Dante wishes he could dispute what he sees – who he sees. But he recognises every facet of Flavia: her face; her body; her cries; the way her body bounces during sex (although he has never seen it bounce so violently); the way her breasts splay; the curve of her butt; the sound of her cries; and the feel of her in the throes of passion, this incendiary amour that is exploding before his eyes.
The man who fucks her is a giant. That is how Dante sees him, and it exaggerates how he sees himself. He is that same scrawny kid, despite all the work he has put into himself. He is that same diffident man ambling through life. His cock is woefully ill-equipped – not just in size, but in technique, and in hunger. It is small and pitiful and embarrassed in his trimmed pubic hair.
His intent for Patricia crumbles – he would’ve thrust awkwardly, failing to build any rhythm that would’ve satisfied her; and he would’ve lasted no more than a minute or two before he came. He would’ve walked away thinking he’d done well, that he’d pleased her, that she would remember him fondly, but now in contrast to what he’s witnessing, he knows they’re delusions of grandeur. He snorts. His erection deflates. He can’t even aspire to delusions of adequacy.
Patricia spins and leans her butt against the balustrade of the balcony. Her nipples poke through the film of her t-shirt. How many men would want to be here with her? But Dante’s objectification crumbles – it’s her; whatever triggered her to rebel in the gaming room, whatever compelled her to agree with this, comes from an area of vulnerability that defines her. He does not know her story, but is sure that like him she’s been scarred. She’s fleeing her own demons.
‘Well?’ she says.
Dante lowers his head as Flavia’s moans fill his ears. His head drops further. It is almost as if some inevitability has been fulfilled that she is doing this. It robs him of his anger. He puts his deflated cock away, and zips up his pants, feeling the ring box in his pocket in the process.
‘Why?’ he says.
‘Why did you bring me here?’ Dante finally lifts his face. ‘You could’ve taken me anywhere. You … wanted me to see this? You wanted me to see this! Why?’ He grabs her by the arms. ‘Why?’
Patricia swings her arms, breaking his grip. He can’t even demand the truth from her. Why would she listen? He is a nobody. This is why he was brought here – not because she nurtured some attraction to him, but to humiliate him. It’s apt. His life has been about trying to escape that childhood humiliation, only for a new experience to take its place.
She grabs him by the collar, and pulls him close to her, until their faces can’t be more than an inch apart. Dante can smell her – some apricot perfume she wears, as well as the musky odour of her sweat. Her big brown eyes stare at him. He sees the softness in her – the pity.
‘They’ll have you,’ she says, but her voice is so low, so coarse, that Dante’s unsure he’s heard right. She kisses him slowly, her tongue parting his lips, her mouth closing on his lower lip. ‘Don’t you realise?’
Dante shakes his head. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’
‘Do you want me?’
‘Do you still want me?’
Dante glances at what’s happening on the pylon. It’s lowering into the people below. To his left, the thin, bespectacled man is fucking the blonde against the wall. The rhythm of his hips is jerky, and he seems to slip out often in his excitement. The blonde has her head tilted back and is displaying all the right responses, but Dante knows they’re disingenuous. To his right, he can see only the head of the buxom brunette just above the balcony’s balustrade, one of the men behind her. Dante doesn’t know where the other man is. The brunette’s moans are hoarse, if not breathless, but they contain nothing but pure, undiluted joy.
He falls to one knee, his forehead pitching against Patricia’s belly, his face inches from her thin strip of pubic hair. He clutches at her waist. She rests her hands on his head. Her right hand strokes his hair. He moans. His chest heaves.
Patricia kneels by him, and lifts one hand to his cheek. ‘I don’t know if she’s coming back to you,’ she says.
‘It doesn’t matter. Go.’
Dante nods. That is the best advice. He never wants to return here again – he is not the first to have that epiphany, although he is one of the few to decline seduction, however belatedly, before arriving at that decision. Now, the choice is clear. He nods again.
Go, Patricia mouths the word.
Dante starts to push himself up. Then stops. He doesn’t understand the manoeuvrings, nor Patricia’s cryptic clues, but obviously they’ve gone to a lot of trouble to manipulate him here.
‘What about you?’ he asks. ‘Will you be okay?’
She turns away from him.
‘Will you be okay?’
Dante wants to kiss her. She is now not the Icon who commanded the pool table; nor is she the vixen who seduced him in the Red Lounge. In this very moment, they might be elsewhere – Dante stopping on the freeway to help her with a flat tyre, or a friend come over to be consoled following a break-up, or two strangers bumping into another in a supermarket and discovering some inexplicable attraction.
He leans in. Kisses her on the cheek.
‘Thanks,’ he says.
* * *
Flavia shivers. She can’t help it. Her cries are monotonal in her ears, but there is only surrender at this point, surrender and the bliss. Something touches her outstretched arms. It’s the people. The pylon has lowered her and LeBeau into their reach. Their hands are all over her, pawing at her as if association with her will grant them fortune or favour or blessing.
She wails. Orgasm engulfs her. The whole room blacks out. Her body convulses. She trembles. Her legs spasm. Then she is hitting the floor. Her eyes open. The room spins. Coloured spots dance in front of her eyes.
LeBeau rises over her, between her legs, masturbating himself to completion. His first spurt sails like a shooting star and hits her on the cheek. It’s hot – not just warm, but hot. Flavia grabs at her face. The people crowded around them cheer like LeBeau’s kicked a goal in a word cup final. The second spurt hits her between the breasts, and the third and fourth land on her belly.
Hands grab her, lift her to her feet. Her legs are shaky. People around her cheer. Some paw at her. The cum drips from where it’s fallen. She tries to wipe it clear but there’s people all around her now, making it hard to move. They smear it over her – she is unsure if they’re trying to clean her, or touch it themselves. She can feel the cocks of some of the men prod into her thighs. Breasts press into her back. They are a single mass swallowing her up.
She doesn’t know what these people want from her, and turns to complain to LeBeau. He’s nowhere to be seen. She spins back and forth but he’s gone. He’s deserted her.
Hands pull at her wrists. Others fondle her. They’ve become more insistent. Through an array of feet, she sees her dress. She ducks, fighting through an army of crotches, grabs her dress and darts for the door. Hands trail after her, falling longingly from her body, but nobody tries to stop her.
She reaches the door, yanks it open, steps into the hallway and slams the door shut. Through the portal, she can that there are people kissing, some fornicating on the floor. Others copulate in threesomes and foursomes, a tapestry of interweaving bodies. The lights dim and they become shadows, their features impossible to make out. She shivers, feeling as if their humanity has been lost – they have become a singular pulsating mass of carnality.
Flavia realises she is still streaked in cum. There is nothing to clean it with, so she uses the hem of her dress, puts the dress on, and smooths it out with her hand. The wet, sticky bit of the hem clings to her thigh. She rolls the hem of the dress. It makes wearing it bearable, although now it is indecently short.
She looks back and forth, gauging which way she should be going. Originally, as LeBeau led her down here, she noticed the hallway was on a gentle decline, so the way out is clearly up.
For longer than she should contemplate it, Flavia toys with the notion of going further down the hallway. At the very least, she could peek through the portals. It’s stupid, she knows. She should get out of here; she should be livid with LeBeau; but there’s still curiosity.
She stands there.