“I believe in stories. Life is ugly. Stories are pretty.”
Tuesday evening, 16 December 2008
Celia: Two thousand dollars, as it turns out, is not a lot of money. Or rather, it’s a lot of money to a girl like Celia who has her college, living, and other monthly expenses covered by her daddy and a trust fund she can draw from to cover the rest, turning it into what is essentially disposable income. But Daddy doesn’t pay for her mother’s rent. Or her groceries. Or her utilities. Or gas for her car. Or insurance. Or any of the other myriad of things that adults have to pay for.
There are a lot of little things that add up over time, and while her mother can and does stop teaching at one studio, they find themselves “up brown creek” when a sudden problem with the car leaves them on the side of the road with white smoke billowing out of the engine. The tow costs a few hundred in and of itself, and the mechanic—an old man named Tuck—tells them that the problem is the timing belt.
“Lil’ rubber piece, ma’am,” he says to Diana. "Part itself run you ‘bout fiddy, but the labor’s what getsya.”
They take the bus back to Diana’s place, and Celia tries not to listen in while her mother makes a few phone calls to search for last minute work. The bankruptcy is still a few weeks out and the wage garnishment won’t stop until that goes through, leaving her mother with only a portion of her paycheck in the meantime.
“I could ask Stephen,” she ventures after her mother joins her on the couch. “His family has money, maybe they’d..?”
Diana shakes her head.
“No, sweetie. You don’t want to mix loans with your relationship. Nothin’ good can come of that. You’ll always feel like you owe him because he helped you out of a bind. I picked up a class at En Pointe; just a few of those and we’ll be set.”
Celia can’t help but notice how her mother rubs her leg as she talks.
It’s just a little bit longer, she thinks. Just one more visit to Paul.
The next day she finds a new recipe online and tries her hand at white chocolate pistachio blondies. She drizzles a little bit of extra white chocolate over the top after she cuts the blondies into neat squares, then packs a dozen of them into a small box to take over to Paul’s house. An umbrella keeps the worst of the winter rain off of her, but the guards outside still make her stop before she goes in so they can check the contents and peer into her bookbag. One of them, a large black man twice her size, opens the top of the box and sniffs at the baked goods.
“What, don’t like chocolate?”
He leads the chorus of laughter that follows. Celia doesn’t quite get it, but she smiles politely and moves on her way once they knock on the door.
Mr. Simmons looks her over once she’s inside. Celia is careful not to drip on the carpet, and she leaves her umbrella in the stand, removing her shoes near the door. When she sees that one of her socks was splashed by the rain she takes those off as well, trailing after her host in bare feet. Soft pink polish coats her toes.
“I—I brought you these, Mr. Simmons,” Celia says to him, holding out the box. “You said you liked the muffins before, and I thought maybe you’d…” She thought maybe they could go back to what they had before, down here on the ground level here he doesn’t make her get naked and lie in the tub so he can watch her touch herself. Or shove things inside of her that make her bleed.
GM: Paul greets Celia with another plastic smile that does not reach his eyes. Those never smile at her. They’re as cold and impersonal as if he were meeting a stranger, and one under circumstances Celia is not sure she wants to imagine.
He doesn’t say anything.
He just looks at the blondies.
He removes one from the box and holds it up, as if inspecting it.
The smile turns thinner.
“Remove your clothes and unfold all of the newspapers. Layer them over each other and stand upon them,” he orders without further preamble.
There’s a copy of the Times-Picayune on a nearby coffee table.
Celia: Celia swallows when his smile thins. She thought the blondies looked good, but maybe he’s… not a fan? She’d brought them to make things better, not worse.
She does as he asks, reaching for the newspaper on the coffee table—and stops, recalling the order he’d told her to do things in. She unbuttons her blouse and slips the material down her shoulders. The bra follows. Then her skirt, and finally her panties. She folds her clothing and sets it in a small pile on the ground. Remembering last time, she doesn’t attempt to hide her body from his gaze, and instead just reaches for the newspapers to lay them across the ground. She steps into the center of them.
Celia: Celia sinks to her knees. She keeps her back straight, hands down at her sides.
GM: He holds the blondie in front of her, in the palm of his hand. As if to sniff.
He wordlessly holds it there.
Celia: She leans forward and wordlessly sniffs at it.
GM: He takes the blondie and smooshes it over Celia’s face. The bulk remains plasteted over her nose, but crumbs and bits run down her nose and eyes, lightly pattering against the newspaper as they full.
“The products of a whore’s filthy imagination.”
Celia: Crumbs and white chocolate stick to her face. She recoils, but doesn’t move from the spot on her knees.
GM: “Did you believe this would be amusing to me, whore?”
Celia: “I—I thought—” Celia looks down at the smashed food, then back up at Paul. “I’m—” How can he always reduce her to this stuttering, nonsensical state? She takes a breath, trying to calm herself.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Simmons, you said you liked the muffins, I thought you’d enjoy them…?”
GM: Paul removes his belt, unzips his pants, and smashes another blondie over his now-erect cock. He makes a fist in her hair and shoves his dick in her face.
“Shut up and suck.”
Celia: Celia winces as he grabs hold of her hair, leaning forward to close her lips around his cock. The mashed blondie gets in the way, smearing white chocolate and soft brownie across her lips and his dick.
GM: “Consume it all, whore. I want my penis immaculate.”
Celia: It’s less a blowjob than it is using her tongue and lips to clean him off at this point. She doesn’t know what to do with the brownie crumbs that get into her mouth; spitting it out seems rude, so she just swallows what makes it into her mouth.
GM: Less crumbs than wholesale chunks. Paul spreads most of the mushed brownie over his crotch. Only a couple chunks land on the newspaper. Crumbs and chocolate get all over his pubic hair.
“Immaculate,” he repeats.
Celia: Celia tries to do as he asks. She takes him as deep into her mouth as she can, gagging when he hits the back of her throat, and almost loses what little she has already swallowed. She pulls back, drool dripping out of her mouth to land on the newspaper, and flicks her tongue along the underside of his cock instead. Stephen had told her once that it’s “sort of sensitive on that side,” so she uses that as the convenient excuse she needs to get to what he smears further along than she can reach the other way. Her tongue touches the hair on his body and she almost gags again at the texture.
