Opinion
8 min

Paris Demands

An excerpt from Hole and Corner columist Mike Miksche’s new novel

I took a seat at the bar and wondered whether I could have sex with somebody in one of those rooms. Credit: Lethe Press

On my way home, I walked by the sex club near Les Halles that I’d passed so many times. I’d never been to a sex club before, ever, but was always curious about this one in particular, its red windows and illicit bricks, painted in so many layers of black that it looked rubbery. There was a large neon sign over the entrance that read: Péché. Why not go in? I can leave whenever I want.

I had to use my shoulder to open the front door. It was steel clad with rivets going down the length of it. I was guided into a dark vestibule with a ticket booth and a black light fixture above like the entrance into a forbidden midway. The lights made the guy behind the counter look sub-human. His skin was blue, and his eyes were like backlit glass. He looked bored as he puffed on a cigarette and checked his text messages on his cell phone. When I approached, he pointed to a sign: 10€. I paid and was buzzed into a second set of doors that led into a long, narrow hallway with many rooms spinning off from it. From within the darkened quarters, I could hear talking, moaning, belts buckling and clinging. Techno played throughout. The sound intensifying as I stepped down the hall. When I turned the corner at the very end, a bright dance floor appeared, with cosmo balls swirling multicolored rays of light all around. The crowd was seemingly normal. Many people were dancing, lost in the sound, others sipped drinks, cruising.

I took a seat at the bar and wondered whether I could have sex with somebody in one of those rooms. There was a guy dancing a few feet away from me who kept looking over and smiling. He was a handsome, clean-cut sort, with blonde hair, but the rest of his details were lost in shadows.  

Oui? the bartender asked.

Une bière. 1664.I felt a sudden boil in my stomach. My left leg began to shake; I couldn’t smile back at the blonde. My face was too stiff. When I got my beer, I downed a quarter of it and looked back over. He was still staring at me. Just smile, I thought. Just do it. When I did, it felt crooked, as my right cheek began twitching. Still, he motioned for me to follow him and disappeared into the hall. I drank the rest of my beer and went after him, through the crowd. He was waiting for me by one of the side rooms.

Ça va?

Before I could answer, he kissed me, and reached into the front of my pants, grabbing my cock. I used my hands to massage his lower back, a bit shy at first, but I finally slipped them into his pants, and squeezed his ass as hard as I could. He pulled away, and looked at me with wild thirst — his grin said “delicious.” He grabbed my hand and led me into the room.

“Fermer la porte,” he said. I closed the door. It was so dark that I couldn’t see anything, except a faint glow coming from holes in the right wall. I assumed they were glory holes. I reached out for him and felt his chest. He grabbed my wrists and guided me. A noise came from the other end of the room.

“What was that?” I asked, looking around.

“You’re American?” He had a British accent.

“I think there’s somebody else in the room.”

“That’d be nice.” He unbuckled my belt and lowered my pants. I heard him spit, then felt of his cool moisture drip onto my cock. I stuck my tongue out and licked the rest of the saliva from his lips. “I want to suck that cock of yours.” He began stroking me.

“That’d be nice,” I whispered.

He got on his knees and began sucking me off. I felt like I was going to burst. “You have to stop. I’m going to come if you don’t stop.”

He took my penis out of his mouth and began blowing air around my shaft. “Are you going to come in my mouth?” he asked me.

“If you keep sucking, I will.”

“Mm . . .”

Within ten seconds, I came, using his shoulders for support. “Holy fuck.”

He stood up and asked me to pinch his nipples. I ran my hands through his chest hair until I found them. I squeezed them and twisted. “Yeah . . . harder.” His lips touched mine—they tasted salty. I pinched callously, like it didn’t matter. “Yeah, that’s it,” he said. “That’s it.” When he came, he threw himself back against the wall and let out three long moans. I stood in the darkness with my hands out in the air.

“Thanks, mate,” he said.

I smiled, but remembered that he couldn’t see me. “Yeah. No worries. Thank you.”

“You’re on vacation?”

“No, I live here. I’ve been here for about half a year.”

“Do you know who I am?”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you recognize me?”

“I can hardly remember what you look like.”

“Cheeky.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you before. Should I have?” I was having trouble matching the buttons on my shirt.

A flame appeared near his face, as he lit a cigarette. There was a hypnotic reflection in his eyes; the flame danced in his pupils.  

“Have you ever been in love?”  I asked.

“Don’t tell me you’re in love with me —”

“No, of course not. I’m just curious.”

