In Julian’s experience, people who willfully sought their own degradation were those who could afford to do so.
Seated in the recesses of the faux suede banquette, he surveyed the establishment: a club much like all the other clubs he’d been to. They existed in every large metropolis in the Western World.
True, there were a few like it in Tokyo, a shiny new one in Shanghai, one in Jakarta, an exclusively gay one in Bangkok – but those weren’t the same. They were the symptoms of cultural colonization, where the native rich, grown fat on bribes, cream skimmed off the top of NGO funded infrastructure projects or real estate mayhem, embraced the superficial trappings of Western decadence. Expensive, imported fetish wear and a little light spanking. Had they been true aficionados of human frailty, they could have paid for a visit to a local prison and sat in on – or even participated in – the genital torture of someone less affluent for half the price of their imported shot of Chivas. But they didn’t do that. You can’t boast about that at state dinners.
Here in the West, they’d been amusing themselves with pain for years. They took it seriously. They had rules. And so, whenever Julian came to the West, he entertained himself watching white, middle class people from developed nations beat, whip, and sexually objectify each other in a truly civilized fashion.
The ice clinked in his glass. He sipped his gin, chewed on an errant, icy shard, and shifted his attention. Over to his left, a smallish woman beat another while her boyfriend looked on with pride on his face and a bulge in his crotch. It was obvious she had little idea of how to go about it. At first she was hesitant, reluctant even, but she found her stride, eventually.
Last time he’d visited London, it had been all about girls kissing girls. Now, it seemed, it was about girls beating girls. The goal was ever the same: to inflame the jaded sexual appetites of their pornfed boyfriends.
They all had such good teeth.
These people, he thought. These fucking people. Julian tasted his rage. It turned the gin acrid in his mouth and effervescent in his veins.
“Are you waiting for someone?”
The speaker was a slight woman of some indeterminate mix of races. Tattoos spilled down her bare shoulders. An eyebrow piercing glinted in the gloom like a tiny beacon of pseudo-alternative come-hitherness. Wiry and compact, small boned and small breasted. Stark tendons spoiled the lines of her long neck. Artfully unkempt, tendrils snaked and curled down from an upswept nest of dark hair.
“No,” he replied and watched with the pale blue eyes he inherited from one of his father’s whores, waiting to see how she’d respond to just the one word.
She had big, dark eyes lined with too much enthusiasm. It would make a mess of her face when she cried. But what truly caught Julian’s attention were her lips. Out of proportion to the rest of her face, they were so plump as to be almost obscene. They could have been pumped full of filler, of course, but Julian thought not. He wondered how many men had dreamed of seeing those lips around the base of their cocks. And what they’d look like swollen and bruised. Split and bleeding.
“You’re not going to invite me to sit down?” she asked, amused.
He moved a little and gestured to the empty expanse of the banquette. “Would you like to sit down?”
She set her glass, half-full of something amber, down on the table and slid onto the curved seat at a discrete distance. She met his eyes. There was attraction there, certainly, and the tang of audacity. I, said her eyes, dare you. She didn’t know better.
He smiled and held her gaze, allowing her to find – if she had the intelligence to really look – the abyss of nothingness in his. But she blinked, nothing more that a little disconcerted, and broke the contact.
“Do you play?” she asked.
Play. Now there was a delightfully absurd euphemism. Did he ‘play’? Julian did not consider what he did playing. Nor, after he’d finished with them, did the men or women he’d done it with. But that was moot. He answered with the cultural sensitivity of a benevolent tourist.
“Occasionally. What about you?”
She gave him a seductive smile. “When I feel like it. With the right person.”
Julian ignored the prompt and reached across the table, took her slender wrist and drew it towards him. Her upturned hand uncurled, revealing a small pale palm. It was fleshier than he’d expected, with shallow, smudged grooves. The palmists in Hong Kong would not have called it a lucky hand. The lines were too interrupted and indistinct. He stroked a thumb over its surface, as if to smooth it over, and pulled it to his lips.
She tugged a little, startled by the sudden contact, but he met her eyes again. “Sh-h,” he soothed.
Her perspiration smelled of processed alcohol. Beneath it like a ghost, lay the rankness of wilted tiger lilies and a tickle of mint. He inhaled the mix and kissed the fleshly mound.
“I know what you want,” he said.
“Oh, you do, do you?” She was nervous now. Withdrawing her arm the minute he released her wrist.
She giggled and took a swallow from her glass. “And what do you want?” The tease halfhearted .
Julian inclined his head and offered her a charming, boyish grin. “You. Bound. Gagged. On my cock.”
Her lips pursed and she had the grace to blush. “Um, okay,” she said, canting the word like a question. “But I have limits.”
He nodded. “I’m sure you do.”