Through the slick barrel halls of the hotel lobby, we slid our fingers against the fresh painted walls. We went wandering in the night in our complementary slippers. Talking about the cleanliness of it all; from the shower screen to the toilet bowl and how we could almost taste the bleach on our skin from being naked, making love against the bathroom wall.
When we checked in I told the girl that he was my uncle, a policeman, and that I was under witness protection. I told her that my father, who was once an accountant, was now a mobster. With a well-performed look of alarm she confided in me and said that her father too worked for the mob and that he smoked in the hotel bar with men who carried knives. Abe didn’t hear this because he was rummaging through his bag in search of his wallet. She took his credit card and her finger touched his. I told myself not to get jealous because, after all, we were going to be sleeping in a bed that had been occupied by other people and to think that her finger touching Abe’s as an invasion was terribly daft of me and unlikely. But once she got a hold of the plastic he rolled his fingers together as if he were trying to smear her prints into his own and he thanked her for being so patient while the machine struggled to read his card. The marble floor was shining and I couldn’t seem to find a hair out of place on the girl, not even a stray eye lash on her cheek and it seemed so darned ironic that the desk was built so high and I so small.
‘And the other strange thing about hotel rooms, Abe, is that I’m always itching to get into the room and once I open the door and set my bag down I never know what to do next because I want to check where the toilet is, even though I know that it’s on the left because I saw it as we came in, because it’s always on the left, and I’m here to fuck you Abe, and that’s all I want to do Abe, is to fuck you. I feel as if I should show you around the space, although it’s small. Although I don’t really know where everything is. Not that there is much here at all. I just feel that it’s hospitable to introduce a lover to a new space before ravishing them so perhaps next time I will check in on my own and call you up when I’m ready.’
While the businessmen called their girls before making love to their call girls we pulled the blind up to see a brick wall, and, between us and the brick wall was a metre of space that was occupied by metallic boxes that Abe said, most likely had something to do with the air conditioning. We peered up to the u-shaped cut out of sky above us and felt one another’s warm genitals. That piece of sky looked like a leftover; a small and unsatisfying portion of day waiting to be gobbled up by the evening. The camera was on the bedside table. Abe had turned it on without my knowing and naively assumed that I would not notice the red light. ‘Now look to the sky,’ he said, ‘and picture yourself up there my dirty little bird.’
Later, kneeling on the bathroom floor, we opened my suitcases and together lifted each case one at a time and carefully poured the dirt into the tub. Then we sat a while, staring at it, ‘the swimming grave’. I noticed things that evening. Things I’ve always known. That his eyebrows, dark and brooding, said more than his eyes because he had taught himself to hide. I called him ‘subtle’ but my prediction was that he was in hiding. Not to rule out that Abe was subtle. Not as exquisite as a gentle forest creature which burrows away from day until dusk where it senses, in the darkness of its nest, that outside, above him, the sun is fading. See, I could sense that the sun was going down even though there weren’t any windows in the bathroom. I believe rabbit’s sense this in the same way, somehow. Staying inside until it’s dark enough to feel secure in the open space because they don’t look so far ahead those rabbits but in circles, 360 degrees. ‘Don’t you think we’re like rabbits, Abe, with binocular vision? All wound up in what we do. As what we do is only by force of nature.’ That you hide, I thought. Sweet Abe, we hide in aging rooms. ‘I had a pet rabbit and no matter how much time I spent with him he always had fearful eyes. I thought it must be tiring to live that way, in fear. Unless his fearful eyes were a charade.’
Abe spoke dreamily as he helped me into the swimming grave. ‘I suppose domesticated rabbits could partly perform their nature,’ he said as he rolled my stockings down and placed the mirror in the soil so as I could stare at my bare cunt a while. He then pried opened my mouth with his adamantine kiss and left his chewing gum in my mouth. I liked that about Abe. That he was close, cold and immature.
He placed his hand down onto the dirt between my legs and told me of how sad he had been since his mother’s death. ‘So unbearably sad.’ He said that during his grieving he spent most of his time lying in her wardrobe, staring at the wall behind her hanging dresses, praying for a door. He said he had felt as if he were made of his head alone and in being made of only his head that he was unable to move. He also said that he was strangely relieved to have a cause for his depression. ‘Last year I had been moping for no good reason and my colleagues seemed bothered by it. The laboratory manager said that I was depressing the rabbits. I asked him if he thought perhaps the tests were to blame but he said that a negative atmosphere bothers them more than a few needle pricks.’
‘How do you feel about animal testing Abe?’
