The Height of His Powers
Catherine McNamara

He picked up an Australian girl after the concert. She had caramel hair and an astonishing bottom enhanced — like his own — by years of competitive snowboarding. Before they made love they stood side by side in front of the mirror in his room and both snapped photos of their naked bottoms on their phones. His buttocks were higher and bulkier at the top, with two lateral concaves and a seamless reversion to the thigh. Shinier and softer-looking, hers seemed made of a pearly substance.     
The concert had taken place near his apartment in Corvara in the Dolomites, which was across the village from her hotel. He ramped up the fire in the stufa and they lay interlocked on the couch, but when this was too cold they transferred to his bunk with its rarely washed sheets. Every so often he leapt down to load another piece of wood, then leapt back into the cloud of her body temperature and her enclosing arms. That morning at the races she hadn't even placed in her heats, while he had won all of his and gone on to win the finals of his category. At the concert afterwards they brought him on stage and he played an electric guitar with demonic energy. That is why this girl from the other end of the planet felt like a personal reward entrusted to him. He caressed her neck, demanding to know why he had never laid eyes on her all day. Where were you? What tree were you hiding behind? She said laughing that he'd probably had his eye on some American — the top girl who won, she was pretty hot. He spanked her lightly, turning her over and over to examine the bikini lines dissolved in her tanned southern skin, making her shiver while he tongued his way over these untouched islands. Her hard dark nipples were novel and he sucked them until she yanked his hair.
The next morning she downed a quick coffee because the bus was coming to collect the team at the hotel. She called ahead and they were waiting for her. She gave him an incomplete kiss and he imagined her sprinting across the village.
He picked up his phone and looked at their two perfect, unassailable bottoms.


Around nine his girlfriend in Trieste called to see why his phone had been off all night. He said he'd been completely trashed; then he dangerously added that he'd been getting calls from some random number so he turned his phone off; then he realised he was in the usual quagmire; then he was measuring how much affection or tolerance there might be remaining behind the fury in his girlfriend's voice. He knew that one day she would catapult into the arms of more decent guy, and then catapult back. It had already happened twice.
He put down the phone, wished to masturbate but his cock was still sore. There were embers in the stufa, which he stirred before putting in some sticks which caught alight, then a piece of wood from the pile that had dropped down last night. He thought of the girl with the white triangles on her boobs and her hard-nosed nipple travelling along the roof of his mouth, and how a range of oral exploration had caused no flinching or qualms. He wondered if it were true what she had said when they were comparing notes — that her boyfriend was a bit of a geek who knew she slept around but loved her; that he was starting up a business and next year wanted her baby. He imagined some floppy-haired guy entering her on her return, and her marvelling at this guy's face in a bedroom, her snowboard in the garage and the coldness of Europe long forgotten, the photo of their buttocks shown to a girlfriend then snuffed.

Catherine McNamara is an Australian author living in Italy. Her collection PELT AND OTHER STORIES was long-listed for the Frank O'Connor Award, and her new collection, THE CARTOGRAPHY OF OTHERS, will be out in spring 2018.

Read her postcard.

Detail of photo on main page courtesy of Evelyn Berg.

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