The Antabuse Post

     Sometimes people find their way to my blog via Google searches for alcoholism or drunkalogues.  I write this one for them.

      I’ve been on Antabuse for ten days.  I needed a prescription to get it, and I don’t have a doctor in this town anymore, so I called a rehab center in the telephone book and asked them if they could recommend a physician who was open to possibly giving me a prescription.

      They gave me a few names, and I scheduled an appointment with the one who could see me the next day.  I rode my bike to her office on my lunch break.  She had a waiting room with toys for children and dried, pinned butterfly exhibits all over the walls.  

       I lucked out: the doctor was careful and serious-minded and didn’t try to rush me out the door in three minutes.  She asked questions about my symptoms and my drinking history and she took lots of notes.  I had a physical.  She took some blood and mailed it to the lab.  

        An hour and a half later, I walked out with the Rx.  I had to pay cash for the consultation.  Obamacare took care of the meds. 

        I took 500 mg the first 7 days, and then cut down to 250 mg.  It gives me a minor headache, but I knock that out with an aspirin.  It also leaves a weird metallic taste in my mouth.  Otherwise, I detect no side effects.  I take it in the morning, when I’m fresh and in my right mind and have tons of energy and willpower, before life serves me my daily ration of shit sandwich and/or soul-crushing boredom.  Then it’s done, taken care of.  No matter how nerve-wracking or demoralizing the day, I can’t forget to take the medication…and I can’t drink.  The house could burn down and I could be diagnosed with leukemia, and I wouldn’t be able to drink.  

        Personally, I wish I’d thought of this years ago.  Actually, I did–I asked for this medication from the health clinic at my last university.  The nurse practitioner told me that it was “discredited” and gave me a shitload of benzos and antidepressants instead.  We all know how that worked out.  

       I like the Antabuse so far because it removes the choice to drink.  It’s classic aversion therapy: if I drink on it, I’ll turn purple and throw up for hours and feel like I’m going to die.  The consequences are immediate and violent. I trust that this will happen, and I do not want to experience it.  Internet forums are full of anecdotes from Antabuse-users who wanted to “test” it.  I myself am not remotely curious about what that would feel like. 

       It is not a solution, but it’s a perfectly good tool for the alcoholic or problem drinker who earnestly wants to use it for its intended purpose.  I don’t think that it will be useful to people who don’t want to take it voluntarily–people who only take it because it’s court-ordered, or because their loved ones insist upon it.  They just find ways not to actually eat the pill.  One guy I talked to replaced all this Antabuse with white calcium tablets so that his wife would still think he was taking them.  Some people continue to drink on it because they are defiant.  

        It’s not a cure for the affliction…but it helps in the daily struggle.  People in AA make a distinction between being sober and being dry.  Being dry is a painful way to live, but it beats being dead and it sure as hell beats being drunk all the time.  

Christmas Clown

      When I was a little girl, my father gave me a clown doll for Christmas.

       This is interesting, because my father seldom gave me toys and he certainly never gave me dolls.  He gave me gifts for my birthday and Christmas, but they were almost invariably practical: a new pair of shoes, books I needed to read, a winter coat.  The closest thing to a toy he ever gave me was a huge set of tin soldiers so that I could re-create Civil War battle strategies following diagrams in his military science books.  Oh, an a chemistry set (the chemistry set was fun).  

        So, the clown doll was atypical.  

        I don’t remember how old I was, but this was before he was terminated at work for being hostile and contemptuous, so I was probably about nine.  He said that someone from work had brought in the clown doll to give it away, because his kid didn’t like it anymore, and it was still like new.

        It was hideous, it was ghastly, and I hated it on sight the second I saw it sitting underneath the Christmas tree in a drift of dry brown pine needles, which had fallen off because my father could never be bothered to water the poor thing.  

         The clown was a fabric doll with a firm, squat, barrel-shaped torso.  Its arms were very long and skinny, like fat pencils, and it had white gloves on its hands and pointy-toed elf shoes on its feet.  It wore a vest with red buttons on its chest, pinned with a silk carnation.  The head was oblong-shaped and it had a mane of red yarn hair that stuck out from underneath a conical dunce-cap-looking hat, and it had a long pointed nose and a huge-mouthed bloody-red smile and shiny metallic black buttons for eyes.  Held upright, it was almost as tall as my chest, and it cast hideous shadows on the wall.  

