My own piano sat against the wall, buried in debris. I began to remove the shit off it—the moldy sweater, the electronic power supply cords whose recipients had jumped ship years ago, thumbed paperbacks, discarded Starbucks cups. I lifted the keyboard cover.
My fingers drifted over the keys without pressing down. They hovered over F sharp two octaves above middle C. If I pressed down, the commitment to that one tone would cement the path that leads to the next, leading to the cementing of the next, and then the next. What if, at the end of the path, I churned out some uninspired, pedestrian, shitty song, reinforcing what a failure I’d become in a brand new way? That first note bore the weight of forty years of largely unsuccessful attempts at a career, the loss and disdain of a woman most men in Manhattan would give their left nut to hold at night, and the responsibility of finding out if the future had even the slightest bit of light in it.
My finger remained suspended above the keyboard, unable to commit.
Andrea Bocelli echoed through the window from the courtyard, mourning epically with exquisite tragedy. A fuck-lovely perfection I may never know. I turned to the window to identify which neighbor was responsible for this random choice of entertainment.
Mr. and Mrs. Perfect’s apartment was empty…oh wait…no. Mr. Perfect emerged from the kitchen dressed in a suit, his head cocked to one side as he propped an iPhone against his ear. He spoke in an assured and patient manner, casually glancing out the window, then sauntering toward the other side of the house. His undirected stride was paced to the rhythm of his conversation. He was alone. I guess the family went to play in the snow in the country without him this weekend. But Bocelli was not coming from his apartment. But then, from where was it emanating? I lowered my eyes…
She sat at her dressing table, fussing with the seams of her sleeves. She was dressed in a gauzy navy-blue dress interwoven with silver threads, her hair up in a tight bun. When I’d last seen The Princess, she wore no more than jeans and an American Apparel stretch t-shirt. Unless she got a significant six-figure bump in her salary, I had no idea how she afforded an exquisitely tailored couture dress as a single girl in her twenties living in the heart of Manhattan in a small studio apartment. Did she have a sugar daddy? Did a parent die? Did she catch the boss cheating?
The romantic vocal strains wafted lushly from a CD player near her bed, accompanying her application of makeup to her cheeks, her lips, and her eyelashes as she carefully contoured herself to the ideal of ladyhood, obscuring every blemish, covering any millifraction of imperfection. She finally reached up to her bun and removed a pin. Her long dark locks fell down past her shoulders. She proceeded to run her fingers through them, smoothing every last strand with her fingers, a concerned look on her face.
How could anyone live with that much pressure to be perfect every second of every hour of every day? What was at risk for her if she weren’t perfect? She was young—barely drinking age—so she still had lots of time. What was so imperfect about her interior that required that much overcompensating on the outside, right down to the final dab of perfume on her neck from the lid of the tiny ornate pink glass bottle?
When I was completing a song, staying up for forty-eight hours in a row perfecting every last cadence, every last sixteenth note, every last pianissimo or crescendo expression, I was the Princess. She used makeup, I used treble and bass clefs. She used a silver ribbon in her hair, I used crisp, perfectly un-smudged laser copy paper to print the score. She needed validation from the man she was about to meet, and I needed validation from any ear my music would meet. I understood the Princess’s need, and a particularly petty part of me loathed her for reflecting my folly.
I lifted my hand. I closed the keyboard lid and piled the books and crap back on top of it.
Suddenly I became aware of a figure standing against the window above the Princess’s apartment facing my apartment square on. My heart skipped a beat, and I automatically ducked to the right behind the curtain. It was perfectly unnecessary to hide. All the lights were out in my apartment, and the curtain wasn’t open wide enough to see in. As far as anyone was concerned, nobody was home here on the third floor. Then why was someone facing my apartment with such direct attentiveness?
I slowly peeked around the curtain until I spied the figure again. To my surprise, Mr. Perfect stood at the window of his bedroom, facing my building. As always, he was wearing a suit, looking the picture of professionalism, dignity, power, and success. His hair was salt and pepper, feathered back to display the rugged handsomeness of his face.
This was a man to whom entire floors of employees in Manhattan glass high-rises might kowtow when he stepped off the elevator. This was a man university libraries might be named after. This was a man who might advise Atlas to shrug.
And this was a man standing at the window facing my apartment groping his dick through his pants.
What the hell?
I traced his hand to his arm, to his broad shoulders, to his white collared neck, to his defined jawline, and then to his deep set dark eyes. They were directed not at my window, but at the window of the floor above mine.
Ruben just moved in and was already putting on a show for the neighbors. What kind of professionalism did they teach those lovelies at Juilliard, anyway? But I thought Mr. Perfect was straight. He had a family who had only just exited the door to go play in the snow for the weekend.
A closeted faggot in Manhattan? That’d be an anomaly.
Marzoli’s sarcasm rebounded in my brain. Yes, but in all the time I’d lived here and observed Mr. and Mrs. Perfect, I never once saw anything to indicate the husband would do what he was now doing.
