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Moist Lips and The Sacred Monkey

Category: Mature
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“Passion rules us all,” someone once said. “And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments.”

And I know, in my time with Alexandra, these are some of those finest moments. Also, the most terrifying.

Summer. New Orleans. She and I are facing each other, lying on a bed in our second-story room at a small European-like pension.

We’re here for the week. It’s all dark wood but with French doors leading to a small balcony overlooking the narrow street below. Not very elegant. A bit shabby. The building must be a century old. Everything creaks. But then all that is down here in the French Quarter is from another time, a bit eerie and otherworldly.

Alexandra invited me. I am Albert, and I am unable to resist her. We flew down from Newark. She lives in Manhattan. I’m across the Hudson River in Hoboken. We’ve been friends for months now. And we have been eating and drinking our way up and down Bourbon Street for much of the week.

She is lying on her side in her white slip — that’s all she has on — her nipples hard and very visible underneath the silk fabric. She wears no underwear. The slip, which has intricate lace at the hem, is hiked up higher than mid-thigh. She knows my eyes are riveted to her slender legs. They remind me of fine English porcelain. She knows that too. She’s more than willing to let me look. I just can’t touch. It is something I may have to explain in more detail.

But first, she pulls out from the top of her slip, between her breasts, this little curio, attached to a neck chain. It’s no more than three inches tall, made of some kind of sandstone, a carving of some sort. I lean in closely. It’s the figure of a monkey, crouching down, with a rooster beside it.

“It’s The Sacred Monkey and Cock,” says Alexandra. It’s good luck. A talisman, she tells me. It looks sinister to me.

“You don’t buy these, Albert. You have to find them down here. They’re usually left beside tombs in some of the old, haunted cemeteries, in high grass or at some crossroads,” she says. “And when you find one, you keep it for three years. Each birthday — that’s the exact day you come across it — you make one wish. It comes true sometime during the year. So you get three wishes while you have it. But at the end of the third year, you have to ‘abandon’ it for a new owner to find.”

Her three years are up. So she asks me to spend a few hours on my own while she finds “the monkey” a suitable new home, where someone else can claim it. I’m not allowed to be part of this. She dresses, opens the door to leave, just as I ask:

“Is this from some kind of religion or something?”

“This is New Orleans, Albert. It’s Voodoo.”

* * *

I have written of Alexandra before. You need to know what she looks like. It’s because she is quite different. Tall, slender, dishwater blond hair that falls to about her chin. It’s pulled back behind her right ear, but on the left side is falling down, covering that half of her face, almost to her eye. All of it in finger waves. She may be in her early 40s. I’m only 27.

You’ll find her in vintage 1930s dresses, and only in blues and blacks. Add to that a pair of black leather opera gloves that reach to her elbow. Her eyes, set wide apart, are rimmed with heavy kohl, complimented by long black lashes. She wears green lipstick and a large cat’s-eye earring in her right ear. Only in the one ear. Her skin is very fair. She speaks softly but with authority. She reminds me of a runway model, albeit a bit older. And her clothes are a bit time-worn.

Oh, yes, and she wears an old brown fedora that looks as if she’s retrieved it from a dumpster. She may have. She wears it nearly always, even when in just her underwear — if she wears any at all. Much of the time she is naked under her thin dresses. Most people can tell. All of it is an extension of her personality. You can see why she draws attention.

She’s street savvy and alarmingly smart. Far more so than me, and probably you too. I know almost nothing of her past. She keeps herself secret. She’s restless and elusive. There is no way to know her logically. But we have fun, with her leading us on various adventures to keep herself from being bored. This is one of them.

* * *

It’s early evening before Alexandra and I rejoin each other in our room. With her back to me, she pulls from a sack something resembling stuffed toys. But I only glimpse before she tucks them in her shoulder luggage bag. As she’s taking a pee in the bathroom, I quickly open her luggage and see they are unmistakably Voodoo dolls, old and musty looking, wrapped in rough-hewn paper. I close the bag, cover my tracks. When she comes out, I ask about The Sacred Monkey, but she doesn’t want to discuss it. I’m growing concerned.

We head to Bourbon Street as sunlight disappears altogether. We are walking, browsing really, past all the pastel buildings, the clubs and restaurants, wrought iron balconies, old street lamps, now turned on. Small sidewalk tables-for-two and greenery hanging down from just about everywhere. Jazz and Dixieland playing, always within earshot. And, of course, crowds of people. We stop to have a beer. We walk some more.

Suddenly, she takes my hand and steps up her pace, hurries around several people. “See the woman in the floral print summer dress walking ahead of us? I like her. She looks like she could be fun, don’t you think, Albert?”

We hurry to catch up, or at least to not lose her as the crowd thickens. Even on this hot, late-summer evening, the street is full of walkers, gawkers and hucksters. From college goths to swinging retirees. Street musicians everywhere, panhandlers, sidewalk artists, roaming white-faced mimes too. We dodge horse-drawn carriages and a cluster of pedicabs. They’re all here. After all, it is New Orleans.

