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Invisible Lines (Novella)

Highway 69
© 2003 by Helena Settimana

The road slithers like a black-topped grass snake across the rolling hills and farms of the maple and oak South, rising and falling, its yellow lines marking its back, its sloping sides.  It hurtles through the first pine and birch of the North, where pink granite outcrops rise like breeching whales.  You can breathe again.  There are miles of red taillights in front of you.  Miles of white and amber headlights behind.  You drive in a sort of lock-step.  Loggers and dumpsters from the road work south of the Sound, shift into high gear and pass you when the highway expands long enough to allow them to do so.  Their wake rocks your bike, sends debris, like shot, into your fairing and visor.

In the fading light of the Friday drive you see pink sprays of fireweed peeking from the ditches.  They are touched with gold by the lowering sun.  Signs welcome you again, and later, small towns, hamlets, built on cash from lumber, fishing and hunting camps.  Here, old white men wear red Mac Truck and International Harvester ball caps and sit on the porches of their clapboard houses, built high on cinder block.  They scratch their bellies and watch the "city-ots" make their pilgrimage to the North.

The road signs welcome you into the once-great warrior nations, their billboards flickering past you as the day sighs into night and their names are lit by your high beam like suspended lightning: Moose Deer Point, Watah, and soon, Shawanaga, then Magnetawan.  Something about this place makes your heart drum in your chest.

You pull into a roadside stop, buy beer and strap it behind your seat.  An Indian kid rides alongside you briefly—no lights, no reflectors—his wheels wobbly, made worse by his hi-rise handlebars.  You catch a glimpse of the white of his eyes in the brown of his face as you flash past him.  He stands on his pedals, grinning, and tries to race you.  He fades quickly from view.  Must watch for deer and other things—moose and bear and smaller creatures that leap from the shadows at the close of day—there is evidence of their dying smeared on the road and all the while you must look for the turnoff by the white-painted rock, just over the iron bridge on the narrows where lies Jack's place.

But it lies another thirty minutes ahead and the road falls open; the cooling air runs through your hair and ruffles your jacket and prickles your nipples.  Suddenly thirty minutes might as well be hours or days.  Jack's mouth and cock are with you wherever you go.  You think of the song, "You Are Innocent When You Dream" and think that Waits does not sing of daydreams, or this twilight dream that causes your body to thrum; your cunt to open involuntarily, rubbed to desperation by the throb of the engine.  You do not feel innocent.  You ride with one hand inside your top, pinching your nipple hard, pulling the steel ring that has bitten through it, half hoping to stop the pulse racing through your body, half desiring to increase the pleasure until you come.  Helpless, you pull over.  The bike coughs and growls.  The refugees from the city continue to race by.  Here, the forest has thinned and the dramatic rock cuts level into a flatland of scarred rock, scrubby trees and fly-blown bogs.  The night air hums, shrieks with insect and nightbird sounds and you sit on the idling hog, trembling on the sandy shoulder and try to regain control, to no avail.  The driver of an oncoming car sees your face, flashing like a subliminal suggestion, lower lip caught in your teeth, as you grind into the saddle, ignoring the bites of the nasty flying insects as you come, threadily, barely satisfied, the edge simply worn down for the moment.

Exhaust billows from your tailpipe, and you signal your return as you remount the back of the snake.

The white rock looms and you turn.  The road, more a path, is bumpy and sandy, with polished bits of boulder protruding where tires have eroded the surface down to the bedrock..  The trees close in like a cathedral, the headlight limning them like a lantern, the light of which bounces and caroms off branches, brings soft pine needles into focus, gentle green against the indigo sky and the deep woods.  Bugs have died on the fairing glass.

It seems like forever—this creeping along an uncertain road that brings treachery for those who drive too fast.  The sand skids under wheels like powdered snow.  Two deer pause yards away, ears and tails up—they don't move until the bike is nearly upon them.  Heart races, breathless.

There's an old steel gate that is held by a loop of chain to a crooked cedar post.  It yields and you roll the last two hundred yards through dense bush until a clearing opens a bit and Jack's cottage shows the pale yellow glow of its propane lamps through the windows.  It's old, very old, built of fieldstone and board-and-batten, with a wraparound porch, screened against the biting pests.  Water laps at the rock its built on and there is a sliver of moon reflecting across the bay.

And there is Jack who comes from nowhere like a shade and rests his large hands on your shoulders, and kisses your neck.  You drop your bags.

"Hello, darling, you're late," he says, and probes your mouth with his tongue.  It feels almost bovine, a living thing that threatens to wind itself into your belly.  Your heart drums between your legs again. "I thought you might not come."

