Russell Bittner


chapter 15 of Trompe-l'oeil


As Kit became absorbed in opening one of the champagne bottles, Daneka studied him and wondered where he—and the champagne—would take them.  He filled the two flutes, handed one to her and raised his own.

“To the future of stories and story-telling,” he said.  “And to those who tell them, however they tell them.  May they be half as good as you were, and it was.”

Daneka clinked his glass and lowered her eyes in coy acknowledgment of the compliment.  When she looked back up, he had already speared an oyster, and now held the fork in front of her lips.  She started to reach for it; stopped herself; opened her mouth instead; let her tongue creep out over her lower lip.  Kit put the fork into her mouth and slid the oyster off onto her tongue.  She curled it back, then let it slide down her throat.  It had been cold only a second earlier on her tongue; as it reached her stomach, however, some other part of her felt a sudden flush.

Kit speared another with the same intent.  As he reached up to put this second oyster on her tongue, she gently pushed his arm down with one hand and reached with the other for a strawberry.  Holding onto it by the stem, she raised it to her mouth; puckered out her lips and wrapped them around the fruit; chased it slowly back out with her tongue; then turned it around and placed it between Kit’s lips.  He bit down slowly and separated flesh from stem.

A second flush flared up where the first had flared just seconds earlier, and her legs parted—though by not more than an inch or two.  The reaction was involuntary—like a muscle spasm—though by no means against her will.

Kit’s reaction when he’d first placed the quivering flesh of the oyster on her tongue had escalated of its own accord as he next watched her caress the strawberry with her lips and tongue, only then to put it into his mouth—and his heart and mind began to race.  As her legs crept apart, however, and as his gaze was drawn to that part of her, his eyes caught sight of her panties, but not of the flush beneath them.  His reaction was as plain to him inside his jeans as it was to Daneka outside of them.

They were now staring openly at each other, but it was, for once, not into each other’s eyes.  They were two adults fast approaching middle age, and yet each felt the relentless, gravitational pull of hormones even stronger at this moment than the gravity that kept them seated in their rowboat; kept the rowboat floating on the lake; kept the lake puddled in its granite island—that island clinging to a continent; kept that continent anchored to a planet; and kept that planet tethered by the same invisible force to a solar system.

Kit and Daneka were merely two creatures.  Except to themselves, the strength of hormonal attraction between them was negligible.  Had some anti-gravitational force been accidentally unleashed in the universe to rival the strength of that attraction, however, all would’ve been reduced to chaos.

There was still the small matter of twenty-two oysters and as many strawberries, not to mention a bottle and a half of champagne and an assortment of fruit—all of which it was not in their nature to waste.  Besides, they were adults; they still needed to get to know each other—before, that is, they got to know each other.  And so, they settled back and did what adults do first:  they talked.

Once she started, it all came out:  her birth, her upbringing, her education, her ambitions, her early frustrations, her persistence, and the later rewards—perhaps because of that persistence.  In short:  how Daneka had become Daneka.  It sounded to Kit like an H. C. Andersen fairytale—the more he heard, the more he wanted to hear—and the enthusiasm in his eyes served her story-telling like rich fuel.  He felt he could go on listening to her for hours, if only she’d let him.  But she wouldn’t.  Now it was his turn to tell.

The sun had already slipped below the peaks of the apartment buildings along Central Park West when Kit began.  The wait staff at the Boathouse, like mate-hungry fireflies on a late-summer evening, moved in a quiet hum around the floor of the restaurant touching Bics and Smart Lites to willing candle wicks.  One after the other, these tiny tabletop lighthouses responded until the whole scene, viewed from Kit’s perspective in the rowboat, more closely resembled the idyllic backyard of his youth than it did a simple commercial venture in the biggest natural playground in North America’s busiest city.  As Kit reveled for a moment in a kind of fast-forward newsreel of his youth—and particularly in the part of it spent in his own backyard—he felt Daneka move up behind him and drop her arm down across his chest.  She laid her head on his shoulder, and he could almost smell memories of freshly mown grass in her hair.  She had the brute beauty of Brugmansia and the scent of Syringa—and she reduced him in that moment to a buzzing bumblebee.

