The Guitar Player
There's this guy. He's walking down the street singing to himself. Even if it weren't for the white cane, I would know by the way he holds his head tipped back, his eyes squeezed shut, completely in his own world. He's wearing a black leather jacket and his long blond hair spreads out over his shoulders.
I'm strongly tempted to follow him, or do anything that might catch his attention, but it's late at night and I'm waiting for a very infrequent bus. I have to let him go. But he walks by again, and then a third time. I'm struck by how relaxed and confident he seems. He must have been blind his whole life, I realize. My heart starts beating faster. But then my bus comes and I get on. The whole time I'm thinking, I must meet him somehow. It has to happen.
The only thing I can think of is to put an "I Saw U" ad in the Raser City Weekly. I have to admit it's a pretty stupid plan. After all, how would he even know it's there? But I can't think of anything else, so I stifle my embarrassment and place the following ad:
BLIND GUY walking up and down Broad St 9 PM 4/6, black leather jacket, singing. OK, so he can't read this ad, but if you know him please tell him to call. I'd like to talk to him.
I call the voice mailbox for my ad every day for a month, but there's no reply. Then one day as I'm walking down Broad St, shopping and generally wasting time, on the corner in front of Payless is a guy playing the guitar. I almost walk right by him, when suddenly I notice the white cane lying across his empty guitar case. My heart almost stops and I do the biggest double take--it's HIM. The guy. There he is, just inches from me, practically displaying himself on the street as if he's waiting for me to go over and talk to him.
It's too much. I retreat to the Urban Outfitters across the street and pretend to look at the clothes while watching him through the plate glass. There is nothing I hate more than making idle conversation with a stranger. I truly suck at it. I've always been shy. But this second chance is too good to be true--I can't let it pass by. I find myself walking back across the street, as if pulled by gravity.
For a while I just stand there and watch him play. I stare at his fingers moving across the strings, giving his world solidity and shape. When I think of him touching my face with those same fingers, learning its outlines, I feel as if I might faint.
I'm not the only audience member. Several people stop for a few minutes to listen, then throw some money in the guitar case and move on. I notice an attractive Asian girl standing next to me, and I see my own intense gaze mirrored in her face. For a moment I'm thrown--could there actually be another person who shares these same desires? But instead of talking to her, I let jealousy take over--I saw him first! The next time he pauses to tune the guitar, I step forward and speak.
"You sound really good," I lie. On the noisy street corner, I've barely heard a single note. Not that it matters.
His face brightens as he turns in my direction. He didn't know a pretty girl was listening, I think with an excited shiver.
"Hey, thanks. Do you have any requests?"
Now I'm stuck. "Uh, I dunno. Anything."
"OK, here's one. I think you'll like this." He starts to play, while I wait impatiently for the song to be over so we can talk some more. My musical tastes might be very generously called eclectic. The truth is, I really only like opera and traditional folk music. Yes, I am a huge nerd. I barely know anything about rock or blues or whatever he's playing.
I'm standing closer now, and I can see that he has glass eyes. They almost look real, but somehow don't catch the light in quite the right way, and they remain rigid and unmoving.
Finally the song is over. I compliment him again, then introduce myself and before I know it we're having a real conversation. I find out that his name is Jeff, and he lives in the apartment building directly behind us. He lives on SSI, but considers himself a professional musician.
Being near him, I feel confident and sexy, and somehow the words keep pouring out of my mouth. I stay on the corner with him for a long time, talking and listening to him play. I give him a drink from my water bottle, shivering again as he touches the top with his fingers before he takes a drink. When he hands the bottle back to me, I touch it in the same way, first with my fingers, then with my tongue, wondering what it felt like to him.
We happen to be standing next to my bus stop. I watch the number seven go by about five times, but I can't leave. My luck does not hold, though; eventually two scary homeless-looking guys come by and join in the conversation. When they start making crude comments about me, I have to leave. I don't get his phone number, or even his last name.
