There's this coconut bra in my apartment, and it hangs in my closet next to my neckties. If I had a choice I’d just drape it over the back of my desk chair, but I can’t have visitors seeing that there’s a coconut bra in my apartment. The half-shells are dry and hairy, perfect semi-spheres—which makes it a big bra, if you think about it, I mean if you were to fill it out proper, you’d be a C cup, maybe a D.
That makes sense, I guess. I’m pretty sure it was Grace who left it here on Halloween one year, and she’s got a damn nice rack. That was a great night. Except the next morning I woke up in sheets covered in grass strings ripped from her skirt and dayglow paint smeared from her skin. That was Valentino Egyptian cotton, 1200 count. I’d have told her she owes me new sheets but she was gone when I woke up. Grace never stays through the morning.
Actually, maybe that’s Christine. I can never tell Asians apart. They’ve both got these beat-up looking faces but tight bodies, same height, same size. Now that I think about it, it probably was Christine. She’s got that little tattoo on her hip. I can’t really remember if I saw it that night under her fluorescent body paint. Christine has a tighter ass but they’ve both got these pillowy soft breasts with smallish nipples, the same color as each other’s actually, that get all goose-pimpled when I pinch them hard.
Whoever it was, she left this coconut bra. In the beginning it smelled like cheap perfume and feminine sweat. Now it just smells like me. Some days, by which I mean once every two weeks or so, I’ll come back from work near midnight smelling like the subway and take off my necktie and shirt, unzip my pants. I never take the pants off, I just let them bag around my hips with the unfastened belt clanking around. The disheveled look is satisfying, lackadaisically carnal, with a touch of the excitement you get undoing your pants for a girl to blow you. Except instead of getting fellated, I take out the coconut bra and tie it around my pecs, the fraying twine strings scratching at my skin.
I wasn’t one of those kids that liked playing dress-up in his Mommy’s clothes. I’ve never had the desire to put on make-up. I’ve never kissed a dude.
I just kind of like the way the coconut bra looks on me. We’ve grown into each other.
There wasn’t a good reason for putting up the Craigslist ad. It’s not like I can’t afford a professional escort. It’s also not like I have any pressing need for a professional escort. There’s any number of contacts in my phone I can select from for these purposes, and even if there weren’t, I’ve never had a problem with bringing girls home from a bar. Just stride three blocks in either direction from the office to the Flatiron or No. 8, or anywhere else really, in the same suit I wore to work, and I’ll have some willowy girl in a Marc Jacobs dress back at my flat before 1 am.
It’s boring. Women in Marc Jacobs dresses are boring and they all smell either like blue-blooded money or enterprising arrogance. Escorts are sometimes a nice change of pace with their perfunctory air of professionalism, the cologne they wear so as not to arouse suspicion in the wife I don’t have. But even that loses its charm. There’s this itch for something new, ridiculous, inappropriate. I’m hovering at a tenuous precipice of listlessness and discontent. At thirty three, I’m in my last year of being considered a “young man.” Thirty four just sounds damn old. Too old for creepy internet shenanigans, too old for coconut bra dress-up. That prospect makes me a little queasy.
The Craigslist girl, when I meet her at Port Authority, looks younger than in the selfie she’d texted me that morning. Her outfit appears to have been pulled from the “Hot This Season” rack at H&M: trendy, forgiving cuts and abominable craft. Her stilettoes are cheap scuffed PVC and the heel tips are smashed flat from an inaptly aggressive stride. She smacks her gum, then apologizes for it. Her name is Michelle. I decide to call her Blondie, on account of the bleached white hair hanging down to her hips, so damaged it looks crunchy. Like those stale shrimp chips they give you at shoddy Chinese restaurants. There’s a single dread, growing out from her temple like a ghostly pube. “I was supposed to do my whole head,” she says, “but I chickened out.”
It’s not uncommon for women to appreciate the apartment: the sprawl, the whiteness, the sharp lines and slick glass. But Blondie is palpably, embarrassingly enthralled. “This place is a fucking penthouse,” she gushes. I don’t bother telling her that no, it’s not a penthouse, because I’m on the twelfth story of twenty-six, and a penthouse is by definition at the top. Nonetheless, the floor-to-ceiling windows, stainless-steel kitchen and mod lighting fixtures probably look pretty swank to a girl who acts like she grew up in a housing development.
