They say sex and death are wrapped up in one another. One supposes that’s how someone as suicidal as Étienne could still be so erotically charged back to life every time he passed a woman on the street in some leg-baring getup. He often wondered if he might have been better off living in the past, when women were expected to cover themselves lest they risk the once unwanted branding of being a “SLUT.” Alas, in the present, Étienne loved sluts, and women loved being them. But maybe if he had lived in the Paris of, say, the 1950s, when long skirts were still in vogue and the height of any man’s access to “sex appeal” was Anouk Aimée onscreen… things could have been different. Aimée was the French Audrey Hepburn, if you will. All style and class–no ass. Regardless, her primness might have saved Étienne–by no means worthy of being named after the saint–from turning into a lech and a retch. God certainly couldn’t save one like him. Not if God’s true aim, as all the religious folk seemed to proselytize, was to prevent human beings from ever fully embracing their true carnal nature.
Étienne supposed he was always “this way.” Just as all men secretly were in the depth of their loins. But Étienne had never been susceptible to the conditioning treatment of suppressing his libidinous desire. Catholic school likely made this all the worse, for the primary nun tasked with teaching him and his fellow classmates all the wrongs of “venereal” sinning was rather young and attractive–from what Étienne could tell, she must have had quite a nice body underneath that habit. One he desperately wanted to touch, to fuck. It was getting to the point that not only could he not concentrate, but he couldn’t get through class without an erection inevitably ensuing. He sat in the back, praying no one would notice his daily arousal. And then, it happened. After instruction on a Friday, Sister Mary-Thérèse told him to stay behind as the other students trickled out, not bothering to pay attention to whether Étienne was getting in trouble, as they were too excited about the weekend to care.
When the room had emptied, Sister Mary-Thérèse locked the door and, without warning, proceeded to undress for Étienne, who could hardly believe his good fortune. He had spent months imagining this very scenario, yet never dreamed it could possibly become reality. Perhaps Sister Mary-Thérèse, in her own way, was playing at being an avant-garde disciplinarian in trying to call his bluff, assuming that he would clam up and not want to go through with it.
If that was the case, she quickly found that she could not have been more wrong as he proceeded to take his own clothes off as though they were in a fire drill. He was thirteen years old to her twenty-six years. Half a person’s difference. But oh how she made him whole when he came for the first time (inside of a woman) that day. Their tryst continued throughout collège, and Étienne even tried his best to fail his classes so he could be held back and never have to go to lycée, where he would no longer remain in Sister Mary-Thérèse’s daily “care.” She saw right through his plans, giving him a passing grade on every assignment and test regardless.
“You must go on, now. Our time together is done,” she told him on the last day of school, before the bittersweetness of that summer vacation set in. He couldn’t believe it. He was getting older, why would she end it now when it was practically legal?
“It is a disgusting sin,” she responded. “And I can’t start paying for it until we stop.”
“I don’t want to stop. I like fucking,” he was sure to emphasize that last word so that she would bristle.
“Don’t call it that.”
“That’s what it is,” he insisted.
“We made love. We were in love,” she corrected.
“I don’t love you. I never did,” he spat back, visibly stinging her. Making her feel even worse about compromising her principles for a little ingrate sex fiend who didn’t have genuine emotions toward her.
He saw a tear form in her eye, one that he could have pushed back for her, but didn’t. Instead, he watched it stream down her face. He realized he truly did feel no love for her, only an aching in his balls to fuck her right then and there. But now he would have to start all over again with a new broad who could give it to him on the regular. He knew that wasn’t going to be easy. That a female like Sister Mary-Thérèse was hard to find. Girls his own age were so goddamn uppity about their precious minges that he couldn’t even begin to understand how he would be able to open their proverbial chastity belts. He had been spoiled so long with the available pussy trough of Sister Mary-Thérèse that he hadn’t even bothered to practice his con game when it came to getting women to drop their panties.
Hardening his heart as much as his dick, he knew he would need to get to work on practicing that summer, forgetting all about any connection he might have once shared with Sister Mary-Thérèse, whom he learned had killed herself when he returned to school that fall. Bathtub cutting, apparently (’tis the “female way” for suicide). Well, at least she was with God now, he reasoned. Or the devil, if her sinning proved too much for the Big Benevolent One to bear. Either way, she had found a new, somewhat more age-appropriate (was immortality age-appropriate?) guy to get pumped by.
In the meantime, he had achieved quite a bit of success in his practice of being a lothario over the summer, having gone to third base with at least six different girls in his grade. It was time for a new challenge now: pursuing the girls above his grade. He didn’t much care how attractive they were, only that they were willing and wet. And often, they were at least one of those things, if not the other. Thus, his reputation for being a “libertine” grew and grew to the point where, by the end of his tenure at lycée, he was avoided by girls at every grade level who had been made well-aware of his appetites–and that every yarn he spun them about “really caring” was a lie.
