to Matthew Licht
When I got my Ph.D. in moral philosophy in June, 2008, there were only a few items on the list of things I wouldn’t do: eat the flesh of relatives killed in ritual sacrifice, waste water, or screw a friend’s woman.
This last rock-solid, Ten Commandments-style precept was by far the stupidest, but somehow I couldn’t let it go. Silly, I thought. As though a woman belongs to someone. An OK rule for Mesopotamian shepherds, maybe. Nevertheless, when I finished my degree at Columbia, I still believed in that third rule alone. Shortly thereafter, I left academic life. My morally abject colleagues disgusted me. I ditched their world and started fresh, with no regrets, even though my moral conceptions had been influenced. I remained true to my conviction, and never screwed a friend’s woman.
In April 2011, I was sharing an apartment near Prospective Park with Laura and her boyfriend Cyril. Laura entered my room dressed in jeans and bra. She rubbed against me like a cat, pushed her pointy tits in my face. I said, “C’mon Laura, quit it.”
She looked at me and said, “Huh? You come off like some fascist blasphemer whoremaster jack-off artist but you don’t want to grab these?”
“Course I want to, but what about Cyril?”
And that was that. Didn’t even matter that Laura was no big deal, physically, or that she and Cyril broke up shortly thereafter, which made life in that Brooklyn closet impossible. I remained true to my moral imperative.
Years passed and I hooked up with Mary Ann, who gave me a different view of morality. In other words, stop thinking about it all the time, and try to live like everyone else. We had our habits, worked regular full-time jobs, ate out a lot. Life became a minor concern, and morality was no longer an interesting topic for discussion. We often went out with our friends Bill and Samantha—to restaurants, movies, or just for a walk. Mary Ann would say, “What a lovely day. Let’s go for a walk.” So I’d call Bill and Samantha. We felt good with them, there was no tension. On October New England evenings, we’d walk along the shore, listen to music, stop somewhere for beer or coffee, and it was great. At night, in bed, Mary Ann and I would talk about them, and us. Pretty banal, but the truth was that I really wanted to fuck Bill’s wife, Samantha. I dreamt about her after our evenings out together, after dinners where my cock stayed pointed straight at her. I used to dream about her in every possible position, but there was nothing doing. She was my friend’s woman, no matter which way I turned it. Prohibition, I thought, is the perfect fuel for desire. She’s not that hot, and even kind of dumb, I told myself, but that didn’t change anything. I wouldn’t trade her for Mary Ann, I thought, in fits of exactly the sort of typical bourgeois paranoia I wanted to avoid. That’s what I’ve turned into, I thought. But the situation refused to change.
One evening when Bill was vising relatives in Connecticut and Mary Ann was out on Cape Cod with her sister, Samantha called and invited me to a party she’d organized. Of course I went. She wasn’t looking her best, maybe due to the stress of getting a party together, or getting up the nerve to phone me. So we spent the evening following different interests: she socialized while I got looped. But we kept an eye on each other in all the rooms of the house we were in, and every now and then we clinked glasses, drank a toast to nothing, to the end of the world, the triumph of evil, to Satan, the horsemen of the apocalypse. When the party was over, we went home together.
Bill and Samantha’s place glowed with an unfamiliar reddish light. We drank a nightcap on the sofa, then our bodies came together and we started kissing and touching each other. She had a habit of putting a finger crosswise on her lips, and it always seemed like a No Go sign. Now her lips silently said, here we are. Finally, I touched her tits, which I’d scoped and studied the best I could. And they were worth the wait: big and firm. While I was grabbing them, she got my pants down and jacked me off nice and slow. We were hot, but there was some tension, a block. My moral philosophy degree had come back to haunt me right when I was finally about to reject and abjure an ancient self-imposed prohibition. I turned Samantha around and entered her from behind. I humped her easy, then picked up the pace. She twisted back to face me, moaning softly. That’s when I spotted the eye in her ass.
The eye was watching me. At first I thought it was a ping-pong ball, or a pustule, but I wasn’t grossed out. It was an eye, no doubt about it, and it looked a lot like my friend Bill’s eye. I stopped cold. Samantha asked, what’s wrong?
Nothing, I said, and started in again, pretending nothing was wrong, but that clever eye was staring. At times it seemed benevolent, but mostly angry, mean, and it never looked away while I fucked my friend’s wife. So I spat on the eye, again and again, until it closed. I stuck a finger against her asshole and pushed. The eye closed further, closed in on itself. She turned around and gave me the OK go ahead signal, so I stuck it in her ass, pushing the eye as far as I could into the depths of her rectum. I came hard, full of rage, pulled out my cock and made her lick it. She looked me right in the eye while my sperm dripped off her chin, then I took off, just like in some porn flick that’s not even worth talking about.
Days passed, as they will, and many more, until Mary Ann came back from Cape Cod and we got together with Bill and Samantha again. Samantha and I acted like nothing had happened, but there was one thing no one could ignore: Bill was wearing a piratical eye-patch. He explained he’d been injured while skiing. A ski-pole had blinded him, but he said he was lucky: a few millimeters deeper and he’d have been dead. There was some really complicated, expensive surgery possible, but he said he probably wouldn’t risk it. Basically, he liked the way he looked with an eye-patch. Samantha and Mary Ann laughed. I felt a pain in my eye, like a burn, a wound, as though a closed eye were watching me from within. I didn’t smile and I didn’t say anything.