ST. ANDREWS CROSS
Had she lived through the reign of Queen Victoria, she always thought she would have been a phrenologist: sizing up skulls and reading fates, by simple virtue of each one’s distinct shape and form.
This, in a sense, was her modern day phrenologist’s office. The corridors of darkness and mirrors, the place in which things were heard, but not seen.
This place in which everything was orchestrated for the purposes of Weakening, of Beating Down, of total and complete Surrender.
Of not jumping off of bridges oneself, but of pushing others off of them, and watching them on the way down.
The concept of domination had drawn her through the challenge it presented, but also through the loss of Shame, through the gaining of some simulus of control.
Through the felicity, the beauty of working her mind rather than simply her body.
But when you have been raised on the hearty grain of three minute lapdances, an hour is an interminable bastion of time to fill, a mouthful dense and consistent to digest.
It’s like being sent into a lion’s cage, just you and your fear and your rickety wooden chair, with sixty minutes to waste in dancing amongst the cracks, and staying clear of the claws.
Three thousand, six hundred seconds, to simply maintain.
Her very first session, as she recalled, was a ballbusting one.
Ballbusting is the art in which the sharp, acute point of a patent leather pump connects with the soft cushion of a groin.
Repeatedly, and with force.
The impact is not firm, but squishes, which makes the entire process a bit more challenging.
Especially when repeated again and again.
It also takes a great deal of athleticism and personal fortitude to maintain this ritual for the full extent of those three thousand and six hundred seconds, exactly.
Three thousand three hundred, to be more precise, if you discount the time in which the participant is sorely ambling up and revesting his stricken self.
And extracting nine bills of twenty from his wallet with trembling fist. Ten of which will be promptly tithed to the phone girl, to be deposited in the rickety gray lockbox on her paperstrewn desk. Which will be piously handed to the head Mistress once the tv set has been sent off to sleep, and the lights have been turned down for the night.
It had begun and was over before she knew it, but while it endured, during the space of time in which her leg swung and swung, in which her patent leather connected, in which her calves and thighs cramped, she felt it would continue on for ever.
She could only kick with her right leg, because she was not left-handed, nor ambidextrous, which made it worse.
Nor was she sure if she was being more severely punished, or if the soft cushion of groin was.
Either way, they were both taking a beating.
When he left she had to wipe clean the human stained puddle of sweat off the fake leather couch. Man-sized, and melting, with the space between a pair of hefty thighs where an intact scrotum had once sat.
She wiped that sticky stain clean, with the hiss of the lysol can, off the surface of the seat wherein so many other human stains had melted, of innumerable shapes and forms, and clanked down the hallway and onto the overstuffed couch with a whoosh, blew a strand of damp hair off her forehead, and carried on.
Nearly each and every session produced a human stain of some kind: whether sweat, piss, cum, or fear, and all had to be wiped clean with the hiss of the lysol canister.
With the swipe of the chlorine.
With a draw of luck, her next few sessions went somewhat differently, or one could say, were a little more interesting, and a little less physically taxing.
In the early months, most of the above, as is the rule with most novice dominatrices, revolved around the concept of tease and denial, whose tireless script went something like this:
- You want me but you can’t have me.
- We will spend an hour (or two) pretending that you just might get me, somehow.
- But in the end we both know, and find out, you still won’t.
Something like that.
And so it follows that most of the early sessions aligned themselves to this general and time-tested scheme: the withholding, the delaying of pleasure, the belief, and expectation, that one still might receive it. Which, as Deleuze would posit, engenders a feeling of ecstasy, this eternal floating on this plain of desire and expectation, anticipation, the pleasure through the absence of pleasure, or rather through the absence of it’s completion, upon which the expectation would, of course, come to an abrupt end.
Something like that.
Because desire is only desire until it is fulfilled. And after, it is just a passing memory, an empty shell, stored and forgotten in the ricketiest drawers of your mind.
But perhaps Deleuze was a saint, of some order of strictly regulated sexual monkhood. Because as much as the anticipation is sweet to the tongue, like the flutter of aspartame or the intake of snow, desire can and will eventually choke hold of a person, and if not fulfilled or realized, will drive them insane.
Make their gaze to focus only, neurotically, on the prize. Like a teenage boy on the pebble strewn beaches of Nice, or an alcoholic in his candy store, once his credit card has been overdrawn. Eyes wide with bulging veins, and never blinking. One single thought that grows large enough to occupy all the nooks and crannies of your soul, the empty spaces of the room.
And thus nearly all sessions ended, as a general rule (which should be impeccably relied on), with masturbation. The abrupt expression and conclusion of this desire.
As a means of appeasing the little brain, which usurped power from the bigger, though not always sharper, one, when it was too busy being baffled by criticism and theory to soberly drive.
And so, this game of cat and mouse, of tease and denial, she performed for weeks, session after session exactly the same, with the exception of the occasional wardrobe change: lace, latex, the pleated skirt of a schoolgirl. But essentially they all amounted to the same thing: three thousand, six hundred seconds of feigned hunt, of empty chase, and nine crisp bills of twenty.
But at least she never had to get naked, she told herself, at least there was that.
From teasing and denial, the sessions gradually became more about fantasy, included a modicum more imagination.
And she had always been good at reading people, so could quite easily cater to their needs, and she had also always been good at acting, taking on parts, inhabiting roles, carrying names.
She had always been quite adept at that.
The wardrobe changes were much more vast in this sector, and so were the requests. Some clients even walked in with a hand scratched script, to be followed closely, and to the letter.
A few of these, perhaps, would stick out in her mind more readily than others, for various reasons.
One in particular she would always recall, if not with fondness, once the trial of the hour had passed, then at least with an appreciation for the pure irony, the satire that the slow creeping of those three thousand, six hundred seconds would come to represent.
