Author Archives: Jack Stratton
Her lips were far too full for such a fragile bird-like girl. She had no right to have lips like that. It was, among other things, unfair.
There was an aesthetic there, in her dress, which was layers of diaphanous sepia silk and gauzy cotton. The way her hair was timeless, retro, modern, all at once. The softness around the edges of her pale and thin body. Like she was captured by an old camera.
If she were a picture I could keep her under my bed, in a secret box, to finger her edges when alone.
Instead I took her for drinks and nervously edged around her silence and her eyes. And longed for her lips. Her lips on a glass, her lips on a cigarette, her lips on a straw, her lips on everything but mine.
Her notebook was absurd in its delicacy. A fountain pen, mahogany ink, a script so fine it could be another language. Surely English was far too clumsy a choice for words so precise.
If her lips were unfair then her words were cruelly beautiful. Melancholy and full of longing. One of those stories that is at once sad and yet so lovely you can’t help but smile.
The hesitation bloomed into tension, then my chance (if I had one) was gone.
So it goes.
I’ll give him credit, he was damn respectful. I mean, we’d been there for a week and a half and we’d been pushed and pulled together over and over again and he never made a move. Every hour my body grew more hungry, though my days were full of songs and chants and raised signs.
I saw him go from a clean cut college kid in a cardigan and jeans into a scruffy looking anarchist, red faced from screaming and garbed in the mishmash of sweaters and coats we’d all gotten from donations.
The tart was just that. Let’s be frank, although far brighter than most riff raff, she was still a simple girl, smart enough to get paid a hefty price for her services, which was something in these days, but not much more. Still, there was a spark there and since meeting her during the investigation of the Burgdorf burglary we had become well acquainted and she’s found that my services were most satisfying after her nightly tending to the ruffian masses.
I supposed it had been months before that the idea had taken root in my head. My colleague Watson had made some offhanded remark about his upcoming nuptials and how I would most certainly not be needing a “plus one” on my invitation. He had often noted my lack of romantic partners during our friendship. For a brilliant man, the dear doctor could be quiet daft. Continue reading
As buildings went, this was certainly the best place Caitlin had ever lived. Just out of college and new to New York, she was still amazed every time she walked out of the subway and saw the brownstone that was now her home.
It was three stories of beautiful red brick, with large bay windows, and ornate wrought iron fences out front. She lived on the second floor, above a lovely older lesbian couple, with their two dogs and their fancy dinner parties. Upstairs there was a nice, if a bit mysterious, business man in his thirties named Henry.
The one thing she did know about the man upstairs is that he certainly had a lot of lady friends. There was nothing wrong with that, Caitlin supposed, but she didn’t really understand it. He was fairly good looking, but nothing special. Plus, what kind of woman would go out with someone so promiscuous? It seemed like he had a new one every week. Continue reading
I shook my head and smiled again.
She bit her bottom lip, but under the circumstances, her demeanor actually changed very little.
Ana was a tough nut to crack. We’d met through this or that, the ways people uptown meet. She was bright, book smart, art smart, fit, and fashionable. Pretty and self conscious; a puzzle of desire and nervousness. We’d fallen into both flirting and friendship at the same time and there had been a long lull as we tried to figure out which one to pursue. In the end we picked a little from “column A” and a little from “column B.” Luckily, I’d set up my life to facilitate that sort of answer to that sort of question.
A week or so before our date, our conversation via email had turned to sex toys. I mentioned that I had reviewed them for a while and she skirted around the issue of needing some new ones. These were lovely little charged correspondences that made my days at work fly by. Passive flirtation; we weren’t talking about sex, we were talking about sex toys! As safe as talking about stereo equipment. Like so many things, there were layers of self defense and acknowledging self defense. Continue reading
Mister McIntyre’s Secret, Part 10
I don’t remember the train ride home.
I don’t remember Penn Station or the cab or opening the door to my apartment. All I know is that I saw things on a Sunday in Autumn. I wrote them down in a little book and I gave them away and then I was lying in my dingy little bed.
