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Woom: (S)MOTHER

THE SMOTHER MAN opened the door and right off the bat he wouldn’t hold my gaze. He kept his eyes down most of the time I was in his hotel room, staring at my tits, or my stomach and ass, and I could tell this was going to be an interesting experience. As far as red flags went, I didn’t see anything too off-putting. There was a strange box on the bed that didn’t seem like it came with the room, but that was it. I thought it looked like some kind of religious relic, like maybe it had an ancient Bible inside it, or a lock of some old dead Pontiff’s hair.

‘What’s in the box?’ I asked him, and he looked over at the box like he’d forgotten about it.

He goes, ‘Nothing,’ in this quiet little voice like a kid who’s been scolded. He wandered over to it and flipped it over, showing me the hole in the lid with a proud smile, flicking his eyes up to mine for a half a second before looking down at the floor.

For some reason the hole in the top reminded me of a confession box. Like if I peeked inside I’d see Father Dennison, my old priest, looking out at me. That thought really creeped me out, but I wasn’t going to let it cost me an hour’s work.

‘Is that a jewelry box?’ I asked.

The guy just shook his head, and I saw some dandruff fall from his greasy hair and land on his shoulders like snow.

‘Well, what is it then?’ I go, getting really annoyed at that point because it seemed like he was never going to tell me about the box. I felt like Brad Pitt in that movie about the serial killer, and thinking about serial killers and my old priest was definitely not putting me in the mood to fuck.

‘I call it my smother box,’ he kind of whispers, and he raised his eyes just enough to dart around the hem of my skirt.

Looking at the box again, right away I could see how it worked. It was like those medieval punishment things, what do you call them? The stocks, yeah. I could see where the hinges were, and the neck hole in the side. Close the box around the sub’s head, and the dom sits on the little hole like on an outhouse toilet.

‘You want me to smother you?’ I asked him.

His nod was so timid I was barely sure he’d made it.

‘Well, okay,’ I said, ‘why don’t you put it on for me?’

His eyes pretty much popped out of his head when I said that, and a tiny little smile creeped onto his pimpled face. He looked about thirty-five, maybe forty. He was wearing this ugly sweater, I guess would have called it a Cosby sweater before saying the name ‘Cosby’ started to feel sleazy. A little thick around the middle, but honestly, I figured it was more likely a weakness for Little Debbie snack cakes than a beer gut from the way he carried himself, and he wore his pleated pants so high at the bottom I could see the tops of his white tube socks under them, above a dirty pair of sneakers.

He plucked the box up from the bed and took it with him to the bathroom. This was a pretty decent hotel he’d paid for, with a sitting room in front and, from what I could see through the bathroom door when he opened it, a pretty large tub. I thought he might let me stay and have a soak if I didn’t have to jet off to another client. I wondered what kind of bath balls they’d have in a ritzy place like that. I mean, I make a decent living as an escort, but I don’t usually treat myself to places like that. I’m saving up so I can go live some place where the beaches are hot and the guys are even hotter.

Nope, never travelled outside of the area. Went across the border a couple of times to Niagara Falls, but that’s about it. I’m a Buffalo gal, born and bred.

When the Smother Man came back into the bedroom, his small pimpled face was sticking out from the front of the box. He looked like a cuckoo clock, and I laughed a little thinking that, even though they tell you on your first day never to laugh at clients. I just couldn’t help it. The thought of him going ‘Cuckoo! Cuckoo!‘ while he stuck out his tongue to lick my pussy just got me laughing, and when I get laughing it’s hard to get me to stop.

Well, the poor guy hung his head, and I realized I’d humiliated him, so I gave him an apology. He just goes, ‘Don’t apologize. I know I look stupid,’ and honestly, I just wanted to hug the little bastard at that point, he was so sad and cute, even though I couldn’t imagine actually hugging him without getting his dandruff all over my nice top, but at least his greasy head was locked inside the box.

What he said made me understand what he was looking for, though. He was a sub, and he wanted me to berate him. He wanted me to lay down the law, so I did.

‘Get on the bed,’ I shouted at him, pointing at it.

He kind of shrank away from me, his head dropping down into his shoulders like a turtle, only it couldn’t go far because of the box. He goes, ‘Yes, ma’am,’ and headed for the bed.

‘Yes, Mistress,’ I scolded him, and he repeated it. ‘On your knees!’

