Eugene Drebber

She Smelled of Strawberries

“She tasted of strawberries.” I said in reply. 

Did she now. He smirked, taking a draught of his cold beer, half-burned cigarette laid gentle on a fluting ashtray a trifle too full. The couple in the next booth were arguing, their voices hoarse. Not too much detail to glean. They had shouted themselves hoarse. 

I uncrossed my legs and leaned forward. The Blades was a fine place, none the better in this cesspool of a city. The hustle and hurry outside blew soft hues against the windows, the curlicues of smoke. 

“She was reluctant at first, yapping on about something Holy Mother, something. Those pamphlets they give out at Sunday School. Utter crap, if you ask me (I lowered my voice at this as a tray floated by, laden with drinks, the clutters). She was of the mind that once lost, it will never come back. She’s right. Once that thin skin within her gets pricked open, it will not heal. What of it? It’s only a thin piece of skin,” I went and grabbed a dinner-roll out of the wicker-basket, tore it into halves, chucked it into my mouth, chewed and munched until the table was littered with crumbs, bits stuck in my teeth. I continued, poking my gums hard. “You know, I told her as much. She seemed to listen, listen pretty carefully at that. Her eyes started to well up, only natural I suppose. Brought up the way she was. Something in her must have relented, pleasures before the wrath of God, uh…”

He smirked again. Another swig of his beer. The cigarette had gone dead. He was relighting yet another. 

“The going was slow at first. She was still shy not to let me see her naked. I said ‘baby, it’s okay. Turn around and let me see you, I want to see you.’ She was startled, spieling things like ‘I don’t think it’s a good idea’, ‘what if my mother finds out..’. I had been expecting it; I comforted her, easing her down, making sure this was what she wanted and making her doubly sure that there was no shame if she walked back. Evidently, she didn’t. Her talks become hushed. The hunt was on once more. The lights in her room were dimmed, curtains drawn, only a slim-shaded slit open in the slats to let some light through. It was early afternoon and the rain had just gone. The cars outside were few, honks distant and infrequent, so I went to her writing bureau and drew from a stack, random EPs she had bought. Leafing through, not paying much attention. There was a mirror right above the bureau and my eyes were trained like those of a buzzard circling an ambling deer, at her, the apple of my eye; the rest of the world was a silent place; I only had her in my sight. 

Pulling one out and out of the sleeve I drew, an old single by the Moody Blues. Forgot the name, too dark to remember. None of that the matter as I put the record on and let the stylus fit perfectly into the grooves, a clean, careful, well-choreographed slide. My cock stiffened more at the sight. The amp was turned full on and words started streaming through. I timed my steps back to the rhythm of the tune. As I had looked into the mirror, she had taken her shirt off, pink-colored brassiere, with lace fringes, steely, wiry hooks clasped tight in back of her. She had her arms limp down her sides. Inches above her waist line, a peak of carnation waved at me, positively waved at me, winking, twinkling little fingers as though to hold me, embrace me. I almost cried out: My fleshy prey in its steely den! I salivated, breath indrawn, drawn to the back of the throat. I nearly choked on it. Just imagine, choking to death on account of an erection and an abiding urge to fuck.”

Ha. He ha’d, sucked on his cigarette and sent hurtling to the mottled ceiling, a smoke ring, another smoke ring. I ha’d too but not a smoker myself, I looked around, drank some beer of my own, talking that much having made my throat hurt, not hoarse. Only the cross are hoarse, the rest, the happily content bunch, we slake the thirst and quench the burning with beverages. Never hoarse. 

The club had quieted considerably, waiters waiting through the boughs of the woods a slower if not rarer sight. The slings and clings, clutters of burnished silver and crockery made less of a sound, before – the loud common denominator, now a background wheeze. Some tables were empty, a sign that the hour was late. Blades would never have tables vacant during peak hours. 

The walls were mottled, vaulted ceiling a broken bow with strings undone. Chandeliers had once been fixtures enough to provide ample lighting, but that was decades before, before the war. Now, imitation lighting fixtures. The chandeliers were still there but did little work. Imitation lighting, under the floor and in the couches, all the nooks and crannies where the eyes don’t see. They were there.  