The arm laid across his chest felt like his mother’s arm securing him in the swing or on the monkey bars as he’d try ever bolder, higher ventures—the same mother who’d not once discouraged him from testing and pushing his own limits, and who’d also kept an arm of security around or just in front of him to rescue him from his inevitable falls.  As a result, Kit had learned to move cautiously but steadily forward, testing and then taking each new step, each new plot of land, each new challenge in life that play—and then work—put before him.  Recklessness such as most of his peers had engaged in at one time or another never became for him a necessity or even a temptation.  He simply took life; tried it on; kept the bits that made sense; discarded the rest.

They exhausted the first bottle and Kit opened the second.  They’d long since consumed their provision of oysters and strawberries, and even of the additional pieces of fruit.  There remained only a few more flutes’ worth of champagne in the second bottle.  Kit’s and Daneka’s contentment—with each other, but also with their surroundings—could not have been more complete.  All of their appetites but one had been satisfied.

As their rowboat drifted around a bend in the lake towards the Rumble and out of view of the Boathouse, Kit felt Daneka unbutton the top two buttons of his shirt and slip her hand inside.  Her fingers lay quietly for an instant just below his collar bone, then slowly began to caress his chest, shoulder and arm muscles.  He first heard, then felt, the gradually increasing pace of her breathing as she appeared, almost trancelike, to enter into a state of self-induced excitement.  He wanted to slow her down; to take her face into his hands and study it and her eyes, line by line; to trace the length of each tiny line with his lips.  But this time, she wouldn’t be stopped.  Her breathing had become almost a rasp as she brought her hand back outside of his shirt in search of the remaining buttons.  These she undid rapidly, then pulled his shirt up and out of his pants.

Her mouth took over the territory her hand had only recently explored, and her lips and tongue moved down across his chest and stomach.  As she opened her mouth wide to take in a portion of the skin covering his abdominal muscles, she reached down between his legs.  It was clear to both of them that Kit’s thoughts had moved on from a swing and monkey bars.  As soon as she felt him, Daneka’s rasp became a low moan.  She moved her hand up to his belt buckle and undid it blindly, expertly, with an economy of gesture.  With the same economy, she pulled his zipper down to its base, then slipped her hand inside the opening of his shorts.

As she felt him for the first time without the medium of cloth between his skin and hers, her moan became a quiet growl.  She released the skin over his stomach from between her lips and teeth and moved her head down between his legs.  She grasped the length of him with one hand and placed him between her lips.  With the other hand, she reached down between Kit’s body and hers, found one of the two ties holding the upper and lower folds of her dress together—and pulled it.  The upper portion of her dress sprang loose and she attempted to wriggle out, apparently not wanting to release him from her grip and mouth.

Kit reached down and pushed the material off her shoulders and halfway down her back.  He pulled one arm free from its sleeve, took the hand from his penis and freed the other arm.  He then reached around in back and unsnapped her bra, letting it drop to the bottom of the boat.  As her breasts came into full view and she felt her nipples brush up against the rough material of Kit’s pant leg, she growled louder, then opened her lips and slid her mouth down the entire length of him.

Their boat had long since drifted away from the Rumble, out and under the ironwork span of Bow Bridge and into open water, yet both were completely unconscious of their surroundings.  A thousand pairs of eyes might be watching them—if not from the Boathouse, which was now out of view, then from the banks of the lake or through binoculars or telescopes from any of the taller buildings along Central Park West.  And still they remained indifferent, caring only for this tiny, private universe of sensation—their own tempest in their own teacup—in which each of them by turns riotously, by turns languorously, bathed.

Kit could easily have come in an instant, and Daneka would not have objected.  Something in him suspected that she reveled in her ability to hold a man entirely captive in this simple act in which she maintained complete control over pleasure or pain, ecstasy or agony, maybe even over life or death.  He suspected she could emasculate a man or destroy his self-esteem instantly if she cared to; at least, that she could reduce all of his earthly aspirations to one focused burst of energy of which she would be the lone recipient.

He suspected, moreover, that she no doubt sensed his straining towards that burst, and that she would know precisely how she might dispose of it—and of him—if that were ultimately her wish.

Kit, however, had other intentions.  He wished neither to control nor to be controlled, neither to dominate nor to be dominated.  He took her head gently in both hands and lifted it to meet his own.  He then kissed her as he’d never kissed another woman—and knew, in that instant, that he would never, ever kiss another woman again.