In my few past trips here, The French Quarter always seemed like drunken fun, very trashy touristy and a little naughty. Silly ghost tours and women flashing their breasts, teenagers making out in alleyways. This trip seems darker, more forboding. I notice more Voodoo shops and cemetery tours. More creepy characters in the bars. Maybe I’m just a little on edge because of Alexandra’s Sacred Monkey and those two Voodoo dolls. But she is not one to answer too many questions. I have learned to go along.

It probably doesn’t help that I just this afternoon ran across an odd magazine item: It has been said there are more people reported missing from New Orleans, without explanation, than from any other city. That should tell you something.

Still holding my hand, Alexandra leads us up near the woman we have been following, or about 10 feet from her, as the woman stops to look into a restaurant. She’s trying to choose one. We see her face. We step away.

“I don’t get it, Alexandra. What is it you want with her? She looks like a nice middle-aged lady?”

“Precisely. That’s what would make it fun,” she says. “It’s the challenge, Albert. I want her for you. She’s by herself.”

* * *

That brings us to something else you need to know about Alexandra. Once a week, on Saturday nights, she performs with a burlesque group in New York under the stage name of “Moist Lips.” She’s somewhat of an exhibitionist.

That aside, she’s primarily looking for an audience of one, a single person to exhibit herself to, someone she’s not sleeping with. That’s the eroticism for her. Showing someone, but not doing it with them. Suffice it to say, she chose me.

In private, I get to see her display herself in tantalizingly lewd ways. The trade-off is that I just can’t have sex with her. But she wants to occasionally find a woman for me to fulfill my own needs, if you will.

I love our friendship and her perverseness — the vibrators, the cucumbers, the beads. I’ve watched her do them all in the most private, intimate moments of her life, the nastiest really. I’ve written about all of that.

As you’ve probably come to realize, with Alexandra, you never know what’s going to happen. And so it is with this woman we are pursuing.

* * *

Though Alexandra has seemingly selected this woman for me, I tell her this is ridiculous. “She looks like she’s 50 years old, Alexandra.”

“You have a problem with older women?” she asks, with her eyebrows arched. Her look is stern, unforgiving. Her smile suddenly gone. Alexandra herself is, as I noted, probably 10 years older than me, maybe more.

“No. It’s not that,” I say, backpeddling as quickly as I can.

“You don’t think she’s nice looking?” she asks more cheerfully. “I certainly do,” she says. “I like her face. She has young skin, very creamy. And I can tell you, there’s a body under that dreadful dress.”

“She’s very nice. But I’m 27. She won’t see anything in me?

“Oh, she will. We’ll introduce her to so many things,” says Alexandra. “We’ll make her like us. I have my ways. And that, dear Albert, will be the fun we have. I predict a very memorable evening.”

We follow the woman to a narrow, back-alley bar that for some strange reason is called La Trinidad, a few blocks off Dumane. There’s lots of chipped brick and mortar on the facade. The alleyway is dank and now in dark shadows since the sun has set. Soft music — it sounds Caribbean and a bit old style — flows from the open door. The menu on the outside sandwich board sign is in French. The woman stops to gauge the prices.

“Ces prix sont élevés” the woman says quietly to herself.

“Bingo!” whispers Alexandra, who’s fluent in French. It’s an opening. She turns to her. “Bonjour!” And then, “Les prix sont élevés partout.” They are discussing the high prices, I later learn.

Her name is Mary Anderson. She tells us she’s a high school French teacher from Tennessee, here for a three-day conference. By herself. She’s on her own tonight, looking for an interesting place to dine. Then call it an early evening. It’s her first night in The Big Easy. They switch to English for my benefit.

“Do join us,” says Alexandra. “Albert and I would love your company. If anything, this is a town to meet new people. It should be against the law to come here and not get acquainted with at least one new interesting face. Now, don’t you agree?”

Alexandra looks at me. And I know. We are about to play. But I have an uneasiness about this.

I see the woman now from much closer. Yes, she’s probably early 50s, slender, especially her waist. She has ash brown hair in a short bob, with a sideswept bang above one eye, black Prada eyeglasses. It’s kind of fashionable, but not flashy. Dressed casually but, oh so conservative, that floral print dress down to her knees, and nondescript sandals. Not flattering enough to catch anyone’s attention — except Alexandra’s. She’s very proper middle-class. Very reserved. But overall, definitely nice looking.

The woman is quietly happy. And why not? She’s found some people to be with. The French Quarter can be depressing if you’re alone in the crowd. She’s guarded, though. After all, we are strangers. But once she gives you her attention, how can anyone — man or woman — resist the gleam in Alexandra’s eyes? It can be hypnotic.

* * *

One inside the restaurant, the three of us see it is not a large place, and there’s only a smattering of people, many of them look like locals. We sit along a side wall, scooting into a small, semi-circular booth with red Naugahyde upholstery. We’re sitting one on each side of Mrs. Anderson. It’s fairly dark. The decor is suspended somewhere in time. But I’m not sure exactly where.

Alexandra ratchets up the charm, looks directly into Mrs. Anderson’s eyes. They talk back and forth. She asks Mrs. Anderson a lot about her teaching. And then her hobby, which is collecting conch shells at the beach. They huddle over something called the bio-mineralization processes and crystallisation that help give shells their color. Mrs. Anderson is spellbound. Enthralled by Alexandra’s interest and knowledge. My partner’s intellect is formidable. I’ll give her that.

