My Spaceship Knows Ch. 01bylustybard©
It all started when my phone rang. Now, that might not sound like such an auspicious beginning, but you have to understand that my phone rang so rarely … well, it was a good thing I could write it off as a business expense, because I was paying sixty bucks a month for nothing.
Maybe that was just as well, I'd tell myself, because it allowed me to concentrate. Because, you know, I had so much to distract me in a one-room apartment with no pets, no television, just a couch that converted into a bed and a desk surrounded by bookshelves and antique computer equipment. But what do you need to be a writer, I'd tell myself, besides inspiration and a pen?
I suppose that's still true, but when you get to your mid-thirties, you start wishing you could add a little bit of comfort to that list. It's embarrassing to be ten years out of college and have less of a life than your freshman year.
Anyway, the phone was ringing. I stumbled over to the ledge beside the window (cell phone, basement apartment, that's really the only place I could take calls) and dug the damn thing out from beneath a pile of junk mail. I heard my keys fall to the floor behind a bookshelf, and cursed, then cursed again when I pulled the phone out just in time for it to go silent.
I stood there by the window, watching the rain spatter down outside, darkening the concrete and causing the leaves to shiver with each collision. I placed my palm against the window, and immediately the glass fogged up. Even though it wasn't more than a minute later, I was surprised by the phone's ring again. I fumbled it to my face and said hello.
"So the great novelist is still alive," a smoky voice chuckled in my ear. "I was starting to think I'd only hear about you again when a neighbour complained of the smell through the walls."
"Monica," I said, knowing that she could hear the grin in my voice. "Well, at least one person will recognize the name in the police reports." Monica Harris. We'd gone to high school together, then lost track of each other for fifteen years or so like people do. But things always come around, and she'd seen my name on a website somewhere and gotten in touch. She'd gone from an eighteen year-old mouse with bad teeth and low grades in English to this sleek, fashionable creature in thousand-dollar dresses who ran the largest weekly magazine in the city, while I'd gone from … actually, I'm not so sure anything but my waist size has changed. But it was still good to find her.
Don't get me wrong; this isn't a story about some old girlfriend appearing out of the past. I never dated Monica. I never dated anyone in high school. Or at all, really, which seems hard to comprehend considering the ex-wife who does her best to make my life hell – but even then, I never really dated. Which is why I'm left at my age with no idea how.
I'd missed the next thing Monica said, so I asked her to repeat herself. "Get with the program, old pal, I said I have a job for you." Occasionally, she'd throw me an assignment – I was never sure if it was charity or not, but I wasn't about to complain. I almost missed everything she said after that, too, but I snapped back in time to hear, "—it's tonight, which is why I can't get my backup in time. But I'm sure you'll do okay."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence," I replied. "I'll make sure to dedicate my novel to you."
"Dork," she said, suddenly sounding just like the teenager I'd known. "I wouldn't ask if you couldn't handle it. Just make sure you're at the 55 Club by eight tonight? You'll be on the list." Outside, the rain picked up, the wind angling it into the glass and melting my view. "Oh, and wear something decent. It's a fashion show."
By seven fifty-nine, I was stepping off a bus across the street from the club. The rain had dwindled to a light mist, but not before completely soaking me as I left the apartment, so my one dress jacket was still damp as I waited at the crosswalk. I hunched my shoulders, trying to keep the clammy fabric from pressing against my shirt, and looked around. I seemed to be completely enclosed in a forest of spiked hair, black clothing and exaggerated makeup, worn by over-pierced teenagers with iPod buds glued into their ears and identical vacant stares. I guess there must be a real club somewhere around here, I thought.
The light changed, and I trudged across to the other side with the throng, trying not to let my eyes dwell for too long on any of the young girls in front of me. When you get to be my age, you either embrace, or are embarrassed by, your lust for youth – and I had found myself averting my eyes more and more in public places. But sometimes you couldn't help it, and I followed a swaying set of hips in a midnight-shaded miniskirt until I stumbled over the curb and almost fell.
