Reditez moi des choses tendres
Votre beau discours,
mon coeur n'est pas là de l'entendre
Pourvu que toujours vous repetiesez ces mots suprèmes
Je vous aime.
Alice in a
brothel land of wonders
I told her to meet me at Venezia's. That week had already been pretty weird, but the best was about to come. She sent me a message before getting there; excuse my clothes, I've been backpacking and this is all I've got. I realized when I found her, disorientated, outside the bar. She was wearing high cut trekking shoes, a long flowered dress and a jean jacket that was everything but tight. Upturned nose; not in a tender way as in a bulldog, but a classy and characteristic nose, looking upwards like a sunflower. A dress like that, with white flowers over green, was a particularly good fit for a British woman. Or at least it would have given me a worse impression on a Chilean woman. Nothing essential, but those dresses tend to be common only amongst a certain social class, that allows itself to wear loose dresses, to live in big loose houses, to drive big loose cars, but that always has an uptight spirit. Anyway, we sat down and asked for two piscolas to the top, nothing less.
Do you really want an answer?
I don't know in what tone
I need to tell you that you're cute
but not my kind of guy
and yet, damn it, I knew
when you approached me
I wasn't going to satisfy
your desire of fucking me.
If I had to identify what made me realize that that night would be different, I would start by her way of sitting down. In my twenty four years I have not seen anything alike. Her long body leaned in with such decision that her head would be right above the middle of the table (small and squared), and her posture conveyed such attention, such force, that I felt slightly intimidated. In other words, if I had copied her posture, our lips would have prematurely met above a white candle in between our pisco glasses. I dear to say that the talk made us forget that the universe extended beyond the bar, and we forgot about our phones and the rest of the tables, perhaps looking at us with jealousy or some form of fear.
You are cute, but oh boy how ugly are you
Your readable fake smile
I can see that you're uncomfortable
And unsure about your posture, badly seated on that chair
One at a time, you try every possible technique
Humor, self-deprecation, how cute is that
You're not convinced yet, but you want my body badly
I don't know what to tell you, but you're not fantastic
We talked, as it usual these days, about how awful marriage tends to be, and how selfish it is to bring more humans to this sad world, and how these are beautiful ideas nonetheless. Her last name inspired a conversation about one of the most remarkable marriage stories: Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn. I said, if only to stand out and see her reaction, that Henry must have been a hopeless romantic, cursed with a genetic condition that prevented his sons from living further than a few months. Constrained by the catholic church, and a forced marriage, he had truly fallen in love with an another woman, and willing to sacrifice everything (Thomas Moore's head included), he broke a marriage, a family and a religion. My comment, of course, deeply bothered her. I loved how she was willing to fight me about it, to tell me that it was a major piece of bullshit, and that Henry VIII was a motherfucker, and that I could not be any more mistaken. What a breath of fresh air! One has to stay away from honeyed kisses and bitter slaps, but its good to grab onto kisses that slap and slaps who kiss your cheeks. Her passion against me was a slap that kissed my spine from beneath. From that moment less than twenty four hours would suffice for a last kiss, not even a farewell kiss; a slap that took me 19 days and 500 nights to forget.
You offer me a drink, I appreciate the gesture
I start to get comfortable, and I confess, I'll stay
It's not that I'm bored, but my friends are gone,
And I don't want to sleep yet, so I'll just stay here
You get confident, it's cute, I like that
I finally start to see who's there in front of me
Your face loosens up and your shoulders relax
I feel like your body is ready to face
As it usually happens with these kid of knights, they kitchen was already closed when we asked. They were right, it was already midnight. We tried asking in several places, walking side by side, until we arrived to a narrow wooden three-store bar, that was still serving food on its roof. We sat on a small wooden table, wood over wood, and between Pink Floyd's songs and Pisco Sour, we devoured two portions of fries, or as you'd call them chips.
I couldn't help but notice the stinky stares over you, and had unconscious doubts of jealousy (which has nothing to do with protection) from the guys on the other tables, escaping from their conversations, fantasizing about your flesh for a fraction of a second. Sometimes I escape myself too. I escape and daydream about the white flowers in your dress; I can see them over the table, and I count up to thirty-two, thirty-three, and I want to cut each one of them out with a pair of scissors. I want to cut them with every bit of patience that exists in the world, so I can see your body thirty-three times more. I escape myself with the guitar of Pink. You say you love that song. I correct you, it's not Wish you were here, but Comfortably Numb. I do not say it, but that is how I feel: Comfortably Numb by the sigh of you. As opposed to ourselves, our fries are getting colder, so I maliciously suggest to leave that place.
