The Bargain with Lucifer Pt.3
After a fast shower, remembering his shower fantasy from earlier in the day, he dressed in a pair of tan khaki pants, a green and white striped golf shirt, open at the collar, a hint of his chest hair showing, and went to Alicia’s, noticing the room was dimly lit, candles flickering on the table, two plates on the table and soft music playing. Clearly, Alicia was creating the setting for a romantic evening.
“My, my, don’t you look handsome in that shirt,” she said.
“Thank you,” Paul responded, looking at Alicia dressed in a short floral sun dress, cut low, revealing a hint of cleavage and a good portion of her tan legs, her long auburn hair flowing over her shoulders. She came to him holding two glasses of wine, kissed him on the cheek, handing him his glass.
“I’m glad you could come and I promise you we will have an enjoyable evening,” she said, clicking his glass with hers, looking into his eyes, letting Paul know she wanted him and she was going all out to make this a memorable night.
And she did. After having a delicious fillet of salmon with a tangy topping and a simple but elegant salad with cherry tomatoes and marinated artichokes, she topped it off with a dense chocolate torte she brought at the gourmet bakery down town and espresso she served in small white cups. After moving to her sofa, it wasn’t long before she pulled him on top of her, kissing him madly, their bodies grinding and humping before she pulled him into her bedroom, both ripping off their clothes before falling to the bed for a night of mind blowing sex.
The next morning, after delicious coffee and toast with orange marmalade, Paul returned to his apartment seeing the remnants of his dinner with Mindy on the counter, the salt and pepper shakers and napkins on the floor next to the kitchen table where he remembered taking Mindy like a madman.
“I can’t believe what’s happening to me,” Paul said, shaking his head in awe at the mystery that entered his life, how he felt, looked and, most baffling, how women were looking at him, desiring him and giving themselves to him. He put the Oscar Peterson CD away, picked up a CD of Brahms Intermezzos and put that on while he went back to the kitchen to wash out the soup bowls, wipe the counters, straighten the kitchen chairs, thinking about Mindy’s taste in music, shaking his head at the name of the band she mentioned, The Hot Potatoes, wondering if he wanted another hot afternoon with her or whether he should call, “Strike three.”
Alicia was a little different and he remembered all the positions they tried during the night, dozing off then waking up, rolling around the bed, how she shouted, “Fuck me, stud!”
“No one ever called me stud before,” he thought, “but I never gave women the chance,” he said, then remembered his few lapses several years ago just before separating from Evelyn.
He sighed, remembering Evelyn, how their sex life died, but remembered they still had great conversations and what a great mother she was to their two sons. She made him laugh with her quirky sense of humor, sometimes he missed her, but then he remembered the sudden flair ups where they argued and called each other names, how days would go by when they didn’t talk, how sullen and distant they became, then gradually they would start talking again, having conversations about a book she was reading, how she was studying herbal remedies and how she responded when he read her some of his new poetry, how she nodded, smiled, making astute observations about a line.
“Too bad about us,” he muttered, shaking his head, shoving his memories of Evelyn away and returned to the present. “That chapter is done,” he said, walking to the window and looked down at the pool, noticing three women in bikinis on the lounge chairs, talking to each other.
Deciding to go down and really work on his tan, he put on his maroon bathing trunks, glancing at himself in the mirror, surprised to see his hair didn’t look as thin or as white. He grabbed a towel then went bare footed to the same lounge chair he sat in the day before. Rather than taking a swim, he lay down on the chair and closed his eyes, determined to not complicate his life, certain Alicia would be coming down soon to join her friends. He felt the warm sun on his body, enjoying how relaxed he felt and glad none of the women on the other side of the pool seemed to be paying attention to him.
He must have dozed off but was awakened by the little boy tapping his thigh. He opened his eyes and saw a blond haired boy smiling at him.
“Who are you?” the boy asked.
“I’m Paul, who are you?” Paul responded, surprised by the sudden intrusion, but smiled at the boy.
“Alex,” he said. I’m five. How old are you?”
“How old do you think I am?” Paul asked, not wanting to say his age but curious what the boy would think.
“I don’t know,” Alex answered. “You look kind of old but I just heard my mom say she thinks you’re cute.”
“Cute, really, she said that,” Paul responded. “That’s nice.”
Just then a woman in a white bikini ran over to where they were sitting and took the boy’s hand. “Alex, you shouldn’t be bothering this man,” she said, looking at Paul then at her son. “I’m so sorry. Alex just likes talking to people.”
“Oh that’s okay, I don’t mind,” Paul said, looking up at the woman, noticing her green eyes, her straight long blonde hair, her tan face and body, her breasts spilling out of her top.
