Swallowtail Ch. 06byktmccoll©
Swallowtail is a novel that traces the narrator's gradual acceptance of submission.
Previously: The narrator's submission to Dex has culminated in an unexpected body modification. Although he is now temporarily out of commission, Dex has other plans for him.
My cock is angry with me. I hold it between my thumb and forefinger and observe the metal stud that breaches its tender flesh like an insult. It's curled around the piercing like a sad, pink snail in a pose of desperate self-defense.
Oh well, I say to myself, it's done. Then: how will I ever get on a plane again without setting off the metal detector?
When you've had your dick pierced unexpectedly, it's certainly time to take stock. I step into the shower and feel as deflated as my erstwhile most reliable friend. Am I really so desperate as to have a virtual stranger commit such an outrage on my private bits? What does it say about me that I went along with it?
I feel morose and out of sorts when I leave for work. Dex calls me at lunch despite her professed dislike of phones and asks me whether I'd like to get together with her that night.
"Sure," I say.
"Is something wrong?"
She doesn't believe me. I don't care.
We ring off a moment later. There's a hint of concern in Dex's voice but I dismiss it. I have problems of my own.
I spend the commute home wondering whether I am really so cheaply sold.
Dex has come over to my house directly from work and is taking an obscenely long shower that I wouldn't have minded being invited to. The water stops and then another obscene period of time passes before she emerges. What, I wonder—not for the first time—do women do in the bathroom for so long?
When she enters the living room, I see that she is wearing one on my t-shirts and nothing much else. Just do it, says the t-shirt. Dex flumps on the sofa next to me and lifts her legs onto my lap.
"What's up?" she asks.
"Not much," I say ruefully.
My hand lands just above her knee and squeezes the muscle gently.
"You're not yourself tonight."
I shrug, taking a page from Dex's playbook.
"Come on, you can tell me."
I'm reluctant to open up, and it occurs to me that Dex and I are not entirely dissimilar on that count. I take a deep breath. "This whole piecing thing, as interesting as it is, got me thinking. You said that you're not willing to be subservient. I'm not sure I am either. It's not me."
Dex nods and takes a sip of wine. She swirls the red liquid and observes it thoughtfully. "Do you like it?"
"Being in charge?"
"Yes," I say. "Of course."
"Do you like always being in charge?"
She does that single eyebrow raise. When I remain silent, she continues: "You're in charge at work. You have people counting on you. You're responsible for this house and the lifestyle you've built for yourself. You probably go to bed thinking of your responsibilities for the next day."
"And in your relationships, you've always gravitated to women you can lead. You prefer to call the shots. You decide where to go, what to do and for how long. If my guess is right, you soon get bored and that's why you have no one to share your house and your lifestyle with. Am I close?"
I'm struck mute.
"Is it refreshing to not be in charge?"
Still no response comes to mind. Her words are like an artillery barrage. I feel like ducking.
"So let's say I or someone else calls the shots for a small part of your life and you trust that person to lead you and there are no decisions to be made. You just go along with it. It's interesting and challenging. Would you enjoy that?"
"I don't know."
"Have you enjoyed it?"
"I suppose I have."
"And what's wrong with that?"
There are times when Dex surprises me, and this is one of those times. "And you want to be the person who calls the shots?" I ask. Why is this feeling like a job interview?
We fall into an easy silence there on the sofa.
"These things evolve," she says. "Think about it."
She clicks on the television. I guess I'm supposed to think about it right now. I think about it while people dance around on a stage in front of a live studio audience. I think about other things too, of course—Dex's smooth, toned legs on my lap, the fact that I need an oil change soon, the fact that I have to send out Christmas cards (I'm already late)—but it is Dex's relationship model that I always come back to. I think of whether it's wise to consciously hand Dex the keys to the carnal kingdom.
I have to admit that Dex already has taken charge; I've simply gone along without really thinking about it. She has made it clear that she's not interested in playing second fiddle and I realize that I like the way she calls the tune. There's pleasure in the unexpected. There's pleasure in not being in charge too, although I'm reluctant to admit as much aloud.
