When he can breathe again he looks up into the torrent of freezing rain pouring in through the open skylight. The converted mortuary table suspended high above in the leaping lightning of the sky, sways dangerously in the gale, threatening to tip over on one end. One of the high cabled kites has caught fire and is falling like a meteor.
It was this last bolt that had struck close enough to shake the stone walls, rattle and crack the thick glass jars of chemicals and preserved homunculi, and raise erect the coarse hairs of his immense arms. The thunder crash was close enough to blot out his cold objectivity and fill him with an animal urge to cower and hide.
He takes up a dry wooden rod and cautiously bats down the circuit breaker lever on the wall. The lights die and glow like altar candles. Leaning all his great weight against the heavy chain hanging from the suspended block and tackle, he curses for it to move but it refuses. Grunting, hunched, he gives the chain a violent shake that sends waves of rage to the sky. Now wrapping the chain around his huge shoulders, bowing his head, he throws himself hard against it until it surrenders to his will. The table spins half way around in the high wind as the pulley catches and the assembly begins to descend.
It occurs to him, as he labors at the chain that he is not prepared for what to do if he succeeds. He’d been practiced only in steeling himself against disappointment but not how to endure hope. Catching a lightning storm with any reliability in the spring or summer when they abounded was in itself almost impossible. The indifferent things of nature performed when they would; unlike the things of man they could not be stolen or bullied while his labor dissolved into rot.
In the beginning he had studied the mysteries of his own body and despaired of the depth of the difficulties ahead of him. The single legacy his god had passed on to him here, in this very place, was his savage birth on the same table dangling above. As he grew to appreciate this accomplishment first hand he began to develop a grudging respect that was almost enough to give him a heart to forgive his creator for the crime of bringing him into this world. But he could not.
There was only a very short window between the winter’s murderous but preserving cold and the spring’s life giving storms where he could hastily cut, cauterize, and stitch each muscle and vein before they turned sour and stinking. Each storm season he’d grimly pushed his harvest of foraged human flesh into the boiling clouds. Always the cruel lightning refused the ghoulish bundles of tailored carcasses he offered to it. Until tonight.
The table suspended at a crazy angle on its chains at last rattles into view, but there are pillars of smoke rising from the bandaged body there. Forcing himself to look away, swallowing his panic, he forces himself to think only of pulling the chains of the tackle with tender patience until he hears the rails of the table slop down into the swamp of mud. For two minutes he can’t bring himself to raise his eyes from his shoes.
Liberated from the throes of hope, he sullenly turns and goes to the hulk mired in the mud. But the rain soaked bandaged tape is uncharred and the clean clouds that rise have the cheerful lightness of new birth. This is only steam. Without touching the body he unfastens the half dozen mule chains that hold it in place. The hot steel lightning kissed links sizzle his fingers. He pushes the table into a dry place and leaves it only long enough to light torches. The storm is sailing far away now, stars are out and the work room is silent but for the beating of his heart.
He holds his breath. He clenches his fists. Under the soft patter of the receding rain –
– the sound of gentle wheezing. There.
Frantically fumbling through a tool box he finds the greasy meat shears when he stabs his finger on them in the dark. At the table he watches the rumpled bandages gently rise and fall, rise and fall. Shaking like a terrified bridegroom, he has no idea where to begin.
* * * * *
Once upon a time, not so long after he had been driven by his remorseful maker from the cells and smashed laboratory of the abandoned monastery where he had been given life, the giant patchwork puzzle man had sought out people and been hounded away until, finally fled from them all, defeated.
Hiding in the mountains, he had come across a small house of stone and straw in which a woman lived alone. He first saw her as she went to her chicken coop with a basket, walking with one hand held out. She was craggy faced and middle aged, with shining black hair shot with thick shocks of silver gray, like a skunk. . He was about to break in and rob her of food but a young man and woman came to visit her just then, carrying a baby. The baby fascinated him. His presence was unknown to them; he could have simply burst in and massacred them, but seeing the baby even from a distance stopped him; he couldn’t bear to make the baby as alone as himself, so he hung back in the forest and did nothing.