But now I have a mission. At least I know where he lives. His apartment is just off Broad St., where I'm always going shopping anyway. There has to be a good chance that I'll run into him again, if I only go there often enough. I have a free bus pass, and it's summer vacation.
For the past few weeks, I nearly wear out my bus pass going up to Broad St. every chance I get. I lurk on the corner by his apartment, buying clothes I can't afford and eating meals I don't want, just to have an excuse to stay longer. But every time I go home disappointed, wondering why I can't just get over it and have a normal boyfriend, one I don't have to turn into a stalker to meet.
All this just reminds me how perfect K was. We met through mutual friends. Well, the truth is I felt at the time like I made that happen too. Kara mentioned that she knew this blind guy, and I kept after her about it until she invited him over. But later I realized we actually had a lot of friends in common, so logically it seems like we would have met naturally, even if I hadn't forced it. Another reason why I felt like we were fated to be together. But he didn't feel the same way.
Anyway, after weeks of loitering, suddenly my plan works. I'd been walking up and down the street by Urban Outfitters for nearly an hour, about to call it quits, when Jeff suddenly appears. There he is, about to cross the street headed straight towards me. But wait, he's with some heavy metal guy with long hair and tattoos. I don't want to make a pass at him in front of some other guy, especially not some scary looking older dude. Maybe it's one of his creepy friends from last time? I hesitate for a minute and they walk by me. But of course he doesn't know I'm there. Unless I make the first move, I'm invisible.
"Jeff!" I shout, running after him.
He whirls around suddenly, fixing me with his flat, glassy stare. "Who is it?"
"It's the girl who listened to you playing the guitar a few weeks ago, remember? I mean we talked a little and I'm sorry I left so suddenly, but I haven't really seen you around since then . . ." In my nervousness I'm babbling and nearly reveal that I've been stalking him for a month, but he doesn't seem to notice. In fact he looks pleased to run into me again. And miraculously, the other guy disappears--turns out he isn't even a friend, just some guy who helped him across the street.
"So, um, how have you been?" I ask.
"Not so good. I caught a real bad cold." He coughs in demonstration, then takes another drag on his cigarette. "Now I got an ear infection. I'm going down to the clinic to get it checked out. It's been hurting for a few days and I'm starting to get worried. I mean, it would really suck if I lost my hearing." He's trying to be casual, but he's clearly anxious, and with good reason.
"Yeah, that would really suck." I feel a flash of sympathy. True, I'm attracted to his disability, but that doesn't mean I want him to gain an additional impairment.
"Um, I know you're probably really busy, but would you mind telling me when the number nine bus comes?" he asks.
I smile slowly. "No, I'm not busy at all. I was just hanging around anyway. I don't mind waiting."
He thanks me then lights up another cigarette. I wait a few more minutes before asking, "Do you know where the clinic is after you get off the bus? Have you been there before?"
He admits that he doesn't, and hasn't. "You know, I'm really not doing anything right now," I continue. "I could ride there with you, if you want. I have a bus pass so it wouldn't even cost me anything." He resists for about a second, but I really want to go with him, and besides, he does actually need the help.
On the bus, my plan suffers a major setback when he lets it slip that he has a girlfriend named Sherrie. She would have taken him to the clinic, he explains, but she's working right now, at Target. I try to conceal my disappointment.
Once we're at the clinic, it's only natural that I take him inside to the check-in counter. The nurse hands him a stack of forms which I offer to help him fill out. Really there is no better way to get to know someone quickly than to go through a pile of official paperwork together. Within ten minutes, I know all his vital stats, his life history and family background, and even better, he's impressed with my kindness and patience. After the forms are completed, we proceed to the waiting room. There are only three or four people ahead of us, but for some reason it's nearly two hours before the doctor calls him. He spends that time telling me about himself, while I listen and marveled at my good luck. Here I am, getting friendly with the guy I had almost despaired of meeting again. The cold clinical atmosphere of the hospital only heightens my excitement.
