She seemed like a little mouse. That’s how I thought of her, what I called her in my head. My little mouse. Oh, how I was wrong.
That’s the way it is sometimes. You see a woman, and she can’t look you in the eyes. She is sweet and pretty, and her cheeks go red when you joke with her, and you think you know her. You imagine her small and innocent, and you are tall and strong and can show her the world. In a way, it is comforting. It makes you powerful. All the secrets of desire are yours to show her.
Real-life is far more complex and far more interesting.
Penelope sat at the front desk of the library every morning. I was thirty, then, mostly broke and obsessed with literature. I would stop at the library before work and pick things up or drop things off; often, both. One of the best things about that library was that if they didn’t have the book you wanted in stock, they would order it from another branch. This made one’s reading list virtually endless as long as one was patient, and I could be a very patient man.
Just like waiting for books, it seemed like I was waiting for Penelope. She was barely twenty and so very fresh-faced. In a city full of slick women dressed to the nines, here was this mousy girl with long brown hair that was a bit messy and button-up dresses and cardigans. Metal framed glasses with thick lenses. Long skirts and nervous fidgeting hands.
It was a game for me. I would have to go to the front desk and ask for the special books I ordered, so sometimes I would order the most shocking titles I could just to see her reaction. The Story of O, Venus in Furs, The Kama Sutra, Masters and Johnson Sex Studies, Best Erotica of 1992. These were certainly not merely to shock her because these were the things I enjoyed reading, but part of the pleasure was saying the title and watching her lower her eyes and shuffle off to get my dirty little books.
I thought about her a lot, actually, my little librarian. My little brown-haired mouse. I thought about how shy and bashful she was, and I wondered how I could get her alone somewhere. I thought about taking her on a date and seeing how red those cheeks would get if I put a hand on her knee. I wondered if I could figure out her secrets, the way I can sometimes. Kissing her with those testing kisses, see how much pressure she likes. Brush a lip against her neck—a little tug on her hair. Try and find the thing that makes her eyes roll back in her head. Hunt for those little buttons I could press to make her mine.
The first time I saw Penelope outside of the library was a night like many others. I was out on the town with the boys. Darts and pints and dirty jokes. The pub wasn’t much fun, and by half-past ten, I was already thinking about leaving. I followed a friend out when he went to have a smoke and stood in the cold with my hands in the pockets of my jacket. From the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of brown hair.
I saw my little mouse waiting at the corner, her eyes bright and a bit confused. She looked at a paper in her hand and then at the street sign. She hurried off, west. I waited there for a minute, watching her walk away into the night. I’m not sure why, but I followed.
My friend asked me where I was going, but I didn’t answer. I didn’t think, I just followed.
It was cold, even for autumn. She was dressed in a pea coat, gloves, a scarf. I saw one of the long skirts she always wore peeking out from under her coat. Her Mary Janes seemed out of place on the cold ground.
Suddenly I realized that I was following her like a stalker. I laughed to myself and slowed down. I should have just gone back to the bar. I was a little drunk. Then I saw her stop in front of a house.
It was one of those ancient brownstones. As old as American residential buildings got. A complex wrought iron gate in front. Gargoyles at the corners of the bay window. Old New York money. She stopped at the bottom of the thick stone steps and looked up at the huge red door, then down at the little paper.
As I watched her nervously standing in front of the door, my mind tried to fill in all the missing pieces to this story. Was she on a date? Was she going to meet an old friend she hadn’t seen in years? Was it a dying family member? My brain grasped at what this tame librarian was doing out at a quarter to eleven on a Friday going to some random building in Chelsea.
As I watched from across the street, she shook her head, coming to some kind of decision, and then she ascended the stairs. She rang the bell and said something into the little intercom, then opened the door and disappeared into the building.
I was consumed with the mystery. Why was she so nervous? Was she meeting a man?
I imagined this young slip of a girl melting into the broad arms of some gray-haired man—a lover. Perhaps even a married man.
Without realizing it, I was across the street, staring up at the very same stairs and doorway. I wasn’t sure what to do next, because I couldn’t exactly just walk up and ring the bell.
Looking around, I saw an alley, or maybe even an old servant’s entrance, to the left of the building. This was blocked by a larger wrought iron gate which was closed by a thick chain and a padlock. The lock was the size of a child’s fist, but I saw that the chain was so long that the gate could be opened a bit. I held the chain so that it wouldn’t rattle and squeezed myself through the opening, and I was in.
