Extracted from two new editions from White Rabbit Books, the Quietus presents new fiction by Jehnny Beth of Savages, with photography produced in collaboration with Johnny Hostile (some images are somewhat NSFW)
All photos credit: Johnny Hostile
For as long as I can remember, I always imagined myself with different lovers. As a child, I heard friends and relatives of the same age tell about their dream-life and their desire to have children one day, what an incredible achievement that would be. I never had these kinds of dreams. At night in bed, I dreamt about numbers. It was never gonna be just one lover, but many. Not just one orgasm at a time, but a multitude. Partly my desire was motivated by curiosity, but almost everything was motivated by the simple idea that I might die tomorrow.
I didn’t think much of Tania the first time I met her, I was nineteen, never in my young life had I intended to be in a relationship, not a serious one anyway. For the first six months of knowing each other I kept changing my mind. Every day I would tell her I was leaving. I couldn’t help but feel trapped in the confinements of a traditional monogamous relationship. I wasn’t able to identify the real issue then, or propose anything to improve it. The only reason I could fathom was that I wasn’t in love with her enough and so I had to stop it.
What kept us together was the way she reacted to my unsteadiness. Her answers intrigued me. Whenever I’d tell her “I don’t think I really love you” she wouldn’t feel hurt (or at least she wouldn’t show it), instead she’d say “me neither, I’m not sure” in a neutral tone of voice, showing neither worry nor sadness. If I said “I don’t think we should be together anymore” she’d reply “you are free to leave whenever you please”, pointing at her car without an ounce of despair or regret, indicating that she could drive me to the train station now if that’s what I wanted. Whenever I would test my truth on her it would never scare her away.
Three years into our relationship and once again I gather all my courage to announce that I can’t be with her anymore. In my young head I thought I couldn’t be in love with someone if I was attracted to others. The idea of living a dishonest life was creating too much anxiety, I needed to come out clean. “I don’t think we can be together anymore” I said “We have to stop.” She looked at me recognising the pattern. “We have to stop because, when I look at others, you know, I feel something, and I don’t know if that’s right by you. I love you but, that’s not all I feel. I feel more, about others, and I don’t think I can ever control it. It’s the way I am. Maybe I need to figure things out and …” I didn’t dare look at her. “And?” she said kindly. I didn’t want to finish my sentence. “So you like people?” she said after a short silence. “Not just that” I said painfully “I fancy them, I want to have sex with them, all of them, all the time!” “Well, that’s good, isn’t it?” she said before taking a brief pause. I looked at her. She was smiling. What on earth was she smiling about? “I like it” she said “let’s make sure you get what you want”. I didn’t expect such a response, but only later did I realise what she had just offered to me.
One evening when I came back from work, she told me to get ready to go out. Over the past several weeks I sensed she had been thinking about something secretive, but nothing prepared me for what she had decided to put into action. If she enjoyed planning, I did not. When I heard the words “get ready, we’re going out” I honestly feared what laid beneath. I’m not one of those sorts who thrive on conflict, so I didn’t share my apprehension. I just couldn’t help but fear I would hate it, that I would hate doing it with her, or simply hate her because she made me do it, and turned my night into a tiresome unending deluge of bestial sex that I knew my body couldn’t possibly endure.
I roused no more enthusiasm than I would to prepare for shopping groceries. I proceeded in this fashion to put on an air of normality in the house that I knew she delighted in. But I also understood that trying to have a good time was more or less the same feeling as truly having one, and as soon as I agreed to hand over control (totally, not partially) pretend excitement wasn’t shameful to me. I just had to make sure my actions never looked hollow so she could not distinguish between my feigned passion and the real thing.
Tania, on the other hand, assumed her role to perfection. Still giving me no information regarding our destination, she asked me to sit on the passenger seat of her car with no delay. She denied me any kind of satisfaction and I played into that.
She wanted me to feel useless but she didn’t make me feel unwanted. I wasn’t disobedient. I followed my instructions with chilling precision and abided my humbling role, the rush of adrenalin rippling up through my body.
I admit I had hopes that at the end she would take me home without stopping anywhere or meeting anyone. I felt weak with laziness and hoped that maybe this was just a little car trip and she wouldn’t ask me to get out and brave the cold in my outfit (my sole get-up consisted of a pair of stockings and heels underneath a long winter coat). On its far side I was of course willing to try anything, but at the centre of myself I felt apathy. I looked at her while she was driving and I felt I always knew what was in her mind except at that moment, her eyes fixed on the road, I could feel the growing distance between us and it felt necessary to insist on feeling it even harder now.
Tania mentioned that the journey was going to take a little longer – which confirmed that our excursion had a real pur- pose and a real destination – and asked that I start touching myself for the rest of the journey while she kept on driving. I stole a quick glance at the aloof expression of her face – not enough to start me off – and struggled to find some point of excitement. I stared glaze-eyed into the rear-view mirror. Rain had fallen with the night and a line of cars had formed behind us, their yellow lights broken by the regular movement of the windscreen wipers.
Behind us the cars tagged along at relatively slow speed and I had the sudden limp intuition that for some reason they had something to do with Tania. So far, I had not suspected anything about what was going on, but my instinct was telling me now that if she had planned anything – this was it. My skin prickled all over as if connected to an electric wire. There were a lot of cars. I couldn’t count them all as they never seemed to fit in one single straight line, but their lights felt like predatory eyes waiting for the opportunity to get me. I didn’t mention my discovery, knowing too well that secrets bind those who know it but do not share it. I touched myself concentrating on that idea, feeling both apprehension and gratitude.
