Broken Locks:  A Tale of Orpheus



    The youngest member of the group looked over at his friend, his eyes filling with guilt and disgust.  It was a tragedy, truly, but the older man would have to handle his own problems.  Justin stood up, smirking cockily as he waggled his fingers at his groupmates, ignoring their catcalls and knowing grins.  He chose first.  He always did.

    Slipping his fingers into his pocket, he gingerly fingered the cool sliver of metal nestled just beyond the curve of his hip.  He would not be so stupid.  This, the sacred Kingdom of Orpheus, was not something he would take for granted.  That resolved, he slipped into an elevator lined with mirrors, and found himself staring into the eyes of a man he thought he once knew, the man he had become.  So much had changed.

    The soft ding of the bell startled him slightly before the doors opened, revealing a thick carpet the color of blood, trimmed by leaves of ivy and swirls of gold.  He had not been on this floor.  Perhaps a new choice, a new escape, was just what he needed.

    He slipped the jeweled key into the lock, turning it once and swinging the door open.  Creaking hinges and the soft sigh of pliant wood warmed the silence in the still, cool room.  He stepped gingerly past the threshold, removing his starched linen dress shirt and slacks as he went.   Tonight was not a night for preludes or intimacies.  Tonight was for extracting revenge.

    She lay on the ornate bed of wrought iron, displayed like a sacrifice.  Painted red lips and intricately shadowed eyes gazed up at him from beneath hooded lashes.  Her pale skin, tensed with anticipation, all but glistened in the moonlight.  He recognized her only vaguely; as though she had visited him once before in dreams.

    “Apollo,” She breathed, and he smirked in satisfaction.

    It was his name, a character to be portrayed, an actor on a gilded stage.  Apollo.  God of the Sun, patron of the arts and music.  It suited him, he thought smugly. Golden, majestic, deadly to those who betrayed him, flaying them like the Greek God had done to Marsyas.  He ruled the sun, commanding a chariot drawn by horses of fire, bringing light and glory to the pitiful citizens beneath him.  Warmed by these thoughts, he stalked across the floor, moving closer to the nymph sprawled across the expensive fabric.

    “What’s your name?” He hissed, noting the slight tremors racing along her porcelain skin, and the way her eyes would widen in terror.

    “Persephone,” She replied meekly, before averting her eyes.

    “LOOK at me when I talk to you,” He demanded, seizing her face roughly and forcing her to stare into his stormy gaze.

    Persephone complied, but not before a soft moan of fear escaped her lips.  She had heard about him. Tales spread like spiderwebs through the silent halls of Orpheus, spilling secrets of expectations and nights of pleasure both exquisite and destructive into carefully tuned ears. She knew.  His title was spoken like the most hallowed of names.

    Justin Timberlake was called Apollo, but behind closed doors, when the heavy mahogany doors of Orpheus had clicked shut, he was more akin to Narcissus.  It was no matter to her.  A job was a job.

    Persephone had garnered her own name after tempting a particularly dour businessman from Tokyo. He had been called Hades, after the God of the Underworld who ruled his kingdom ruthlessly and dispassionately.  The angry, pudgy little man had grown enamored with the young woman, who had come into Orpheus calling herself Angela.  Hades had spoken to Mr. Ayuda, pleading with the aging man to allow him to purchase the beautiful young woman, which caused the owner of the hotel to laugh in his face, before presenting Hades with Angela’s key.  From then on, he had showered her with endless riches and gifts, until he had brought friends to Orpheus, waving his cash around like an expensive fan.  He had been blackballed…but to Ayuda, Angela had earned her place as a princess of light kidnapped by a dark king, and thus Angela became Persephone.
    Impatient with waiting, Justin pounced, rolling Persephone onto her stomach and divesting himself of his final scraps of clothing.

    “Who’s sexy, baby?” He growled, moving his lips to within a hair’s breadth of hers.

    “You,” She replied obediently.

    Damn straight, he thought.  HE was sexy.  Sexier than JC.  Sexier than the four other man caught in the same constraining web in which he had been ensnared for years.  That bitch didn’t know what she was talking about, and for her to have the nerve to sue…his blood boiled.

    Violently, demandingly, he captured Persephone’s trembling lips in a brutal kiss, shoving his tongue past the seam where they met and into her mouth.  She resisted at first, which only caused his heart rate to accelerate.

    “Who fucks you like I do?” He spat, tearing the silken gown from her body.

