Juliet Cook
Raw Ginger.  Poison Apple.  Silver Scalpel.

You see me before I see you. Poised on the shiny edge of the barstool, leaning forward as the bartender feeds me maraschino cherries. The red wet globes seem to glow like tiny hanging lamps in the dim heaviness of the room. Fingertips brush marooned lips. I slowly turn towards you, meet the gaze, turn back to my cocktail and wait. You thought I'd get up and walk your way, didn't you? My dress is black to just below the knees. I'm wearing black hosiery and heavy makeup. Black around my eyes. I'm sipping something clear, perhaps vodka on the rocks. You notice my thin fingers and sharpened nails, painted Vampire Red. The room feels glossy and blurry at the same time, as you sit down next to me. When you say my name, I offer a small smile. An ambiguous tilt of the lips. "Let's go back up to your room," I suggest.

What I want you to do is shove me against the wall as soon as the door clicks shut. Shove me hard, slamming me with my arms against the wall, stretched above my head
. I know a girl with black angel wings. Tattooed on her back, life-size. I visualize the black sequined pasties on her nipples. I imagine her upstretched arms, shackled above the stage. One night she asked me if I came to play. She was wearing a feathery black masquerade mask. She had freckles on her cheeks. She liked to hog-tie a boy to her bed and stuff an onion in his mouth until he couldn't stop crying. She liked to laugh. But she couldn't draw any blood that night because the establishment served liquor. What I want you to do is encircle my neck with one hand while your other hand pulls at my hair hard enought to make me gasp. Or part my hair gently like a black curtain, then sink your fangs into my neck. I want you unable to control your hands and you immediately thrust them up my dress, up my thighs. Whisper my
name. Growl it. Slide your fingers under the black lace of my panties. I imagine the black balloons breaking. This is how she practices her whipping techniques. Lines up a row of balloons and she has to control the flick of her wrist so she can crack her whip against the whole line-up without breaking a single balloon. Then she breaks them one by one. The sudden snap, the smell of latex. She ignores all the boys staring at her hands and smiles at me.

You don't grab me as soon as the door closes. Instead you stare into my eyes, as if calculating your approach or how I might wish you to proceed. Remember that time you donned makeup and a dress for me like you thought that might turn me on? I'd told you before I found girls more aesthetically pleasing. You can't read my mind. I stare back with opaque eyes and a slight sneer. You take one step closer. I act nonplussed and tell the truth - I want to be overwhelmed. Instead you're gingerly circling me like some cat. I tell you, "I'm thinking of the shape and smell of raw ginger. Eating it like candy". When a questioning look flickers into your eyes, I take advantage. "If you won't take control, I will. I know what I want and I know what you want, too." I'm speaking softly, unsmiling. The look in your eyes is fascination mixed with bemusement. My tongue tastes like a mixed drink, even though I was drinking straight vodka. One time I made a boy crawl around naked. From the bedroom to the kitchen. To the blender to make me another drink. Naked I made him polish my toenails. Vamp. He did a very messy job and had to be punished. Certain pleasures had to be withheld from him. It was more of a game than a sexual turn-on. The thing that turned me on was the sound of the blender blades. The fact that he kept binder clips on his bedside table to torture his girlfriend, but he would do whatever I would say. "What do you want me to do?" you ask, halfway between serious and teasing. Intrigued.

"Lie on the floor right there." I gesture. You oblige. I walk over to where you're laying face-up on the hotel carpet. The carpet reminds me of a shorthaired cat, domestic. I like contrasts. I get into a position where I'm standing above you, one leg on each side of your face. If I were to sit down, I'd be straddling your mouth - but I'm not sitting down. I'm standing above you and you can see up my dress. A view of lacy black panties. A view unencumbered except by distance. I begin speaking to you, slowly and not entirely nicely: "I know what you want. You just love thinking about me reading your poetry and getting so fucking worked up that I can't even control my own hands from creeping up between my thighs. You love imagining that you don't even have to be in the same room with me to get me off. You like that kind of power, don't you? You like thinking even your indirect presence affects me. Like you're some kind of warped ghost always haunting me. You picture me riding the bus home, thinking about your hair, thinking about your fingers, until even the slightest vibrations of the seat are arousing me. Then when I get home, I have to lock the bathroom door, strip off my clothes, climb into the shower, grab the shower nozzle from its hook. All the while thinking about you. Do you wonder if I choose hot or cold, as I lie on the shower floor and spread my legs?" Just once, let that boy tie me up. Cuffs and chains - one limb to each corner of the bed. He thought he was in control with me spread out in that position. But the thing that turned me on was the image of my own fettered body against white sheets. An image in a dark poem. Then he blindfolded me, made it darker. I started flailing around, pretending I was trying to get free. But I really just wanted to hear the music of the chains. He thought he was in control of me, but my wrists are so skinny, I could easily have slipped away. Into my own imagery. Into my own soundtrack of heay metal blender blades and wailing banshees. A murder of crows screeching. Ice cubes, ice chips, ice shards, and icicles dangling like weaponry. Like stalactites in some dangerous underground cave. Some dangerous underground game. Bloody nailpolish, black wings, binder clips, and whips. On stage, someone started her angel wings on fire. A quick blue flame.

