Her fiery mane of hair lured me away from the magazine article I was reading. Taking in the overall package, it was clear that she must have been used to eliciting stares. For even had her hair been a less spectacular hue, she possessed plenty of other eye catching features. The rings on her nose, lips, eyebrow, belly button, and at least two dozen on her ears were certainly noticeable. So too were the assortment of tattoos adorning her lean tigress body. These things probably deemed her a freak to those of a conservative nature. But the exquisiteness of her God given features, which included a striking set of emerald eyes, easily overshadowed the additional attractions.
When I took notice of her, she was already looking my way and greeted me with a shy smile. I didn't think it likely that I would be her type, considering my lack of piercings and body graffiti. But there was no mistaking her smitten expression.
"Do you ride?"
For a second I thought she was making a sexual overture. Then I realized she was referring to the motorcycle magazine that I was reading.
"A 1974 XLCH Harley Davidson."
"My ex was a real motorcycle freak. That's all he ever talked about. I couldn't help but pick up some stuff."
I pointed to a tattoo on her right shoulder blade. "That his bike?"
"Mind if I take a closer look?"
“Sure, go ahead.”
I moved to the seat beside her and slowly appraised the works of art framed in skin. I could tell she was turned on by my eyes gliding over her body.
"So is the canvas." A little corny, but judging from the way her face lit up, definitely effective.
"You did say EX-boyfriend, right?"
The train slowed as it approached the next station. She looked out the window resignedly. "This is my stop."
"Are you going someplace you absolutely have to be?"
"Not really. Why?"
"I was hoping you would accompany me to Brooklyn, give us a chance to get to know each other. I'm going to pick up my bike from the repair shop. We could ride back to the city, have dinner together. What do you say?"
The doors opened. She didn't pay them any mind.
"My name is Phoenix."
Phoenix had been born and raised Mary Ann Wenkle in Nowhereville, Nebraska. At the tender age of sixteen she took off with her boyfriend Bobby for infamous New York City, setting up in a roach infested apartment in the East Village. Shortly thereafter she met Dagger, and Bobby no longer seemed so cool and dangerous in comparison. It was Dagger who came up with her new name and persona and swayed Bobby to move back to Nebraska solo. When Dagger was sent to prison, Phoenix spent the next couple of years living recklessly. Then she hooked up with Rex, the aforementioned motorcycle maniac and most beautiful man Phoenix had ever seen. So beautiful that she put up with the multitude of other women in his staple for three years. But when he invited one to move in with them, she decided that enough was enough.
Her second period of living alone led Phoenix to conclude that what she needed was stability. All the notions that had once seemed antiquated and sent her fleeing from her childhood home now didn't look half bad. Marriage, a home, children - these were the things life was ultimately about. No matter how many tattoos she got; body parts she pierced; clubs she partied at; drugs she experimented with; or men she slept with; none of this had been able to provide a happiness that lasted.
She didn't come right out and say it, but Phoenix' recitation of revelations could only mean one thing. The next relationship she intended to get into would have to be serious, with strong potential of becoming permanent. Her days of waking up beside a face she didn't recognize were behind her.
In order to have sex with Phoenix I needed to win her trust. This would take time, and time would build up her hopes. When she finally gave in, it would be to officially welcome me into her life. For me it would be a farewell. I would have to deceive Phoenix into believing I was open to sticking around, wait for her to put her guard down and legs up, and then sucker punch her. Why cause her the pain? Why not just do the leaving now?
If I knew the answer to my questions, perhaps I could change them. But the only thing I know is that when I want a woman, I want her, plain and simple. I will not be satisfied until she has become my lover. Once this has been accomplished, whatever it was that made her irresistible vanishes, or perhaps it remains, but the juices of sex bolster my immune system and make resisting quite easy. I believe in strong beginnings and abrupt endings. The middle never held much interest for me.
We saw each other for six weeks. Each date I was certain would be the one where she finally broke down, but Phoenix was taking the art of taking things slow very seriously. It was a little frustrating, but not much. I sincerely enjoyed her company and was fascinated by the world within the underbelly of the city that she exposed me to. And when she wasn't around, I had no difficulty locating women willing to move a lot faster. My only concern was the growing warmth in her eyes, though this was the very thing I was striving to create. Phoenix was falling in love, and the term “fall” is used for good reason. One usually has to fall first in order to end up flat on their face.
Our first time together took me by surprise. We were riding my bike on the Belt Parkway when Phoenix indicated for me to pull over. She brought me behind some bushes, where we made feverish love as traffic raced by. I didn't even have time to take my helmet off.
I learned something about Phoenix that day that she had been hiding from me. She absolutely craved sex, in fact, she was a nymphomaniac. No psychiatrist had ever made this diagnosis official, but had they mouths from which to speak, my bed, sofa, bathtub, kitchen sink, coffee table, dining room floor and windowsill would have given testimonials in support of the theory. With great effort she was capable of refraining from having sex for a decent period of time. But when she was partaking, she needed to do so a lot. A whole lot. Phoenix had been planning to make me wait another week or two, but the hum of my Harley's 1500 cc engine between her legs convinced her otherwise.
After three less than enthusiastic phone conversations and a schedule grown considerably busier than the previous month and a half, Phoenix began to get the hint that I was not planning a wedding date. Hints not being enough however, she eventually point blank asked me. I'll lie like there's no tomorrow to get in a woman's pants, and be equally honest to get out. So I confirmed Phoenix' worst fears. She pressed for a reason and I pitched my stock answers, but she batted them all way. She claimed not to care that I wasn't emotionally prepared to commit, or that I didn't think we were right for each other, or that I wanted to and in fact was seeing other women. Phoenix wanted to have me by whatever rules I chose to apply, or so she claimed. I knew better than to believe that. She just wanted to keep me around until my defenses were worn all the way down. Since she was leaving me with no convenient way to exit the relationship, I saw no recourse but to bluntly tell her that she couldn't have me because I didn't want her. As for why, since she had not found the reasons I gave acceptable, she could pick whichever one she was best able to live with.
The look in her eyes proclaimed that the world had come to an end, but in fact it must have continued, for I heard from her a week later. I screen all of my calls and would not have picked up had she not mentioned my antique, monogrammed pocket watch. It had been passed down to me from my great grandfather, who conveniently possessed the same initials as myself. I had been searching my apartment with the tenacity of a blood hound for several days, but it had not turned up.
"So if you want your precious watch back, drop by my apartment. I suggest you come now rather than later, because I'm having one hell of a time resisting the temptation to smash it with a hammer."
Something told me I would be better off writing the watch off. God only knew what Phoenix had in store for me. I usually operate on the principle that scorned women are to be avoided at all cost. If my loss had only been a monetary one, I would have accepted this as the price I had to pay for my sins. But the personal value attached made it imperative that I retrieve my stolen property and deal with whatever fury was awaiting me.
When I arrived at Phoenix' door, it was slightly ajar. I knocked and called out for her, but no response came. So I stepped into the small studio apartment. The first thing to come into view was the bed upon which Phoenix lay naked, spread eagle and very still, my watch atop her stomach. As I stepped closer, I noticed the open and empty pill bottle by her side. Then my eyes came across the new tattoo trailing across her stomach in calligraphy. It read simply, Michael.
I placed the watch in my pocket and dialed 911, giving the person on the other end of the phone a brief synopsis of the situation at hand. When asked who I was, I described myself as a not so good Samaritan and hung up.
In a pizzeria across the street I waited to make certain an ambulance arrived promptly. Then I went home and cancelled my plans to go to the movies that evening. I had had enough drama for one day.