Two Minute Screed              Essays That Matter
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The Lesson of Skin
Someone once told me that I should learn something new every day, and I remember the time I learned something so late at night that I didn’t know which day I should credit it to. But it’s not the date that I remember so much as the lesson.

I had this friend, see, and his name was George, except that he started calling himself Jorge, and I didn’t care, but what he was, was the front-door guy at my club, and he also played bass with me and my club manager in a band. He was- and probably still is- a good guy, and we hung out a lot at work, until he decided to open his own club, and he gave notice.  

My club was only open on Friday and Saturday nights, and Jorge’s club was only going to be open on Wednesday nights, so of course I used to go to his new club. It was in a popular nightclub district in San Francisco, and his club used a popular gay disco, but Wednesdays were off-nights for them. Before he left, Jorge asked me to hire his girlfriend in his place, as he wanted her to get out of stripping, and therein hang several stories, but we’re going to stick with this one.  
  Jorge’s club offered dancing to hip music and frequent, if not continual, demonstrations of various S & M activities, and every Wednesday he would feature something of special interest on the stage. He called his club “Bondage A Go-Go,” and we all thought it would probably succeed. It did, and I went most Wednesdays. Wouldn’t you?

So, it being another Wednesday night, I was at Jorge’s club, where a bunch of the usual unusual people showed up and knew each other, although we were usually outnumbered in the early part of the evenings by gawkers, posers, frat boys, bridge-and-tunnel folk and assorted looky-loos, all of whom would gather and mill about amiably.  

Some were more amiable than others, a few were uncomfortable, and there was always a strain of tension in the air. The regulars knew, and the others had heard, that every Wednesday, beside the spankings, whippings, binding and restraining that went on in the lounges and side rooms while dancing to industrial rock was going on in the main room, there was going to be some kind of a “show.” There was a “show” every week. No one knew what was going to happen, but the periodic smack! and ooooh! of bound people being whipped and spanked made some people nervous. Few of the people there had never been in an environment like this, and they didn’t know what was expected of them and they didn’t know how to act, and that always put the tension in the air. Do they watch? Should they join in? Can they join in? Should they try to stop it? Should they cheer? Clap? What? There was a sense of expectation in the air. None of the regulars knew what the show was, it was just another night to hang out. It was a combination of “Cheers,” and “The Road Warrior.”  

Oh, we could talk of the usual spanking and the tying-up that was going on in various locations around the club, or the suspending or the dangling or the whipping or the caning or the stretching, or of any of the numberless joyful ways people have devised over the millennia for inflicting forbidden pleasures upon themselves and others, but doing that would relegate our time together to a mere entertainment, and I hope this narrative is constructed on loftier standards. It purports to be educational. There’s a lesson here, remember? Read the title!

I got there about 9:30, and by 11:00, the crowd was milling, aware that something was supposed to happen, and they were restless, curious, starting to get a little loud. I thought that the stage was where the show would be, so I was at the back of the dance floor, talking with a friend, when, with no announcement or fanfare whatsoever, the curtain that covered the entrance to the backstage was drawn apart. I knew that the curtains covered the entrance to the backstage and the dressing rooms, from which you got to the stage by a set of steps. A young woman was wheeled through the briefly opened curtains, onto the dance floor on an eight-foot square rolling platform. She stood tied between two eight-foot-high posts, four feet apart, which were affixed to the base of the platform. The platform was pushed into the middle of the dance floor by two muscle-bound young men in short pants and bare-chested. The wheels raised the platform maybe a foot above the floor, so she was barely over eyesight level. She was completely nude. Her arms were stretched out above her head and held by the three-inch-wide black leather bracelets she wore to near the top of the posts. Word spread quickly among the crowd that something was happening, and people began to filter in from the two bars and the other areas of the club, and converge around the center of the dance floor.  