I decide to accept the status quo. As long as there's something in it for me, I can let Dex lead the way and I will follow. Should the cost ever exceed the reward, I will exit stage left. That's all the control I really need.
The show that Dex has settled on finishes and she turns off the television. There's a long pause that I feel obliged to fill.
"I'm okay with you leading," I say.
I'm disappointed. I'd imagined a different reaction to my concession, something involving hands clenched below her chin while she looks up at me through lowered lashes in dewy-eyed gratitude. Instead, I get two words and not much beyond that.
There's another long pause. I feel like I'm talking to someone on the moon. I resist the temptation to fill the void.
Finally, she says, "You're letting me lead because you think you know where we're going. Do you trust me enough to lead you into uncomfortable places? Will you still be with me when we come out on the other side? Or are you just letting me think I'm driving while you hold the keys?"
Damn this woman for not simply accepting her victory. Damn her for parsing the terms and conditions. "Lead," I say. "I'll go with you."
The piercing might have been a dumber idea than I originally thought. When Dex said that I would be out of commission, I had no idea that it would be for so long. When we get together and I suggest (gently, because evidently she's in charge) that we explore the kingdom of earthly delights that she has alluded to, she says, as she does now...
"You're still healing."
It's Friday night and she has come over to my place. She has assumed her now customary position on the sofa, reclined against the armrest, legs draped over my thighs. It has been a couple of weeks since I've agreed to relinquish control over my carnal destiny and so far she hasn't led me anywhere. I'm frustrated. She's hearty and hale, desirable and available, and I'm still healing.
While it may be true that my body has only just grudgingly accepted the intrusion of a metal barb, the discomfort of the piercing she subjected me to has largely subsided. I feel sure, almost, that I'm ready for action. "It's been a while," I say.
"Since we've been... er... intimate."
"It almost sounds like you're whining," Dex says. A slight smile takes the edge off the words.
I suppose it does sound that way but I'm not about to admit it or apologize. I remain silent and wonder how it is that I hold so few of the cards, forgetting for the moment that I have voluntarily relinquished them. Even if it weren't for those brave words—I will follow—I realize that I've always been playing against a stacked deck. I've anted up knowing that I hold nothing in my hand. I'm astounded that I've allowed myself to be maneuvered into this position. In the past I've called the shots and as interesting and new as my times with Dex have been, I can't help feeling somewhat diminished.
"What if we go out?"
Dex thinks about it for a moment, looking dubious. Then a smile creases her face and my heart lurches at the sight. She has thought of something. "Good idea," she says.
As always, her ready agreement makes me suspicious. There's something more to it. There's a string attached but I can't see it yet.
"I may even see how we might work around your temporary handicap. How does that sound?"
"Good," I say hesitantly.
She smiles and wiggles her toes. Her skirt has risen higher and I'm now certain that she's going commando. There's a vast expanse of flawless skin and the promise of more of it just out of my purview. I feel like an explorer, goaded by the breathtaking beauty of one vista to carry on, regardless of the consequences, to the next.
I shift her legs off my groin.
"Am I hurting you?"
"No," I say.
She's not convinced. "Stand up."
I'm about to protest but think better of it.
She tugs my unit clear of my underwear.
"Nice," she says.
"That's nice too."
She moves me this way and that, tantalizingly close to her slightly parted lips. She rolls the piercing between her slender fingers. She then holds the base of my awakening cock with one hand and works the action with the other, a smirk on her lips as she does so. My knees are about to buckle. It has been too long. "It's healing nicely," she says.
That sounds promising. After several weeks of beleaguered abstention, coupled with a metallic reminder of that part of my body that is on injured reserve despite the strong desire to play, I'm thinking that the end just might be in sight. Her next words dash my hopes. "But there's still a little way to go."
She shakes her head with sympathy that I'm sure is feigned. "This hurts me as much as it hurts you," she says.
I'm not so sure. I suspect that she's enjoying this.
"I do have a present for you though," she says.
"Oh?" I pull up my pants and sit back down on the edge of the sofa.
"It's a bit unorthodox. Out of the box."
"Everything you do is."
She gives me a little squeeze and smiles. "I was going to wait until Christmas but I can give it to you now. But only if you're up to it."
"I'm not sure. I don't know what it is."
