A pomegranate martini later, I am touching his hand lightly, buzzed by the playful banter that only lets loose when I start to speak in French, when I wrap the scarf around my face, pretending it is a mask for Halloween.. maybe. Pretending he will use it to entice me, tease me, tempt me.

I order another. He does, too, reaches for his wallet and suggests we take our refreshments from the bar to a pair of plush chairs next to a glass fireplace–cozy with its fire, cold as fits this chic, antiseptic lobby where two strangers meet, exchange names only now. Jean-Paul meet Sylvie, we could say, and Jean-Paul has become increasingly attractive throughout the conversation, not the least because his leg keeps rubbing against mine. I remember things I have not thought in years, thinking in another language as I am while I flirt with him now. I roll through the endless possibilities of French verbs, stunning myself by what I remember of their nuances, by what I might say.

I want in not a small way to find him nice, to find him sane, to enjoy this conversation.  I am thinking of room #504, a room with a tub first and foremost, a room with plush towels and space, turned down sheets on a king size bed, peace that I am feeling an increasingly desire to disturb as he so cleverly claims to see something in my eye. I know what he is doing, let him do it. He is so close that I can feel his hot breath on my neck, his brown eyes close to mine, his skin sizzling, about to ignite.

I tell him I can stay for only an hour.

He is already asking me if I am free on Thursday.

The desire becomes overwhelming. He is from Lille, and I have never been there. I am from here, no, not originally I answer… I have been all sorts of places, but he wants to hear my stories of Chevrolets and shooting beer cans off of fence posts. These are words I never learned. We switch into English, and now he is the bold one.

I think briefly about regret: regret at my own voyaging life that ended abruptly. Years slipped by… not wasted years, but a path I never expected, and the turns away from some things I loved. I want him, want his adventures and his stories, want to hear him beg me for a fuck in French. I am laughing younger now as we switch back to his language, tease, talk about life, about books, about all the things I can never say in English. I wonder if it is not the language itself that now is seducing me as much as he is.

I turn to leave, and he walks with me toward the entrance. In room #504, Jean-Paul would undress me slowly. He would talk as we slow the moments, delicious, his kisses covering my clothing, each inch of skin bare, bared. Hours and hours. He walks near me, his steps dangerously close to my sharp heels. He stops me by the elevators.

“Pour toi,” he pulls out the chocolate from his pillow. “Un treat.”

He unwraps the chocolate, dark and silky, and puts it into my mouth, then kisses me, first soft, then fiercely, his hands combing my hair, pulling it. I plant my hands on the wall behind me, I am so dizzy. His tongue swirls through my mouth, sweet darkness, his coarse face scratching, agonizing, enticing.

A jeudi, alors? I pull away, wet and flustered. Yes, Thursday. Thursday. Perhaps.


I walked right past the address that was scrawled on the back of the dry cleaning receipt. The area of the city was familiar, filled with offices and corner bars, bakeries. Stopping to ask a doorman, I felt my cheeks hot when he said that I was already at the right address, a posh sea-front hotel with, indeed, a bar. He opened the door, and I walked in, attempting an air of confidence despite my misgivings.

I had gotten on the trolley yesterday to escape my overall ennui, looking at the ocean for an afternoon, walking in the cold sand to clear my head after the week’s overwhelming events. My job is killing me, I think sometimes, anxious I am from the tragedies that derail lives, the ongoing sagas of despair that I know just long enough to see how deep they go. And then, at times I am so touched by the kindness of strangers, the love of families, the sheer sweetness of devotion over years and years. It is life, I realize, life uncensored. I want to tell the stories, and yet am bound by respect for privacy, for the promise of confidentiality. And so it remains within me, passion desiring expression, if abstraction. Right now I come to the sea to jump into the water and swim, cry saltwater tears, laugh in the waves.

The snow is about to fall–I let the water hit my feet and numb them until I am in actual pain. Then I seek my solace instead in walking, then riding back in a near empty train, damning my own self-sufficiency as I pull out my grocery list, remember all the things I need to do.