At night when the windows glowed, he listened outside at the window glass with the senses his maker had made better than human. It was the only time he felt afraid and monstrous. As he watched her waving hands, and the way she arranged the room, and the way she lived in the indifferent dark after the family left, he understood she was blind.
During the time her family stayed with her he learned language by listening to their endless arguments which seemed to rouse violent memories of another life like shards of a broken mirror. He mouthed her angry words and speech began to awake in his tongue. Flocks of words and ideas came back to him in a fury, not learned but remembered. He came to understand that the son had left her before, rejected her, and now had returned, demanding that she should move in with him and his family and submit herself to his authority. It wasn’t safe out here alone, it wasn’t decent and how people talked of him, leaving his sightless mother to fumble for herself among the trees and wild animals. It was hurting his business trade. It was only right for her son to look after her in her old age.
But she wanted no husband or son to rule over her, and most of the time no company at all. She was done with all men. Now that she had been tossed out alone, she had learned solitude. She was as confident and self contained as a wasp. Listening with his ear at the window glass, the patchwork man understood about solitude. He understood about being done with all men. He adored her strength, her ferocity
He slept in the outhouse and ate his foraged meals there, because it was out of the rain, and the closed walls gave him a sense of how it would be to have a home. He imagined life in the outhouse with the blind woman and a child, both sitting on his knees snug in the small drafty space with the spiders that lived under the seat holes. When caught by surprise, hearing her approach, he would hide in the pool below under the seat, where he lurked as she shat on his head.
He progressed from her outhouse to her bed in stages.
* * * * *
The shears snag on the bandages until he sees he’s stabbing at them in his panic and fever. At last he sets them down, turns his back to the table and sits on it.
Gentle now, gentle. This moment will never come again, because if I fail this time my soul will die. I can wait a little. This moment is mine. This creation is mine. Something new. Something defiant. My raised fist against God.
He listens to the rhythm of the steady breathing from behind and it soothes him. Calmer now, he takes up the shears again and begins cutting. First up the arms because it’s the easiest and straightest, the simplest place to begin. As the bandages drop away the flesh shows through and the sight of it makes him dizzy.
Is this how he felt when he saw me? When he saw me for the first time did he feel this excruciating thrill? How did we ever learn to hate each other so terribly?
The skin showing under the bandages looks different than before, pinker, but it’s so hard to tell by the torch light which makes everything pink. His runs his finger along the hot skin and it feels tough and resilient. It feels like his. He snips his way up the bandages above the elbow, revealing thick and complex sutures he’d made only the day before from long study of the illustrated notebooks; the scarred map lines of his own body and the endless apprenticeship of stitching the battalions of bodies that had all gone bad and been thrown in a reeking pit where animals came at night to feed. He snips across the bandages of the chest and breasts. The two breasts are mismatched, one larger, one smaller because they come from different women.
From her collar bones down between her breasts she has been burned. Her skin bears a winding feather of bright bleeding crimson, with delicate branchings as if a daguerreotype of the bolt that had given birth to her had been cruelly branded into her skin, a permanent locket image of her cloud mother. He has the same special burn covering his own heart like the mark of Cain, the secret sign of their kind, the lightning children, born not of woman but of some inferior storm goddess.
He snips up the shoulders, the neck, the face. When he draws the bandages away the amazed windows of her soul are looking at him with wonder. The gusting torches make her skin glow so that it seems to him she’s the only source of light.
He touches a hand to her cheek and feels her temperature. Her eyes are rolling wildly in her head and finally settle again on his face. Her spectral hand trailing bandages, reaches up and caresses the long faded mountain range of scars that cross his troubled forehead and travel behind his ears and down his neck where a man he had left for dead had once sewn his face onto his skull in this very room. Her fingers smelling of scorched roses and of the sky play over his lips and he kisses them. He permits his heart to heave and fall in love.
* * * * *
The blind woman became gradually aware of him as a malodorous curve in space at the edge of her intuition. She felt his presence come and go leaving the scent of old shit and piss in the air like a nasty comet tail but he would never answer her shouts. Then the presents began. Strangled rabbits and throttled pheasants left on the door step for her to stumble over. Then forest fruit and pine nuts. Then he himself when he was caught kneeling in the act of leaving wild flowers for her. She opened the door suddenly, grabbed him by the top of his hair and yelled “Who the shit are you?”
