He unlocked the door, opened it and was stunned to be confronted by the face he least expected of all to see.
Lucinda was there, staring at him with a blank expression that reflected neither the love of the past nor the hate of the present. Like Gaditano the bull, she was drained of emotion.
“Let’s get the ritual over with. You didn’t think I’d let you down after all the time you’ve built up for this weekend, did you?”
Lucinda was there alright, live and in person.
He started to reach out for her, but she pushed him back. There was no greeting, no embrace and certainly no lip locked kissing. For all practical purposes, their relationship was still over. Gaditano may not have killed him, but he had killed them off as a couple.
“Look, this is for you and not me, Manolo.”
Lucinda never got into the spankings, either as foreplay, punishment or a gesture to bring good fortune. There were others out there who relished discipline. There were private clubs in the interior and in more cosmopolitan border towns that specialized in such things if one knew where to look. Across the border in Tucson and Phoenix, there were papers designed for adults where classifieds were available catering to these needs. Even Nogales had a place where peculiar whims could be indulged upon for a price.
Tonight, however, and maybe for the last time, he would not have to patronize any of these.
Solemnly, Manolo stepped aside and let her enter. They had only been apart for five months, but things had moved more slowly than he cared to admit. He had tried to convince himself he was better off without her. He had found others with similar desires, including those who would cater voluntarily to his will. Lucinda had always been different.
She was a tall, light haired woman, who claimed to have had German or Austrian blood in her from way back when, which had come through. That was why her hair was blondish brown, without being dyed. She was tall too, eye level with her husband at 5’ 10” and had the body to make it as a model if she was so inclined. Upon seeing her again, an old and suppressed longing boiled within. He wanted very badly to remove his robe, take off her clothes in turn and hit the bed, even forsaking the rituals in favor of romance.
“Will you be spending the night?” he asked with hope in his voice.
Lucinda shook her head.
“Let’s just get on with this. I have my own room in this hotel and that’s where I’m staying.”
Manolo frowned. Any hope that had boiled within just moments before was now gone. Gaditano had struck from afar.
“So you will come to the bullfight tomorrow?” he questioned.
Lucinda looked at him hard.
“For three years, I’ve watched you grow more and more obsessed with a bull. I’ve seen you drain yourself of everything even remotely human. The only reason I’m even back is because I don’t want to see you die. I’m just praying you survive and you can go on with some semblance of a life afterward.”
“Together?” Garza whispered, not catching the hints.
Again, Lucinda shook her head.
“I’m here to do this for you so you don’t have to send out for some whore. This is the last time too. After tonight and after tomorrow, we’re through. I want to have a divorce.”
Not since Gaditano had gored him did Garza feel so maimed, but he stiffened and kept his composure.
“Fine,” he whispered. “Let’s get on with it then. You know what to do. Let’s do this.”
“Shut and lock the door,” she answered.
Though she was twenty one like her ex-lover, the strain had aged her emotionally. If she did not look older on the outside, her insides were wrinkled and ready to die.
Had a voyeur been present he would have thought the two about to have sex, but this was the last thing either had in mind.
“Let’s get it over with,” she implored once more. “I’m not looking forward to this. I never did and never will.”
This was something he had not told the reporter. No one knew of the private ritual between them. Lucinda had always hated it. There were times where she was taken by force, but eventually came to accept this with whatever satisfaction she could muster. It was, in fact, a frenzied replacement for sex and how it had started was a story all its own. She did not want to remember the hows and whys. She just wanted to get the ritual finished.
“How do you want me?”
Manolo moved to the bed and sat in the middle, on the edge. His intentions were obvious.
“Get those pants down.”
With the same grudging reluctance, she unbuttoned her pants and dropped them down to her ankles, revealing black panties underneath. Her top, however, she left on. In the past they had done this naked many times, but Garza would be afforded no such luxury today.
“Panties, too,” the matador instructed. “You know the rules.”
With a defiant sigh, Lucinda yanked them down as well, exposing her heavy brownish patch of pubic hairs as she did.
“Make it fast,” she ordered. “I hate this. I always have.”
She was not lying, as their rituals were not just for sexual foreplay. These were real spankings she received, sometimes with the hand and sometimes with implements. Regardless of the justification or location, her ass was always crimson when he was done, and this was a matter of fact.
“Get off that top, too.”
Without obedience to this final command, Lucinda sprawled across his lap and tightened her legs.
