Friday, January 22, 2010
I’m standing outside a dark door. There is a security camera attached to the wall on my right, presumably tracking my every move. Nobody opens so I unfasten my coat, just a little, exposing a hint of flesh. It appears to work as the door drifts slightly ajar.
“Is this Le Liberty?” I ask, faltering slightly.
“Oui.” He opens the door and lets me in. The entrance is flooded in red light. I look at the man. His face is gaunt and pock-marked. Like he’s been through something far worse than adolescent acne. He grins at me, at least two teeth missing in his upper maw, the cavity now a mass of black, empty space. His hair hangs in long, waxy strips. It looks to be a dirty brown mixed with strands of grey, but it’s hard to tell in the red light. He has a deformity on his back, lending him a stooped posture. It makes me think of Quasimodo from Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, and I can’t help but feel pity for this most unfortunate of creatures.
Quasimodo asks for my coat and I hand it over to him. I pay the obligatory sixty euros and receive a ticket for my jacket.
“Follow the corridor until the end, then go to the right. You will find the bar there. Someone will pick you up for a tour.” He leaves it at that and I don’t ask any more, but I ponder his last words with dread mixed with intrigue, and possibly anticipation.
The corridor is long, narrow and deep. It’s underground and I have the feeling I’m descending into a worldly hell, or the cavity of an ailing throat. Cold, damp, red. I walk the long stretch, the ending a mere black hole. I’m not alone. A warm and slightly sickly breath clings to the nape of my neck. I’m too frightened to turn around and so continue to walk. A hand flutters past my hair, sliding down my backless dress. A laugh, or more like a giggle. I stop and turn around. But there is no one there.
I reach the end. There’s a door to the left with a “No Entry” sign. In the current setting it looks like a deadly warning. I walk to the right as per Quasimodo’s instructions. The passage continues and then opens up. Next to the cave-like walls, there’s a bar. A topless girl is serving two men and a woman standing slightly apart. The woman, ebony skinned with long gazelle legs, breasts like an amazon and the face of a Nubian princess, is wearing an elaborate costume made purely of strings, covering the barest of necessities. This does not include her breasts. She appears to be more prop and furniture than a client. A little bit of honey to sweeten the experience.
The two men are clad in business attire, as if they’ve just swung by for a casual after-work drink. I shoot them a quick glance. Their seemingly normal appearance puts me at ease, calming any apprehension about my own uptight vesture. I wear a low-cut, black YSL dress studded with small gold and silver Swarovski crystals. It’s backless, exposing down to the curve of my spine. My only accessory is a prized pair of Christian Louboutin black patent-leather Mary-Janes. I’ve once been told by an overly amorous client that they are what they call Come-Fuck-Me shoes.
I order a Cosmopolitan in a bid to make myself at home. The girl behind the bar mixes the drink and I find myself watching her breasts as she works the shaker. I wonder if they are real or just the work of a great plastic surgeon. I estimate they are running in sizes beyond E, as they are several cups larger than my own.
At a certain point she notices my stare and smiles at me. It almost seems like an invite, but if so what for? She stretches over the bar to serve me the drink. As she does so, one of her breasts touches the back of my hand, if ever so briefly. For a moment I stroke it with the tip of my finger before jerking my hand away from their heat. Like the touch of a burning stove. I blush and take the cocktail, sipping it until only an ice cube remains. Its content is already hitting me, and I carefully slide down from the barstool, holding on to its back. I feel dizzy and for a moment I vacillate before centring my balance.
As I turn around I see a man standing quietly in a corner, his arms crossed in front of his chest. He seems to be in his mid-thirties, has dark hair and is wearing a tight white t-shirt, barely exposing a Maori tribal tattoo on his right arm. He approaches me. When he’s less than a metre away, he suddenly grabs my arm, tucking it under his own, before leading me away. I’m about to ask him what he wants but he places his index finger on my lips, silently hushing me.
We walk down another corridor, where a large amount of equipment is positioned. It reminds me of medieval torture devices, and in a moment of inebriated enlightenment I fully comprehend the paradox of church-devised torture. All are standing empty, like they are installations in an art exhibition, but given the still-early hour, I have no doubt they will be used later on. The stranger takes me to a dark room. He detaches my handbag from the firm grip of my hand and leads me further into the heart of the darkness. I have lost all sight and from now on must fully depend on my auditory, olfactory and tactile senses.
There are voices in the room, hushed male and female voices. I feel touches on my skin and clothes. Calloused hands of men. Someone tries to slip a hand up the skirt of my dress, while another pulls me towards a wall. My guide has let go of me and I’m alone with my violators. There are at least two. I feel a hand travelling up the inside of my thighs reaching for my underwear. It tugs at them, yanking at them hard until I hear a tear and they give way. I gasp but a hand is placed over my mouth. It has a sweet, slightly pungent odour. Like it’s been places I don’t want to know. Why am I not making for my escape? Why don’t I scream or run? In truth the situation is as exciting as it is frightening. It’s the first time in more than a year that anyone has devoured my body, consuming it without inhibitions or restraints. And I want to be consumed. I’m prepared to give myself up like the blessed sacrament of Corpus Christi. So I let the hands guide me; my skirt is pushed up to my waist, whilst I’m forced to bend forward. Hands feel their way between my legs, fingers penetrating me, making way for a stiff, hard cock. He pushes me hard, rocking me back and fourth from behind. I try to stabilise myself by reaching out for the wall. I hear a voice murmuring, “yes, yes, oh yes.” I try to distinguish it, believing it to come from the side and not from behind. There must be several taking part in this debauched act of defilement. It all comes to an abrupt halt in a climax resulting in three hard thrusts and a warm and wet sensation between my legs. A stream of sticky liquid runs down my left thigh, mixing with the pearls of sweat that have formed in the course of the event.
Moments later then hands are gone. I’m overcome by an empty feeling. There is no one to fondle me, kiss me or whisper beautiful, soothing words in my ear. There is no tenderness or feeling of warmth. There is nothing. Instead I find myself sober. There is only the hangover — and the feeling of loss.
I find myself alone, and although I can hear voices, they are faint and metres away, probably on the prowl for their next target.
I walk along the wall, occasionally seeing a dark menacing mass, which I try to avoid. It takes me several minutes to find the exit. My world is once more red. I find a box of tissues standing on a side table and pluck one, mopping up the excess fluid. The protein has already started to coagulate, and the thin paper sticks to it, leaving traces of white fluffy bits on the inside of my thigh. I feel dirty, abused. A second-rate whore who has long stopped counting her clients.
I follow the exit signs, walking past the bar and the woman who served me only moments earlier. I avoid her eyes, which I am certain are tracing my escape. I go to collect my coat, my handbag left to an uncertain fate. Feelings of shame inhibit me from asking for it. Quasimodo hands over my jacket, and I’m about to turn around when he says, “Madame, don’t forget your bag.”
He puts it on the counter.
“Thank you,” I say, confiscating it before I leave.
Warm water drizzles over me, only marginally quieting the cold shivers that run like electric currents through my body. I stand there in silence. Although thoughts are making their best efforts to penetrate my mind, I keep them at bay. I reach for bath salts and a natural sponge and begin to scrub myself clean. Purifying my body and mind from the dirt, the smells and the dilapidated filth I’ve just witnessed and succumbed to. The water is whirling and dancing, before finally surrendering to the force of the drain. I trace its getaway, wishing I could escape with it.