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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Kola, Me & Pristina
by Madya Nandi
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It's true. Heroin, even. I wouldn't lie about addiction. I began smoking the stuff and with a little help from my friends, started shooting up. Part and parcel to my endless pursuit of surrender. Fed my ecstasy habit. Astonishing, endearing, nondual awareness. Yoga & meditation are great for altered states, but nothing beats dope for ease and immediacy. The door to euphoric wonderlands is just a prick away. Then an event occurred that provoked a change in direction.
     I like to blame it on Kola. Just for fun, 'cause of course, I'm ultimately accountable. Karma's karma. I don't have a problem with that.
     Kola has the heart I left in San Francisco. If she hasn't already bartered, sold, flushed or shot it up. She rented a studio in the Tenderloin. Mostly, Kola prowled the streets whoring and feeding her intravenous habit. Heroin.
     I'd been working in the doctor's office where we both received our injections. Introduced myself. Asked if she'd help me with some contacts. We made a date for dinner at a Thai restaurant.
     We'd arranged to meet outside my work place. I was ushering for American Conservatory Theatre-- A Christmas Carol. I was living full-time then and still getting lots of electrolysis. Wore heavy makeup and made myself invisible when I visited the lady's room. Took coworkers a while to catch on. But they did.
     My shift was over. Parents and children swarmed through the exits. I followed them out. Kola was easily visible. Including her hyper-teased pink wig, her thigh-high stilletoed boots and her five-feet-nine inches, she was easily six-foot-six. Dads twisted their necks to leer at her. Her dress was a pucker-knit, really tight and short. Kola had a terrific, if slim, figure. Big breasts, smaller waist than hips, nice butt. Once upon a time her name had been David. Like mine.
     At that moment I learned all I needed to know about Kola: I was in love with her.
     We started dating. In between work dates.' And we worked together a lot. Kind of a mutt and jeff bill. Me, five-three and one oh five, she, five-nine, but six-five in boots and heels.
     We made an enviable one-two punch on the streets. Lots of doubles -- you know, a guy with me and her. Once we did an orgy. That was cool. Performed for them. Kola couldn't get an erection. You got to be kind of a ham for these performances. Or an exhibitionist, I suppose. Also, her penis was pretty atrophied. She'd been taking hormones on and off since she was twelve. I worked hard to get her up when we made love.
     Had no trouble with my organ, of course. Had been on hormones then for less than two years. Hadn't had my breast job.
     Kola drove a taxi to get her tits. Cost her almost six grand. A surgeon in Lake Tahoe. Wish I'd gone to him. Always been a bit disappointed with mine. Like to get them replaced with somewhat larger silicone implants. Much softer.
     Kola saw her girlfriend Pristina's tits after she'd gone to Tahoe and went to Tahoe herself and told the doctor, you know my friend Pristina? That you gave a tit job last winter? Make mine EXACTLY like hers.
     I'll tell you a story about Pris and Kola.
     This was back before the Motherlode existed. Like, late eighties, I guess. Kola was prostituting and living on the spoon. She got her disability check every month. That paid rent and bills and bought groceries. What she made on the street went into hers and Pristina's veins. Not that Pristina didn't help. She programmed computers and worked the streets on the side. Still does, probably. Both. She was quite a hacker, too. Could get in practically anywhere.
     They did speedballs to keep them going all night. After hooking, they'd jam in Pristina's apartment, Kola playing bass and Pristina, lead guitar. They made beautiful Heavy Metal together. In the morning, Pristina'd go to her computer job.
     These two women were very much in love. Or, really codependent.
     Pristina got busted one night for hooking. They put her in with the men. And they'd found heroin on her. She'd been arrested before and it looked like she maybe'd been sent to county lock-up for awhile. She didn't know when or even if for sure she'd be sent. Meanwhile, Kola was fit to be tied. She had/has a major depression problem. Doesn't deal at all well with stress. Except the street kind. She was a banshee in a fight. But that comes later.
