It’s goddamn 3.30 in the morning and I’m deprived of reality after 5 and a half hours of sleep.
It’s been a very long time, since I woke up this early and felt that familiar ache of tiredness and consciousness meld into one surreal experience.
It’s difficult to describe the sensation of craving sleep, yet be unwilling to submit. But that is what I’m currently going through now.
I know I should sleep, but I just can’t.
I don’t want to. I’m too busy thinking about something and nothing at all.
As time ticks on, and on and on … I keep thinking to myself: Why bother going back to sleep?
So the hours crawl by, time is omnipresent and completely ignored by me. I refuse to play to its’ tune. I’m too absorbed in my own existence to acknowledge it.
It’s always around this time, I feel these desperate urges.
I crave Food. Water. Sex. Music … all the darker, base instincts that I normally don’t indulge in are now rushing to the fore, and I can’t stop them washing over me.
I’ve been reduced to a less thinking state, and have become more primeval. All that remains of me, is my stubbornness to sleep.
I’m not going back to the realm of unconsciousness.
This is also the time where I really enjoy some of my darker music taste.
Ominous, rhythmic bands like HEALTH or Massive Attack really help me channel these primitive urges in a sensory manner, stopping me submitting too much.
No, I don’t need that drink.
No, I don’t need to watch porn.
No, I don’t need to go to the fridge.
No, I don’t want to punch everything in sight.
I’m OK, just staring off into the digital world, as these contradictory musical sensations blast at me from every angle.
I say they are contradictory, because they often have the most hauntingly beautiful voices, that clash with the crazy, angry, infernal melodies.
It’s the perfect way to describe how I feel at this very moment.
I want to fall into the depths of my carnal desires, but high above it all, is this perfect line of consciousness and reality that I refuse to let go of.
This rope of surreality is what makes this whole experience so interesting, so compelling that I am willing to sacrifice my health for.
I think more clearly than I have ever done before. I can remember the smallest details. I can genuinely create and envision ideas in my mind. It’s the path to a place of creativity that I often don’t get to access.
It doesn’t happen at 0330 in the morning.
I can’t just wake up this early to be creative. That is artificially creating the sensation.
It has to happen organically.
I have to crave sleep, close my eyes occasionally, before snapping them awake again, the moment I feel the touch of sleep on my mind.
All I can hear right now, is the perfect song, Angel by Massive Attack.
It’s grunge, it’s slow, it’s disturbing and aches of something indescribable.
As I fight all the contradictions that fight inside of me, I can feel myself rebelling against everything outside.
It is bitterly cold, but I am warm.
It is lonely, but I am not alone.
The world is asleep, but I am awake.
I’m fighting against everything. I don’t care what it costs me. I just want to exist in this state for another few hours, deprived and thriving.
Even this very creative exercise, writing …. doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. My thoughts are sporadic, and random, but completely focused on how I am feeling right now, right here, as the sun rises, the darkness retreats and I slowly comes to term with the consequences of my rebellion.
This is self-induced deprivation, sensory and sense-wise.
You would think I would know better. I got a long day ahead of me, an active day.
But I just couldn’t sleep after those 5 hours. I didn’t want to.
I wanted to be alive, no matter how dead I felt.
Yawns are coming in hard and fast. My body doesn’t agree with this creative situation. It’s trying to shut my mind down, but music, digital lights and my stubbornness hold it back.
I can hear myself groan in weariness. My shoulders hurt viciously, from lying on my side for too long. Every time my mouth yawns open, tears of exhaustion streak down my cheeks.
I almost want to sleep now. It’s 0730 in the morning. I’ve been awake in this surrealist bubble for 4 hours now. But it’s getting harder to resist the arms of Morpheus. The ancient God needs to claim his slumber from me and the tears won’t stop pouring.
I think I’m done. I’m can’t stop resisting any more … I need just a tiny bit more slee-
It’s 0900 in the morning.
I ended up taking a nap, my body slumped in my chair, my headphones on, Massive Attack’s Love Me, Love Me … lyrics echoing in my head.
Not much sleep, just an extra hour, and even then it wasn’t even that deep, because my alarms were interrupting me throughout the entire thing.
Still consciousness wave-riding even when I need sleep.
Throughout that nap, I imagined all sorts of things. From messages that my friends would send to me in the future, to reading a passage from a book I’ve never seen before.
Lucidity was not on the table, as I went through so many strange scenarios and thoughts. Random memories would pop in, conversations that were intriguing, confessions that didn’t make sense, people that meant a lot to me, but were now lesser …
I’m fully awake now though. Back to my regular self, with my brain chemistry normalising with every minute. The clock has been switched back on, and is running at its normal rapid pace. I can sense time is slipping away from me, and I have to work hard to catch up.
I’m me again, civilised, and in control. No longer a slave to baser instincts and dark desires. Devoid of that surrealist rope and arguably healthier for it.
Hell, even as I am writing all these thoughts out, there is a coherency to them, a natural self-reflectiveness that was lacking in the initial start of this ramble. I’m articulate again.
But it is definitely a strange, fascinating exercise, to be creative that early in the morning, where the angel wants you to sleep and the devil inside of you flat out refuses.
Hideo looked over at the sleeping Yukie, caressing her dark hair softly, as he felt his body stir awake with the rise of the sun.
Gently pulling the blanket aside, he climbed out of bed and walked softly over wash basin, where he scooped up water and ran it over his face and neck, luxuriating in the cold, clean sensation.
Closing his eyes, Hideo stayed still for a moment, as he traced the sensation of water running down his neck and across his chest, calmly controlling his breathing. For Hideo, this meditative state allowed him to visualise the day ahead and everything he needed to achieve.
This was his daily morning routine, cleansing the body and mind, to prepare for the work ahead with a clear spirit, free of any distractions or lingering memories.
Achieving zero … maintaining zero. echoed Hideo in his mind, as his breathing steadied.
Opening his eyes, Hideo felt his spirit steady itself for the day and night ahead. Slipping on his dark grey kimono, he cinched the excess material tight around his lean frame, before stepping out of the bedroom and sliding the door silently, as to not wake Yukie.
The sparks from the flint scattered softly across the wood, before dancing upon paper. With soft blows, the paper caught alight, generating heat that soon engulfed the wood in flames. Stepping back, Hideo fanned the flames higher and higher, until they could sustain themselves.
Placing the paper fan aside, he walked over to the well that was just outside their home and cranked a bucket of water upwards, until he had enough to prepare the rice and tea.
Carrying the two buckets of water over, he felt something run between his legs and smiled gently at the sight of Hime, their domesticated chicken scurrying away, eager to be fed. Pouring the water into the kettle, he placed it gently over the flame, before walking back outside with a handful of feed.
Cooing softly for Hime to come over, Hideo smiled as she waddled up to him and began to peck at the feed on the ground. Stroking her back gently, Hideo walked over to Hime’s roost and plucked out the two eggs she had laid overnight.
As he prepared the breakfast, a simple omelette with miso soup, Hideo kept his mind empty still, allowing each task to be performed with a precision that could only come from a calm spirit.
The eggs were perfectly scrambled, curdled and rolled, before being spliced into 8 equal rolled rectangles. The green chives were expertly cut, and sprinkled gently atop each serving of egg, whilst his rice was beautifully fluffy and round in their wooden bowls.
Hideo’s miso soup was the perfect blend of cloudy soup and green seaweed, with little islands of tofu poking through the surface. A tiny dash of togarashi serve to create appetising colour and a hint of spice that would awaken the senses after sleep.
As Hideo finally put the finishing touches to the breakfast, Yukie sauntered out, dressed in a sky blue kimono, her long dark raven hair tousled over the front of her shoulder, highlighting the pale slender beauty of her neck and jawline. She smiled gratefully at her husband, washing her hands in the sink and giving him a lingering graze across his hand in affection.
They both sat down cross legged at the low table and clapped their hands together, before eating their food in silence. This was their custom, another way of maintaining harmony within themselves and each other.
The morning was a time of reflection, of preparedness for the rigours ahead. When they were so busy with life, especially in this difficult time, their morning meals was almost the only time they could take to relax, ponder and think.
They would clean up together, before Yukie would break away from Hideo’s side with the barest hint of sakura perfume.
Her day would always start with lunch preparation, invariably another simple, elegant meal that spoke of their humble yet fulfilling lifestyle, whilst Hideo would retreat to his room, where he would examine his tools of war.
Armed with the stalk of a bamboo cup, a bucket of water and a dark rag, Hideo would open the drawer of a large wooden cabinet and inspect his weapons.
Yukie would do likewise, inspecting her precious knives for any rust or impurities, before opening a door where they kept their smoked meats. For today, Yukie took out a smoked mackerel that Hideo had caught a few days before, as well walking into their garden and cutting some herbs and vegetables that had been grown weeks ago.
Laying them out in a semi circle, both Yukie and Hideo selected the first item to be washed, in Yukie’s case, a batch of spinach that would be simmered in soy sauce and sake, whilst for Hideo, it was his prized kusarigama, a unique weapon that consisted of a sickle and a chain, meant to immobilise swords. Then came the sharpening of radish and katana, the gentle cleaning of spring onions and quiet tabi shoes and the slow inspection of chicken stock and kunai knives.
They mirrored each other, absorbed in their meticulous tasks, focused on every step.
It would be midday, when Hideo and Yukie finally parted ways, Hideo heading into the fields to work on the local lord’s farm and Yukie making her way to the local market to shop and buy new equipment that would let her mend her husband’s clothes faster.
Before he left, Hideo softly stroked on Yukie’s cheek, before thanking her for the lunch and slinging the bag on his walking stick and setting off for the long 7 kilometre walk to work.
It would be a long day, of tending the fields and moving cattle. Like any work day, Hideo savoured his small break to enjoy the simple mackerel don that Yuki created for him, and reflect on what he would have to do that very night, rehearsing moves and routes, incorporating body stretches and martial arts movement into his field work.
It wouldn’t be until twilight when Hideo came home, to greet Yukie, busy at work at the fireplace, simmering a rich broth for their udon dinner. Placing a hand on her shoulder gently from behind, he squeezed fondly, before retiring back to his room, to prepare for the night.
Yukie sighed softly as she heard the door to Hideo’s room click shut. For months now, Hideo had been in the service of their lord as a shinobi, eliminating rivals to the clan. Tonight’s mission was going to be particularly difficult, but the lord had offered enough money to soothe their lives for 3 months.
Such an offer was almost worth the risk.
As she shook the excess water off the udon and laid the thick glossy noodles in a bowl, Yukie kept her mind focused on preparing the meal, ignoring the terror she felt at losing Hideo and the prospect of him being caught at a rival clan’s castle.
There was nothing they could realistically do.
There was only life in the moment. They had to live the best they could now.
Yukie poured the broth in, pleased with the amber colour, before slowly adding in fish cake, the same soy simmered spinach she had prepared for lunch and a luxurious slice of pork chashu she had bought from the market.
She had just finished adding half a egg and some thinly sliced spring onions when Hideo came through the kitchen, fully clad in his shinobi gear.
Even now, after many nights of seeing Hideo dressed up for war, Yukie felt an involuntary shiver run through her body, at the sight of a myth came sharply into the focus lens of reality.
From head to toe, Hideo was a shade of dark navy blue, with only his large bow creating a contrasting colour of amber-gold bands that ran across the dark cherry red lacquered wood and the white feathers of his arrows. His short sword was also another splash of colour, the wakizashi’s scabbard a similar cherry red wood to the bow, with a bright red fabric used to create the handle’s signature diamond knit.
It was tied on the left side of his body, whilst resting just above it, was the kusarigama, tucked securely into a thick fabric belt that also hid several throwing stars and knives. On his right, was a thin reed that served as his blowpipe and dangling on a strong knot was a pair of thin axes with loops that would help Hideo climb walls.
Placing his mask aside, Hideo sat down, side by side with Yukie, breaking the normal traditions. Blushing slightly, Yukie sidled closer to Hideo so that their arms were touching. Sipping the broth appreciately, Hideo gave a happy sigh.
Thank you. It’s delicious as always.
Yukie felt her hands tremble slightly. For Hideo to compliment her food, was uncharacteristic of the stoic persona he always held.
He’s nervous realised Yukie with a degree of shock. She felt an urge to ask him about how he felt, what he was thinking about … whether he was afraid. But she knew that such questions were not the way.
Instead Yukie simply replied Thank you. It means so much to me that you like my cooking.
Hideo reached over and tenderly squeezed her hand reassuringly. They continued to eat their dinner in silent companionship, with Hideo finishing first and looking at the still whole slice of chashu. Knowing that Yukie had bought this specially for him, despite their poor lifestyle, Hideo split the slice in half with his chopstick, and placed the precious, expensive cut into Yukie’s bowl.
Yukie looked up at him in shock but the protests died quickly, as Hideo wrapped his arms around her and held her tight against him.
Yukie returned the hug, tears beginning to form from the dread they both shared. But she kept them to herself, they had to be strong. Without her support, she knew that Hideo would not be able to find his focus at the most crucial of times.
So, calling upon her own spirit, she stayed strong for Hideo and returned the hug, without fear or dread, but with love and respect. Yukie closed her eyes in Hideo’s chest … her tears would come later, at a time of her own choosing, but not around him.
After a long solemn hug, communicating everything they ever wanted and couldn’t say, Hideo lifted her chin and kissed her goodbye.
The click of the sliding door closing shut, as Hideo disappeared into the darkness of the night echoed louder than it ever had, and Yukie finally allowed herself to weep for her husband.
Earlier that day, near the end of his shift, Hideo was summoned by one of the samurai retainers to see their lord. As Hideo bowed in greeting, the lord looked down upon his most prolific assassin and placed a hand on his shoulder.
Guiding Hideo to the balcony which overlooked the lord’s vast estate, the noble elder samurai pointed at the stables and whispered something courteous, before handing Hideo a pair of scrolls before dismissing him.
Hideo noted that only one of them had the lord’s official seal. Tucking the other one away in his robes, Hideo walked down to the stables and handed the official scroll to the stable-master who nodded and walked inside. Moments later, Hideo was riding one of the fastest and darkest stallions in Japan, a dark chestnut coloured horse that featured a plain saddle with no markings on it.
It’s name was Kaze. Wind.
Loyal and steadfast, Kaze was fond of Hideo, despite being one of the lord’s favourite steeds. They had been through several missions now and every time, Kaze bought Hideo home without fail, in the darkness of dusk and galloped back loyally to the lord’s stables.
As Kaze galloped along the road to the rival clan’s castle, Hideo kept his body flat along the dark horse’s torso, only looking up occasionally to see the castle of the Ashikaga clan slowly loom larger and larger in the horizon, until it was all he could see.
Why his lord, from a minor clan was tasked with the assassination of one of the top Ashikaga’s samurais, a man known only as Tadayoshi, was none of Hideo’s concern. All his focus was on feeding his beloved and ensuring their future would be easier than the present.
Touching a tiny jade pendant that Yukie had made for him on the night of their marriage, Hideo felt strengthened by her love and resilience, despite being kilometres away from her.
Slowing Kaze down, Hideo slowly cantered his way towards the camp, before stopping altogether, nearly 1 kilometre away and tying Kaze’s reins to a tree that was part of a large forest that surrounded the base of the Ashikaga castle.
As Ashikaga castles came, this particular one was spacious and well maintained. Situated on a hill that dominated the flat landscape around it, it rose above the tree lines of the curated forest that surrounded it and from the west end, it was easy to spot, as the forest had been cleared to make room for a large training and barracks area that employed the services of 30 samurai retainers.
Adorning the east face of the castle, was a large banner with the simple Ashikaga clan symbol, a black circle with two thick white lines running horizontally across it. The banner hung from the Ashikaga warlord Tadayoshi’s balcony, and was tightened on a lower balcony about halfway up the tall 5 storied building.
An attractive, if atypical castle, Tadayoshi’s personal residence to his small army of samurai retainers and his family was coloured in the typical style of the day, black accented roofs and white walls. A deep moat surrounded the castle, with 2 red drawbridges on the north and south end.
