"Oh, you must meet him. He is just so b-e-a-u--t-i-f-u-l." Anna draws out the word beautiful until she herself is breathless. She thinks, the world is so unspontaneous. I might as well impart an image that will linger in Nicole's mind... Linger like the sweet scent of roses floating on a summer breeze. She's just so indifferent to the male-animal. Anna often makes this anology between a male and an animal, because by definition animal makes more sense to her when she thinks of a young man's sexuality.
"I don't know... I'm such a failure when it comes to men and relationships." Nicole ruminates and adds, "A hopeless romantic." Then she pauses and considers the possibilities. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," she says wistfully, though her voice is somewhat tinged with sorrow.
"Don't be silly. He's my brother's best friend. I don't see a problem here. In the grand scheme of things what's the worst that can happen? Maybe you'll get pregnant?"
Nicole laughs nervously, takes a sip from her Latte, looks around the cafe, then simply shrugs her shoulders in a vain attempt to cover up her feelings of inadequacy - feelings that have plagued her since High School. Still, Nicole considers this a remarkable departure for her otherwise dull, suburban existence.
"If I can have the baby without the man it might be okay. Who wants to clean up after a slob? And probably a pot smoking, crotch itching slob." Nicole says this half-heartedly. She wants to feel fulfilled. She craves passion and romance and the thrill that comes from the slow, steady touch of a strong, warm blooded man. A man who is gentle and kind.
She often has fantasies about romantic encounters, about brief and passionate affairs with men. But there's always a tragic twist at the end. Often, she sees herself falling for a perfect man who can spout out the rhymes of Shakespear's Sonnets. The rub being that he only has six months left to live, because he's dieing of a rare, incurable disease. She thinks in morbid monotones and colors and cries when she watches "Lifetime Original Movies."
"Oh, say yes and have some fun for a change, Nicole." Anna almost shouts as they walk out into the parking lot of a huge strip mall located somewhere in America. Nicole now looks up into the sky, a clear blue sky full of fluffy, white clouds that careen across the face of the sun.
"It's all so beautiful," Nicole whispers to herself.
Not wanting to make Anna feel rotten because deep down inside she knows Anna has the best intentions concerning her happiness, she finally agrees to the date.
"Okay, give him my phone number. I'll go."
He is a handsome man, very striking, tall and blonde, athletically built with piercing blue eyes. He introduces himself as Johnny, ex-jock, ex-hometown hero of the campus football fields of America. He now sells insurance. But when he was in college he was scouted by The Pros. Then, of course, there was the knee injury that prevented him from going on to greatness and glory.
On the way to dinner Nicole can not help but gape in awe of his masculine beauty. He is so self-assured. She thinks, I wonder how many women he's dated or seduced.
But all the while as they drive into town Nicole is feeling that something is wrong, that the river of passion is fatalistic because by its turbulent nature it will flood with storms of passion, will flood and run awry, the way that it always does in a "Lifetime Original Movie." Then there will be the inevitable trial, the false testamony, the harsh cross examination, and eventually the silence that proceeds the climatic pronouncment of the jury. "We the jury by reason of stupidity find the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree."
But this is just fear, thinks Nicole. This is merely a casual date with my best friends brother's friend. So what can possibly go wrong?
It is a beautiful starless night. The sea is ebullient with dreams and hidden desires. They stroll down the shore, together yet alone. Nicole feels strange. This is not a good idea. I only know Johnny for about six hours. He keeps talking, mainly about himself and the wild frat parties he's had with his friends. He never mentions his amores. Nicole senses that he doesn't understand women. Possibly he's never seen beyond a woman's sexuality. He sees women as objects of possession, not as living beings with souls.
His hand now reaches out of the darkness. Nicole trembles. "No, it's too soon," she says. He doesn't listen. He truly believes that no woman can resist his advances. He throws Nicole down into the cold sand and jumps on her, mounts her as if she were a wild colt. Nicole shouts, "No!" And, "Please don't." But Johnny doesn't listen. He stains her mouth with a violent kiss, then parts her legs with his powerful thighs and rips her panties. Then he tears off her blouse and her bra, and Nicole is exposed to his savage onslaught of hate and lust. The ordeal lasts for half an hour before Johnny gets up, wipes himself clean of sand, and of Nicole's tears. "Quit your crying. You know you wanted it!"
Nicole sits up and says, "You jerk. You fucking jerk."
The next day the phone rings in Nicole's bedroom. Nicole picks up the phone. It's Anna.
"Hi Nicole. How was dreamboat?"
"Call me later," says Nicole, sounding deeply depressed.
"Because I think I'm going to be sick."
Nicole drops the phone onto the floor and runs into the bathroom. Anna can hear her crying. She can also feel Nicole's pain. And she knows, because a woman always knows. Oh my God, she thinks. He's raped her.
"Nicole, talk to me Nicole... Nicole... What went wrong?" But there's no answer
Now Nicole looks into her bathroom mirror at her twenty-nine year old face and at her bruises. Then she bursts into tears and says, "I hate all fucking men."
Copyright 2002 by Ron Dondiego