GM: Paul patiently lets her clean him off. She tastes blondie along with pubic hair that gets stuck between her teeth. Lots of stringy black pubic hair. It’s unavoidable with how she’s trying to clean him with her mouth, to recover every little crumb and bit of chocolate. Her only consolation is that Paul seems to practice good hygiene down there. She can’t imagine what this would be like with a partner who didn’t.
Paul shoves his cock back in her mouth every so often, fisting her hair and forcing himself as deep as he can, titillating her gag reflex. He shoves his balls in, too, to be certain that Celia will “fully clean those.” Her jaw aches. Drool pools all over her knees and the newspaper. When he gets close, Paul pants, “Hold out your hands,” and then pulls out. He ejaculates over the box of blondies.
He picks up one, then places it upon her palms.
The white chocolate glaze has several thick ropes of cum over it.
“Do you understand now, my whore?” he asks.
There’s a bit of cum over his fingers. He wipes them off along her face.
Celia: Celia’s face is covered in blondie, drool, and smears of chocolate by the time she’s done. She gags again when the pubes lodge themselves in her throat, and once he pulls out of her mouth she swallows repeatedly in an attempt to get rid of it.
But she stares down at the blondie in her hand, covered in lines of white chocolate and cum.
“Oh,” she says. Because she does see. Color floods her cheeks. “I didn’t—” She looks up at him, tears in her eyes. “I didn’t mean to.”
GM: Paul stares impassively down at her.
“You did not? Which are you, then, Celia? Filthy-minded or stupid?”
A hollow smile tugs at his lips.
“The answer is both, of course.”
“You have a whore’s filthy mind and are too stupid to recognize it.”
“This causes you to persist in your bumbling and failed attempts at domesticity.”
Celia: Celia drops her eyes again. “I’m sorry,” she says to the ground. She doesn’t know what else she can say.
GM: “Eat it,” says Paul.
“I pay you to consume my seed.”
Celia: There’s hesitation, but only for a moment. It’s no different than swallowing when he cums in her mouth, right?
Except it is. Then, it’s over in one swallow. Now, it’s a whole piece of blondie that she has to eat, with pistachio and white chocolate and Paul’s jizz splattered across the top of it in thick, ropy strands. Already cooling. Salty. Sticky. It clings to her tongue when she opens her mouth to take a bite. She forces herself to chew, teeth crunching down on the nuts and white chocolate chips. She forces herself to swallow the mashed pastry, then takes another bite to repeat the process.
GM: Paul watches her eat the entire time. She’s never had someone do that. Actively, deliberately watch her eat, doing nothing else themselves. It’s very easy to feel self-conscious.
Paul picks up the box of blondies when she’s finished. He holds them out in front of her.
“And what are we to do with the rest of these filthy things, Celia? They are clearly unfit for my or any man’s consumption.”
There’s bits of cum on some of the others too.
Celia: Her stomach is in knots by the time she’s done with it, a combination of discomfort and the knowledge of what she’s doing and fear he’s going to make her eat the rest of them.
“I… I can throw them away, Mr. Simmons?”
GM: “Oh, no, no, no, Celia.”
“And waste food?”
“Did your mother not teach you cooking waste is undesirable, or were you too stupid to learn that too?”
He passes her the box.
“Drop it and your punishment will be severe.”
Celia: Celia clutches the box to her chest, staring up at him. She shakes her head at his question.
GM: Paul takes his penis in hand and proceeds to urinate over the remaining blondies. The acrid and unmistakable smell of piss fills Celia’s nostrils. He looks as if he’s gone to the bathroom semi-recently. The piss stream doesn’t drown the blondies or pool at the edge of the box. But it soaks them good. The white chocolate glaze turns a distinct yellow.
Celia: Celia stares at the ruined blondies. She had worked hard on those. Had taken a special trip to the store to buy the raw pistachios and good chocolate that her mother showed her. Had deshelled and roasted the nuts. Had taken a second trip to the store when she realized she didn’t have brown sugar for the base. It had taken hours. Hours, and he ruins it in minutes.
The pungent smell of piss touches her nose. It wrinkles on its own, but a second later she smoothes it out, hopefully before he can see. It had been an honest mistake. That’s all. Just a mistake.
Stupid, she thinks, to come back here. Even if she needs the money. Stupid to think that last time… that last time meant anything at all. Putting the towel around her shoulders. Drying her off with his own hands. Laying her down on the couch so she could rest.
She sniffles, then lifts one hand to wipe at her eyes.
“I—I… Muh—Mister Simmons, I c-can’t.”
GM: Paul offers her a plastic smile, then removes her phone from her discarded clothes and snaps a picture of her.
“You will consume your whore confections, or both of your parents will receive this picture.”
Celia: Celia moves to cover herself as he snaps the photo.
She drops the box.
GM: Paul’s eyes flash as he reflexively steps away. Piss-soaked blondies land over the layers of newspaper.
A sound like a low hiss escapes his throat.
It doesn’t stop.
It goes on.
His fists are clenched hard enough that Celia can see the bones in his knuckles.
His eyes are huge.
Celia: For a moment, Celia can only stare. The hairs on the back of her neck stand on end at the inhuman sound he’s making… and then she sees his fists, and his eyes, and she reels backwards. The newspaper slips out from under her. She lands hard on her tailbone, scrambling to put her feet under her.
GM: His eyes rivet after her retreating form like a wolf tracking a hare.
“Place every soiled item within the box,” he orders, his voice as cold and hard as the steel doors upstairs.
Celia: Celia glances at the front door, then at the pile of clothes neatly folded at Paul’s feet. The sound of her swallow fills the room, but she hastens to obey, picking up the crumpled newspapers, crumbs, and bits of blondie from the floor. She doesn’t get any closer to him than she needs to, reaching out with the tips of her fingers to get the last of it that sits just in front of him.
GM: Paul watches like a hawk. His body is completely still. He barely even seems to breathe.
“All of them.”
There’s no plastic smile.
Just a deathly intent look that reminds Celia of her father when he discovered Isabel with the weed and porn magazines.
