By the time we got in from LAX, I had to dump my luggage in the room and get back in the van to go to sound check. Being a minor alternative band of minor, alternative fame, I was used to having to share rooms, but the promoter for the LA gig had gone all out and booked us a room each at a motel that was itself a parody of LA. It was called the ‘Tropicana’. I was thrilled at the prospect of some privacy and strangely sickened by the downright LA-ness of the surroundings.
I’d always been LA-adverse, being Canadian and having a deep disdain for the entire dystopian pseudo-reality that was ‘Hollywood’. I couldn’t get the old Bowie song, ‘Cracked Actor’, out of my head.
“You caught yourself a trick down
on Sunset and Vine
But since he pinned you baby
you’re a porcupine”*
This was the only gig on the tour I didn’t want to play. I imagined LA crawling with creatures of cannibalistic ambition, psychotic vanities, and generally hollow souls. And from the size and shape of the breasts on the woman who let us into our rooms, wearing a plasticized name tag that said, ‘Hi I’m Sonia’, I knew that I had been depressingly right.
“Where’re you playin’?” she said, flicking on the switch to show me the bathroom, inviting me to admire it with a Vana White wave of her hand.
“I don’t know the name of the club.” I wasn’t being unfriendly; I was telling the truth. I had a psychological block about the whole gig. I’d be lucky if I could remember the lyrics, come show time.
Even as we pulled up outside the club and got out, I still didn’t know its name. The scrawling, violet neon letters were so decorative, they were unreadable. The promoter was there, waiting at the door of the club to let us in. His ripped jeans were ripped just right in that strategically artfully ripped way.
“Find the motel alright? Rooms okay? Good. Good. Dinner’s on the rider. I’ll pick you up after soundcheck. Show’s at eleven. Cool.”
Obviously, people from LA aren’t given to syntax, I mused.
We did the sound-check, and I couldn’t complain about the technical stuff. The stage hands were efficient, the p.a. was more than adequate, the resident sound man was very friendly and accommodating. The whole thing went off with uncharacteristic well-oiledness.
The club waitresses were arriving for their shift. From my spot on the stage, I watched a stream of pretty things walk through the club, divesting themselves of their packages and handbags in the staff room.
“Check…che-che-che-che-check.” I enounced, so our soundman could set effects levels.
I was witnessing a baffling parade of perfection: tanned skin, toned muscle, gravity defying breasts and hair that moved in an artful way that only a lot of product can provide.
As we waited for the promoter to reappear, we sat around a table in the empty club unspeaking. As a band, we were getting along fine. No one was bitching or moaning, no one was being a Prima Dona. Even Mark, the guitarist, who was usually freaking over the set list by now, was quiet. I knew what it was; we were all feeling like strangers in a strange land. Finally, Tom, the keyboardist, spoke.
“Fuck, this place is as weird as I thought it was going to be.” He slumped down in his chair and shoved his hands into his trouser pockets.
“Did you see the waitresses?” whispered the drummer, Cal. “They look like… um…. I don’t know. Good, ya know? But weird.” He licked his lips. “They kind of scare me.”
“There’s nothing to be scared of, Cal, as long as you don’t have a latex allergy. I’m sure they’re very nice.” I had to be encouraging with Cal, because he was kind of the puppy in the band and almost never got laid.
The promoter arrived with a tall, lanky guy who looked like a refugee from the hippy era, only a little nastier ’round the edges.
“So… everything’s okay? Fantastic! This is Steve. We’re going over to his radio station to do a little promo on his show before dinner. Gotta get those fans out. Cool? Right. Everyone in the van!”
I wanted to tell him that I was sure we didn’t actually have any fans in LA. Our album was released on a UK indie label and only coming into the States as an import. As far as I knew, we were charted on some of the East Coast college stations, but that was it. But it was clear that the promoter only had one-way conversations. I shut up. After all, we were about to lose him a not insignificant amount of money this evening and there was no point in rubbing it in.
The receptionist at the radio station offered us coffee with blindingly white teeth and a blindingly white tank top that was having problems containing the two massive and immobile globes on her chest. Her black satin pants were so tight; I could tell she had significant fat deposits on her labia. Her shoulder-length dark hair was tousled to within an inch of its life. I was pretty sure I’d seen her in a magazine somewhere, but I dismissed the thought. Every woman I’d seen in LA was giving me the same impression.