He goes, ‘Yes, Mistress,’ again, and got down on his hands and knees like a dog to crawl the rest of the way to the bed.

I told him to climb up, and he did. I told him to roll over on his back, and he did that too. Then I moved over to the bed myself and stood with my knees against the mattress, right about where his head was. The thing about these guys who love queening, they need to see the pussy from below. It’s like—you know how in movies when someone does the sign of the cross and prays in front of Jesus, and they always point the camera down at the guy praying, and point it up at Jesus? That’s what this is like. He wanted to worship my pussy. The smother box was his confessional.

So real slowly, I slipped off the frilly black underwear I was wearing. I used to have a bush back then, since some guys were requesting it because it was making a comeback in porn but their wives were all still sporting hardwood floors because of what porn told them to do in the ’90s. I’d spritzed a real fragrant perfume down there, and it mixed well with my natural smell. I kicked my panties aside and squatted down so my bush tickled his forehead.

‘You want this?’

The box moved up and down on my inner thighs when he nodded.

‘Beg for it,’ I told him.

He knew just what to say, as if he’d practiced it a hundred times. ‘Please, Mistress. Please sit on my face. Smother me Mistress, pleeeeease.

So I got up onto the mattress, my legs on either side of him, and I squatted over the box. Sitting down on it was uncomfortable, but I didn’t let it show. I was in charge, and if I whimpered or whined, I would look weak. He wanted me to be strong.

His face was mashed up against my pussy. When he breathed in through his nose it sounded like he was blowing a fart against his arm. It tickled, but I didn’t laugh. I was a no-nonsense bitch. I was The Good Wife. I was Xena: Warrior Princess.

We’d worked out that he would tap me on the thigh when he was ready for me to get off of him, when he’d had enough or he needed some air. His arms were flat at his sides when I felt his tongue flick out and lick my pussyhole.

‘Put your dirty tongue back in your mouth!’ I shouted at him, and immediately I felt it retreat, like a penis in cold water. ‘Nobody said you could lick my pussy, you worm. Get back in the dirt,’ I said, inspired when I’d improvised the word worm, and I slid my sticky pussy down to his chin, hunching over to rub my asshole on his nose. ‘Breathe it in, worm. Rub your nose in my dirty shithole.’

He did just like I told him to, and when he breathed out again I felt it tickle my pucker. I almost giggled then but I was too far into character by then. Grade twelve drama class finally paying off.

I felt a tentative touch on my thigh, and raised my ass off his face to give him some air.

‘Thank you, Mistress,’ he gasped.

‘You’d best do better than that next time,’ I lectured him. ‘You’d better take a deep breath before you dare to lick my pussy again.’

I felt the box move up and down on my inner thighs as he nodded.

‘Are you ready?’ I asked him.

Again, the box moved. I heard him suck in a deep breath.

I sat down on the box and squirmed on his face. His tongue came out and this time I let it search my folds for my clit. He found it—I’m not sure if it was by accident or experience, and it stayed there, circling it, flicking it. I was tripping on power already, and honestly, this was the best my pussy’d ever been licked, even counting the handful of times I’d doubled up on clients with another girl and she ate me out. It was like he was reading hieroglyphs with his tongue, like he was speaking to my clit in some ancient language. Vaginese, or something.

This was my pussy whisperer.

When I came, I gushed buckets. Candy Rains would have been proud of me that day. I mean, I waterboarded that poor bastard like it was shower time at Guantanamo. Honestly, it was the first and last time I’d ever squirted from clitoral stimulation alone, and I was pretty spent. My pussy was numb, my thighs were quivering, and my fucking legs felt like they were made out of JELL-O.

I raised up onto my knees, only then just realizing I hadn’t felt his tongue wriggling down there in maybe a minute. I thought maybe he was just letting me cum at my own pace, but then I started to get worried. I slid off the bed, my legs still shaking, and looked down at the man in the box.

He looked just like a little baby, his face all wet and purple inside the hole. I slapped his nose a few times and he didn’t flinch, his eyes didn’t open, so I got down and started doing CPR, which I learned because some of my clients are a bit older now that everyone’s taking Viagra, and I thought it would save me a lot of trouble if one of those old fart’s happened to have a heart attack while we were in the middle of fucking, like that ’90s movie with Madonna and the Green Goblin.