He doesn’t say ‘or else.’
Celia: He doesn’t need to.
She knows “or else.” And she knows whatever it is will be worse than being forced to eat the baked goods or having photos sent to her parents.
Crouching on the floor, Celia shoves the first of the blondies into her mouth. She can taste urine across the top of them, acidic and sour, and it’s only through extreme force of will that she’s able to chew and swallow, then take another bite. It lodges in her throat like a fist.
GM: “All of them, you stupid whore,” rings Paul’s supremely cold voice.
There are newspapers in the box too, in addition to the remaining blondies. She tried so hard to cram them in. There’s piss on them too.
Celia: Celia mashes another brownie into her mouth. She tries to chew and swallow as quickly as she can, thinking that the sooner it’s over the sooner she can leave, but her stomach wasn’t made for this level of food. Daddy had never let them spoil themselves like this at home, never left them unsupervised with treats. Everything in moderation. There’s more calories in this box than she eats in a day, all of it sugar and fat and carbs. Before long she slows, jaws aching, stomach roiling. The mixture of sugar and piss mix in her mouth until she can’t taste anything else.
Celia presses a hand to her stomach. She’s going to be sick.
GM: “Vomit and you will consume that as well, whore. You will take all of the filth you have brought into my home into yourself.” The words ring out like bangs against the steel doors. They make Celia think of fists banging from the other side.
They make her think whether those fists could be hers.
Daddy allows only one cookie or brownie piece per meal, but she has experience with more. Her mom lets her eat more sweets when she’s over. “You can have as many as you like, sweetie… we can set our own rules here,” she smiled after that first dessert she’d prepared. Classic chocolate chip cookies.
But the dance major and retired ballerina were no strangers to the expectation to stay thin and pretty. Celia’s not sure if she ever ate more than three dessert items at once. Her mom was fine with that. Probably glad, even.
The rest of the piss-soaked blondies stare up at her.
Celia: Stephen never makes comments about what she eats, either. He’d been interested in learning about her diet as a dancer, but he’d never made her feel bad about eating or not eating sweets, and when one of his friend’s girlfriends had rolled her eyes and muttered something about anorexia when Celia turned down dessert at a gathering he’d set the record straight: “she’s an athlete, it’s no different than a body builder skipping cake.”
Paul doesn’t seem like he cares about that. That she’s going to ruin her body if she puts this much into it. That she’s going to have to train that much harder to work it off. Her hand moves from her stomach to her mouth as the bile rises up her esophagus, but she chokes it down. She believes him when he says he’ll make her eat it.
She reaches for another blondie once the nausea passes. She’d been eating from the edges inward, and now the pieces, by nature of their location, contain more of his cum and urine. The latter has soaked thoroughly into the sweets, turning them mushy. It makes things both easier and worse: like an Oreo that has sat too long in milk they fall apart in her mouth, but the flavor is… repulsive. Vile.
Perhaps more miserable than the physical act of eating itself is the knowledge of what she’s doing. Forcing herself to eat something she had made in an effort to be nice that he had defiled. Forcing herself to swallow human urine. Letting him do this to her.
Shame and disgust curl together inside her chest.
Bite by bite, she chews through the blondies. Her jaw aches. A cold sweat breaks out across her brow, then down her back, behind her knees, between her breasts. Her stomach rebels. She chokes it down.
She hates him.
She hates him, she hates him, she hates him.
Everything about him.
His fake smile. His plastic face. His stupid, clean house with its soulless interior. The way he says her name. His cock. His fingers. His latex gloves. His weird eyes and the sound he makes. His voice. His arrogance.
She hates him.
No amount of money is worth this.
How can she be mad at her mom for not fighting back against her dad when she’s on her knees doing the same thing here?
Her fingers close around the blondie in her hand. She should throw it at him. Smear it across the floor. Dig it into the carpet, see how big and tough he is then when he can’t even get over a stain with his weird fixation on cleanliness.
She starts to crush it in her fingers.
She looks up, defiance in her eyes—
And stops short at the expression on his face. Cold. Not angry. Just cold. Uncaring. Unfeeling. Like she’s nothing. Less than nothing. Like it wouldn’t bother him one bit to turn his promise of “severe punishment” into something worse. Something permanent. Steel doors. Blood in the tub.
She looks back down at the crushed blondie… and shoves it into her mouth.
GM: It tastes salty and bitter. Almost like earwax. The saltiness goes together terribly with the already salty cum and mutes much of the blondies’ sweet flavor. She’s shoveling all this sugar and fat into her body and doesn’t even get to taste it.
Paul just watches.
Soiled square after soiled square, Celia shoves then down. She starts to feel lightheaded. Her knees are sore. Cold sweat trickles down her naked back. She wants to throw up, and only the prospect of being made to eat her own waste keeps it down. It feels like she’s swallowing poison.
Until all dozen are gone. The whole box.
Then the newspapers. Celia tears them into strips and swallows them down. They actually go down easier, in some ways. There’s not too much piss. The taste is less foul. There’s no rush of sugar. No sensation of her arteries clogging or her heart pumping harder. (Was she just imagining that?) It’s harder in other ways, though. Her mouth feels so dry. The newspapers are dry too. It feels like she’s trying to swallow them whole, and that no matter how much she chews, they’re just going to stick to her throat. So she chews and chews. What feels like forever. It’s actually helpful to eat the soiled sections first. They go down easier.
Paul waits until she’s done.
She feels bloated. Enormously fat. She feels like a cauldron of poison is brewing inside her enormous belly and spreading through her bloodstream. She feels lightheaded. The sweats are worse. Her knees are sore. She’s sick. She wants to void her stomach, curl up in a dark hole, and pass out. Or maybe just die.
Paul finally approaches the still-kneeling naked girl and pats her head, like he would a dog.
“There is an obedient whore.”
Celia: Have people died from too much sugar? Too much fat? Swallowing paper? Will it get stuck in her guts, cause her intestines to explode? Will the lining of her stomach stretch and tear and spill it into the rest of her?
She shudders at the thought. A hand touches her stomach, as if she can feel it distending past its natural shape. She glances down to make sure it’s all in her head, that she doesn’t suddenly look six months pregnant.
