I inadvertently felt protected by going home with this stranger. My hand clasped in his, my safety too. We walked less than a minute to his funky place, but cool/funky since it was in the Marigny Section of the French Quarter where all the artists lived. The Bone pulled out a key to unlock his white wooden gate. And then I remembered, I made out with a boy who lived upstairs. We went to high school together.
“Oh, so do you know…what’s his name? Um… Niko?” I knew his name.
The Bone opened the gate gesturing me to enter first.
“That kid? Yeah, I’ll see him around. He’s mostly with his mother. You know him?”
That kid was a year younger than me. His dad was a New Orleans famous singer who apparently was The Bone’s upstairs neighbor. It was evident that musicians didn’t get paid a lot of money. Niko and I made out a handful of times. We walked to the same bus stops. Instead of just waiting for the bus, we would wait and make out. Ahhhh…the days of eye contact. A time before cellphones took over our lives. Niko and I never really talked. He was always too stoned or tripping on acid. As for me, I was sober, but thought he was cute. He never asked me to be his girlfriend or even asked me if I wanted some of his potato chips. I would have said yes to both.
“Barely. Not really. We just went to the same high school. He’s a grade below me.”
The Bone locked the gate behind me. There was a small brick patio preceding his apartment. A dog was hysterically barking.
“I hope you don’t mind dogs.” Oh great. My body was tensing up. I did mind dogs, actually. I never had any pets growing up, so I didn’t know how to interact with them which then resulted into me being afraid of them. The Bone resembled the type of guy who would own a ferret. Not a dog. I would have much preferred a ferret. The Bone opened the door, and immediately a mid-sized brown Bull-Terrier jumped on me and started sniffing, his paws aggressively on my chest. I automatically put my hands up as if I were surrendering to this four-legged creature. You win. You win. What do you want from me?
“He won’t bite.” That’s polite of him.
“C’mon, Jackson! Get off her.” The Bone pulled him away. The dog was still eyeing me, wagging his tail uncontrollably. I was actively not petting him.
“He’ll calm down. Sorry about that. Can I get you a drink? A Heineken?”
“Sure,” I said hesitantly. The Bone took off his cowboy hat and yellow glasses. He then walked into his kitchen, leaving me alone with the excitable dog. I looked around, assessing whether I should be afraid or not, examining if he had any guns or Confederate paraphernalia. I didn’t see any. Good sign. His place was tiny, barely a one bedroom. It was dirty and messy, but I was use to that. There was a small bong on the coffee table with scattered marijuana and The Times-Picayune spread open. A guitar was placed on his dog-haired couch. There were two other electric guitars and amps across the room. He seemed safe. I decided it was okay to stay. Were musical serial killers a thing? Didn’t think so.
The Bone came back, double fisted with our beers. He stared at me lustfully.
“MMMMMMMMM,” he moaned, as he slowly handed me a Heineken.
Right. We were going to have sex. Shiiiiiiit. I was wearing underwear that my aunt bought me- white, high-waisted, all-cotton briefs. The least sexiest pair of underwear I owned. It was probably even period stained. Why did I have to wear them? My pubes were extra wild, too. I never knew how to deal with my hair down there, so I ignored it. There was no way I was going to put a razor to my vagina. That was too risky. Sometimes I would sneak in a trim, but it’s hard when you share a bathroom with 4 other males who don’t respect your privacy. It’s been months since I did that anyway. Okay, my legs were stubbly, but not too bad. But oh no. I was wearing my padded bra. The Bone probably liked me because he thought my breasts were a cup size bigger than they really were. As soon as he takes off my bra, he’ll be horrified by my real breasts and will tell me to leave. I can’t have him take off my bra.
“You want some?” The Bone was taking a hit off his bong.
“No, thanks.” Pot scared me. I had never done it. I thought if I started smoking pot, I’d turn into my brother, and if I turned into my brother, there wouldn’t be a way of me getting out.
The Bone delicately put the bong down on the table. He turned to look at me. We were both standing. The dog was the only one sitting on the couch, obliviously chilling.
“Dance with me.” He held out his hand. His boney face was still.
We slow danced to silence. Our bodies got closer and closer. He held me like he was holding onto something. Something bigger than me. I grabbed on too. My fingers dug into skin. I found comfort knowing he was decades further along than me. Decades of more embarrassment. Decades of more disappointments. Decades of more pain.
I didn’t tell the Bone about my mother who got murdered when I was one. I didn’t tell him my dad was a creep who liked to have sex in front of me and other kids. I didn’t tell him how lost and scared I was after my grandmother’s death. But the Bone saw all of that. It was as if I did confess. Most people refused to see me. They wanted to see a simple, young girl. Perhaps my flesh was innocent and warm, but underneath was a life of silent grief.
Of course we made love, fucked, had sexual intercourse. Whatever you want to call it. I felt seen and desired as I was. I sensed my inherent power within. A power I thought that belonged to other women, but not small, wallflower voiceless Dixie. But that night, I declared my space. Cells vibrating. Guttural screams. I owned my longing and fed it to The Bone.