Her hand is on my upper thigh and I'm about ready to agree to anything.
She gets up and rummages around in her weathered army surplus rucksack. She removes a gift-wrapped box and hands it to me. Something rattles inside. I unwrap the box and find a velvet bag within. I open it, remove an object and stare at it. It's shiny and looks like molten stainless steel. It has a base that it can stand on and I wonder whether it's some kind of modern art. It might look good on the mantle.
"May I ask?"
"It's a butt plug."
I look at it some more. The mantle is out of the question. I turn it in my hands. "For me?"
"You don't like it?"
"I'm not sure. It looks..." I'm not sure, but it looks like just about the last thing I want to have where it's designed to go.
"Prostate massage is stimulating," says Dex helpfully.
"Not when my doctor does it." I shudder. My doctor is a large man with fingers like knackwurst.
"The prostate is for men what the g-spot is for women," says Dex. "You've found my g-spot."
"And you want to return the favor?"
"Because of where it is. If God meant for you to play with your prostate, he would have put it somewhere more accessible and less..." I search for the word "...fecal."
Dex shakes her head.
"Look, Dex, it's really sweet. I mean, no one has ever given me a butt plug before. Usually I get a tie for Christmas."
"I think this is one of those times that you have to trust me."
There it is. The gauntlet has been thrown. The line drawn.
I see my reflection in the window. Shirt. No pants or underwear. Black socks. It's no small wonder the look hasn't caught on. I look and feel stupid and self-conscious. I'm certain it's about to get worse.
"It's big," I say.
"So are most guys who want to plumb those depths."
She's playing the double standard card. Smart.
"Once it's in, you won't know it's there."
"Then why put it there in the first place?"
My jaw hurts. I'm clenching my teeth. I think loose, billowing thoughts while she spreads lube on my butt. It's cold and my anus recoils in protest.
The inserts a slippery finger and roots around. There, I think, my ass is being violated by one not of the medical community. I have crossed the Rubicon. I hold my breath.
"That..." She wiggles her finger against something. "That's your prostate."
"Oh," I gasp.
"And by stimulating it..."
"I'm told that orgasms are enhanced."
Dex has asked me to stop at the tattoo parlor where she works. She needs to pick something up and I hope she doesn't have any new piercings in mind.
One of the artists is working on a guy's arm. They're talking politics, which strikes me as a dangerous topic given the potential for disagreement and the vulnerability of the customer.
The Amazon behind the counter recognizes me and grins. "Hello again. You were here a few months ago, right? For a consultation?" She puts ironic emphasis on the last word.
A leather-clad guy is sitting in the waiting area, looking through a book of tattoo samples. Dex notices him and her eyes widen almost imperceptibly. There's a moment of recognition and both appear surprised. He's perhaps a little younger than I am but still much older than Dex. He smiles up at Dex, ignoring me.
"It's been a while," he says.
She holds his gaze. "What are you doing here?"
He closes the book and sets it aside. "I was thinking of getting a new tattoo. A spider or lizard or something. Some bug-eating creature at any rate."
"A snake would be appropriate."
He appears to think about it and shrugs. "I was wondering what happened to you," he continues. "Not a word. I have to admit that I was disappointed. I thought I knew you better."
"Obviously you didn't."
The man nods. "By the way, your parting gifts—I still have them, some of them. They're a reminder not to assume anything."
Dex gives him a look of supreme indifference. "Good. See to it that you never need to be reminded."
The man purses his lips. His bravado fails him. Dex has somehow taken the wind out of his sails. "I've changed, Dex."
It looks like a standoff and the man lowers his eyes first. "I understand. And this," he says, inclining his head to me, "is your new top?"
"No," says Dex.
"I didn't think so." He says it with a look at me and a hint of disdain.
Dex has picked up a bag from behind the counter and pauses beside me. "Let's go," she says.
I take the measure of the man who apparently has some history with Dex. I also want to knock the smirk off his face. He rubs me the wrong way.
Dex pulls at my hand. "Now," she says.
"Listen to her," the man says mockingly. "You wouldn't want to get into trouble."
