Libido: Fiction: D is for...
Friday Night Bedtime Story, November 3. Print me out... take me to bed!
D is for Delta

By Johanna Baird

Daphne is the only person he knows who admits to having taken a bath in champagne during a particularly nasty heat spell. "Before AA," she assures him.

Now he has to know, "was it cheap champagne or... did you do it with Perrier-Jouet or something pricier like Veuve Clicquot? " He draws his wheelchair closer. "Well, so what was it?"

He is so close now she can smell him -- a scent of juniper and Pillsbury raw biscuit mix. It’s what she thinks of as male sweat lite. It reminds her of the story she is going to tell him. "How should I remember? I was drunk!"

"You get a D-minus for details. Punishment to follow." He drains his glass of Martinelli’s sparkling apple juice and sets it down, pretending to be irritated. Raymond loves to hear her tell the "when-I-was-really-bad" stories -- and she glories in telling him, watching his lower lip quiver and protrude. Even the tip of his nose, she swears, seems to curve slightly to one side. Once, it even started to run.

Most of the stories she tells are purely distilled, only the details are blended for greater intoxication. Daphne wants to skip the champagne story only because it had all ended very badly. Before dumping in 31 bottles of a medium-priced California (she didn’t want to tell him it had been a domestic brand), she’d grabbed a long pepper from the refrigerator instead of the medium-sized cucumber she had so carefully chosen. The plan that night had been to cool off in the ultimate bubble bath and masturbate to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos using one of nature’s dildos. It was during the andante movement of the second concerto that she first noticed her fantasy interrupted by a sensation of cool burning, not entirely unpleasant and one that she ignored until half way through the fourth concerto. Then came the sudden realization that the vegetable matter sallying back and forth between her legs was no cool cucumber but a Hungarian pepper. This singular case of burnin’ self-love had left her sitting on an ice-pack for two days.

"And this punishment, Raymond. Will it be tonight or are you merely suggesting you might not take me to hear Wagner’s Ring cycle again? You can be so cruel." Daphne curls one leg under her wing-shaped chair and leans forward to stroke one of his shoes. "Damn, Raymond! Are these Italian? Bruno Magli?"

"Don’t change the subject to shoes! You will indeed be punished for inducing aural excitement and not following through with appropriate detail. Remember the first rule is never, never, never start a story unless you plan to tell me absolutely everything." Raymond fidgets with his collar and pats a black canvas bag attached to the side of his chair. "You’ll see."

"And yes, at the very least, you will sit through Das Rheingold and Die Walküre again," he says without cracking a smile. "How else will you understand core family values like fratricide, adultery and incest unless you know your Wagner?"

Daphne feels a tiny depth charge and coolly surveys the lobby crowd. This time Raymond has picked the Paramount Hotel and well, he is clearly getting her back for her choice of the Algonquin the last time. No point in trotting out any of her best Dorothy Parker lines here. The vapid, epicene looks of the crowd suggest a greater understanding of Baywatch than Robert Benchley.

They have been doing this every month now for the last year and a half — meeting in New York for a night of what Daphne thinks is some of the strangest sex she’s had in some years. They met through Alcoholics Anonymous and while they have an intimate knowledge of each other’s bodies at this point, they continue to insist on some anonymity. They imagine they are completing each other’s jigsaw puzzle. Each time they meet a few more pieces fit into place.

"There is a champagne theme to this story so no need to get too severe yet, Raymond," Daphne finally says. "But it has more to do with a pair of German twins and I’m not talking Siegmund and Sieglunde. They were, however, your basic Aryan poster boys and I met them on the grounds of a French chateau. Well, underground to be more exact."

"This sounds a bit too baroque, dear," Raymond grumbles.

"Nothing could be closer to the truth! I couldn’t possibly make this story up — even if I tried. So just listen!

"One year, when I was living in Paris working as a translator, I was asked to write a profile on this British couple who had been hired as hosts of a small chateau in Epernay, about 80 miles northeast of the city. This 18th century hunting lodge they occupied belonged to the family of a large champagne producer and these Brits had been imported to entertain company guests. Their visitors ranged from monosyllabic Norwegian wine merchants to boisterous, pastel-clad CEOs from the States. The way Burtie and Bronwyn (Lord and Lady Burton, by the way) managed this constant caravan of houseguests was to stay permanently sauced. Burtie looked like he had stepped right out of a John LeCarré novel. He was white-haired, handsome and craggy in a dissolute sort of way and she was ruddy and wore lots of tweeds. They were Brits all the way down to their Wellington boots, which they’d donned in order to give me a quick tour of the grounds.

