“Body Games” by Mike Finn – encounter with a cult leader

“Body Games”

©Mike Finn 2010

The dojo smells of sweat and pointless conflict. The sun pushing through the grime- laden windows adds pale light to pale walls, giving a washed-out look to this worn out room. The air-con is out. Heat and humidity add discomfort to the tension being projected by this newly forming group.

We have arranged ourselves informally on the tatami mats, a group of a dozen people who apparently have never met and have no desire to speak to each other. We are all waiting silently for her to appear.

I look around at the tense but eager faces of my new companions: men and women ranging from  mid-teens to mid-life crisis. The only thing that they have in common is a hunger in their eyes. They are here because they need to be chosen.

I try to picture Nick here, waiting for her like this. Nick whose mind aroused me. Nick who loved me. Nick who died and left me. My imagination fails me. Nick was not a follower. Nick had already been chosen, by me. Shouldn’t that have been enough?

At last, she enters the room moving silently, purposefully. Am I the only one who sees a predator here? It seems I am.

She is smaller and older and more impressive than I had expected. I can see why Nick liked her. Her body could be made of water-sculpted stone, as if life, in brushing against her, has reduced her only to beauty.

When she is directly in front of us, she stands still. It is an energetic stillness that speaks of movement constrained by her will. There is no serenity here, just the sense that something is about to happen.

Everyone focuses on her. She looks beyond us as if she can see things that we are blind to. We wait. The silence presses down upon us until it is almost unbearable. Then she speaks.

“Fuck the mind games.”

Her voice is harsh, almost raw, as if it is something she uses only reluctantly.

“Fuck the mind”.

This is not how I expected the leader of an alleged cult to speak. Nick had a brilliant mind. He heard music in math and described the world in words that made me see it afresh. I fell in love with his mind.

Is that what happened? Did she fuck his mind? Is that why he ended his life in a pool of blood on my bathroom floor?

“The mind is an illusion. A self-defensive lie to protect us from the unpalatable truth of who we are and who we can become.”

My illusory mind wonders where she’s going with this. I expected to be sold the mysteries of the universe; a religion I can join, instead I’m being told that I don’t really exist.

She is moving amongst us now. Close enough to touch.

“The body lives.” she says, running her fingers down a pretty girl’s face.

“The body dies.” She rolls up her sleeve and shows scar tissue from elbow to wrist.

“There is nothing outside the body.”

I want to snort with derision at this. Surely no one will buy this crap? And yet no one laughs. Some of them even nod.

“I killed myself once.” she says, holding her scarred arm out like a medal.

“It didn’t take.”

She smiles.

They laugh.

Incredible.

“I was dead for three minutes.”

She squats next to a middle-aged man in sweats that looked clean and pressed.

“Know what I saw?”

The man looks up into her face and offers “The light?”, meekly.

“I saw nothing,” she says, moving away from him.

“I saw nothing, because there is nothing to see.”

So much for selling me the after-life.

If Nick heard this, why did he suicide?

“I lived because my body is strong.”

She moves to the front again and stretches, letting us see her strength.

“I learnt that the body lives or the body dies. What makes the difference is how strong you are.”

She pulls a boy to his feet.

“What are you thinking?”

Before he can reply, she slaps him hard across the face.

“What are you thinking?”

He hesitates.

She slaps him again. I can see the mark of her hand on his face.

She asks the question for a third time.

When the slap comes, he blocks it. She moves to slap him again. He grabs her wrist.

“You may not know what you’re thinking but your body knows what it’s feeling: pain, then anger, then the need to strike back. The body doesn’t lie.”

She kisses the boy. It is a long, sensual kiss, embarrassing to watch. The boy leans into her; she lets him. I wonder if they will fuck here and now.

She breaks the kiss and pushes the boy away. I can see that he is erect. He is also confused.

“The body doesn’t lie. But we do. We take the truths our bodies give us and shape them into lies.”

She steps forward and slides her hand down the boy’s pants. It’s clear she is masturbating him as she speaks to us. The boy just lets her, as if he has no will of his own.

“The body says – I wanna fuck her. We turn it into – I love her.”

