In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
BY AL BRUNO III
Monday November 18th 1996
Late morning sunlight blazed in through the windows tracing a slow warm arc along the floor and up onto the bed where Warren slept peacefully. He stirred at the sound of footsteps, twisted and stretched beneath the covers; halfway awake and halfway in dreamy memory he watched Hao getting dressed.
He had awoken after the midnight dinner party at first relieved he had escaped a hangover. Panic set in when he realized he was in an unfamiliar room and an unfamiliar bed.
He had calmed once he realized he was in Hao’s room and she was right there playing with her dolls.
Then he realized he was naked and had no idea where his clothes were and it was panic time all over again.
The sight of Hao, fifty years old or not, semi-human or not, was one to be savored; her mahogany colored skin and sleek figure, her wild hair and pale eyes, the way a trickle of hair made its way from her navel to sex.
His friends and his pornography had trained him to expect that part of a woman’s body to be shaved clean, or at least artistically. To Hell with that. Warren wouldn’t change a damn thing about her body.
She pulled her jeans up over her hips with a little hop that set her bare breasts bobbing. The sight set Warren's heart fluttering but the sensation quickly migrated southward.
Finding himself in a state of confusion and undress had set Warren blathering. What had he done? What had they done? And why the Hell couldn’t he remember.
Hao had told him that all he had done was sleep and that she had undressed him because she wanted him to be comfortable, and because she had wanted to see.
As if he wasn’t blathering before...
Hao caught him watching and grinned slyly, “Your favorite part of the show?”
“Every part is my favorite part,” he sat up and watched her slip into an old fashioned looking bra. “What time is it anyway?”
“Does it matter?”
There were toys everywhere, dolls and doll clothes and doll sized accessories; the dolls were every color and gender and they were all Barbies or Barbie knock offs. All the toys were in use, having dinner parties and beach adventures.
She had set her dolls down and turned her attention to him, lying down beside Warren and stroking his cheek.
“Uhm...” he had said, “Uhm... so what’s with all the dolls? Are you a collector?”
“It's never too late to have a happy childhood,” Hao said. “But enough about toys.”
And she had kissed him.
There was a blouse draped over the Malibu Dreamhouse, Hao retrieved it and pulled it over her head. “I’ve got work to do,” she reached under the bed trying to retrieve her sneakers. “You get up and I will meet your for lunch.”
“Maybe I’ll just wait here.” Warren said.
She stopped looking and met his gaze, “Your sister is going to think I’m keeping you prisoner.”
“You mean you’re not?” he kissed her and tried to pull her up and onto the bed.
She laughed, “Oh no. No. No. No...”
At first he had been tentative, content to kiss and tease; slowly his touch become bolder. He undressed her and with every bit of flesh revealed he glanced up at her, his eyes hungry for approval and permission. She gladly gave him both and murmured with approval as he kissed his way from her lips to her chin to the back of her neck.
That was the first time he saw the scars.
After a while they stopped kissing and Hao retrieved her sneakers and began lacing them up, “I really gotta go.”
Warren sat up smiling but disappointed he hadn't managed to coax her back into bed. The sunlight warmed his skin and set some of the gaudier Barbie outfits twinkling. The hardwood floors reflected the light, bounding it off the mirrors. “What do you do anyway?” he asked. “Where do you go?”
“I'm the Castellan,” she answered simply.
“And what the Hell does that mean?”
She stood and picked up one of her dolls, after a moment's contemplation she set it in a nearby pink jeep, “It means I'm the one responsible for making sure things run smoothly around here.”
She had turned on to her side, facing away from him and keeping herself absolutely still, At first he thought the flesh of her back was burnt but closer examination showed these scars were lash-marks that had crisscrossed over and over again until her skin had been left pale, gnarled and hard to look at. Neither of them said a word, she was holding her breath, waiting.
He reached around and cupped her breasts, pulling her close.
Warren laid back down again, “So, you're the one doing all the housework?”
“Get up lazybones!” Hao shook her head at him.
“Maybe,” he said. “If I can help.”
“Help you with your chores. The sooner you’re done the sooner we can...” he paused meaningfully, “...have lunch.”
Her expression clouded, “I don't think...”
“Why not? After all I'm going to be here for a while,” he laced his hands behind his back.
“Maybe someday,” she walked back over to him and planted a kiss on his forehead. “Now get moving.”
“I’ll be waiting for you here,” Warren said, “Hurry back.”