“The insatiable thirst for everything which lies beyond,
and which life reveals, is the most living proof of our
Dharma crossed her legs, pulling her skirts into her lap displaying her succulent caramel thighs and bejeweled ankles. She scooped up the bones and rattled them as I watched as they clicked across the wooden floor.
“Cath, the bones tell me this is about Steve.”
My eyes spoke, yes.
She studied the bones carefully.
“Think about your natural yearnings. They’re bugging you to flash on what mother always told you.”
I lay on my back, eyes closed. “She said I was stubborn and I should never get married.”
“No babe, she was hip to the free spirit in you. She meant you could never chill with just one man.”
I lifted my eyes to the ceiling. “Hmm, maybe that is what she said, but I thought mom was speaking as the victimized housewife of a narcissistic misogynist. I thought she wanted for me, what she never had.”
Dharma crawled across the floor and scooped up her Tarot deck from the hearth.
“That’s a real drag Cath, but Steve’s in your life for a reason. Let’s consult the cards. A chic should never be controlled, not after what you endured with the bastard.”
Dharma smiled showing her wide mouth, a brilliant stud in her nose, her round blue eyes sparkling.
“Our mother was a kind of shaman I think, and even though her life was a real drag she was always laid back with us. Remember when she let us spend time with grandma Minnie? She taught us funky card tricks, and she recited limericks we had no clue about. We had a blast with her, remember? Our cool grandma carried the bones! And our beautiful mother passed them down to me. You’ve got it too Cath, you are the lone daughter, you are the seeker of passion” she announced, flipping the princess of wands across the floor.
“Hmm, I believe the seekers of passion are the men who hound me.” I sighed, “Wonder if that’s why I always stray?”
“Don’t believe that jive! Fact is men can’t resist you, dear sister.”
I spread my arms across the floorboards like a snow angel letting the morning sunshine warm my face.
“It’s always weighed like a ton of bricks, mother’s words; a mystery I haven’t resolved. I felt she was a kind of guide for me, like you, to keep me safe from father.”
Dharma pointed her finger, “Don’t call the bastard father! He has no place in our lives. When he died all I felt was cleansed.”
I allowed tears to leak down and held my hands flat on my stomach recalling father’s nauseating defilements.
“Cath, I’m hip, but you’ve got to drop the guilt now. It would be cool if you could embrace your natural hotness.”
I laughed through my tears. Turning on my stomach, I rested my chin on folded arms.
“I’m probably exploring a deviant path. I mean…I may as well say it. Steve is as addicted to me as you know who, and for some reason, I can’t say no to his absurd requests.”
My hands clenched, “I keep making the mistake of falling for controlling men. Like Steve. He’s smothering me, Dharma.”
She rose and made us a cup of herbal tea and pulled two large pillows to the floor.
“Come, sit. Tell me like it is.”
She sat up cross-legged on her pillow, exposing her lavender panties, and waited. Jim hated the color lavender and forbid her to wear it. I cringed, slightly worried, but admiring her bravery. I had seen him burst into a tirade over Dharma’s favorite color. Our eyes met. She whispered, “No worries baby, tell me your story”.
My shoulders relaxed, “Okay, so Steve suggested we get away from the city to let my inhibitions run free! We drove down to Manhattan Beach for the weekend. To be blunt, he wants to have sex in public, or any place he feels the urge. It’s not like we don’t have sex, a lot, but he’s never satiated. Every morning we shower together. I like that, but he insists on sudsing me up between my legs. He gets on his knees and shaves my cunt with his razor. How’s that for a ritual? He’s gaga over a bare pussy, so why not? But I feel sort of trapped, I mean if I try to change our ritual even slightly.”
“Oh yeah, he begged me to stop wearing underwear, so I went commando for him. Then he was furious when he slid his hand up my thigh and found my panties. He peeled them down to my ankles and kicked them onto the floor under the table in a coffee shop. He fucked me with three fingers. Oh my god, I came while eating a BLT!”
“Dharma, if I tell you the worst part you’ll think me a bad person. It’s fucking awful!”
She set her cup down and raised her eyebrows. “No that’s cool, just say it.”
I pulled up my knees, hugging them.
