They come down from the roof at night, the Wild Girls, chasing each other through the open doorway of my building, down the stairs, and out onto the street for their brief visit to the ground.
I hear them most often in the early morning, waking from a dream to the sounds of laughter, and I open my eyes wide as I jump to the window hoping to get a glimpse of one. Their feet make almost no sound, their bodies used to the wide open spaces above. In the late hours it can look like they’re flying, leaping from building to building, the water towers and hidden gardens more their homes than any place else. Even as they pass by my door, their colored skirts trailing behind them as the glide through the inside, I can only guess at their nature. I can only guess at where they come from and why my building is the one they use to reach the ground.
Just before sunrise one morning, I awoke to the sound of nothing. I rubbed my eyes, listening to the noises in the night, before I saw a glimmer of color in the window. Without turning I trained my eyes towards the fire escape, and for just a moment I saw her face. Young and old at the same time, her eyes glowed with a brightness I had never seen. Her hair was silver and blue, trailing down her back around her crimson rags. With a smile she pressed her small hand against the window before leaping up into the darkness.
It was just a dream, I told myself. This Wild Girl, pausing for just a moment to see how we live. To see who we are with as much curiosity as we hold for them. And maybe it’s for the best. Maybe some mysteries are better left unseen and better let unknown. There are reasons some people choose not live on the ground.
But in the morning, coffee bringing back the memory in a flash, I looked closely at the glass, only to see fingerprints pressed into the pane. I smiled, wondering what truth it held. It would be a month before their return, but there’s no harm in trying.
Weeks later, I tied the small bag to the rusted iron outside of the fire escape. It was a weak offering, gathered from guessing more than any real understanding, but I closed the shade before I slept, knowing I had already seen enough.
In the morning when I opened the blinds to the bright sun, there was nothing left at all.
There were times when I thought she was too kind.
Kneeling on the floor in front of me, her cheek red from a slap and her eyes glazed over, I had to pause and make sure we were in the same room. She offered everything, her willingness something I didn’t deserve.
She thanked me each time we fucked, and I left each morning wondering if that’s what it felt like to be loved.
Chuck’s mother sent him to college with two rubber stamps. One read “obtuse” and the other read “moot.”
He carried them with him throughout his freshman year, sneaking by professor’s desks and stamping papers or tests without anyone looking. He laughed about it later, saying it was probably true anyway. Most everything we did as college kids was one or the other. And how strange to not have an argument about it. It’s not wrong. It’s not missing the point. Your entire exam was simply moot.
His nose was as sharp as his stamping hand, and his brown hair was a mess as only white boys in a liberal arts college can get away with. It curled around his ears, stuck out in a million different directions, and it’s possible there were birds. His worn leather jacked added a hint of mystery to his otherwise nervous persona, and he smoked rolled cigarettes one after the other until his fingers stained yellow.
One morning in the dining hall we couldn’t help stare at him, the black mark on his forehead as crisp and clear as if he was a blank sheet of paper. The word “moot” sat on his skin, his hair somehow managing to highlight it rather than hide it. Seemingly unaware, he smiled as he sat down, and opened his mouth for a swallow of black coffee.
“Did you have a date last night?” I asked him.
“Uh-huh,” he said, with a grin. “She left sometime in the night, but it doesn’t matter. She was everywhere all at once, and I couldn’t understand her at all. Philosophy majors are so damn obtuse.”
“Did you tell her that?” I asked, following up gently.
“Of course I did. I told her I wanted to stamp it on her forehead as a constant reminder to talk like a normal person. None of this transcendental meaning of life bullshit.”
“I’m sure she appreciated it,” I said. “In fact, I think it really left an impression on her.”
“I sure hope so,” he said, leaning back and smiling once more. “I sure hope so.”
“He wants to fuck me up the ass,” she said, lying in my bed. We had fucked for a half hour and were staring out at the city with smiles on our faces.
“Don’t tell me that,” I moaned, my hand sliding down her back. “Are you going to let him?”
“Why shouldn’t I tell you that? What do you care what my husband wants?”