        I became intimately familiar with the clown’s shadows because my father parked that ugly motherfucker in a wooden chair directly opposite the headboard of my bed, and at night, whenever a car drove by, the light from its headlamps would stream through the blinds and throw the doll’s shadow on the wall.  The shadows would change and move depending on the direction the car was travelling and the color and quality of its headlights.

        At first, I merely disliked the doll and found that its appearance ugly, but, at time wore on and my imagination began to work, I came to fear it.  It looked like it was moving at night, when the cars drove past.  When I came back from school, it looked like it had changed positions.  A few times, when it was new and I could still bring myself to touch it, I threw it into my closet and covered it with a towel, but Dad always took it out and put it back in the chair.

        It got to the point at night where I would get ready for bed, turn off the light, and then launch myself into bed and cover my head with the blankets so that I wouldn’t have to look at it.  

       I’d never been afraid of dolls before, and I was fast approaching an age where imaginary things would cease to terrify me.  Prior to the clown, my only make-believe terror was boa constrictors–I’d seen a Nature special about them and how they could eat entire antelope in one sitting, which I found morbidly fascinating, and I had been afraid one would somehow get into the house and swallow me up.

      Anyway, after a month or two I started avoiding my room, even in the daytime, and keeping the door shut from the hideous clown.  

      I told my brother about the clown one day, who went and tattled to our mother, who then called my father on the phone to complain about the clown doll. 

      “But she never said anything about it to me!” he protested.  As if I would complain about anything under his roof to his face, ever. 

       Dad took the clown back to work.  Some other unlucky kid got it next.  It was a perfectly good toy and there was no reason for it to go to waste, he said.  

New Year’s Trip to New York

       I’m going to visit New York for a few days after New Year’s.  Specifically, I’m going to visit Heinrich.  He got me a nice hotel room in Midtown.    He has a spare bedroom in his apartment in Brooklyn, but he hasn’t invited me to stay overnight with him and he booked the hotel room for me (and yes, the name on the room is mine, I checked), which is a very proper thing to do, and, I think, for the best.  It takes the pressure off me, and if things go bad, at least I’ll feel safe with a place to stay (ever been trapped overnight with someone on a date gone wrong?  I’m sure you have.  It’s one of the worst situations to be in).  It’s a fun hotel, too.  I could invite my New York domme friends to hang out with me if I end up there alone–it’s not too far from the Studio.  

      I’m nervous.  He’s flying back to Germany to visit his family for Christmas, and it’s a bit of a relief because I know he’ll be busy and distracted.  

      I miss New York very badly.  Sometimes I think it was a big mistake to move back here.  It took about five months, but I’m starting to feel the restlessness, the stir-crazy dissatisfaction of living in such an isolated, provincial place.  I’m wary of trying to get closer to my old friends here again because I’ve changed so much since I left, and also because I have no intention of staying here for the long-run.  I’m teaching next semester at the local college, but I’m afraid to look for other, more serious employment here, because I don’t want to put down roots here.   I came here to save myself from myself.  I don’t know what I thought would happen.  Like I thought that maybe if I got out of the Studio and quit sex work cold turkey, all of a sudden I’d be normal and happy or something. 

        I went to the doctor and asked for a prescription for Antabuse because I feel like drinking sometimes.  I take it every day.  I take my medicine so that I don’t have to take my medicine, if you catch my drift.  Some people in AA say that Antabuse is a crutch and it doesn’t fix the problem in your head, but so fucking what.  Pass the crutches and call me Tiny Tim.  

        I finished my Christmas shopping.  Today on the way to work, I got a flat tire.  I had to walk the bike half a mile to the office, so I was late for work.  I called my brother and he helped me change the tube in the parking lot when I finished at 5.  It was already dark out, and getting cold.  I almost told him about Heinrich, but I didn’t. 

