Saturday Morning Post #87: Until the Thrill is Gone (part 4)

In another story from “24 Exposures,” meet Dan and Sylvia, a couple who can’t quite keep it in the bedroom. Or the house.

The conclusion of the saga of Dan and Sylvia’s ever-expanding search for more exciting public sex. Watch for a character from one of the previous stories to drop in at the end.

A little over a week later, they were standing on an overpass above the 405 freeway, halfway through the mountain pass that separated LA’s rich Westside from the equally rich West Valley. It was five o’clock on a Friday afternoon, and traffic was moving in its usual fashion in both directions, so many blood cells stuck in an artery long since made useless by auteoporosis.

Dan had taken care in choosing this overpass. It wasn’t one of the main roads crossing over the freeway. It was an off-street, one lane each way, an obviously long-forgotten political payoff to some rich residents on either side of the manmade canyon. It was also hard to get to from both directions, narrow twisting roads up through the hills that doubled back on themselves. Dan had stood there for an hour a week ago, and not a single car had driven by.

They had parked as close as possible to the end of the overpass, then walked to the center and stood there, Sylvia’s simple floral print dress occasionally wafting in a sudden, short breeze. They could see the freeway for a mile in either direction, and the freeway could see them.

“Oh, Dan,” Sylvia said when he took the blindfold off of her. “This is… how did you find this place?”

“It took work,” he said. “Just like it would take work for anyone to get to us.” He kissed her and she melted into him, pulling his shirt up, which he quickly tossed off. She was out of her dress just as fast, fingers fumbling as she tore open his pants and he let them drop to the ground, stepped out of them. It was just the two of them up here and hundreds of commuters down there and it was perfect.

She leaned against the chain-link fence that wrapped the overpass and Dan stood in front of her, stooping slightly as he slipped inside. He wrapped his fingers in the fence, kissed her on the shoulder, then looked beyond, at the cars below. Traffic had just slowed to an almost dead stop, and he could see faces looking up at them through windshields. Horns honked, but they were not the angry horns of traffic. They were acknowledgements, admissions. “We see you. Thanks!” Safe in the anonymity of their cars, these people could do what they had mostly refused to do before — admit they were watching.

He saw big rig drivers give thumbs up and flash their lights, saw a convertible full of young women raise their shirts and flash their breasts, caught a glimpse of some guy in a Beamer with a blonde head bobbing in his lap. He saw them all and they saw him, they all saw him, they all saw him —

“They can see me — “ he thought, in time to his frantic hip-thrusting. In out, in out, one two, three four, they can see me, they can —

He threw his head back and almost screamed as he came like he never had before. That’s when he saw the helicopter hovering above them, but he didn’t care. This had been the moment they’d been looking for. He put his hands on Sylvia’s breasts and kissed her right between them and she moaned, “Oh god, Dan…” and then it was her turn to frantically writhe against the fence, like she’d never stop, and she probably wouldn’t have except that the sudden short whoop of a siren right next to them cut through everything, froze them in their tracks.

Two police cruisers, one from each direction, parked at angles across the road, two officers approaching from each. Dan and Sylvia looked at each other. She smiled and came again.

Dammit. Dan wished he had that ability. All he could do was smile vaguely at the nearest officer and say, “Hi.”

* * *

There had been no formal complaints filed. Sylvia’s father’s lawyer had insisted on that point and maneuvered the DA into an absolute interpretation of the law. George was an expert at that sort of thing, so they were only charged with disorderly conduct. Of course, they’d made the evening news, thanks to that helicopter, and although everything was blotted into a video mosaic onscreen, they both knew that the real footage would get out, creep around the world and perpetuate their act for years.

But the terms of their probation demanded that they attend group counseling, one of those stupid twelve-step groups for sexual compulsives. Yeah, that was the best way to treat a bunch of addicts, put them in a room together to talk about what most compelled them. Except that, after listening to their sad, twisted stories for a while, it all got depressing and, for the first time, Dan and Sylvia felt a little bit ashamed about all the things they had done.

They were walking through the mall one weekday afternoon, holding hands and saying nothing, just window shopping, when they heard the calliope tune of the carousel. They looked at each other, smiled.

“Ah, the old days,” Dan said.

“You want to go for a ride?” Sylvia asked him, but there wasn’t even a hint of suggestiveness in her voice. “Just for old time’s sake?”

“Sure,” he said, and they walked down, bought their tickets and got in line. When they got on the carousel, they picked separate horses, next to each other, and held hands as the thing started to turn, hidden mechanisms lifted them up and dropped them down and the world outside spun into a blur. There was something just so… sweet about a Merry-Go-Round. A horse race to nowhere, with no winners and losers, none of the mess or danger of real horses, everything turning in a proper circle until the end was reached. But, since it was a circle, there was no beginning and no ending. You came out where you came in, moved without moving.

Sylvia leaned her cheek against the rod that skewered her horse, looked at Dan, who was staring forward, smiling. He sensed her looking, turned. At the same time, both of them simply said, “I love you.”

And at last the great wheel stopped moving. Dan climbed off his horse, helped Sylvia down and then there was a loud thud, the carousel rocking slightly to one side and turning a few degrees forward. Screams echoed from the mall and people came running. Dan and Sylvia stepped off, walked around and saw the crowd that had gathered. Some poor, dumb schmuck had just taken a header from one of the balconies above and had landed on top of the thing, torso dangling over the side of the main axis, mirror cracked where his face had hit, bounced off and stopped to stare lifelessly at itself.

“Let’s get out of here,” Dan said, and they did.

They didn’t talk about the man who fell the rest of that day, but they both thought the same thing. Maybe it was a warning. At least it was a reminder. They sat very close together on the couch while they watched the news that evening, then they went to bed, Sylvia in a long silk nightgown and Dan in pajamas. Dan reached for the bedside lamp, shook his head. “That poor guy,” he said. Then, he turned out the lights and, in the dark, under the covers, they quietly made love, then fell asleep in each other’s arms.

* * *

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