Sunday, November 20, 2005

Rawley's Rule Number Seven (short story)

The hard breathing that can only result from deep sleep was the only sound that could be heard in the darkness, until a dirty yellow light clicked on, providing an eerie glow to the room. The source of the yellow light was a circa 1970’s glass table lamb with a shade stained from years of cigarette smoke and dust. It’s easy to see now that this is a cheap motel room, right down to the peeling wallpaper. The hand which earlier turned on the lamp grasps the bedcovers and quickly draws them back to reveal a beautiful naked woman. She slithers out of the bed and slinks her way to the bathroom. The sleep breathing sound stops, snorts, and then continues as the man in the bed rolls over to escape the bright piercing light that is now coming from the bathroom.

The attractive woman pulls back her hair, looks in the mirror, and then produces a hair tie which she uses to wrangle her hair into a neat pony tail. “Rawley, this time it’ll be 2,000 EC’s.”

The man in the bed stirs, and then rolls over to face her. “I’ll authorize a transfer from my account right now. Out of curiosity, why did it go up?”

“New rates for the new fiscal year which started in September.” The woman splashed water on her face and patted it dry with a paper-thin motel room towel.

“This corporate branding of the call girl trade is getting a little out of hand.” Rawley fumbled for his PDA on the night stand, then pulled out the stylus and whacked a few buttons. “There, the authorization is complete. You sure you don’t have more time to stick around? The Red Wings game is on and I’ve got this room for the whole night.”

“I have other appointments still this evening, hon. Sorry. I’m free next Thursday, though. I know there’s a game on that night. We can watch that after we finish for a period or two if you like.”

Rawley sat up and rubbed his eyes. His middle aged paunch hung over striped boxer shorts. “Naw, I’ve gotta work late that night. We’ve got a new band playing over at the casino and they need a sound technician to work their board. Maybe another time.”

“Alright then, you know how to get a hold of me. I’m outta here, baby.” The woman emerged from the bathroom fully dressed with her coat and overnight bag. She was about twenty-three, slim, athletic, attractive, and well put together. This clearly wasn’t the type of girl that Rawley Hayes would be able to score on his own.

She closed the door with a quick slam and Rawley was left to fend for himself. He glanced at his watch, and then exhaled sourly. Guess I’ll go home to the wife.

Rawley wasn’t a bad man. It all started out rather innocently. After eleven years of marriage, his sex life had gotten a little stale. Hell, it had gotten A LOT stale. His wife Gina’s idea of regular sexual activity was of the once per month variety and after eleven years of fidelity, Rawley was about ready to burst. At first naughty magazines were enough for him to get his fix. He had quite a collection stashed under the workbench in the basement. But after a while, they weren’t enough. Rawley sold them on eBay and made a nice sum of money for the pristine copies of Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler.

Then he moved on to internet porn. There were thousands of sites providing services to men like him in search of some adult entertainment. It was fun and stimulating for a while, but this activity too, lost its appeal eventually. Even the new interactive holographic internet porn left much to be desired. The technology required far too much imagination to make it seem real. The women looked like ghosts and the entire experience was creepy for Rawley.

Then old Raw started collecting videos. This was the best solution to his problems so far, and it wasn’t hard for him to find time to watch because his wife often worked long hours and the kids were in bed by 8:30. This was his “me time”. He used a credit card for his secret purchases that Gina didn’t know about so she wouldn’t discover his obsession. She never went into his workshop and certainly never opened the door which led to their well pump. Rawley had turned this room into his personal porno library. He had constructed neat little wooden shelves which lined the entire closet. All of his “material”, as he called it, was alphabetized and categorized by type. He even had a rating system. The spines of the videos and DVD’s were marked with gold stars according to how well he liked each one, with a five star being the best.

This sex fix lasted the longest. It was almost a year this time before Rawley started to feel like he needed more. All of this porn, unfortunately, made him yearn for more sexual stimulation. His wife was still on the monthly plan despite his constant pleadings and protests. She had nixed the idea of counseling and continued to insist that nothing was wrong with their sex life or their marriage. As far as Rawley was concerned, at this point he was left with little choice.

This is where Rawley was left with the first taste of his moral dilemma. He truly loved his wife and his family. He enjoyed his house, the minivan, the family vacations to the beach and Disneyworld, and the new riding mower he had gotten for Father’s Day last year. Everything in his life was great, except for his incompatibility with his wife sexually. He didn’t want any of this to change, and he also didn’t ever want to hurt his wife. Rawley thought long and hard about what constituted cheating. If I think about other women, even daydream about them, it couldn’t ever hurt my wife since she would never know as long as I don’t tell her. The same was true for regular dreams at night. No harm, no foul, thought Rawley. Even though “lusting in his heart” as Jimmy Carter put it, was technically a sin according to the bible, he wasn’t very religious and didn’t subscribe to this doctrine. This was new territory he was charting here, and there wasn’t a rulebook which had all the answers. Rawley decided he would make up his own rulebook.