What exactly did I think I would accomplish? I have no idea, but this was a glimpse into the life of someone I knew nothing about and yet saw four or five times a week for the past year. I had to find out more.
I saw a dumpster and a few empty milk crates under a large window from which light poured. I looked around to see nothing but darkness and a few rats. I carefully climbed the milk crates and then stepped on the closed cover of the dumpster. It put me chest level to the window’s edge.
The apartment was large, and this seemed to be the living room. There was a huge opulent Indian rug on the floor, and the walls were lined with bookshelves. There were two couches and some chairs, but they all seemed to be pushed away from their usual places because the center of the room was empty, save for four people.
As Penelope walked into the room, it made five.
There were pillows on the floor, large ones that gave the place the feel of a spa. A man and a woman lounged on a few of the pillows, nude, and kissed. Another woman knelt on a pillow, very energetically sucking off a man.
The man being pleasured looked about fifty. He was of average height and weight, balding and well-groomed. He had a hungry grin and intense eyes, and as Penelope came upon this wild scene, he called to her and seemed to give her orders. I couldn’t hear what he said, but Penelope lowered her head and then took off her jacket.
None of the others stopped their activities, though they all turned and watched as Penelope walked over to the group with her head down and seemingly presented herself to them.
I was watching, silent, completely in shock about what I was seeing. Nothing in my deepest imagination came even close to guessing this scene was what this little mouse of a librarian was going to trounce into as I followed her into the dark streets minutes before.
Two men and two women moved to her and circled her, smiling and examining her. They were the ones who were nude, but she was the one who was blushing. One woman leaned down and took off Penelope’s shoes while the other undid her skirt, slipping it down her legs and then folding it, placing it next to her coat. When the younger man took off her blouse, I realized her body was far more luscious than I expected. All those layers of shirts and sweaters hid hips that were wide and inviting, a bottom that was beautifully plump. She even had a decadent little belly that looked like soft touchable baby fat. She was breathtaking.
All of the guests at this strange party seemed to think so as well. They spoke to each other as they pulled off her panties and bra, laughing and pointing at her hardening nipples and the light patch of brown hair between her legs. All the while, Penelope’s face grew redder, the color spreading from the apples of her cheeks down her neck and making a bright vermillion “v” just above her breasts.
Now that she was out of her bra, I saw that her breasts were even bigger than I imagined, large and heavy and luscious. She was obviously very self-conscious about their size. The two men cradled and cupped them, feeling their weight and pinching the nipples. While they did this, one of the women dipped her finger between Penelope’s legs, and the young girl’s eyes fluttered.
I wished I could hear them, because they were speaking the whole time. I wondered if they were telling her dirty things. Calling her a whore for letting them ravage her.
The older man walked to one wall where there was a cabinet. From dark wood, he pulled a long stick. He bent the stick, testing it and examining it as if he were going to purchase it. He swung it in a firm downward motion and smiled. It pleased him.
The younger man stood behind Penelope, slipping his arms around her and holding them behind her. Everyone was smiling brightly and laughing. Everyone but poor Penelope.
The two women went to the closet and procured tools of some kind. A long riding crop and something else that looked like a handle with many leather whips attached to it. They met back at Penelope just as the older man started caressing her breasts again.
As I watched, the caressing changed suddenly as the older man slapped Penelope’s breasts hard, and one of the women slapped her across the face. Penelope didn’t struggle, just took the punishment. Then she was lifted up by the two men and brought to the couch, where she was bent over.
One of the women started, hitting Penelope’s bottom with the crop. The younger man followed, spanking her with his bare hand. Her face was as red as her ass as they took turns on her. The paddle, the cane, the switch, their hands. Mouths on her neck, on her nipples, on her sex. The whole time her body grew more and more scarlet, from her forehead to her ears to between her breasts. Her ass soon matched her face’s color and then surpassed it into purple. Her thighs were whipped to the same shade, as were her perfect tender breasts.
I was hard as I watched, my hand feeling the outline of my erection through my pants. I thought I was a fairly kinky, open-minded man, but they were doing things I’d only read about.
I was rapt, panting and leaving gray circles with my breath on the window. When the yell came from down the alley, I was so startled that I fell off the dumpster onto a pile of garbage bags.
“Hey, what are you doing back here? This is private property!”
I didn’t even see who spoke these words. I just ran. I squeezed through the chained gate and didn’t look back until I was home.