Emancipation and Shackles
A Short Story by Doug Dean
Written using the suggestion "Lincoln"
Originally featured on 08-15-2007
As part of our series "Out of the Sandwich"

She takes the last swig of the champagne and I kiss her before she swallows it all. My forehead touching hers, I taste the sweet juice as it rolls towards my throat. She pulls away first. I open my eyes and I see her face. The moonlight reflects off her cheeks. Her short dark brown hair is invisible against the backdrop of the sky.

We walk. Arm in arm, to our left is the reflecting pool. The breeze creates little waves that give the pool a shimmer. I turn and look over my shoulder for a moment at the Washington Monument. So phallic. So much more appropriate for what we’re about to do. But the Lincoln Memorial has crevices — places to hide.

The security guards just finished their shift. There will be new guards to replace them, but not for a few minutes. Last night, it took them fifteen minutes to arrive. We’ll have to be quick. The experience will be short lived — full of intense exchange and then an abrupt and undignified ending. So perhaps the Lincoln Memorial is more appropriate.

We reach the steps. I take them two at a time first and reach for her hand. On the seventeenth step, I pull her close, both hands on her cheeks and kiss her. Our tongues touch for moment and then we’re climbing again. The exercise makes me feel the booze a little more. By the second set of steps, I breathe deeper. We head first for the spot behind the block that his chair is on. She’s ahead of me and I watch her pink and blue sarong flap between her legs. I follow it up to her black shirt. It’s sleeveless and has a hood and I think about how soft it is. Her heels echo, filling the chamber. Her walk is all business. It reminds me of a march.

We march. We turn the corner and my hands are around her waist. I look into her eyes before our faces collide. She leans back against the block. I feel her heel on the back of my leg. She digs it in. We’ve got about ten minutes, tops.

As she pulls the hair on the back of my head, I think about sex at Vietnam Memorial a couple of nights earlier.

As she bites my nipple, I think about sex at the Jefferson Memorial last week.

As she unbuckles my pants—Ground Zero.

I begin to hike up her sarong around her thighs. My shorts drop to my knees. And before we finally connect I put one hand on her breast and the other behind her head and look into her eyes one last time.

My belt is banging against the block. The clinking sound echoes. It sounds like a prisoner breaking rocks with a pick axe.

I run my hand along the soft black fabric over her breasts. There is something about black clothing in the night—the way is looks like it isn’t even there—something about freedom.

I’m listening to the clinking sound—the freed prisoner still breaking rocks—and I look up at the back of the monument—at Lincoln’s back. And I think of John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln looks out upon the shimmering water and the National Mall. He looks at the towering legacy of Washington’s monument. He looks out at America.

And I’m behind him. A mixture of fear and excitement, waiting to shoot.

She starts to moan. The moans link up as they bounce from stone wall to stone wall. Her legs are wrapped around me now and I’m holding us both up. My thighs burn and I lean forward, putting some of the weight on the stone block. Her moaning gets louder. I feel her nails digging into the back of my neck.

I look up at Great Emancipator once more before I know my time is up. A few deep breaths, a groan and I’m free.

We’ve got maybe a minute to escape before the guards arrive. No. Less, in fact, I hear them walking up the steps.

They’re talking to each other — laughing.

I lower her until her heels touch. We look at each other and then in the direction of the noise. I crawl towards the edge of the block and poke my head around. There are two of them, a fat one and a skinny one. They remind me of Ralph Cramden and Ed Norton.

I crawl, trying not to drag my buckle on the cement. I mouth, “sitting on the top step” and point. She nods. She points to a space over on the side. I shake my head, but she is already crawling over there. The national monument tour was her idea. I buckle my pants and start to crawl. I can hear the front of her shoes dragging along the cement but much louder I can hear Ralph and Norton laughing about something. I think we’re okay for a second.

I huddle next to her behind a statue. It’s dark and I can barely see her but I feel her hand on my shoulder pulling me into a corner.

We listen.

“So I told her ‘I don’t care what your lawyer says — I’m spending Saturday with my son cause that’s when I’m free,’ Ralph says. Norton nods. Ralph has a sweet sounding voice kind of like Winnie the Pooh. I smile at the Cramden/Pooh creature I’ve envisioned in my mind.

“She had that lawyer prick try to garnish your wages, right?” Norton says. Norton’s voice is scratchy like Tom Waits. I envision the combination but it’s not that great.

“Yeah! Fucking prick! Like I’m not going to take care of my son. I’m not gonna hand over money so she can go on cruises with that Todd prick — I want to know it’s going directly to my son,” Ralph says.

“Yeah, you better,” Norton says. There is a pause. I rub my finger on her knee and we wait.

“Costello’s the supervisor tonight, right?” Norton says.

“Yep. Fucking ballbuster.”

“You want to take a walk around the park and take a puff.”

“Sure, fuck Costello.” They start to head down the stairs and I begin to stand when I feel Mary’s hand grip my leg. She begins to move it up the inside of my thigh.

I take another look at a man who freed slaves and then, crouching, my lips find hers.

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