Mrs. Anderson and her husband are recent empty-nesters. Alexandra empathizes, as if she knows anything about children. But then maybe she does. I know so little about her.

At the moment, Mrs. Anderson is the center of Alexandra’s universe. Warmth and affection surround her. It’s a first for her, at least in a long time. You can tell she feels it. She’s flattered. And thrilled. It’s aided by the chilled, pink prosecco we are all three sipping.

Alexandra gives us a short story.

“So, Mary dear. Try picturing me in the shower this morning at our second-floor walkup, a cozy pension. Albert is in the bedroom reading one of those scary Dante Valentine books, “Working for the Devil.” I get out of the shower and, without thinking, say quite loud, ‘Honey, do you want a quick fuck before we hit the streets?’ Just as I say that, I open the bathroom door, and Albert is nowhere to be found. But standing in the middle of it all is a young room service guy who’s brought us a couple of vodka martinis.”

“Now get this, Mary. I’m naked as one can be. He freezes. I freeze. So he says, ‘A fuck? Well sure,’ with a big smile on his face. The kid couldn’t have been more than 18. ‘I’ve got a few minutes,’ he says, bigger smile on his face now.”

“I stand my ground. I say, ‘Okay, but it’ll cost you 500 bucks.’ ‘I don’t have that kind of money,’ he complains. ‘How about I give you these drinks for free?’ So, I say, ‘What do you think I am, some ten dollar street whore?’ And he says back, ‘We’ve already established what you are. Now it’s just a matter of negotiating price.’ ”

We all laugh, me putting my hand in a friendly gesture on Mrs. Anderson’s bare shoulder, Alexandra scooting closer, her thigh up against Mrs. Anderson’s thigh, and she lightly touches Mrs. Anderson’s knee with one hand, just below her dress hem. Very lightly, nothing more than an act of friendship between two women caught up in drinks and an exciting conversation.

Of course, the story isn’t true, just made up in a split second by Alexandra, whose cerebral neurons, when called upon, can interact at rocket speed. And she’s recycling part of a time-worn hooker joke. But Mrs. Anderson doesn’t know it. And she tries to hide her shock at Alexandra’s casual use of the word “fuck.”

More stories follow, only one or two of them true. More laughter, and more touching goes on as we move onto our second bottle, a pinot grigio. The waiter brings us file gumbo with chicken and sausage. He lights three candles on the table.

With three glasses of wine, Mrs. Anderson loosens up a little, relaxes, talks a little more. Tells us how amazed she is at the openness and, what she calls the “unbridled pleasures” that go on in this sultry town. She smiles, rolls her eyes as she says it. We think it’s cute.

A torch singer comes onto a small stage and begins some French songs. But they seem to have a Creole flavor to them, best I can tell. Songs that are kind of dark and mystical. A bit odd. She’s young, pretty, has a kind of Caribbean look to her, and wears a nearly floor-length sequined black gown. But we pay little attention, that is until the third song. She begins taking off the dress. Unbeknownst to us, we’ve apparently landed in a strip club.

Alexandra takes a tiny black transparent bottle from her pocket. I can see an elaborate glass design and a small cork that she takes out, then dabs something on her fingers, touches behind each ear. It seems curious to me, since she doesn’t often use perfume. She leans an elbow on the table and moves her face in front of Mrs. Anderson, still talking, as if she’s completely oblivious to what is going on behind her on stage. I pick up a very faint smell, a muskiness, something I don’t remember ever having come across. I ponder whether it could be Alexandra’s perfume. It’s interesting but a little off-putting. Maybe the smell, if it can be described, is akin to some old root or plant that is decaying.

Alexandra has situated her face so that Mrs. Anderson is looking right at her. But just to the side of Alexandra’s face is a view of the singer, 30 feet away in the background, now taking off her panties. The crowd oooohs and aaaaahs. Mrs. Anderson is trying to give her attention to Alexandra but is visibly unsettled by the now-naked woman, who is still singing at her microphone. Alexandra’s eyes dart quickly to me. That’s my cue. She wants some help.

“Do you think she’s pretty … the singer on stage?” I say right into Mrs. Anderson’s ear. She turns toward me, her eyes widen with a bewildered look, and maybe a little appalled, as to why I would even ask her such a question. She looks at the singer, then looks down, says diplomatically, “she’s . . . striking.”

I ask if she’s ever seen a strip show before. Her voice is so quiet I can’t hear her words. But she mouths a “no.” Her cheeks are flushed from embarrassment since it’s almost impossible for her to avoid seeing the singer, who’s now moving suggestively, very slowly, back and forth. That causes her breasts to shake. Her nipples are big and hard, easily seen by us all. Just about everyone is watching now. Even Mrs. Anderson, though only for a few seconds at a time, before lowering her eyes, then raising them again. More than likely she is surprised that the singer’s pubic area is completely shaved. You have to wonder if she’s ever seen a woman without hair between her legs.

