Thirty Six.

The Earthquake.

Sadie shifted her weight and stood straight, lifting the pool cue rested on her boot. She circled the table looking for her next shot. It was days after she told me about Jane, the female fight circuit, and how she got to Baltimore a few months prior. She found her next shot, lined it up and leaned over the table to shoot.

Her approach was the same each time: aligned the cue, practice twice, drop her lead shoulder slightly and shoot. She paused a moment while the balls rolled the table, then stood and rested the cue on her boot again, searching her next shot. I never tired of watching.

I wrote at our table while she shot pool. She was so good I thought it was her chief source of income, until she told me about the stolen money. I was writing a lot since Sadie got to town. I had plenty to write about: Sadie. I guess that was because I had plenty to think about: Sadie. And: Sadie: Sadie. Sadie…

Sadie was watching me from across the bar. She had been looking at me all night. Or maybe I was imagining it. I swear every time I looked up she was staring. I must have been imagining it, like when you want something so badly you trick yourself into believing it. Not that I thought I could ever have her as a girlfriend. I mean what would I do with her? No, I just wanted her to want me.

I looked over. She was lining up a bank shot, her back to me. She sank the shot then stood and watched the cue ball roll to a stop at the far end. She pulled her shoulders back and examined the table. I watched the subtle muscles flex on her triceps. She shifted slightly and leaned down to line up her next shot. I whispered, “I want you to want me.” Suddenly, my head exploded with Cheap Trick…I waaaant youuuuu to want meeee.

“Huh?”

“Hu…What?” I looked up. Gina was standing next to me with a tray of empty bottles.

“Did you say something?”

“When?”

“Just now. I was walking by. Did you say something?”

“Oh, uh…,” God I hope she didn’t hear me. I glanced at Sadie then back at Gina. “Uh, I guess I was just reading something out loud. Sorry.”

“Uh, ok.” She glanced at Sadie then back at me. I waited for her to say more but she didn’t. She just stared, then shrugged and walked away. I looked back at Sadie. She was staring again.

I didn’t usually hang in the parking lot after The Well closed, but Sadie did, so I did, too. She seemed a little distant, though. I mean, she stood with me, but we didn’t talk much. I could tell she was distracted. After a while, she walked off toward the woods, where everyone went to piss. When she got to the dark edge, she looked back and motioned for me to join her. She led me in, until we were out of sight, then told me to hug a tree.

“Don’t move,” she said in a voice I barely recognized. She stood behind me and pulled my T-shirt until it ripped from my back. Sadie rubbed my skin, massaged the muscles in my neck and shoulders. She leaned forward and said, “Fuck” while kissing my back, then stepped away and said “fuck” again and searched the ground beside us until she found a stick. She pulled a knife from her jacket and skinned the bark and twigs. She made two quick whips through the air, then landed the next two across my back.

I’d never been whipped before, and I don’t know if I liked it, but I let Sadie hurt me until she was done. Her sweet kisses on my back between the lashes were better than sex.

After several rounds she pushed me to the ground, whispered “Thank you,” and unbuttoned my jeans. The dirt stung my back and distracted me, and I missed Sadie undressing. Suddenly, she was straddling me, lowering onto my cock, slowly squatting and gyrating, easing me into her. When she hit bottom she sat up, arching her breasts forward in the moonlight, digging her nails into my chest. Her jaw glowed as she stretched her face toward the night sky and moaned. I was so hard I could feel my cock shifting back and forth with her rocking motion. Sadie rode me like a horse.

As her momentum increased, Sadie dug her nails deeper, as if for leverage. She rocked forward squeezing her knees, then rocked back until she hit bottom. The rhythm was steady but increasing. I didn’t know what would explode first, my head or my balls.

Sadie looked so hot I couldn’t stop watching her. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was afraid to look away for fear she’d disappear and I’d be alone, in the middle of another elaborate fantasy. Besides, the look on her face was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Her brown eyes sparkled, then crinkled like she was in pain, but the more painful it looked, the harder she rode.

I was holding on for dear life and praying I wouldn’t cum yet. My whole body was tingling as Sadie used me like a toy. Just when I knew I couldn’t hold any longer, Sadie started to cum. It was a wave that overwhelmed her. It entered her low and flushed her body. I watched as the orgasm rolled up her to the top of her head, then rumbled back down thick and strong. It felt like an earthquake. Sadie trembled as it passed through her in wave after wave. She ground her hips against me and squeezed her powerful thighs, milking each spasm, drinking the pleasure, then she collapsed against my chest, panting and whispering “Thank you” again.

I could smell her hair against my face, feel her breath on my shoulder and neck. She released her grip on my chest and kissed the marks she’d left, gently caressing my arms with each sweet breath.

I almost forgot to cum, but when I did, it hurt. If Sadie’s orgasm was an earthquake, mine was the aftershock. When Sadie kissed my neck, I just erupted. She squeezed my shoulders and held her mouth close to mine, breathing in my groan as I flooded into her. Sadie’s words echoed in my head with my own spasms: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I woke the next morning confused. My balls were drained but my head was full. I just had sex with the most incredible woman in the world, or at least, she had sex with me. And it was better than I imagined. In fact, it was nothing like I imagined. I knew it would be unforgettable, but I didn’t know there would be physical reminders. Every time I shifted in bed or lifted my arm or breathed deeply, a sweet, sharp pang sent me back to that tree. I could smell the musky bark and see the bright moon through the trees casting Sadie’s shadow on the ground next to us.