Well, the poor guy’s eyes shot open finally, and he coughed out a mess of salty-tasting liquid right into my mouth, which I guess was my cum, and while he choked, his face started going back to its normal color, and I unlatched the box and flipped open the lid, hoping it wasn’t cutting off his circulation.

He gasped, and he laughed. At first I thought his eyes were just shiny from my cum or from lack of oxygen, but when he sat up tears started spilling down his face.

‘That was the most… intense thing I’ve ever experienced,’ he said, louder than he’d said anything since I first stepped into the room, almost like he’d finally found his voice, and he took my hands in his and kissed them. He goes, ‘Thank you,’ and kissed them again, gushing about as much as I just did on his face. ‘Thank you, you have no idea how much you helped me!’

 

‘HE WAS BORN again,’ Angel remarked.

‘Yeah, I guess he was,’ Shyla said, and shook her head at the memory. ‘He told me he was on the verge of suicide. He was so obsessed with this idea of what he wanted, and nothing ever came close until he found me. When I sat on his face, he said it was like a religious awakening.’

‘And when you came, it was his baptism.’

Shyla snickered. ‘I was so happy for him, I didn’t want to ruin it telling him it was the first time I’d ever done it. I wanted to… maintain the illusion, you know what I mean?’

Angel smiled. ‘I think I do.’

‘Can you imagine that, though? Being so fixated on a fetish you’d kill yourself if you knew you’d never experience it?’

‘I can,’ he said. ‘It’s certainly not rational. Then again, few things about sex are.’

‘I don’t know,’ Shyla said, cocking her head to the side. ‘When you think about all the war, greed, murder, drug addiction, crime… those ‘bad things’ you mentioned. Sometimes sex seems like the only sane thing people do. I mean, it’s simple. It’s usually a mutually beneficial transaction, as long as it’s consensual. Even when you don’t cum, it’s still sex.’

‘You make a good point,’ Angel said. He pushed up from the chair. ‘And on that note, let’s get back to work.’

‘Agreed. This pussy ain’t gonna fuck itself.’

Nestled between her legs, Angel said, ‘As luck would have it, I’ve also got a story about smothering.’

‘Of course you do,’ Shyla said, rolling her eyes.

‘Do you not want to hear it? It didn’t happen in this room, but I think it’s germane.’

Germane?

‘Relevant,’ he said.

‘Honestly? I’m kind of more interested in your stories now than what you might have waiting for me inside your pants.’

Angel laughed, and then he said—

 

THERE WAS A boy who grew up without his parents, and when he was a man he drifted aimlessly through life. No real goals. Few attachments. He’d only loved two women aside from the mother he’d never met, and both of them had betrayed him just like his mother had by abandoning him.

The boy who grew up to be an angry man blamed all of his troubles on the mother he had never known. Therapy didn’t help. Church groups bored him. Drugs and alcohol were merely bandages on open wounds. When he saw the ad in the newspaper, he thought he’d finally found a chance to turn things around.

OVERCOME YOUR ANGER! the headline said, and below that, in smaller type: Rebirthing can CHANGE your LIFE! Join us to begin YOUR new life TODAY! Serious applicants ONLY! Send a check for $1 to… Below the copy was a P.O. Box, the way all of those ads used to have P.O. Boxes, and no phone number. He thought this was a little suspicious, but all he had to lose was a buck and a stamp, so he wrote to them, expecting to lose the dollar and never hear back.

Two weeks later, he got a letter in the mail. No return address. His name and address printed in dot matrix on the front of the envelope. He tore it open, but it felt empty. He squeezed it so it opened wide, and shook it over the kitchen counter.

A little scrap of paper fell out. An address and a date, Thursday 8P.M.

He showed up at the address a few minutes early, and knocked on the door of the apparently abandoned factory, expecting no one to answer. He ignored the van that pulled up to the curb, until the passenger rolled down the window and said, ‘Have you come to be reborn?’

Suspicious, the man said he had.

‘Well, hop in the back. This is Janis,’ the shaggy haired white guy in an army green duffel coat said, nodding toward the driver, an aging Asian lady with hippie braids and round John Lennon glasses. ‘I’m Irv. We’re attachment therapists.’

The man took a wary step back from the van.

‘Look, do you want help, or not?’ Irv said with a bored sigh.

‘I’ve tried therapy,’ the man said.

‘Not like this, you haven’t. They call it the Evergreen Method. Were you by any chance adopted?’