“Listen, friend. There are a lot of people who are in love with the idea of being in love. I can tell that’s you, isn’t it?”

“Used to be.”

“Ah, poor baby. Are you jaded now?” He gave my ass a hard slap.

“Isn’t it better to be jaded?”

“There are people who hurl themselves over cliffs for love and people who write books about them.”

“Sorry? People write books about other people jumping? Or people who jump over cliffs write books about it?”

“Either, or. It’s just good content. Don’t throw yourself over a cliff, and you’ll be fine, mate.”

“Are you leaving now?”

He laughed. “I don’t want to continue to sit in the dark with some perv in the corner.”  

“Can I walk with you? If you don’t mind.”

The light of the cosmo ball blinded me as we passed through the dance floor again. The crowd seemed thicker and rowdier; there was some jumping and groping among the mass of people. It was getting messy; hands and eyes were everywhere. What time is it? Somebody reached out from the crowd and grabbed my ass. There were so many people that I couldn’t tell who it was.

The early morning sun was finding its way the club.between the buildings, overtaking the shadows. My mystery blond looked more attractive in the light. He had short, blond hair brushed forward, with a bit of scruff lining his jawbone. He looked distinguished, even though he was disheveled. He pulled out his sunglasses and put them on.

“I’m only a few blocks away. Where are you?”

“Close to Parc Monceau.”

“I don’t know where that is.”

“It’s a bit far.”

We walked for a few minutes without saying anything to one another. “Do you live here, or are you just visiting?” I asked.

“I’ve been here for two years now.”

“Cool. Do you ever get lonely?”

“Never. If I want somebody around, I’ll have somebody around.”

“Somebody from the sex club? Like me?”

“Like you, and like anybody else. My phone is full of these Frenchies who’d be over in a second, if I called them. They all think they can change me into their dream lover.”

“Wow.”

“I know it sounds cynical,” he said, raising his eyebrows.

“Really cynical.”

“So you’re in love then?”

“No.”

“And we both just got off in a sex club, no?”

“Yes.”

“Look, I don’t know you, friend, but let me give you a piece of advice. Dial down the intensity.”

“You think I’m intense?”

He put his arm around me, and lifted up his sunglasses so I could see his eyes. “Just for the first two weeks, yeah? Then you can reveal all that crazy, dark shit that I know is in there. But wait for the right time.”

“Fuck you,” I laughed, shaking his arm off.

“Seriously, mate. I’m trying to help you.”

“Well, when would this right time be, when I’d reveal all my ‘crazy shit’?” I asked.

“Like when they’re talking about a close family member that died, or when something traumatic happens.” He lit another cigarette. He took two puffs and passed it to me.

“Thanks,” I said.

“You might have to elicit that information. But when they tell you, you sympathize and understand. Then you’ll bond, and they’ll be yours to do with as you like.”

“I’m sorry, I’m a little confused. What exactly are we talking about right now?”

“If you don’t want to get lonely.”

“Okay. So that’s what you do?”

“Yes. Are you done with that?” he said, looking down at the cigarette in my hand. I took a final drag and passed it back.

“And it always works?”

“Not always. But if at any point you sense they’re not that into you, then you disappear.”

“Why?”

“Because they’ll want you even more. One of the biggest human flaws.”

“Jesus. Where the fuck did you come from?”

“The sex club.”

“Okay.” I looked up at the sky. The sun was starting to touch the tips of the buildings. “So, going back, how would I know that they’re not into me for sure?”

“That’s the hard part. But if there’s any doubt, you walk away. Believe me, they always come back. Sometimes you have to wait, but they’ll come back. Anyway, mate. This is my place,” he said.

I looked around, trying to figure out where we were, but I’d lost track. “You’re not going to invite me up and seduce me?”

He leaned in and kissed me. “You seem like you have enough problems.”

“Tease.”

“Cheerio!”

“Well, thanks for the chat. And for, you know.”

He didn’t look back.

As I continued down the street, I replayed the conversation that I’d had with the British guy. I wished I got his name. Actually, he probably would’ve lied about it anyway. But still, he was right. Life is a game: dealing with relationships, family, friends, always a struggle for power and respect, or love and acceptance. It was idealism turned pessimism, to realism with an ounce of sensationalism. It wasn’t that I hadn’t changed already, but it wasn’t enough. I needed to change some more. It was interesting, the thought of accessorizing people, mixing and matching, discarding with no explanation. I could even try to make them fall in love with me for the fun of it. I needed that — people to love me.