Oh, you mean real as in actually being visible to someone besides me. Well, I have to admit that occasionally my vision of a character shifts a little when I happen to see someone who looks more perfect for the part than the image already in my mind, but I’ve never yet gone up to someone like that and told them that they’re really characters from my stories. Maybe I should have. There must be worse pick-up lines.
But yes, just as I put something of myself (usually something I can’t fully express in any other way) into my writing, I do sometimes base characters loosely on real people I know. The first time I remember doing it was with someone I’d met only briefly, but whose writing I’d found so engrossing, to say the least, that I imagined I knew her well. I did get to know her better through the years and quite a few shared anthologies, and in fact she wasn’t all that much like my character, but a much more remarkable person. Still, here goes with the first mention of that character in my long-ago story “Of Dark and Bright” in, I think, Best Lesbian Erotica 2000, or maybe 2001.
The first time you saw me, you retreated.
I should have been glad. These few days to myself had been hard enough to pry from a life of too many entanglements. No matter how graceful the undulation of your line out over the stream, how elegantly precise the settling of your lure onto the water, barely creasing the tension of its silvered surface, you were an intrusion. Good fly fishing form, skilled hands, nice balance, but--go away, kid. You bother me.
I watched, unseen, as you moved upstream, searching out the deepest pools among the rocks. No closer, I thought. Go back. Even at a distance, even before I understood, I was reluctant to let your serene concentration be rippled by a chance encounter.
My elkhound Raksha tensed on the opposite shore, gray fur blending imperceptibly into the rocks and driftwood. A low growl rumbled in her chest, a prelude to whatever menace might be required.
I signaled with my eyes to be still, since my hands were occupied with balancing stone on stone, building structures to be photographed--some as cover art for a book set on a distant planet, some as a sequential study of "ephemeral art" showing the effects over time of wind and water and ice, and some for my insatiable obsession with aspects of light and dark. I should have wondered at how quickly she subsided, but I had forgotten, for the moment, that her savagery was reserved for unknown men.
Then the trout struck. Your lean, intense face transformed with joy--and I knew. I watched you play the fish, draw it carefully, inexorably toward you, stoop to deftly grasp and then release your prize. The lines of your body revealed what the multi-pocketed fishing vest, the baseball cap over close-cropped hair, had at first concealed. But I already knew.
The stream swirling past my hips might as well have rammed a log into my crotch. A hunger raw as pain, irrational as the jerk of a hammered knee, lurched deep and low inside me. I cursed at my old-enough-to-know-better self; and in that moment of distraction my balance wavered.
One stone shifted, then another. I tried to restore the equilibrium of my construction, but the pebbles in the streambed turned under my feet. I staggered, and stones from the disintegrating tower bruised me on their way to the bottom of the river.
You heard the avalanche of rocks and looked up. In a calmer moment I might have enjoyed your expression as your gaze traveled over the surreal array of stone circles and pillars, the camera and tripod on the shore, and Raksha observing you with a lupine grin. By the time you saw me I was pulling myself up onto a wide, sun-warmed boulder, and then wishing I hadn't, realizing how mercilessly revealing my soaked t-shirt had become, how inadequate my denim cutoffs had always been. Damn it, how far into the wilds did I have to go to be spared seeing myself through someone else's eyes?
Expressions shifted across your dark-browed face like the drifting shadows of clouds on the mountainsides. I knew you were cursing the shattering of solitude, and considering what, if anything, of yourself to reveal. I saved you the trouble of deciding.
"Raksha, stay!" I commanded, turning toward the shore, knowing that she had no intention of doing otherwise. I stepped from rock to rock until I stood beside her. Then, one hand on her shaggy neck, I faced you again, smiled, and nodded in casual acknowledgment of shared humanity.
Your answering smile was brief, startled, and lit with a sweetness you would have cursed yourself for showing. You could pass, in the right circumstances, but never with that smile. Then you turned away. I watched you retreat downstream, leaping from boulder to boulder with a long-legged, impetuous sureness that sent a shiver of delight across my skin.