"Along the way, Burtie pointed out a large entrance to a limestone cave and matter-of-factly announced that this had been some ancient site for fertility rites. ‘Eons and eons ago -- somewhere after the earth’s crust cooled,’ he said with a dramatic flourish. This was made clear, he added, by the ‘deliciously vulval wall carvings’ inside. Of course, I immediately wanted to see them. He agreed, but it would have to be later as access wasn’t terribly (he prounounced it terra-blee) easy. It involved bringing along a rope ladder and, depending on the time of day, a flashlight. I remember his wife pitching me a hardball glance and I, ever one to avoid nasty internecine warfare, offered to come back on my own.

"Everybody napped in the afternoon at the chateau, sleeping off their hangovers from the night before and preparing for the next round of magnums or jeroboams for 5:30 cocktails. I pestered the gardener for a ladder and a flashlight. He grunted and returned with no flashlight and a coiled rope ladder which I proceeded to swing over my shoulder, pretending to know what I was doing. I waved and took off for what promised to be imminently more interesting than my besotted hosts.

"I approached the cave entrance, both excited and a little anxious, having some trepidation of closed-in spaces and entomological surprises. My fears more or less diminished as soon as I entered this cool, damp foyer. The smell wasn’t unpleasant and I was so taken with this strange little room that lay ahead of me ten feet below that I forgot about bugs or bats or whatever else might otherwise share this strange condominium.

"I presumed that it was my ever-conscientious host, Burtie, who had nailed the two metal rings into the ground where a rope ladder could be attached. Hooking the ladder onto these rings, I lost no time in scrambling down.

"What I saw was extraordinary -- and vulval indeed! Some thirty to forty triangular-shaped carvings from three to six inches high were cut into the limestone rock all around the room, from ground level to several feet above my head. Some had been carved with clefts, delineating plump labia while others took a more minimalist upside down delta form. I fingered some of the smooth lines and tried to imagine just who had carved these and for what purpose.

"So absorbed was I by this apparent paean to pussy that I didn’t even notice the raised platform in the center of this squarish space until I backed into it. Raised off the ground nearly four feet was a stone slab. Clearly a surface to recline on, to fuck on, to do whatever one did in those days to invoke or stroke one’s Venus.

"Just try to imagine what an overpowering turn-on it was, Raymond. So much so that I couldn’t help but unzip my jeans and slide my fingers between my legs and play back a message for my own pussy from some ancient sacred sisters. When I finished, I took my dampened fingers and outlined one of the carvings, bringing it into greater relief."

Daphne can tell when Raymond becomes aroused by the way his ears turn a darker pink. Another clue is that he begins to absently stroke his thigh with one hand as if his fingers were beginning to itch. She knows she will somehow be rewarded if her tale holds and this one, she thinks, is one of her better ones.

"So what about these twins you talked about?" Raymond finally asks.

"Patience, dear Raymond." Daphne closes her eyes and retrieves her story line.

"I stood there utterly transfixed by these pudenda petroglyphs or whatever they were and was jolted out of my wondrous reverie by an enormous thunder clap. A violent summer storm seemed to have erupted and the ensuing deluge I heard beating down convinced me there was no point in hurrying back. Then I heard shouting and what I thought was laughter, low, graveled, giddy male laughter. And in what sounded like German, I heard something like schnell, schnell! You can imagine how startled I was to find myself looking up from my sunken living room at two pairs of eyes, matted wet hair and dripping faces equally alarmed at having discovered me. I think we all gasped in unison. And then we laughed out loud and greeted one another as if this had all been some joke to scare one another.

"‘English?’ I asked, hoping that one of them might produce something vaguely understandable. Well, bless Euro-education, Raymond, these two spoke perfectly acceptable English. They told me they were working for Lord Burton for the summer picking grapes in the surrounding vineyards, that they were students at the University of Heidelberg and that this was their day off. They’d known about the cave from Onkle Burtie and were out biking when the clouds had gathered ominously and it had begun to storm. As I overcame my initial shock at encountering them, I began to see just how much they looked alike. ‘You two are brothers, aren’t you?’ I observed brilliantly.

"‘Ja, Zwillinge. Twins,’ offered the one on the right, pointing to his brother. ‘Me too,’ said the other in what was no doubt his standard rap for befuddled strangers. They said their names were Max and Johannes. I pointed to the rope ladder and beckoned them to climb down. ‘Have you been here before?’ I wanted to know.

