Chapter Twenty-Seven

She kept telling herself she was OK. She could do this. Everything was OK. Breathe.

She had thought about it (a lot) and had conducted little silent arguments with herself, as well as with the man who used to be her husband. You want to run off and do whatever you want, like no one else matters except you and your selfish dick? Then fine! I can do the same thing.

When feeling deeply wronged and morally superior, she told herself in fact she wouldn’t do the same thing as him. She was better than that – and he ought to have been, too, if he wasn’t such a baby, all caught up with his pathetic “I can never impress the Old Man” problems.

Ultimately, after a protracted series of lengthy lunches and even lengthier phone conferences with her girlfriends, psychotherapists (she had two, one who could prescribe and Dr. Wanger, who couldn’t), and several Fully Actualized Women to whom she had been referred by the casting director Ruthie Linder, she had decided that her previous life was over. A new one was beginning. Had to be, otherwise she might as well just kill herself.

So she would go through with it. She would find herself, the real her, let go of all the guilt, feel better.

She knew someone else who had done it, another lady her age whose husband had suffered a marriage-ending “crisis” – couldn’t deal with life is more like it, was what her friend had said. The friend had sold the house in Phoenix, moved West, did the complete program, made the changes, and was happier than ever. Satisfied in all areas. Glowing. You could see it on her face.

She decided she would do it, too. And everything would be OK.

Because perhaps her husband, warped and demented about nearly everything, had been correct about one essential idea: We all should get what we want in this life, or at least die trying. We’re here and then we’re gone, and in the interim we should all get what we want. Pretty simple. But because of conditioning, of what she came to understand was stupid ego stuff, being authentic, discovering your individually gilded path to the next world (or the end, or whatever), wasn’t as blithe and uncomplicated as she had calculated.

Applying herself as she hadn’t since high school, she read all the literature and did the exercises, and she concluded that, yes, this act of nonviolent revolt would liberate her. She’d be free of him.

A clean break.

            Now, with the lights shining and the strangers standing around holding equipment, Sheila Harvey was questioning if this was indeed what she truly wanted.

She kept telling herself she was OK, that she could do this. You can do this. You can. But now that everything was happening, really happening, not just a subject for talking and fantasizing and pronouncing, Sheila wasn’t sure about anything.

She found herself holding her breath, which only increased her sense of anxiety. Breathe. Deep breath.  You can do this.

When the man (the guy? the boy?) unhooked her bra she thought her heart might stop – and maybe that wouldn’t be the worst thing. Just expire. Disappear.

She wanted to cry out, “Stop! Wait. I’m not sure I want to do this. Let’s stop before this goes any further.” But nothing came out except trembling whimpers, which the man – he was 26, not a boy except to women of a certain age – interpreted as a seductive moan, a precursor to pleasure.

If he could have seen her face, as the others could, he would have noticed nervous tears welling in the corners of Sheila’s hazel eyes. But he was behind her, his nose and mouth nuzzling her neck and trapezius, his tongue making light licking contact with her bronzed, sun-baked skin, recently exfoliated and buffed.

He opened her bra hook expertly, with practiced fingers.

She froze. He could tell she was tense. Rigid. No worries. He would fix that. It’s all good, baby girl.

The unclasped straps hung loosely on her back, which seemed to him exceptionally smooth and unblemished for a ho her age. He slid his fingers, all of them, beneath the padded satin cups, where the roundness and pleasant weight began, the soft underside that would fit so nicely into his palms as he pulled her toward him, letting her feel for the first time the bulge beneath his belt.

He was black. Half-black, half-American Indian, actually, but dark, the color of melted coffee ice cream. Full lips, slightly spongy hair worn short, almost shaved. A rough (homemade?) tattoo on the inside of his left arm, Angel4Ever. To Sheila he was black.

She had first seen him when she walked in the room and began the live interview portion. He had been standing off-camera, leaning against a wall, listening, unashamedly rubbing himself through his pants. It had never occurred to her that he would be her guide.

He’s black. Oh my god. She knew what that could mean.

But she decided to go through with it anyway. Because – well, because she had already lost everything. All that was left to lose was her inhibitions.

As he slid the bra off Sheila’s shoulders, exposing her surgically sculpted breasts to the camera, a woman who looked amazingly like Allie Newman crawled into the frame, wearing a silver negligee and nothing else.

She settled onto the couch, beside Sheila, whose face was frozen in a catatonic mask. Allie draped one arm across Sheila’s shoulders, alternately stroking her hair and caressing the man’s face. Her other hand she placed on Sheila’s right breast, on top of and between the man’s fingers, searching and finding a rapidly hardening nipple.

Jefferson thought this was hot. Damn. Ladies ain’t fine or anything, but they got it going on. He admired how his accomplice pinched and massaged the rising pink-brown nub. These older bitches knew stuff, advanced shit. That’s why these videos were so damn educational! Jefferson allowed himself an unguarded smile. It really was all good.

“Do you know what he’s going to do to you?” Allie whispered to Sheila, just loud enough for the boom mike operator to capture it on digital tape.

Sheila thought “yes” and then “no,” and settled on “maybe,” although when she rehearsed that response in her head it sounded so blah, so the old Sheila. Instead, she swallowed the saliva that had been collecting in her mouth, inhaled deeply – you can do this, just breathe – and let it come blurting out.

Sheila Harvey said, “He’s going to use me like a whore with that big black cock of his.”


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