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© 2000 by Helena Settimana

I fled to the A‘dam in August, to escape the madness and rain of London.  It is now early autumn, and I sit with the tall windows open, looking out at the canal: the streets are dusty and littered with dry leaves and bits of paper.  I have been writing and painting in a fury of creation.  Richard flew back to Montreal when I said I was going to Holland.  The water reminds me of the small town where I grew into a woman; crisscrossing rivers and ship canals and boats and the smell of diesel.  A'dam is a larger city with smaller boats.  Rich didn't get that here is as much home as there.  I let him go.  Perhaps some day I shall catch up, or he shall come to his senses and come back to me, contrite.

The tides of my hormones are pulling me, tugging at my moorings.  The coffee shops pull also.  The one across the canal is frequented by Jamaicans; mostly men.  I have made a mental note to go there someday, but every time I look in it seems so hard, that I change my mind and return to safer looking haunts.  I can see myself, Bee, high on ganga, very high and likely horny and surrounded by that lot, and think, no... I want more control.  It would perhaps be too much of a good thing.

I receive a welcome message.

Amadou is coming to A'dam.  From out of the ether he has reached me by e-mail.  It has been literally years.  Amadou the adventurer; Ivoirian, raised in Paris and then New York - Columbia, where we met and fell in and out of love repeatedly.  By perverse agreement we vowed only to speak English to one another.  He has been in Nairobi, and is moving to Frankfurt in November.

"Where, oh where are you, my Bee?" read the letter.

"Amsterdam." I reply.  Miraculously, he says he is coming. "Bee, Queen of the Netherlands...  Buy mangoes." he replies.  I can hear the smile in his printed words.

I imagine him arriving at my door in ivory linens with Saharan dust upon his shoes.  Instead, we meet at a small coffee house near the Leidesplein.  They serve strong Java, and stronger smoke.  He wears black jeans, and his shoes are dusty, but only from the construction going on in the streets.  Knapsack on his shoulder, he has walked from the station for the exercise.  He looks better than he has ever looked, tall and leonine, his hair now twisted into tiny nubs, bristling like nappy breadfruit, rimed with the beginnings of grey.  His skin has not faded: it is still the colour of zoute, hard, shiny, salt licorice.  He is beaming, a brilliant shining smile, his eyes crinkling at their upturned corners.

‘You look good enough to eat." he whispers in my ear, lips brushing the lobe.  My brows rise in mock astonishment at the suggestion.  It is mild, and we sit outside the café to watch the world pass.  He returns from inside with a present of two impossibly large joints and as many cups of coffee which we consume with affected nonchalance, and our speech slows to the essentials.

"How was Nairobi?" I ask.

"Hot." comes the reply. "The women there are very pretty." He flashes his winning grin and his

face dissolves into happy lines. "It's dangerous there."

"You look good."

"So do you."

"I think I have gotten fat." I say, suddenly self-conscious.

"You forget that where I am from, fat is where it's at." he teases.

"Do you want to go back to my place? You could drop your bag there.  We know."

"Yes, of course, cherie, but we have all the time in the world, no?."

"Are you hungry? There is a good Indonesian place just a few doors down" I say, suddenly famished.

Amadou is pleased with the restaurant, which serves a fragrant table; curried, nutty, succulent, spicy, red and sweet and rich with tamarind and peanuts and little dried fish.  My head swims and I am of a sudden pulled to impatience, wishing to revisit his touch, anxious to be home.

The world passes ever more slowly into the evening, and we drift among the sightseers back toward the station.  He veers off of the road, into a side street, pulling me by the hand. "It has been years since I have seen this place!" and leads me into the warren of streets which make up the city's red-light district where we walk hand in hand. "That one" he says, pointing to a woman in one of the red-rimmed windows, "looks like you, no? Shall we engage her?" The whore proffered her breasts behind the glass.

I pout a bit.  I want Amadou for myself, undiluted.  He laughs.

"I'm joking, Bee, honest, but I still think two of you would be an excellent indulgence."

I sat on a bench near the wall of the canal and fished in my bag for more weed.  It is a treat I cannot resist while living here.  I am reminded of how we once teased each other about our respective vices.  I would ask mockingly, as he raised a drink to his lips, or took me harshly from behind, "What kind of a Muslim are you?" and he would respond, "What kind of a Christian are you?" It was a standing joke of sorts.  He joins me by the water and in the middle of saying something utterly trite I am interrupted by his kiss, which is hard and bruises my lips.  His breath smells like peaches, and I wonder how it is that it is so.  I feel myself collapse, leaking desire.

"Come." he says, and pulls me by the hand to my feet and into the restless crowd.  He stops in front of another window where blacklight causes the woman's eyes and teeth to shine preternaturally white.  I see that it affects him too; a Cheshire cat in the night and he wraps me in his arms from behind, playing with my breasts and pushing into my ass making it clear just where I stand with him.  It feels like freedom.

