Martin had one of those spring-button doorbells that almost dislocates your finger when it pops back out, making that “Ding-dong, Avon” sound. He craned his head over to the peephole while keeping his body to the right side of the doorframe in case the Avon person happened to be carrying a shotgun and wanted to punch a window through the door and his newly trimmed belly. He was being extra careful because he was trained that way, not because he was expecting any trouble. Better safe than sorry.
In the peephole’s fish-eye distortion he saw the spiky hair of the girl who recently moved in upstairs. He had seen her on a few occasions, but he doubted she had seen him. Curious but ever cautious, he opened the door an inch and peeked outside. She was young, early twenties he guessed, probably five foot, two inches. Her hair was also short and jet black. She had big dark eyes, long lashes and a thin gold ring in her nose.
Martin waited, saying nothing. He hated nose-rings and wanted to hand her a Kleenex. She said nothing either, looking at Martin’s eye in the door crack. The silence didn’t bother Martin in the least. He spent ninety-eight percent of his time waiting and watching. He had the patience of Job. Besides, this was her errand. Whatever she wanted, she would either get around to telling him or she wouldn’t.
“You the super?” Rose asked finally. “No,” Martin replied.
“My sink’s broke,” she grumbled.
Martin said nothing, since he had no idea how to be concerned about her problem.
“You know where he lives?” she asked after three more uncomfortable seconds. She began fidgeting from staring so long at the unblinking eye.
“Yes,” Martin said.
Rose paused a second, wondering if this guy was just stoned or an idiot or mean or what. “Well, do you think you could tell me?” she asked finally, tapping her foot.
Martin hated foot-tapping even more than nose-rings and paused even longer while debating whether to tell her. “Next door,” he said at last, as Rose was heading back up the stairs.
“Thanks a lot,” she said, her voice dripping with the sarcasm distinctive of New York City apartment dwellers.
“You’re welcome,” Martin said, ignoring her sarcasm and incapable of it himself.
He closed the door and looked through the peephole, catching a glimpse of her hair moving toward the apartment next door. Glad to have concluded the exchange, he was happier still to return to his hand washables, pulling out a bottle of Forever New from under the sink where there were six more keeping it company. Then he heard the ding-dong again.
His reaction to the doorbell both startled and confused him. He ex- pected to feel annoyed at being interrupted yet again f rom one of life’s greatest pleasures, but instead he felt a flutter of excitement. Why? He walked to the door and opened it a bit wider this time, shocked at himself for not looking through the peephole first. But it was just the girl, as he expected, still unarmed and grumbling more than ever. “He’s not there,” she said.
Martin said nothing. The super was in the hospital, where he would remain for the foreseeable future, having slipped in the bathtub after knocking back a fifth of vodka.
Rose stood in the hallway, still expecting some kind of response. Then her eyes widened as she took in the part of Martin’s body he had exposed through the six-inch gap. His bare chest was rippling with sinewy muscle and covered with a glaze of short hairs that ran from his chest in a ribbon to his navel and below, disappearing in the loose gray cotton of his gym shorts. Her eyes followed all the way down and she felt an involuntary spasm in her crotch when she saw the big lump in his.
Martin remained silent, watching as her eyes bounced back to his face like a diver on a springboard, hoping she hadn’t been caught. Just as quickly, they drifted back down again.
“Know where he is?” Rose blurted out, struggling to maintain eye contact.
“No,” he lied, feeling the lump grow bigger f rom the unaccustomed attention.
“Know how to fix a sink?” she asked with more tension than she in- tended, partly because of his unwillingness to speak unless spoken to, yet mostly due to a sudden re-emergence of one of her favorite sexual fantasies involving household repairmen.
Something clicked inside Martin’s head when she asked that last question. He wasn’t sure if it was the question or the way her voice was quivering, but he responded immediately and with some real enthusiasm this time. “Yes,” he said. “I do.”
THE GOOD STUFF
“My name is Rose,” she said to the air in front of her as they climbed the stairs.
Martin said nothing, his senses too occupied with analyzing the changing surroundings to respond even if he had the inclination. When she turned around suddenly to face him, he almost went for the quick kill punch to the Adam’s apple he automatically used whenever threatened in close quarters. But he pulled back before she even noticed.