Tadayoshi’s wife, a renowned noblewoman from Kyoto, had done her best to soften the harsh military aesthetic, by hanging hundreds of lanterns that ran across the moat. At night, on special occasions, they were a spectacular light show that allowed many visitors to see the white bodies of wild carp that patrolled the moat.
From the moat, a straight footpath lead into the living areas of the samurai, which featured several long wooden cabins with square windows on the left side of the compound and a large stable with an ample courtyard for the horses to graze and wander.
Opposite the living quarters, was the training area, where bows, swords and spears were neatly lying in wait on racks and several dummies were propped up, awaiting abuse.
Towards the main gate, which was southwards, there was a large empty space with an Ashikaga vertical banner planted in the ground, no doubt, the staging area where Tadayoshi would give his men a speech and briefing before going on their sorties.
Hideo studied everything for a solid two hours, perched atop the tallest tree in the dark forest, trying to make out as much detail as possible.
The full moon that shone over the surroundings, helped enormously with his vision, a big reason why Hideo chose this night. It would also have an added bonus of drawing Tadayoshi out of his castle, as he was famous for creating haikus in honour of the moon, when it was a particularly auspicious occasion.
Using his thin axes to climb down again, Hideo set off towards his target, moving silently between trees. It was midnight now, and the night was going to be the darkest it would ever be.
The sole samurai that guarded the main gate would later swear before the Ashikaga’s head daimyo that he saw nothing, before committing ritual suicide for his failure.
This was the truth, because Hideo was never near the main gate. His long observation of the castle had revealed an even better route. On the eastern side of the castle compound, close to the living quarters of the samurai retainers, was where the forest was most dense. Indeed, upon closer inspection, Hideo actually found the secret door that Tadayoshi and his family would use in an emergency.
This door, was cleverly disguised to be a part of the wall, but for a small seam that denoted its status. Pushing it in, Hideo was astonished to see that it swung open and was just big enough for him to crawl through.
Lying flat against the grassy ground, Hideo noted that he was at the back of the living quarters, which thankfully featured no windows. Controlling his breathing, he silently shut the trapdoor and reached into one of his pouches, where he pulled out a bag of caltrops. Careful to not scatter them directly in front to the trapdoor, Hideo gave a solid metre gap before placing 5 of them down carefully.
Sneaking away, Hideo peered round the corner, noting two samurais who were talking softly to each other. Muttering quietly to himself, he looked up and noted the height of the roof above him.
Taking a couple of steps back, Hideo gave himself a running start and charged the wall, where with a silent press off his foot, he launched himself up, and grabbed the roof, hoisting himself up.
Choosing each step with care, Hideo crouched along the roof, staying as low as possible and waiting until the samurai had their backs turned to him.
Without hesitating, he launched himself from the roof and landed on the next adjoining roof, his feet scrabbling slightly for purchase on the sloped roof.
He froze, uncertain whether he made a lot of noise.
Sighing quietly in relief, he kept making his way along the rooftop, this time on a belly crawl. He was getting deeper and deeper into the compound, so the chances of him being spotted was exponentially growing.
Every couple of minutes, Hideo would pause and listen, smell or look for any sign of alarm. Fortunately and unfortunately for him, tonight was one of celebration, so Tadayoshi’s wife had requested every lantern and light in the compound to be lit up, for a gay and festive atmosphere.
It was beneficial, because up high, his silhouette would be darker and harder to spot against the roof, owning to how bright the lights were.
It also would make his ascent to the castle extremely difficult. Knocking lanterns into the moat along the way would immediately alert everyone.
But there was no other way.
To get to the line that strung all the lanterns up to the balcony of the castle, meant that Hideo had to risk a quick dash across 50 metres of open ground to the 4 metre tall wooden pole.
Patiently waiting and noting the routes of the guards, whose movements were relaxed and ambling, Hideo swore silently when he noted that one particular guard was constantly stopping by the pole to take breaks in his patrol.
With time running out, Hideo knew he had to make decision soon.
Reluctantly, he reached into his belt and pulled out the thin bamboo reed.
With gloved fingers, he took out one of his blow darts, whilst simultaneously pulling out a tiny bottle.
Dipping the tip into the bottle, he carefully placed it into the reed and aimed the blowpipe at the guard’s neck.
With barely a sound, the tiny dart flew out of the reed and pierced the nape of the guard who was making his way towards Hideo’s hiding spot on the roof.
Snatching at his neck with his hand, which inadvertently jabbed the dart in further, the guard look up with a look of horror as he saw a shadow move above him.
He tried to draw his sword, but the poison had already entered his bloodstream and was playing havoc with his nervous system.
Hideo jumped down noiselessly in front of the guard, his kusarigama drawn and without hesitation, flicked the chain over the man’s neck and began to tighten it, whilst dragging the struggling guard back towards the pole, where there were bushes nearby.
The guard’s struggles soon began to fade and Hideo loosened the knot, and checked the guard’s face, which was contorted grotesquely, his tongue a strange shade of grey, his eyes bloodshot and drool coming out of his mouth.
Careful to layer the bushes over the guard, Hideo paused for a second to check his surroundings, before taking out his thin axes and leaping onto the pole. Like a giant bug, Hideo slowly ascended the pole, before tucking the axes in his belt and reaching out for the wire that held all the lanterns.
Testing the strength, Hideo was relieved when it barely budged under his furiously yanking.
Crawling along the lantern wire was an exhausting task. His legs were wrapped right around the wire, whilst his hands slowly shimmied his torso along. Whenever he came across a lantern, he would relax his legs, looping his ankles and using his fingertips, allow the hot lantern to pass over his head, through the loops on his arms and legs.
It was a precarious climb, one that only got harder as the wire got higher and higher.
But Hideo made it. It took longer than he anticipated, but he was now hanging directly above the viewing balcony.
Inside, he could hear the sounds of music, the gay sounds of laughter. It sounded like Tadayoshi was hosting a moon party to celebrate the beauty of its full nature.
He waited patiently. Stealth was a waiting game. The process was not meant to be rushed.
Hearing or sensing nothing below him, Hideo loosened his grip and dropped to the balcony, noiselessly.
He immediately slid to the side of the door, staying crouched and peering through the open door.
The design of the Ashikaga Castle was striking. It was vertically oriented, with the 5 floors getting smaller and smaller as they neared the top. Staircases connected each floor, the “ground” itself, slabs of wood that were polished to a high sheen.
Banners, kimonos and swords adorned many of the walls, the colours of the Ashikaga clan prevalent amongst all the upholstery. The first two floors were actually the dining area, with an upper recess for private conversations, which was where the viewing balcony was.
The third floor was the training area, which was lined with hard reed mats, whilst above that was the private study of Tadayoshi, with scrolls neatly spaced on shelves and an ornate calligraphy table for his haikus.
The final space was the living quarters. Tatami mats lined the area luxuriously and there was a small window that opened out to the roof to allow natural light through.
Hideo crept out from the balcony, staying low. He peered over the lip of the recess and looked down at the party.
Around 25 people were in attendance. Most were samurai retainers with Tadayoshi’s wife entourage in tow, chatting amongst themselves. The men were seated cross-legged on tatami mats, bent at the waist, hunched over their small writing tables, doing their best to write haikus, espousing the beauty of the moon and how it shone on the castle.
As the men furiously wrote on their scrolls, the women would soothingly pour tea, before retreating and chatting quietly amongst themselves.
Tadayoshi’s wife, a classic city beauty, with ultra-pale skin and dark hair, lorded over the proceedings, her scarlet kimono shimmering under the lamp light. She teased the men who were struggling, whilst providing subtle encouragement, as she moved amongst the tables, judging the progress of the haikus.
So where is Tadayoshi then? thought Hideo.
Then he heard the the subtle sound of a brush being dropped above him.
Hideo felt his chest tighten in excitement.
This was too good to be true. Tadayoshi, alone, in his study, away from everyone, eager to create the best haiku out of all his retainers.
Silently making his way up the stairs, Hideo peered and breathed a sigh of relief at the empty space, the training room devoid of any movement or sound.
Placing each foot carefully in front of each other, Hideo crossed the open space and looked upwards, to see light shimmering through the cracks of the floor.
Tadayoshi was there. Hideo could see the Ashikaga’s warlord sitting at his ornate calligraphy desk, struggling over his haiku, his fierce face stretched into a scowl of intense concentration.
Only a solitary guard stood at the top of the staircase, waiting his lord with respectful admiration.
Looking behind him, Hideo winced slightly and crept back to the staircase he had climbed and placed the remainder of his caltrops on the steps and top of the stairs. He wasn’t taking any chances.
Taking a deep breath, Hideo walked towards the staircase that would bring him close to his target.
The samurai guard never heard Hideo climb up the stairs. Blinding pain wrapped itself around his throat and flung him down the stairs, where Hideo used the Kusarigama’s sickle to cut his throat.
Hideo charged up the stairs, and was just in time to see Tadayoshi look up in shock, his handsome featured contorted into a war-like scowl.
Hideo dodged to the side, as Tadayoshi flicked his calligraphy brush towards him. The brush whistled past and Hideo glared at Tadayoshi who now stood tall, his hands gripping his large katana.
Silence descended on the pair. Hideo unsheathed his smaller wakazashi short sword and moved towards the centre of the room.
The two men sized each other up.
Then their attention was broken by a plaintive call.
The loyal retainer was somehow still alive. His gurgling was now almost a yell.
Help … our lord! gasped the retainer to the party below, as he threw his sword down.
The loud crash the sword made as it clattered down the stairs and then into the haiku party shocked everyone.
Suddenly everyone blazed into action.
The men roared into action, their hands gripping their swords, upturning tables and charging up the stairs. Their war cries reverberated through the castle. Tadayoshi smiled smugly.
Hideo seized his chance. He leapt forwards and was immediately met with the steely defence of Tadayoshi. They danced around the private study, the floor barely enough for the two combatants.
Hideo would lunge, his wakazashi held high and sweeping down. Tadayoshi, knowing his men were coming, would defend, moving his legs away, an amused look on his face. For he had an distinct advantage, his longer katana ensuring Hideo had to commit further to his attacks, thus revealing his moves earlier.
They were barely 30 seconds into the fight, but Hideo felt desperation and tiredness start to creep into his arms. Then he made a mistake, he over-committed to an overhead cut. Tadayoshi smelled his opportunity and took it.
Without hesitating, Hideo leapt backwards as he saw Tadayoshi’s riposte come straight for his head. As the warlord’s blade came sweeping down, past his hips, Hideo grabbed one of his throwing knives, and with a flick of his wrist, slammed the kunai into the exposed warlord’s foot.
The warlord fell for his feint.
The big samurai roared in pain. Reversing his grip, he swung upwards with his katana, nearly taking Hideo’s head off, as he anxiously looked behind him at the staircase where heavy footfalls were increasing in intensity.
Gritting his teeth, as he turned his attention back at the warlord, Hideo slammed his wakazashi back into his scabbard, and simultaneously drew his kusarigama. Tadayoshi was too skilled a swordsman to keep this fight going.
He had to finish this now.
Hideo spun the kusarigama in a blur of steel, before flinging the curved sickle towards Tadayoshi. The warlord scowled, as he caught the vicious blade and chain combination with his sword.
The sickle wrapped itself around the blade, and Hideo made a vicious downward motion, causing Tadayoshi to loosen his grip on his katana.
For a second, the Ashikage warlord was exposed.
It was enough.
Hideo grabbed all of his throwing stars with a smooth practised motion off his belt, and with his left hand flicked them all.
Schwick, schwick, schwick!
The 7 bladed stars made a sickening sound as they embedded themselves into the warlord’s chest and face. 3 of them alone found his face, the fearsome, handsome scowl, disappearing under the onslaught of stars.
Blood splattered outwards, and Tadayoshi took his final breath as he toppled onto his back, the poison on the stars causing immediate asphyxiation. As the Ashikage’s warlord body dropped to the floor, the first screams of pain from the charging army of retainers echoed loudly as their feet were viciously cut open by Hideo’s caltrops.
Hideo, scanned his surroundings furiously and decided the only way out was up. He dashed up the stairs to Tadayoshi’s private room and just as he reached the top, the first overeager samurai came running, his crazed expressions, baying for blood.
Hideo, didn’t hesitate and threw a kunai right at the man, who stumbled backwards, stunned as the knife buried itself 3 inches into his forehead, causing the 4 men behind him to trip over as well.
Sprinting for the tiny window that allowed moonlight to spill into the private quarters, Hideo slammed his thin axes into the wood and climbed his way up to the open window and crawled through, barely fitting through.
Ignoring the frenzied cries of rage inside, Hideo was momentarily stunned to be standing atop the Ashikage castle. The view was spectacular, with the moon shining brightly on the lush green forest and the brightly lit lanterns.
Shaking off his awe, Hideo leapt down to the next parapet of the castle and kept repeating the motion, until he came to the bottom floor. Seeing the drawbridges had been drawn up, and that the lanterns were now too obvious an escape route, Hideo looked down at the moat.
Water swirled gently as Hideo could see huge carp moving the black depths.
But the walls of the moat could be scaled with his axes.
Taking a deep breath, Hideo braced himself and dove into the murky depths.
Immediately the shock of the cold water, nearly drove all the air out of his lungs, but Hideo steadied himself and kept diving before surfacing, making his way for the other side of the moat.
He stifled a scream of surprise, as a carp rubbed itself along his leg, its cold heavy body knocking him off his intended course.
Swimming faster now, Hideo reached into his belt and slammed his thin axes into the gaps of the stone moat wall, and fished himself out of the water, shivering and relieved to get away.
Taking a breather, Hideo climbed out of the moat, and peered over the edge.
The entire castle was now on high alert. Samurais were stationed everywhere, and there was a sense of rage and urgency suffusing the once festive atmosphere.
But there was no-one directly looking at Hideo, and the empty space between him and the emergency escape route.
Seizing his chance, Hideo rushed across the empty space, ignoring the wet footprints he left behind and stealthily avoiding the caltrops he left at the secret exit, he opened the door, clicked it shut before rushing through the forest.
He had gotten away.
The ride onboard Kaze was slow but uneventful. Hideo found himself hunched close to Kaze for warmth, as he tried to dry himself as quickly as possible after the cold waters of the moat.
Exhausted, Hideo whispered to Kaze encouragingly, but soon was asleep.
Hours later, Hideo awoke to vigorous shaking.
Opening his eyes, he was astonished to see Yukie staring at him, her brown eyes and pale face, haggard after a night of little sleep.
A soft blanket covered his bare chest, and he could feel the warmth of the fire nearby, restoring strength to his tired body.
Yukie? asked Hideo as he sat up. How …
The question died, as Yukie, unable to contain herself, hugged him tightly, tears of relief streaming down her cheeks.
Hideo felt a strange calm as he held Yukie tightly to his chest, and closed his eyes.
They would survive for another moment.
Hideo and Yukie stayed that way for the rest of the night, their silent relief slowly giving way to love by the fire.
This story took me forever to finalise, simply because I had no real idea where I was going with it.
In addition, I was stuck on a very simple question: How do you write stealth in an exciting way that is tense and engaging?
As you can probably tell, I more or less gave up and ventured back into familiar “action” territory at the end. I also came to the conclusion that a fight between the target and main protagonist was much more fun to read than a silent kill.
No wonder there aren’t many stealth books out there …
Anyway, I’m glad to have put the finishing touches to this story and move onto the next one!
Welcome to the IMPACT series where I dissect notable and iconic sequences from games and movies, and how they broadened my mind and left a lasting impression on me, years to come.
Because the house always wins. Play long enough, you never change the stakes, the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big, and then you take the house.
Been practising that speech, haven’t you?
I just want to start off, by saying that my mother, despite her limited film knowledge, has impeccable taste in pop culture.
She knew exactly what her sons would enjoy and was the first to introduce us to Star Wars, Pulp Fiction and of course Ocean’s 11.