For me, time seems to pause. The singer’s voice, the unusual music and our conversation begin to fade into the background as I wonder more about our Mrs. Anderson.

She’s married, we know. She’s told us of two nearly grown children and a 25-year teaching career. Her husband is back home tinkering in the garage. I wonder if he ever tinkers with her. I’m guessing not.

From the corner of her eye, she can see me examining her. We’re all sitting very close, our faces less than a foot apart. She’s even more flushed now, as if along with the singer, I’m seeing her naked too. In a way, I am. Her pink-lipsticked smile is genuine, her brown eyes have a shyness to them. She has a few typical middle-aged blemishes on her face, covered with subtle makeup. Her shoulders, part of them modestly bare in the summer dress, are nice. Her skin delicate. Her breasts, though all but hidden away, have a gradual yet very defined curve to them in the dress, but you can only see it from a certain angle.

You can tell something else. Whatever love life once was there, has faded, probably years ago. She’s frustrated, a face in the crowd, one among thousands of middle-aged women. She feels overlooked, ignored, invisible.

But now, after all these years, here on this night in the depths of the French Quarter, nestled between us in this dark corner of a strange little bar, she finds herself wading in a sea of sensuality. She’s overwhelmed by my eccentric, bewitching partner who seems to have stepped right from the pages of Vogue in the 1930s. She smiles and laughs, but is quietly unnerved by our off-color tales, as well as the curious Caribbean-like songs, the singer’s naked breasts, the refilled glasses of wine, the musky scent, our gently roaming hands.

Alexandra stops talking for a moment, gazes deep into Mrs. Anderson’s eyes. They say nothing to each other. Their knees touch side-by-side. They stay there. Alexandra’s left hand is now permanently resting on the inside of Mrs. Anderson’s leg, just above the knee, at the start of her thigh. Though our light is dim and the three candles constantly flickering, I can still just barely see from my vantage point, looking down into their laps. Alexandra’s fingers are lightly caressing her thigh in little circles as she begins chatting again, this time about the file gumbo and how sensuous it smells and tastes.

A wave of pent-up emotions consumes Mrs. Anderson. I can see it in her eyes. Do all women who are good friends touch like this? It’s a little confusing to her. But Alexandra’s caressing fingers feel sublime. Beyond that, I’m not sure what Mrs. Anderson thinks any more. But she must have a pretty good idea of our intentions.

“So, tell us more of your impressions of this mysterious city, Mary?” asks Alexandra, with an emphasis on “mysterious.” “Does it live up to your expectations?”

Mrs. Anderson clears her throat, tries for a moment to concentrate, and ignore Alexandra’s fingers. “It’s more than what I thought,” she says, looking at Alexandra, then me. “It’s so intoxicating. I had no idea. I wish I weren’t a little afraid of it all. I wish I could be more like the people who live here. I think everybody here must have a story.”

“Well,” says Alexandra. “You know what Bob Dylan once said about this town: ‘There’s something obscenely joyful behind every door.’ And he’s right.”

With that, Alexandra slides to the edge of the booth to stand up, saying, “This town is a place of dark seduction. It is what it is. Let’s walk.”

So I pay and we leave, passing a few street buskers, then heading down the narrow, dark side streets with balconies overhanging, almost right on top of us. Our surroundings, as we head away from Dumane, are all of the sudden almost too quiet, secretive. There are few people, fewer street lamps. The summertime night air thick and oppressive.

It may have been the cobblestones, and partly the pinot grigio, but Mrs. Anderson’s right ankle gives, just a little, but enough to warrant both Alexandra and I to put our arms around her waist. One of us on each side of her. We walk on, my arm just below Alexandra’s, my outstretched hand resting at the top curve of Mrs. Anderson’s hip. To her, it must seem quite by accident. Or maybe not. She makes no move to stop me. But then her buzz from the wine, I’m speculating, is much farther along than ours.

We walk quietly for a moment or two. Then Alexandra says, “Mary, we have some delicious Bavarian mousse croissants and a yummy bottle of dry champagne just waiting for us back at our pension. Come join us. It’s only one more block. And it’s still early.”

Mrs. Anderson tries to be polite. “I shouldn’t. I’ve intruded on your evening too much already. And you’ve paid for everything.”

I look at her. “If you try to argue with Alexandra, you won’t win. Besides, we have a nice little balcony we can sit out on and watch the people below and the night sky above. You haven’t experienced the French Quarter until you’ve sat on a balcony and watched the world go by below you.”

“Absolutely,” rings in Alexandra. “And feel that fresh breeze that’s just starting up. Do you feel that? It’s coming in off the Gulf. It’ll cool things down for several hours. A perfect end to a sensational evening. Don’t you just love it? Think what you’ll be able to tell your friends back home.”

* * *

An hour later I find myself on the divan, lips to lips with Mrs. Anderson, seated beside me on our balcony, both of us in hot embrace. I’m running my hand up and down her side, from shoulder to breast, to her waist, her thigh, her calves. Her body is warm to my hand. We are fully dressed but flooded with desire even still. And our clothes are damp from the day’s heat and humidity.