“So… this is your first show in LA?” The evil hippy looked at me from across his console and leaned into the suspended mic.
“Yes it is,” I responded. The headphones kept slipping off and I was holding them on with both hands.
“Fucking great! These guys are playing the Limelight tonight, so don’t miss them. They’ve come all the way from….” the DJ looked at me significantly.
“Excellent! Do you like LA?”
“Oh yeah, we’re thrilled to be here.” I lied.
“Great. Fucking great! So here’s a track of their latest album, produced by Rob Slice. Get an earful”
He nodded at me and I took off the headphones as the music started. The song he’d chosen to play was, ironically, about alienation.
Outside the control room, the rest of the band and the promoter were sprawled on the sofa’s, watching MTV. Behind me, a hand clamped onto my shoulder and I spun around to see the DJ smiling at me.
“I’ll catch the show. Maybe you and me could have a little talk after. You need some airplay in this town and I can help.”
I did so not like this guy. His lips smiled but he had the deadest eyes I’d ever seen and, anyway, I knew what this was about. It was time for my ‘never say “no” but don’t say “yes”‘ routine. “Hey, that would be great!” I gushed. I made a mental note get the fuck out of the club the minute the set was over.
Dinner was good. The food was excellent and there was a ton of it. The restaurant was some famous old diner, with 1940’s decor and pictures of actors on the walls.
After we got back to the motel, I took a shower and dressed for the show. I didn’t really bother much with it — couldn’t find the motivation. I put on a faded Dead Kennedy’s T-shirt and a pair of combat pants. The last thing I wanted was for anyone in this town to find me attractive. I just wanted to do the gig and leave.
The club was packed when we got there at ten. The opening act was playing their last few songs; a bunch of really young boys in really young leather with guitars strapped way too low.
I caught this guy out of the corner of my eye. He was startlingly tall, way over six feet, and thin as a rail. I would have dismissed him as a basketball player turned speed-freak but something in the back of my mind was bothering me. I’d seen him before, I was sure, but I couldn’t put my finger on where. Everyone I saw in this town looked like someone I’d seen before. Maybe he was a look-alike for some supporting actor I’d seen on a sit-com.
He stood leaning against one of the columns, wearing a rumpled grey suit and sipping a beer with a straw. It was his totally shaved head that made me look twice. How many sit-com actors have no hair? None. They’re all desperate to maintain it.
I followed the rest of the band backstage to the dressing room and cracked the bottle of vodka that I’d demanded on the rider. I figured that even if I drank steadily there was no way I could get really drunk before it was time to play. We sat and smoked and handed out the set lists.
There was a knock on the door that I hoped was the presage to someone bringing ice. Cal opened it, aiming to score points with whichever perfect waitress was bringing it. It was the guy from out in the club. He towered in the doorway grinning.
Tom leaped up. “Fuck! Daniel! Holy shit! What are you doing here, man? Great to see you! Want a beer?”
“Got one, thanks. I just thought I’d stop by and say ‘Hi’. I heard you guys were playing.”
“Do I know this guy?” I whispered to Mark.
“I fucking hope so,” he whispered back. “That’s Daniel Martell.”
I stared at Mark, unenlightened. “And?’
Mark snorted. “‘Land of Giants’? The band we played with last year in Montreal?” He looked at me in disgust. “Don’t drink any more or you’re gonna forget your lyrics.”
“Oh… OH! Those guys. He’s the drummer, right?” I looked at Mark for affirmation and got disdain instead. “Don’t look at me that way,” I hissed. “I only saw them onstage — who recognizes the bloody drummer?”
Tom was pulling him into the cramped dressing room, introducing him around. When they got to me, I stood up, feeling like, if I made him bend down to shake my hand, he was going to topple over.
“Anna… Daniel. You know, we played with his band at the Montreal Festival.” Tom was a sweetheart. He knew my memory for names was shit.
“Hey! Nice to see a friendly face, Daniel.” I smiled. “Want some vodka?”
“No…thanks. I really liked your show at the festival. You’ve got a great voice. I was sorry not to get a chance to talk to you.”
His hand was enormous, it totally engulfed mine. Being on the short side, I had to crane my neck back to look in his face and, when I did, his smile made me feel like I was having warm syrup poured over me. God, he was gorgeous. Big but gorgeous. I blushed and hoped he would put it down to the alcohol.