You're cute, but I'm not the one you need
But I still wont say "no" to a show
in your living room
I'd know what to do with you
and that's exactly what I want the most.
Almost 2AM. I thought about that small bar, dancing floor, and asked if you knew about it. Of course you did not. We soon arrived, and you asked for a couple of shots, and then a couple of cocktails. Music was so natural for me, so foreign to you. And if it wasn't because of the alcohol flooding your veins, or if it wasn't because of the hundred-and-eighteen beats per minute of your heart syncing with the movement of your hips, or if it wasn't because of how spring, and especially spring nights alter our temper, what happened that night would never had happened. Alcohol alters me too, and the music gets me moving. I try to seduce you with my movement, without any knowledge of what the fuck does that even mean. Maybe I go too far, maybe I go too far, because you stop me to ask something. Your sweet voice asks for honesty, and something breaks in my chest. You ask for my sexuality.
The mood breaks. What kind of question is that? I am initially surprised, then weirded out, and then worried. I like women, I say to her. But what leads you to that question? The answer, if honest, is as sweet as it can; you're not used to straight men who dance. My soul comes back to my body, and I understand as well that such a question is not native. I add, therefore, that I don't really like the idea of deciding whether you like this or that gender, that I prefer to play it by ear, judge case by case. So far I have only been in love of women, but why would I define myself that way? Anyway, you need to say this with a flirty smily: I could have liked men all my life, but now, right now, I like you. Isn't that the only thing that matters? Let's go back to dancing.
A kiss is born immediately, and not only did I feel the electricity of your lips, but your whole body being electroshocked by mine. I understood then that in some weird way, we were not as different as the casual observer would have said. To begin, even though we are both relatively introverted, we didn't care at all about the sensual scene we were making. We only stopped when music did. I don't know how, but it was already four thirty. We went outside and started walking as drunk people do, but with intermittent kissing. It was time to take a decision, and our intentions were clear. You told me your hostel was pretty close, and I don't know if it was the alcohol, or me being lost in your body, but it took as half an hour to get there. I waited outside while you talked with the receptionist. No visits allowed. Impossible to rent a bed without prior notice
I would like to take a second to, as Groucho Marx used to do, curse the hostels that require a suitcase to stay in with a woman, who doesn't have to be your wife. Fuck the hostels that reject teenage lovers who escape from their parents so they can love each other during the night. Fuck that particular hostel, I hope it burns to the ground. Fuck that piece of shit for every single second of the night of love it denied us both.
We kissed for a bit longer, and it was already way too late, and we were already way too drunk. I let you go inside, vanish behind a door. I just stood petrified in front of the entrance, and felt in every inch of my body that something terrible was happening. So I took my phone a dialed your number. Let's go to a brothel I said, and after a few minutes you were back outside with me.
What happened next, a small typo, a tiny slip, would shape our faith. I took my phone and searched for the closes one, Maravilla (nb: Spanish word for "Wonder") was the name, and I just ordered a drive. What I didn't realize is that there are two brothels that are called Maravilla, one of which was a few blocks away, one of which was 25 km south of Bellavista. We would realize shortly after.
We got into the car while playfully talking. My hand on her thighs, her hand over mines. We were both at the best point of drunkenness, ready for a laugh that is not yet uncontrolled. Passionate and deeply alive. But something was surely odd. Something was going wrong. We had been on the car already for ten minutes. Without understanding, I had an awful intuition. I didn't want to go on that route, maybe because I was drunk, maybe because I was horny. I tried to deviate the conversation, maybe get to understand what her family was like, or her childhood, as a way to get her naked before arrival. Insufficient; she, naturally, wanted to know where we were, and what was going on. It wasn't kidnapping. I checked on the map and talked to the driver. Then I understood. No way back, it didn't make sense. Time and alcohol started to pass away; a delicious weight, almost as good as your head leaning over to sleep on my shoulder, almost as delicious as your ghostly sexed body moving on top of mine.
we finally arrived, and the scene was absolutely surreal. Caryatids with a clearly false Greek look, red lighting reflecting over some big Italian look. It perfectly matched the mental imagery of an Italian Villa in Miami's suburbs. Vice City. Shocked by this brutally cheap delusion of grandeur, you broke into laughter as a little girl. To a brothel! To a brothel! You brought me to a brothel! Your voice sounded as unique as it could be. Different from every other voice. And turning around your feet you took my hand, and we both spun like a carrousel, drawing mandalas in the floor, or maybe making a strange but lovely mating ritual. I confirmed in your eyes that I wanted to sleep with you, and in your hands that you wanted to sleep with me, and I confirmed in your lips that the night still existed, and we were still young to live like this, a bit crazy, a bit drunk, and finally, a bit in love.
