[The opening scene from “Non-Negotiable.” I have great sympathy for the lurkers, yes...]
I lurked, and I hated myself for it.
It didn’t matter how many dungeons or playspaces I went to, and I had been to all of them in my area, or at least the ones I knew about. Maybe there really was some mythical private space you could eventually gain entry to, if you proved yourself at the public ones. I gathered that took a kind of bravery I generally used up just getting through the door, though. So I stayed by a wall or in a corner, or on a chair or the far end of some couch, and was just another single guy, desperate to have a woman dominate him and terrified of coming off like some leering creep.
It should have been easier, I thought, especially in these Internet days. But I had been scammed online more than once already. And the munch cliques were as hard to break into as any circle of long-time vanilla friends. And the playspace poly families were as quick to take offense as the monogamous couples were, but with multiple angry partners dressing you down instead of just one, so that you found someone grimly determined to educate you about proper etiquette whichever room you tried escaping to that night.
A few months of this, and gun-shy didn’t even begin to describe me. But there was still that craving that never went away, no matter how many websites I visited or clips I downloaded, not since Kerrie the gangly neighbor girl had tied me up during that long-ago game of “Kidnappers and Feds.” All it took was an image, a tone of voice, or even a stray thought, and it was all over for me.
I was a submissive, so I lurked, and I hated myself for it.
The young, single women had it easy from what I saw. Everyone wanted to play with them. Even me.
So I lurked and tried not to. And almost always, these days, at Bordello de Sade.
Bordello was smaller than the other playspaces and usually less crowded, too. But the couple at the door always acted friendly as they took my mandatory donation, and the scenes were more serious, with the players wanting to control and be controlled, to hurt and be hurt, rather than hogging a station just to show off their latest outfits and look-at-me poses. The yelps and smacks echoed nicely without wall-to-wall people as well, and the regulars gave us lurkers our physical space so long as we didn’t crowd their headspace. It all just got to me more here than anywhere else, both in my head and in my pants. I’d even managed to graduate from the stage of awkward, accidental eye contact and then quickly looking away to having the occasional awkward, slightly embarrassing conversation with one or two of the other lurkers there.
Bordello was also the only place that had Lisabeth.
I’d thought she was a lurker, too, at first, sitting alone on half a love seat by the far wall. She never arrived with anyone, and she never left with anyone. She never got up to play or to sample the various snacks our mutual donations had bought. The couples and the poly klatches who considered Bordello their home dungeon—and they were easy enough to spot—never approached her, and the bravest—or creepiest—of the lurkers who did quickly found themselves rebuffed and wandering back to their corners.
She was always on that same love seat, though, each time I came. I never saw her anywhere else. And we lurkers were the type to move around, lest we actually be noticed like we always claim we want to be and then someone actually asks us to play in front of a large room full of strangers who would perv on us the same way we couldn’t help perving on them.
I’d thought she was a poser after that, someone just showing up to be seen. There would be less competition for envious gazes at Bordello, after all, and her simple-if-tight black dresses and not-always-high-heeled boots would have been overpowered by the look-at-what-I-could-afford corsets and too-expensive-to-actually-play-in leather on display at the other dungeons and spaces. I never saw that tell-tale glance to check if people were noticing her, though. And I spent more than enough time noticing her to have noticed that.
The curiosity got so unbearable, finally, that I actually started a conversation with another lurker. “Hey,” I offered, after approaching cautiously enough not to spook him.
“Hey,” he said back, not quite meeting my own eyes, like we were too close together in the men’s room or something.
I gave him a moment to calm his nerves—and for me to calm my own—then nodded in Lisabeth’s direction. “You know anything about her?”
“Yeah,” he said. “I wish.”
“Yeah,” I said, too.
“Her name is Lisabeth, I think,” we heard behind us then, in a voice like something from the throat of Master Lord God Sir—and then some. The other lurker and I both jumped, but at least I managed not to back away once I turned and faced what might as well have been a biker Santa Claus. Or to keep backing away, like the other lurker did, as Master Santa watched before finally pivoting his gaze back to me with a twinkle in his smile. “Son, I think you just got promoted to Alpha Lurker.”
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. Especially when he winked and almost dropped the two bottles of water balanced in his right hand and the plate of cookies in his left.
“Lisabeth,” I said then. “Wow.”
“I think,” Biker Claus told me again, while rebalancing his load. “She likes playing mind games. The whole night is one big role play for her, from the minute she walks through the door to the moment she leaves.”
“Wow,” I said again.
“Wow, indeed. Takes a lot of effort to keep that kind of intensity going in your headspace, so we tend to leave her be.”
I glanced over my shoulder at Lisabeth, probably for the hundredth time that night and the thousandth overall. “So it’s a respect thing?”
“Or we’re just giving the crazy woman a wide berth.” My head whipped back to him, my eyes wide, but Biker Claus just smiled again and offered me the plate. “Cookie?”
[The full story can be found on Amazon. And someday, I swear, I’ll finally finish writing “Book Two.” Vanilla life can be a cruel mistress, sometimes.]