Two Eighty Three
Sylvia’s car drops her at Bank and 4th. Ostensibly to begin shopping at Marc accessories for bags and jewelry. She does study the window, but her ennui makes it all an unmemorable blur. For the look of the thing, she browses the spartan display until her man has driven far away to do whatever he does while she makes her excursions. He might service the car or fuck a whore; she has no idea and no interest in knowing.
When she is certain he’s gone, when the ache between her shoulder blades hurt so badly from the storefront diagonally across tugging at her; then she sighs and turns. She makes her way from the northeast to the southwest corner. 298 West 4th Street. Little Marc Jacobs waits for her. She stares at the display in the Bank Street window. A tiny mannequin dressed in a tweed suit. Chalk white and blank faced. Any child, every child. Any child but hers. Blank as her womb. The window at Little Marc becomes a blur as well. Not from lack of focus. She fumbles in her Burberry bag for a handkerchief and dabs at her eyes. Deeper inside the store a mother browses dresses with her little girl and Sylvia smiles at the window. Then her gaze returns to the blank faced little boy and she dabs at her eyes again and moves off west along Bank Street.
That could have been her little boy. He never had a face, was never developed enough to have formed one. Now he’s gone.
Her steps take her slowly down Bank; past all the apartment buildings and small townhouses. Most of the townhouses are converted to apartments now as well. So few have the means to maintain their own building in Manhattan and fewer still choose to do so in the West Village. She and her husband maintain residence in midtown; a tasteful townhouse on East 62nd, just across from the Bulgarian Embassy. Or Sylvia, at least, kept residence there and her husband maintained it as an address. It’s been at least three months since Elliot was last in New York. She believes vaguely he might be in Rio.
She nears the corner of Bleecker ignoring the lure of maje; time for that later. Time later for sandro, Zadig, Jimmy Choo, Marc women’s wear. Sylvia feels there is barely time to cross Bleecker and stand at the black wrought iron fence. She hurries across the one lane of traffic through a small gap between waiting cars. Her heart misses a beat as the scene comes clear. Bleecker Playground. It’s a weekday in the spring. Mostly toddlers are here, along with their parents or nannies of course. Sylvia wonders briefly if, in a few years, she’ll begin haunting schoolyards. She shakes the thought off for another equally guilt ridden. She dare not linger. Strangers get upset. Although to them it is she who is the stranger, crying inexplicably in the midst of their morning out.
Her fingers slide along the black fence, tinging lightly off each post as she strolls north. The rhythm keeps her feet moving; the fence steadies her as she stares into the park, ignoring where she places her feet. Bleecker Playground is a wedge between Bleecker and Hudson streets with the apex at the north corner where the two thoroughfares meet. She watches the little boys and girls play as she slowly drags her fingers from post to post. Mostly the little boys. They seem so alive as they fly from one diversion to the next. She drags her feet and her hand like a revenant from one post to the next. At the apex she turns and continues pinging the fence posts south along Hudson. She pauses to watch a little boy at the tiny plastic play house. He runs through the door and shrieks, “I’m home!” and flies back out again. He stops and spins and runs back in. “I’m home,” he cries. Laughing as he speeds out of the house only to run straight back in. “I’m HOME!” He jumps up and down in place the way toddlers do. “Home! Home! HOME!”
He has dark curly hair and deep brown eyes, so like Elliot. Sylvia stifles a cry of her own and stumbles onward, south down Hudson. They had told her it was too early to tell the sex, but she knew
in her secret heart it was a son; she swaddled that thought there daily. Her kerchief makes a few more dabs at her eyes.
She reaches the base of the triangular shaped playground. There is an alleyway running east back to Bleecker. On the park side there is a hedgerow and benches. On the opposite side another hedgerow and the back of a six story apartment building. It smells faintly of urine and feces here. Sylvia believes homeless people camp here at night. In daytime the alleyway is filled with old people trying to catch the warmth of the sun and still avoid the loud, overly busy children in the park. She sits at an empty bench and works on her eye makeup while breathing the fetid atmosphere. The miasma of decay and rot steadies her, centers her within her situation.