A Thousand and One Pieces of Margo: The Best & Favorites, Cont’d

       This is the continuation of the previous post…

       Hunters, written a year ago in a fit of melancholy and homesickness.  

       Political Theater: Tales from a Submissive Intern  When I was a very young woman, I won (through merit) an internship with the office of a well-known politician, a homely and ill-tempered fellow who loves power and intimidation.  My experience here–my emotional reaction and sexual response to the politician’s cruelty–is interesting, because it augers what I will gravitate toward in later adulthood. 

      Boots as Inspiration, About my weird attraction to boots.  I really like this blog post: part memoir, part theory, a few very well-written lines, and some provocative art.  It’s a nice little Margo-capsule.  I also like it because most of the stuff I’ve read about boot fetishism on the internet comes from the  the gay male demographic.  Het sub males write a little, too.  I don’t find much from women. 

     A Map of the Pain   NSFW.  Not pornographic but careful where you view it!  Written in 2011 almost immediately after the Surgeon visited me in my apartment and we had a pretty intense sex/corporal session.  I was newly sober, about 80 days clean, for the first time since I started drinking alcoholically.  I was high off the sex and the beating and the meeting.  I remember taking the photos very well.   Good times.  
   No Rest for the Wicked  Penniless and desperately seeking to replace a stolen jar of salsa, I contact a random sad old white guy on Craigslist and ride my bike across town to sell him my worn-out ballet flats.  My first home-town outcall session.  Everything about this story is completely ridiculous.   

        Mind-Fucking  It’s not a popular post, but I like it.  It’s…contemplative.  

        Failing the Geography Exam  Meet Franz Alder: the secret to my academic success, and why I ate two Antabuse this evening.

        The Adler Family Menorah   My German Catholic mother buys a hugeass honkin silver Menorah at a garage sale.  It now dominates the dining-room table.  

         The Surgeon at War  My Ex has a decades-long, mysterious, highly personal vendetta against another physician.  He’s sued the guy several times, humiliated his proteges at conferences, had my seduce the guy in a bar….it goes on and on.   Successfully headhunting one of his enemy’s staff was the Coup of 2012.  I had great sex for months.  

A Thousand Pieces of Margo: The Best & Personal Favorites

       This will be the 679 post published on this blog.  I have 321 in the drafts folder which are redacted, unfinished, axed, or otherwise unpublished, for one reason or another.  

        A thousand posts, in all.  

        At this time, these are my favorite posts, either because I think they contain some of my best writing, or because I just like them.   New readers without the inclination to dig through three years of posts for the good stuff will find a decent sample of my work below.

          In (mostly) chronological order, but in no particular order of favorite: 

          The SkyMall Catalog is Decadent and Depraved.   Exactly one reader, John, has had the good taste to enjoy my send-up of the Skymall catalog.  I have no idea why other people don’t find Skymall as weird as I do.

         Love Letter  I identify primarily as a submissive masochist, but I do have an authentic sadistic streak.  This is what I feel like when I go there.  It’s very personal–I wrote it for my only personal sub, No. 29.  My analyst loved this one.  She kept it for herself.   

        The Surgeon Takes Control  The summer of 2012 was a difficult one for me.  My landlord refused to renew my lease unless I could come up with 3 months’ rent in advance.  Business at the Studio was dead, my tutoring jobs were out for summer, and I didn’t know yet how to hustle independently.  In sheer desperation, completely terrified, I went and got a job at a strip club.  My first night there, I broke down…and called the Surgeon for financial help.  I’d left him months ago and rebuffed his attempts at reconciliation.  His reaction to my call was…interesting.  Very intense blog post.  I’m sweating just remembering it. 

        Signed, Sealed & Delivered  The Surgeon delivers the cash and saves my ass.  An entire summer of sleepless nights and crushing anxiety, and the man made the problem disappear as casually as if he ate a corn chip.  Of course, the money came with strings.  

       CollarMe Hell: Dudes Love Their Wheels  I loved the CollarMe Hell series.  I wish I could have continued it, but I just couldn’t bear to be on CollarMe anymore.  I think that CollarMe is the worst place on the internet.   