“No,” the matador instructed. “We’re not going haphazard. We’re going to do it naked like usual.”
“Take it or leave it,” Lucinda answered and it was a mistake, as instinctively Garza delivered a series of hard whaps against her unprotected ass.
“Ow!” she screamed in true pain. “Ow, you prick! Ow!”
The initial whacks left handprints on both sides of her buttocks, turning them from the original white below the tan line to an irritated pink.
“Keep your clothes on then,” he snarled. “You’ll be sorry for that, and damn your hide! You’re gonna wish you obeyed me by the time I’m done!”
Again, Garza brought his hand down hard, and the whap was resounding.
“Owwwwwwww!” Lucinda cried again. “You fucker!”
His breath increasing with anger, Garza brought his hand down in the very same spot to deliver yet another painful blow. He watched her soft flesh indent and felt the warmth upon contact. When he extracted his hand, there was another angry blotch in the shape of his fingers and palm.
“Owwww! This hurts! Damn you, Manolo!”
The words brought an onslaught of blows against Lucinda’s uncovered rear end, causing her to thrash in resistance. With one movement, she reached back to try to cover her bottom, but the matador shoved her away and continued to spank all the harder. By now, her buttocks were no longer pink, but turning a hot red.
“Owwww,” she howled. “Owwww!”
It was then the punishment stopped prematurely.
“Get up and go stand in the corner,” he ordered, cutting the session short. “I know what you’re really hoping. You’re hoping the damned bull kills me!”
Lucinda arose and stood before him with her pants and panties still dangling awkwardly by her ankles. She was struggling to fight back tears, both from pain and frustration at how southward their love had gone. It was then she looked at the robe and grew even more outraged.
“Jesus, Manolo! You aren’t even hard!”
Garza sprang from the bed and brought back his hand as if to strike her in the face, but caught himself, while his wife looked furiously back into his eyes. She was so enraged; she didn’t even bother to rub her agony-blasted behind.
“Get off all your clothes or I’ll rip them off myself,” the matador commanded, and there was no doubt he meant business. There was nothing even slightly sensual about the scene any more.
“Do it, bitch!”
Stiffening with contempt, Lucinda ignored the pain that burned through her lower half. Without bending, she stepped out of her pants and underwear so from the waist down she wore nothing but her sandals. As she kicked out of these as well, she hoped Manolo would not be inspired to use one of them.
“Now the rest.”
Still silent in her challenge, she started to unbutton her blouse, one step at a time. Flinging it open, she exposed her bra and heaving breasts. The material matched her panties.
“Naked,” the matador ordered.
Lucinda flung the top to the floor and unhooked her bra, hurling it aside as well, so she was completely undressed before her tormentor. In spite of the punishment and humiliation she was enduring, her own breathing was becoming labored and the physical ruled over the psychological. Her nipples were erect.
“Go into the corner,” he insisted. “Get moving.”
As Lucinda paraded into the desolate edge of the room, Garza watched her go. He was thinking of a flood of things, and while his wife showed no emotion aside from rage, his mind was hosting a multitude of feelings. His eyes darted from the unclothed woman with the increasingly reddening ass and the green suit of lights, reminding him of both the present and what was to be his future.
“This could be the very last time we do this,” he insisted as he sat unmoving on the bed. “This could be it, and I don’t mean in the same way you’re thinking. He’s waiting for me, you know. Gaditano is waiting beneath the moonlight in the corral right now. I swear he knows I’m coming for him. We are going to try to kill each other. Only one of us will succeed.”
“It’s all insanity,” Lucinda growled from the corner. Her voice was muffled by the way she had positioned her head to face the wall. “This is just stupid shit you created in your own brain, about spankings bringing luck, but if you think it gives you some kind of edge and believe it so strongly, then more power to you. The only thing is, we’re never doing it again. I took your shit for too long, and the only thing I’ve ever gotten out of it is a raw ass. As for your giving this bull human qualities, you have to be dumber than he is.”
Beside the suit of lights draped over the chair were other cases carrying his capes and swords. They were ready for Gaditano. Tomorrow he would bestow an entirely different punishment on a unique and far more deadly offender.
“At least you must love me a little bit,” he mused. “Otherwise you never would have come.”
“I want to see how this plays out,” was all Lucinda said. “That’s all.”
It was then Manolo caught his wife’s hands moving to massage her ravaged rear.
