That night, after we returned to my aunt’s apartment, I lay on her sofa, disturbed by the sounds emanating from my aunt’s bedroom. Even at two in the morning, my aunt and the lawyer made quite a bit of noise as I lay there in the dark, still wearing my pants and shirt. I pulled the blanket up to my chin and thought about Bon killing Man and me making love to Lana, all while listening with mild terror to the noises from behind my aunt’s door. I had heard sounds coming from behind that door before, with BFD or the Maoist PhD, but those were muted and familiar. Mostly the sonic disturbance came from my aunt’s bed groaning, a chorus that varied depending on the guest. BFD sprinted or galloped, getting to his destination as quickly as possible; the Maoist PhD was a flaneur, occasionally brisk but generally meandering. BFD finished with a guttural grunt, an exclamation point marking the end of History! The Maoist PhD concluded with a drawn-out, meditational sigh, an ellipsis indicating the unknown future yet to come . . . As for my aunt, she rarely made noise, except for some muted moaning and panting. Based on the audible evidence, she seemed to be a spectator at a sporting event, cheering occasionally at a good play. She must have been watching football, because once or twice I heard her cry out, GOOAAAAALLLLLL! or something to that effect. At first the sounds she and the men made bothered me, but soon it was her silences that captured me. Once I even timed the gap between one noise she made and the next—four minutes thirty-two seconds, with her finally murmuring on the thirty-third. Why so quiet? What was she thinking? Or feeling? In those fertile absences of sound, a disturbing vine grew in my mind, its sinews suggesting that perhaps over my many encounters with women, there were silences that I had not heard . . . because all I could hear was myself.
Reluctantly listening to my aunt respond spontaneously to the humorless and handsome lawyer, I suddenly felt that nothing could be trusted anymore. Did the women really mean it when they said I was the best, that what had occurred was the best, or even simply that they enjoyed it? What was it that Lana had told me in our postcoital minute? That was utterly amazing. Had she been lying? Was I more akin to BFD and the Maoist PhD than I realized? I had thought that my aunt was one of those people who simply did not verbally express herself when making love. But no! Whatever was happening was drawing forth an onomatopoeia of pleasure from my aunt that made me deeply uncomfortable. Why was I not aroused? It was a terrific performance, the handsome and humorless lawyer playing my aunt expertly. I should be excited!