I really hope that the model for this character never realized she’d inspired it. There’s one strange thing, though…fairly recently she (now he, actually, one of several such friends) has taken up fishing as a passionate hobby.
Then there’s the piece I wrote for a “true stories” anthology, “Learning It at Her Knee” (in First Timers, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel) in which all the characters, even the minor ones, were real people. Only two really count, though, the one who loved to be spanked, and the one who gave me spanking lessons. It’s hard to choose a short enough excerpt from this to give a good idea about each of them, but I’ll see what I can do.
[This begins in the middle, after some “practice spanking” in my hotel room at a Fetish Fair before we returned to the BDSM play party for the expert instruction. It my be worth mentioning that we’d started out with surveying the contents of V’s toy bag, which by chance included a couple of YA books soon to be returned to the library, and I’d decided she should be punished for bringing such virtuous works of literature to a naughty affair like this.]
"Yes..." V said breathlessly, "we'd better rest some before going back to the party." Then, when she'd rolled sideways on my lap and I was gently stroking her inflamed thighs and buttocks, she added, "I had no idea you'd have so much endurance!"
Maybe she said that to all her first-time spankers. I didn't mind. I'd nearly forgotten about the party, but I didn't mind her eagerness to get there, either. She wanted the public aspect, and so, I realized, did I. Even the fleeting paranoid thought that she might be using me to get Q's attention didn't bother me. The prospect of getting Q's attention in a context I wouldn't usually manage was at least as appealing to me.
We rested and talked for a while, and resumed our play briefly to take advantage of the couch's upholstered back. I tried her leather belt wrapped aropund my hand to leave just the right length to strike with, and admired the texture of the marks it left on her, but still preferred the sound and feel of my hand on naked flesh and her body across my lap.
We rested a bit longer, this time with V sitting quietly on my lap and leaning her head against my shoulder. The parental comfort-after-punishment stage, I decided. Very pleasant. When she finally asked, tentatively, whether I though Q would be ready yet, I cheerfully agreed that it was time to go and see.
"Q certainly has...well...presence, doesn't she," V said as we gathered up her toys, leaving the books behind.
"She certainly does," I said, with only a little envy, and ushered V out the door.
Q was not only ready, she'd staked a claim to a chair between the sling, in use but only languidly, and a tall sideboard bearing trays of safe sex supplies. From the way a young redhead was avidly chatting her up, if we'd been five minutes later the spanking lesson would have started without us.
V sailed right in to claim her place. She showed Q the ebony hairbrush and a wooden paddle with one side finely ridged and one padded with velour. "We've had a very nice session of basic spanking," she said, glancing at me with bright eyes and a warm smile. "Maybe you could start out by hand, and then switch to these other things. I don't like too much of the bristle side of the brush, but a little is good. And the soft side of the paddle once in a while gives me chance to come down and get ready for more."
She launched herself across Q's broad lap with no hesitation and wiggled and squirmed until they were both satisfied with the balance and leverage. I missed holding her myself; on the other hand, I could press close to Q's side and imagine what it would feel like to lie across her thighs with my ass exposed. I was quickly distracted from this pleasant reverie, though, when Q kneaded V's upturned buttocks lightly and speculatively, then gave one a sharp, resounding slap.
"That's what a full flat-handed stroke sounds like," she told me, and lay a swift, staccato series of them across both sides. "Where you strike varies the sound..." she moved down the thighs and then back up to the curve of the ass, "...and so does how you shape your hand." She demonstrated this principle, too. A curved hand produced a more hollow, drumlike tone. I'd already discovered some of this myself, but watching her large, strong hand in action held a fascination all its own.
[Quite a bit snipped here for brevity]
V, when she stood up, was visibly shaky. I brought her a drink and led her to a place on a crowded couch. "You sit there," she told me faintly, "and I'll sit on the floor at your feet."