“That’s against the rules!” he shouted, leaping from the bed and rushing into the corner. “Get back over here!”
His wife was really fighting him now, but luckily no one in the hotel heard. Perhaps everyone on his floor was out drinking in preparation for the big fiesta the next day? He didn’t know, and he didn’t care.
“Get on the bed,” he demanded. “Lie on your stomach and put your hands on that pillow. In fact, you bite that pillow and don’t make any noise. So help me God, if you move an inch you will live to regret it.”
The matador could see his wife’s body quivering with dread, but as usual, she went along with what he insisted upon. She had learned to be submissive in that way and now, on what could well be his last night on earth; she had come back for a final round. He loved her for that at least, though he loathed what she had become. The only thing in the world he hated more was Gaditano.
Earlier, he had thrown his street clothes by the bathroom door and there, grasping his pants, he extracted the belt.
“You haven’t had the belt in a long time,” he proclaimed. “Well, this is gonna be something for you to remember me by.”
Folding the leather belt into a makeshift weapon, he went back to the bed and brought it down across Lucinda’s ass without warning, causing her to jerk like someone trying to swim where there was no water. Instead of screaming, as she so badly wanted to do, she bit the pillow, muffling her cry. There was only the ominous whap as flesh and leather collided.
“You’ll never forget me,” he snarled and brought the belt down twice more. This time he struck in a new spot, hitting her upper legs with one blow apiece. Upon connection, she jerked and bolted as if by this movement she could cool the pain within.
“Owwwwwwwwwwww,” Lucinda protested before taking another bite of the pillow and writhing as the torment extended throughout her entire body.
Manolo, however, was lost in his own world.
“I’m going to blister your ass. In the bullring tomorrow, you’ll be standing and not sitting! This is something to remember me by! You take this and never forget!”
Another set of blows came, and Lucinda shook with each of them but refused to scream. She was biting the pillow with all her might, and tears were welling up in her eyes. These were caused not only by the ever-increasing pain being brought to her extremities, but the thought of how their lives had turned bad.
Manolo continued to wallop away with the belt, mercilessly punishing his target.
The pain was so great; Lucinda could no longer contain herself. The last group of blows set her ass on fire, and she moved back with both hands to shield herself while the tears flowed.
“Owwwwwwww! Stop it now…”
The spankings Manolo administered were real and often for offenses combined with the ritual to bring good luck in the ring. Thus, there was no safe word. He would quit when he decided to do so, determining when she had been disciplined enough.
“I’ll tell you when you’ve had your fill,” he countered. “I’ll decide when you’ve taken all you can take. This is what you deserve.”
Lucinda’s only response was an extended groan. Again, it was surprising no one heard.
“You deserve every minute of this! You left me in my time of need! Then you come here on the evening before the most important day of my life! You act like you’re doing me a favor, and I’m your own husband! Who knows what you’ve been doing on your own! You deserve this!”
“I know what you’ve been doing, you bastard,” she shouted. “Fuck you! I heard about the whores! I saw you!”
This brought another series of licks against her legs and bottom, until they looked like someone had dumped a bucket of bright red paint upon her. The welts and marks were darkening now too, turning an ugly purple. Amid all this, Lucinda thrashed about, but would not rise or run. She accepted what was being done to her.
“You take it!”
It was as she looked over her shoulder, trying in vain to inspect her burning bottom half that she again gazed upon her husband. Once more, he was not even hard.
“I hate you, Manolo,” she cursed. “I hate you! Leaving you was the best thing I ever did!”
“Bite the pillow,” he ordered once more. “Bite that fucking pillow!”
A final set of blows came against her naked backside, while she chewed at the pillow so hard she seemed to be eating it. With each strike, she tried to resist the onslaught, but with his free hand he held her down, while the belt whistled through the air, making terrible claps as it struck her body.
At last he was finished. His own arm was tired and his breathing heavy from the effort he had extended. Stepping back, he looked down at his wife and relished what he had done. She was sobbing uncontrollably now, as she massaged her behind, still prone on the bed without a stitch of clothing. Her ass and upper legs were aglow, in direct contrast with the rest of her, and he knew she would have hideous bruises for a long time to come.
In the past, he would sometimes place talcum on her or some other ointment, for what little relief these offered, but this time no such medication would be coming. She would suffer accordingly.
Even more importantly, he would now have good luck. When facing Gaditano, he needed all the hope he could get.