The Third Susan-Part 2 (Image: Mary Jane #5)

“You’re not the first person to say something like that,” I say, “maybe I’m one of those hopeless romantics we keep hearing about.”

I pull my chair closer to the couch and return her gaze.

“I’ll not be tedious any longer Susan. You have beautiful—no—exquisite features. I believe you would make a fantastic model—such incredible eyes,” I explain, now feeling a vaporous, tentative control over the exchange.

“It’s only my name you’re drawn to,” she returns with sympathetic curtness, “you’re still pining for those other Susans.”

“Not so my dearest,” I say, interjecting the tiniest bit of urgency, “It begins there but we are here in each other’s lives at this moment in time for a profound purpose. You’re the third Susan I’ve journeying toward for all these years—and you have been journeying toward me since the hour off your birth. The other two were harbingers of this encounter with you. This is a mystical convergence. Susan—you would make an incredible model—the perfect model for me. You are far more beautiful than any of those dancing girls—far above Charis Wilson. You are my eternal Susan—the Susan I have been searching for but did not know I was–until this moment.”  I am astonished I just said that—and meant every word.

“It’s only my name you whining wretch,” she says standing and looking down on me, trying to regain control of the moment. But it’s too late—I think she’s flattered but it’s much more than that—what I don’t know. This where normally I’d start reeling her in but—somehow—the game has changed.

“If you were my model,” I plead, “I would make you the most beautiful girl in America. I could do that—I could have that power,” I say and hold my hands, palms toward me, in front of me looking at her, ”but that power would come from you—my muse to be. And—like Weston—I would love you.”

“Of course,” she responds looking askance at me—her voice and face complete blanks. Any notion control is illusory—neither one of us is in control—something larger than ourselves is in charge. Control is no longer what I want anyway—I want much more than her body—I must have her soul. I lean forward and speak in a lower, more urgent voice.

“Be my muse Susan,” I say taking her hand and kissing it, “take your clothes off for me and my camera and I swear on the spirit of Edward Weston and every other artist who has ever lived and created—I will make you a goddess.”

She is off balance and vacillating. I know what she must be thinking—part of her is shouting, “this is unadulterated bullshit,” while another part of her is whimpering, “Oh God—he really is an artist—he could make me a goddess—more beautiful than all those dancing girls—more beautiful than Charis Wilson. I could be the subject of many works of art—I could be his muse.”

I see my moment—the look in her eyes turns from internal quandary to the “wanting-hunger” look—she is mesmerized and vulnerable. I stand, take her in my arms and kiss her. She tenses up in tentative resistance then melts and returns my kiss in moaning submission.

I begin exploring her body with my hands—she yields to my touch then suddenly the phone rings. She pulls away and answers it. She speaks briefly to someone,

“Yeah,” she says softly, “what—say that again—OK—sure—alright. Have a good trip.”

“Laurie’s not coming back tonight,” she says shrugging and hanging up the phone. There is a puzzling look of resignation on her face. “She’s going back to her last boyfriend. They’re going somewhere—Turkey  I think she said.”

“Turkey?” I say, “just like that—not even coming back for a toothbrush?”

She shrugs. I’m relieved. For the last forty-five minutes in the back of my mind I was wondering if Laurie might burst in but somehow I knew she wouldn’t—or if she did I wouldn’t care. This evening is about Susan—not Laurie. Susan looks at the phone and sighs.

“I knew it,” she whimpers, “I knew somehow Laurie wasn’t coming back and you’d get what you want. It’s happening again, I’m becoming that pathetic little Musette.”

I have no idea what she’s talking about.

“Who’s Musette?” I ask.

“A character in Nicole Collete’s short stories,” she explains. “Do you know her work?”

“She’s an obscure French writer from the 1800s,” I say, “I don’t know her work—I don’t read French.”

“She’s not obscure over there,” Susan replies, “she’s usually included in any survey of French Lit. after the French Revolution. She’d be something like Eudora Welty or Willa Cather in this country except all her stories are set in cities—usually Paris.”

“OK,” I said, “so why was Musette so pathetic—and what makes you think you’ll be that way?” She tucks her shirt back into her jeans and sits down on the couch. I sit down next to her and stroke the nape of her neck, running my fingers over her shoulder and down to her breasts.

She turns her back to me and says, “Stop that—massage my neck—it hurts because of you—you’re a pain in the neck. And what is it with you Yanks?—you’re obsessed with tits—I think you’re all nurturance-deprived.”

I explain it’s a sex-linked trait and a product of genetic predisposition. In the course of the Human Genome Project a gene known as the “American Tits-Obsession Gene” was identified and we can’t help it.

“There’s nothing to be done,” I say, “get used to it—or better yet, relax and enjoy the ride.” I suggest a little compassion—not all this unseemly irritability—might be in order. She mutters something about “stunted adolescence,” and continues her story.

End part two.

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