     Kola's panicked that she's not going to see Pristina ever ever again. She's gone without sleep since the arrest. She visited Pristina at the precinct holding cell. Pristina doesn't look at all happy. She says to Kola, Honey, you got to get me out of here. And I don't mean tomorrow. Today. This evening at the latest.
     Kola said, Pris where'm I going to get the cash for bail. I'm tapped. I got nothing.
     Pris: Haven't you had dates? What were you doing all night?
     Kola: I'm too fucked up to work. I'm sorry. I get my disability next week...
     Pris: Next week! Next week I'll be dead, Kola. Wake up! I'm fucked in here.
     Kola knew. She'd been raped. In the ass and in the mouth. A violation in anyone's book.
     I don't know what to do...Kola said.
     P: Well, borrow from people. Maybe you can call my boss at work. Shit no, I'd be fired sure, then. Probably already am.
     K: What did you tell him?
     P: I told him I was in a car accident. I'll get Dr G to cover for me. Just try to borrow some money, ok? When's the last time you applied for a credit card?
     K: Fuck, Pris, you know I can't get credit.
     P: That was years ago. Stuff goes away, you know. Honey?
     K: I tried not that long ago.
     P: How long ago?
     K: I don't remember. Like, maybe six months.
     P: Well, that's quite awhile. You should try again. And do it by phone, it's faster.

An incarceree passed closely behind Kola. He put his big hand on her ass and whispered something in her ear. Pristina watched and scowled. She said, "Get your fucking hands off of her." His eyes and smile are glued on Pris as he caressed Kola's ass.
     He said: "She don't want me to do it, she can tell me herself."
     Pris stepped between Kola's ass and the inmate's hand. "Get your motherfucking hands off my girlfriend," she said -- in a very low, quiet voice. Kola turned around and faced the man.
     He said, "What do you say, girl? How 'bout sharing some satisfaction?"
     Kola said, "Just leave us alone right now, OK? We don't want any trouble." The prisoner looked at both women. "Fucking fags," he said, and walked away. Kola's eyes followed the man. She turned to Pris and said, "I can't get into your apartment."
     P: You can't? Why, what happened to your key?
     K: Lost it.
     P: You lost it? How could you? Fuck. It just gets worse and worse.
     K: I'm pretty sure it's lost. I looked everywhere. Probably dropped them on the bus.
     P: You lost all of your keys?
     K: Yeah. But I got a spare apartment key. No big deal. Only had a few keys, anyway.
     P: Shit, Kola, I got stuff in my place! Guitars, amps. My computer! What if...
     K: Fuck, Pris, no one's gonna know. How could they know where you live?
     P: Never mind. Just... fucking never mind. Look, Kola,, you seriously gotta get me out of here. I don't want to kick in here.
     K: Just tell them. The cops. They'll transfer you to detox.
     P: I don't want to go to detox. I hate it at detox.
     K: It's not that bad...
     P: Kola, stop telling me how I should feel, OK?
     K: Yeah, I'm sorry. I mean, I really love you.
     A deep, accented voice behind the two women:
     Whoa-ho, these two are lovers. Catch that, dudes. Lovers!
     Pristina: Yeah, an we got mutual diseases, too, if you catch my drift.
     Another man's voice:
     That's okay lady. We got plenty of protection.
     The Sheriff's deputy: Time's up!
     Pristina: (to Kola) I'm okay, really. They check on us all the time. Make sure nothing gets out of hand. Please, Kola, just get me out of here.
     K: I'll try, Pris. I will try. I'll see you tomorrow.

Kola left, went home to fix and then walked to a trannie-drag bar that was popular back then. The Black Rose, or something like that. Mack would know. He used to hang at the Black Rose. Apparently, pretty divey.