“Mommy, you said he was cute,” Alex said.
“Come along Alex, we can’t bother this man,” she said, closing her eyes then looking at Paul. “I’m sorry he’s bothering you,” she added, obviously embarrassed.
“That’s quite alright. Kids will be kids,” Paul said.
“Well, we will be going,” she said. “I’m really sorry,” she said again, “by the way I’m Tricia.”
“Hello Tricia. I’m Paul,” he answered.
“Glad to meet you. Well, we’ll leave you alone, now,” she said, taking Alex’s hand and walking away but after a few steps turned and smiled, looking into his eyes. “You are cute,” she said, startling Paul, surprising him that a woman with a son would be flirting with him.
He watched her walk away holding her son’s hand, her white bikini barely covering her ass cheeks, her long blonde hair halfway down her back, and Paul wondered if she was married, divorced, like a lot of young women, raising a child alone, but flattered by her words and how she was flirting with him.
“Interesting,” Paul thought, “I wonder what her story is,” he said, laying back on the lounge, closing his eyes, imagining being seduced by her, not knowing anything about her. Did she have a husband, or boyfriend? Was she one of the cougars Alicia wanted to hide him from?
Fifteen minutes later, feeling baked by the sun, noticing his chest and legs were getting a little red, he decided to go back to his apartment and not over do it with the sun. Just as he opened the door to his apartment, he saw Alicia coming out of her's wearing her bikini top and a short green skirt, revealing her tan legs, their eyes meeting.
She came over to him and gave him a kiss on the cheek, “I had a wonderful time, last night,” she said, softly.
“Me too, we’ll have to do that again sometime,” he said.
“I’d love it,” she said. “What are you doing tonight?”
“I don’t know,” Paul answered, opening his door. “Let’s play it by ear,” he added, wondering about Mindy and then the possibility of Wendy came to him then even Tricia popped into his mind, remembering how she flirted with him. “I’ll give you a call later.”
“I’d like that,” she said, winking at him as he entered his apartment.
In his bedroom, looking at himself in the mirror over his bureau, seeing his face had more color than it has had in years, his eyes seemed bluer, his chest not as pale, noticing he looked slimmer, “You’re looking pretty good for an old guy,” he said. “What’s happening to me?” he questioned, thinking about the women who were now in his life after so many years of longing for something he felt he would never have.
“I wonder if that potion had anything to do with this,” he thought, then remembered the bargain he had made with Luke when he agreed to drink it, again dismissing the notion of his soul and spirit belonging to Luke. Still, he was baffled by how many women suddenly wanted him and closed his eyes pondering what Luke meant when they shook hands and he said, “I will own you.”
At the Gilded Cage that afternoon, he was disappointed to learn that Wendy was off when he asked about her, but then Catherine, the freckled faced girl behind the counter, said, “She’ll be coming in to pick up her check in a little while. It’s payday.”
“Oh," Paul responded, surprised how glad that made him and wondered if she would join him for a coffee or glass of wine if she came in while he was there.
Just as he finished his glass of chardonnay thinking how much he liked indulging in an afternoon wine, he closed his New Yorker and saw Wendy coming in the café wearing a short denim skirt and t shirt, a small red backpack hanging from her shoulders. When she saw Paul, she came to his table and sat down in across from him.
“Hope you don’t mind if I join you?” she asked, having already sat down.
“No, of course not,” Paul said then added, “So this is your day off.”
“Yes, this is my day to paint,” she said.
“Oh, are you an artist?” Paul asked.
“I am or I’m trying to be,” she said.
“If you’re painting everyday, you’re an artist, not trying to be one.”
“Okay, I’m an artist,” she said and laughed. “I like how you said that,” she added, leaning back in her chair, looking at Paul, biting her lower lip, smiling, their eyes meeting.
Paul noticed how her t-shirt strained at her small breasts, her nipples showing but then he looked at her eyes, not wanting her to know where he was looking.
“I’ve always loved to draw and paint, ever since I was a kid.”
“What kind of paintings do you do? Is it realistic or abstract? What style do you work in?” Paul asked, feeling her passion for art, sensing her seriousness.
“I’m all over the place--abstract, realistic, sometimes I combine collages in a painting sometimes, photographs are worked in. I’m pretty free, experimental--kind of wild, do you know what I mean? ”
“Yes, I know what you mean,” Paul responded, nodding, struck by her description, wondering if she was as wild in bed as her art work. “Can I treat you to something,” he asked, “a coffee, a wine, anything?”
“No, thanks, I just came into get my check, but I’m glad I saw you. I remember when I had you for that creative writing class, how excited you were about writing but you didn’t look like you do now. Something is different.”