“I’m sorry too. But it’s nice to meet you now. Are you going to stay and see the show? It would be really nice to know there was at least one real body in the audience.” I was babbling. I always do that when I like a guy.
“I’ve noticed that a lot of body parts in LA just don’t move right. I’m thinking: surgery.”
He laughed. It was a deep, resonant, growl of a laugh. Lovely. “I have titanium plate in my knee. Do I still qualify?”
My hand was still clasped in his and starting to sweat. “You most certainly do, Daniel.”
Mark grabbed my arm, pulling me away backwards. “Time to go, Anna. We’re up.”
I was mesmerized. I didn’t want to play; I wanted to cancel the fucking show and ask to see the scars on Daniel’s knee. But I don’t do that sort of shit, even if I really want to.
“Was that lust I saw?” Mark said, dragging me behind him down the dark corridor and onto the stage.
“Yup. That was lust.”
The sound of the crowd and the squeal of something feeding back on the p.a. snapped me out of airhead mode.
The first song is always crap: the soundman’s trying to get his levels back to where they were before the opening act changed the settings on the mixing board, everyone on stage is listening to see if the monitors are bearable and for me it’s always the time to get a feel for how I’m going to interact with the crowd. I’m using something like a third eye to try and feel my way into the flow of an invisible current that runs between the stage and the audience. The flow washes out and then and loops back on itself. Most of the time, I can get there fast, but sometimes it keeps eluding me all the way through the show.
That night, three-quarters of the way through the first song, I still hadn’t caught it. I was performing on automatic. I looked out at the audience, trying to find some faces to connect with but they were all so perfect, so hideously untouchable. I couldn’t find a single set of burning eyes. Then I saw Daniel.
He was back, leaning against the column, towering over the people standing next to him. Even as we kicked into the thumping part of the song, he wasn’t moving or bouncing around. He just stood and stared at me.
I felt that rush, the flow catching me and pulling me into the center — there’s nothing so sweet, not even sex. By the end of the song I was in the loop, pouring my voice into the mic along with all the emotions that the song could evoke. So much of it, I felt like I had to press it through the tiny holes of the grille on the Shure SM58.
I lost my mind for most of the set. It was exactly the way it should be — the ego evaporates. Before the last song, I felt my t-shirt sticking to my back and I realized that I’d cut my bottom lip on the mic. I sucked it into my mouth, tasting the salty, metallic tang of it.
“Sin on sin,
In the skin.
Lift me up and suck me in.
Grant me comfort,
Give me peace,
Deliver me that blind release.”
I’d always thought the song was about religion and I was the one who wrote it. Go figure.
I couldn’t tell if the audience was happy or not. I was way, way gone by the end of the set and I walked off stage holding the mic by mistake. Some nameless stage hand retrieved it. Half-way to the dressing room, Tom grabbed my arm and started pulling me back to the stage.
“Anna…Encore. Come on. They’re going ape-shit out front.”
“No… I can’t, Tom.” My lip had split open again. I wiped my mouth and my hand came away wet and red. Dips of it had streaked the front of my t-shirt.
The glare of the fluorescents in the dressing room made me flinch, but I walked over to the bucket of newly-delivered ice in front of the mirror and grabbed a handful, pressing it to my mouth, and trying to catch my breath — sucking air through the cold ice. The door opened, and I looked in the mirror. It was Daniel.
“Can I come in?”
My first thought was to tell him to go away. I looked like a fucking mess — sweaty and bloody — and I didn’t want him to see me like this. My mascara had run and there was lipstick on my cheek from where I’d tried to smear off the blood. He didn’t wait for an answer, but walked up behind me and grabbed a towel.
“If you wrap the ice in this, it won’t hurt so much.”
I nodded and the melted ice and blood dribbled down my arms as I watched him take more ice from the bucket and fold the towel around it.
“Here.” He reached around and held it in front of me.
“Thanks,” I muttered, dropping the bloody ice I was holding back into the bucket. I took the compress from him and pressed it against my mouth.
“That was the best gig I’ve ever seen.” He stared at me in the mirror. “Really…it was. You were fucking amazing.”
I tried to thank him through the towel, feeling the heat rising in my neck. God was he gorgeous.
