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Tuesday, July 19, 2011
"Sir, I have some information on that break-in at the courthouse."

"What's that? Oh, right -- the perverts. What's their story?"

"Well actually, sir, I'm not sure that I would describe them precisely as perverts."

"Really? And what would you call a pair of freaks found, practically naked, at three o'clock in the morning, in a courtroom?"

"Well sir, I think what I meant to say was that there may be more to their case than mere B & E -- or, for that matter, Indecent Exposure."

"It was all a misunderstanding, perhaps?"

"Well, no, not exactly. But I've interviewed them both and I don't think that they fit the description of our usual breed of sexual deviants. For one thing, they seem to be in love."

"Ah. That would explain why they were naked -- except for the sex-harnesses they attached to opposite ends of a courtroom."

"Belaying seats, sir."

"I certainly don't see how..."

"No, belaying seats. What they were wearing. Secured with nylon webbing slings and alloy carabiners, sir. It's pretty standard climbing gear."

"Sure. Just the sort of thing I would choose to wear on a date. Frankly, I'm having a hard time trying to avoid thinking about the sort of deviant sex act that might require such equipment."

"That's just it, sir. I don't think they intended to have sex. At least, not exactly."

"Just a young man and a maid on an innocent frolic -- that just happened to end up with the department finding them in flagrante delicto. Is that what you're saying? Sorry. A couple of twenty-year-olds found naked together in the middle of the night -- why on earth would I think that sex might be involved?"

"That's the point, sir -- sex is involved, in a way -- but not the way you think. You see, they really love each other."

"You already said that. I got it. Young innocent love. What I don't get is why the ridiculous matching S & M outfits."

"Belaying seats, sir."

"Belaying seats, then. Why the belaying seats?"

"That's what I'm trying to tell you, sir. They were not planning to have sex at all."

"What was that, some kind of weird Tantric suspension of orgasm?"

"You surprise me, sir."

"Why -- you think you're the only person who ever read a book?"

"No, not at all -- it's just that even one Tantric sexual practice seems an unlikely tidbit of information for you to know about."

"That's neither here nor there. What's the deal with the seats?"

"Well, sir, it seems that they would plan their weekends, in great detail. Each weekend was intended to be a different kind of event, part of a series of competitions of a sort, in which they competed only against themselves..."

"Like a Sexual Olympics?"

"…in which they competed only against themselves, as a team, with the goal of achieving ever higher levels of bliss. It was not exactly sexual bliss, though. It was more like they had discovered that mere sex could not adequately express their devotion to each other."

"Sounds perverted to me."

"Perhaps. I don't know. Maybe. Really, sir, you should try to see that this is not about perversion -- not, at least, the kind that you mean."

"OK, OK. I get it -- I'm the yahoo and you're the intellectual. Please, please, Professor Brain -- show me what I've been missing all my life."

"Sorry, sir, I didn't intend to sound so condescending. These 'Olympic events,' for lack of a better name, are always staged in public places -- places that have been charged with a great deal of human emotion: sports arenas, the stock exchange, dangerous intersections. They like to have their trysts 'jump-started,' as it were, by the emotional energy that they believed charged these places, even when they are abandoned. Especially when abandoned."

"Hence, the courtroom."


"Do you think you might say exactly a little less often? And what special event was planned for Saturday night? What emotional heights were they planning to ascend in their belaying seats?"

"It's a little difficult to explain."

"Try me. By the way, I've noticed that you've stopped calling me 'sir.'"

"I'm sorry sir, it won't happen again, sir."

"That's alright -- it was beginning to get on my nerves anyway."

"Thank you, sir -- oh, sorry."

"No more apologies -- just tell me about the perps and their goddamn seats!"

"Of course. Well, I must begin by saying that the belaying seats were only incidental to Saturday's event."

"But that's all they were wearing!"

"Yes, but you must understand that most of the event was carried on in their heads -- physical equipment was, for the most part, unnecessary."

"I'm afraid to ask…"

"Yes, sir, I understand that this may be somewhat -- abstract -- but it is very real to our perpetrators."

"…but is this some kind of goddamn mind game? Is that what you're telling me?"

"I think that your term mind game may be apt, sir. They do compete, in a quite cerebral manner, but only against their own history of ecstatic accomplishments."

"Do you think you might be able to explain to me what they were doing, without being quite so abstract yourself?"

"I did tell you that this would be difficult, sir -- but I'll try. "

"Please do."