     She picked up a date and sucked him off in his car. The prick gave her ten and promised ten more. She knew better but was too stoned to argue. So, of course, she ended up with the ten. She made it to the bar and did a couple of tricks before she walked home to fix again. Kola hated fixing in filthy bathrooms. It was dangerous.
     She fell asleep at home.
     She awoke the next morning having only collected ninety dollars. Including the blow job. What the fuck was she going to do to help her lover? The guilt set in. She cursed herself. Planned her own hanging, rope and all, and then nodded off again. When she awakened, she fixed, showered and ate a mushroom omelette. She did her makeup real good, teased, gelled and sprayed her hair and did her nails. She put on the leather thigh-high-boots and a tight dress. She put her works kit in her handbag with some pot and a little heroin and proceeded out to visit Pris at the precinct jail.
     The cops did their routine search, found the dope, booked her and pushed her to lockup. The women's lockup. Kola said, wait a minute, not there, not the women's! What does this look like to you? She lifted up her skirt. Wow, what is that bulge? A small cop with thick forearms backhanded her across the cheek. Her face swelled immediately. Another cop put his foot on her rump and pushed her toward the men's cell. She tripped and sprawled on the floor and began to cry. Probably a good thing, because if she'd seen red there'd really have been trouble. If she couldn't get Pris out, Kola'd figured, she could at least join her in jail.
Kola was never much of a talker. She was rather beautiful and didn't need makeup at all -- a fish -- in street talk. Fish is what they call girls who really look like girls. Something about the way a girl's cheeks and face filled out when the hormones took effect. I was a fish. Am a fish.
     But when provoked, Kola was quite capable of defending herself. In fact, if her opponent(s) failed to win the immediate take down, the fight was all but over. Scene'd look like that Richard Gere scene where he's the navy officer fucking Debra Winger. Not that scene. The one where he beats up all the local yokels outside the bar. Streetfighter.
     That was Kola. La femme Kola. She'd bite, scratch, bang, punch and wield sudden and graceful spin-kicks.
     She was a dancer at heart. Martial arts replaced her visions of ballet and modern dance.
     But that comes later.
     Turned out Kola got released two days later and Pristina went to county for three months.
     When Pris came home she appeared defeated. She quit playing her guitar. Pris and Kola were half of a heavy metal band. Pris loved playing guitar as much as anything else in life. She quit sex work. She thought about changing back to a man. She'd have to get her tits cut off. And she'd already been castrated, too. That wouldn't be good, she thought. Plus her face was done, electrolysis-wise, and now she was starting on her chest. (Her wife's nickname for her had been Bear.)
     Weeks passed and no matter what Kola or any of their friends could do, Pristina wouldn't come out of her depression. She withdrew and stayed at home alone every night. Then she started doing PCP along with pot and coke. She was determined not to use heroin again. One night she went crazy looking at her reflection in the mirror. Pristina was full of self-loathing. She tore her apartment apart. She took a pair of shears to all of her clothes. She ripped her sheets and towels. Threw her pots and pans all over. Emptied her refrigerator on the floor. 
     By the time the building manager and the cops arrived they found Pris sitting on her bed, rocking and hugging a bleeding hand. Her socks were soaked in blood. There were bloody tracks all over her apartment.
     In the kitchen was a butcher block. The cops found four fingers and a cleaver. Much later, Pristina regretted this. She said so when she started talking again the following year.
     What does all of this have to do with S&M? Good question. Probably... nothing. Or something. I don't know.
     It was a tangent. A story within the story. You know, love?
     Early one morning, when the bar closed at 2 am, Kola and I stumbled out of the bar with two young guys. Late twenties. Business dudes. Played like they'd been around the scene. One of them anyway. Other guy, better looking one, didn't say much -- first-timer? Been fantasizing about chicks with dicks? Found a buddy with a mutual interest/curiosity?
     Kola was in a really pissy mood. Just wouldn't go along. The guys wanted to take us dancing. Kola whined, Rachel, this doesn't feel good to me. These guys are freaks.