"Oh, ye of little faith, a couple extra hours after all this time...shhh," you murmur. "Is anyone else here?"

"No.  Just you—and me.  I didn't want anyone else around."

There is sweat between your breasts.  It tickles like the march of a fly.  He's pulling the tab of your jacket zip down, shoving it off of your shoulders.  Your hands don't know where to go first—to his face—huge and shaggy and bearded like a bison, to his chest, solid; his belly that curves into you.  Your fingers finally trace the contour of his cock, rigid in faded denim.  The copper rivets and the snap to his fly are cool; his dick , damp and burning, lies along the inside of his thigh.

"If you keep doing that I'm going to come in my pants," he says.  The faint moon reflects off his teeth and eyes. "That would be a shame." He licks the sweat from between your breasts, pulls a nipple into his mouth and looks up with surprise when his teeth clash with the ring. "Done some redecorating, I see."

There is a carpet of dried pine needles underfoot.  They overlie the bedrock and rustle underfoot, muffling sound and perfuming the air.  You have always loved this smell of earth and resin, water and bleached wood, the creak of a dock like a cheap hotel bed.  Loons laugh across the water—an eerie, mocking sound.  His trousers hiss down his legs—are kicked off into the forest matter and for the first time since you knew he was there he looks at the sky, his head tilted back, cock bobbing sightly.

"Fuck!" He suddenly cries and you ask, alarmed, "What?"

"Fucking mosquito bit my dick!"

You try not to burst into laughter. "Well, maybe it exploded from the pressure," you say, and close your hand around the injured organ, gently pulling it.  He looks less offended, and relaxes, returns to staring at the stars, a blue-white diamond carpet . "I can make it feel better." He doesn't look at you, but wraps his hands around your head, threads his fingers through your hair and guides you down. "Kiss it better."

He fills your mouth, and your teeth scrape gently along the silken skin, pass over the inflamed bump on the shaft.  He swats distractedly at his arse and says, "Lie down."

There is no moment of doubt.  Your hips rise off of the dusty ground as he unzips your chaps, pulls your jeans off.  You lie in the mulch looking like a broken dragonfly, black wings spread, your body faintly luminescent under the stars.  Your tiny hardness is immovable, your wetness a flood.  You say to him, as you move and draw your hands in the furry cleft between your legs, that you can hear yourself leaking into the soil.

His tongue finds your source, rubs your clit like the heel of a hand, works its way into you as you begin to buck against his mouth.

"Move here," you say, and beg him to feed his cock to you again and he swings one treelike leg over your face, so you can pull it lever-like back into your mouth and here is the way you both come, bellowing like beasts in the night, his hips milling your mouth, his tongue plumbing your gaping snatch, a suitcase, a twelve-pack of Blue and clothes strewn on the ground like an accident scene.

You swim off the rocks, lit by the gash of the moon, wash the dirt and pine needles from your body and hair, wash his sea-salt from your womb, and watch in wonder as meteors die, and satellites fly in the inky sky.

In the morning, Jack is in the kitchen cooking over the gas stove.  He's caught a pike off of the point and he greets you, rumpled and sleepy, with a coffee, a plate of toast, eggs and steaming fish.  He tells you he has found a place you should see.

You push one of his boats away from his creaking, weathered dock, lower its aging green outboard motor and sputter in a cloud of blue exhaust to an island that seems a speck on the horizon, shrouded by mist .  It grows bigger by the instant, until it looms like a skull out of the slate-coloured water.  It is uninhabited, he says, and has a beautiful view.  You climb, sweating and panting up its slopes, battered by branches and scrubby junipers, blueberry thickets to its top.  From here you can see out past the barren out-islands to the open water of Georgian Bay.  In the west, dark clouds press down and you watch amazed at three ghostly waterspouts which race north stitching the leaden water to the menacing sky.  You want to make love here—thee sun is still shining, bright and hot overhead, but Jack thinks it's unwise to stay and he is right, because as you help him tie up the boat safely back home, the first fat drops of rain explode against the boards of the dock.  Steam rises.  You are soaked to the skin before you can reach the porch.

He follows you inside, clasping you from behind, and presses himself hard against you.  Your nipples are hard from the chill of the rain, but his hands are warm and knowing and there is no resistance here.  You lie together on his bed, twined, his thick hands probing your insides until your voice echoes through the place, "Ohhhhh!" louder and louder, his hands covering your mouth and then letting you cry out, for there is no one else to hear.  He fucks you then, tight and slick; still pulsing, and falls asleep, spent and clasped within you.  This is the way you spend the day, fucking and sleeping and listening to the drum of the rain against the shakes of the roof.  Fucking and fucking until you are raw and stiff.  Hunger of another, more pedestrian, sort drives you from your nest.

