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So there we were, all five of us back again in the bar at the old Hotel Patagonia, sitting at a table under a really useless, squeaking ceiling fan that turned no more than about one revolution per minute. Since there was no air conditioning, we all usually chose cold beer to drink. That’s what one does in the tropics — drink cold beer.
The year was 1983, and we were all young then, in our early 20s, foreign correspondents in South America. It felt like being at the end of the earth. It practically was.
But we weren’t the kind of reporters whose stories you would read in The New York Times or watch on the nightly news. Those were the celebrity journalists, the A-team. We were free-lancers, since none of the major newspapers thought us experienced enough to hire. If truth be known, we were all fresh out of college and in pursuit of adventure, but with no portfolio to speak of.
We were set apart, on the fringe, frantically searching out stories to sell, one at a time, to various publications. We competed against one another. The money was a pittance, and most of it went toward kamikaze bus travel and cheap hotels. We were nomads, outliers in a strange land. And the thermometer reading was 94.
Tristan was from Australia, Klaus from the Czech republic, and myself from L.A. We were writers. Of the two women in our group, Lovise was from Denmark. Then there was Hadwigis, whose name none of us could pronounce. So she accepted that we called her “Berlin,” which is where she was from. Both women were photographers. One by one, along the way, we had all become friends, as well as rivals. And we always seemed to beat a path back to The Hotel Patagonia.
But this isn’t about foreign correspondents traipsing the globe. It’s about Lovise. And it’s about being in the tropics and being in love. For me that is.
Admittedly, it’s also about Lovise’s new friend, the elusive Anastasia, who was a little older than us, maybe in her early 30s. I was beginning to fall in love with Lovise, but thoughts of Anastasia kept me awake at night.
This much I know: there’s just something about being in the tropics. Sex is in the air. Desire permeates everything. Then there’s the heat. And those black, breezy nights.
And, to think, this all began because Lovise took a bath with me.
* * *
Hours before joining everyone in the bar, I had pulled into the hotel after 15 days on the lower Amazon River, 400 dusty miles away by Land Rover, gathering information for a story about river dolphins — no joke. Most of the others had already checked in. I grabbed a room and desperately needed a bath. I was pungent. My clothes smelled atrocious.
Depending on your point of view, The Patagonia was either a decrepit, godforsaken hovel on its last crumbling legs, or a fine example of old-world architecture with its interior archways, high, high ceilings, ornate tile floors and windows that were almost floor-to-ceiling, which one kept open all the time since there was no air conditioning. The rooms seemed cavernous but had little in them other than a bed and a small table and chair or two. And one of those useless, squeaking overhead fans.
The Patagonia was in the middle of Montevideo’s old section and had a quaint, colonial feel, with vines hanging over the second-floor balcony, dropping down toward a narrow, cobblestone street below. And real shutters on the windows. Very vintage. I loved it. Except for the heat.
In the middle of the floor of my room, I unbuttoned, unzipped and peeled all my clothes off, then turned on the faucet to the cast-iron, clawfoot tub in the bathroom. There was no shower. And it was there, while I was soaking, that Lovise walked in. Not even a knock on the door.
“You got the last room, Jack. Did you know that?” she said as she walked straight on in to the bathroom. I should have mentioned that some of the doors to the rooms didn’t lock. And did I mention that I was naked?
“So I’m going to stay with you until a room opens up,” she said, looking down at me in the water and very unimpressed, I feared. She wasn’t asking permission as she walked back toward the bed to unload bags, photo lenses and camera cases on the mattress.
Before this, we had never been more intimate than sharing a beer downstairs in the bar. Nonetheless, it didn’t seem to bother her that I was naked.
Must not have. Because a few minutes later she was back in the bathroom, stark naked herself, and climbing into the tub with me. She sat at one end, me at the other. The faucet, strangely enough, was on the side rim of the tub. That’s South America for you.
Upon seeing her for the first time, someone once said of Lovise: “She appears to have won the gene-pool lottery.”
I could see what they meant. She was undeniably captivating. For some reason, I was drawn to her hair, dirty blond and always tied up at the back of her head, in kind of an up-do, a French braid, exposing her neck, with wisps of hair falling down. It gave her this canlı bahis perpetual wind-blown look that $300-an-hour stylists do nowadays for celebrities. And I’ll have to admit a preference for necks and bare shoulders. Lovise had a long, slender neck and perfect shoulders.