     I said, "Kola, they're all freaks to you."
     She said, "You know what I'm talking about."
     I said, "Yeah, but they're nobodies. They're probably harmless. Just come on. Let's go dancing."
     Kola'd been clean and sober nearly two years. Doing pretty well, generally. Was a volunteer AIDS worker. Still prowled the streets for extra cash between disability checks.
     She was kind of a role model. You know? Really feminine, but tough, don't take no shit. Though you'd never guess that about her. Amazing artist, too. Would sit at the Motherlode during the day with her jeweler's glass and copy Geiger goth and monsters perfectly. Her own paintings were cool too.
     We went with the guys. Got in their car. Kola lit a smoke. Guy next to her asked her politely to put it out. She kept smoking. 
     Meanwhile, my guy drove. I couldn't tell where he was headed. He probably didn't know himself where he was going. Kept talking about a rave somewhere, that he'd heard about a rave, that it was around here somewhere. Between beats in the rave pitch, he attempted to talk me into giving him a blow job while he's driving. Now, I've so far only seen the money in his wallet. I don't drink, so he hadn't bought any for me. Maybe a coke or coffee. I was stoned. I couldn't remember. Very stoned, because this story always returns to me whenever I'm stoned.
     I haven't seen a dollar, yet. Neither has Kola. He talked me into unzipping his trousers and fondling his cock. Then he drove with his left hand and with his right he tried to push my head into his lap. I said, "Hey, look, slow down. Trust me, I'll take care of you. It's OK, really." I tried to take a calm approach. Attempted to maintain emotional neutrality. For my sake, and for Kola's. For the two dates and my girlfriend's hair trigger.
     I sat up, but kept my hand in his crotch. Kola settled down and was actually flirting with the guy in the backseat. Briefly, I felt optimistic. To my relief, my date abandoned the elusive rave and drove to a well-known dance club. 
     The guys bought drinks and Kola and I danced lasciviously together. Mutual generation of autoerotic friction.
     We all danced and the guys had a couple more drinks and we decided to retire to their hotel. They'd been behaving, Kola's mood had dramatically changed, and we're all set to leave when Kola saw some friend and went off with him with a wave and an, "I'll be right back. Just wait for a couple of minutes." For about ten minutes. The guys stood silent and antsy. I said, "Hold on, let me see if I can find her. Don't leave now. The fun's just starting." I checked the ladies' room and questioned a couple of bartenders, but no one had seen Kola. I trotted back to where I left the johns, and lo and behold, there they were with Kola. My girlfriend had her arms around her date, was whispering something in his ear. Then she licked his ear and bit the lobe. She looked at me with a big, glassy-eyed smile.
     Immediately, I knew what she had done. I was pretty stoned, but I recognized Kola fixed. After four years clean. Fuck, I say to myself. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
     Now she was sure as hell ready to go. In the backseat with her guy, she was nodding off while fondling his cock. He pinched her nipples hard, trying to get them to spark up. In the front seat, my stoned eyes watched the streetlights change. I coudn't think of a thing to say to this man. I said, "So what brings you here?"
     "Business," he says. I say, "Oh."
     We reached their hotel. Kola's man helped her find her balance while mine locked the car and followed us. 
     Their hotel room was a suite and pretty plush. Lots of leather chairs with shiny brass studs. Nice size bar. Big screen tv. My date picked up the remote and found John Wayne in Rio Lobo. I pulled out my pipe and smoked a bowl, offering it around.
     Kola was making out in one bedroom with her date. They appeared to be getting along satisfactorily. Wonder if he's remembered what's between her legs? She'll hold him off for awhile. Might not ever find out the truth. Whatever it is.
     My date took me into the bigger bedroom. Quietly locked the door. Found jazz on the radio.
