John needed a cigarette. And he needed a break from the madness: the screaming fourteen year-olds, the flood of expectations, the head-spinning pace of a strange new life. He found an empty hallway, dug out a smoke, and inhaled the soul-stilling quiet of his new hiding place.
But he soon had company.
“Your manager know you’re smoking, boy?”
She was slender, black, beautiful. With full lips and giant eyes that never stopped searching. No sequined evening gown tonight, no prom-ready beehive stacked to the ceiling, but he instantly knew the face. And the voice. Everybody knew the voice.
They’d met on tour in Houston, then crossed paths again in New York. Now in the Motor City, her home turf, she unwrapped a smile for him and laced those boney arms around his chest. Something about him – maybe the accent, maybe the glasses, maybe the cheeky demeanor –turned her into a screeching fourteen year-old herself.
“Hello, John! Taking a break from being a heartthrob?”
“I’m trying. ‘ere! Give us a nickel, love.”
“Yes, one of those round things with that Jefferson bloke on it.”
She reached into her pocket, surrendered the nickel just as he grabbed her wrist and led her down the hallway…
They got to a photo booth, ducked inside just as a pair of adolescent feet clicked up behind them. She wedged herself around his arms, onto his lap. They giggled as the feet clicked past them, suspecting nothing. But the giggles stopped and their eyes, now accustomed to the dark, darted into each other uncomfortably.
“Give us a song then,” John urged.
“Aren’t we gonna’ take a picture?” she asked.
“I’d rather hear ‘Baby Love.’
She blushed, but soon surrendered.
Baby love, my baby love.
I need you, oh how I need you…
Then came another meeting of eyes, noses crashing into an accidental dance, mahogany skin on white. His fingers tracing the outline of that smile as it stretched for the borders of her thin face. Then a kiss, lips locked into dangerous motion, sucking, savoring, then snapping apart.
More footsteps outside, not that they’d notice. Not that anything, anywhere could pry apart those heated bodies, that photo booth becoming a cramped back row of a theater balcony. They poured themselves onto each other like kids. They were kids really, thrust into dizzying grown-up lives. But they had found an escape in this grinding of bodies, this twisting of souls. They had twined and roped and knotted themselves into something miles away from the chaos.
But the scream brought them back.
They hadn’t noticed that someone had yanked up the curtain. A crowd had gathered and gawked in disbelief. And now their ears were under assault from a chorus of gleeful shrieks. And it was time to race away and apart. Their plans would have to wait.
And they wound up waiting three years. Three long years before a chance meeting in a San Francisco coffee shop. Their eyes locked across a room full of groovy, past the wall of weed smoke and paisley. That playful grope in the dark of that photo booth seemed at least seven hairstyles ago. They were no longer kids. But if the years had made them strangers again, they hadn’t chased away the longing. Strangers or not, they ached to rediscover each other, one misguided kiss at a time.
John was holding court, surrounded by a peace-in or a freak-out or maybe it was just a bad acid trip in Technicolor. He excused himself and weaved through the bodies, beckoning her with his eyes. The beard was new. The clothes were a million times funkier than anything he would have dared sport in sixty-four. But it was him all right, same John. He was still the unclaimed trophy she wanted on her mantle. Still the only reason to she’d find herself in the middle of this hip happening fashion nightmare.
Diana approached him, chiseled past the bullshit. No chit-chat, no greeting:
“I need you, John.”
“You feeling okay, love? You look knackered.”
“Let’s go somewhere to talk.”
They found a tiny corner upstairs and disappeared in it. Diana spilled it out in an angry, reckless ride of a paragraph.
“It’s too much, John, too much pressure, too many questions, too many fans, not enough sleep. Flo is gone and Mary hates me. Everything’s moving too quickly, too crazy – even the good parts. What happened to everything? What happened to us?”
No words from John, not that any would help. Nothing to do but plant that weary head on his shoulder and let everything flush itself out of her suddenly frantic life. Her hand wandered to his chest and their eyes stopped avoided each other.
“Is there a place we can go?” she asked.
“I’ll find one.”
It was a damp musty spare room that nobody seemed to bother with. It was perfect.
They slipped into each other’s limbs as if it had been only days since their embrace in the photo booth. They linked elbows, fingers, legs, teeth. She grabbed his face and bit into it, knocking his glasses to the floor and slapping away any trace of uncertainty. She wanted this.
They sprang out of their clothes and onto the bed, crashing together with a slap and setting the mattress’s harmony of creaks into motion. She angled herself over him, thighs pinning his waist into compliance. She was the boss, the ruler, the queen. And he liked it.
She leaned into him, lips creeping closer but not quite there.
“You know what I want, John?”
His lips curled into a schoolboy’s grin.
“What do you want, Diana?”
She arched her knees upward, eased herself forward, opened the doors.
“I want you to take me away. To someplace else, baby. Anyplace else.”
Her hands swept to his shoulders, dragged him to the place she needed his lips to be.
And he dove right in, tongue lapping, teeth squeezing. He pulled with his lips and teased with the tip of his finger. His touch was just right, just gentle enough to shove her into a bone-shaking rattle. Then he got bossy.
