One of these days –
It won’t be long –
You gonna’ look for me, and I’ll be gone.
-Aretha Franklin “Come Back Baby”
Two weeks later, Guy cancelled another appointment at Paquette’s. In the changing room, Paquette touched Nanette’s bare shoulder, just above the leather corset that was Guy’s favorite.
“He’s not coming?” Nanette’s gut suddenly filled with concrete. “Is he sick?”
“Non,” Paquette answered quietly.
“Did he re-schedule?”
Paquette shook her head.
“Nanette…” Eden rubbed her friend’s arm.
Nanette’s chest went numb. Her mouth filled with saliva. She wasn’t sure if she was going to throw up or pass out. Instead of doing either, she calmly walked to the front desk where Paquette, reading a newspaper, sat. Nanette asked her to cancel or re-direct her last two appointments.
Paquette watched her with old eyes. “You need to guide you clients, carry them, break them honestly, with connection – but stay at a distance.”
Nanette grabbed her coat without bothering to change and walked courageously up the stairs and out the wrought iron gate to face the end of summer breezes.
She leaned against the wall just outside the gate to light a cigarette, but her hands were shaking.
She tried again. Success.
The cigarette calmed her nerves. Probably his wife. His wife Michele. She’d been reading up on Guy when she and Stefan could find material – his wife, damnit.
Her body was numb to the warm wind. She only felt the cigarette touching her red lips, the smoke going into her lungs and coming back out of her lungs, the sensations on her lips. That was it.
Even her tongue was numb. Her hands. Her legs. Her back. Everything but her lips, her lungs, and her eyes was gone.
Aretha Franklin, she thought. She played here in Paris before Nanette got here so she missed it. The Riots. Everything happened just before she got there.
Fuck you, Guy!
Nanette – gravel crunching under her pointed heels – turned down the first alley as she did every night to walk home. She didn’t notice the smell of piss and rotten fruit the way she usually did. Didn’t care where she was stepping. Didn’t read the posters to practice her French.
How different she’d felt just a few hours earlier, walking through this same alley on her way to work that afternoon. Monday – a Guy day. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturday afternoon he’d come in. His eyes so expressive – like a cute, little squirrel.
Maybe the Dungoen was too expensive, she thought. He didn’t have much money. Maybe I pushed too far, went too far-
Nanette stopped in the middle of the dim alley and took in a breath as she slid her coat on – grateful the summer was fading away, knowing that through the entire summer everyone on the street must know that she is working in the sex trade, her in this silly London Fog.
Guy stepped out from behind one of the stacks of wooden crates lining the right wall, his brown hair messed from the wind. He pushed his glasses up on his nose with one hand, the other hand casually in his thin, beige pants pocket. Short-sleeved white shirt. Neat-looking. Academic.
Nanette stepped on her cigarette, a posture of arrogance. Who the hell does he think he is!?
With a calm but quick movement, Guy reached out to her waist – his hands brushing down her corset – as he pushed her back to the wall. She glanced behind her and saw that he’d been sitting on two stacked boxes, where there was now a notebook.
Guy kissed her roughly, pushing her back to sit on the boxes. Her ass bumped his notebook off and on to some trash on the ground.
Guy pulled open her coat, his hands touching her corset again without permission.
She was wearing a tight vinyl skirt and fishnets gartered at mid-thigh, just below her skirt line. He pushed against her. She could feel him.
“Non-” she commanded, firmly. “Non.”
He hesitated for a moment before he stepped back to wait for her instruction.
She let him stand there for a moment while she composed herself and gained control then, with the self-serving generosity of a good Mistress, she gave her good boy a gift.
Nanette unzipped his pants and pulled him out into the cold air. She touched him tenderly, as she sat back on a stack of boxes and pulled his hips to hers.
This was their first time, and all Guy could repeat as he pushed deeper and deeper into her was: “Merci, merci, merci. ..”
* * *
When they were done, Nanette stood up and walked out of the alley without a word. It wasn’t until she got home that she found the note he’d left in her pocket:
I need more from you. Like all extremes, I see that after I achieve what I want or need, there is a decline. Luckily, we have those heights to reach again, but we must also have lows. I need more. I have followed you home. I know where you live. I will come there in one week, at 13h, and take you out with me, as a couple. I don’t think what we have now is all we are. –Guy
Nanette wished Stefan was home to give her some more heroin – something to sleep. Her mind was racing – happiness, hunger, confusion, identity, reality, but mostly happiness.
She and Guy had set up this world and it worked. It contained very few bridges to the outside. It was sterile and structured and full and true – but yes, perhaps they had reached the highest heights they were to go. Perhaps.
But a date?
Nanette didn’t really date, so much as she preyed.
Still, she felt an aching to have him inside her again. Maybe they could have it all.
Although they had never had what would be considered a real conversation, they were connected. Guy knew her well enough to know she wouldn’t stay at work if he cancelled, knew she’d leave and in order to get home, she’d walk down that alley as she did every day.
She smoked, thinking: But could we go on having “normal” sex? There’s procreation – that’snormal – and then there’s sex. Nothing normal about it. Normal sex – that’s what his wife is for…
Still, to have a life truly driven by passion. Or at least to try, imagine…