head part 3
The night before any direct action, we did
one of two things; either we planned and checked and double-checked
until we fell into bed unable to move, or we planned and checked and
double-checked until we brushed into each other accidentally, broke
out laughing, and started to kiss.
With the goodbye bomb sitting on the workbench, ready
to go, I was too excited to go to sleep. Just looking over at it sent
a tingle down my spine. "Heike, are you asleep?" I couldn't tell; her
eyes were closed, but her hand was down by her crotch, and for all I
knew she might just be lost in her own reverie, fueled by her fingers.
There was no answer, and I took that to mean yes.
Rather than wake her, I went into the bathroom, and looked at myself
in the mirror.
There were more lines than I remembered on my face,
and I was thinner than I thought I should be; excitement, coffee, and
not enough food, no doubt. Despite that, I thought I could see why Heike
still wanted me. The girl she'd fallen for was still there, just tempered,
Thinking back to the days we met, I sat down on the
toilet, and lay my hand down between my own legs.
We were both students, at Heidelberg. We would
sit every day on a bench along the Neckar and read the papers, stuffing
ourselves full of news from the real world, to go with our sandwiches.
I don't know which came first, the realization that
the world was fucked, or that we wanted to fuck each other; they were
close together, that much I'm sure of. Once we'd figured both of those
facts out, we'd wake up in the morning and keep up with the discussion
of the night before, that had been interrupted by a kiss or a squeeze
or a grope, ending in our collapse into sleep.
She was the first lover I'd ever had; later, Klaus
would worm his way into my pants once on the grounds that I should try
it and see. And I did, and even gave him a second chance to prove whatever
it was that was his point.
Heike woke me up, just as I opened her eyes
first to the world around us -- I was a year ahead in school. That gave
me a wide-eyed year's head start to absorb what was going on -- what
Rudy Dutschke was saying and why it was important, about Marcuse and
Che and everyone else, why students had marched in Berlin in '68. So
I taught her about politics.
The other part, the sexual part, she started by teasing
me one day at lunch. "What have you got against girls?" I nearly choked
on my little sandwich, when she asked.
"Nothing." The words came out hoarse as I reached
for my water.
"Because you don't want to dress like one, and most
of the people I know who don't are either shacking up with Socialist
Workers or lesbians." She said it in a breezy, offhand sort of way,
as if she were discussing the latest film.
A swallow of mineral water cleared my throat enough
to let me call her on it. "How many people like that do you know?" I
didn't think she really knew any. Both of us had student's disease,
saying we knew more than we truly did.
She blinked. "Well, there's Greta, she's with Gunther
the SWP leader. There's one." Then she stopped, and fiddled with the
paper she'd wrapped her lunch in.
"So there you are."
"What about the lesbians?" I felt like I'd caught
her; we were still in the stage of our relationship where we felt out
who was on top, at least when it came to the arguments we had; I had
experience, she had (even then) what seemed like more youthful vigor.
At that she raised her head, and blinded me with
a smile brighter than the spotlights on the ruins of Heidelberg Castle
during a festival. "I was hoping you could tell me about that."
The really annoying thing was, right then, I thought
I could. But I wasn't ready to admit it yet. Instead, I just shrugged,
and took another bite. "Don't know any." She made a little moue and
said, "Oh." Just that, nothing more, with disappointment clear in her
The moment she said it, I felt two things, both of
them as strong as any feeling I think I'd ever had, including the righteous
indignation of waking up to what a mess the world was. I wanted to take
her in my arms and make sure that whatever had made her said "Oh'" would
never happen again. And I wanted, desperately, the very thing I had
just cut off with my words. It was time to think quickly.
"Of course, I don't know how you could be sure you
were a lesbian unless you'd tried it."
At that, she regarded me again; perhaps she was trying
to figure out if I was just engaging in a philosophical discussion,
or if I was coming on to her. I knew it was the latter, and knew that
my mouth was dry, my palms wet. I had to say something, but better I'd
kept my mouth shut. "Or if you weren't, I mean."
That did not help matters. Even years later Heike
would be the better-spoken of us. It was my part to hide in the shadows
and make things work. Now her puzzled look just grew deeper.
Ignoring the fact that I was getting mayonnaise on
my sweater, ignoring the fact that there were people walking by along
the shore, I leaned forward and kissed her. I tried for a kiss from
the movies. It didn't happen -- when our lips first touched her mouth
was closed, mine open, and I was afraid I'd swallow her lips. But she
learned more quickly than I did, and kissed me back.
When we stopped, she looked down. "You've squashed
"Fuck that," I said. "I don't care."
"No." she replied. "Fuck me."
