Tonight is Halloween
in Chatland, and for my mouse pointer costume, Ive
chosen a clown face with frowning red lips. I click once
and he smiles; double-click and he laughs; depress the left
mouse button, and he smooches to a smack smack smack...
from my speakers. With my mouse button pressed, I move the
camera over Vondas bare breasts. They seem undeveloped,
casting doubt on the twenty-one years alleged in her bio.
We sit connected via private video-chat, trading capture
images that have the grainy feel of an aerial photo, the
vitality of a missing person poster. I lean forward and
type, Now rub them.
a bad guy, really. I love Melissa, my girlfriend; weve
been together nearly ten years (Im twenty-five, shes
twenty-four), but Vonda isnt real, not in any modern
sense of the word. Sure, she does exist somewhere out there,
but to me, her chat messages, her naked person on my monitor,
are only animated bits of data, a digital fancy I enjoy
in the privacy of my basement. I met her last week in the
Chatland Singles Room, and when I displayed her bio, I saw
the check mark in her Bondage and Discipline box, so I downloaded
the Intro to B&D Package and sent her an
invite for a private chat. There, I learned she was also
new to Bondage and Discipline--with one interlude as a submissive--and
looking to experiment. She knows me as Marlow,
one of my recent online aliases.
The Intro Package
includes three video-chat sessions, with detailed instructions
for each. In this our second session, Vonda is wearing only
dark sunglasses, a striking contrast to her blonde hair
Last night in
session one--the Get Acquainted Step--we chatted
naked for five minutes. She told me of her long-term relationship
and current plans to marry; and with this revelation, for
some reason my inhibitions faded. I told her things I would
never tell anyone face to face: of my failure to get hard
in my last attempt at sex with Melissa; of the day I went
to lunch with my father three weeks before his imminent
death, how he apologized for ruining our family, and how
the tears of this distinguished man (whom Id never
seen cry) fell down into his Be careful, the plate
is hot Mexican beans; and of the day in church last
month when Melissa whispered, Im pregnant with
our baby and kissed me on the cheek--moments in life
so personal, so secret. What is it about chat that does
Tonight we are
playing a game called Just-Do-It. The rules: take turns
just giving orders. Is that a game? Maybe not but it sure
is fun, and according to the instructions, its required
for session two.
it, Marlow, she types.
what? I type back.
I look at her
on my screen--her blank expression, her sunglassed eyes.
I want to see her lips move to the word, the hint of profanity
in her face.
She cocks her
head and smiles. Just rub your thing, she types.
Melissa has no
clue Im doing this. Ive toyed with the idea
of telling her, sharing this digital adventure, but in the
end decided against it. Shes from a happy family with
strong marriages all around, big barbecues, a reunion every
other damn year, it seems. Her father and uncles together
own a chain of Pump-Your-Own gas stations, and at one time
or another have employed about every kid who ever attended
Victorville High (currently, Im day manager at the
Happy Jack--West--station). In three weeks Ill marry
Melissa and become yet another beer-drinking in-law, a standing
fixture in the wax museum of her family get-togethers.
My cousin will
host a bachelor party for me Friday in the basement of the
Radisson. He'll have porno flicks, two kegs of Budweiser,
and all our rowdy friends will be there, along with Melissa's
loud brothers, several of her in-laws, maybe even her father.
The grand finale will be a stripper (flown in from Idaho)
sprouting naked from the cake at midnight. Everyone will
lick her icing and the party will surge to a noisy, beer
sloshing frenzy--akin, all of it, to my cousin's bachelor
party, and to his older brother's, with maybe even the same
girl from Idaho (Charity, I think her name was). So I'm
not too thrilled; I mean, I've been to that rodeo.
What I am looking
forward to is session three with Vonda. Were still
undecided as to who will play the dominant role, and according
to the B&D instruction sheet, it needs to be decided
by the end of tonights session or a Chatland Support
Rep will intervene. Im trying to take control, be
the dominant one, but its not been working out. Since
she has more experience, shes saying I should play
the submissive, at least for session three. I disagree.
legs and lean back, I type.
NOW! I type.
She does it.
Three weeks ago
I received a junk-mail message from the Chatland promotional
Email-Bot. Attached was a picture of a woman whose predicament
I found enticing. Heavy-set, not fat, but muscular and well
toned, she was naked, tied facedown to a brass-frame bed.
When I clicked on her, a whip noise cracked through my speakers
and a red mark appeared on her ass. So I clicked on her
again. Fifty or so clicks later, I was transported to Chatland,
where the same woman--naked and lash marked--gave me a virtual
tour. When she outlined the pricing plans, she said, You
dont have to use your real name. Most members dont.
More emails arrived over the next few days, more photos
of the same woman performing increasingly salacious acts,
so I thought, What the heck, life is short,
and all that rigmarole. I signed up for a three-month membership
under the name of Marlow Barstow.
as I say, she types. Pinch yourself.