        Good Girls Get Gifts  Probably the first strong piece of writing on this blog.  My boyfriend buys me a gift from Bloomingdale’s.  Boy, does this one take me back.  The Surgeon’s a freak, but we had chemistry. 

           Black Market Cipro   Your humble correspondent gets a UTI and voyages deep into the Bronx to buy black market antibiotics.  Pharmacist blogger DrugMonkey helps me through this one.  

          Why Doesn’t He Have a Girlfriend?  Written the morning the Mathematician told me that he was married.  I don’t like to re-read it, but I’ve received lots of personal comments about it.

           An Open Letter to the Mathematician   Rawest piece of writing on the blog.  I don’t re-read this one, either.

         April Fool 1 and April Fool 2   I know it’s cruel, but this was fucking hilarious.  Mistress C and I play an April Fool’s joke on her douchebag ex-boyfriend, Alec.  

          Covered in Ants: What Could Go Wrong?   One of the most memorable session requests of my career.  Must be read to be believed. 

          Dining in Copenhagen  Meeting my favorite client, Fortinbras, the King of Denmark.  I was very attracted to this guy, and came very close to becoming infatuated with him.  Completely my type, impressed the hell out of me, stomped the disco boogie all over my Daddy issues.  Fortunately, bitter experience, my analyst, and a few concerned readers saved me from making the same mistake a third time (fourth time, if you count the Attorney): I kept my wits about me, and he became stayed a very enjoyed and well-respected clients. 

          Scenes from My Drunkalogue: In the Eye of the Beholder  A very tight piece of writing.  One of the best on the blog in terms of style, I believe.  Going through with a session I really do not want to take. 

        The Blowjob Wars  Everything you wanted to know about Miss Margo and blowjobs. 

       Beluga Eats a Dog Turd   Another memorable session.  Well-written and received a ton of comments (well, for this unread blog).  
       There are another ten best….I’ll post them in the next installment!


Heinrich Says it Straight

      Still no word from T-Rex.  I had my French-Canadian friend search the local papers for a death notice.  No dice.  He’s gone from the internet.  I’ve searched for him in the places he can usually be found, and he was there, doing his thing, right up until the 26th of November.


        If he’s not dead, he got busted by his wife and she took away his internet rights.  Some men would laugh in your face if you tried to take away his internet rights…but, different relationships have different standards.  I have no idea who ran the show at Chez T-Rex.  The fact that he was unable to stop his wife from coming home early (assuming he’s telling the truth about that) suggests that maybe she was the dominant person in the relationship.  I mean, you can bet that if, say, the Surgeon has been in his place, Mrs. T-Rex would have kept her ass in England until he was ready to have her back again, and it wouldn’t have taken days of cajoling, either.

       I just wish that I knew what happened to him.

       I tried to talk to Heinrich again and it became a fight.  Not a mean fight, but still a bit of a fight.

        “Are you drunk?” I asked when he called, because I knew he’d been to a party (yes, I Facebook-stalked him), and the last time he’d called me drunk was from an Aeroflot plane and it didn’t go well.

         He said that he was fine, he’d just had a little cognac. 

         Now, I know that he didn’t want to have this important conversation over the phone, but I still had to ask the question that’s been eating me every since he had his disclosure: “Why didn’t you ever say anything?  Why didn’t you tell me that you cared about me before?”

         “Margo, no offense, but you have problems in your life, and problem men in your life, and I was waiting for you to resolve them.  I was also waiting–in vain–for you to recognize me as a valuable person to you.”

         “What do you mean, problems in my life?  Sorry we can’t all be perfect and have careers appraising art for rich assholes like you!”

        “Oh please!  How could I integrate you into my greater life?  Introduce you to my family as a dominatrix who works at a notorious bondage salon?  That’s not normal, Margo!  I could barely read your blog sometimes because I was worried about you going to meet some strange men in fucking hotel rooms!  Your life was crazy!  You are a talented woman with a good education!  You owe more to the world than to be giving hand-jobs to perverts in that filthy dungeon!  It’s a disgrace!  I want to kill your parents for not giving you more pride!”