The man shook his head. ‘I lived in a foster home until I was sixteen,’ he said.

‘Both parents, huh?’ Janis said, lighting a thin brown cigar. ‘That’s a real drag.’

‘Look, this would be a lot easier if you got in the back,’ Irv said, squinting out at the yellow streetlight.

The man considered it. He’d come out all this way on the bus just to meet them. Felt silly to go all the way back home just because the meeting was in a van instead of an abandoned factory, as if one were any worse than the other.

He got in the back. It smelled of patchouli, some kind of cheap men’s body spray, and sweat, as Irv leaned over the back of the seat.

‘Hey, man, glad to have you aboard.’ Irv stuck out a hand, and the man shook it, while Janis eyed him in the rearview mirror. ‘Just pop a squat on the rug,’ Irv said, indicating the rolled up rug on the otherwise empty floor.

The man sat. Janis threw the van into drive, and eased away from the curb. They drove through the darkened streets in silence for a bit.

‘So what does this…?’

‘Evergreen?’ Irv asked.

The man nodded. ‘What does it entail?’

‘It’s a proven method. Janis and I both went through it ourselves. Janis’s mother died when she was twelve. She got into drugs and starting fires and whatnot, until Evergreen saved her life.’ In the mirror, Janis locked eyes with the man, and gave him a stern nod. ‘Me, I’ve been fighting all my life. Never was a good kid. Truth be told, I was a real asshole. My parents took me to see a therapist, Dr. Schwartzman. Totally turned my life around.’

The man gave Irv the look of appreciation he supposed was required.

‘That’s why we do what we do,’ Irv said. ‘To give back. Pay it forward, so to speak.’

Janis nodded as she sped up to beat a yellow light.

‘Your parents,’ Irv said, ‘did you know them?’

‘I never met my mother.’

‘And your daddy?’

‘Never in the picture,’ he said.

Irv nodded as if he’d heard it all the time. ‘You always been angry?’

‘As long as I can remember.’ The man shrugged. ‘It didn’t really occur to me it was something I could change until I saw your ad.’

‘That’s rad,’ Irv said, and the man had to chuckle.

Janis pulled the van into a Dunkin’ Donuts lot, and the back doors opened. Another man and woman stepped in, and the man of the couple was so tall he had to crouch.

‘Didn’t expect you to be a brother,’ the older black man said. ‘How you doin’?’

‘I’m fine,’ the man said.

‘He fine,’ the tall man chortled. ‘You hear that, Janis?’

Janis ignored him, pulling the van out of the lot and merging into traffic.

‘Don’t pay any attention to Victor,’ the young woman said. ‘I’m Raylene.’ She extended a bejeweled hand, her blonde cornrow beads rattling as she leaned forward. The man shook it. ‘Real pleasure,’ she said.

Raylene sat beside the man. Victor sat crossed-legged across from them, leaning against the wall.

‘Hey, Vic,’ Irv said, ‘my man here was just telling Janis and me about how he grew up in a foster home. Victor grew up in a white family, you believe that shit? Like a reverse Oreo.’

Victor grinned. ‘Yeah, it was just me and Willis, and a sexy little redhead.’ He laughed. ‘Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Irvine?’

Irv cracked up. ‘That gets me every time.’

Raylene rolled her eyes. Janis drove with hers on the road.

‘You guys seem like one big happy family,’ the man said, anxious to fill the silence.

Victor laughed. ‘It’s a dirty job, but someone gotta do it.’

Irv laughed with him, and held out a hand to slap him five.

The brakes squealed as Janis parked. The front windshield was dark. The man had no idea where they’d taken him until the windows began to rattle as something boomed by above them. The sound became a screeching, and then he knew: they’d parked near the airport. A jet had just passed overhead.

The vinyl seats grumbled as Irv slipped between them, and hunkered down in the back between Victor and Raylene. ‘Next stop, Wombtown,’ he said, and the others chuckled.

‘What does that mean?’ the man asked, growing nervous.

‘It means, we gon’ roll you up in this carpet and let you fight your way out,’ Victor explained. With the dome light out, his smile seemed incredibly white against his dark skin.

‘Like a little baby,’ Raylene said, and then made this little tee hee sound when she laughed.

The man got up to leave, but Irv grabbed him by the shoulder and sat him down again. ‘You ain’t goin’ nowhere,’ he said. ‘We had an arrangement.’

