I used to think that I was an angel. I awoke under a Cercis tree in early spring, and I sat there for a long while, unconcerned about worldly things. It never dawned on me to wonder how long I had been there. Some men take a lifetime to arrive in that place, sitting beneath a tree, with no earthly desires. I only knew that I had started there.
I became a guest of an elderly man who had many animals and many possessions. His name was Hillel. He told me all about his blessings. I didn't understand, and so he taught me his faith.
Later he sent me away, but from what he had taught me, I decided that I might be an angel. I wasn't of the world of men, and if I was from the heaven that Hillel told me about, that made me an angel. It was my first perspective, taken from learning their faith – a collection of stories based on the teachings of Judaism.
This was the holy land. Holy my ass.
These days, I hear people debating about whether God was "different" back then, the way the Old Testament says He was angry, and spent His days punishing the wicked. I don't know, but from what I saw, they deserved it. Not just the Jews. Everyone.
Not that I'm so sure about God anymore, or even angels. But wickedness I'm sure of.
You see, I began to feel it. I started with very little desire. I don't even think I ate food for a long while. I was more detached from my own body. My awareness was of the oneness of everything, and the first place I felt hunger was when I saw it in the eyes of others.
It began a fascination that led me to learn about their appetites, not only for food, but for beautiful things made of gold and silk, for excitement, for status and for sex. In trading my ascetic existence for one driven by human desires, I first became aware of perversity. It was my deliberate decision to turn away from that which was good.
Since then, to be perfectly honest, I've been a freeloader. Not like I was at first – a contemplative wanderer who took company with those who offered it, and spoke of simple things. No. I began to take what wasn't mine, and it started to feel as if those appetites were truly my own.
To manipulate those desires was easy for me, and I began to feel it necessary over time. In this last century, there was a time when I desperately wanted to leave continental Europe.
There was a girl name Elyse. She was an artist, and I was sharing in her fascination, even fuelling it – with desperate needs borrowed from other artists I had known over time. It was a need to create beauty. That desire was so intense that she could barely manage to keep her hands from shaking with excitement as she painted.
When the most dangerous of times came, I twisted her in another direction. There was a town administrator named Pascal. He was married, but still needed to be loved.
I am normally very careful to avoid that one – the need for love. You see, whatever I touch in others, I've found, I develop an appetite for myself. I can always fill an appetite for fine food and material things. Sex is just as easy. With these desires, people can fill themselves, but shortly the appetite comes again. I'll always be able to find someone just a little bit desirous, and then pull it in any direction I want. But love – is much more troublesome.
This was, as I wrote before, what I felt to be a necessity. I planted in Pascal the idea that he could be truly loved by a woman, but only if he were to show compassion to her and her family. He was already attracted to Elyse. He knew her art, and had always seen her as unobtainable – too virtuous for the likes of him. Now that she was in harm's way it would be different, I convinced him without a word. A moment of eye contact was all it took.
As for Elyse, she didn't need too much adjustment. She loved me, something that I wouldn't allow her to tell me at the time. So she pretended I was her brother. Pascal used his connections, both legitimate and not, to make sure I was safely out of France. She stayed with Pascal, of course, trading her love for my freedom. I'm not sure if either of them believed she would be safe to stay behind, but she did.
I moved on, trying hard not to indulge it – that desire to be loved that I had nurtured in Pascal, and now was present in me.
That was over fifty years ago. Since then, more from habit now than anything, I've been reluctant to call myself a Jew. The question actually doesn't come up that often. The people I trade with – we have just a few things in common. I can spend an entire winter at Whistler, skiing all day, sharing food and drinks in the evening, and each evening find another soul to share sexual desires with, and still, it's rare that anyone really wants to know much about me.
"So where are you from?" the young woman asked me. Her parents, who I had been playing with for a couple of weeks, feigned curiosity about the answer.
"Israel," I told her.
"Really, what's it like?" she asked. She was interested, even excited. That was unexpected. People hardly ever genuinely listen.
"I've been gone a long time. It's probably different now."
"I'd love to go there someday, just to see where it all happened."
"Where it all happened?" I asked. I guess I knew what she meant, but I was intrigued by her. I wanted to hear her voice some more.
"You know. Where Jesus was born and died."
"Oh. I wasn't there for that," I stated. She took it as a joke.
Her name was Loela.
"Short for Delores?" I asked her.