We didn’t talk afterwards. We laid for a while, Sadie on top, me laying perfectly still…freaking out inside and completely high on the smell and touch of her. I couldn’t move, couldn’t speak. Sadie didn’t speak either. After a while, she took a deep breath, got up, pulled on her jeans and walked into the darkness. I laid there for a while trying to decide whether or not it really happened, and if it did, why? Why me? Why now?

Why did she whip me? Why did she whip me? Why did she have sex with me? She had been here for months and hadn’t hooked up with anyone, so of course she was horny. But Joe would be home in a week and I was certain they would hit it off. And I thought she was excited to meet him. I was. Or at least I thought I was. Now I had weird feelings about it. One minute I couldn’t wait for him to get back, and the next, I didn’t want him back at all.

But that was next week. Today, I still had to deal with Sadie. I knew I would see her at The Well later, and I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, I guess nothing much had changed, except everything. I couldn’t help thinking I had just become the member of an elite group. At the same time I felt like I had somehow snuck in the side door and would get kicked out as soon as they found me, like maybe a group of bouncers were going to grab me and drag me to the exit with me screaming: “Sadie. Sadie. Tell them you know me.” And Sadie would look up from signing autographs and squint a little like she was trying to recognize me. Then she’d nonchalantly shake her head and I’d go sailing out the side door…

So I decided to pretend nothing happened. Just like Gina did in junior high. Just like Joe in prison. If Sadie wanted anyone to know, she’d tell them. That decision didn’t clear any confusion but it did set the tone for the day.

At The Well everything seemed the same. Gina had the afternoon off and she and Sadie were just hanging and talking. If Sadie told her, Gina didn’t let on. Sadie smiled and said “Hey” when I walked up to the table, but there was no sign anything had changed for her, so I pretended nothing had changed for me. I said “Hey” and sat down next to her. When I leaned back a sharp sting shot across my back and I winced.

“You ok?” Gina asked.

“Yeah, fine.” I looked at Sadie. She was looking down at the table, but I saw her smile. That smile warmed me. Now Sadie and I had a secret. And a new tone was set. It was a beautiful day.

I went outside and kicked around in the parking lot for a while. But it was too bright and warm, so I went back in to write, comfortable for the moment in my new ambiguous role.

I was surprised by how normal a conversation could appear, even with an active volcano rumbling beneath. In public, Sadie showed no interest, and in my role, I tried not to stare at her tits. But whenever she leaned close I smelled her hair, and I still felt a slight sting every time I stretched. I was sad when that pain finally faded. Even sadder when I realized that nothing had changed between Sadie and me. It became obvious that I didn’t rocked her world the way she rocked mine. Or else she was just really fucking good at hiding it.

When all you do is sit around and drink and think, it’s easy to drive yourself crazy. That’s why I wrote in public. The noise of peripheral life kept me from imploding. As I looked around The Well I realized I missed Joe. And even though I was jealous of the inevitable relationship he and Sadie would have, I needed him here.

Until then, I just kept writing, mostly about Sadie, since she was my only other thought besides Joe. And sometimes, I could tell Sadie was thinking about me. Sometimes I caught her staring, watching me write, her brown eyes lost in thought, like maybe she was sharing some inner peace she thought I had, like maybe we were sharing something more than all of this. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking, again. Either way, that’s what I was writing about: poems about Sadie meditating, or doing yoga, or sitting on the beach reading Neruda in Spanish…her bare feet in sand, Sangria in hand, a Mediterranean breeze in her hair, now covering her Ray Bans. She brushes her hair behind one ear and reads more poetry, before seeing me approaching from down the beach. She looks up and smiles…

“Hey.” Sadie was standing at our table, smiling, pool cue still in hand. “What are you up to?” She glanced down at my journal. “What you writing about?”

“Uh…,” I glanced down, too. “Joe…Just Joe.”

“You excited?” She asked, sitting next to me. “Not much longer.” Sadie took a drink of my beer.

“Yeah, I think so.” I wasn’t sure what to say. “I know you’ll like him, too. He’s cool.” Sadie just nodded, then took another drink of my beer before getting up for her next round of pool.

By now, Sadie already knew a lot about Joe. Besides the stories I told, he was legend in The Well. Nothing happened there that wasn’t somehow connected to him, even though he was in jail most of the time. Also, with Gina bragging that she nurtured his craziness, no one had a chance in Hell of not knowing who he was.

Tales of Crazy Joe bounced around The Well like pinballs. But for some reason Sadie preferred hearing mine. I think everyone else was jealous of Joe. Maybe they resented that they weren’t as cool. Even Gina. Not me, though. I loved Joe. He was the coolest dude ever. And, for as quiet as I was, I could talk about him all day.

Sadie listened, which made me want to talk about him, which made me miss him even more. Good thing he would be home in a week. Those last few days dragged on, each felt longer than the last. I did nothing all week, just sat waiting.

Gina planned a party to celebrate Joe’s release. I joked that her parties were bad luck for Joe. Before I could stop I added, “And good luck for me.” Gina pretended not to hear, but she stopped mid-sentence and forgot what she was saying.

“…Oh yeah,…the party…for Joe.” She glanced at me then continued. “I figure, we can have it right here at The Well. That way we don’t need to invite anyone. We’ll all be here already. Easy enough.” She looked at me, Sadie, then Nick the manager, and a couple of old-timers.

“So basically,” Nick said, “Mann will go get Joe from prison and bring him here, and we will all be here already. Right?”

“That’s right, Hon.”

“Wow…, what a party.”

“Fuck you. It’ll be fun. He’ll know we were thinking about him.”

“Oh yeah, you were thinking about him…down in Florida.”

“Don’t you have a bathroom to clean?”

“All right. I’m leaving. I see my input is not appreciated here.” Nick walked away waving a bar rag over his head. “See you at the party.”

“Fuck you.”