I have to credit her girlish nature, because she was purely interested in this film from a pure aesthetic standpoint.
Something that I can’t disagree with.
This film is stacked with class, luxury and too many beautiful people.
This was the film that taught me, that you can get away with anything, as long as you’re as criminally cool as Danny Ocean and Rusty.
Upon watching the film for the first time, I immediately hit rewind and rewatched it again.
Ocean’s 11 works so well as a film, because it perfectly captures the glamour, the effortless style and wit of old-school American Hollywood. It oozes with style, charisma and humour, without trying too hard.
It also has the best written dialogue/banter between the two male leads, actors at the height of their game, handsomeness and star power.
Ocean’s 11 is a lot like putting on a tailored suit. It’s warm, reassuring, makes you feel confident and classy. You are more at ease with yourself, and there is an attractive mischevious twinkle in your eye.
It’s the best type of comfort, the warm burn of cinematic whiskey.
Ocean’s 11 is probably single-handedly responsible for the concept of the classy American trope in my mind. I didn’t have a very good grasp on the idea, but upon multiple rewatches of Ocean’s 11, I had written a thesis on the concept after the 19th time watching the film.
The classy American is the perfect mix of confidence, grit and class. He is consummately professional, relaxed and softly spoken. Well dressed with a touch of arrogance, because he believes he is the best man in the room.
After all, he’s American. He’s worldly, but prefers to stay close to home, because he doesn’t want to lose his connection to his roots. He’s classy, with an appreciation for the dirtier aspects of life, hence why behind his dry wit and humour, is a touch of irony and cynicism.
He loves the finer things in life, but doesn’t hold any mysticism for them. He doesn’t value things higher than they really are, and even regard some luxury items as almost superfluous, whilst others would not.
What this man truly values are his friends, and he commands their respect and adoration in equal measure. He rarely make mistakes, but on the few occasions he does, he’s consummately humble and almost mischievously unapologetic.
This American archetype is the rarest and best type of American male. He doesn’t have any faults, his taste is impeccable and he only seeks the best in life and himself.
And no one person, better personifies this dramatic character, than George Clooney himself.
I fell in love with the character of Daniel Ocean, right from the very start. The quiet confidence, the thoughtfulness of his actions, the manner in which he carried himself … this was a man who was in control of everything.
He did nothing without a good reason, and was relaxed enough about it to look cool while doing so.
Even traveling up an escalator, hours after leaving the clink, Daniel Ocean is the picture of effortless class and style.
And then there’s Rusty Ryan.
Brad Pitt, literally being himself.
A man who knows he’s good looking and doesn’t give a damn.
Whilst Danny represents the classy side of an American Gentleman, Rusty is the antithesis, the affable, irascible American scoundrel.
He’s wilder, more unpredictable, but also oddly the more capable one. Rusty looks like he can hold his own in a fight and isn’t afraid to use his considerable sex appeal to his advantage.
There’s an undeniably sexy sleaziness about him, a man who is going to show you a good time, however fleeting it is going to be, but at least you know it’s worth it.
Rusty, to me as a young man, was my favourite character. I wanted to be as quick on my feet as he was.
“How’s your day going?!”
Rusty looks at the bartender, bored and disenfranchised with his current job.
“Longest hour of my life.” he shoots back.
“What?!” yelled back the bartender, unable to hear anything above the music.
Rusty smiles. “I’m running away with your wife!”
“Great!” says the bartender, unable to comprehend anything.
Rusty smiles and raises his glass of whiskey in an ironic salute.
Aside from developing a serious man crush on the two leads, Ocean’s 11 also taught me the beauty of dialogue in motion.
This is one of the smartest, quickest and wittiest films ever put on screen. The dialogue is rapid, and the delivery only heightens just how clever the characters are.
Some of my favourite dialogue ever put to film is between Julia Roberts and George Clooney. You can see how much they still care for each other, but it’s bitter now, distrustful and a shadow of its former self. Tess is cold, unapproachable, a woman to fear and desire at the same time. Daniel pines for her, she’s the personal reason why he wants to pull off this job.
He wants revenge on the guy who has taken his wife away from him.
They say I’ve paid my debt to society.
Funny, I never got the cheque.
It’s so clever, rapid and multi-layered. I still go back and rewatch the film, just to enjoy how the writers managed to capture so much wit in so few words. It is an insanely quotable film and I believe Ocean’s 11 and Casino Royale are the two films that I know every single beat, every single line to.
In addition to inspiring me to write better screenplays, Ocean’s 11 cinematography also struck me from a very young age.
There was something incredible about the way how this film was captured. There is the perfect amount of grain to every scene, a wonderful use of light and natural surroundings to showcase how these characters are larger than the extras around them.
This was the movie that really made me recognise the importance of cinematography. Because to film these actors amongst the hustle and bustle of a casino, requires a certain skill. I especially, loved the natural lighting that I’ve seen a thousand times over in reality, the soft candle-lit warm light that just highlights the face of a person close to you.
Films like Ocean’s 11 make me appreciate the beauty of reality, because I’m not just watching it, I can go out and live it.
The final thing that the film taught me, was the importance of team work. It also taught me a very early lesson on leadership. I’m a vastly different leader to Daniel Ocean, but I think the essence of my style is tied to his. I want to garner loyalty and the best way to achieve that is to be successful.
Because at the end of the day, most people will suffer almost anything, as long as you’re successful.
But that shouldn’t mean that you put your team through needless suffering. Instead, I learned that everything needs to be precise, needs to occur for a reason. Whatever it is you, as the leader, you have to take ownership and be aware of how it affects your team.
Danny did the whole heist, but withheld a very importance reason why from the team. A reason that almost put the entire operation at risk.
Just remember, Tess does not split 11 ways!
I learned to not fear a big team, because of Ocean’s 11. I knew that if I channel some of the Ocean’s charisma and confidence, I could bluff my way through anything, until I worked out the plan.
And it worked a treat. I don’t think I’ve ever joined a big team with a chip on my shoulder or fear in my heart.
I shall briefly touch on the sequels, which are great, but aren’t quite the touch of genius that 11 was.
I would like to credit Ocean’s 13 for the absolute perfect way to say goodbye, something that I have used many, many times: See you when I see you.
In addition, for reuniting the team against a great villain in Al Pacino’s Willy Bank.
As for Ocean’s 12, that film was actually a pure audio experience. I fell in love with the music in that film, especially the use of Italian love songs to highlight certain scenes. I loved the European setting, but it was the European music, that really got me, especially the a la menthe song used in the famous laser dance sequence.
Something that I still mock dance to, this day.
The Ocean’s 11 film opened my eyes to the glamour of celebrity for the first time. I wholeheartedly understood the appeal behind these men and felt an instant urge to suit up and be as cool and confident.
I learned how to not fear big teams when it came to leadership, how to write better screenplays and genuinely find inspiration in other men, on how to behave, talk and treat one another.
Without my mother’s taste in pop culture, I would have found a lot less interesting people to model myself off.
This was the film that established the suave American male that I will forever hold onto as an archetype I aspire to and also gave me the clear sign that in order to be cool, you had to do so effortlessly and with style.
Like eating food in every single scene, whilst looking completely nonchalant about it.
James Bond. Gabriel Allon. Dirk Pitt. Peter Parker. Jason Bourne. Bernie Gunther. Don Draper. Matthew Hawkwood. Steve Rogers. Jack Reacher. Sherlock Holmes. Rocky Balboa. Haruki Murakami.
Growing up, I had a loving, but slightly absent father. He was supportive when he needed to be, but much of his time was spent away, serving a community that “needed” him.
I suppose unlike a lot of other children, I didn’t think too much of it. After all, he wasn’t an abusive man or a terrible father figure, in fact there is a lot to admire about him, it was just that work was all too consuming for him to pay me any real attention.
I wasn’t bothered by it, nor do I hold it against him. Sometimes, certain people are just built with the concept of “duty” in them and they have to serve that through, no matter the cost.
So I did what I always did. I buried myself in books. Hundreds of books.
And out of those books, came a certain image of manhood that I created to suit my own personality.
Because out of the absence of a father figure, came a vision for manhood.
I’ve clung onto this vision for a long time now. It’s actually something I wrote down when I was fresh out of high school, identifying all the positive traits of my heroes. It was aptly titled …
The Kind of Man I Want to Be.
So let’s start with the biggest influence of them all.
An Art Restorer Assassin: Gabriel Allon.
Gabriel Allon is personally responsible for a lot of my false aliases. He is, without doubt, my favourite literary creation. Reading one of Daniel Silva’s books, is like listening to classical music. It is dramatic, but never inelegant. The best way to describe Silva’s prose is that you are reading something consummately classy.
The way how Silva uses words and breaks them, is always a tiny bit melancholy, but with a showman’s flair that makes for compelling reading. You are instantly immersed, because he captures an essence of what Europe should be … attractive, dangerous and indescribably rich with history and culture.
The character himself, is an incredibly unique creation. Born from the fires of the Munich Olympic 1972 massacre, Gabriel was recruited out of art school to avenge his country and be the tip of the spear that would showcase the true capabilities of an vengeful Israeli government.
Upon completion of the Operation Wrath of God, Gabriel found himself unable to paint anymore, his sense of self shattered by the violence he wreaked across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
So he plunged himself into art restoration, fixing Old Master paintings as a way to atone and seek peace within himself.
The character of Allon is moody, compelling, charismatic and melancholy.
Amusingly, there was no better way to describe Damocles at the time when he first grew obsessed with the books too.
It is thanks to Gabriel, that I learned a lot more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Holocaust and the tragic modern history of the state of Israel.
I also started to listen to more opera, just like the character. Whilst, I may not adore La Boheme as much as Gabriel does, I am a mega fan of Puccini’s Turandot.
Europe soon became this fascinating place of mystery and intrigue, and my desire to learn different languages increased after reading most of the book series.
I also took a lot of writing directives from the books, trying to recreate the easy, elegant prose that dominated so much of my reading hours.
I wanted to be an artist like Gabriel as well. It was around this time, that I actually tried to pick up a pencil and sketch more, something that I’ve recently fallen out of favour with, which is a shame. My sketches weren’t any good, but the fact that the character made me do something uncharacteristic like that is an indication of how alive he was in my mind.
Perhaps my favourite parts of the books are the way how Gabriel and his iconic team operate during a mission. Even now, I can clearly visualise what they are doing, how they are behaving and what each team member would do. It is a testimony to Silva’s talent as a writer that all the side characters jump out with a distinct personality, even amidst the chaos of a terrorist attack on the Continent.
Most importantly though, I wished I had Silva’s talent to write such beautiful scenes of violence and sex. His depiction of violence is always so haunting and lingering, a bit like hearing the sound of a beautiful melody fade in the background. Reading a love scene in the Allon series is a lot like watching a painter loving stroke his brush across canvas … the image may be one of a nude woman, but it’s never distasteful or vulgar.
For a very long time, Gabriel Allon dominated a lot of my personality. I was moodier, prone to melancholy, always paranoid and suspicious (even now, I’m constantly looking over my shoulder) and I desperately sought the arms of any woman that would have me. I found solace in my opera, my long walks and learned to really revel in loneliness.
Just like Gabriel, there is a part of me that still longs for a quiet home on the stormy cliffs of Cornwall, left alone to my devices and near suicidal walks during the worst weather.
What did Gabriel enrich Damocles with?
An appreciation for finer things, despite the ugliness of the world you inhabit.
The World’s most famous Detective: Sherlock Holmes
Another classic literary creation, it wasn’t until I married the iconic series and Maria Konnikova’s Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes that I truly became a more enlightened and formidable man.
Sherlock Holmes, represents to me, the ultimate in situational awareness and data processing.
It is through the character that I truly learnt to appreciate the nuances of bias, logic and unfiltered observation.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that I would not be half the man I am today, without Konnikova’s dissection of Sherlock Holmes.
That dissertation, is what gave way to a year long process of retraining my mind and habits to a much more heightened reality. I was obsessed with the idea of truly looking out at the world and understanding just how much information is missed because our conscious mind chooses to ignore it.
One of the examples that have always stuck out to me, is the staircase scenario.
Imagine you are Watson and every day, you climb these flights of stairs to enter Holmes’ office at 221B Baker St. You take these steps automatically, sometimes cursing them for the height they ascend but it is a worthy trade off for a conversation with the world’s most foremost detective.
The question is … how many steps are there on this flight of stairs? You take them every day, but you don’t know how many steps … You think you know, so you hazard a guess of “15?”. Holmes corrects you and say there are 17.
This scenario has always stuck with me, because it brings into question whether you are truly observing life, or whether you can access your subconscious mind accurately.
Watson’s guess of 15 is actually based on his subconscious natural processing of data. It is not like his eyes and legs aren’t aware of many steps they’ve taken up the flight of stairs, they know, it is just his consciousness that is unaware of the exact number.
I learnt to separate both and can access the subconscious data at a whim, with a higher degree of accuracy than most. To feed this subconscious data, which is constantly on, I have made a more conscious effort to take note of peculiarities in life.
The placement of a wet floor sign, the way how a woman walks with heels, the style in which a child might approach me, or even the type of music being played in the background.
Couple these observations with a more military context; continual scans for exit signs, where good cover can be found, what to use as a rag in the case of a fire, the nearest extinguisher or even who has a lighter on them, I like to think that I am a lot more aware of my surroundings than the average person.
But from a more practical interpersonal standpoint, Holmes’ deductive abilities have actually made me a much more empathetic person. I am able to more accurately read people’s moods and body language, and avoid certain pitfalls that others would fall into.
It took me years to really train this mindset and walk into situations with as little bias as possible, but it was worth the trade-off. I always try to come to conclusions after examining the facts, instead of forming a hypothesis and twisting the facts to suit it.
Sherlock Holmes also taught me the idea of the English Renaissance man, a person who is skilled at being a criminal and a detective, a boxer and an artist, a violinist who will dabble in illicit substances to get further clarification on things.
I’ve always strived to be as interesting and complete a man like Sherlock Holmes. I’m not quite on his level, but I am proud to say that I feel like I am closer to the idea of him, than many others.
What did Sherlock give to Damocles?
The power of sight.
The ultimate swashbuckler: Dirk Pitt.
I was late to the Dirk Pitt party.
A fact that I rue to this day.
Because his series is one of the most ridiculous, hilarious and adventurous yarns I’ve ever read.
I was so besotted by the character of Dirk Pitt, that I actually convinced myself that I belonged on the ocean, studying marine biology.
I was never proven more wrong, when I came to the marine biology laboratory and studied plankton for 4 days straight.
Still, that did not detract my love for the character one bit.
Dirk Pitt is the epitome of an old-school adventurer. He is a womaniser, a hard drinker, a man with a taste for the finer things in life, a person who belongs out in the water, searching for the next challenge and treasure. He’s a brilliant and loyal friend to those close to him, but a terrifying, ruthless force of nature to his enemies.
Pitt also has the best quips ever put to page. See the example below.
Context: Pitt and Giordino are flying in a helicopter, on their way to a Neo-Nazi base to rescue a marine biologist and her daughter.
“How much father?” asked Giordino without looking up from the pages of his novel.
“A little less than fifty miles and another fifteen minutes should put us in the hills above the Wolf shipyard.”
“Just enough time to knock out another chapter.”
“What’s so interesting that you can’t tear yourself away from the book?”
“I’m just to the part where the hero is about to rescue the gorgeous heroine who is within seconds of being ravished by the evil terrorists.”
“I’ve read that plot before,” Pitt said wearily.
Context: They continue to fly …
“Our objective is in sight,” he said evenly, without emotion.
“Damn!” muttered Giordino. “Just when I was coming to the exciting climax.”
“Relax. You have another ten minutes to finish it. Besides, I already know how it comes out.”
Giordino looked over at him. “You do?”
Pitt nodded seriously. “The butler did it.”
Dirk also has the best taste in cars, I’ve ever seen from a fictional character.
This ridiculously over the top, romanticised version of a man is exactly what I wanted out of an adventure novel.