Her miscarriage at ten weeks and the news that her womb was “unsuitable for gestation” came almost three years ago. It still haunted her daily. She was reminded of it each morning she awoke to an absent husband. His
family never spoke with her unless there was a function they attended mutually. Her
family looked at her with such sadness she simply avoided them as much as practicable. For a woman of her faith, her inability to bear children was both an affront and a judgement. For a couple from two families of such high social standing it was slightly scandalous and a constant disappointment. Elliot had another six years remaining before they could divorce without raising any eyebrows due to impropriety. He chose to spend as little of that time in her presence as possible.
Sylvia Goldstein sits amid the faint odors of excretion fixing her makeup. She puts away her handkerchief, rummages in her handbag for a Chanel scarf to fold over her hair and tie in the back, then pulls out an oversize pair of Fendi sunglasses and puts them on. A few deep breaths and she is ready. She leaves the bench, striding purposefully across Bleecker and south past the shops she will visit later. She steps onto West 11th Street and the second door down from Marc women’s wear is her club; a narrow and unremarkable five story brick building. She mounts the five curved stairs out front and walks through the double doors in the pillared entryway.
“Welcome back to Two Eighty Three, Miss G.” Janisa Diaz is very sincere in her welcome. A twenty percent share in the club will do that. Janisa has put a lot of herself into 283 West 11th Street since she bought in. Her ex-husband’s money got her the one fifth ownership; the nature of the place got under his skin in a way that thrilled and delighted her. Janisa is a former Miss Puerto Rico and her ex is the anchor for the national news broadcast on Telemundo. If word of his ex-wife’s business were to get out his reputation would be ruined. She often reflects how well her decision has worked to keep the cheating bastard civil with her.
“Good morning, Janisa,” Miss G responds from behind her Jaqueline disguise. “I trust you are well?”
This is where Janisa’s talents shine. She’s the informal hostess of the club and excels at making the clients, all women, feel welcomed and safe within these walls. Her years on the pageant circuit taught her much about her fellow women: when to flatter, when to defer, how to listen, negotiate and lead. “I am. Thank you so much for asking,” Janisa responds. This one, she reflects, is all business. No hand holding required for this veteran of the club. “I received your package and instructions yesterday and I have everything set for you in 3E. I know you like to overlook the rear courtyard.”
“I’m sure you’ve arranged everything perfectly, as always.” Already Miss G seems distracted and anxious to conclude the formalities.
Janisa pulls a file folder from beneath her countertop and lays it open before the client. “I’ve taken the liberty of filling in the usual for your requests ahead of time.” This one rarely alters her orders and hates the paperwork so Janisa tries to smooth it over as best she can. “If you would be so kind as to review it to ensure I’ve made no errors. Initial all the right places, sign and date it so we can get you upstairs.”
Heinrich enjoys his work very much. He feels especially lucky to have been offered this position in the United States. Two Eighty Three was taking care of his visa and eventual citizenship. It was also quite lucrative when compared with the clubs he had been employed at in the German fetish scene and he did not have to perform in videos to make ends meet. That sort of work was often undignified and some of the “actresses” were less than enthusiastic about their roles. Moreover, the entire enterprise here at Two Eighty Three is treated very professionally. Heinrich does not mind the mandatory reading and educational seminars. He is thoroughly immersed in his profession and the clientele that he services are normally very receptive.
Ms. Diaz had given him a new dossier to study yesterday. A client he’d not seen before; a Mrs. Sylvia Goldstein, Miss G in the rudimentary code language of Two Eighty Three. Her professed interests were within Heinrich’s skill set, but other consultants at the club report she infrequently orgasms during sessions and cite an internal resistance to release that is quite high. It is interesting to Heinrich that there appears to be a correlation between orgasm for the client and length of time between sessions. When not experiencing orgasm, Miss G tends to return to the club sooner. Heinrich believes, based on the dossier, that many consultants avoid the extra attention to detail in an effort to pad the client’s billing at the club with more frequent sessions. Heinrich, however, prides himself on perfection and has been looking forward to this challenging assignment.