The cortège of cars became a blazing emblem, not only of what each driver could later do to me, but of what I would do to them. Because let’s talk about it: in resorting to ultimate submission, I had gained ultimate power. Everything that evening, Tania, all the trouble behind it (how many phone calls, texting and emails to make this happen?) the cars parading through the rain, that was all for me. This revelation of Tania’s true colours – the extent of her hard-working love – pleased me and made me feel privileged to be with her. I couldn’t think of a better declaration of love than this slow procession of cars. But this was not the time for an incontinent outpouring of emotion – I knew Tania disliked it – so I rerouted my affection for her into the masturbation she had prescribed for me.
It was approximately forty minutes after we had left that I said I needed to pee. She shot me a long black look, “we are almost there” she said, but I insisted. As soon as the car stopped, I ran through the grass and hid behind the nearest bushes. My coat was already wet with rain when I raised my head and sighed at the release of long-held urine. The intimidating cars’ headlights now lining up on the roadway behind Tania’s car made me squint, the engines still fuming in the night. Then it was the oddest thing. One by one I observed several dark silhouettes getting out of their cars and a handful of those strangers slowly walking towards me. I hurried down my flow on the humid grass, leery of where this was heading. Tania, who had witnessed the scene from behind her seat, rushed out of the car to raise her hands and waved like a policewoman in charge of traffic: “She’s only pissing” she shouted through the rain “we’re almost there”. I got back in the car and the cortège took off one more time towards its destination.
The closer we got, the more impatient I felt. I rubbed my inside thigh with both my hands, unable to sit still. Tania too seemed glad when we arrived. It was the perfect spot, a patch of open field at the centre of a big park outside the city. Her arm outside the window signalled the rest of the cars to park anywhere around the meadow, striking a light in the most abstract regions of my soul. Such a beautiful talent for perversity, I reflected. It would have been a shame to let it lie fallow. She blindfolded me with one of her scarves that bore her flowery scent. My vision went almost black. I now only saw short distances through mini scratches of light. She told me to open my door and sit sideways with my feet on the grass. The rain had stopped and some of the cars had left their headlights on. With my visual perimeter closed-in I couldn’t guess when someone was walking towards me, only seeing them when they stood in front of my feet.
I felt, at last, transported. This was at a time in my life when my own fantasies had come to bore me. I was happy to surrender them to Tania’s vision. She wanted me sitting on the side of her car swallowing one by one the sexes that she had brought to me. How did that make her feel? When men presented their hard-ons and girls their wet slits, like close-ups of archaeological figures pushing against my mouth, was I recreating the floating pictures born from her imagination? I wanted to be the subject of her painting, give her the exact texture and hue, everything chosen by her, even the scarlet colour of my lipstick which after several minutes of sucking had already lost its lustre. My sensations weren’t mushy and soft-focused, they were sharp and vivid, I felt every second of this mise-en-scène directed by the woman I loved and knew I’d remember them long after I would be through.
The queue of men and women waiting for their turn was interminable and yet I never paused nor complained while powering through my task unaffected. I was marching through the paces of submission like a soldier on parade. Men plunged their members to the deep end of my throat until they came inside, sometimes holding my two ears like the handles of a bike. Women rubbed themselves against my lips, sometimes with a hip flexibility that astonished me, then reversed their heads back to scream their orgasms. I didn’t care to wipe the juices off my lips in between two customers, when one pulled back the next one immediately came in.
I never knew the extent of Tania’s pleasure in those situations, and I liked it that way. I knew she was not romantic about the rewards of domination. For one, she demonstrated none of the stereotyped bossiness of the role. She was peculiar about almost everything in life, from what she fought for to what she abominated, and that’s why I wanted to trust her, for once, have a blind faith in someone.
Saying that Tania came to my rescue would be a false rendition of the events that followed. She might not name her emotions most of the time but I knew pity wasn’t one of them. She took me away from my seat and asked me to lay my back on the bonnet of her car. Spreading my legs wide, she signalled the next person in line to get inside me. She knew very well that underestimating a submissive’s sexual endurance was the oldest mistake in the book. “You have some big company tonight” she said close to my ear “show me how much you like it”. “What if I don’t like it?” I ventured hoping to keep her near. “Show me anyway” she said before stepping back.
My second assignment was less restrictive than the first. In the spirit of fair play, she allowed me to look – which after hours in the dark felt like I had been gifted with clairvoyant eyes. The next man in line was heartbreakingly not handsome, and standing on two short legs his penis was unable to reach me. Not content to see him dismissed, I turned around and slid down the car side to level our parts. Grateful of my gener- ous gesture, he mumbled banal courtesies before aiming his member slowly up my ass.
Men and women acted orderly and relaxed to the end. I never knew where they came from or how Tania got in contact with them in the first place. Apparently many people on this earth are drawn, like us, to uncomfortable experiences. That’s my only explanation for their patience. I offered my holes for another hour or two, making sure everyone was treated the same, even though my pudendum had long lost its capacity for sensations. I was the receptacle of their cordial alliance, the living proof that a consensus between the two sexes was possible. Far back in the dark in between two thuds on my thighs, I heard a chuckle. Tania was smiling the quiet smile of someone who doesn’t think anyone is looking, which exuded the ascendant emotion of pride.
Back in the car on the way back I hold her hand for a second. She didn’t respond but didn’t move it away either. Her skin was warm and it gave me a foretaste of the peace when we would get home and curl up in bed under the duvet. I was longing to take a bath while she’d prepare two cups of tea, one of us breaking the silence only to share some banality, drenched by the emotions of the rainy night behind us. Some- thing about our next day would eventually snap us out of this silly beatitude, but right now I had never felt more calm.
C.A.L.M.: Crimes Against Love Memories is published by White Rabbit in two formats: a limited edition book of photographs by Johnny Hostile; and a book of stories by Jehnny Beth. Signed special editions available from RoughTrade.com