A sand fly, large and black, landed on Dylan’s red nose and stung him. He slapped his nose. ‘Ouch!’ He shook his white hair, the colour of the sand he sat upon and looked out on the flat barren desert plain. The sun was going down and the desert, like the sky and his nose was red. Two feet behind him Julian sat puffing on a brown, chunky cigar and blew circles of smoke into the balmy air of dusk. Their retreat had finished that morning. The three day seminar on health and stress management had been sponsored by their law firm. Julian and Dylan, work associates in the same company, had only known the surface of each other until they had gone to the desert. A bond was forged, a connection so strong that they had decided to extend their stay for two days. The city, their lives and wives could wait. This silence, space and emptiness was what they needed.
‘I come to the desert a lot. This arid space of emptiness soothes me. The dead heart immerses me in isolation and I feel real. I want to be in a space of silence.’ Dylan scratched the right side of his nose as it began to flake. Peel like an onion the shape of his life.
‘Oh yes, it’s been so good to get away from the fast pace of the city. The change for change sake…you gotta do this and you gotta do that to keep up. It’s no good.’ Julian puffed smoke into the back of Dylan’s neck.
‘There is no time to reflect in the city. We are too busy reacting and acting…hurry up…come on keep up, they urge. I hate the stress. Dylan squinted his blue eyes, crystal at the shimmering mirage on the horizon. There was only a few minutes left of sun. ‘This makes me realise just how much effort I have to put into my marriage. It is such hard work. Sometimes I meet a woman I want more then my wife. I can go for a whole year not even liking my wife but it is my commitment to her that keeps me from straying. We try and organise half an hour a day to nurture the relationship and go on a dance once a month to keep it alive.’
‘Seems like you got a life support system keeping your relationship alive. It sounds too manufactured some how. Haven’t you ever thought a bit of fresh arse could breathe new life into the stiff joints of your marriage?’ Julian questioned screwing up his brow.
‘Oh met this girl once. We had a different connection, very rounded and multi-dimensional – spirit, mind, body stuff. I told her I could not hang around her too much because I wanted to do things to her. She smiled at me and said your special to me but you are married. She removed the temptation. Pity. Jade was her name. She was such a free spirit, feminine, soft and strong…a beautiful girl. She had no motive, no control or hidden agenda and that is rare. But my commitment to my wife kept me in line.’ Dylan confessed.
‘She sounds wonderful.’ Julian agreed.
‘You see I come to the desert to think about such things. I want to be consumed by the desert, eaten up by the emptiness. This wide expanse of nothing is the shape of my soul. I am empty. Dylan looked at Julian with sincerity. ‘It really has been dead for years. Dead except for the commitment.’
‘A lot of relationships die a long time before they end…it’s sad.’ Julian empathised. ‘I admire you Dylan but I can’t be like you. For me, I need the hunt as much as the air I breathe. I am always drawn to a stronger light then the flame inside me. When I start feeling death knocking, I start to look for some tits and arse to distract me. No, really it’s more then that, I need energy, the female energy, a soft giving and taking that only a good woman can give. I see a woman with charisma and I want her. I can smell it…’ Julian smirked and looked directly at Dylan. There was so much unexpressed pain in Dylan’s face. He felt pent up.
‘Once a month I go with my wrestling friends for a night on the town. We go to bars, clubs and we hunt women. I usually find one, seduce and take her and it is bliss. I eat her energy. But when it is all over I go home to my wife. She is beautiful and tranquil. She is a counsellor and has the power to heal my life. I do love her. But I need extra.’ Julian paused a moment to see Dylan’s reaction, he couldn’t quite make out whether it was disapproval or jealousy. But he continued anyway. ‘Women have such power over me. If only they knew the emotions they stir up inside me. Sometimes it is strong it makes me want to pull away.’
‘Don’t you find it hard to juggle a double life?’ Dylan asked.
‘No it is easy. I don’t always have sex you know. Sometimes a mind fuck keeps me going for a long time. Yes I like a good mind fuck. I look at their tits when they talk to me, day in and day out and I make them aware. They look at themselves being looked at their own voyeur. You start with their breasts and soon you moved down and look at their pussy. I turn away and look again. She always blushes the first time, then she is mesmerised. I know she gets wet behind her desk. I make them live in a constant state of arousal. They dream, they fantasize. I play their minds and their bodies. They think about me all the time. I stand close but never touch. I make her feel my presence. She holds her breath to keep her strength. It may stop there, but sometimes I may even slide my hand over the side of her breast when I give her some memorandums to type. That’s as far as it goes in real life but in her mind she has gone all the way. Oh, the office seduction…I am a master. I live for the hunt…more then the actual capture. But I always go home to my wife.’
‘Your quite evil aren’t you? It sounds so premeditated. I feel for your wife.’ Dylan judged.
‘No, I am not evil. They like it. I am happy.’ Julian threw his head back and laughed. ‘I tried to stop once. But I can’t. I don’t feel any guilt about what I do. Sometimes I feel as if my wife knows but she chooses to ignore this because she loves me.’
‘Julian I could not live like you but I do feel the temptation. I struggle with the desires of my flesh. And sometimes I feel as if I am not above it. I can be with a woman as a friend try and help her in her need, counsel her, father her, instruct her and in the next minute I notice that freckle on her top lip, a piece of chocolate, and that hard nipple protruding from her white t-shirt and I am hard. You see my wife uses sex to control me. She withholds it until I do what she wants, then she repays me for being a good boy. She made me wait until we were married before she let me take her.’ Dylan confessed. ‘I remember how keen she was to marry me and the pressure she made me feel. It was overwhelming. One day just before we married I jumped into the car and drove to the desert, when I was alone, I got out of the car and screamed and screamed to the emptiness and to my pending loss of freedom. I was a caged eagle. I knew her motive, but she coerced and seduced me.’ Dylan’s cheeks flushed red and a tear struggled to form in the corner of his right eye.
