You must have seen it, that image from Japan of a circle in swirling ink, a single thick brush stroke with trailing edges, like a meteor, a cosmic phenomenon, something chasing its own tail in space. The image is ubiquitous. You find it in advertisements, probably on teeshirts at this point. What it means I don't quite know, but it seems to suggest some vision of wholeness, integrity, grace, confidence too. Some artist accomplished that nearly perfect circle in one sweep of the brush, with verve. It may come from Zen or be an instance of Zen art. I really don't know. It's beautiful for sure, compelling. You must have seen it. Zen circle, call the thing.

It's what Akemi's mouth going down on me brings to mind. That cosmic depth, elemental simplicity. The words may be redundant but sometimes one adjective doesn't suffice. You can say "smart and intelligent," "small, little," a huge, large house" or whatever. People talk that way not because they're stupid but to make a point by the repetition. I'll say it once and again: she touches me to the core when she goes down.

Am I talking to myself or to readers here? You can't believe you're feeling this. Your brain has a hard time catching up to the sensations. There's physical and emotional power and purity in play, a meal of feeling she's whipped up as she makes a meal of my cock. You feel yourself being lifted out of yourself into a world both beautiful and extraordinary, one you knew was waiting; some part of your innermost being knew, expected this- her waiting mouth as you literally do rise out of yourself, your cum spouts.

I think you can understand why I didn't want Sten or any other guy experiencing with her what I did- Sten especially, as he's in the picture now. That experience, that close, locked-on contact with Akemi, is supposed to be for me only. You don't want some other guy's thing sliding through her lips, his cum shooting so strong it looks like it will reach her dark, glowing eyes.

Hell no. I knew Sten and Akemi had already been together like that once- locked, I mean- and I couldn't get the imagined image of what happened out of my head.

Akemi denied anything had. I didn't openly accuse her of giving head to the math teacher from Denmark. Her friend. If you've read earlier chapters, you know all about this. For others, here again is a brief summary of a situation dire enough for me to write about it over and over even as it evolves. I'm trying to make sense of new developments as they happen.

And maybe, just maybe I was overreacting, thinking things would move between them that quickly, supposing they were hellbent. After all, I didn't get a blowjob from Akemi the first time we went out. I didn't get anything; not that I looked at our involvement in those mercenary terms, expecting to get something. How I put it sounds bad! But you understand. I don't have to explain this to you!

Not the second date either, though that time we slept together. I spent the night at her place but it was platonic. What a night! Her glistening dark top, almost black but marked by highlights following her curves. The fabric pulled this way and that, caught the lamplight in her bedroom- it doubled as living room; they lived in a studio. I couldn't help being reminded by that simple top made of thick silk or something resembling it of a stringed instrument you plucked or ran your finger along it and it sang. How the silk or whatever pulled this way with her breasts; it was loose enough for them to move within but drew tight, followed her swells, came to points. The surface shook with her. Right there before my eyes. I realize this sounds adolescent but damn.

Her breasts weren't small. Weren't enormous either. Just right for her proportions. Large enough to occasion a second look, sustained attention. That shape. You don't find anything more beautiful in the world, sharply compelling. The tapering taut shapes. Each motion brought fresh nuance, as a gorgeous face does, changing with the light and angle of view, expression, emotion, beauty of endless depth variety. You didn't have to look far for it. There it was.

I didn't even touch her breasts then, but I felt them already. She opened herself to me just by sharing the night with me. We barely got any sleep. Was I frustrated? Yes. But happy. We'd spent hours together and watched the sky change to red far in the distance outside her high rise window. There they were in the shadows before morning, her pencil eraser nipples. If she wore a bra that night it was a very thin one.

I didn't hold her. She chose to be with me, set her wildness on top of me- clothed; she straddled my body with hers in the single bed- she lived alone with her roommate, out then, remember. Her wild eyes, her hair. Her dark brown corduroy pants stretched where she rested right on my cock. We didn't acknowledge that was happening, talked through it, but it was happening and informed our talk, our late at night voices; her breasts right up in my face though not in my hands. Frustrating but happily- hope was rich. Her scent was enough for now. I had that. It was okay that we kept things limited, just let the feeling build, basked in them without following through yet. It was natural. There'd be plenty of nights later. Our not acting now was a recognition of how much we looked forward to together. Let it build, Akemi's eyes said as she shifted her light weight on me, once and again. Did she know she was driving me crazy, making me fall in love with her? And what did she feel?

I was so at ease then I introduced Akemi to my girlfriend Andrea. Akemi and I had a plan to go see a movie together.

"Andrea, this is.." And I actually drew a blank on Akemi's name! Just couldn't remember. Almost forgot Andrea's too. We three laughed about it.

