Bad acts and bad news in Baltimore

A LOST CHAPTER FROM THE ILIAD

Bill Burkett
7 min readFeb 8, 2024

Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine

There fell thy shadow, Cynara! thy breath was shed

Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine;

And I was desolate and sick of an old passion,

Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head:

I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

— Ernest Dowson

I stayed in the Pennsylvania motel three days, though my Cynara only had the one to spend all day with me. Work and caring for her husband absorbed every waking hour. She’d only been able to get one day off.

The second day she carved some time out of running errands. She came into the room wearing a halter top, cutoff jeans and sandals, errand-running attire. I experienced irrational jealousy of every man able to feast his eyes on her scantily clad body but didn’t say so. I knew her Italian temper. And believed utterly she only had eyes for me.

She didn’t have a lot of time so she simply knelt and took me in her mouth. Our profile in the room mirror was one of the sexiest things I ever saw. After the previous day and with no chemical enhancement I was gratified my cock answered the call with youthful alacrity.

Time warped. We had an hour. It felt like forever. She absolutely would not permit reciprocation. I was engorged as I have ever been. She took it all more than once, alternating throating me with stroking hands as she nibbled and sucked. This time I was the one who flowed. It was otherworldly. There was no single dramatic climax; I just throbbed and throbbed, emitting a steady pulse of secretion, and never softened. Unprecedented in my life.

When she could finally go no more she fretted I still was erect, afraid I was unsatisfied. Sweet mother of God — not meant profanely. I didn’t feel profane. I felt sacralized, reverent. I held her tenderly and said stop fretting, surely she realized she made me flow as I made her flow. She said yes she knew — but was it enough?

Our hour was up and she didn’t want to leave me in that state. What state? Utter satiety? I shushed her and told her a lingering hard-on was nothing to worry about. She had to go. I would talk to her online once she was home — thanks to her extravagant gift. Did not say, but felt, her amazing fellatio was an even more extravagant gift.

Neither of us felt an inclination to cyber once online. It was enough to be in the same time zone, same zip code, knowing we would be together again however briefly next day. Did she see any of her others online those nights? I didn’t ask. Didn’t even wonder. Told she couldn’t come back during the day, I wandered adjacent suburban neighborhoods, found places to eat, even found my own books in a mall outlet. The second had just been published. My editor had promised promotional copies awaited me in Baltimore to hand out to convention-goers. I was leaving tomorrow.

She arranged a late-arrival time at work, a couple stolen hours to make love in quiet desperation it was almost over. When she told me she traded those hours for scut work and would change into her grungies at work I asked her to change here to give us a few more precious moments, and she did. She still looked hot.

The dreaded moment of parting was upon us. I had a road trip to Baltimore ahead of me. She had to go to work. She said she wished I could just stay, permanently. I knew the feeling exactly. Watching her leave was one of the hardest acts of my life. We had stretched our allotted time. I had to hustle to make checkout time.

Was so emotional I took the wrong Turnpike turn and drove clear into Ohio — the route she would have taken the year before to reach the resort where we meant to meet — before I realized. That choked me up as I reversed direction back past our motel, wondering if it was Fate’s signal not to go.

I had lost my Paris love to Israel long ago. Lost Glenda in Florida for reasons I never understood. Almost lost Chloe by not just staying in Seattle when I found her, a bittersweet memory given the present wreckage of our thirty-year marriage. Lost Giselle when I didn’t follow her to Wisconsin, and left the union we worked for. Now my Cynara. I had a dark dread my punishment for loving her would be never to see her again.

The fall day was fine, changing leaves brilliant in the highlands before dropping toward sea-level and Baltimore where things still were green. But my interior landscape was winter-bleak.

My motel was on the Baltimore outskirts to save money. Bad call because of Inner Harbor parking expense when I drove in. The conference refused to comp me as a published author, another expense. I encountered one of my seminar classmates wearing a forearm cast; she said don’t ask! Affected surprise when I asked if her seminar paramour was there: Why would I know that? Oops. Maybe he was back in Africa doing science stuff.

