The modern howl of the train never fails to break the spell. Unless of course it’s synchronal, in which case, choo-choo. Regardless, the sex is phenomenal.
My name is Paty, last name immaterial. That might not even be my first name, just so you know, but it is. Paty from LA. That’s LA like Los Angeles not Louisiana. I’ve hopped around town all my life – from Noho to Venice and all the way to Alhambra – but I was born in Glendale. Living back there now in an old Spanish style bungalow situated in the Tropico district, southwards, bordering Atwater and within a whisper of Los Feliz. I rent from an ancient fiend named Miller. I don’t know if that’s his first name or his last name and I don’t care. 3,500 a month gets sluiced out of my checking and goes into Miller’s moldy old coffers because I no longer have a home – it’s been wrecked. Did you catch on or should I elucidate? No, you’re smart. When I slid the cheap wedding band I’d worn for thirteen years off my finger, I felt OK. Know why? Because underneath the ring, I noticed that my skin there was lighter than the rest of me. I still had a teeny bit of myself left untainted by wasted time and misplaced love.
The bungalow reminds me of my childhood home in the Rossmoyne district, just northeast of Tropico. We used to walk to a park called Nibley, but I and many other idiots called it Nippley. I rose every dawn thanks to the railroad which ran down San Fernando. Its locomotive cry was my morning cock. Hey, I was a dirty youth and I grew into a dirty, estimable woman who still gets her morning cock. Ahh, see, you’re dirtier than I am! I’m talking about the train which bumbles through to this day, nothing else, nothing else. You see, that lonesome sound is not just a comfort for me but a type of time travel. It grounds me to my better present but also reminds me of the best kind of past. Some people go off the temporal track with their nose or their eyes or even their speech. Dir, a nice young man I’ve come to know, time travels while fucking.
Dir is a gigolo. I retained his services earlier this year through… it doesn’t matter how, actually. Word of mouth, no ads, very discreet. His name, by the by, is pronounced not in rhyme with sir but as dear. Now, I didn’t need sex but I would have liked some. At the same time, I truly had zero desire to hit the bars or sign up for apps. Honey, I just wanted a fuck. So when Dir’s name fell through my transom, I became curious. Like my charming bungalow, the concept of a gigolo was arcane. You can see the sepia edging around the word itself. Prostitutes still abound, but gigolos? Things of the past. His number I dialed and the voice on the other end was low, quiet. It also sounded young.
“Hello?” Dir wisely commenced.
“Is this Dir?” I ventured to make sure.
“May I ask who’s calling?” Dir wisely continued.
“Thanks, Paty. And may I also ask how you obtained my number?”
“——– gave me your number,” hoping I’d hear no more questions, only rules.
“Ah, ——–,” he seemed to remember with fondness. “Let me just step outside, Paty.”
I heard him walking and then I heard him say something to someone in what I later learned was Armenian. Not to jump ahead, but I believe his unique ability is inextricably linked to his heritage. Armenians are an old group, after all, and might retain some of the magic that has corroded over the eons. Who knows? That’s not to say all Armenians can practice temporally unfettered fucking, I’m just telling you what I think.
“OK, I can talk now,” declared Dir with a voice much smokier than the one he used moments ago. This was when I realized I was talking to a pro, not some kid hiding from his family, and I gotta admit, it turned me on.
“When can you come over?”
“I’m booked tonight, Paty,” just the way he said my name sounded different now, like it was rolling off a different tongue, “I can deliver myself to you tomorrow evening, if you’re free.”
I gave him my details and hung up as the night train bayed its own screaming orgasm in chorus with mine.
Next evening, Dir arrived earlier than planned. I thought two things, one immediately after the other, thusly:
1) is he going to charge me more because?
2) did I put on deodorant?
As soon as I’d thought them, I realized my mouth was opening, my tongue and teeth, in mutinous alliance, were flapping and flipping, and my vocal chords vibrating.
“Are you going to charge me extra? You’re early,” I expectorated.
Before he could answer, I again fell victim to rogue speech.
“Give me a minute, please? Make yourself at home!” I dashed to my bathroom and spread deodorant under my armpits. I spied perfume on the sink – damn it, I should have lit some candles – but decided against spraying, neither above nor below. My mother and I rarely got along, but one lesson she handed down which I keep in safe harbor was to never, ever spray anything on your nether. Thanks, Mom! I should call her.