Her mother answered. " No. Just Loela. I took it from a baby name book. It sounded pretty."
She was only there for the weekends, back from the University. So I knew I wouldn't have much time to work on her before she went back. Fortunately, I thought, it doesn't take much. There was a light touch, to see what she desired. Then, when I found her appetites, I twisted them in my direction. All of this was done in a momentary connection of our eyes.
To my surprise, and I was hardly ever surprised by people anymore, she didn't come to me that night.
I saw her before she left, and I knew I'd had my effect. She was shaken. She'd probably passed the night sleepless. She blushed when she saw me. She stole a kiss on my cheek before she left. I touched her mind again, and it was burning with the desire I had suggested. That's the way it seems to work. Elegant. I find that place where her desires live, and make a suggestion. I seed just an image or two. Then they become her own, spinning away in her head until she can't deny them a chance to become real.
Except that she had denied them.
I was living as a guest in their house, Paul and Tina. Tina was the mom. Paul was the stepfather. I found them on craigslist, looking for a threesome. I had shared enough pleasure with them that they invited me to stay, with family and friends accepting me as an interior designer for their ongoing renovations. The house was in Squamish, some distance from design consultants in Vancouver, so it made some manner of sense. It didn't matter. Most people tended to accept what I said as truth in any case.
Loela's self restraint on the weekend left me in an unusual position. I wasn't accustomed to denial and, as mentioned, when I manipulate these things, I can't help but take them into myself.
This one was a simple desire, so far as mine go these days. I liked her voice. I liked the look of her lips when she spoke. I wanted to see those lips pleasuring me. I transferred that desire to her mind.
This line of desire was somewhat reflexive now, given on to me from a gardener I had known in Venice. He had loved the voice of the lady of the house. I met her, and was not immediately moved by her voice. Perhaps it was my unfamiliarity with the language. My fascination with human desire tempted me, however, to understand him. The lady was not difficult. And he was right, in the end, that her lips were wonderful.
So now, when I appreciate a voice, it's not long before I appreciate the lips as well.
Since Loela had denied herself, and it would be a week before she visited again, I took it instead from her mother. I shouldn't have expected that it would satisfy me. She had please me that way before, after all. Only this time, it was without her husband, which signaled a bit of a betrayal. Still, it was not enough.
Loela's little sister Emily was my next attempt at a surrogate. She hadn't much experience at all, which made pushing her seem too simple a challenge. So I transferred in a fantasy I had found in others. This idea was little more extreme in nature, which would be more difficult for her to ask for overtly.
Emily found her way to my room easily enough, and that she was inviting a sexual encounter was clear. But she flushed with color when it came time to speak.
"I want to try something..." she started. She was almost too nervous. I wondered how aware she was that this indecency was transplanted. It must have seemed very strange to her, this sudden desire. Or, rather, obsession. It must have seemed equally strange to Emily that she would be moved to act on it with so little consideration.
Its extreme nature came from the minds of those more experienced in the oral arts.
" ... to take it in my throat," she paused, self-conscious, but not for long. " Deep down, I mean. I want you to finish that way. Have you ... have you ever done that?"
Of course, I assured her. Perfectly normal. It takes some practice, though. I'll help you through it.
I kept her dressed in her nice pajamas. It suited me well to see her in those fine silk garments. Silk had been quite a prize, reserved for only the wealthiest when I first came to know of it. This fabric, of itself, had been a thing of desire. Now Emily, a girl unblemished by age – a virgin, no less – was positioning herself on her knees at the foot of my bed, dressed in that fine silk. I felt its softness against the flesh of my legs as I stepped into her.
She tried to take me all at once, just as she had imagined it. That was unrealistic, of course. She gagged on me when I swelled in her throat, providing me a truly heavenly sensation. It was intensified by anticipation. She would do it over and over, I knew. She would do so until the muscles in her diaphragm ached from retching, and still be feverishly driven to continue.
"Don't tease me, girl," I commanded, knowing that at this point, Emily would be looking for a firm hand to guide her.
I pressed on the back of her head, and looked in her eyes as they began to water involuntarily from the choking. I allowed her to try it that way for a long while. Eventually, she would be able to tame that reflex of her throat, but not tonight. She wouldn't be able to finish me that way.
The fronts of her silken garments were soaked with the froth of saliva and stomach fluid by the time I finally took her hand, and guided her to the bed. She was gasping, her face red from the exertion. I lay her on her back, and gently propped a pillow behind her head.
