It’s starting to feel normal to fuck Chantal. And so good. God, so good. It’s what I need right now. Almost enough to make me feel like I don’t need a man to make me feel complete, after all. Almost.
Being with Chantal stirs up a bunch of questions in me, though. Most are pretty obvious, I guess.
Am I really going to leave Sid? Will I stay with Chantal? What will Sid do? Will he hurt Chantal? Aunt Carol? And who else? Oh, yeah, let’s not forget this one, too. Am I really a lesbian at heart? Can I live without a man, without that male flesh I love so much?
All these questions actually come down to just one: What the hell am I going to do? And the clear answer? Damned if I know.
Sorry, if you were expecting some simple solution to all this. That’s not happening.
Maybe if Chantal had a cock, which she doesn’t, all this might be easier. And if Sid wasn’t such a dick himself it might be easier, too. But he is. And if maybe I had the sense I was born with, which apparently I don’t, it also would be a whole lot simpler. So forget the easy answers.
Before I make myself nuts I need to chill and just let things ride for now. Besides, Chantal’s delicious tongue and magic lips and perceptive fingers feel too good, so I’m going to enjoy them and figure it all out later.
The night passes and the next morning I’m back at the restaurant chopping onions. That makes two nights since I split. I’d say by now my absence has been noticed. Meanwhile I’ve gotten some money from Chantal, which she owed me, so I’m not destitute any more and can even ride the Metro – much more on Condition Yellow now – instead of walking everywhere, and I don’t feel like a total deadbeat. In the afternoon I’m going with Chantal to the police station to report the theft so I can start to get my ID back and, hopefully without answering a bunch of questions that won’t be asked, I’ll begin to recover at least the identity I lost. Life starts to feel a little normal, if not actively good, again.
Yeah, Sid’s still out there. I haven’t heard from him, not even a text, but he’s like a dark planet lurking in space that can come crashing into my orbit at any time, and probably just when I’m feeling like I’m safe. As much as I want to, I can’t forget him. And as much as Chantal discounts him, I don’t.
Chopping onions and vegetables is a kind of therapy to me. I’d chop them all day and all night and probably forever if I could just forget all the rest. I smell like an onion, I’ve chopped so many, and I’m thankful that at least I can take showers at Chantal’s.
When we go to the police station in the afternoon the cops are, to put it kindly, indifferent to my plight. One is assigned to take down my report, and he does, offering as much sympathy as he can and not have it appear that it really matters to him, and I get the ugly incident finally down on paper. Chantal suggests I report what Sid did, too, and have him arrested and maybe kicked out of the country, but to me that seems like breaking the rules we tacitly had between us, between Sid and me, and I tell her that’s not necessary and I’m not doing it. Chantal is surprised and disappointed that I stand up to her and, even with the cops there supposedly to protect me, I’m unwilling to go against Sid, and she lets it show.
Somewhere deep down inside I’m starting to get pissed off. I’m already pissed at Sid, which is kind of obvious. I’m pissed at the prick who stole my wallet, which goes without saying. I’m pissed at myself, for getting myself into the place I’m at. And I’m pissed at the police for treating me like one more stupid American tourist who got her bag picked. But now I’m getting pissed at Chantal, too. It’s true, I am. It’s building slowly, it doesn’t come all in a red-faced rush, but I’m getting pissed at her for acting like she has all the answers and can protect me from Sid, from myself, from life itself. I’m embarrassed to say that, I really am, since she’s been so good to me and is giving me shelter from this storm I got myself in. Don’t ask me to say it’s logical. It’s not. But I’m feeling it, and saying I’m not doesn’t make it not true.
We walk without speaking on the way back from the cop shop. Then, finally, I pop the question that’s been on my mind.
“Chantal, how would you feel if I call one of your clients? Some have given me their numbers. You probably know.”
Chantal keeps walking and doesn’t answer right away. It’s a question she’s not expecting. Her answer, when it comes, is a question of her own.