Everything hurts. Her stomach. Her jaw. Her eyes. Her knees. Her body is covered in a cold sweat, but a flush creeps across the back of her neck and chest. She doesn’t say anything when she’s done, doesn’t even look up at him until he touches her, and when she does the tears spill down her cheeks. She wipes at them with her hands, smearing what’s left on her fingers across her face.
GM: Paul pats her head several more times.
A plastic smile touches his face.
“I will tell you what, my whore.”
“As a reward for your obedience, I will allow you to purge your stomach in the toilet upstairs. So long as you crawl there upon your hands and knees. You may crawl as fast or as slow as you like. Is this acceptable to your sensibilities?”
Celia: She doesn’t know if she can even get to her feet at this point, or if she’d be able to walk. She’s certain she has never eaten this much at one time before. Slowly, she nods her head.
GM: Paul pats her head again.
Celia: Celia’s hands are sticky with the remnants of the blondies. She stares at them momentarily—as if she has never seen them before—and finally curls them into fists and lowers herself to the ground to walk on her knuckles.
She doesn’t want to get the carpet dirty.
Every movement on her hands and knees hurts. Her swollen stomach sloshes from one side to the other with each movement, and being in this position with her head down makes the nausea worse. Once she’s off the carpet the hard floor hurts her knees, and the pressure on her knuckles makes her want to stop. She does stop a few times, sitting back on her heels, occasionally doubling over when her stomach heaves to cover her mouth with her hand to keep from spewing before she reaches the bathroom.
The stairs are easier. She used to walk up them like this when she was a kid, before her dad decided that ladies don’t act this way. Then the long stretch of bare hall and steel doors waits for her. She creeps slowly along, nudging the bathroom door open with her shoulder, and lifts the lid on the toilet.
A finger down her throat has her sputtering and gagging in no time. Her stomach clenches, then releases its contents. Blondie, cum, paper, and piss come back up.
It’s worse the second time around. Chunks of pastry, pistachio, and white chocolate that haven’t yet begun to dissolve tickle the back of her throat on their way up. She spews it into the waiting water at the bottom of the toilet bowl. Then again. And again.
GM: It all comes out.
Out her mouth. Out her nose. That’s always one of the worse parts of vomiting. The way it comes out through the nose and leaves the scent of puke just inescapably there. The taste lingers in her mouth. Fills her mouth. She feels filthy. She tastes filthy.
But she feels lighter.
The nausea is mostly gone.
Emily once mentioned to her, when they talked about dance and the inextricably linked eating disorders, that purging doesn’t get rid of all the calories. It doesn’t let you eat as much as you want. You can retain as much as 50% of the calories. It’s very inefficient. Most bulimics expand their stomachs, too, and need more food anyway to feel full.
But right now, 50% less feels like the bargain of a lifetime.
Then she feels a hand, patting against her head again.
She feels like an animal, naked and curled up on the ground, taking such pleasure (or at least relief) from the exercise of her gross bodily functions.
“What is polite to say after receiving a gift, my whore?”
Celia: The other part people forget about vomiting is the way it affects the rest their body. Tears stream down her cheeks as she forces herself to purge, mingling with the snot that drips out of her nose. Her throat is raw, like it’s on fire, and even after she’s lifted her head from the bowl the taste lingers on her tongue. She hates that he’s watching. That he’s seeing her like this, naked and shivering and bent over the toilet, red-faced and sweating. She wants a toothbrush. And mouthwash. And a long, hot bath or shower to burn away the indignity of her ordeal.
But she doesn’t have any of that. She has the back of her hand to wipe away the tears, her arm to wipe at the remnants of crumbs and other foul things from her mouth.
Maybe she doesn’t mean to lean into the hand that he has on her. Maybe she’s just that exhausted that she doesn’t notice it when it happens. How her eyes close in relief that it’s over, and her back touches his leg and she doesn’t yank away. But her shoulders curl a little more, and her eyes don’t leave the ground while she searches for her voice.
“Th-thank you, Mr. Simmons.” Hollow.
GM: His hand strokes her hair several more times.
“Into the tub, Celia. Open your mouth.”
He helps her in. Hands around her torso, just under her breasts but without touching them, urging her up. But not onto her feet.
He removes the shower head again. Sprays freezing cold water over her at full blast. Over her body. Inside her mouth. He tells her to gargle and spit, then sprays inside her mouth again. He tells her to lie down on her back, breasts exposed, and sprays her there too. The water is not gentle. Another ordeal to endure.
But worth it. She’s clean when he’s finished. Clean and shivering with cold.
Celia: The water helps rinse the taste from her mouth, at least. And she swallows some of it, soothing her raw throat.
That’s the only benefit she can see to the cold water, that it quenches the fire in the back of her mouth, that it puts something besides paper and sugar in her belly.
She doesn’t complain about the cold or the pressure, just moves how he tells her to, letting the water run down her body to rinse away… everything. She rubs at a spot on her chest, picking at it with her nail until the piece of whatever comes free and swirls down the drain with the rest of it.
And when it’s over she’s left huddled in the bottom of the tub, arms stretched around herself in an effort to hold onto what warmth has been left to her.
GM: Paul’s hands descend again. With a familiar towel, soft and fluffy, drying her off. He gets her breasts, her legs, between them, everywhere but her back. The towel lingers on her neck, then pauses. She looks up and sees Paul’s hands descending with a thick leather dog collar.
Celia: Wide-eyed, Celia leans backwards, shaking her head back and forth. She lifts her hands, as if to fend him off.
GM: “The remainder of this evening may proceed gently, Celia,” Paul states calmly. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you, for it to proceed gently?”
Celia: Slowly, Celia gives an uncertain nod of her head.
GM: Paul fastens the collar around her neck. It fits snugly and tightly, like someone’s hands over her throat. Paul attaches a lead and gives a light tug.
Celia: The collar pulls at her neck when he tugs. Face flushed, Celia clambers out of the tub. Crawl, he’d said earlier, so she stays on her hands and knees. Gentle. He said gentle. If she listens, if she follows, if she’s good.