I heard voices down the corridor and the rest of the band poured into the room along with a number of people I’d never seen before. But the last person through the door I recognized: the sleazy, asshole DJ from the radio station. He walked up to the mirror, smiling.
“Wow, babe. You’re wild! Great show.” He winked. “So, let’s get out of here and go somewhere, just you and me.”
I held the icepack to my face and found Daniel’s eyes in the mirror. Please, please, please…get me away from this creep, I thought, hoping desperately that he had ESP or could hear prayers. He nodded almost imperceptibly.
“Actually, I think you need some stitches, Anna,” Daniel said, with the authority that only someone of his size can project. “Let’s get you to an emergency room and see about that lip.” Without giving me or anyone else time to respond, he took me by the elbow and started guiding me towards the door.
“My bag!” I mumbled, through the towel.
He bent down. “Where is it?” he whispered.
“On the couch, over there.”
He reached over three cute, would-be groupies sitting on the sofa and snagged it. Then he was pushing me out the door and through the crowded club.
Out on the pavement, I pulled the compress away and touched the cut gingerly with my tongue. The bleeding had stopped. “I don’t think I need stitches.”
“I never did, but it was the only excuse I could think of. Where are you staying?”
“The Tropicana Motel.”
“Fucked if I know. Somewhere near, I think. It didn’t take us very long to get here.”
He grabbed my hand and pulled me over to a taxi by the curb. It was disgorging a bevy of up-thrust, low cut dresses with bodies in them. He pushed me through the open door and got in behind me.
“Tropicana Motel, please.”
The driver looked back at us — at me, specifically. “Shit…is she alright?”
I looked down at my shirt and saw the trails of blood. “I’m fine, really. Minor accident. Do you know where the Tropicana is?”
“Sure do. Everyone does.” He turned back to the wheel and started driving.
I leaned back against the seat and breathed a sigh. “Thanks for that, Daniel. You must be a mind reader. You saved me from a fate worse than death, probably.”
“It was my pleasure,” he said. He put a long arm around my shoulders and pulled me close. “I charge for rescue operations, you know. And the rate is double on foreign soil.”
“Well, you’re worth it, whatever you charge.”
“If I kissed you, you think you’d start bleeding again?” The tone of the question was absolutely nonchalant, as if it were just like any other question.
“Very probably,” I admitted, sadly.
He turned his head and bent down, pressing his lips to the side of my face. “I’ll just have to improvise, then,” he murmured, moving his lips to my ear.
I heard him breathing, slow and loud. The heat of his breath slid down my neck and across my face, giving me shivers. I closed my eyes.
“Look,” he whispered, “I know that this is going to make me sound like some dumb, horny guy, and I could do the whole preamble thing, but I don’t want to insult your intelligence. I have never, in my life, wanted to fuck someone more than I want to fuck you, right now. Is the feeling mutual?”
Warm wetness seeped between my closed thighs. I nodded and his lips brushed across my ear as I moved my head. “It’s mutual.”
The taxi pulled up in front of the motel, which was a good thing because I was on the verge of doing something indecent in the back of the cab and I didn’t know what the laws for that sort of thing were like in the U.S.
He paid the driver and pulled me out of the cab with the kind of haste that you only truly appreciate when you’re stupidly horny. I took up the role of purposeful leadership, pulling him along, past the vacant bunnies and wannabe rock-stars frolicking in the lit pool. I fumbled the key in the lock and got the door to my room open and pulled him inside. Daniel switched on the light by the door.
“Don’t!” I squealed, turning away from him. I was about to get laid and I didn’t want the sight of my smeared make-up, sweat-matted hair and blood-stained t-shirt to jeopardize that in any way.
“I don’t think you really want to take a good look at me with the lights on right now. I’m a mess.”
He pulled off his jacked, let it drop on the floor and pulled me into his arms, backwards. “The mess is a big turn-on, actually.”
I could tell he wasn’t lying because I could feel his hard-on sticking into my lower back. I glanced up to see that we were standing in front of another bloody mirror. Getting a good look at myself, I couldn’t say that I agreed with him, but I certainly didn’t look artificial. He smiled and slipped his hand under my shirt, finding my breast and giving it a gentle squeeze with his big hand. A very pleasing noise of arousal rose from his chest and his other hand fumbled with the metal tab on my combat trousers.
