For a moment he was still inside her, turgid there and quivering. Then as he began to move, in the sudden helpless orgasm, there awoke in her new strange thrills rippling inside her. Rippling . . . like a flapping overlapping of soft flames, soft as feathers, running to points of brilliance, exquisite …and melting her all molten inside…
—D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Though Bill was about fifteen years older than I, he was about thirty years older than his wife Lou Anne, who, with a bit of a stretch, could have been my daughter, I couldn’t help thinking of us as a sort of family—Bill, the dad, me, the wife, and Lou Anne, the child. Natalia, Bill’s dog was the baby.
The idea of an orgy made me nervous rather than excited. I pictured about twenty gorgeous Playboy magazine-type people on an enormous, satin-sheeted round bed in some penthouse. Or a dark, damp cave-like place in the meat market district, with sounds of water dripping, and dark corners peopled with bald men and women pulling each other’s nipple rings and sewing each other’s testicles. By the time we arrived, everyone would be intertwined like some enormous octopus, one creature with many suckers and many limbs. How would we join in? What if no one desired us?
It was in a modern high-rise in the east forties. Bill, his backpack full of pigeon feed as usual, his breath smelling of Scope, and I, padded across the carpeted hallway with its matching maroon flowered, and flocked wallpaper. Holding my hand, Bill rang the bell. I couldn’t hear anything from inside.
“Hello, Alvin,” said Bill, to the man, bearded and balding, with a large gold Jewish star nestled in profuse chest hair, who opened the door. “This is Deanna.” Bill still holds my hand, but pushes me slightly in front of him and over the threshold, as if I’m a recalcitrant child.
“Hi, Alvin,” I say. Even though this is an orgy, I’m polite.
“Come in and get undressed.” Once inside, I see that Alvin is naked except for the dark hair that covers his body with the exception of his penis, forehead, heels, and the top of his head.
Bill is already throwing his jeans, shirt, socks and sneakers onto the pile on the beige living-room carpet, which blends nicely with the nude bodies I don’t want to look at riqht away. There’s nothing Playboy-mansion-y about this apartment—it has an inocuous, modern, middle-class look.
“Do I have to get undressed?” I whine. Bill is beside me, naked, unselfconscious, stomach protruding, toes gripping the carpet, stolid. Again he takes my hand.
Small groups of people stand around holding glasses of wine or mugs of iced tea. Some Lawrence Welk-type music is playing. The room smells of air freshener, like inside a taxi. This would look like an office party if everyone weren’t completely nude except for one woman’s hot pink underpants. When I look more closely, I see two people off in an alcove, half on and half off a beige couch.
Alvin is a good host. Noticing my hesitation, he waves me further into the room. “Deanna, this is Olivia, my wife.”
Olivia holds two wineglasses in one hand. She’s slender on top, with delicate, round breasts, but, though I wouldn’t consider her fat. her stomach and thighs seem meant for a larger woman. Her dark nipples engage me—I can’t seem to look at anything else—like when I see a nose, tongue or eyebrow ring. In fact, I wish I saw more piercing, some tattoos, the kind of decadence that’s appealing to me.
“Where’s Lou Anne?” Olivia asks Bill. “She couldn’t come today. She told me to tell you hi.”
I don’t want to think of Lou Anne here, feeling quite at home, probably the youngest of this group, tall and slender, shedding her clothes easily and comfortably. I picture her round, rosy bottom, her straight, blunt-cut red hair.
“I’m bored,” I say. “Can we leave yet?”
“How about getting undressed,” Bill says, helping me open my satin shirt, pulling down my ieans, which I step out of, holding on to Bill’s balding head. “Let’s just stay a little longer, Poopkie.”
“Looks like it’s going to rain,” says another balding, bearded man. He swings his penis for emphasis, as I drop my socks, the last of my clothes on the pile.
“What nice hair you have,” someone else says. Without clothes to go by, I can’t tell any of these men apart from each other. They are all bald, have beards, and are developing paunches.
“Thanks,” I say, pulling on a curl.
“I like a lot of body hair,” he continues.
Do I have a lot of body hair? My legs are shaved.
“I like a lot of pubic hair. Maybe we can get together later.”
“Yes,” I say, politely.
Bill puts his arm around me and tries to kiss me, but I pull away. “I’m not in the mood, Bill.”
“Let’s meet some more people, Poopkie. Soon you’ll see, you’ll have a qood time.”
Bill pulls me into the bedroom alcove, where a man, the only one with hair on his head, is kneeling. He’s also partly dressed—in a black and white maid’s uniform, with a short white apron, under which I can see his penis, semi-hard. He’s got a black collar around his neck, to which a leash is attached.
“Harder,” he tells the woman holding the leash, who is also slapping him on his butt.
I laugh. Bill smiles at me, glad I’m finally having fun. The man on the floor grabs my leg. I jump, but then it feels okay, so I let him touch me.
