VAN DIEMEN’S LAND
The first day of the year was cold and rainy. I awakened onboard Marten’s yacht, confused. New Year’s Eve had been the usual balmy night in the middle of Melbourne’s summer.
I know I am alone now. I sit on the edge of the bed, naked. I light a clove cigarette, the nastiest habit I could conceive until last night. My eyes chase the edge of the storm inland. I see the illumination of distant lightning. All the moored boats are rolling with the thunder and the storm-swell in the bay.
Last night begins to creep back to me.
I had gone to The Spice Trade bar. I was joking with the voluptuous blonde bartendress. She was wearing a bronze name tag that said Real Sheila.
“Why ‘Real Sheila’?” I asked before I gulped my gin and tonic.
“Because all of the tourists used to ask me ‘Is your name really Sheila?’ and so my co-workers began to call me ‘Real Sheila’”.
She looked past me and smiled. I turned to look over my shoulder. Approaching was a lovely young woman with a dark complexion and wavy raven hair. She was wearing a short silk skirt. My first thought was about lifting that skirt over her head.
She sat down right next to me, so I was either sexy or insignificant. I gave her the most sang froid “Hello” I could restrain. “My name is…“
“Where is your wife?” she asked without looking at me.
That was like a kick in the coconuts. Without thinking I answered, “Fucking my best friend in California.”
I had picked the farthest point of civilization away from that previous life yet here was this stranger sticking it back to me.
She glanced at me and said, “I’m sorry. You still have that married look.”
I shriveled in bitter acquiescence. She glanced at me again, “I’m Dyanne.”
I said lifelessly, “I’m Allen”. Real Sheila put an elegant glass of champagne down in front of Dyanne without being asked.
Onstage, ContraBand began to blow a typhoon of music. I was actually relieved when this big swinging dick came up to Dyanne and spoke beside her cheek, over the music. She stood up to go with him to the dance floor. She turned back to me and spoke into my ear, under the music, “Will you watch my stuff for a minute, please?” Her breath validated my testosterone at least.
I looked at her purse and her glass of champagne and I soon felt like kicking my pride right out of there. I looked up. Real Sheila was setting down a tall dark iced drink in front of me. “I ordered gin and tonic,” I said with frustration. “What’s this?”
“This is a Taser. This is where you want to be, trust me. First one is free.” Real Sheila looked out onto the dance floor. I followed her eyes to Dyanne undulating in that short silk dress. Real Sheila’s eyes were reflecting my own animal cortex. I suddenly wondered which of us was more turned-on. How could I compete with that?
I sucked the Taser like it was a Coke. Where the ice displaced the liquid it was the color of blood. The surrounding liquid was black. I felt piquant flashes in my throat that were carried away by a savory effervescence. That Taser went down far too easily. I leaned toward Real Sheila and shouted through the music, “You’re right. Give me another one, ok?”
Finally, half-way through the second Taser, I was sure I heard a “click” and then everything about that night became cozy. I had a vision from Cat On A Hot Tin Roof where the tormented character Brick had waited for that same “click”. I never understood what it meant until that moment.
Dyanne returned, shining, “Thanks for watching my stuff.” Smiling, “What do I owe you?”
My mind gridlocked. I tried a sly grin.
“Oh, God, Sheila. You’re feeding him Tasers?” She sipped her champagne.
Real Sheila shrugged, “He was threatening to put a stick up his ass.”
I cringed but I was laughing. I didn’t care.
“What do you do, Allen?” asked Dyanne. I was enthralled by the logic of her inquiry.
“I work sales for an American company that sells veterinary medicines here. I just moved here, actually. May I ask what you do?”
Dyanne ignored my question and asked me, “Do you like it here?”
“I like visiting the ranches, I mean the ‘cattle stations’, in the countryside.”
Dyanne chuckled, “A real California jackeroo, eh?”
The thought of California was suddenly like being flushed down a toilet. It must have showed in my face. Real Sheila was there saying, “Here, I’ll trade you for that stick,” and she handed me another Taser.
After that, I just remember our conversations being so wrenchingly profound that I wanted to cry but I don’t think I did.
“She was everything to me. I was so devoted to her. Was it wrong? Is it unnatural?”
“Maybe you bored her by being such a slave.”
“My momma always used to say ‘Too thick don’t stick’”.
Around 10PM Real Sheila leaned toward Dyanne, saying, “I’m off. Let’s go to your place and watch the fireworks.” She winked at me, “You too, jackeroo.”
We navigated out of The Spice Trade. By then I had become a pair of eyes floating between them. I think they both had their arms around me. I was sure I was holding both of them around the hips.
We came to Dyanne’s car. It was a sporty little orange Tesla. There were only two tight seats inside. “Cool!” I said after considering the implications carefully. But instead they helped me to lie back upon the sculpted trunk, resting my head against the roof of the rear window.
We drove slowly down the crowded street. Faces passed steadily above me as if they were viewing an open casket. Why were they laughing? I was the Martyr of Love. I remembered being rocked side to side and trying to anchor my stomach to the unmoving stars above. I could hear Dyanne and Real Sheila laughing behind me inside the car. I must have dozed off. Eventually, I realized that we had arrived at the bay.
They helped me onto a long dock. “Why are we at the docks?” We stopped in front of a moored boat. As my eyes focused, it became a small yacht! On the stern was written the name VAN DIEMEN’S LAND.
Real Sheila giggled, “Permission to come onboard?”
“I will insist.” Dyanne then said to me, “This is where I live.”
I stammered, “On a boat? Why a boat? This must be really expensive. Dyanne, please, may I ask you what you do?”
She replied, “A rich Dutch bloke I know, Marten, is letting me stay here.”
Real Sheila asked Dyanne, “Where is Marten tonight, anyway?”
“Some-fucking-where in India.”
Once onboard, they sat me in a chair and they went below. I swiveled to look over the side. My mind bounced out into the bay with all the lights and commotion.
I heard Real Sheila and Dyanne returning and they giggled as they swiveled my chair back around. I swear they were now wearing only bra and panties. OK, why not? I found myself standing swiftly erect and undressing myself down to my shorts.
We embraced as a trio. Our kisses met at a point between the three of us. Real Sheila disengaged just enough to remove Dyanne’s bra. Then she let her own bra fall. My hands drifted down between their panties and their smooth cool bottoms. I knelt slowly, pulling the panties down with me. When the panties dropped below their knees and fell to the deck, Real Sheila and Dyanne both stepped out of them. The two of them embraced tightly and kissed.
Still crouching between them, I sipped nectar from one and then the other of them as they slowly gyrated. It was Dyanne who began to twirl her fingers into my hair. I slowly rose back up. Dyanne turned to face me and pulled down my shorts, taking hold of me. Real Sheila moved behind Dyanne, kissing her neck and helping to lift her onto me. I held Dyanne’s bottom while Real Sheila pressed against my hands. I began to caress Real Sheila with my knuckles.
And so we divided ourselves and shared everything.
I became aware of the New Year’s midnight by the thunderous crackling of the skies and the canopy of colorful fire that blossomed above us and reflected in the bay.
Last night has crept away again. That’s all I can remember right now.
The storm-swell is becoming stronger and VAN DIEMEN’S LAND is starting to roll so much that I must get out of here before my hangover reaches my stomach. I find my clothes and pull them on and step overboard to the dock, leaving VAN DIEMEN’S LAND.
In the smattering rainfall I start the long walk back to wherever I live now.
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