Daneka was momentarily taken aback.  The timing of the kiss itself surprised her almost as much as the deep desire behind it.  It was not simple lust—far from it.  This was the kiss of someone who sought far more than a quick fuck, no matter how ready she was to give it.  She felt herself reacting in a way that seemed entirely foreign to her, even disconcerting.  For the first time in as long as she could remember, she was not the agent, the motor, the initiator.  Rather, she was on the receiving end of something that threatened to overwhelm her, to deprive her of absolute control of the act and of its outcome, and it both frightened and seduced her into a state of mind in which she visualized this, her body, as no longer entirely her own.

She wanted a second kiss and moved one hand up to the back of his head, grabbed his hair and pushed his mouth against hers again.  This time, she reciprocated—but without fear or hesitation.  She kissed him in a way that seemed to mimic the kiss he’d just given her, though with nothing imitative in its or her intent.  Her reciprocity served only to increase the depth of his desire—and his, in turn, hers; and then his; and then hers again—until it seemed as if they might engulf each other in this single, ferocious act, like tigers chasing their own tails and slowly churning, turning, burning into butter.

Kit was not particularly strong or robust, and Daneka weighed a good deal more than a feather—or even a lightweight ballerina.  But he managed, somehow, to place one arm beneath her hips, lift her feet slightly into the air, and then grab a seat cushion with the other free hand.  She held onto his neck with both arms as he bent over and laid her down on the bottom of the boat.  As he reached for a second seat cushion and placed it where her head would lie, she reached down and inserted both thumbs inside her panties, pushed them down over her thighs, knees, ankles and toes, and kicked them off.  She then pulled up her dress so that she was bare from her navel up, and bare from the same point down—except for the halo of a silk dress around her waist.


Kit looked up at the plate of strawberries and discovered that one remained.  He took it, put it between Daneka’s legs, then pushed it into her and rotated it slowly.  She stared at him as he then pulled it back out, brought it first up to his mouth and bit off all but the stem.  He chewed a couple or three times and then swallowed.  Daneka’s lids lowered like stage curtains to her cheekbones, then raised themselves up again as if hoping for an encore.

As Kit slowly descended over her, she reached up inside his shirt and circled his bare back with her hands.  His chest met her nipples, and then came down gently onto her own chest, at the same instant at which the tip of him touched and then easily came to rest inside the moist creases of her.  This was indeed that moment of anticipation above all other earthly delights; that moment of sweetest urgency; that moment of voluntary submission when one being only too willingly gives him- or herself over to another in a contract without restraint or penalty or reprisal, into delirious and delicious human bondage.  This was precisely that moment when neither is master, neither slave, but when each is beholden only and entirely to the other for the fulfillment of a promise, the exact outcome and proportions of which neither can anticipate, as there exists no precedent between any two bodies that can yield more than a crude facsimile of the precise experience of any two others.

It was Daneka who initiated by raising her knees to either side of Kit’s hips, signaling to him that the sweet anticipation had become intolerable.  Already supporting most of his weight on his knees and elbows, Kit raised his hips slightly, slid himself down and entered her.  As he slowly and easily penetrated her to his full length, she closed her eyes and gave herself over completely to the nervous sense of purpose with which she was now filled.

As Daneka luxuriated in the sensation of having Kit inside her, and for the few, brief seconds in which they would continue in this state of complete immobility, she involuntarily and without reflection whispered a single monosyllable into his ear, yet drew it out as a virtuoso cellist might draw out a single note with his expert bow:  “Ja,” she breathed.

It was the first Danish word Kit would learn—and the only one he would never forget.


Most likely, they both started to twitch simultaneously—although neither of them was in the least distressed by the other’s apparent sense of impatience with their previous state of suspension.  After a period of somewhat less than a minute, a natural rhythm started between them.  It took only seconds more before they both realized, without the need to acknowledge it one to the other, that both their fit and their individual rhythms in coitus were perfectly complementary.  Consequently, it was not all that many more seconds before both reached a climax in which, had one been notably stronger-boned or the other notably weaker-boned, one of the two might’ve been hurt.

They then collapsed together in a complete and unmolested calm.