I pour Blondie some wine—I suspect that quality scotch would be wasted on her—and I’m tempted to offer her some blow but it feels shady under the circumstances, even for me. I actually can’t remember the last time I provided drinks for a minor. “Where did you say you go to college?” I say, glancing sideways at her.
“I didn’t. I just finished high school.”
We kill two, three bottles of wine, work on a fourth. I’m not keeping track of time. Somehow we both manage to say a lot of words while revealing absolutely nothing about ourselves. Pool tables, how you make pool tables, apparently it’s all about the balance, not the screws or bolts. Did you know that licking a stamp makes you consume one tenth of a calorie. Wouldn’t Greece be a nice place to go, even though its economy is all fucked up (I shake my head, Croatia is better). All I’ve found out about the girl herself is that she’s in her teens, lives somewhere in Jersey, didn’t know that Yugoslavia is no longer a country, and prowls the “casual encounters” section on Craigslist, as evidenced by our fortuitous meeting. She recounts some convoluted episode of Adventure Time for about ten minutes until I realize I need her to shut the fuck up, so I catch her wrists and stick my face close to hers in a way I’ve always found pretty awkward but women find sexy more often than not. There are bumps of acne under a powdery layer of foundation. Her mascara is flaking, one black clump dangling precariously as she blinks rapidly, staring into my left eye.
“I don’t fuck people on first dates,” she says, too loudly for how close we are.
I’m tempted to guffaw—not laugh, not snicker, but actually guffaw—but I swallow it and maintain my proximity. “Is that what you think this is?” Before she can say anything, I kiss her. Her lipstick tastes like bubblegum.
“Jesus,” she says, pulling away. My hands are still on her wrists but now I’m pinning her down. “That’s not my name,” I say. I kiss her again, harder, and within seconds her tongue is running along my teeth. We’re lying lengthwise on the sofa—a leather sectional on platinum plated legs—and I press myself between her legs, erection poking into a shadowy space beneath her skirt.
My hands have slipped under her blouse—no bra!—and she pushes feebly at my chest. “Not like this, man.”
I ignore this, press harder against her. The wine has made my fingers fatly lethargic as I reach down and rub at her crotch. Her panties, filmy lacy things, rip when I push them aside. Something in my vision flickers, like a light bulb going out, and my head dips low. I suspect I look like a mess, eyelids drooping like I’m stoned. I persevere, manage to get my pants unzipped.
And then Blondie proceeds to give me the best blowjob of my life. I don’t say that lightly. Grace gives good head. Tanya gives great head. That random Indian chick last month gave fucking great head. But nothing like this. What the hell are high schoolers doing these days? I’m pretty sure Blondie has got both my balls in her mouth at one point, like fully in there, swishing them around like the quality wine she’s never had. She clutches my hips, makes me buck forward. I can feel her pharynx stretching out. I’d almost feel bad about it but it feels too good. That tiny trashcan mouth, smearing bubblegum pink all up and down.
And then, in one feral jerk, her jaw yanks shut. Teeth flying together with terrifying, irreversible velocity.
They say that with the force it takes to bite through a baby carrot, you can chomp off someone’s pinky finger. I wonder what masticulatory feat equates to biting through a penis. Blondie is laughing dryly, blood dripping through her teeth. Her one white dread is soaked red.
Once, when I was fourteen, I sliced my hand open on a table saw in wood shop. It didn’t hurt in that first instant—eons passed with me staring at the pristine cut, the blood welling up, then spurting, registering that I’d got fucked up and wondering at what point agonizing pain was going to shoot in concentrated stems to that stroke of torn flesh. Right now my dick is numb. A chunk of it is missing. I’m waiting to start screaming. I wake up almost in tears. Where the fuck is my penis. Frantically patting at my crotch. It’s warm with blood, it’s gone, fucking gone.
No. Just flaccid. And that’s just urine. I’ve pissed myself.