I felt very still and very cool and very much a different person. At some point I stopped shaking. At some point I stopped crying. Now it was like I had woken up and there was dew on everything and everything was new. Continue reading
Title image by chikache. CC BY-NC 2.0
From a somewhat silly request on a forum comes a story I’m quite fond of.
The studio, his studio, that dirty gentleman’s studio, was bare. All the carefully collected furniture (he collected many things, all of them carefully) was pushed out of the way. The long main room was clear and the mats were on the hardwood floor and early morning light was shining in thick square beams from the old windows and showed the little particles of dust in the air.
Dorothy, as usual, was making art. Luckily, she sometimes let me watch.
She said nothing but led me to a little chair with a connected desk; the ones they have in college lecture halls. On it was a small old fashioned portable typewriter. Black and scratched and loaded with a fresh sheet of paper. A table next to the desk held a box with more paper.
She kissed me on the cheek and left me to my part, which was to record what was about to happen.
hotcoffeeandcream recorded one of my stories! I think it sounds lovely. I had forgotten about this silly tale and how much I liked it.
The original story can be found here: Anthony Boudain and the Naughty Chef de Partie
The girls were sat on a blanket, back to back; naked, save their panties. The black blanket was laid neatly on the somewhat dusty hardwood floor. I knelt in front of Margot and Hector knelt in front of Betty. The rope was around both of their pretty necks. Looped and looped around and around. Their hands tied at their sides, their backs held straight out of either eagerness to please or suspense at what might happen next.
Downstairs, a bar that’s a half secret, a party that is supposed to be kept quiet. We were told when the door closed things would get interesting…
The painter is a chemical necessity in these situations. She is a catalyst in a way I am used to being. One of the million ways we are the same. The same hungers, the same taste, the same perceptions.
The redhead is on someone’s lap. She has been morsel I’d been coveting for a while now. Not seriously, not even particularly, but one of those shiny beautiful people your eyes linger on for a few second when you see them across the room. All cream skin and fire hair and cool attitude.
For all the ways we are alike, the painter has many advantages I do not. She is a woman, she knows all of the privileges of that, especially in this setting. And she knows everyone. I thought I knew everyone, but she is entrenched and this is her crowd. I get a nod from this crowd, she gets a kiss on the lips. And now she is kissing the redhead.
The music is loud, I am next to a pretty blond thing, my hands around her waist, my lips on her neck, but my eyes across the room as the painter is on her knees in front of the redhead who is still on someone’s lap.
The well dressed crowd is throbbing around us. Suits and ties and garters and fishnets and finery is everywhere. Clothes are coming off quickly though. Lean muscles and naked breasts catch my sight and the whiskey is making everything vivid and dull at the same time.
The blond in my arms is squirming. She’s watching the show too. She is nervous energy under my fingers as I toy with the edge of her panties.
The painter is pulling down the redhead’s flimsy bra, her bare breasts small and pretty. Nipples almost the same cream color as the rest of her skin. Then the painter’s curly black head is between the thighs of the redhead. I can see her hungry hands pulling black panties to the side.
My girl, doing the exact thing I would do to that prize of a redhead. I can close my eyes and almost slip away, into her, imagining what she tastes like.
The thought dissolves as I kiss the blond, hands consumed with all that skin in front of me.
When I see the painter dizzy and swaying towards me later I am smiling and she is smiling and she kisses me. She knows, of course, of my crush. We spill secrets faster than we spill our drinks. She knows and she kisses me again and I’m torn between wanting to kiss this beautiful woman and wanting a little taste of the redhead.
“I want to taste her,” I groan into the painter’s ear. She laughs and almost slaps me, but then her fingers are in my mouth. Salty, and wet. It’s bad, but it’s just a little bad. I suck on those two fingers and I can taste her. Then the fingers are almost down my throat, because I should remember what’s mine and what isn’t. Then we are kissing and her eyes are on my eyes and as always we are communicating a million things.