     Blue and silver cushions lined the head of the bed. To match the grey carpet and pale blue walls. On a chair sat a big leather satchel. Kind of like an old doctor's bag from the movies.
     He took my head in his hands and kissed me. A sensitive, probing kiss, and I could hardly believe it. Hadn't scored him as capable of such -- sweetness, I guess. His kind usually has their heads so far up their asses they don't know for sure themselves what they want. TS working girls generally feel like animated (or not) fetishes. I soon discovered that John knew exactly what he wanted. He knew so much better than me about how to get what he wanted that I stood outclassed from the beginning.
     He kissed, I returned surrender. My lips surrendered, my crotch, too. My knees went weak. That was my trip back then. Ecstasy of seduction. Surrendering to the need to be fully a woman. Surrendering to the terror of not knowing what life would be like a month, a year, two years from now. What I would look like, where I would be? Would I be an actress? Like I was trained? Lie to people for the rest of my life? Fuck, why not? A TS's life is a fiction to begin with. A story that unfolds from a fictive act of self-actualization. A performance. Why not, indeed?
     Surrender becomes an addiction. Mundane activities are embued with supernatural possibilities. Every pleasure has its variety of ecstatic frequency. The pleasure you experience buying a new car or a pretty dress is addictive at one level. The ecstasy you feel surrendering pain, manifests at another level. Take electrolysis. I loved electrolysis for the quality meditation. Nothing like a little steady, stinging pain to give focus to a meditation. You just surrender. You lay there perfectly motionless and become fully aware of the sensation of the pain. Let your body use the sensation of pain to release tension, contrary to the body's habitual pattern.
     Pain surrendered becomes the muse of ecstasy. At the end of a one- or two-hour electrolysis session I was dead to the world. I couldn't move my fingers or toes. Eventually, I could and walked from the office steeped in tranquility.
     Of course, you can always snort heroin in the bathroom just before you begin the session.
     John kissed and pinched my little breasts and nipples. Didn't seem to mind at all their size. He fondled and massaged and soon had me frenzied sucking my organ. He liked that too. I was stoned and having a fabulous time, it was all a dream anyway. 
     I saw what happened from a distance. Not far. A few feet away. Not far enough to escape the fear that escaped from my body when I found myself bound securely to the bed. John'd slipped leather loops around my wrists and ankles. This happened so quickly that I figured later that he must've had the whole thing rigged coming in. I wanted to scream but he gagged me with a choke-ball and the thing's tied around my head. What sound I do make doesn't manage to carry very far. Either Kola's getting her ass fucked by a guy too drunk to care, or she's nodded off giving him a blow job. It's happened before. I know from experience.
     The guy got on black leather gloves. With his white shirt sans tie and his Brooks Brothers slacks. 
     And a lacquered black whip. Very thin, more so than a riding crop. Later, I found out that the whip was custom made for more than five hundred dollars. A tiny willow core surrounded by hand-woven silk and then lacquered with a special formula that added stiffness and maintained the willow's spring.
     I felt the soft touch of the whip gently tracing a pattern on my ass. Moving to my hips, my lower back. Five minutes, ten maybe. Patiently tracing, the occasional tickle. Very sensitive. Arousing. Squirmed and adjusted my organ before it became erect while folded up my ass.
     I began pranayama. Surrendered. Breathed in long and slow, exhaled the same. Paused in the middle to release residual tension. Inhaling. Exhaling. Pause ten, twenty, thirty seconds. Inhaled again. Meantime, felt the tip of the whip, utterly terrified. Never been so physically helpless. Felt my stomach rise into my mouth. Left a residue of acid in my throat. Breathing. Surrendering. Panicking. Tried not to tighten the taut straps.
     Snap! You almost hear it before you feel it. Pain interrupts your reverie, robs your consciousness. Pain that spreads throughout the whole of your possible horizon of awareness. All of this is pain.