He tells me that he went blind as an infant, because he was born prematurely and placed in an incubator with too much oxygen. (He's surprised that I know about that phenomenon) He tells me about his childhood: the only child of a welfare mom, how he was sent to public school (more out of poverty than any concerted attempt at mainstreaming, it seems) where he ran wild because none of the teachers had the guts to discipline a poor blind kid. He tells me in detail about his girlfriend: she's much younger than he, and he had been about to break up with her when she pulled the dirtiest trick in the book: she insisted that she was on the pill, but somehow she got knocked up. Now he feels obliged to take care of her, although since they're both broke, for now she's living with her parents. I also find out that he supplements his SSI "blind money" by selling pot, mostly to the other residents of his Section 8 apartment building.
The doctor finally calls him, and I'm hoping to go into the exam room with him. I want to see what the doctor might do to embarrass himself. For some reason, most doctors seem the least able to handle being around disabled people. Maybe the disability is an affront to their profession, a symbol of failure for modern medicine.
When I was with K, I went to the eye doctor with him once. It was making me crazy, neither of us having a car, so when I found out that he could ride for free in any taxi if he got a disabled pass, I insisted he get one. In order to get the pass, he had to have a doctor certify that he was legally blind. Very unwillingly, he made an appointment at the university hospital, and I went with him. The doctor there was clearly freaked out by K--when he had to guide K to the exam chair, he could barely stand to touch him.
"Wow," the doctor said, leafing through K's chart. "You've been operated on by some famous people." K just shuddered. He considered all those failed experimental surgeries equivalent to torture. I was surprised that the hospital still had records from when he was a kid, but I suppose that's what happens when you live in the same small town your whole life.
Then the doctor turned down the lights in the room, and shone a flashlight right into K's opaque eyes, one after the other. Like two boiled eggs, his friend once called them. "If the light's on, I can't see it," K said. Beneath the detailed chart of each eye, the doctor scrawled, "No light perception." He got the taxi pass.
So anyway, with Jeff, I'm not invited in, but the doctor, a young Indian man, does not disappoint me. After about thirty minutes, they emerge into the waiting room. As if Jeff were not even there, the doctor turns to me. "He's got a slight infection in his left ear--there's some redness and fluid--but it should clear up with antibiotics. I'm giving him Erythromycin. Make sure he takes it with food three times a day and finishes the whole bottle . . ."
I can't resist torturing him. "Why are you telling me this?"
The doctor stops talking and gapes at me. "I, uh, you're not his girlfriend?"
I laugh. "No, and I'm not his mother either. I'm just some stranger who helped him fill out the forms. Why don't you talk to him directly? He's standing right here."
"Yeah, I haven't gone deaf yet," Jeff adds, getting in the action. The doctor repeats his speech, stammering and dark red.
Jeff and I have a good laugh as we walk out the door. "You must meet a lot of clueless people like that," I say.
He shrugs. "Most people aren't that rude. Just something about doctors."
Our next task is to get the prescription filled, after stopping at the ATM so he can get some cash. He seems less embarrassed about having me help him now that we've gotten to know each other. Still, he insists on buying me dinner as a sort of repayment. We get burritos at a little fast food place on Broad St. Finally, after dinner, I can think of no other excuse to hang around. But this time I make sure I get his phone number before I go. I write it on a napkin.
After a few days, I call and boldly invite myself over the next day. Somehow I just can't believe he really has a girlfriend, but when I arrive at his apartment, Sherrie is there, along with another girl. They are both fat. It was the same with K and his fiancée. She was like a blimp. Sherrie and her friend are like planets in orbit around Jeff. Sherrie's seven months pregnant and it doesn't even show--she flops onto the bed right on her stomach. What is it about blind guys and fat girlfriends? Don't they feel insulted when some fat girl says she's dating them because no seeing guy would ever want them? Jeff told me Sherrie said those very words to him, but he didn't care. K actually considered it a badge of honor, used to brag about not judging people by their appearance. But the bitch he dumped me for was a little hottie, and he wouldn't shut up about how gorgeous she was. So much for not caring about appearance.
