This story is greatly enhanced by reading "Catty Corner"
Musical acknowledgements: This story was written under the influence of "Cracked Rear View" (Hootie and the Blowfish), "The Amazing Colossal Band" (Laika and the Cosmonauts) and "Kind of Blue" (Miles Davis). None of this may show. The final sequence was composed to the Mary-Chapin Carpenter song, "Shut Up and Kiss Me." That shows, I hope.
"Isn't it love that keeps us breathing?
Isn't it love we're sent here for?"
Many of us pass our lives day to day, waking, dressing, washing, commuting, working, eating, sleeping, occasionally making love or having sex, sometimes crying, sometimes laughing, but all too often experienced as a routine. We often lose sight of the idea of each day being a gift and of seemingly random events as having greater meaning. We take too much for granted.
In my work, seeing larger meaning, or even hope, is often very difficult. For thirty years I've worked in the government of a large eastern city. First as an idealistic young program manager, then as a cop, and then after I'd taken a bullet which stopped my "let's-just-chase-the-perp-over-that-20-foot-fence" days, as an operative for the city's Investigation Department. We look out for corruption and for people trying to rip off the city with scams. Enforcement work of any kind can disillusion you pretty nicely, thank you, and make you forget the beauty and kindness around you. You spend your time in a paranoid state of mind, looking for people who lie without thinking about it, get caught, and keep on lying until we eventually put them away. You can easily forget about the magic of those seemingly random pauses of unplanned joy in your life. When you get to that point, you're in big trouble. Burned out. Suicidal. Depressed. That's how cops die or slide into a bottle. That's where I was until one of those chance intersections of lives pulled me out; one of those pitches life throws at you that you can decide to turn away from, or allow it to change you forever.
A loss of that perspective, a loss of my ability to remember the magic in life and the accumulated weight of too many arrows and too much caring about them had led me to that hotel room in Seattle. I hadn't felt this bad in years and while I was in town to deliver a paper at a conference and had been well received, I didn't make much of a difference. I was at the point where I was counting days 'till retirement, a practice I'd always abhorred among public servants. That night I had showered, downed a vodka and tonic and was looking out the curtains of my room across the hotel's atrium. Years ago I would have looked out of that atrium and felt the hum of life: laughter, debate, pain, lust, love, joy and confusion, but in some kind of context that ended with my continuing to see the general pleasure in existence. Now I was trying desperately to connect to the lives all around me, their meaning and spark.
She came out of the elevator lugging a suitcase, with a briefcase and a laptop slung somewhat precariously over her shoulder. Even from fifty feet away I could tell the Logan airport tags on her luggage. Her business-like silk dress and her demeanor narrowed her professional options significantly. The tired dignity with which she carried herself spoke volumes about her ability and her strength. This was not young administrative assistant, but someone who made things happen. There was no wedding band. (Years before a woman friend asked me what I first noticed about a woman I just met. She may have been expecting "breasts" or "body" but I replied, "The first thing I notice is her eyes and her smile. Then my eyes immediately drop down...to her left hand to see if she's married." "Proof positive that you're over thirty," she laughed.)
Although clearly fatigued, she also reeked of nervous energy and her alert eyes were not aimed at the floor as she walked, but casually glancing all around her: observant, aware.
And then she stopped. About three doors down the balcony she stopped and glanced, then peered into one of the room windows. I couldn't see into that window from my position but I didn't need to, her eyes, her body and soon enough, even more told me most of what I needed to know. Some people communicate volumes through their eyes. These people always make wonderful friends and lovers but incredibly lousy liars and salespeople. Some people, when they come upon others in a sexual situation, avert their eyes, look embarrassed, or, if they're men, suddenly take on the look of horny dogs. This woman was almost mesmerized. Her nervous energy suddenly had an object and the pure lust in her eyes gave little doubt that she had seen people doing something very nasty in that room. Without taking her eyes from the object of her desire, she slowly lowered the suitcase to the floor. The fatigue that had been apparent seconds before had been replaced by alert, rapt attention. Her arms and face were becoming flushed and her fingertips, and then her hands began to touch her thighs. She absent-mindedly bit one lip and then parted them. She licked her lips and reached with one hand to play with her hair while another began to slowly caress her stomach and then, her cunt through her dress.
This went on for minutes and it was my turn to be mesmerized. This woman's ability to be sucked into the delight, the gift of the moment was a catharsis for me. To give in to lust, to love, she had what I had lost. Then, for a moment, it was broken. A look of embarrassment spread across her face. Not horror, this was clearly a woman comfortable with her sexuality. Likely they had noticed her and her brain was processing the message, "Yes, but you are also a respected businesswoman and you know damn well you can't let your guard down publicly. Who else among the scores of rooms facing this atrium is watching you?"
She picked up her bag and moved down the balcony toward her room...and then, looking forward, she noticed me at the curtain. A series of messages flashed across her face: "Oh, shit, EVERYBODY's seen me with my hand on my mound." "A guy, great, just the right message, you self-indulgent pervert." But then after she'd looked into my eyes for a few seconds, she relaxed, a bit, although she still quickly stumbled and fumbled to her door, fumbled with the keys, dropped them, scooped them up after two tries, finally got the door open and slid inside just before her mental Godzilla caught up with her.
I remained at the window, feeling an enormous sense of arousal and relief. Arousal, evidenced by a rockhard erection sending "Me Tarzan, Her Jane" messages to my brain, and relief because this woman had suddenly brought me back into the world. The feeling, risk-taking, joyful, crimson-red-faced-and-proud-of-it world that I had spent most of my life in.
.... There is more of this story ...