To think it all started with a random book I found on my parent’s library, called Atlantis Found.
The moment I finished the book, I knew I wanted more and have subsequently read and completed the entire Dirk Pitt series.
It’s hard to describe how much affection I have for the character, but to put it simply, reading a Dirk Pitt novel is a lot like watching an Indiana Jones movie. The bad guys are cartoonishly evil, the women are more of less damsels but with a hint of toughness that makes them a bit more compelling and Dirk and Al are the perfect buddy cop partners that will ingeniously scrape through despite insurmountable odds.
Dirk Pitt is unrealistic as hell, but he’s entertaining and even if I don’t have his green eyes, muscular physique and smouldering intensity, at least I still have his quips.
What has Dirk Pitt gifted Damocles?
A sense of humour is always needed, even in the darkest moments. That and a love for classic cars.
The ultimate pretender: Don Draper
I’ve always said that if I could pick a face to claim as my own, it would be Jon Hamm’s.
His portrayal of the immensely flawed, but magnetic Don Draper is easily one of my favourite realisations of the broken promise offered by the American Dream.
Don Draper reminds me constantly of how important it is possess and own my personal code on the journey to be a self-made man.
He represents to me, everything wrong with the modern man.
For you see, Don is the perfect analogy for the deep dissatisfaction life can give you, despite being on top of the world.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects about modern life is how shallow it can be, how deeply unsatisfying life can be despite being married to the drop dead gorgeous January Jones, having ownership of a perfect home, and being paid generously for being one of the top marketing men in Manhattan.
Don’s character shows that just because you’ve reached the top, doesn’t mean you will find any deeper purpose or meaning in life.
It’s why he slowly unravels, becoming more of an alcoholic, a cynic and a womaniser. He doesn’t possess any moral or personal codes that will give him meaning. Life is dull, only spiced momentarily by fleeting moments with an unfamiliar woman or poignant, harsh self reflection.
Even though, by all standards, Don Draper is not a man to look up to, I will say … the man taught me on how to mime a cigarette and flirt. He also taught me the value of never lying to yourself and be true to you, in whatever it is you do.
And for that, I’m forever grateful.
What has Don Draper taught Damocles?
What not to do on your journey as a man and how to flirt with women. Also, an appreciation for Christina Hendricks and cocktails.
Captain America: Steve Rogers
A good man.
Whenever I have an attack of conscience, I don’t follow my Christian upbringing and mention some deity.
Instead I think back to Dr. Abraham Erskine, stabbing a finger in the chest of newly transformed Steve Rogers, reminding him of his promise to the dying doctor.
And it gets me every time.
It may not be the best Marvel film in the canon, but I liked the old-fashioned story and characters, the classic good vs evil. What also made me really enjoy the character, is that Steve remains the good man he originally was, right from the beginning of his story in the First Avenger, all the way to Endgame.
There’s a steadfastness to his personality, an uncompromising element that anchors him to the ground, whilst others might get ahead of themselves. I strive to achieve that steadiness, that moral compass that always knows what to do, while others might get confused.
As much as I curse my conscience, something that regularly causes me both pride and consternation in equal measure, I have to respect it. A lot of that I attribute to a desire to be like the Greatest Generation of Americans, people who put aside their petty squabbles and troubles for the greater good.
It is that enduring spirit that I love about Steve Rogers, who represents to me that unique generation that fought the Great Depression and World War II.
A recent example of this ridiculous boy scout spirit came to the fore when I was driving home after my daily run and came across a traffic junction that was no longer operating.
For half a second, I considered just ignoring it, before reminding myself … this is why you follow EDC principles.
So I pulled over to the nearest side road, called the police, reported the situation, before grabbing my hi-vis vest in the trunk of my car and my torch.
I ended up directing traffic for a solid half hour, before the police arrived to correct the issue.
Throughout the entire thing, I kept checking my watch, thinking about the dinner that was getting cold, when the police were coming, the slight pain in my leg from earlier cramps and how I wished I bought the other torch that had a Red/Green/White setting.
But it was fun. I received just … a lot of gratitude. Flashing lights, thumbs ups, car horns … smiles … it was nice to serve the community in an instance like this, despite the potential for getting run over.
After all, this is what EDC is all about. It’s not just for personal self-defence, or an apocalyptic scenario. EDC is about helping others in a genuine emergency or potential emergency. I didn’t want to see people crash into each other, especially because at this T-junction, the corners were quite blind.
Of all the things I expected to do on a Monday night, traffic management was not one of them.
So yeah, I blame Steve for this inner boy scout.
In what way has Captain America inspired Damocles?
Be a good man.
Berlin’s Private Investigator: Bernie Gunther
I’ve always loved reading noir crime thrillers. Before I watched iconic film noires like The Maltese Falcon or Double Indemnity, I actually read the Raymond Chandler books.
So you can imagine my disappointment when I ran out of his books to read. They were so hard-boiled, gritty and remarkably adept at immersing me into the seedy underworld of 1940s Los Angeles, that I craved more.
But none was forthcoming until I discovered an anthology of books called Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr.
Again, Bernie Gunther was an absolute stroke of genius, of literary character and setting meshing together in an perfect symphony of noire story telling.
Bernie is your classic, cynical but slightly romantic private investigator, down on his luck and living in Hitler’s Germany in 1936.
I’ll just let that simmer with you for a second.
A noire crime thriller set in Nazi Berlin.
Nothing could be better. Berlin, at the time, was a cultural icon of Europe, growing ever stronger with the Nazi’s rise to power. There was a real sense of growth and optimism, but this was marred by the strong anti-Semitic sentiment that was being paraded around and the corruption that was being encouraged in the higher echelons of the Nazi party.
Bernie is the perfect hero for the story, a nobody who doesn’t care for the Nazis, a reluctant supporter because he needs to earn money to eat. He gives the audience a view into a world that is normally not discussed and is charismatic, charming and incorrigible in all the right ways.
He’s the perfect gumshoe detective; smart, tenacious and a royal pain in the arse to anyone who had the misfortune of starting a conversation with Bernie.
What Bernie has given me, is a deeper love for historical fiction writing. I love revisionist fictional history, where you can picture this character believably existing in the past, and interacting with key historical figures.
Whilst I dislike the more Assassin’s Creed approach, where the false character influences history directly, I adore the smaller stories that have these personalities inject themselves as “historical footnotes.” For example, it might say in a history book that Reinhard Heydrich had a meeting with someone in Berlin, 1939.
A brilliant author like Kerr would then turn this small footnote into his advantage and schedule his fictional detective into that meeting where they would discuss the current crime case.
Bernie Gunther was a portal to a world that I always wondered about … life in Nazi Germany, but seen through the lens of a noire thriller.
Bernie Gunther gave Damocles what exactly?
A portal into another world and how to say cynical things in a darkly amusing way.
The Napoleonic Runner: Matthew Hawkwood.
Speaking of historical fiction, allow me to indulge in my favourite period of human history: the Napoleonic Era.
Another twist on the “crime thriller set in the past”, the Matthew Hawkwood series by James McGee has delighted me ever since I saw the book cover.
It was the book Resurrectionist that really put the series on the map. Showcasing Regency London at the height of its lawlessness, grime, and uncaring brutality, the Hawkwood series follows Matthew Hawkwood, a “Bow Street Runner”, a specialised officer with more leniency to tackle crime than your average plod.
Dark, mysterious, lethal and attractive, Hawkwood was one of those archetypes that at first, seem like an edgy cliche, but his intelligence and very human reaction to danger, make him much more realistic. I loved that he held an army rank, and was skilled with both pistols and sword. In perhaps a nod to the famous Richard Sharpe series, Hawkwood was also a member of the famous Rifle Brigade that used more precise Baker rifles, and was distinguished for his marksmanship.
Reading the series, I was enamoured with the concept of a Renaissance man again, a person who had acquired many different skills and lessons over a long, active life of servitude to the King. In every book, Hawkwood showcased new sides to himself, from rudimentary Chinese self-defence techniques that he learned from a monk whilst on a voyage from America to England, to employing his criminal networks to catch a fugitive fleeing to France.
This multi-faceted element to the character was what struck me early on. He was purposefully mysterious and vague in the first book, before becoming much more intriguing in the latter part of the series.
Inspired by this example, I’ve mostly tried to keep my talents hidden. I don’t brag about them too much, nor do I go out of my way to prove I can do things better than others.
It is always more organic to reveal skills in the moment than having to prove them due to an arrogant boast.
In addition to hiding some of my talents, I’ve also adopted a lot of Hawkwood mannerisms in my writing, especially for my characters. The frequent use of “the character cursed as he rolled to dodge a sword swing at his head” or something to that effect, is directly taken from many re-read passages from the Hawkwood series.
How did Hawkwood affect Damocles?
I’ve tried my best to cultivate an air of mystery, especially around strangers and my action sequences on pen and paper are better because of this character.
Your Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man: Peter Parker
Growing up, I wasn’t too keen on comic books. But one character that always stuck out to me was Spider-Man.
I learnt his entire story, when I begged my mother to buy the Ultimate Guide to Spider-Man.
It was through this book, I learnt every single villain, every key moment of Spider-Man’s life and all the tragedies he’s endured over his crime-fighting career.
It was a brilliant book and inspired in me a love for the character ever since.
I was so passionate about the character, that for my first skateboard, I actually bought some spray cans and made the iconic red spider logo as seen in The Amazing Spider-Man film.
I religiously re-watched the Raimi series, enjoyed parts but not all of the Garfield portrayal and am definitely fond of Holland as the titular character.
But it was really the game, Spider-Man 2 on my Nintendo Gamecube that showed me just how tough Peter has it. Delivering pizzas, rescuing balloons, stopping random crime and being late to dates with Mary Jane … I mean, I’m amazed Peter even has any time to fix the Spider suit or even socialise.
Which is sort of the point. The character of Spider-Man has always been a tragic loner, a more local hero to the population than the other Avengers. His sacrifices are always quiet and slightly soul-crushing, never really acknowledged for all the good he does, because of the horrible PR job by JJJ.
Despite the personal cost, Peter still dons the suit and goes out there to do his duty.
That perseverance and quiet sacrifice is what inspires me. If Captain America reminds me of the right thing to do, Spider-Man gives me the encouragement to keep going. He’s the continual under-dog, the guy always being stepped on and yet regardless of the world of hurt he is in, he’ll get back up and keep going.
Spider-Man reminds me that you can be a great person, have super-powers and be dating a gorgeous girl, but people can still hate you for you.
Peter Parker taught me to shrug it off and just keep doing what you’re doing.
Spider-Man’s teachings to Damocles:
With great power, comes great responsibility. Still the best line.
The CIA’s rogue assassin: Jason Bourne.
Jason Bourne is one of the few characters where I thought the films were a lot more compelling than the books.
The trilogy had such a massive impact on me that I actually lived an entire year of my high school days, going out in public and constantly checking my six.
My dedication to field craft was so compelling, that I actually developed a short-hand form of communication with my younger brother, whilst looking for our parents in giant shopping centres.
I could track people through crowds, navigate the quickest route from point A to B and even break line of sight.
My obsession with Bourne was total.
Whilst it may have been silly games as a young teen, those skills I taught myself have actually become incredibly useful abilities to have in event work, as well as de-escalating potentially nasty situations.
I know how to make myself invisible, and truly blend with society despite my appearance.
Idolising Jason Bourne was literally all about mimicking his skills. I even went out of my way to buy a monocular similar to the one he used in the second and third film.
Thanks to Bourne, I learnt how to think like an operator. How to really case an urban environment and use it to my advantage, how to really track targets and and become invisible.
Perhaps the most important skill though was how to navigate.
Early on, I realised that street names are fundamentally useless. There are too many of them, with who knows how many, repeated names to memorise and they’re also incredibly imprecise.
So I started using landmarks as reference. As long as I could “see” this particularly building, I would never be lost, because I just had to walk in that direction to get there.
The sequence that inspired this skill, was the fearsome Morocco chase in Bourne Ultimatum, where Bourne has to navigate his way through the city of Morocco to save Nikki from the Asset.
By picking a “compass” heading in his mind, Bourne is able to carve the straightest path there and get there in time to stop her assassination.
I’ve lost count how many times this exact skill has allowed to navigate cities with ease. No matter where I am, Osaka, Nagoya, Sydney, Brisbane or Tokyo, I have never felt lost in my entire life.
I sometimes wonder how clueless my life would be, if I didn’t invest all that time pretending someone was following me.
What does Jason Bourne and Damocles have in common?
Nothing. Just a habit of checking over our shoulder and never getting losing our sense of direction.
The quintessential loner: Jack Reacher
I am an avid Jack Reacher fanatic. Much like the Allon series, Lee Childs follow a yearly publication model, and so it is always with great anticipation I await the release of the next book in the series.
Unlike so many other characters on this list, Reacher has no flaws.
He is a giant of a man, with enough muscle to punch his way out of trouble and enough intelligence to solve any more complex matters for the people that need his help.
Reacher is unfailingly logical, almost mathematical in his violence and logic processing, an addict to coffee (I tried my first ever coffee thanks to him and couldn’t finish it) and he has a great sense of humour and the most masculine taste in music: blues.
Reacher is also in possession of the most enviable lifestyle in the world.
His life, is one of complete freedom.
I don’t think I’ve ever romanticised a person’s lifestyle more than Reacher.
It is perfect.
But what I wanted to delve into is his psyche.
Unlike a lot of other people, Reacher has no real brakes.
The best way to describe this attitude is if you look at the selector switch on your typical military AR-15.
Most rifles have different firing modes, to suit different scenarios. SAFE. SEMI. AUTO.
SAFE indicates that the trigger is unable to be pulled, SEMI means that for every trigger press, a single round is fired and AUTO means holding down the trigger will unleash a torrent of steel.
Military doctrine states that you always used SEMI. You can control the amount of bullets you fire, be more accurate and really evaluate what is going on, with each deliberate trigger press. You never go AUTO unless it’s an emergency.
Reacher’s mind is perpetually on AUTO.
He doesn’t know any other way to live. His fights are savagely quick and brutal, designed for maximum devastation in a short time-span. His mind is always seeking new thrills, indulging in whims.
Reacher just doesn’t care what other people thinks.
What I learned from the 26 plus books, is that my dirty fighting techniques have never rung more true and that if I am ever going to get into a scrap, I’m going to be FULL AUTO the whole way.
What learning can you possibly take away from Reacher, Damocles?
Strike first, strike hard and make sure you hospitalise the bastard.
The Surrealist Author: Haruki Murakami.
Amongst all my books, there exist the one that I would save if a fire ravaged the house.
My first copy of Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.
Recommended to me by a friend, Kafka on the Shore alongside Nujabes’ nu-jazz work, has changed my life.
It is without any exaggeration that if I did not read Kafka on the Shore, I would have turned out a lot unhealthier, mentally.
It is through my journey of unpacking and understanding the surrealist dream that is Kafka on the Shore, I understood more about myself than any other book I’ve read up to that point.
I can still recall the strange fugue state my mind was in, as I learned to absorb the story and words without judgement or confusion, just accepting things for what they were.
It was this strange mental state that allowed me to really accept me for who I was, flaws, strengths, desires and needs and see what needed to be improved without any hang ups.
Murakami’s unique style affected me so much, that I started a private blog and created an imaginary friend who is as real to me as my actual friends.
In a lot of ways, Murakami taught me the power of surrealism and how its’ creativity can be used to heal and seek answers to questions that are un-answerable in reality.
Kafka taught me how to harness the power of dreams whilst awake.
And it’s a gift that hasn’t stopped giving since.
Where gift did Murakami bequeath to Damocles?
The power of dreams and how to self-heal.
The Italian Stallion: Rocky Balboa
Rocky Balboa … my fitness inspiration.
I’m no boxer. But I believe in the universal power of getting fit and improving yourself.
Which is exactly what the character of Rocky represents to me. Evidence that you can come from nothing, but through hard work and iron will, you can defeat champions.