Neither of us were really sure how to do it,
when we got back to my room. For both of us lesbians were mysterious
people. We'd hear about them at radical meetings, but we never saw any.
They were a subject for nervous jokes, everyone laughing at them for
their own embarrassed reasons.
Kissing, however, seemed a good place to start. It
had worked down by the riverside, and so we went at it again, as soon
as we were away from prying eyes.
We spent a long time just kissing, hands at our sides,
too nervous to reach out and touch each other. Whenever we'd try, the
odd rustling of fabric would give us away, or constrain us, and we'd
stop, embarrassed. In the end, I broke off from a kiss, and asked, "Why
don't we get undressed?"
Later, Heike would tease me that my aptitude for
direct action appeared there for the first time; I'd dropped a bomb
into the middle of things once more. I didn't want to take it slow,
to work things out through the muddle of processing and discussion.
She laughed, a high nervous laugh, and waited to see if I'd put action
So I did, pulling off my shirt, leaving me naked down to the waist.
I didn't stop to see if she was doing the same; by then I was too embarrassed
to look. If I'd stopped, I would never have managed to take my pants
off. I wasn't romantic, that much I knew. Back then, though, romance
wasn't really in fashion, anyway; romance was oppressive, and manipulative,
and hegemonic. Standing naked in front of someone you were praying was
your girlfriend, looking down at yourself and wishing you'd taken a
shower this morning, wishing you'd trimmed your toenails, and hoping
she'd like your breasts, was not hegemonic.
While I'd been stripping off my clothes, Heike had
undone her blouse, leaving it on her shoulders but open, and started
to unfasten her skirt. She'd stopped, midway, to watch me, to look at
me. With one hand she reached out and brushed her fingertips across
my stomach. I shivered at her touch; it took all my concentration not
to pull myself away from it. When I didn't, though, it made her bolder;
her other hand came up, and she let her fingers explore my skin. For
as long as I could, I let her. She touched the undersides of my breasts,
lingering there before daring to stroke a nipple. One hand ran along
my hip, the touch getting lighter as she came closer to my crotch.
I could only stand there for so long before the teasing
became too much, and I bent back over to kiss her, letting her hands
go where they may. I think she was more startled than I was at the sudden
press of my breast against her palm, but she didn't let it get in the
way of kissing me back.
I kept moving, pushing her back onto the bed, half-dressed
as she was; my knee came down between her legs, and without any real
warning, my cunt pushed against her thigh. I know that I wasn't ready
for it, and started to pull away. Only the fact that her leg jerked
up from the surprise kept us together, and by the time I came back down,
it was right where I wanted to be.
By the end of that afternoon, the room was a mess,
we both stank to high heaven, and if there was an inch of her I hadn't
touched, it was not because I hadn't tried. Any time I found myself
wondering if I should do something, I did it. It had worked so far,
You need that kind of certainty with what we do.
Too much arguing leads to hesitation, and hesitation to catastrophe.
It was just that sort of hesitation, the intrusion
of thoughts about the work, that made me grind to a halt. I'd been playing
with myself without even really thinking about it, just lost in the
memory. But starting to think about division, about hesitation, brought
Klaus back to my mind. Even now, with my clit caught between two of
my fingers, I didn't think about the times I'd tried it with him. It
wasn't an unpleasant memory so much as it was a non-event, like going
to a movie everyone talked about and you thought was just mediocre.
Instead, as I started, now, consciously to stroke
myself, my thoughts danced around him, like a cat might circle a wounded
animal it thought might still be dangerous.
The three of us had quit the Socialist Patient's
Kollective in a moment of outrage, theirs as well as ours. We'd hooked
up with them after college, when Heike had dropped out of graduate school
and pulled Klaus with her. I'd never quite understood exactly how they'd
met; perhaps it was over a lunch just as she and I had, but within a
few days he was crashing with us, and keeping up with the arguments
and the discussions. When he and Heike first fucked, I don't know; one
night Heike said she was going to sleep with him, and it didn't seem
like a big deal.
It might seem hard to believe, but it was true. Monogamy
was one more barrier to punch through, one more restriction of the System.
That we hadn't done anything about it before was more a matter of our
isolation than any commitment on our part. No-one had come as close
to us before as he did, despite his bourgeois background. He had the
fervor of the converted.
But the SPK...Never get a bunch of ex-mental patients
to run your revolution. They wasted so much time on the trivial things,
like who was fucking whom in the group. Our view was always that you
did it when it would make you happier, and work better, and not when
it wouldn't. Not some fascistic soccer-team idea of going without sex
for a week before an action.
But it bothered some of them, that all three of us
had been screwing around, even if we weren't screwing up. So we were
all sitting there, a good dozen of us (if the police had any idea what
chances they'd missed to arrest us all, they'd shit themselves), and
the subject was whether or not we were a problem.
