Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Land of Do-As-You-Please

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom ruled a...well, a ruler. Sometimes this ruler was a king and sometimes they were a queen. Sometimes they were both and sometimes they were neither. They always, however, wore a red armband with a heart tied around their sleeve.

You are tired and you are hungry. You have traveled many miles to get to this city, but you have nowhere to stay. Up ahead, you can see a motel with a flashing neon sign -- probably not the best place to stay, but certainly the cheapest.

You enter the motel and get a room. As the proprietor hands you the key, you notice there is a flier on his desk, a flier for some performance art theatre called 'The Land of Do-As-You-Please.' "You wanna go there?" the proprietor asks you. "I hear they do some freaky stuff there." You politely decline and go to your room. In your room, you crash on the bed and quickly fall asleep.

It is dark when you wake up. The lights of the neon sign illuminate your room. Someone is knocking on the door.

Groggily, you get up and walk over to the door, but by the time you open it, whoever was knocking is gone. You do find that they slipped something under the door: another flier for The Land of Do-As-You-Please. You decide that you might actually want to check it out -- at least to see why someone was knocking on your room in the middle of the night. The next performance, per the flier, is in thirty minutes.

The city looks different at night. The regular stores have closed and new ones have opened in their place. Stores festooned with the letters XXX and the words 'live' and 'nude.' You finally find the theatre called The Land of Do-As-You-Please and enter.

There are velvet curtains across the stage and row upon row of empty seats. As you walk down the aisle, a woman peeks out from behind the curtain. "You're early," she says. "We don't start for another ten minutes."

"Someone slipped this under my door," you say and show her the flier.

She smiles. "You want the King and Queen," she says.

"Who?" you say.

"The King and Queen of Hearts," she says. "They always choose someone from, you know, outside. They want you to be a part of it."

"A part of what?"

"This!" She waves her hands around. "It's going to be so exciting! I'll go get them."

You try to stop her, try to tell her that you don't really want to be a part of their play, but she's already gone. You shake your head and turn to go.

And then you hear the voice. It's beautiful, enchanting, exotic. It flows through the air and into your ears like music. "Leaving so soon?"

You turn and look to the source of the voice. The velvet curtains have parted and there is a man standing on the stage. He is tall and handsome and you can't help but imagine what kissing him would feel like.

And then a woman emerges from the side of the stage and drapes her arm around him. You would feel jealousy, but the woman is just as beautiful, just as enticing. She says, "Don't leave now. We're just going to start soon."

The man and woman both wear an armband with a red heart on it. Your own heart beats faster as you approach the stage. You can't help yourself. The man smiles at you and the woman beckons you with one finger. "You must be the King and Queen of Hearts," you say, your mouth dry, your fingers trembling.

"We are," the woman says. "We are many things to many people. We can be yours for the night."

"What?" you swallow nervously.

"If you want it," the man says. "Every time we perform, we like to choose one member of our audience to...dally with, shall we say. We've had so many dalliances."

"So many," the woman says.

"I," you say, "I should be going."

"Don't go," the man says. "Don't go," the woman says. Their voices blend together and pierce your heart and you are pulled forward against your will. You cannot remember how you got on the stage, but the man and woman are circling you now, showering your body with kisses. You can feel their hands and their breath and you realize that you have slept, but you are still hungry.

Angrily, achingly, you kiss them. They strip you and themselves and together on the stage you have sex. You are just a tangle of bodies, of limbs, of white heat waiting to escape. You cry out in ecstasy and


and you open your eyes and you are all alone. There is no one on stage with you.

But every single seat is filled. There are people in every chair, people watching you, people judging you, people shaming you with their stares.

You grab your clothes and run. You run so fast, you can't even remember leaving the theatre. You run and run until you find yourself back at the motel, back in your room.

Why did you do that? Why did you let them do that to you?

You get in the shower to try to wash the shame off of you, but it stays there like a foul stench. The water mixes with your tears.

You close your eyes. You know there is only one way to get rid of it. The shame is inside you. The shame can only be cut out.

So you do. You cut and let it bleed.

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