"Cold Ocean" by Richard Burgin

Now he was alone, as if on an island far out in the ocean.  He might have stayed there, but he had just enough social conditioning, he figured, to lie down beside her, even to look at her face.  He wasn’t surprised to see her smiling as if to say, “I won.”  She’d gotten her orgasm the way she wanted without even having to ask for it, and then withstood his strongest thrusts without even once asking him to ease up a bit.

There was no question it was a smile of tremendous self-satisfaction.  A smile that exuded pride in her body which was good enough to attract a man young enough to be her son, and strong enough to not be hurt by him either.  Pride also in so effortlessly pulling the whole thing off that began with the easy way she approached him on the beach to its ending just a minute ago. 

Like her body in general, the smile had extraordinary staying power.  He found that he couldn’t stop looking at it.  It was both repulsive and fascinating as if a beautiful spider, mounted on some kind of platform, had joined the two of them in bed.  Finally he had to close his eyes because he couldn’t stand to see that spider smile anymore so he pretended that he needed to rest (which must have made her feel still stronger) even at the risk of seeing his mother again once he closed his eyes.

He didn’t look at Marianne but he talked with her a little longer; etiquette too, of course, socialization - as strong a force as Niagara Falls.  It went all right at first until she said “What a nice day this has been.”  It was her way of complimenting him without making herself too vulnerable – he knew all that - expressing her pleasure without directly attributing it to him.  Meanwhile he knew she hoped for something more definitive back from him and that made him angry though he didn’t say anything about it and solved the immediate problem by simply agreeing with her. 

That’s when he got the idea, and as soon as he got it he knew he would do it, because he was still angry at her miserly compliment after all the time he spent on her - not to mention the reassurances and compliments he gave her earlier in the day about her job and condominium.  Yet, she couldn’t even bring herself to say that his mouth was wonderful much less that he was.  How could he defile the memory of his mother, who really loved him and told him so all the time, with the likes of this aging, narcissistic school teacher?  How repellent she was in her smug self-satisfaction, this woman who had undeservedly lived longer than his mother and now was basking in the pleasure of having enjoyed her son.

These were the things he thought about while he pictured the layout of her living room like a photograph he couldn’t stop looking at.  It made it virtually impossible to talk.

“Are you tired?  Would you like to take a nap?” she offered, realizing, of course, that he had stopped talking.

“Will you take a nap too?” he forced himself to say.

“Sure,” she said, giving his hand a little squeeze.  “I can always sleep after making love.”  He felt another jolt of pain.  He didn’t like how she lumped him in with all her other lovers with whom she also liked to nap after they were through.  Yes, there was even more reason to do it now. 

He waited.  It wasn’t long.  In less than five minutes she turned on her side, perhaps to stifle her snoring, and fell sound asleep.

He crept out of the bed as quietly as he could, stepping as lightly as possible with his bare toes on her carpet.  He was grateful to the carpet and to her large well made bed that made a minimum of noise when he got up.  Odd to be grateful to things, as if they had souls like people, he thought as he picked up his clothes from the floor.  He carried them into the living room, thinking that he would change there.

But once in the living room he decided to take one more precaution. He went back to the room and slowly closed the door.  That way if she got up suddenly he’d be warned and could even come up with a story of some sort.

He changed into his clothes then in front of the picture window in her living room, then went directly to the circular glass table and looked at the inside of her pocketbook.  In the middle of it was a wallet, fat and red, as he knew it would be.  There was cash in it too, several hundred dollars at least which he withdrew and put in his pockets.  He didn’t want to mess with her credit cards.  That would be far too risky and besides he’d made his point.  Next time when someone did yeoman’s work on her she wouldn’t be so stingy with her compliments.  She’d learn it would be a lot less expensive that way.


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Per Contra Fiction - Winter 2006