Her ass was smooth and hard at the same time, and I pressed my fingers into her skin. Her hair lay down her back, splayed out like an autumn afternoon, decorating her in red. God, please let her say she’s going to do it. Please let her tell me she’s going to let him.
“Are you going to?” I finally asked, choking on the words as they slipped out, trying to give nothing away.
“Probably not. It just doesn’t feel like our thing,” she said.
“Oh fuck,” I said, rolling onto my back and looking up at the ceiling.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” she asked, poking me in the chest with a long finger.
“This,” I said, turning back and grabbing her left ass cheek in one hand. “This perfect little tush is what’s wrong with me.”
“Fuck, does that mean…” She said, recognition splashed across her face. She nestled her head down into the pillow, her mouth covered as she wiggled on the bed.
“Yes,” I said, rolling on top of her, my cock hard once more and pressed between the cheeks of her ass. I pushed harder against her as I pulled her hair and kissed her neck.
“What do you want? What does it mean?” she moaned, arching her back up to me.
“You know what I want. You knew it before you said a word. And you knew that you wouldn’t say no to me, didn’t you? Maybe him, but never me.”
“Yes,” she moaned again. “Just say it. Please say it.”
“I’m going to fuck you,” I growled, pushing harder against her. “I’m going to fuck your ass so goddamned hard you won’t be able to think. I’m going to make you beg for it, and cry for it until you can’t stand it any longer, and then I’m going to fuck you again. You’re going to come so hard with my cock inside you, with my cock buried in your tight little ass, and when we’re done you’ll make me promise to do it again.”
“Oh fuck,” she screamed, opening her legs wider with each moan. “I hate you.”
"Do you want me to stop?" I whispered, my lips just brushing her ear.
"No," she moaned, lifting her hips off the bed. "Please God, no."
I’ve always been drawn to old man bars with dark wood, black beer, and ideally a fireplace.
On occasion, I wonder what it is that draws me in, and I’ve often assumed that I simply feel like an old man much of the time. Even as a teenager. But the truth is more likely that I know I’m missing something, and a part of me believes the old men have it. Maybe it’s wisdom or insight, but I suspect it’s both simpler and more complicated than that.
I’ve had a number of men in my life who have taught me things, but most of my education was done by women: emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. I’ve learned kindness, compassion, and empathy, along with enough gratitude to prime a horse. I learned to read and write, and the most nuanced and interesting cultural critiques I know have always come from brilliant women. From my mother, to my high school teachers, to Naomi Klein, much of what I know I learned from women.
The men in my life have been more complicated. From a stern yet loving grandfather, to a wild minister and oft traveling father, I’ve had men about too. But along with the kind ones came the men who shook my hand so hard my knuckles nearly burst. I’ve had the boys who threw things and shouted insults as I passed by, and the old men who leered at me, seeing a sweetness that was obviously exploitable. I’ve had the boys who fell in love with me only to follow too closely and not listen to no, right alongside the boys who’ve threatened and harassed me for their own reasons.
For most of my life, men have been scary, unstable, absent, and maybe, on a good day, simply confusing. So, when I’ve had the choice, I’ve chosen the company of women. From college friends to church and work, I’ve preferred the safety and intellect of women, who at least I felt like I could understand. Even working with teenagers for years, it was always easier to sit with the girls and talk than it was to handle the ceaseless energy of the boys who needed me more than I knew.
But being comfortable in my feminine side doesn’t let me off the hook for the rest of it. The parts I’ve avoided–and often shoved away into a dark corner out of fear or concern–haven’t left me. Sometimes it was outright rejection, and sometimes it was pure ego, but those efforts were never going to work. I am not like those men, I proclaim. I would never do that or even think it. I understand, I care, and I can listen.
So then I find myself wondering if old men might be less frightening than the young ones, or even the ones now my age, who seem just as lost as anyone. The bars offer a social setting where part of me hopes I might learn something. I might learn not to turn away, and I might learn to let go of the stories I’ve told myself about men.
