He likes me because of my thigh-high stockings.
I know this because he told me.
He’s charitable in his verbal appreciation of me.
Though I can’t be certain, I suspect his loquacity probably helps dispel thoughts of his dead, manic-suicide, ex-wife.
Filling up the space with sound.
I’m curious as to why there are no pictures of her in the house. I want to know if I look like her. Or decidedly don’t.
“This is the library,” he told me, on the tour. “I’m very proud of it.”
I perused the books at eye-level, having read every but one.
“Your degree?” I asked, in the abbreviated way I prefer.
Whatever degree he holds, I was guessing it to be similar to mine.
“Hmm?” he said, leaning in.
He placed his fingers delicately on the small of my back, as though that would help him balance himself while he listened so carefully to the two words I’d been asked to repeat.
I didn’t repeat them, thinking instead as I was about the tentative fingers on the small of my back.
There was something so sweet about it. Kind. Slow. Old-fashioned, almost.
“You don’t have to be afraid to touch me,” I allowed, turning, touching the top button on his shirt, as if to show him.
He’s tall. I like his height. And there’s something else I like, but I can’t quite place it.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” he said, completely genuine. “Please stop me if I do anything to hurt you.”
I tugged gently on his shirt, inviting his lips to mine with upward-facing eyes.
It’s perhaps unlike me to be so willing to look at a man as bravely, as nakedly, as I do him. But I sense in him a bizarre and wholesome sincerity.
“All right,” I agreed.
And that was a defining moment.
Mr. Kane liberally grabbed my bottom up in his hands, and went a little too wild in his kiss.
It’s fine. I understand. Exuberance.
I just wasn’t prepared for it.
Just as I wasn’t prepared for his ardency to grow and continue so immediately.
I was operating on the assumption that a bit of physicality would put him at ease, make way for the rest of it to be well-paced.
Likely because I’m an adult woman. And he an even-more-adult man.
But no. Once started, he was unable to back down.
“Okay,” I said, separating myself from him. “Let’s take a moment.”
He nodded eagerly, pretending to understand. But even so, I could tell the next hour was already written for him.
“I’m going to the wash room,” I let him know. “You just calm down.”
I knew he wouldn’t calm down while I was in the wash room. Even though I stayed in there a really long time.
And when I returned, I sat at a distance from him.
“So,” I began.
He walked over and sat on his knees at my feet, first adjusting the hem of my skirt, and then lifting it slightly.
“The stockings are really magnificent,” he wanted me to know.
“Okay,” I said.
He ran his fingers hypnotically across the cuffs of the stockings, smoothing and manipulating them so that they were in some kind of ideal symmetry I couldn’t comprehend.
“Are you a little OCD?” I questioned.
“OCD?” he echoed, the majority of his concentration still on the stockings. “No. Yes. Maybe. I’m really not sure. Yes, I suppose about some things I am.”
Unexpectedly, his body then lunged at mine. He coincidingly grabbed the back of my head in one hand in order to keep it from knocking into the lamp behind me.
An impressive maneuver, I suppose, stemming perhaps from his history of lacrosse. But no.
Despite his affections, some important part of me felt largely ignored.
I pushed him off and stood up.
“I’m sorry,” I told him “but this needs to be redefined.”
“That’s okay,” he assured me, simply.
And then, after a beat, “What are you talking about?”
He was avidly offering up his body, when what I needed, at least in part, was his mind. So I explained to Mr. Kane that he was heretofore no longer permitted to touch me.
“But you can otherwise direct me in whatever way you want.”
I explained to Mr. Kane that he was free to undress, but that my clothes were staying on.
“If you’d like me to touch you, I will. But you are absolutely not to touch me,” I reiterated, sternly. “If you do, I’m leaving.”
By this time, he’d already stripped off all of his clothes. I anticipated his being more shy than that. But men of his size seldom are, I suppose.
“On a scale of one to ten, how dirty am I allowed to talk to you?” he wanted to know.
“Ten,” I answered, curious as to what this tender-hearted man could devise.
To my great pleasure, he narrated the events with incredible articulation. I’ve never heard anything like it. Not one stutter, pause, error of speech. Just a fluid purging of words.
At some point, Mr. Kane positioned me reverse-kneeling on the couch. Positioned my hands on the couch’s back.
“Don’t touch me,” I warned, feeling him behind me.
“I won’t,” he reassured me.
He stretched his long arms around me. Put his hands down on either side of mine.
“I’ll keep my hands where you can see them,” he whispered, nuzzling his scratchy face all up in my hair.
Hair for which he then used the verb spill.
As in, “Now arch your neck, and let me feel your hair spill across my bare chest.”
And as promised, I did exactly as I was told, Mr. Kane looking down from just above me.
Mr. Kane, and his magnanimous, overflowing library of self.