“And what ’s your name?” she asked in the tone you use for a shy three-year-old.
He felt angry at her patronizing tone. He wasn’t an idiot for Chrissakes. Yet he was shocked to see his anger melt away under her smiling gaze. “I’m Martin,” he replied.
“Hi, Martin,” said Rose, shaking his hand and smiling again. Then she turned with a toss of her short black hair and started up the stairs again.
Martin actually looked at his hand before following her.
As soon as Rose opened her door, Martin’s eyes bugged out in won- der. Had he entered some science-fiction teleporter? A time machine? A Moroccan opium den? She couldn’t have been living here more than a few months, yet every square inch of the walls was covered in exotic draperies, the intricate patterns almost causing him to hallucinate. His eyes scanned across them and down to the floor, which was layered with what looked like big, white, hairy yak-fur rugs on top of Persian carpets. Resting on the rugs and carpets were giant silk-embroidered pillows, so many he wanted to count them, but his eyes lingered on the low table they surrounded. The table was made of black teak and held over a dozen fat beige candles, all lit and dripping into the red dragon inlays carved into the surface.
Fire hazard, he thought, ever the pragmatist. How she could even think of leaving her apartment with so many candles burning? She could burn the whole building down! He would escape, of course, his acute sense of smell alerting him far in advance, but that didn’t mean he shouldn’t snuff them out right now for the risk they represented.
“The sink’s over here,” Rose said brightly, extinguishing his thoughts instead.
She was pointing at a door and he was shocked again to realize that he couldn’t match the floor layout with his own apartment. It must be the same or at least a mirror image. That was one of the things he liked most about apartment living, the predictability of the environment. But every- thing seemed so different.
“Over here,” she coaxed in a warm, relaxed voice. When he didn’t immediately respond, she took his hand and led him. He looked at her small hand in his and watched in disbelief as his feet started moving, skirt- ing the pillows to follow her. On his way, he paused in front of a thick (couch? mattress? futon?) covered with the silkiest blankets he’d ever seen. Everything seemed so soft, including the translucent curtains draped from a central gathering on the ceiling. They surrounded the bed on all sides like a wispy cocoon.
Rose tugged on his hand again, pulling Martin away from the wonderful cocoon.
On their way, they passed in front of her altar. Martin stopped again, mesmerized by the candlelight illuminating all the gems and minerals. He stroked the large red gem much as Rose had done, not for luck, but for the sheer pleasure of the tactile sensation. It was so beautiful. The candles made it look like it was glowing from within, like it was alive and might respond to his touch with an even greater display of brilliance.
“Nice,” he said appreciatively, crouching down to gaze at it even more intently.
“It’s a bloodstone,” Rose bragged, elated that he was enjoying it as much as she did.
“Rhodochrosite,” Martin corrected her. “Probably f rom the Sweet Home mine in Alma, Colorado. It’s a fine specimen,” he added, standing up again, “best I’ve ever seen.”
“Thanks.” She beamed, his admiration erasing her frown from his pre- vious comment.
They silently stared at each other for a moment that stretched out far too long until she couldn’t take it anymore and pulled on his hand again. Yes, Martin thought, feeling the same discomfort and needing to get back on firmer ground. The sink.
When they passed through the door, Martin landed with a whump! back on the planet. It was like he was in his own apartment again—sink over here, cabinets there, just a normal kitchen—no candles, no rugs, no softness, no nothing! He wanted to run back into that other world…the world on that side of the door! But he stood there dumbly, his mouth open, his head swiveling back and forth between the two rooms.
“I’m not finished,” she said, not sure why she was acting so apologetic. “I blew all my money fixing up the other room.”
Money? All you need is money? Martin thought, not sure why he felt so angry and disappointed. Then he looked at her pretty face and turned his attention back to the sink, grateful for something to do. “It’s not bro- ken, it’s clogged,” he said with characteristic bluntness. “Don’t you have a plunger?”
“I tried.” Rose said with a shrug, holding up the still-dripping implement. Then she added with a wince, “Macaroni and cheese.”
Cute, Martin thought, an unfamiliar warmth invading his chest.
He grabbed the plunger and pounded the drain like a pneumatic drill. The clog was obliterated in eighteen seconds and his anger had almost vanished too, when a fresh new horror caught his eyes.