“Really, what do you mean? How did I look then? What are you saying?”
“You seemed distant. You looked distracted, like you were someplace else, like you weren’t being you,” Wendy said, staring at him. “Now you seem different. When I saw you the other day, remember, I said, “Wow, you look great!”
“Yes, I remember. I was surprised,” Paul said, fascinated by what Wendy was saying, knowing what she said was true, struck by how perceptive she was, how honest and spontaneous, something he wasn’t.
“Listen, Paul, I have an idea,” she said, pausing, hesitating, “how about coming to my studio and I’ll show you my paintings, how about it?”
“I’d like that,” Paul said, surprised but delighted by her idea, wondering if she was seducing him, but at the same time, he felt she genuinely wanted to share her art with him, she seemed serious, not seductive.
“Cool, I really want you to see my work. I’ll be right back,” she said, jumping up. “I’ll get my check and we can go. My studio’s not too far, we can walk.”
While waiting, he thumbed through the New Yorker, glancing at a few cartoons, chuckling at the humor and remembered the cartoon he tacked up in the English Department office a few years ago because of the whole publish or perish pressure that dominated academia. In the cartoon, Jesus is being taken down from the cross after being crucified and the caption read, “He was a great teacher, too bad he didn’t publish.”
A few minutes later, Wendy returned, “Okay, Paul, let’s go,” she said and walked next to him to the entrance when Mindy walked in and saw them, her eyes glancing at Wendy then glaring at Paul.
“Oh no,” Paul thought when he saw her surprised face then angry eyes.
“I was just coming to see if you were here,” Mindy said. “But now I see you’re a bastard like all the other guys I know.” Before Paul could say anything, she looked Wendy up and down and then sped past them to a table.
“Wow, what was that about?” Wendy asked. “That’s the girl you left with yesterday, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is. We had a little fling,” Paul confessed.
“Oh, I see, well I guess it’s none of my business,” Wendy said. “I didn’t know you were such a Casanova. Maybe I better watch myself.”
“Don’t worry,” Paul said. “I just want to see your art.”
“Cool,” Wendy said, “I really want to know what you think.”
As they walked out, Paul turned and saw Mindy sitting at the table where they sat yesterday, suddenly feeling how complicated his life was becoming, remembering the lust filled afternoon they had yesterday, his evening with Alicia, Tricia flirting with him and now here he was walking to Wendy’s studio.
Once in Wendy’s third floor studio which was also her apartment, he saw canvases on all the walls, many leaning against the wall, an easel in the center of the room, splatters of paint on the floor and could see she was productive. He noticed how the late afternoon light came in the window, casting a warm glow on everything.
“You sure seem productive,” Paul said. “You have a lot of work here.”
“Yes, when I’m not working at the Gilded Cage, I paint. My art means a lot to me and guess what, I’m having my first show in September at the Leighton Gallery.”
“I’m impressed,” Paul said, walking around the room, looking at the paintings, stopping in front of each one, seeing the variety, all of it vibrant, bright swirls of color, energy. Some of it landscapes with trees, rocks, water, others of intricate lines and bold strokes, some pen and ink drawings.
Wendy walked in back of Paul as he looked at everything then he stood in front of the unfinished painting on the easel. Standing back, looking at what looked like a portrait of a man with a white hair and a beard, blue pensive eyes but noticed a lot of the face was in shadows. He looked at it, stunned at what he was seeing then turned and looked at Wendy.
“Is that me?” Paul asked.
I think so,” Wendy answered. “I just wanted to paint a portrait, something I don’t do but then after I saw you the other day, this is what happened.”
“I’m flattered and surprised,” Paul said, “but why?”
“I don’t know, but when I saw you the other day, I not only liked how you looked, but I also sensed something wasn’t right. You don’t know me very well, but I am empathic. I can sense things about people and that’s why half your face in shadows. Something dark is happening to you. I know it.”
“Something dark,” Paul asked, looking at Wendy then back at the portrait. “If anything, the opposite of dark is happening. I feel better than ever. I feel youthful, strong and you saw that woman get angry at me in the café, that’s what’s happening, suddenly women desire me. I have had more sex in the last couple of days than I’ve had in years. Excuse me for saying that to you, but you’re wrong, nothing dark is happening.”
“Why do you think that this is suddenly happening to you?” Wendy asked, looking into Paul’s eyes. “What’s different?”
“I can’t explain it but until a few days ago, I was in bad shape. I thought my life was over. I felt life had passed me by, I was getting old. I don’t know why I am confessing this to you, but I was sexually frustrated. You’re going to think I’m crazy but I wanted young sexy women to look at me and desire me. Something I avoided when I was married and I was determined to be ethical as a teacher even when I had golden opportunities and now, I have more women after me than I can handle.”