Emily was thankful that I wasn't giving up on her. She had wanted my help, and I wasn't going to disappoint her. I knelt over her face, my knees on either side of her chest.
I gave it back to her, and let her swallow it into her mouth, not quite deep enough to trigger her gagging. I repositioned myself just slightly, and pivoted my hips until the angle was to my liking. Then I pushed in to my fullest.
She never bit down, but I could feel her muscles resisting me despite her desire. It was a wonderfully intimate moment, with the fullness of Emily's mind and body concentrated on this intrusion of her throat.
Panic would be filling her now. Stopping to take a breath was no longer something that was in her control. It depended on me, and my rhythm. I gave her no measure of mercy, and this would be to her satisfaction, in the end. She craved that freedom from responsibility – knowing that I took my pleasure only from her passage without regard to her comfort or even consent.
When I finally released, I pushed deep and held myself there for a long while. The girl would get no air until I was emptied.
Then I withdrew from her, resting my spit-covered member on her face until she caught her breath and cleaned me.
Still, it did not satisfy me fully. Her sister Loela would have had a much gentler encounter. This substitution, no matter how entertaining, would not suffice. A couple thousand years of absorbing these sinful desires, and in the end, it was nothing so extreme or complex that I yearned for.
No matter, I told myself. She was back on Saturday, and I would have her then.
"Let's go for a walk," Loela suggested to me, not long after she came through the door. She pulled her book bag back onto her shoulder, and beckoned me to join her. There was no change in the intensity of her appetite. I had gauged that the moment we made eye contact. I thought that maybe the invitation was for her to have me alone, so that she could satisfy herself.
Instead, she wanted to talk about photography. She brought out some prints from her portfolio.
"I thought you might have an eye for this sort of thing," Loela told me, but she didn't explain why. My cover story as a designer may have been her reason, but I thought not.
I looked through them slowly, walking with her.
"You have talent," I appraised truthfully. "But I find these disappointing."
I caught her eye to see how she took me. Her desire for my approval was not so strong as I would have guessed.
"All art is erotic," I tried to explain. " Gustav Klimt said that to a writer, but never to me. I saw it in his art. Your photography seems too controlled, too passive."
"I studied Klimt last semester. And you expect me to believe you spoke with him?"
"His art is beautiful," she acknowledged. "But that's not the only definition of art."
"Who is your audience?"
"Klimt's definition is simple, and it is true because he created his art for his audience. The human soul is full of desire. So who is your audience?"
She walked silently, in her own thoughts. I broke the silence, concluding my argument.
"So unless your audience is of saints or angels, his definition is valid."
Loela turned and kissed me. I expected it to lead to surrender, but it didn't.
When she withdrew herself from the kiss, I cocked my head in curiosity.
"I want to know you better," was all she said. She wasn't rejecting, but delaying. We walked home in silence.
I wanted to know her better as well, but I had spent many years practicing my lack of restraint. Over the next two days, whenever our eyes met, I explored her desires further. I intensified them. I twisted them. I transplanted in ideas that she had never imagined. With my experience, I knew which existing desires to tack them onto.
Again, on the morning she left for school, I could see how these extreme desires had worn upon her. It confounded me that she could resist. Over time, I had met people committed to their relationships, or careers, or religions ... none of whom took much convincing to throw it all away to satisfy their desires.
Loela had taken it all. Her desires now burned more brightly than I had ever seen, but she still held back.
And she had unwittingly left me to take out my sexual frustration on her family again.
Her mother I disposed of.
That's a harsh way to put it, but true. I found a secret by exploring her mind. A few years earlier, Tina had taken a lover that she never told Paul about. She had broken it off because the man had been dangerous and selfish, pushing her towards the drug scene. I was careful not to touch the desire for drugs, much. It wouldn't do to have that hunger for myself. I gave her a nudge towards him, the lover. The drugs ... I just barely addressed, softening her resolve ever so slightly. But to him, I gave her a powerful desire to submit.
Yes, he would have her doing drugs. She would never deny her lover of this. Within a few weeks, Tina would be earning money on her back for this man. I think she already knew that when she called him.
Perversity is a bitch. And we're all full of it. Or at least I am.
I said goodbye with a long kiss before she left. Tina never said goodbye to her husband in person. Maybe she left him a message with some short-term explanation for her absence. I didn't ask.