I expected the gaggle of goth-punk teens to turn in another direction as I angled toward the club, but they continued to surround me, staring and brushing up against my polyester jacket as we all lined up outside the 55 Club's door. I could hear mocking laughter from a few feet behind, and had the uncomfortable feeling that it was directed toward me. I couldn't wait to get inside, head in the direction of this show, and let these kids head toward their dance floor or whatever.
That was when I looked up, blinking against the drizzle, and noticed the banner hung above the double glass doors: Welcome to the 5th Annual Alternative Fashion Show, sponsored by Dark Ages Magazine. "Goddammit, Monica," I muttered under my breath, and tugged at the cuffs of my shirt nervously.
It seemed like I was the oldest person in the room, by at least ten years. I suppose some of the designers must have been older – but where I was sitting, in the middle of a dozen bleeding-edge writers for a host of magazines I'd never heard of, all dressed exactly as the kids had been I walked in behind, I felt like the token member of a previous generation, being allowed to watch from behind the glass. The shaved-bald girl who checked my name off the press list even offered to take my jacket, the corners of her mouth twitching around the liprings. I'd surrendered it, exposing the off-white dress shirt beneath, and it was all she could do not to laugh.
Still, I sat there, trying not to stare in any one direction for too long, and damn well did my job. I clutched at a photocopied program decorated with skeletal angels, and checked off each model, each designer, making notes beside the names regarding colours and fabrics. Monica wouldn't expect much from me – just a half-dozen short paragraphs to run beside the photographs – but I wasn't sure who the biggest names were, so I tried to pay attention to everything until I could Google them all later. Mostly, I eavesdropped on the writers around me and copied down everything they said.
By the time they reached the next to last model on the program, practically everything had reminded me why I spend most of my life in my apartment. Sweat beaded my forehead, I had spilled a glass of wine down my shirt, photographers had pushed me aside three times to get better shots, my ears were ringing from the music, and despite my best efforts, I'd received more withering looks from attractive young women than I usually gathered in a year. I was about ready to put my pen away and catch the bus home.
But then, music came over the speakers, and I was pleasantly surprised to recognize a David Bowie song. I looked up, trying not to meet anyone's eye but refreshed enough by the familiar lyrics to take a few more notes, and that was when I saw her – the most astonishingly gorgeous creature, I was certain in that moment, that I'd ever had the luck to see. Looking back, I think I was lost from that very first sight.
Her hair, full and teased so it arched away from her head, gleamed jet-black under the lights, with shafts of pink appearing from beneath, currents running beneath the surface of the midnight sea. Her eyebrows were perfectly arched over dark, expressive eyes, shaded in a matching pink and lined like an Egyptian goddess. Below her aristocratic, slightly upturned nose, her lips curved, slightly swollen, and her tongue darted out across them before she strode confidently into the lights. Her skin was almost white beneath them, almost ivory, just the slightest hint of colour betraying the blood that ran below.
I shifted in my seat, uncomfortable for a different reason now. I looked around, expecting someone to notice my reaction, to castigate me for my naked desire, but either I was hiding it better than I believed, or, more likely, all eyes were on her and I was below any of their radar. In the next moment, I was lost in watching her again, and I never even noticed if anyone did eventually look my way.
She was dressed in a shimmering mylar suit, reflecting the stage lights blindingly each time a fold shifted. Smoothly, she slid out of the jacket and hung it casually over one shoulder, revealing a pink shirt with the top three or four buttons undone, hanging so free that when she turned, skin was bared beneath, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I leaned forwarding my seat hoping to see. But there was only the quickest flash of exposure, and she was striding away, her hips rolling, the shiny fabric tight across curves that left my mouth gaping – and so hard inside my trousers that I thought they might split open at the seams.
She left the stage, and a muscle-bound boy in black leather took her place. I sighed, and sat back reluctantly, immediately scanning the program for the vision's name. She was only listed as "Briann." I circled her name twice, and reminded myself to look it up online later. Anyone this beautiful had to have a website somewhere.
I noticed that the woman beside me was watching, amused, as I marked the model's name. Sheepishly, I tried to grin. "She's … something, isn't she?" I stammered.
This only seemed to amuse her further. "Yes, she is, in fact," the woman replied, chuckling deep in her throat. She turned away from me and concentrated on the walkway above us.