Heinrich spent the morning preparing the assigned space and when the call comes to the ready room that his client has arrived he checks the computer for the day’s signed orders stating what is and is not allowed along with her safe word, then he starts getting into character. He also checks the cameras in 3E and sees that Miss G looks the same as the pictures contained in her dossier; mid 30’s, attractive brunette of average height with a bit of extra padding in the hips, buttocks and thighs. He decides she is in the early stages of simply letting herself go.
He logs off his workstation, adjusts his cap and takes the back stairway to the third floor. In keeping with the level of abusive humiliation he deems the client will respond to, Heinrich is adopting a persona in much the same manner as a method actor. He has dressed the part and now must act it out as the scene unfolds. The various educational elements of employment at Two Eighty Three are not lost on him.
There is no polite knock at the door, Sturmbannfuhrer Klaus Oberst uses his master key to unlock the door of haftraum 3E and let himself in. He does not believe in coddling the prisoners, no matter their social rank and wealth; some of the warders are getting soft, rubbing elbows with civilians each day. The detainee has her back to him as he locks the door again with his key and attaches it to the clip on his belt. She is staring out the barred window at the courtyard. There is only a half dead apple tree out there, shedding its few fragile blossoms onto the sterile concrete. So cool and absorbed within herself as she ignores him. He knows he must break her. Even as he strides toward her, his boots thumping loudly on the bare wooden floor, she does not turn to see who has entered.
He interrupts her reverie by reaching around to place his swagger stick against her throat. Gripping each end he pulls the hard wooden shaft tight against her windpipe. Now he has her attention. Her hands automatically rise up to try and pry the stick away, but the Sturmbannfuhrer is strong: hardened by training and conflict and war. He drags the prisoner backward as she struggles and chokes. Turning, he flings her onto the low, iron framed cot where she lands face down. A quick strike of the stick across her upper thighs and he snarls at her, “You will acknowledge your superiors when you are in their presence, Jewess.”
She turns over quickly, her eyes go wide. Oberst sees them fill with panic and is gratified. The uniform black as midnight, the Sam Brown belt hung with pistol and ceremonial dagger, the polished jack boots, the death’s head emblem on the peak of his visored cap, the twin lightning bolt insignia on his gorget: all meant to strike terror into such as she.
“What…” she splutters.
Klaus grabs her hair, pulling her roughly off the bed to fall heavily on her knees. Her hands reach for her scalp and he strikes across her exposed ribs with the swagger stick. After her shriek he chides her, “Do not play dumb with me.” He makes a show of removing his black leather gloves slowly. “You were caught at the station with false travel papers.” Quick as a snake he backhands her across the face with his gloves. “Hands behind your back,” Oberst commands. There is a pretty pink blush on her right cheek. Her hands shake as she holds them behind herself. The Sturmbannfuhrer fastens the handcuffs on her quite tightly. He hauls her swiftly to her feet. Grabbing the cuffs and the collar of her blouse, he frog marches her to the plain wardrobe in a corner of the room. He slams her back against the wall.
Oberst clamps a hand over her mouth, silencing her. He shoves his swagger stick between her legs and thrusts upward so the round head of it digs into her folds and continues driving it upward until she is on tip toe, the shaft holding her there.
“Let me explain the facts to you, Jewess,” he hisses the word, “so you need not bother lying to me.” He punctuates each point by pressing the knob of the stick harder into her cunt. “One: you are Sylvia Goldstein. I’ve read your dossier and seen the pictures. Two: you are not where you are supposed to be.” Tears are starting to drip down her cheek and onto the Sturmbannfuhrer’s hand. “Three: you were found at the train station possessing counterfeit travel papers, trying to board a train for Switzerland.” There is a tearing sound as the seam in the crotch of her slacks begins to part from the pressure the swagger stick exerts. “Four: you were found with large sums of money and valuables trying to transport wealth out of the country.” Her eyes regain some focus and he releases her to slump down the wall.
