Monday, October 24, 2011

Going Under

"Are you hot?"
Stupid question really. Does a brick sink?

It’s melting. They’re melting; into the couch, into each other. The air’s oppressive and the humidity high, despite being almost midnight. The lazy waft of a ceiling fan not enough to cool their glistening skin, or to dry the emerging sweat on their foreheads.

"Coming for a swim?" Her question is unanswered.

Nicola loves to swim at night. Nothing but the massage of tepid liquid and the flicker of moonlight in the safety of a limpid pool. All quiet save the crickets and the occasional night bird. The fragrance of jasmine loping over the fence permeating the night air with the sweet scent of summer. The darkness of salt water embracing her, buoying her.  It’s soothing, euphoric, cooling and calming, and leads to imaginings of his touch. How she imagines his touch -  gentle, scintillating, arousing. Like listening to Brahms before bedtime.  She heard once that drowning was a wonderful way to die. She'd drown in his arms if he'd let her.

Nicola and Ian have been friends for a long time. Intimate friends in every way except physical. Sharing their secrets, woes, joys, loves and hates. They've laughed with each other, cried with each other, fallen out with each other, fallen asleep with each other. She's criticised his choice of partners. He's told her she needs to relax and get laid. But they always end up together, if only metaphorically, joined at the hip. He lives too far away for anything more. That's the problem. The tyranny of distance means infrequent visits. It's an unusual bond. Yet they remain comfortable as an easy chair, happy in each other's company without having ever taken it further.

He’s massaging her feet.  He’s only here for a short time and she wants to pack everything she can into his day, into her day, she's exhausted. He just has a few short weeks in her company and she's trying to keep him entertained. It's not necessary to pander to him.  He’s just as happy mooching about the house, rumbling the dog, making fun of her unruly hair and clumsy ways in the kitchen. He's just happy to be there.

She’s lying prone on a two-seater couch. Head leaning back over the arm. Her hair cascading down its side. He stares at her exposed neck and decolletage and daydreams while she relaxes; her eyes half shut and staring at the rotation of the fan. Her legs are limp and warm in his lap, as his musician’s hands play her toes like some finely tuned instrument. 

Secretly she doesn’t want him to let his grip loosen. She never has, but he's never made a move. It’s a rare thing for him to touch her beyond the odd welcome hug or the rescuing hand that pulls her across a busy street; helps her manage a steep incline or occasionally rubs her shoulders.  

Secretly he wants to touch her more intimately but he's worried she'll get the wrong idea. He loves her but he's not 'in love' with her. At least he doesn't think so. Then he hasn't been in love so how can he tell? But there's no profit in it. No benefit to either of them to get down and dirty. Still, she has a wonderful neck and broad beautiful shoulders and a regal demeanour that charms him. The urge to slide a hand from her ankle along the inside length of tanned legs is hard to quell.

This is one dip he's reluctant to take, and his response is lazy as the air is heavy. He doesn't want to unhinge her from his grasp but she's giving him that 'it's time' look and he knows he must. 

"Yes. I suppose a minute.” His hand does slide along her inner thigh and she smiles as she becomes lost in the sensation, finally.
She's ready, wearing nothing more than a sarong. He's waist-wrapped with a beach towel. Their discretion before the skinny dip maintained only as an attempt at faux modesty. They've seen each other naked in the past during their brief travels. They'd shared beds and bathrooms but this time she was sweeter, slimmer, tanned and looked sexy, apart from the sallowness around her eyes. Yes, she is beautiful.

"C'mon . . " she urges, and takes his hand, "Don't be shy. You promised..."

They venture beyond the pool gate and he dives in with a quiet splash. The warm water streams across his skin and the freedom of an unclothed and well-toned body feels liberating. As he emerges and shakes his hair, water beads on his boyish and hairless torso. He is lovely, youthful, even when wringing wet. She's already divested the sarong and is descending the shallow-end steps.  He submerges again and swims between her legs brushing her thighs and more with wet tresses before coming up and around her. His front to her back as arms finally embrace, and hands clasp gently across her breasts, then slide from dry to wet as they glide into the water, across her belly and down between her thighs.  He kisses her neck as she turns, and her mouth presses against his.  He sits on the bottom step, chest deep in the dappled dark water and she straddles him slowly.  It is heaven. Exactly as she'd planned it. For him, a bittersweet surprise as the merging of liquids bring them both to orgasm. Their pleasure muffled. Little is heard, nothing is said, as water laps at the skimmer box. Now lovers, they hold position for what seems like hours, until she breaks away. They swim silently together. Beyond where her feet can touch the bottom and she smiles.

"I've always loved you," she whispers as he takes her in his arms.

