A Psychological Thriller
The Animal Bridegroom
Persephone hated parties because she hated being stared at. What a relief to leave this one; swiveling her legs up and into the car while Roy stalked, raging as usual, toward the battered green pickup that hedged them in.
“Assholes!” Roy shouted to the night sky as he kicked the capless hubs. “Trashpeople! How can they take a piece of crap like this street-wheeling? Like they took a dump on the asphalt.”
It had been a better party than usual, thought Persey as she waited. That fascinating man she had spent all evening talking to; who was he again? While
Roy opened the pickup’s door, searching for keys, she fished out the business card from beneath her left breast and scanned it surreptitiously. “Ned McKick, Behavioral Profiler.” Glad to get rid of it, she tossed it in the glovebox. On her person that card was red-hot, but in the glovebox it was anonymous; trash left behind by one cop at a policeman’s party.
“Bingo!” shouted Roy, locating keys beneath a frayed mat and roaring the V-8 into action. He didn’t care where he left the vehicle – one wheel in the ditch was OK by him – as long as space was left for a hasty exit. Instant gratification was too slow for Roy. He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it.
He routinely drove too fast, refusing seatbelts as insufficiently macho. He was lit; he was high, but not enough to seriously interfere with either his reaction time or his goal-oriented behavior. He played with her nipples, coaxing them to points.
“Thanks for coming, pudden,” he told her. “I know you hate it.”“I sure was surprised, seeing Stormee there,” was her only comment. Roy signaled annoyance at a creeper in the fast lane by traveling in the median. The shift to dirt from tarmac set the car to bouncing wildly, but Roy steered it one-handedly back to the pavement.
“Last time,” he told. “Jarod says she’s history. She’s sexed out.”
Another of Jarod’s wives down for the count. Jarod 4, Wives Zero. Persey was glad; Stormee was creepy. A professional bodybuilder, she was a disturbing
gender shape shifter to Persey’s point of view, or even a third sex. She licked her lips at Persey in a particularly unpleasant way, as if she was the dirty-joke and Persey was the punchline.
Thanks to Roy’s crazy driving – what policeman would stop them? — they were home in half the time. Roy began stripping off Persey’s mermaid dress in the driveway, tearing it in the process. Persey resigned herself to $800 down the drain – some things were good for one-time-only. Behind the house, Digger barked frantically from his pen.
Persey propelled her husband forward. No sex on the car tonight. Neighbor’s lights were already going on.
“Not here, honey. It’ll be better upstairs.”
Roy chose to blame his frustration on Digger. “That goddamn DOG won’t shut up!”
“He’ll bark all night. Give me just one moment to let him in!”
Roy stormed in through the front door, flinging keys in the direction of the hall table. She could tell from the sound of metal on tile that he missed. Holding the dress around her like a sarong, she opened Digger’s gate and took him in through the garage, skirting the boat, the Corvette, the Harley sleeping in their plastic sheets. Roy’s truck and her own car never even made it out of the rain.
“Barkers get bullets,” Roy muttered. “You tell him.”
She found him standing in her pink and celadon kitchen, throwing his shirt in the general direction of the laundry room. A finicky man, he couldn’t tolerate a speck of dirt; changed his clothes all day long. The white and gold pearl-buttoned shirt he had worn to the party was new; another one-time-only; he would never wear it again. Same for the white ducks; the bloom was off that particular rose. Jarod’s fortieth birthday party had been a spectacular occasion; tomorrow back to flannels and jeans.
Digger raced for his water dish, and Persey threw a biscuit in his bowl. She always had to be careful about showing too much affection to Digger in front of Roy. He was perfectly capable of complaining, “You love that dog more than me” just like a five year old. As it was, he shot the dog a jealous glance.
Persey let the dress drop. “Now what can do for you?”
His eyes rolled upward like an epileptic’s as he shivered. “Let me keep the lights on.”
It was a concession, because he would want to use the handcuffs. Seeing herself from the outside, feeling exposed, made it harder to get into the mood and find the secret place inside that triggered come. Fortunately there was always fantasy, that loyal tool.
“OK,” she agreed.
He didn’t say she had to keep her eyes open and she closed them as Roy carried her up the stairs. Into the depths of her brain rode the dark man, the scarred man met today at the party. When first she saw him she mistook him for a plumber; nothing in his garb proclaimed a celebrant. But their conversation revealed him as a hunter, a hunter of men who chose to remain incognito. Immediately Persey identified. If she could, she would choose to remain unseen, to float through life observing. She would never able to get her best friend Cinda to understand that in some ways it might be a curse to be born with a face and body that drew all eyes.
Roy bumped her legs in the doorway of the black-and-white bedroom, but in the grips of her fantasy she fell to her knees before the lathering horse, foam falling from his bridle like wedding flowers.
Roy laid Persey out on the bed, crooning over her whitegold skin. Back in high school, he’d wanted nothing more than matching tattoos, but Persey’s dream mentor, the Bird Lady, she whose heavy bracelets disguised a number string, called body-ink “slave-brand”, so Persey had the strength to hold out against him. Now that Persey was the only unmarked woman left in the universe Roy was glad. The few times she’d tried to tease him with temporary tattoos he’d been angry. His wife must remain pristine.
The rider was coming closer, so close that the ground beneath her shook as if wanting him too. He saw her, he was coming for her; he would stake her out here, like a sacrifice.
The handcuffs clicked into place; then Roy spread her legs open as wide as they would go, massaging her thighs with those little strokes dubbed “effleurage”.
Here came the animal bridegroom of the Bird Lady’s tales; half man, half beast, furred like a bear and hungry for a mate. He and his horse had become one just as she and her wolf Digger were one. Animal called to animal as he dismounted and ran towards her. Beneath his fur the man was naked, dark and hairy, the opposite of Roy. As he bore flying down upon her, fur floated above them like a tent, and she braced herself to receive him, shuddering and smiling, opening in ecstasy.