But if it’s not wisdom, then what is it? If it’s not insight, then what can I gain? And if it’s not simply knowledge, then what’s the point? But I drink with them and listen to them laugh, and I see something out of the corner of my eye. I stop trying to process everything, and for moments it’s there all on its own. They are not teachers I’ve ever had before. They are not even trying to educate me, in fact, they’d be perfectly content if I wasn’t there at all.
It occurs to me, when I stay long enough, that these men are exactly what they are. They are angry or sad. They are drunk or abstaining, and they are not hiding. In fact, the bar might be the only place they don’t hide, but for a moment they are simply themselves, and I see men. I see broken and reborn men. I see strong men who are afraid, and I see men who have stopped trying at all.
Maybe I long to be them, and maybe I hope to avoid the same fate, but I’m drawn in all the same, wondering how to embrace something I don’t understand. Hoping to see a glimmer of something that makes me also feel like a man. Hoping that between the dark beers and the lined faces, I’ll find my own strength.
Last night I dreamed of you again.
You were wearing old jeans, and your head was shaved once more. Your tank top hung loosely off your shoulders, leaving your breasts completely unconcerned with their exposure. I could smell your father’s cologne as I kissed your neck and ran my fingers over your prickly scalp.
You walked me through a park, the sky orange and blue above us, without letting go of my hand. I struggled to follow, my feet unsure of how to move or walk as we glided through the trees and flowers to a pond in the exact center. You turned and kissed me at its edge, pulling your shirt and jeans off in slow motion as I floated inches off the ground.
Naked you walked backwards, the water covering your feet and turning your skin gold. Your calves and knees followed, and I fell forward watching the waver cover your cunt and stomach, my hand reaching out for you. When the water was up to your neck you began to cry, and I leaned further out over the edge, terrified of what might happen if I touched the surface.
You reached out one hand, and where we touched my fingers turned instantly, the gold shooting up into my hand until I coulnd’t look away. I held it to my face, the longing in my body flowing up through my lungs, into my mouth, and into the world in a cloud of bright smoke. I closed my eyes for just a moment, and when I opened them once more the pool was empty, and you were no longer there.
I lay back, staring up at the sky, as the world shifted once more to somewhere more and less familiar. I felt myself let go, and I felt the each open beneath me, pulling me down into its warm embrace.
I dreamed of you last night. And in the morning you were still there.
The three of us lay in bed afterwards, our hands intertwined and the sweat drying on our skin.
I occasionally looked back and forth between them: eyes, breasts, hips, and all the rest. I took them in with a sigh, wondering who was the lucky one? Was it me, with two beautiful women so close to me? Was it her, finally getting the chance to watch and let go? Getting the chance to taste pussy on my cock, and reveling in the power she felt as she pushed our friend to the bed and closed her thighs around her?
Or was it the third? Her body sore and exhausted from too much attention. Her lips bruised, her ass red, and her cunt still throbbing?
But of course, she has to work at seven am, and won’t be home until she’s finished an exhausting day with a boss who takes her for granted. The other needs to go home in the morning to a husband who may or may not be excited that she fucked me while getting her face slapped by a pretty red head with a filthy mouth. And I have to pretend I can sleep, pretend I don’t feel guilt or even worry. I have to spend the night trying not to think of someone who isn’t there.
Too many thoughts swirled in my head as I stared up at the white ceiling, wishing I had the energy to paint it red. Wishing I had the nerve to cover it in color.
I could hear them breathing, and when I moved my hands there was soft skin along with parting thighs and someone’s fingers. The fan in the window did little to cool us off, and the room smelled like the ocean in summer.
I leaned this way and that, kissing one’s cheek and the other’s lips as I nestled down between them, my thoughts mostly forgotten. A thigh slid between my own, and the blood flowed instantly, followed by a gentle hand. Someone moaned, and someone bit my collar bone. I closed my eyes, my hands and arms pulling closer. Pulling harder in the warm dark, until my mouth was full of hair while warm, soft, willing lips, kissed down my chest to my stomach showing no signs of stopping.