So I hang around for a painful hour or so, trying to be pleasant and make small talk with the planets, but after a while I give up. Back at home, I'm filled with self-loathing. What am I doing messing with this poor guy's head? Clearly he wants nothing to do with me. Right?
Just when I had given up on him, Jeff calls me and apologizes. He wants to see me again, he says. Could he come over right now? I think fast. I have to attend a friend's wedding later in the day, but if he takes the bus to my apartment, we'll have a few hours to hang out. I meet him at the bus stop. There's a moment of confusion when the bus driver mistakenly tells him he's not at his stop yet, but luckily I see him and shout loudly enough for him to hear me through the closing door. He's wearing a weird sort of turtleneck sweater with a faux Native American medicine bag hung around his neck like a necklace. It looks terrible, but I'm charmed that he's trying to impress me.
Once we're back at my place and he's seated rather stiffly on my lumpy futon sofa, however, I'm suddenly overcome with nerves. Is he really interested? What about Sherrie? I decide to let him make the first move, which turns out to be, not surprisingly, to get stoned.
"You said it was your birthday last week, so I thought I'd bring you a present," he explains, holding out a little bag of pot and a small wooden pipe. After a few tokes, I relax a little, but I'm still not sure if he wants me to make a move or not. We talk for a long time, until I realize I'm about to be late for the wedding.
"Uh, you don't mind if I just get changed while you're here, do you?" I ask.
"It's OK with me. I promise not to look," he says, and we both laugh. "It doesn't make a difference to me."
But doesn't it? After all, he knows I'm standing there, flinging off my jeans and t-shirt right in front of him, even if he can't see me. And he can hear me pulling on pantyhose and slipping on my dress, a sleeveless sheath with matching jacket. I ask him to do up the zipper in the back, then turn to face him.
"What do you think of my dress?" I ask, putting his hand on my shoulder. He gasps slightly as his hand encounters my bare skin. He steps forward slightly and runs his fingers very lightly all over the dress. I grab his hand and put it on my thigh.
"See? I'm even wearing pantyhose." He runs his hand over my leg, then pulls back nervously. I smile to see the color rising in his face.
"Do you, um, do you mind if I touch your face?" He seems hesitant, as if he expects me to refuse.
"I don't mind," I whisper. I want to tell him that there is nothing I want more, that the gentle touch of his fingers on my face is more erotic than even the touch of his lips on mine, but I remain silent as I take his waiting hands and place them on my cheeks. We're standing so close I can feel his breath. He frowns in concentration as he runs his fingers all over my face, delicately tracing the outline of my eyebrows, the bridge of my nose, the ridge of my lips, over and over again. Kiss me, oh kiss me, I wanted to shout, but instead he moves his hands up over my head, stroking my hair.
"It's so long!' he exclaims. "I didn't know. . ." I turn around so he could feel how my hair hangs down past my waist. He runs his hands through it again and again while I luxuriate like a cat being petted.
"Are you surprised?"
"No, I heard those guys talking about you on the street that day we met, but now I know for myself."
"Well, thank you."
He laughs. "You think a blindie like me can't appreciate a beautiful woman?"
I turn around to face him. "No, I don't think that at all. Just because you can't see me doesn't mean you can't appreciate the way I feel or smell. . ."
He seems pleased, but also surprised. Hasn't anyone ever talked about these things with him before? He strokes my hair some more, but that's as far as we go.
Needless to say, I arrive at the wedding hours late, still kind of stoned, and having forgotten the gift, but I don't care.
Jeff calls me again a few days later, in the evening, and asks me to come over. This time, he promises Sherrie won't be around. It's already late by the time I get there. He's made brownies. They're kind of mushy and yet burned, but still, it's sweet of him to make the effort. While he fiddles with the sound on his massive stereo setup, I look around his studio apartment. In the corner by the door is a large collection of white canes. Braille notes written on index cards and red plastic sheets are tacked to several bulletin boards, scattered on the floor and piled up around a heavy cast iron Perkins Braillewriter. Guitars and other band equipment lean up against the walls.