His feet still firmly planted on pebblecrete.  Tears are barely discernible against a glistening face but he is crying. He places firm hands upon her shoulders. He kisses her, slow and long. He doesn't want to let her go. He feels her body relinquish and give in to the pressure as she sinks without struggle.
Peter Farmer can't sleep. The sheets around him are damp with sweat and his erection's making him hope that his neighbour's taking a midnight dip. He hears the lapping of the flap on the skimmer box and stands aside the curtains, peering lasciviously through the window and down to the pool of the house next door. Hand wrapped and applying pressure where it pleases him most.

He's often watched her swim at night.  Watched her drop the sarong on the steps and seen the line of her shoulders, the arch of her back and the curve of her buttocks. She's curvy, shapely. The face isn't much but she's got a body he'd like to penetrate, and often. Pity she'd fallen out with him after his wife left.

He's watched her since he moved into Culvert Close. A quiet cul de sac with their houses adjacent at the end of the street.  He watched her get out of her car and ogled her legs as she reached for the garage door. He watched her hang washing on the line in the flimsiest of covers. He'd even become brave on a couple of occasions and ventured into her yard before she got that yap trap of a dog. Watched her bathe, watched her cook...she was titillating, exciting and roused something in him that riled him up, an anger and a passion. Anger that she'd never fancy a man like him. Passion as he obsessed about being with her.

She was a friendly neighbour once and brought him a 'welcome basket'. They'd shared cofee and chat. He'd only tried to be nice when he attempted to kiss her. Well perhaps his hands were where they shouldn't be and he'd rushed in a little too quick. But it had pissed her off and she'd told him in no uncertain terms that she wasn't interested, when the palm of her hand connected and stung the side of his face. Still, he'd like to fuck her.

She doesn't seem to know that he can see her from the second bedroom. See her body glide through the black liquid.  He sees it, lusts after it as the beads of water cascade over her shoulders and straighten normally wavy hair - as she breast-strokes silently from one end of the pool to the other. He sees it all and imagines her a mermaid in the dark. Usually singing just for him.

But tonight, he's getting an eyeful and it's more than he bargained for.  Just as he's about to jack off watching the lovers perform on the steps, his erection softens. He watches her sink into oblivion. The menacing hands of someone he's seen with her on rare occasions, are holding her down.  A violent act or erotic play?  He's getting stiff again and repairs to the bathroom to finish what he started.

"You have to be kidding!" Ian's question is rhetorical and he's hoping that he didn't hear it through the sobs.

"I'm not...I'm deadly serious." Nicky replies, "I can't stand it any more. I can't stand the pain, the ostracism, not having you here to help me deal with it. You're my best friend. I need you."

He takes his responsibility as her friend very seriously but this is an impossible ask, and he's vacillating between hanging up, exploding in anger, or just biting the bullet and booking a ticket to go see her.

"Well top yourself then! I don't care!" his voice is mean and he's about to hit the kill switch.

"Don't you hang up on me!" The sobs have subsided and she's now pleading through puffy eyes.

Eyes that were so beautiful, so brown, now reddened and sad. He doesn't have the heart to hang up and his sudden twang of compassion is tearing at his very fibre.  He's not normally persuaded by emotion.

"Nicky, you're 35 years old. You can't just give up. There are medications, pain relief, sometimes miracles happen. You're still fit. Perhaps it'll never take hold." He's lying to her for the first time.

She would never ask him to do this if it wasn't real. He's feeling pain in his own chest now but it's not a disease causing it.

"Don't do anything, I'll be on the next flight." He doesn't hear the 'thank you darling' before he hangs up and begins to heave.

They talk about it. Wildly, madly, then softly and sadly. Over three weeks of constant discussion.

"I know someone who drowned." Her tone matter-of-fact, "someone who was brought to the surface and resuscitated...he told me it hurt for a few minutes then...the pain goes away.  Ian, I'm in pain. All the time. How much worse can it get? I trust you. Help me. Will you do it?"

Of course he would. He's rarely been able to say no. His own life was falling to shit anyway. He'd never told her how he felt about her. He'd never become the man he wanted to be. He'd never achieved the things he wanted to achieve. Life had lost its purpose, its meaning. If he got away with it, he'd disappear. She'd given him money. He knew places he could go. If he didn't. Tough shit. Not much to live for without her anyway.

They didn't plan when. Just how and why.

He releases his gentle touch from her shoulders as she rises, smiling. The water sheering gently from her hair and face. Her mouth still tasting of his salt she kisses him again on the mouth. 

"God why didn't we do this years ago?" She asks.

He has no idea because it's perfect. 

"C'mon." He trails her tenderly by the hand into the shallows and exits the pool via the steps. He loves the look of her as she ascends looking more like a Bond babe than a dying lover. He holds up her sarong and wraps it tenderly around her, kisses her cheek and whispers. 

"Now you've got something to live for yeh?" 