As luck had it, from my place near the back of the dance floor, I was among the first to see her being wheeled in, and I moved toward the center of the room as the platform came to a stop about ten feet in front of me. The two muscle guys moved to the front sides of the platform to secure the wheels, then turned and secured the wheels in the back, then by pushing people back, they cleared an eight-foot perimeter of space between the first row of people and the stage, and I was the front row. I had a completely unimpeded view of whatever was going to happen. As I am halfway over five feet tall, I was used to being in a crowd with taller people in front of me, blocking my view. I was used to moving my head right or left in accordance with how the guy in front of me moved his head, but it seemed that tonight I was going to be able to see everything. Tonight was already going to be unusual in at least two ways. And the night was young, and looked promising. The muscle guys left, and she was alone. By now the room was filled and every one of us was staring, silent.
  She was in her early twenties, slender and beautiful. In fact, she was strikingly beautiful. Her face was simple and classic, and if she wore makeup, I didn’t see it. No one looking even casually around a room would ever not notice her, and no one could help but be struck by her beauty. It was a healthy, wholesome beauty; she had no features which stood out as extreme. Her eyes, her nose, her mouth, her ears, even her eyebrows and hair were in such… proportion, and so genuinely pleasing to behold. Have I made the point? That she was… beautiful?

I’ll get off this in a moment, but let me say that she was of such obvious beauty that she had to have known that by simply entering a room she would become its center of attention. She had to know that coming into a room naked and bound as she was, would be an astonishing sight, so her poise in the face of this striking scene was remarkable. Because that’s what this woman was: beautiful. Or was it indifference? But- what had impelled this striking woman to do this? What deeply engrained psychosexual drama was playing in her head as she was brought into the room. She betrayed no emotion at all as she was wheeled in, and the people all over the club understood that something was happening, and they began to filter into the room.

I watched her face, but she showed nothing, not even recognition that she was the concentrated focus of every eye in the room. Her ankles were bound to the posts as well, the loose tether about a foot long, allowing her feet enough range of movement to be shoulder- width apart but not enough to close her legs.

Besides her facial beauty, she was so shapely that no one word would ever apply: she was lithe, she was luscious, she was…perfect. Her hair was chestnut brown, the rich red highlights shown in the spotlight, hanging to just below her shoulders. Her skin was alive, too vibrant to be called alabaster, but smooth and firm. I was watching this, transfixed, processing it, looking for words and finding only… “wow...”

Her breasts were perfect- or at least I couldn’t imagine any improvement: they were round and full, firm and shapely but not heavy or pendulous. Her breasts were the size of softballs, all shape and no sag. Her stomach was flat, her legs shapely and … perfect. Have I mentioned how beautiful she was? She was… stunning, and I was stunned as she stood in front of me with no shame, no fear, no apparent emotion at all, naked and bound with her arms and legs spread, in the middle of a crowd of strangers.  

The crowd had quickly gathered and was now quiet, expectant, and other than calmly breathing, she moved not a whit as the crowd had filled in at the back at the back, and we in the front stood there motionless ourselves, not knowing how to react or what to do. But there was nothing to do, and she stood, and the crowd that been still began to grow restive, and slowly, very slowly, conversation began again, first a scattered whisper and then it built up, but only to a murmur. No one knew what to make of this, but I’d bet I know what every conversation was about in that room, and she stood, still and mute.

And my position relative to this tableau? The person two people to my left was at absolute dead center in front of this woman, so I was about five feet off-center, and ten feet away from her. And so it turns out that location is everything.
  Am I not a caring person? Am I bereft of feelings? How could I not be intrigued and engrossed in her story? I wanted desperately, passionately to know this woman, to know who she was… what she… why… but I knew that whatever I would know about this woman I could only learn here tonight, and it would be something I would know about no other woman. Then the crowd did something that I wasn’t expecting: they became quiet again. Rather than the noise level increasing as it always did, this time it went up a bit, and then down entirely. Now I wonder if they weren’t all thinking the same thing I was, that whatever they were thinking, we were all, communally, in a contemplative place, and that contributed to making that night so special, so rare. I think that everyone in that crowd had the same thoughts at the same time, and all were a series of questions. What is she doing here? What is her story? I think the sameness of our thinking put the crowd into a sort of group-think territory, making it a communal experience.  

We were all witnesses to whatever this was. I also knew that after it was over, and after she was wheeled back out of the room, that she would go back to her world and I to mine, and that I would never see her again. Sad but true. But tonight was going to be good.

