Mickey and Betsy stared at each other across the living room, puffs of wrapping paper littering the ground between them like unexploded landmines. Mickey was satisfied that it had been a good Christmas. He had given Betsy the emerald earrings she had mentioned after two glasses of wine during Thanksgiving dinner at Sid and Adelaide’s fancy dress potluck, and she had given him new socks, new underwear, and a new biography of Abraham Lincoln.
Mickey smoothed out his pajama pants and met Betsy’s shy smile.
“Shall we have breakfast, then?” asked Mickey.
“I think there is one more present left,” Betsy said, pointing. She pushed up her thick glasses and touched her hair where it was collected in a plain brown bun.
Mickey followed her finger to the box under the tree, a box wrapped in thick silver paper embossed with rocking horses. It hadn’t been there before. She must have put it out while she called her Uncle Herman in Munich and he went to go jack off in the bathroom, holding his fresh packet of new socks to his nose and imagining Betsy wearing nothing but new socks and a flashy gypsy belt.
“Is it for me?” asked Mickey.
“I’ll bet,” said Betsy.
Mickey got up from the easy chair next to the television and ran across the room. He had no idea what it was, but he restrained himself. He peeled back the wrapping paper carefully so that Betsy could use it again next year. It was the special paper she always used for his Christmas surprise. He had thought that this year -- since times were so lean -- there wouldn’t be any Christmas surprise.
Oh boy, was he wrong.
Inside the box was a brand new video camera with all the extras and attachments.
“Is it what you wanted?” asked Betsy, arching her back and twisting her hands in her lap.
“Oh yes!” said Mickey. “It’s just EXACTLY what I wanted! You are so smart and good to me!”
“Shall we have breakfast, then?” asked Betsy.
“Oh boy,” said Mickey.
Over toast, eggs, juice, coffee, ginger cookies, and sausages, Mickey played with the camera and read the instruction booklet while Betsy talked about Germany and what her Uncle Herman was up to. After awhile, she realized that Mickey wasn’t listening and gave up, watching him play with the camera in silence while she took small bites of sausage, using her fork like a scalpel to pick off meat flecks instead of stabbing the meat and shoving it in her mouth whole the way Mickey did.
“We’d better get ready for book club soon,” said Betsy. “There won’t be many people there since it is Christmas.”
“Mmmm-hmmmm,” said Mickey.
“What do you think we should do with this new camera?” asked Betsy.
“We could make our own movies,” said Mickey. “Just think of it.”
“Wow,” said Betsy.
“We could make movies out of our trips to the beach, and out of your nephew’s soccer game, and we could make little movies about funny stuff we do and put it on the internet. We could make movies of our birthdays and Halloween and New Year’s and even Christmas.”
Betsy touched her bun again and took a tiny sip of juice. She patted her lips with a napkin.
“I want you tie me up and fuck me and I want you to film it,” said Betsy.
Mickey spit coffee all over his shirt and almost spit coffee all over the camera. Betsy watched him with cold contempt and handed him a napkin.
“I want you to do it every night from now on,” said Betsy. “Different every time.”
“What about…nephews?” asked Mickey. “Soccer games?”
“If you want to dress up like my nephew, that’s fine,” said Betsy. “Whatever you want to do. That’s in your control.”
She grabbed his wrist. Her fingers were tight. Her nails dig into his arm in hard, flat crescents.
“That’s in your control.”
Mickey gulped and began flipping through the camera’s manual.
“Look at this,” he said, trying to change the subject. “Recording with video on video. You can do that now. We live in a big new digital age.”
“Mickey,” said Betsy. She let his wrist go and began collecting the breakfast dishes to wash them. “I’m serious. Now get ready for book club.”
That night, Christmas night, Mickey played with his camera while Betsy changed in the bathroom. He talked to her through the door.
“I want to try something,” said Mickey. “If we’re going to do this, I want to try something that I think will be fun. Since you want to do it different every time.”
“Okay,” said Betsy.
“We can’t do it COMPLETELY different every time,” said Mickey. “If we do this thing I want to try.”
“You are in control,” said Betsy.
“There are a few things we have to keep the same,” said Mickey. “You have to wear the same thing every time, for instance, and dress the same way and keep your hair the same length and style.”
Betsy was quiet for awhile.
“Okay,” said Betsy.