She moves her arm in short rapid strokes. The boy groans. She releases him and he falls to his knees. She wipes her sticky fingers through his hair. I want to throw up.

“But if we get the fuck, we don’t need the love.”

She pushes the boy and he lets himself fall backwards. The group laughs.

“The body is all there is.”

She pulls a woman to her feet. She is heavy breasted with thick thighs and beautiful hair. She spins the woman around, presses herself into the woman’s back, and speaks to us over the woman’s shoulder.

“Learn to listen to your body.”

Without looking away from us she starts to grope the woman’s breasts. The woman’s eyes go wide, she blushes but she does nothing.

“Every mental step we take to distance ourselves from our bodies is a betrayal.”

She rips open the woman’s blouse.

“Every complex concept that snares our attention is a trap”

The woman is bare-breasted now. Her eyes are closed.

“These traps sap our life force and prevent us from living”

She let’s go of the woman’s breasts and pulls her head towards her.

“What is your body saying?” she asks.

The woman mumbles something.

“Louder.”

The woman almost shouts, “I want to fuck”

“Take off your panties, and get down on all fours with your back to us.”

The woman obeys. As I watch she starts to finger herself.

“Whose body is telling them they want to fuck her?”

Two men push forward, scrambling to mount this stranger. Soon one is in her, the other grips her head and presses himself into her mouth

I look away from the rutting. The only other person not watching the sex show is our glorious leader. She is watching the pack.

I keep my eyes down so that I won’t be noticed.

Did Nick come here for the sex? Is this what he wanted – to fuck in public?

Our leader stands next to the fucking threesome, her hand on the woman’s head and says, “Celebrate your bodies. You are what you do and what you feel. Show me what you’re feeling now.”

All around me people start to undress.

“When you can no longer do, when you can no longer feel, what use are you?”

Now everyone is naked.

Except me.

No one is listening.

She steps through the bodies that slip and slide across each other and stands in front of me.

“You knew Nick, didn’t you?”

She has known this all along. Knowing this, she put on this show for me. This demented circus of naked need. Hatred fills me. I get to my feet, my whole body taut with suppressed violence.

“Did you really know him? I watched him fuck and fight and sweat and sigh. I saw the real Nick. The Nick his body recognized. I saw the Nick his mind had denied for years.”

She is standing close to me now, speaking quietly, we are the eye of the fuckstorm.

“I taught him how to listen to his body’s hunger. I showed him how to feed.”

She sounds wistful. Does she expect gratitude?

“He’d spent his life playing mind games.”

She gestures towards the now slowing couplings around us.

“I showed him body games.”

Body games? I want to scream at her. I want to rake her cheeks with my nails. She broke all that was beautiful in Nick – for a game?

Then I see it. What she wants. What she’s waiting for. She needs me to listen to my body. To be nothing but a channel for pain.

She wants me to attack her. To become like her.

Nick broke the mirror in the bathroom. I thought he just wanted something sharp to slit his arms with. Now I understand. Nick couldn’t look at himself in the mirror any more. When he did, his body spoke and his mind couldn’t live with what it said.

She is staring at me, looking for the signs that I know what she did. Waiting for me to lose it. But she doesn’t know my mind.

“I am Detective Inspector Maureen Connor:” I say, calmly so that the crew recording my transmissions will hear.

I let her run.

Then I chase her.

The Uniforms push into the room, bang on cue, cutting off her retreat. She turns to face me.

“I am arresting you for running a bawdy house and for the corruption of minors.”

I have no doubt what her body is telling her now

Her leap is fast. I am faster. I sidestep and let her crash to the floor. My knee in the small of her back keeps her there. I cuff her hands behind her back and lean over her, all my weight on her spine.

I switch off the mic I’m wearing. There is chaos all around us as the Uniforms struggle to arrest half-naked people. No one is looking at us. I whisper in her ear.

“My body doesn’t play games.”

It turns out she is not made of stone. Two bangs of her face against the floor and her nose is flat

I could have killed her then.

But I made myself stop.

I needed to be sure I could face myself in the mirror.

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