Raindrops cascaded down the stained glass of the old cathedral, playing out a monotone requiem that held an ethereal beauty in its simplicity. Each individual drop ran a slow path across the red glass, giving its solitary viewer, perhaps, an idea of the macabre scene that took place at Calvary on that fateful day two thousand years in the past. Why the Western world has taken such a gruesome execution and fetishized it is beyond me. In all fairness, however, I have to admit that, as a violinist, those of us in the world of music have done just as much to fetishize events past. Mozart, for example, was in the middle of his magnum opus at the time of his death. Despite his love of excremental humor and his rumored erotic dalliances, his final work was to be a funeral Mass for the long-deceased wife of a particular patron.
Even the greatest amongst us, it seems, can’t be spared this particular curse.
My particular fetish, however, does not lay in the Church or it’s ancient rituals. Nor does it lay in the tired moral pontifications of some nearly-dead bastard in Rome, or, thankfully, the particular taste for the flesh of young boys that his lieutenants seem to have. Those types of fetishes are entirely too general for me, and my taste can only be sated by one in particular.
Avery. God, I could smack her parents for giving my goddess such a god awful, gender-neutral name. It would be akin to da Vinci calling his painting the Mona Darby, or Sting singing about Riley instead of Roxanne. Call me what you will, but it’s hard to fantasize about a beautiful girl when her name keeps reminding you of a guy you went to high school with.
Anyway, the scene of death provided by the windows soon bored me, so I plodded my way to the doors of the old church, to watch for the arrival of my pupil. Avery had shown up close to a year ago, as part of some early college enrollment program that allowed advanced high schoolers to study at the local community college of their choosing. Being Catholic, Avery’s parents, of course, chose Chatfield, tucked away in a tiny corner of Southwest Ohio. For its part, Chatfield was a relic, a former boarding school for girls that, under pressure from the community, became a junior college in 1971. The place reeked of the same old, tired themes of Catholicism that much of the Old World did. A donor push added a few new academic buildings, however, and, under the purview of an opportunistic President (the first man, and the first layperson to head up the institution), the faculty was expanded to add more qualified instructors.
I was a part of that hiring push, the first music instructor (save for an aging nun that taught a few kids piano) in the institution’s short history. And if we’re being frank…Chatfield started as a resume padder for me. I was working on my DMA at Xavier University, and, between what my family provided and the private lessons I taught, my income was more than sufficient to afford me the leisure to do whatever I felt like doing. The gig at Chatfield paid next to nothing, but for what it lacked in salary, it made up in fringe benefits.
My imagination ran wild the first time I saw Avery. It was a rainy day, very similar to this one, in fact. I was in the old cathedral; a space I had requested because of the acoustics it provided. She was to be my first student, and the aforementioned confusion with her name left me utterly stunned upon her arrival.
The doors to the old mission opened, and in walked one with the look of an angel that had seen, but been denied, the heavens. Her black hair was in stringy streaks, with a few that trailed down into her brilliant green eyes. There was no way that black was her natural hair color, but given her attire, it was beyond fitting. She must have walked a fair distance in the rain, because her mascara swelled around her eyes and leaked down her face, giving the appearance of dark, inky tears. She wore a soaked-through tank top, with half a dozen chains around her neck and just as many rings across her fingers. A small hoop adorned her lower right lip. Her skirt was short enough to leave little to the imagination, and the “fuck me hard, daddy” vibes were only enhanced by the black fishnets that trailed up her long, toned legs.
I couldn’t help but to think what I would have liked to done to her on that first day. Now, before you set this down thinking it’s standard smut, hear me out. As a eunuch, my tastes run particularly strange, and it’s through a stroke of pure luck that I’m able to receive any pleasure from sexual acts at all.
Okay, so do I have your attention now? What, were you expecting some raunchy internet porn style musings, where I ripped her fishnets off and used them to lightly choke her as she talked dirty to me, before I bent her over the organ and pounded her ass until she squirted all over the statue of Jesus above the altar? If the internet has done one thing, it’s taken any extreme that might have helped the depraved get off in their darkest moments and turned it into a standard Saturday night for some frat boy at Ohio State.