Our room was absolutely ridiculous, but also adorable, with its purple neon lights and a majestic mirror on the ceiling, about three meters long. You couldn't believe you were there, and I couldn't believe I was with you. I must confess I was almost exasperated by your disbelief, focusing in the red velvet of the curtains, the curvature of the shower, while I focused on the dance of daisy flowers falling from your hair. I almost got mad, but I hugged you from behind and told you to go to bed. Your temper changed when hearing my voice. You showed me that you could focus at will, and that your heart was full of light blue seeds from which clouds of whisky sprouted, and that inside your head very few things were as serious as love, especially in this form: casual and fleeting, sweet gift from the gods.
From your lips I went to your neck, and the lobe of your ears, as is usually practiced. However, as opposed to the standard, I took on the napoleonic task of conquering every inch and corner of your body. Ten massages for the ten toes, rewarded with the climb of the heavenly ladder that your legs make for. I had to turn you around to contain myself, and without pity I kissed your back, that like an empty canvas expected the painting of my lips. I drew a star of six points, and after untangling your hair I made the logical question. Do you want me to keep going? I want you devour me. We are all set then. Give me a second, I asked, if it's not too much trouble I'd like to play some music. A playlist of two songs will do; Child in Time from Deep Purple, and Starless, King Crimson. The first one allows us to explore the different frequencies of your body for five minutes, its different tones and flavors. The second one lasts for twelve minutes, and it is enough to get you an orgasm, and finally to sleep. The night could very well have ended there, in which case it wouldn't have been enough for a story. The worst would happen in about six hours.
There is no escape.
I can't wait, I need a hit. Baby give me it
You're dangerous, and I'm loving it.
Too high, can't come down
Do you feel me now?
The only truth is the taste of your lips, I'm on a ride.
You're addictive and toxic, like the poisonous taste of paradise.
- Britney Spears, loosely adapted.
Six forty five am. Two dreams. The first one took place in some sort of graduation party or gala. For whatever reason, I was dancing with an old romance that, due to unfortunate circumstance, I never had a chance to kiss. We were drunk and dancing, and we finally managed to kiss with the last song of the night. After a couple minutes I realized, and I said to her, fucking shit, this is just a dream. Calm down she said, it's only material stuff, it doesn't matter, it's only material stuff. I didn't understand what she was trying to say. In the second dream, I was driving a Ford 88' across a highway through the middle of the desert. The loud and crispy sound of Creedence Clearwater Revival, while enjoying the simplicity of the infinite gray ahead, the slow convergence of asphalt to a single dot in the horizon. Suddenly, a paper bag traps my head: I am being kidnapped. I am on the hands of a mysterious figure, that somehow managed to get into the back seat without making any noise. I don't remember dying in the dream, but I surely woke up with a lot of anxiety. I saw her placidly sleeping next to me. Most of the alcohol had already dissipated from my veins, and as the selfish and evil being that I sometimes get to be, I woke her up.
I woke her up softly, in such a way that she would not open her eyes to ask me "what's going on", 'cause nothing is going on. I didn't want to talk, or more precisely, I didn't have anything to say. I kissed her ear as an excuse to avoid eye contact, and her legs hugged around my waist, like a spider who's gotten its prey. That's how majestic she was, how committed. Temperature naturally rose. It's clear in hindsight; it was not a desire of the flesh, but some sort of fear. I had not faced fear yet at that moment, but without knowing I was terribly afraid of having our peculiar encounter vanishing through my hands. I cursed the brevity of the night without cursing. I cursed my heart, so quickly disposed to pain, so quickly disposed to love, and I held on to her legs as tight as I could.