“You’re a little devil, aren’t you,” Wendy said, playfully, smiling, looking into his eyes, nodding. “So you’re taking advantage of your new lease on life.”
Wendy’s mentioning the devil startled Paul and he suddenly remembered Luke, or Lucifer and the potion he drank the other day, “Yes, I have a new lease on life, you could say that,” he said, dismissing the incident in Luke’s office as irrational. “I just decided to take the mask off and let my hair down,” he paused and chuckled, “my thinning hair.”
Wendy laughed and stepped closer to Paul and smiled, looking into his eyes, “So you took control of your life and now you are suddenly a stud,” she said.
“Well, I wouldn’t put it that way. I mean, it’s true, things have gotten pretty wild.”
Wendy put his arms around Paul’s neck, pulled him against her, lifted her lips to his and kissed him, gently on the lips, moved one hand to the back of his head and kissed him harder, slowly opening his mouth. Paul kissed her back, wrapping his arms around her but sensed there was something different in the way she was kissing him, something warmer, tender, caring, unlike the way Mindy and Alicia kissed him.
“Do you believe in angels?” Wendy asked after their lips parted.
“Angels?” Paul asked. “I don’t think so. I don’t believe there is such a thing as angels.”
“Maybe you will find out there are,” she said, then kissed him again, then took his hand and led him to the bed on the other side of the studio. She lay down and pulled Paul down next to her and kissing him, wrapped her arms and legs around him, embracing him in a tender, loving way that made Paul feel he was being made love to and not seduced. “I want to make love to you,” she said. “You are a beautiful man, a wonderful poet and teacher. I could see by the way you looked at my paintings you are a lot more than a stud. You deserve a woman who can love and appreciate you.”
“Really?” Paul responded, surprised and moved by what Wendy was saying, “Thank you for saying that.”
“I mean it,” Wendy said, smiling. When I saw you the other day at the café, I felt something and I haven’t stopped thinking about you. That’s why I started this painting, but I also sensed a dark shadow was over you.”
After she said that they kissed each other, their lips opening each other’s mouths, their tongues touching; their bodies moving as their passion grew. Wendy stopped and pulled her t shirt off and Paul did the same, also removing his jeans, while Wendy removed her denim skirt and panties and they were back in each others arms making sweet, tender love, moving slowly but soon, their passion grew more intense, moving faster, harder, building like the crescendo at the end of a symphony until they both had simultaneous orgasms that Paul knew were unlike anything he had ever experienced.
“That was wonderful,” Paul said laying on the bed, holding Wendy in his arms as they cuddled, her head on his shoulder, feeling the warmth of her soothing body and knew then Mindy was history.
He also knew he didn’t want to be in Alicia’s bed. He wanted the feeling that Wendy was giving him and though he didn’t quite believe it, he wondered if she was right, she was an angel letting him know what is possible.
For the next two weeks, Paul and Wendy were always together. She came to his apartment. He came to hers. He read his New Yorker at the café, enjoying watching her work. He wrote poetry every morning. He was happier than he had ever been and though he was cordial to Alicia when he saw her at the pool, she got the message, Paul was no longer interested in being seduced by her or anyone.
Rather than going to the pool, Paul began sitting in the park not far from the café, a place he had recently discovered and liked going there while waiting for Wendy. He liked sitting in the shade, reading, writing in his notebook, feeding pigeons, watching people.
One day, he thought he heard the sound of a motorcycle drive by and looked up and saw it stop by the entrance and recognized Luke walking towards him, saw his swagger, his long hair, the black vest and then he smiled and sat down next to Paul.
“Remember me?” Luke said.
“Yes, I remember you. How did you find me?” Paul asked.
“Don’t ask stupid questions,” he said. “I’ve been keeping track of you and know what’s been happening. Did you doubt my potion would work?”
“Your potion?” Paul said. “I never believed in your potion.”
“So you think you suddenly became this hot lover by yourself,” Luke said.
“I have to admit my life has changed since I sat in your office,” Paul said.
“Do you remember our deal?” Luke said, smiling at Paul.
“Yes,” Paul sighed. “What about it?”
“Well, I think it’s time for me to collect. You had your fun, now it’s my turn,” Luke said.
“What’s there to collect?” Paul asked. “You know I don’t believe in any of your idiotic notions about my soul and spirit.