          “I never gave anyone a hand-job!  I never touched a penis unless it was to torture it!  I did not have sex with my clients!  And if they’re perverts, what are we, Herr Heinrich from Nuremberg with an O-Ring in his ceiling and an umbrella stand full of canes?  How can you be such a hypocrite?”

          “I enjoy sex, fine, but I do not hire prostitutes, it is true!  It’s not normal behavior!  Are you not listening?  What if you had been arrested, like all those women in 2008?  What, I should go down to the police station to get you out on a prostitution offense?  It’s in the New York Post?  Your teaching job, your reputation at university ruined by your dangerous compulsion!
         And these men! How do you think it felt for me to watch you throw your love away on these pieces of shit who do not respect you!  That Surgeon was even worse than the pathetic liar who stole his neighbor’s bird!  He had no respect for you at all!  He comes to your house and rapes you in your own bed, and you do not even go to the police, and you still had feelings for him!  I would have had him arrested on the spot!  Infatuated with that raping Jew!  If you had told me at the time, I would have killed him myself!  Now, look at him!  No punishment!  No consequences!  On to the next one, just like that ugly seducer in France!  If I was his wife, I would poison his tea!”

         “I can love whomever I want!  You never said anything to me!  I never thought you were interested in me!  I thought you thought I was a loser!”

          “You live in poverty, then you fix it!  You’re more intelligent than most of the people I work for!  That’s another thing I hated about that Surgeon!  I would die of disgrace before I would let a woman I supposedly ‘loved,’ a woman who had devoted herself to me they way you did to him, live the way you do, and make all of these crazy decisions!  When he knew you had a problem with the drink, did he send you to rehab, this millionaire?  No!  He plied you with drugs and drink, used you for fucking and God-knows-what-else, used you for the satisfaction of his sadistic urges, and then ignores you while your life gets worse!  If he loved you, was a real partner to you with an invested interest, you would not have been able to hide that you were working in that dungeon with the perverts!”

         I was starting to cry.  “I’m sorry!  Don’t be mad at me!”

        “I am not angry with you!  I am frustrated!  I am angry at the people who exploit you!”

         “Heinrich…is it true that you hate Jews?  T-Rex said that you hated him because he is Jewish.”

         “Well, of course, he would say that, wouldn’t he?  What a victim.  Of course he would say that my hatred had to do with prejudice, and not to do with his abhorrent behavior.  To answer your question: I like Jews just fine.  They pay my salary.”

           “But what about the dagger on your desk?”  I gotta tell you the truth: that dagger’s been eating at me.  

            He sighed.  “Must we have this discussion over the telephone?  It belonged to my great-Uncle.  The Reichsarbeitsdienst were a labor army.  Arms and weapons are a part of all uniforms around the world.   There is no need to make a meal of this.

        “Now, when can you come to me?  I want to see you, Margo.  I think that we owe it to each other to have this out in person.”

          “Ha!  So after that debacle with T-Rex, you want me to travel across the country and stay in a hotel room by myself if things don’t work out.”

           “I will take care of everything.  I am not going to push myself on you.  There will be no financial risk to you.  T-Rex did not even pay you for your lost wages, did he?  That figures.  That does not surprise me at all.”

            His voice brightened: “If you come before Christmas, we  can go and see the Tree!”


The Reichsarbeitsdienst 


      Heinrich wants to speak with me in person.  He’ll take care of the airfare, put me up in a hotel, all that.  He says that he doesn’t want to have this serious conversation on Skype.

        What can I say about him without compromising his anonymity…?  He’s a beautiful man, a hairy dark-blonde 6-footer.  Middle-class.  Elegant, actually.  Not upper-class, but middle-class, the German intelligentsia, to whom my father always aspired.  He has a modest, Lutheran religious heritage.  When he bought a new car, he had the dealership pry off the decals so that other people couldn’t tell what he spent on the car.  

         He has a good job.  He has two jobs.  Sometimes three jobs.  He’s a good Burgher.   

