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Chapter One--Sex and Suicide
The smells of jasmine and lavender filled the house. Somewhere music was playing. Schubert's Death and the Maiden drifted through the sparsely furnished rooms, the narrow corridors with their sliding paper screens. It was past midnight now. The bright lights and constant bustle of Tokyo seemed distant and unreal: a gaudy neon mirage.
Dr Yamaguchi stood by the bedroom window, staring into the night. The glittering panorama of Tokyo's gilded skyscrapers resembled the enchanted citadel of a cautionary fable. Beneath its brilliant façade, there lay darkness. Dr Yamaguchi had seen that darkness. Touched it. He had contributed to it.
The music drew to a close. The final chords of Death and the Maiden dissolved on the scented air like the vague recollection of a dream. Dreams and memories haunted Dr Yamaguchi. He knew only one way to exorcise them. Drawing the blinds, he turned away from the window and walked towards the bed.
Taro lay across the bed. She was completely naked. In the subdued lighting the tattooed flesh of her back, buttocks, upper arms and thighs assumed a startling luminosity. The subtle variations of the vermilion zumi pigments had transformed her radiant white skin into an extravagant tapestry of surreal complexity. The sensual dimensions of her figure imbued the glamorous collage with the illusion of depth and perspective. It exuded a profound, erotic power.
Dr Yamaguchi sat on the bed. He stared down at Taro. Long, blue-black hair framed her elegant features like a sleek veil. Her complexion was flawless: alabaster white. Remote and unknowable, her expression implied thetimeless serenity of a cemetery angel. Her large, almond-shaped eyes were a startling shade of green: jade runes filled with a strange enchantment. Dr Yamaguchi remembered the folk tale of the Yuki Onna, the mysterious Snow Woman who prowled the mountains of rural Japan, lying in wait for unwary travellers. Taro's haunting beauty held him enthralled. He felt a twinge of sadness. After tonight, he would never experience this exquisite pain of longing again.
Dr Yamaguchi unfastened the sash, and allowed his kimono to fall to the floor. He was fifty-two years old, but he had taken care of himself. He was tall and slim. His limbs and torso were lean. His gaunt features suggested an austere nature.
Dr Yamaguchi lay down beside Taro. Her illustrated skin scintillated in the light of the flickering candles. As he touched her, Dr Yamaguchi was struck by how unnaturally cool her skin felt. Of course, there was no real mystery to it. There was a simple medical explanation. It was because of her tattoos. Covering such large areas of the body with indelible inks significantly reduced epidermal respiration. Body temperature was drastically lowered as a result. Some maintained it shortened life expectancy too. They believed that the painful and protracted process of full-body tattooing was an act of martyrdom--that the elaborate designs themselves constituted a promissory suicide note written on one's own skin. Perhaps that was true. And yet many men found the sight of a beautiful woman's tattooed skin irresistible. Dr Yamaguchi understood this. Taro's illustrated flesh excited him intensely.
Sex and suicide.
Taro rose onto her hands and knees. Planting his hands firmly on her hips, Dr Yamaguchi entered her from behind. The contrast between the persistent coolness of her skin and the heat of her sex was startling. The walls of Taro's vagina enveloped his rigid penis in a soft, carnal grip. It was firm yet irresistible, like a velvet anemone lubricated with intoxicating nectars. Dr Yamaguchi found himself thinking once more of the legend of the Yuki Onna. He could imagine himself in the role of some hapless pilgrim, succumbing to a cold-blooded siren on the white-capped slopes of Mount Fuji itself.
Taro writhed in Dr Yamaguchi's embrace. His sweat glistened on her back and shoulders. The vivid pigments seemed to ripple across her body. It was as if the strange tattoos had taken on a life of their own. Dr Yamaguchi plunged himself into her as deeply as he could. His pace increased with each successive thrust. Taro's sex exerted an irresistible gravity like the event horizon of a black sun: a cosmic enigma luring entire constellations to their doom.
The synergy of sex and death was an immutable law.
Dr Yamaguchi abandoned himself to it
His entire body shuddering uncontrollably, Dr Yamaguchi finally ejaculated. Semen jetted violently from his jerking penis in a single, uninterrupted stream like a rope of burning solder. Taro's slender frame felt rigid beneath him. As she climaxed simultaneously, Taro gasped breathlessly. The silken magnificence of her glossy, blue-black hair cascaded forward, covering her face. She arched her back, expressing the gaudy finery of her decorated flesh. It was as if she was performing the final gesture of an elaborate ritual, the courtship display of a lascivious chameleon.
As his penis gradually softened within the musky vent of Taro's captivating sex, Dr Yamaguchi stared down at the central motif dominating the collage of overlapping images etched onto her back. It depicted an ominous figure, dressed in hooded red robes. A grinning death's head peered out from beneath its cowl. A deck of Tarot cards fanned out between the spectre's skeletal fingers. The Tarot cards implied imminent catastrophe. Dr Yamaguchi could see his own future imprinted on the canvas of Taro's cool skin. But he was not afraid.
He had come too far for that now.
Dr Yamaguchi accepted the inevitable as he held Taro's body in his arms. He understood that this was the last time they would be together. He embraced that too, with a sense of resignation. As he looked down at Taro, Dr Yamaguchi was reminded of how otherworldly she sometimes seemed. She was drifting off into a deep, languid sleep. Curled up against his chest she resembled a strange, changeling child: an alluring wraith. Her cold skin shimmered in the candlelight. Dr Yamaguchi found himself remembering the legend of the Buddhist monk seduced by a snake. In the last brief moments before sleep finally claimed him, he found it amusing to imagine himself re-enacting the role of that errant pilgrim, a coiled reptile slumbering in his warm embrace.