No, punishing little Avery wasn’t part of my plan, at least not in your typical, sadistic way. I’d be lying, however, if I didn’t see the chance to force her to atypical levels of depravity. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m the one that prefers to be punished, as opposed to meting out the punishment myself. What few people realize, however, is that by giving one’s self over to the masochistic tendencies, one can gain the greatest level of control over another party.
Avery, it seems, was doing a little bit of that herself. The piercings, the uncomfortable clothing, ill-suited for a downpour, the rebellious nature that separated her from her family…she was literally hurting herself in order to punish those she felt were at war with her. Despite this punishment, however, she lacked little in the qualities that made for a good sadist. Even in the House of God, she strolled towards the altar like Christ himself couldn’t stop her. With an exaggerated sigh, she tossed her violin case on the piano, regarding me with a cold, calculating gaze.
“You supposed to be some kind of fag or something?”
I averted my eyes, beads of sweat popping upon the top of my slick head as I did. Perhaps she saw it as fear, or anger, but there was little way for her to know how excited I was. A fag! Ha! Men were much too blunt, much too direct with how they divvied out punishment. I preferred a more nuanced approach, one directed less towards the main idea (which could shift as often as a fault line) and more towards the details of the moment. I held the silence for a few moments more before turning my attention back to her, my muddled expression unreadable.
“Would you prefer if I was a fag, mistress?”
“With that outfit, you may as well be one. What the fuck? You’re dressed like a goddamned sofa with all those patterns and flowers on your shirt. Do you teach music or interior design?”
Her words stung, and it sent a thrill up my spine that had been lacking for ages. She wasn’t the cleverest wordsmith to punish me, not by a mile, but what she lacked in creativity she made up for in pure vileness. It wasn’t so much the words she said as how she said them, her body language and the venom that laced her every word.
I was hooked the second she opened her mouth.
And, in time, her punishment of me would lead to her own punishment, or reward, depending on how she viewed it.
I looked up at her, doing my best to maintain a veneer of calmness. “Say what you will, Avery, but when it comes to what I teach…that’s my domain, and it will forever be so. Can you play the violin you carried in?”
“How about any of its cousins, the viola, the cello, the double bass?”
“How about the piano you tossed your instrument onto?”
“How about the organ in the rafters up there.”
“What is this, a music lesson or twenty fuckin’ questions?”
I shook my head slightly. “Such language, even in the house of God!”
Avery paused, and reached up to fiddle at one of the necklaces she wore. Closer inspection revealed it to be a crucifix. Bowing her head, she took a moment to make the sign of the cross before looking lazily at the statue above the altar.
It seemed there was still something to break in this sadist. And it was I that was going to break it.
The lessons proceeded as one would expect, with a combination of virulent words from the pupil and calm reproach from the teacher. I pushed Avery. In spite of her invective, she possessed a natural talent for the instrument, and I used her anger to drive her to heights that were unreasonable for a new student of the instrument. In six weeks, she started playing some of Mozart’s work. In two months, she had moved on to the beginnings of Beethoven, and as the semester came to a close, she was well-prepared for her first solo recital.
During one particularly grueling session, Avery’s sadist streak began to show. She was in the middle of playing the bridge to some particularly grueling piece – I remember not which one – and her fingering was all wrong. Each sour note only caused to anger me more. Finally, I’d had enough.
“No, no, NO!” My clammy hands reached out and fumbled her hands into position on the fretboard. “A SHARP, Avery, not A.”
It took less than a second for my charge to take control. The bow of her violin whistled through the air as she brought it reproachfully across my knuckles. “Don’t TOUCH me, you fucking freak!”
My hands recoiled even as I delighted in the sting. Until that moment, Avery’s decadent punishment had been limited to her words. And while she never bothered to spare her venomous tongue, the lack of physical punishment had often left me wanting.
With this, she had opened the door a crack.