At first her kisses were hesitant, she seemed lost and unsure. She was surprised when I first kissed her. Shocked, really. But I had to. Alexandra was expecting it. You see, she brought her here for me. But now, a few moments later, Mrs. Anderson is returning my kisses, meeting my tongue with hers. I find her lips especially soft, her mouth spicy from the file gumbo. Beads of sweat line her brow, probably from the wine. Her face, arms and legs are moist with perspiration. I smell a little perfume. Her hands are moving on my back. I can feel the pull between us. She wants more than anything to be seduced. Let the guilt come later.

Alexandra had gone to the bathroom, but she returns, dressed now in a thin, silken Japanese kimono-like robe. I don’t need to wonder if she is naked beneath it. As we break our kiss, Mrs. Anderson is met by Alexandra leaning in and kissing her lips once, lightly, then sitting back.

Mrs. Anderson leans her head back on the divan, closes her eyes. Slowly shakes her head back and forth. Very slowly. “I can’t believe I am here, doing this,” she says. “Things like this don’t happen to me. I’m a high school teacher, for God’s sake. I have a family.”

“Would you like to leave?” Alexandra asks in her quiet voice.

“I’ll be glad to walk you home,” I say just as quietly.

Her eyes are still closed. She is quiet for the longest time. It is a moment of truth. She knows it. She is about to cross the Rubicon. Slowly, she shakes her head, no. She will stay. She’s aware, with this single gesture, that she has surrendered her fate to us.

Alexandra, who is seated with us, parts her own legs, letting the bottom of her kimono fall away. She brings Mrs. Anderson’s hand to her upper thigh, placing it there, only inches from her sex, that top part of the thigh where Mrs. Anderson can’t help but feel the heat from Alexandra. Mrs. Anderson opens her eyes, lowers her gaze to look at her hand, but makes no attempt to move it, one way or the other. We think she’s probably never touched a woman’s thigh before.

We both stand her up, and there, on the balcony, we begin undressing her in the darkness, Alexandra in front of her, me behind. There’s a dim light fixture at the corner of the balcony, almost certainly illuminating us for the few strolling partiers below. Mrs. Anderson probably doesn’t realize that. Or more likely no longer cares. She is in a haze.

“Mary,” says Alexandra, as she stands very close, face to face with Mrs. Anderson, unbuttoning the top of her dress. “Do you know what Tennessee Williams once wrote?:

“When you love somebody, you musn’t listen to what they say. You must look at their eyes … and feel their heart.”

“Tonight,” she says, “Albert and I have looked into your eyes. And we feel your heart. Let us fulfill all of your desires. Just for this one night.”

Mrs. Anderson is, I guess, emotionally flooded, unable to respond.

We unbutton the rest of her dress, lift it over her, then take off her bra, and her rather modest panties. Finally, her glasses. She is naked, the breeze enveloping her body, making her brown nipples hard. Her breasts, which perfectly fit her slender figure, slope just slightly downward, and look as if they’ve not been loved for years. I think right now she would give anything to have them touched.

Alexandra, instead, reaches down and lightly brushes the inside of Mrs. Anderson’s thighs with her fingers. This woman is so wet, she is dribbling down her legs. Alexandra wipes them, then licks her fingers, letting Mrs. Anderson watch.

We each take a hand and walk her into our room, easing her down on the bed. I reach over and kiss her for a long time. She likes it. I marvel at the taste of her and the heat between us. The smell of her skin. She closes her eyes. Another kiss lingers. Her tongue feels so willing. When our lips finally separate, she opens her eyes. It is Alexandra, not me, who is now climbing on top of her. They are both naked.

Mrs. Anderson’s look is startling. But Alexandra affords her a warm, loving smile that says everything will be all right. She lightly strokes her face.

Alexandra, lying full length on Mrs. Anderson, braces her arms on each side of Mrs. Anderson’s face, then looks into her eyes. Mrs. Anderson feels Alexandra’s breath against her ear. Alexandra’s tongue reaches out to lightly touch her eyelids. Then Alexandra moves her lips, heavy with green lipstick, to Mrs. Anderson’s lips. I can tell their tongues are darting, playing together. Alexandra pulls back, then kisses her again.

“Mary,” Alexandra says with deliberate slowness and calmness, after she has pulled back yet again. “Have you ever had a woman kiss these adorable nipples of yours?”

Mrs. Anderson’s afraid and can only shake her head slightly — no. She’s breathing too heavy and can’t talk.

“Well,” says Alexandra, “If you don’t like it, we’ll give you your money back.”

Mrs. Anderson is terrified that a woman is seducing her. It is all over her face. Even more, she’s in disbelief that her own body is betraying her, giving in to every touch and every kiss on her skin. Each touch making her heart beat faster, the kisses heating up her skin. She knows she should make Alexandra stop. But she doesn’t.

Alexandra makes love to her for a half hour, me sitting across the room, watching in the dark. But the light on the balcony shines faintly onto the bed. I can see them. They can’t see much of me.

