spiralflames: (Default)
we never speak again.

i try not to be too forward- i send an e.e.cummings poem, once, and get no response. i email a few more times. the emails are read, but not responded to.

finally, a month or so later, i get an email. "i will return, but not in this form." he says.

the next day, the screen name is erased from AOL.
in one of our late-night conversations, he told me that he noticed an aura of sadness around me, that he recognized great untapped sensuality, but that he also knew he would not be the one to explore it. "someday" he said, "you will meet a man who will envelop you with such silken confidence that you will be able to express yourself freely for the first time, and, like my imperfect flower, it will change your life forever."

this Traveller, the man with the serious face and the small scar over one eyebrow, did indeed change my life. whether it was fantasy or reality, whether he actually was an international player or a simply a married hardware-store clerk from dubuque, iowa, i will never know.

but this i do know: it is indeed possible to make love, without ever touching.

even at 3AM.

in a Pontiac.

Near the Mall of America.
spiralflames: (Default)
i don't sleep for the rest of the night.

a week later, i run into him online. i've been thinking of him non-stop, but have received no word from him- no phonecall, no email. nothing. "how's it going, traveller?" i say, bright and breezy. (always easy to fake it in print)

"busy." he responds. i'm in chicago, have put in a 60-hour week, and Job Two is really becoming busy as well."

"really?" i ask, interested. "what's Job Two?"

"i can't tell you that." he says. "i don't ever talk about Job Two."

well, this is ridiculous..he mentioned it, he must want to speak about it. he says he wants to call me, so i give him my number and wait. a minute later the phone rings. "i can't talk about Job Two." he says. "just know that i am in contact with very dangerous people, and talking about it might put you in danger as well."

there's a longish silence. "you have no idea what you were sitting across from in that booth at restaurant that night."

he has to go. he'll look for me online.
so...what? spy? secret service? bodyguard to the stars? i'm fascinated.

a few more weeks go by. we occasionally meet online, but he disappears in a few minutes. there are odd, cryptic e-mails about visiting 'one of his homes' and sitting on a mountain pass at midnight and crying. i can never decide whether this is an amazing put-on (what if it's someone i KNOW playing a prank, what if someone's laughing about this over pizza, what if he IS a serial killer, there was that man in kansas city who was killing women and putting their body parts in 30-gallon drums...)

two weeks later, another call, late at night, from las vegas. Job Two is ramping up and he might need to leave the country. "oh for heaven's sake TELL ME" i shout, frustrated. "i'm a fucking PIANO TEACHER from MINNESOTA, nothing you say will go any farther."

he tells me, finally, that he is on contract to various governments, secretly and on a cash payroll, to hunt down child pornographers and people who abduct children and use them for prostitution. governments can only track people to their borders, and then international law makes it too difficult to prosecute offenders- so they contact this man, put out a contract on the criminals, and my Traveller hastens these peoples' exit from the planet. it is fully sanctioned, but also totally illegal and outside the law.

"the people i deal with hurt and kill children. i cannot abide that." silence. "please don't hate me, i am really a very gentle person."

I've Had Tea With a Professional Bounty Hunter.

(to be continued)
spiralflames: (Default)
as he tells me the story, his voice catches. "it's not the perfection that inspires art." this surprising man says. "it's the damaged part, it's the part of the flower that is less than perfect."

i do something i've never done in all the years i'd been online. "where are you right now?" i ask. "let me come to get you, we'll go out for coffee and talk, and then i'll take you back to your hotel room." i figure if i'm in control of the vehicle and i've made it clear i'm taking him to a restaurant and that's it, he can't misinterpret my words. after all, *I* could be a serial killer as well. there's another silence, and after a bit, he agrees. i describe my car and tell him its custom-plate identity, and take off for the hotel.

he recognizes the car immediately, looks at me, deems me not too criminally dangerous, and enters. we go to perkins (think IHOP or a slightly upscale denny's) and begin to talk.

he's about 50, very plain, nothing to distinguish himself as far as appearance goes. light brown, thinning hair, small scar across one eyebrow. he looks like a cop or a movie bartender. basic guy, pleasant but nothing to cause a heart palpitation. we immediately start to have serious conversations. he begins to talk about Viet Nam and once again, tears make his eyes bright as he tells of his stay in the Hanoi Hilton. "i don't know why i feel i can tell you these things." he says. "right now you know more about me than any living person."

it's now almost 3 AM and he says he'd better get back to his room- he has meetings in the morning. in the car, where discussions seems to always get more serious, he asks "have you ever made love with anyone the first time your meet?"

oh SHIT, i think. here it comes. how to answer? saying "yes" makes me seem available. saying "no" makes me seem righteous..and a liar. i decide to play it safe and avoid, something at which i'm a pro. "not really." i hedge.

"yes, you have." he says. "think about it."

i say nothing.

"your eyes have been making love with me ever since we sat down in that restaurant."

spiralflames: (Default)
it's nine-ish on a saturday night. it's drizzling outside, there's brahms on the stereo and i just made popcorn.

and a character from my past wishes to make himself known.

one evening, hanging out on AOL, i get a basic message. "hi"
hate when that happens. no info, nothing interesting or original.
i do a 'locate' and find this person by himself in a chatroom called "M ALONE IN MPLS HOTEL ROOM."

cynicism ramps up. i decide to play with this one a little. "so..married, travelling, and looking to get laid, are you?" i respond.

"single, and i resent the fact that you assume i am a sexual predator." came the surprising response.

we start to chat a bit. his name's dave, he's a software engineer and he's in a hotel near the Mall of America. i don't tell him that he's 10 minutes from my house.

he's travelled the world and has experienced much, he says. could he tell me a story? oh, here it comes, i think, rolling my virtual eyes. "what?" i respond. "the wife doesn't understand you, you're s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o- lonely, and you like the shape of my font?"

there's a longish silence. "maybe you're not who i thought you are." he types. "excuse the intrusion."

this intrigues me. agree to call him at his hotel and listen to the story.

"when i was in japan, once, i decided to visit a geisha house. please understand, this is not something i do often. i ask people and find that the most famous house in the area is right around the corner from my hotel. i go, pay the madam at the door, and am ushered in to a simple, elegant room. nothing happens. i'm starting to get nervous..am i being set up, will i be robbed, what?
after a long wait, the rice paper curtain moves aside and a woman enters. she is so old i can barely make out her features- she walks silently into the room and places a vase with a single orchid flower in it, on the table in front of me. she bows slightly and leaves the room.
what's going on? i think. after awhile, the woman comes back again and says to me in careful english, 'i want you to look at this flower with the most care you have ever possessed. when you can tell me the true nature of its beauty, you will know the answer to any question you have.'
she bows again and leaves the room. i start to look at the flower. i code softwear for a living, i think. my JOB is to analyze and to problem-solve. no 300 year old woman is going to make an idiot out of ME!
i start breaking it down to its smallest components. the stem, the leaves, the inside parts. a single leaf, its colors. the contrasts, the lines. beautiful.

then i notice there is one leaf that has been damaged- it has a missing piece and its edge is starting to die on one side. i look closely, trying to discern what has damaged this leaf, and why it is not perfect like all the rest, and why this odd woman has brought me a flower that is so obviously imperfect.

hours later, it comes to me: it's only this small imperfection, this flaw, that allows me to appreciate the plant's beauty- were it not for the damaged one, i wouldn't be able to appreciate the others. i started to cry and cry and cry. this odd woman in this odd place had very simply taught me the nature of perfection."



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