Because he wouldn’t answer and remained sensibly on his knees she invited him inside. He crouched by the fire like a whipped dog, and she sensed in the air beyond his fecal stench and beyond the shadow of a doubt he was a harmless, maybe not very bright man, who needed a friend. She undressed him and made him a hot bath, the very first of his life. With soap and a kitchen brush she stripped layers of grime and filth from his strange carcass. He allowed her to help herself to the exploration of his body as she cleaned and scrubbed him.
Her hands told her he was a huge man, with broad, powerful shoulders and large warm hands. His brows were thick and she imagined what his eyes might look like, because she had only become blind after she’d been stricken with measles. His waist was narrow and his belly hard and flat. But most mysterious were the coarse stitches which covered his great male carcass, as if he had been tailored like a quilt from rags.
He didn’t know how to respond to her curious, exploring, maternal hands as they scoured his hide. Twice she changed the bath water and pushed him back in. She washed his feet and thighs and when she reached to wash his balls she found his penis standing up as thick and hard as a rolling pin. She felt him squirm and heard him sigh deeply as she soaped it. She set down the soap and caressed him there playfully until his stentorian breathing stopped suddenly and he bent over laughing haw-haw-haw and she felt his penis pulse languorously inside her fist like a mighty thrumming heartbeat, and a warm thickness spread over her wrist.
As he laid his head on her shoulder and abjectly wept she realized she was holding the fine and useful penis of the loneliest being in the world.
His fierce tears on her neck sent a dull sagacious pain to that exact spot between her legs which had gone silent, now awakened ferociously to clamor for that pain and know herself as a woman again. She felt a great heat radiating from her hips and he seemed to sense it too. She dropped her clothes on the floor and joined him in the tub.
Like a mammoth doll with the beautiful breath of a boy and the musk of a mountain goat, he proved to be perfectly malleable and ignorant and eminently trainable to make love correctly from a woman’s view. She wrapped herself in his solitude and maleness until his tumescence filled her with infinite possibilities. He surrendered to her caresses utterly as she determined his thorough seduction and domestication.
She burned his clothes, aired out the house and made him a hot dinner served with rum which they ate together in the nude. It was the first time he had experienced happiness. The mysterious feeling frightened him. He didn’t know what to do. He felt he wanted desperately to touch her with tenderness but didn’t know how, never having been tenderly touched himself. He sat mutely watching her gnaw a turnip, with the moist eyes of a grateful animal.
She gave him the first male name that came to mind, “Jonah”, because he had washed up on her door step smelling as though he had been vomited out by a whale. She fed him, owned him, loved him and led him docilely to her bed to commence the exertions of his education.
Having shed her clothes to share his bath she never felt the need for them again. They wandered through the house and the forest as boldly naked as frogs. The cool air and his caresses revived her youth. His towering nudity and infinite vigor made him available to her as often in a day as she desired him. They lived like cats as the summer drifted by. Soon the days shortened and chilled. She began sewing him suits of clothes to stay warm outside where she couldn’t warm him with her impatient body.
Her ultimate conquest of him was the patient releasing of the undertow of pain that caring for her so terribly, invoked in him. Their first tentative couplings revealed to her his fear of happiness, so that she laid siege to him all the more violently with her body, coaxing his heart open, not by sex alone which he joined in easily, but by the wild darkness of her passion which convinced him he would be permitted at long last to feel joy.
In his eyes she was not a blind aging woman. He wanted to protect her and maybe shut her away so that no man would suspect that he alone possessed the most beautiful woman in all the world.
* * * * *
He brushes his face against hers and breathes the ripe storm scent of her hair. After a moment he whispers in her ear. “Can you speak yet?” Her chest wheezes and he feels her throat struggle.
He looks away, worried and sighs. His thoughts run over the interior work he crafted on her throat and yes, he’s sure it’s all been done right. But there was no way to know until now. Her lips move and sounds come out, but no words. He can’t help himself, he has to touch her. There is no question of waiting. He is starving to caress her everywhere. He passes his hand over her cheek and touches her ear with his finger tips. The ears are not on the same level. That will have to be adjusted sometime when she’s gotten her strength.