And so, as she stood naked in front of me, I studied her. Oh, I won’t tell you that this was inappropriately lascivious: in this rare context, lasciviousness was invited. Of course I studied her entire body, and it might be true that I concentrated on a couple of areas more than others, but I didn’t stay on her body, I thought her face would tell a more complex and compelling story, so I studied it, looking for whatever I could see, but there was nothing to see, and then it struck me: she was so inside of herself that she showed no sign of seeing anything outside of herself. I got it, and I was intrigued. She was there and she wasn’t.

Sure, she knew where she was, bound and naked in front of about four hundred people. She wasn’t drugged and she wasn’t there against her will, and she knew why she was there. I wondered if what was entertainment for all of us was, somehow, entertainment for her? She was living in the moment in a way that frightened me when I tried to empathize and feel what she might be feeling. For just that moment I touched on an idea of where she’d gone, and I got frightened, but I knew I’d try to go back there, and at times that night, I tried.

You’ll have to forgive me if saying she stood like that for about ten minutes is more guesswork than science, but she stood that way until a woman dressed in full-on leather fetish gear pushed her way from the curtained back rooms through the crowd just to my right. She wore a black leather corset, fishnet stockings held by a garter belt, and high-heeled ankle boots. A leather bracelet adorned her left wrist and her right hand had one large red stone ring on her index finger, she had dangling silver earrings and a ring in her lower lip. She carried a rolled-up leather case, about thirty inches long, tied with a leather strap. She stepped onto the platform and held the case casually on her hip as she stood in front of the hanging woman. She studied the woman, then took the case with both hands and held it in front of the woman, who looked slowly up as far as needed to see what she was being shown. The girl looked at the case, her expression unchanging. There was about three feet of open space on either side of the posts, and three feet in front and behind.

This woman was also very attractive, but not as stunning as our lady in bondage. She was in her late twenties, maybe her early thirties, about 5’8” slender, dark hair, worn short. She laid the leather case gently down on the platform, on the corner, stage right. You know- to my left.

What shall I call this other woman? Of course: The Mistress. 

With the leather case down, she walked slowly towards the edge of the platform- the stage- slowly, looking only at the bound woman. The Mistress never acknowledged our being there as she walked the perimeter of the stage, around the woman, and we in front kept a respectful distance as she claimed not only the inner space between herself and the girl, claiming, dominating the entire stage and the no-go area around it, telling us and the girl that this space, this 70, 80 or 100 square feet belonged to her, and anything that she wants, goes, in this space, for as long as she wanted. This was theater. It was a play. No, it was more than a play. Whatever it was, it was for real. You could see that the Mistress cared for the woman, that this ritual was about love more than anger. She had claimed the stage and the woman on it, and she had also claimed the space around the stage. I think she intended to claim that space, but she also claimed the entire room.  

Community though we became in that room, we were outside the closed community of these two women, and there wasn’t a person in the house who would violate that space.  

The Mistress went back to the leather case, picked it up at the middle, pulling the strap and unrolled it a foot, exposing a pouch, with a leather handle sticking out of it. She showed it to the woman, then turned to her side, so we saw her pull out a leather paddle, about an eighth of an inch thick, but pliable, about five inches wide, ten inches long, and rounded at the top. The Mistress put the case down, and holding the paddle in her right hand and down by her side, she approached the bound woman and stood directly in front of her, so close that if this were a normal social situation, she would have been impolite. Oh, she’d be impolite tonight! 

The Mistress raised her left hand to the girl’s chin and lifted it so they looked into each others’ face. They both looked deeply into the others’ eyes, and paused, looking. The Mistress dropped her hand and the woman’s chin fell slightly.
  The Mistress walked behind the girl and stopped there a moment, then she reached out and gently stroked the girl’s flank on her right side. I know that word is sexist, but come on, folks, aren’t we past that by now? It was neither side nor back, but in between, and I believe the word is “flank.” She stroked the girl there, almost a caress but not quite, perhaps more of an inspection, an appraisal, and then she stroked her hand down across her right buttock, and then in a sudden flash of movement, she brought the paddle down on the top of the girl’s right buttock, a slap! The room was so quiet and it happened so quickly I heard the whooshing of the paddle cutting through the air, and it sounded between a slap and a thrash, but sharp and loud. The smack crashed into the air, like SKASH!

