Pearls of Ecstasy
By Will Greenway
“They say orgasms cum better by the dozen.”
Maurie watched for a reaction from the woman sitting at the end of the bar. An attractive woman, from what he could see through the poor light and eddies of smoke. He couldn’t tell whether she found his statement amusing or stupid. He saw only the glow of a cigarette illuminating carmine lips curved in a smile.
“You get an ‘A’ for originality, but an ‘F’ for believability.” She tapped the cigarette into an ashtray. The glow lit her face; cherry-orange reflections in dark eyes. “Especially if it’s only a boast.”
Maurie stepped closer. He hated bars; the music, the low brows, the cover charge for drinks he never consumed. Still, they remained the best spot for his hunting.
A waitress bustled past carrying a tray clinking with drinks.
“It’s no boast,” he replied. “My name’s Maurie.”
“Jackie.” She turned on the barstool, took another pull at her cigarette and blew the smoke out the side of her mouth.
He saw the smile in her eyes. Maurie knew braggadocio was a turnoff unless he used a tone that made it sound as if he was sharing a joke, rather than being one. All part of the pickup. Other times it might be baby-soft surgeon’s hands, feigned ineptness, or any of several other ploys he’d used. His success relied entirely on proper assessment of the target.
She took a sip of something amber colored. “You look too clean-cut to hang out here.”
He shrugged. “The urge took me is all.”
Jackie raised an eyebrow. “To what? Slum?”
“Isn’t a slum if you’re in it. Used to be a model, right?”
“A few years ago.” Her tone sounded bitter.
She’d be more pliable if he gave her a sympathetic ear. Amazing that a looker like this hadn’t already found one. She reminded him of Diane. His wife’s beauty had isolated her from others. How indirectly he served Diane’s memory now; seducing women to get the treasure in their bodies.
He hated being a criminal. He tried to give back all he’d taken. He killed Diane, filled her barrenness with death. Why did he have to succeed? Diane, I did it out of love. I do this in your memory. Forgive me.
He sat by Jackie and gestured to the bartender. “Pepsi.”
The balding man shot him a look, filled a glass and pushed it down.
Jackie grabbed his finger as he reached for the glass. She examined the ring. “UCSD ’97 alumni– a doctor. You are slumming.”
“G.P. and Biochemistry.” A gulp of Pepsi helped soothe his stomach. “Weren’t we talking about modeling?”
Her eyes flashed. “Were we?”
“No?” He rubbed his mustache. “Let me guess– starry-eyed babe starts walking the runway then learns she has to service some old troll to keep working. Packs up her pride and heads for less glamorous pastures.”
Silent, Jackie started paying more attention to her drink. The set of her shoulders said he’d come too close to the truth. “Was I close?”
“Something like that.” She stubbed out her cigarette. Jackie looked at him sideways. “That ‘orgasms’ come-on, was it only bull or what?”
The mean glint in her eyes said she was readying to verbally cut him to ribbons. He could still turn it around.
“No bull. All I have to do is touch your hand.”
Jackie’s chin rose. “What are you gonna do– shoot me up?”
He frowned. “Of course not. I’ll even wear a glove.”
Maurie pulled out a black glove made of spandex-like material and slipped it on. He felt the tingle of its thermic capacitors charging on contact with his body heat. Micro-transmitters in the fabric could stimulate any nerve in a target he chose.
“That’s not coated with some drug is it?”
“That trick? Look, it’s dry.” He dragged a finger across the surface of the bar. He used a wet napkin to clean it. “Still game?”
“Nothing but touch my hand?”
He’d made it a challenge. She’d call his bluff.
“All right, this I have to see.”
He paused when light glinted on his alumnus ring, highlighting the staff and intertwined serpents. The end justifies the means. He continued.
Maurie brushed his fingers across the back of Jackie’s hand stimulating the pleasure center of her brain. The charge lasted only an instant. She gasped and convulsed. He caught her before she fell. She’d be too shaky to walk for minutes.