“Which client are we talking about, chérie?”
“I don’t know. Maybe that Roger, one of those clients who came by that Sunday afternoon when I played for you. Or Mario, your Italian customer. Do you remember him?”
“I remember all my customers.”
There is another silence, punctuated by our steps on the hot cracked sidewalk.
“You have been the popular one, haven’t you? Of course I am not surprised. I see the effect you have on the clients. Why now do you think to call one of them? Do you need a man so much?”
“No, not so much. But I can’t keep staying with you, and you yourself said someone else can take me in and give me the things I need. I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do.”
The words are barely out of my mouth when I can tell I said the wrong thing. Chantal keeps walking, but her eyes, those magical green eyes glinting in the afternoon sun, take on a hard look, one I’m not used to seeing. Not on my account. And then she asks the question I most dread and didn’t expect to come so soon, though I knew eventually it would. It had to.
“Are you not happy with me, ma chère? Do you not enjoy our time together?”
She stops when she asks the question, taking both my hands in hers, her eyes locking on mine. Now I see, more than a hardness, a sadness in them. I don’t know why, but such sadness in Chantal surprises me. It touches me, lodges itself in me. It’s so rare I ever see sadness in her. And now I’m the source if it.
“It is not a cage I keep you in, mon petit oiseau. If you wish to be released, you don’t need even to ask. You are free to fly away, as you please.”
“It’s not that, Chantal. You mean so much to me. You are more than just my employer or my lover. You have been my everything, and I mean that sincerely. But I can’t be a burden to you. And I can’t put you in danger.”
“A burden? You are anything but a burden. You are a joy. I do not say that often. As for danger, Sid knows very well that I have powerful friends of my own. If he dares try anything, anything at all, he’ll be the one in danger. Have you not thought of that, ma chère fille? Why do you think he has not already been at my door looking for you? Certainement, he knows where you are.”
I don’t have good answers for Chantal. She’s so smart, I’m forced to dance around the truth of what she’s saying. It would be easy, so easy, just to say, yes, I’ll stay with you, Chantal. Yes, I’ll be yours. Yes, love me like I want, like I need, to be loved, and I’ll be your devoted lover, your sweet everything as you’ve been to me. I’ll even be your devoted slave, as I have been to Sid, and there is nothing you can ask of me that I won’t give you. It would be so easy. It would. But somehow, I can’t bring myself to say it, any of it. Instead, what I say has the ring of insincerity to it, even to me. And, worse, it’s so trite.
“Okay, Chantal. I won’t call anyone. I’ll stay with you, for now, and let’s see how it goes. I don’t want to hurt you, I’d never want to do that, but I can’t promise more than that, for now. You’ve left the cage door open, and I appreciate that, and I’m not flying out of it. I’m sorry if I’m hard to figure out. I know I am. It’s just how I am.”
I stop short of saying something truly lame, like, it’s me, Chantal, not you. I just can’t be that banal. And I do my best not to show my impatience, that pissy impatience I’m feeling with her, though I’m sure she senses it, she’s so perceptive. But I know my answer doesn’t satisfy her, and how could it?
“Come, Rosie, let’s continue. It’s almost time for the first customer to arrive. We can talk about this later. Will you play for me this afternoon?”
“Of course I will, Chantal. You know I’d do anything, well, almost anything, I guess, for you.”
“Oui, presque. Almost. It is too hot out here to discuss this further. There is a better time and place for such talk.”
So we go on to Chantal’s cool apartment, and in minutes I’m naked, a little sweaty from the street, my nose almost back to normal dimensions, and at the piano on my favorite bench, so tantalizing on my tender bottom, cool against my damp quim, and beginning one of those light tunes I’ve developed a preference for, when the first knock comes at the door. I wonder what more we can say to one another, Chantal and I, that we haven’t already said. The rest seems but a chorus.