I’ve lost count how many times the Rocky soundtrack has inspired me but it is indelibly linked to my fitness goals and progress thus far. I wouldn’t have progressed this far, if it weren’t for the power that Rocky wielded over my mentality.
I also love his character, a thoughtful man with a heart of gold, despite his background and rough appearance. He’s soft in all the right ways, around all the right people, but a hard-charger in the ring.
In addition, his protege, Adonis Creed, has inspired me through various montages, to exercise whenever, wherever, regardless of how I feel or what I’ve done the day before.
There is always a new standard, a new grind, a new benchmark to move beyond the goalpost it was yesterday.
Rocky and Creed taught me the power to believe in myself to go further, to pace myself accordingly and to not give up when the going gets tough.
Without these two boxers, I would not have a single shred of fighter’s spirit in me. I credit them entirely for helping me on my journey to lose weight, to exercise and to train every day.
They’ve made me the fittest version I’ve ever been, and continue inspire me to keep going.
What did Rocky give to Damocles?
A score, a drive and a will.
The English Secret Agent: James Bond … 007
Finally we come to the greatest influence of them all, the biggest factor that has made me the man I am today.
James Bond. 007
I don’t want to portray myself as some hardcore fanatic, dressed constantly in a tuxedo and buying the exact same clothes, drinks and cars as Bond because that would be silly.
Instead, he serves as my principal inspiration for life. I wish to emulate the character but not become a carbon copy.
I’ve always established that about myself from the beginning. I can take inspiration regarding styling and colours, but I will never wear a carbon copy outfit of character unless I’m into cosplay.
Which I’m not. Yet.
I mean, I don’t even like wearing suits that much …. nor do I have any dreams to own an Aston Martin as my first supercar (I’m a Ferrari man). I definitely do not drink alcohol, have never tasted a Vesper martini and certainly don’t sleep around with random women.
I haven’t even travelled the world that much. My only credit is Japan thus far, after 28 years on this Earth.
So why Bond? Why is he my ideal male role model when I am the antithesis of him?
Because he represents everything I want to be.
Whereas all the other characters, I can relate to on some level, Bond is the purest male fantasy character on my list.
I’ve idolised the character ever since I saw him on screen for the first time. He was everything I wanted to be; ruthless, sexy, dark and mysterious. Handsome but with an edge.
Having grown up on Pierce Brosnan, he was my favourite Bond for a while, until Daniel Craig came along and completely upended the formula with Casino Royale, which is still, to date, my favourite film of all time.
Daniel Craig became the embodiment of manhood in my eyes.
His physique was one of functional muscularity, his handsome features were etched with just the right amount of cruelty and his overall demeanour was a man who was could blend with the rich, but was slightly ill at ease doing so.
All of which I have emulated, to some degree over the years. Especially the blending with the rich whilst being armed to the teeth with my EDC gear.
For there is nothing more cool to me than a man who is well dressed whilst also prepared for war. It’s why men like Thomas Shelby, Steve McQueen and even Napoleon Solo remain such style icons for me. They perfectly blend sartorial sensibilities with combat demands.
But the man who really sold it first, was James Bond.
I also loved how Craig’s Bond could be harsh and gentle around his women. His greatest loves have pushed him to the edge, but also saved him from said edge. For some reason, his last female connection, in his final film, was hauntingly similar to how I talked to my own partner, from the soft OKs to the warm jokes.
It affected me greatly, because I know that I put on such a tough front, but the right woman will always bring out the softer side of me, without rhyme or reason. Much like how Bond himself, a man comfortable with being alone, will still need the warm touch of a woman to ease the loneliness, to soothe the hurts and calm a mind left alone for too long.
In so many ways, I’ve critically analysed the character of Bond, and taken from him the best aspects I admire.
His stoic nature, his powerful masculinity that is naturally softened by the right woman, at the right time, the way how he wear his clothes, his walk, his smooth athleticism, his coolness under fire, the way how Bond grits himself during battle … hell even locations he visit … these are all things I love about the character and have incorporated in some way into my identity.
It still blows my mind, just how excited and passionate I am for the Bond franchise, after all these years.
He is still my favourite on-screen male icon, the man that I want to be, wish to be and am trying to be.
I’ll leave aside the sexist elements, cool out with the violence and most definitely cut out the alcohol, but in a lot of ways, Bond represent the old-school ideals of a man.
To be a man like Bond, is still an inspiring motivation for someone like me, lacking that strong image of manhood.
It’s dramatic, it’s arrogance, it’s even vaguely too old-fashioned, but there will always be a need for this type of man.
A man that embraces everything there is to being male. The good and the bad.
It’s why I still idolise him so much. Because through Bond, I’m reminded of what I am, what I should be and even the steps on how I can get there.
There is a scene that will stick with me forever.
It’s the scene of Bond coming in on a yacht, the Bond theme blasting in the background, and walking off his Goldeneye residence’s dock with a spear-gun and a fish in hand. His clothes are tattered but no less stylish, with a contented smile on his face.
It was that moment, I knew I wanted more than anything to live like Bond. James Bond.
What did Bond give to you?
The ideal male role model.
And that is it …
Every single important male figure that have contributed greatly to the formation of Damocles.
There are others, but none as influential, and none as life-changing as these men.
The longer I’m around a woman, the more likely I am to find her attractive.
It is just one of those things that has puzzled me for a very long time.
Do I just fall in love with women that easily?
Why do I do it every time?
I never realised it during the moment, but now looking back, there were a lot of moments where I was quite infatuated with a number of co-workers, colleagues and even friends.
I’m sure it’s not a unique condition, but speaking from personal experience, I find it vaguely concerning that I really do just fall for anyone, as long as I am regularly seeing them.
So where the hell does this habit come from?
Growing up, I didn’t have a whole lot of interactions with girls. But I knew that I liked them, perhaps a bit too much.
I can still remember watching Top Gun on the TV and seeing that silhouetted sex scene for the first time, and wondering what they were doing. I even recall re-enacting it out of curiosity and wondering what it would feel like to hold and kiss a girl.
In primary school, I had no real concept of girls, beyond their attractiveness and a desire to get to know them better, which was promptly nerfed by an incredible shyness that only exacerbated how tongue-tied I would get around them.
High school wasn’t much better, with my only real interaction with girls being two memorable occasions … playing in a band with one of them and the other being the Year 12 Debutante which I shall elaborate now.
Year 12 Debutante is probably the greatest social experiment for all the boys in the year level. It sorts the hot from the not and I was definitely not anyone’s first draft pick.
Not that I was surprised. I had a hideous hairstyle back then, barely talked to any girls, so why on earth would they pick me?
So it came as no surprise that I wasn’t picked by anyone. But I did look on with envy when one of my closest friends got chosen. It was quite flattering to be chosen, so to miss out was a bit heart-breaking.
What complicated matters that year, were the 2 Italian exchange students who were naturally fetishied for their looks, and European nature.
Which meant that one poor girl, a slightly unpopular individual, who was a bit abrasive in nature, actually got dumped by her chosen partner for one of these Italian exchange students.
Her name was Charlie (not real name).
Charlie wasn’t really well liked by anyone in the school. I had no real idea about who she was, or what she was like, but it was a well-known fact that she struggled a bit socially. She didn’t fit in any cliques, nor had many admirers.
Still, it wasn’t right for her partner to unceremoniously ditch her like that. Especially when they had already done two practice sessions together, to try and nail the dance.
So the call went out.
By then, the sting of being rejected by every attractive girl on campus had already settled in for the majority of the male population. We just didn’t care any more. We had put it behind us, our collective disappointment now superseded by our studies.
Still, our likable Year Captain did his duties. He went around the school, asking every single group of males whether someone would put their hand up to go with Charlie.
He was persistent, and honest, acknowledging that yes, Charlie wasn’t exactly the best pick, but she was the injured party here and she wasn’t all that bad.
Feeling sorry for her, I remember fighting my internal instincts. On one part, I had no interest in going with this unpopular girl. My crush was already spoken for and I didn’t see the appeal.
On the other part, my conscience weighed down heavily on me. I should just put up my hand to be the sacrificial lamb. It wasn’t right what happened to her and I did feel sorry for her, oddly.
So I did the unthinkable. I listened to my conscience, silently cursed Jesus for guilt-tripping me and put my hand up.
I regretted it the moment I said “I’ll go.” Even the Year Captain was shocked.
But the die was cast.
So off I went to dance practice, to meet this girl that I knew nothing about, wasn’t even remotely attracted to and was instantly surprised when she ran up to me and hugged me.
“Thank you! Thank you!” Charlie exclaimed. But I brushed most of that aside, because for the first time, a girl actually hugged me and I could feel every curve against my own body.
The sensation was foreign, almost alien to me. But it felt good.
Studying her up close, Charlie wasn’t as much of an ugly duckling that her compatriots made her out to be. Her facial features were a bit “shrew”-ish, but they were symmetrical, and in all honestly, I couldn’t look at her much in the eyes, because I was still shy.
The first dance practice however went well. I was always a bit gifted when it came to coordination and the moves came easily to me, which meant that Charlie could focus on her moves.
I remember placing my hands on her waist and being as light as possible. I was still struggling through this miasma of emotion when suddenly the call was sent out to switch partners.
Suddenly, I was eye to eye, hand in hand with another girl, a startlingly attractive Armenian girl whose features were as dramatic as they were teasing. She smiled at me and all I could muster was a shy return, and we swirled around together, before it was onto the next girl.
Much to my disappointment, the routine stopped 4 people short of my crush, but I’m pretty sure if that happened, I wouldn’t be able to handle it.
Charlie and I did one more practice move, including a dip and a swirl and then it was all over.
Charlie gave me one more hug before dashing off and I was left standing there, bemused and bewildered, until my friend came up to me and asked if I was OK.
“Yeah, I’m good, dude.”
I don’t really remember much about the following dance sessions, but I do remember my parents being excited for me.
I wasn’t. I felt like an imposter. Like I didn’t belong with all the other dance couples. I was the other half of a pity couple. But I was committed now. There was nothing in it, but to do it.
It didn’t help that there was a big rumour mill around this event. The rumour was that one of the richest, hottest girls in the year level was organising a huge afterparty at her place. I remember being so naive, that I asked what the hell was an afterparty and had it explained to me in envious detail.
It was an exclusive affair and again, my best friend was invited, whilst I received no such invitation. Hell, Charlie was so incensed by the fact that she didn’t get an invitation either and organised her own counter party.
And promptly didn’t invite me either.
Which naturally soured my mood to her somewhat on the actual debutante dance.
It also put to the rest any niggling feelings that I was developing for her. Because like any fool, I was getting attached to her with each dance practice. I liked the way how we held hands, how we were well coordinated and how a lot of the sessions ended with a hug.
For her to not even invite me to her party, just hammered the point home … I just wasn’t attractive enough.
But I put these misgivings aside, determined to get through the routine as best as I could.
It went off without a hitch, but my heart wasn’t in it and when the formal dance was over, everyone stormed the dance floor, whilst I sat back at my family’s table and watched as everyone else partook in the revelry.
Sick of the noise and the atmosphere, I chose to go home. I had enough for the night.
It was time for bed and to put to rest this whole bizarre romantic entanglement.
The Year 12 Debutante Ball, was the first real time I experienced this phenomenon which I shall call “provocatrix.”
It’s been a curse ever since.
The reason why I chose this word to describe how I feel, beyond the obvious Bond reference, is because all women, regardless of their level of attractiveness, provoke a reaction from me, once I spend a lot of time with them.
It’s a terrible jinx, and amusingly enough, has quite a parallel to my favourite on-screen spy with his multitude of love interests. After all, a man with that many sexual escapades, with a fondness for them all, has to have provocatrix.
So … if I examine this provocatrix phenomenon further, I’ve come to realise that it is because I create a better image in my mind about the woman. As my opinion of her forms, I suddenly get this urge to test her chemistry with mine.
I start over-looking flaws, seeing them as unique points of appeal. I find myself appreciating features on her face that I didn’t notice earlier. I start becoming more flirtatious and bang before I know it, I’m slightly obsessed over her.
It’s not good but it’s also not terrible.
Because on a positive note, it shows that I’m not the unfeeling, logic machine that I aspire to be.
But on the other hand, generating this much infatuation for a lot female strangers takes a lot of energy out of me and it also creates a lot of internal conflict.
Provocatrix clouds my judgement and I have this constant back and forth about it all in my mind.
Worse, it makes my interaction with a person who is more or less just a friend, confusing and difficult for me.
It’s like trying to pump the brakes on a runaway car going at 300km/h.
In a lot of ways, provocatrix is easily the most powerful emotional response I experience.
Everything else for me is a lot easier to deal with. Grief, loss, pain, disappointment, regrets, happiness, laughter, melancholy … whatever it is, they are dealt with efficiently and swiftly.
I know that my own emotional intelligence when it comes to the matters of the heart from my own context and experience, is remarkably high. I process emotional excess and desires in speeds that sometimes shock myself.
Being this self-reflective, I think I’m much better at handling strong emotions than the average person.
But, provocatrix gets me flustered and confused every time. It’s like experiencing a heady adrenaline rush all over again. It scrambles my normal processes and makes my emotional reaction time slower.
I start to become uncharacteristically eager to chat, resort to important talismans and am more self-conscious about myself.
In other words, the shy teenager comes out of me.
It’s funny how certain elements of you will never be buried, despite your best efforts to move heaven and earth to do so.
In many ways, I’ll always be slightly awkward around women, no matter how much better I am nowadays.
It’s ingrained in me.
Even now, despite seeing the same girl for 6 years, I can still get a little twisted inside whenever I see her. I find it difficult to believe that I am dating her.
There is always that sense of gratitude that she sees something in me, that I don’t quite understand why. I’ve learned long ago to accept her love but never take it for granted. After all, there are better looking people out there and they might even be more interesting.
In a lot of ways, I consider myself a very complete person, except for the most important aspect: being worthy of another woman’s love.
I think that is why I suffer so badly from provocatrix.
I get infatuated with the idea of a woman, which is grown organically alongside with our conversations, our interactions and every single detail of our relationship.
The more we interact, the more the snowball grows, and I start to read too much into every single movement of that avalanche coming towards me.
This feminine storm of my own creation, will keep coming, until it sweeps me up, and I land on my feet in the eye of the storm.
It’s only then, my brain synapses will kick in, logic will triumph and it will shut down this emotional storm in a blink of an eye. Sometimes this might come out in the form of a confession (rare cases) or in most instances, I’ll just metaphorically cut the strings that have wrapped themselves around my heart.
Once I am in the eye of the storm, I’m OK again. I’ve gotten over provocatrix and I can just remains friends with a girl, or literally just be myself around her, carefree and without any malice.
The most mature part of all of this, is that I never hold anything against her. I know that this is a mess of my own making and that she had nothing to do with it. It’s over-thinking in its most destructive form.
The worst part though is that I will occasionally feel some of that provocatrix tornado swirl in the form of an emotional dust cloud.
I will never really get over any woman I was once infatuated with. Once you find someone attractive, it’s hard to see them as unattractive.
But a dust cloud is a lot easier to ignore than the original tornado.
I mentioned this being a curse, because if I am honest, I’ve had provocatrix over so many of my female friends, that it was genuinely problematic.
However, writing this, coming up with my own unique term for the emotional storm inside of me, has helped immensely. I can understand the sensation better and tame it.
The biggest and probably most flattering upside to having provocatrix is that no matter how the girl sees herself, if she is friendly, warm and can laugh at my jokes, I will never consider her unattractive.
This feeling of provocatrix is only heightened if I find her particularly attractive and she shares some of the same passions I do. God forbid, if she is a bookworm or race cars …
Throughout the whole thing, I know that her physical features will grow on me, as will her small habits. I’ve forgotten how many provocatrixes I have gone through with co-workers, but they are numerous and even I’ll be the first to admit, some weren’t stunning women.
But the provocatrix happened and regardless of external beauty standards, I will always be fond of her and her unique features.
Perhaps that is why I have such strong relationships with my girlfriends.
