Borderline

A Short Story

By Ibanez


I hope you don’t mind me telling you quite frankly: I don’t believe in Psychology or psychologists. It’s not that I think you don’t mean well, it’s just that I realized long ago: no matter how well I describe and analyse my problems, they won’t go away. I won’t let them go away. My intellectual fascination with them binds me as much as anything else. 

What’s that? You still want me to describe them? Well, I’ve no objection. It’s become a pet hobby, so to speak. You see, the presence of this thing, this worm, this insect (if you have a poetical fancy); or this complex, this compulsion, this drive (if you’re more of an amateur psychologist), or this demon (if you’re something of a religionist) – whatever you want to call it, it has this one overwhelming feature: whatever it is, it wants to bend what we call reality to its own dictates. It wants to actuate, to make real, with the desperation of suppressed fervour, the fantasy. 

You want to know about the girl? Don’t worry, I’m coming to that. I like to take my time with these things. 

You see, there’s nothing more compelling than the imagined externalization of the voice of one’s desire, that is when some person – and this is all fantasy – looks at you with a cruel, cold light in their eye and orders you: “kneel!” And the mocking smile plays upon their face in the certain knowledge that, despite all your best resolutions, your good works, your endeavours for moral excellence, you will fall at their feet and grovel like a worm, like a dog, while everything and everyone you hold dear bewails your loss. 

That is the basic core of the fantasy; that, and the picture of their delight, their triumph, their orgasmic ecstasy, piercing through the universe. Then comes the weariness. The shame. The despair.

Surely you know what I am talking about? It’s there, isn’t it, in everyone’s mind? I don’t know. But there are those who do know what I’m talking about. Look on the internet. Look at Twitter. Just see the findoms, the humiliatrices, the dominatrices, the brats. They know what we want. They know how to pose, and they know what to say: “Everything you believe, everything you hold dear, everything you’ve strived for, belongs here,” pointing at the sole of her shoe. There they are, or pictures of them, sneering, and holding, making the “L” sign with their fingers, with the caption: “Relapsed.” 

They all give form to the fantasy, or rather to the desire, to that particular cast of mind which drives us to pursue, not sexual satisfaction, but sexual despair, a bottomless pit of longing and desire, over which echoes mad shrieks of triumph and hatred. The power of attraction is forged by the coupling of the ideas: the voice of cruelty and contempt, and the youthful silliness of girlhood. 

Are you following me, doctor? I can never be sure. Sometimes, it seems like only I understand what I’m talking about. What’s that you say? The internet? Yes, yes, of course! Of course, I’m talking about the internet. Of course, I’m talking about pornography, but that’s all old hat now. Please try to keep up, will you?

Now, where was I? Ah yes, the so-called internet findoms. Yes, there are some men who pay them the money they’re demanding (or begging), but I was always a miser, and now, what money do I have to give? I suppose that’s where the girl comes in. 

You see, the virtual engagement, the payment of money, the viewing of their images, their poses of mockery and contempt, their lewd and vulgar insults, all rendered as a service to our desires – and here one must marvel at the ingenuity of the disguise of the true nature of the transaction, the manifest inversion of actual roles – all this might have saved me from my crime, or perhaps, it may have made it worse. Because, as I’ve already told you, the nature of the bug is to force phenomena into its mental mould. True sexual excitement occurs when we succeed, beyond our wildest hopes, in distorting reality, blending it with fantasy. 

Thus it was that I took to contemplating how I could bring about the interactive scenario, without the farcical and sobering presence of the cash nexus. No. That’s not quite accurate. Actually, one is always alert, even from the very beginning, to any opportunity to actualize the fantasy, and one does so, to whatever extent the situation allows. So, it was always inevitable that my mind would begin to dwell on her, the girl. I saw her often enough for her, or the idea of her, to become a presence in my mind. 

