By Gregory Chin
Jessica’s blue eyes lit up like Christmas lights when I gave her the keys to her mother’s Mustang. She looked so much like Diane in that moment, her glistening lips curving slowly from a half-open look of wonder to the broadest of broad smiles. Her auburn hair smelled sweet: grapefruit citrus shampoo infused with passion fruit something. She squealed and hugged me; I could’ve kissed her right there, she was so much like Diane. And I did, on the forehead.
“Be safe, kiddo,” I said with a grin.
“Thanks Dad!” And she was off, out the door and down the drive to the gleaming candy apple red galvanized steel, the graceful body lines and roaring engine that screamed freedom, or something like it. Adulthood…or something like it. I watched through the half-dozen glass windows around the whitewashed front door as she jumped in, watched as the bucket seat folded itself around her sundress—black leatherette embracing her naked legs. The engine revved once, twice, and she was gone, convertible top up but windows down.
Diane had driven that car every day before she died. “Feisty,” that was her word, and it married with her perfectly.
Everything was always perfect, before she died.
Jessica’s the spitting image of her—forget-me-not eyes and brunette, leggy and slender and sweet. Diane attracted me from the get-go, bumping past me in Walgreen’s with a polite “Excuse me,” to indulge her Milk Duds fixation. I asked her out in the candy-and-chips aisle, forgetting the neti pot I carried awkwardly and the nasal tone my voice had taken.
She was the most attractive woman I’d ever known. Certainly the most attractive woman who’d ever dated me, ever kissed me, ever wrestled out of her clothes with me in the cramped backseat of her ‘71 Mustang.
We became a couple, a single unit, greater than the sum of our parts. And when she died a veil was thrown over the world—stifling, suffocating.
Imagine asphyxiating for ten years.
Imagine seeing everything in sepia for ten years.
Imagine hearing everything muffled for ten years, like an underwater scream.
The guys at work, they’d told me to get over her. Move past her. “Get on with your life,” and blah blah blah. “There are other fish…” and blah blah blah. Oscar told me he’d hook me up with a gal in his building. Dave begged me to hit the bars with him. Roger had recommended a tasty lady escort who was apparently very good with her hands and does things people in relationships just don’t do. “Tasty,” that was his word. Donald, well….
Donald steered me to porn.
He’s always on top of new trends and fetishes, the latest and greatest, one-upmanship. From grandmothers humping teenage boys in Russia to anime-robot-alien-octopus-rape in Japan. Everything he finds, he sends my way. It’s been almost a year since I’ve been able to open my e-mail at work without fearing a huge pop-up window of Brazilian shemales giving each other handjobs on buses.
I’ve watched more porn in the past year than I would ever admit to any amount of psychotherapists. As in high school, my hand has been my girlfriend, and I’ve probably jacked off enough times to fill a garbage can. And not one of those small ones, either. I’m talking about the big gray ones you put on the curb twice a week. The ones you can pour all of your hedge- and lawn-clippings into and still have half a bin to spare.
It was Saturday, and Jessica was gone, so I turned on my computer. Donald recently got me hooked on a new website, or a few. To the phenomenon of voyeur: cameras taping amateur men and women licking and sucking and fucking in backyards or bathtubs, movie theater toilet stalls or Gap dressing rooms. Sometimes it’d be a boyfriend filming his girlfriend going down on him in their friend’s bedroom, sometimes a hidden camera of an executive nailing his secretary from behind in a parking garage stairwell. I’m privy to it all. For only $19.95 a month, I can watch a threesome on a hot beach, a girl getting fingered on a ski lift, honeymooners enjoying the hell out of their honeymoon suite.
It’s incredible, how some people still think no one’s watching them.
For only $19.95 a month, I watch them.
For $19.95 a month, I’m God.
