Being deprived of any sort of holiday this summer has made me … well, kind of nostalgic. Dreamy. Yearning for a summer of long ago. A balmy, sexy summer back in communist Poland of the 1980s, deep in the heart of the Tatra mountains. And here’s the weird thing. It’s a summer I never even had! But someone else did, lucky bastard. Namely, Leo of the crippled leg. Care to meet him?
THE DIARY KEEPER
I’ll always remember the first time Inga and I made love out in the open, right under the soaring eagles of the High Tatras. It was our first day off work at the local hotel, and we’d gone on a long hike in the mountains. After a while my lame leg started getting tired and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it to the summit without a break. Needless to say, I dreaded having to admit this. But Inga had by now proven herself to be not only a sexy girlfriend, but also a considerate companion. Or at least so she seemed to be, at the time.
‘Need a rest?’ she asked, casting me a siren grin as she lowered herself onto the grass.
‘Sure,’ I replied in my usual noncommittal manner. She tugged me by my trouser leg until I lowered myself down beside her.
We lay on our backs for the next few minutes, gazing up at the vast horizon of spiky granite peaks. They were so close, you almost felt that you could stretch out your hand and cut yourself on the serrated edges. We fantasised about the future, as had become our habit of late: what would it be like to be a famous artist or writer? To travel to the West? To live in the kind of posh villas where my mother worked as a cleaning lady? The subject of the villas had turned out to be a source of fascination for Inga. I thought nothing of it at the time; I was merely glad to be able to talk about something that was beyond her own realm of experience. But now, looking back, I realise how stupid I was not to have heard warning bells.
When we tired of talking she wriggled closer to me and whispered into my ear, ‘I think we’re insulting the grass just lying here, don’t you?’
She started kissing me. First on the nose and ears, then my throat, my chin, my mouth … until suddenly she stopped, pulling away for a moment and looking down at me with an indefinable expression, much more intense than her usual flippant one. But when I asked her why she’d stopped, she merely put her finger on my lips and said, ‘Shhh!’
Next on the agenda was her climbing on top of me, bending down to kiss me once again, at the same time placing both my hands on her hips. I took the hint and pushed up her skirt, closing my eyes as I felt the silky perfection of her small bottom through those frilly French knickers that she was so partial to. God knows how she managed to get hold of such a luxurious item back in those communist times. But before I could dwell on such uneasy thoughts, she said in a low, urgent whisper, ‘Take them off me!’
So I lowered them over her bottom and thighs and calves and feet, until she wriggled out of the frilly things with a breathy little giggle and kicked them aside into the long, flower-rich grass. Then she guided my hands back to her luxuriously rounded buttocks, and peculiar things started happening to my own anatomy.
‘Leo, you naughty man!’ she murmured. ‘What’s that hard thing I feel down there, poking into my stomach, eh?’
I gasped some incomprehensible response.
‘Does he want to come inside me?’ she whispered in the voice of a true Lorelei, not that I’ve ever met one of them.
And when I, idiot that I am, barely managed to enunciate the word, ‘Who?’ she just laughed, before suddenly sitting up and proceeding to unfasten the zip to my trousers in three swift, violent jerks. The speed with which my freed member sprang forth was truly astounding!
She must have thought this as well, because next thing I knew, she wasn’t laughing anymore, but moaning and almost crying – at least it sounded like crying – as she directed, with phenomenal skill, said freed member into her deliciously warm, wet, tightly muscular burrow. Ah, Inga, my love! Only it wasn’t love, I must keep reminding myself, even to this day. It was sex. Just ordinary, smutty, urgent sex. A good fuck, to put it in crude terms. All over within two minutes flat. However, as I was soon to find out, that was merely Round One.
She pulled out of me and lay back on the moist, steaming grass, both of us still panting and wheezing as though we’d just completed a marathon through the Tatra mountains. Then she turned her head towards me and asked in a dewy sort of voice, ‘Was that nice, Leo?’
After another ten or so seconds, during which my breathing finally returned to normal, I said, ‘I don’t think nice is quite the word I’d have used.’
‘Oh?’ She sat up and looked down at me in a curious juxtaposition of petulance and coyness. ‘Then I’d better help you think of a better word, hadn’t I?’
Next thing I knew, she’d reversed our positions with the expertise of an acrobatic. Now it was she who was lying on the grass, with me on top of her, my unkempt hair swinging into her expectant face. I remember the thought passing through my head that she must have done all this plenty of times before, with someone who’d trained her well.
At this point I have to warn the anonymous reader that I am not about to embark upon any further X-rated details of our amorous exploits. No, that’s quite enough for now! Or perhaps forever. (Until I get round to the story of Beata of the Mammoth Breasts, that is … but then again, that was a long time later.) I don’t want some priggish, puritanical reader of the future to start thinking that these diary scribblings of mine border on pornography – and then promptly deposit them in the nearest bin. No, indeed, I think I’d better skip ahead now – that is, to a few minutes later, when Inga and I once again lay in the delicious aftermath of our Kamasutra acrobatics.
‘Can I ask you something?’ I gingerly asked, turning my head towards her finely-sculpted profile.
‘Hmm?’ Her eyes were still closed. She looked like a woodland nymph as she lay there beside me, her face glistening in the afternoon sun, her dark lashes reposing upon tanned cheeks.