"They had. Seventeen times the first week. Some local had informed them that anyone who visited the site was bound to make love by sundown. But so far, after three weeks, nothing had happened, Johannes admitted. Not one French woman had thrown herself at either of their feet. ‘We get only men,’ Max said, laughing heartily. ‘On Saturday, two different men tried to pick him up in a bar,’ he added, clearly needling his brother. Max swatted his brother on the ass and the sound his hand made echoes throughout the cave. My already-burgeoning peapod began to swell for a second time.

"‘Maybe you’re doing something wrong,’ I ventured. ‘Maybe this is a place for women only. Maybe this is a center of female sexual power and whatever energy is contained here drains men of their energy. Maybe it’s even bad luck for men to be here!’ I added, deciding to have some fun.

"‘Maybe we should eat our sandwiches,’ Max said, ignoring my theories and scampering up the rope ladder to get his backpack. I found myself focusing on the tiny but very erect nipples beneath Johannes’ wet shirt. Good old standby lust was beginning its vertiginous descent. ‘Been in the legion long?’ I wanted to say, my arms folded, leaning back against the wall, Marlene Dietrich-fashion. Silly me, his mind was light years from knowing any B-movie detritus, but his fine-boned face and sand dune matted hair, his body, a wet, Christo-wrapped statue, were only inches from plumbing my randy soul. Molecules of testosterone were lining up to fox-trot.

"I went for it anyway. ‘Been in the legion long?’

"‘Excuse me? Have I been in this region? No, never until this summer,’ he answered matter-of-factly, oblivious to the stirring in my weeds. He backed up and sat down on the limestone platform, drawing up his legs close to his body and providing a world-class view of what remained on lay-away. He gazed at me with curiosity, his mental circuitry no doubt running through all his familiar female prototypes. He was interested all right -- only one of us needed to figure out the hypotenuse to my triangle.

A crashing knapsack landed at my feet. ‘You have some cheese and bread with us, OK?’ came the order and the question all at once in a Teutonic show of authoritarian hospitality. He carefully handed down a bottle of wine, before making his way down the rope ladder.

"I sat down next to Johannes on the altar or platform or whatever it was and Max took his place next to me, so close that all three of our bodies touched and I could smell both of them. I closed my eyes briefly, aware that a comet with a flaming pheromone tail was furiously encircling my body, paying special attention to the lower half. Max nudged me and passed the bottle, tearing into a loaf of French bread with his teeth. He handed another to Johannes and they ate like carnivorous beasts descending on fallen prey.

"Except for the sounds of chewing and swallowing wine, we sat there without talking for nearly twenty minutes. It seemed comfortable but also a little tense -- only because one of us was going to break the silence sooner or later. Finally, I uttered something really clever like, ‘So what do you think of this place?’

"‘I think our luck is changing,’ Johannes said a bit cryptically after a moment. He smiled and looked down at his feet. At that instant I knew something had turned and it was now my chance to drive the truck through the wall. ‘Yes,’ I said, giving myself over to the silver-tongued goddess of bullshit, ‘you are correct. I know what it is you must both do to please the powerful spirits of this cave.’

"Without knowing what I was going to say next, I blurted, ‘You must each put a tongue in my ear to connect with universal female energy.’ (That, I reasoned, seemed like a good place to start. It was certainly not an intimidating request and under the circumstances would provide me with an immediate dossier on their desires).

"There followed a slight nervous laugh on Max’s part but Johannes lost no time. He tucked my hair behind my ear and slid his tongue in slowly. His brother plunged into the other warm orifice as if jumping into a cold pool. Every cell within me stood at attention, saluting these two eager and willing starter-inamoratos in their pleasure quest. I admit the hot liquid sounds of their firmly pointed tongues produced a squeal on my part. But I quickly recovered. Squealing didn’t jibe with what I planned to ask of them next. I closed my eyes and issued another directive.

"‘Keep your tongues connected with the energy,’ I ordered. ‘Don’t stop until I say so!’ That seemed a bit imperialistic, but then as everyone knows, being a good dictatrix hinges on being a successful supplicant. My apostles, it seemed, were willing to perform admirably. So much so that I felt confident enough to place a hand between each of their legs and attempt to read their thoughts.