“Well, Steve said some friends were having a party? But it wasn’t exactly what I expected, and I doubt he even knew those couples at all because I think Steve and I have some class, you know? Steve wears Italian silk shirts with creased slacks and European leather shoes. We looked like we were going to a dance. You know me, uber chic! The women were practically naked, trashy looking. The air was thick with smoke from pot and cigarettes, but mainly they were knocking back shots of tequila. I had no doubt that Steve knew what to expect when they passed an ashtray encouraging the men to throw their keys in. You understand the fist that picked up Steve’s keys won me for the evening?”
“Oh! I wanted to get out of there, but Steve begged me to try it. Why couldn’t I just say no?”
“Go on,” she encouraged.
“The guy was middle aged but built. He took my hand as if he were walking me onto a dance floor, strolled me down a dark crusty shag-carpeted hallway into a tiny bedroom. There was a single bed with clean white sheets and a pillow. A night table with a candle. He casually unbuttoned his plaid shirt and laid it on a chair.”
Dharma leaned forward on her elbow.
“His chest was all broad with just the right amount of black hair trailing down to his navel. Sexy, you know?”
“His arms were all muscle, and really gorgeous. His wife or girlfriend passed by the door with a young man and waved. I sat on the edge of the bed watching my guy casually remove his shoes, then his trousers, carefully laying them on top of his shirt. He was obviously excited; the bulge in his knit underwear hid nothing. Oh my, when he slid them down, his huge cock stood at attention. He gazed at me. I sat there like a statue staring at it!”
“I felt uncomfortable taking my clothes off in case I needed to get out of there fast, so decided to simply lay down on the mattress like the obedient daughter I am, shoes and all! He came around and stood over me, and he peeled my skirt up around my waist. He peeled down my panties and pulled them over my shoes. He just stayed there appraising my me, raising his eyes to meet mine, then back down again.”
“Dharma, the strangest thing is I felt this intense desire for his touch. I even allowed his large hands to spread my knees wide while he crawled up and buried his face in my bare cunt. He knew what to do with his tongue, found my clit and lapped at it. I couldn’t help myself, you know, release a flood of moisture? I think I moaned!”
“Then he crawled on top of me and drove his engorged penis between my legs. I admit he felt amazing. Worse, I yearned to be alone with him and show him my true fucked up self. But instead I faked an orgasm, and he finished quickly. But, oh God, when I looked up Steve was standing in the doorway!”
“And Dharma, on our drive home, his warm cum was dripping down my leg on the leather seat. Steve slipped his hand between my thighs and felt the slick wetness. He was practically growling and couldn’t wait to get me home to mix his semen with plaid shirt guy’s!”
“Oh, I hate myself for letting him talk me into that party because it’s all Steve can think about now. When we get into bed he relives it. It feels like a third person in bed with us every night. It’s like a nightmare. Funny thing is, he’s now jealous as hell. He refuses to believe I didn’t actually have an orgasm. Truth is, it will never be the same between us. He accuses me of being with other men. He’s always checking up on me. I think now I just want to be free to discover what I want, and stop being a slave to Steve. I do care for him truly, but this is going nowhere. Dharma, I know you and Jim are liberal sexually because of your commune days. I wonder if the problem is me?”
Dharma sighed, “I understand. We got deep into free love in the commune. Sharing Jim with other women crazed me, but I had this need to blend in because that was their bag. I wasn’t into other men. The drag was, living there, I felt obliged. Jim dug his sexual freedom, but that’s his hang up. I chose to get out. Jim couldn’t live without me and so here we are. Things change. They never stay static. I think sex is beautiful, and I think what a woman does is her own business. We have the power. You have to take control and make decisions; get some respect!”
Walking back to my room I agonized over the terror of the new freedom I was facing. Leaving Steve wouldn’t be easy. If only I could stay here in Colorado and magically abandon my life in Los Angeles.
A knock woke me.
Dharma poked her head in. “Cath, I’m taking you to a Past Life Regression in Boulder tonight.”
I sat up. “Ha! You’re kidding?”
“Don’t flip out Cathryn, You will discover something new and beautiful. We’re going. Be ready at six.”
There was a cool wind blowing at sunset. Dharma wore a purple wool fringed poncho over her Punjab India cotton skirts. She was a natural beauty, long golden hair, never any makeup with the exception of berry-stained lips. I pulled on my vintage fur coat and black beret. As a slave to my beauty career, I stepped out with black mascara, and red lips to match my hair.