So it was that he sat in an ostracized position at graduation. At least neither of his parents were alive to witness his status as a social pariah. He chortled to himself as he looked around, everyone with their self-superior manner, convinced they were going to change the world in some “meaningful” way. All they were going to do, as everyone before them had, was make it worse. More uninhabitable. He lit a cigarette, sending the only other pariah that was near him farther away toward the in crowd. Who gives a shit? he thought. I’ve already fucked every girl here worth fucking.
To keep the flow of pussy steady, Étienne found himself going into club promoting. It was an easy job, and it paid well enough for his modest accommodations in the fuckboy neighborhood of Belleville where he would often bring back a girl or two at the end of the night, or beginning of the morning, depending on how you looked at it. How Étienne looked at it was that life had absolutely no meaning or joy to it beyond the orgasm. The orgasm was very literally the manifestation of life. Yet everyone always wanted to write it off as “gross” or “prurient.” The impression Étienne got from anybody he tried to be himself in front of was that he was “too old” to be “chasing punani” this way. That he ought to get his act together, find a “real” job and settle down with a “nice” woman who could be his wife. The thought of this hackneyed cliche made him want to sink even deeper into the abyss of random pussy. The younger, the better obviously, though he didn’t mind older women. Had a soft spot for them likely as a result of Sister Mary-Thérèse, whom he would still occasionally wank to while picturing her slowly removing her habit whenever there was a lull in sexual partners.
This was starting to become more frequent, and Étienne wouldn’t–couldn’t–acknowledge why. Five years ago, he had all the appearance of his twenties-era youth and vigor. But now, approaching his mid-forties, he was finding it more and more difficult to dismiss the ravages of time, and gravity. The gray patches on his beard were becoming more and more pervasive, and dying his hair just made him look like a bad attempt at a Ken doll. Yet his urges were stronger than ever. It wasn’t fair. How was he to satisfy them if he, in turn, didn’t have a body that was satisfying to women? His protruding gut was also getting harder to hide, especially when the clothes came off. He could sense that the clubs he had helped make rich were starting to phase him out as well. They were embarrassed of him now. He was that dad figure you didn’t want around to kill the vibe with his aura of uncoolness. So maybe he should finally just kill himself. If he couldn’t get the usual amount of orgasms (not self-inflicted) he was once used to, existence would become too unbearable anyway.
But Étienne wanted to make the most of his middle-aged demise, having always pondered in the back of his mind what a wonder it would be to die while in the midst of a fantastic splooge. Yes, there could be no other way except autoerotic asphyxiation for Étienne. The “gasper” method. And somewhere within, he had known this long ago. Maybe even before losing his virginity to Sister Mary-Thérèse. It was as though, from the instant he possessed sentience, he knew that life held nothing of note, at least not on the “sources of joy” front. It held plenty of note on the “endless suffering and pain until you die” front. So Étienne wanted to dupe the system by getting a double helping of elation from the “sin” of bringing his own life to a close.
He set up the chair, hung the rope and took off all his clothes for what would be his semen-spraying finale. He had to be ready to kick the chair away at the exact perfect moment to achieve optimal pleasure-pain. And he was fairly certain that was what he was about to do until an angel–for what else could he call it?–appeared to him. The apparition of Sister Mary-Thérèse. He gasped both from surprise and from choking for air as the rope closed in on his neck. “What. Are. You. Doing. Here?” he managed to croak out.
Sister Mary-Thérèse put her finger up to her lips to shush him, then proceeded to cut him down from the rope. He fell to the floor with a thunderous thud, looked up and found that she was gone. This exact chain of events would repeat itself every time he tried again to take his own life. And he refused to attempt any other technique in order to end it. It was autoerotic asphyxiation or nothing. Sister Mary-Thérèse likely knew that. Knew he would never bother with the Dorothy Parker list rattling of such options as razors, rivers, acids, drugs, guns, gas (whether from the stove or putting your mouth on a tailpipe), etc. He was set on this particular way, and Sister Mary-Thérèse would, it seemed, eternally prevent him from it until he died naturally. As though this was her retribution for how he had treated her. He tried, multiple times, to corroborate that this was why she was doing it, but she would never reply. All she could do was look at him serenely, occasionally disrobing for him as she did that first time in the classroom, getting him all worked up–only to cut the rope before he could climax, both sexually and expiringly.
But then, something strange happened. He found that he could no longer differentiate from when he was masturbating on his bed to the scene of Sister Mary-Thérèse doing this to him as he hung suspended in the air or when he was masturbating while suspended from the ceiling. It was as though time and reality had folded into themselves and could no longer be discernible. It was then it dawned on him that this might be the afterlife.