Let's face it. There's nothing new under the sun, is there? My kind of story will have been told a hundred times before. Probably better, hopefully worse.
But I'd like to tell you anyway.
Imagine: Moscow, a bar. It's smoky, dimly lit. In the far corner, just over there, you can see two men playing pool. That one on the left, he's Mr. Salvastor. Very rich merchant banker. Foreign. I don't quite recall the other one's name, but he's likewise rich. The music is just a touch too loud, and it's all about 7 years old. But, the atmosphere is good, and drink is cheap and of decent quality, and -possibly something to do with the condition of the exterior - there was never any hassle from roving groups of young delinquents with precious little to do, except smoke crack and cause trouble.
If you look over to where I'm sitting, you'll see a tall, slightly melancholy looking man, propping up a double Vodka, staring idly yet pensively around the other customers in the bar. A nod and a raised eyebrow to the barman - I've been here many times - and another double Vodka makes its way to my table. I've been too lazy to get my hair cut, so it's getting nearly to my shoulders. It's jet black, and chronically on the verge of being uncontrollable. I'm not handsome in any way, just your average guy. Average in most respects too - let's face, no-one wants to read a story with someone with an 11 inch penis, do they? A little taste of reality is nice, sometimes.
Oh yeah, and the last thing - I'm single. Almost widowed, in fact.
Almost, you say? Yep, almost widowed. Though perhaps it would be more accurate to say maybe widowed.
It's been a while since I've seen anyone - lately I'm finding it hard to attach to anyone, to let myself go. The women, they're all nice enough, don't get me wrong. I'm fortunate, I know. But they always ask me what's behind the melancholy, and from there on, the memories get in the way of the reality.
I guess, really, I'm just trying to get this off my chest.
Imagine: same old bar. In the corner, playing pool, Mr Salvastor and another of his rich friends. Music is still slightly too loud and out of date. The prices - well, they're a few roubles cheaper, but this is a few years ago. The sign outside is slightly less run-down, but not by much.
Same old corner, same old me. Hair still longish and unkempt. Double Vodka as usual, only this time I've got a roll-up perched between my fingers too. Bad habit. I gave it up.
Like every other night of mine, really. I wasn't - in fact, I'm not - an alcoholic. Teetering on the brink, though. Went through a rough patch back when... well, you'll hear about that.
So, same old night. Except it wasn't, in the end. Now, let me just remember... ah yes, it's coming back now...
"...ting here?" The woman standing over my table was evidently expecting a response. Shit, I thought. What the hell did she say?
"I'm sorry, what was that you asked?"
She smiled at me, not condescendingly, but cheerily, and said again, "Anyone sitting here?"
I shook my head and motioned for her to sit down, which she did. Leaning back, she took a large swallow of her double Vodka, deftly acquired my roll-up, took a draw, grimaced, and stubbed it out. "Filthy habit, mate. You should stop."
"I know," I said. "Periodically I try, but the demons in me need some respite, you know?"
"Oh, I know all about that, mate," she chuckled. "Excuse my manners - what's your name? Mine's - well, sod it, I'll tell you - it's Rose. I don't know why!"
"Rose? That's lovely. Mine's Pete - Peter. What brings you here? You don't usually get non-locals in this particular pit."
"Ach, I just got into town, picked the first spot I could find, which was here. Seems I made the right choice!" She smiled again, and I felt a warmth down to my toes. Involuntarily, I smiled back at her, a proper wide one, and for a moment we both sat there, grinning like idiots.
Perhaps I should take this little moment to tell you about her. She was not short, but not tall - 5'6" at a guess I'd say. Slight, though - with a sort of elongated hourglass figure. She wasn't particularly large in the chest, just, well, in proportion. Her face could probably be described as unexceptional, but looking at her left you with a faint feeling that, if you caught her off balance, in the right light, at the right angle, she could be beautiful enough to make you cry. But that never quite happened with her. Still, she was cheerful, and friendly, and my heart inexplicably warmed to her.