“Where are you two going all gussied up like a pair of whores?” Jim commented.
“That’s not cool Jim,” Dharma warned.
In the car, Dharma confessed, “Jim’s not jealous, he’s covering up his own lies.”
“What are you going to do?”
She slid her eyes toward me. “Don’t know, ’cause I’m pregnant.”
We rode the rest of the way to Boulder in silence.
My shaman, Madame Odette, called herself a Mystic Channeller.
She sat me down, taking my cold hand, warming it with her plump fingers.
“May I answer any questions for you dear?”
I slipped off my coat and covered myself with it like a shield, “I don’t know what to ask. Why I’m here in the first place is a mystery. I’m not sure I believe in reincarnation. Do you have any questions for me?”
She seemed mildly irritated.
Dharma interrupted. “Just so you’re hip, Madame Odette, Cathryn was burned by her childhood relationship with our father. She feels overpowered by men, and needs to define her boundaries.”
Madame Odette looked at me with pity in her eyes. “You poor thing, you have an aversion to sex?”
I sat up, alert. “I do love sex! I am attracted to men and don’t know why I can’t go anywhere without being hit on. And I want to say yes to them all! I want them on my terms. I want to call the shots!”
Dharma’s round blue eyes grew wide. She showed me that big crescent grin of hers. My big sister was proud of me but remained silent.
I peered up sheepishly, “Madame Odette, I don’t think you can help me. I’m just a very messed up frightened little girl.”
Dharma stood. “No! Cath, trust me, the bones, the cards, I have a deep trust in them, understand? “
I tugged my coat back up to my chin. “Alright, I’ll do it, I’m sorry.”
I settled back as Madame Odette began to light candles.
The ambiance of the small shop changed dramatically. The scent of sweet oil, a mirror, and an incense burner calmed me. My sorceress spoke in low gentle tones as I slept in the comfort of my fur.
It was like waking from surgery. I blinked, “How long was I under?”
Dharma comforted, “Welcome back”.
Madame Odette’s velvet voice began to explain my prognosis. “Cathryn, it is quite obvious that you are the reincarnation of Apollonia Sabatier.”
“Darling, it seems you are a French courtesan. You were living in the age between 1822 and 1890.”
“Excuse me, what is a courtesan?”
“My dear, an Artist’s muse in 1850’s Paris was as good or better than being a mistress to King Louis the sixteenth!”
“So, she was a hooker?”
Odette seemed unruffled, but her blue velvet hat betrayed her and tilted forward suddenly. A huge diamond broach slipped between her deep black eyes. She wore a long black gown with strings of pearls weighing down, defining her plump bosom. When Madame Odette lifted herself from the small tufted stool I wondered how it held up under her weight.
She straightened her hat, retrieved a book, and turned to a page, reading from a passage in the candlelight; “Victor Hugo, Edouard Manet, Gustave Courbet to name a few creatives of the day she hosted in her salon on Rue Frochot, Paris. You might be amused to hear she too was an artist. You were an Artist’s muse and bohémienne in 1850s Paris. You had power and money. You were a historically great woman!”
“I don’t understand. Why would she come back, as me?”
“You were reborn through desire, Cathryn. She desired to be reborn because she wanted to enjoy a body once more. It is written in the Upanishads. Every action is a force that determines one’s next incarnation, to satisfy one’s desires. When a woman like Apollonia indulges in carnal pleasures she develops a stronger yearning to enjoy more of it. An unending craving caused you to assume a new physical body. Your life, this life, represents the sum total of your soul’s unfulfilled needs!”
On our drive back to Denver I laughed the event off as transference because I had been wearing my French beret. And couldn’t my vintage fur have seemed somehow regal?
I mused, “Wonder if Apollonia was a redhead? What do you think, Dharma?”
She took a right turn off the highway.
“It’s early. We’ll stop at Serendipity books and dig up some history on you. I mean Apollonia.”
“Okay with me.”
Dharma walked up to a tall man with dark unkept hair, a goatee, and wire-rimmed eyeglasses.
“Cath, this is Peter Howland, he’s the antiquarian here.”
She took his arm, smiled into his eyes. “He knows everything there is to know about books.”
Peter grinned, held Dharma closely and asked what we had in mind. He knew exactly where to look and soon brought a stack of books. One was Charles Baudelaire’s Fleurs du Mal.
