Skanky Nerd Land

Sex, Science and Concept Art

Category: Queer & Erotic Fiction

Anaïs Nin’s Understudy

I once fancied myself one of those literary diarists, believing my love affairs and sexual liaisons had a higher calling, beyond themselves. Very soon, it was uncertain where my torments originated. The lover, the diary, or from within?

Thinking in words gave shape to sensations and longings, most half felt, all best forgotten. But the blank pages of the diary demanded to be filled, by a life yet to be lived. It took me a while to realise that this repository of knowledge, this book, with its meticulous records of my most intimate thoughts, was prone to abusing me.

Necessary Lies

It was warm. In the stifling heat of the clinic, Isaiah willed away the hours, patient after patient. It was high noon now, and he was already exhausted. He never thought he would wish for London’s cold, wet chill and the tedious but familiar commute into the centre, but here he was, doing just that. He splintered and bandaged the arm of the man seated before him (and they were always men), and refused the next person as he entered.

The corridor of the clinic was lined along all its walls with people waiting to be treated. A never-ending train of all levels of affliction, from the merely discomforted to the severely impaired. The sour smell of sweat and the stink of diesel wafting through the windows made him wonder why he’d volunteered in the first place. He remembered the last stint as having been quite different. It had also been warm that June, but the air had been cleaner.  That was quite a few years ago, now. The city had been empty then, not much more than a pile of ruins.

Opening the door to the bustling street, he felt someone tug at his sleeve. Turning, he saw it was a slender boy with bright green-blue eyes, striking against his deep olive skin. He defaulted to accessing the child, concluding that he was probably about sixteen, and  unlikely to be afflicted with an ailment.

“They tell me it’s your last day.” The boy said. “I have to see you before you go.”

“There will be another doctor who will come after me. In two days, I think.” Isaiah replied.

“I can see only you,” he said, clasping the doctor’s hand urgently.

It took a moment, but realisation dawned on him, and he wondered how he could have forgotten.

“The clinic closes at six,” he told the boy, “but come when everyone breaks their fast.”  Gently pulling his hand free, he made his way to the bazaar.

***

Kochi tilted his head and allowed his eyes to defocus, letting passersbys turn into indistinct blots of colour as the retreating back of the doctor disappeared into the jostling throng of humanity. He found himself ruminating on the doctor’s name. Isaiah. It was a Jewish name, but such a beautiful one, quite suited to him.

That evening, as the sun sank and the street lamps were lit to the sounds and smells of the fast being broken, he made his way to the clinic. It was shut when he arrived, but there was a light from one of the windows on the second floor. The figure peering out from it disappeared as he walked up. Moments later, the door opened, and the doctor ushered him in.

The light in the consultation room was harsh and unnaturally white, and everything smelled clean. Too clean. He hated the smell of antiseptic.

“Wash your hands,” the doctor said. “And you may place your trousers on that chair. Keep your shirt on.”

He washed his hands and hesitated over removing his clothes. He glanced at Isaiah, who was intently wrestling with a plastic clamshell box over his table of equipment. Possessed by a sudden bout of witlessness, he removed instead, all his clothes, and stood naked under the light of the pale fluorescent lamp.

***

Isaiah tried to look away, but realised he didn’t want to. His mind raced as his eyes took the girl in. He ought to tell her to put her shirt back on. But perhaps, to make her feel better, he also ought to tell her that she was beautiful. Or maybe, he should first ask her why she removed all her clothes. After all, something could have been lost in translation.

“You’re very beautiful,” he said, eventually. “But I think it’s best if you put your shirt on.”

They stood mute, looking at each other. Isaiah saw her face flush. The poor girl, he thought. How embarrassing. Her shirt back on, he helped her onto the operating table, feeling her flinch as his fingers brushed against her skin.

Looking away, she said, “You’re the only one that knows. You and my mother.”

Realisation dawned on him, and he felt incredibly stupid and very responsible. He told her again that he thought she was very beautiful, but pointed out that these were things he probably shouldn’t be thinking about.

“I think you’re beautiful too.” She said.

He felt awkward, and the silence unnerved him. He was used to feeling powerful and in control, and seldom felt the vulnerability of those under his hands. She was different. This girl. He couldn’t even remember her name, although it wasn’t because she was unremarkable.  She was striking, probably very intelligent, and how she had learnt to speak English so fluently living in this backwater hole, he had no idea. He tried to lighten the atmosphere by asking straight-forward questions about her health as he continued prepping his tools.

“I guess you no longer bleed?” He said. “If your disguise still holds.”

“A disguise?” She said. “I suppose it is, although I don’t look at it that way. Yes, I stopped bleeding. Mostly.”

Before he proceeded, she asked if what he was going to do would hurt.

“Yes, but nothing like the last time,” he said, gently prising her legs apart.