So, following the age-old habit, I constructed fantasies, fantasies which suggested some means of actualization. They would always begin with me seeing her on the street. There’s no one present just then. I fall flat onto my face in adoration and worship, and quickly get up, to see her, perhaps confused, perhaps disconcerted, but shortly, amused, excited, aroused, until the point where, of her own volition, she induces me by subtle signs again to prostrate myself at her feet. The image of her foot, dangling her slipper, with its delicate curves and contours, its shades of light brown, the dust of her toes, flashes in and out with the smile playing about her lips. Beneath the overarching power of the demon, she begins to sway to its movements. She begins to enjoy her power and mastery over me and craves its intensification.

The fantasy always leads to the same point. I could well describe it, but then, dear doctor, I am afraid that even you might get aroused. Ah now! Don’t be offended. I see that I’ve touched a soft spot. So, I’m not alone after all. You do know what I’m talking about.

Wait! Don’t go. I apologise. Let’s forget about it, shall we? Let’s move on. 

Good. Now, where was I? Yes, I was about to cross the line. But let’s remain on the border for a while. Suffice to say, the fantasy takes the image to the height of her triumph, arrogance, cruelty, and the depths of my degradation, ruin, despair, annihilation. 

Everything is being driven by the idea, the damned idea. We all dance like puppets beneath its sway: the domme, the sub, and the viewer, the infernal viewer, you, me. Ha! Don’t worry, I’m only joking. What do we know about what’s actually going on? All we know is how to act out the parts. The idea chews us up and spits us out. It leaves ruined lives in its wake.

Its greatest deception occurs in the identification of a person of bland appearance and accomplishments with itself. It’s a deception, because, even when the girl plays the part for money, poses for the pictures, writes the words, places her foot upon the head of a prostrated middle-aged man, and, holding up a camera, takes the shot, creating the magical juxtapositions of age and youth, ugliness and beauty, despair and power, submission and domination, all inverted, twisted, yet cunningly fitting into place with the power of clawing suggestion; she does not know that she too is being ground to dust by the great overwhelming machine which rolls through the ages, tossing people at each other like a child tossing dolls and breaking off their heads. 

Maybe she does guess, sometimes, at night, in the frightful prescience of her mortality, her doom, which life has a way of forcing upon us, from time to time, before the final caving in. You can guess it’s there when they write: “I’ve just been released from the hospital, and I expect my paypigs to treat me to special care.” It shows a shocking letting up of the veneer, a chink in the impenetrable armour, revealing her fear and craving, her despair. 

With all this burning in my brain, gnawing at my being, night and day, it was only a matter of time before I snapped, before I crossed the invisible line. 

The girl. I like to think of her as beautiful. I like to tell myself that it was right and fitting that I adored her, that I worshipped her. My addiction to phenomenal beauty, fleeting, overwhelms the moral structure. All our upbringing, our education, our learning, our culture, all the time, money and effort lavished upon the formation of character, all destroyed in a second. 

I saw her once, playing in the paved yard of the corner shop. She did not look at me, I know that she did not look at me, but I imagined that she did look at me before she ran in front of me, and, looking at me again with a twinkle in her eye, and with a smile of cruel suggestion, inviting me to identify my head with the empty Coke can beneath her sandaled foot, she crushed it with an impish laugh and darted away.

I was filled with a desire bordering on rage. She did not look at me, but I imagined she did, and that her childish laugh was really a laugh of mockery. So I began to lurk around the shop. Eventually, she did notice me, but I dared not make any sign, because her mother was there, with her scowling expression. The situation drove out the impulse, at least for the moment. 

Then it happened. I happened to be walking that afternoon. It’s as I said: the essence of the malady lies in the attempt to recreate the fantasy, the image of the interactive scenario, in our real relations. But there’s a problem. So long as it is fantasy, the image thrives, blazes even, in a crystalline form of isolated immobility. But when it bleeds into our relationships, things start going wrong. We discover that the humiliation, the degradation, the pain; or on the other side, the power, the mastery, the control, is not really what we want. What we really want is decency, normalcy, understanding. But our weakness leads to repeated collapse, lives in ruin, and only the craving worm, the insatiable desire remains. 