However, after she sat down in the water, I was caught off guard as she drew her knees up and opened her legs, resting each leg against a side of the tub. She had no pubic hair, which for the 1980s was strange indeed. Actually, she had shaved it, and a blond, barely visible fuzz was just beginning to grow back.
“The less hair you have, the less chance of lice,” she said, watching me watching. “It’s a trick of the trade that women learn in the tropics, especially if you’re going to be mucking around the rainforest. You might try it yourself, Jack.” I suddenly felt terribly self-conscious as she stared down at my dick, catching its movements as it was becoming engorged.
The blood was rushing in, not just because I was looking at my beautiful naked friend, but because I had never seen a woman’s vagina so completely visible before. I was transfixed on her gorgeous slit. It made her seem so pink, so vulnerable. And even more breathtaking.
“Do you ever cut yourself shaving it?” I asked nervously, immediately wishing I could take back the stupid question.
“No, but my last boyfriend cut me accidentally,” she said matter-of-factly. “Took two weeks to heal. He laughed about it. Always remember this, Jack. I don’t like boyfriends laughing at me. I tossed him. So there you are.” I made a mental note.
She had an angular face, high cheekbones and somewhat of a German accent, though like I said, she was Danish. Obviously, she wasn’t modest. Nor was she fazed at all by my dick, now rising out of the water and which had turned into the hardest erection of my life, so hard that my skin covering it hurt from stretching. She paused and looked at it, all right, but seemed bored, or hopefully just tired. Then she rested her head back against the rim of the tub, closed her eyes and began to talk down the day with me, asking about “my” river dolphins. And telling me of her photos taken up in the very steamy French Guiana. She had just driven back from there.
Despite our facing each other naked, and me with an enormous erection, I somehow concluded from the direction of this conversation that no night of wild, sexual abandonment lay ahead for me.
Still, I found myself falling for her, but I had been, even before this. She was smart, high IQ smart, quick-witted, and with a great sense of passion to right all wrongs, using photography as her weapon. On that, she was relentless. She was demanding and in charge. Though she spoke Danish, French and English, she could somehow communicate, no matter what language you spoke. And she loved poetry. She was complex, all right. Of the five of us, she also was the one most likely to go places. How could a guy like me resist all of that?
We pulled the stopper and emptied the tub about half way, then filled it back up with fresh, hot water and soaked some more. Even in this heat, it felt good. There were no washcloths, so eventually Lovise stood up in the water facing me, soaped up her hands, then slowly began rubbing them over her body, lathering herself from face to foot, all the while telling me about the photos she took on the Tumuc-Humac mountains in Guiana. She was partly washing, partly caressing her now slippery, pure white breasts, tugging on her pink nipples as she described the magnificent natural light on the mountains — photographers are obsessed with natural light. I almost ejaculated at that point.
As we talked back and forth, she lifted her left leg out of the water, resting her foot up on the rim of the bathtub. Then with one soapy hand she bent forward, reached her hand under her bottom and washed her ass, still talking and looking right into my eyes. She moved her soapy hand back and forth between her hips, sliding her middle finger into her anus. I stopped talking. I couldn’t remember what I had been saying.
Back now to her abdomen, then down to her sex, where she slowed her movement and lingered far too long to be just getting herself clean. And remember, this was all right in front of me. She described the lens settings she used for her photo shoots, and I pretended to be mesmerized by her every word. But she knew. My eyes were on her marvelously shaven pussy. I could see her fingers moving slightly on herself, rubbing tiny circles on her clit. I couldn’t believe it — without all the hair, you could see every small detail. So amazing.
She was doing it for me, you know. Lovise relished me seeing her naked. But this wasn’t about exhibitionism alone. It was about power. The power she had over me. I wanted to sleep with her. She knew that and was letting me know it wouldn’t happen unless she wanted it to happen. It would not be my decision.
She didn’t come, but she was well on her way when she just stopped and sat bahis siteleri back down in the water to rinse off. I guess she got all she needed. Next, she’s out of the water, toweling off — in front of me, of course — then dressed and heading downstairs where the others were now congregating. I would follow her, after I cooled down — from the heat, the hot bath and her very deliberate, raw display of nakedness.
