"Yes, my love?"
Mystery shrouded her sudden words.
"I have an idea."
"Never mind. Come on."
Her smile hid a wicked secret. She grabbed my hand and pulled me into the rain slick street. Sodden whips of hair flayed her back. A phone booth gleamed like a light house in the rain.
I crowded into the booth with her. She spoke to someone. Her laughter seemed ominous and sinister.
"Parker you would not believe what I have planned for you. Come and pick me and my friend up. No! Immediately! We are soaked."
She hung up and leaned back against the glass. Her eyes squeezed tight. In the harsh light her flesh looked pale and dead
"Who was that?"
Her voice was daggered and bitter. I must have looked hurt.
She sighed. Her cold fingers brushed my hair from my eyes.
"A client." She said. "A RICH client! He has begged to get down and dirty with me. He has plenty of drugs and is richer than God. He wants to get weird. Well, she sneered, his opportunity has finally arrived. Are you happy now?"
"Dominique, what do you mean, weird?"
"Weird, King. Her words stabbed at me. Do not look at me like that. That is what he wants. Who cares? After all, I am a professional."
Her laughter was icy and brittle.
"The queen of the damned. Let him worship at my alter. Let them all worship at my alter," she sneered. "For as long as they have."
"What do you mean?"
"Never mind. You will see."
"And what about me?"
"Perhaps he likes boys. I must have looked shocked.
"King, I am only KIDDING! You can get warm and watch me work. You might like it."
She caressed my rough hair with long, electric fingers. Her gaze bored deep.
I didn't know what to say. Drugs stained her words with phantasmagoric coloratura. This was a face of her newly revealed, the dark side of the moon. Not that I hadn't sensed something vexing about her before- some secret, undefined. I had only known her a few short weeks- time enough to abandon myself to her but not enough to have gotten a clue who or what she really was.
Dominique was a master dissembler. Not that I cared, at least not then. It was enough that she seemed willing to provide for my every need. From the first she gave of herself unstintingly, as if her only purpose in life was to provide for me. And I? I took everything she gave as if it was a gift. I didn't realize that it was my soul that paid her secret price.
Finally I said, "Yeah! Right! How rich is this guy?"
She smiled knowingly. "The first time he gave me a $100.00 bill just to show some skin. Strangers get more than that for free. My flesh is bait. I want them to want me."
"Oh God, Dominique! You sound like a whore."
Her laughter was cold and hard.
Her eyebrows arched.
"Are you surprised? Shocked?"
I didn't know what to say.
"Listen, King, there are a lot of things about me that you do not know yet but you will."
Suddenly I shivered.
"I'm not sure I really want to know."
"You must!" She insisted.
"Suffice to say that I am a business woman. In my business the first principal is that the clients are fools. If I am to descend to their level they may as well be rich ones. My product is valuable, at least to them."
She held the spoon to my nose.
Before she could answer, a ponderous, ancient Rolls-Royce stopped outside the phone booth. Its ebony body gleamed with polish and rain. I stared at it. I felt numb. The silk sheathed steel of Dominique's hand gripped mine.
An withered but ramrod straight man in a dark uniform stepped out and held the door open. Like rats from the flood we crawled into the luxurious ark. The cream leather seat was warm to the touch. The compartment smelled like old money. The carpets were plush and slightly worn. Rachmaninoffs Concerto # 2 played softly. Dominique's arms enfolded me as we cuddled close. Her body was a perfumed furnace. She held me to her breast. Silent as a phantom, the car pulled away from the curb.
We threaded a seemingly endless maze through the corrosive night streets. Finally we turned into a driveway. A sudden trembling vibration rose up through the cushioned floor like a distant feral heart-beat. Outside the fogged windows, rain and shadows. I scrubbed at the glass. Monolithic moss cauled antediluvian trees loomed in the head lights like malevolent guardians. I shuddered and leaned back into the welcome shelter of Dominique's arms. Flood lights gleamed through the trees. The drive way circled upon itself.
A black forest towered behind the house. It was one of those ancient ancestral tombs that looked like someone without much taste and oceans of old money had commissioned it. Massive columns supported an equally massive stone monstrosity, helmeted by a steeple towered roof of verdigrised, copper tile. Sinister, shadowed porches surrounded the first floor like a moat. Rain streaked gargoyles crouched in the tower-tops. They glared down at me, as if hungry for blood. My blood.
Next to me, Dominique gazed blankly into the night. She hummed tunelessly to herself.
I turned to her. She gently squeezed my knee and nodded toward the house.
A woman in an old fashioned maid with a starch white blouse, black skirt and stockings and a prim white apron stood in the doorway. On her head was a stiff white cap. In her hand an upraised umbrella bloomed like bats' wings.
The driver walked ponderously around to Dominique's door and opened it. Up close he was gaunt and ancient. He smelled of stale cigarettes and whisky. He stood as if skewered on a sword.
Dominique said, "SHHHHHHHH..."
She got out of the car and motioned for me to follow.
Rain drops fell like tears upon the driveway.
Carved into the huge, open door were brutal bas reliefs-a carnage of stags and wolves in deadly battle.
We followed the maid into the foyer. Brute,, rough hewn ceiling beams loomed high above us. An enormous crystal chandelier bathed a sinuous stairway in lush, pearlecent light. Dull eyed animal heads hung from the walls. Grotesque, ornate, gold leafed portrait frames hung between them. Paintings of equally grotesque men and women in antique clothes stuffed the frames. At the first landing a skeletal man posed like some Gothic presence on late night TV. He began his decent. He shuffled slowly.
