I don’t even remember how it started. Well, okay, I do remember our first meeting – how could I possibly forget? The way she elongated my name when she whispered it in my ear was enough to drive me wild.
“Jaaaack.” As smooth as an ice cube, she chilled me to the roots of my hair.
She called herself Diamond, but it was her softer parts I was concentrated on that night as she writhed and jiggled in my face. Ned had his own lap dance to keep him busy, but when the song ended and the ladies departed, it was Diamond’s ass he commented on.
“I tell ya, my man Jack,” my best friend said, “if I wasn’t married…”
I smiled and held up the yellow post-it note she’d slipped into the front pocket of my trousers. “Fortunately, I’m not.” The paper had her number on it, a little heart dotting the “I” in her name.
Ironic that she stole mine. All I ever got in return was a post-it and broken promise. Oh, and a year of soul-splitting debauchery.
I waited in a small cafe of her choosing. Outside the January sun hung high in the sky. Undaunted, it traversed the window and reflected off the spoon beside my coffee cup and into my eyes. I traced the check on the tablecloth with my finger, wondering if it was possible to have a normal conversation with a beautiful woman whose body I had already seen entirely unclothed. When she walked through the door I felt the tension leave my shoulders. I don’t know what I’d been expecting, but I suppose it wasn’t surprising that when I’d imagined her over the course of the week since I met her, she hadn’t been wearing a duffel coat.
I waved to her and she smiled. In her hands were several shopping bags from higher end clothing stores. She sat opposite me and shook my hand.
My heart thumped a little harder in my chest. “Glad you could come.”
The waitress came over and Diamond ordered a latte. She took off her coat to reveal a turtleneck sweater. Again, not what I had envisioned. I relaxed a little more.
“So what do you do for a living?”
“I’m an investment banker.”
“Really! Isn’t that interesting. My ex, the asshole, was an investment banker. All the long hours… but that’s not why we broke up. He was just a cheating bastard.
“So tell me more about you. What do you do for fun when you’re not going to strip clubs?”
Diamond had a way of making people feel comfortable. We talked for over an hour. She lit up when I told her about my love for working with my hands – carpentry and the like, and for gardening. She said she missed the huge spread of land she’d shared with her ex-boyfriend. I offered to let her dig up a corner of my garden I’d been meaning to get to in the spring and she was delighted.
I confided that I, too had been a victim of infidelity in my last relationship, and she pointed out, with a warm hand on mine, that we had much in common. She commiserated when I told her about my ailing mother, and she agreed that I was lucky to earn enough money to keep her in a retirement home.
By the time we walked out into the freezing cold, I was convinced that it was kismet; that our meeting had been ordained by a higher presence. Afterwards, we went back to my place and there she refreshed my memory of our first meeting. I was pleased to note my imagination hadn’t gone far astray.
It was a month later, as we lay in bed in each other’s arms, that the topic of investing in her hobby came up.
“It might not be a big moneymaker at first,” she said, pausing to draw on her cigarette, “but just think of the fun we’ll have until it really gets underway.”
“But… it’s my basement.”
“Yeah, so? You’ve got tons of room.” Her voice was reassuring. “And like I explained, there’s no way we can get commercial space to run a dungeon. This town is too fuckin’ stuck up. It’s a wonder they haven’t been able to close the club down.” She was referring to the establishment where we’d first met.
“You have no idea how much of a demand there is. I hear it all the time at the club – men and women want somewhere they can go to safely dominate and be dominated. That’s the key – safety. I can give them that.”
She had disclosed early on that she had been a dominatrix. We’d played around with that unique style of sexual behaviour on occasion and I had to admit, I enjoyed it far more than I’d thought I would.
“Ever since that stupid book came out, everyone and his cousin want to try BDSM,” she went on.
“But, it’s my basement,” I repeated. “What will my friends think?”
She sat up and looked me square in the face. “I thought we had something here.” Tears came to her eyes that she didn’t bother to try to hide. “I thought we were soulmates.”
“We are, it’s just…”
She flung back the sheets and launched herself off the bed. “I don’t believe you don’t care about me enough not to worry about what your friends might say. I thought you loved me more than that.”
“I do, Diamond.” I was up on my knees, ready to beg her not to go, confused by her sudden reaction. “Can’t we just talk about this?”
She stopped, bra in hand, and looked at me. Her eyes went to my manhood and I began to twitch, despite myself.
“Do you really love me?”
“More than anything.”
The subject was dropped, and for a few weeks there was no mention of it. With Diamond I could never know if I was playing my cards right.
Every other weekend I went to pick my mother up from the home. She stayed at my house on Saturday night and I took her back after dinner on Sunday. The staff would wave goodbye to her as she gingerly eased herself into my car, complaining it was too low to the ground.
“What ever happened to that birch tree, Jack?” she asked every time we pulled into my driveway.
“The birch tree was in your front yard, Ma.” I answered the same way every Saturday morning.
“Oh, right,” she would say.
Then one weekend it all came out differently.
“What every happened to that birch tree, Jack?”
I told her the birch tree was in her front yard, at home where I grew up.
“No it wasn’t!” she said this time.
“Sure it was, Ma.”
“No, it was here, at your house. Just last year. I remember.”
“No… You remember how it bent over the year we had the ice storm?”
