Where to start this?
Perhaps at the bead of sweat that formed at his temple. It was a hot afternoon and the air-conditioning in elevator wasn’t working. I watched it crawl down the side of his face, catching here and there on the bristles of his unshaven cheek.
Beneath office tower, past the scent of laundry soap and the sweetness of something he’d bathed in. There, under that was the tang of his skin. Close and dark and alive.
My tongue itched. The tip worried the back of my teeth, insistent and serpentine. Saliva flooded my mouth as the bead of sweat curved his jaw, ran down his neck and disappeared under an immaculately white collar.
Some women go for asses. Some for hands. Some for eyes. Me, I choose my men by odor. Because for me, it’s colour and sound and taste all rolled into one. He reeked deep red, sounded like an open C string on a cello, and tasted of vintage port and steak tartar daubed with wasabi. I’d never smelled anything like him before.
They say that scent calls memory like no other sense. It does for me. As I listened to the floors click by, I got flashes of a wide and sluggish muddy river, jet fuel on a hot day, dust that hung in the air and turned the sun golden, crickets screaming in high grass, broken glass glinted on tacky asphalt. A thick pulsing cock trapped between thighs. Hoarse breath. A hot streak of semen sprayed across skin. Marvelous things.
“Are you okay?”
The memories collapsed around me. I found I’d wedged myself into the corner of the elevator, pulled my arms across my chest and had been staring at him – blatantly. And worst of all, he was about to walk out the door and I’d never see him again.
“Not really,” I lied, and then realized I wasn’t. I wasn’t okay at all. There was a desperate panicky sensation in the pit of my stomach and somewhere behind my eyes, a booming God voice was saying: ‘You are not letting this man disappear back into the general population. Use guile. Womanly guile. You know what that is, don’t you?’
“You don’t look so good.”
Womanly guile be damned. I never could pull that shit off anyway.
“You smell. You smell good. Reeeeeely good.” The words slithered out of my control, even as I thought, ‘right, now he’s decided you’re either high on something or psychotic.’
For a fraction of a second, his eyebrows knitted together. Then the impassivity slipped back over his surprise. I watched the inexorable ascent of the lights on the button panel approaching the one he had pressed. It blinked a salmon pink.
My gaudily lit destination was 9 floors above his and nothing in the world could change that.
“Goodbye, Mister Dark Red, C String on a Cello, Steak Tartar with Wasabi,” I said, as the floor bell chimed and the brushed metal doors began to open.
His hazelnut eyes narrowed. I fancied that, just for a moment, he wondered if he was about to turn his back on something of significance. But I was probably mistaken.
Instead, I received a perfectly civilized smile. “Goodbye.”
He stepped out of the elevator. And the doors to another universe slid closed behind him.