I began leafing through them, and looked up, “I wish we could take them home, like a library?”
“You can. It’s alright isn’t it Peter?”
He gave her another warm squeeze, kissed both her cheeks as if they had known each other forever.
We were soon back in Dharma’s kitchen spreading the books out on the massive wooden table. Fleurs du mal begged to be read. I was stunned to find that Charles Baudelaire had been so mesmerized by Apollonia’s beauty he fell deeply in love with her. I held the poetry in my hands and found it difficult to believe these erotic and powerful poems were censored by Napoleon the third.
I passed it to Dharma.
“The Flowers of Evil? So, old Napoleon found them a scourge on a dictatorship? That blows. Reminds me of the bastard. Oh, look, Some of the poems were dedicated to Sabatier. It says here that Apollonia was his muse.”
“Yes sister, and the more I read about my past life the more I like her. Look at this photo. A sculpture of Apollonia made in 1847 is now in the Musee d’ Orsay, Paris! A rich lover commissioned the nude sculpture because he was in love with her ass!”
That seemed oddly familiar.
“Yikes! I know this sounds dramatic, but I have men commenting on my butt all the time. Of course, it’s just a coincidence. That sculpture must have scandalized Paris. A naked woman in the throes of orgasm? She became famous for her voluptuous bottom?”
I read aloud, ‘Her hair, fine as silk, and Auburn’ sent reflexes through my soul. “My god, she was a redhead after all. Fuck!”
Dharma sat down, opening a page. “Cath, she was a feminist! She believed women should dare to imitate men, to go out alone, to treat men as equals. Ha! That’s a switch. I dig it. She considered sexual pleasure normal for women. She hosted the literary society, attended mostly by men, and enjoyed absolute freedom in their closed non-judgmental group.”
It appeared that I was one of the most remarkable women of my time. After all, I was known in the most exciting art institutions in 19th century France.
“I was also the inspiration for Les Fleurs du mal,” I announced breathily.
Jim entered the kitchen. “Time for bed ladies.”
Dharma had missed their nightly ritual, but she answered with convincing authority, “Jim, don’t give me that jive, I’ll meet you by the fire after I change. Join us, Cath?”
“No thanks, I think I’ll take my poems to bed with me.”
My bedroom was a screened-in porch with a twin mattress on a metal frame. Sleeping outdoors with the moon, a breeze and the sounds of the night was refreshing. It swept me clean of Los Angeles.
I fell asleep reading a love poem by Baudelaire and dreamt of the freedom and romance of a powerful man entering my life, and awakened to the banging of a hammer on metal. Thought it must be Jim out in the barn. I pulled on my jeans and strolled down the sloping dirt road.
The hammer was deafening. I could just make out sunlight leaking through cracks in the old wooden planks, and a sagging concave roof. I saw the silhouette of a man bent over a golden glow, his arm swinging above his head with violent bursts of energy. This man was much taller, and larger in girth than Jim. My eyes grew used to the dark. Finally, I could see his long blonde hair and a full beard. His broad shoulders and back glistened with sweat. He could have come from a different era!
Jim startled me, “Hey Cat.”
“Hi, Jim, who is that?”
“Oh that’s just Noah, he’s helping me bend some metal. Dharma’s up, she made that coffee you like.”
Jim was offended by coffee.
I stalled watching a spark bounce off Noah’s jeans and lite on his cowboy boots. I turned and walked back to the house.
Dharma was teaching me how to grow alfalfa sprouts in a jar when the men entered the kitchen. She glanced at the men’s boots.
Jim looked down. “There’s no dirt on ‘em”
“I love the sound of them,” I added.
“Fine,” said Dharma
“It’s like being in an old western,” I interjected.
“Just clean up after yourself if you track anything in here,” Dharma warned the men.
Noah had thrown a shirt on but hadn’t buttoned it.
My eyes darted to Dharma
“Noah, this is my sister Cath”.
He nodded at me; pulled out a chair, then reached for the honey jar.
I was paralyzed.
Jim leaned against the kitchen counter, stirring tea, watching us. “C’mon Noah, bring your coffee out to the barn, we’ve got work to do.”
Noah’s chair screeched as he stood. He caught my eye, gave a little nod, and walked out the back door. I watched how his body moved as he ambled back down to the barn.