I was caught in the reflection of the mirror, watching him watch me watch him. The hand on my breast pushed my t-shirt up and I saw his long fingers part and then pull together again, catching my nipple between them. There were faint imprints of red on my chest from where the blood had soaked through the cotton of my shirt. I watched his other hand slide into the pants, barely hanging off my hips, and disappear.
I felt the broad hand cover my cunt, sliding on the wetness. My nipple screamed little obscenities as the trap of his fingers squeezed. Between the strange pornography of what I was seeing and the overwhelming sensations, I was having problems standing up. I was some broken, fucked-up doll in his arms — he wasn’t going to stop playing, no matter how limp I got.
“Fuck you’re wet. When did you get so wet?” he asked my reflection.
“In the cab. When you told me you wanted to fuck me.”
The hand in my pants moved and a middle finger slipped easily between my swollen lips. I watched the thing in the mirror open her mouth and I let out a gasp. The hand on my breast moved, taking the edge of my shirt and tugging it upwards.
“Lift your arms.”
I did. I reached up, let him pull the shirt off me, and clasped my hands behind his neck, locking them there. With his arm back across my chest, he pushed his hips into me. His cock was hard enough to hurt and large enough to worry me a little. Not a lot though, because the finger in my cunt was making any kind of negative thought almost impossible. I ground myself against his hand and moaned.
Whatever I had thought about the scene in the mirror before, it was looking gorgeously erotic to me now. He leant his head forward and pressed his lips to my cheek. Parting his lips, he kissed my skin once, and then slid his tongue over it.
“Watch yourself come,” he whispered. “Then I’m going to fuck you.”
The words were bad enough, but his hand slid lower, pushing two fingers into my core and pressing on my clit with heel of his palm. My hips rolled, helping him move his fingers inside of me. God, it felt good. I panted and groaned, trying to keep my eyes open as the jolts of warm pleasure surged up my body.
“Do it,” he whispered. He raised his head to watch as I fucked myself on his hand. Long fingers spread across my chest, trapping another nipple and pulling it, pinching it, as I started to writhe.
It hit me like a gust of hot wind, from out of nowhere. I gasped and let out a low, stuttered moan as I started to cum, impaling myself over and over again, violently on his fingers.
“More, Anna…more. Make it last,” he urged.
Even after I’d stopped moving, his fingers plunged into me repeatedly, drawing the orgasm out until I thought my skin would peel off and I was shouting words with no meaning.
I had to let go of his neck and pull his hand out of my pants, finally. The sensation had become excruciating.
“Stop…please. I can’t take any more.”
He laughed, picked me up and let me drop on the bed with a bounce. “Don’t fool yourself, you can take a lot more.”
“Sh-h. I know what you meant,” he said. He lifted one of my feet and started unlacing my Docs, as I lay sprawled and panting. He pulled it off, tossed it and started on the other. I could see his cock tenting his trousers and wondered how he managed to be so dexterous when he was obviously so horny. The minute I got turned on, my fine motor skills went for shit.
“Daniel, why are you in LA? Biz stuff?”
He pulled the lacing hard, loosening it. “No. I came to see you.”
I hooted. “Bullshit! But very sweet.”
“I’m not sweet, Anna.”
I sat up as he tossed away my other boot and reached for him, but he laughed and pushed me backwards, and tugged off my trousers and panties. I felt pleasingly vulnerable lying on a bed naked with him towering over me.
“Aren’t you going to take off your clothes?”
“No.” He climbed onto the bed, straddling me, on all fours. He reached down and unzipped his fly.
He pulled out his cock. “I want to be able to smell you on them afterwards.”
“Oh” I wasn’t sure if I was responding to his answer or to his cock. It was beautiful, cut and massive. He pushed my legs apart with his knee and let his weight settle gently on top of me. It was like being covered with a huge, heavy quilt. My body pressed down into the mattress. I could feel the heat of his huge, erection pressing along my belly from my pubic bone all the way to my navel, and the cold metal of the open zipper grazing my skin. I did a mental calculation and suddenly I was very nervous.
“Daniel?” I squeaked.
He was kissing my neck, grinding his hips into me. “Uh-huh?”
“Don’t hurt me, okay?”