So there we were, grinning away like idiots at each other, until we simultaneously looked away bashfully. I defused the moment by discreetly beckoning the barman, who brought over two more glasses. "On my tab, John," I muttered. He nodded, as he always did, and withdrew.
We talked for hours, that night. About everything and nothing. I told her about my life - which didn't take long - and my job. Software designer, in case you're wondering. Even in Moscow people use computers, though I work for the government. Sounds incredibly brainy, but it isn't really. Pays well enough to fund my teetering. Her life was very different.
"I'm a rider," she said simply, when I asked her.
"A rider? That sounds... well, I don't know what you mean here. Explain!"
"I drive the highways. I drive them fast. Late at night, through the night, early in the morning. Never in the day. I sleep in the day. The only reason I'm here is that my car needs it's gearbox and clutch replacing. Big job - else I'd do it myself."
"Why only at night? Given this is Moscow, I wouldn't have thought it would be that safe for you, being female and all!"
"It's still safer than day time - with the idiots on the roads - and the police, who would sooner pull me over and rape me than issue a ticket," she elaborated, rolling her eyes. "Men. All the same! Except maybe you..." she added, running a finger round the rim of my nearly empty glass.
I know, I know. You probably wanted me to take her back to my apartment and fuck her all night long. Isn't that what happens? With all the stuff about frenzied kissing, tongues clashing, people moaning and getting wet, writhing on the bed? I don't know, maybe it does. But that didn't happen to me.
No. Instead, I went home alone. I don't know where she went, we barely said goodbye. I was at the bar the next night, as usual. A nod to the barman, and another drink wended its way over.
And then, there she was. I looked up from rolling a smoke, and she was sitting there, opposite me, not looking at me. She saw my movement out the corner of her eye and swivelled round in her seat, extending a hand. "We meet again," she said, a broad smile breaking out. I shook her hand, enjoying the simple touch of her cool palm. "How's the car?" I asked. She shrugged. "Surviving. It's fixed, or at least the monkey-fingered idiots at the garage say so. I'll have to re-tune it when I get a moment. But at least I've got it back."
"Well, I've no real compulsion to stay here - if you want, we could go fix your car. I know a couple of things about engines..." I said, shrugging my shoulders. "And hell, it's cheaper than sitting here, getting drunk." She laughed at me, but not unpleasantly. "I know more about cars than the people who build them. I won't need your help. But - I like you. So let's go."
We left the bar, heading through the snow-covered back streets of Moscow. And no, we didn't hold hands, or have 'urgent passion' like you read about.
We arrived at a garage. There, round the side of the decrepit building that passed as the workshop, was her car. Looking out of place in such an environment of disuse as this, it gleamed. Black bodywork swept sensually over from the long bonnet, sweeping back over the doors and roof, curving into an unobtrusive spoiler, cradling large wheels with gleaming alloy spokes. Yet, far from looking contrived, the car exuded purpose and workmanship, every line of it speaking of power and fluidity.
I loved it.
Rose stopped for a second, a fond look coming over her face, and said, "There's my life, Peter. It's all I have, all I know." I was silent, looking at her radiant face. She caught me looking and flashed me a charming smile before deftly sliding under the car. I watched her legs make small movements as she inspected the mechanic's handiwork, until she wriggled back out, sitting up and wiping grease off her hands onto the sparse grass beneath her.
"Hmm, looks like they did a good job. Shall we take her for a spin?" I could only nod.
We rode for hours. I think I drifted off, I'm not sure. The highways passed in a 120 mph blur. The hands of the clocked ticked past, unrealistically fast. 2am, 3am, 4am passed in an exhilarating tide of speed. Until, around 6, she pushed the clutch in and let the car roll to a halt. It took a while, from over 100 mph, but it did, eventually.
We were far outside Moscow, far from anywhere. I shook myself out of my reverie and twisted round to look at her. She was lit from behind by the sun as it rose over the snow-covered desolation that surrounded us. In that light, she looked like an angel.