I was determined to kick the damn thing down.
I ignored the welt rising on my hand and moved in to place her hands into position one more. She didn’t even let me get close. Another THWACK brought the bow across the back of my hands once more, and, this time I couldn’t help but to let a moan of pleasure cross my lips.
Avery stared at me for a moment, befuddled. “What in the blue hell is wrong with you?” I held out my hand, gasping for air. “Again, mistress. Please.”
“Why the fuck do you call me that?”
I couldn’t help but to feel a moment of fleeting regret as the bow did not come down across my hand. That regret passed when I felt its tip press against my neck. I took a step back to keep from choking, but Avery followed, keeping the point buried deeply into my doughy flesh.
“You fucking weirdo. I bet you go home and jerk it after every lesson we have, don’t you?”
I looked up at the ceiling as she forced me back a step, then another. I took care to ascend the steps of the altar as we walked.
“What, am I not good enough for you to jerk it to?” Another step, then a third, and then my back was pressed against the cool marble of the altar, Christ himself looking down at me with either pity or reproach – I’m not sure which.
“It’s not that. I can’t.” My words were barely a whisper.
The cruel smirk that crossed her features would have made harder men than I weep. “Just as I thought. You’re some kind of fag, huh?”
My eyes hardened on Christ as I swallowed, feeling the end of the bow dig into my flesh. “Not at all, mistress. Men disgust me.”
Her arm relaxed for a second as she considered this. Turning the bow, she held it elongated across my neck as she stepped towards me. You can imagine her surprise when she grabbed my crotch and found it as smooth and featureless as her own!
“What the fuck?” She grabbed again, yet the scant few seconds from when she grabbed first had not sprouted what she desired. Taking a step back, she kept her bow pointed at me as she considered her options.
“Surprised, mistress?” I pushed my body off the marble and brought my gaze to hers.
Did she shiver a little? I’ll never know for sure, but if I had to guess, a providence of sorts took place that day. In the presence of one false Messiah, she realized that I could be her deliverance…and that she could be mine.
“What happened?” She brought her bow down to her side, head cocked, anger replaced by the same morbid curiosity I’d seen a thousand times.
“The results of a run in with a bully, long before you were born. Let’s just say that I didn’t have the desire, or the ability, to fight back like you do.” I sat, in a heap, at the base of the altar and stared up at her.
She pondered this for a moment. Her face was unreadable as she considered her options. As she thought, I reclined against the cool marble and sighed. She had all the power in this moment, sure, but to an impulsive eighteen-year-old, that power could be both exciting…and dangerous.
“Get up.” The words broke though the haze of my thoughts, shaking me away from whatever daydream I was conjuring up. I did as I was told, hands shaking at my sides as I did. Picking up her violin, Avery walked over to me and turned her back to me.
“Show me the fingerings again.” She brought the instrument to her neck and prepared to play.
Reaching over her shoulder, I did as I was told. “Play.” I whispered into her ear.
The first few notes went without a struggle, until she hit the section where she had struggled before. I winced, and shifted her fingers. “Again.” I demanded.
Shifting her hips, Avery started to grind slowly against me as she played. Evil little vixen! She knew I couldn’t respond in a typical physical manner, so she decided to torment me.
Her fingers faltered, and I corrected her. “Again. Please.”
She played again, grinded again, and I nearly wept in both joy and agony. How subtle! How absolutely diabolical of her to attack me in the one way that I couldn’t respond to. This went on for a few exchanges before, writhing in agony, I begged her to stop.
“No,” she said, giving me a look laced with both pity and disgust, “not until every note is perfect.”
I looked up at the altar, at Christ himself, and grimaced. “Would he approve of this?”
She pondered for a moment, her hand reaching for her crucifix, before she paused. With an angry yank, the jewelry clattered down across the steps, beads flying in a thousand directions. Grinning, she looked back up at me, and I knew then, in that moment, her corruption was as total as mine.
“Fuck him. The last thing in the world I need is his approval.”
