by Robert Scott Leyse

Right on schedule: the spike-topped iron gate has slid to the left and clanged against one of the ivy-cloaked granite pillars, allowing your chauffeur driven Rolls to exit your estate. I arrived fifteen minutes ago and parked a bit further down on this winding street—a location which allows me a sufficient view of your driveway through the gnarled branches of this interposing oak. Naturally, I am going to follow you, keep track of your every movement during every second of at least the next twenty-four hours. And, my, but how I do adore your personalized license plates—Lydia is such a beautiful name.

Within another fifteen minutes we are well within the city limits—so uplifting it is to take this shortcut through neglected neighborhoods, pass the empty shells of stripped cars and fire-gutted buildings, sidewalk after sidewalk glittering with broken glass. And the scenery does have a tendency to change rather abruptly, with very little warning, doesn’t it? Thus we are now surrounded by such well-maintained turn of the twentieth century mansions—all of them safe and secure behind massive walls fitted with barbed wire and cameras, patrolled by security guards. But, no, we do not remain here. We pass on.

A few settings later your car pulls to the curb. And the street is somehow without character, what one might deem suspiciously plain. It could be located anywhere. Just an inconspicuous row of necessity stores—clothing, hardware, drug, shoe repair, grocery. But, then, appearances are not to be trusted, are they? Who would suspect, Lydia dear, why you have really come here, who could ever know why you have just descended that set of cellar-destined steps?

Oh no, there is no need to follow you down them. There is, you see, no other exit and, after all, I know your habits so well. I know that your wrists and ankles will wear thick leather bracelets, that they will be clasped to gold plated hooks in the floor and ceiling, that you now and then need to feel that whip and turn inside out and scream. Is it that those riches of yours now and then make everything seem too easy, give you the unpleasant impression of all too effortlessly skimming over the surface of life? Do you need a point of contact with reality? Do you need to compensate for your comfort by feeling pain and humiliation, desperation and dread?

I also know the exact hour at which you will reappear, know that you will be utterly relaxed and self-possessed, almost religiously serene. Yes, it is so pleasant to feel balanced—nothing like being restored to one’s foundations, brought back down to earth. And Lydia: I even know where you will instruct your chauffeur to drive you next.

And, sure enough, now that night is falling and the neon is beginning to stand out, glow a vivid emerald and red, you are standing on the busy sidewalk of [________], brushing back your long undulating ebony hair. And how effortlessly you stand out from the crowd—what a remarkably beautiful face you have, how perfect is your poise and posture, self-assured the slightest twist of your hand or flick of a finger—how commandingly you glance about. Yes, indeed, a very impressive femme fatale exterior, all of the I dare you! mannerisms down pat. In other words, just the type of invitation I find impossible to ignore.

You begin to walk and I am never far from you, once or twice even step on the streetlight-cast shadow of your sable coat. In the same way that you are semiconscious of your shadow you seem to be semiconscious of me, vaguely aware of the brooding young man who now and then pauses to scan his surroundings, several times crosses to the other side of the street only to cross right back. Seems to be searching for something, doesn’t he? Seems a trifle overwrought and excitable, impatient of everything in sight.

And what a coincidence that you have chosen my favorite nightclub, one with obsidian tabletops, crimson lighting, and an excellent stage show. You take a seat at a table near the front right corner of the stage, order your usual brandy Manhattan, and light a Gold. On the stage some supple and slender semi-famous woman is wrapping the microphone cord about herself while straddling the stand, shoving it back and forth. Her orange hair blazes in the blue-white beam of the spotlight and her thighs flash like lightning through the slits in her long black dress.

But I do not notice her for long, do I Lydia? For I find that your performance inspires far more compelling fantasies, infinitely stronger desires. I simply love the way you wind your necklace about your fingers, the way its rosy beads gleam like savagely clear eyes, seem to laugh. And I can feel the coiled energy within you—I grow so warm at its touch, tingle inside. And yes, rest assured that you will soon feel me in a similar manner—your skin is going to flush and twitch and sparkle in response to the ice crystal whirl of my nerves.

And how disturbingly attractive you are, Lydia! I want to meet you in a back alley, press you hard against a cold wet mossy wall. I want to tear your dress into ribbons, scatter it about. I want you maddened, to feel your fingernails scratching my face. I want to see your sweat glistened body thrashing, your face drowning in excitement and shock. I want your mouth all over me, to see nothing but and drown in the vermillion of your lips. I want to get to the bottom of your detachment, shatter your studied dignity, cut you with glass. Already I can hear you panting and squealing, feel the contractions inside you inundating me with a whirl of electric bursts. We are writhing at the base of the wall and my hands are numb with pain from repeatedly striking the pavement. I am only aware of the river of thought-suspending emotion we have become together—almost as if the veil of existence is ripping wide open, revealing the mystery on its other side.