‘I’d prefer to do it on humans,’ he said.
While the taps were slowly running I recalled the receptionist and how Abe had smeared his fingers together after touching hers. I considered asking him why he did this but resigned on the idea, as Abe was never one to discuss his actions. Once the soil had lifted and the bath was full with fine mud Abe asked me if he might look at my cunt. ‘Stand up so the mud runs down your stomach and falls heavy and thick around your swollen cunt.’ I did this. Abe knelt his elbow against the rim of the tub and watched as if he were enrapt in a nature documentary. ‘How does this feel?’ He asked me.
‘It feels fine.’
‘Can I take a closer look?’
‘If you like.’
I sat down on the edge of the tub and the mud poured down from me, spread out from my skin onto the tiled floor as if I were perspiring dirt. I looked to Abe who had his head between my open thighs. His eyes stared deep into my cunt. I asked him if he might like to touch me but he politely declined. ‘Did you see your mother often?’
‘Most days,’ he said. ‘She lived close to the laboratory so I would visit her after work, if I got out at a reasonable hour and she would cook me dinner and flit about the kitchen worriedly talking about how my work was unethical. She often asked me what I thought of God and I would reply, “Mother I feel no connection.” And she would say, “So why do you perform him?”’
‘What did she feed you?’
‘Steak, lasagne, the good things.’ Abe closed my legs, took a cigarette from his skirt pocket and rolled his neck. ‘The emotion behind my work is difficult to explain,’ he said whilst lighting the cigarette. ‘There is a strict law around it but the emotion is one that would most likely take a lot of art to capture. ’
‘Explain it to me. If anyone could understand it would be me.’
‘I’m unsure whether the emotion is real or not. But why you Darlene?’
‘Because I am a woman who loves you.’
The bathroom felt very small in that moment and while we both sat staring at one another, attempting to hide and read the other person at the same time, I felt as if we might never escape the hotel. That we would forever be looking at one another with half loving eyes. Subversively saying, I know that you don’t really love me.
‘I could compare it to giving birth,’ he said, butting his cigarette out on the floor. ‘But I don’t know what giving birth is like. I’ll never know. Isn’t it difficult how there are some things we will never know.’
‘I will never know what it is like to produce a human-rabbit hybrid.’
‘No,’ he said, taking my hand in his. ‘It is strange. There have been times where I have thought about what may happen if I were to implant a human-hybrid embryo into a woman. A wandering thought.'
‘A curiously absurd thought,’ I told him.
'Aye, it is,’ he said laughing.
Abe fell asleep first. We were watching television at the time. The bed sheets were filthy with dirt and come but he said that he was accustomed to squalor and that he’d prefer me to stay as I was for as long as possible. My hair was matted and the dirt in my ears made it difficult to hear the program. I turned the television off. The room was dark and heavy with the sound of Abe’s sleeping. I found the sound of him rather pleasant, a slow waltz and wondered whether some day he would be my husband. And what of the people we might create together? As children would they be small and shy, as I was, or rude and crass due to the lack of interest Abe would have in them? And what if they were human-rabbit hybrids, I thought. Perhaps then they would be good children. The increasing curiosity Abe would have in them would breed a new form of love. Good children who would grow up to be confused adults. But they would never speak of it, of their confusion. Not often. They wouldn’t bother us with their perversions. This was a comforting thought, that I could produce the most wonderful people in my eyes and never know of their darkness because it is not for a parent to know of their child’s sweating body against another, of their orgasms, or their wandering tongue. A parent places the thought of sex within the child’s mind through their replication and expectation that the child will ignore how they were produced. What an obscurely lusty thought it was and how odd that it instantly gave me the desire to make love.
I woke to what sounded like a war outside. ‘Abe, there’s something outside. I can hear it.’ He didn’t reply. I gripped onto his arm and dug my nails into his skin. ‘Abe.’ He woke slowly, his eyeballs swimming inside his sockets. ‘Please wake up quickly,’ I said. He turned over onto his stomach and rose as if he had only just heard me.
‘What’s outside?’ he asked me.
‘I’m not sure.’
He tore himself from the bed and ripped open the blinds. The sun came rushing into the room like four hundred blows of electricity and filled the space with a horrid heat that quickly began to ferment the divine stench of our sex. Abe crouched beneath the window and swore. I pulled the covers over my head before pulling them back down again to point dumbstruck at the empty space where the building we had been staring at the previous night had stood. ‘Where did it go?’ I asked Abe.
‘Strange things happen in the night,’ he told me.