Nicola nods and smiles. "Don't leave me."

"I'll be back in a couple of months," he promises and her heart soars.

The night is spent in his sweet embrace. She feels a little better as she drops him at the terminal. She kisses him goodbye without moving from the driver's seat. She's not up for seeing him off and drives away as soon as he slams the trunk. He waves and smiles and she catches what she hopes is not the last glimpse of him in her rear view mirror.  He disappears through the sliding doors.

Nicola once again wears the sarong out to the pool and slips silently into its cool embrace. Closes her eyes, hands on her own body this time re-living the events of last night. She swims, head above water, body buoyant and remembers his touch. She rolls on her back and stares at the Milky Way, one constellation they can both see at night.  The water's embrace reminds her of his. She's lost in the moment until a rough hand clasps tight around her mouth. Another firmly around her waist, immobilising her while the water tries to rush in through her nostrils.  She's swirled like a maelstrom to face her attacker. Eyes wide she recognises the face of the man she once slapped. She struggles to breathe and kicks the body forcing itself into her.  As he infiltrates, the water seeps in through his fingers. She can't breath. Drowning is not gentle. His fist comes down hard on the side of her head. Pain releases and she sinks.

The Church's "Under the Milky Way Tonight" plays softly in the background. A condemned man's request.  He's strapped to a gurney in a small chamber although the restraints are unnecessary. A large glass window to his left, and glossy green painted walls on three sides with the exception of one where there's a small locked door.  He's already been prepped with an intravenous line in each arm and can barely feel the saline solution coursing through his veins. He's quiet.  Resigned.

Prison Officer Markus Schwartz is the short-straw man who's been charged with the execution.  He whispers to the Chaplain, standing beside him, along with  a couple of other guards and a waiting physician.

"I've never seen anyone so calm. Usually we have to restrain them or sedate them just to get them in here."

The Chaplain raises his eyebrows with a supercilious expression.  It's the first time he's witnessed such a thing and has no idea what to expect, but Ian's laconic smile does come as a surprise.

"No remorse in that one...." he chirps, Bible in hand.

The smugness in the Chaplain's voice a testament to his conviction that this man is a cold blooded killer about to be redeemed. There's little more 'cleansing' than death and forgiveness of the Divine. The apparent irony in the willingness to break a holy commandment doesn't faze him, not at all.

Ian Carter, the man on the gurney with a soporific smile, had not confessed. Nor had he denied. He'd remained silent after his arrest. An eyewitness account and a voracious prosecutor winning over 12 men and women true, in a State with little tolerance for sexual predators who murder.

The same eye witness who's now peering through the chamber glass with a self-satisfied smirk.  The same eye witness just aching to see an innocent man die. The one clever enough to leave his 'seed' dying in the chlorine instead of inside his victim. The one who'd reported the floating body of his next door neighbour. The one who'd punished her infidelity to him, and incriminated the love of her life.

The bitch deserved everything for rejecting his advances. And this bastard? Well he's getting his right now. He just wishes that Carter was distressed. Its annoying watching the serenity on the face of a man about to die. Half the fun is the 'look'. The way they plead and scream in the face of their own demise. His wife had it, a plethora of undiscovered young victims had it, Nicola had it. He desperately wants Carter to have it.

Schwartz presses another button as the green vial empties and a small river of sodium thiopental  syrups its way through the line. 

Ian swears he feels the brush of her lips against his, and the warmth of her hands on his chest. He smells the sweet Jasmine so reminiscent of that heady summer night and lolls into a catatonic state. He can see her standing there. Naked and smiling. Water glistening on her golden skin. She's beckoning him to swim. She's almost with him, and finally the tyranny of distance is usurped.

Posted for The Tenth Daughter of Memory "Harmony of Liquid, Melody of Light"


  1. Well done, you. Lots of little twists to keep us guessing. Did he? Didn't he? A serial killer next door? Yikes.

    I can't believe you questioned putting this up.

    Needs a few edits, but far fewer than some earlier works.

    - Nicola becomes Nicole at one point.
    - He's waist wrapped: He's waist-wrapped or his waist wrapped?
    - she reached for the garage door.
    - some commas missing, and some might do better as semi-colons.

    (My WV is "whangeroo." Hah. Seems appropriate, somehow.)

  2. Oh I didn't see that coming! - I thought the creep next door had raped her and that was the reason for the call to Ian and then he was going to kill the creep... wicked twist there Baino.

    little fix up:

    "Don' leave me."

  3. Eh... it's still a decent piece, but I meant more of Pete in the story, not more detail in his section. There's a lot left unsaid here.

  4. really nice. great character studies, terrific!

  5. Wow, yikes and a what-a story thrown in. -J

  6. I read this several times to take it all in. Interesting characters, interesting interactions.