One of them that I know Klaus hadn't fucked finally
spat it out. "You're not interested in the revolution once it gets past
free love, are you?"
Now, Klaus may have been a right bastard, but he
wasn't a sexual predator. So while he started to turn bright red and
sputter, I cut in. "No, that's me you're talking about. Wanna do it?
Right here, right now?"
They weren't going to turn us in -- we knew too many
of them, and too much about them for that -- but they did kick us out.
I don't know whether that girl was more steamed at what I'd said, orthe
fact that I, not Klaus, had done the inviting.
After that, it was the three of us alone against
the System. We didn't communicate much with the other groups, save to
warn them if things were going to get hot in an area, or to find out
if reports that a friend of ours had been arrested were true.
Between waiting for the heat to come off after we'd
done something, and planning the next action, we had a lot of time on
our hands, time where we couldn't do much beyond figure out where we
were going to get food, and talk, and fuck. We did plenty of all three,
over the years.
Klaus always tried harder than either of us to be
pure, whether in his theory, his dogma, or his praxis. Once, he declared
he was going celibate, to devote more energy to the cause. That lasted
longer than most of his resolutions -- about two weeks. For the first
week, it was simply "OK, whatever you think you should do." And if we
wanted to have fun, we always had each other.
At the end of the week, I asked Heike, while we were
lying in bed, "Has Klaus said anything to you recently that didn't have
to do with sex?"
"Nope, not a single thing."
So we started to make a show of it, every night.
We'd moan, sigh, call out each other's names or what we wanted done
to us. "That's right; right there, oh, God," (Lust does not care about
politics, at least not when you're that close to coming) "fill my cunt,
yes!" We put his strength to the test.
After one more week, he was completely undone. It
was a foolish idea, he swore up and down. It was blocking him, like
his psyche was some giant waterworks threatening to burst. He'd demonstrated
his devotion to the cause, and should be rewarded for it. Up until the
last excuse, I was almost willing to buy it. After that one, though,
he was sleeping alone for another week.
That was the sort of game we'd played amongst ourselves.
There was never enough privacy to make jealousy really
feasible. We rarely spent money on more than one room, because we needed
the money for other things, and getting it was a risky endeavor. We
chose getting used to each other's bodies and dealing with each other's
actions over robbing banks or businesses twice as often. That was not
a hard choice to make for me. I could never bear to imagine Heike lying
on the sidewalk bleeding to death after a robbery that we had only pulled
to get some privacy.
Andrea Dworkin said intercourse was violence,
was rape, was criminal. We discussed that idea over late-night cigarette
sessions. Klaus always objected. Once he'd gone to sleep, or stomped
off in a huff, though, we worked it over again, sometimes just talking,
sometimes planning it as if we were planning a bombing. What security
was there around our sexes, how was it stripped away to lie exposed,
and what happened? Was intercourse an assassination, a kidnapping, a
mugging? What sort of crime? Was it the sort of crime that benefitted
only the State, or could it be a revolutionary crime as well, like blowing
the chairman of Deutsche Bank to the skies, or robbing a bank?
And just when the whole subject almost turned to
the dust of discourse without praxis, I'd see the sheen of moisture
on the lips of her cunt, or she'd ask, "If intercourse is violence against
women, if I fuck Chancellor Schmidt with a tennis racket, is it violence
against me, or is he a woman?" And we'd laugh, or fuck, and go on living,
calling out the all-clear if Klaus had left the room. But only when
we were done with each other.
Over the last few weeks before he went away,
though, it had been less tense between us. Now, looking back at it,
I wondered if I shouldn't have seen it coming. But the signs weren't
warning signs at all, not that I could ever have expected.
They still fucked; but it was less than it had been.
Heike wasn't one to push herself on anyone, and the less Klaus asked,
the less she went to him. Which didn't bother me at all. Waking up to
the sounds of them making love was, I'm sure, no less pleasant for me
than it was for him to do the same thing. We just did our best to sleep
through it, or to take care of ourselves discreetly.
In fact, over the last week he'd been there, he'd
never been with her when I was around, even if I was asleep. I'll never
know whether it was out of some sense of shame that he was going, some
last-ditch try to woo Heike away from me and from the cause, or what.
If it was, it didn't work, and that was all that mattered.
By now, I had started to drift off towards
sleep more than once in my reverie, and I was beginning to feel just
a little sore down between my fingers. There wasn't any point in trying
further. My fuse was clearly not going to burn down tonight.
I got up and washed my hands, not looking at myself
in the mirror again. After checking the alarm clock to be sure the time
was right, I climbed into bed next to Heike, and fell asleep. Tomorrow
was going to be a big day.