As the final parade began, I watched closely for Briann. I could see her hair just behind someone else's head, but I couldn't see her clearly until it was her turn for a final stride down and back. She'd changed into a corset in a darker shade of pink, almost rose, and I couldn't help but caress her collarbones, her bared shoulders with my eyes. I found myself fantasizing about holding her, kissing her there, just above the edge of the fabric, her smooth, cool skin beneath my lips – kissing her slowly, moving up to the hollow at the base of her neck, pressing my face against her there, feeling her pulse beneath my gently teasing tongue and moving up, over her adam's apple, up to trace the line of her elegant jaw –
And, even as I had to shift again to hide my erection, I realized what I'd just noticed. Over her adam's apple. I gasped, blushing deep crimson, and heard laughter from beside me. The woman who I'd spoken to before was pointing at me and whispering to her companion. I bolted up, almost knocking my chair over in my haste, and pushed my way through the crowd toward the door. When I made it outside, I leaned against the smooth granite wall of the building, my chest heaving, my breath clouding the cold October air before my face, and could still feel my face burning.
I felt suddenly dizzy, and leaned over, my hands on my knees, afraid that I might pass out. An older couple walked by me, suddenly quiet, and then muttered disapprovingly when they were past. I sucked in the night air audibly, making a whistling sound deep in my throat. Eventually, I was able to stand up again.
It wasn't until I was halfway home on the bus that I realized I'd left my only dress jacket at the club. I never even considered going back for it.
When I got home, there was an email waiting for me from Monica. The photographer says there was an 'old guy' there in the press seats – so I assume you made it. Send me 500 words or so as soon as you can, it'll run on Thursday. You'll have the check by then, too. She knew the end of the month was Friday, and rent would be due. Maybe it was charity, after all. Either way, I had writing to do, so I sat down and opened a new Word document.
Six hundred words later (I knew Monica well enough to know she'd want to make some cuts, just to make the story partly hers), I replied to her email with the file and pushed back from the desk. I went into my miniscule kitchen and started the kettle for a cup of tea, then walked back out to the main room. Slowly, I undressed, dropping my shirt, my pants, my socks into a laundry basket behind the couch. I sat down, still wearing my boxers, and reached over to turn the radio on. Late at night, I tended to listen to the radio instead of discs or mp3s – it was nice to still feel connected to the rest of the world.
Idly, waiting for the water to boil, I slid my fingers inside the fly of my shorts and touched myself. A slightly musty, sweaty smell rose to my nostrils as I cupped my balls, then trailed my fingertips up over the rising shaft of my penis. I controlled my thoughts, focusing on the teenage girls I'd seen early that night, on their thighs wrapped tight in skirts or form-fitting jeans, and imagined what they'd look like without that restraint. I pictured their breasts, bouncing slightly as they were freed from t-shirts; I imagined their inexperienced mouths moving across me. I circled myself with fingers and thumb, and began to stroke more seriously.
A song ended on the radio, and there was a moment of silence. Then I heard the low, quiet notes at the beginning of "Space Oddity" start up, and long before Bowie started to sing, my fantasy had switched over. It was Briann kneeling in front of me, my hands tangled in that hair, those lips surrounding the head of my cock. I could feel the tongue I'd only seen slightly, momentarily, as it rippled down my flesh, and I laid my head back, eyes closed, lost in the sensation. I was dripping down over the sides of my fingers, already feeling it rise within me, pulling back every time I got too close, moaning deep in my throat. Suddenly, I pictured her – pictured him -- standing up in front of me, bare-chested, nipples taut, working his way out of a short, sleek skirt, turning away to slide fishnet stockings down off of perfect, sleek-smooth thighs, then tugging a pair of black silk panties down just far enough to expose the cleft of his beautiful ass then teasingly back up again, bending further over, thrusting himself almost into my lap, almost against my hardness –
And a wave of liquid pleasure seemed to burst through me, drawing every muscle taut, filling my body until I came in one long spurt up over my chest, up my neck, then another that started below my nipples and slid down my belly, then a few more that made the shaft of my cock too slick to stroke, and my hand slid off into my lap. I lay back, breathing heavily, my whole body trembling, and was able to hear the radio again:
I'm feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
I lay there, worn out and confused, until I finally fell asleep.