The First Night:
Figs. They were eating figs, of all things. And drinking champagne. Over the past few months the five of us had become fixtures at the Patagonia’s bar. We would start with different breads drizzled with olive oil and washed down with cold beer. At least that’s what we usually did.
As I walked toward them with a questioning look, they all pointed to this new visitor at our table, blaming the figs on her. She was brunette, attractive, slender and wearing a sleeveless linen dress, white and close-fitting, and very stylish, a bit ritzy. The rest of us were in jeans, combat boots and wrinkled khaki shirts. We looked ready to climb Machu Picchu. She was ready for cocktails at the embassy. This was to be my introduction to Lovise’s friend — Anastasia Chase.
“But why the figs?” I asked them all.
“Lovise is reading poetry to us,” said Klaus. “A poem called, what else, Figs.”
“Darling Jack, it’s D.H. Lawrence,” Lovise said, holding up a book, with that mild exasperation in her voice at my lack of knowledge about 20th century English literature. I’d heard that tone from her before, more than once. She had little patience with those of us not quite up to her intellect. “Quiet, and let me read to you,” she said. We drank champagne and listened. We had no choice.
The proper way to eat a fig, in society, Is to split it in four, holding it by the stump, And open it, so that it is a glittering, rosy, moist, honied, heavy-petalled, four-petaled flower.
Then you throw away the skin Which is just like a four-sepaled calyx, After you have taken off the blossom, with your lips.
But the vulgar way Is just to put your mouth to the crack, and take out the flesh in one bite.
“Here. You take over,” Lovise said as she handed the book to Anastasia so she could try her own hand at a fig.
Every fruit has its secret, Anastasia said, though I could tell she wasn’t looking at the lines in the book. She knew them by heart. And from her voice, I could tell she was an American.
The fig is a very secretive fruit. As you see it standing growing, you feel at once it is symbolic. And it seems male. But when you come to know it better, you agree with the Romans, it is female.
The Italians vulgarly say, it stands for the female part; the fig-fruit: The fissure, the yoni, The wonderful moist conductivity towards the centre.
“So is he writing about figs or is he writing about women?” asked Tristan.
Anastasia spoke again. “Much of what Lawrence wrote was in one way or the other about sex.” she said in this quiet, deliberate tone, speaking the words carefully. “Remember ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover,’ which he wrote and was for its time one of the most sexually explicit books written. It was banned for years in the U.S.”
Anastasia was the kind of woman who people stop what they are doing to listen to. We were young and wild. She seemed mature and sophisticated.
Berlin looked at me. “So, Anastasia ordered the figs as an homage to the poem and to D.H. Lawrence. The figs are from Argentina, the waiter told us.”
“And she was kind enough to order champagne too,” said Tristan.
After finishing her fig “the polite way,” Lovise said, “You see, Jack, legend has it that eating a fresh fig while naked in front of a woman is one of the world’s most erotic acts. And once you split it open, the fruit’s pink flesh is said to resemble a woman’s inner parts, her pussy, if you will.” Even with an audience, Lovise wasn’t one to mince words.
“The fun of it all,” said Anastasia, “is that it’s a seemingly innocent poem. Lawrence was absolutely fascinated, you might say obsessed, with ripe fruit and used that to explore the mystery of womanhood, his fascination with vaginas. But then, we’re probably all fascinated by that.”
To that end, Lovise and Anastasia looked at each other, eyes smiling. The rest of us said nothing. So, we all ate figs and drank champagne, with me keeping one eye on Lovise, but the other turned now to our new friend, Anastasia.
* * *
By 10 p.m., I was back in my room, lying on top of the bed in my boxers, under the useless fan. But fortunately, in Montevideo after sundown, a soothing breeze often slips in from the sea, just blocks from the hotel, cooling down the city for the night.
I had left the table shortly after Lovise and Anastasia headed off, without telling us where, strolling arm in arm down the sidewalk, the way European women walk together. They were talking — no, almost whispering — to each other as they left. Lovise laughed just as they turned bahis şirketleri a corner and disappeared. But just after the laugh, and just before vanishing from view, Anastasia looked back at me for a second. Her eyes met mine. Yes. That definitely happened.