He stands against the window and looks at me as I sit back and look up myself. At first I wonder if it is coincidence, but he is still looking back across the near-empty train, smiling, then yes, taking the seat in front of me at the next stop.

My hair is blown, messy, my skin all red from the cold wind, my old coat and bag just not the thing to wear to the city–and in fact, I never meant to go to the city, but just to pass through, invisible. But he sees me, I know.. I see him with his sharp lines and groomed nails, details, am surprised as he stands, then shoves a piece of paper into my hand as he whispers “lovely, just lovely” and then gets off at the next stop.

I am here, standing in the huge lobby, see round the corner the blue lights high above a bar, walking closer, gaze at the exotic bottles on glass shelves–so modern, so chic, and I am perhaps less weather-worn now, myself, my disheveled hair in its right place, the cashmere, the skirt, and heels, and all the effort beneath the clothing–perfume and fairy dust, the new lingerie, the finished stockings. My excitement already buzzing, now simmering all the more as I look around dizzy at the surroundings, the possibilities I don’t know that he will notice, but I will, and I walk closer. I turn to watch the bar for a few minutes to look for him–whatever his name is–5pm, yes today, yes here.

And he is here, writing in a notebook, looks up.

“I wasn’t sure you would show up,” he says.

“I thought perhaps you were just playing a trick on me–I nearly missed this place…” I say, noticing his fountain pen, his accent, his smile relaxing a little.

“Ah yes.. a trick. You don’t know me, after all.”

“Yes, for example.. names. But then, you don’t know me, either.”

The night is young.


Early evening rush of cars heading home in the wet streets, I am already home, the day draining.

I am safe, and warm, and have just crawled from the bath I ran when I came home, red wine, its heat, desire to climb into bed tempting, desire to hold you overwhelming.

I do wish to stay undressed here with you instead of dressing, instead of heading back into the cold rain as I am about to do.

I do think of you when I leave, even for the most ordinary things, milk, bread, soap, do think of your warm tongue thrilling as it opens me, as I lay in the luxury of yes.

chance of snow

The forecast says snow for tomorrow, one to three inches in outlying areas.

It will rain; it is raining now, another grey day as I contemplate the best route to take, which shoes to wear, your sleeping body in my bed as I tiptoe to the closet. You turn, reach for the edge of my robe and pull me back into the warmth with you, your whiskers tickling my neck. The cars in the street whoosh past, the world fading into abstraction as you continue to kiss me, as you make me late, again, make me wish for that snow day today, a rain day at least, a day simply to stay.


A few of those Cherry Blossom cocktails in the basement of the Japanese restaurant, and Carla is ready to roll, ready to sing, on stage, in front of all of you. Yes, you. You know who you are, and you are here to listen, here maybe to sing along with her, if Bacchus inspires you properly, too.

Carla has waited all her life to do this, karaoke some sort of dream-come-true for a would-be torch singer. She has handed off the little slip of paper to the man behind the wall and walks onto the stage like Judy Garland singing covers. She waves.

“I tell myself… what’s done is done,” Carla interprets this, dramatically signing “all done” as she sings.

“I pick the pieces off the floor…”

This is terrible. She continues, stomping and slurring by the bitter fade, “Oh dear God, it must be him, it must be him, or I shall die…”

Carla’s friend convinces her that she really should not have another, loads her into the car and drives her back home. Carla starts to cry because her friend loves her so much.

It is morning, and here is Carla, cringing as the telephone rings–no it is distinctly not him, thank God. It is a new member of the fan club, it seems, laughing voices asking about the night out as Carla stalks around the apartment, walks past that little black dress turned out halfway, tossed on the back of the chair, one heel beneath it, the other undoubtedly dropped outside the palace sometime round midnight.


Oh weary friends, don’t pour your heart out so freely when you are aching, or you may never get it back.

Don’t sing that Patsy Cline. Don’t climb up to that microphone in some small Parisian theater and call yourself a sparrow. Just don’t.