"This is why I drive. Because of the beauty." She looked at me, something deep in her eyes, something pleading. "And I'm glad I shared it with you."
I kissed her then. Gently, lovingly. Tongues slid over each other, teasing, exploring. She moved into my arms, though with a small awkwardness - kissing in a car's not all it's cracked up to be - and I ran my fingers up her spine. She moaned slightly, breaking the kiss and burying her face in my shoulder. In silence we held each other.
After a time she moved away and opened her door. I followed suit, and we stood, embracing, to watch the dawn. As we moved back to the car I whispered three words I've never said to anyone but her, and she looked at me again, that same vulnerable look in her eyes, and traced my jawbone with her finger as she nodded. "I know," she whispered back at me.
We drove back in silence.
I was alone again that night, and the next after that. I met her in the bar again, the next two nights. The first night, we just talked til closing time and beyond, sitting outside the bar, cradling her against the cold with the snow bejewelling her hair like fragile diamonds. The next night we went riding again, this time out into the Tundra, the Russian wilderness that can be as desolate, some say, as the moon. We kissed again as the sun came up, and I told her again those three precious words, and she nodded and swallowed hard and whispered back the same.
I didn't see her for nearly two weeks after that. I stopped going to the bar after a week. Instead, I drank at home, burying the memory of those two kisses and those three words. At least, I tried to.
Day ten: a knock at the door. I looked out the spyhole - fat lot of use that was. It's so greasy you wouldn't see anything if it held up a neon sign. Opening doors to strangers in Moscow isn't particularly wise, but I was drunk and lonely.
It was Rose.
My brain scrabbled in vain through the alcohol fog to find words, failed, and offered a disbelieving grunt instead. She shut the door with her foot, took my hand, and pulled me back to the sofa. "I asked the barman - John? - where you lived. He said in this block. You're the fourth door I tried. Two were locked, and the third knew where you were. So here I am."
Brain still scrabbling, I managed to ask, "Where've you been? I've - I've missed you, Rose."
"South. I went to Volgograd. I wasn't planning on coming back. But - I missed you too, Peter. Normally I don't even get attached to anyone I meet, but you - you are different." She looked at me again, with sadness in her eyes. "I love you, Peter. But I can't be around for you always. Riding's in my blood. My parents were both from the clans. I chose to be lone. But I can't let it go. You must trust me."
I could only nod. Leaning forward, just before her lips, I whispered, "I love you, too," and leant in and kissed her. She kissed me back, hard, her fingers tugging at my shirt buttons, opening them one by one. Stepping back, she pushed it off my shoulders, and placed her hands on my chest with a smile and a twinkle in her eye. I looked at her, and took her hand, leading her to the bedroom.
We undressed each other in silence, running our hands over each other's bodies until she found my aching need and knelt before me, taking it into her delicate hands, caressing. For long moments I held my breath as she slowly slid me into her mouth, exhaling with a gasp as her tongue ran over it, teasing me. She looked up at me with an almost-innocence, running her fingernails up the back of my thighs.
I stood there, at the foot the bed, her kneeling before me with my fingers twined in her hair, until at last I felt that I could take no more. Raising her gently, I pushed her onto the bed and crawled between her legs, taking in the sight of her sex with its light covering of downy hair. Circling her thighs with my arms, I closed my eyes and leant in, tasting her. As my tongue made contact she gave a tiny gasp and her hips shuddered just slightly. Encouraged, I made long sweeps with my tongue over her lips, tasting her wetness, alternating long strokes with short, circling one that slid round her clitoris until she moaned aloud and clutched at my hair.
After many long minutes, she dug her fingers into my shoulders and wrapped her legs over my back, holding my head where it was, as her hips bucked and she gasped as waves of pleasure overtook her. She came for what seemed like forever, until at last her legs and fingers relaxed, and she leant down and pulled me up to lie on top of her, my hardness lying along her open lips. Her hands slid to my hips and she pulled, urging me to fill her.
