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The Bohemian

by Bill Bowler

Chapter 8: Mrak’s Party

part 2 of 2

“Josef! Jo-SEF!”

The trance was broken. “Yes, Natalia. I’m coming.” He let go of Cynthia. Muttering under his breath, he passed by, shutting the door behind which I stood, and descended the stairs.

“Yes, dear, what is it? I was just showing one of the students where the bathroom was.”

I opened the door and stepped into the hallway.

Cynthia was startled to see me. “You’re always lurking! What are you doing here?”

“I came up to use the bathroom. Wait for me.”

“I’ll see you downstairs.”

When I came back down to the living room, the party was livening up. Consumption of alcohol was taking effect. The decibel level of conversation was rising. In the backyard, Mrak had set up speakers and turned the patio into a disco dance floor.

I was surprised to see Mrak dancing with a beautiful girl in a mini-skirt that revealed the long shapely legs of a dance student. They were having a great time.

Cynthia was watching them from the edge of the patio. When the song ended, Mrak put his arm around the dance student, leaning on her for support. He picked up a drink and lifted his glass in a toast.

“To my students! Your naïve, malleable minds! Your physical beauty! Youth and innocence! Those qualities for which not only poets, but philosophers yearn. But the despair, the suffering, the guilt, the profanity of our deeds, accomplished in the name of good...” Mrak’s speech was slurred. “What act would one not commit for love? Hindsight is no use. The moment of the loss of control consumes the mind in its immediacy and will not be put off.”

I had no idea what he was raving about. I watched him, studied him, seeking clues to his motives. He was paying complete attention to the dance student, fawning over her clumsily, strolling around the party draped all over her, whispering in her ear. Cynthia was following them around, getting angrier and angrier, working herself into a rage. I felt bad for her, losing her pride and demeaning herself that way.

When Mrak and the dancer walked down to the shaded recesses of his backyard, out of sight in the garden, Cynthia seemed about to follow and make a scene. I approached her.

She was fuming. “I could kill him!” she hissed.

“Good idea.”

“He can’t get away with this.”

“Listen, take it easy. Take a deep breath. Why worry about him? He’s just an old geezer. Anyway, your best move is to fight fire with fire. Turn the tables. Make him jealous. He’s taking you for granted. Don’t be so available. Play hard to get. Men always want what they think they can’t have.”

She nodded and the stage seemed set. I stuck close to her as the party began to thin out. Mrak was still somewhere with the dance student. When there were only a handful of partygoers left, the ones who won’t leave unless they’re asked, Cynthia put on her jacket.

Mrak finally noticed her and walked over. They began to talk in quiet tones but, in a matter of seconds, they had raised their voices and began to argue. Cynthia finally screamed, “I hate you!” and stormed out the door.

A kind of deathly silence descended on what was left of the party. Mrak was standing there, as stunned as someone can be when they’re drunk, and giving me the evil eye. I smiled sheepishly, mumbled a vague farewell to host and guests, and slid out the door.

Cynthia was sitting on the stoop next door. She looked wildly at me, took my hand and put it on her breast. “You want me?” He voice was strange, crazy. She seemed about to flip.

She pulled me around the side of the stoop, into the shadows, out of sight of the street, threw herself on me and started kissing me passionately, ferociously. Next thing I knew, she opened my pants and pulled them down to my ankles and hitched up her dress. I was scared Mrak would be coming out his front door any second looking for her or even just some passer-by would see us.

“Wait a minute.” I gasped. “Just wait a minute!”

“No! No, no! Now!”

“But,” I said, “but...” But, apparently, there were no more buts, with the possible exception of my own butt which was currently hanging out to dry. It was getting too intense. Everything was exploding. But then, I started to get into it. The pure carnal sensuality sucked me in, even while I was scared Mrak would be opening the door and coming down the steps any second.

The gyration of Cyndi’s hips had woken the sleeping monster; Dr. Johnson was coming out to make a house call. I felt a rush, a thrill of pure physical pleasure. It reached maximum unbearable delicious intensity in seconds. But, hold your horses, hold your horses...