“Uh!” she gasped, but barely audible, followed by a sudden intake of breath. But we had been silent, not a sound in the room but the Mistresses’ boots, and we all heard it and we all must have felt it somehow, as together we all breathed in sharply. I think it stung us all, as it had the girl upon whom it was struck. She stiffened, as if surprised, and she shuffled her feet a bit and found the same position. She looked up, and straight ahead, focused or unfocused- who knew? Then, another whoosh, and then another SKASH! Then a left buttock SKASH!

“Uh!” we all gasped as she gasped again as her eyebrows rose, she seemed somehow surprised. It was lovely and it was intimate. It was almost… poignant; a gasp like that could have happened during sex. But it was just an introduction, and what would unfold, would unfold. 

With that, and then the next stroke and her next little gasp, we all took in our breaths and felt it somehow, but I knew that this amazing girl was about to feel something different from what I knew how to feel; that she was going somewhere I had never before imagined there was a place like that. I wanted to go with her. I wanted to know her.

The Mistress never took her eyes off the girl, and walked slowly around her. Then SKASH! and its reverberating echo sharp and stark in the silent, cavernous room. It was on the other buttock this time not down from above, but across and square at the top of the curve of her buttock. It bore down in a 90-degree path and slapped across her ass and compressed the skin far enough to touch the inside of her right cheek. She moved forward just a little at this, a move like she had been momentarily distracted and now she was checking her balance.

Then the Mistress reached out to her buttocks and stroked them both, briefly but gently. She rubbed just a bit as she stroked. And then SKASH! up to the underneath of her right cheek! OW! she mouthed noiselessly as she jerked away from the blow, moving both feet rapidly about a half-step. She seemed to be willing herself not to walk away from the stinging slap of the blow. As if she could…

I looked at her face. Something was going on, but what it was, eluded me. There seemed to be almost a... movement… just below the surface of her skin, but what it was, I didn’t know; I wasn’t sure I’d seen it. Her skin was no longer dry, but it wasn’t moist, either- it was sort of… soft, and her eyes were clear.

The Mistress struck her again and then again at the underneath of each cheek, then walked around to face her and immediately slapped at her across the inside of her right thigh, and then another one quickly inside her left thigh. The girl pulled herself up sharply, grasping the ropes that held her. She stood upright, her back slightly arched, and looked straight ahead, focused or…

The Mistress slowly, deliberately, ran the edge of the paddle across the area that even now was starting to swell into welts. Underneath the skin that had just been assaulted were billions of veins and arteries, blood vessels, nerves; I didn’t know what else was under her skin, but whatever was under there, something in her brain was undoubtedly receiving and processing frantic distress signals in reaction to what was happening. There had to be some frenzied messages going out, frantic emergency calls from several areas of her body, all coming in to a central pain processing center I n her brain- it must have been insane inside there. As more signals went out, the more intensely her body would react, sending out- what? Antibodies? Pain killers? White blood cells? How did I know? But she also had to be producing a sudden surge of adrenaline and God only knew what chemicals were in that freak show her brain was pumping into her bloodstream.

The Mistress rubbed the edge of the paddle across the girl’s right thigh, then her left, then back to the right. She stroked her left thigh again, but left the tip of the edge there, then slowly back across… slowly. Then she raised the paddle and moved it closer, placing the edge onto the inside of her thigh, and stroked her there with it. The girl shuddered lightly.
  The Mistress turned away from the girl, bent over the case and unrolled it further until, about six or eight inches more, it revealed the next pouch sewn into the case. All we saw was a handle, and when she inserted the paddle back into its place in the first pouch, she rolled the paddle into the case, folding the case over the paddle, and she pulled on the handle of the next pouch, and out came a riding crop. The case was now rolled at both ends, the end nearest to me larger than at the other end. She stood, holding the crop in her right hand, the end resting in her left palm. She stood looking at the girl for a moment, then walked behind her and struck her on her right buttock, then on her left. SLAP! SLAP! “Uh!” the woman grunted, then panted three times and caught her breath again.  

