Exhausted, running on an hour's sleep the previous night, I left the office as I had reached it - on time (for once) - this afternoon. I crossed Spadina and staggered west, towards August and Queen, where had waited my trusty steed since Friday night, when I had opted to travel with Laura by streetcar, rather than straddle my bike and weave home through the dark, late-night streets, with a good two too many beers weighing down my body, no matter how much they lightened my spirit.
"I'll pick it up tomorrow," I told Laura, "It'll be fine."
And it was. On Saturday evening, I glimpsed on my way home from the Beeches, where resides my marvellous neice during summer months. I was too slothful by far to interrupt my public ride, and so I left it on its on another night (and then another).
What remains, is crippled, a unicycle locked outside the Java House rather than a bike. Some thieving bastard the bolts unscrewed, leaving frame, front wheel and gearing to slowly bleed in the night.
I cursed and passed it by. Transportation gone, body nearly trembling with exhaustion, I passed through the gates into the realm of the Java House, now licensed and with Steam Whistle on tap.
I had slept, almost exactly, one short hour last night - to be precise, one short hour between 7:00 and 8:00 AM this morning. I felt as though I was victim to some petty but maleveolent god, punishing me for my insomnia, though I knew, when my brain cleared enough to think true thoughts, it was mostly my own demon, Sloth, that was to blame.
This week wasn't supposed to start this way ...
After a long week of over-indulgence, I spent most of Saturday with my niece and her young cousin - always an exhausting (if joyous!) affair for a childless man. I could easily have gone to bed by the time I arrived home, not much past 8:00 on Saturday night.
But Laura and I had plans, and so it was that, near 11:00 and hand-in-hand, we neared the club, 5ive's Fetish Night beckoned.
Laura was resplendent in bustier, underwear, garters and fishnets showing beneath a tight black skirt. (The skirt itself was only for the journey to and fro, thus shed, soon as we had passed the coat-check.)
I was no peacock, dressed only in a decent shirt (top three buttons - on Laura's command - undone) and two thirds of a three-piece pin-stripe suit. I felt just a bit ostentatious on the way (and nevermind that Laura was much more so); though comfortable in a skirt I am otherwise sartorially conservative, if a little on the sloppy side of the couture's divide.
My vague sense of sartorial unease strengthened at the same time as its cause shifted 180 degrees.
The fenced-in enclosure outside of 5ive was crowded. Behind the steel, strutted male and female doms, leading subs on chains; obese and hairy bears, chests bare to the muggy air, smoked cigarettes as casually as secretaries outside a consulate; leather pants, lingerie and mini-skirts, along with at least one woman whose breasts were shielded by nothing at all, proudly displayed like twin banners in the face of conformity's flood-tide - all left me feeling a bit of a poser as we approached the wide doors of the club.
Laura clutched my hand tight and led me through the doors. We paid the entrance fee, ignored the coat-check and we were in.
Bodies of all shapes and sizes slowly orbited multiple centre's of gravity, a small, chaotic galaxy of perversions and desires.
5ive is not a big place, as clubs go. I'd guess the Fire Marshall would object to more than 200 patrons at a time, and there were not that people people inside.
Near the front, a woman was chained, ass bared to us all, while a leather clad man struck her buttocks in time to the music echoing from the dance-floor; she writhed to his strokes, begging for more. In front, behind and on either side, were men and women wearing chains, bearing crops, flaunting or revealing their humanity. Some were leashed, others masked - and yet, the air was peaceful.
Laughter fought the speakers, and sometimes won. Hugs were given and given back, grins exchanged like masonic secret hand-shakes.
We stopped at the bar, then Laura led me deeper into depravity, stopping here and there to exchange hugs with friends and acquaintances.
At length, above and to the side of the dance-floor, we found an unoccupied bench. I shrugged of my jacket, she her skirt, and we finished our drinks then proceded into the crowd to dance.
Surrounded as we were by a crowd whose hedonism was neither shameful nor disguised, we came together and found our way to the throbbing music, surrounding ourselves with gay, straight, and with others, not so easily defined.
We danced. We moved to the music, if not always entirely in time to it.
Dirty dancing, I guess it was, not just for us, but for almost all. No body part off-limit to a partner's roving hands, no flesh safe from a mouth's wet caress.
I won't bore you with salacious details, I can only roughly remember in any case. No orgy occurred, nor violence without consent. Compared to my previous dance-club experience, I sensed no predation, but instead mutual celebration - sane, safe, consensual, by god!
As for me, my eyes, like my hands and mouth, were for Laura; lust, love and friendship joined together in public Fun.
We danced and we sweated; we stopped outside to rest and smoke, share inane but convivial trivia with yet more of Laura's acquaintances, then eventually packed it in, lucking into one of those miracles of serendipitous TTC experiences - no waiting required. Once home, we fell into bed, pleasuring each other with the enthusiasm of first-time lovers and all the skill and experience of an old, married couple.
And, at last, the Sandman carried us off to Nod, still entwined in one another's arms.
Dare I understate?
It was a good night, and the morning was almost as good. Twice more we made love, then managed to find ourselves at Mezzro's for a patio brunch easily worth three times the coin it cost us.
And yet, though the sun sets on even the brightest day, twilight held no hint of the discomfort to come.
Once home, we engaged for a while in singular pursuits, then came together for a meal (thank you, Laura) and enjoyed a couple of episodes of The Simpsons, before settling in for a view of When We Were Kings, an excellent documentary whose only serious flaw was that the film-makers were unable to purchase the rights to the full 8 rounds of Muhammad Ali's "rumbled in the jungle" with George Foreman in 1974.
Right having won the day, we found ourselves in bed, both tired, yet both unable to sleep.
Laura dropped off - if only fitfully - maybe around 3:00 AM. I suffered until 7:00, teased by dreams until 8:05 on Monday morn', when our ancient digital clock buzzed its loathsome cock's crow.
Somehow, I dragged myself to the shower and got myself to work (for once) on time. The day was long and there were moments when I was sore-pressed to hold in my tired rage. Yet, with at least reasonable competence, I managed the task well enough to merit my quotidien of daily grain, only to emerge and find that my bicycle had been shorn of its rear wheel.
And yet, through the miracle of pen and ink and the self-expression those glorious extensions of the human mind encourage, exhaustion and anger were transmuted, transformed, transmogrified, into the even greater wonder of perspective.
After all, a bike is just a bike; sleep will cure exhaustion, evaporate it like a damp, desert pool under the blaze of the noonday sun.
Laura will soon be home. And life is good.