The heel of my frye boot caught on a cobblestone. I faltered forward, only to be caught up in his arms. He steadied me as a deep chuckle escaped his chest. His arm snaking around me as we walked down the steep hill, I leaned into his wool coat.
It felt a bit unnerving to walk so, like a clutch from an old black and white movie. He made me feel like silk when I all I had ever known was cotton. His baritone rung out in greetings as we walked the worn path to the heart of the town. ~ El hombre globo they would say, smiles wide…
It was a chilly night in February, the fairy lights on the patio beams,like stars reachable to human touch. He pulled my sweater closer together and coaxed my curls forward as if setting the scene for the picture in his mind. He reached behind him and picked a bit of bougainvillea, snapping the thorns off he tucked it behind my ear. The crowd began to shuffle in as I remained safe in his knook. The huge outdoor fireplace crackling, the cold air nipping we drank mexican beer and lived the moments that you never forget just for their sheer simplicity.
I was half his age, still gouache and fresh to lust. As I watched his grey eyes snap and crinkle with laughter, I felt my nipples tighten. My cheeks flushed pink. This was the man, who drew my baths, luxuriated in washing my long hair. He tied me up and made me use curse words creatively. He held me when the tears ran down my face as we floated among the clouds in his balloon. Before we had left that evening he had painted my toenails a scarlet red. I found myself staring at the tip of his finger that still bore a trace of red varnish… Overwhelmed with tenderness, I lifted his hand to mine and kissed his knuckle. And then, he drew me to him as the fireplace threw a spark. He gently tested my lips as I rose to my tip toes, He held me sure, and kissed me so tenderly that my face bowed. The fleshy part of his lips twisting the cupid bow of mine. Again he pressed down and I yielded. When he broke the kiss he held me still. A tear escaped my doe eyes, that looked on him with such wonder. He took my hand and hugged it to his heart. Beat. Beat. Beat. like a drum. Smiling we turned from the kiss into the chatter of our friends.
On backroad, at a crossroads in the land of the delta blues, his fiancee and mine were hit in a deadly crash. We buried them, and set about dying ourselves. Since childhood and for all the years that counted we had protected each other. Now we sought to tear each other apart. His hair was long then, brushing his shoulders. His heritage of Argentinan and Louisiana Cajun proudly sculpted a face to handsome to be real. If not for the scar on temple and crooked nose I would never have believed him capable of being a madman. I found him at his brother’s place in the French Quarter, early in the morning. The scent of the river mixing with chicory coffee. The click clack of horse drawn tourist carriages filling my ears as I walked into the courtyard. The door to the house stood open and he sat in it, leaning against the jam, a long neck in one hand, a cigarette in the other. Unshaved and untucked, he looked like a devil that’s gone a round or two with an avenging angel. I approached him with an ease born of years of secrets. I kicked his boot gently and coaxed him to grab a shower and we could find breakfast and a new start to the day. His silence was an answer that hung on the breeze. He rose flicking the butt with practiced ease and headed towards the fridge. Two glasses, a few rocks of ice and a bottle of bourbon. He was set to steal my day, to wreck my intentions to survive the pain. He was miserable and mad, to my sad and hopeless. I never could deny him anything, so I gulped the glass of fire and begged for more. An hour past, his hand rubbed my thumb, as he quietly said. “I am leaving Pippa, I can’t stand the sight of this town anymore.” My heart slammed into a bulk of fear. Could I go with him, where was he going. Would he come back, I begged of him….
At the pronouncement of No, I am not coming back, I flew at him. Shaking him, pounding on him. How could he leave me. We were bookends. I couldn’t survive the pain without him there. He tried to push me away and he wasn’t gentle. I felt if I let him, I would lose him. I was so small to his tall. I grabbed on, first my arms around his neck, then using that as leverage my legs around his waist. He would never hurt his Pip, I thought.
I thought wrong. He pulled hard at me. No, I keened. We crashed around, him trying to escape the one who loved him best. Me trying to hold on to my river king. He slammed me against the wall and cursed me. I pulled his hair as hard as I could. I pinched and clawed when he tried to disengage. I screamed at him they are dead, you cant leave. He cruelly looked at me and bit out that he didnt love me, so let him go.