“Noah doesn’t talk much,” said Dharma.
“Oh, really?” I laughed.
“He’s very shy of women. I don’t know why, but he doesn’t have a girlfriend that I know of.”
She was thinking out loud as she dried the dishes. “Maybe he’d be better one-on-one. He talks to me when Jim isn’t in the room.”
Jim could be intimidating, but I was on to the underhanded snake. He eyed me constantly; tried to intercept me last night on the way to my porch. On my first night, I was showering. He walked purposely into the bathroom, peed, but didn’t leave. He stood there staring at the fogged shower door.
“Get out you perv!”
Instead, he opened the shower door, his eyes getting a good look.
“You ass!” I pushed through him, grabbing a towel. He strolled out laughing to himself. I tread cautiously, to avoid Jim, and decide whether to tell Dharma.
All morning I heard the clang clang clang of that anvil. I pictured Noah’s huge hands, his high cheekbones, and grey-blue eyes.
Dharma and I went to the health food store that afternoon to pick up supplies for dinner. The store had wood floors and counters similar to the home goods stores of the old west. I inhaled the coolness of the interior, the scent of the raw wood, and low lighting. I hoped I never saw the inside of a grocery store again. Civilization was far from my mind now.
Noah sat down with us to supper. Again, he hardly said a word; didn’t speak directly to me at all. He made some comments about the good food, then he and Jim were discussing the progress of their project in the barn.
Helping Dharma with the dishes, I told her about the lusty poems I’d read last night and my strange lucid dream. I somehow felt Noah was a part of it but didn’t mention that to her. It was absurd to think I could dream of a man I hadn’t yet met.
We joined the men in front of the stone fireplace.
Jim and Dharma turned on with psychedelic mushrooms, LSD, and pot. Hanging with them was a trip in itself. I thought I had experienced the drug scene in L.A. but was afraid to try Acid. I didn’t judge what they did. Just a healthy fear I guess. The four of us passed a doobie. I wondered if Noah was staying the night. I didn’t know how to ask. My mind was a fog of urgency. I kept imagining Noah’s scent. His animal quality. I tried to make eye contact but failed.
Noah picked up Jim’s guitar and began to strum a little, just peeking up making eye contact with me slightly. I couldn’t handle the tension, and so I gave up and retired to my porch. I felt desolate when I lay down on my cot.
I don’t know how long I slept before Noah came to me. He was a vision standing there silhouetted by the light of stars shining through the screen that surrounded us; the creaking of crickets like a serenade. It was all poetry. I lay there unblinking watching him remove his clothing.
He pulled back my sheet and slid into the cot. I waited, holding my breath. He was this magnificent landscape lying on his side facing me. He wrapped his heavy arm around, and over me and kissed my cheek tenderly. I inhaled the masculine succulence of his breath and dared myself to sit up and peel off my cotton Tee, then I threw it over him onto the floor. His warm fingers peeled down my panties. I was desperate, needing to feel his warm flesh against mine. When I slid my breasts against his chest he sighed innocently, almost fragile, almost like a relief. Our rawness together, the simple radiance of him touched me because a man such as Noah shouldn’t be so gentle; so hesitant.
My impatient body arched toward him. I raked his back with my nails causing him to rise up like Poseidon. He straddled my body, up on his knees, his engorged uncircumcised penis in his hand, stroking it in front of my face. He held it there for me to lick and kiss while he slipped his huge fingers into my vagina, then exploded in my mouth. His cum tasted sweet. I licked it off his tip and swallowed. He kissed my mouth, licked my lips, then slid his body down. He was still hard. I felt he would tear me apart thrusting and bucking like he hadn’t had a woman in a long while.
In the morning he was gone. I sat up to the sound of the clang of a hammer and smiled.
I looked for Dharma. I needed to know, who is this man? Where did he come from? But I trusted my insane notion that he would always be there in that barn at dawn.
Dharma’s wisdom: “Isn’t it interesting how we always want to possess our lovers?”
“Yes, Dharma; I mean No! I just feel I’ve finally met my match. It makes no sense, but there it is.”
“What happened to embodying Apollonia? Are you so in lust that you will allow Noah freedom to control you?”
“I doubt this is about control, Dharma. It’s so much more. It’s other-worldly.”