Dominique and I looked at each other. She winked.
We were trapped in a bad horror movie. I struggled to contain my laughter. Rain dripped on the carpet. The maid handed us each a plush bath towel.
The specter shuffled carefully from step to step. He clutched the railing with narrow, boned fingers. Pale, flesh less wrists protruded from the cuffs of a blood red smoking jacket.
Without Dominique as my staff I would probably have fallen on my face.
She leaned close. Her honeyed breath tickled my ear.
"Do nothing King. Let me do my work." She said.
Her shadow loomed behind her.
"Well Parker! Are you going to let us stand here forever?"
Her voice was razor edged. Each carefully pronounced word slit the silence.
The mans eyes were opalescent and wet. His face was pale and gray. Sweat trembled his lower lip.
"Oh yes, my dear, please excuse me."
He seemed mesmerized by her.
"Show them to their room and give them dry clothing." He whispered.
The maid bowed her head. "Yes sir," she said with a careful bow.
"Please follow me." She said to us.
She started up the stairs.
He stretched out a spasmodic hand as we passed him and reverently touched Dominiques' wet sleeve. She pulled away from his touch. A cold smile chilled her lips.
"I did not give you permission to touch me, Parker."
His eyes glittered.
"Forgive me mistress. There is a nice fire burning in the library. With your permission I will meet you there when you are dry."
"Very good, Parker." Dominique said, and archly dismissed him.
She reached over and pinched my ass.
"Stop it!" I said and we both began to giggle.
I turned to him. His eyes glittered with a cold, harsh hatred that made my knees weak. His meek submissiveness was an elaborate fantasy.
On the third floor, in an enormous, shadow filled bedroom, a huge fire burned in an immense stone fireplace. We each took another hit from the vial, collapsed on a grotesque bear rug, and laughed uncontrollably. Soon we were both naked.
When I finally stopped laughing, Dominique tickled me mercilessly until I ached.
"Oh please, stop! I give up. Do anything you want with me, just stop!"
Dominique sat behind me. Her taut nipples burned into my back. She hummed tunelessly as she rubbed my wet hair with the towel.
"What is your impression, King?" She finally said.
"What's his trip?"
"Surely you can see it? He gets off when I am the evil bitch."
"Because the flesh is weak."
"Do not worry my love. Until eternity passes away I am your shield and your armor.
I would always remember those words. At the time, they seemed only a part of the drama but also, a relief from responsibility. It was one I welcomed without thought of the price of her dark gift. Later they proved to be my first warning of how damned I really was.
As I lay there in Dominique's shelter, a sudden, unsettling premonition welled up within me. I beheld, as if witness to the birth of a monster, an inescapable nightmare of what we might become, driven by my own weakness and the merciless engine of her will. I saw Dominique, the evil black queen and me beside her, her irresponsible child King- the fool, perpetually in search of light in a world of darkness.
The vision vanished as quickly as it came. It was only years later that I remembered, when it was already far too late.
As I lay there on the rug, she prepared to play her part. Like an actress in a corrupt film noire, she costumed herself in the bizarre outfit laid out on the bed. A severe, black leather dress sheathed her from neck to ankle. Tiny, black silk slippers, a short black riding crop, and black leather gloves defined the role.
She licked her lips in an ornate golden mirror. Her reflection was vampirish and preternatural. Her hungry predatory eyes smoldered. She smiled. Her smile was a mask of sexual danger that only Dominique could do justice to. This was her theater. No one was as good at it as she was. Even then she knew it. She was welded to an ancient, elemental knowledge, fused, as, thank God, very few are, to the true fundamental beginnings of all power. It was a power that, as it grew ever more terrible, would cast an unbearable burden upon the scales of man-kind.
Her cold black eyes secreted behind a fan of silk black lashes, fevered me. Her pearl teeth glistened.
"What do you think King?"
"You're a real vampire, Dominique."
"Yesss," she hissed slowly, "I am."
Her eyes turned from mine. She spun slowly, arms outstretched. Suddenly her breath caught in her throat. Next to the fire-place was a severe iron chair. It seemed out of place in the lushness of the room. She turned from the mirror as if asleep. The stern leather dress bound her movements as she approached it. She stared at the chair for a long, haunted moment before she turned its face to the flames. Mesmerized, she sat and beckoned me to her with her eyes. A black silk cord coiled, sinuous as a snake in her palm. She held it up to me like a sacrificial offering. I stood before her and stared at it. The flames of some private Hell burned in her eyes. Her hand, and the gift she held out to me, fascinated me.
"Tie my hands King."
I took the cord from her open palm. She closed her eyes. Rigid, as if a prisoner of memory, she leaned back against the unyielding spine of the chair. She drew her hands together.
Behind her, I was between her and the flames. Although fiery heat was at my back, it was her cold white radiance reflected in the mirror that burned me. I walked around her and wrapped the cord around her wrists. I pulled it tight and tied it in a knot. She tensed against it. Blood bloomed in her wrists as the cord bit deep. Again I faced her. She opened her eyes and smiled at me, defiant, her chin high. Although a night fall of hair hid her face, her eyes shone through the curtain like malevolent, secret nightmare creatures.
"Now, my love."
Her lips parted upon a savage invitation.