We walk on, bumping drunkenly into one another, his middle finger tickling my palm.  Why does that affect me so? I feel like I have to walk around my labia, swollen and pouting.  Amadou is laughing at me, and having great sport with me...saying I am stoned, which I am, but more than that: I am impossibly aroused.  In the dark door of a side-street he kisses me again, and this time his hands find my breasts under my clothes, and his teeth are on my neck; his cock hard in my

belly.  I fumble with his fly and he is taking me in the shadows; my skirt wound to my waist and the thrill-seeking crowd passing feet away.  I can feel the little knot, the acorn of an orgasm that will shoot into a many-branched monster in moments...

He is laughing again. "Feel better?", he asks as he hastily tucks himself away.  He is still hard.

"Later...", and he smiles down at me.

"No" I say honestly. "Let's go back..."

*               *               *               *               *

Amadou is standing at my kitchen counter, examining the mangoes I have bought at his request.  I watch him from the bed.  One, he has peeled and diced.  The others he proceeds to pound to pulp within their skins.  He offers me the diced bits held between his teeth until my lips pluck it away.  It feels refreshing in my pot-parched mouth.  He chases it with his tongue, blending the complex flavour of the fruit with the odd peach of his breath.  There are scents all over his body - the ripe musk of the small oil glands beneath his lower lip, the odour of amber, myrrh and other un-namable spices in his cologne, the sharp man-smell of his underarms and groin.  His cock smells like wood and fallen leaves.

He has chewed a hole into the thick skin of the bruised fruit, and sucks the pulpy juice from the bag.  When done, he tears the skin from the stone.  Reclining, he makes a show of sucking the orange pulp from the hairy pit.  His chest is sticky with juice and covered with tiny peppercorns of hair.  The second mango is drizzled upon my breasts, abdomen; upon the tangle of brown hair bristling between my legs.

I have, over the years, taken on the proportions of a Victorian harlot.  The juice runs into the folds and crevices, the hills and valleys of my body.  Amadou is ardently cleaning me, his pink tongue running into the notch of my neck over my nipples, under my breasts.  Far from the eel-like and smooth lubricity of our youth, we have slowed down, become voluptuous; two continents sliding into one another.  He has been hard since the walk in the red-light district: he is proud of his stamina.  He fingers the waves of my lips and the little torrent moistening them.

"Does it bother you that I am not cut?" I ask all of a sudden.

"Does it bother you that I am ?" he responds. "You shouldn't have to ask, Bee.  I like this.  Shhh."

He licks the pulp from my navel and moves down, pulling it out of the weedy thatch of my pubis as he had pulled it from the stone of the fruit.  My clit has grown hard as a cherry pit.  God bless Amadou: he knows what he is doing. Allahu ahkbar...My hands begin to knot into the bedclothes and the smell of mangoes like pine and bananas and coconut blended with my musk, scent the air.  He cleans the juice from my lips with broad strokes of his tongue which wash and probe and cajole.  I feel the orgasm come again, moving in waves over me.  From experience I know that he enjoys me more when I am sated and tight.

He says, "I want to feel you from the inside."

The pips of hair on his chest, belly and legs rasp against me as he pushes himself inside.  There is actually a slight pop as he enters and I clutch wildly at him.  He is long-ish but not terribly thick, snake-like and flexible and he darts with incredible agility for a big man.  We move about the bed, changing positions, drifting from one posture to the next with a sort of lazy ease.  On top, I nearly drive him off onto the floor: switching he moves me inexorably into the wall at the head of my bead, where my neck bends like a broken puppet: a lady Petrouchka maimed by the Moor.

The veins in his temples have begun to bulge.

"Take me in your mouth, Bee, like you used to..." He kneels beside me and slides easily past my lips; teeth, tongue pressing on the underside of him, pressing to the back of my throat.  He holds me by the hair and pushes hard into me: it tastes like spice and sweet fruit.  Other men don't taste like this and few know the secret.  He must have been eating mangoes for days in preparation.  The ones he had me buy were just for show, like a garnish.  For an instant I think I love him again.

In the morning he makes me coffee, and brings me cigarettes and the newspaper with a kiss.  I am dizzy and for along time Joni Mitchell sings in my head, "The wind is in from Africa, last night I couldn't sleep..." He says he is going for a walk, but he takes his bag, and the last I see of him is kicking through the swirling leaves past the Jamaican café.  The men outside beckon him in, but he waves them off, and continues on until he is out of my sight.  One day I am sure he will be back.  One day I will give up and visit the Jamaicans.  One day I will go home.

"Amadou" © 2000CE by Helena Settimana. all rights reserved

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