He raised himself up on his elbows. “Why do you think I’d hurt you?” There was a shock and a hurt in his voice.
“You’re… your cock is on the large side of large.”
He looked truly perplexed. “Most women think that’s a good thing.”
“I’m not most women. I’m quite a bit smaller.”
He stroked my cheek with his fingers and kissed me on the side of my mouth, away from the cut, stroking his tongue along the uninjured part of my lips.
“I would never hurt you.”
There was something in the way he said it; I believed him, totally. And feeling him grind against me and kissing me, relief and lust flooded back with equal force. I pushed back against him and put my arms around his neck, pulling myself up and kissing him carefully.
“Thanks. I’m glad we had that little chat. Now, could I ask you to unbutton your shirt? I have a thing for skin.”
“I’m so glad you do,” he said, sitting back on his knees and opening his shirt.
I watched him do it, struck once again by how beautiful he was. He slipped a hand into his trouser pockets, pulled out a condom, ripped it open with his teeth and rolled it on. When he lowered himself back onto me, it was in a different way. With my legs closed together and his on either side. I felt his hot skin graze my chest and the head of his cock nudge between the lips of my cunt.
“Mmmmm… much better.” My heart was pounding in my chest.
“Yes.” He spoke softly, but he was taking my wrists and pulling them up, pushing them into the bed. “If I hurt you, tell me.” It was an odd thing to say for someone who was pinning my hands to the mattress.
His cockhead pushed down slowly, sinking into the valley between my wet lips. He moved his hips, teasing me without entering me, stroking me at exactly the right angle to drag his length over my clit.
“Fuck!” I gasped.
He was breathing hard; his was mouth almost touching mine. The warmth spread over my face. “Oh, yes…fuck”
He kept stroking, slowly, evenly. The sensation was mind-blowingly delicious. I moved with him, arching my hips upwards. My cunt was flooding and I was fighting to spread my legs but they were trapped between his. I moaned and writhed, blinded by the pleasure of what he was doing. The tendons of my inner thighs ached with tension, begging to spread.
Suddenly, it just didn’t matter how big be was. I had to have his cock in me. I angled my hips each time he stroked down, hoping that he would simply push inside. But he didn’t. He was consciously avoiding it.
Jesus, I was going to cum this way. I didn’t want to yet; I wanted him in me. Finally, out of pure lust and considerable frustration, I begged: “Oh…for fuck’s sake, Daniel, please!”
“Please what?” he groaned.
“Please fuck me.”
He grinned down at me. “Now?”
“Yes, fuck! Now!”
He tilted his hips just slightly and, as he pushed down, the head of his cock pressed into me. He entered with a tangible ‘pop’. I gasped.
“Does it hurt?” His voice was low and calm. His hips moved in slow, shallow thrusts.
“God no. It’s great.”
He made a satisfied little moan and pushed in deeper, slowly, easing himself back and forth each time. I could feel the tension in his body, making him tremble slightly, pushing at the edges of his control. No matter how wet I was, he still felt huge as he began to fuck me, but I wanted it. My muscles convulsed around him as he slid in and I felt the steely cold tickle of the zipper press into my skin.
“Tell me you love it.”
“Oh… god. Say it, Anna!”
“Fuck, I love it.”
He let my wrist go and slid his arms under my back, enveloping me, bowing my back so my nipples grazed his chest as he moved. I had never been fucked like this before. It was unbearably exquisite.
The next time he pushed into me, I felt him hit my cervix and I tumbled over the edge. It tripped whatever magic wire was there and I started twitching and arching my hips, wanting to feel that sweet pain again.
I whined and thrust upwards, hard, forcing him deeper. “Oh…god…god”
He groaned and eased his legs, letting me spread mine just a little. “I knew you’d feel this way” he whispered, speeding up his pace slightly, “So fucking good…I knew it”
Then he was coming; his body jerked and thrust hard, sinking his cock into me and gasping. Even through the latex, I felt the heat of his come warm the inside of my cunt, making the muscles twitch and spasm with aftershocks.
He pulled out of me and kneeled back, disposing of the condom. The front of his grey trousers were stained dark with my fluids. I grinned.
“You got your souvenir,” I touched the wet material with my toe. He did look unbelievably sexy sitting there with his shirt half off and his pants open. “How long are you staying in LA?”
“When you’re leaving.”