Avery’s recital still stands as one of the more infamous events in the history of Chatfield College. It wasn’t so much as what she played as how she played it, and what she did after she was finished playing, that left it drenched in notoriety.
For all they were, Avery’s parents were primarily farmers, people born and bred on the land that they pulled their meager harvest from on a yearly basis. You can imagine their delight, then, when Avery announced that she would be performing a melody of bluegrass and country songs, a nod, it seemed, to her backwoods heritage.
The light of the springtime moon bathed parts of the chapel floor in red as it shone through the stained glass. The mission was old, with a few token electric lights, so all around us were candles, burning as some kind of forsaken offering to a god that my mistress and I both viewed as long dead.
I glanced at the program one more time, as if I didn’t already have the songs memorized by heart. Granted, I despised most of them (country music isn’t real music, after all), but the climax they would play out was enough to get a quiver of joy out of even the most tired of cynics. Little Avery, it seems, was ready to break free of the chains that her faith used to keep her in bondage.
And I? Well, I was to be a grateful little beneficiary. Having my mistress in my home was well beyond my wildest dreams, but seeing as it was HER idea, well, I guess dreams do come true sometimes!
The crowd had been in their seats, anxious, covered in sweat and drenched in that eerie red light for a good half an hour before Avery started down the center of the aisle, playing an upbeat tempo, dressed in a poor imitation of what a cowgirl sheriff would wear, complete with gun holstered at her hip. I glanced at the gun nervously as she vigorously played, paying little heed to the murmurs of approval and the rhythmic clapping that followed her every move down the row. Her parents in the front row beamed; their little cowgirl had come home!
They had little idea her stay would be so short.
Avery plowed through her melody, missing not a single note. She pranced down the aisle, enjoying, or so I hoped, one last moment of girlish pleasure before she took her last leap of faith. To the crowd’s delight, her final section was the climax to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and, despite our locale, the crowd seem intent on singing along.
♪FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, RUN BOYS, RUN! ♪
♪THE DEVIL’S IN THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN! ♪
♪CHICKEN IN THE BREADPAN PICKIN’ AT DOUGH! ♪
♪ GRANNY DOES YOUR DOG BITE? NO CHILD, NO! ♪
The crowd roared their approval as she hit the final notes, accenting each with a stomp and a nod. Holding her instrument out to one side and her bow to the other, she curtseyed to the crowd, who offered their roar of approval and begged for more.
Grinning, Avery set her instrument and bow on the floor and rose. She soaked it all in for a moment before glancing over at me with a smirk. She turned back to the crowd, and her grin soon fell into a scowl as she regarded the people before her, country bumpkins and religious zealots, with disdain.
Her two extended middle fingers were met with an audible gasp, and her father looked as if his head was literally set to explode off his shoulders.
But Avery was far from done.
Pulling the gun from her hip, she turned to the statue of Christ above the altar and took aim. In a second, it was over. The gun gave a loud report, and a hole on Christ’s forehead joined the two in his hands and feet.
“It’s PLASTER, you assholes.” Murmurs of shock went through the crowd, but Avery wasn’t done yet. “Fuck you, Jesus.”
The statue did not respond to her extended middle finger. Laughing, her eyes danced with devious pleasure as she turned to me.
“Come on, you fat, dickless bitch. I want some French fries.”
Never was am instructor prouder of a student than I was Avery in that moment, as we passed the stunned crowd, her in a girlish skip, and I, head bowed, hands folded over my chest, much in the manner of a monk.
Avery’s corruption was complete. And I? Well, if I had to guess, that was what an orgasm felt like.
M. Earl (Martin) Smith is an Instructor of English and creative writing at Somerset Community College, in Somerset, Kentucky. His scholarship includes work in the fields of rare books, material texts, the history of the book, writing for children and young adults, and local/regional history. He has authored 11 books, with volumes on local history, the history of sports, children’s nonfiction, and literary fiction. Martin graduated from Chatfield College in 2015, the University of Pennsylvania in 2017, and Pine Manor College in 2019. He currently resides in Somerset, Kentucky