“Woolite? You use this shit?”
Rose didn’t understand the appalled expression on Martin’s face, wasn’t even quite sure she heard him right. Did he really just make a disparaging remark about her fabric softener? She didn’t have time to ask. He was already out the door, grunting, “I’ll be back,” like you-know-who.
Martin flew down the stairs, unlatched the seven pick-proof locks and the cold-rolled-steel dead bolt and threw the door open so hard the frame almost splintered. He grabbed a jug from his special stock and bounded back up the stairs. Rose was waiting right where he left her. There was something about seeing her lean against that sink that made his cock inflate like a meat balloon. The hard-on was a real surprise for him. Even so, he didn’t pay any attention to it, as usual.
She did. Martin had a really big one. Figures. Why should someone who couldn’t care less if he used it or not get a really big one? The head of his cock pushed its way out the leg of his gym shorts and was still growing down his thigh. Rose knew her mouth had to be open as she watched its progress, but she couldn’t do anything about it. When she looked back at his face, she was even more shocked to see he was completely oblivious to what was happening. Instead, he turned to the sink and thumped down the big plastic jug.
“Here, use this,” he said proudly, handing her the bottle. “This is the good stuff.”
Rose couldn’t decide which was a bigger turn-on…the man standing there with his big huge cock hanging out his shorts like a fat log, or the fact that he was so blissfully unaffected by it. She reached down, grabbed the big fucker in both hands, looked him straight in the eye and said, “No. This is the good stuff.”
INTO THE SOFTNESS
She dropped to her knees right there and took him in her mouth. It was a tight fit.
“Wow,” he said. She looked up at him and would have smiled if her lips weren’t stretched so thin.
Martin didn’t have many experiences to compare this to, but he guessed that she was very good at this. She was. She had amazing technique and knew all kinds of special tricks, but she didn’t need any of that now. She was in a higher state of need and she sucked him hard and loud and sloppy. Martin groaned from the intensity of it…of her.
Her tongue was pierced with a stainless-steel barbell that she was rubbing on the soft-hard tube of his urethra. He got scared because he knew she must have something in her mouth doing this to him, but he couldn’t imagine what it was or how she got it in there without him seeing it. But he didn’t stay scared. He got harder and he knew he had to do something, something more…but not in here. He needed to do it in there…in that room.
In the softness.
Martin picked her up and carried her in. She thought she might pass out from the excitement. He slammed the door behind them and Rose’s heart slammed in her chest.
He paused once they were inside and let the dark lost world wash over them, waiting until the candles and smells and the absolute quiet erased any memory of anything that had ever happened before. Then he gently set her down on the bed and stepped back to watch her sink into the billowy fabric.
Rose looked at him standing there, so still, his hands slightly out to his sides like he was trying to keep his balance. She was afraid for a moment that he might be too tender, but when she saw the heat in his eyes, she relaxed and smiled at him. He looked like he was going to smile back, but his features evened out, smooth and unknowable. She looked down and saw his cock was harder than ever, his gym shorts in a pile around his feet. She unbuttoned the black fabric buttons on the front of her tiny dress and pulled it apart so she could show him her small breasts and the other rings he hadn’t seen yet.
Martin came to her like a big cat, low and lumbering, rolling his shoulders as he crawled on top of her. He moaned as he straddled her naked chest, the softness caressing him, coming from everywhere at once. He paused for a moment on top of her, staring at the rings in her nipples and the long golden chain winding between them like a lazy river. At the end of the chain, a small shiny key drew his attention even more than the nipple rings. He felt his heart tighten with dread, but when he looked closer he saw it wasn’t the same. Still, it looked so familiar. Hadn’t he seen it somewhere before? He tried to remember, but his eyes kept moving, scanning her creamy skin and the crescent moon tattoo and finally resting on her face again. Her smiling face.
When she smiled he felt something move inside his chest. It was more intense than the warmth he felt before, like congestion…but rumbly…louder. As he leaned over to kiss her smiling lips, he noticed a little drop of water had fallen on her chest. On the key. He looked to the ceiling to see if there was some kind of leak, but the angle wasn’t right. The rumble in his chest grew louder when he realized the drop had fallen from his eye.