‘You asked for it,’ Raylene said. ‘We’re just giving you what you want.’

‘Well, maybe I changed my mind.’ The adrenaline poured like acid into his veins. Heart pounding. Were they a cult? Were they going to let him live? ‘Haven’t you ever changed your mind about something you thought you wanted?’ he asked them—pleaded with them.

‘I told you he’d pussy out,’ Janis said.

‘I’m not pussying out,’ the man said. He promised himself he wouldn’t let them bully him into submission. He wouldn’t.

‘Unroll the carpet,’ Victor said.

‘Rug,’ Irv corrected him.

‘Are we gon’ have this argument every damn time?’

‘If you keep calling it rug, we are. Carpets go wall to wall,’ Irv said, gesturing the expanse with his hands. He pointed to the object in question. ‘That is an area rug.’

‘He’s right,’ the man said.

‘You supposed to be on my side,’ Vic said, glaring at their passenger. ‘High yellow-ass nigga.’

‘I’m not on a side. I don’t even want to be here.’

‘You messaged us,’ Raylene cooed. ‘You paid us to be here. To save you.’

‘C’mon, just get in the rug, man.’

‘Yeah. Get in the carpet.’

Irv narrowed his eyes at Victor as Raylene raised up on her feet and unrolled the rug. It smelled like a musty old closet as it flapped out dustily over the man’s shoes. He stepped back as if the fabric was a blood puddle he was trying to avoid.

He turned to face Irv, who nodded toward the rug encouragingly. Then Victor, who only scowled. Raylene smiled at him.

The man got down on his hands and knees. He laid down flat on his front.

‘Hands at your sides,’ Irv instructed, and the man did as he was told, cursing himself for going along, for getting in the van with these weirdos in the first place, for sending the damn dollar, for reading the fucking ad.

Victor and Irv began to roll him up in the rug. Darkness enveloped him. He sucked in as much air as he could—he’d learned to hold it for long periods of time on the swim team in high school—filling his lungs with the cloying smell of dust. They rolled him over once, twice, three times, until he was wound tightly within the fabric, and he thumped into the wall of the van.

Little by little light began to fade in from the far end of the rolled-up rug. He had a moment to think, This isn’t too bad

And then someone sat on his chest.

His breath lunged out of him. Someone else sat on his ass, squashing his crotch against the floor, and another on his legs. He was trapped. He was sweating, stifled by his own exhalations.

He suddenly realized the similarity between the words womb and tomb wasn’t a coincidence.

I can’t breathe…’ he gasped, as audibly as the small amount of air in his lungs would allow.

Struggling, he tried to raise himself off the floor. Feet kicking, his legs wouldn’t budge. Arms plastered to his ribs. He tried to roll, rocking himself back and forth, but the weight of them was too much. He screamed, practically voiceless, like crying out in a nightmare.

The windows began to rattle as another jet passed.

Weeping now, taking in little sips of dusty air, heart hammering like a piston, he made one last futile struggle, and his whole body deflated. All of his remaining energy vanished. He stopped moving.

‘C’mon, man, fight!’ Victor’s voice sounded like it was travelling to him from space, like a weak satellite signal from a far-off star system. Irv joined him, sitting atop his legs. ‘Fight,’ he said.

‘You can do it, honey,’ Raylene said, muffled, sitting on his pelvis.

With the last of his strength, the man threw his elbows at the inside of the rug. He twisted. He kicked. Inching himself toward the opening. Dragging toward the light.

Irv’s weight slipped off his legs. He pressed forward, using his feet to propel himself, the light at the end of the tunnel widening. Dilating.

‘Push!’ Irv shouted.

Blessed cool air tickled his scalp.

Push,’ Victor urged.

The dark flap of rug revealed his eyes.

‘PUSH!’ Raylene cried.

He pushed.

As he crowned, and his lips were finally exposed to the heaven-sent patchouli stink of the van once more, he sucked in a huge breath.

Victor’s weight withdrew from his chest. Raylene got to her feet. He struggled his way out, the rug unfolding as he pushed with his elbows and kicked, until he lay there, entirely free, sweating, taking in hungry gulps of air.

When his strength returned, he pushed himself to his hands and knees and scurried into a corner, worried they might try to capture him again, worried this time he wouldn’t be able to free himself.