The couple next both had vacated the arena. Where I looked, I could see the male trailing the female, his head bent, hers perked. His shoulders drooped, knees buckled. As they made for the exit, revolving doors, the male knocked into another man, much bigger, one of the porters. The male had apologized before mincing his way out. The porter was scratching through his tricorn, that was a first. Outside, beyond the glass partition, against the hues of oncoming traffic, the female waved a cab down, got in and drove off, leaving the male behind. He didn’t cry, had ceased to yell. He simply bent his head deeper, nesting it in his breasts and stiffened his collar, going away, blending into the night, the cars. Overhead, tits flew in a small, black migration cluster and went in another tree the street opposite, making a delta V in flight. The man had gone away, away, borne into those city lives again, receding, sidling back once more into the fray. 

Snap; snap; snap! Hey, you going off somewhere? C’mon, pick up the pace. My beer is almost gone and if you ain’t gonna get me a fresh brew. My patience (He pointed at the remaining beer in his glass goblet, at the graduation) runs out when that red line hints at nothing, ah.

I grinned, another one of his drunken jests. “Naturally,” I said and went on.

“Her skin was warm, warm like she had been just been pushed through the birth-canal, perspiration on her – gleaming, gleaming like the fluid in which life breeds itself. Her cheeks were flushed, eyes red, their corners wet but drying as I watched. Her bosom, domed as they were, showed prominently, prominently pinkish and perky where the nipples would have been. She still had her shoes on, so I bent, scooped her up and laid her slow on the bed, bending once, to unlace her shoes. Her socks were white, pristine, not a sweat mark visible, the smell pleasant. I went and pulled them off. Her feet, petite, were aristocratic, well-formed, arches arched, toes toed the lines just right. The soles, after the day’s exertion, were red-centered-pink-centered-white. The flats of her feet were spotless, not a vein showing, the sides smooth, products of good pedicure. Her toes were bare, wholesale unadorned, the best, by default. I kissed them, suckled them and went up, over the pant-legs, taking in her perfume as I went higher and higher until I struck pay dirt and hands working in a frenzy, undid her thin leather belt (She knows what I love), pulling, hurriedly pulling, until only the panties and bare legs and feet showed below the waist. I bared my teeth and went chump on that cloth hovering above the holy and tried to bore my head into it, drilling, drilling, friction building. I heard a moan, issued from lips tightly scrunched. She had wanted to put it on. I acknowledged the challenge and bit off her panties like a hungry shark rising up and biting one of its wounded comrades square in the back of the neck, teeth going through skin, through flesh, through bones. I kept on biting, tearing ‘til the seizure stopped, the panties discarded in a heap. I threw the heap off the bed. They had served a useful purpose; now, it was TCB time, my time to shine. 

Her camel’s hoof was clean shaven, the body trembling. I reached up and held her hands and whispered, “it’s only me.”The trembling attenuated. I gazed at the jewel, the heart-shaped cleft. I went down and gave it a quick lick, a small tease. Another wave of shivering, this time accompanied by soft moans, fingers clutched tighter in mine, sweat beginning to bead, the bed creaking. I plunged and explored the abyss, like a snake coiling itself around a tree, an ant ambling in its nest, back-laden, moving slow, slow, slow, Up ahead, the little larder, crowded by other countless other ants. I went in and deposited my tongue, warm liquids flowing out in an audible “Ah”. Her body convulsed, fingers biting into mine, hip tilted high, moans, moans, moans, flying like bullets cleaving the air, sawing through, shaking the mirrors, the bed trembling in fear. Rearing my head, I went up, crawling over her soft, softly convulsing body and planted a hard-kiss upon her lips. We shared the air, the air electric, scented by our musk. 

“It felt good, did it not?” I asked at intervals. “Yes.” her only answer. She smiled, a full-cheeked smile, dimpled creeks. 

“Shall we…”


I reached my arms around and held her up, her legs cinching behind my back, feet bound. I reached around and found the lock to the doors of perception. I gently, all the while teasing her ears, pulled the clasps apart and draped the strings lower, inch by inch. Delicate, like leaves hushing through the autumn air. The brassiere fell, I threw it off the bed again where it joined the panties, the socks, the shoes in fallen heaps. 