I’m drunk and happy and the world around me is dark electric bacchanalia. The music gets louder, people are hitting each other and kissing and rubbing and pulling. A girl stretches her hands up to the ceiling as a man ties her tight with red rope.
This is exactly where I want to be with the person I want to be with. It’s perfect.
Why do I keep apologizing?
I haven’t said it out loud, but it keeps repeating in my head. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
That’s why you get hit, right? You were bad. And even though I am really sorry for all that I did and all that I deserve I also know that this isn’t punishment. Punishment is too easy. She is hitting me because she wants to hurt me. She is hitting me because I want to be hit. This pain is not a consequence, it’s an act all of its own. That makes it scarier because punishments have definitions, limits, sentences. This is pain for pain’s sake.
The whine was a little girl noise: a pouting, stubborn groan of frustration. I heard it when I opened the door and let the light from the hall break the spell of darkness in her room.
On the pink bed, the girl was covered in blankets, pillows, comforters, even stuffed animals. She sniffled somewhere under there and in a voice that sounded much more adolescent than what a college student should sound like, she whined, “go away.”
I had to laugh. I left the door open a little, enough to see at least. I crept over to the bed, looking around at the bowl of half eaten soup and cups of tea.
I took off my pants as she pulled the blanket down enough to watch me with furled eyebrows and pursed frowning lips. I took my shirt off next and placed it with my pants on the chair next to her bed. Continue reading
There are parts of the city that die at night. The hustle and bustle of the day ends abruptly at about six or seven. Stragglers and work horses may stay until eight or nine. By eleven the streets of the Financial District are deserted.
As our cab pulled up to a seemingly random corner I paid and we wandered out cautiously. I checked my phone for the hundredth time and found the address. As I was told it was above a deli. The building looked just like everything else there; gray, empty, foreboding.
I took Zonah’s hand and we shared raised eyebrow amusement at the shadiness of this whole situation.
Next to the deli was a door with a row of anonymous doorbells. I pressed all of them. In a second a weak tinny buzz croaked and the door clicked open.
Up two flights of dirty but not really filthy stairs until we saw lights and an open door. A twentysomething boy, pretty, shirtless, slightly drunk, came out and opened his arms.
“Welcome to the sex party!”
When did it all start? I suppose it wasn’t so long ago. Mad Men started and I watched it from the get go. I had a wedding to go to, alone, and I was out shopping for something to wear. I remember that specifically being the point where it started.
I had always liked wearing a suit, but didn’t much wear them unless someone died or got married. A few interviews and big meetings at work, but that was it.
I was shopping and I picked out a vivid purplish pink paisley tie. I’d never owned a tie like that before. I paired it with a pinstriped DKNY shirt. A little expensive for me, but I tended to be a little blue collar.
I went to the wedding in my suit and tie. Decided at the last minute to add a vest. I stood a little straighter. I felt a little more in control. Confidence and strength through fashion? I liked it. That week I bought four more ties.
A few years later and I have around fifty of them. A closet full of dress shirts. Cufflinks, sweater vests, a new suit, collar stays and lovely colognes and so on.
I’ve been through this all before. Yes, Jack likes ties.
Enter my friends Sara and Zac and their 500 Hammers Project, which is a endeavor to “designed to highlight the ways in which small, useful objects shape – and are shaped by – our lives.”
Senior year in high school. One day my best friend tells me about this girl he met who I “had to meet.” I was somewhat popular, at least with the large nerdy population of my school and I’d thought I’d met everyone, but apparently this girl Jill slipped past my radar. After he mentioned her I kept hearing about her though, this brash, blindingly intelligent poet, lesbian, activist. Frankly it was starting to get annoying. Who was this chick?
A month later I found myself cornered in my best friend’s kitchen. He presented us to each other, like some landmark meeting of the minds. I suppose we were both sort of big personalities so everyone wanted to know how we would react to each other.
We eye each other. We circled each other. We asked some pointed questions about books and music. We fell into banter. We sat down on the floor and started a long conversation. We sang some songs. We tested each other. Eight hours later we were best friends.