Chasing Dawn

“You ever wonder where bad guys go home to?”

It was an odd question to ask. Especially as she traced the planes of my chest, circumnavigating the beads of sweat from our just-prior moment of lust. It was mid-August, and as our bodies shifted, the sheets clung to our legs in a desperate attempt to lock in our secrets. But the way she writhed away from the impetuous pull of the linen—I knew she couldn’t be silenced.

“I don’t know. I guess I never really thought about it. It’s not really something vital to a storyline, is it? They’re there to shine light on the hero, or maybe the villain. That’s all.”

She propped herself up, each of her palms on either side of me. The lower half of her body remained firmly pressed against mine, and slowly her wetness cascaded down the terrain of my inner thigh. I wanted her again, but she was relentless. With a serpentine swiftness, she slid her legs upwards—free from the entanglements of the bed. Those legs. I was convinced that those legs could pull themselves out of quicksand to get her where she wanted to go.

“I’m not talking about the main bad guy. I’m talking about the ones who help him. Like the henchman or minions, whatever you wanna call them. Where do you think they go after? I mean, do they have a family or a home to go to when their shift ends?”

A laugh escaped me. It wasn’t intentional. But honestly, what kind of pillow talk was she aiming for?

“What does it matter?” I wrapped my arms around her waist, locking her into place.

“Well, why shouldn’t it matter? I always wondered what happened to them. What happens when they’re done hauling stuff into the hideout or pulling a job. I don’t think I really agree with the idea that bad people just exist, ya know? Like, what if he can’t afford his kid’s medical bills, so he goes out at night or whenever and does what he has to. And then later on, he enters through the backdoor, slowly hangs up his ski mask, runs his gloved fingers through his greasy hair and says, ‘Honey, you won’t believe the day I just had.’”

Where was this going? Where was she going? Somewhere between our frantic breaths and the stillness of the night, I had lost her. Her face hardened, and her lips pursed. Strips of moonlight cut through the blinds, cascading sharp shadows along her body. So this was what a tigress of twilight looked like.

“Do you think some people are just… well… bad?”

How was this possible? How had she done this? She had slipped her clothes off hours ago and yet… it was not until this instant that I truly saw her bare. It irritated me. I thought our bodies had already revealed what lie beneath. But the longer I peered through the dimness of the night, she became more unfamiliar and further out of my reach.

“It’s late. Just rest your head on my chest. Let’s get some sleep.”

“Not until you tell me. What do you think? How do you make sense of all of this? Out of all that we are. All that we can be. I need to know. Don’t you? Don’t you ever wonder?”

The only thing swimming through my brain was the sensation of drowning. She was completely captivated—entranced. But not by me. Not by my thoughts, and certainly not by my presence. The moans, the panting, those were only a precursor. This is what left me gasping for air. Her mystery and her absence left me breathless. It was dizzying. Every layer that guised myself as a skillful and attentive lover began to fall. What was left was a subtle silhouette. The remnants of a forgotten lover.

“Sometimes… I look out the window and just watch. I see these faces passing by and my heart aches in the most beautiful ways. You ever feel that? I think it’s because I’ll never really know them. I’ll never know if at that moment if I’m staring at someone at the best or worst moments of their lives. And that makes me miss them. I might not ever cherish their story, rejoice in their victories, or cry with them in their pain. How can the world be so busy, so full, so vibrant, and so fucking solitary?”

If only she knew. I was embracing the very idea of solitude at this moment. Forget the nameless faces. What about the person laying right beside you? What about me? My vulnerabilities rising just as surely as the sun would soon. Could she not see me? My struggle to capture her interest, to have her come back to me. My eloquence was failing me as well. My mouth hung open, in awe of this stranger who snuck in through the night. Was I the only one so concentrated on this little world of ours? These four walls once held the most guarded aspects of our bodies—a treasure chest constructed of plaster and aged paint.

“Well, maybe it would all be too much. We’d be too distracted. We wouldn’t see what mattered anymore.”

It was all too much. The weight of these questions. Her delicate body pressing subjects of such enormity. The vastness of her mind and its attempt to encompass the complexities of existence. How could she keep going? Wasn’t it better to just lay here with me? Did she not feel connected? Compelled to be here… with me?

“What could matter more than seeing, hearing, fucking, just recognizing our humanity? Seeing that this weird ride is a shared one? Our joy, our struggle, our fear. It belongs to everyone. The martyrs, the villains, the children, the invisible. To you.”

I will never forget that moment right after ecstasy and just before reality. That momentary glimpse between the mind and the body. Was it philosophy? Was it the soul?

She laughed at my dazed expression, and rose just before dawn.