“Yes it was here! Are you trying to make me think I’m going crazy?” She was clearly agitated.
After that, when she asked me what happened to the birch tree, I told her I had chopped it down since her last visit.
Diamond hated it that I dedicated half of my weekends to my mother, but once I assured her that it wasn’t because I didn’t love her, she claimed to manage without me. She worked at the club from Thursday to Saturday anyway. Three days a week was enough for her to make almost as much as my salary.
On her insistence I started looking into the cost of supplies to finish my basement. When I met Diamond, all that was really down there was a card table I carted up to the living room once a week for a game of poker with Ned and the guys from work. I thought, even if it didn’t end up transformed into a dungeon for the depraved and sex-hungry, pain-seeking clientele she had uncovered, it would at least make the space more livable. When I decided I couldn’t afford it, she promised to help financially. And besides, she assured me, it would pay for itself.
By Easter I had moved past lumber and paint and we were shopping for whips and anal beads.
Work started on my basement in June. I had the tools to do some of it myself, but Diamond knew people who had designed and built a dungeon before, and I was forced to accept that I didn’t really know what I was doing anyway. I picked up some insurance sales work on the side to supplement my income – an entire month’s wages went into extra plumbing, lighting, and the walls – so I saw even less of Diamond. She didn’t seem to mind.
Although I couldn’t really afford it, I offered to support her so she could quit her job. The thought of other men ogling and groping her aggravated me. She refused, stating she made loads of money and it was a way to attract clients once the dungeon was up and running. I couldn’t argue on that account. I also couldn’t stand to be without her, so I spent every evening I could at the club, pretending not to squirm with discomfort while she danced on other guys’ laps.
By the end of July I had run out of money and was putting the finishing touches on the basement myself. I was in the nail aisle of the hardware store when someone came up and slapped me on the shoulder.
“Hey Jack, long time no see.”
“Ned! Yeah, what have you been up to?”
“Oh, not a lot. Since the baby was born we haven’t been out much.”
Guilt coloured my cheeks. I had promised Ned I would be his first child’s Godfather, but Diamond’s demands had kept me so absent from his life that he had asked someone else.
“I heard you’re opening some kind of business in your basement?”
“Really? Where’d you hear that from?”
He dropped his voice and put the back of his hand up to his mouth, even though we were alone. “I went to the club last week. One of the girls was telling me about it.”
“You should come and see it. Maybe bring the wife.”
He laughed. “I don’t think she’d be into that shit. But all the best to you.” He patted me on the back and left me there to cook in the stew of my own making.
The opening night of the dungeon was an eye-opener for me. There was surprisingly little sex between the girls who had come over from the club to work for Diamond, and the men and women who came in as clients. But amongst the couples who paid for the pleasure to simply observe the fun, there seemed to be no limit to what they would do. Exhibitionism was the main theme for some – the pain was secondary.
A month later when business was in full swing, Ned showed up. At first I thought he was there to partake, but he had a message for me. The retirement home had contacted him – he was the second and only other person on their list of who to call, since I didn’t have any extended family – to say my mother had taken a turn for the worse. She had been taken to the hospital.
I rushed out to see her, even though it was almost midnight. She had broken her hip on the way to the washroom. The next day the retirement called to say my last cheque had bounced and I had to find other accommodations for her.
Diamond was livid when I told her the news. “But we just started. You can’t have your mother come and live with you now!”
“I have no choice, Diamond. She needs me. I’m all she’s got.”
“Tell her to go to hell. Tell her you don’t have room. Put her in a nursing home! There’s an idea.”
“She’ll die in a nursing home.”
“That’s not your fault. You didn’t ask to be born and you shouldn’t have to take care of your mother. Your job is done when you come out of the womb. You’re her responsibility, not the other way around.”
“Diamond, I can’t.”
“You never fucking cared about me did you? It’s always been about you. ‘Oh, Diamond, I’m running out of money, I’ll do the renovations myself,’ or ‘Stop working at the club and stay with me at home,’ or ‘Stop paying more attention to those other guys.’ It’s all ‘me me me’ with you. Now it’s, ‘Close the dungeon down because mommy wants to come and live with me.’ Well fuck you. I’m outta here! I can’t believe you’d betray me like this!”
I was aghast. “That makes no sense! How can you possibly say I don’t love you? All of this is for you.”
“If it was, you wouldn’t be asking your mother to come and live with you. Keep your dungeon. Run it yourself with your mother upstairs asking where the screaming is coming from. See how you do without me. I’m gone.”
In my stupidity, in my utter need to keep Diamond happy, in my addiction for her love, I sent my mother to a nursing home where her health continued to suffer. I got so desperate that I asked for Ned to help; I asked him to put my mother up for a while. He basically told me to go fuck myself. I hadn’t as much as talked to him in months, why would he? It took me another five weeks to finally say goodbye to the woman I loved. Diamond, that is.
In retrospect I think she knew the end was coming. She stopped pretending she wasn’t screwing other guys; she rubbed it in my face. She tortured me, making me watch while she spread her legs for other men, smiling at me all the while. I had enough. Now I’m the bastard ex-boyfriend, I’m quite sure of it.
My mother is in the other room, asking where the birch tree went, that was never on my front yard, my ex best friend wants nothing to do with me, and I have an abandoned, dusty dungeon in my basement.
If life is a game of cards, I lost, in spades.