GM: Paul leads her along by her hands and knees, out the bathroom. Down the hard floor and stairs. It’s a relief when they reach carpet again. Paul attaches the lead to a ring on the wall. (Why does he even have that?)
“Kneel and place your hands behind your back.”
Celia: The stairs are awkward to maneuver on hands and knees, but she does a sort of sideways shuffle so she doesn’t tumble down after him and break something. She waits quietly when he fastens her to the wall, not even bothering to tug against it, and when he tells her to sit she does so, hands behind her back like he said.
GM: Paul steps behind her, then she hears a clink as handcuffs fasten.
He walks away.
Celia: Her eyes follow his movements. Arms cuffed behind her back, chained to the wall, naked and cold, she doesn’t think she’s ever been more exposed.
It occurs to her that there’s little he can’t do to her like this.
GM: Paul continues to walk away.
His shoes pad against the carpeted floor.
She can’t see his face.
She can’t say what he’s thinking.
She can’t say what he’s planning.
He stops in front of the couch to do something. Then he turns around.
He’s carrying a pillow. He walks back up to Celia and places it upon the ground, within reach of her lead.
“You may sleep. Sixty minutes. No less and no more.”
Celia: He’s back with a pillow. Just a pillow. Her shoulders slump in relief.
She’d imagined the worst.
Laying down is awkward with her hands behind her back. She can’t lay on her back or she’ll crush her hands, and if she lays on her side her arm will go numb. She shuffles forward on her knees until she’s closer to the pillow, bending her waist and trying to ease onto her stomach. Gravity gives her more of a hand than she needs; her shoulders scream when she flails to regain her balance and tries to move them to assist, chin coming down hard on the floor. Her teeth clink together.
GM: Paul watches her flail with an expression that looks almost like… amusement.
Or perhaps satisfaction.
Then he’s gone.
Celia: It takes another few minutes for her to find a comfortable way to lay down that lets her breathe properly, body curled in on itself to keep from shivering. She doesn’t know if she’ll be able to fall asleep, but she closes her eyes all the same.
GM: Sleep comes hard, despite Celia’s discomfort, and ends all too soon. She feels even more exhausted when a hand jostles her awake, like part of her dissolved in a runny stain over the pillow. Her arms and wrists are sore. But her nausea is mostly gone, and the taste of piss and bile is long faded.
She really just wants to sleep some more.
She stares up at Paul’s shoes, then hears the sound of his fly unzipping.
“We will now do this evening as it was meant to be done, Celia. Suck and swallow.”
Celia: Getting back to her knees is an ordeal in and of itself, made all the more difficult by the handcuffs and her exhaustion. How is it possible she’s more tired after the nap than before? She blames the cold, the awkward positioning, the soreness in her body.
But she makes it to her knees when she gets a shoulder underneath her to push herself up, and this part—Paul unzipped in front of her—is at least familiar. She opens her mouth for him to suck and swallow.
GM: It doesn’t feel very good. The blowjob probably isn’t very good either. This is the reason people don’t want to have sex when they say “I’m tired.” But it’s over soon enough as Paul’s hot, sticky seed fills her mouth. There’s less to swallow than last time, though her stomach feels very sensitive as she forces down the salty stuff.
Paul pats her head.
“Have you learned your lesson, my whore?”
Celia: Celia swallows it down all the same. It’s better than being forced to eat what she had earlier.
She nods again at his question. Be good. Be obedient. Be clean. Don’t be stupid.
GM: Paul unfastens her collar, then removes her handcuffs. Her clothes lie in a pile nearby.
“You may dress yourself.”
He passes her $500 in a money clip once she has.
“It’s time for you to go.”
Celia: Celia quietly thanks him for the money. It disappears into her pocket on their way to the door.
GM: Paul shows her to the door, then cups her breast with his hand.
A plastic smile touches his face.
He says nothing further.
Celia: She lingers for only a moment in the doorway, eyes moving from the hand on her to his face, as if she might speak.
In the end she decides against it. There’s nothing to say. She turns to go, telling herself that she’s not running like a whipped dog.
She tastes the lie.
Thursday evening, 18 December 2008
GM: It’s not too much longer before Celia shows up to her mother’s apartment for dinner and knocks on the door. Diana greets her with a hug and exclamation of, “Sweetie, look!” as she produces a check.
It’s from the McGehee School for Girls, made out to Diana M. Flores. The amount is for slightly under $3,000.
Almost double what she’s said her monthly income is.
Celia’s mother takes her hands and sweeps her into a waltz as she sings,
“We’re in the mo-neeey, we’re in the mo-neeey, we’re in the mo-neeey…”
Celia: This is truly a moment worth celebrating. Celia spins around with her mother, joining the song, spirits lifted far higher than they’ve been in months. Everything is moving along, it seems. And now that her mother is getting her whole check she never needs to get on her knees for Paul again.
“We’re in the mo-neeey, we’re in the mo-neeey, we’re in the mo-neeey…”
She asks if they should celebrate with a nice dinner, or if her mom wants to save it.
GM: “Oh, a nice dinner sounds lovely, sweetie, but there’s still expenses to pay… we’re not completely in the clear yet,” her mom says as she sits down. “That’ll take take the child support from your dad, and some of the other things I’ve been talking about with Viv.”
“This, though, was somethin’ called automatic stay. The collection agency has to stop garnishing my wages now that we’re far enough along into the bankruptcy filing.”
“And it will definitely, definitely help, so long as you can keep things up on your end?”
Celia: “Oh. With the… groceries?”
Not the cash, she quietly prays. Please not the cash.
GM: Her mom nods. “The groceries, and the money too, if you can manage it.”
Her cheeks turn a little red.
“I don’t think I’ve told you this, sweetie.”
“No, I know I haven’t.”
“I’m on… public assistance. Food stamps.”
Celia: “Oh. But your check..?”
GM: “They’re going to reduce my benefits, now that I’m making a bigger income. That’s the way it’s structured. The more you make, the less they give you.”
Celia: Her stomach ties itself in knots.
GM: “You come out ahead if you work, mind, or make more money. $3000 is $1500 more than $1500, obviously. And food stamps are around $200 per month, max.”
“I don’t receive the max amount, and I’ll probably get less now.”
