Simon felt the need for a little spiritual and physical exercise, so he decided that during Christmas break that he would hitchhike across the United States. He lived in California, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studies art and comparative religion. His high school sweet heart lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where she was a student at the Edgar Cayce Foundation for psychical research. Simon still loved Catherine—Cat to her friends—but she had fallen in love with another man. When Simon went away to school, Cat married this fellow whose name was John.
Getting there was not hard. Though Simon, Simon Han, is an Asian American, he is tall, well built with an inverted triangle of a torso. He gets rides easily. Or, he did on this trip—there have been many others. This time he had a ride with a speed freak trucker from El Paso to Tennessee, among others, who talked obsessively either on the CB or at Simon. For some reason, anti-Asian racism seems to have skipped over him. So far. Maybe, its not just because of his athletic good looks, and size…
It was an uncomfortable week to say the least with Cat and her new husband. But Simon and John got on well enough in the end. The only experience of note for the whole visit, was that once, while Cat was at work—she worked as a masseuse at a chiropractic office—Simon borrowed her car and drove to some local park/wetlands that are a famous nature preserve to take a hike. I’m sure that these wetlands are known for many things of Audubon interest, but as well, in the New Age community, this place is known as a special locale for the “Ascended Beings.” That is, a group of advanced religious practitioners who long ago passed over the barriers of life and death, but are still active as powerful protectors of the earth. Simon’s approach to religion is more intellectually based, and views such beliefs with skepticism. At one point on this hike through the swamp, Simon had the odd experience of feeling that he was facing a strong and constant wind, but there was no wind during that twilight stroll. It was an otherworldly force. That quality was unmistakable, but that was all. Nothing more happened. It just seemed odd. After a while, he drove Cat’s car back to pick her up after work.
Next day, Cat dropped Simon on a freeway entrance heading towards Florida. She daydreams about Simon as she is driving back to work:
… how archetypically American that we should have first explored our love in that dusty barn on Simon’ family’s ranch in Southern California. Then days were still smog free. Clear, clean heat waves rose from the broken pavement of the road. Small herds of cattle rested, chewing beneath scattered trees on the dry hills. Dry stacks of alfalfa bales stored in that hot barn and covered with the old horse blanket were our first prickly, uncomfortable bed for those early explorations. Sometimes the alfalfa stems and leaves would get caught in our clothes, between our sweaty legs. The cows didn’t care. They would eat it anyway when we were long gone. We were so young when we first started but we didn’t get serious until much later. Not ‘serious’. No, that’s not the word. “It” became a terrifying compulsion. Compulsion? Not exactly that either…
Night after night, I would go to my room and find Simon waiting for me there. The room was in the attic of our huge old ranch house. Or we would agree to meet in that isolated hay barn at the back of the prop- erty. Simon always seemed fresh, fragrant with some new cologne. His body would be so warm that at times it seemed he must be on fire. He kissed me, offered me his naked body. Nor did I resist him.
It was so often so rough. It was almost rape. Sometimes we would fake a struggle. Simon would rip away my blouse, my jeans. Then he would drag his hands over me, over my skin that had the resilience and perfection of a baby’s, back then. I would slap him. He would only get more excited and rape me against the wall. Sometimes I would suck him, ravenous for him. He, emitting his little moans as if in joyous agony.
There were wild times, mostly in the otherwise quiet afternoon hours before our parents came home after work, when he would come over, take me somewhere secret or sometimes in the open where our struggle would be spiced by risk. One time we stood for it, my back up against the gatepost, next to the public road! There was not enough time, ever, for us to get our fill. Sometimes he slapped me really hard as I invited his hot cruelty. But then, maybe I would deserve it because when he was tender and needy, I would be cold, even cruel. It didn’t matter. We both liked it because it only heightened the game. Back then, when we were in our teens, we hardly ever spoke at school. Even when we went to high school, we didn’t speak much. We had different friends. Simon went out with different girls, I with other boys. I even had a couple of short-term boy friends. Once, “just to show me”, Simon seduced my boyfriend. Came at him from behind, he said. Simon said the boy really liked it. Simon said he didn’t mind either. But I know an ugly shame over- whelmed him. That he had sex with another boy—wouldn’t ever want anyone to know… that he dominated somebody like that. Really forced it. Even if it was just to show me. Maybe then, he started to question himself.
We didn’t see each other for a while after that. It was the fall semester. He was the quarterback for our football team. I was a princess in the court of the homecoming queen. He and she had a relationship. I hated her then. Him too. But he wasn’t really interested in her. He was just bored and confused about his life, so went along with what everybody else wanted. When he was a senior, he liked to go out drinking with his jock buddies. They would usually end up getting into fights with other guys. Drinking and fighting was all they did back then in that country town.
He had gotten into a lot of trouble earlier in his life. Bad genes, I guess. Even went to reform school when he was twelve or something. I don’t know the details. Like I said, we didn’t talk much.
I was in the choir at church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I love music. I can imagine it in my head. It justifies everything. All my stupid mistakes, and misunderstandings. I like it when it is wild and savage like rock and roll. I like it soft and gentle like a love song. Especially a tenor or a mezzo soprano. I like just to let the music drift or soar around inside my head. I like best to sing myself. By myself. I’ve got a damn good voice.
