I used to have a sexual relationship with a girl who would beg me to cut her with a scalpel.
The reason why I called it a sexual relationship is because all we did was drink, fuck and watch her bleed. Well — that is a half-truth. I think we went out to eat a few times, and I seem to remember being dragged to a few birthday parties for friends of hers that were in bars. Which is why I think those happenings do not count, because we were always in bars.
I met her one Summer afternoon in Union Square Park. I was sitting on a bench with my headphones on, reading a book and smoking. I noticed her sitting a few benches caddy-corner to me, her head on a swivel watching everyone in the park. To me, she looked very sad — her socks were two different colors, and her hair looked like she had dyed it so many times that it was dry and a fire hazard. She kept on digging around in her canvas tote bag, and had a cigarette behind her ear.
When she made eye contact with me, I immediately knew that she was going to ask me for a light. I watched her as she pulled a really thick book out of her bag and tucked it under her arm. She then took her hands and ran them over the front of her shirt, got up, and started to walk over to where I was sitting.
I pretended not to notice her, and kept my head bowed and into my own book. I reached down and lowered the volume on my headphones, so I could hear her.
“You wouldn’t happen to have any matches or a lighter I can possibly use, would you?”
Her voice cracked and sounded as disheveled as she looked. I felt awful for her. I reached into my pocket and handed her my lighter, telling her she could keep it.
“No, I couldn’t do that. Thank you, though” she said as she struggled to light her cigarette. Click. Grind. Click. Grind. Sigh.
“Here, let me do that for you” I say, taking the cigarette out of her mouth and putting it into my own, lighting it cleanly on the first grind of the lighter. Handing it back to her, I still try to give her my lighter, but she shakes her head against the gesture.
“Is it cool if I sit here with you for a minute? I mean — if you’re okay with that and everything,” she asks. I nod my head at the empty area on the bench next to me and she sits, her bag making a clunking sound on the wood.
“I’m Angela, by the way — nice to meet you” she says as she thrusts her hand out in front of her. I take it and tell her my name. Her hand is soft, but clammy like someone who is getting over a cold and still weak.
After five minutes or so of random niceties, Angela asks me if I’d like to go to a bar and get a drink.
“Sure, why not?”
Seven hours later we are in her apartment that she shares with two other young women. One of them is out of town, and the other is working overnight at the hospital she is doing her internship at. The apartment is neat and full of energy that definitely belongs to young women who have just graduated from college. Lots of books all over the place, and plants that look like they are actually being cared for.
Angela and I drank quite a bit at the four bars we rolled through today.
We are laying in her small futon, glistening, smoking. There are the faint sounds of bad college music coming from her open laptop on her desk. The awkward curves of her body — bony of spine and hip, soft fleshly arms and thighs — they are magnified post-coital, as if I am seeing her body for the first time even though I have just explored every inch of it.
Angela stabs out her cigarette and then lays back with her shoulders and head on my chest, with her hand underneath her head, exposing the underside of her arm. She is mumbling something about more whiskey as I run my fingers across the softest part of her arm, from the inside of her elbow into her armpit.
My fingers stopped, lingering on the cross-hatching of scars just inside of it.
“Cut yourself shaving often?” I ask, giggling a little bit as I do so. Angela stiffens and pulls my hand away, rolling over to face me. Kisses me hard.
“I kind of have this thing I do.”
“It’s easier if I just show you. I don’t really want to explain it all,” she says, and she peels herself off of me and goes over to her desk. She rummages around in her tote bag again and comes back with a small leather case that looks almost like a travel shaving kit. She sits herself down cross-legged in front of me, and looking at her body again I see more tell-tale markings on the insides of thighs, in the curve of her breasts, just below the belt-line across hips.
Unzipping the pouch, she pulls out a scalpel. Angela looks up at me, her big brown eyes glazed from the alcohol and the sex — and quite possibly the anticipation of a fresh cut.
“I’ve never let anyone cut me before, but I feel kind of like, I don’t know — would you cut me?”
Months later, the ritual of the cutting has become second nature to me. Angela and I usually meet up one or two nights per week for drinks somewhere, and eventually tumble into bed. Sometimes she asks me to cut her before we fuck — so she can feel the sting of the sweat moving into an open wound. There are also times where she will beg me to drag my tongue through a fresh cut, and even one sloppy drunk moment when she grabbed hold of my cock and pulled it across the redness of a new addition to her inner thigh.
I honestly never thought of any kind of ramifications. This was just something extremely intimate going on between two people. Nothing more, nothing less.
Angela and I drifted apart at the apex of a very dark and cold Winter. I found myself going to bars that I knew she did not frequent, and would occasionally get lucky enough to go home with some other woman — usually a woman who would bristle the moment I stuck my tongue in their armpit, or felt around aimlessly and drunk for secrets attached to scar tissue.
Usually, I was just politely asked to let myself out.
One night near the end of February, I received a text message on my phone from Angela, that read “Meet me at 10 at the Sly Fox.” You remember – the bar with the “date rape hallway.” I was just walking out of work, so I had some time to kill, and went into another bar to get prepared. We had not seen each other in a while, so I had a feeling she was either going to give me some sort of bad news, or was going to lay into me about our lapse in the ritual.
