short story #6

fire island
A DAY AT FIRE ISLAND
 
At last, David thought, things feel easy and simple. David and Marina lay next to each other on beach towels, watching the waves from behind dark sunglasses. The tongue of the Atlantic Ocean lapped the shore softly, and then withdrew, and then beat in again, and out again…A parasol was wedged stylishly into the sand behind them, giving shelter from the sun. “My idea,” David privately congratulated himself. At last it was quiet, and the teeming crowds of the morning seemed far away.
 
They had met at Penn Station around eight that morning, along with the rest of New York City apparently, and packed themselves like chattel into the train to Long Island. As the train bumped along, Marina’s breasts pressed heavily against his arm (intentionally or was it the push of the crowd?). In the heat, he could feel her cotton summer dress cling stickily to her skin. 
 
From the train’s terminus on Long Island, the clamorous crowds streamed en masse to the waiting ferries. Now the atmosphere was party-like. Beach balls floated dreamily above the sea of heads. Packs of gay boys in tank-tops and jean-shorts laughed and horsed around. Now the pungent smell of suntan lotion, like coconut and sunshine, conjuring all of the summers of childhood.
 
On the ferry to Fire Island, there was a little more space to breathe and they chatted easily, shifting between Russian and English. Marina talked of her old life in Moscow—the life of a young kindergarten teacher in a tough city. He saw a wave of cynicism flash across her face and vanish quickly into a smile.
 
David was touched that she would be so open with him on their second date. Russian women are like this, he mused. With men they want to be fraternal, honest, a tovarischt, even at the same time as being sexual or romantic. David talked about his work. His hours were very long, but he respected his colleagues. And his work was intellectually stimulating—he enjoyed that.
 
He found it a bit amazing, however, that Marina had been a kindergarten teacher before she came over. There were a few things that happened on their first date that lingered in his mind. During dinner she had quizzed him about his previous girlfriends, what they looked like, how often they had sex; it was forward, odd. After dinner, he walked her to her subway platform and, while they waited for the train, Marina asked him to hold her wrist. Without warning she fell backwards towards the void of the train tracks, only David’s grip keeping her from plummeting onto the rails. Afterwards, she couldn’t stop laughing. He kept replaying the scene in his mind when he was home later, like a puzzle he couldn’t solve. She was clearly a little crazy, he noted to himself, but he was drawn to her. She was attractive. Sex crackled just beneath the surface of her smile.
 
They stepped onto the old wooden dock at Fire Island and the ocean wind blew their hair wildly. Restaurants advertising fresh seafood and beer. The sun beaming above from a cloudless blue sky. 
 
“The weather’s so breezy…Why can’t life always be this easy?” David rapped. No recognition from Marina.
 
“You know Kanye West, right?”
 
“Rap, right?”
 
“Yeah, rap. Hip-hop.”
 
“No,” Marina demurred, “I don’t like that black music.”
 
“Great, now it’s black people,” David thought. He filed this comment in his mind with the comment she had made on their first date about the there being “too many Mexicans” in New York. It had been a big turn-off and later when he was alone he chided himself for not saying anything. 
 
“Well, little does she know she’s dating a dirty Jew…” What if she knew that? He had mentioned to her on their first date that his parents had immigrated in the early 80s—a lot of Jews had. And then his last name. Would she piece it all together?
 
Whatever. Strolling through the quaint lanes and hedges of Fire Island, you didn’t worry. People were smiling in the street. The ocean breeze was briny and life-giving. In the middle of a lane, David stopped, closed his eyes, and absorbed the brilliant sunshine on his face, undoing months of confinement in his windowless cubicle at work.
 
And now they were just chilling on the beach. They chatted amiably under the parasol, Marina peppering him with all sorts of questions about life in New York. She was still learning the ropes and was living with her sister in Harlem for now, but wanted to live in Brooklyn someday. The wine was everything David had hoped, equally dry and citrusy.
 
David had been sure to bring his “wine picnic” satchel, a prized possession he had found in a boutique in Park Slope. In the elegantly designed bag there were compartments for a bottle of wine, ice packs, a cork screw, glasses, and two beach towels. David diligently observed the beach ban on glass containers and had packed paper cups in lieu of wine glasses. 
 
The wine itself was a young Sauvignon Blanc he had carefully picked out. But it was now gone. Marina had kept refilling their cups. Was she trying to get them drunk or what? 
 
Marina gazed worriedly at the empty bottle lolling in the sand and then suddenly smiled: “Tell me again about your girlfriends…”
 
“I already told you—”
 
David didn’t want to sound like a wimp so he gamely described a few of the women he had been on dates with lately.
 
“Online dating has its pitfalls—present company excepted, of course—but it’s still really the only—”
 
“And what do you like?”
 