I’m not surprised, of course, that Alexandra is a skillful lover. I’ve come to learn never to be surprised by her. And she obviously is no dilettante with other women. I watch as she continues with soft little kisses up and down Mrs. Anderson’s skin, gently blowing, then kissing down her neck, the top of her chest, all along her waist, then below to her thighs, lingering there for many moments with more sweet kisses, then behind her knees. She curls up at Mrs. Anderson’s feet and kisses her toes for the longest time. Licks them too. Sucks them. One at a time. She works her way back up to her breasts. In each kiss, her lips hardly touch.

Through all those years with her husband, and whatever few earlier boyfriends had her, nothing compares to this for Mrs. Anderson. Sometimes you can just tell things like this. In her world, this is so forbidden. She is beside herself with shameful arousal, her body now moving a little with every caress. Each kiss inflames her loins a little more. There’s an unquenchable fire building in her. There’s a look on her face — am I really letting this happen to me?

Still, she’s quiet through the endless pecks and licks. That is until Alexandra grabs her nipple between her lips and begins alternately sucking, then pulling. Even gently biting. Deep sighs, then low guttural moans begin. Mrs. Anderson grabs Alexandra’s neck with her hands, holding on and now beyond any point of return. The fire in her is raging. Alexandra lifts her head up and asks:

“Mary, have you ever had a woman lick your pussy?”

Mrs. Anderson still can’t speak, probably because in her mind what Alexandra is asking is so unspeakable. She’s too hot, too excited. She shakes her head, no. Her eyes focused on Alexandra’s eyes, not even blinking.

Alexandra moves down, gently blows on her dark, curly pubic hair, using her tongue to find Mrs. Anderson’s vagina. With the first tender swipe of her tongue, the woman erupts, her body shaking, cries coming from her, tears streaming down her face. Heat shooting through her. It comes quick, is shattering. I’m thinking this is the first completely out-of-control orgasm Mrs. Anderson has ever had.

It takes a few moments. She turns her head and looks in my direction. Her eyes are again glazed. She’s looking but not seeing. Alexandra gives her almost no time to savor the moment before going down on her again, this time her tongue on her clit, circling, blowing, licking, then circling again, repeating each little erotic move, all with a woman’s touch. I want Alexandra to teach me this. Mrs. Anderson comes again, harder, longer, louder. But the tears are gone, replaced by pure intoxication. And for a few moments, ecstasy. It shows on her face.

“Mrs. Anderson?” Alexandra finally says, leaning her face close in. No response. She tries again. “Mary?”

Mrs. Anderson opens her eyes. Alexandra — still lying on top of her — gently runs her fingers through her lover’s now matted hair.

“Would you like to feel Albert’s cock inside of you? He has a beautiful dick and tonight it’s all for you, if you want it?”

Groggily, as if coming out from under anesthesia, Mrs. Anderson says quite simply: “yes.”

Alexandra moves her face in a little closer to Mrs. Anderson’s. “Would you like him to fuck your brains out like you’ve never been fucked before?”

Mrs. Anderson very slowly shakes her head, yes.

“Then turn over on your knees and get that nasty, delightfully beautiful ass of yours up in the air.” Alexandra commands.

Alexandra walks over to me and uses a hushed voice. “I’ve primed the pump for you, Albert. Make it dirty. She wants it dirty. I can tell. Go ahead. Get your clothes off.”

And so I do, practically leaping onto the bed and ramming into her, slamming against her for a full 15 minutes, not letting up. You may know that I’m not very experienced myself, but I try my best. I try to be rough, brutal. But I’m on the edge of ecstasy myself, all the while fighting to not lose control. Her ass is just so beautiful to me. I have never been this excited with a woman. She feels so good. We fit together so well. All silken, and wet and warm, as if our bodies were made for each other.

I pause for just a second to shift my knees a little on the bed.

“Don’t stop,” Mrs. Anderson pleads, and she is crying as she says it. “Please don’t stop. Fuck me. Fuck me . . . hard.” I continue, somehow knowing, sensing, that this is the first time she has come close to being sated. Completely fucked. It’s probably the first time she has ever said the word “fuck” out loud. She has, for the time being, tossed all shame aside. I no longer want this for me. I want it for her. I want to give this night to her.

I move in and out, in long, hard strokes. Pulling out very slow, pushing in fast and forceful. She pushes back, hard, wanting more. When it seems she can take no more, I suddenly decide to spank her ass, hard, twice. Real burning slaps. Very loud. She will have marks on her buttocks for days. I don’t know why I did this to her. I can’t explain it, but I like it. I push my thumb into her moist asshole, moving it in and out, as I move my dick in and out of her pussy, giving her no choice in the matter. She groans, but keeps pushing back, now even harder, hungrier than ever.

Eventually, I turn her over, then I stand up beside the bed and lean down a little, my very hard dick in her face. She knows I want her to suck on me. She’s frozen in hesitation. I think maybe she’s never actually done this before. Maybe she doesn’t know how.

“Just put his dick in your mouth, kiddo,” says Alexandra, who is sitting now in the chair I was in earlier. Mrs. Anderson touches my penis with her lips, opens and lets me slide my dick in. She’s hesitant still, not sure of anything. Still frightened.