"This is how busy I am." We were at the college. I had a lot on my mind, first and foremost Akemi. But her freaking name! She didn't seem to mind my lapse, seemed not to take it personally. Andrea and Akemi looked at me, wondering what I'd remember.

I went back to my place (I lived alone; Andrea and I never shared a home) to get ready for the movie late, pick up some stuff: an extra shirt, a toothbrush- I'd want to make sure my breath was fresh; yeah, maybe I overdid the preparation. I rushed, found there was less time than I'd thought to reach the college for our meeting (and for god's sake don't forget the site we'd chosen), and when I returned home later I found I'd left the water running from my shower.

When we finally did make love, had intercourse, weeks on, I played a little trick at first, got mischievous. I let her think for a while I was all the way in when I wasn't yet, then after a few moments gave her a shock by showing how big I really was, how deep I could go. We got to a sustained undulation, a wave rhythm. I watched her move from her belly down, liquid dance motion, a revelation, so good, it knocked you out of your skull.

I felt like a politician who wins over a crowd by spouting bold pronouncements that thrill and inspire, defy expectations, offend rivals. I stood on my podium my hair wet from sweat spraying from the roots, at the heights of my power, hurling my spit in the air. Akemi and I both looked on in awe at what we were doing, what we would do from now on unless something went wrong.

At the same time I felt I was in a soft drink commercial which a beautiful model, well-known, unreal in her fame, was presenting; somehow I'd been paired with her. A dazzling world of lights and color packed in a sound stage, being filmed. A mini-universe but real, and I was there. Bright, wet, all the elements of life. It just happened to be very picturesque. Sweat, oil darkened Akemi's hair and mine. Oil like Akemi used in her painting, oil that ignited.

When we finished we fell asleep with me still inside her. And I had a bad thought: Was this what a rapist might do? Of course with us it wasn't that. In any case we woke still locked together and could start up again right away.

I felt so good then I no longer even minded my job, which had previously really been bothering me- teaching got on my nerves; sometimes I felt I would have done anything to escape the classroom stress, the paperwork and the rest- I'd have driven a taxi instead. But when Akemi and I linked up, the work, the interaction with students- who were difficult; they both wanted to rebel and to worship- seemed fine, like everything else. I didn't even get pissed when my boss Ray balled me out for requesting a change of schedule, threatened- joking but not funny- to cut back on my classes, which would have meant lost income, and I needed money for Akemi, had bought a car, used one a friend of a friend was selling- to be able to go see her easily.

Akemi and I did seem to zoom into our thing, at rocket speed, shedding stages, bursting past earth's gravity, all of it happening too fast for us to follow, outside our control; we burned off the the atmosphere, embraced in orange flame, came through intact, cool and stabilizing. Akemi and Sten might also take off quickly. Maybe they'd already launched. Heaven bound or hell bent. I didn't want to think about it, but how could I not?

That was then and this is now, as they say. Pandemic! They were working on a film about diversity in the U.S. Diversity. Yeah, the buzz word- mix of cultures and nationalities- and an important, good thing it is; don't get me wrong. What bothers me is only this: Why does Akemi have to be involved? Sten's not a professional. He's a math instructor at the college where I work and Akemi studies. I've been through this countless times here before. Yes, you're up to speed already if you've been reading my chronicle- which you may judge however you like. I've lost all objectivity and the fate of my self-respect is questionable at this point- I can't tell if I'm acting as I do to protect it or because I've lost it. But for the newcomer- and for me- let's reiterate. Every time I write about the situation the contours become a little clearer, some new detail might emerge, shed light, in my mind I mean. So I hope at least.

Who could have foreseen a blowjob would matter so much!

Bear with me if you would, if you're interested in nothing more than the way her mouth arcs open to take me, the glistening roof of her mouth- the light might catch it and might not, because she's always changing angle of attack. Sometimes the interior of her mouth glows red from the light, sometimes shadow passes over it, play and the deadly serious coexist. If only that fires our imagination, keep reading, you'll be rewarded. Maybe someone out there conceives an interest that goes beyond the physical act to my feelings, hers too.

Fuck Sten's. Let him take care of them himself. Let him masturbate. Leave Akemi, my marriage alone. But he won't, will he? Well, we'll see what happens. You drive a man too far, you fuck with his life. Don't expect understanding.

Sten's friends were the film-makers. They were putting into effect the documentary idea they'd hatched. The fact that they'd come here to shoot just as a pandemic was getting underway complicated their work but didn't stop it. They'd enlisted Sten's help. He lived in the U.S., knew the ropes. And then he'd asked Akemi to join him in the project. She'd reveal her own experience as an immigrant. And the film would be an opportunity for her to show her art work, her paintings. Apparently Sten could be pretty persuasive.