How could it be that there was no sign of pain? No grimace, no tear, no shudder, no sign? If her face said anything, it said… complacency. Strange. It was as if she wasn’t there, in that room, bound to a post, naked and whipped in front of four hundred people. But how could that be? Something intense had to be happening inside her, because something really freaky was going on outside.

The Mistress walked behind her and stroked the bottom line of her right shoulder blade, and then struck the skin about three inches below that. Then she struck again three inches further down, then across her left back, and again lower by ten or twelve inches.

From behind, the Mistress touched her gently on the left side of her back, from just under her shoulder blade, then brought her caress down slowly, slowly, to the girl’s left buttock. It was gentle, but possessive. Still behind her, she leaned across and stroked the girl’s right buttock. She brought up her riding crop, holding it by its handle and
at its middle, then lowered it, and inserted it between the girl’s legs, not so there was penetration, but... touching… probing… possessing… owning.

From behind, she gathered the girl’s hair with her left hand and, without yanking, pulled the girl’s head back so that she was looking straight up. The Mistress’ right hand took her hair as she walked around to face the girl, whose head was still held backwards, looking up, and the Mistress paused maybe a half a minute before SLASH! the crop came down on her right breast with a harsh, stinging whistle, half of the three-inch crop striking the skin above her aureole, the other half striking almost to the tip of her nipple. We heard not a sound from the girl, but I felt everyone in the crowd gasp at the same time. I held my breath as I watched the girl for a reaction. The Mistress watched the girl for about a minute and then SLASH! again on her left breast.

After that, the blows followed no apparent symmetry, no discernable pattern; they came as they would and where they would, the girl taking repeated strikes and swaying slightly, briefly faltering, shifting her feet, but always maintaining her balance, her stance, never sinking, always maintaining that poise. SLASH! SLASH! SLASH! no lower than her knees, no higher than above the tops of her breasts, but between those boundaries was an open field.  

There might have been 20 or 30 or 40 blows or there might have been a hundred or two hundred or more. I lost count. I’d bet we all lost count. It was happening, and we were transfixed as we watched, all of us in the same moment, the same experience, and we were a community of watchers, all of us silent, all of us involved, watching, feeling, wondering. 
  Not spared was the inside of her arms. In that place where if you’re going to have flab, that’s where it’ll be? There- not spared! From just below her armpit and anywhere down her side. Certainly her buttocks; they could always be gone back to. Anywhere along or around her leg, but always her buttocks, her abdomen, her breasts, her thighs, inside and out, her back.

Still: no sign from the girl, whose face had become a rictus of solemnity. Was she in pain? Did she feel it? Did she feel anything? She felt something, didn’t she? How could she not? Her face, and then her body, had a sheen of perspiration, but that was the sole sign that she was in any discomfort. 

Was it pain? Was it pleasure? What did she need that brought her here? Looking at her face gave me no answers and I was awash in untethered emotions; I wanted to know the woman, to soothe her pain, to give her whatever she needed. I wanted it to stop and I wanted it to continue, and I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone watching this psychosexual drama felt the same, but who was she? What did she feel? What did she need? Why was she there?

This had probably lasted about twelve or fifteen minutes, when the Mistress paused in her cruel ministrations and watched the girl, who was breathing heavily but not panting, not looking up. If looking straight ahead was at ninety degrees from the floor, she held her head at about forty-five degrees, rhythmically nodding. She was moving slightly, not quite… writhing, to her own inner song, seemingly displaced from the world I was in. The Mistress watched as her breathing slowed and became more regular, but heavier now, and her face began to perspire freely. Then I saw that her entire body had a sheen, a light covering of sweat. Not dripping, but… shining, obvious.  

The Mistress walked to her case and bent over it. She placed the crop in its pouch and she folded it up a turn the opposite way, covering the crop and uncovering the next pouch, from which she extracted and brought to her chest a whip whose handle and braided middle were two feet long, whose tassels were a foot long, and had been folded over the handle.

She stood up and walked in front of the girl, and reached with the whip across the girl’s chest and dangled the end of the tassels gently on her left nipple, then just as gently, letting the tips of the tassels remain on her nipple, she laid the rest of the tassels up her breast until the top of the whip lay softly on her left shoulder, halfway to her neck and throat. She rested the whip for just a moment, then brought the tassels up her breast, onto her shoulder and off, all in one gentle stroke, and then another, and another. 

