After some discussion, they decided they’d both benefit from professional guidance. It was like doing yoga, they figured. Hazardous, at first, to go through the poses without an instructor’s help. The woman who opened the door was shorter than her pictures had suggested she’d be. But on her website she’d been dressed in black pours of single-piece latex; now, in a buttoned white shirt with rolled sleeves, a simple black skirt and calf-high boots so shiny Ken could see his blurred reflection, she looked less like a Mistress Ava Adamson than she did like a normal person, almost.
“Oh, right,” he said, pulling it from his pocket. The website had instructed them to leave their payment—their “tribute,” what the fuck—out in plain sight at the start of their session. “Why are we whispering? Where am I supposed to put this?”
“Maybe on that—that table?”
“You’re going to hate this. Sometimes I really need you to hurt me.”
“Jen-ny,” he repeated, running a knuckle up the long knobbed curve of her neck. He was straddling her; she was lying on her stomach in her bra and panties.
A year married, three together. Say they had sex every three days, on average. Once every three days, 121.7 fucks a year, so 365 times they’d played hide the salami, the same stick in the same hole, the stick in the hole, the stick in the hole, the stick in the—who wouldn’t feel bored? The fact that he hadn’t, yet, meant nothing. He was an outlier. Recently, he’d eaten the same deli pork-belly-and-pickle sandwich every weekday for a month, because it was good. Tasty, filling, reliable. Why mess around? Maybe he should make the straightforward effort and believe his wife when she said she was fine, but now that he was thinking about it he couldn’t, not really. She was so kind to him that she couldn’t be trusted. Over the next couple of weeks, he brought up the question every now and then, teasing her, and though she brushed him off each time, he shouldn’t have been as surprised as he was when, one night, she shook him awake. It couldn’t have taken long—he slept lightly, fearfully, because anything could happen. He opened his eyes, and Jenny was sitting cross-legged, her hands folded in her lap. “Fine,” she said. “If you really have to know. I think it’s gone but it comes back.”
“What?” he said, thinking she’d had a bad dream. It was only when he reached for her hands, her palms damp and electric, that he realized she was crying. “Jenny, what is it? What comes back?”
“There’s something a little wrong with me,” she said, each word enunciated, as if she were reciting a speech. “You’re going to hate this. Sometimes I really need you to hurt me.”
The dominatrix had Jenny bent over the table, her ass upward. "I'm warming her up."
That first announcement of Jenny’s had felt like a rehearsed speech, he’d realized, because it was a rehearsed speech, a set piece of pure bravado, nearly exhausting what she had to say. That night and over the next few days, he quizzed Jenny, and as she tried—halting, wincing, tearing up—to answer his questions, it was slow going. Jenny wanted: to be beaten. She wanted: rules—control—punishment—correction—pain. Ropes. Blindfolds. Whips. Not always, but in the, well, the bedroom, yeah. It could take her all exasperating evening long even to begin to answer a question as basic as, Exactly what kinds of rules do you want? They were both second-generation Americans—his parents had moved from Montreal, which counted—and though they shared the immigrant’s skepticism of psychotherapy, it didn’t take a shrink to guess why she was so shy: what with the nuns, the Catholic boarding schools, the subsequent renunciation of the Catholic schools, the shame, the counteracting feminism, her quasi-Victorian and entirely Korean squeamishness regarding anything having anything to do with the body, and all this heaped for decade upon decade on top of the great hungry beast of sexual desire—well.
IT'S STORY TIME: MORE PLAYBOY FICTION
The dominatrix had Jenny bent over the black table, her ass soaring upward. With quick, rhythmic slaps the dominatrix struck her well below her tailbone. “I’m warming her up,” Ava explained to Ken, who resisted the juvenile urge to say he knew that already.
In one of the dungeon mirrors, he caught himself looking worried. The high flushed forehead settling into its first wrinkles, the disappearing hairline, his entire reflection these days a memento mori. He felt old, and tired. This was the thing about being an ex-Christian: Like that, your life expectancy went from eternity to 70-odd years. A death sentence on you and on those you loved. He tried not to think about it; he thought about it all the time.
Of course, if he’d known what to expect, they wouldn’t have had to come here. A week ago, he’d stolen out of the office early to get to stores before they closed. First to an equestrian shop on the Upper East Side that, according to Yelp, was the best in the city. He selected a few sturdy crops and whips. On second thought, he also picked out a zippered kelly green canvas bag, to hide his purchases. Next, he rode the subway downtown to a sex shop on Sixth Avenue, where he bought a gag, a blindfold and handcuffs. They sold whips there too, but he knew—from his research—that they would be badly made, too flimsy to be functional. One last stop at a hardware store for a length of rope, and he was back on the subway, going home. Jenny called to say she was running late at the office. He waited in an armchair, drinking his Laphroaig and trying to read the Journal but failing: nervous, though he shouldn’t have been. He had it all planned out. He was going to astound his wife. He was Mister Fucking Poppins, and when she walked through the door and he greeted her with the canvas bag, and she unzipped it and said, “Oh,” and sat on the floor, like a kid, he figured, or, at least, he hoped, that everything was going to be all right.
Swing from the elbow. Now the shoulder. Try her thighs. Yes, she's tender there. She likes it.
So now Jenny was fastened onto the black table, bottom up. The heels of her feet were dry, haloed in white bits of skin. A strap. A flogger. A belt. A leather paddle. A crop. A Lochgelly tawse. A ruler. A wooden paddle. A Lexan paddle. (“What’s Lexan?” he asked. “A kind of plastic,” Ava said.) A rattan cane. A Lexan cane. This is how you hold it. This is how to strike from the wrist. Make sure to avoid her kidneys. (“Where, exactly, are her kidneys?” “Right here,” she said. “And here.”) Swing from the elbow. Now from the shoulder. Try her thighs. Yes, she’s tender there. You can hit harder, if you like. That’s it. Again from the shoulder. Don’t mind her—it’s good for her. She likes it. Isn’t that right, little girl?
With each instrument, after a few strokes, Ava handed it to him, guiding him. She ran long fingers over Jenny’s skin, pressing marks and ridges, inspecting. He hesitated, and she urged him on. At some point, he noticed Jenny had soaked through the cotton, and there was a small puddle under her half-covered crotch. So this was why Ava had had Jenny keep her panties on. He hadn’t even known that could happen outside of the porn film demimonde, let alone with his wife. They kept an economy-size bottle of lubricant in a bedside table because of how slow her body could be, sometimes, often, to respond to his.
On Ava’s recommendation, Ken and Jenny stopped at a pharmacy on the way home and picked up arnica gel, a homeopathic treatment that was supposed to reduce bruising. Once they were home, Jenny rolled off her stockings, wincing as the elastic rode over her skin. Then she grinned—she was in such a good mood. When she asked him to help her put the arnica on, he sat on the couch and she crawled over him, positioning her ass over his lap. He smoothed the gel over the discolored, swollen mass of her, and she sighed.
From the September/October 2017 Playboy. Read more about author R.O. Kwon.