Celia: “Oh,” she says again.
She tries to keep her face from falling. How can she turn her mom down? How can she turn her back on the woman who has worked long hours, taken on extra jobs, and supported every dream she’s ever had? She’d walked away from her once when she’d needed her the most.
What kind of daughter would she be if she did it again now?
“Okay,” is all she says.
Maybe she can get a job with Emily.
…on top of full time and part time school.
GM: It won’t pay what Paul does.
Emily’s said that’s why girls become escorts. Flat out, it pays more.
Waitressing just pays pride.
“And I still get customers who sexually harass me, so that’s fun,” she’d said.
“…are you okay, sweetie?” Celia’s mom asks, laying a hand on her shoulder.
“You’ve really come through, helpin’ with the tuition, auto payments, and gas… this dream of yours definitely isn’t comin’ from just me!”
“But is it too much, what I’m asking you to carry?”
Celia: Celia finds a smile for her mother, waving away her concern.
“No, Momma. Of course not. I’m just taking it out of my trust, it’s not a big deal.”
GM: “Oh. I didn’t think they were set up to allow that.”
She looks moderately surprised, then suddenly a familiar fear fills her eyes.
“Does your father—is this all on the up and up with him?”
Celia: “I mean… it’s not like I tell him what it’s for. Another school. Or car. Or you.”
“I just, um, said that there were some things I wanted, and he said it was okay.”
“And he… he owes you,” she continues hotly, “for what he did. So it makes sense that he’s paying for it.”
Celia crosses her arms, as if daring her mother to contradict her.
GM: “Okay, just… just as long as he doesn’t find out, Celia,” her mom says slowly, then lays her hands on both of Celia’s shoulders. “Promise me. That if he gets suspicious, at all, that you’ll stop.”
“Money isn’t worth what he might do if he finds out.”
Celia: “…what would he do?”
GM: “Just promise me, Celia,” her mother repeats.
Celia: That doesn’t reassure her at all. But she nods.
“He won’t find out.”
She’ll make sure of it.
GM: “Okay. Thank you.” Her mom hugs her close for several moments, then pulls away and smiles.
“Now, why don’t we get started on dinner…”
Tuesday evening, 23 December 2008
GM: It’s about a week later before Celia gets a call to come back. Ron opens his condo door in the same bathrobe and slippers.
“All right, lab said you’re mine. C’mon in.”
“I’ve had way too fuckin’ many girls claim I’m their baby’s daddy, so don’t blame me for being a little cold earlier. Want something to drink?”
Celia: Celia follows him into the condo. She hadn’t expected him to call her back, even if she is his. After leaving that day she hadn’t even known if she’d come back if he’d called. But here she is, and here he is, and those are the words that confirm it all for her: she’s his. She isn’t Celia Flores. She’s Celia Landreneau. Maybe not officially, maybe that’s not the name on her birth certificate, but that’s who she is. A bastard. Half-black. God, is Diana even her mom? Some part of her had hoped that Mom was wrong, that Daddy is her dad.
She’s still reeling from the implications when he speaks again.
“Oh, um, a… soft drink, maybe? I’m only nineteen.” A pause, then, “I think I understand. My dad… my other dad, I mean, he told me that’s kind of what it’s like in Hollywood, with famous people.”
“There was that Saints player whose girlfriend took the condom out of the trash to get herself pregnant.”
GM: “Yeah. That is the sort of shit you see. Hollywood is a fucking piranha tank.”
Celia: “Is that why you came back?”
GM: “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven, I always say,” answers Ron as he opens the fridge. “I got seltzer and harder stuff, and don’t give a fuck if you’re 21.”
Celia: She doesn’t think he wants to hear that she’s never had anything harder than a splash of rum in her coke before.
“Whatever you’re having, then.”
GM: He returns from the kitchen with two glasses filled with a light brown liquid. Celia isn’t sure what it is. He sits down on a leather couch and gestures for her to take a seat wherever.
“Who’s your mom, by the way?”
Celia: Celia takes the offered drink and finds a seat on the couch. She keeps her back straight, not quite ready to relax around him—even if he is her dad.
“Diana Flores. Or, well, Underwood at the time. She said you met at a party.”
It’s meant to be helpful, but she realizes belatedly that he probably meets most of his women at parties. When they’re not banging on his door to fuck, anyway.
GM: “Yeah, I dunno who that is.”
GM: “Well, whatever. Paternity test says you’re mine.”
He takes a sip of his drink.
Celia: Celia follows suit. She supposes she hadn’t expected him to remember her mom if he’s as hounded by other women as he implies that he is. Probably has a few side pieces at any given time.
“She doesn’t know I came to see you, anyway. She doesn’t want anything. My… her husband thinks I’m his.”
She’s pretty light-skinned for a girl who’s half black. Hair is a little more wavy than a white woman’s, maybe, but it’s nowhere near the coarse, kinky locks she’s seen on other black people.
GM: It tastes really strong and makes her want to sputter and gag.
Her apparent dad chuckles. “That’s funny.”
“Can see why, though. You’re pretty light.”
“Guess that’s this city. Who the fuck is completely white or black.”
Celia: She wrinkles her nose at the taste, even coughs a bit after she swallows. The second time it goes down easier, though. She has no idea what it is, but that doesn’t stop her from using it to kill the nerves.
“I was pretty surprised when I found out.”
GM: He takes another sip.
“Life’s full of ’em, I guess. So who are you?”
Celia: It’s a broad question, one that she’s not sure how to answer. She’s just a kid, really. Sheltered behind the walls of Audubon for 19 years, finally out in the real world.
“I’m a freshman at Tulane. I went to McGehee. I’m in the dance program. My mom taught us all ballet growing up, so that’s kind of my focus, but we expanded a little to include more contemporary things.”
Celia swirls the ice around in her drink. She’s a little warm. Is she boring him? What does he want to know?
“I’m also at John Jay Academy for esthetics.” There’s a pause, then, “no one knows that, though. My da—my mom’s husband said I need a four year degree, so I’m doing both, but when I finish and get my license I can start working in a real place instead of the student salon, so that’s kind of where my focus and energy go mostly.”
