Bill Todd -- DANDERTON: A Novel of the Thirties and Forties
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 Chapter 8

The Vertical Trysting Place

Sam was wondering desperately whether the lecturer realized that the period had ended. He was a fussy little historian teaching a class Sam attended "for fun," but it was gradually becoming clear that it was no fun at all. Indeed, it seemed unlikely that anyone wearing one of those tall cylindrical montrously uncomfortable collars could ever be free of pain long enough to be fun. At least unless he had a perfectly tubular neck to fit into the collar. The lecturer finally stopped, and, as Sam stepped out into the brilliant sunshine, he wondered if any Germans, with or without perfectly cylindrical necks, could ever be fun. Just then, Annaliese came rushing up. He could see at a glance that her neck, far from being cylindrical, was tapered very nicely. Moreover, even though she was as German as sauerkraut, no one could be more fun than she. Refuted in his thinking, he joined her enthusiastically.

Although it was very early for dinner, Sam was hungry. Annaliese, too, was hungry. It seemed that the only thing was to make for a little Italian restaurant, the only one in Rosbeck, which was actuallly between two university buildings. As they proceeded in that direction, he realized that there was something unusual about her walk and mentioned it. She replied,

"I have on high heels."

She then swung back her full skirt to reveal white pumps and added,

"I also have on a much nicer blouse than usual."

Sam looked appreciatively at the lacy white sik blouse and asked,

"Is today a special occasion?"

"Yes. I've been applying for a job at city hall. In the police department."

"Really? I didn't know that there were policewomen in Germany."

"Oh, it's just a job as a secretary, and it doesn't pay much. But I'm trying to save a little money, and I need it."

"How did it go?"

"Quite well. I took my hair up into a bun and kept my hands in my lap the whole time. You wouldn't believe what a respectable young lady I can be."

"It might take more than that to neutralize your natural vivacity."

"Well, of course, even policemen don't want a secretary who's totally dull. One of them said that he'd seen me at the Cafe Nord."

"I saw someone there one might whom I thought might be a cop. I assumed that he was spying on us."

"Cops go to cafes just like other people. Besides, if he'd been a spy, he wouldn't have admitted having been there."

Sam wasn't so sure. He also didn't have the heart to point out to Annaliese that she had been loudly exploring the possibility of selling herself to Japanese tourists on that occasion. She said cheerfully,

"They said they'd let me know in a day or two, and I'm pretty sure I'll get the job."

Arriving at the empty restaurant, they discovered that the proprietor was willing to do business and ordered. Annaliese then asked,

"How are you doing?"

"I just got word that an old girl friend is coming here to visit."

"You look pleased."

"Well, I am. The only thing is that she's divorcing her husband and may have me in mind for a replacement."

"The girls here all recognize that you're not the sort to marry. If this lady knows you well, she probably realizes it too."

"I didn't know it was that obvious."

"Oh yes. Missy said that you like women, but at a certain distance."

"I thought it was she who wanted to keep things at a certain distance."

"She does, because she's supposed to save herself for some future fiance produced by her family. But she's right about you, all the same."

"Most of the girls and women I've known have been pretty keen on remaining virgins, partly for its own sake, and partly to avoid any possibility of pregnancy."

"German girls of our sort feel the same way. I'm the rebel, the only girl in my extended family who wouldn't claim to be a virgin. It's even possible that I'm the only one who isn't one."

"I've never actually gone all the way myself. But I'm sure the lady who's coming has it in mind."

"And, since she's been married, she's knowledgeable. Is she older than you?"

"A bit."

"I can see that you're in for an education, Sam. And you'll likely be euphoric after the sex part. You may marry her after all."

"That wouldn't be good. Kids irritate me, and I like to wander."

"You're not the type to yearn for a home with an easy chair in front of a fireplace and a good woman cooking in the kitchen."

"I bet it's no more attractive to you than to me."

"I don't even want a real boy friend. The one I had is probably with some other girl by now, and I don't feel any loss."

Annaliese laughed delightedly as she attacked her pasta, and Sam remarked,

"It looks as if you prefer food to sex."

"Each in its place. Would you like to have sex later?"

Sam found himself surprised almost to the point of shock. Before he could reply, Annaliese laughed again and said,

"It's all right. You can refuse if you feel uncomfortable."

"I think I'd like to a lot. But my landlady is suspicious."

"And I have a room-mate who might be home. But there's a place we could go, and at least experiment a little."

Having finished dinner, they went back to the building which housed Hokensen's institute on the ground floor and the classics department above it. They entered the side door which only gave on to the stairway, but, instead of going up, they went down into the basement. With an earthen floor, it was subdivided by stone walls, some of which were the original outside walls of a very old building that had been extended more than once. After a number of turns, they arrived at a little square room which was empty except for a few old crates which probably hadn't been touched for many years. There were many pipes running across the high ceiling, and a number of ropes hanging from them, each with a little loop bent in the end. Sam exclaimed,

"This looks more like an execution chamber than a trysting place. Are those ropes for hanging people?"

"In a way. No one wants to lie on the floor and get a muddy back, not to mention the little pebbles. And we thought it would be too obvious to bring in a mattress."

Sam, with an image in his mind of three pretty German girls dragging a mattress into the building, readily agreed. Annaliese continued,

"So we made it into a vertical trysting place. The lady holds on to the ropes while the gentleman makes love to her, or vice versa."

She then pointed to the rope at the entrance and said,

"We hang an article of clothing through that loop to warn off any others."

Just then, they heard a woman's high heels move rapidly over the floor above them. Annaliese said,

"That must be Missy. We ate so early that it still isn't quitting time."

"Is she the only woman up there?" "I think so. She's probably bringing papers in to Hokensen."