Then the Mistress walked behind the girl, paused, backed up and struck down on her right buttock, the sharp sting sounded like SHTAP! And then SHTAP! on her other buttock, and the girl straightened up and shuffled her feet, then stood still again, her feet again planted and steady.

Her eyebrows creased and her jaw set, she took a deep breath and her face now had a look of determination, perhaps grim determination, as more blows came, came from anywhere and everywhere, again and again and again, and the girl swayed, stood, leaned over and leaned back with the blows, twisting and reacting by retreating from the blows- much as she could- turning away from them, her feet occasionally shuffled and re-set, she somehow seemed to stand and absorb each blow. I was amazed that she could stand there for the blows and react, and yet almost not react, and by now the sheen of perspiration had become a film, covering her entire body. She was sweating now under this torrent of torment, but still she showed almost no emotion except for perhaps sometimes a grimace. At first she’d hunched her back a few times, but now she stood into the blows, or twisted away from them and then leaned back into them again. Blood-red welts rose in lines and in shapes- like bloody clouds they rose all over her body, from her knees to her shoulders.
  I completely lost track of time as the blows continued, and I’m guessing it was between five and ten minutes, and at the end, she was gritting her teeth less and less, and her face showed less and less as the whipping continued, the stinging lashes struck on welts already risen and on where they would be. You could see how close the blood was to the surface of her skin, but there was no blood anywhere on her skin.  

If any tiny tract of skin might not been struck, I couldn’t think of it, and still she stood- not hung- showing no sign of the pain. She had gone somewhere that I couldn’t imagine, much less go, and she had gone there alone. Where was she? What was she looking for?  

The Mistress watched the girl intently, as the blows came slower and lighter, and as they came, the girl began to react differently. When this had first begun, the girl had reacted to each blow, but then the blows came with rapidity and in random places, and increasingly she reacted to it by seeming to join the onslaught, becoming part of the process; even if not observable, it was self-evident that her body was reacting to the pain and her nervous system had to be desperately sending out some powerful emergency chemicals to counteract what was happening out there on the surface, but what that stew was like was seriously beyond my imagination.

Gradually her reactions changed, and the rain of blows changed with her, coming slower and lighter. With each blow now, her entire body began to twitch with the blows, and the Mistress slowed the pace again. The Mistress had seen the change; had been looking for it, and the blows now were infrequent, lighter, deliberately placed. The mistress watched her carefully.

If at first she’d reacted to each blow, and then to all the blows, now she reacted with all of her body. Each SLAP! of the whip now sent waves everywhere over the girl’s body, ripples on her skin, it seemed. She had become so hyper- sensitive that each blow- no matter where- had her twitching with all of her body to every blow. Her eyes showed nothing, and she was covered with sweat. By the end, each blow had had its own profound effect, and then there was a change, and as her breathing began to settle, her twitching turned into writhing, then she settled into a mild movement, barely a sway, as the Mistress watched. No longer a jerky reaction to the lash, now there was a sensuality to her sway, like maybe she heard a rhythm inside her as she writhed, now with no stimulus from the Mistress.  

And she swayed, hung with arms above her head, her head nodding slowly, each wave softer, until it was the smallest spasm, and then she was still, breathing gently. The Mistress watched her, and then once again walked to her case and leaned over it. The girl stood quietly as the Mistress unfolded to her right, then she put the whip back in its pouch and folded the roll to her right, then unfolded further right and rolled out one last pouch, from which she extracted and brought to her chest a feather. It was of course a beautiful colorful feather, affixed in a slender, braided leather handle. The Mistress turned to the girl, who hung there, somehow Madonna-like, not moving other than breathing, her breaths coming easily but deeply. Who knew what she was feeling? Who could even guess? The Mistress faced the girl and, with the feather, stroked across her left breast just below her aureole as she tensed, stood up, hunched her shoulders and looking straight ahead, and then under her right breast, and she jerked as though someone had come on stage and touched her with the live end of an electric wire: she jerked and spasmed and, despite her bindings and her flailing, she seemed to be in free fall, somehow still standing, as if gravity didn’t affect her.