There is a big hand-lettered sign on the door, apparently written by Sherrie, reminding people to turn the light out when they leave. I ask Jeff about it, and apparently it's a big problem. His stoner friends come over and leave the lights on. He doesn't realize it, and the lights stay on for days until they blow out. But I understand why it happens--it feels completely wrong to turn out the lights when another human is in the room.
In an attempt to find some middle ground between his love of prog rock and my extremely limited, nerdy tastes, I've brought over a cassette of Steeleye Span, my favorite folk revival band. While we eat brownies, I pop it in the stereo. He seems impressed with their twenty-plus minute electric guitar-heavy rendition of a ballad about the Earl of Montrose. I'm pleased that he likes it, but mainly I'm trying to think of how I can get him to touch me again.
"Did I tell you I'm taking yoga classes now?" I ask. Pretty lame, but it's the best I can come up with. He seems interested, so I volunteer to show him a few positions, hands on. It doesn't take five minutes before he pulls his shirt off and that's the end of any yoga lesson. Next to the bed is a red velvet loveseat, like something out of a bordello. I pull him down onto it, feeling very bohemian. I kneel above him, covering his white skin with kisses, then lean down, making a tent with my hair, and bite and lick him all around his neck, enjoying the way he trembles beneath me.
"You knew I'd be good," I say as I pull down his jeans and take his cock in my mouth. His whole body goes stiff and he clutches convulsively at the edges of the loveseat. I wait until he's gasping and shaking, then move back up, putting his hands on my breasts.
"I never thought, when I first met you. . ." he says, and I laugh.
"I did." Suddenly the red velvet loveseat seems cramped, in spite of its boho charm, especially when the queen size bed is only inches away. I suggest we move, but he resists. When I pressure him, he finally admits that Sherrie bought the bed for him, in a misguided attempt to guilt-trip him into staying faithful to her. I observe that it doesn't seemed to be working, and I have no intention of spending the night on the floor.
Once in bed, I pull condoms and lube out of my purse. Yes, I've come prepared, but so what? It's better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them. If he had said no, I would have gone home. But a guy only invites a girl over at night for one reason.
I take one out of the package and put it carefully in his hands right side up, then let him put it on himself, not wanting to hurt him. I wriggle in ecstasy as he slides into me. I watch as he leaned over me, frowning in concentration, his unseeing gaze fixed at some point above my head. He's here and yet not here, locked away in his own blank world. After we finish, we doze for a few hours then do it again.
By this time it's morning. Grey light filters in through the shades, and even though it's the middle of the city, we can hear birds singing. We go out to breakfast together, then it's time for me to go home.
I've been busy all month, and even though we've talked on the phone, I haven't had a chance to see Jeff again since that one night.
Among other things, Johnny comes back from boot camp and wants to see me. He comes over one afternoon, but we just talk.
"You look good," he says.
"Yeah." I've been dressing a lot cuter, putting my hair up, but it's more than that. I feel like I'm glowing all the time, from the inside. Johnny asks if I'm seeing anyone, but I can't bring myself to answer. I'm not, right? Jeff is not my boyfriend. In fact, I haven't told anyone at all, certainly not Rachel or Sharon. I couldn't even begin to explain.
Watching Johnny go on and on about his boring new job, I can't imagine what I ever saw in him. I know he wants to get back together, but there's no way. So what if Jeff is an unemployed stoner, no one else even comes close to turning me on in that way.
By this time, Sherrie is getting closer to her due date, and Jeff is getting more freaked out. He alternates between wanting to run away from the whole thing and utter devotion to her. I try to be a good friend to him but I'm starting to lose patience. I know I'm a terrible person, but I don't have much respect for a beauty school dropout who tricks her boyfriend into getting her pregnant then wears her grandmother's ring even after he said he doesn't want to marry her. And I want him to come over again. I finally convince him when I promise to take him to a head shop near my apartment so he can buy some screens.