Sorry. I tend to wander. I’ve always lacked direction, determination. It’s because of my malady, you see. 

The strong binding connection between sexual arousal and imagined or recreated scenarios of humiliation, degradation, cuckoldry, the servile bowing and scraping before the image of cold triumph and arrogance bordering on madness, clearly reinforces the belief in our own impotence. Not only physical impotence, but mental impotence, and spiritual impotence. We are slowly reduced to a condition where we believe that no action is possible, that whatever we attempt is doomed to failure. It is all symbolised in the fantasy. We cosset our own impotence as a means of sexual gratification before the image of the mocking other, the guise of our own sexualized mentality. 

One would like to think that there’s a way out of it, but maybe they’re right: the prostitutes and the poseurs, the civil authorities and the moralists, ultimately, the inner voice of the demon in my mind, urging repeated failure and collapse as a means of sexual release: “once a pervert, always a pervert.” 

Certainly, in the moment of collapse before the distorted image of beauty, the affirmation, the acceptance of the position of weakness, of impotence, of utter degradation, constitutes our most intense and hateful form of pleasure, release, death. How to get out of it? How to get out?

Eventually, you have to snap. A man in England threw himself at the feet of a young woman in the street, slobbering all over them. She called the police. Unusually, there were no cameras recording the event, and no witnesses, so he could deny it. They took DNA samples from her feet and matched it with his saliva. He claimed he had simply sneezed on her feet. They had to let him off, but one look at his photo on the tabloid was enough to convince me of the truth. Years of immersion in the dark world of sexual fantasy has the power to alter a man’s features. His eyes begin to bulge. His mouth droops, his lips take on a moist, slavering quality, his skin becomes drawn and wrinkled. He has a look of sated starvation about him.

I must say, doctor, you’re rather typical of the men of your profession. You just allow me to talk away but don’t say anything. Is it a wonder that I lose myself? The girl? Again with the girl. Yes, that’s quite right, I was saying how it all happened. Yes, I was walking past the shop, past the two gardenia bushes. The flowers had grown dry and brown on the bush. She used to collect them, every day, but that’s none of your business. Some things you can never know. What’s the use? Everything we once treasured is swept away by a cold wind. 

Then I saw her. 

She was not wearing her hijab, but it was her. Her long black hair was draped loosely over her left shoulder, and she wore a light summer skirt, which was odd, since it was Winter, and her small feet were bare. I snapped. No one was there, only the girl and me. She was playing with something in her hands, not a doll, certainly not a doll. Maybe her hair. 

The moment of choice. It’s the only real thing there is. It confronts you like a barrier in time. I can turn away, but, for too long I’ve conditioned myself into believing that this was an opportunity that could not be missed. The wrong choice is always long in the making. The things we habitually tell ourselves can make or break us when the moment of choice comes. What could I hold onto? God? Do you accept the existence of God doctor? Or is that something irrelevant to your philosophy? Well, suit yourself. You don’t have to answer. What difference does it make anyway, knowing God, I mean, if you can still turn away from Him? 

Or maybe, it’s just that, at the end of the day, the fantasy is too beautiful to let go. Just imagine it doc! Throwing yourself at her feet, grovelling in the sand, kissing the dirt. What will she do? What will happen? My God, what was I doing? 

Then I heard something that broke the spell, which caused me to jump up. 

It was a strange, high-pitched moan, a moan of terror and fear, coming from the girl. It was loud, and I backed away, looking around at the corners, waiting for some angry man, righteous in his indignation, bearded and burly, coming to arrest me, or maybe her stern and virtuous mother, capable of grabbing and beating a man, in a quite mortifying and undesirable way. 

She continued to moan, and I backed away, but I could see that she needed to get past me, because her flat was somewhere behind me, so I stepped to the side, and still moaning and crying in sheer terror and fear – will I ever forget that sound? she edged her way past, and, just as she passed, she moaned, “I have nothing for you!” and then she darted into her flat. 

She thought I was a beggar, looking for money, and guessed at something worse.