Reflections is a series of short stories that aims to capture glimpses into the vibrant essence of my local community. Brief moments of human interaction, alluded conversation, and candidness – all with due respect for everyone’s privacy. It is a series that aims to capture both the surface and underlying current beneath the face of public kink, the wit and humor, which has so often made my experiences an extraordinary one.
A Saturday Evening
It was close to dusk when I arrived at the venue. Already the sun had began its slow descent over the horizon and cast itself a velvet-pink stretch against the overcast clouds against the waters of English Bay. I had arrived early, hungry, but already the atmosphere had transformed the dreariness of the outside world into the familiar tempo of the dungeon interior.
There were, of course, the familiar faces all around me. The door person smiled and as we exchanged pleasantries, the background conversations had mixed with the pulsating throb of the music selection. I looked around in the dim lighting. The bass speakers drowned out the sound of activity and the effect of leather drawn against bare flesh, the moaning of players already engaged in the dungeon floor.
See them, the figures undulating in the shadows, the sound of their laughter interwined by the ecstasy written across their faces; the gleam of the floor tiles against the flicker of navy blue and crimsoned lights. From time to time, I find myself caught up in conversation, and here and there are the streams of mild gossip and updates.
It’s hot inside the venue. The summer has been unforgiving. The water at the dry bar is overpriced and sweat trickled down the scalps of semi-clad individuals. I’m again complimented on my appearance and return the due courtesy, amid flirtations and clever puns, the continuous bickering about ventilation and the merciless heat. Come the winter, it’ll be the cold that takes the focus of our follies.
Passing by the dungeon floor, I spot the local riggers in their corner, already mid-course in their suspensions and the serenity wrote on the faces of their partners. I see too the couple in the corner, the chaste kisses and the subtle motion of her fingers slipping underneath his shirt. There are nods of acknowledgment and the respected silence that follows with observation.
Outside a volume of cigarette smoke purveys the street beyond where I find myself caught up in further conversation, the prospect of activity, and the intensity of group discussions. I take note the mixed presence of the elders, the regulars, and the new and unfamiliar. I bid them welcome and keep what gossip that surfaces to a minimum, lest their concerns occupy my focus for the evening.
Briefly I excuse myself to join a group of fellow peers. Together we made our way to a local restaurant, ate between musings of our exploits, and returned down the empty store fronts and lanes. We teased one another as friends often do. The sound of conversation carries itself across the desolate avenues. We checked our phones outside before hurrying back to watch another scene unfold.
There is louder screaming now, between the occasional lull in serious conversation, and the complaints about the unflinching summer heat. I regard each of those that pass me by, shaking hands and sharing embraces – heat or sweat be damned.
Now comes the arrival of late attendants and the chastising of their absences. I watch as they make their rounds, announce their presence to their friends, and join them together. Sometime in between those bouts, I am caught in negotiation, and intrigued by the thought for activity I venture towards the dungeon floor. I pack my toy bag lightly, carry only a set of old but familiar tools, and engage in consensual sadomasochism.
A half hour later, I’m nested in the embrace of my current partner, and we whisper to one another in regards of our mutual performances. Our conversation itself is brief and private. We share cold water, bitch a little more about the heat, and flirt before making our departures. Sometime later I spot them again on the dungeon floor, spurred by the same appeal which had brought me back to the venue and the company of my fellow community.
I step outside only moments later for a breath of fresh air and a cigarette. The menthol crisp seems to prolong the euphoria that courses through my veins. I’m high and hyper-sensitive, words flowing out of my lips without thought, at times stammering over them. The newcomers express their satisfaction over the evening. Everyone calls out to the person leaving, asking them to get home safely. I return inside.
Shortly after I am again back in the dungeon. Already the hour is late and I feel between the haze of an adrenaline fueled high, the course of hunger setting in. Once more, I attempt to trick the snack bar into surrendering their candies, and am again thoroughly dismissed; the look of disapproval is one that is immediately followed by the subsequent grin, which is as satisfying as had my attempt been successful.
I take the time to comfort a friend and listen, silently, to their deliberations. It has been a difficult year, fueled by the ending of relationships and the deaths of numerous individuals. I remember to be as much of a friend as possible – listening to them, interjecting upon the ache in their voice to comfort them. For a time, I remain in this corner as friends often do.
Fifteen minutes past midnight and already the activity has begun to die down. There is an emptiness in the eyes of the dungeon monitor, more focused than weary, unwavering in their station. Briefly I sit beside them and keep my conversations to base accord lest I distract them from their duties. One of them teases me about wearing tight jeans, being a masochist for doing so in this heat, and chuckles.
At around one in the evening, the dungeon has cleared and already people are exchanging their goodbyes. There is a couple making out briefly before they leave, a glimmer of mischief in the eyes of one as I said goodnight. The volunteers are small in number but dedicated. They immediately set about the task of stacking chairs, dismantling each of the dungeon equipment, and loading the truck.
One of them is a father, works five days a week; the other, fixed on the other side of the Saint Andrew’s cross and unscrewing its hinges, suffers from a recent leg injury. Neither of them complain. I stop briefly to have a cigarette and stare off at the distant cityscape and the lights twinkling across the silhouette of Whistler mountain. Shortly after, I return in time to help them take down the A-frame, which I affectionately refer to as “the heavy fucker”.
Each of the volunteers acts with great expedience and wastes little time. Conversation is professional, concise, each between panting breaths and focused on the task at hand. Each month, the tear down crew is painfully understaffed, and dropouts are a frequent occurrence. I have been painfully absent due to late-night transit issues.
The fluorescent lights and silence of the venue floor has since become nauseating but the heat has worn off. The haze of adrenaline is instantaneously replaced by the sharp contrast of focus, the immediate desire to finish clean up. Someone brings us all coffee and tea and is deeply revered. There is playful mention of intimate reciprocation for the gesture.
By around two in the morning, the last piece of equipment has been loaded aboard the truck. It will be driven to a U-haul and again stored in one of the units there. Already the volunteers have dispersed, leaving only a handful of the remaining to go about the task.
I find myself outside with another cigarette. There is a mild breeze in the air and I reek of nicotine, sweat, and old laundry. Eventually, sitting in my ride, I find myself drifting slightly. Fading fast, I’m occasionally peering at the passing glow of orange street lights, the lone pedestrians wandering the late night streets.
Finally I arrive home, thank my driver, and unlock my front door. The ride remains parked there in the middle of street for a time – making sure I manage to find my keys, driving off into the night. I pull off my boots, toss my toy bag, and slip into bed.
Just another Saturday night…