The cake was mine to take, showing through nothing the perked nipples, the illuminating igloo mounds. I waited, letting the prize sit, simmer. I looked into her eyes, those green wells that seemed to pull me forever upward, that deepness in the sky! That smile again, those creased dimples. She trusted me, knew that I would never hurt her. The thought comforted me greatly. I parted her darkened hair where the fringe drooped over the ridge-bones in a wet comma, wet from the sweat. I dug in, head first, the feathery bed mine, mine. Gently teasing the nipples, I glided over the cleavage where sweat rivulet-ed. To and fro, left and right, I serviced both halves equally, rolling, kneading ‘til the flesh turned a reddish hue. I stopped, looked in her eyes again, as though to seek confirmation. She squinted a “Yes”. I laid her down once more and slithered my way back, stopping only when we made contact in the nether realm. 

“I am gonna pull out, so no worries, all right?”


I guided my glistening number into the firing position. A sudden indrawn breath confirmed lock-in. I twisted, shifting positions just a little, to make further confirmation. Everything was locked and loaded. 

The gantry swayed, rocket pumped. The sounds of grinding and slapping perfumed through the air. The aroma of sweat and condescension soothed the nervous observers. The speed picked up, sounds intensifying, the silo quaking, quaking, the side-walls contracting. The air supply was being depleted. The world seemed to freeze….then slowly, slowly, with mild curses from the observers, the launch carried on. The same routine of shivering, wavering, condescended air falling from heads to tails. The rocket went into for a different configuration as the gantries reposition-ed the lifting body and slid it slow and gentle into another hole, where it tested its engines. Two at first, then four, then six, then seven, then eight as the countdown stopped just before the light-show proper and slowed down, pressure easing and hissing, coolants puffing smoke from wall to wall. There was a lull in the rhythm as the rocket and the observers took a five, long-deserved. 

He took a draw of his cigarette, his fourth this evening. Gazing at me through the rings, he urged me to go on, the faintest tincture of a smile around lips. Pointing at his empty glass goblet, he was telling me what I had already known. I beckoned forth one of the last remaining waiters, who impatiently took the order for another draught of beer and went away, grumbling under his breath. We both laughed, hearty, and I went on. The clock behind me said it was almost midnight. The cleaning crew had come in and started at their work. The outside growing quieter and quieter.

The nervous looks at watches, at display monitors, the quickening pulses and askance eyes looking at each other, questioning, almost pleading. The rocket swayed in preparation for launch. The same steps, same procedures, the same contraction of the walls and smoke hurtling through the air. The same alarm sirens blaring red, rotating about. immediately the engines lit, the sound-proofing system of high-pressured, jetted streams of water kicked in. The engines turned on, two at a time, then four, then six….the world really shook, the observers could not help but cry out, cry out, yell, scream. The water jets made contact with the white-hot trails of engines burning at full capacity and the lifting body launched from the platform, a thicket of white plume went swooshing over the observation deck, flying ever higher, ever quicker. There was a thunderous clank as the gantry melted off and came crushing down into the blast pit. All the while, the water streams carried on, scabbing over burned marks and scorched bits of metal. The rocket craved leave of the earth but earth said no and pulled the rocket back, back, back, not for a second try, but just to remain within her embraces, to make her feel safe. Earth was satisfied, the rocket safe within her locks and keys.

“And a few hours later, I came here and met up with you.”

He nodded, draining the last of his beer in one gulp. You seem jolly happy about it. 

“Why shouldn’t I. It’s chemistry, my friend. Chemistry. Metal on Metal sparks. I feel right being with her. She makes me feel safe. Like two leads of a wire connecting at last, sending a shock to both parties. It’s not entirely about the sex, it’s the knowledge, the awareness of each other, that when you call, the other one will answer and that when you fall, the other one will catch you. That you are not alone anymore, beyond friends, a part of you, a symbiotic partnership. Sex just helps with that, seasoning and nothing more.”

I got the metaphor all right, he grinned. He looked around; I looked around. I had finished my beer, he had finished his. The bread bowl was emptied. His cigarette carton gone. We got up and took leave of the place. The last remaining waiter eyed us with angry looks, sighed and walked to the back wherein to put away his uniform, to be pressed for another day. The cleaning crew swung into full force, brooms, mops, squeegees, chemicals knocking about in a melody. 


Sir, there is a phone call for you. The disgruntled waiter had come back, now out of his uniform. I pointed at myself and he nodded; I went over, got into the booth, picked up the receiver and said with some form of foreknowledge, “hello, sweetie.”


Eugene Drebber is an expat currently living in Asia. As a writer and translator, he has helped colleges and universities build their archives and collections of antique books. What you are reading right now could be his first published work.

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