Breathing hard, she flushed. “What the hell was that?”
He grinned. “A biochemist’s version of spanish fly.”
“Jesus. I’ve–” she stopped, regaining her composure.
“Results as billed, wouldn’t you say?”
She glared. “I should yell rape.”
“For touching your hand?”
“You did a lot more than that!”
“It only felt like it.” Temporarily paralyzed by a pleasure overload Jackie was his captive. He turned the glove on again, this time set low. A gradually increased ‘buzz’ would soon make her tractable. His persuasion and her imagination would do the rest. Afterward, he would take Jackie to his apartment and harvest her body’s treasure.
The glove idea came from a study on pleasure. Researchers wired a stimulator into the pleasure cortex of lab rats and put a trigger in their cage that activated the device. Once finding the button, the animals would keep pushing it until someone cut the power or they starved to death.
Maurie developed a way to transmit the stimulus wirelessly via microwaves. It had been part of his research before Diane died. They used to play with it. God, the smiles it put on her face.
It took time to calm Jackie. With the aid of the glove, it took only an hour to instill a sense of ‘trust’ that might otherwise take months to develop.
By the time they left the bar Jackie was tractable as a lamb, high on alcohol and pleasure-waves. They used her car to go to the apartment Maurie rented for his harvesting.
He felt a growing fondness for Jackie. Dangerous. His science had made this enticing hard-case vulnerable. How would he repay her gift of life? Guilt rushed through him.
You’ve gotten through it before. Think of the lives.
They parked outside his four story mission-beach apartment complex. Despite his resolve, he found himself hesitating.
Jackie studied the building as they walked toward the entrance. “Nice place. Doctoring must pay well.”
Maurie nodded. “Used to. Now, I live off patent royalties.”
He looked at the sky. Painfully long ago, he and Diane used to go to Borrego to watch the shooting stars. The two of them would lie together on a dune with the sky cast around them like an immense jeweled cloak.
“Were you married?”
The question startled him. “Yes, why?”
She searched the sky with him. “She’s dead isn’t she?”
It felt like a punch in the stomach. He paused. “Died in childbirth.” The words tore at his throat. “My son didn’t survive.”
Jackie paused. “I’m sorry.”
He squeezed her hand; a reflexive gesture. She smiled. It made him ache. Jackie didn’t deserve this. He focused on his goal. Diane swam in his mind, the joyful look on her face when she felt the first kicks of the infant growing in her womb. So happy.
They walked through the sterile-blue lobby decorated with abstract prints by unknown artists. A snoozing security guard leaned against the wall in a chair that bent precariously under his weight. Maurie slid a mag-card through the elevator lock and took them to the third floor.
They walked out of the elevator. He studied Jackie for signs of apprehension. None. The other women had harbored reservations despite the stimulus. A warning sign?
He let them into his spacious two-bedroom apartment. The furnishings were simple: a couch, stereo, orbit lamp. Two patrick nagel prints hung on the walls.
Jackie stopped in the living room. “It’s not what I expected.”
Maurie glanced around. “What’s not?”
“The den where you lure your victims to chop them up.” Her face hardened. She reached into her purse and took out a wallet and flipped it open. Something gold glinted. “Jackie Drexlor, SDPD. You’re under arrest, Doctor.”
Maurie’s chest felt trapped in a vise. He stared at her, his heart racing. He tried to grasp his miscalculation. There’d been no hint…
Jackie grinned. “Kidding.” She replaced the wallet in the purse. “I went to the Academy. Wanted to be an detective. Didn’t have the nerve to get shot at for a living, though.”
A joke. He fought to keep the tension from showing on his face.
“What’s the matter?”
Maurie hid behind a smile. “Oh, imagining you walking a beat.” His laugh sounded forced. “You’d need a cannon to keep the wolves away.”