“That feels good,” I tell her, reassuringly. She moves her mouth up and down my shaft, slowly. She gags a little, but resumes, gets used to it. She opens her eyes, looks at me. She’s getting into it. I can tell she feels dirty and vulgar and — for once in her life — she loves it.

She sucks hard, goes much faster, grabs my balls with her other hand, stops and licks me a few minutes, then sucks me again, just the very head of my penis, then deeper in her throat. She can’t get enough. This time I come, her swallowing me, nearly all of it. She closes her eyes and continues sucking. She’s enjoying the last vestiges of this, not wanting it to end. Probably it’s not so much me, just the act itself she has a need to complete.

I lie between her legs and move my tongue to her vagina, smelling the sweat in her curly soft pubic hair. As delicately as possible, I lick her clit until both she and I are excited again. It takes only minutes. Her hips start twitching, I enter her again, moving back and forth, slow but hard. She pulls her knees up to my side, letting me go a little deeper. We both keep building up and up, until we crest, then climax. I spurt my seed into her. “Oh God, I can feel you come,” she says, louder than she should. She comes herself, her body shaking, she herself groaning, then gasping for breath.

She’s through, but she holds onto me. Kisses my neck. Squeezing me hard with her arms and her drawn-up knees. I think she fears sinking into some vast abyss if she lets go. I hold her too, my chest mashing her small, beautiful breasts, both of us feeling each other’s racing hearts.

But eventually she does relinquish. She collapses, her body limp.

She is done. Finished. Sweating. Panting. Aching with exhaustion. Ravished. Satisfied. Maybe for the first time in her life.

I lie on my back and Mrs. Anderson lies at my side, her head on my right shoulder. Alexandra crawls in bed beside us but goes to sleep almost immediately. We do not. With her fingers, Mrs. Anderson strokes my chest and shoulders. I caress her back, pull her closer, then reach down and begin smooth strokes on her soft hips. We are quiet, talk only in whispers, say nothing really of importance. Mostly just how good it feels. The quiet moments of carnal love. We want more moments. We know we won’t have them.

“Passion,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson, “makes all things alive and significant.” It has, for me, been a significant night.

It’s probably around 5 am when we walk her slowly back to her hotel, a half dozen blocks away, us with arms around her waist. Almost no one is on the street at this hour.

There’s not much talking until Alexandra sniffs the early morning darkness and says what wonderful smells The French Quarter has. She begins rattling off: the bakeries, the jambalaya from the kitchens, barbecue shrimp, fireball whiskey shots, all smells left over from the night before.

“Spilled beer.” I can smell it on the curbside, I say.

“I can smell the Jasmine from the courtyards,” says Mrs. Anderson. “And the dead moss, too.” She’s serene now, but still exhausted.

We pass the corner of Royal and Governor Nicholls Street. We walk down the middle of the street. In the darkness, I recognize the three-story gray building I had read about earlier in the week. It’s the LaLaurie Mansion, the most haunted in all of New Orleans. A beautiful, huge home with arched doors and windows, a second story cast iron balcony, and supposedly a beautiful courtyard in back. Actually, it looks more like an apartment building.

Delphine LaLaurie and her husband, back in the 1830s, were atop the city’s social scene, their home the gathering place for balls and lavish parties. Only later did the world find that she had turned the attic into a chamber of horrors to practice Voodoo and witchcraft on her slaves. Mangled bodies shackled to the walls, bodies crammed into small cages, decapitated heads and severed body parts everywhere. Police found it all. Since then, the place has had a long history of hauntings.

It’s been said that whenever anyone who possesses real Voodoo powers walks on the sidewalk past the front door, the house gives off a low, agonizing moan. It’s the grieving of the lost souls in Delphine LaLaurie’s attic. I tell them the story. Mrs. Anderson shudders. Alexandra seems to not pay attention. We walk on.

We reach Mrs. Anderson’s hotel. “We’ll be here until tomorrow afternoon,” says Alexandra. “You know our pension. So, find us again and let’s enjoy each other’s company. Albert and I won’t ever give you a dull time.”

Mrs. Anderson says nothing. She hugs us both, with real affection I might add, then kisses us — first Alexandra, then me — gently on the lips. She strokes my face. Lingers a little looking at me. She seems sad. Then goes inside the hotel. The two of us walk back. Along the way, I speak first.

“She won’t come see us, will she?”

“No,” says Alexandra. “By daybreak she’ll be mortified at what she’s done. Then she’ll feel shame and guilt as she flies home to her husband. She’ll go to church regularly for six months, at least.”

“You think she’ll ever forgive us?” I ask as we walk down the middle of the empty street.

“You don’t understand women, do you Albert?”

“The guilt will fade,” she tells me. “And when all is safe and back to normal, then very secretively she’ll feel a tinge of pride — or at least a certain satisfaction — that she was able to experience something that most women like her only read about. And after that, you know what?”

“Do tell,” I say.

“For the rest of her life, last night will become the focus of just about every sexual fantasy she will have until she’s an old woman. She’ll revel in its deliciousness. She may write it in some key-locked journal, but only in vague terms, and probably not tell even her closest girlfriend. It will always be her best-kept secret, locked away in the corner of her heart. She tries to be a good woman and she is. But for one solitary wicked night in her life she let herself be a complete whore. The soul inside of her loved it.”