         He is a sadist.  He runs cold, like the Mathematician.  The Surgeon and The Attorney (and Professor T-Rex) ran hot.  

        What do I do…?

         Oh, yeah: he’s never been married and has no kids.  He’s only ten years older than me.  Given that I am almost exclusively attracted to dudes old enough to be my father, that makes Heinrich very age-appropriate.  

Update: Crummy Job, T-Rex Extinct, Heinrich

     May I tell you this…?  I will tell you this now, because there is nobody else to tell. 

     I’m so lonely that I’m worried it is causing meaningful problems to my heart.  Even my birds are gone now.  I miss my birds so much.  I think about them every day. 

      My stupid office monkey job is getting nuts.  The lead-up to Christmas is the busy season, which is why they hired me.  Everyone wants to buy his buddy some Italian-made stationery.  I honestly have no emotional investment in this industry whatsoever, but do you know how many Dago-written emails I have to edit…?  Couldn’t they hire an English major grad student in Siena and pay him in pizza?  

       Seriously, though: working at this company has improved my opinion of Italians (I didn’t really have a “bad” opinion of them at first, I just made fun of them because they are crazy).  I’m not kidding about that.  It’s a well-run company and it produces quality product and everyone is paid a living wage.  I worked years in jobs that didn’t pay me enough to keep a roof over my head.  Employers can get away with that in America and it’s typical for millions of workers and nobody talks about it.  This is a nice company. 

         My brother bought a permit and trekked into the mountains and felled a tree for Christmas.  He killed it with an axe.  It’s a beautiful tree.  

       Professor T-Rex is still gone from the internet, I mean gone like vaporized.  I know I shouldn’t give a fuck, but what can I say.  He was in my life for a year and he wasn’t ALL bad.  I just want to know what happened to him.  Marie Bismark on Twitter says that he probably got caught by his wife and now he’s on communication lockdown.  My French-Canadian grad school chum told me how to search death notices (in French) in the local papers.  Still no dice.

     Heinrich waited until I moved 2000 miles away to tell me that he’s been in love with me for years.  Dunno what to do about that one. 

Heinrich Meets the Surgeon: “Everything They Say About You Is True.”

       Heinrich met my Ex, the Surgeon, exactly one time.    

        Most of my friends never met the Surgeon because our differences in age and stations in life made it impossible for me to integrate him into my social life.   He would have been impossible to explain, because the dungeon was literally the only place we ever could have met in New York, outside of a chance encounter on the street around his neighborhood on the Upper East Side.  For his part, when I went with him to his conferences, he usually passed me off as a pharmaceutical representative or a colleague of the professional statistician he hired to edit his academic publications. 

       So, most of my friends never met him (in fact, most of them didn’t know that he even existed).  I protected him very well.  My Canadian friend, who was my roommate for a few years when we lived in that shitty neighborhood close to campus (God, it was awful), admitted to me later that he periodically overheard both the phone sex and the rare argument.  Aside from my therapist (and, of course, the readers of this blog), that roommate was the only person with front-row tickets to the Surgeon and Margo show.  Everyone else just got bits and pieces.

        Among those who knew of his existence, he won no popularity contests.  Even my Canadian friend, who found constant amusement in the Surgeon’s sexual antics, egotism, and obsessive womanizing, didn’t think he was good for me.  

        Heinrich didn’t like him at all.  I was freer to talk about him with Heinrich than I was with my other friends, because Heinrich knew about my secret job and about my sadomasochism.   Heinrich nicknamed him “Jaws” because of his aggressive personality and his predilection for biting (I’d show up from time to time with bite marks, actual tooth imprints, on my neck or the undersides of my arms).  

         Heinrich is also one of my only friends to have actually met him.  In the flesh.

         It was an accident.  Heinrich was in the East Village and stopped by my apartment to retrieve a book he’d lent me.  We were sitting on my couch, having a chat, when I heard a knock at the door.

          The Surgeon, the Surgeon.  The Surgeon and his house calls.  I was startled when I opened the door, because I wasn’t expecting him.  

         The Surgeon, always suspicious, took my surprise for dismay…and, following that, guilt.