It was then that I met Fr. Adam. We had many talks over the years. First, the childish talks of a little girl talking to a big, pure man that she admired and loved. Then, as I got older, we talked about more serious things. And he tried to help guide me in my life. Simon and I both knew him from Youth Group activities at Church. Simon was not raised a Catholic. Fr. Adam tried to discourage me in my relationship with Simon. I don’t think that he thought that it was normal. He never seemed judgmental, though. More perplexed. He even liked Simon. But let’s face it, I always did what I wanted to do, then explained it to him afterwards. And I never told him everything. Couldn’t…
One night that autumn he was waiting for me outside the Church after choir. The wind was blowing, dry leaves scratched across the sun bleached asphalt shadows of the road. Simon and I hadn’t gotten together for a long time.
“Do you want to come with me tonight?” “Where to?” “I don’t know. We’ll drive somewhere.”
“It’s late and I’m tired, Simon.” “You can sleep in tomorrow, there’s no school.” “You have the precautions? I don’t want to take any more chances.” “Got it.” “Well, maybe. Alright. Let me go home first, then I’ll sneak out my
window. You wait by the road, park your car behind those trees across from the gate and wait. I’ll be there before midnight. It was ten.
We drove to a place about an hour away. It’s called the Devil’s Punchbowl. It’s now a park, but it wasn’t then. It’s where the San Andreas’ Fault comes to the surface. We walked to a place that over- looked the edge of this deep chasm, strewn with huge boulders. It was nearly a full moon in this late autumn warmth of California’s Indian Summer. We could see anyone coming from a long way away where we were. But it would be hard for anyone to see us, night or day. It was a perfect place beneath boulders and pinion pines. We spread our blanket on a bed of soft, fragrant pine needles.
Do you want to love me?
Love? Cat knew that she wanted love. But, Simon? Cat knew that she was so lonely. Afraid of her life, but in love with it and anxious as an eighteen year old could be to get into it. She would be in college next year, most likely on the East Coast. But now she was only lonely and tired of waiting. Yet, their relationship, which had such a dark, deep, wordless understanding, did not seem to require love.
“What do you mean, love?” “I don’t know.” She knew that Simon was watching her. Her back turned to him as
they sat on the blanket and bed of fragrant pine. She breathed deeply, deeply, quivering just a little as she released her breath. It felt good to breathe so deeply. She knew that Simon was watching her. And such a sharp stab of desire caught her that she was appalled by it. Desire radi- ated from him, radiated out over the chasm into the darkness and seemed to stretch into eternity. But he did not touch her yet.“Love you?” Simon’ voice spoke so low that Cat could hardly hear. …A tiny sound outside a cave in the dark.
“Love you? I am in hell for my desire… for you. Have you never guessed? Have you never seen beneath everything that I’ve done since we were children? You, always you. But there are so many kinds of love. I lust for you. I want your body that I know so absolutely. Sometimes I think that I want your soul. I really mean that. I want to be so close to your soul that yours and mine would seem one to any angel who might be watching. Nobody could see two, but only one bright, glorious, full light—us. So, close that even God would be jealous. Even God.
“Don’t say that! You don’t know what you mean.”
“I mean, my lust is so strong that I could rape you to the hot center of the earth and even that boiling, molten rock would not be hot enough to touch that part of me that wants to be inside of you. (He laughs at his own exaggeration.) But there is something else I want even more. I want you. You. I want to touch your soul. There is love you see and then, there is love.
“They aren’t two things. Give me all of it. Come here to me.”
In the soft autumn air, there was the rush of a breeze. And did the earth tremble just a bit? As a soft fall of garments sounded the begin- ning of something different. For as Simon gazed into her eyes, so close, so naked… he peered so deeply into her, she was afraid. But when Cat looked back there was nothing but the gentlest desire, in him, on his lips, between his legs, that hardened and began to massage her body. Simon sucked at her lips, her tongue, his hands digging into her as they held her. Her mouth opened to his, as his opened to devour. But he pulled back, slowed, then, all the rapacious cruelty of the past, and more than just theirs, catalyzed into a swift and almost desperate union. The first nudge strangely terrified her. She gave a long gasp and then her whole body opened up. His, hard, thick and pounding; she moved with it. For an instant they were bound together. He stopped. He stopped and held it. Just inside. His face agonized. She did not understand.
“What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” “Why did you stop?” “Just wait,” he gasped after a few moments. Then, he started again, his lips pressed to her neck. Working between
her breasts with his tongue, nipping slightly her nipples, pink and hard, with his teeth. Entered her again. Pumping, pumping. Then he rolled over away from her as if wild with pain. And she reached out for him. He resisted. She tried again. His body perfect in its youth, modeled by the soft light of the moon. She felt his sex. He recoiled painfully. But she, very gently took him into her mouth, surrounded his organ with a wet, gentle warmth; a delicious, gentle but ravenous sucking. Stronger, more and more until, just before he would cry out with release, he pulled out and held her with his strong arms at a determined, confused, question- ing distance. No release—a climax rechanneled. And once again he rolled away.
After many moments, maybe years, she reached over, touched so ten- tatively his broad shoulders as he lay rolled up in a ball. Then she took him in her arms and held him. Whether in ecstasy or agony, she could not tell. She just held him in the moonlight. Many moments passed, maybe hours.
“Why?” She asked. “I don’t know.” “You must know.” “I wanted to see what we looked like inside.” “Like that!?” Many moments passed. “What did you see?” She felt him withdraw, within himself, away from her… She glances, almost frantically, about her cave as if lost. Yet, something was evoked, boding power beyond imagining. And the moon slipped behind the mountain, leaving them in the dark rocks above the chasm, beneath the pinion trees. A night wind blew up the canyon wall and whipped their fragrance into the world.
Cat snaps out of her daydream as she turns to pull into the chiro- practor’s parking lot. And Simon steps into the car that is his first ride of the day.