Don’t book your flight for tonight on Expedia, hotel included. Don’t wander those lonely streets of some city you always wanted to visit, just to forget. Don’t.

Don’t bungee jump, write songs, join a dating site. Just don’t. Don’t seek adventure for the sake of forgetting, because you never will now, you know.

You will think only of him, then, every time you turn the corner, dream, want. Yes, you will remember the night they all remember, the night you belted out that Vicki Carr in a dingy karaoke bar, and staggered around your apartment laughing a little too much, singing into a dildo until you lay down for just a moment, ceiling spinning, woke later with the mock microphone beside you, the garters hanging empty, stockings at your feet, lights on, a massive headache, and work the next day.

You call in sick, and nurse yourself with hot tea, hot baths, masturbation and tears, and somehow, in laughter, it still feels as though it will never be all right, even though it really is all right. But now you’ve done it: now you will never forget.

So don’t.


My phone rang to tell me that my 9:30 appointment had arrived.

It was a second visit, now prompting the raised eyebrows of those few staff who notice absolutely everything in this dreary place, none the less a car in the parking lot with foreign plates, the cologne once more, the tailored jacket, no tie, the starched shirt now unbuttoned more than absolutely necessary. I walked out and shook hands, leading my visitor back down the long corridor past the conference room where we met last time, and into my office. He glanced down the seam of my French stockings, then back up, blushing as he saw me looking back at him. I showed him a seat.

“Coffee?” I moved the piles of papers away from his chair, dropped several of them.

“No, I…” he hesitated. “Yes, sure. Just a little cream, please.”

I walked back out of the office and down the hall once more, sure this time that he was watching my back again, but I resolved not to turn to look this time. I lingered in the kitchen, aware of the small crowd of coworkers trying to gauge my reactions. Cool, cool, hot coffee, cream, I headed back toward my office. He had picked up the papers, stacked them next to my printer.

“What is this?” he had been snooping, looking at the various things on the bulletin board.

“Oh, the poem? It’s Wallace Stevens.. Do you know it”

“I am not so familiar with poetry in English..” he began, reaching across to take the mug. That was when I saw them: cuff links. Perhaps my most cherished fetish. I backed into my chair, suddenly embarrassed by my delight.

I cannot explain what it is that arouses me so much when I see a French cuff, the small pleats creased so neatly, the flash of gold, such adornment a throwback perhaps, or maybe just another glimmer into the imagination, the care taken to dress surely indicative of much more. I crossed my legs, felt the garter snap as it caught on the fabric of the chair and instinctively ran my hand round to the back of my leg to assess the damage. It was still holding. I felt my belly tighten as I moved back in my chair, trying to focus on our conversation.

But I hear little more now of practical importance, at least not work-related. I hear him when he suggests leaving. I hear him gasp as my fingers unfasten those tailored trousers, let loose his cock from the snug briefs, run my fingers down the smooth hardness of him, my tongue quickly taking over, there, there in my office parking lot, yes there. I hear him, hear the low moans, the holding back, hear myself I think, too, know the want, the lust, the sheer need.

I snap back from my reverie, notice that my purse has spilled open beneath the desk, its various secrets revealed, pleasure beads and perfume, tea bags and the earrings I chose not to wear this morning, my little luxuries.

“So, if you don’t mind, can you let me know how your clients enjoy this?” he hands me a small box. I let his hand brush against mine.

“Of course. I really appreciate this,” I tell him. I do appreciate the gesture, embarrassed now by my intense arousal, smoothing my skirt as I stand and try to mask the heat that is building inside of me.

He pauses. I wait for him to stand up to leave, wondering if he wants more, wanting more myself? Perhaps, perhaps not, lost perhaps too much in my own daydreams, the fantasies, the wish for excitement, imagination, my thoughts getting the best of me, yes the best. He is pretty, yes so handsome in his jacket, flashing glance backward, flirtations yes, always welcome, the frivolities distracting me from the day, the days, the tiresome grueling days that run each one into the other here in this grey office and all that remains here, imperfect, tragic at times, miraculous others.