My dick is there, but Blondie is gone. When had I fallen asleep? When did I end up in my bed? I fumble around to turn on the lamp. Crotch, legs soaked. I feel like I could piss myself again, out of shame. Nerves shot, I’m rifling through the top drawer of my nightstand, looking for a small plastic baggie that will wake me up and make me feel vaguely human again. I always leave it in the inner left corner. I’m feeling around for it, a patting motion that becomes a slap. I can’t find it.
I get out of the wet bed, naked and dripping onto the rug but not caring because now I’m flipping madly through all the stuff in the drawer. Why is there so much shit in here? Receipts from 2010. Years-old issues of Maxim. Condom wrappers. What are the wrappers doing there without the condoms? How could I let myself live this way?
The baggie is not there. I open the second drawer, where I keep a wad of bills for going out. That’s gone, too.
Little slut. I tear through my apartment, trying to remember where everything had been left. There’s two bottles of booze gone, a Chinaco and a Red Label. I guess I’d misjudged about the scotch.
Nothing else seems out of place. Still naked, I go back to the bedroom. There’s one other thing missing, I already half know, as I approach my closet with an increasingly violent twisting in what feels like my spleen. Under the spot where the coconut bra used to hang, there is a pile of shit. Literally a pile of shit, smelly and glistening. The girl took the coconut bra and shat in the closet. I’d say I can’t believe it but the stench is believable enough. Numbly I wonder how she managed to wipe. Then I notice the brown smear on my Zegna necktie.
My dick is burning, with the same kind of feeling you get in your face when you’ve just been publicly humiliated, that hot flushed shame. A stinging heat in my crotch. Reactively I dial Christine’s number: she, the source of the problem from the very start, for leaving that damn coconut bra that Halloween night. She answers on the third ring. You fucking bitch, I tell her, what were you thinking wearing that coconut bra, you looked like a damn slut with your tits all falling out of it, and how dare you shit in my closet, you psycho scat cunt.
A silence. “Grace was the hula dancer. I was Tinkerbell that year.” A click, then nothing.
The phone is chucked across the room, where it smashes into a $17,000 ceramic piece I’d purchased at a Chelsea opening last spring. I sit down hard on the floor, which is a shock of cold against my still-wet butt, and with trembling hands pat my dick to make sure that it’s there.
Hoboken, New Jersey. I never thought I’d have an acceptable reason to be here. I probably still don’t. The culvert leads out to some rocks and cracked mud, no longer in use. Blondie is lying back against the spray-painted concrete smoking a joint with her legs splayed out covered in torn fishnets. Absently, I consider killing her, just wrapping my hands around her little neck and bashing her temple in with a rock. She doesn’t apologize for shitting in my closet. It’s as if it never happened. Neither of us mentions the coconut bra, or anything else. I don’t mind about the money, or the blow, or the booze.
Blondie puts her head in my lap, sending up a cloud of citrus hairspray, acrid in my nostrils. She passes me the joint, and I take a hit.
“Angel dust,” she says breezily.
I stroke her hair. It is brittle like dried flowers. It makes a horrible apathetic crunching noise, starts cracking off in pieces. Blondie notices and says nothing, so I go on, strands of weightless white coming off. It looks like bleached grass torn off from a hula skirt. I run my hands through it, tearing chunks off until I’m lying on a scratchy peroxide blanket, with one long white dread snaking through in a weft weave.
Blondie gets up to leave after a while, unfazed about the hair scattered on the concrete. Doesn’t look at me or say anything, just walks away. From the back, with her hair all ripped off, she looks like a boy. She looks like Aaron Carter at his prime, dressed in Mommy’s clothing, if Mommy were a hooker.
The white grass blanket. The stuff is getting all over my clothes, really stuck in there and prickly, but I don’t care. I’m rolling around in it and I want to moan someone’s name out loud. Except I can’t decide who, can’t even remember all my options. There is no democratic process I could undertake to select the one woman most worthy of my uttering her name, privately, as a confidential self-ecstasizing relic. There is no way to determine with efficacy which woman’s image could come anywhere close to fulfilling the void left by a coconut bra.
“Grace,” I say. “Michelle.” My voice sounds strange, alien. The words are empty. My dick, stiff a moment ago, goes limp. I scoop up the white dread torn from Blondie’s head, run my tongue over it, peer close at its matted, tangled hairs. It might be the PCP, but I’m pretty sure there’s blood crusted in there.