"Johannes was the first to comprehend what it was I had in mind. Before I’d even requested that they remove their shorts, he had flung his pair against the wall and was showing off the beauty of his hydraulic system. It made me wonder, momentarily, if he had been the firstborn only in that he seemed so eager, even prescient in regards to my desires. Max followed quickly, dropping his shorts to his ankles. There I sat gasping and grasping two very fine and intensely warm erections while my ears were being lubriciously probed.This, I decided, was my personal definition of manifest destiny.

"The next logical step for my role as resident hetaera was of course to pump these Heidelbergers not only con brio, but with all the appreciation I felt for their willingness to go along with my improvised ritual. Both of them were now distracted enough to have removed their tongues. Johannes freed my hand momentarily and ran his tongue up and down between my fingers, wetting them for better lubrication. Max seemed perfectly content with the gentle kneading of my other hand. Inwardly, I praised myself for that breadmaking class I’d once taken.

"I began to rock back and forth slowly, dropping names like Baubo, Qadesh, Cotys, Ishtar as well as any other ancient horny powerhouse I could remember from my goddess encyclopedia. You know, Raymond, the one you gave me written by that fat lesbian professor of women’s studies in Cambridge. In any case, this had a wonderful effect on my little twins, these Aryan poster boys who had seemingly been deposited in this earth-goddess rock shop for my personal delectation. They began to chant the names ‘Baubo-Qadesh-Cotys-Ishtar’ with me as if they, too, believed our appeals would ensure a beneficent outcome.

"We rocked together more feverishly and I relished hearing the sounds of their whispered invocations, my eyes closed and my fingers locked in a graceful, rhythmic choreography. This, I thought, is the way all men who desire women, should be initiated. My suspected firstborn was the first to utter that familiar preternatural sound that always raises the hairs along my spine when I hear it. As Johannes’ warm milk flooded my hand, I was conscious of not letting go of his brother and keeping up our measured pace. Max and I continued to sway, until he too gave a low moan, sending a lovely white arc of DNA toward the limestone floor.

"None of us said anything for some time. I sat there sandwiched between them, supporting both their sandy heads on my shoulders. Finally, I sighed. Yes, I said, they had done the proper thing.

"‘But did you really expect you could come here without making some sort of offering first?’ I teased. Men who had the most success with women did so because they didn’t demand instant gratification. It was their obligation to honor the goddess first, I reminded them. Max stood up before me and pulled up his shorts from below his knees. Then, without mocking me in the least, he took hold of my hand and kissed it with great ceremony.

"‘How were we to know until the high priestess showed us?’ he said, smirking only a little. I watched his brother rise and stoop to pick up the shorts he’d pitched against the wall. Watching those well-trained gluteals bend before me and flash a splendid pair of silky-smooth huevos was indeed my final reward of the afternoon.

"And that was that. I think their last words were something depressingly universal like ciao and then they climbed the rope ladder and were gone. I lay there another half hour or so on my stone divan, my jeans at half-mast and my fingers dancing on mons Veneris to an ancient orgiastic tune."

Raymond stares at Daphne wanting more. It’s only when she says again, "And that was that" that he knows better than to demand more. It’s now his turn.

Daphne flags down a young woman with crimson lips and a Louise Brooks haircut and orders herself a glass of sparkling cider.

Raymond finally cracks a smile. "I think we should order a case and have it sent to our room." He pauses long enough to unhitch the black string bag from the side of his chair and pulls out a heavy object encased in a rolled up copy of Variety, and hands it to her. "This is your Oscar for tonight’s performance."

Daphne knows Raymond is perverse but this time he has really outdone himself. Variety? An Oscar? She is genuinely worried. Whatever could he be thinking? She unrolls the magazine and finds herself holding a rose quartz penis the size of a small shoe. She notes the flat scrotal base and thinks about how it might look on her coffee table. "Raymond, since when did Steuben make --"

"It’s not Steuben. But it is crystal and you’re to keep it in a warm sunny window so that you’ve got a warm dildo whenever you think of me -- at least during the day."

Then Raymond slam dunks her reverie.

"The guests, Daphne, I’m sure they want to start."

"What guests?"

Raymond adjusts his collar and for the first time she notices he’s wired with a small microphone. "Our guests, my dear. The ones, upstairs waiting for you in our room. They’ve heard the whole story and by now I’m sure they all have their pants and panties at half-mast as well. It’s time to re-play your story, Daphne. "You just need to assign our roles."

She closes her eyes and feels the familiar rush, the salutation of erectile tissue.

Oh, that Raymond, she thinks. What he’ll do for a good bedtime story.