Pulling back to allow access, I moved my hips until the head of my penis was in line with her opening, and pushed in gently. In response, she pulled on my hips, pulling me deeper into her warmth. She felt incredible, and I told her so, moaning as I filled her completely, her warm wetness covering me. She shut her eyes, leaning her head back and running her nails gently up my back, before digging them in with a moan, opening her eyes to look into mine. "I want you, God I want you so much, you feel so good... I want you to come for me, Peter..."
I could only nod as a buried my face in her shoulder, clutching onto her like a dying man clutches a straw. We rocked our hips together, grinding together, both gasping at the feelings. Nothing had ever felt this good. "God," I gasped, "You're amazing, Rose... you're perfect..." I pushed myself up on my hands, looking down at her, her hair framing a face that looked so beautiful, pulling out of her almost all the way and plunging slowly, deeply, back inside her welcoming warmth. She groaned and pushed her hips to meet mine, grabbing at my shoulders. I repeated the movements, gradually increasing in pace until we were fucking like animals, desperately, passionately.
After what felt like eternity, I slowed and looked at her questioningly; "You want to ride me Rose?" She only shook her head, pulling me in again, hard. I held myself on one elbow, still fucking her hard, my free hand roaming over her delicious body, unable to keep still as I massaged her breast, sliding down to grab her hips. Almost crying now with pleasure, she dug her nails into my back as hard as she could, her hips jumping at mine at every thrust. The painful pleasure of her nails only drove me to wilder heights, and I began to pant as my orgasm approached.
"Come for me, Peter, come inside me... let me hear you," she gasped, opening her eyes again to look into mine, holding my gaze as the pressure inside me built until at last the floodgates broke and I came inside her in anguished streaks of pleasure, only just aware that she was moaning along with me, her hips going wild as an orgasm took her.
For interminable moments we came together, in a frenzied tangle of bounding hips and thrashing limbs, until at last we calmed and I lay on her, panting, feeling her heart pound inside her chest. I could feel my penis twitching inside her in the final throes of our orgasm, and I watched her breathe hard, her head flung back, her eyes shut, her face flushed.
After a time I pulled out, lying at her side, holding her. I kissed her face tenderly and she began to cry, soundlessly, gently, as I held her to me. "I can't ever leave you, Peter, I can't leave this, us..." I could only nod, holding her until her tears subsided and she drifted to sleep.
I lay awake a long time that night.
In the morning, she was gone. Where she lay was a note: "I had to leave, Peter. Look for me in three days time, as the sun sets, on the east-bound highway, just were it leaves Moscow. I love you. Always, Rose." And after that, one kiss. For a long time I looked at that note, treasuring the simple on it, the simple words that meant so much.
Three days later, I waited as the sun sank beneath the snow-bound horizon, and Rose never came. I went to the bar and drank til the morning came, its brooding light turning the black snow to grey, and still she never came.
Two days later, as I scanned the papers, looking for any signs, I found a single column inch, near the back.
"Two days ago, a car was found on the east highway, around 13 miles outside Moscow. The car was badly burnt out, and the occupant, a woman of around 28 years, was subsequently found a few yards away. She had been raped, shot, and her body set alight. Damages were, however, small, the fire presumably having been quenched by the snow-drift into which she had been flung. The police are continuing to investigate, though with scant hopes of finding her killer."
That was it. Was that Rose? I can only hope so. In a way, her death is easier than tha alternative, that she left me.
Times went from bad to worse after that. The alcohol took over - what else was there for me? - and I was virtually fired from my job. A word with my boss made him slightly more understanding, but it was made clear that I had better sort myself out, or I was out of a job. So I cut down on the vodka - quit smoking while I was at it too, I know she wanted me too - and tried to get myself back on the rails. And, in time, the pain lessened slightly, and I took a slight interest in other women. But nothing could satisfy, nothing could fill the hole, nothing ever came of it.
I can only hope that, one day, I'll see her again, wherever that may be. But, until, I sit in this run-down bar where I met her, sitting at this table, and if I look hard enough, through the haze of unshed tears, she's sitting there again, looking at me, and smiling.