‘Oh that is shocking. Sorry Dylan she sounds like a bitch. She castrates you. Takes your power and masculinity. Should not be allowed. My wife is an angel. She gives me sex when ever I want it even if she’s not in the headspace for it. I just wished she enjoyed it more and showed a bit more passion. You know what I mean? She is so passive. Some men like a passive woman. I find it too unresponsive. That is why I hunt, I hunt horny, vital women because I know they are hungry and want it like me.’
‘My wife uses sex as a weapon. It is never a gift of love. It is a controlling devise to deny me what I want and need. I hate her sometimes. Must confess. Yet she was so sweet, demure and quiet when we first met. She was so receptive to my needs and loving. I don’t know what happened.’ Dylan despaired and started to tie up his deck shoes ready to head back to their tent.
‘Maybe she was that way to start with because she thought that is what you wanted. She tricked you. Tripped you up.’ Julian began to rise up to leave as well.
‘You think they are predators too?’
‘You bet they are…some are predators more then we are. They hunt us as much as we hunt them, they are just more underhanded about it. What drew me to Aniq besides her dark haired, dark eyed beauty was that she was so feminine. On our first date I told her… ‘You are so feminine…if I was born a woman, I’d want to be just like you.’ Julian smiled.
‘Wow, that’s a beautiful line, can I use it?’
‘It is not a line. I meant it. I had never met a woman who was so complete. A woman, a child, a mother, a lover, a friend all in one. I had dated so many fragmented women before her, some were down right neurotic’ Julian was adamant.
‘She sounds divine.’ Dylan signed and wished he had been as lucky.
‘Believe me she is. I love waking up to her each morning. I lover her smell, her taste…I can’t get enough.’
‘You worship her don’t you? I am jealous. I don’t believe I ever felt that way towards Christine. She is far too tight, controlling and jealous. If ever we had a female friend come visit Christine would shun her, turn her back on her and make snide remarks. I was so ashamed. How can you play up on such a beautiful woman as your wife? If I had her I would not think of another woman, let alone chase one. You’re mad.’ Dylan was standing up right now and starting his trek back to the tent. Julian followed close behind.
‘I can’t help it. It is an urge, a drive. I see a woman with some passion and I want her. My wife is a woman I can worship, any man would worship her. She is so self contained, peaceful, but not passionate wild and reckless. She is placid and sweet and she’s got no edges and I live for the edge. On the edge. I am into the risk, adventure, she is happy to stay in one spot.’ Julian caught up and defended himself against Dylan’s righteous indignation.
‘Sounds as if you have different energies. But she centres you though doesn’t she?’ Dylan softened a little.
‘Yes she does. She centres and balances me and with her I’d be a kite blowing in the wind out of control. What does your wife do for you?’
‘Not a lot.’ Dylan had lost his dream.
‘That is no good.’ Julian sympathised.
‘I am afraid she hasn’t given me much recently. We have been married for 10 years and have three children and it is too much to throw away. And don’t forget we still have commitment and that is the most important thing after all. I have never strayed, the ideal husband, but I have thought about it and I am not afraid to admit that.’ Dylan felt false but was trying to gain some creditability with Julian.
‘You are crazy Dylan being committed to a sterile marriage. You must feel so frustrated.’
‘Undermined, unappreciated, resentful and angry. That is why the desert is my best friend, it is a mirror of my soul.’ The tent was baking but they pulled out a cool coke form the esky and lay on the futons on the floor. ‘She is too uptight for me and too duty bound. She gives more to the church, her friends, school functions then she gives to me.’ Dylan was resigned.
‘One day I hope for you that you will break free and be liberated. You need some fun and adventure and sex with a woman who actually wants you.’ Julian said punching Dylan in the arm.
‘And my wish for you my friend is that one day you will stop cheating your wife and give her the utmost respect she deserves. I guess no-ones life is perfect.’ he said as he handed Julian a beer.
Their sharing would always be a mirage in the desert.
By Anthea Slade 1997
MEN TALK featured in Anger Management 18-8-09
MEN TALK featured in CORE on the 13-8-09
A short story.
Written by a woman.
Through the eyes of two men.
About their two women.
12 years it has taken me to release this short story to the eyes of the public. I have had this short story sitting in private viewing for the past three weeks waiting for the courage to put this one out there.
Ushna and her fabulous group has given my humble short story voice and recognition. This is one of my most valued features.
Voice has been in my life a central theme. When I was at University studying Masters in Adult Education, I studied Voice and its implications in Women Studies and Autobiography and Life Long Learning. I was interested in giving voice to women in my first Autobiography Two Voices Two Women, a dialogue between my mother and I. And in my second autobiography, My life of love, loss and learning a voice to my love of all the important men in my life from father to teacher to lover to mentor to muse.
With Men Talk I wanted to do something quite different and write a short story not only through the voice and eyes of one man but two men. And I wanted to write through their voice about their women. This was an exciting challenge and I have always held this little story close to me and now after all these years have brought it out to the public. I have read much and studied the men’s movement and men’s perspective as much as I have studied women’s movements and perspectives.
So I just want to thank my friends on RedBubble and Ushna for allowing me this wonderful platform to bring forward not only my poems that I am writing now but for also allowing me to share those pieces of my writing history that no one has ever seen before.