     Strangely, the pain seemed to relieve almost quickly as it came. (Unique property of the five hundred dollar cane.) Snap! Pain erupted again. This is compounded by the lingering of the previous pain. Snap! Particularly hard. Sucked all thoughts away in a whirligig of throbbing sting.
     He began on my thighs. Criss-crossing the lashes. After awhile, I recognized the pattern. The percussive slashes hurt my ears as much as my body. I wanted to scream. Then I tried to calm myself, to begin the breath, to coerce my will to my breath, my body. I became so angry, at this man, at myself, at Kola not saving me, at not listening to Kola earlier on. I'm screaming.
     The pain moved gradually up my body. I could only surrender. No more screams, only breathed. Mantra! I reminded myself. I needed a mantra. Om namah shivaya. Om namah shivaya. That's the chant I began while breathing more and more slowly. The lashes came, pain enveloped, I surrendered, forced my body not to cringe, to contract, to tighten. Let go. Om namah shivaya.
     The lashes ceased. John kissed my forehead, the tip of my nose. I felt his coarse whiskers at my ear. "You're such a good little girl," he said. "A little break," he said, "A refreshing beverage. If you're good, I'll treat you."
     When he returned he stood still a long time looking at me. My eyes followed him examining me from all angles. Then he walked toward me. His whip played with my red hair. He unzipped his trousers and pulled out his semi-erect cock and fed it to me. I believe I recall sucking and licking and kissing for all my life was worth. I treated that cock like the omnipotent phallus that it wasn't. I prayed to that cock. No more lashes. Meditation's all well and good, but I've had enough now, please. Can I go home now, please? Please, God? I beg you, don't let me die now!
     His damn dick failed to fully harden no matter how sincerely I sucked.
     He slashed me hard. I almost bit his cock off. He yelled, "Watch it, bitch," and placed a vicious whack across my butt. I think it drew blood.
     He suddenly got very serious about his penile virtuosity. He whipped me hard and I sucked and licked. The damned cock kept slipping out of my mouth. I had to use my nose and teeth to try and finagle it down my throat again. To my relief, the fucking dick finally hardened.
     Moments later, I passed out. And woke to the sound of that Spanish concerto by Miles Davis.
     I was laying on my back. John had been so kind as to turn the meat while tenderizing. I found myself in for a real treat, like we'd passed foreplay and were ready for the real thing. My organ was so blood-engorged that it hurt.
     Miles Davis seemed to help my date's rhythm. He lashed my upper thighs with a particularly cruel but intuitive beat. Soft twice, three times, then Snap! hard, and Snap! hard. I travelled farther than ever before toward surrendering. Every cell in the being screaming, I'm yours, I'm yours (Om namah shivaya Om namah Shivaya Om namah shivaya...) Releasing, coercing, surrendering all the way up my buttocks and across my shoulders. A single intense moment of pain and surrender. The lashes slowly moved up my body. He spared no skin.
     I passed out again.
     I woke suddenly when a crash! came from the other room. Somebody yelled loud. Then I heard a high-pitched scream of pain. It sure as hell wasn't Kola. Sounded like the scream of a broken limb.
     Kola kicked open the locked door. "What the fuck you doin to her, you fucking pervert?" she screamed. "Just what the fuck do you think you are doing, you dumb-ass?"      
     I watched swaddled in an erotic euphoria. Peace and pain danced together in my consciousness. At some point, the pain had lost its sting and become nearly orgasmic. My body lay still as a rock. Events around me proceeded as if clothed in the fashion of dreams. I knew too, that something was very, very wrong. That I had been violated in a way despite any erotic euphoria that had been forced on me. I was truly helpless. He could have taken my life. He certainly got a piece of it. Before Kola broke his right arm and closed his left eye. She was still kicking and punching after his head thudded unconscious to the floor.