I remember slapping his face and falling to the floor. I scrambled to my feet to run. The King and Queen of the river were no more. He grabbed my hair and then my arm. Maybe he couldn’t bring himself to destroy what was left of me. With a tenderness that contradicted the violence coursing within us, he kissed me. A kiss that was salty from my tears soon became frenzied. I bit his lip testingly, I grabbed his forearm. He grabbed me up and half carried dragged me the few feet to the bedroom. He ripped my shirt open -pushed my skirt up and I unbuckled his belt and pants, his breath hitched as he kissed me. He buried his face in my shoulder, his hair tickling my nose. He held his weight half off of me, I felt a wetness on my throat and a murmured “Oh Bess” – there were three of us in that bed, just then. I moved his head towards me and I kissed his tears, his nose, his jaw. He came to lay facing me. He took my mouth roughly. tongue pushing through, click of teeth, my breast against his hand. pushing into him. He kissed us both just then. The girl that had always been and the girl who would never be.
In a hotel in Toronto, I placed my hands against a plate glass window wall. A silk sash suddenly blinded me. I was instructed not to remove my hands from the display we made, if I wanted that promised kiss. A heart beat, an inhaled breath and a hard slap on my ass all concoured at the same time. A repeated volley of smacks again and again. Spanish guitar hummed in the background as a the jingle and whir of a removed belt filled my senses. I was a tough little lady, hardened by job and life. I could take the pain, I wanted the pain, I did not fear the pain. I wanted to feel something exterior to match my interior. A seething mass of ache. Horse’s hoof beats that echoed the tundra of my past. My bottom stuck out asking. I curved pretty. My spine a feather in the wind.. My tip toes dying to sink to bended knees. The first thwap I startled. He paused waiting for me to move my hands. I held that window into its frame with the will of a sinner. I bowed my head and it began until I was a seething knot of need. I wanted more, I wanted everything that pain begat. But first I wanted that promised kiss. He sat down and left me there at the window. I heard noises and rustling. I grew impatient then went calm only to find my feet tapping. He bade me to turn around and remove the sash. I complied. He had a rueful grin and a glass of wine. He winked at me. I smiled and took a step forward. He halted me. explained that if I wanted my kiss, I would have to crawl to him. I stared at him as if he had grown a second head. I crawled for no one. You dig yourself out of enough life and the only thing you crawl for is a lost earring that has rolled off the nightstand. I told him no. HE stared at me and simply announced.. no kiss then. I removed my lil black slip, body taunt and quivering still , gently moved to my knees and slowly but methodically crawled to him. His nostrils flared and I learned that sometimes when you submit you gain the power of thrill. I crawled to him and straddled his lap. He plucked my nipple and murmured good girl. he gave me sips of his wine as he laid out our night to my hungry ears. I pushed my lips forward in a moue, asking coquettishly for my kiss. He told me that he had not specified where would be kissed. He looked over my body as if searching for an unkissed spot. Finally he gathered my small hand in his and ever so gently, kissed my palm.
In a desert in Africa, beneath a diamond sky I told secrets on the roof of a vintage schoolbus. He was my ginger mirror reflection. Two halves cleaved from a dream. Our freckles kissed long before we did. Tall and lanky to my short and small. I fit in the curve of his u. Only in a place so lonely can you confess truths that you cannot even tell yourself. Born in a fire and baptised by pain we mouthed the hymns of Bruce Springsteen and passed a beat up flask. I was the tick and he the tock. We wove a tapestry of truth and a promise of lies. He was the Rusty Nail that kept me together and I the proof that what we did mattered. Our rose tinted glasses glinted into the moonlight, mocking us. Wool blankets sheltered us from the question of the backstreets. We were in a place and a job that didnt fit us, but defined us. We wore bandanas and wide smiles. Matching boots that wore the dust of chaos and hurt. We held hands so tightly I knew which of his knuckles were broken by heart. He would stop a train with simply his hand, fueled by the power of his devotion to me. I secretly believed in God because of his existence. That’s a powerful fuel to drive lust with. That night I traced his freckles and thumb wrestled for shots of whisky. I cuddled into his body, my back to his chest. Wool regulation blankets wrapped around us. I was a glittering pieces of jagged glass that he shaped the edges to. He kissed me like a happy puppy recalling passion of youth. We revealed too much that night, but in doing so, found a champion in each other. The colder the night grew the hotter his passion burned.