          He was right about the dismay.  I knew that I was going to be in trouble the minute he found a man in my apartment who wasn’t one of my students or hideously ugly. 

        Heinrich was neither. 

        The Surgeon looked over my shoulder and saw the German sitting on my couch.  

          “Well hello, darling.  Who’s this?” he asked, while keeping his eyes locked on Heinrich.  The Surgeon smiled.  That smile made my stomach clench up.  It was his fake, scary smile.  The Surgeon’s real smile is absolutely winning and adorable, but his scary smile is not.  He often smiles the scary smile right before he does something terrible.     
        Then, as he is wont to do (as he did three years later, the final time I saw the man, when he made his final house call to me), he stepped over the threshold, inviting himself inside. As if the place was his.

         Heinrich stood up.  Because my living room was so narrow and the couch was opposite the door, there was not much space between the two men.  A small coffee table.

         “This is my friend Heinrich.  I told you about him!” I said, already sounding scared and defensive, even though I had nothing to hide regarding my relationship with Heinrich.  I’d never dated him, never had sex with him.  

          “I see,” smiled the Surgeon.  Neither man offered to shake hands.   Heinrich had put his hands in his pockets.  The room was filling up with tension.  I noticed that my birds had stopped chirping.  Parrot had stopped playing on top of her cage and was standing, frozen, on the edge, watching us.  Only the fish were oblivious, swimming back and forth in their great lush aquarium.  

            “He came by to pick up a book!” I offered, by way of explanation.  My voice sounded high and reedy to my own ears.  I snatched the book up from the top of the coffee table and shook it.  Evidence!   

             “How nice,” smiled the Surgeon, not taking his eyes off Heinrich’s face.  Heinrich did not smile back.  He had his Easter Island Statue face going on, but he wasn’t blinking.  

              “I had no idea you were coming over,” I said, not realizing how bad that sounded until the words were out of my mouth.

              They just stood there, staring at each other.  I’ve seen enough spaghetti Westerns to know what I was looking at.  I was scared to death.

              “Get lost,” said the Surgeon.  “I want to be alone with my girlfriend.”  

             “Margo has not asked me to leave,” said Heinrich.  He didn’t take his eyes off the Surgeon’s face.

             “I told you to leave,” said the Surgeon.  He actually said that. He can be so rude.  He has no shame, no qualms, about rudeness or confrontation whatsoever.  

          I had to get Heinrich out of there. 

          I held out the book at shoulder level and said,  “Thanks for lending it to me.”

            He turned his head and looked at me, finally.  He didn’t move to take the book.  He left it there, dangling in mid-air, as if he didn’t see it. 

            “Margo, are you going to be okay?”

             “Pardon me?” I asked, as if I had no idea what he was talking about.   But I knew.  Of course I knew.  Later, when I thought of it, I would feel humiliated, but now I could only think of getting Heinrich out of there before I made it worse for myself.  Or for him.  

          Heinrich finally reached out and took his book.  The Surgeon moved to one side to clear a path to the door, which was still open. 

        Heinrich brushed past me and out, and the Surgeon slammed the door behind him.

          Then we were alone together.

          Most of the scary smile disappeared, but he still had a smirk, a half-smile.  It is difficult for me to describe what he’s like when he’s in this mode, but I can recall it vividly, even now, years later.  He had all this energy…but he always had energy, he was indefatigable, like a humming bird or a bee.  It felt like being close to a hot oven.  He neglected me so much, so often, in the course of our relationship…but when he turned the full force of his attention to me, it was…well, it was an experience.  The Surgeon has a surgeon’s eye.  He sees everything.  Fucking everything. 

        He shucked his suit coat and hung it on the coat rack by the door.  Then he loosened his necktie.  

        “Who the fuck was that, Darling?” he asked.  To an outsider, his voice would have sounded friendly, but I knew it wasn’t.  He was taking off his cufflinks.  

       “That’s my friend, Heinrich,” I repeated, my mouth going dry.

       “Heinrich?  What sort of name is that?  He has an accent.” The cufflinks went into the pocket of his trousers.