“Something to drink? I don’t have any alcohol, but there’s lots of juice.”
She put her purse down. “Have any apple juice?”
“One cider coming up.” He went to pour them drinks and compose himself. This would be the hardest case ever.
They sat on the couch, drank juice, and listened to classics on his CD player. The conversation hit all topics. He’d stopped trying to keep it safe and impersonal. Meanwhile, he steadily increased the pleasure signals.
From the first kiss to the suggestive caress it felt as if sandpaper were rasping across his psyche. He’d never come off so awkward and stilted. It flustered him so much he almost let her walk into his operating room. He guided her away at the last moment.
In the bedroom, she tumbled down on the covers. Tantalized by the glove’s stimulus, he easily coaxed off her clothes.
He gazed at her. Muscles tensed under butterscotch skin– so slim and firm like Diane. Lost in her need, Jackie reached for him.
Maurie took off his shirt. They were only inches apart but it might as well have been miles. His chest hurt and his stomach felt leaden. He’d reached this point on automatic, letting practice carry him.
The end justifies the means. It put him in motion again but only barely.
He bent and kissed her, breathing in the mingled odors of perfume, perspiration, smoke and alcohol. Jackie pulled Maurie down to ignite him with her warmth. Her body felt on fire. He struggled to make himself numb to the sensations, but her dark eyes kept drawing him in.
Stay in control.
He ran his gloved hand between her breasts. She went taut, body bucking as he sent waves of pleasure crashing through her. Jackie cried out, clutching his arm.
He felt like a mannequin; hard and hollow. An empty payback for the gift of life. She thrashed as he held her suspended. She groaned and ecstasy creased her face. He raised the output a level higher. One last outcry and she went still, finally overwhelmed by the pleasure.
Her body twitched, echoes of the experience still reverberating through her. She smiled at him, eyes closed.
He carried Jackie into the operating room and laid her on the table. Now, he would harvest her treasure.
He felt so ruthless using the act of love to prepare them for the trip to this table. He grabbed a syringe of sedative, swabbed her arm, and injected it.
You would have made beautiful babies.
Using a laser probe, he scanned her pelvis until he found the proper location for the cut. Diane wanted what you have so much. Tears burned on his cheeks. Idiot. Never should have cured her sterility without more tests. Stupid. I put death in her, not life.
He lined up the laser scalpel.
The ends are what matters. He flicked on the precharge. The machine hummed. You can do it with your eyes closed. Maurie set the cutter depth. So many like Diane are suffering.
Maurie’s hands trembled as he swabbed on anesthetic.
His finger hovered over the firing button.
Jackie would become another victim of his guilt.
Because of her, women who had no pearls of their own, victims of afflictions like ovarian cancer and incompatible gene-types could have a child otherwise denied them. Doctor Robinhood, stealing from the blessed to give to the cursed.
But it’s taken from an unwilling donor.
Two swift incisions, five minutes of surgery and the process would be over. No evidence of the violation would remain. Jackie would never miss the twenty pearls of life he removed from her. She’d awake in her own bed. Her car would be parked nearby, clean of fingerprints.
He would take a bus to his real home. Tomorrow this apartment would be empty. He’d already learned to dodge the investigators that some women sent after him.
His finger moved toward the button and stopped. Hadn’t he done enough?
Do the ends justify the means?
He stared at his ring then at Jackie. So much like Diane.
Maurie pulled the band off.
He shut off the laser, then put the ring on Jackie’s finger.
Morning. He gazed out his study window at the sun burning behind a curtain of clouds. He had abandoned one commitment. Could he– should he, consider taking up another? He looked away from the light, business remained unfinished. He picked up the phone and tapped out a number.
A pleasant female voice answered. “This is the Diane Croft institute for infertility. May I help you?”
Maurie stared at the pale stripe around his ringless finger. “Lana this is Doctor Croft, tell Doctor Johannson that the donor changed her mind.”