Princess of the Night

Princess of the Night

With apologies to Philip Roth

Sarah moved as if 2,000 square inches of bronze skin could not contain her burning passion. You couldn’t help but notice the blondest hair and the most intense blue eyes, but it was her aloofness, her mystery, that made her irresistible.

She attended my lectures on computer art, the ones I gave last year in New York. I wanted her the first time I saw her. Her dark blue, silk dress slipped easily up to the middle of her thigh as she sat halfway down the middle isle of one-armed desks. Her long blue boots with a small cuff at the top reminded me of the Musketeers—if they’d been women. She disappeared at the end of the lecture before I could make my way past the students and into the hall. The image of her back with its classic curves disappearing through the lecture room door haunted me for the next two days, and I prayed that she would return for the last lecture. We had closed the classroom door, and I was about to begin, when it opened again. I don’t know if she planned it that way—probably—but she made an entrance, pulling the door closed behind her then pausing like a princess stepping into court.

All through the lecture, I sought out her eyes. She returned my gaze without the slightest acknowledgment. Five minutes before the class was over, I began surreptitiously collecting my notes. By then, I was too enthralled to be embarrassed by how I must have looked sprinting for the door as soon as I had spoken my last words and then standing outside while the students filed past with questioning looks.

When she finally appeared, I fell in beside her.

“Would you join me for a drink?”

She studied me as if a praying mantis had suddenly appeared on her shoulder. I was sure that my foolishness would now be exposed and ridiculed.


I instantly began imagining the perfect situation. I needed a bar, one with class, one that was quiet, elegant, and most importantly, close to my hotel. A sign in the hotel elevator had boasted of a bar on the roof with a fabulous view. It was perfect. We found a dark corner that looked out on the glittering lights of a clear New York evening.

Of course, I babbled mindlessly even before the waitress served our drinks. I knew the rule—you keep them talking and they won’t notice what’s going on until you have them in bed—but here I was, telling her about my apartment in Berkeley, my sojourn to four different colleges, and the existential nature of the relationship between mind and machine. Only the slow beat of her long eyelashes broke the silence of her gaze.

She spoke only a few words. A dark and throaty voice that whispered softly: “well,” “my,” or “nice” whenever I permitting a pause in my avalanche of midlife angst and awkward, male, mating display. Between her one-word encouragements, I poured nonsense all over the table. Having shown clearly what a bumpkin I was, I had no right to ask, but emboldened by two martinis, ask I did.

“Would you like to come to my room?”


I was afraid to say anything least the dream dissolve. With my heart throbbing in my ears and my hands shaking, I led her to my room. She entered the room before me and turned, pausing for another dramatic moment. Next to her, the gold coverlet looked drab, the velvet wallpaper dull, the teak furniture plain and ordinary. The black, silk dress whispered against her back as I gathering her in my arms. Her lips were soft—not really lips, more like fruit—plums—ripe, dark, sweet, and juicy.

Her dress floated to the floor. This was the image that Michelangelo had tried to capture in his Diana, and this was the inspiration for Aphrodite born of the sea foam. I danced the fool hopping on one leg forgetting to take my shoes off before my pants, while she gracefully pulled back the coverlet and flowed into the bed.

Her skin was flawless, and when I touched it, we fused as two molten metals. I still recall the smell of her warm skin—wet earth, dry mushrooms, tree moss—and woman. She welcomed me, and as we began making love, the observer that always watched my actions disappeared, and I fell fully into the moment.

She never said a word. From the time we left the bar, our relationship had been about movement and that was the essence of our passion. She responded quickly. Soon, she shuddered and stiffened. Numbed by the drink, and the beauty bombarding my senses, I continued my passion slowly building toward ecstasy. Her legs became heavy; but my lust labored on.

At last, I lay on her, spent and exhausted. The observer returned, amazed at my good fortune, pleased that my glowing personality and natural good looks had been so successful. The only thing that would further inflate my expanded ego would be praise as to the quality of my performance. Preparing to pay her a compliment and receive one in return, I raised myself in my elbows and looked into her face.

Her mouth lie slack, her lips apart, her eyes stared at the ceiling. I rolled to my left and saw that her chest no longer rose seeking breath anew.

While I waited for the ambulance, I found a drivers license in her purse. Her full name was Sarah Ann MacNight. She lived in New Jersey. I must have been still intoxicated by the drink because I found myself regurgitation the whole experience to the ambulance attendant just as I had tried to do kneeling on the floor of the bathroom a few minutes earlier—as if any of the details mattered to him.

There it was a month later—in Ripley’s Believe It or Not:

Man makes love to corpse

A California man visiting New York continued making love to a woman for twenty minutes after she died—the victim of a stroke.