I go through all the stages of love, before settling into being a friend and I’m comfortable there.
I don’t seek more, nor am I confused anymore.
I’m happy being the best friend I can be to these women.
The banter is no longer flirtatious, it’s just fun teasing.
Whenever I look at her now, I see someone pretty, intelligent, smart and funny, who deserves the best partner she can find.
And that partner isn’t me.
And that’s OK.
It’s why I have to careful about who I let into my life.
I just have this bad habit of falling for girls.
In other words …
Provocatrix synonym: I’m a lovesick dumbassthat’ll fall for a smile and the promise of a kiss.
P.S. I chose that particular image of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley because that was the first ever lingerie ad I ever watched … and because she is wearing one of my favourite lingerie brands: Agent Provocateur, the name sake of this article.
I never really saw myself as a cowboy, until recently.
It’s odd that I never connected the dots sooner, really.
So much of my personality is very much based around the individual spirit, a self-made man whose stoic nature hides some very real anger.
There is the classic rebellious spirit in me, as well as my perchance for dramatic clothing with plenty of masks and hats to spare.
I also grew up reading a lot of cowboy comics, in particular a series called Cheyenne which remains near and dear to my heart.
And I’ve always proclaimed that the ideal pet for me was a camel.
I suppose I never really linked every aspect of that into a lifestyle known as cowboy.
It’s strange, why I feel like I have such a strong connection with the idea of being a frontiersman only now.
I suppose I am romanticising the idea of freedom. Free to explore and wander to the heart’s content. The idea of every day being the same, but not quite, of always being busy but able to get away from work.
The lifestyle just seems so natural.
So what is it, about the cowboy lifestyle that appeals to me so much?
Let’s start with a deep dive into my rebellious nature.
In all great Westerns, there exists a triumvirate of forces pitched against each other for supremacy over the land.
Cowboys, “Indians” and Civilization.
Cowboys and Indians are opposed to each other, because of a long feud that has resulted in many a misunderstanding and even bond to each other. They both want the land for themselves, to live their way of life in peace.
This common theme, of “being left alone to live one’s life as one see fit” is why they will normally put aside their differences to fight Civilization or Modernity in all its complexity and dominating nature.
Civilization wishes to tame both the Cowboys and Indians. They believe both factions are savage, lawless and unprincipled. The idea of a world without strict rules, punishment and taxes is an aberration to them.
The key difference here is that Civilization wishes to dominate the land, instead of live beside it.
The tragedy of the West, is that with their more antiquated lifestyle and technology and in-fighting, eventually the Cowboys and Indians lose the battle, and the world becomes a bit less natural.
For me, that battle has always been a strange internal conflict.
A big part of why I wanted to join the military, was that I would become a better self-made man, I could learn skills to survive out in the wilderness and be self-sufficient.
But there was always this strange nagging feeling that I wouldn’t fit into the regimental nature of the Army. It’s why I promised myself, if I was to enlist, to get through basic training as quickly as possible and immediately apply for Special Forces, because I liked the idea of having a bit more autonomy.
It took me a while to realise, that I could just be my own made man, with the money I made and teach myself these skills. After all, there was no real reason why I couldn’t teach myself how to survive, how to shoot a gun or cook.
I just had to get out there and pursue it. I just wasn’t getting paid to do so by a government institution. All the money for training had to come out of my own pocket.
But I could keep my rebellious nature intact. I could still live my life the way I saw fit.
It’s why I think, despite holding a deep reverence and love for the military, I doubt I would ever enlist. I’ve put that passion and dream away. I’ve made peace with it and found a new love for a new type of lifestyle that doesn’t involve me yelling “YES SIR” to anyone.
Which is how I prefer it, in all honesty.
A big part of the cowboy etiquette that I love, is that there is a strong sense of respect and honour in hard work and loyalty. They are loyal to a fault to their friends and family, regardless of any wrong-doing that they might have incurred in their lifetime.
I’m very much the same way. I’m an arsehole to everyone. No matter what you’ve done, been through or how you view yourself, I’m the same stubborn sonvuabitch to you, as I am to the person next to you.
But if I see you work hard, I’ll give you my respect.
Respect from me, is something everyone earns. It’s not easily given out, nor is it easily recognisable. I don’t hand out compliments and I sure as shit, don’t like people quickly either.
To unlock the soft gooey part of me takes a certain character and a lot of people fail to get past my ruthless professional demeanour.
Naturally this arrogant attitude to respect, automatically annoys every single older person that I’ve met. Especially the Asian variety, where a huge part of the culture is paying that revverence to older people.
My argument to that is …. last I checked, it wasn’t fucking hard to age. All you have to do is be healthy and you’ll live another year. Hell, you can still be unhealthy and get to see another birthday cake.
So why the hell should I applaud you for doing the bare minimum in life?
Age doesn’t equate to wisdom, nor does it mean I got to salute you and treat you like a superior.
Another crucial aspect of being a cowboy is a reverence for the land. A deep, healthy respect for the environment and being aware of your impact on it.
One of the most interesting facts I learnt, is that when a person sees a dead animal near a fresh water source, you should automatically move it away and ensure the contamination doesn’t spread.
What if there is another one upstream or downstream?
It doesn’t matter. There is an obligation to you and the environment to move it. Thousands of animals and human beings rely on that water source and if it is within your power, you should preserve it.
For some reason, that lesson stuck with me, long after I finished reading the book. It perfectly illustrated the symbiotic relationship that mankind has always had with nature, how we can help the natural world, and co-exist together.
It inspired me, much to my chagrin sometimes, to constantly pick up rubbish when I see it. Bins aren’t normally far away, and I always feel better knowing that I’m doing something to help the environment.
Would I classify myself as a person, particularly passionate about animal rights and the natural world? Hardly.
I’m just very aware of what I can do and what I should do. I have a lot more personal things to worry about. I can’t solve the world’s pollution, nor its change, but I can do a little bit here and there.
I wouldn’t even necessarily say that I am overly fond of animals either. In many ways, unless my lifestyle truly dictate that I need a pet, I’m not in the mood to get one.
Perhaps that is a very workmanlike attitudes towards animals, but it is truly how I feel. I don’t need dogs, unless they help me to hunt or shepherd cattle, neither of which I am currently engaged in.
Nor do I need my ideal animal companions, a falcon and a horse, because I don’t have enough land to support them and I don’t hunt either. I will also say, as an aside to myself, a desire to go on a hunt, doesn’t mean I should invest in both, either.
Being attuned to the needs of the natural world has always been something I’ve longed admired. If asked on which spiritual, quasi religious ideology I would pick, if I had to chose one, my first instinct would undoubtedly be the Native American philosophy.
I’ve always loved the stories about how the natural world came to be, with references to animals and a “Great Spirit” which was always more nebulous and mysterious than the Christian variant. There is something more eerie and wondrous about stories being passed down from elder to elder, knowing that some are more embellished than others, but retaining the same moral and spirit of the tale.
The power of a common “story” is infinitely more believable and touching than a doctrinal, regulated and sanitised tale that has resulted in the most published book in the world. The reason why, is because the human story-teller adds their own humanity to the story, to the myth of creation, instead of a committee than decrees “God” must have created the world in 7 days, to match a work week.
Even as a child, reading and learning through fictional cowboy stories, I felt that sense of wonder and awe for the natural world in those books, which was far more than anything I got out of reading the bible.
In creating a great mystery, you learn to be humble before it, and understand your place better in the world. Man wasn’t put here to control nature, we were designed to help the natural world and be quiet, humble shepherds.
In today’s world, there isn’t really a proper need for a violent man.
We are beyond that now. Less soldier, more warrior-poet.
I can see how much more mentally healthy current soldiers are now. So many of them seem more adjusted to the rigours of warfare. They’re eloquent, philosophical and incredible teachers, especially from the ones I see on social media.
They’re are now more adjusted to civilian life than ever before.
But the possibility of violence is always within everyone.
Which is why I sometimes believe in the power of a fist-fight.
The life of a cowboy is inherently quite masculine. It breeds tough people, for tough times. There’s a practicality and innate roughness to the lifestyle.
Doing such hard work and dealing with the same people day in and out, will bring out emotions that will test anyone, no matter how long their history with the other.
Tempers flare and emotions will run hot.
Violence is just another expression of that.
It’s a language in of itself. Perhaps that is what separates civilized folks and frontiersmen.
Frontier people understand that life is fleeting, that at any time, lighting itself could come down and strike you dead. It’s why they let emotions rule them a bit more.
But the way how they express that emotion is more complex. They can say a lot with a nod, a shared pipe, a quiet moment by the camp-fire or through terse words and grunts. Frontier people can afford this short hand style because almost every interaction they have with other people, is more intimate. Strangers can quickly become friends or enemies, and the group you run with, are your family.
Which is why, for some, violence is just another form of communicating.
Sometimes, you need to beat someone to make them understand.
There’s a strange logic behind it, that I can almost empathize with. Sometimes words aren’t strong enough. There will always be a simmering tension between two men. This friction can quickly boil over to resentment and other bitter emotions.
Especially considering if both parties consider themselves the alpha, and are stubborn and intractable men with difficulty expressing their emotions.
Thus the only recourse to settle differences is with fists.
There have only been 3 occasions in my life where I’ve thrown punches in anger. The first one was exhilarating. The second one was an ass-whopping that I definitely had coming. The latest one was out of fear.
But I’ve never really thrown down in a competitive way, a way to assert dominance over the other. To really show the other man that I’m the boss.
Well, actually … as I am writing this, I remember coming close.
This story I am about to tell you, isn’t really a reference to how much of a cowboy I am, but more an intriguing test of my character that showcases just how much control I have over myself, to not resort to violence.
It is the final hours of the festival. A festival that I’ve suffered through and put together for 6 months.
I’ve been put through the wringer for approximately 96 hours now. My inner rage is what put one foot in front of the other, what fuels my hoarse voice as I bark orders and haul tables with my team. I’m tense but still able to crack foul jokes and maintain a certain light-hearted banter.
After all, the festival is largely a success, but this year, there has been a lot of … incidents that have made me furious that everything did not go perfectly.
Case study 1: Some stupid kid, heartbroken over his breakup at the festival tried to jump 6 metres to the ground. In front of the first aid room. At a height that will only give him a broken leg.
Resolution 1: Security talked him off the ledge and when I got the report, all I could was give a derisive snort. No sympathy, just an exasperated sigh of frustration at the stupidity I have to deal with at this festival.
Case study 2: A ride operator makes a mistake, and a kid falls out of a Zorb ball, into 30 cm high water. He is a bit upset, but is overall fine. The parent however is incensed and starts making a fuss. I’m called over to deal with the situation. I offer the kid a towel, but he’s fine. Just wet. But no, in his father’s eyes, his child nearly drowned, is suffering from hypothermia and threatens legal action. His friend agrees and starts making threats about calling Work Safe down to the festival and shutting the whole thing down.
Resolution 2: I had to spend 1.5 hours with this irate, stubborn moron and his dense chatterbox of a friend, missing the fireworks and my team’s celebration of the new year. In the end, we agree to do absolutely fucking nothing, cos he has no case. He doesn’t thank me, is still rude, is unable to see beyond his own small personality, steals my personal towel because he’s a self-righteous prick and I’m close to punching him in the throat.
Case study 3: An actual pervert somehow manages to slip past security. Now, keep in mind, I’m paying security an extremely hefty fee to look after my festival, so you can imagine my displeasure when I’m the first one to spot this creep in the children’s area. He’s wearing a long coat, with nothing underneath but a pair of speedos and running shoes. The reason why I can spot him, is because he’s holding the coat shut with his hand, but his bare legs keep coming through. And he just got this disturbing look. His hair is greasy, he’s sweating slightly and his movement is erratic. So I follow him, constantly keeping eye contact with him, almost encouraging him to do something, because if he does … I’m going to crash tackle him to the ground and beat the shit out of him.
Resolution 3: It takes security more than 10 minutes to respond to my call and I let them and the police escort the creep out. I’m not particularly happy, because security took way too long to respond and I don’t understand how they let the weirdo in, in the first place.
So with all those case studies in mind, (there were other incidents too), be aware that my mental state isn’t exactly in the mood for any more bullshit.
So imagine to my surprise when I see a complete stranger, a festival attendee just start helping out with the pack-down. At first, I’m too busy coordinating with the food stalls to ensure a safe release. So I don’t pay him any attention. I don’t really think anything of it. It’s almost nice to have random people help us pack up.
But the alarms bell start ringing when I finally catch a breather, and can coordinate my team of volunteers, who number now in the 30s. Keep in mind, that everyone who has worked at the festival, know that I am the event manager. This festival is my baby and mine alone. This is my kingdom and no one will de-throne me. But to the outside world, no-one knows who I am. No-one is aware of my true power over this domain.
I like to keep it that way. I don’t do this sort of work for recognition or fame. I do it, because it’s fun, and I get to have more experiences with my friends.
By now, the team is well aware that during event hours, I am a tense human being. I’m unnecessarily harsh, stressed over the stupidity that surrounds me and am barely holding myself together, tottering on the edge of exhaustion and far too many Red Bulls.
It doesn’t help that when I walk over to my team, I’m holding a crowbar, and scowling.
As I am walking over, I see this stranger bossing my team around. I frown and glare. Who the FUCK is this guy? I walk over to one of my closest friends and ask who is this stranger and why is he barking orders? My friend says he doesn’t know, but he’s an arrogant guy.
I ask a couple more members of my team. They all agree that he’s a bit of a douche, he’s bossy and they doesn’t know where he came from.
The stranger is loading trestle tables into the truck, when I decide to walk up to him. I tell my team that I want the tables placed in a certain way. The stranger disagree with my orders. He tells them to do it his way.
Something inside me snaps. This is the final straw. I’ve had this simmering anger inside of me, raging for the past 48 hours.
“I’m sorry, but who are you?” I ask testily
“Me?” says the stranger incredulously. “I’m the boss.”
Everyone has stopped working. They’re all staring at me and the stranger. They can’t really believe what is going on.
You can picture the scene, I’m on the left, dripping in tactical gear, my Formula 1 Red Bull shirt, barely covering the thigh rig that is decked out with knives, cable ties, tape and a radio. My right hand is tightly gripping a crowbar and I’m leaning in close, to make sure I’m hearing everything correctly.
On stage right, the stranger is all casual, a loose white t-shirt, cream shorts and sneakers that are too expensive to work in. He’s defensive, psyching himself up for this argument with me. He’s not going to back down.
Everyone, I can tell, is eager for this showdown. They want me to put this upstart in his place. I’m not going to disappoint.
“You’re the boss?” I repeat. “You’re the boss?” The stranger smiles at me cockily.Without realising, my grip on the crowbar tightens.
“No.” I smile tersely. “I’m the boss.”
“No, you’re not.” exclaims the stranger indignantly. “I’m the boss! You can’t tell me what to do!”
“No. I am. If you don’t start backing down,” I threaten, “I’m going to call security and have you escorted off the premises.”
“You can’t be the boss.” says the stranger incredulously. He looks over at the crowd for support but sees none is forthcoming. “I know people! I’ve been working here all weekend!”
I merely raise an eyebrow. “You know people. You’ve been working here all weekend.”I repeat with a smirk.
“Yes! I know P—-! He will vouch for me.”
“No, he won’t.” I coldly reply. “He’ll say the exact same thing. I’m the boss here.”
“What the hell? No! I know him. He’ll vouch for me. He’ll say I’ve been working here for ages. I don’t know who you are, but you’re in trouble if I get him over here.”
I feel the urge to laugh. This little shit has no idea who I am. Who he is fucking with. The man in question is my own father. He has no clue who I am.
“Go ahead. He’s just going to say the same thing I’ve been saying. I’m the one in charge here.”
The stranger runs off and in search of my father. I just shake my head and place the crowbar down in the truck bed. I reach for my radio, exasperated and sick of the shit.
“Security? Hey, I got a festival goer who refuses to leave. Please escort him off the premises.”
“You got it. On my way to you now.”