I pinch my nipple.
That hurts, I type. YOU pinch yourself.
she types. You will do as I command. Pinch yourself
I do it.
many different offerings, and this is what vexes me: Ive
been spending way too much time in the Porno Wing. I started
out just glancing through it, a few pictures now and then,
but recently Ive been lurking there like a sex pervert.
Ive never viewed porno this way--its never been
so easy--and now, as my marriage to Melissa draws near,
here I am viewing it five or ten hours a day.
How can I desire a woman other than my only love, my sweet
Melissa? Beyond the intrigue of bondage and discipline,
the allure of this new adventure, Ive discovered something
else: in a mysterious and satisfying way, Vonda personifies
my private rebellion. For most of my life, Melissa and her
relatives have controlled me. They know every damn person
in Victorville (and most people in northern Utah, it seems),
and if I dont marry her now, Ill suffer the
problems that come with shaming a family as influential
as hers. I can always move away, but thats an option
with its own hardships for an unskilled person like myself,
so I wont be doing that.
Last week she
mentioned her nine sisters and three brothers (one dead).
Then she winked and said, I want us to have a close
family too. Dont you?
Sadly, my passion
for Melissa wanes.
* * *
Tonight the paddle
meets the buttock: session three with Vonda. Weve
decided that since she has a bit more experience, shell
be the dominant one. This morning I purchased the equipment
on my B&D Supplies List--a ping-pong paddle, a length
of rope, a blindfold, clothespins, and a candle.
the instructions, Vonda will sit at her PC; Ill start
on my hands and knees atop the bed, blindfolded and holding
the paddle, my camera-most leg conspicuously bound to the
bedpost. When she clicks her SPANK button, my speakers will
beep; when I hear the beep, Ill swat myself. For twenty
bucks extra, weve opted for the real-time audio connection.
The authenticity of hearing the slaps and grunts is well
worth it, we both agreed. Vonda is wearing a black ski mask;
that, and her sunken blue eyes fill my screen.
I say into the mike. That hurts.
slave! Do it faster! she yells, with gusto.
Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep.
isnt working out, I pull off my blindfold, untie
my leg, and stand up. I want to beep the paddle.
but I dont have a paddle, she says. It
wasnt on my list. All Ive got is the ski mask
and a page of jargon.
just doesnt seem right. If this is the way its
supposed to go, then Im not liking it. Its just
your bio says you live nine hundred miles away. How about
we meet somewhere in the middle?
mean trade personal info?
reveal your town, I reveal mine, and we get a motel in between.
* * *
to meet at the only motel in Proctor, a small town in northeastern
Colorado. Im driving on the freeway, accelerating
through the darkest part of Wyoming. Low-hanging clouds
obscure the benighted sky. Periodically, lightning winks
on my horizon.
flash through my mind: a somber man facedown on a table
with a stocky woman in leather facemask behind him holding
a flogging strap; a collared man on a leash, blindfolded
and led by a stubby woman wearing shiny black leathers and
brandishing a snake whip; a gagged girl, cuffed naked to
a bed; and Vonda, with her sunglasses and pale plumpness,
bent over a chair, me behind her in black ski mask swooshing
the paddle. This last image--the feeling of power and control
it summons--makes me push the gas pedal a bit more urgently.
I decide I wont tell her my real name, not right away.
Lightning strikes the hill beside me, lingering, burning.
When I arrive
in Proctor, my dash clock reads 11:47PM. The streets are
dark, the houses asleep. Right away I see the Shady Rest,
an older, two-level building with cement stairways and paisley
metal railings. The office is a small addition at one end,
its porch lit by dim yellow light. Free TV and local
calls, remarks a hand-painted sign, waggling in the
wind. From what I can tell, this is the only business in
town, so whom would I call? A red-neon sign in the office
window proclaims VACANCY.
I pull into the
gravel lot. Two cars. One is parked beside the office; the
other, a dented Monte Carlo, fronts the unit at the far
end of the building. The curtains are open in that room,
and a backlit woman peers out. I angle my car in her direction,
crunching rocks. I see the plates on the Monte Carlo--South
Dakota, Vondas. The room door cracks, she moves into
the opening, and I see her face. I wave and beep my horn
as I go past and turn onto the road leading back to the
highway. I hear Marlow! yelled out.
not me, I whisper, reaching over, pushing the automatic
scroll button on my radio.
As I accelerate
down the dark road, the blue-green station indicator rolls
through the world of AM, pausing for distant stations, yielding
ten seconds to each. I dont recognize any songs, but
with Melissa on my mind, they all sound pretty good.
fiction can also be found in Whistling Shade and the Mississippi
Review. He lives in Montana and is currently working on
his second novel.