We didn't have any condoms. I told her that we could just go buy something, they would naturally sell some at a brothel. We dressed minimally and went out of the room going down two floors. I love the adventurous woman you are. Anyways. The world is dark, and somewhat heavy, and the only light is the opaque neon fluorescence coming out of distant rooms. The whole place must have had around a hundred rooms, and covered around a square of one kilometer per side. Evidently we had no idea of where we were. I took her rough hands, and we wondered around until we realized we were lost.
I randomly saw a window, whose open curtains were showing some skin. Morbidly, while we continued to walk together, I tried to take a glance at the scene. What I saw made me stop on the spot. Her steps naturally stopped as well. There was an old man, around sixty I would say (but don't hold my word for it, I've never been good with aged), with a prominent gut and messy hair in his chest. He was facing a woman that, at least at a glance, looked like a minor. I asked Alice if she thought the woman/girl would be older than 18. Holy shit, she replied. Holy shit, fucking shit. Despair. I tried to say okay, maybe we are overthinking this, maybe she's a younger-looking twenty-something. But would that change something? What is the difference between being 17 and being 19? In any case, the mere sight of the scene compelled a deep feeling of wrongness. A feeling of toxic poison. Something was so wrong. They were both naked. The man had his hands over an analogue camera, a black leather Leica, and through the lens he looked at the girl/woman. She looked defeated. I payed special attention to her eyes, I tried to see if they displayed fear, rage, signs of crying. But they did not, they conveyed a robotic and empty feeling, like if she were more of a mannequin than a woman. After a gesture of his hand, she would change the pose, and you would clearly distinguish him taking new pictures. I told Alice we should leave. She said we should call the cops immediately. Wait a second I said, maybe we're still drunk, I am not sure that's a good idea. Come here, I said, going behind a wall at the opposite corner, don't let them see us. That's what we did, spying from about ten meters away from the scene. During the next following minutes we didn't say a word. We just observed, through the distance, through the horror. He placed the camera on a tripod and approached her. I was scared. But he merely touched her arm, like inviting her to sit. The young woman sat down as he left the room. She was looking at the ceiling, sitting with her legs crossing, in what we would usually call an Indian style. He appeared again in the scene after a few seconds, with a small box on his hands. From the box he took a very long needle. What the fuck. I felt Alice's breath get heated. I could hear her respiration. He proceeded to pierce her ear. Yes, he pierced her ear. He didn't put a ring on it, just pierced it, taking out the needle and dropping a small thread of blood. They both nodded, as if something went as planned. I have no idea what that meant.
Suddenly, the man turned his head to the window, and my heart just froze. Alice and I hid our heads behind the border of the wall. Let's go right now. Let's go. We just started running without direction. After about ten steps, we could hear a brief scream, amortized, muffled. We ran even harder. Alice was lagging behind, I saw the physical pain on her face and it hurt me, transferring the pain onto mine. A few seconds later I distinguished the reception, with its luxurious purple lights. Let's go Alice, we are almost there, let's go inside there. We entered the building and went blank, looking at each other, gasping, no words. I didn't know what to say to the receptionist, so I simply told her we had gone out of our room for a walk and couldn't find our way back. She gave us precise indications. I had the nerve (now I regret it) to ask her about buying condoms. I bought a box of three and we immediately left. I bought them without discussing with Alice, recklessness. What was I thinking about? The answer is trivial. But I got ashamed, and quickly put them in my pocket, as if I were hiding them from my mom.
We arrived back to our room. She said she couldn't handle it anymore, she couldn't handle no more, and she fell in bed without any more words. Of course I couldn't fall asleep, so I went on a walk once again. This time I was alone, and being particularly attentive to remember the way back. Remember the way back. Two rights, a left, go straight, right again. The path to the old man's room cottage was actually pretty simple now that I did it directly. As soon as I was at a reasonable distance, I had a glance at it. The curtain was still open, but I didn't see anyone there. I waited for around twenty seconds, looking from afar, and after no signs of movement I took a few steps forward. I waited for twenty seconds once again. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. I decided it was a good idea to just pass by the window, looking out of the corner of my eyes. That way, in the worst case, if someone saw me passing by, I could be an innocent walker. As I walked by, less than a few meters from the window, I could see most of the room, and what I saw scared the shit out of me. Under a big table, that we couldn't see before, there was the old man, lying on the floor naked. He looked like he was dead.
I had no better idea than to walk back to our room, almost running, and tell Alice what I had seen. She hugged me in bed and broke into tears. I also cried, and having let everything out (the pain, the poison, the alcohol), I managed to fall asleep.