         “He’s German.”  

         “I never liked them,” said the Surgeon. (To be fair, I never liked them was exactly the same thing he said about the nationality, profession, or religious affiliation of whomever he was presently at odds with).                
          He walked straight to my bedroom, passing by the birds, who were still quiet.  Not eating, not drinking, not playing.  Frozen.  Looking.  They are prey animals, sensitive, and they know when a threat is in the vicinity.  

          “Margo?  Let’s talk,” his voice, from my bedroom.  I heard the sound of the suitcase being slid out from underneath the bed.  The special green suitcase.  With all the special tools.  And then the sound of the drawer on the nightstand.  Which contained a bottle with something he liked to take.  

           I stood, frozen, rooted to the spot, right by the front door.  

           “Make me a drink, honey.  My girl looks so pretty today.  Who did you dress up for, pretty?”

          I went to the fridge, and took the vodka out of the freezer.  I made him a drink.  My hands were shaking.

          And then, I carried it to my bedroom, to meet my fate. 

                             *                               *                             * 

           Two hours later, Heinrich texted my cell phone. 

            I couldn’t answer it, because I was tied up on my bed.  I heard it beep and light up, though, and when it did, the Surgeon went to fetch it from the top of my dresser.  He always went through my phone whenever he felt like it. 

            “Who’s this?” he asked.  The glowing screen illuminated his face.  “Oh, look.  It’s your little German boyfriend.  Margo, he asks, ARE YOU OKAY?”

             (note: “little” is interesting, given that Heinrich was significantly taller than the Surgeon.  But, to the Surgeon, almost everyone else is “little.”) 

            Then, get this: the Surgeon fucking called Heinrich back, ON MY PHONE!

           “Surgeon, don’t!” I immediately started begging, from the bed.  I was fuckin mortified.  “Please don’t call him!  Don’t!  Surgeon, please don’t embarrass me in front of my friend!”

          The Surgeon pushed the CALL button.  He really did it.

         I heard Heinrich pick up: “Ja?  Margo?”

         “Fritz?  Hi, Fritz!” said the Surgeon.  I remember him very clearly.  He was standing at my bedroom window, by my desk.  He was naked save his underpants.  It was dark outside and the traffic lights from the street below reflected off the glass and onto his torso, which was moist with sweat.  

        The Surgeon knew Heinrich’s name.  Unlike me, he is excellent with names, and never needs reminding.  He was calling Heinrich by the wrong name to antagonize him and trivialize him.  

        “Fritz, we got your text message.  Margo is okay.  She’s just fine! Okay?  She can’t talk right now, though, because she’s busy sucking my dick.  I thought I would respond, instead.”

          I wanted to die. 

          There was a pause, and then the Surgeon put the phone down on my desk.

          “He hung up on me,” he said.

         “I can’t believe you did that,” I said, although I actually could believe it, very well.  I was so ashamed and embarrassed.  I felt hot angry tears spring up.  Angry tears are a very rare phenomenon for me.  

          “He said to me, ‘Everything they say about you is true,’ and then he hung up on me.”              
        He came to sit on the edge of the bed.  My wrists were cuffed to either side of the wrought-iron bed frame.   My feet were immobilized.  The fine pale skin of my breasts and thighs  and abdomen was covered with bite marks and hickies and bruises.   He was very deliberate about marking his territory when he was feeling possessive.  

        ” ‘Everything they say about you is true?’  What have you been telling him about me, Margo?” he asked.
         “Very little, and certainly nothing personal, or anything that would invade your privacy or threaten your practice,” I said.

           He accepted that, because he knew it was true.  It was always true.  I protected him better than I protected myself.  I know how to keep secrets for men. 

                  *                                 *                           * 

           Heinrich waited two weeks to contact me.  He sent me a text announcing his intention to call and rang exactly fifteen minutes later.


         “Margo.  I….I want to say to you, that I am yet your friend.  This is the same, between us.”

        “I would not care if you did.  He has force on you.  I understand.  He is not a question for me.  I see, very clear, who he is.  I was afraid for you.  That he would harm you when alone.”