I haven't forgotten any detail about that day — not the snow outside piling up by the door, or the smell of the forced air-heat, or the ringing of the church bells down the street. I was in the red room seated at a bar stool, and Cannon was on the sofa, wrapped in a burgundy sweatshirt. We were talking about our script.
“Gangsters made their own rules, and they stood by them,” I said.
“And, they lived the largeness of life; beyond limitations,” Cannon added as his arms accentuated his words. “I wish I was one sometimes.”
“I know what you mean, but I’m very happy you are who you are,” I added. I glanced off to the distance. “Why would you want to be a gangster?”
“I wouldn’t know fear, not like I know it,” he said.
“What are you afraid of?” I asked.
“Strangers and the motives they don't reveal,” he answered.
Cannon's legs were crossed, and one arm stretched over the back of the sofa. His eyes were on me, like two soft spotlights. His feelings filled the pupils of his eyes.
“I think we need to keep our relationship on a professional level,” I said.
“I’ll respect whatever you choose; if this is it then I’ll accept that. Your friendship is very important to me,” he added. “I hope you know that.”
An hour passed, we drank espresso, and then moved to the kitchen. I was fidgeting with a dish sponge.
“Can I give you a hug?” he asked. It was the first time he’d asked, over the last six months. We are writing partners, we are blending fiction and non-fiction into a screenplay.
Like leaves rustled from their branches, layer upon layer of self-preservation shed as effortlessly as sand between my toes, and deeper I sank, until my legs trembled. Does that really happen? Yes, it happened.
Our lips met, and I collapsed into his abyss, his arms and hands caressed my face, and my knees buckled. I’d seen this moment in movies, and dreamt of it so many times.
Cannon’s physical strength seized the fragility of my passion, but with the tenderness of stroking a sick child, as if he knew my sickness.
He slipped his hand beneath the folds of my sweater, and my eyes closed, immediately. In the darkness, his fingers, smooth as silk fabric, tapped, like a kitten’s paw the curves, dips, the bones. My eyes opened, to his moss-brown pupils, and soared with his eyes, into a path, into the sudden elapse of time. The powdery blue walls of the kitchen dripped, the wood beneath our feet turned to liquid. In the moisture of our tongues, our mouths devoured the insides of hungry sexes, mouths thirsty for pleasure and assurance.
I am sliding into a man, after the longest period of solitaire. It has been seven or eight years. A woman stops counting just as she stops noticing the creases and lines. It was when he touched my back that he started to unravel me, like a ball of yarn tossed from the hand. The force came from his fingers, his hands, his whispers. Lightly stroking my back, the marrow of my backbone, the moles and freckles, the back that I hate and guard in one-piece bathing suits, turtlenecks, and the back I hide.
“I love your back,” he whispered. His voice crawled into my bones, and my nerves awakened the dead wood of my sensuality. Years, too many to count, at least 10, I endured the unfulfilled hollow of physical love. This primitive eruption. It was as if I was running through the rainbow of ecstasy, at the moment of abandoning myself into the folds of his skin. My breasts, my head, my belly, my sex. The turtleneck sweater dropped to the floor. A powdery dusk past, a chorus of clouds sailed by the window… transforming the sky into steely grey… all light vanished.
I took Cannon’s hand in mine and led him upstairs. Beneath the faded pink sheets, I tossed and scratched, eagerly, selfishly, violently. I tugged at his skin, murmured, and inhaled, while he parted my body in two halves, and stroked the bud of me.
“Ride the wave,” he whispered in my ear.
“How beautiful and soft you are, God you feel like silk in my arms.”