I woke up with the sun hammering my forehead as if I was being punished. Alice was already in the bathroom. My mouth had a horrible taste, and of course we didn't have a toothbrush nor toothpaste. I told Alice I'd go out to buy some, but she told me not to, we humans needed to stop buying so much plastic. In any other circumstances such a comment would have definitely bothered me, but this time I was limited to say okay. Okay, I said, and went in for another of her kisses. As soon as our lips touched she moved back her face, and said that her mouth also had a horrible taste. It was true. Let's go, she said. We didn't mention the previous night at all. I was actually wondering if it truly happened, or if it was some sort of dream or hallucination. I was even tempted to ask her, just to confirm, just to discard the possibility of being crazy, just to know I was not alone. But for whatever reason (I don't understand it now), I decided not to. I requested a cab directed to her hostal, and as soon as we got in, I fell asleep again.
She woke me up when we arrived, and I immediately noticed I had forgotten my glasses there. Fucking shit. Can't you just go another day to get them back? she said. Yeah, I think I can. It was barely noon, and we were both starving. She told me she knew of a fantastic vegan falafel place. It was a tiny open restaurant the entrance of Recoleta, and we asked for three large servings. One for me, one for her, and one for her friend waiting at that damned hostal. As soon as we got our order she said she had to go. Her friend was waiting for her.
I asked the necessary question. Will I see you again? I don't know, she said kind of hurried. It's kind of hard. Nothing else happened. I gave her a last kiss, small, shy, miserable, and let her go. Everything went so quickly, and as soon as I saw her vanish into the crowd, I felt destroyed, torn apart, like if a stinky wild beast bit a piece out of my heart. I sat down to eat my falafel with a know on my throat, and while I was eating the owner talked to me. He was a cool guy, saw the scene and made a nice comment about women. I just nodded, no other choice, yeah women are like that I repeated, knowing it was bullshit. I felt disgust, deep disgust. Just one more drop of mayonnaise would have made me vomit. I couldn't finish eating, so just thanked him and left.
I walked down to the metro station, and took a car directed to the university. I hadn't changed cloths, I was dirty, stinky, worn out, with a night shirt half open and full of alcohol stains. I gave a lecture without too much preparation, and then went home, once again on the metro.
When I finally got home I couldn't help it. I jumped into bed and starting crying. I felt my wings cut, my infinite solitude, the demons biting my soul. I took a shower and the drops of water would mix with my tears until I couldn't tell if I was crying anymore. I went back to bed. It was only six o' clock, but I couldn't do anything else. Anything else. I begged, I really begged, that just like I didn't forget the way back to our room that night, you would't forget the way back to me either. But begging is nothing. In reality, only sadness, only sorrow. I couldn't cry anymore, only black sadness, deep, deaf. I wouldn't be able to say why would a casual encounter have such an effect on me. Maybe more than some romances that lasted for weeks or months. But anyways, that's how life is, isn't it? There are moments, special moments, that communicate something so pure, so sublime, so deep, that your soul is not able to cry anymore. It now only walks, silently, between the tall black cypresses.
Days passed and I decided to send a letter telling you how I felt. Telling you that I was dying to spend more days with you. I didn't know why. Things went well, I received a warm response, and we continued to talk intensively from afar while you traveled around Latin America. We sent each other pictures, videos, and did a thousand calls. You made me discover the marvelous minuscule poetry of Rupi Kaur. We cursed internet providers that prevented us from fluent communication. I was so excited with every single picture of your face, and every single conversation about the sex we would have. We exchanged stories of our high school years, our previous lovers, fears and insecurities. We made intimate questions, and I dear to say that we enjoyed what we were. Things were as they ought to be. As to be expected, we drowned in the lack of a destination, in the lack of pragmatism and concreteness. Nothing to do, no future. We were young and kind of in love, but no destination nor ambition nor horizon. I decided to cut to the chase and called you one day saying it was better to end it that way. There were no tears this time, no deep pain either. Only memories, only that one picture you sent me, that picture of a night in the brothel of wonder. Its only tangible memory, the only proof that we are not crazy; we were there, and in the briefest of its forms, love was there too.
I just want to tell you that months later, I ran out of toothpaste, and my toothbrush was pretty worn out, with its white bristles wide open. I went to the drugstore, logically, and when my turn came I simply asked for what I really needed: a toothbrush made out of bamboo.