“We also have to tie you up the same place every time,” said Mickey. “If we want it to work out right. We have to tie you up the same place and in the same position. We can’t mess up once.”
“Okay,” said Betsy. There was an excited quiver in her voice. She threw open the bathroom door and leaned against the door jamb. She wore high heels and a black bra and panties. She still wore her glasses, but her brown hair was down over her shoulders and she wore a new kind of make-up. It was more purple than before. There was powder on her neck and shoulders. She smelled nice, too.
“Oh boy!” said Mickey.
“I want to know what we will change,” said Betsy, walking slowly across the bedroom floor to stand in front of Mickey where he sat holding the camera manual, wearing his striped pajama bottoms.
They decided that it made the most sense to use the kitchen table, because their bed was too high off the ground and the lighting in their kitchen was much brighter than the lighting in their bedroom. Mickey lashed Betsy’s arms and legs to each of the table’s posts with rough hemp and then fretted with the tripod, moving it all the way back into the living room so that he could get the right angle on the shot.
“Are you comfortable?” asked Mickey.
“I’m not supposed to be comfortable,” said Betsy.
Mickey got out the black masking tape. Betsy shuddered with ecstasy until she realized that it wasn’t for her. Mickey got down on his hands and knees and marked the positions of all the furniture and of the camera tripod. He pushed Betsy up from the table and made a big “x” in masking tape underneath her. He put swatches of masking tape on the walls that looked like brackets. He changed the light-bulb above the kitchen table. He adjusted the rheostat until the lighting was perfect, and then he put a tiny piece of tape on the rheostat to mark the position.
“It will go faster tomorrow,” said Mickey. “I just have to make sure everything is the same every day we shoot.”
“But what are you going to change, Mickey?” shuddered Betsy from the table.
Mickey wrote down the date and some coordinates in a marble, black composition book. And he wrote down all the settings on the camera. He took off Betsy’s thick glasses and kissed her on her forehead.
“I can’t see anything,” said Betsy. “I can’t see anything at all! I can’t even see the tip of my own nose!”
Mickey put a piece of black tape over her mouth. In the notebook, he wrote down how many inches the tape was. Six inches.
“It will be different every single time,” said Mickey. “But not for you.”
“Gmmmm-nmmmmm,” said Betsy.
He waited there for hours and hours, standing beside her with his arms crossed. And then he made love to her more passionately than he ever had before, even on their honeymoon.
She only ever came that first time.
Every day for a year, Mickey tied up his wife and fucked her on the kitchen table while he filmed it. It was different every time, but not for Betsy who always wore her hair the same way, kept it cut the same length, and always wore the same purplish make-up and the same black bra and panties.
Oh sure, Mickey was all over the place. Sometimes he would come at her from behind. Sometimes from the front. Sometimes, he wouldn’t even touch her at all. He’d just stand over her and jack off while she lay there, breathing heavy, unable to speak.
He always came quick. A minute, tops. Sometimes it would take him forever to get to her, and other times he would leave the camera rolling for a long time afterwards while she lay there with his semen drying inside her or drying on her exposed skin. Afterwards, she and Mickey would watch a late night movie before falling asleep in each other’s arms. They never missed a day and they even canceled the vacation they had planned to the Caribbean for the summer.
For the full week that they were supposed to be gone, Mickey smelled like suntan lotion and zinc oxide every time they filmed.
Mickey got an account at the costume rental shop in the city and he was such a regular there that they thought he was an actor who was trying out for different movies. He changed his haircut with such regularity that his coworkers at the bakery where Mickey was a cashier thought he was a musician who was trying to develop a new “look” so that he could revolutionize punk rock. Mickey found a sex shop that he liked and bought all sorts of new condoms and sex toys.
He was such a regular there that the sex shop clerk turned over all of his information to the FBI who watched Mickey for awhile, until they saw what he was doing, at which point they only watched him when they were bored or “in the mood.”
“When do I get to see the video?” asked Betsy one evening in October over steaks.
Mickey didn’t answer her. Their relationship had changed over the year in ways that were hard to describe. Mickey was a lot more cagy and secretive in a way that made Betsy very excited every time she saw him with a camera in his hand or holding black tape.
She didn’t know what he was going to do next.
When he didn’t answer her about the video, Betsy took a deep, ragged breath and then threw her arms around him, sticking her hands down his pants and whispering gibberish. Mickey grinned like a cat.