The stranger comes over, my father in tow. He has a smug smirk on his face. I’m coldly amused.
“This is the guy P—-! He says he’s the boss and that he wants it done his way.”
“Damocles?” asks my father confused. “Yes, he is the boss. Whatever he says, you have to do it his way”
I look at the little twerp with a cold glare and cock my head.
“But … I … who is he to …” stammers the stranger.
“Look, I don’t really know what is going on,” says my father, “but Damocles is the event manager. He is the one in charge here. If you have any issues, you have to talk to him.”
My father walks away and we look at each other.
“Get your gear and leave the premises. Now, or I will have security escort you off.”
The stranger walks away forlornly. He tried to play his shitty hand, but I owed every single fucking card in the deck. He tries to strike up a conversation with my team, but everyone ignores him.
Security arrives and I motion them to the stranger, who waves at us, cockily, whilst I shake my head in disgust.
“What an asshole” I exclaim, before getting the team back into gear again. Moments later, security, reading my body language and tone, call back with news; they’ve deposited his dumb ass in the middle of nowhere, with a long walk to any available public transport.
All I could do was smile and laugh.
Looking back, I am quite surprised that I didn’t thump the bastard. He was cocky, arrogant, rude and incredibly disrespectful. He had the temerity to boss around my team, people who had been on site for 96 hours or more and somehow expected to get treated as one of the squad?
But I knew deep down it wasn’t worth it. People like that, just weren’t worth the jail time or bruised knuckles. The biggest disrespect I could dish out to a guy like that, was to not give him any more of my time.
Despite it all, the huge amount of stress and problems that the festival had thrown my way, this final problem still proved that I wasn’t ready to unleash my inner violent nomad.
Dealing in violence is easy, living with violence isn’t.
Would I ever get into a fight with my friends?
It’s highly unlikely. We’re too gentle. Too reflective and in all honesty, too soft. We don’t have the hard-edge that comes naturally to people who were raised on the frontier.
I mean, my own inclination to fight, is always superseded by my flight instinct. I do my best to prepare for a fight, but really, my first instinct is to slap some cardio on pavement and don’t look back.
I can trust my inner cornered tiger though, to fight incredibly dirty. It’s all I ever known, dirty fighting, which makes violence, as a language to me, difficult to express on a friend or colleague.
Perhaps one day, I’ll actually let my fists to the talking. It’s just hard to comprehend in the context of my own life. I’ve never fought, as a adult, for the joy of fighting. I’ve done a combat sport, but that was still civilised and involved swords, so I don’t really count that.
Perhaps, it’s high time I really invested in Krav Maga classes ….
The final element that I want to talk about is self-reliance and EDC.
EDC (Every Day Carry) is a self-defence and prep philosophy that stemmed from first responders and serving military members, who found themselves in risky situations when out of uniform.
Granted, Melbourne isn’t known for its high crime rate or home to a vast majority of organised crime, but I still engage in EDC anyway.
As you are probably aware, before I walk out of the house, I always perpetually have on my hip, a Pelican torch, a Leatherman Skeletool, a tourniquet and my latest acquisition, a Leatherman Raptor Medical Shears.
I am First Aid trained, and regularly brush up on my knowledge. At first, like every military obsessed fanatic, I saw my tools as a way to defend myself.
I would practice de-escalation techniques, with clear eye contact, open hands and a gentle but firm tone of voice. If things went bad, my right hand would drop to my hip and draw my torch out, blinding them, before sprinting away.
If somehow flight wasn’t an option, I would use the torch in a two high combo. I would activate the strobe effect, before delivering a uppercut with the torch.
And if somehow combat was now the only way out, the Leatherman Skeletool would come out as a last resort, and the knife would be slashing at any tendon it could find.
A torn Achilles’ tendon would make for a difficult pursuit.
But in reality, whilst I have rehearsed many of these moves, practiced and prepared myself mentally for these occasions thousands of times, my tools are just that … tools that I actually use every day.
With the small arsenal on my belt, I can help people find items they’ve lost, scan my surroundings, fix screws that have come loose, cut paper or simply hammer down an annoying item.
And it’s that self reliance, that ability to problem solve whenever the occasion arises that make me think of a cowboy attitude to life. No matter the obstacle, with the resources at hand, you can get by with ease.
You’re always ready, because you never know what might pop up. It could be a small problem like taking apart a light with your Skeletool or facing down a drug-addled lunatic who is shouting paranoid nonsense at you.
Either way, it pays to have certain items on hand at all time, and it pays to always be situationally aware.
I don’t want to rattle anyone bones here. I’m not making some bold claim, that I’m a genuine cowboy, that I can ride, lasso, shoot and punch my way out of anything.
In fact, I’m pretty certain, I look quite naff with a cowboy hat on, despite buying one. After all, try as I might, I can’t disguise the fact that I have never ridden a horse and that is enough to sink me.
So Damocles, I hear you ask, what was the point of this ridiculous 4000 word blog post?
The point is that I am identifying elements behind the mythological cowboy that I wish to emulate, adopt or merely note the similarities between myself and the idea of a frontiersman.
After all, even after all this time writing, I am still not quite sure what type of man I want to be.
I have so many ideas about what it means to be a man, that even just one of those, needs this ridiculous 4000 word diatribe about how I identify with the tenets of it.
I suppose, at the end of the day, I admire the idea behind the cowboy, but I’ll never really become one, despite my desire to dress, behave and act like one.
I’m too busy trying to work out my other passions into the whole persona of Damocles.
Because at the end of the day, even I don’t know the full extent of myself.
I’m still searching like everyone else.
This cowboy phase will soon be regulated next to the ranks of racer, fencer, reader, urbex explorer, event manager, shooter, and all round trouble-shooter.
Welcome to the IMPACT series where I dissect notable and iconic sequences from games and movies, and how they broadened my mind and left a lasting impression on me, years to come.
Somebody save me …
Let your warm hands break right through it
Somebody saveme …
I don’t how you do it. Just stay, stay
C’mon I’ve been waiting for you …
The early 2000s were an intriguing time for me. Growing up, I was banned from watching television, due to my over-enthusiasm for copying the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers fight choreography.
My mum, rightly or wrongly, didn’t allow me to watch any TV ever since.
So you can imagine my initial shock at discovering TV shows and how dramatic they could.
Smallville was exactly that.
Dramatic. Fun. Relatable … and crucially … filled with ridiculously good looking people.
It was also the perfect show to watch for a guy who was going through puberty and high school at the same time as Clark Kent was.
I can’t stress that enough. To say that Smallville had a significant impact on me growing up, is to severely underestimate how much of my teenage years were spent watching the show, growing obsessed with the idea of being a superhero and saving my high school crush.
The show is probably the sole reason why I’m such a disgusting Boy Scout when it comes to my moral compass.
It is also the reason why I have such fond memories of early 2000s rock music.
Smallville formed a lot of my values through my teenage years.
I shake my head now, but the episodes where Clark undergoes an edgy transformation due to “Red K” were some of my absolute favourites as the series went on. I wanted to be the darker, more unhinged version of Clark, who just didn’t care about revealing his powers or being a boy scout.
But I knew deep down that I was a lot more like normal Clark.
Shy around the girl he liked, eager to do some good and trying to keep his head above water.
I wasn’t bullied at school, nor was I the most popular guy on campus. I was just another guy.
Which is why I clung onto the idea of idolising Clark. Because he was a pretty ordinary guy, with some extraordinary powers. His dream was to be the popular kid, the guy cool enough to get Lana Lang’s attention and score the winning touchdown at his home game.
I could relate to that. I myself, was hideously shy around the girl I liked, and to my eternal regret, I never confessed my feelings to her for the entirety of high school.
Which is why I vicariously lived through Clark and his now iconic formula of Freak of the Week in which he would engage a new “freak” who was affected by the meteor shower from Krypton, do some amateur sleuthing and save the girl.
All whilst balancing school, friendship drama and trying to hide his secret identity and discover more about his true alien nature.
I remember keenly tuning in every week to watch a episode and experiencing my first real agony over a cliffhanger in which Lana is trapped in her car, with a tornado about to sweep her up and Clark super-speeding over, just in time to see her get tossed into the air.
I couldn’t believe that I had to wait months before I could see what would happen next. I remember being immensely upset and praying there would be a season two.
But I idolised the show. I wanted to be Superman, and have all of his powers. In fact, if I had to pick one from this powerhouse of a hero, it would definitely be his super-speed and for the time, the effects looked great.
In all honestly, looking back, I can’t help but be impressed by the style and production design. Metropolis was all hues of blue and grey, with an emphasis on glass and steel creating a unique look to the city. The Talon, a cinema/cafe complex where a lot of the characters met and worked was surprisingly lived in for what it was.
Then there was the Kent Farm itself, which was an incredible set, that really showed the love and care the Kent family poured into their adoptive son, and was the perfect way to show how All-American Clark really was. I loved the barn’s loft in particular, a prelude to what would be Clark’s occasional need to find solitude.
Hell, I even liked the cheesy look of the Fortress of Solitude and especially the way how the show paid homage to Christoper Reeve in his turn as Superman.
The show had just the right balance of action, romance, adventure and quickly deftly wove all the complex issues that Clark was facing over a season really well.
I won’t lie. Smallville was what started my admiration for America. I don’t think I wanted to move over to America as much as I did whilst watching the show.
I mean Smallville High looked so cool. People my age could dress however they wanted, drive cars to school and do fun stuff like run a student magazine and play girdiron. Then there was the summer break, where you could hang out with your crush, skinny dip in a lake and if you’re lucky you might even get this ridiculously attractive teacher who would hit on you, with her Kryptonian pheromones.
But I want to delve into the more important elements that I got out of the show.
A. American Football
Seeing Clark Kent armour up for his football never failed to get me amped. Especially when the iconic Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day. For some reason, I loved the football scenes in the series, because they showcase the moments when Clark is happy, but also restrained, fighting his natural superhuman strength and speed to be normal. All he ever wanted was to be accepted and not feel like a freak and sport gave him that outlet.
In a lot of ways, I echo that. Whether I’m running, playing tennis, go-karting or practising quick-draws, I get that sense of power. I can feel my inner showman come out, and show the world how athletic I am, how coordinated I can be. I get that powerful surge of energy that lets me know, yes everything is working right.
Would I have signed up for the football team if NFL existed down here in Australia? Maybe. I’ve always seen myself as a wide receiver, until recently, when I forgot how much those balls hurt your hands if you catch them the wrong way.
But that was the dream … and it’s more suited to me, because I know damn well, I can’t throw the perfect spiral.
I mimed the hell out of those scenes when I was young and I’m glad I got to taste a little bit of it, when my younger brother bought a football and we got to spend a couple of hours together throwing the pigskin around.
B. American Values
Whilst Clark Kent’s fashion choices aren’t exactly the most forward or dramatic, I did oddly grow an obsession with wearing similar colours.
The iconic Red/Blue combination has stuck with me ever since, with a lot of my gym wear being based around that All American standard. Whilst I know it was an obvious reference to his superhero costume, I liked how casual it looked around Tom Welling’s big frame.
In fact, I can honestly say that almost all the colour in my wardrobe are either bright blues or red, my subconscious still channeling Superman, even when I don’t realise it.
Beyond dressing like an All-American in a town that value black on black and on more black, I took away a lot of Americanisms from the show.
There is something to be said about wholesome American shows that espouses strong morals and deal with such strong American icons. Even the first Captain America film, affected me greatly after watching it. They have this charm and old-fashioned element to them that I appreciate.
I think it is that old-school vibe that I adore. Perhaps one of the worst and best part of me, is that old generation outlook to moral and life. I believe in hard work, doing the right thing and honouring your duty to society.
I harnessed that part of my personality through shows like Smallville and Bones, where all my favourite male characters were that stoic, boy scout character, whose toughness hide a surprising vulnerability.
Call it a cliche, but it was these shows that really taught me how to be my own man and accept the consequences of my own actions.
Perhaps the greatest lesson one can learn from American values is that when you are called upon to do something, you should do it because it’s just the right thing to do.
C. Female Friendships
In the show, Clark Kent is quite the ladies man, the opposite of me in reality, whose luck with women have resulted only in two positive scores.
But what I learned from Clark’s many escapades is the ability to treat a person who you previously had feelings for, with respect and even maintain a friendship.
I struggle a lot with my feelings for the opposite sex. Whilst I’ll explore that in depth later, I will say that for a long time, I’ve always found it difficult to separate infatuation to genuine love and depth of feeling. That struggle has actually lead to a lot of random confessions to friends, which strangely allowed me to move on without regret and still maintain my friendships with my girl-friends.
In a bizarre twist, I would say they even deepened our bond.
What I appreciated about Smallville was the show’s focus on Clark and Chloe’s friendship. There was a lot of reciprocated love between the characters, but it didn’t stop them from being friends. They learned to put aside their feelings, and move on without any malice or regrets.
Whilst this can’t be said for Clark and Lana, whose relationship honestly plagued the show for far too long, I really loved the natural progression of Clark and Lois, whose initial friendship is spiced up with competition and then eventually love.
Seeing how Clark dealt with all three women, and even the fleetingly sweet but dangerous Alicia, taught me a lot about how I wanted to view my own relationships and what I got out of them.
With Chloe, it was a friendship, tested by extraordinary circumstances.
With Lana it was a love story that was far too insecure and plagued with betrayal, deceit and obsession.
But with Lois, there was a friendship first, that blossomed in mutual feelings, something that I understood to be natural, far more trusting and romantic.
I’m thankful to say that my current girlfriend is definitely a Lois type.
Smallville had an undeniably big impact on my teenage years. I grew up alongside Superman as odd as that sounds. Whenever I think back to any big high school moments, I can almost picture the show and how it parallels with mine, only in Smallville, Clark got the girl at the end of prom, whilst I didn’t.
Through a young Clark Kent, I was taught how to not to behave and give in to darker desires, be a honourable man and ultimately grow up and be respectful to everyone around me.
Smallville taught me that you don’t need a dark, tragic past to be a good person. You can just be a good man because it’s the right thing to do.
Clark Kent grew up with the most supportive parents who taught him how to harness his powers for good. He had amazing friends who kept his secret and an incredible woman who understood him for all his flaws and strengths.
I suppose its’ why I always gravitate to these overly goody-two-shoes characters because my life is just like that. I don’t a tragic past and I’m not sure I ever really tried to pretend I ever did.
I’m the sum of a guy who had love and support every step of the way, along with a whole lot of luck and … in all honesty, with all respect to the people around me, I turned out pretty damn well.
When the world is collapsing around me, I like to go to the mirror and stare at myself.
What am I looking for?
Signs of damage of course.
I’m tracing my cheekbones and noting how sharp or blunt they look. I’m recording in my mind; the sallowness of my skin tone, the weary bags under my brown eyes and even the way how I look at myself.
Am I standing straight, are my shoulders back? Can I see how much the world weighs on me? How often do I sigh … how often do I break eye contact with myself? Am I healthy or overweight again?
Am I breathing evenly or am I on the verge of some panic attack?
I take note of everything, from the length of my chin hairs, to the way how my jaw clenches when I’m frustrated, angry and determined.
But it is my eyes that I study the most.
Are they still burning brightly or have they been dulled?
Am I still the man I strive to be?
Do I still have what it takes to rise above it all?
If my eyes glare back, my jaw clenches tightly and I am breathing heavily, then yes. I still have what it takes.
I’m not downtrodden, disappointed or defeated.
I can still fight and win.
I can think myself out of this situation, slay the dragon and get home safely.
I still have more life to give, more willpower to spare, more energy to release.
I’m still me.
I’ve mentioned it before, but mirrors aren’t really mirrors in my eyes. They’re a crucial mental health tool for me and a portal to something darker inside.
I’ve always had a bit of a strange fear of mirrors. I’m terrified of the day when one day my reflection might move without my permission, or that one day it’ll talk to me.
But like any fear, you find yourself consumed slightly by your obsession with it. I’ve had long staring contests with myself at night, when there is only moonlight coming from the window to illuminate my face.