The thing is, she liked him, said so, didn't hide it.

There's a pandemic. I just read a news article about a gathering in Southern California that became a superspreader event. Akemi knew about it too. Sten still wanted to see her, get close. He claimed, she told me, that he couldn't be infected, took precautions- like a guy promising her he'd wear a condom and not come in her mouth. He wanted to go out with her despite the emergency, follow through on their project. And she did too.

Akemi told me she didn't worry about collaborating on the movie during the COVID crisis or, for that matter, about things between Sten and ger getting out of hand. I'd raised the latter possibility. Did she know he had a crush on her, I asked. She said it wasn't impossible but not a concern.

Was this before or after the blow job I eventually found out about- ninety percent sure.

What am I supposed to do or not do?

"I know how to avoid danger," she said, about the COVID-19 situation and Sten as well, though less directly. "I know how to keep within limits. Do you remember when I went kayaking, that trip with Hiroko? I told you about it. In the canyon. I had a kayak to myself and was responsible for my own safety, made decisions."

"Yeah, yeah." I raked my memory, thought I got it. The summer we met, before we got together. She and Hiroko and others went off for a weekend.

"There was a wall of sand-colored rock, rising straight from the water, striated, like a cliff, up to a high plateau- you could see trees at the top, just traces of some scrub pines, their branches, fir hanging over the edge- just looking made me a little dizzy. I concentrated on the immediate, my present situation and the next step."

Of course Akemi didn't talk this way. As I've said before, I can't capture her vocal rhythms, her word choices in English. They're too idiosyncratic, and my writing skill isn't up to it. I paraphrase, okay? Just listen and try to see her.

"That rock wall made a corner blocking the view beyond. And I chose not to go past it, judged that a venture into that unknown was too dangerous- even though I wanted to go ahead and see what was there. I'm not foolish, Mitchell. I didn't know how the water would be around that bend, on the far side of the rock- I would have had to execute a right turn to get there. My friends and I were in an area then that was relatively calm on the surface though deep, turbulent- there were purls that suggested the beginnings of whirlpools. Any one might prove to be the real thing."

Akemi gave me a look to see if I understood, was following. Of course I was!

"The pool, the peace, the light dancing on the smooth surface lulled us into an almost hypnotic state, but I knew not to get complacent, take chances. Conditions might be different beyond the rock wall. What if there were rapids and they led to a falls? Spray, just a faint mist was visible. I knew that once I turned the corner I'd disappear from view behind the rock face, no longer be invisible to the others in our group. If something bad happened, they couldn't see and come to help."

She recognized limits she shouldn't cross.

No, I didn't think she was a fool. But was she telling me she exercised good judgment in her relations with Sten, didn't let things get past a point of no return, despite her adventurous nature?!

Akemi acknowledged even in that conversation, one drunken night- I don't think she'd have let it go where it did if we hadn't drunk with friends earlier- that all was not in her control. "And there's the tide, currents that can affect you without you even realizing it."

She looked at me. I understood. God, I liked her mouth, her eyes, her brown black hair loose then. She often tied it back. We were in the bedroom then. She was holding it with one hand, twisting the hank to put on a soft elastic band she wore in bed.

"I get you," I said simply. Words to that effect. Paraphrasing myself here!

My situation, if you want to know about it, felt less like being out in wilderness exploring than like a visit to an amusement park house of horrors- or is it fun house?- place where things pop out at you from the darkness. Masks, I mean, the kind that look like gremlins or goblins, ghoulish painted in swirls following the grotesque contours of a papier mache face. Things from nightmares- that is, creations of your own mind.

Sinuous, following the lines engraved in a face by age or disfigurement and exaggerated by color, bright green enamel- it shines as if shellacked- reds and white like the topographical markings on a map; but it is a face- they are faces- one is crazy thin, with drawn protruding cheekbones, the impossibly tapering chin of a clown, a bulbous nose, frog eyes, mask devoid of human expression yet jeering, watching for your reaction, waiting to jump out and take advantage of it, eat your soul. Grotesque but familiar like the striations in the rock wall Akemi described, layers upon layers dating back through the eons. Sometimes it seems nothing comes as a complete surprise. I often sense that we already know everything there is in the universe- not that knowing helps when bad stuff happens. It's knowledge we've never put to use, passive, you could say. Masks emerge, zoom forward from the pitch black- your eyes haven't yet adjusted from outdoors- too suddenly; they seem to launch from springs- and too close for you to avoid their impact. You have to react.;u=10660

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