He was a Jew, of the intensely Hasidic and unreadable persuasion, and he walked in without a note or a script, but for some reason chose her, and was intent upon it.
Not that scripts were necessary, or even needed, but the existence of at least a scant mental one was desirable, the offering of at least a few scattered footnotes from which to take your cue.
He chose her, and so she met him, in the blue room, at the appointed time and hour, and the session proceeded in stilted and awkward form.
Not that a mistress does not relish in staging her own play, borne of her own devious and creative mind, but she also enjoys a reaction of some sort, of some kind, to know they are in this play together.
Or perhaps it was that she was not much of a natural and innate dominant at all, as someone had once posited.
She had pulled out all her usual cards and rummaged through her bag of tricks: ordering him to the floor on all fours, naked, to vow his servitude and lick her boots. Bending him over the bondage bed to be spanked and punished. Blindfolding and tying him in an intricate body harness, tight in all the right places, to make him beg for mercy, acquiesce to her formidable power and control.
When none of these seemed to work, when none got a response out of him either good or bad, no sigh, no whimper, no tightening of the anus in fear, and with no more tricks to pull from her meager novice’s sack, finding herself at the very last end of her metaphorical rope and with forty minutes to spare, she simply gave up, and turned to humiliation, the last thing which had lingered in her mind, the thing she would not, and could never master.
Her last resort.
She promptly dragged him to the far blue wall, and chained him, facing the chamber, to the St. Andrew’s cross. With hands and feet safely secured, and a full head mask pulled over his face at his request, the only word or sound which had seeped out of his mouth the entire interval. She called in her fellow dommes, and the fun began.
They traipsed in, in a great heard of clattering and stomping, some in corsets, some in loungewear, and attacked.
Jeers, taunts and jabs, snickers and lowblows resounded, and when Lucie’s turn arrived, she spit out the first thing that came to her mind:
“Awww look what we have here, a Jew in a diaper, tied to a cross.”
Which instantly gave her a tight squeeze at the bottom of her chest, and made her slightly turn away.
It must be inserted here that he was wearing a diaper, a man sized diaper in fact, due to his fierce desire to not soil his own undergarments, and his sect’s fierce stance against any form of masturbation.
Without the diaper, it would have gotten messy (the only other remark he had managed to articulate).
After this scene, the other girls retired, and the Jew was left chained there, in his man sized diaper, and the mask over his head, from which his Hasidic curls sprung, tangled, but still neatly kept.
His yamaka beneath, squishing sweatily to his balding scalp.
She regained her concentration, her center of control, led him through a few more tricks and acts, then untied him and sent him home.
And what Lucie soberly realized upon this session’s conclusion, is that the play was not only about the playwright, but about the actors, as well.
That dominance was sometimes just the illusion of ascendency, or at least in these instances, that it was about a joint world of make believe which two people can come together in and mutually inhabit. In which one would take the secondary role, and one would take the star lead.
That if one actor refused to play his part, refused to be pushed and to enjoy the fall, the other’s burden would become confusing and exhausting.
She realized this and didn’t mind the blow it should have given to her ego, to her sense of control, because she saw this type of session as just that: an episode, a script to be carried out, no more, nor less.
Yet there were other sessions which would also cost her some frustration, and peace of mind, like the tall shiny bald man with wire rimmed glasses who would see only her, and whose obsessions included strictly robots or aliens, nothing less, nothing more.
Or the man who wanted her to repeat the word buuusssty, in a terrifyingly high and breathless pitch, as she grabbed her napkin padded underwires that were molded in the shabby semblance of double D’s, while he swooned and pleasured himself.
These were some that cost her, and tried her temper and creative funds, though there were others she rather more enjoyed. Like the Classics professor from upstate who was perhaps seventy-five, who made her dress in Greek drapery, and clamp her sandaled feet over his gasping mouth, as a means of overtaking him.
Who brought her, at each visit, a new book on Alexander the Great (whom she loved dearly, and often became faint over), and who told her once, in confidence, that he specifically feared the summer months, when his young college students would fumble into his lecture hall in light dresses and open-toed shoes, which he could not keep his eyes off of and which invariably distracted him during his speeches and gave him the Fear.
These were the clients she loved best, and shared some sort of passing connection with, and whose return she would wait, with some form of happy anticipation, back up the groaning elevator shaft.
She also enjoyed, in a different sense, the less creative and more run of the mill fetishists: the foot fetishists, the panty fetishists, the latex and leather fetishists. Because in all honesty, it is quite nice to spend an entire hour lounging in the deep curvature of a sofa while someone ardently licks your feet, or latex, or leather, and get paid for it.
But as for the fantasists, she had learned that she loved to play their games, if not by their rules, loved to inhabit these spaces, these worlds of fantasy and desire, of almost childlike want, in which they daily operated.
Loved to meet them in these expanses, if they were not too dark or dirty, and even sometimes when they needed cleaning, loved to share in something that was so intimate and faraway.
She loved to do these things because she had been a child once, she had traipsed through dancing wheat fields with imaginary friends at her side, she had climbed on elephant’s backs way up to the skies and had plucked brilliant stars down, and had left wishes in their stead.
She had known and believed, and sometimes, while being drenched in the simulum of others’ worlds, came to believe again.
Sometimes they were more than clients, they were cohorts.
You see, in these resounding halls and long corridors of mirrors and poor light, it was also more than the sounds, it was also about the faces.
Unique, by simple virtue of each one’s distinct shape and form.
Isabelle Olin was born in France and raised in Africa. She studied in New York… A child of the world, she travels, often. St. Andrew’s Cross is the first publication of her fiction