The Pipe Boy
Every once in a while, the pressure became too much for me to bear. I had given up hope of ever finding real love, but a man has urges, you know? I really didn’t socialize much outside of work, and I mostly worked with other men, so I decided that to give online dating a try. Most of the searches for women in my city pulled up a depressing array of candidates who were either attractive but vapid-looking or bright but unappealing. Occasionally, I would meet some woman or other, suffer through the pretense of dinner, then quickly release myself with her (there was no other word for it), and return to the comfortable monotony of my daily life.
I wasn’t hoping for much this time, either, although Alana did look pretty appealing in her photos. One could never tell exactly who would show up on these dates, though, as women often used photos of themselves which were several years old. I was kind of surprised when her message showed up in my inbox, actually. Unlike many people, I’ve never been able to delude myself into believing in my own attractiveness. Even when I was younger, I always knew I was rather unexceptional in terms of appearance, and I never could seem to achieve that well-muscled physique that I wanted, no matter how many hours I spent working out at the gym. Every time I looked in a mirror, all I could see was my stooped posture, too-thin arms and chest, and the steadily advancing tide of gray which was beginning to creep across my body.
The real reason that I was still alone at this age was, of course, not my appearance but something a little different. Actually, a lot different. You see, I have a peculiar fetish. When I say fetish, I don’t mean whips and chains. That would be too common and too easy to satisfy, I suppose. No, I have an opium smoking fetish. Opium, of all things. If you asked me when I started to feel this way, I couldn’t tell you exactly, just that I’ve always been entranced by the idea of a woman holding one of those long, beautiful pipes to her lips and staring at me with pin-prick eyes. From an early age, I had a sense that this was something I should keep to myself, something illegal and dangerous. In any case, the odds of finding someone who shared this proclivity seemed incredibly small, so I never pursued it. Sexual encounters were always unsatisfying for me, something I viewed as a necessary evil.
Often, after a woman had left, I would light the lamp and smoke a few pipes, imagining her sharing the experience with me. I honestly thought that it was the closest I would ever get to my fantasy. Alone, I tended my poppies, lavishing all the care and love on them that I couldn’t give to anyone else. Alone, I collected the beautiful instruments which constituted my smoking layout. Despite the joy that I felt when I acquired some fascinating new item, it was always suffused with a bit of loneliness because I had nobody to share it with. I had only shared my attraction to opium with one woman before, and that had ended badly, to say the least. I thought she cared for me, but when I broached the subject with her, she had called me a freak and a nut, shame cutting through me like a hot knife. Since then, I hadn’t discussed opium with anyone, and I figured I probably never would again.
Like I said, I was surprised by Alana’s interest in me. She was a bit younger, and her dark eyes seemed to flash with a predatory danger when they stared back at me from the computer screen. More than a few times while exchanging messages with her, I visited her profile just to stare at her photo, imagining what her pupils would look like after she had smoked a few pipes. My mind couldn’t help wandering, and I often ended up imagining her naked, reclining by the lamp with the most delicate pipe I owned, one decorated with multi-colored cloisonné and carved ivory end pieces. It was pointless, I knew, to hope for such a thing. I knew I should be grateful that she was even interested in me at all, given how attractive she was. She even seemed bright, too, based on the few conversations we had online before deciding to meet in person. I thought it a bit odd that she simply wanted to come to my house instead of meeting at a restaurant first, but I didn’t think much of it.
We had agreed that she would show up around six in the evening, and when I answered the door, I was pleasantly surprised to find that she was even prettier than her photo. Petite, slender, and self-possessed. Like I said, this part of the date often went the other way. When she embraced me briefly in greeting, I lingered perhaps a fraction of a second too long, sure that I could detect the faintest hint of opium in her sleek hair. Of course, I smelled opium everywhere I went, so this didn’t seem exceptional at all. I just figured that my attraction to her was causing me to project my fantasies, as my therapist would say. As a courtesy, I figured I would give her a tour of the place in order to make the encounter seem like less of a sexual hook-up. When I showed her to the room I used for smoking, I was struck by a bit of sadness at the loneliness of my situation and the impossibility of her ever being interested in opium. I had one of my favorite pipes, a long, thick one made of bamboo, sitting on one of the shelves that held some of my books. In all the times that I had shown women this room, none had ever noticed it.
“Where’s the rest of your layout, Robert?”
“I’m sorry, I’m sure there’s nothing you would be interested in in here, Alana. Would you like to see the bedroom?”
From the corner of my eye, I saw her reach up and take the pipe in her hands, removing the damper and examining its chop marks. “Where’s the rest of the layout,” she repeated slowly, the words falling from her cupid’s-bow lips.