When I reentered my living room, I saw Dir seated on the couch, scrolling through his phone. He hadn’t noticed me yet so I gave him a good study. This is really a kid, I registered. Couldn’t have been more than nineteen. For an instant, I felt I should call this off and just watch some porn. But I cleared my throat in a most comely way and lit the match.
Dir looked me over. He was wearing basketball shorts.
“Would you like to sit and talk for a little or get right down to it?” A little too businesslike, I thought. I’m not a sex worker but this young man still had much to learn about his bedside manner.
“I’ll sit, thank you.”
This is when things began to take a turn.
“Which era would you like? Which century?”
Odd question. Maybe kids discuss these things now?
“Umm, which era do I like,” I presumed to correct him, “I guess I’ve always been interested in the Renaissance.”
“So you’d like that, then? Renaissance?”
I remained silent and Dir must have read my baffled face because he cracked a puckish grin which made him look even younger.
“Let me show you what I mean.” Dir took my hand in his and I felt a wave rush up my shoulders and sink down my chest, whirl in my stomach and needle through my legs. I won’t say what it did to my nether because words fail.
Once, when I was around Dir’s age, my friend Lisey and I went to UCLA for a concert. She begged me to go, some psychedelic jazz band, and she also begged me to get stoned with her. Whatever, sure, I said. One joint for me, one for Lisey. By the time we got to Royce Hall, I was high as a kite. This was how it felt now, in my bungalow, which started to swim before my very eyes. I began to hear European tongues crisscrossing, aroma of animal and man and cookery mingling in melange, the beat of my fearful heart tripping behind my bones.
“Paty,” Dir redirected me back to his steady face.
“We’re about to be reborn.”
So we fucked all night (all day) in my bungalow (in his Venetian villa) until the sun rose (until the moon awoke) and the train yowled and scared my dream away. For there were no trains in Renaissance Venice, were there?
I kept seeing Dir over the course of that year and he took me anywhere I wanted to go. The interesting thing – one of a plethora of interesting things about Dir – was that each time was different. I mean his body, the mechanism of his lovemaking. It’s very difficult to explain but when we were in, say, eighth century Scotland, he’d fuck like a Highlander and not a modern Angeleno. The way he entered me, the way he slid and spasmed. This, compounded with the actual sensation of being in an utterly different time, no longer manacled by anything remotely resembling reality, made me come harder and longer. Victorian London, the Mongolia of Gengis Khan, Greece as known by Plato and Aristotle, Moorish Spain. This was a time in my life that abandoned time altogether. Dir helped me forget the present sometimes and that’s OK because sometimes the present is horseshit.
I’ll leave you with this:
Once, I let Dir take the wheel, so to speak. Cart blanche, transport me anyplace. So he took me to his ancestral home. This is Eden, I thought, this is prelapsarian. It was superabundant and profuse and thick with riot in every way. A feast for the senses like nothing I’d ever experienced. Obviously. It was my first time in Armenia and my first time this far back in time. Was he a god or maybe the remnant of something from the grass on which I lay? This whole country might have been his at some point. He avoided talk like this always.
Dir made love to me under the canopy of a pomegranate tree, maybe one he planted himself. He was on top of me and, small detail, I rarely closed my eyes with Dir. It was an effort not to, but there was just so much to take in while I was taking him in. Naughty again, sorry. I was looking up at this pomegranate tree and realizing how unmarred it was. And then I looked at my left hand, the one that wore my old wedding ring like a broken handcuff. My tan line had gone, radiated by impossible sunlight, I suppose.
As we came, I couldn’t help but ponder whether I had been cleansed all over or if that one unsullied part of me had simply caught up. And before I had a chance to ask him if we could just stay here for the rest of time, we were back inside my bungalow in the Tropico district of Glendale as the train screeched past.
Robert Nazar Arjoyan was born into the Armenian diaspora of Glendale, California. Aside from an arguably ill-advised foray into rock n roll bandery, literature and movies were the vying forces of his life. Naz graduated from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and now works as an author and filmmaker. Find him at www.arjoyan.com and on Twitter @RobertArjoyan.