"No," I told her firmly, "I appreciate the thought, but it's your ass that needs a soft spot. I'll even bring you some fluffier pillows." So I did, and then spent the waning hour of the party leaning against her knees, not as a slave but a guardian, while she stroked my hair and whispered an occasional "Thank you" into my ear.
Q came by with her girl before leaving. "Are you staying for the night?" she asked V. "You really shouldn't be going out into the cold."
"You saw how big my room is," I told V. "There's even an extra bathroom. You don't have to worry about anything."
"Well..." she said shyly, "I have to go back there for my books, anyway...."
"It's settled, then," I assured Q. "She won't want to let Jane Aiken Hodge and Madelaine L'Engle catch a chill. Don't worry, I'll take good care of her." I got up to help V to her feet; and, much as I usually like to watch Q from behind, I didn't even glance that way as she departed.
Q has been to some degree the inspiration for several of my stories, although the characters always became very much themselves. This next one, “Sunset, Sunrise,” (in Hot Lesbian Erotica edited by Tristan Taormino) is the only one, I think, where people who knew us recognized what I was doing, and even so it’s completely fictional. The setup here is that Rory, the central character, is a sculptor with a studio in Wellfleet on Cape Cod who makes end meet by working in an upscale restaurant. This part is fairly near the beginning.
At table six I stood by the young lady's shoulder, gazing deliberately down into the lush cleavage revealed by clinging azure silk. Then I glanced at her companion, hoping for a reaction. It didn't even much matter what kind.
Clear hazel eyes in a sun-ruddy face surveyed me with a hint of amusement, and recognition.
"Good evening, I'm Rory," I said demurely. "I'll be serving you tonight."
The corners of her mouth twitched. (Her? Sir, on occasion, without doubt; definitely a Daddy; but yes, in my own private lexicon, Her.)
"Hi Rory," she said. "You must be moonlighting. Didn't we last see you covered in mud?"
"Close enough," I acknowledged. "Art feeds the soul, but that's about all."
I'd been smeared with clay when they'd wandered through the collective gallery that afternoon and glanced into my studio, obviously looking for a corner just secluded enough to pretend no one could see them making out. The butch had resisted the kid's tug on her muscle-T long enough to look appreciatively at my nudes in porcelain and stone. "Go ahead," I'd said, as her hand hovered over the rounded marble ass of a full-bodied figure crouching on all fours. "Go on, it's meant to be irresistible."
The carnal magnetism of her grin hit me like pounding surf. When her big finger stroked the smooth buttocks and probed down between the tempting thighs my crotch got wet enough to dampen the clay dust layering my jeans.
"Must have been quite some model," she said appreciatively, ignoring the pout of jealousy quivering on her girl's full red lips.
"So's yours," I said, looking boldly over the delectable young flesh my sculptures could only symbolize. This got me a sultry look through the girl's long lashes, a reassessment of my weathered androgyny, but Daddy just laughed and steered her back into the hallway.
My imagination seethed with visions of those large hands kneading and squeezing tender breasts and belly and thighs. The girl's shorts had been brief enough to reveal rosy traces of the proprietary bar-code Daddy's hand had imprinted on her naughty ass, with possible assistance from the back of a hairbrush. They must be staying somewhere close enough to have indulged in a bit of after-lunch action before taking a stroll through the galleries.
When they'd gone I stepped out into the hall for a moment just to immerse myself in the space that large, solid body had occupied. I could feel her primal energy flowing through me. My hands tingled with the remembrance of contours never actually touched.
Cadillac Mountain granite from Maine, speckled pink and gray, I thought, sketching furiously in my mind.
[There is, of course, much more.]
As those of you who’ve read my post a couple of weeks ago on the subject of “letter to an ex” may suspect, this person is now “he” in my own private lexicon (although on rare occasions I slip up) and even on his driver’s license, and I’m joyfully attending his wedding in just a couple of weeks.