Standing outside of a bar across the street from the Sly Fox, I see Angela. She is wearing a dress and heels — two things she never owned before. I am watching her as she is in the middle of a very animated argument with a very effeminate-looking young man. She throws her shoulders back as her arms flail about her, the rest of her twisting and throwing itself at the poor bastard she is screaming at. I look at my watch and see that it is quarter-to-ten. “Fuck it,” I think, and then I start to cross the street.
Angela introduces me to her boyfriend, his name is Tomas, as a former professor of hers from NYU. When Tomas asks me what I teach, I almost want to say “cosmetic surgery,” but Angela speaks for me and says “creative writing,” which is almost as ridiculous. Tomas tells me he is a sculptor, and when I look at his eyebrows, I believe him. I also wonder if Angela finally found someone who would let her make a video of her pegging them.
I politely ask them if they would like anything to drink, and then work my way over to the crowded bar to try and down as many shots of tequila as I can before going back over to them. I tell the bartender to load me up with four shots and he frowns until I slide the money across to his hand. I then tell him the other drinks and slide him some more money. The shots burn but do their job. I am elbow to elbow with college students trying to pick up three drinks when Tomas reaches his hand in and just grabs his.
“I figured I would help you, plus Angela is being a fucking cunt.”
If I didn’t like him before, my blood was telling me that I hated him now. All I can do is glare at him. He looks at me like I have shit smeared all over my face, and then starts chatting up some girl at the bar. I turn and look for Angela, and she is sitting in a booth, looking at the table.
“He’s an asshole. I started fucking him when you stopped returning my calls. It’s not the same,” she’s breathless but keeps on going, “Tomas is so full of himself that he asks me to put a mirror in front of me while he fucks me from behind, so he can see what he looks like.”
I just look at her. I feel awful, so I take my hand and put it on top of hers on the table. Angela sighs in a way that makes me want to hold her, even though there is no reason to — she has Tomas now. She cranes her neck around and sees him at the bar with the girls, acting as if he gives a shit about what they are saying to him.
“What I neglected to tell you is that tonight is Tomas’ birthday,” Angela says. “And he kept on begging to have a threesome. The reason why I invited you out tonight was to convince him to let you be the third person.”
“Angela? You know me better than that — only one sword to a fight with me, sugar.”
“I know. I do. But I hoped, because he won’t do the things for me that you used to do — says they are ‘mutilation’ and ‘unnatural’ and that there is something really fucking wrong with me.”
Angela starts to cry. I cannot bear to see a woman cry, no matter what kind of asshole I am. We both look over at Tomas, still animated and trying his best to find himself an extra consort.
The Date Rape Hallway is long, thin, and poorly lit. You have to go down two really long flights of stairs to get down here, so most of the bar traffic goes next door and uses the bathrooms that are attached to the Ukranian restaurant instead. There is a very dark cornered L-shape at the end of the hallway, where a payphone used to be.
I have Angela’s dress up around her waist, two of my fingers inside of her and the scalpel in my other hand. She is bent forward, with both of her hands planted on the wall. It feels like she is going to pull my entire arm up and into her. I graze her flesh with the dull edge of the scalpel and she pushes harder onto my hand. I get down on one knee and stick my tongue in her ass, but only for a second before she starts to beg.
“Just do it already, please? Just fucking cut me. I need you to do it. Please?”
I slide my fingers as close to being out of her as I can, and just as I drag the blade through her skin I push them back in, hard. Angela slams her head into the brick wall in front of her, grunting and fusing herself onto my fist. I get up off of my knee and pull myself out of my pants, forcing my way into her asshole.
I can see the blood from the cut working its way down her leg, leaving little droplets on the dirty floor. I have a fistful of her hair twisted around my wrist. With each thrust, there is an echoing slap that pounds off of the walls. Our breathing, our panting — filling up the space around us. Angela feels like she is about to shudder.
And this is why we lovingly called it The Date Rape Hallway. This was our special place, the place we came when we needed to let everything out.
My hands are now on Angela’s hips, the rest of me inside of her ass. We’re working like a machine now, trying to kill one another. There is so much blood on the floor, on my hands and now all over her ass. I’m right on the cusp of release, I can feel it roiling in the balls of my feet. Leaning my head back, as if to roar, I see a shape standing against the wall.
I ignore him, and continue to fuck Angela. I almost lost my rhythm for a moment, but I can feel that she is ready to go as well. As soon as Angela starts to have her orgasm, which in turn triggers my own, I start to scream at the top of my lungs —
“Ha-aaaaaaa-ppy Birth-d-aaaaaaaay, T-o-o-o-o-o-mas!”
It echoes louder than anything I have ever heard in my entire life. Angela starts to laugh hysterically, slapping at the wall in front of her. I reach down between her legs, and pull my hand back up to my face, blood and semen. I smear it all over my face like war paint, staring at Tomas.
“Never tell a woman who is kindly enough to fuck you that what she wants is ‘unnatural,’ you fucking prick.”