He pulled down his fly and burrowed through the dark pants to retrieve his pole. He dangled his fleshy white dick in front of his dark charcoal trousers. The white meat bobbed up and down at first. Mr. Perfect put his arms up above his shoulders and braced his hands against the window, providing Ruben upstairs with a perfectly unobstructed view of his dick. His trousers inched their way down his thick hairy thighs, then dropped past his knees to his ankles.
Ruben must have been putting on some kind of performance, because Mr. Perfect’s pole pulsated from a southward pointing direction to a northward pointing direction without any assistance from his hands. Mr. Perfect bit his lower lip with his perfect teeth, indicating a desire that came directly from his groin. I could almost hear a guttural rasping moan pushing its way through his esophagus and past his moist lips. His dick thrust slightly forward, hardening and reddening at the head.
It occurred to me just then that if I could observe this, others could too. But that was not possible. Perfect’s bedroom window was recessed and flanked by three, tall, fortunately positioned trees. The retail level of my building had no courtyard windows, and the floor above Ruben had a wide, unused balcony that prevented any direct views down. I’d never realized until that moment that Ruben and I had the only clear view of Mr. and Mrs. Perfect’s bedroom window.
Mr. Perfect wrapped the fingers of his right hand around his hard shaft, pumping it slowly. He moistened his lips with his tongue, his gaze directed to Ruben’s window. His eyelids settled halfway down as he indulged in the pleasure of his fist reaching the tenderness of his rod’s head and then retracted on a slow tight descent to the base.
I felt my own dick hardening. Was it the sight of a man that caused this reaction? Or was it the illicitness of the situation that caused it? Or was it a malicious enjoyment of something more sickly subversive? Was it the successful and powerful leveled to depravity by the need for something no position at the head of a board meeting table could provide? That no conformity to family virtues could provide? That no trip to the weekend house with the wife and kids could provide? That no jump in the market could provide? The king jacking off for the hot pawn across the court meant the king could be had for the price of a pound of twinkie flesh, and this satisfaction shot my rod to a smug erection.
Wrapping my lips around her nipple and tracing it with my tongue, causing her low moan.
Thoughts of Johanna’s body flashed into my brain as I watched Mr. Perfect’s stroking increase in intensity.
The warm flesh between Johanna’s vagina and her hole.
Mr. Perfect flung off his jacket and unbuttoned his shirt. His chest was solid and hairy, and his ripped abdomen contracted and expanded as he jacked his rod up and down.
Was the thing that turned me on the most about Johanna the same leveling of status? The queen leveled by the tonguing of one of her subjects? Was that all it had been? Surely more…
Mr. Perfect’s fisting had reached a frenzy. He had to be close now. Through the ceiling, I heard a faint moan. Ruben had reached his climax. Mr. Perfect responded by suspending the stroking and holding a tight vice grip on the head of his dick. With the wrenching of his abdomen, his cum splattered against the window glass. Thick strands of semen followed the initial onslaught in short firings, striping the window in white gelatinous lines which immediately oozed down the pane.
You bad, nasty, naughty King!
Mr. Perfect once again let his meat dangle as he lifted his arms and braced himself against the window with his hands, recovering his breath. He lowered his head. I could tell by his energy that he would not acknowledge Ruben again tonight. Shame? Or the inordinate adeptness to compartmentalize? I did not know, but Mr. Perfect did not lift his eyes again. Rather, he turned away from the window and went toward the bathroom, turning the lights off and plunging the room into darkness. The show was over. Get your purse from under the seat and go home.
My rod had already softened, having made no stops of pleasure along tonight’s train ride. When was the last time I’d had an orgasm? Couldn’t remember.
Marzoli’s full lips. His neck. His voice. His gentle dark eyes.
What the fuck!
What the hell was I thinking about a dude like Marzoli for? I’d fantasized sparingly through my life about man-on-man blow jobs, but only with some larger-than-life slab of muscle I’d absolutely no personal connection with. I’d justified those rare fantasies by the need for novelty and too much wine. There was no pining involved, no more emotional attachment than one has for bacon.
But now…with Marzoli…
He’d touched my shoulder. He’d looked into my eyes. He was so much more than bacon. I’d be an idiot to think about…about his lips…his chest…his jawline…
Why the fuck would I choose to entertain the hope for something I may never get? Why? One more new disappointment…one more new failure…one more new reason to despise myself…and I just might…who the fuck knows?
If I could, I would re-center by surfing for some straight porn and try to normalize. Try to let fly some of this frustration. If I had internet connectivity.
If I could connect.
I swallowed hard, shoved my dick back into safety, and zipped up my pants.
Andrea Bocelli’s heartbreak was reaching an epic climax.
Jesus fucking Christ! Turn that shit off!
As if hearing and taking pity, the Princess took one more look at her doll face in the mirror, tousled her hair one last time, clicked off the CD player, and departed down the hall. The lights flicked off.
Have a good date, Princess. I hope he appreciates your perfection. He probably won’t, but he should. I do.