He first determined that he could think about and dream about other women all he wanted. This was rule number one of his personal guidelines on sexual fair play for the 21st century. Then he began to contemplate his now regular habit of looking at other women naked. If he didn’t actually touch them or even meet them, there was no harm. Rule number two: pictures and movies of naked women are okay. He then expanded this rule. If it was okay to see women naked when he wasn’t involved in an actual sex act, then it was similarly okay to watch others participate in sex acts. Rule three: porno films and internet viewing of sex was okay.

This got Rawley to contemplate further. Why is it only okay for me to see women I don’t personally know naked? It was more exciting to see a woman he knew naked than some stranger on a video screen or a computer monitor. It made everything seem more real if you actually knew the person. Rawley had always flirted with a girl at work named Sara who worked as a slot representative, filling the one armed bandits with huge bags of coins and doling out hand paid jackpots to the casino winners. This workplace flirting was innocent and harmless, and Gina had even made remarks to Rawley that Sara was his “work wife” since they had so much in common and they hung out together on all of their breaks. Rawley created rule number four: flirting that didn’t lead to anything was okay. Later that day, as Rawley was firing off an email to Sara with the latest dumb blonde joke that was making the internet circuit, he added a short P.S. to his message. Have you ever had any nude pictures taken of yourself?

Rawley awaited the reply with uncontainable nervousness. What if she gets mad? What if she sues me for sexual harassment? What if she gets pissed off and tells my wife? After what seemed like hours, the reply came back. Why, do you want to see them? This is when the email attachments started flying back and forth with his pictures and her pictures, and with each missive one of them tried to trump the other with the level of risqué ness. Then, one day, it happened. One incredibly seductive photo came with the message; meet me at the Carriage Inn on Parkdale after work if you want to see the real thing.

Rawley had to go back to his home-made rule book to figure out how to handle this. If I just look, but don’t touch, it’s no different than if I’m just looking at the photos on my computer. It’s just like when I go to the strip club. Gina isn’t crazy about the idea of my going to Cheetahs on a Friday night, but she still allows me to do it. This is no different than that. Rule number five was now in the little blue notebook he had purchased at Wal-Mart when he came up with the idea of setting up his guidelines: Seeing live nude women without actually touching them is fair game. Rawley met up with Sara that night as planned and explained his rules to her. They didn’t seem to bother her. She met him for a couple of weeks of looking without touching each other until one day she came up with an idea. Rule number six was born: It was okay to pleasure yourself in the company of another woman as long as you didn’t touch her. Rawley figured that this was no different than taking care of himself while he watched internet or video pornography.

After a few months of these co-masturbation interludes, Sara again became tired of the game. Rawley also had to admit that their meetings weren’t as exciting as they used to be. He thought about oral sex. After all, the president himself had disqualified this as sexual intercourse. After agonizing over the situation for several days, Rawley decided that oral sex, by its nature, was still sex, and therefore, was still cheating.

Gina wasn’t happy with this revelation and although they continued to be friends, they remained nothing more than that; just friends. The meetings at the Carriage Inn on Parkdale ended, and Rawley was again left with a yearning in his life for sexual fulfillment. There had to be an answer, something that he hadn’t yet thought about. That’s when he met Devin Wylie.

One a normal Thursday evening, in an attempt to take care of his now aching libido with a new issue of Hustler, Rawley saw an ad in the back of the magazine which promised “Guilt free sex with gorgeous partners. Solve the moral dilemma of infidelity. Call 1-866-noguilt.” Rawley was strangely intrigued but also incredibly skeptical. He had tried the blow up dolls and other mechanical pleasure devices advertised in the back of these magazines before and was less than satisfied with the results. The promises in this particular ad were too good to pass up, however, so he called the number.

The pleasant woman who answered the phone took his information, and then asked for an authorization to run his credit and financials. Rawley began to get nervous. “What do you need that information for, may I ask?”

“Sir,” the woman on the other end said officiously, “our service is of the highest quality and therefore is expensive. Mr. Wylie doesn’t waste his time meeting with potential clients who cannot afford our service. I’m sure that you understand.”

“Of course, of course. I had to ask, you know.” He transmitted the data via his PDA by beaming it into the receptacle on his phone. “You should have it now.”

“Yes, its here.” There was a pause while she tapped a series of computer keys. “Everything seems to be in order. Mr. Wylie will meet you tonight at 6pm at The Bungalow on Eighth Street.”

“I’ll be there.”

“Excellent.” An audible click was heard and the line was dead. Rawley could hardly contain his excitement.

