Note: This is companion piece to semi-autobiographical Tower of Sorrow of Sunaina
The November rain did not bother him as traffic crawled south on interstate I-880. For that matter, nothing gets Tyrone agitated. He is blessed with limitless patience and unbounded optimism. His resolve is tested sometimes when his football injury flared up. Other times he presented his calmest face to the world, a near seven-foot friendliest giant. In his late fifties, it is hard to peg his age. With his conditioning, training and maniacal workout ethics he looked younger. When he shaves his head people pegged him at forty-five and fifty when the gray showed in his curly mop.
Tyrone let a smile escape, thinking about the day ahead. This was another Saturday to look forward to. Because of her. No more Saturdays left. At least no more Saturdays when she would be there. The girl who lit his mind ablaze, made him bound with joy and trigger the stoppered love. The two would go their separate ways after the following Tuesday, the Election Day.
He worked for a political campaign, managed an army of volunteers. His limitless energy pervaded through the two big rooms bustling with volunteers in headsets making calls, ringing bells and freaking out when their computer crashed. He was their leader, the cheerleader, tech support, and their therapist when the polls showed their candidate down by a few points.
Tyrone was close to all at the phone bank but kept his distance. It was not because the place lacked beautiful people or any stated or unstated rules. Nor it was because he is married to his wife Bian, a Vietnamese gal he met during his army days in Texas. They both loved each other dearly and they still had more to give. For him more love to give did not mean a ticket to sleep around. It truly was about giving love. There was no one else he found that he wanted to share his unbounded love with. Being polyamorous did not mean scattering love for all.
Until he saw her in September.
After that Tuesday, Tyrone has to find a new job as well. That did not bother him. He always landed on his feet. The thought of not seeing her beautiful eyes again tested his resolve. It seeded a pain that started to sprout leaves and branches. Eyes, her beautiful eyes, and a name that is so apt, Sunaina. A name that deserved respect and should not be insulted by anglicization or modification to Sue. Once he learned what her name meant, he could not help but call her many times, in his heart. Sunaina.
He remembered the September Labor day weekend she walked in. The picture of a bold woman sheathed under layers of thoughts, an unsure gait that seemed to be more ready for flight than fight, and eyes that drew your attention away from everything else and announced, “I am here”.
That was an unusual election year and it brought in hoards of volunteers who had never before been involved in anything remotely close to politics. Women came in droves. Women of all background and age group. Everyone else was just another volunteer he welcomed and trained. For any other trainer, she would have been another volunteer to onboard and let loose. To be forgotten except for occasional greetings.
He leaped before the other two trainers, an older Caucasian woman and a trans girl whose age was difficult to judge, to greet her and take her under his wings. She seemed she might find an excuse and walk out any second. He quickly took her to the very crowded and farthest part of the phone bank, so the energy in the room would ease her concern.
Yes, she heard about the phone bank from a friend.
Yes, she wanted to be involved.
No, she did not know anything about any other down-ticket candidates, she cared about just one at the top.
No, she was not comfortable talking to strangers, even over the phone.
What could you do with someone who was not interested in making calls? This was after all the phone bank.
Tyrone was in no hurry. None of the “Nos” mattered. As a trained organizer he knew he had to get her vested fast with one activity, make her own it that she would feel compelled to return.
So he sought her help with an imagined problem. The food table needed supervision, stocking it well to feed the army, keeping it safe from people trying to use bare hands and other invented problems he did not know how to solve.
She took the challenge. She would be the one to feed the army and keep it moving. She would do it better than ever before. She had one speed, super fast. One mode, full commitment. What Tyrone thought was a way to ease her way in became her cause. She went beyond keeping an eye on the food table. She inventoried, found the mix wrong and unfit for the volunteer army and had solutions to fix it. She drew up food schedules, what to buy when, what to put out, and what to ask others to bring. She knew when the crowd peaked, and when they grew tired and needed a boost.
A simple side task transformed into something remarkable.
One thing she would continue to refuse to do, putting on the headset and making calls to convince voters. It was not for lack of trying by Tyrone.
During an afternoon lull on a Sunday he tried, “How about just once Sunaina, you are persuasive. People will listen to you”. He sat her down at one of the computers and eased the headset on gently without getting it catch her silky straight mane. His hands felt her hair and sent a gigawatt to his brain. Up close he saw her ear that peeked through her hair, it had a tiny pinch at the top. He adjusted the microphone closer to her mouth.
The computer called someone from its list and did a beep to tell her they picked up. It did not go well. No one wants to receive calls in their homes. It was a short call but one that would dissuade her forever. She did not wait for Tyrone, removed her headset so fast that it caught it caught few strands of her. Tyrone knew to back off.