He flipped the queen over and yanked up her legs, knees to her chest, mashing against her tiny tits. He took a dive inside her and stirred the juices into a tempest. She pushed her hips upward, meeting those hungry moans and muffling them. She croaked and cringed through a series of waves that lifted her up and left her floating.
“Oh, John… I can feel it! Right there, I can feel it!”
Then the voice was back, soaring, sailing above everything, even the madness that prompted that meeting of mouth to pussy. She reached deep into her chest to find a growl that leapt way beyond the pussycat’s purr the world had come to love. She was yelping now, barking. With her claws digging into his shoulders and her scrawny legs kicking into a spastic dance, this was way too much perfection, an overdose of sunshine.
But he was just getting started, nibbling, tickling, tugging. He was jabbing away at the demon inside her, setting him free. She stretched into an acrobat’s arc, then turned to rubber, exploding into somebody new.
With her spine twisted and her eyes seeking release from their sockets, her hair spilling everywhere at once, she needed nothing now but a body to guide her back to earth. She squeezed his shoulders and exhaled for the first time in hours.
“John, John, John. You just don’t know, baby. Don’t know how badly I needed that.”
But he heard nothing. The day had drained him of everything and so he now drifted into the slumber of an infant. No sense waking him, she thought. There was nothing left to say anyway. She put on her clothes and tiptoed out of his world for another decade.
When they met again, they’d find each other in livelier spirits. The seventies had lurched to a close and the decade just ahead danced with promise and vigor. Their lives intersected at a Manhattan shindig peopled by the usual cast of hangers-on, flatterers, status-seekers and flamboyant bores. They slipped away from the ass-kissing and coke-fueled small talk and, in their usual manner, found a quiet corner to trade indecorous ideas.
“What are you doing here, John?”
“I live here, as far as I can recall. I love this place, this mad city and its beautiful noise pollution. I just wish I could get away sometimes, you know? Just wish I could take a weekend off from being the Walrus.”
“I dig,” she answered.
“But what’s your excuse, love? What brings you to this lovely island of upscale depravity?”
“Business. Got a new album coming out so I guess it’s time to paste on the smile and turn on the charm,” Diana said, demonstrating the smile.
Then came an hour of updates, gossip and crazy plans for the future. The news had been glorious, tragic, bizarre and mundane. They’d grown up and grown into the madness of their frantically public lives.
“Things are cool. Getting better. It’d be nice if I could turn the spotlight off every once in a while. But it is what it is, baby. It’s the life we all want,” she said.
John’s gaze landed on her eyes and stayed there. A tense moment chased them into silence. But they didn’t fight it. It was a moment too sweet to run from.
“There’s um… a room in back if you’d like to – ” he started.
“I’d love to,” she finished.
There was no hurry this time. They had the rest of their lives to savor each other’s taste. They had forever to kiss, nuzzle, nibble all those places that sat neglected for too many years.
John’s mouth motored into overdrive within seconds of finding that spot again, that aching, empty island he seemingly discovered a decade earlier.
“There we are,” Diana announced. “That’s the place.”
And he stayed, chewing her into submission, sending her head back, her shoulders into a round of quivers and her belly to the sky. It was almost ugly, this demon she was twisting into, this gargoyle that was taking command. But he didn’t let the contortions frighten him away.
Instead he pushed inside her, with fingers, teeth, lips, tongue slipping inside and supplying loving shoves. The tigress soon roared for more:
“Inside me, baby. Fill me up!”
And it was time to feed his own hungry demons.
Already hard and aching for release, he needed only to be aimed the right way. He prodded inside, a bit clumsy, but the spot had been hit. He was inside and soaking in her sweetness. She wrapped her legs, arms and somehow her smile around his pounding torso. Their voices rose in tandem, a frenzied duet; their limbs locked. They danced to a phantom beat.
The Goddess issued a final command before they climbed higher.
“Harder, John. More!”
He inched inside harder, stronger. He emptied himself, back arching, neck stretching, eyelids undecided – slammed shut, then popped open. He collapsed into her waiting arms, nothing left to give. They bathed together in this painfully sweet light. They celebrated this moment, this blissful union safely away from the world’s prying eyes. They stayed there and lay still without a worry to yank them back to the gold-plated chaos of their lives. They made the moment feel like forever.
But it still somehow felt unfinished, a song without a second verse. A chance to write one was gone within months, wiped away by a madman’s angry bullet.
And he would be gone forever, with nothing to remember him by but memories that seemed borrowed from another couple’s life. They were strangers really, with nothing between them to call their own. Not even a picture. Maybe she should have taken one in that photo booth.
Donnie Magazino is the pen name of crime fiction writer Copper Smith, which the is pen name of screenwriter David Copper. He gets dizzy just thinking about who he actually is. But he’s pretty sure he lives in Minneapolis and plays the mandolin.
He’s currently writing a serialized novel of lurid pulp called Kitten in the Crosshairs. To read more from Donnie go here: http://www.jukepopserials.com/home/read/26.