“Listen!” I insisted. I had an epiphany; I found who I am deep down. I accept my fate, and I’m going to allow myself to not only be completely open to Noah but to stand my ground–like you do with Jim,” I smiled.
She looked at me skeptically.
” Well, I sighed, at least I’m going to explore this more and give it a chance. It’s strange. I’ve forgotten all about Steve. I’m new, clean, and ready to entertain the courtesan in me.”
We both had a laugh over that comment.
“Oh Dharma, do you know anything at all about Noah? Where he’s from? Who his friends are?
Dharma answered, “I only know that he shows up when Jim needs a hulking worker who finishes the job. Other than that, you’ll have to ask Jim.”
“Speaking of Jim, Dharma, have you told him you’re pregnant?”
“Sit down Cath. It is more complicated than that.”
She explained, “Jim hasn’t been faithful to me since we left the commune. In fact, one of the younger girls is pregnant with his child. I caved when he asked if they could hang here since this is his gig. He says he loves her.”
“What about yours and Jim’s baby?”
“I’m to leaving the farm. Peter has a small house downtown near the bookstore. He wants me to move in. And no, we are not lovers. He is a good man. And he means to protect me and the child.”
“How soon will this happen?”
“I’m thinking Jim will bring her here when he finishes the project in the barn. I guess Noah will be gone too.”
I felt broken, and began sobbing violently, “So there is no future here for me?” Dharma was crying too, and we fell into each other’s arms.
I resolved that I would hold on to Noah as long as I could. I would need to return home to deal with Steve and my apartment. I dreamed of creating a new life for myself in Denver, but how? It all seemed dreadful, although, after hearing Dharma’s story, I felt a jolt of inspired confidence and fearlessness.
Dharma said, “You are stronger now. You will remain single and take lovers who thrill you like Noah does.”
“Or I will die of a broken heart,” I said morosely.
She held me. Wiped my tears. “Read your poetry, make something out of all this. You are a changed woman.”
His feet were magnificent, his legs like tree trunks. Noah was tolerant of my inspections of his divine body. I praised him like a sleek racehorse I’d come upon.
His back was beautiful, the way his shoulders tapered to his slender waist.
The night he allowed me to braid his hair and red beard he became the vision of a pirate in my eyes. I whispered, “Please don’t make me walk the plank.”
He slapped my ass hard.
“I could be a very bad girl for you.”
He liked to spank me after that. He adored my bottom, biting and licking my flesh!
Other nights he took over and I let him have his way with me. I didn’t realize I had so much to learn. He was masterful. I felt I had been raped by the Gods every time he touched me. He commanded me to kneel on the floor and entered me from behind. He was able to lift my body while massaging my cunt with his finger. I had explosive orgasms!
I begged Dharma to take me back to Madame Odette for a reading.
“There’s something immortal and godlike about him!”
She laughed and I was frustrated because I couldn’t explain it.
But Madame Odette could.
“Cathryn, you described Thor perfectly. “
“Yes my dear, the wielding of the hammer gave him away. The Anglo-Saxon protects you with the strength of an oak tree, using a crushing hammer. In mythology, he’s considered the God of fertility and protection. He is red-bearded as you described, and also it is important to note that he is one of the classic stories that arose during the Victorian period when Apollonia was living.”
Thus, she concluded, my revenant Noah had traveled the netherworld to wield his hammer in Jim’s barn so that I might find him? Just as I had embodied Apollonia, and become more confident, Noah had come forth in a hallowing sanctity to show me the way?
He came to my bed every night for ten days.
Each night was a new experience.
Sometimes he just let me explore him. He was like this huge island I wanted to own and devour at the same time.
I got my period on about the seventh day. He whispered, “I love the scent of your blood.”
“I don’t mind if we make love as usual,” I offered.
He raged up and tore off my panties, spread my knees and put his head between legs. He took hold of the string by his teeth and tore the tampon out of me. He was a feral wolf full of hunger. He then thrust himself into me, a frenzied animal, with my blood dripping down his chest.
Noah was always gone before daybreak. I didn’t see him the day I drove back to California. He didn’t like goodbyes, and I am the same, so understand. He didn’t like to say much of anything. But his passion was understood, and what he didn’t say spoke volumes.
Please look forward to part II of “The Courtesan” coming in fall of 2017.