You did it,’ Raylene said, smiling with tears in her eyes. Victor raised a fist and said, ‘My man!’ Irv began a slow clap. In the rearview mirror, Janis met his eyes, and nodded.

‘Fuck you people,’ he said, still breathing heavily, hugging his knees to his chest.

Raylene’s smile drooped. Victor lowered his fist, his brow furrowing. Irv stopped clapping with his hands at their widest distance.

‘We were only trying to help…’ Raylene said, her voice small.

Help? You nearly fucking killed me. If you think that’s help, you people need serious counselling.’

‘Fuck you, man,’ Irv said. ‘We did this for you.’

‘No fuck you,’ he said, further enraged by the tears streaming down his face. ‘You did this for yourselves. You think you’re so fucking enlightened? Fucking righteousBullshit! Go to Hell.’

They looked back at him with their mouths agape. He felt along the door.

‘I’m getting the fuck out of here,’ he said, pulling feebly on the handle. Wiping his tears with the back of his hand, he jerked the handle, and the door came open to the sound of traffic. He stumbled out into the gravel lot. Off to the left of the van, the airport lights shined brightly into his eyes through the tall wire fence, his tears creating stars. He blinked violently.

‘You need to let go of that anger, man,’ Victor said.

‘You need to shut the fuck up, you hypocrite! If any of you try to contact me again, if you come to my house, I will fuck you up. You hear me? I will fucking kill you.’

He left the door open, staggering away from the van, catching his breath, leaving them to watch his feet kick up gravel dust as another plane roared overhead.

Focusing on the road ahead, the headlights passing by at speed, he felt stronger. He wouldn’t let them know they’d transformed him—that they’d hardened his resolve like galvanized steel. He breathed fire. His rage was a jet engine. Without it, he would plummet to the Earth. He would crash and burn on the tarmac.

They had opened up his eyes.

He realized what he’d wanted all along, and now he knew how to get it.

He breathed.

He wouldn’t turn back and thank them.

He breathed.

 

SHYLA REMAINED SILENT a moment, letting his words sink in. Her chest sagged suddenly with a gush of air, and she realized she’d been holding her breath for the last few minutes of Angel’s story, as if in sympathy.

‘That was you, wasn’t it? The man in the story?’

Angel nodded.

Shyla considered her reply. ‘My mother always used to say, ‘Hug your enemies, sugar. Make them into friends.’ I always thought that was silly advice. If that had happened to me, I would have gotten them arrested. Did you call the cops?’

He shook his head, not wanting or not able to meet her eye.

‘Why not?’ She heard the anger in her tone, and told herself to dial it back. It wasn’t an interrogation, not like what she’d faced after what had happened to her.

‘I thought if I did it would only show them how much they’d hurt me. That they’d beaten me. It’s amazing what we convince ourselves to avoid humiliation.’

‘But what if they did it again to someone else after you?’ she asked, frustrated. ‘What if they killed someone the next time?’

‘I guess that never occurred to me,’ he said. ‘I suppose I’d have to live with the guilt, if it did.’

‘Did they do that to you?’ Shyla said, pointing at the long, faded scar down the side of his face.

At first Angel didn’t seem to know what she meant. ‘Oh, this?’ He drew a finger down the dark, jagged line. ‘No, that scar’s from a long time ago. I don’t even remember it happening.’

An uncomfortable silence fell between them. She didn’t want to tell him—she felt compelled to. He’d been violated. Not in the same way as she had when she was a teenager, but degradation and humiliation were difficult to quantify.

‘I know how hard it is, when someone abuses you, to do what you have to do,’ Shyla said. ‘I know what it’s like to feel helpless and still have to try and be strong.’

‘Oh?’ he said.

She nodded. ‘When I was fifteen, I wasn’t comfortable in my body. I was a sad girl. Didn’t have many friends. This one day, an older boy, Donny Holbrook, asked me to go to the movies with him. I was so excited I didn’t even think to wonder why he’d ask me, out of everyone he could have asked. Anyway, he told me to meet him behind the theater before the show. We were going to see the new King Kong movie. I didn’t realize then that it was part of the joke.’

The silence drew out as she gathered her thoughts, the dildo forgotten between them. The air conditioning unit hummed in the corner, blasting cool air that froze the sweat under her arms.