My usual paysite had nothing of real interest. A few new ex-girlfriend “revenge” videos, all super-low quality, filmed on cell phones or four-megapixel digital cameras, and zoomed in way too close. There were a couple of professional clips made to look voyeur, but you could tell they weren’t; the picture was too clear and they used a tripod that wasn’t a desk or a chair. I clicked on one of the free related-site links and grimaced in preparation for the bounty of pop-ups.
No, I didn’t want a 30-day gym membership.
No, I didn’t want a free trial pack of ExtenZe.
And no, I definitely did not want to learn more about the nearest convent. This I always found hilarious: I get my rocks off watching grainy videos of teenage couples having anal sex on the side of a freeway, and some organization still thinks I can be “saved.”
Jesus Fucking Christ.
By the time I closed all of those windows, my page had loaded, and I found myself staring down the barrel of a brand new gun. Love Cars, it was called. All unsuspecting amateur couples caught on hidden cameras: cameras installed in trees at favorite teenage hideouts, lookouts, whatever-outs. Cameras held by unsteady hands, peering into the steamy windows of their victims’ Chevys, Toyotas, Hondas, Fords, Cadillacs. The website was simple, with just a few green-and-black still frames. Love Cars, one of the most low-budget, low-grade sites I’d seen yet, and I’d seen plenty.
I clicked Enter.
Jessica wasn’t home for dinner and neither was I, not really. Secluded in the den, hunched over my computer monitor, I was at Lust Lookout.
I was at Fetish Falls.
I was at Voyeur Valley.
I was in the trees with birds and squirrels, watching couples have at it without trepidation. This was their escape from parents, from school, from life. Freedom, or something like it. They fled in their cars to secluded overlooks and parks and they fucked with all the vigor of kids who never got the chance to fuck, except these stolen moments at these secret retreats.
My pants were around my ankles and I felt like a kid again. There were two guys filming this one car simultaneously. The boyfriend had set it up with his buddies, but his girlfriend, “Jill,” she wasn’t in on it. He kept smiling at the camera, and she had no idea. She had no clue. The faces she made (and she made faces), the noises she made (and she made noises), they were all real. Her lightly freckled face, her slim, nubile body with puffy white breasts and puffier pink nipples—they were all real. The moment itself was real, was palpable, was alive. And after he finished all over her chest his buddies opened the doors to the back of his Firebird and laughed. The look of horror across her face—one part embarrassment, one part fury, two parts terror—that was real. The camera cut away then, just after she started to scream, and that’s when I finished.
Only after my jeans were back up, cracking leather belt cinched into place, did I realize it was nearly three in the morning and Jessica still wasn’t home. She hadn’t called, either. With sweaty fingers I dialed her cell phone, but my call went straight to voicemail. I didn’t know any of her friends, so I grabbed the keys to my truck and went out looking for her.
The malls had long since closed, as had the eighteen-and-up nightclubs. I drove around aimlessly for a while, streetlights painting the world around me in yellow, green, red. I kept trying to think of places Jessica might be, could she have gotten into an accident, gotten hurt, but my mind was full of Jill’s face. Try as I might, I couldn’t stop picturing her. Mouth half-open, blonde hair askew. Her eyes were mostly closed, but it was best during this one moment, during the split-second when she seemed to have almost seen the camera. She looked right into the lens, looked through it and into my own eyes. Her pupils dilated with animal lust, sweat beading on her brow and running down her flushed cheeks, down the tip of her freckled nose. She looked right at me, as though I was the one fucking her. Her back arched and body aching with pleasure, daring me to go deeper, faster, harder. She looked at me for just a moment, then her eyes rolled upward as her lids slid closed.
I almost finished again, driving.
It must’ve been the memory of Jill, because I don’t know why else I would’ve driven up Lover’s Hill, the convenient, romantic, getaway. I turned into the lot and parked beneath an old sycamore, the very tree I had carved my own initials in with my college sweetheart twenty-five years ago. There were three other cars parked, all in a row, with enough space between them that each couple had its privacy. Buffer zones. Personal bubbles. Each couple felt alone. And each would have its own featurette, thumbnailed and downloadable for only $19.95 a month.