She lifts her eyes from her drink, her smile sheepish.
“Not very exciting.”
GM: “Huh, neat. If no one knows you’re at John Jay, how you paying for it?”
Celia: “My mom is helping. It’s not that much, next to a place like Tulane. I’ve been saving some money, too. Allowances and that kind of thing.”
She sips the drink. The charcoal and gasoline tastes downright sweet next to that lie.
“I followed your career a little, when you were out west. And when you came back.”
GM: “You need money?” Ron asks. “If it’s not much, things must be tight with your mom not covering it all.”
Well, not as tight since her mom filed for bankruptcy, apart from having to get on her knees every week.
Celia: “Oh, no. I mean, I appreciate it, but we’re managing. Thank you, though.”
GM: Paul hasn’t seemed as happy with that anymore.
He’s tried cuming on her face or into her hair a few times, as an alternative to her swallowing, but he’s remarked that the sight of “my whore on her knees” is starting to grow “familiar” and that “familiarity breeds contempt.”
Celia: What does Paul care. It’s not his money.
GM: He’s hinted they’re going to do anal soon. Whether she wants to do anal or not.
That second scenario seems like it would turn him on.
Celia: She tries not to think about it. She can stop soon. As soon as everything is fine with her mom. If he tries for more she’ll just stop seeing him.
Maybe she’ll finally have the balls to follow through on the blackmail. Get the evidence of those weird doors, find out what’s behind them. Turn him in for… something.
GM: Ron considers her.
“Guess you could be saying no to build trust. Make me work to get all the sad details, really build up how much you and your poor mother need the money, and get a higher figure. But you seem too naive for that shit if you care about drinking age and hearing ‘tits’ makes you blush.”
“Granted, you could also just be a really good bullshitter. It’s not like those don’t run in the family.”
Celia: Celia looks up from her glass. There’s less than there maybe should be considering her age and lack of tolerance. She blinks at him, the movement slow. Her cheeks and chest are a little more red than usual.
“I don’t want your money, Mr. Landreneau. I didn’t come here to ask for a handout. I’m not going to tell you a sob story. I wanted to meet the man who’s responsible for my existence, and that was it.” There’s a pause, then, “I’m nineteen. If I wanted your money or child support or something, I’d have contacted you five years ago.”
GM: “How much does John Jay cost?” he asks.
Celia: “Not enough to make a difference. I’m a trust fund kid. The guy who’s raising me is a senator. We don’t hurt for money.”
GM: “Uh huh. Except you say he isn’t paying for it, and your mom only partly is. So either she’s stealing from the cookie jar, and she’s afraid he’ll notice if she takes any more, or she’s poor and can’t cover it all. Plus if your trust was big enough, you’d just be paying your own way.”
“I’ll just look it up if you don’t tell me. So how much is it?”
Celia: She doesn’t know why there’s a sudden pressure in the corners of her eyes, moisture threatening to leak out. She blinks it away. This isn’t how she’d expected things to go.
She really is stupid. Like Daddy always said. She thought she could trade him out for a new dad and this one thinks she’s a money-grubbing opportunist.
Celia puts her glass down. She reaches into her purse, pulling out a small scrapbook with a smiling photo of a child-aged Celia on the cover, missing one of her two front teeth. There’s a bow in her hair and she’s holding up three fingers.
“I made this for you. Old baby photos, things like that. I thought maybe we could catch up on the years we missed. Maybe that was stupid of me.” He’d raped her mom. He wants to cut her a check and be done with her. Fifteen thousand to never speak to her again. What a deal, right?
“I’m sorry I bothered you.”
GM: He looks at the album. Something seems to pass over his face.
“Kid, hold the fuck up.”
“Look, you’re not the first baby a girl I’ve slept with has popped out. I don’t even know how many half-brothers and sisters you might have. It was always pretty hard for a girl to get me to use a rubber. Some have hit me up for money and some haven’t. They’ve all moved on with their lives. Some have tried to hit me up without popping out a baby, that’s always fun.”
“For the most part I didn’t give a fuck. I didn’t want to take care of a crying poop machine or go exclusive with a single girl. Or go to the effort of hiding I wasn’t exclusive. Only kids I had in my life were my niece and nephew. I got to be the cool uncle.”
“My niece… I fucked things up. I really fucked things up. I fucked things up so bad it was the last straw for my sister, and she didn’t want me in her kids’ lives no more.”
“So to my nephew that just made me the even cooler uncle. He used to hang out with one of my kids. Frankly, I always liked him more. My nephew, that is.”
“To my kid, I was… I was in his life, but I wasn’t in his life. He was in a ‘business’ I was interested in, and that’s pretty much all he was to me.”
“Well, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree with my nephew. Not far at fuckin’ all.”
“I don’t talk to him anymore. And my kid’s dead.”
Celia: Celia blanches at that. It isn’t the ending she’d expected. And to be phrased so bluntly.
“I’m sorry you lost him.” She hadn’t known. How could she have? Parents aren’t supposed to bury their children. “Lost them both. That’s… I’m sorry.” What do you say to something like that? What words make it okay?
GM: “I didn’t lose him,” says Ron. “I never even had him.”
“I could have, and I didn’t.”
“My nephew I shoulda seen coming.”
“There’s real poison in our blood, you know. That makes us hurt the people we say we love. Makes everything we touch turn to shit.”
He looks her over. “Hope it’s skipped a generation with you.”
“Or that your parents stomped it out. They all right folks?”
Celia: Celia hesitates, but only for an instant.
“My mom’s the nicest lady in the world, or at least the city. She’s just a real sweetheart. Doesn’t have a bad word to say about anybody. There’s five of us, you know, but she went to school and she preformed as a ballerina for a long time. She… retired a few years ago. She teaches now. Says it’s the highlight of her day, teaching kids.” There’s a softness to her voice and face when she talks about Diana.
“She and her husband split a few years ago. He’s… a little old fashioned, you know, very Christian conservative. We all live with him.”
He didn’t want a sob story, so she doesn’t tell him one. Nothing about the abuse, nothing about the hacksaw.
GM: “Sounds like a douche. Your mom sounds nice, though. Hope I treated her right.”
