Jonathan Ames: Bruises Bruises Bruises

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1990 was a bad summer.

It should have been a good one but it was a bad one. I've pulled a lot of stunts in my day, mostly of the sick sexual variety, but that summer I reached a new low. Or a new high. It was so low it was high, if you know what I mean.

I was 26 and a single parent. My son was four. He smelled good all the time, the way little kids do. I guess that's because the rot hasn't set in yet.

So my son was real cute. Red hair, blue eyes, ivory skin. Full of love. I had him for the whole summer. This part-time dad was now a full-time dad. We stayed with my parents in New Jersey. I needed their help with looking after my son for such a long stretch. Because I was a writer and made my living driving a taxi, I could just take off, so I did?all of July and August.

About two mornings each week, I'd go to the library to try to write from 9 to noon, and my mother would look after my son. I felt guilty about those three hours, but I needed to work a little.

Around week five, I started to come unhinged. I had no social life, I was playing with my kid 12 hours a day in the humid Jersey weather, and on the two mornings I went to the library my writing sucked. Also, my father was still working back then so he was tormented and insane and many nights he and I would stage a little summer-stock Oedipal drama. So, like I said, I was coming unhinged, which means I had to do something, take action.

Well, one day my son was taking a nap and I was looking at the local free newspaper and spotted a curious ad in the classifieds: a dominatrix with a transsexual assistant was offering $100, one-hour sessions. What the hell was this doing in a free newspaper in suburban New Jersey?

So I called the number.

A youngish-sounding woman answered the phone. "What do you want?" she said.

"I'm calling about your ad," I said in a whispery voice.

"Yeah, so? You want a session, you little pussy?"

"Yes," I said.

I told her what time I could get together and the girl laid down the law. She'd meet me the next day at 11 at TGI Friday's, just off the local highway. I was to stand at the bar and have a pack of unopened Marlboro cigarettes in my hand. If she didn't like the looks of me, she'd turn right around. If I passed inspection, she'd come over to me and ask for a cigarette. I wasn't to give her one, but follow her out to her car, where'd she blindfold me and drive me to her house.

"Do I have to be blindfolded?"

"You think I'm going to let a freak like you know where I live?"

The next day I was at the TGI Friday's by 10:50 with a pack of Marlboros. My mother thought I was at the library. I should have been with my son. I'm a terrible person.

The place had just opened when I got there. I ordered a coffee. At 11 she walked in?very short, maybe 5-1, dark-haired, pretty, early 20s, jeans and a halter top, sunglasses. We played the cigarette game, then out to her car. My heart was explosive. She didn't have a blindfold but sunglasses that were taped over.

"I don't want a cop stopping me because he sees that I have a faggot like you blindfolded," she explained. If I was lucky, she'd kill me fast and dump my body in the Meadowlands. My poor parents, my poor son.

I kept trying to peer out the bottom of the sunglasses to see where I was being taken to be executed. Despite my nervousness, I asked her lots of questions. She was pretty forthcoming. I've always been good with the Q and A.

She was Italian Catholic. Ever since she was a teenager she had gotten off on dominating men, especially since all men were assholes. Her high school boyfriend was her transsexual assistant; she had been feminizing him for a few years, feeding him hormone pills, making him dress like a girl, and, though he resisted at first, he was now happy with his transformation. Eventually, they'd have his penis cut off and they'd be lesbian lovers.

The whole thing was so sick it was thrilling. She and this guy were actually living out a dream that millions?well, maybe thousands?of perverts wanted. And I had found her in a free newspaper! Sometimes I do have the magic touch.

She told me that when she and her boy/girlfriend had enough money saved they were going to move to New York and open a first-class dungeon. Then from the dungeon they'd get enough money for his sex-change operation.

I got all this in a 20-minute car-ride, which I think involved her driving around in circles, in case I was peering out the bottom of the glasses. I felt like James Bond being kidnapped.

We pulled into a driveway; she took me by the hand and led me into a house, which I could perceive from the bottom of my glasses. Then down to a stark, carpeted basement room with mirrors on all the walls, a radio, a futon mattress, a big box with s and m paraphernalia and a pole that ran from the floor to the ceiling. I gave her the hundred bucks. Then she slapped me and tied my wrists behind my back to the pole and left me in the room. It was nearly 11:30. I told my mother I'd meet her at the lake where we took my son swimming at 12:30. I was going to be late!

She left me tied to that pole for 10 minutes. I imagined this was part of the torture, but I thought it was a ripoff, so I managed to free myself, just like James Bond. I tried the door; it was locked. I could have busted it down, but I didn't. My James Bondness went only so far. Then she came into the room dressed in black bra, panties, stockings, boots?usual dominatrix garb?and slapped me for slipping my bonds. Then she put the radio on, WPLJ.

"What are you into?" she asked. "Want me to flog you?"

"Can I kiss your breasts?" She looked pretty in her bra.

"No contact, asshole." She slapped me again and looked at me like I was crazy. I didn't want to be flogged. I wanted to kiss her breasts and maybe lick her pussy. I wasn't an s and m nut; I was just a nut. My perversion is that I try everything once, even if I'm not into it.

Then her tranny boyfriend, a tall, slender brunette wearing a negligee, came in and gave me a wide-eyed north/south. I wasn't bad-looking back then. The girl had the tranny undress me, then they conferred in the corner while I stood there naked.

Then the tranny came over and started rubbing against me, trying to slow-dance with me, and I didn't mind, he was a pretty good-looking girl. And I knew what was going on: I was being tossed to the tranny-slave like a piece of meat and the girl got off on watching.

The tranny put a condom on me and knelt down for a blowjob. The girl came over and slapped me violently. It hurt. The other slaps had been warmups. She went to do it again, but I caught her wrist this time and bent her arm behind her back. She was a little thing, even in her black boots. I pulled myself out of the tranny's mouth, held the girl's arm behind her back, and slow-danced her from behind. That vicious slap had done something to me, turned me into Robert Mitchum. The girl didn't say anything. I think she was stunned. Maybe she liked having the tables turned. The tranny watched and smiled. Poor nutty slave. He was going to lose his dick some day.

Well, after that, things got a little sordid. An unlit candle somehow entered the picture and the three of us rolled around on that futon. At some point the girl did flog me two or three times, but I let her?I'm not an ungenerous lover.

So it ended the way most things end: somebody gets a paper towel and you wish you had never been born. The tranny said to me, "I hope you'll see us again."

I got to the lake 15 minutes late. In the water, my son and several other four-year-olds were crawling all over me. I was the only dad around and so I was like a pied piper for the kids. At some point, my son was really bouncing on my back and it hurt and for a moment I wondered why. To be able to live with myself, I had immediately upon getting into my car at TGI Friday's blocked from my mind the lurid scene I had just engaged in, but then with my son bouncing on my bruises from the flogging I couldn't forget what I had done and my two worlds came together: being a father and being a sick bastard. I felt the most terrible, burning shame. The lake water could do nothing to cool me down.

I don't know if I can really convey why I felt the way I did, but maybe it's this: my son is the one decent, pure thing in my life and I didn't want any of my darkness?the bruises?to be near him, to touch him, to taint him. So I hated myself quite a lot in that moment, but I had tolove him, so I kept playing in the water, and made him as happy as I could. It was the only thing to do.

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