I have become intimate with the innocuous sound of the strange man taking up his instrument from the table beside. I haven’t seen it.
“Do you speak German?” he asks, in German.
“No, do you speak English?” I say, in Russian.
“No,” he says, in English.
He digs in.
I try to distract myself by thinking of my friend J. Trust is a currency, I think. My trust in J led me here. I trusted him and so I took a taxi to a part of town I’d never been. I trusted him and so I followed a man I’d never met down a set of stairs I’d never taken to a dark hall I’d never walked down to a room I’d never seen and there, I laid down.
I am a silent lover; in bed women often ask, “did you come,” because I make almost no sound when I do. But I make sounds now, I spit and my limbs flail.
I have become intimate with the tips of his fingers. We don’t speak the same language, so he doesn’t ask. He moves his hands over my body and when he finds a spot where pain might hide, he presses and waits for me to make a noise.
Then the tool.
I see it now. It is well worn, it is wood. He holds the thickest part in the palm of his hand, a spike protrudes between his ring and middle finger. He digs in, I cry out. I try to think of anything that might lie on the other end of the pain. I try to think of my mother, humming a lullaby, my father hugging me before I leave on long trips, J’s severed head on the end of a long and twisted pole.
“SHIT” I cry, as the strange man works his tool into the spot where my ankle meets my leg.
“Heat?” he asks.
I don’t know the answer that will make him stop; the right answer. “Yes,” I say on the side of a coin. He stops. He cannot ask, and so he moves me onto my back. I look up at him, he smiles. He holds his hand out, he taps the middle of my chest, the bone. It makes the sound of a knocked door at the house of a man who wants to be left the fuck alone.
He shakes his head.
“Hard,” he says.
He taps the ceiling above us. He is tall. He taps the ceiling and then taps my chest.
“Hard,” he says and then he tsks.
I hear the sound again. I cannot see his hand, but I hear the tool being brought closer.
“Hard,” he says again. He places the tool into my chest plate.
My legs flail and I hold my hand close to his, fighting every visceral instinct to not try to stop him. When he finally stops, the corners of my eyes were wet. He looks down and I take a breath.
“Better?” he asks.
I look up at him and I realize something, something I never wanted to admit to myself before. I realize that I would make an utterly useless spy.
“Better,” I say.
“Better,” I cry.
With my whole body on fire I moan, “so much better.”
He places the tool down. He crosses his arms and says, “done.”
I peel myself off of the table and stand. He walks around me, tool in hand. When he reaches his bag and begins to pack his things he turns, holding the tool.
“Mother fucker, yes?” he says.