    “No one,” She replied automatically, allowing him to push her over the edge of the bed until he was pressed firmly against her.  She knew this was coming.  Tales of his aggressiveness, forceful to the point of being violent, were famous in the hotel, but Persephone knew how quickly that rage would wane…and what she must do to pick up the pieces.

    Justin’s blood pounded fiercely in his ears as he invaded her delicate body.  He would teach that bitch to leave him. Stronger. Bullshit.  His love, his reason for being, the MELODY on his goddamned MIND. LIAR.  She had gotten scared when the lawsuit had dropped.  So what if it was true?  So what if he had frightened that little girl in the hotel to the point where she had begged him to leave her alone?  He had not once laid a hand on her, and she brought it on herself.  JC was hotter.  HA.  JC had nothing.

    His hips moved with wild abandon in time to the animalistic grunts beating a staccato rhythm in the otherwise silent room.  He was oblivious to the fact that Persephone lay motionless beneath him, her eyes steadily gazing across the room, waiting for it to be over.

    Hatefrozenlustangerredhotfirefuel burst forth from his belly, escaping his lips in a guttural moan as he collapsed on top of her.  He would win.  He would win. He.  Always.  Won.

    Returning to his body several heartbeats later, Justin shivered against the stale stench of drying sweat and fought the tears that threatened to spill over onto his flushed skin.  How could she leave him?  Why, when he was at his most vulnerable, did she RUN?

    Perhaps she believed the hype.  Perhaps she saw through the precisely crafted image that he served up every day like eggs on a stoneware platter.  Perhaps she had seen him nightly, cavorting with women of untold beauty, pressing their bodies against his and extracting what meager pleasure he could.

    And for what?  For an achingly hollow feeling of satisfaction?  For a three second explosion that left him destroyed as though Armageddon had finally come?  She was supposed to understand.  She, his love, was supposed to know, instinctively, that it was all a farce.

    He wasn’t sure exactly what had caused him to snap that night.  Perhaps it was her carefully scribbled note of goodbye, left on his open gym bag after their show, that had ignited the fires of rage.  Perhaps it was the snide, condescending look in the eyes of a snotty sixteen year old who took everything she had for granted as she taunted him that he, the Golden Boy, was not as “hot” as his so-called “brother.”  Perhaps it was the reality that he, truth be told, did not have the talent nor drive that his older, more mature counterpart did.  For whatever reason, Justin Timberlake snapped.  Like a bow too tightly strung, he snapped.  Like a reed dried from weeks of drought, he snapped.  Like a soldier stripped of honor and courage, he snapped.

    And so he ordered one of his flunkies to fetch the young woman, bringing her before him like a serf to a king.  Raising his fiery eyes to hers, he began the inquisition.

    She did not break at first, laughing in his face and calling him a egotistical prick, which only served to inflame the haughty young prince more, but gradually, methodically, her tightly packed walls eroded, until she was tear-soaked and trembling before him, crying to God and whoever else would listen to bring her back to her mother.

    He laughed.  Like a vicious king who yields the arbitrary power of life and death, he laughed.  And it stripped away his beauty until all could be seen was a hideous monster.

    Justin shuddered.  What the hell was he going to do now?

    He became gradually aware of the shivering body beneath him, and so he gently pulled away, averting his eyes when she turned his face to hers.

    “Come,” She whispered, and he nodded, allowing the seductive beauty to lead him into the bathroom.

    There, she lit candles and caressed his body tenderly, like his lover had done what seemed like ages ago.  He moaned softly in appreciation at the heartbreaking gentleness of her caring touch.  She whispered words of comfort and adoration, gently wiping his tears with the soft pads of her thumbs as they flowed ceaselessly over his cracked and bleeding lips.

    “It’s all right,” She whispered.  “It’s going to be all right.”

    He reached for her then, drawing her against his body in the warm, fragrant water, worshipping her and indulging in the sumptuous softness of her skin.  THIS is what he wanted.  THIS is how it should be.  Not the hard, rough mask he displayed to those who crossed him.  Not the sickly-sweet persona he displayed to his admiring fans.  But this.  Warm.  Golden.  Heady.  Like sunlight.  Like Apollo.

    Persephone sighed as she led him to bed, allowing him to cradle her body to his, gently running her nimble fingers across the bristly softness of his head, calming his heaving, shaking body like a snake charmer.  Apollo.  The God of the Sun.  Brought to his knees by the Queen of the Night.

    Persephone smiled.


2001  ~A.