“Do you deny any of this,” he demands.
“No.” she says quietly. “I am Sylvia.”
“Stand up.” She complies. Klaus tucks the swagger stick into his belt. “Now you must be searched.” His hands grasp her blouse and pull. The buttons spray across the small room and his hands touch her breasts lightly over the cups of her bra, rubbing back and forth. Then they travel around to the back, feeling along the elasticized panels. He leans in close to do this and notices how she shivers and turns her head away. Standing back, he draws the dagger and quickly cuts the shoulder straps and the small band between the cups. She gasps as he nicks the skin between her breasts. She stays quiet and still as he spins her to face the wall. The dagger is sharp and it cuts down the back of her blouse easily and parts the sleeves. Her tattered blouse and bra land on the floor.
Sturmbannfuhrer Oberst squats behind the prisoner and pats down her legs. He stands and pushes his chest against her back, pinning her to the wall. He knows the medals and hardware from his uniform are grinding into her naked back as his hands run over her ass, hips and down the front of her to her crotch. She shudders when he grips her mound. “We must look in your purse, yes?” His hands rip open the front of her slacks and pull them, along with her underwear, down to mid-thigh. “Turn around,” he demands after taking his weight off her back. When she does he draws the dagger again and plunges it down through her panties, right where her pussy had been just a moment before. Her eyes are wide as he rips the panties and the pants apart with the dagger and his bare hands. “Step out of your shoes.” He kicks each shoe roughly aside when she vacates it, then he grabs her by the neck and kicks her legs apart. Brandishing the dagger he admonishes her, “Not one tiny movement or I slice your lips off.” The dagger points downward to indicate which pair he speaks of.
Klaus shoves the first two fingers of his left hand deeply into her tunnel and feels around slowly for any contraband. He turns her and repeats the process with her anal cavity. She sobs and whimpers, looking toward the blank side of the wardrobe. When he withdraws his fingers he wipes them on her face as she flinches in disgust. He sheaths the dagger and opens the wardrobe, pulling out a roughspun shift. He removes the handcuffs and gives her the garment. She puts it on automatically while he glares at her.
Suddenly he pulls the swagger stick from his belt and slaps her upper arm with it. “Here is your haftlingsnummer: 0-7-4, 5-2, 1-3-8-4. Is it correct?” Her eyes boggle at him. He slaps her arm repeatedly with the hard wooden shaft while he reads each numeral in turn.
“Yes,” she whispers looking at the patch, “that is my number.”
“And the red bar that says you are a repeat offender.” He smacks it with the stick. “Your yellow Jew triangle,” another strike, “overlaid with the red triangle for a political prisoner.” He points with the stick, this time, at the last symbol on her sleeve. “The red dot in the black circle you earn today for becoming an escaped prisoner.” The Sturmbannfuhrer grins into her startled face. “No more work house for you. You are off to the camps, filthy Zionist whore.”
Both hands entangled in her shift, Klaus whirls her around and shoves her at the bed. When the frame strikes the back of her calves she folds and he drives her hard onto the mattress. Working quickly, he pulls the restraints over her wrists and tightens the leather cuffs. Then her ankles, then the straps are tightened up. Sylvia is spread-eagle on the cot, her shift riding up over her waist. Her eyes are wide, but unafraid. She sounds expectant, “Is this when you rape me?”
Sturmbannfuhrer Oberst barks a quick laugh and leans over her, his hand stroking her face. “Such a pretty woman. So vulnerable. What man would not fuck you now?” Suddenly he spits in her face; the hand that stroked so nicely now slaps her vulva forcefully. “Is that what you think?” He snarls at her, “Your Jewish pussy is so special that it would make a race defiler of me?”
His jackboots thump as he strides to the wardrobe and removes several items. He returns and deposits them on the bedside table. It is too tall for the prisoner to see what he has left there. “You are worthless, schweinhund, except for one thing… Your password to the underground.” Klaus knows if he gets the word from her she is broken. He also knows from her dossier that previous interrogation sessions have failed to achieve this goal.