There amid the acrid planes of where humankind began, beneath the watchful eyes of the wild things we whisper sang along to the Rolling Stones- honky tonk woman, putting Jagger to shame…He kissed me hard smothering my giggles. His strong long body coming to intertwine with mine. It was a one night only concert, his lips breathed silently into mine. I closed my eyes and he stroked the downy curls at my temples, as he blew on my eyes then softly trailed kisses down my face. The hunter was hunted. The fuse burned to a distant cowbell. The moon told secrets to the children. If magic exists, it pulled a girl from beneath the woman who lay under him. A girl who needed something to believe in, she saw her other half in a red headed boy, who need to be loved best of all. And so she pulled him close and kissed him with all she had.
Within the bricked walls of my favourite New Orleans bar, I met with my lover for one last dance. We were breaking up, but cared too much for each other, to just part, so we set a date to break up. Friends since we were 15, I knew why he was leaving me. He still loved his college sweetheart and she was moving to the big easy. Loving him as I did, I let him go. Some things have to be learned and can’t be fought for. He was a southern, Irish, raucous poet. My kind of good boy gone bad. Brilliant, tender, charming. He loved the Saints, Steinbeck and New Orleans. We were comfortable in each others arms. He loved me for my fire, I loved him for his gift of word. We did everything together, so an awkward silence crept between our goodbye shots. He was a tough guy, not one to cry or speak of his emotions. Yet as I took my turn at the jukebox and the ceiling fans clicked a tempo overhead… I saw his face flush red. Of all the goodbyes in my life I often reflect on this one. I let my quarters slip down. My sadness pushing numbers. I walked straight back into his arms. One last bar room dance I begged softly. He took me in his arms and in the corner beneath the window, he swayed with me as John Hiatt crooned out Have a lil Faith in Me. We no sooner started dancing then his breath hitched in his chest. He broke the dance off, with a I cant and walked back to our drinks. We paid the bill and faced our ride back uptown. Hand in hand we rode the streetcar back. Click clack the streetcar rocked side to side. My stop came. I looked at him and said, one more night, you owe me a dance. From the quiet walk home to the sound of two beer caps popping. The night remains clear in my whiskey heart. Dialing up the song we had misstepped to, we gave it another whirl on the hardwood floors of my bedroom. Kisses so bright they scattered around us like fireflies. He simply took my breath away with his yearn.
Sometimes at the very ending of a story a new beginning is found. That night from the luck of an Southern Irish kiss, and the joining of two lonesome souls, a gift was conceived. From one kiss, my world eternally changed. From one kiss, that blue eyed southern irish boy became the father of my child.
The kisses. My Scottish Suitor, My Captain, My Macaroni. The sails snapped smartly in the wind, saluting the man at the wheel. A bright scarf tied my long hair back pirate style. I danced around the boat to his Kings of Leon blaring into the Gulf breeze. I hugged the mast and howled with the pleasure of freedom. Just he and I for five days. I giggled my way to him, crazily dancing.. Hugging his waist, whispering I love yous.
It was three am he was baking bread. I wanted him to bake me. I tucked under his strong arms and played with the dough like putty. He moved his huge hands around mine and helped me shape it. Flour rising in puffs around us. He kneaded the bread with a strong touch. Round after round we kneaded and coaxed. Then at last, his lips dropped to my neck and I found myself sat on the island, flour moving around us as he kneaded my lips with his.
Mac, I called racing towards him, bags dropping keys hitting the floor. He came at a jog, He picked me up as you would a small child. Holding me to him as if someone was ripping me away,. He kissed my hair my face. His body shuddered with remorse. Never leave me again he said over and over, Never ever disappear like that again, do you understand me, he thundered. I clung. Like a tree frog, like a crazed infant afraid of the boogie man. He kissed me until my bones melted . He kissed me, stripped me, loved me and never stopped kissing me. He kissed me and told me I was his. I was for him and he for me. It was a rush of emotion. It was a realization. This man really loved me. Those kisses tattooed my lips.. daring any other to ever touch what was his.
I sat with my head on his piano as he played the same song over and over again. I remembered every moment of our years together. His brogue would blend into an accent from a citizen of the world as he sang along softly. I saw the nights he held me in his rocking chair on the porch, singing High Kings as he sipped his Scotch. The kisses in pantry, the dishes I threw at him, The wine we drank in good times and bad.
The baths we shared where he washed away the world, the places he showed me, the family he gave me. He would pull his big tshirts over my head and pop affectionate kisses on my lips. The jealousy in his eyes made me feel like a woman worth being. I could read his thoughts in his kisses….Endeared, angry, tender, rueful, punishing, goodnight, fuck me, I love you be my bride.
So many stories, in so simple, such as a kiss.