"You're getting a little excited, aren't you? But there's nothing you can do about it yet. Maybe I  just devised that little shower scene because I thought you might enjoy it. Maybe I thought about climbing into that shower, but I didn't. You know how you say you need an audience for your poetry? Well, perhaps I require an audience for some of my performances, too. Admit it, you're willing to assume the position of voyeur. You already have. You're already on your back, staring up my dress, hoping my panties get wet just from talking to you. But maybe I just like the sound of my own voice." As I've spoken these last few lines, I've been slowly sliding my palms up the insides of each thigh. Do you remember how soft they are? I slowly slide my black lacy panties down, past the sharp edges of hipbones. I step out of them, lightly toss them to the side of your head. I spread my pussy lips apart, exposing my clitoris. "Is that what you want to see?" I want to make you watch me, but I already feel myself reaching a point where I want you to take over. But maybe I shouldn't let you. I want to make you watch me make myself come and then leave. But my breath feels ragged. You're staring at me knowingly. My legs feel weak. I want to lie down or sit down - but then I'd be sitting on your face. You're staring at me like you know some deep secret about me. I want you to tell it to me. You say my name once, looking right into my eyes instead of up my dress. "Do you think you're ready to be in charge now?" I ask, trying to sound collected, but it emerges more like a moan. My question is all the invitation you need. You reach up and grab my thighs and pull me down. I collapse right below your face with a little gasp. I know you love the little-girl sounds I make. Your fingers take the place of mine. You slide one finger inside of me as your lips fasten over my clitoris like a kiss. That's all it takes for me to come. I fall against your chest. You stroke my hair.

"I'm not done with you," you whisper into my ear. Your voice dark and sultry. Your voice always piercing my illusion of control. "Why don't you go take a nice, warm bath and relax those tight muscles of yours? I'll come in and get you in a bit." I decide to abide by your suggestion. I like baths and I like sexual tension. "Order me some room service," I request. "Coffee. Waffles with whipped cream and strawberries." I like the way I can stick my tongue into a strawberry and make the fruit expand outwards with the slightest pressure. I fleetingly wish you were a woman. I remember a short story in which one woman wanted to stick a strawberry into another woman's asshole and take a photograph. She had a whole collection of these glossy pictures. But there was a long process leading up to the snapshot. In order for the second woman's asshole to be wide open enough to accommodate the first woman's succulent strawberry, they had to work their way through a series of progressively larger dildos, until both of them were drenched in sweat. I absorbed this with a mixture of fascination and apprehension, tinged with repulsion. Too much work. Not dreamy enough. Not soft as a boy's long hair - long enough to wash my feet. And when my feet are clean, I want a dirty-talking poet to mess me up again. Room service. I'll have a combination dish of romantic and crude. Sacred and profane. Served up on silver platters. Wondering what's steaming under those heavy lids. I languish in warm water. I stare at my wrists and imagine them tied up with your hair. I realize I haven't even had the chance to see or touch your naked body yet tonight. The definition of your bones. The sharp shoulder blades like stunted angel wings. Why did they stop growing or who broke them off? I want you to tell me your angel and alien stories again. Remember the one about impalement and purple blood? I don't want to wait much longer, but I sink back and try ro relax. Why did I request room service anyway, when I don't want to wait for the delivery? Perhaps I was entertaining some fleeting notion of lapping whipped cream and strawberries off your chest and stomach, but do I really need that kind of topping? Anyway, you wouldn't like getting sticky. You won't even lick my feet because they might be dirty. Well, I am now very, very clean. Dripping, I climb from the tub and consider immediately making my entrance back into the bedroom - who cares what the room service boy sees? Then I hear your voice, as if you had read my mind. "I didn't order the room service yet. I'll get you whatever you want later. So come out whenever you're ready."