It’s truly eerie to stare at yourself in the dark. But I’m transfixed. Because the fear that I might start moving without realising it is too strong.
Mirrors don’t serve as a vanity item to me. They’re a check-up tool, to examine how healthy I am, a reminder that I can always be doing more exercise, performing better or engaging in daily skincare routines.
They help me remember important tasks and to live life more effectively without compromises to my hobbies and extracurricular activities.
I’ve always found it bizarre that the only time we can see ourselves is when we stare at a mirror.
We live our lives, knowing what everyone else looks like at all time, but only infrequently see ourselves.
It’s no wonder that people spend so much time staring at themselves. We can’t help it. It’s a constant source of curiosity, as if we almost forget what we look like.
Perhaps this is why narcissism is on the rise. A selfie camera allows you to see yourself almost instantaneously. We fret over ourselves a lot more than we normally would in the yesteryear. We look inwards and thank our genes that we are better looking than other people.
But such insecure fragility isn’t something I recommend.
Mirrors aren’t meant to help you look your best at all times.
They’re there to remind you of who you are, from every flaw to every beautiful line. From each imperfection all the way to each wonderfully unique element of you.
You’ll never look the same, when you stare at a mirror again.
Every time you look at yourself, something subtle would have changed.
It’s why I fear the mirror. It’s a powerful tool that should only be used sparingly, to remind me of who I am, what I am capable of and to reflect deeply upon the choices I’ve made that has created such change on my body and face.
When I look at myself in the mirror, I’m not just staring at face.
I’m seeing the sum of a man, who is a bit haggard, rough around the edges but is still capable.
I don’t see a particularly good looking man either.
I won’t be gracing magazine covers or turning heads on the streets.
I see symmetry, a decent jaw-line that does a good job of clenching and emphasizing my moods.
The barest hint of cheekbones, that when hit with a decent light, showcases how long my face is.
A permanent frown, that can be lit up into a smile that hurts my jaw when held too long.
Tanned skin, that is getting paler in the winter, marred by too many beauty marks, especially around my eyes.
Dark brown hair that lightens up considerably near my forehead and is perpetually sweeping right.
Dark brown eyes that would look better if my eyebrows were more defined.
Posture wise, I see a guy who is bizarrely confident in himself, constantly squared on to people, unafraid of making eye contact and always stretching his shoulders.
A relatively lean figure that could be improved with at least a 2-3 kilogram loss to ensure a more fit & trim physique.
To sum up what I see in the mirror … I’m an average male, not handsome nor ugly, with no real particularly stand out features, beyond my eyes which express a whole lot more than my facial features.
I think I have introspective and focused eyes, eyes that are constantly scanning my surroundings and looking into the past to try and prevent mistakes in the future.
But as I’ve mentioned, before this descriptive literary self-portrait …. I am not just a face.
I’m the sum of a man, plagued and blessed by good and bad choices, tired of his workplace, proud of his hobbies and working damn hard to remain interesting and … in need of some sleep or Red Bull.
I could use a walk away from my reflection though.
When I do finally break eye contact with my mirror self … I’m always haunted slightly by the idea, that somewhere else, in an alternate dimension, another Damocles is having a more successful time than I am.
Beckoning the bartender, I leaned in flirtatiously and ordered two mojitos with lime.
She smiled at my generosity, and I watched her dance with the cocktail shaker, her hips and arms shaking temptingly, her sky blue nails flashing under the neon lights of the club.
What’s your name, baby? I half yell over the remixed sounds of 90s pop.
Rita she says, as she leans in and toasts me with her mojito glass.
Rita … I’m Danny. Where’re you from? I ask, whilst sipping from my drink.
I grin at her. Qué poco azul llevas… para el cielo que eres .
Rita laughs, tossing her hair back and flashes me her long fingers.
I got a little bit of blue on. Enough for you baby. So what brings you here? asks Rita, as she tilts her glass at me, raising an eyebrow.
Miami? I query with a smile. Well Rita … I came here to relax, watch the Dolphins and meet gorgeous girls. We just won so … here I am, spending money I shouldn’t and doing my best to flirt with you.
So, Rita, baby .. how am I doing?
Rita smiles back at me and cocks her head sideways. It’s hard to break eye contact with Rita, because her eyes are the exact reason why I, and three unsuccessful drunker guys went up to chat to her. They’re an incredible light brown that almost look golden under the flashing lights of the club.
Well Danny, you bought me a drink first. So that’s a tick. I will also say, you’ve been nothing but honest to me so far too, so that’s another tick.
Your Spanish is absolutely shocking.
I grin mischievously at her. I haven’t had many teachers.Would love to learn more though, from a native speaker.
Rita tilts her head again at me. Danny, baby … I could give you 200 lessons and it won’t get rid of that horrible accent you’ve developed.
I only need 1 lesson to get better. I raise my glass and we both toast each other. To Spanish lessons. Salud!
OK Danny. What’s the real reason you came over here. You must have saw the guy I blew off before. Besides, I’m meant to be working.
To answer your second question first, I’ll ask … what time do you finish?
Too early to sleep with you, too late to wake up next to you either.
I laugh. Rita had a way with words. I liked that. I fatalistically shrug.
I was hoping we’d do more than just sleep, but that’s OK.
To answer the first part … I’m pretty sure I’m the same as every guy here … I came over to see your eyes up close.
And how are they? asks Rita, as she turns up the luminosity of her golden eyes to another level. I’m entranced.
Even better than I imagined I answer truthfully.
Rita casts her incredible eyes downward in a blush. She toys with her drink before looking up again with a wry look on her gorgeous face.
So what now Danny?
I’ll ask for your number and we’ll hit it up sometime? I’m old school. Wine and dine.Movies. Baseball. Hell, even a Dolphin game if you’re down/.
How long are you here for? asks Rita cautiously.
For you Rita? I’m here until the sun is up and the party is over. Then I’m back to being Daniel, the travelling salesman with a boring 4 hour plane ride to nowhere.
Rita laughs. Not that long huh?
The grind never stops. I retort with an easy-going sarcasm. But I did stop it for you.
Rita bites her lips. How much money you’re gonna spend tonight?
I shrug and pull out a roll of cash. It’s an easy two thousands in 50 bills. Until this band can’t stay tight any more. Here.
I slide her a 50 dollar tip and Rita nods at me. She leans over to her boss who nods approvingly.
Ripping off her apron, Rita exposes her white shirt, which is cinched tight around her midriff, exposing the taunt, fit stomach. I shake my head in admiration and hold out my hand to her as she steps out of the bar.
Let’s go. she whispers in my ear as the DJ slows down the beat and I savour the huskiness of her voice.
Yo taxi! Over here!
Rita and I climb in a bright yellow taxi, greeted by a laid-back cab driver who smiles at how much we’re unable to keep our hands off each other.
You want dinner, baby? I ask Rita.
I’m good thanks.
Hokay then, driver … take us to the Savoy Hotel.
You got it, pal said the cab driver sardonically as he pulls out onto the street.
Rita nestles in close to me and I can smell the perfume on her neck. It’s a familiar scent, because I used to pitch for Le Labo.
Rita looks at me, puzzled for a second, before she catches on.
Oh my god. How did you know?
I’m in sales baby. I used to pitch for Le Labo back in the day, before they got big.
You were serious then? When you said you were a salesman?
I try not to lie to women I’ve just met. I laugh. I wasn’t joking when I said I was here on vacation.
How long you here for? asks Rita
Long enough for a good time, but nothing permanent. I wasn’t jokingwhen I said that I got a flight in the morning tomorrow.
I feel Rita’s hands loosen slightly around my arm. She turns her golden eyes outside at the lights of Miami flickering past the cab.
I look across at her and sense a strange sadness.
Hey I say, as I reach across and cup her chin gently for the first time.
Rita looks over at me. I can tell she’s having second thoughts. Her eyes aren’t meeting mine.
If you don’t want to do this, it’s okay. I’ll pay for the cab ride home. No hard feelings, I promise.
Rita looks up and suddenly smile.
Thanks Danny. I don’t really know what came over me. But thank you for being a gentleman. Give me a bit of space until we get to your place OK?
Sure. I reply as Rita undoes her belt. She shuffles across to the other side of the cab, and stares out the window, crossing her arms. I do the same, feeling the sting of rejection, but not feeling bitter about it. It’s just one of those nights. You can’t have it all.
Moments later, the taxi pulls up to the Savoy, my temporary home away from home. Rita looks over at me and shakes her head.
I smile reassuringly. It’s okay Rita. It was lovely to meet you tonight. Thanks for having a drink with me.
Walking up, I rap on the cab driver’s window and he rolls it down, with a sympathetic look on his face.
Bro, you mind taking her home? Here’s my card, just send the bill to this hotel. Room 404.
No worries pal. I gotcha. Sorry you struck out man.
All good bro. Have a good night. Here’s a tip.
Bro … 30 bucks? That’s the price of the ride man … I can’t take this.
Yeah you can. Get yourself a square meal on me. Thanks again.
The cab driver raises his fist out to bump and I duly do so with a warm smile, before walking into the hotel.
It didn’t take me all that long to get over Rita. Whilst I was a little bit cut that I couldn’t spend the night with a beautiful, golden eyed Cuban Latina flame, I was still living life pretty comfortably.
Face it pal, the only sensory pleasure you’re going to get today, is seeing the Dolphins trash the 49ers. That’s enough.
Changing into my nightrobe, the silk feeling luxurious on my bare skin, I pick up the phone and decide to have a final drink to celebrate, before retiring to bed.
Hey, is this room service? Awesome. Can you send up a bottle of Dom Perignon, two glasses and your … errr …. dessert platter? Yeah, those fruits are all okay, just add some dark chocolate in as well. Thanks pal, have a good night … What’s that? 10 minutes? Awesome. Thanks again.
I lie down on the bed, my arms around my head, closing my eyes to reflect on my day.
I must have dozed off, because I’m shocked out of my nap by persistent knocks on my door.
Shaking my head, I tighten the nightrobe around me and blearily open the door.
Hey, sorry I was taking a …
Rita is standing there, a blazer over her bartender uniform, but with a pair of red heels on, holding my champagne and dessert platter. Her white shirt is undone just enough, for me to see the bright neon yellow lingerie that taunts me against her tanned skin.
I’m frozen in surprise. So Rita makes the decision for me, and brushes past me, where she sets down the bucket of sparkling wine and the food on the bedside table, before pulling me in close.
I can taste the lingering aftertaste of the mojito we shared on her lips and I encircle her hips with my arms, bringing her in even closer.
There is a strange desperation to our kiss, as if we have a time limit, which was true technically. Rita is hungry, and insistent, tossing her light brown hair to and fro, as she frantically starts to pull at my nightrobe.
When we finally come up for air, Rita has me pinned against the wall, and her gorgeous chest is heaving for breath.
I don’t want to say it, but I have to.
Rita, are you sure about this?
Yes breathed Rita, before going in again. I hold her still by the shoulders for a second. I’m beginning to lose control, but I have to be absolutely certain.
Rita looks at me seriously, transfixing me with her golden eyes.
Because I want you to come back to Miami one day.
I look at her seriously. She holds my gaze equally.
Deal I hear myself breathe out.
Before Rita can crush me, I spin her around and pin her against the wall. She furiously loosens the knot that ties my night-robe together and soon, I’m standing naked before her. Pushing me back, Rita almost drinks me with her golden eyes, and I almost feel self-conscious, her gaze is that intense.
I pride myself on my lean figure, not too much muscle, but just enough for everything to be taunt, wiry and firm. A lot of core exercises, light arm work and far too much cardio.
Something inside Rita clicks, because she pushes me down on the bed and takes a step back.
I stare, astonished, as she slowly slips off her blazer, swaying her hips to an invisible rhythm. Rita’s long blue nails clasp over her white shirt, as I feel my breathe quicken with her every movement. The slow unbuttoning is agonisingly slow, but every inch of her tan skin that gets revealed only hype me more.
Soon, Rita is standing there, shirt around her wrists, her upper chest bared forward, her dark brown hair tossed behind her and her chin defiantly tilted, as if daring me to question whether she was not the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.
In that moment, I was stunned and in agreement.
Then the shirt came off in a whirlwind of movement and her long legs wriggled back and forth, as she slid her dark pants down.
Rita paused for a second, allowing me to sear the image of her lithe body in neon lingerie and red heels into my memory. I can still see her head tilted back, her golden eyes staring into mine, her brown hair tumbling over her shoulder and her arms up over her head like a nude muse out of a painting.
I can’t take the tease anymore, so I launch myself off the bed and wrap my arms around her, savouring her soft skin, loving the way how her stomach presses against mine, luxuriating in the rise and fall of her breasts against my heartbeat.
My hands are around her back, undoing her lingerie’s clasp that will free her breasts. The moment the intricate bra is off her shoulders, I break away from her soft lips and slowly run my tongue down her body.
A soft giggle comes from Rita, as I bury my mouth into her clavicle, still giving her a warm full body massage with my hands.
Her breasts under my lips are soft, full and beautifully bouncy. She moans under my ministrations and slips out of her heels, pushing me away when it becomes too much and jumping up into my arms.
As I hold her, my hands splayed wide grabbing her bare ass, Rita wraps her legs around my hips and begin to grind, as she comes in and out of kisses and breath.
I groan, as she hits a particularly tender sweet spot and I bounce her up, to reposition her better.
Rita is now biting my neck, her soft moans becoming louder in intensity as she can feel me rubbing along her most sensitive parts.
I pin her against the wall, cradling her head and as she reflexively put a foot down, whilst keeping the other up, I angle myself and go all the way.
Rita and I groan in ecstasy. She feels incredibly soft and warm, as we stay there for a moment, our eyes closed in relief and pleasure.
She starts to move ever so slightly, and I snap my eyes open, to look at her, her back pressed firmly against the wall, riding me energetically, whilst transfixing me with those golden eyes.
Her moans are now starting to sound like soft pants and half-screams, and I begin to match her, grunting with every thrust, every movement, every sound and every wave of pleasure that washes over me.
I keep rocking back and forth, unable to stop this ride, as Rita matches me in intensity and focus, her brown hair whipping my chest back and forth, as she tosses her head back and forth in gratification.
I’m in my own world now, all my attention is focused on making her feel good. Nothing exists except my body giving her all the feel-good vibes it can.
That’s it, baby. I encourage her as I can sense her starting to peak. I’m only here for you.
Yes! Yes! You’re all mine baby. she screams as she increases her grip around me.
We both unleash a primal scream, as she climaxes along with the rest of me.
It’s so powerful, that we’re frozen like that, for a full minute, before we both collapse on the floor, exhausted, sweat beading everywhere on our skin, my manhood still trapped inside of her.
She wraps her arms my neck and I breathe in her perfume deeply, and the scent of her hair.
Don’t let me go Danny. Not yet. she whispers in my ear. It’s a promise disguised behind a plea.
I’m right here Rita. I whisper back. I’m not going anywhere … I promise.
Originally writing this, I had huge writer’s block.
This is one of those drafts that has stayed a draft for a very long time.
My inner conservative side literally wasn’t sure how to proceed, until I finally found a scene that reminded me why I wanted to write this.
Top Gun’s sexy silhouette sequence (my first ever sex scene I saw on screen) and Miami Vice (2006)’s flirtatious scene between Sunny and …. Rita, a bartender in a club at the very beginning of the film.
Yes, I stole the name and the idea of buying a bartender a drink as well from that movie.
After that, it was literally a matter of getting over the idea that my friends who will read this, will judge me for writing such poor erotica (or maybe it was good, I don’t know) and bada-bing, bada-boom, the story turned out great and I could write a proper sex scene without fear.
One more final aside … I hate the word “penis” and “vagina”. There is just something unpleasant about how they sound, so you’ll note I didn’t use either terms in the scene.
Keeps it more … sexy I think? I’m still a novice at this stuff.
But if I’m to write a book one day, I got to keep practising.
Thanks for reading smut as always, until the next one.