We walk another block, then just before we get to our door, Alexandra says: “And for the next two weeks, she’ll close and lock the door in her bathroom at home and examine and re-examine her naked ass in the mirror, as the slap marks fade. And she’ll think of you and your marvelous dick until the day she dies.”

* * *

Since we never got around to the Bavarian mousse croissants and champagne, that becomes breakfast for us late the next morning as Alexandra and I sit again out on the balcony. The sky is covered with low, ominous charcoal black clouds. A steady drizzle commences. We sit watching.

I’m mostly dressed. Alexandra has on the kimono, not bothering to tie it closed. She wants me to see her exposed. Her pale breasts and dark nipples peek out from the front opening as she leans this way or that on the divan. To avoid the rain’s mist, she pulls her feet up on the seat and sits cross-legged, deliberately letting me see her pussy and blond pubic hair. Her body is beautiful. I never tire of seeing it. And I can still smell the sex and sweat on her from our night with Mrs. Anderson. It is divine.

As she’s pouring us refills on our champagne, I ask again about The Sacred Monkey. She’s not going to tell me, she says. I don’t give up.

“Alexandra, you don’t seriously have some fascination with Voodoo, do you? I mean, isn’t all that bad juju stuff a bit sketchy?”

“In New York people laugh about Voodoo, if it’s ever mentioned at all.” she says. “But not here, not in New Orleans. Here, you laugh at your own peril.”

“You’re too smart to believe in that silliness,” I say.

“You think?” she asks. She’s not smiling.

“How do you think we got your Mrs. Anderson to let us seduce her last night? You think it was luck?” Still no smile.

“Didn’t you see me dabbing my ears with the potion? It was Kus Kus and musk oil. You were watching, weren’t you, when I stared into Mary’s eyes as we talked during the stripper’s songs? She couldn’t take her eyes off mine. Why do you think she was so willing to do anything after that?”

I am horrified, a little angry, and for the moment speechless. We later pack our two shoulder bags to head to the airport and back to Manhattan. We head down the stairs and are out on the street, walking toward a line of taxis a few blocks away.

Still, I had to ask. “Are those real Voodoo dolls? And that musk oil you put on? Surely you’re not saying you put her under some spell to let us fuck her? . . . Alexandra?”

She can see the dread on my face. She stops her walk, looks at me in exasperation. “Oh, Albert. The dolls are for my Moist Lips act. And the musk oil wasn’t musk oil, just Gucci — my perfume. I’m just jerking your chain. You’ve been reading those old Anne Rice novels about vampires in New Orleans, haven’t you?”

She’s right. I have. Thought I’d bone up on The Big Easy for our trip down here. Guess my imagination got the best of me. She begins laughing. She can’t stop, laughing so hard she bends over, drops her luggage on the sidewalk and just guffaws at my fears. I laugh too. I have to admit, it is funny. And I like to see her laugh. It makes me laugh even more.

“You are so gullible,” she says, wiping tears from her eyes. “That’s what I love about you.”

We walk on. We stop at the first taxi in line. Alexandra slides into the cab’s back seat, I toss our bags into the front seat next to the driver, then walk around to the other side of the taxi and open its rear door. I think to myself that it’s been a great trip, after all.

I’m standing by the open taxi door. I hear it. No, I sense it first. Then hear it. Just now. Very low. Guttural. Yes, I caught the end of it. It sounded like someone in the last stages of agony. But I know it’s not a human sound. I look back over my shoulder and see — the three-story LaLaurie Mansion. The haunted one. We had just walked past it on the sidewalk, without realizing. And the noise coming from it was a long, low moan. No one else is around to hear it. Only Alexandra and I walked past its front door.

I’m flooded with coldness and nausea, just all of the sudden. I look up at the old, gray house in the misty rain, wipe droplets from my eyes, wonder if those upper floor windows are looking back at me. I swear they are, but not exactly at me. Instead, looking beside me, into the taxi’s rear window at the back of Alexandra’s head with her fedora. It was definitely a low moan.

“Albert, the driver’s waiting.”

I slide into the car seat, can feel and see myself shaking. Alexandra scoots over to be beside me, not seeming to notice. Uncharacteristically, she puts her arm through my arm and surprises me by actually holding my hand. It is nothing other than affection. A first for us. I should be thrilled. She kisses me on the cheek. As I turn to ask what brought this on, she pecks my lips with hers. Pulls back and smiles. Her eyes are warm and loving.

“I am so smitten with you Albert.” She rests her head on my shoulder.

As we pull away from the curb, she lifts her head, glances behind us and out the rear window at the mansion. Then, she turns back. Her eyes meet mine. No words. We are momentarily wondering what the other is thinking. Surely, she can sense my fear. If so, she doesn’t acknowledge.

“Let’s go home,” she says, puts her head back on my shoulder. I nod my head in agreement, slowly but more cautious than ever before. I say nothing. What else is there to do?

But with her head on my shoulder I begin to smell a faint muskiness in her hair. Like some old root or plant that is decaying.


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