The Despoiler

Here is a story that has been published a few times. I can’t remember exact details. But anyhow:

The Despoiler

“Voluptuaries of all ages, of every sex, it is to you only that I offer this work.”

—Marquis de Sade

Georgi kept his hands in his pockets and with them could feel the movement of the muscles of his thighs. The cigarette lighter was there too and, with one hand, he clenched it and thought of a plowed field, furrows, and the herbage that might sprout therein, after ample rain—The point. His other five fingers ran along, and one of them felt that.

 

The park was beautiful and the sky clear overhead. Yet there were such things as ghosts and desolate wastes—The green hillock might just as well have been a sand dune in which to stick his head, and suffocate; the arbors, abrasive crags; the swan-studded pool, a festering swamp, from which rotting flesh is dredged… Certainly, at least, Georgi’s steps, in their morbid drag, reflected only the latter sentiments.

 

His face was handsome, though troubled with two days growth of whiskers, and his clothing elegant. He was young and obviously of nervous temperament.

 

He clasped the lighter tightly and flicked it in his pocket—He remembered her, that head of long black hair; dark as iron oxide, or the soil of mars. Yes, her body might very well have been repulsive; and that face, as a skull might look bound in soiled linen. But what did it matter? Fibers, tendrils, gossamer… The veins ran along his white wrists and quickened the flow of that thin, blue liquid.

 

People walked in the park, and some, probably young and innocent enough boys, shouted in its farthest regions. There was grass in which to sit and bushes in which to hide and benches on which to read. In the tennis court two men played. They both wore white. The ball clicked, rhythmically, between the two rackets. The tumescence was interrupted when one man missed and both stopped, shouted and joked.

 

Georgi ground his teeth and tensed his jaw. Every pore of his scalp felt as if under attack—By the stingers of ten-thousand ominous insects.

 

But salvation stepped before him, in that ligulate wing, that dangling, swaying mane.

 

Let him move lightly.

 

She walked unaware, along the path that led through the grass. There was the other, who had worn it down as far as her derriere; so tractile, and worthy of his quivering lips. It was a terrible fever, and for days he had lain in mortal danger, a wet rag smoking on his forehead. How happy his family had been to see him sit up, and swallow a few spoonfuls of soup.

 

And during the long recovery, he sat stroking the cat, eyes glazed and wormed with threads of carnation. The Lamp Lighter Inn… A rabbit’s foot… Fingers coursing through nocturnal locks.

 

He lunged, clasping the shears in his manic talons, and, with great rapidity, clipped off that flow of dark silk… The shriek sounded as he ran over the green mounds and vaulted the shrubs. There would always be her, and that head of long, black hair, which was her single beauty, and livelihood.


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