And yes, I am now sitting at your table, have suddenly appeared from out of the dark red light of the club. You cannot suspect how long I have watched you, do not know how certain I am. True, on the surface I am playful and joking, all laughs and lighthearted charm. But then, you are a perceptive woman, aren’t you Lydia? You cannot help but detect the tension and hunger and pain and dread which churn behind the veil of my manner and agitate for relief.

And it is with my suffering that I snare you, with my inner turmoil that I fascinate and subdue. All of your probes drown in my depths and that is why you are so anxious to please. People you are able to categorize you feel superior to but pain is bottomless and that is why you will never know me. People with readily ascertainable personalities turn you off but already you suspect that, for anything you know about me, you will be mystified by something else. Yes Lydia, I know you well.

In fact, I cannot be said to have a personality in the usual sense. And so who am I? Simply a collection of masks, well-acted roles. And I am highly versatile—get to the bottom of one role and I’ll switch to another, play it so completely that before long you will believe I could not possibly have been anyone else, that the previous version of me was but a creation of your imagination. And that appeals to you, doesn’t it Lydia? How you do love a good game of psychological hide and seek.

And already my hand is stroking your thighs and toying with the tops of your stockings, already I am nipping your ear while whispering that we should leave. And you readily agree, don’t you Lydia? Indeed, how could you not?

And how pleasingly blinding is the swirl of the neon and the slash of the headlights, how nice to be in the midst of a crisply darting breeze. And your eyes also dart, don’t they Lydia? You are a trifle uneasy, wondering about our destination. But why bother? You know as well as I that you cannot help but come, that the strongest part of you is the one which lead you to leave the club in the first place—the same part which attracts you to the whip.

We stroll down a garbage littered alley, up a set of dusty narrow steps, and through a rusty-hinged door. Yet the room itself is quite sumptuous, decorated in the highest style. Yes, in the same way that the outer shell of an oyster conceals a pearl this beat up building conceals such a room. Simply never can trust exteriors, never can know.

All of the walls are mirrors and a dusky indigo light flows from several glowing disks on the ceiling, thickens the air. You slip off your coat and toss it towards the base of the window, stand in the center of the room in a shimmering crimson dress. And how expertly you remove it—such smooth nimble gestures, a graceful frenzy of manner which twists my nerves from their pathways, fills me with such tingling as-if-drug-induced warmth. And yes, I would like to assist you: nothing like the sensation of slowly peeling your stockings down your thighs, as strong as they are sleek and soft. And how rhythmically the curtains undulate behind you, how thick and supple and downy they are. Why don’t you tear them from the rods and use them as veils, perform a dance? No need to worry about privacy—the windows are painted black. That’s right, twist and wind below the lights as they illuminate the rippling symmetry of your immaculate body—mesmerize me with a symphony of movement, inundate me with rapt appreciation, make me need to lose my tongue in your throat.

Such luscious wet ruby lips! They taste like mashed pomegranates and brandy, are so responsive and warm. And those gasps and squeals and excitement-slurred whisperings of yours! They send ice crystals up and down my spine, have my vision blurred. Such confusion! Tremulous fingers are winding the dark waves of your hair about them—do they belong to you or me? And I am looking into a pair of deliriously silvered eyes—mine in the mirror at the head of the bed or yours upon your face? And what has happened to the sense of touch? Why is it that I seem to be both sinking into warm mercury and floating above the bed in suffocating mist-saturated air?

And why, Lydia, does such panic seize me? Why is it that one moment I want to slam your head into one of the mirrors, that the next I want to be so worshipful and indulgent and kind? Why do I at one and the same time want to cut you with a knife and lick you tenderly, crush your skull and give you every comfort on earth? Why do I both love and loathe? Is it because you mirror me so perfectly, because every time I look into your eyes I see myself staring back? Is it because part of me wants to leap from a building, be guillotined?

And one of us is screaming. Who is it? Is it I who stuffs the sable sleeve in your mouth or you who stuffs it in mine?


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 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 explore the option of separating work from fun and games and having 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 probably shouldn't mention his lousy attendance record at the yoga studio down the street. 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).


© 2001 by Robert Scott Leyse





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