‘I don’t want to tell it,’ she said, ‘not in gory detail like you did. I came to terms with what happened a long time ago. I had to. Because of the way I was found. I only told the police because the guy who found me called them. I only told my father because the police made me. The more I talked about it, the less power it had over me.’ She sighed, her breath shaking from the rapid beat of her heart. ‘But I’m done telling it. The world doesn’t need another rape story, you know? And it happened so long ago…’

‘That doesn’t invalidate it,’ Angel said. ‘There’s no statute of limitations on pain.’

Shyla frowned at that. ‘No, you’re right. But those boys already faced their judgment for what they did to me. We were all just kids.’

‘Shall we take this out?’ Angel said, indicating the dildo.

‘No,’ she said, shaking her head. ‘I need to feel it.’

Angel didn’t look like he understood.

‘I need to feel whole. For the part of me they took away.’

He looked down at the black circle protruding from her rosy folds, and back up to her cold gaze.

‘The short version is, Donny and his friends took turns raping me with a baseball bat in the woods behind the theater,’ Shyla said, hitching a breath. ‘The worst part about it, other than the pain and the shame of it, is that I should have known better. I knew I should have turned and left when I saw the other two boys with him. But I convinced myself to stay.’ She shook her head. ‘That I was being an idiot, it wouldn’t be nice, I’d screwing things up with Donny, who was pretty and popular, and if I just played along everything would be okay. You should always listen to that voice when something doesn’t feel right. Always look out for the red flags. Stop worrying about being nice, about making a scene. I know that now. I learned it the hard way that night.’

‘I’m sorry that happened to you, Shyla.’

‘Thank you. Before, when you asked about children, I’ve always wanted them,’ she said. ‘After what those boys did to me I’ll never know that joy. And I think my mother would have been okay that I never hugged them.’

‘I’m sure she would have.’ He gave her a thin smile. ‘You’ve probably been asked this before, but have you thought about adoption? Who knows, you might strike gold and get someone like me,’ he added, giving her a wry smile.

‘Someday, maybe. If I ended up with a kid anywhere near as considerate and intelligent as you, I’d count myself lucky.’

They both smiled in the silence that followed. She wiped a tear from her cheek.

‘One last story, then,’ Angel said. ‘And then we’ll get down to business.’

‘I think I need to pee first,’ Shyla said. ‘Do you mind if I…?’ She gestured toward the dildo.

Angel nodded. ‘Oh, absolutely.’

Shyla thanked him, and grasped what was visible of the shiny black pylon. She noticed her pussy had left a little creaminess around the base of it, and wiped it away quickly before easing the dildo out of herself.

She’d be sore after this—hell, she was sore now—but she knew she’d get back into shape easily enough. It was mostly in the inner thighs where she felt it, the slightly sharp, hard rubber rim around the bottom leaving painful red lines on her flesh like the smother box had.

She pulled out the rest, feeling emptied as the tip came out of her with a sucking sound. Angel watched with wide eyes as her sticky opening contracted to its normal, discreet cleft.

‘Did you know there’s a world record for the widest vagina?’ he asked.

‘It doesn’t surprise me.’

‘A Scottish giant named Anna Swan gave birth to a twenty-two pound boy in 1879. His head was nineteen centimeters. That’s about six inches in diameter. You’ve just taken five and a half.’

‘Did I?’ Off his nod, she said, ‘I’m not sure if I should be proud or concerned.’ She pushed herself out of bed with a restrained groan. She was limber, no way she would make much money in the business without being flexible, in so many ways. But being a large woman still had its disadvantages, one of which was rising from soft furniture like beds or sofas.

She walked barefoot to the bathroom, legs tingly with pins and needles, sashaying so Angel would get a good look at her ass. Not that he seemed to care. At first she’d thought he had a thing for big girls, but he didn’t appear to have much interest in her body. Even when he was fucking her with the toys, he reminded her more of a gynecologist than a sex partner, aside from his hairdresser’s chattiness. What’s he getting out of this? she wondered. Is this therapy for him?

Have a quick pee, maybe stand in the shower for a rinse—Try not to slip, don’t want to suffer the same fate Mary—and return refreshed for what she hoped would be a good, solid fuck from a hard, thick cock.

Passing Angel’s bag of tricks, she took a peek inside. Aside from a fleshy, suction-cup dildo, there only appeared to be a checkered hand towel, a thing of hand sanitizer, and an unlabeled bottle that looked like it might contain peroxide or nail polish remover.

No red flags to worry about, as far as she could see.

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