This time there's no need for silly games. We're all over each other the minute I shut the door. I lead him to the back room and push him onto the bed, then kneel on top of him. When I bend down to kiss his mouth, my long hair makes a tent around our faces, closing us into a space that's dark, hot and damp.
"Did you miss me?" I ask. He only groans in reply. Still straddling him, I sit up straight and pull off my shirt and bra. He isn't sure what I'm doing, but he can guess, and his mouth smiles in anticipation even though his plastic eyes remain flat and lifeless. I grab his hands and put them over my breasts, and my nipples harden under his touch. He sits up to get closer to me as he runs his sensitive hands all over me. I pull his shirt off too, and we both gasp as the bare flesh of our chests meet.
We trade places, so that I'm lying on my back. Without any prompting from me, he pulls off my jeans and goes down on me. He seems to enjoy it as much as I do. By the time he's done, I'm panting and twitching. He lies down beside me and for a while we're silent.
When I can finally speak again, I say, "You're pretty good at that."
He laughs. "I got a lot of practice."
"No, it's true. How many women do you think I've had?"
I roll my eyes. "Jeez, I don't know. Isn't the average around ten?"
"No way! You're such a liar. So am I number one hundred, or one hundred and one?"
He looks a bit sheepish. "OK, so I haven't kept exact count, but it's somewhere around there." I wonder if he could really be telling the truth. As he proceeds to tell me stories of seductions, casual encounters and furtive experiments, I begin to see him in a new light. At first I had entertained the fantasy that he had been leading a wretched, deprived life, surrounded by inexperienced younger women, until I came along and showed him how it was done. But now it seems that he's had far more varied experiences than I have. The thought is not unappealing--actually it's even hotter.
I especially like the stories about a certain ex-roommate and his girlfriend. They would have sex in front of him in the living room, and when he realized what they were doing, they would invite him to join them. Friends who came to visit were sent naked to his room. They rented porno videos and described the action to him. It was as though they thought of Jeff as an experiment in sensuality. And really, this is not so different from my own feelings.
Still, I do feel a little embarrassed by my relative lack of experience. He assures me that it doesn't matter.
"I guess not. I still managed to seduce you , after all," I say.
He frowns a bit. "Yeah. But what made you do it?"
Oh god, I can't tell him the truth. "I, ah, I just thought you were sexy."
"Yeah, but why me?" Suddenly, I freeze inside. It's obvious, even to him, that we're completely mismatched. Me, a nerdy, overeducated, princessy graduate student, and him, a disabled high school dropout scruffy pothead, living on SSI. I don't say anything. Finally, rather than hear some unpleasant truth, he supplies me with an answer.
"So were you just curious about what it's like to have sex with a blind guy?"
"Yeah." I don't tell him that I already know what it's like, that I've fantasized about it for nearly all my life. I want to tell him, but I can't.
"So what's it like?" he asks. Evidently that stuff about blind people being able to tell when a person is lying is bullshit.
"Mmm, it's wonderful. The best." As we're talking, he runs his hands all over my naked body, just lightly and quickly brushing my skin with his fingertips, as if he's trying to use his hands to get a clear, complete mental image of me. "So what's it like being blind?"
"I tell ya, the worst thing's not being able to drive a car." This isn't what I was asking. I'm more interested in the way he experiences the world, but instead he gives me a list of complaints, laced through with some trite sentiments about appreciating what he has and living life to the fullest. It sounds like he's reciting lines from an after-school special.
When I asked K the same question, he also couldn't answer in a satisfying way. Being blind was just his reality; he didn't think about it much. But K never complained about his disability. K was nothing like Jeff. For one thing, K refused to touch pot, said he knew too many people with glaucoma who had become lazy stoners. For another, he was much more intellectual, even though he never quite finished that college degree. But it doesn't matter now. I put all thoughts of K out of my mind.