“Is that so?” Luke said, “Is that so?” he repeated then laughed. He then stood up and looked down at Paul. “Well, I’ll be on my way,” he said and started to walk away then stopped and came back to the Paul. “Don’t be surprised if that woman you’ve fallen in love with, the one who thinks she’s an angel, breaks your heart.”
Paul watched Luke walk away, stunned by his statement but then dismissed it as nonsense. He felt the bond that had developed with Wendy was strong and though she was twenty five years younger, he knew she loved him and he was more in love with her each day. He felt lucky to have her in his life and the thought that she would break his heart was ridiculous.
However, that night at dinner, Wendy told him she had bad news. She had to go back home to Ohio. Her mother was sick and she probably wouldn’t be returning. She cancelled her show at the Leighton Gallery. She then took his hand in hers and said, “I think its best that we break up. You have your life here, your job and I don’t think I can handle a long distance relationship. Really, Paul, this is for the best.”
“No, I don’t want to lose you. You’re the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
“I understand how hard this is for you. It isn’t easy for me either, but it’s the right thing,” she said, holding his hand. “I’m having all of my paintings shipped home. I don’t have much else. I’m leaving in two days.”
“Two days,” Paul said. “This is all so sudden.”
“I finished the painting of you and I want you to have it,” she said.
“Thank you, Wendy,” Paul said. “But I want you not the painting.”
“I know,” she said then kissed him, took him in her arms, embracing him and they made the most passionate love of his life. It was as if all their feelings for each other had been squeezed into a ball and she said she would always love him.
“Wendy, I am determined not to lose you,” he said. “I will write, email, call you. I will always want you in my life.”
“I won’t respond, Paul. This is the end. This is the way I want it. This is the way it must be. Let’s just have this memory.”
That was the last night he saw Wendy. Two days later when he opened the door in the morning to get his mail, the painting was leaning against the door without a note. He looked at the finished painting and noticed that more than half of his face was in the dark shadow, but when he looked closer at the blue eyes in the light, there was a tear rolling down the cheek and a sudden sadness overwhelmed him and he felt his throat ache, holding back the tears that came to his eyes.
As the weeks past, Paul wrote letters but got no response in fact they came back undeliverable. When he tried to find her phone number, he couldn’t find a number for a Wendy Paquin anywhere in Ohio and now all he had were the memories of the month they had together and the painting she left him. He felt his despair returning. He tried writing poetry but nothing came. At his feet, he had a wastepaper basket filled with rolled up sheets of paper. He stopped going to the pool and his tan became pale skin. When he saw Alicia in the hall, she smiled cordially, said “Hello Paul” but walked by him. He went to the Gilded Cage a few times and was glad not to see Mindy, but he also missed seeing Wendy at the counter and remembered that first day when she seemed so happy to see him.
That fall, he gave notice that he was retiring from the university. He said he needed more time to write even though he knew he hadn’t written a poem in six months and didn’t care any more. He knew the muse had left him. He didn’t have the passion to be moved by anything enough to write about it. He felt tired, old, the world weariness that he felt the day he drove into the country and stopped at Luke’s Bar and Grill was now dominating his days. Often he kept the curtains closed, the room dark, he never listened to his jazz or classical music, though he did indulge in many glasses of Jack Daniels. He had a pile of New Yorkers that came week after week but other than look at the cover, or thumb through to see if there was a cartoon that amused him, he didn’t read the magazines and more often than not, fell asleep in the recliner, the empty glass in his hand.
He still thought about Wendy, remembered her passion and talent then the pain of her disappearing from his life made him want to shove the thought of her away. For some reason lines of poetry kept coming to him, lines from Mathew Arnold’s “Dover Beach,” and he found himself reciting them out loud in the darkness of his room: Ah love, let us be true!to one another! For the world which seemsto lie before us like a land of dreams,so various, so beautiful, so new hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,nor certitude, nor help for pain….”
He still loved poetry, even though he could no longer write it. He had lost his desire to be looked at by young women and when he did take walks and see someone he thought was attractive he didn’t care whether she looked at him or not. It didn’t matter. Though he rarely remembered dreams, he started have a reoccurring dream that woke him up. In the dream he was walking on a beach looking at the ocean, he was alone and he heard himself saying out loud lines from a T.S. Eliot poem: “I have heard the mermaids singing each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me.”
Those lines haunted him and he recognized that whatever romance, sex and love he longed for, those days were behind him. Now he was resigned to his empty existence and though he couldn’t explain what had happened to him or what brought him to this place in his life, he knew he would never forget the afternoon he shook Luke’s hand or the potion that tasted like root beer.
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with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.
<a href="http://www.lushstories.com/stories/supernatural/the-bargain-with-lucifer-pt-3.aspx">The Bargain with Lucifer Pt 3</a>