"Who was that?" I ask when we're back on the sidewalk. I feel that I should have been defending Dex but I have no idea from what. I have a vague feeling that my manhood has been challenged and that I have somehow failed.
Dex starts walking and I hurry to follow, my movements reminding me of the plug I have buried within me. So much for being the alpha dog.
"Come on, Dex," I continue. "You owe me some kind of explanation. That creep seems to know more about you than I do. Hell, I don't know where you live. I don't even know your last name for that matter and I doubt Dex is your first name. Why the secrecy?"
"Give me time, okay?"
"It's not easy for me to let people in."
I have a good head of steam going. "Ignorance isn't easy either. Listen, if this is going to be anything more than play, if I'm ever going to be more than a casual playmate for you, I need more."
"Are you done?"
Again she walks away and this time I don't follow. I've had enough.
She stops several meters away. At length she turns and approaches. "I knew him a while ago."
"You were an item."
She smiles at my choice of words. "Something like that."
She turns again and this time I walk alongside.
Dex shakes her head. "It'll have to be enough," she says, "for now. It's not the most pleasant of stories. I'll give you all the sordid details in time. I promise."
I appreciate the qualifier. I can live with it. "Just tell me that he has a good reason to be angry with you."
Dex winds her arm in mine. "He does. Without a doubt."
We stop at a Vietnamese restaurant for some Pho. It has grown colder and the first snowflakes of winter are winding their way down from the heavens and a bowl of hot soup promises comfort.
Over dinner, I try to coax more information from Dex but she easily evades my questions. I'm not used to this. The women I've been with have tended to over-share to the point that few secrets remained and I'm either completely weirded out or bored. I've never been with someone as inscrutable as Dex.
The snow has picked up a little by the time we leave and there's a thin sheen of white on the sidewalk.
"I know a place not too far from here," I say.
"Let's go home."
"I'd like to take you there. It's one of my favorite places." I'm hoping that sharing some of my favorite haunts will encourage Dex to divulge some information about her life.
I lead her to a pub that I've often frequented. Back in the day it was dark and smoky. Now it's just dark. There are booths of dark wood and leather. I lead Dex to one of these in a corner where it is private. The bar features a selection of single malt whiskey that is unmatched in the city. A tiny stage occupies a corner. The band is returning to start their second set when the waitress sets two glasses of Lagavulin on our table.
I'm comfortable here and, judging by Dex's smile and untroubled brow, so is she. She leans back and we touch glasses. Some whiskeys are acquired tastes and I'm half expecting Dex to wrinkle her nose and what I've ordered. Instead, she simply closes her eyes as the whiskey unveils its complexity and spreads its warmth.
"This was a good idea," says Dex.
At that moment the bassist starts a song, playing a few moody bars before the guitarist joins. The singer watches the two for a moment before stepping up to the microphone. The singer's voice seeps out of the speakers and fills the space, rolling over tables and occupying the corners until conversation stops entirely. I've witnessed the effect of the song before, but it never fails to send a tingle through me. Dex's hand is on my thigh and she squeezes it unconsciously. The song is "Cry Me a River" and the singer delivers it perfectly, a marriage of sadness, defiance, and seduction. It's one of my favorites.
I look at Dex. She's concentrating, intent on the singer. Now that I am sharing this place and this song with Dex, I feel closer to her than ever before. That she appears to be enjoying both is a pleasant surprise. I think for the first time that there might be some future between us.
"My father liked this kind of music," she says absently.
"You've never spoken of your father."
Dex places her hand on mine and directs it to her thigh. "You're right."
She remains silent for a long while and I think that's the end of it.
"He left when I was around ten. My mother had found religion in a big way. She changed. Eventually my father found another woman."
"He wasn't religious?"
"He was, after a fashion. But he was young and any rapture my mother was capable of was limited to what she could find in the church. It was a scandal when he left us. No man worth anything would turn his back on his family and a woman who'd found God. There were rumors that he'd become something of a libertine. He hadn't, of course. He just wanted the kind of happiness that wasn't defined by anyone else. But in his leaving he taught me that life's too short to settle for mediocrity. When you're healthy and able, when you have imagination and strength, to limit yourself is almost a crime. No one ever died hoping that their lives were more mundane."