Scene: A cacophonous Dim Sum restaurant, Chinatown. Sunday lunch rush.
The décor is red and gold, with large carved dragons flanking a central banquet area. Hostesses with walkie-talkies wave patrons to large round tables they will share with strangers. Carts rattle between the tables, guided by women offering dishes and descriptions in Cantonese.
A man (JEFFERSON) sits between two women (MADELINE, VIVIANE). Viviane and Jefferson crane to peer at a passing cart. Madeline stares at a man, sitting opposite, as he sips soup.
Under the table, she holds Jefferson’s hand.
“I don’t see it yet,” Jefferson frets at the cart. “The shrimp balls wrapped in bacon—have you seen them?”
“No, not yet,” Viviane says, turning to the woman behind the cart. “Har gow?”
“Har gow,” the woman replies, removing the bamboo top from a dish and tossing it on the table.
“Shrimp dumpling, it’s a start,” Viviane says, offering the dish.
“Anything and everything with shrimp—keep it coming.” Jefferson reaches for chopsticks. “I am so fucking hungry.”
“All that hungry fucking,” Viviane nods.
“Baby, you want a dumpling?” Jefferson says, turning. “Madeline?”
“Do you want a dumpling?”
“Oh, uh . . . yeah.”
Jefferson holds the dish, waiting.
“Baby, do you want to take the dumpling, or shall I serve it?”
“Oh, sorry.” Madeline’s eyes flutter as she reaches for chopsticks.
“Baby, you done been fucked stupid, ain’t you?”
“Guh huh,” she replies, her teeth tearing the har gow.
It was a romantic night out.
A walk along the Hudson as the sun set, orange light shimmering on the river. A cool breeze brought in the first scents of night.
Dinner at the boat basin, simple and filling.
The conversation, light and easy.
Viviane, Madeline and Jefferson, out on their second date.
The first had been the night before, when the trio met over several hours of drinks and sex.
Now, the courtship extended to dinner and a movie.
As they walk to the theater, Jefferson finds himself between the two women. Madeline’s hand reaches for his; instinctively, he takes it.
Their hands drop at some point, casually.
Reaching a curb, he takes Viviane’s elbow. For a block or so, they walk arm in arm.
At the theater, Jefferson sits in the middle.
Viviane had picked the film, Louis Malle’s Au Revoir, Les Enfants, with an enthusiastic nod from Madeline.
The film takes place in a rural Catholic boarding school in the closing months of World War II. The boys come to realize that the priests are hiding Jews among their classmates, disguising them behind Christian surnames.
The Jewish boys do their best to go undetected, sitting out Communion, tucking Sabbath candles under their pillows.
The actors are children.
It doesn’t end well for all.
There are moments when Viviane reaches for Jefferson’s hand. He takes it.
There are moments when Madeline’s eyes leak. He wipes her tears.
And he ponders—it’s one thing to navigate carnal desires during a sexual threesome.
It’s another thing again to navigate affections during a tearjerker.
We are three friends, he thinks. But I am also the date of each, having brought them together.
The thought leaves Jefferson feeling a bit reserved.
Dishes are passed back and forth between the three diners.
Jefferson gazes over cart after cart, inquiring about shrimp wrapped in bacon. No sign of it.
“If my dream dim sum does show, I’m going to be too full, at the rate I’m eating,” he complains. “Y'all want more pork balls?”
“Shumai,” Viviane says.
“Shumai?” Jefferson offers.
“This shit is the shit,” Madeline says, holding a morsel in her chopsticks.
It is late on the first of two nights the three friends will spend having sex.
Madeline has cum, again, watching Jefferson fuck Viviane.
He is rough, biting her breasts and shoulders, pumping relentlessly as he pins her to the edge of the bed.
It excites him to see Viviane submit to his force.
It excites him to hear her pants and sighs, to hear the bed shudder beneath them.
It excites him to know Madeline watching, aroused.
Later, Viviane dresses to head home.
Madeline kisses her goodbye in bed.
Jefferson pulls on clothes to see her to the door.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay over?” Jefferson asks, automatically.
“No, I need to wake up at my place tomorrow,” Viviane demurs. She pauses. “But you would be okay with that? With Madeline here?”
Jefferson hesitates. Maybe he should have checked with Madeline before making that offer. “Sure, why not?”
“Hmm, well, maybe tomorrow.” She kisses him. “Thanks—and shit, you’ve never fucked me like that before.”
He smiles and kisses her. “My pleasure.”
He locks the door after her, and turns out the lights.
He undresses and gets into bed with Madeline.
He thought about what Viviane had said. “Never fucked me like that before.”
Was that a good thing? he thinks, curling up.
Hell, I guess I fucked her the way Madeline likes it.
“’Dim sum’—it means ‘a little bit of heart,’ right?”
Jefferson finally has his shrimp wrapped in bacon, each one a tidy bite-sized heart attack. He dips them in mayonnaise—all the better to grease the arteries.
“Actually, it’s closer to ‘something that touches the heart,’” Viviane corrects.
“That’s fucking gorgeous,” Madeline nods, chewing.
Not long after Madeline returns home from New York, Jefferson is laying nude in Viviane’s bed.
“You know,” she says. “I really enjoyed seeing you with Madeline. You looked happy. You both did.”
“I guess so, huh?” He remembers what Madeline had originally said about the prospect of meeting Marcus in April: I want to know him because you love him. I want to see that kind of love.
Perhaps that desire also enters into Viviane’s relationship with Madeline.
“Thanks for that,” he adds. “So that threesome was your best ever?”
She laughs. “You know it was my only threesome.”
“Thus far, yes.” He props himself on an elbow to kiss her.
The bill arrives. The three were stuffed. The total was twenty-six dollars and change.
“Highway robbery,” Madeline notes.
“Some nerve,” Jefferson agrees.
“You’re crazy,” Viviane rolls her eyes. “Three adults stuffed to the gills, for under thirty dollars—in Manhattan? That’s great.”
“Extraordinary bargain,” Madeline notes.
“Some deal,” Jefferson agrees.
Viviane pads the tip. “C’mon kids,” she says. “Let’s go shopping for sex toys.”
Madeline leans on Jefferson’s shoulder.
“And then,” she whispers. “I’m taking you home.”