"Is that his office?"

"We'll soon know if he chases her around his desk."

The high heels left with a brisk clicking, but they were replaced by the sound of a large man pacing furiously. Annaliese giggled and Sam concluded,

"The briefest visit from Missy seems to agitate him so much that he can't sit still."

"It's fun to be able to hear them. Of course, we have to be a little quiet. We haven't been able to figure out if they can also hear us."

"Less likely to. Within reason."

"Some women tend to scream when having orgasms. One of my friends has to bite her tongue."

"Wow! I didn't know about that."

"I suppose I must be giving you the impression that my friends and I are hedonistic savages. Anyhow, we can't make love just like that."

"Really? I thought that that was more or less the idea."

"Crude people can and do. But intellectuals aren't like that. Each person must arrive at a concept of the other before beginning. They then revise it at various stages of the procedure. Sometimes, the conceptualization, and hence the love-making, can't be brought to completion."

Sam paused, somewhat confused, and Annaliese continued,

"I see you, for example, as an American. But, since you're bigger and probably stronger than any man I've known intimately, you become the local representative of a young strong country."

"I suppose America is the strongest country, as well as one of the younger ones, but I'm not really the sort of man who makes it strong."

Annaliese came closer, unbuttoned Sam's shirt and put her hands inside. She said,

"But I can feel how strong you are."

"I can throw a ball hard, but it's my brother who can marshal resources and organize an industry. That's what makes America strong."

"I don't think I understand. But, anyway, what do you think of me?"

"As a very pretty and charming young lady who's less serious about her studies than her friends."

"Oh, but I'm very serious. More than you can imagine. You'd better unbutton me to correct your view."

Sam loved to unfasten women, and he started slowly at the top of Annaliese's blouse. He asked,

"You mean about Greek drama?"

"Certainly. The others, for example, don't understand it. I'm the only one who does, and it's not on account of my scholarship, but the way I live and the way I am."

"How so?"

"As one example, the Greek idea of nobility consisted partly in random and spontaneous rebellion. You have to be that way yourself to really understand it."

"I bet your teachers really love your point of view."

"It drives them crazy, as it should. They're about as rebellious as sticks in the mud."

"Still, they haven't thrown you out of the program."

"Not yet. Anyhow, that's where I stand. I can see, though, that I don't have the right concept for you."

"Do I come under any of the German headings?"

"You're not one of the 'old students', or anything like that. But the communists have all sorts of wonderful categories. You might be a decadent cosmopolitan."

Annaliese now had his shirt open, and was tickling him through his undershirt. He giggled and replied,

"I rather like that."

"The touch or the category?"

"Both. I suppose I am a cosmopolitan. I've spent years in hotels in big cities. And I like everything in cities from the art museums to the restaurants. What would they mean by decadent?"

"One who makes no attempt to bring on the revolution, or effect any social change whatever."

Thinking of his present mission, Sam replied,

"That has certainly been true of me in the past. But I may be getting away from that."

"Is that because the Nazis irritate you?"

"Partly, I guess."

"We'll know better in a few minutes."

When they were naked, Annaliese mounted on a wooden box under one of the nooses and reached up to grasp the rope. Her slim white arms and little shoulders suggesting those of a very young princess in sacrificial position, she said,

"I hope this is high enough."

Sam dipped down, and there was a gasp when he made contact. Unfortunately, his penis didn't go in. It seemed that the peg was too big for the hole.

When Annaliese let go of the rope, Sam supported her weight easily. She then squirmed and reached down, making adjustments. However, by the time that she seemed to have everything properly aligned, Sam was quite soft. Annaliese, beginning to cry, said,

"I'm so sorry, Sam. I've messed up everything with all my nonsense."

Then, before he could say anything, she recovered herself. Grasping the rope again, she said,

"Perhaps I'm not high enough."

Sam, by this time, hardly knew what was high or low, or, for that matter, east or west. He had rather imagined that, in such circumstances, his penis would simply go in. He very carefully had not inserted it into Anne in their last encounter, but now, when all the signals were, so to speak, green, it didn't seem to go anywhere. Annaliese gave some further instructions. Sam tried to follow them, but even the most precise positioning didn't seem to do any good. Annaliese concluded,

"It may be that we're just too different in size."

Sam was pretty sure that it was his own ineptitude which was responsible for the failure, and that Annaliese was aware of that fact. But he was still glad to accept the excuse that she proffered. Annaliese then stepped back and said,

"Let's get down on the ground. The dirt won't kill us, and it's the usual thing."

Sam had little to lose at this point, but, after a horizontal repetition of his vertical failure, he allowed lamely,

"I guess it just isn't going to work."

As they got dressed, Annaliese gave him to understand that sexual intercourse succeeded only slightly more often that it failed.

"You can't tell in advance which partners will turn out to be well-matched. You just have to try different combinations. Your friend from America will probably be just right for you."

They then went to a different cafe where they wouldn't meet anyone they knew. Annaliese was even more charming than usual, but Sam eventually remarked,

"You said before that all the ladies knew that I wasn't the marrying sort. Am I also not the sexual sort?"

That produced a flutter and some indirection, but she finally said,

"You're complex, Sam. You'll get the sex going, and you may eventually marry. But it'll take some time and preparation. I'd say the same thing about Otto."

"Does he have similar difficulties?"

"He doesn't tell his sister, but I wouldn't be surprised."

In the ensuing discussion, Annaliese let it be known that the really sexy men were ditchdiggers, stevedores, and the like.

"I have a little experience in this area, and it's like letting the animals at the zoo out of their cages. Civilized people have to cross all sorts of bridges first."

Bill Todd -- DANDERTON: A Novel of the Thirties and Forties
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