"Try to imagine a pair of huge, monumentally vertical, wheels, aligned facing each other, as if they were mounted on the same axle. Think of the wheels as twin Ferris wheels. In your mind, the young woman is fastened, with her climbing gear, to the top of one of these wheels. Facing her, attached to the top of the other wheel, is our young man. The two wheels are separated by a space that is roughly equivalent to the distance that separated them in the courtroom. The wheels are not locked in position, they can rotate, albeit slowly. The scene you are imagining is the one they carefully established in their own minds at the beginning of Saturday's event."


"Quite. The stage, as it were, was set. One of them, as if entertaining the other, suggested that they might have a little something to eat. No doubt, setting up these elaborate mental props engenders an appetite. You see, of course, that this appetite, imaginary as it might be, is a metaphor for the appetite they have for each other."


"They decided to cook something together. One, let us say the young woman, suggested an ingredient, say oranges. She moved her imaginary oranges to her right on the wheel. Her reaching caused the imaginary center of gravity to shift to the left, and the wheel began to turn, ever so slowly in that direction. They were moved by thinking about the complex of color and aroma and tart-sweet flavors of these virtual Valencias, just as the imaginary wheel was moved by their imaginary weight…"


"…the young man suggested another ingredient, let us say basil. He placed the fresh imaginary herb, redolent of clove and cinnamon and mint, to his left. They savored the effect of that ensemble of scents, how they combined with and informed the dish of imaginary oranges. His motion, like hers, caused his wheel to begin to rotate slowly, but to his right. The two wheels were slowly, majestically turning, in unison, moved, in a sense, by their warming passion…"

"I knew there'd be sex in this someplace."

"…they inhaled deeply, the warm organoleptic confluence of fictional flavors infusing them with a kind of charmed glow that they could never attain through mere sexuality. She gazed across the space between them, first suggesting, then besprinkling some virtual pinenuts. Her wheel accelerated slightly, as they felt the tender resistance of the tiny kernels, the rich, round, fatty sweetness and faintly resinous perfume of the toasted nuts. The heady mixture of orange and basil, was filled out, made substantive by this seemingly whimsical garnish…"

"What the hell does organoleptic mean?"

"…the young man, seeing his love's wheel slowly advancing ahead of him, sensing that the dish they are assembling was beginning to lose the edge provided by the basil he had contributed, rushed to add another element. He chooses thin slices of red onion, their acrid translucency a powerful counterpoint to the sweet aromatic properties of their phantasmagorical foodstuff -- a dish seemingly suspended in the air between their enhanced sensibilities. A tiny transient shock passed through her, but she discovered in the raw heat of the onion, an enchanted mirror that revealed aspects of the orange/basil/pinenut she hadn't noticed before. He saw her tiny shudder and feared, for a second, that the onion might be too much -- but was reassured when the wheel beneath him picked up speed and momentum, first catching up with the progress of her wheel, then edging past it…"

"You know …"

"...concerned that the disparate elements of the dish could begin to fragment and drift apart, she tried to unify the flavors, round out the acidic sweetness of the oranges, soften the raw heat of the onions, allow the basil's heady influence to spread to all parts of the dish. Coyly alluding to the uncrossable space between the two wheels, she chose extra virgin olive oil. He was awed by the depth of her insight into their dish, touched by her obvious concern for his contributions -- even though he suspects that they were clumsy and insignificant by comparison with hers…"

"… I think I've had a salad like this."

"…almost as if the olive oil had moistened mighty -- if fictitious -- bearings, both wheels began to spin freely, the couple whirling through aerial expanses previously unimaginable -- even for them -- in breathless acceleration. Only the consciousness of their mountaineering equipment prevented them from being hurled into the immeasurable depths of the ecstatic hereafter."


"Yes. I think that about covers it."

"What do you mean, ‘I think that about covers it?' What happens next?"

"Nothing… or rather, we don't know. Our officers interrupted the event at that point, sir."

"Goddamed meddling fools! Wait a minute -- you interviewed these people separately?"

"Of course. S.O.P. -- by the book."

"And they described the details of this event the same way?"

"Yes. They used different language, but it was plain that they had both had the same experience."

"And they do something like this every weekend?"

"Yes -- of course, they are in jail at the moment."

"Did they seem -- put out -- at being interrupted in the courtroom?"

"Not really. I think they believe they can stage an event whenever they like."

"Surely, being in jail puts a damper on their enthusiasm?"

"Not so far, sir."


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