So get this. I dated this ballet dancer when I first went to art school in NYC. I'm sure I've written stuff about her that's lying around here. That was Lisa. Well, this is Shoshana her very good friend who was also attending the art school. We would all hang out, walk around town or go back to Brooklyn for dinner because Jewish girl moms always wanted to make sure you didn't leave hungry. They went to high school together and knew each other since they were little kids. There was also a guy named Neal who, as I understood it, Shoshana was trying to get to play for our team. I had only known there were gay people in the world for the past 6 months but I knew Neal wasn't about to be a switch hitter. But Shoshana and Neal loved to dress up and play Vampire and wore outrageous clothes to school. And, they both would have these huge purple and red hickeys on their neck which was explained as a byproduct of the "Vampire game". Lisa and I both thought that was pretty funny and wondered how Neal felt about having his neck sucked on by a girl. Hey, did I mention it was art school?
I liked Lisa because she had a great sense of humor, and was creative, intelligent and strong. When we would all be together Shoshana would sometimes put her arm through mine, or give me a big kiss when we said goodbye. She sometimes brought me little gifts. I asked Lisa if this bothered her and she was offended that I would think she might be jealous. She said I was a nice guy and her friends liked me and why should that bother her. Hey, right on.
So..a few weeks go by and Lisa has me rescuing cats and going with her to dance practice. Mom is inviting me for dinner every night and things have settled into a nice sort of routine.
At art school, painters had to take photography classes and photographers had to take painting classes. Right from the start, Shoshana was having problems developing her film. She just couldn't load the film onto the reels and even put fixer in the tank once first. I tried explaining the changing bag and how it was like a game of pocket pool... only an away game. We would practice in daylight with a blank roll of film but Shoshana just couldn't get it right enough to feel confident.
Shoshana had a photography assignment which she needed to do well on to get a decent grade. She was worried she would mess up the rolls of film. Lisa who I think was getting tired of Shoshana whining all the time, volunteered my services to help her out. I would go over her house and process the film for her. Of course, I agreed. So that afternoon Shoshana and I took the train to her house. I had been there before but never in her bedroom where the bathroom with her makeshift darkroom was setup. Her mother had promised me a wonderful supper when we were done, and she was a great cook.
So in the dark, I loaded each roll of film onto the metal Kinderman reels except for the last. Shoshana wanted to do it. I placed the reel and opened film cassette in her hand and backed away. It wasn't long before I could hear the film being creased and Shoshana getting frustrated. "Please help me," she said. I moved closer until I could feel the reel and film in her hand and she said: "Maybe if you stand behind me and load the film, I can follow along with my hands and feel what I'm doing wrong."
I stood behind her but had to stand close. Like, very close. My arms were outstretched around hers so that I could feel what her hands were doing. Hmmm...The back of her neck and her hair smelled wonderful there in the dark. Then, because our faces were so close together, it was hard for them not to touch. Each breath she exhaled flowed across my lips and made them tingle. Not getting any film on that reel...My ears felt really hot...and after some time we were slowly breathing deeply in unison. And it was very pleasant. Before things got even more... you know, more, I said she should let me finish putting the film on the reel and I stepped back. She stepped back too, leaving the film and reel on the table and gently backed into me. I moved around her, finished rolling the film onto the reel, put it in the tank with the others and put the lid on it and turned on the light.
After my eyes adjusted to the light, I could see that Shoshana's face was very red as I am sure mine was too. I mumbled something about developing the film and keeping the tank in front of me moved to the bathroom sink. At that point, her mother was asking how much longer we would be, Shoshana said through the bathroom door that we were almost done. "Well Honey, can you come out here and set the table?" her mother replied. I said, "Yes, why not do that, I'll be no more than ten minutes." And so she did.
Dinner was great and everything seemed to be back to normal. I excused myself to hang the film up to dry. As I was drying my hands off, Shoshana came into the bedroom. "Should be dry in an hour. I'll help you do the contact sheet tomorrow."
"My mom is making coffee," she said, "we can have it in here."
Okay. Nothing had really happened. It definitely was hot but I was a gentleman and there was nothing I was going to have to lie to Lisa about. I did have that stiffy but I could just keep that to myself.
"Do you want to do what Neal and I do?" she said.
"We play the vampire."
"First I put these vampire fangs in my mouth. You shut your eyes and then I bite your neck.
"It doesn't seem like much of a game."
"Well, it's not really a game. It's funny, you see those big hickeys we give each other. Lisa thinks it's hysterical."
"Hey, I was wondering...so Neal lets you do that to him? I wouldn't think that he would enjoy that."
"No, he really likes it. He likes that it keeps everyone guessing."
"Well, it would be pretty funny to show up tomorrow with this thing on my neck.