“Soon you’ll remember how to speak,” he says. “It won’t take long. Don’t worry; I can fix anything that doesn’t work. Once you hear voices it all comes back very quickly, you’ll see. I’ll talk to you and read books to you and sing to you. I’ll whisper in your ear how beautiful you are.”
Her eyes fix on his face and he holds his breath, waiting to see if she screams and turns away. She only goes on watching him and she’s not afraid. There was a movement on the other end of the table and he knows she’s wiggling her toes under the bandages. Her hair is still covered by bandage tape. Without the shears, he draws it gently back so he can see all of her. There are bright shocks of hair like rivers of silver that run back from her temples were the magnetic conductor plates had been placed. Like the woman’s.
“You look so much like her.” He whispers.
* * * * *
On an early winter evening with snow falling, and the night clouds glowing from a hidden light, she is sewing him a warm pair of mole skin trousers, sitting naked on a blanket by the fire, in pinkly girlish health since his arrival in her life.
She feels him as an insect would, creeping up silently behind her; the stealthy descent of his hot iron hands, which tickle the air, close around her neck – and squeeze.
“Oh, you.” She whispers and lowers her sewing, the needle impaled in the cloth in mid stroke.
The fingers, which have snapped the heads off gray wolves to save her, pick up soft handfuls of her neck and shoulders, knead them delicately and let them fall, pick them up, let them fall, as though hypnotizing her with his gentle rhythm. He is secretly searching her shoulders to see if the buds of angel wings have begun to sprout. She leans forward a little, offering her back to rub. He wraps his arms around her shoulders and bear hugs her carefully, holding her snug with his lips at her ear. “Are you my woman?” he whispers into her hair.
She rocks a little in his huge arms.
He releases her and brings his hands back to her shoulders and kneads and squeezes carefully, her neck, her shoulders, moving a little down her back, gentling her baby bird bones in his hands. Her odd litany of ceremonies which have invented themselves between them from coupling after coupling, draw him to her. He feels her tension melting under his firm caresses like icicles. She lifts her elbows a little and he passes his hands under her arms, circles her ribs until he finds her large, downward looking pear shaped breasts. He hefts them in his palms and warms them, begins moving his hands lightly back and forth under them, letting their weight rest against his moving palms, touching her chest, stroking forward towards her nipples, retreating and stroking, petting her breasts from below, breathing her, taking her into himself. If he strokes her breasts just right, the scar ridges of his sewn wrists will make an intolerable tickling pressure behind her big red nipples.
He palms her smooth under-breasts until he feels her start to wiggle with cat-heat, lifting her ass as if crouching for him. Relaxing rhythm on tired muscles, shoulders and spine, mesmerizing her until he feels her start to sag. Returning to her breasts, his feather light caresses blow up her tickling, tormenting fires until he feels her struggling to push her nipples into his hands for relief; he denies her and goes back to the gentling massage.
“Are you my woman?”
Her nipples are pointed and hard now the way he wants them. Between thumbs and fingers a tenacious pinch, held hard, pressed tight for a few seconds and he releases her with a gasp. All these things she has taught him perfectly.
He draws her body back, holding her against his chest, rocking her and taking the moment in silent space to cherish.
She reaches her hand up into his hair.
“You have to say it.”
He lifts her arm, dips down his head and buries his nose in her ripe armpit. She has not washed for a day and he holds his nose in the oily onion dampness breathing her in, filling his senses with her. The flavors of her kisses, the strong odors of her body torment his rapacious senses beyond endurance. It takes an effort not to crush her bones. She has taught him how to touch a woman by placing baby chicks in his hands.
He licks and nuzzles her armpit. His lips move across her chest like a nibbling pair of caterpillars to the swell of her right breast. He does not kiss her breast, but lets his lips linger just at the edge of her skin, so she can barely feel him but without receiving him.. She trys to push her breast at him. He hovers and lightly licks the sweat from her skin. He brushes his lips in a circle over her breast. She tries to raise her nipple to his mouth but he eludes her. He moves instead to run his tongue over the depression at the base of her throat, licking it like a bowl.