The Mistress stroked her there again and then up the back of her left leg and up across her left buttock and then off. She straightened immediately but it was just the first of a series of convulsions, and as it was ending, came another stroke of the feather and another spasm. And then more random stroking as the spasms came in waves. I looked and saw that her face had become transfixed. She was absolutely Somewhere Else and God only knew where that was. God and this girl, alone together with whichever demons she brought into the room.

The feather traversed arcs in gentle strokes, and the girl jerked and twitched and writhed and I’m not really sure that I saw this, but what I thought I saw was that every time the feather touched her skin, wherever it touched it, I thought I saw, highlighted by the spotlight on her sweat-covered skin, a small area of muscles or something under the skin that moved- like a small stone thrown into a pond, and I saw areas of skin that seemed to move as in a ripple, a wave that moved outward. It was strange and I didn’t know what I was seeing, but I saw areas of skin a few inches away from the point of impact, move in small waves and shimmer in the spotlight. And she stood, and never losing her footing, and yet she seemed to be falling…  

I don’t know how to understand, much less write about what I was feeling then. Of course I was desperately in love with the young woman. She had played her role, but playing was over for her, her performance was done. She was now beyond playing a role; she was beyond anything I could imagine, and I felt something for her that I’d never even imagined before. I felt love, yes, a need to join with her, to understand her, but it was more. I think what it was, was that I wanted to... feel... her, to feel… all of her, to immerse myself in her. I didn’t know if I wanted to feel her pain, or to heal her pain, or just visit the place where she was or... what? I didn’t know what I wanted. I was feeling a wild, intense mix of unfamiliar emotions, and now with her spasms, these feelings came at me in a rush. With every touch of the feather, the signal shot out all over her body, every nerve was now alive, aflame and sparking bolts of electricity. Every touch brought a paroxysm- I don’t know if it was pleasure or pain, and I don’t know if there was a difference to her then. Every stroke was a shockwave of sensation, and her body jumped, and she gasped at every touch, as every inch of her body was alive with explosive waves.

The Mistress stroked her languorously with the feather for another five minutes or so, maybe less, slowing the strokes as the spasms slowed, and she hung, showing signs of exhaustion, and the Mistress finally... finally... stopped stroking her with the feather, and then girl just hung there, her breathing heavy, slow, steady, slowing and becoming regular.
The Mistress returned to her case, placed the feather lightly into its pouch, and she rolled once more to her right, and the case was now fully rolled. She tied the straps and left the case on the floor. With the girl breathing normally, the Mistress went to her and gently, almost tentatively, put her left hand where her neck met her left shoulder. She held her hand like that for a moment, tenderly, maybe squeezing, we couldn’t tell. 

 The room was silent, and we were all breathing with the girl as she leaned her head to her left and rested her cheek on the hand of her Mistress. The Mistress came close in to the girl, slowly wrapped her arms around her, hugging her gently, tenderly enfolding her body as lovers do who know each other well, and the girl shifted her head onto the Mistress’ shoulder, and they stayed this way, still and tender, for about a minute, maybe two, when the two men who had pushed the stage out, now came back, released the locks on the wheels and pushed the stage with both its players out of the spotlight and back through the open curtain, which then closed as the spotlight went out and the room was plunged into darkness for about a minute before the regular dance lights came up and the music pumped in and it was back to, uhh… normal: dancing, drinking and talking about what had just happened. Of course Jorge hoped that they’d stay and drink at his place, but when the spotlight had gone off, the crowd was subdued, and the loud music and the nightclub lighting were jarring, and people left the dance floor and headed for the bars or the doors, as invariably some of the folks from the ‘burbs had to get back there.  

For a day, I couldn’t stop thinking of the girl and her ordeal. But I was struck the most by her final spasming reaction: how her whole body had reacted. I remembered that the skin is the body’s largest organ. Tonight I had seen something done with skin that I would never have thought of: that the entire body- every available millimeter of skin- can be sensitized beyond imagining, that an entire body could be made so hyper-sensitive that you could experience explosions of sensation. Whether it was ecstasy- or whatever it was, I never knew you could do that, and I learned it late one night in San Francisco.