“What—what do I like? What do you mean?”
 
“I mean, sexually. Tell me about your fantasies.”
 
“Fantasies? I don’t—I don’t know—I guess—I don’t think I have any specific—”
 
“Oh, you’re so sweet. I’ve embarrassed you!”
 
David felt shamed. The tone in her voice was the tone one uses with an orphan kitten.
 
“I have many fantasies,” Marina offered matter-of-factly. “I like…doing it rough sometimes…I like…pretending to be other people…”
 
“Role-playing.”
 
“Yes. Role-playing. And I really like doing it in public…where people can see… In St. Petersburg I liked to stand naked in my window until someone could see me, and then hide. Now, at my sister’s place, we are on a very high story, so it’s not possible.”
 
Marina reclined back on her elbows and cast a lubricious smile in his direction. David looked at her lying prone before him and decided that she was not beautiful. Her facial features were a bit blocky—her nose, her chin, and her forehead were all slightly too big. These blunt features—and her penchant for racism—made her seem dense, provincial. Her body was bangin, though—that was undeniable. Her legs were long and miraculous. They shouted sex (lying down, she let her dress fall to her upper thigh). Her breasts were obviously ample. Yes, she was sexy and unbeautiful.
 
“I would like some vodka,” Marina loudly exclaimed. 
 
“Vodka. Okay…You want me to—to go get some?”
 
“Yes. Aren’t there stores?”
 
“I guess. Okay. I’ll go get some vodka. Why not?”
 
David stumbled up the beach, delirious with wine, sun, and Marina’s legs. Vodka! 
 
When he returned with the vodka and some orange juice to mix it with, Marina was in the water splashing around. He lay on the sand and admired the handsome label—“Tito’s Handmade Vodka…Crafted in an Old Fashioned Pot Still.”  Further down the beach a solitary man dashed into the waves. A deep sense of harmony. On Monday morning, he would be sure to make casual mention of his day at Fire Island to his colleagues—sans vodka, of course!
 
Marina emerged from the water, and walked back dripping wet to their towels. David tried to but could not avoid gawking at her in her bikini. Her body really was tremendously sexy.
 
The first stirring of arousal, like a single note plucked on a guitar, resonating deep and long.
 
Marina flung herself cheerfully onto her towel.
 
“Ah vodka!”
 
“Yes, help yourself. Orange juice too. I think I’m gonna take a swim.”
 
“No, first we drink, then we swim.”
 
“Yeah that’s a great idea. You would be the world’s worst lifeguard.”
 
Marina snatched the bottle and poured shots. One shot down. Then a second. Now he was looking at her lips. There was something discordant, misshapen about them, but lusty, and they were soon making out underneath the umbrella. Reckless, drunken kisses. He dared his hand to caress her thighs. In response, she grabbed his cock through his shorts, jolting him.
 
Her grin seemed hideous to him just then, her face flushed and ruined with booze. A sudden impulse to flee—he pictured himself running to the ferry, abandoning her on the beach.
 
But now she was taking his hand and leading him into the water. “Let’s swim.” 
 
They stumbled down to the water and collapsed into the waves. The ocean was invigorating and woke them up from their boozy slumber. 
 
“Jesus, I’m wasted,” David noticed.
 
The cool water was marvelous on their bodies. David wildly resolved to himself that he would do this every weekend.
 
Collapsing onto the towels again. Marina hovered over the cups like some malignant wizard, carefully pouring yet another round.
 
“Jesus, how about some orange juice with that…”
 
“Juice?” she scoffed.
 
“OK…OK, I get it…” Unmanned once again. A soft American. She was old-world… He drank the vodka, and then another.
 
The afternoon was suddenly late and the morning’s royal blue sky now washed-out, fading to white. The sun hung low above the island. 
 
David closed his eyes.
 
After a minute—or ten minutes, or thirty, he wasn’t sure—he felt a finger poking his ribs.
 
“David. David.”
 
“Wha—hey. I’m awake.” David lurched up. “Hey, what’s happening?”
 
“Nothing’s happening.” She paused. “Show me your dick.”
 
“No,” he said, a little more squeamishly than he meant to. He looked around the beach. “There are people around.”
 
Marina reached over and firmly pulled down his shorts. David froze, stunned. There was his dick greeting the rest of the beach, like some guest arriving late to a party.
 
Marina appraised it objectively. “It is a nice dick. It is big, I think.”
 
“Thank you.”
 
He hurriedly pulled his shorts up (despite an impulse to not pull them up, to climb just a bit further along the ledge).
 
“You’re like a doctor. You checked me out.” He tried to joke.
 
“Yes. And you are very good.”
 
His mind reeled and he did not know what to say, so he pitched towards her and they tumbled together onto the sand, working violently with their tongues.
 