‘Why did you choose me, when you could have had your pick out of all the guys at university?’
She groaned. ‘Oh, for God’s sake, Leo, when are you going to stop asking that?’
‘I’m being serious. I want to know.’
Opening her eyes, she hoisted herself into an upright position and reached out her hand to pluck a dandelion from the grass.
‘First of all, I couldn’t have had my pick of all the guys at university. They’re not all in love with me, it’s just you who keeps imagining they are, okay? That’s what you call being paranoid.’ She tapped me on the nose with her flower stem. ‘Secondly, have you by any chance had a good look in the mirror lately?’
‘Oh come on, I’m not that good-looking, if that’s what you’re trying to …’
‘Yes, it is what I’m trying to say, and yes you are that good-looking.’ She tickled my chin.
‘But what about my … well, you know.’
‘Oh, Leo, just for once will you forget about your bloody leg? I chose you because you happen to be a smart, deep-thinking person who makes all the other guys I know seem boring in comparison, with their affected ways and their endless talk about politics. You have a lovely, soulful face that people can’t resist looking at. That’s why you’re such a popular model. And last but not least, you have a very kind and thoughtful streak in you which I find really touching. Wait – hear me out. I’ve seen you give money to gypsies when you thought I wasn’t looking. I’ve noticed the way you worry about your mother, even though she gets on your nerves all the time. I think your crabby moods are only top surface. They’re just some angry part of you that’s stuck way down inside and can’t manage to get out. But they don’t really mean a thing.’
‘You might be surprised,’ I snapped, not being too keen on the adjective ‘kind’ that she had added to the end of her otherwise acceptable list of attributes. ‘At times I really can be quite a –’
‘Yeah, yeah, I’m sure you can be quite a bastard, but will you please shut up and let me finish?’
So I shut up.
‘Above all, I like you because you’re different,’ she continued, smiling down at me, stroking my nose and cheeks with the dandelion.
‘You mean my leg.’
‘No, idiot! Will you stop being so obtuse and going on about your fucking leg?’ She sounded angry, but in the very next moment her expression had changed entirely.
‘Why are you looking at me like that?’ I asked, feeling myself flush in self-consciousness, despite the fact that I had not long since accomplished an impressive list of sexual achievements.
‘Because I think I might be falling in love with you.’
‘Don’t you snort at me! Didn’t you hear what I just said?’
‘God, it irritates me so much when you shrug like that! Well?’
‘Don’t you have anything to say to me in return?’
At last I gave in. ‘All right, then. I think I’m falling in love with you, too.’
‘That’s more like it.’ Smiling at me with an almost celestial aura, she leaned closer and took both my hands in hers. ‘Now listen to every word I say, all right?’
I nodded obediently.
‘You have beautiful, smouldering eyes, just like the protagonist of a steamy romance novel.’ She bent towards me to kiss each eye in turn. I laughed, but she put her forefinger on my lips and carried on. ‘You have the nose of a Roman god,’ she kissed that too, ‘the mouth of a sexy villain,’ that got a longer kiss, ‘the jawline of a real he-man,’ and then, gradually inching herself lower, ‘and a chest that has just the right amount of hair in just the right place.’
I was laughing unstoppably now, loving every minute of her game, loving the way she made me feel like a whole man and not just a cripple with a handsome face.
She moved lower still, whispering, ‘And what a stomach! Tight and taut – what every girl dreams of!’
I groaned, but she avoided that special place I thought she was heading for. Instead, she moved on to my right upper thigh.
‘And how I love this muscular flesh,’ she was now edging herself downwards, ‘and this bony specimen of a knee … and oh, how I adore this most special leg.’
My muscles tensed. The sarcasm of an entire childhood resounded in my ears.
‘Relax,’ she whispered.
‘Piss off!’ I growled, pulling away and sitting up abruptly. I yanked my useless leg from her, silently outraged. The magic of the afternoon had vanished.
But she pushed me right back down. ‘Relax,’ she repeated. ‘Leo, I honestly don’t mind, can’t you see? I love every part of your body. Every single bit of it. So listen carefully to me. Are you listening?’
I scowled at her.
‘I said are you listening?’
‘Oh for Christ’s sake, get to the point.’
‘Right. Next time you feel sorry for yourself …’ she drummed her fingers lightly on my chest, ‘next time you grumble about someone staring at your leg or making fun of you behind your back, just remember my words, okay?’
Again I nodded.
‘I said okay?’
‘Yes, okay, okay! Anything to shut you up!’ But my anger was already fading. What an expert actress she was! I really and truly believed everything that she said to me.
‘Good.’ She jumped to her feet, twisting round to brush the tell-tale strands of grass from the back of her skirt. ‘C’mon, let’s get something to eat. I’m bloody famished.’
The above extract is from my novel, THE DIARY KEEPER
2 thoughts on “Vicarious Summer Loving”
The “leg” itself reminds me of “Of Himan Bondage” by W.S.M. Also, a Polish movies starring Bugusław Linda – “Kobieta Samotna” (1987). I wonder what human body deficits are among the most popular in art: a severed breast, a deformed hand, stammering, one-eyed individual?
As always, your comments are so perceptive and probing. Somerset Maugham – yes, you’re right. I don’t know the Polish film, though.