It is the space between their skins, the hair skin space of expectation and anticipation of touch that he dwells in like an amorous ghost between worlds, moving his hands as lightly as butterflies over her, exploring hands, gentling, warming, caressing and lingering. He reaches both his hands together under her little pot belly and hefts it. “This is mine,” he says, gently rolling her belly in his huge fingers. He scratches his fingernails lightly over the skin and down below, brushing the hair between her thighs and feels her thighs move apart for more. He brings his hands up instead and passes them around the rolls and curves of her breasts. “These are mine.” Her lips brush his face. He presses his mouth to her tensed lips and sucks her roaming tongue.
She pushes him away; her fingertips travel over his face, linger at his lips. “This is mine,” she whispers back, runs her hands over his body for a moment and slides down his massive arms. She stretches herself supine on the floor. She bends her old knees and lets them fall open.
He lays down flat on his belly between her legs, as he must, he knows exactly how, draws her knees apart and sees how wide her pink rose has blossomed under his caresses. Pausing, he calms himself and lets the blood pound in his head. He doesn’t touch her sex, no, he brushes the inside of her thigh with his lips. His right hand moves above her rose and feels there, her wiry hair. She opens her legs more, rolls her hips up a little inviting, but he puts his face in her hair and lets himself rest there. There’s no hurry. Breathing the musky smell of her, gloriously unwashed and odorous after a long day of laundry, letting it inside of him like the rarest of perfumes. Now snuggling his face into her belly; she gently closes her legs around him, because she will never let him go.
He draws back a little and stretches out his tongue, the great lavender tongue that may have once been borrowed from a bull and presses it flat against the lips of her vagina, presses it tight and holds it there, breathing hot steam. He hears her grunt up above. Her hips wriggle as if trying to escape and suddenly push back hard against his tongue.
She’s making strangling noises and now her hips are thrusting wildly like a boy. Her frantic hands are searching for him. He holds his tongue pressed hard as she grinds herself against it, and then draws back and he sucks her bud between lip and tongue , pinches it gently as she grabs his hands and puts them on her breasts and presses her hips into him. He finds her nipples, all the time pinching her, then sucking, then pinching, then sucking as if he would suck the juice out of her. His hands move over her breasts, softly, barely touching, making her come to him so that in her exasperation she pushes her breasts at him and the frantic thrusting goes on below. With thumbs and fingers he pinch-pulls her nipples, sucks- lip pinches her clit and her thrusting goes on and on.
He narrows his thick hot tongue and pushes it deep into her cunt which seems to stun her motionless for a second and then the thrusting takes up again more ferocious than before. He holds his tongue still as she slides the wet length of her cunt back and forth over it.. She reaches down and grabs him furiously by the hair in both fists and rides his tongue, bucking against it with her cunt. He reaches up and caresses her face, touches her lips. His excitement recedes and returns in waves, so that he forgets where he is or what is happening. The world has gone away, and there is nothing he is thinking of except her. She is all that exists in this moment for him forever.
He is a man who has lived with losing. To have something precious snatched away is so natural for him that he has brought this into his love making When he feels the rising tremblors of her pleasure shake the air around them, rather than chase after her slippery orgasm which he cherishes vastly more than his own ejaculation – he stops.
He takes his tongue away from her shivering cunt and lifts up on his arms, and begins a slow pilgrimage up the length of her body, kissing and lingering in her wet cunt hair, kissing her belly, moving up and laying his lips on each breast, a nip of stiff nipple, a kiss of the throat, a nuzzle at the ticklish spot behind her ear and finally pressing his tensed lips to her mouth, taking her lower lip between his and sucking on it as his hands run over her breast, and then caress the nape of her neck. His mouth is still glazed from her cunt and she tastes her essence from him.
He begins the return journey, kissing her face, kissing her ear and her neck, kissing each breast, then her belly then points his tongue and pushes in again. Her body unleashed, convulses instantly.
“no . . . no . . no . . . no!”
She fucks his tongue in and out. He has all the time in the world because the world has gone away. In and out. In and out.
