to share my hunger with, expend it upon?

Listen: suddenly I was second-guessing my caresses almost to the point of being unable to begin them—close to being afraid to touch her at all—on account of the fear of frightening her, being abandoned, stranded in a state of unappeased yearning. And I knew only too well that such uncomfortable self-consciousness wasn’t likely to inspire her with confidence, put her at ease; knew that the more I allowed apprehensive constraint to affect me, the more likely it was she’d succumb to the same; knew that my fear of frightening her might very well frighten her into subjecting me to my worst-case scenario; but I still couldn’t banish the picture of myself pacing about the room alone in the dead of night from my head, prevent that picture from undermining spontaneity—afflicting me with self-censorship, awkward hesitation. And, worse: soon it was as if I was gazing upon her from behind an opaque pane of glass; soon the features of her face, though they were but inches from mine, were losing their lines and definition, blurring into unfocused planes of haze; soon it was all but impossible to read her responses, discern where I stood in her eyes. As a result of this perceptual disunity, additional anxiety gripped me—such that I couldn’t help but suppose my face was tightening, becoming angular and unfriendly; that my eyes were hardening, becoming cold and distant; that warmth of feeling was departing from my touch, being supplanted by insensitive abruptness, irritating clumsiness; that she’d very soon, indeed—and justifiably! be whipped towards the door by worry!

But I additionally remember that, even while I was recoiling at the thought of being abandoned, there was a budding urge to spring away from her, scamper from the bed and dress myself, although I’m not certain why: was it because I was beginning to seriously doubt I’d be able to salvage the situation, starting to ponder whether it was better to outright accept that I’d be spending the night alone—prepare myself for spending the night alone—than further frustrate and annoy myself with vain attempts at postponement of such? or...? Oh, is it possible that, unbeknown to myself, I was more afraid of what might transpire if she chose to remain than I was of being abandoned? more afraid of permitting our activities to pursue their course than I was of passing the night in lonely insatiety? Yes, is that why I at one point found myself poised to race to my clothes, exit the room: because I was afraid she might not get around to doing it herself? On the other hand the fact is that, to however great an extent I became convinced I was about to call it quits, I did nothing of the kind... Ha, so why pose these questions? Why wonder who was afraid of whom? or who was afraid of what? or which fears eclipsed the others? or whether there was, in fact, a single fear which had a firm grounding in actual perceptions and existed independently of my imagination? Because, for all I knew, I’d been unwaveringly going through the motions of an exemplary lover while playing out a scene of incompatibility, suspicion, and anxiousness in my head; for all I knew, my outward behavior hadn’t at any time mirrored what was going on inside me. But that’s the point: I didn’t know whether I’d been behaving well or badly, hadn’t a clue as to what her true frame of mind was.

I’ve no idea for how long the above-described uncomfortable interval lasted: all I know is that I—in an eventual hands-flung-up-in-futility frame of mind—gave up attempting to discern if there was discomfort in the situation or not and simply surrendered, collapsed onto her with my head turned to the side; that, although my eyes were still open and I was aware of the brightness of the overhead lamp, all thought was erased from my head; that, following what must have been a couple minutes of blankly staring into the air, I gradually became conscious of the steady rise and fall of her chest, soft breeze of her exhalations upon my cheek. I raised myself to my elbows, gazed upon her: the pane of glass which had separated us was no longer there; the pale oval of her face was crystal clear, with a look of smoldering delight and trustful submission plainly stamped upon it! Ha! Ticklish tingles spread over the surface of my skin, relief and joy pulsatingly surged in my veins—I was instantly dizzy with eagerness to resume our activities! Yes, I wanted to make amends for the interval of unease I’d undergone, and possibly imposed upon her—caress away every last pocket of tension in her muscles, uncoil every trace of wound-tightness in her nerves!