“So who is this Anastasia?” I had asked the rest of the group. No one had seen her until Lovise brought her to the table. Anastasia had told us she was here to study architecture. They all liked her, especially since she bought the champagne.
At midnight, Lovise slowly opened the door to our hotel room, immediately stripping down to her panties and an undershirt, one of those white, thin-strapped singlet undershirts that your grandfather wore in the 1940s. Where she obtained it I haven’t a clue. But Lovise would do that, dress kind of funky-sheik if the mood suited her. And this undershirt, it hugged her close, so her nipples poked through and her breasts bulged a little at the sides. But it was dark and I could see little more than that.
Without speaking, she lay on the bed next to me on top of the sheets, after a moment turning on her side and pushing her perfect ass up against me, my thigh separating and nudging in between her hips. She pushed her hips in more. I could feel heat radiating from in between the folds. Incredibly warm, so arousing. She was asleep in minutes. I wasn’t.
With the windows open, the sounds of the street poured in along with the breeze — a mix of chanting sidewalk vendors and tango tunes wafting up from the small bars and open air cafes below. It was Friday night. I could hear, from someone’s radio on the street, the faraway voice of Patsy Cline singing “Walkin’ After Midnight.” The smell of grilled sausage was in the air too.
“Jack, you’re not a man if you don’t do something,” I thought to myself. So I took one deep breath, rolled on my side toward Lovise and, with fingers crossed for good luck, draped my arm around her. Brave actions from a 23-year-old about to make a move on one of the most beautiful women on the continent, at least in my eyes.
“Jack, be a good boy,” she said, without even opening her eyes. That was it. Just those five words. It was enough. She went back to sleep. I got up, went to the bathroom, and opened the fly of my shorts to jerk off into the toilet. And was totally humiliated by her rebuff.
Sometime in the night, I awakened to a heaviness, finding Lovise asleep at my side, her head on my shoulder very close to my face, an arm across my waist, one leg across my legs. The scent of brandy was on her breath, strands of her blonde hair in my mouth. I could feel the cushion of her breasts on my bare chest, her beautiful thigh against mine, and the warmth between her legs pushed against me. A moment of serene happiness. I fell back asleep.
When I awoke in the morning, she had already gone out.
That’s Lovise. No wasting time for her. She lived large. You could see it in her eyes. You just knew, when she got out of bed each morning, she would tell herself to “Live for today. Live. Live. Live.” She pushed each day to the max because, to her way of thinking, tomorrow never knows. And that takes courage.
Of course, she walked that fine line between recklessness and courage. I know. I saw it. While most of us used buses and rented Land Rovers to get around from country to country, Lovise rented motorcycles, strapping her gear on and riding at breakneck speeds on pot-holed dirt roads. I rode with her once. Never again.
The Second Night:
Journalists, I’m convinced, love gossip more than most. When not chasing stories, we love to whisper rumors among ourselves. And Montevideo was full of whispered rumors. Berlin and I were hunkered over a small table at the Restaurante Yasy, just across the street from the hotel. We sat outside in the open-air cafe, right at streetside. We were leaning close in to each other. She had something to tell me.
“She’s stingy about her past,” said Berlin, who had been in Montevideo the longest and knew more people than the rest of us, and more about the dark arts that go on around here. She had been doing her homework on Anastasia.
“Apparently, she’s been in town for several weeks but gives up very little information about herself. More than a few people are curious about her.”
“Oh, but there’s more,” she said. “She’s been seen on the Plaza Independencia with Jonathan Fillmore heading into a little bistro. Jack, do you have any idea who he is?” I was embarrassed to say no.
“He’s the CIA station chief up in Rio de Janeiro. He comes all the way down here to have tea with her? Does that make any sense? And some of my street boy contacts say she’s been hanging out with some international arms dealer, some bad-to-the-bone guy, a real sleaze that a lot of people around here are afraid of. This is pretty weird shit, don’t you think?”
“I’ll tell you one thing,” Berlin said. “She’s more than just a scholar who came here to study the architecture.”
I had to agree. But we had no answers, both of us a little bewildered. CIA? African gun-runners? This was serious stuff. We weren’t used to this. We were fresh out of school. Maybe Anastasia was just out of our league. Certainly out of mine.
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