"Hey, what are you doing?" Jeff asks suddenly. I'm propped up on one elbow and twisted around so I can see his face.
"I like to see your face when we're talking," I explain. He seems to find it strange, but why? Doesn't anyone look at his face while talking to him? I can't get enough of watching him. His expressions are innocent, unstudied. When he smiles, he shows all his teeth, unselfconsciously, and when he laughs, he tosses his head from side to side. But the longer I look at him, the more disturbing his eyes seem. Up close, they're obviously fake, like the plastic eyes of a stuffed animal, and I can see dry patches on the surface of the lenses. It's unsettling to see them in a living face.
After a while, his hands move from my body to exploring the bed and its surroundings. Soon he's running his hands over the heavy metal bar that serves as a headboard on my bed. His fingers find some bits of cloth and toy with them for a long time before he even realizes what he's doing.
"Hey, what's this?"
I blush. "Oh, I keep those there for boys that need, you know, discipline." I'm showing off now. The truth is those are left over from my relationship with Buttboy. There hasn't been anyone else since him.
He tugs on the black bands. "What's it made out of?"
"They're old pantyhose that I cut up. It's better than rope or handcuffs, because it's soft and stretchy, so it won't cut off the circulation or cause nerve damage."
"Cool. Wanna try it?"
I feel a shiver run through me. The idea of bondage with a guy who is already disabled had never even occurred to me. Or rather, it's more than I had even dared to hope for.
"Are you sure you want me to tie up your hands?"
"Yeah, let's try it. I've never done that before." He lays his arms against the metal bar invitingly, and I can hardly refuse. I tie his wrists tightly, then tie his ankles to the other bar at the foot of the bed. Since he's so short, the bands barely reached his feet, and when I'm done he lies spread-eagled, unable to move.
At first I hover at the side of the bed and try to move silently, so he won't know what I'm going to do next. I kiss him all over, quickly, teasingly. I lie down next to him, rubbing him all over. If he can't feel me with his hands, at least he can feel me elsewhere. I grab his dick and hold on tightly while I lick and bite his nipples over and over, until his breath is ragged and he's straining against the bonds. I move up and run my tongue lightly over his ear, then bite him hard. His fingers twitch helplessly. He's dying to touch me, to see me with his hands, but he can't--now he really is totally blind. Just that thought is almost too much. I can feel the soles of my feet tingling and a strange twisting feeling in the pit of my stomach. The blood roars in my ears. As fast as I can, I put the condom on him, then take him inside me. He bucks and twitches under me with increasing strength. The bonds are coming loose. Suddenly, his feet twist free, then his hands, and in the moment he sits up and put his arms around me and his mouth on mine, greedily taking what had been denied, I feel him come inside me, both of us pulsing in the same unconscious rhythm.
We lay quietly again for a while, but soon hunger drives us from the bed. I make instant ramen with some extra vegetables, then sit across from him at the card table, watching him eat.
"It's Asian style. You can drink from the bowl," I explain. He declines my offer of chopsticks in favor of a fork. He holds the bowl under his chin with one hand, using the fork in the other hand to randomly rake the surface of the soup in hopes of finding something. Sometimes he misses and his mouth encounters only the empty metal tines. Whenever I hand him something, like a glass of water, there's always a brief pause while I wait for him to take the offered glass, but of course, not knowing it's there, his hand remains at his side, cupped expectantly until I place the glass in his fingers. After he leaves, I sit in his chair with my eyes closed, and bring the bowl to my lips, feeling its cold edges, trying to enter his world if only for a moment. Then I open my eyes and swallow the rest of what he had left behind.
After Sherrie gives birth to his daughter, we talk on the phone once. I invite him to come over again, but he refuses.
"I'm afraid every time I kiss you I'll see that little girl's face," he says over and over. I want to tell him, you can't see anything. But it's not my place to tell him what to do with his life. If he's decided to be faithful now, I have to respect that decision. It really is over. I promise to leave him to his life with her. It feels like I'm reliving my relationship with K all over again.