     Kola inventoried the contents of the black leather satchel. "Fuck, he's got everything in here. Handcuffs, a couple of whips. Look at the size of this dildo! Shit," she yelled at me, "what the hell were you doing? Are you helpless, bitch? What the fuck's the matter with you? Rachel, Rachel, are you OK? It's all right now, it's all over now." Kola sat down in front of me and took me in her arms. "Baby, let me see you." She looked at my face as if the pain in my body could be read in my features. "Shit, Rachel, I hate to tell you. He got you good. We gotta get you out of here and get some treatment. I gotta take you to the hospital. Damn, Rachel, I sure as hell hope you don't end up with scars. You've got to go to the hospital. I'm going to call a cab."
     "Scars?" my voice croaked, when Kola removed the ball gag. "What scars? What the hell's going on here. Where's my money? I sure as hell ain't leaving this place without at least a hundred bucks each," I yell, as if my voice could penetrate my date's unconsciousness.
     Her guy hobbled to the door. He was still doubled-over and tears streamed down his cheeks. His face was constricted with pain. "You broke my fucking leg, for Christ's sake," he said.
     Kola said, "Don't blaspheme, or I'll break something you'll really regret."
     He remained silent. Stood leaning against the doorjam sobbing, his head bowed and shoulders heaving.
     I laughed in spite of the pain. Kola's sudden religiosity amused me.
     The room became very cold and soon I couldn't stop shivering. I saw the lattice pattern of my blood on the bed sheet. My teeth chattered. Kola put her arms around me, pulled me against her breast and held me, rocking, while my body shook and then I wept. We waited for the cab to arrive.
     Kola said finally, "Rachel, I got the cash." She showed me a fistfull of bills. In her other hand she had two watches and several rings. "What a haul," she said. I stopped crying, but the shaking would not cease.
     I was also strangely serene. A heavenly euphoria. I felt both, somehow, trauma and satori.
     We got out of there with our handbags full of booty. Kola stuffed me into the cab and said, "San Francisco General -- emergency entrance." He looked at us in the rearview mirror. Kola showed him a twenty.
     Several hours later, as the sun came up in the west, Kola took me home from the hospital, undressed me, laid me on my bed and applied a cool, soothing ointment. Or maybe it was her kisses that were so soft and healing. 
     She moved in with me for the next month and took care of me. We made love often as I healed. Kola was so sweet with me. She seduced me with passion and kindness. Compassionate, intense, soft here and hard there, sex. Rhythmic, jazzy sex. Sensuality with emotional baggage. Borrowing from one hurt to lessen the pain of another.
     Our reverie lasted maybe a month. Then every time we made love it began to feel more distant. I feared that each night might be our last. Disconcerting, really.
     I remained terrifically infatuated for the longest time with Kola but she was savagely changeable. Her moods shifted faster than the San Francisco microclimate. One moment she put her arms around me and looked at me like I was the most delicious woman on the planet. Another moment, she was frustratingly indifferent. Came and went never offering any explanation. Now apologizing, now complaining. One day she wasn't where she'd promised. Another day I saw her hanging with another girl. They were laughing and whispering to each other. Kola may have seen me but I'm not sure.
     So that last time came and was over before I was ready to lose her. We'd see each other, of course. At the Motherlode. Even did a double once. She wasn't interested in revisiting our erstwhile passion, only wanted to fluff her way through. I was hurt. I'd missed her.
     Haven't seen Kola for years now. Wonder if she's stayed clean and sober. If she still volunteers with the AIDS center. Whether she's still drawing and painting.
     I've been consensually caned a few times since that first occasion. I enjoy it, enjoy the event. Meditate deeply. But not one session matches that night. The fear, the exquisite pain, the utter helplessness. And that feeling surrendering to John's lash that I'd jumped off a cliff, that I'd leapt out into thin air and was using my flapping arms and kicking legs to hover above the depths. This was a fabulous rush. My life was a matter of singular faith. I knew who I was even if others didn't. Or, I'd figure out who I was. Eventually.

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