Jack boils water for pasta.  The rain eases and you kick the bike into life and go to the convenience store for milk and cigarettes.  Two pot-belled men are holding forth at a table near the cash register counter with its packets of beef jerky and Hotrod sausages, fresh baked goods: there are cigarettes in rows behind the counter.

"Christ a'mighty Lorne, dija hear the racket las' night 'bout ten-ten thirty? Someone was havin' a good time there let me tell you! Never heard nothin' like it since I was a kid." He laughed. "Some people just don't know how to control themselves..."

"Jesus, you, too, Bob?" I could hear that clear acrost the water.  I was out trollin' for walleye.  Had to let the dog out, if you know what I mean.  Hehe.  I wonder who it was.  Sure woulda liked to have had me some, eh?"

The two men guffaw, oblivious to you.  You colour like a beet.  They agree with each other, "yeah, yeah, yeah." You buy your Players and take a butter tart just because you need it.  You twitch your bottom for effect as the screen door slams behind you.  They watch your behind, framed in leather and grunt in lecherous amusement again. "City-ot" they say as you roar back to Jack.

"I don't want to go back home.  I don't," you say, over dinner. "It's smoggy and noisy and smells bad, and there's no you.  I hate this apart-ness thing we have.  When can you come down?"

Jack shrugs, "I don't know—few weeks—early fall, mid-September, probably.  There's too much work right now.  Even taking this weekend off is pushing my luck.  Not that I regret it."

"I love you, you know."
"I love you, too." Jack fall silent, then, "What time do you need to leave?"
"'Bout eight."
"At night?"
"No, sorry, in the morning...I'm sorry, I thought I could stay longer."
"Then we should make the best of the time, eh? Midnight swim?"
"You're on."

There are nights that are like velvet and quicksilver and some that shine
like diamonds.  At ten, the sky is clear, spangled by the milky way: the
Big Dipper hangs in the west.  By midnight a blanket of fog shrouds the
water and softens the air above it.  So you slip into the deep water like a
mink, in silence and swim, naked, caressed by the cool flow over under and
around you, wrapped in ghostly white.  He makes a bigger splash and emerges
out of the mist, seeking you, diving, playing, treading water while he
parts you lips with his tongue, with his fingers, prods you hard with his
cock.  You splash and flounder back to the rocky shore, scraping your
elbows and knees as you scramble from the water.  Hours after the sun has
set, the rocks are still warm, as if the earth itself housed an animal
with a beating heart, whose blood flowed just beneath its skin.

His mouth is on you, on your tender, raw cunt.  He kisses your other mouth, too, and you taste yourself and the woman taste of the Bay and you can't tell the difference, it is all the same.  Your pussy throbs with desire and abuse.  Your hand, unbelievably, bars entrance.
Jack looks at you, an eyebrow cocked in mute question.  There is a body-sized wet-spot on the rocks, and your knees are sore from the hard, rough surface.
"Get the life jackets," you say.
Jack fetches them from the boat.  There are four—you kneel on two and he on the others.  His tongue swirls on your arsehole, prodding the pucker, feeling it yield.  His hand snakes around to cup your chin and turn your face back to him.  Again the mute question.  You breathe, "Yes-s" and he spits and spits again, levering his stiff peg by fractions into your tight bottom until he is buried to his balls.  They slap against your raw clit until the pain evaporates and you begin to mutter softly then out loud.  He pulls out almost all the way, spits and plunges in again.  You feel stretched, wanton, and push back, deeper, harder until you convulse together.

Jack is silent.  Finally, "Are you ok with what just happened?"
"Perfectly...I love you."
When your breath returns you tell him about the men in the store and their conversation.  You start to laugh, Jack laughs and you fake another orgasm together, sending it out across the water to the ears tuned into the night.

On Sunday, well past eight, you kick the Harley back to life.  The road seems longer in the bright hot sun.  It looks different, too, on the long ride back to the city.  The snake becomes a little less wild, its stripes seem to fade as the lanes split from two to four, to six.  The tall pines will give way to hardwood and yellow fields, which yield in turn to concrete and overpasses, blaring horns, choking fumes.  You have plenty of time to think of Jack, in the forest, by the water; plenty of time for the throb of the bike to stir your insides, rub your abraded snatch.  Plenty of time to miss him already.

© 2002 Helena Settimana.  All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written 

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