“This is Warren.” Bill says.
“Hi, I’m Helen, Warren’s wife,” says the woman with the leash. Warren remains on his knees. but rises up a bit to give me his hand to shake. I stare at his studded collar and the ruffles on the apron, and laugh some more. Before I know it, I’m under him, he’s inside me, his wife is still holding the leash. Bill is watching.
“Smack me,” he says.
I laugh, but hit him on his behind.
“Oh. harder, please,” he whines. I feel his penis expand.
“Ha, ha, ha.” I can’t stop laughing now. I feel like I’d love to hit him much harder, really hard. But from my position under him, I can’t get enough leverage.
Helen, trying to be helpful, pulls the leash hard, and, at the same time, hits him with some kind of whisk.
“Good, good,” says Warren, closing his eyes.
I am laughing. Bill sits down crosslegged on the rug and watches. I don’t want him to feel left out. I don’t want him to leave my side. Yet I have a sudden urge to make him feel jealous—after all, why else are we here?—so I begin to move under Warren.
“I’d like to invite you to our summer house in Maine,” moans Warren. He’s perspiring. “I like you. Harder,” he says to Helen.
“Ha, ha, ha,” I laugh.
“We go up in August. Bring your kids. too. We have two children.”
“Ha, ha.” I look over at Bill, touch his paunch, his thigh. Does he like this? Is he jealous?
“Ha, ha, ha,” I laugh. “I forgot my birth control.”
Helen pulls hard on the leash. Is this some kind of signal? Warren moans, and chokes a bit, but gets up. “I really mean that about August. Helen will give you our address.”
Warren is led to the door.
“He likes to ride the elevator in that outfit.” says Bill. “It excites him to shock whoever he meets in there. Are you having fun, Sweetie?”
I watch the new arrival, a tall, dark man who slipped through the door as Warren crawled out. Maybe I can stop this laughing. Bill looks at me. Do you like him? his eyes ask. I watch the new arrival remove each article of clothing—the only person so far who attracts me—until he’s standing in nothing but his hat, a black fedora. From under the brim, two long side-curls swing out. With delicate but strong-looking fingers, he carefully places these behind his ears. Handsome, with huge dark eyes—so what if he’s Hassidic?
Bill is pleased to see me interested in someone, something. “Hi, Elihu,” he says.
“Ha, ha,” I laugh as Elihu and I fall passionately onto the carpet. Is Bill still holding my hand? I’m vaguely aware of a sea of legs. Perhaps any kind of passion or excitement is a rarity, since these people seem to know each other too well. Not only am I attracted to Elihu, it excites me that for him this orgy is a special pleasure because of his religious prohibitions. I can see the room, the people, Bill, in Elihu’s enormous liquid eyes. Bill reaches out to touch my breast. I push his hand away.
“This is Deanna,” says Bill, as if I’m his and he’s presenting me.
“Ha, ha,” I laugh. Bill seems pitiful. I want to protect him. I want to hurt him. “Haa, haaa,” I moan.
“We have to go, Poopkie. I have to feed Natalia. I can’t count on Lou Anne for anything.”
Oh, suddenly he has to feed Natalia? And it has to be done right away? She’s a dog, for god’s sake.
Outside it’s raining lightly, and, strangely, it’s not yet dark.
“Well?” Bill asks.
I wonder what he hopes of me.
“It was funny,” I say. “It was hysterical.”
Bill smiles warily. “Good, good.” He puts out his arm for a taxi.
“Maybe because I was so nervous. and maybe I couldn’t get into it, but it’s not really very sexy. And I’m surprised that most of those people are married.”
“They have problems relating,” Bill says.
Does that mean himself? Lou Anne? Bill is holding my hand, hailing a taxi with the other. “It’s the watching and being watched that’s exciting,” he says.
Why didn’t I know that? I try to apply this new information to something that’s already passed without my awareness of it. Doesn’t that excite me? If not, why not? But maybe if Bill was fucking other women I would have been excited, would have found him suddenly sexier, might have desired him more.
“Do you like Elihu?” Bill asks, throwing some pigeon feed out the taxi window.
“He invited me to another orgy at a Holiday Inn,” I say. “I told him maybe.”
I study Bill for signs of possessiveness. He’s told me he never feels jealous. I want him to roar and rage with jealousy. Then again, I want to protect him. I place my hand in his raincoat pocket and lean back on his arm. I’m actually grateful that he stayed beside me the entire time, that he didn’t make me feel jealous. If my own mother had been this supportive on stressful occasions, including my first day of kindergarten, where I was so scared I threw up on Ellen Powell’s new black patent leather party shoes, my whole life might have been different.
Lynda Schor’s latest collection of short stories, The Body Parts Shop, was rescently published by FC2. She lives in the WestVillage.
Lynda Schors latest collection of short stories, The Body Parts Shop, was recently published by FC2. She lives in the West Village.