Celia: Celia smirks at the first comment. It’s a little strained at the second.
“She didn’t mention.”
GM: “Well, I probably didn’t.”
Celia: She was seventeen and he raped her.
“It was a long time ago, anyway.”
GM: “I don’t have a lot to show for my life except mostly shitty movies and shittier regrets, anyways. After my son died, I tried to get in touch with some of my other baby mamas, but I was fuckin’ kiddin’ myself. They’d all moved on with their lives.”
“Well, except my son’s mom. She’ll hate me forever. Can’t really blame her, part of it was on me.”
“You showing up here is really sweet and all, kid. Really sweet or some grade-A quality bullshit, but it wouldn’t change my mind about you if it was.”
“Or how I’m gonna cut you a check either way. Spend it on tuition. Or drugs and shoes and shit. I hope it’s the former, as that’d make me feel better, but I’m used to not feeling better.”
“‘Cause the truth is, there’s no making up for 19 years, and I’m not your daddy. The guy who raised you is. I’m just a guy who blew his load between your mom’s legs.”
“So, you gonna tell me how much tuition is, or am I gonna look it up and drop the check off with your mom?”
Celia: Celia shakes her head. She doesn’t quite flush at his language, but she looks away for a moment, and beneath the foundation her cheeks are pink.
“I meant what I said. I’m not here for that. I don’t want that. I don’t want to be given a check and sent on my way. I don’t expect you to suddenly… be my dad, or something, and you don’t… you don’t want that anyway. I just wanted to meet you, I guess.”
GM: “Well, I don’t care if you don’t want it. You’re getting the money, either way. It’s the one thing that I’m good for.”
He takes a pull of his drink.
Celia: Celia just looks at him for a moment. There’s a lot she’d like to say to him. A lot of stories she’d like to tell him. Questions she’d like to ask. Things she wants to know about the world, because she thinks that maybe he’d be more honest with her about it than her parents are.
She lifts up her drink again, peering into the contents as if the slowly melting ice will tell her what to say. It’s quiet on that front, but another sip gives her that liquid courage she’s heard so much about.
“I’d like to get to know you. As a person, I mean, not a father figure. If you’re interested. Maybe we can get dinner sometime.”
GM: “Tell you what,” he says.
“You’re cute and sweet and innocent, and blush when I talk about cumming inside a woman, and need the money to help out your kind sweet mother. It’s a good story. I don’t care if it’s real or not. I’ve spent my whole life selling lies on a screen. I like this story. I want to write the next part.”
Ron makes a motion as if directing a camera.
“And the way it goes, the bad old man cuts the protesting girl a check after she stops protesting, and feels a little better knowing he’s made her life a little better. It’s a better ending if I give the protesting girl the check than her mom. Let me fuckin’ have that, and we can get dinner if you’re dead set on it.”
Celia: Celia huffs, but she can’t help the way it turns into a bit of a laugh at the end. He might be a scumbag rapist, but he’s kind of charming for all that. She can see why women like him enough to put up with him for a part in a movie.
“Dinner first,” she counters, “and then if you’re dead set on handing me a check I’ll… let you, I guess.”
“I’ll even wait until I’m out of your line of sight to rip it up. You’ll never know.” Except that she just told him. She looks down at her drink as if it has betrayed her. “Oh.”
GM: Ron laughs.
“Protesting girl turns it around and still gets the check, but not in the way the audience was expecting. Shows she has spunk, then reminds them she’s still young and naive.”
He looks at her thoughtfully. “You’d be a good actress, especially if you don’t mind spreading your legs.”
Celia: Is there a word that describes someone who is both mortified and flattered?
“Um.” Oh boy, look how interesting this drink is. Super interesting. She can’t help but stare at it. Look at the way the light refracts off the ice and spills onto the ground in a neat diamond pattern. Look how silly her legs look under the glass, like a fun-house mirror. One’s big and one’s little.
She blinks at them a few times.
“Um. I’m… I mean I…” She can’t claim she’s a virgin. She’s not. But that doesn’t mean she’s some sort of hussy. “There were, um, rules growing up. About boys. I have a boyfriend now. For the first time. He’s really nice.”
“I mentioned that once. Performing. I dance, though.”
“Ballet,” she adds quickly.
GM: Apart from how she has sex for money. With another man.
“A really nice boyfriend. That is sweet. Doesn’t rule anything out, but it is sweet. The dancing doesn’t hurt either.”
“It’s also going to be a cashier’s check, so you’ll just be setting money on fire if you rip it up. My bank account will be emptier either way. But I bet your poor sweet mother could use the money.”
Celia: Celia drains the rest of the glass. She doesn’t manage to take it down as smoothly as he has, but she doesn’t cough and sputter her way through it, at least. She finally looks up at him, cheeks still red. The flush has spread to her neck and chest, too, a sure sign of the alcohol working its magic. That and the bone-deep embarrassment from his words.
“If that’s what you want to do because you want to do it, then that’s fine. I just don’t want you to think that’s what I’m after or why I contacted you because it’s not. And if you don’t want to be my dad that’s fine too, I’m not asking that either, and maybe we can just do birthday dinners or something if you don’t want to see me more than that. Mine’s in July.”
She wants to ask if he really thinks she’ll make a good actress, but she doesn’t want him to think she only wants a part in a movie, either. Because she doesn’t.
GM: “I don’t care if it’s why. I told you. It’s a good story.”
“I believe in stories. Life is ugly. Stories are pretty. Or can be. Mosta the ones I sell are ugly. But easier to find a good story than a good person.”
“Like the idea of me bein’ your dad. That’s a story, too.”
Celia: She smiles for him. It’s a pretty smile, like the rest of her.
“Okay,” she says at last. There’s a real warmth to her eyes that hadn’t been there before, kicking the wariness out as if it had never existed.
GM: “Ah, see, that’s a smile,” he remarks appreciatively. “You’d look great on camera.”
Celia: “Maybe someday.”
GM: “In show biz, kid, ‘maybe’ is ‘yes’ and ‘no’ is ‘maybe.’”
Ron raises his glass.
“Here’s to ‘maybe.’”
Celia: Here’s to never seeing Paul again.