He showed up for the meeting early and sat at the bar. After his second white Russian, Mr. Devin Wylie finally arrived. He wore a dark suit, coat, tie, and hat. His starched white shirt was the only article of clothing he wore which wasn’t black, Rawley observed. He looked like an FBI agent from an old black and white film from the 1940’s.

“You are Mr. Hayes I presume?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

The man in black carefully placed a bright pink data card in front of Rawley. “On this disk you will find our inventory. Find a partner you like and call the number listed under the picture to arrange a meeting.”

Rawley swigged the last spit of his drink and slammed the glass down on the bar. “Well, before we go any further, I have a couple of questions. How can this be guilt free and without infidelity? I need to know—“

Wiley cut him off. “Find what you want, make the call, arrange the meeting. Everything will become clear once you meet your partner. Please trust me. What we are doing is highly illegal, and we have to take safeguards, you must understand.”

“Well at least have a drink with me. I’ll get you one.” Rawley turned to the bartender to get his attention. He turned back to Wiley. “What do you—“. But Wiley was gone. Rawley shrugged, took out his PDA, and placed the data card into it. There were pages upon pages of pictures of beautiful prospective partners with detailed information about all of them under their pictures. Each also had their own phone number.

It was just like the phone sex ads that he used to call. Rawley hadn’t made a rule specifically for the phone sex, but he figured it was covered by the existing set of rules somewhere. He didn’t call the chat lines very often anymore, after Gina had seen the strange listing on one of the phone bills and questioned it. The e-brochure, while very convincing, held no additional information which could answer Rawley’s questions. He had to pick a girl, call the number and arrange an appointment. Then, as Wiley said, everything will become clear.

He scrolled through the thousands of women and came upon one that reminded him of his first college girlfriend, a nymphomaniac that had always kept him satisfied. Rawley remembered that their breakup had been devastating to him. This was the last woman he had ever been with before he met Gina. The girl’s name on the brochure was listed as Erin. There was no last name given. Every girl in the grid had a unique and unduplicated name. It was almost like picking out a brand of automobile.

He called the number the next day and made the appointment with Erin herself. She sound extremely sexy, and although she was obviously an excellent actress, she genuinely sounded excited to meet with Rawley. He made Erin aware on the phone that he wasn’t sure whether or not he was going to go through with the whole thing, but he was intrigued enough to meet with her so he could get the answers to all of his questions. How can this not be cheating? How could it possibly be guilt free? It certainly wasn’t legal according to Mr. Wiley, so how can it possibly be morally correct?

Rawley showed up for his meeting at his favorite hotel room where he had his liaisons with Sara. It seemed like just as good a place as any to him. Erin arrived right on time. She was twice as gorgeous in person as she appeared to be in the e-brochure. She sat on the bed in her red Lycra skirt and tossed her overnight bag next to the bed. “Shall we get down to business?” she purred.

“I have a few questions for you first.” Rawley stood over her like a police interrogator. “How can I have sex with you without cheating on my wife? Will we be having actual intercourse?”

Erin smiled and looked Rawley directly in the eyes. She had an heir of confidence about her. “Well, darling, for starters, let me ask you a question. Have you ever used a sex toy or other device to get yourself off?”

Rawley was taken back by her directness but then remembered where he was and what he might be about to do. “Well, yes, I have.”

“Did you consider this cheating on your wife?”

“No, of course not.”

“Well, this is the same thing.”

Rawley stood still with his arms folded in front of him and furrowed his brow. “What the hell are you saying?”

Erin’s smile was even wider now. “Human sexual intercourse by definition takes place between two human beings, right?”


“Well, I’m not human.”

Rawley shifted nervously from one foot to the other. “What?”

Erin pulled up her blouse to reveal her extremely firm abdomen. She took her thumb and her forefinger and plunged them into her sexy slit of a bellybutton, then twisted them. Just below her breasts, a small door opened. Rawley’s jaw dropped. He was staring at mass of circuitry and wiring. “You’re a damned android! I thought they were decades away from creating anything like you! This is amazing! My God!” Rawley stood in front of her, stunned.

“So you see, it can’t be cheating because I’m not even human, Rawley. Shall we get on with it now?”

Rawley’s mind went back to the rulebook. It made sense. It wasn’t the biological, physical act of sex that was morally wrong as much as it was the emotional betrayal that was committed by engaging in such a personal act with another person. Erin wasn’t another person. She couldn’t feel attachment or love. She was no threat to Gina’s marital relationship because she couldn’t have a relationship. She didn’t even want to have a relationship with anyone. She only wanted what she was programmed to want and that was to pleasure men. It was the perfect setup, the answer he had been waiting for all of these years.

Later that night Erin left him completely satisfied for the first time since he had married Gina. After she made her exit, Rawley took out his blue binder to record the final rule. In his best handwriting he inked it in. Number seven: It wasn’t cheating on your wife if your partner was an android.

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