Within seconds I was stroking her chest, throat, cheeks—licking her lips, thrusting my tongue between them! without trepidation, any remnant of self-accusatory caution; yes, unhesitantly squeezing, slapping—lightly scratching, nipping! her undulating body in response to the smile of encouragement upon her face—unflinchingly greeting the radiant accord of her eyes with my eyes! and... I couldn’t say when it was that I became aware I was actively listening to the rhythm of her breathing (which was becoming more audible by the moment, beginning to rise and fall in seductive oscillations of cadence like gusts negotiating a narrow alley’s sharp twists and turns); aware I was redoubling my caresses and kisses, rubbing myself against her more insistently, with the aim of increasing the force and depth of her breathing—duration of her sighs, moans! and... Ha, the deeper the breaths she drew, the deeper the breaths I drew; and, before I half-realized what I was doing, I was covering her mouth with mine, sealing both of our lips, while holding my breath—holding it up to the moment when she expelled hers through her nose! Yes, before I half-realized what was happening, we were drawing increasingly deeper breaths together—holding them for longer intervals! and...

Listen: during those intervals in which we held our breaths together, I’d feel the taut urgency of her muscles ripple—twitch! against my skin; feel her inner vitality quiver—throb! in my veins; feel the electric warmth of her yearning crackle—seethe! in my nerves; yes, feel it all with a vividness I’d seldom, if ever, experienced before; feel sensation intensify—the very pulse of life accelerate! in a manner deliriously magical, and... All I can say is that I wanted those intervals to last longer; that, each time we held our breaths together, I’d feel her exhale from her nose—break the spell, end the intensification of sensation! before I was ready to do so myself; that, as a consequence of my sense of deprivation, I found myself pinning her wrists to the mattress with my elbows, winding my legs about her legs, grinding my belly into hers, immobilizing her. Then, as soon as we drew another breath together, I seized her hair with one hand, pinched her nostrils shut with the other, and sealed her mouth with mine—held my breath while preventing her from breathing! and... Oh, I’m telling you I couldn’t stop pressing myself against her harder, winding my legs tighter, grasping her hair more firmly; telling you that, even had her eyes been frozen in an expression of stunned bewilderment, shocked disbelief—even had she been struggling to twist from under me, kick me away, reclaim her right to breathe at will—I would’ve been incapable of perceiving it; telling you I was sensationally blind to all but the shimmering friction of her skin, vibrant hum of her nerves! God, and forceful sparkles were swirling and rushing throughout me, accumulating to such a degree (far quicker and with greater intensity than when she’d been free to exhale and inhale on her own) that they were overspreading my skin with hot chills—engulfing me in prickly numbness, fiery anesthesia! I lost the ability to localize sensation, distinguish one portion of my body from another, determine where my body ended and hers began; was only aware of euphoria unlike any I’d previously known, and of wanting to prolong and increase it!

Ha! All too soon I became aware portions of my body were shaking off the numbness, announcing their discomfort; aware I was beginning to want to tear my lips from hers, inhale a breath of air; beginning to see flicker-flash pictures of myself falling into a faint! Instants accumulated: the urge to seize a breath became stronger, all but unbearable! But then: I swear something else suddenly slipped inside my body, froze every muscle, and prevented me from taking the breath I needed; swear the something else was savoring the sensation of hovering on the edge of a swoon at the very moment my fear of swooning was at its height; swear the sentiments of the something else and myself intermingled and that I was seized with what I can only describe as being upstaged fear, eclipsed terror; yes, that I was, indeed, afraid but that the joy of the something else—the other! was meeting my fear head-on, balancing it, propelling me into a state of explosive equilibrium where the very stream of time was as if doubling back on itself, uncertain of how to proceed! But no sooner did it flash upon me—in a millisecond burst of blinding white! that I was only now beginning to experience what I was truly seeking—on the threshold of grasping a precious secret, being propelled into a magical realm of inner-clash resolution! than I was in the grip of sharp vibrations, shaking without being able to stop; than both of our bodies separated—erupted! as if stung by whips! Yes, her mouth violently jerked in a streak of red towards the right—hissed, gasped! at the same time that bursts of air rushed down my throat so forcefully I could barely feel the arms which were striking my shoulders, face—barely feel the slapping hands, clawing nails!—just manage to discern the agitated face, heaving chest, flailing legs on the bed below me; to hear a muffled stammer, shout—hear, “Not again! Do you understand? Don’t you ever...!”

