Paid To Trespass, part four
PAID TO TRESPASS part four
[Previously on Paid to Trespass: Okie’s head has been turned by Belinda Berenson, the married housewife from the neighborhood who spends her days reading and drinking G&T’s by the pool. Okie is drawn to her but can’t figure out how to get around the obstacles to seeing her—including his girlfriend Colleen and Belinda’s gruff, distant husband Harry.]
Now eventually in life I learned the smooth way to approach the ladies. There are many ways and picking the right one can make all the difference. I could have just called Belinda Berenson. But somewhere in my travels up to age 18 I had picked up this idea that if you got creative and showed some pizazz, if you turned it into a flirtatious game, she’d be more impressed. You also made it mean something just within your own eyes, the ball is in your court and you would be best to show off your trickiest backhand shot.
With Colleen I’d just asked her out on the sidewalk outside the diner one night, under the stars, away from the rest of our friends who were in their cars or being a nuisance inside. And I’m sure it was exciting for her, in a teenager kind of way. It was flat but it did the trick. We were then “boyfriend/girlfriend,” as we would have said at the time. With the slash between us like a math equation. Boyfriend divided by girlfriend, I figured out later. I’d be reduced by her. To a term, a word. Colleen would talk about disliking being called “my girlfriend,” she told me. The possession angle. “I don’t belong to you,” she’d say. And turn around and call me “her boyfriend” to other people. The possession went one way, I saw.
I had the intuition that a thing could be initiated with Belinda Berenson but it would have to be done with style and risk-taking courage. Because she was a risky lady, with a husband. And I had Colleen. I risked her finding out. But I was attracted to the flavor of danger, a spice that might burn my tongue but would be worth it. I wanted to find out more about her. Like I said, I could have gone to her house when I thought Harry was not home, or called her. That would be brute force and direct. But that would have no art, no creativity. That would be teenager shit. Nothing ornate or courtly around the secrecy. It seemed more adult and fantastical to do something daring, something with a little swashbuckle to it.
So I got sneaky. One night around this time, I had Colleen rent one of Belinda’s favorite movies, that she got habitually, as a ritual. Blood Simple. We were in Colleen’s basement at her house with her posters of The Cure on the wall. A spare TV sat in front of a tattered brown couch with an ancient lamp next to it. She put the VHS tape into the VCR and we watched the movie.
It was a little slow and weird. I liked the Coen Brothers from Miller’s Crossing and Barton Fink. This was their first movie. I tried to conceal that I was watching it with a curious eye for what Belinda liked about it. I covered it by saying something about how Belinda had shitty taste in movies. Colleen eyed me in the dark basement.
“Do you want to shut it off?” she asked.
“No,” I said. “Maybe it’ll get good.”
“Maybe. I know what kind of movies you like.”
After about 45 minutes of the movie, Colleen slunk down like a burglar and started fumbling with my belt. Her head was at my waist level and her red hair was falling over my lap. Her angry cop dad was right upstairs with her mom, but after a few seconds of tension or fear I decided to just watch the TV screen with the glazed-over complacency of a guy getting head while watching a movie. All the dialogue sounds funny when this is happening. It’s like a different movie and you have trouble buying into the gravity of it. Some characters seem to sense what is happening non-diegetically and give smirking, winking performances. Colleen didn’t have much expertise in this, and I didn’t have much experience receiving it, so I had little to compare it with, but I sensed a hesitancy in her, a barrier between her intentions and the activity which in turn for a while created a barrier between myself and my body. I was also just afraid of being discovered. I thought I saw her little brother Sam’s moon face appear in the basement window watching us, but as I got closer to the boiling point I just let Colleen override that fear.
We were treading on ice that was thin but with this thing with Belinda I was hatching I would soon veer out onto something only centimeters thick and the cracking beneath me was almost certain.
Colleen had at times brought up something called a “snowball” that she’d been fascinated with. It was some kind of lore passed around by her friends like an urban legend, like “don’t flash your lights at a car with its lights off or a gang member will follow you home and murder you.” But this was more lighthearted and icky. Colleen was humorously fixated on the idea of me cumming in her mouth and then in the aftermath she’d go to kiss me and spit out my own cum into my mouth. She never did it though, always disengaging and making me shoot my babies into some final resting place like a wad of tissues. She never did it before, but that night with Blood Simple on the TV screen, the frenzied camera zooming in on Frances McDormand’s screaming face, Colleen lifted her face to mine with a tight closed grin on her lips that I could read as easily as I could read the headline on the front page of the Syracuse Post-Standard. I can now level with you and my memories of that summer enough to tell you that for a split second I knew she was going to do it — and I let her. She had just made me have an orgasm in her mouth, this thing for me that was off the expensive part of the menu, so to speak. I pretended to be unaware and I kissed her and she spat out a warm glob of my own semen into my mouth. I reacted like somebody scalded with a teacup full of boiling water. It was a little overacting on my part.
I got my empty cup of root beer and spit the contents of my mouth into it.
“What the fuck!” I said.
Colleen was laughing. “See how you like it.”
“I can’t believe you.”
I was a little mad because it was like I was formally expected to be, but I’d seen it coming like a thruway exit a thousand feet off. And I did nothing because I wanted her to have her little fun revenge joke. I worried about her telling her friends, and it getting back to my friends Jason and Dom. They wouldn’t let it go.
When I left that night I asked Colleen if I could take Blood Simple home with me. “I might want to try watching it again,” I said. “To catch the parts I missed.”
Colleen thought this was a little weird. “I thought you said it was a shitty movie.”
“It is. Sometimes shitty movies can be fun.”
“You’d watch it without me?”
“We already watched it. You distracted me.” I caressed the back of her head and put my face in her neck.
She hesitated because she worked at the video store and could just take the tape back herself. I told her I would do it and she made me promise not to wait too long and give her a late charge.
“You can just make that disappear though, right?” I said.
“You’re always making me do bad things. Snowball.”
“I would say I’m just a bad influence on you but it’s the other way around.”
Really I wanted the tape for another reason. It would serve as the vehicle for my message to Belinda. I would put a note to her in the plastic videocassette case that I knew she would open.
But did I know that? I thought about it as I walked home in the dark. Putting a note in there to meet me could backfire so easily. What if she never rented her favorite movie Blood Simple again? Or worse, what if Colleen randomly opened the case to put the receipt inside as she did, when Belinda rented it? She would read it and figure out it was from me and I’d be busted.
I got home and tried to think through the problem. I eventually wrote on a thin strip of paper: “LEAVE A RED POST IT NOTE ON YOUR MAILBOX IF YOU WANT SOME COMPANY. SIGNED, THE METER READER.”
I wrote the note and put it into the VHS cassette itself, the hinged plastic “gate” that opened up to expose the magnetic tape when you put it into the VCR. I prayed Belinda would find it somehow. I left part of the strip hanging out so she would see it but it would hopefully pass Colleen’s scrutiny.
You send a note and you don’t know if it ever makes it where it’s intended. Maybe you’ll have to wait forever. It may never be received and the lighthouse signal might never be turned on and shone in your direction.
I agonized for the next day, building up the courage to put the tape into the return slot at the video store. Once I did that and quickly turned to walk away, I knew I’d set something ominous in motion. I’d have to settle in for what would turn out to be the most excruciating and dangerous days of my summer.