“Don’t come, don’t come, don’t come,” she begged, panting. “Not yet,” she pleaded.

But it was too late.

* * *

Cynthia slept in my bed that night.

“Tell me your sexual fantasies.”

“I don’t have any at the moment,” I said. “This is real.”

“C’mon. You must have secret fantasies. Tell me. I want to hear.”

I was embarrassed. “I don’t have any right now. You tell me your fantasy.”

“No. I won’t. I was going to, but now I don’t feel like it.”

She rolled over and turned her back to me.

I kissed her on the shoulder. “Don’t be mad. I just can’t think right now.”

“I didn’t ask you to think.”

I kissed her neck and tried to turn her towards me. She shrugged me off. “I’m tired.”

I awoke the next morning before she did. She lay beside me, asleep, rays of morning sun piercing the curtains and falling on her smooth back. I admired her neck and shoulders, running my hand through her hair, brushing it away from her forehead so I could kiss her. She murmured in her sleep as my kiss entered her dreams.

She opened her eyes and started coughing , lightly at first, but then more and more violently into a coughing fit. She ran into the kitchen and hacked up a big glob of phlegm into a Kleenex. The fit subsided. She came back into the bedroom, gasping slightly, and lay back down in bed. She grabbed her purse and pulled out a bottle of cough syrup.

“That’s a nasty cough.”

“It’s getting worse and worse. I get this every year, but never this bad before.” She took a swig of cough syrup from the bottle. “This stuff’s great. Codeine.”

“How long have you been coughing like that?”

“Two months.”

“You should see a doctor.”

“Yeah.” She pulled a pack of Merits from her purse and lit a cigarette.

“You shouldn’t smoke with that cough.”

“I know,” she said, and took a drag, prompting a few more coughs. She snuggled into my arms. “I feel so safe here with you.”

I noticed Cynthia wince and rub her stomach.

“What’s wrong?”

“I have a pain in my uterus. I always feel it. Can you believe? They wanted to do a hysterectomy. Just like that. They almost got away with it. But I refused. They put me on antibiotics for a year.”

“But what was wrong? What caused the pain?”

“I don’t know. The doctors know, but they won’t tell me. They cover up for each other. The hospital changed my records. I could have gotten them on malpractice.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“My lawyer said it would have been too costly and time-consuming. It wasn’t worth fighting. I had an attack last... February. I was doubled over in excruciating pain. I blacked out, screaming. First they thought it was appendicitis. Then they wanted to do the hysterectomy. I refused to sign the release. About a month later, I had an abortion. It was horrible. Horrible! I couldn’t go through it again. It can make you sterile. I was sick, throwing up, for a year after.”

I sat in silence for a moment, digesting her words. I could only shake my head. “I don’t know, Cyn. You look healthy as a horse. Are you sure you’re not wasting your time feeling depressed, frightened, whatever, over nothing?”

“That kind of thinking got me in trouble in the first place!”

She finished her leisurely smoke, then stretched. “I want to shower. Do you mind?”

She rose and went into the kitchen.

“Hey!” I shouted and ran after her. “You shouldn’t walk around naked. All my curtains are open. People can see right in.”

“Oh, so what?” She grinned and kissed me. “Give them a thrill if they want.”

She climbed into the stall and turned the water on. “Ooh! A cockroach! Get it!”

A huge kookamunga was crawling along the shower curtain. I flicked it. It bounced off the sink and when it hit the floor, I went to smash it with a sponge, but the hellish creature was too fast and scurried under the sink to live another day.

Cynthia left for class at nine. We kissed good-bye, and I beamed as she descended the funhouse stairs and blew me a last kiss. An hour later, my phone rang. It was Cynthia. All through English Lit., she had been thinking about me and missing me. She especially thought of me because they had been discussing Poe.

She phoned me again at one. She had just gotten out of Philosophy. I smiled at her childlike dependence on me. Gently, I hinted she need not call me three times a day. She needn’t feel insecure about me. She had no idea what I was talking about. Anger and hostility suddenly came through the phone line.

To be continued...

Copyright © 2009 by Bill Bowler

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