The next year, on Christmas morning, there was only one present under the tree for Betsy. It was clearly a CD case and it was wrapped in thick silver paper embossed with rocking horses.
Betsy touched it and looked at Mickey. Mickey flicked his hand toward the computer and his eyes sparkled. Betsy tore open the wrapping paper and held the CD in her hands. She flushed bright red and kissed him. She put the CD in the computer and it began to play. They sat down on the sofa, arm in arm, the way they always watched their late night movie.
It was a black screen at first. And then the words “OH BOY” came on the screen in mile-high capital letters. Music started to play. It was the same light jazz that Mickey and Betsy had first danced to all those years ago at the Union Hall over in Junction.
The black screen faded into a shot of Betsy spread eagled across the kitchen table. The shot held for a few minutes and beside him on the couch, Mickey felt Betsy stiffen. Watching herself, she realized that she had not only been bound hand and foot every night while Mickey satisfied himself with her trussed body, she had also been bound in time and bound in art. She had been bound up in every way possible.
After a few moments, in came Mickey. He was dressed as he had been that first night: only in his pajama bottoms. He leaned over into the camera and waved. And then he went to go stand beside her. He stood there with his arms crossed as if waiting for something to happen.
And then in came Mickey again!
This time, he was dressed up like a baker. His hair was completely different and he had not shaved in a few days. Mickey the Baker went over to stand next to Original Mickey. They shook hands (their hands passed through each other as if one of them was a ghost) and they both smiled big at the camera.
In came more Mickeys. Fast this time. There was Mickey the Lifeguard, and Mickey the Marine, and Mickey the School Superintendent, and Mickey the Dentist, and Mickey the Scamp, and Mickey the Pirate. Vacation Mickey, and Superbowl Mickey, and Mickey White Gloves, and Mickey the Sleaze, and Mickey the Private Eye, and Mickey the Truck Driver. Wacky Goggles Mickey. Spidermickey. Little Mickey the Stinker. President Mickey. King Mickey. Queen Mickey. He wore his hair long, and short, and in curls, and as a Mohawk, and in tresses like a French Corsair. Slowly, Mickeys begin filling the kitchen and lining up in queues until the screen was full of him, hunching down in squats, lounging around like lazy tigers. There were Mickeys everywhere, everywhere but in a direct line between Betsy and the camera.
And then the Mickeys began to fuck her.
They lined up and they fucked her three hundred and sixty five different ways – smiling laughing, using toys, using fingers, using levers, dancing, snorting, bucking, casual, quiet, progressive, demonstrative, diminutive, painfully, casually, romantically, distractedly, intensely, laconically, coldy, hotly, con brio, con queso, controlling, contorting, condom on, condom off, condom blinking and buzzing like a worn-out neon light. Original Mickey stood in the corner of the kitchen and watched them all fuck his wife -- all these Mickeys -- and he smiled on them all with cool benevolence.
For hours, he and Betsy on the sofa watched all these Mickeys penetrate and enjoy her. Sometimes two at a time. Sometimes six at a time. More Mickeys came to replace the ones that finished and left.
On the kitchen table, Betsy buzzed and flickered as if she were a ghost, her body morphing and jerking with the film overlays. She vibrated in 365 different dimensions at once.
“Oh Mickey,” she said beside him on the sofa.
“I’m sorry about the way you look,” he said. “I know you look possessed. There wasn’t much I could do about it. I tried to tie you up as tightly as possible so that you wouldn’t move too much, but you moved anyway no matter what I did.
“Oh Mickey,” she said again.
And then all the other Mickeys were done and it was just Original Mickey there with Betsy on the table.
He walked casually over to where she lay spread out like a bird ready for carving. And then he mounted her one last time and made love to her deeply. Passionately. Skillfully. And she came there on the table as she came there next to him on the sofa, touching herself with her hand on his shoulder.
They held each other for awhile and the light jazz stopped playing and the screen went black.
“I guess we’d better get ready for book club,” said Betsy.
“No more book club,” said Mickey.
Betsy’s mouth went dry. She protested with her eyes. But Mickey was firm.
“So what will we do now?” asked Betsy, leaning her head against his shoulder. "Instead?"
“Oh boy,” said Mickey, rubbing his hands, licking his lips, and then tucking his thumbs into his suspenders while Betsy chewed on his ear and growled.