She told me to lay down on the floor and close my eyes. I heard her say "I vant to suck your blood." She turned my head to the side and sunk her teeth into the right side of my neck... and it tickled like hell..at first. And then, it felt really good. Really good. After a minute or so, she said "My turn." and laid down next to me. She took the fangs out of her mouth and told me to open mine and she put them in my mouth. I had expected the fangs to be hard, but they were soft foam. "Where do you want it?" I asked. "Here" she said putting her finger on the left side of her neck.
In truth, I actually hadn't given many hickeys in my life. I started out very gently until she said: "You have to put some teeth into it." I sucked a bit harder and opened my mouth a bit further. And, she said, "Yeah, that's perfect, keep doing that." So I did. And then she started making little moaning sounds...and I thought to myself "Hey, I'm good at this." She pulled my head closer into her neck and exhaled the word "Yes."
And, just at that very moment her mother opened the door and saw what we were doing. Well, not really saw because the bed blocked most of the view of us. All but her daughter's legs sticking out. I'm not exactly sure what was going on with those legs as I was busy concentrating until Shoshana's mother let loose with a shrill "OH my God.", "OH my God." Then a slight pause and "What are you doing...!?"
"I mumbled "Oh Shit" while still attached to Shoshanas neck. I disengaged with a popping sound and she popped bolt upright and started telling her mother it was a role playing game...we were pretending to be vampires.
"What is wrong with you?" her mother asked. "It's a joke." Shoshana said.
And then there was a small balding man in slacks and a tee shirt standing next to her mother. "Arnold, they are having sex on the floor...sex on the floor!" Up to that point, I had assumed that the father was either dead or missing. Apparently, he liked to stay in his bedroom. "Daddy, we weren't doing anything like that, we were playing a game." "Arnold", her mother said "she was moaning and touching herself...I saw it with my own eyes!"
Arnold looked at his daughter, saw the hickey forming on her neck, then looked at me and saw the one his daughter had given me. Then he looked down at my rapidly diminishing boner which as far as I was concerned was not diminishing as fast as I thought it should.
As Arnold moved towards me, I thought for a Nano second that he was going to introduce himself and started to extend my hand. But registering how red he was and how fast he was moving realized I was going to get punched in the face. Arnold took his swing but being only about five feet three inches, managed to punch me in the throat.
Shoshana screamed and so did her mother. I fell backward onto the bed grabbing my neck, coughing and choking and was certain that Arnold was about to land one right on my balls. Covering my crotch and straining to see what was going to happen next, I saw him just turn around and leave the room with his wife in trail. They went down the hallway to their bedroom and gently shut the door.
"I am so sorry" Shoshana kept saying over and over. I couldn't say anything. I couldn't even swallow.
I grabbed my jacket, my camera and headed for the door,
On the subway, I had plenty of time to wonder if I would ever be able to eat again and where the hell was that little man every other time I was over there? And why hadn't anybody ever mentioned him before? I also had time to feel sorry for myself and I wanted to call Lisa as soon as I got home. It wasn't like I had done anything bad.... we were just goofing around and besides Lisa said she couldn't care less or that she doesn't get jealous or... something. She would think it was all funny. Yep, everything would be fine.
The next morning my throat still hurt. I also had a purple and red blotch on my neck that was huge. Christ, it looked like she actually drew blood. I started having my doubts as to whether or not Lisa was going to think that thing was funny. I thought about Arnold, and started to laugh but had to stop because it hurt so much. Where Arnold had landed his little hand was already turning black and blue.
I found the only turtle neck I owned. It was hot and scratchy but covered up everything. Geez, I might not even have to deal with this at all, I thought.
I didn't see Lisa until lunch when we met up at Blimpies. I sat down next to her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Hi Turtle Boy. How did it go with Sho girl yesterday?" "It was fine. I think she has some nice pictures." And right on cue Neal and Shoshana sat down across from us. Shoshana looked like she had been attacked with a ball peen hammer to the neck. "Oh my God!" Lisa said laughing. "Neal, did you do that?" I started to answer for him but Neal interrupted and said "No, that's all your boyfriend."
Lisa said "Come here, Turtle Boy." Pulling down my collar revealed first my black and blue trachea and then turning my head, the hole Shoshana tried to make through my neck.
"Oh my God, that's disgusting." Lisa blurted out. "Let me see yours, Sho." Shoshana turned her head to the right. "Yep, those are his teeth."
"We were just goofing around," she said. "Like Neal and I do. And, my mother walked in! She screamed because she thought I was giving him a blow job. And then my father came in the room and punched Socks in the neck! It was hysterical."
It was then that I realized it was neither funny and I wasn't innocent. Shoshana was the only one who was laughing. Whatever her relationship with Neal was, he was obviously troubled and got up and left without saying a word. I felt Lisa sitting next to me, chewing the plastic coffee stirrer like she usually did. Without saying a word about it, she started to fade out. Feeling like such a fool, I asked if anyone was hungry. Lisa stood up and said she didn't feel well and was going home. "I'll go with you." Shoshana said.
So there I sat. Just as Lisa started to walk away, she said: "I'll call you."
It was clear, that she wouldn't.