I sent email to my Cynara from a convention computer saying I could not connect the laptop she gave me to the internet in my down-market motel because room phones were sealed and alarmed to prevent phone theft, no phone jack. Still a common thing those days. But I was lying.

Because Di had come up from North Carolina to be with me. After my time with Cynara I had desperately hoped she’d stand me up. My juvenile doubts of Cynara after the Ohio fiasco had occasioned my backup plan. I locked my new laptop in my briefcase because I couldn’t explain it.

Di was out of sorts after her road trip with a malfunctioning AC; it still was warm in North Carolina and Maryland. I was out of sorts due to my poor location planning — cover for betraying Cynara so quickly. I used my long practice compartmentalizing my mind to be present for another woman who cared for me.

After she enjoyed attending conference events with me, and meeting published authors, her sensuality resurfaced. It was the first time she confronted my erectile dysfunction. Despite determined forgetfulness my body heeded my heart, not my head — and I refused to use a blue pill. Since I had been candid online about ED, she was not dismayed though it was new in person. Instead, she applied her sensual skills patiently and devotedly. My body if not my heart responded.

The next morning she woke me with her mouth as I slept in my CPAP mask, first time a woman ever did that. With her enjoyment of gadgets, CPAP did not faze her. Semi-conscious, brain awhirl, I could not orgasm until as a last resort I masturbated into her waiting mouth. Her only objection was given time she could have achieved it with just her oral skills. Later she asked for what she called a long-held fantasy: as my climax neared, withdraw, masturbate and spill over her face like a porn movie. She was checking boxes for her personal sexual odyssey. I complied with something like melancholy, but she was pleased.

Our last session I knelt on the floor between her legs to accommodate my old neck injury and fellated her to repeated highs — and we were interrupted when an incautious maid barged in. I recall the soaked spot on her blouse from my sweaty forehead when I reared back. The maid retreated. Di laughed and said come back, and I did. For once female radar was faulty. She never sensed reticence.

It was with a sense of relief I saw her off home and went to lunch with my Manhattan editor in an Inner Harbor seafood house. He had bad news. My publisher would not exercise its option on a third book, due to poor sales. I remarked they had devoted zero budget to promotion, not even sending copies out for review, no wonder sales were poor. He agreed, but said that was the way publishing was now, he had no influence on promotion. Worse, his boss considered taking me on a mistake and was unwilling to wait for demand to build gradually over several titles.

His parting advice: with my writing skill I should try for a “blockbuster,” a thick, heavy spectacular narrative I used to call a “beach read.” Publishing judges books by the pound now, he said.

So much for my resurrected writing career. It had been hard enough given my life to finish the second book of my contract. I didn’t have a blockbuster in me. Was this first punishment for my love of Cynara?

I was sunk in depression driving back to Harrisburg to fly home. And I will be damned if the motel didn’t have one of those sealed phone systems I lied about to Cynara. I left a message at the desk for a third online lover who’d said she would come see me when I got there, checked out and found a motel with internet access.

There was nothing faulty about my Cynara’s female radar. She was suspicious and bitter about no contact after giving me the expensive laptop as a means to ensure it; showing that Italian temper.

I had exhausted the lion’s share of my book money. Retirement money was running low. The third woman didn’t get my message at the first motel. I had lunch with my old copy editor pal, who tried to buck me up about my publisher pulling the plug, saying I’d find a way to publish again. I hoped so, but didn’t believe it.

When I got home Chloe had moved back in, and immediately launched on my profligate wasting of money, ignoring that it was tax-deductible as writer's expenses. My last hurrah ended in darker depression, if possible, than it began.

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Bill Burkett

Professional writer, Pacific Northwest. 20 Books: “Sleeping Planet” 1964 to “Venus Mons Iliad” 2018–19. Most on Amazon for sale. Il faut d’abord durer.