The discomfort of the oppressive heat oozing out of the radiator on this boiling June night intensifies the unfathomable images dancing round and round in my head. It’s just a few minutes past 11pm on a Saturday night, and with two stores to tend to along with the recent pile of worries Jesse has dragged into my life - prompting me to get a restraining order against him - I’m beyond drained.
Sleep is eluding me. Teasing me. It has played this wicked game with me since the day Ira Riklis crossed over into the untouched part of my normal self. But what really happened after his hostile takeover of me is I have become his sex slave. I am stuck inside an invisible bubble thwarted by this man-boy’s obsessive lust, who sees me as body parts: ass, breasts, legs, hair, pussy.
The thin white sheet on my naked body feels like a goose down comforter and I push it off. It lies flat the way wind will suddenly disappear out of a billowing sheet so that it is limp beside me. Turning on my side with my hair falling over my face I remember it was Chris who brought Jesse to me.
I don’t want to ask Ira for money. First and foremost, I want to prove to myself that I can care for myself in a normal way on my own. Secondly, if I were to go ask him for anything, he would make it such a complicated set of hoops, each requiring my having to see him or speak with him face to face, when in reality I know it’s just another carrot on stick game he plays to get near me. He wants to be close enough to touch me, to control me, to fuck me. To squat down between my legs in front of my pussy, with drooling lips, while rubbing my clitoris raw. At this point I refuse to play his games any more.
With two stores and two apartments and four employees, I have to find ways to save money, I figure I can do this by giving up the nicer of my two apartments and move back into the smaller one which I use as storage for the stores.
Moving my books is the problem. They fit easily into the wall-to-wall bookcase in my nice apartment but there really isn’t any room for them at my smaller place. So, I decide I will build a bookcase that resembles the one I have. It’s a simple solution to a big problem.
I spend a couple of days calling about a dozen carpenters while perched in my office that sits in a small loft above my Columbus Avenue store. I gather quotes from all of them. And just as I have decided on which one to hire a heavyset blond man in his 30’s walks into my store, unannounced and uninvited.
“Hi, my name is Chris, I just opened the hardware store around the corner,” he gestures with his arm extending his plump hand.
“Nice to meet you.” I slip my hand into his extended one, but his grip is so tight it’s almost painful, so I pull it away quickly.
“Yeah, I just retired from the police force and, you know, decided to open up a shop.” He can’t seem to stand still, moving his weight from one foot to the other, and it’s distracting.
“Aren’t you a little young to be retired Chris?”
He looks down at the hardwood floor, shuffles his feet, and then raises his head. His clear blue eyes look straight into my own.
“I got hurt on the job so I retired. I don’t want to keep you, but I just thought I’d stop by and let you know that if you need anything. Anything at all. If you need something to be built…”
“Yes! Yes!” I exclaim with the sort of excitement I haven’t felt in a long time. “I need a bookcase built in my apartment. Is that something you do?”
“Absolutely can do! Hey, I’ll have one of my guys, uhm, his name is Jessie, out to your apartment later today.”
“Wait a minute, how much is this going to cost me?”
“Three hundred dollars.”
Everyone else I had spoken to on the phone from my store quoted me a price that was at least three times what he just offered. I agreed on the spot.
Jesse is a cross between John Stamos and a young Tony Curtis. He is in his 20s and stands exactly six feet tall. If I were to venture a guess, he weighs about 200 pounds, but is all pure muscle. It was as if Michelangelo’s David had walked off its base in Florence, Italy and followed me home.
But unlike the perfect statue, Jesse I later discover, appears to be homeless, often telling me he’d slept in the basement at the hardware store. In hindsight he must have known I was a softie for sob stories, because like moonshine laced with embalming fluid, one shot was all it took to blast through the walls I’d put up around me with sad stories of his poverty-stricken life.
I toyed with the idea of sleeping with him – a ‘just for the hell of it fuck’ because I wanted a normal guy, not a multi-billionaire married man, and if I’m to be honest: I’m still a single woman. And as a single woman I believed I could. Jessie made me feel something I thought had died within me – a strong sexual stirring from the deepest recesses of my soul. Okay from my loins – on the other side of my fragmented world. The part of me Ira hadn’t been able to touch or sully.
Jesse built the bookcase. And after he was done, he painted and repainted my living room a pale canary yellow. The first coat was too bright and so he softened it for me. After he was done with that, moving day came along, and he helped me with the movers who brought my stuff from the other apartment. Somehow, I was cramming everything into my smaller place, which now had a wonderful new bookcase for my precious books.
As Jesse helps me arrange and rearrange my furniture, I start sobbing.
“Why are you crying?” He cradles my face and wipes the tears falling heavy like berries with both his hands.
“I don’t know why I’m crying… I’m overwhelmed by all of this… The move… Everything… I somehow never thought I’d have to move back in here…” I gasp for air as I blurt out each sentence between my hysterical sobs.
Jesse pulls me toward him and kisses me. It’s startling and impulsively I push him away and because he’s not letting me go, I part my lips and his tongue plunges deep into my mouth giving me a long, wet kiss.
Ira’s face pops into my mind and for a second I feel I am betraying him. Even when I am not with him Ira manages to walk around with me like second skin so that I am no longer myself, but a combination of the perfect fantasy woman he thinks I am and what he is: a man obsessed with me.
My splintered soul seems, in this moment in Jesse’s strong arms, to be finally free. As he removes my clothes, he also sheds the shame I’ve carried for years, and I give in to being the girl I was before all the bad things happened.
No matter what happens after this moment, I know I am free.
After that day Jesse spent a lot of time helping the girls and me at the store. He would even be at the shop when Ira stopped by a couple of times. Although they looked at each other, they never spoke, not even a hello, which I always thought was peculiar.
Jesse seemed like a godsend…until he wasn’t.
A couple of weeks later I open my bank statements and cancelled checks to Jesse that I know I haven’t written fall out of the thick envelope. My heart shatters like a bottle of cherished perfume smashing against the hard floor.
I confront him and call the police, who for some odd reason aren’t responsive. I can’t seem to get help from anyone, not Chris and more surprising, not Ira. It won’t be for many years into the future that I will realize it was Ira, all the while, who through Chris and Jessie and a Machiavellian plan gone awry tried to kill me.
I tumble into a much-treasured slumber. Just as quickly I am awakened by loud thumps. Quick heavy steps run across the roof above me. I hear my heart pulsating in my ears as I sit up, hoping that the three deadbolts I’ve installed on my front door and the gates I’ve put on the windows since Ira hasn’t installed any of his own high tech security systems in my home are going to be enough to protect me.
I hear someone land with a thud on my air conditioner. And for a brief moment I think the air conditioner and whoever is on it is going to fall, because the whole wall shakes and the air-conditioner is bent.
I start screaming like a shrieking train bracing itself for an unexpected stop.
Loud piercing screams come from the deepest part of my being. I am overcome with fear, and can’t stop screaming because my instincts tell me I am going to die.
In the dark I reach for the black silk robe I keep at the foot of my bed and as soon as I’m in it, I see the fist, then the arm, coming through the window. Shards of glass, large and small, spew like popping popcorn into the air. Jesse’s contorted face pushes through next and our eyes meet.
The light from the moon is shining behind him and I can see his face glimmering like a demon from hell drenched with sweat and soot and blood. Gone is the face that once reminded me of Michelangelo’s David. He has transformed himself into Jack Nicholson from The Shining.
1994-2019 Copyright Kirby Sommers