I love coming to the door of our home. Emma and I bought it about ten years ago after I did a huge photo spread for National Geographic and was paid way too much for six months work in the jungle. It was a great spread, set my reputation and started me down the path of shooting death, but it bought this brownstone in DC.
Every time I’m away, which is often and for long stretches – Columbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria – these days, I am taking photos of war, destruction and all the coinciding aftermath of death. But, when I arrive at my door, I pause in wonder at the entry.
The front door is one of those old time tall doors with a big, oval of beveled glass filling most of it’s thick oak frame, dark and mottled wood grain. I run my fingers along the beading around the glass and feel its regular cadence of texture and the slant of the bevel, cool and crisp to the touch. It once fronted some embassy entrance before it took up residence at our house. On the left are deco address numbers with a green patina from weather and a brass knob worn and shiny from being gripped and turned. Slightly above the handle a twist key; turning brings the sweetest sound – like an old bicycle bell, from when I was a boy. Still further right, with a nod to the technical age, a keypad to unlock the door.
There are lights on. I can see through the hall, toward the back of the house where the kitchen and dining room are, and my small office, cluttered I’m sure with eight months of stacked up mail and magazines – copies of all the thumb drives of prints sold while I was embedded, being scoped and targeted. Emma throws it all on my small desk, because she hates the clutter stacked up and then shuts the door so she doesn’t have to confront it.
716886#, I punch it in. No corresponding green light or slight click. Maybe she had to change it for some reason. I twist the bell and welcome the tinkling ring like the bell on my Raleigh. I can just make out Emma’s form glancing down the hall, wrapped in silk robe looking fresh from the bath. Staring at me, not moving. Robe loosely tied about her slight waist, right shoulder slightly exposed; soft in the angled light from the kitchen, shimmering like water down her side, shadowing her face.
“Emma, come on! It’s me and I’m tired. I got a heavy bag, and I’m tired. Come on, honey, open the door. You must have changed the code.” All the while tapping on the glass. “I brought a gift…all the way from London.”
She moves slowly down the hall passing in and out of light. Flashes of face or leg, arm, shoulder, even a hint of her breast popping into and out of the light. It is tantalizing and torture. “Emma, open the door. What the hell, I’m home.” I finish as she moves to the door.
“You’ve been gone for eight months, you asshole. Now, you want to come home. What? You think you can just drop in, fuck me and leave on another excursion. You bring me bauble, like I’m some cheap trick.”
“Hey, this is no cheap trinket” I hold up a box from Harrods, open the lid to show a perfect set of pearls, rounded like the trim around the beveled glass, cream like her silk robe.
“I don’t give a shit,” Emma shouts through the glass, “I am not some convenient piece of ass, who doesn’t mind long silences. You don’t just come home, have me and leave. Where do you go next? When do you go next?”
“I don’t know honey. Honest. I don’t have a next assignment. I just want to be home with you.” I can see my breath fuzzing the window a bit and realize I’m cold. “Please, let me in!”
She reaches up and unlocks the door. As I move past her, dropping bags and present, she grabs the collar of my coat, spins me, and cold cocks me with a right, knocking me flat on my back.
“I saw the pictures, you son of a bitch. I saw them. All of them. I saw the death you saw…the fresh and immediate death, the vacant eyes, the missing limbs, the sand covered faces…the god damned children, you mother-fucker.” Emma slaps me again, tears sliding down her face. She steps over and drops down astride me. “The worst part is I know you were in the middle of it all. While it was going on! I know the dead were new and they could have been you, only without you to take their fucking pictures.” She grabs my shirt, ripping it open, buttons flying through the air.
Her fingers scrabble through my chest hair, grasping it, pulling as if my reaction will prove me alive. She drops to my chest her hair falling loose, biting my nipple. I gasp. “Oh, you feel that do you, you shit. Are you sure? Do you feel anything after all the destruction you captured?” She unbuckles my belt and tears at the zipper.
“Emma, what the hell, we are in the doorway.”
“I don’t care, I don’t care – fuck me right now.” Frantically pulling at my pants, breaking the zipper, pulling me free. “Do you hear me – fuck me, fuck me!”
I roll her over as her robe falls open, naked except for a light yellow thong. I stand as she’s pulling my pants to my ankles. “Emma, get up.” I lift her to her feet. She shoves me back down the hall, pushing, slapping, grabbing at me until I smash my back into the counter and kitchen drawers. She leaps forward, wrapping her arms about my neck and legs around my waist.
“Now, Do it now!” intense in my ear. Her hand grabbing the back of my head. Her feet push against the counter top propelling us toward the kitchen table, where she lands on her back pulling me down to her breasts. “Now, you son-of-a-bitch, now.”
I start to slide the thong down, “no,” she yelled, “rip them off. Do it!” A quick yank and they flutter to the floor.
Pulling me close with her legs, she reaches down and grabbing my balls. I am hard and overwhelmed. The pressure is enormous. She squeezes and there’s slight surcease. I am inside her. Moving. Intense. “Yes, Yes, Yes,” she’s repeats. Every time I get close to bursting she pulls or squeezes just enough.
“Yes, Yes, Yes” her other hand drops to my ass, assisting each plunge forward. The table scraping across the floor. She bolts upright, tripping my tenuous foothold and I fall back to the floor. So fast she drops on top and with such ease we re-connect, pumping faster, now she is in control. Up and down, back and forth, creating friction and heat. She kisses me and I am lightheaded, but she never loses pace.
I find that perfect spot where my fingertips have purchase at the small of her back and I add pressure, moving in rhythm. She, sotto voce, repeats yes, yes, yes.
“Oh, oh, oh, Fuuuuck!” her legs and muscles clamp tightly, I heave, release and collapse. We lay on the kitchen floor, my mouth dry, eyesight blurry; Emma’s head on my chest. I make no movement, remaining slightly inside, my arms wrapped about her. Her breathing slows…
“Emma…honey…Emma…let’s go up to bed. We can talk about it all in the morning.”
She jerks upright and stands. I gasp as I pop free, a little cold now and wondering if we forgot to close the door.
She leans down – sweat glistening on her chest and face, hair in disarray, blond and sparkling in the lights…cracks me across the cheek again.
“Did you feel that?”
“I mean did you feel it, all of it, every moment of it. Did you feel my heat, did you see my face, did you recognize all of it?”
“ I felt it all, honey.”
“Did you feel alive? Did you feel my life? Did you feel your life?”
“Emma, you know I did. You felt it, too.”
“Good! That, my darling Pete, is life. That is what being with people who are alive, feels like. Now, get the fuck out!”