She falls limp and still. She will not stir.
He plunges his tongue deep inside.
Her cunt tightens like a fist and she sits up suddenly — “No!” and her belly is shaking under his face. Her body is shaking and her tight scrunched face has turned bright red.
“. . . oh goddamn . . .goddamn. . . . goddamn you. . . ”
She drops down limply, and her chest is heaving. His tongue has slipped out but he is ready to take it up again if that is what she wants. He will do anything for her. She rolls onto her side, grinning and gasping.
He climbs up from between her thighs triumphantly and kneels beside her and seizes a hank of hair loosely in his fist. “My woman.”
He slips his arms under her shoulder and under her ass and easily lifts her from the floor in his arms. She snuggles against his chest. “Says who? You?”
He brings her to the bed and lays her down delicately and for a moment holds her wrists over her head, pinning her shoulders and he looms over her stretched out body, not touching, only looking. He looks down at her white-streaked hair fanned out over the bed, her face, her lips, the peaks of her audacious breasts, the color of her nipples, the valley between her breasts, the fine wrinkles of her belly. “All this is mine,” he says.
She pretends to struggle a little with her arms stretched above her head and crosses her legs. “No.” She is giggling. She’s gone silly. She kicks at him a little.
He lets go of her wrists and drags her by the hips close to him until her ass is positioned on the edge of the bed; stands with his feet on the floor beside, looming over her and his cock is starting to drip impatiently. He grasps an ankle in each hand and pulls her legs apart and holds her feet up high as though he might split her in half.
The knob of his cock touches her cunt lips and gives the gentlest of thrusts. He gives her just the tip. No more. He looks down because he loves to see the way it looks when its just touching inside her. He wishes she could see it too. She wiggles her hips trying to get all of it in but he holds back because he wants to keep these moments.
“I’m your woman.”
He slips inside her with a grunt of pleasure, the huge stiffened length of him, her receiving him in and in as her mouth falls open, until he feels the hair of their groins press. This first moment of slipping it into her is the most precious moment, feeling her holding him all around fatly and wetly. For a minute he stands quietly, feeling it snug inside the easeful depth, feeling welcome and whole and healed of all rage. This is the only moment and the only place in all the world where he feels most perfectly happy. He lifts her ankles up higher over her head, pressing her down and he begins his motion. He’s pistoning the great thick length of his cock in her now, and there’s no holding back, he’s going to let it all pour into her.
Moving the slickened length in and out, feeling himself move in her, enormously, plunging deep, pressing his weight on top of her, his lightning filled body rejoicing with the raw rapture of his male vigor. “My woman,” he says. “I love my woman.” He looks down and watches his glistening wet penis vanishing in and out.
On the other side of the room the door swings open and the snow blows in; it’s her cheerful son and daughter in law, holding the baby and a basket with a warm holiday dinner and the son carrying a shotgun. There are screams from the door. Though she is blind, she looks up from under his deep cock strokes swaying the big bed; he glances up from the horizontal bobble of her breasts with such a look of puzzled despair, peering out over her pleasure curled toes at the people in the door, just as the barrels of the shotgun explode.
* * * * *
The storm is thundering far away and a damp breeze is blowing, making everything cool and vibrant. He looks down at her mismatched breasts. She knows no self-consciousness or shame. The sylphy girl no more cares about her nakedness than a new baby. He runs an exploratory hand down his creation’s breasts, first one and then the other.
“They can’t take you from me,” he says, and kisses the delicate lightning burn between the swell of her breasts which makes her wince. “You’ll be my woman. Yes.”
Bending down, he kisses her lips exactly as he has been taught. Her mouth does something, trying to smile or maybe grimace, but it’s impossible yet to tell.
© 2012 C. Sanchez-Garcia. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.
Bio: At this time in a strange life and unexpected life, C. Sanchez-Garcia is living in Eastern Georgia where the size of his personal library is bursting the walls of his house. He is the author of two erotic story collections, and has been published in the Coming Together anthology series as well as the Mammoth Book of Erotica series and the Bryant Literary Review. He remains convinced that the best medicine for melancholy is a good love story, and all love stories are eventually ghost stories.