The Veiled Madonna

They were many days adrift, twenty hundred tons of wood and steel, immaculately carved and assembled, hurtling through the Siberian wastes. They had boarded at Budapest, amidst great fanfare: a slew of colours, music, peoples from all the world over.

The last great city of the West.

They had kissed their young wives goodbye and ascended the steps to the Artemesia, on its maiden voyage. Their course was now locked, from Budapest to Beijing, through the endless wild plains of Transylvania, the salt flats of Central Asia and the desolate Russian tundra, to emerge into the colours and scents of the far East.

Leon was the younger by twenty years. Although athletic, he was slight and somehow fragile. Perhaps it was the colour of his skin, so translucent when his cheeks flushed, his face turned a beautiful riot of colours, of red blood and blue veins, and glistening eyes of amber.

They had a suite to themselves in a middle carriage. The rooms to either side were unoccupied until Belgrade and Bucharest. As the days passed, they entered a steady rhythm of staged domesticity. Leon barely left the suite, and their neighbours never saw him.

Every evening, his lover would secure a place in the dining cart, and would order. He was always immaculately dressed, but then, so was everyone else.

As the appetizers were being served, he would be joined by an enigmatic beauty, striking in her fashion as in her stature, always resplendent in her gowns, like a shifting sea of black. Over her face, against delicate features lightly painted, she wore a veil. It was held tautly across, and secured over her hair with a ribbon. Over this, she wore a hood which fell in great velvet folds around her shoulders.

On her finger, she wore a ring of some significance.

Dishes, immaculately prepared and painstakingly crafted, would be laid out before her, and she would take each one in, devouring them with her eyes alone.

The other passengers tried to qualify what she inspired in them. Watching her was an act of communion.

She never spoke, but on one occasion, she was heard. It was on that crisp, clear morning the Artemesia came to stop in the decaying splendour of one of the Emirates by the Aral sea.

They disembarked, arms locked at elbows – him in a charcoal grey suit, and Leon, in a dress of blue, light and joyous as the first day of spring.

Malevich and the Girl

Found in the Observer (the Guardian, on Sundays), a piece relating to the hidden sexual intents of individuals. One paragraph dedicated to each form of being. 150 words for different sociosexual realities, for varying models of desire – or lack thereof. A short summary of social media’s top ten orientations.

At the end, a picture of a beautiful woman beside Malevich’s Black Square, on loan to the Tate Modern. She is thirty-eight, with jet-black hair and heavy lidded eyes. Identifies as Transgender.

“There is nothing more pure,” she says about the painting. “There are deep notes in the black, they vibrate.”  Her hands are clasped over her belly, just above her crotch.

In the photo, she is part of the painting. Her hair falls parallel to the verticals of the square, framing pale features. Black, dilated irises, dark, red lips.

The painting submits her. “It is not something you can understand,” She says. “It is something you feel.”

I imagine her speaking to the interviewer. Pausing every so often to think, to reach deep inside herself, to give a pure answer.

“It excites me. I feel afraid when I look into it. But I can’t stop.”

I imagine the interviewer thinking, “How does it excite you?”, but deciding against voicing the obvious. It might offend.

“Sometimes, I have come close to this. Sometimes, with others. When they are no longer other, nor are we one. I become the experience. When I no longer remember being myself. When it is all sensation. Excitement with no beginning, or end. An awareness so continuous, I enter oblivion.”

More was said, I was sure, beyond the six-by-two inches of paper given to her. But I will never get to find out.

That Which Desire is Built Upon

Icy blue eyes, deep brows, pale blonde hair cropped around a face of delicate features which belied a deep tenor when he spoke. Olive skin. I suppose he had always been good-looking, but age had added interest, emotion and laughter, and he was more beautiful now then he had ever been.

Who can know how or where our interests lead our eyes and trick our minds, constructing a palace of false narratives and imagined affections. There are many levels of desire attained, some wholly within the realm of fantasy. Does he know? I wouldn’t dare find out.

We walk amidst the cold stone walls, the dark cravens beneath the castle. I had contrived this and he had went along, knowing or unknowing. Later he would say to me that with age comes skepticism. I didn’t think he meant it. Besides, not enough years have gone by for me to know this for true or false. Regardless, I do not wish to hasten the flow of time.

We walk, half a foot apart, the chill exacerbating my awareness of the space between us.

There is nothing so infuriating as the tendrils of personal history and thought that reach out from one that is desired to ensnare the one that desires. These clues to a life: books being read, places visited, a childhood remembered, these are the foundations upon which we build the castle of longing, where, at the very top, shrouded in the fog of impossibility, stands the bell which tolls ‘Happily Ever After’.

Ahead, the cisterns end and the stairs lead on and out into the clear night sky. We hasten our pace, it is late and getting colder by the minute. Voices ahead, which break our bubble of intimacy. I suffer a violent thought, a succession of hidden frames from a pornographic movie.

I wonder if he feels relief that we are outside. He smiles sweetly at me and mentions his girlfriend.

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