Throughout, the detainee has been an excellent opponent, as now: she looks genuinely baffled and asks, “Underground?”
Oberst pulls her rumpled shift higher. Taking a handful of spring loaded metal clamps off the table he begins applying them. “Yes, underground.” She gasps as one clamp fastens to each nipple. “You escape, find papers,” more clamps attached to the side of each breast make her squeal. “You have money and jewels enough to buy munitions…” The dagger is drawn and traces under the left breast leaving a trickle of blood and filling her with shudders. “You have a train ticket to a neutral country. The underground: those who arrange these things for you.”
Sylvia is biting her lip, resisting. The Sturmbannfuhrer considers his choices. “This can all be over, Frau Goldstein, if you give me the word.” Nothing from her. Oberst grabs a jar from the table and smears her belly with petrolatum. He takes up a small battery powered machine with electrical leads coming off of it and attaches two electrodes to her lower abdomen. The current is applied. It pulses slowly off and on. The prisoner moans as the machine makes her muscles contract violently with each cycle. She bites her lip so hard blood flows and it is several cycles of the contractor before she can unclamp her teeth. Klaus leans in close again and twists the clamps on her nipples. “The word you filthy Jew!”
She shakes her head in defiance and grits her chattering teeth together. Oberst straightens. “You are nothing without that word. Give it to me and you will cease to be of concern. You can be free of the torment.” Silent determination from the prison. Klaus picks up a leather flogger and then discards it. More clips, brushed off the table as useless. A blackjack filled with lead shot. No good. He pulls the clamps from her breasts and nipples without releasing the springs and she cries out as the blood flows back in bringing a wealth of pain with it.
The Sturmbannfuhrer had not believed such extreme measures would be necessary. Nevertheless he is prepared and he returns to the wardrobe. This is a personal tool Klaus acquired on a trip to Argentina: a picana, an electrified wand. Unlike the contractor electrodes which wear down the muscular reserves this device inflicts raw pain with high voltage, low amperage output so the prisoner can experience the pain over and over with minimal burning of the skin or lasting damage.
Oberst strokes the prisoner’s labia with the picana while her hips tilt up and down due to the involuntary muscle contractions from the contractor electrodes. She screams when he pulls the trigger and shocks her on the side of her vulva. “Give me the password,” he demands. Again she shakes her head and again he shocks her mound with the prod.
Klaus takes careful aim and shocks her labia high up near the clitoral hood. “Give me the word, Jewess and you can go off to the camps to be sterilized.”
Her eyes swim into focus on him. “What...” she asks groggily.
The Sturmbannfuhrer shocks her again on her lips and notes how wet she has become. “Certainly,” he grins evilly down at her, “the National Socialists do not want filth like you breeding.” Another shock, this one right on her clit making her convulse much harder than the contractor would account for. “Give me the word and you can spend time in hospital after the Reich makes you barren." One more shock and the prisoner convulses harder than ever.
Klaus believes she is in the throes of multiple orgasms as she blurts out, “Mattan.” He grins. A Jew word meaning ‘gift of God,’ but also a boy’s name: that would make for a safe password.
The prisoner finishes convulsing and passes out.
Heinrich has removed the cap, the belt, the uniform jacket. He waits for Miss G to awaken. He has already removed the electrodes and restraints and pulled her shift down for modesty. When her eyes open she blinks several times as if unsure where she is.
“The extra clothes you sent ahead yesterday are in the wardrobe, Miss G.” Heinrich is very solicitous. “Will you need anything further from me?” Sylvia shakes her head no in answer and he slips quietly out of the room.
Having cleaned herself up and now back out on the street in broad daylight: Sylvia feels lighter, better than she has in ages. She’s famished and decides Tartine would be lovely. Maybe an escargot to start and the croque monsieur. Yes, she decides, that will give her the strength she needs to hit the shops and really put a dent in her account.