When my breathing stabilized and the beat of my heart was no longer thumping in my temples; when my senses cleared and I was again able to place one thought in front of another... I found I was on my hands and knees above her, restraining her arms and legs as gently as I could (grasping the wrists of the former, pressing my ankles against the calves of the latter) while softly saying, “I’m sorry the game got out of hand, it won’t happen again. Don’t worry—I’d rather die than make you afraid...”; yes, found I was bringing my face close to hers, smiling into her angry eyes, kissing the frown on her brow; found I was atremble with sympathy and regret, worried in earnest. And, before too long (following another two or three minutes of caressing words, tender kisses, and kindly looks on my part), her efforts to extricate herself—the indignant twists of her torso, resentful jerks of her limbs—began to seem half-hearted; yes, soon the angry angles of her features began to smooth out, relax, capitulate; likewise, the hard glint in her eyes began to fade. And then she ceased resisting altogether, became limp, sighed; albeit, in a shrug-shouldered manner...

I remember releasing her wrists, raising my ankles from her legs, sitting beside her, questioningly seeking her eyes with mine; remember she was regarding me with a look which I can only describe as being unwilling resignation, self-critical submission; yes, as if she was attempting to convince herself I wasn’t to be trusted—inform herself she was still too close to danger for comfort, warn herself our activities must cease—at the same time that her still hot and bothered body (for how could it be otherwise?: neither of us had yet turned inside out in time to the upwellings of procreation) was distracting her from those attempts, undermining the workings of her reason, compelling her to remain. No, she couldn’t prevent sweet encouragement from smoldering amidst the uncertainty in her eyes; prevent a flush of pleasure from intermingling with the trepidation upon her face; prevent her posture from suggesting surrender more convincingly than it suggested recoil. Nor could she prevent herself from suddenly grasping the bedposts behind her, pressing the back of her head into the pillow, widening her eyes—staring straight at me! in a manner which caused every muscle in my body to twitch with excitement as I gasped for breath!

God! Her pale face was framed—set in relief, made even more radiant and vivid! by the glistening black of her disarrayed hair; her delicate chin and full crimson lips were invitingly—hungrily! lifted upwards; her throat—smooth, supple, slender, unblemished throat! was right there, in front of me—stretched to its full length, quiveringly taut! and... Oh, I recall being enthralled and frightened in equal measure as I abruptly sat atop her belly, grasped both sides of her torso with my thighs; recall a sensation as of claws scratching my skin from the inside—a sensation at once unpleasant and beguiling! as I watched my hands jerk towards her face, pause near her chin for an instant, before descending towards her throat... But then strident shrieks stabbed at my ears—filled the air with jagged angles, shattered light! as she pushed me off of her, scrambled from the bed, dashed to the far side of the room! For a few moments she was a blur of frantic gesticulations, rustling clothes; then she vanished through the door...


Robert Scott Leyse was born in San Francisco, grew up in various locales about America, lived in Paris for a spell, and now resides on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Upon arrival in Manhattan he lived in several East Village dumps and worked as a New York cab driver on the night shift, with the aim of atoning for a sheltered upbringing and having adventures the likes of which he'd never had before and he wasn't disappointed; subsequently he acquired over a dozen years of experience in the legal field, where he was pleasantly surprised to find that additional adventures, of the office politics and shenanigans variety, were to be had; presently he works in the advertising field, where he's not looking for any special adventures, having decided to keep work separate from fun and games and have secrets that are easier to keep. He skis in Sun Valley, Idaho, surfs with board and body in southern California and Puerto Rico, once took a belly dance class in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the most incandescent yoga class he’s ever had was on a stand-up paddle board in Condado Lagoon during a furious rainstorm. He eats fish heads and insects and drinks blood, but can’t be paid to eat potato chips or cake.

He is a co-founder and the editor of this webzine (launched May Day, 2001); and the founder and editor of the ShatterColors Literary Review (launched May Day, 2006). His three novels are: Liaisons for Laughs: Angie & Ella’s Summer of Delirium (July, 2009), Self-Murder (April, 2010), and Attraction and Repulsion (June, 2011).


A dark love story of obsessive fixation,
perceptual disorientation, insomnia, and psychic
seizures—with madness waiting in the wings.

Excerpt from Self-Murder
© 2010
by Robert Scott Leyse



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