It’s incredible how people still think no one’s watching them.
I was intoxicated by Jill’s face. I was inebriated by her eyes and her hair and her glistening lips—half-smiling, half-grimacing—torn between delight and pain. Her breasts and her body, they cast a veil over any parental worries. They smothered any thoughts of Jessica, and throttled any thoughts of Diane.
Imagine having asphyxiated for ten years.
I could breathe then, and I did: quick and shallow.
I found myself crouched near a blue Buick. The couple inside, they were contorted vines, wrapped up in each other so tightly it seemed their arms and legs and bodies didn’t end. But all they did was tease and tickle, kiss and giggle.
I made my way to the next car, a black Honda, but I didn’t even need to look inside to know they weren’t doing anything but talking and, I suppose, gazing at the stars, tenderly curled together beneath a blanket or a towel.
There was another moment, when Jill first took her boyfriend in. Her eyes had been closed, white front teeth biting on the corner of her bottom lip. Jill’s boyfriend had used his fingers and tongue and done anything and everything he could think of to make sure she wouldn’t say no. And she didn’t. He got on top of her and, her mouth parted as she gasped—one part pleasure, two parts pain. I don’t know whether or not she was a virgin, but it hurt. Watching it was lustful and entitling, and I felt like I was there.
Only when I was a few feet away did I realize that at the end of the lane, beneath a sycamore of its own, sat a candy apple red Mustang, convertible top up but windows down. I crept closer, goosebumps exploding over every inch of my skin. The night grew quiet, and I moved as quickly as silence and my drowning, screaming mind would allow, hands and knees scraped bloody by the barbarous bite of loose gravel, rocks, and smashed beer bottles. My skin was heavy and my pants tight, and for every inch I moved five minutes passed. By the time I reached the door my stomach was on the verge of retching and my shirt was pounds heavier, with sweat.
Time passed by. I don’t know how much, and I didn’t check, and I didn’t look into that car. I wouldn’t look. My daughter Jessica was in that car, my beautiful girl, and I couldn’t look. I leaned my febrile forehead against the cool, red galvanized steel, closed my eyes—and saw Jill. Looking at me, biting her lip, letting out a soft moan every few seconds and gasping every few seconds more. She wasn’t in night vision, though; she was in color, green speckled eyes staring deep into mine, flaxen hair in my nose and mouth.
Imagine having seen everything in sepia for ten years.
My eyes snapped open, and I raised myself high enough to peer inside.
And there she was. Jill. Sweat beading on her brow and running down her flushed cheeks, down the tip of her freckled nose. Her mouth half-open, soughing and panting.
Imagine having heard everything muffled for ten years, like an underwater scream.
The faces she made, the noises she made, they were all real. The moment itself was real, was alive. I could smell the sweetness of her hair, something fruity, and her pale skin looked so soft. She was more real than anything else at that moment—more real than any woman, more real than any dream.
She was a hundred innocent, secretly filmed girls.
She was Jill.
She was Diane, my Diane; just as sweet, sexy, and feisty, but younger and—somehow—far more beautiful.
My pants were around my ankles. My head was full of her face: her eyes were mostly closed, but it was best when she looked right at me. Her pupils dilated with desire, eyebrows contracting and twitching from the tension that comes just before the release. She looked at me for just a moment.
My Jill, but brunette.
Jill, with forget-me-not eyes.
She looked at me for a moment, her breasts heaving, legs trembling, and that moment was real and in color. The look of horror across her face—one part embarrassment, one part fury, two parts terror; that was real. I knew where the cameras were, in the tree, and I smiled at them and kept smiling, for all the creeps at home jacking off in front of their computers.
This world, it’s full of creeps like me.
I smiled, and that’s when my blue-eyed, my auburn-haired—that’s when my sweet-smelling Jessica screamed.
And in that moment, when our eyes met and she started to scream, that’s when I finished.