And then the sun fell beneath the houses on the beach and the night rose up around them. David sat up and checked his watch. How was it so late? Time was playing tricks…No, it was Marina…time was weird when he was with Marina…The beach was dark under a moonless night sky. A voice from deep in his consciousness commanded him that he must go home. He was wasted and had to get home. 
 
“Shit. We have to catch the ferry.”
 
“Ok.”
 
David jammed the towels and umbrella into his picnic satchel. Marina poured out half of the bottle of orange juice onto the sand, poured the remaining vodka into the orange juice bottle and hurled the empty vodka bottle into the darkness.
 
“We take this with us… To sip on the train…”
 
“You didn’t—we shouldn’t just leave the bottle…”
 
Marina rolled her eyes. “So go find it…”
 
Careening now through the crowded streets of the island, Marina clutching his side, trying to sink her teeth into his neck. Groups of shirtless boys with supermodel abs milled around…A distinguished older man and his wife walking down the street sucking lollipops…David looked into a bar and thought he saw a transvestite spanking a small blonde girl…No… Against a brick wall a couple was making out, practically fucking. No—it was them, they were against the brick wall…He grabbed Marina’s arm and lurched into the street again…Someone said she was looking for coke, did he know…Was it Marina who said that…? Now rising white and large at the end of a lane, the ferry, a specter, unreal… 
 
The train back to the city. The world slowly comes back into focus. The familiar submarine light of the train. No idea how he got there.
 
He began to notice the other riders around him. They seemed absurdly quiet, like they were in church. He tried to observe himself: were his legs splayed drunkenly into the aisle? Was his face twisted violently with vodka? Or did he look normal? Maybe…
 
Marina, he noticed, was cuddled against him, her face buried in his chest. She then dropped her hand into his swimming trunks and began giving him a hand job. He yielded to the sensation for a long second and then pulled her hand out firmly.
 
“Jesus, people can see. We need…privacy…”
 
“No…” She put her hand in his shorts again. He grabbed the luxury wine-satchel and put it on his lap, a desperate, futile effort to cover up.
 
“Listen,” he pleaded with her, “Why don’t we get off the train. Go to a bathroom. We can get off at my stop…Let’s go to my place…”
 
“No,” she moaned. “I have to go back to my sister’s. I have the only key…”
 
“Let’s just get off the train…Right here…”
 
“No…I want to suck your dick…I want your dick in my mouth…”
 
“We should get off the train…People—”
 
“People…people…” she giggled mockingly. She began working his cock vigorously. He hated her. He pulled her hand out and, with surprising strength she pushed his hand out of the way and began again.
 
David tried to look disinterested, not show any expression to the people all around him. How could they not see what was happening? But they didn’t seem to see. But how could they not see…. Anyone could be on this train. His boss, his friends, old people, children. Insane. Insane. They were in Manhattan now and more and more people piled on to the train and huddled around them. He was sweating copiously. Sweat pooled on his face and trickled onto his shirt. He had to stop her but he couldn’t, it was too far. He was rock hard now and her fist was flying up and down his shaft. He was desperate to finish. He wanted to explode in her hand. But he couldn’t, not there, not with so many people…His body was now perfectly equidistant between torment and ecstasy. 
 
The train pulled into Penn Station and she moaned in his ear “I need…I get off here…my sister…” They tumbled out of the train and into the bustling crowd.
 
“I’ll take you to your train…” he muttered vaguely. She clung to him crazily as they walked. She scratched his face and body with her nails, and tried to choke him, and kiss him. 
 
At the top of a set of stairs, he pulled away from her. “Your train’s that way.” Leave her here. He had to get back to his apartment. He had to snap out of this dream. 
 
She stood wobbling in front of him, plastered, her face glowing with a beatific, idiotic expression.
 
“David…I want you to slap me…Hard…On the face.”
 
“No…Seriously?”
 
“Yes…Slap me…Hard…Please…”
 
“No…”
 
David tried to think—but he couldn’t. 
 
“David…” she pleaded.
 
From within, a sudden desire, a wave welling up and beating home to shore. He raised his hand high above his head and brought it down viciously upon her face. 
 
She staggered back a step and rubbed her jaw. She flashed a psychotic grin. “Oww…That was good…That hurt…That was good.”
 
She straightened herself, looked him firmly in the eyes, grabbed his crotch hard, and turned away to walk to her train.
 
A group of police officers standing nearby had watched what David had done and were already racing towards him. Just as he turned around to face them, one of the police officers barreled into him and slammed him onto the ground. This officer used his ape-like forearms to grind David’s face into the pavement, while another unseen police officer kicked and stomped on the rest of his body. They couldn’t get enough.
 
– the end
 
– Anonymous
 
 
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