My face must have registered surprise, based on the glint in her eyes as she stared back at me with the pipe in her hands. I had never met anyone before who knew what an opium layout was. “Ummm… what,” was about all I could muster at this point, so struck with surprise and incomprehension was I at what she had said.
“I want to see the rest of it. If you don’t mind, that is.”
I wasn’t sure what to make of this, and my brain was having a hard time processing it. “How do you know what a layout is?”
“I’ve smoked opium for years. I grow my own poppies too. I saw them in the background of one of your photos, and I figured you were an enthusiast as well.”
“Well, your taste in literature was a dead giveaway too. I mean, Cocteau and Emily Hahn? It was pretty obvious.”
I was beginning to return to my senses, and I made my way to the large trunk which served as the storage space for whatever paraphernalia was in use at the moment. As I removed the lamp, oil, matches, dampers, gee rags, needles, tools, and tray, I couldn’t quite believe that someone was there with me asking to see these things.
“And the opium, what type do you use? Is it chandu?”
I turned around to face her, staring in astonishment. How the hell did she know what chandu was? “It is, in fact,” I stuttered, sounding much less masculine than I would have liked.
After carefully placing the items on the tray along with the pipe and damper she had been holding, I walked to the closet, opened the small safe where I kept my supply of chandu, and turned to face her, not quite sure what to say. Immediately, her eyes alighted on the small vial, and she took it from my hand, placing it on the tray.
“Lay down next to the tray, Robert,” she said, pointing to the spot where the tray was sitting on top of the mat on the floor that I used when smoking. I did as I was told, powerless to resist her at this point. She approached, removing the little clothing she was wearing until she stood before me naked, smiling, with that same predatory look in her dark eyes. In one graceful movement, she lowered herself onto the mat and began to prepare the lamp, filling it with oil, trimming the wick, and lighting it. Once she was satisfied, she took a gee rag, moistened it with a bit of water from the bottle she had been drinking, and carefully wrapped it around the collar of the damper, finally placing it into the opening in the saddle with a look of competent satisfaction on her face. Next, she cooked the opium, rolled it, plunged the pill into the damper, and handed me the end of the pipe with the mouthpiece, guiding the damper over the lamp herself.
“Smoke,” her eyes commanded me wordlessly, and I did, the clouds of vapor I exhaled exciting my passion even more. After she had prepared another pipe for me, it was my turn to prepare one for her. Her eyes followed my hands as I performed the familiar actions, observing the slightest variations in my style and technique. When I handed her the end of the pipe, she locked eyes with me, refusing to allow me to avert my gaze as she inhaled the vapor, then exhaled it in elegant columns through her nostrils. In the soft glow of the lamp, she was my fantasy come to life, an exquisite gift that I was sure I didn’t deserve.
“Another, pipe boy,” she commanded, and I happily obliged.
“Take off your clothes and come over here.”
At this point, I was so overcome with desire that I could barely see straight, and I must have looked like a fool trying somewhat unsuccessfully to unbutton my shirt and remove my pants. Her gaze never left me the entire time, although I almost hoped she would look away before she noticed how physically unremarkable I was. Unexpectedly, she took the vial of chandu from the tray, slowly drizzling it down her body in a line from her breasts to her pudenda.
“Clean me off, pipe boy.”
Was she asking me to do what I thought she was? This was even wilder than any fantasy I had ever been able to come up with. I edged my way over to her side of the mat, positioning myself over her while she grabbed fistfuls of my hair, guiding my mouth along the glistening line of chandu. The taste was bitter, earthy, and slightly floral at the same time. When mixed with her sweat, the taste and the effects of the opium were almost too much to bear. When I was finished cleaning her, she pushed my head downwards toward the soft wetness of her sex. I buried my face inside of her, the taste of the opium comingling with her tang.
“Oh god, I want you now,” she screamed, yanking my face away from her and pleading with her eyes. I inched my way up her body and impaled her ever-so-slowly, millimeter by millimeter, prolonging her torment intentionally. As she writhed underneath me, her hair released the aroma of the opium, filling my nostrils and sending a bolt of electricity from my chest to my groin. For longer than I imagined I ever could, I plunged into her, spasms of pleasure wracking her body as she rode unceasing waves of climax. Finally, I could take it no longer, and I released myself inside of her perfect tightness, my heartbeat thundering in my ears like a percussive symphony. I collapsed next to her. Exhausted, sweaty, confused, but most of all, satisfied. For once, truly satisfied. She was there next to me, this perfect creature, possibly the only woman alive who would ever understand what opium meant to me.
“Was that your first time smoking with someone else?”
“It was,” I replied, out of breath.
“Well, it won’t be the last,” she replied, curling up next to me, the warmth of her small body bringing tears to my eyes.