She was happy to be the food czar. He would grow closer to her in such a short time. He would grow fond of her without realizing it. He would try to fill out her story because she had not shared any. She was definitely more informed than him on policies and polls. He would pose an ill-formed opinion as a question just to get her to talk. She would be rational and emotional at the same time. He was happy just to listen to her voice, those excited gestures and those beautiful eyes speaking more words than her fast-moving lips.
It would all end soon. What was the point? This connection came with expiry date marked on it, the Election Day. And it came.
She was there on Election Day even though it was a weekday because it was her cause. She wore her blue pantsuit, not white, and had her hair tied in a ponytail. During the day she would undo and redo per ponytail as it loosened from her high energy. She was doing more than food duty, she was cheerleading, she was socializing, she was hugging and high-fiving.
The evening that day became a disaster. The high excitement of the morning popped so quickly. People started leaving fast. Those who stayed were holding on to tiny hope that something would turn. So was Sunaina. Not the Sunaina of all these weekends or this morning. It was the deflated and defeated Sunaina. Tyrone kept his distance and silence.
Then came the moment when they flipped the leaderboard for Florida.
One second she was there watching the big screen, next second she was not. Tyrone caught the flash of blue darting through the back door. He did not hesitate. He did not think she might need a moment. He knew this was more than just an upset election. He had seen this before. Standing on the sidelines to let her have a good cry by herself was not an option. He knew that all too well.
Tyrone found her between the Port-A-Potty and the big dumpster. She was crying loud, her whole body shaking and her hands pressed against her abdomen as if she was stanching blood gushing out of a wound.
He tried to hold on to her hands that were pressed hard against her navel. She was heaving, her frame shaking, her nose clearing out her sinus. Her hands firmly in his grasp. Her spasms passed through her hands to his but came to a stop in his broad firm hands. She tried wriggling her hands as if she needed them to stop the bleeding.
She could not get her hands free. She threw herself into his body, with her hands awkwardly stuck between them. So close to his body she looked so small. He held her without hurting her. If she really wanted she could have freed herself.
She buried her face in his chest. His body dampened her spasms like a shock absorber would. Her hands-free, she wrapped them tightly around him as if she was holding on to a tree stump in the raging rapids. He used his newly freed hand to stroke her hair which had long ago transformed from its shiny smooth sheet into a dry frazzled mess.
Tyrone felt her skin burn. He could not help his own senses heighten and blood rushing away from his head. At her saddest moment, he could not help his arousal as her fingers dug into his back. He felt his penis grow fast into full-on erection. There was no hiding it. She clearly felt it.
He felt her breasts harden against his body, her nipples standing up on their ends pushing against him, her body burning hot as if the raging fire was real. Her breathing was the hot exhaust from the fire. All her sweat burned off by the fire and her body stopped producing any more sweat to put out the fire.
He felt a change in her body, The sorrow and anger that reverberated through his body started to subside and were fast transformed into something else. He knew what it was. Was she reacting to his erection or is he reacting to her hunger?
He was swept away by her tsunami. The strong and sturdy Tyrone was taking orders from her body. She was inviting him. He felt that through every cell in his body. Logic and caution decided to not interfere.
He understood what was asked of him. He did not have to kiss. She did not expect him to. There was no warm-up needed as she burned full blast. The instructions communicated to him were clear.
He turned her around and pressed her against the building outer wall. There was not much room in the hiding place. She pressed the wall with her arms held up. She felt his weight press against her back but in a careful way to not crush her against the wall. His right hand searched around her pant zippers on her sides. His left hand ran inside her shirt and crushed her breast.
She had to help him with her zipper for his big meaty fingers struggled to hold on to tiny zip. The next steps were easier as he unrolled her pants and panties down. His face pressed against the side of her neck, taking small bites of her neck and her ear the one with a small pinch in it.
It took no effort to get his penis out. Guiding with his freed hand he mounted her. A million voices spoke in his ears. None of them dissuaded him. None of them asked what the fucking hell he was doing.
He entered her with ease. She was inviting him in. He was a big man and well endowed. She was ready for him. He could feel her muscles surround his shaft and take him deep. He was careful to not crush her against the wall. He wrapped one hand around her body and let his other keep guiding his penis.
When he knew he was in he thrusted. Hard. Harder. Fast. Faster. His penis felt like a monster that ran through the walls, filled her inside and filled her cells with pleasure.
Time stopped. Flowed. Jumped back and forth. Not much he could feel how the time flowed.
He was in a trance. She had placed him in that trance.
The spell broke just in time when he pulled away from her.
Her fever broke at the same time as she quickly pulled herself from him, not with aversion but with a gratitude. All her sorrow burned through to ashes. She did not wait for him or turn around. She fixed her pants back up and dashed through the parking lot.
Tyrone stood there dazed. He felt like she left a part of her with him. It was her pain. He could feel it welling up in his body. He was her healer but his healing had come at a cost as her pain had merely transferred over to him.
Tyrone stood there forever with hot tears rolling down his eyes.