"What I mean," she cuts in forcefully, "is that I realized that I just don't want anyone but you. And even if you don't feel the same way about me, there's no reason I should sleep with other people just because you do."
"You know I love you, darling. I just feel the need for variety occasionally. I love Chinese food more than any other, but I occasionally crave a hamburger -- it's an entirely ... analogous phenomenon."
"Yes, I'm food for the soul, right? I've heard that one before. It's still not a flattering comparison."
"On the contrary; food is an essential. After three weeks
without food the body begins to consume its own proteins -- to cannibalize itself. I wonder, if you left me, if my mind would begin to consume itself somehow."
"I never know if you're making sense or not."
"Me neither. I don't even know if the concept of making sense makes sense, so let's not worry about it."
"Do I look worried?" she grins, walking toward him slowly,
rhythmically, a hungry jaguar walk. She pushes the frayed yellow
notepad from his hands and presses her body to his clothes; with fingersadept from years of breathless, hungry, sweaty practice
she undoes his fly and slipssoftly around him... "Oh God, I
love you. I love you too much."
He smiles with what she is touched to perceive as infinite
contentment -- "There can never be too much love."
She starts to say: Stop philosophizing and fuck me. But he already has, so it comes out as a syncopated moan...
"It's Saturday," Joe mutters, "can't you go back to sleep? Didn't you tire yourself out enough last night running around from bed to bed in only your coat?"
"I've got an interview," Marcella laughs warmly.
"You can't have an interview at this hour; it's uncivilized!"
"First of all, it's half past one. And secondly, who are you, anyway, the bastion of modern civilization?"
"I am the first post-civilized man," he grins expansively
-- a sign, she has learned, that his words are meant in utmost, frightening seriousness.
"It's about a movie ... it actually seems interesting. I forget the director's name ... I have it written down somewhere. A Frenchman. The life of Antonin Artaud."
"Who will you play, the psychotic junky faggot masochist
"No, you ninny!" she giggles, blushing and tweaking his nose. "Anais Nin. It's a great part. Not too much money, I'd imagine -- but it's serious art for a change."
"Is there such a thing?"
"As serious art."
"What do you mean? No, no, I don't have ti...."
"Perhaps art is inherently playful."
"I've got to go!" She kisses him firmly. "Bye, my love."
Two minutes later the doorbell rings. "What'd you forget??" he shouts down through the intercom. "His name or your own? Yours is on the buzzer." Maybe she's too late to go, he thinks eagerly, anticipating a lazy horny afternoon in bed, maybe ordering Chinese food in....
"What?" questions up an unfamiliar voice.
"Oh," he replies, unembarassed but disappointed, "I thought you were someone else. What the hell do you want?"
"I ... I ... uh ...."
"What are you, selling Girl Scout cookies? Well I don't want any! At least let us exempt our children from the pursuit of holy oneness with the Almighty Deity Dollar!"
"I wanted to talk to you," she whispers stiffly, her muscles yet stiffer than her voice, her ligaments turning to steel and her tendons to pure pulsating tension. Sharply, suddenly gripped
by an strong urge to run yet unable to do so. It's just like
those dreams I used to have, she thinks -- I want to run away, to
run and run and run; they're chasing me, but my legs won't work,
my legs are made of liquid lead or something.
"Well, you are presently doing so, aren't you?"
"I am now," she grins weakly, "although I wasn't when you said it."
"Clever, clever! You pass the test! You can come on up -- but I warn you, if you try to sell me any cookies I'll throw you out the window. Or maybe I'll cook you up with some bologna
ice cream and jalapeno jelly and eat you for lunch."
"No cookies," she says, wondering why she doesn't run, clenched in the warm fist of a certainty she feels that she should analyze but she doesn't, doesn't, doesn't. This is the man, a voice inside her says -- wishful thinking, retorts another, but she smothers it in a heap of soft distant memories. One faded gray glimpse of her father's face, of his voice as it croons to her a melody -- what was it? Stairway to Heaven! She is all of a sudden certain that she recalls him softly singing ... "There's a baby who's sure/all that glitters is gold/and she's buying a stairway to Heaven" -- not "lady" as it should be, but "baby", baby, babiness. Babycakes. Or are you just fabricating that because Mom was just talking about him singing? The bell that indicates that the door is open goes off; she notes the number -- 713 -- next to his name and sallies forth. As she gets out of the elevator on the seventh floor she has a frenzied urge to check her purse for linty Girl Scout cookies.
He greets her at the door in his robe: "Hi! How ... no, I mean -- who the hell are ya?!"
"I'm Enriqueta," she says spontaneously. Of all the names, she wonders, why your mother's? She watches for him to flinch at the mention of his ex-wife's name -- but no, no strange wiggle of the eyebrow, no sudden smile or frown. Either he's not my dad, she reasons, or he's extremely self-controlled. I don't know why he'd change his name, though -- maybe he has to be self-controlled, I suppose his life depends on it. She summons to her mind the snapshot of her father that she put back in her wallet just before she reached the building. She thinks: This man looks nothing likehim. Well, height, but not hair color -- and not eyes. Well, the eyes are just as big... He could dye his hair and wear contact lenses. Shit, girl, why don't you get out of here -- the man is obviously crazy!
"I'm famished," he replies. "Would you like some breakfast, Enriqueta?"
"Sure," she says, though she's recently eaten.
"What would you like? To tell you the truth, I was going to make myself a hamburger."
"That sounds good," she smiles brightly. "Actually I've already eaten breakfast; I could use some lunch." He leads her to the kitchen table, pulls out a chair for her to sit in, and then in front of her puts an empty plate. "What's this," she asks, "a Zen appetizer?"
"Everyone talks about Zen," he replies as he forms the ground beef into patties against his stomach, "but no one knows
anything about it. This would be good, except that some people
think they know something about it. What do you know about Zen?"
She starts to say "Next to nothing, really", but he cuts in grinning "Nothing? Good! Because there's nothing to be known! I've spent a lot of time studying Zen.... One seeks the absolutely-beyond-categorization, do you follow me? Neither chaotic nor calm, neither intelligent nor dull, neither compassionate nor indifferent nor hostile.... The absolutely indescribable, the patternless. A state which is, obviously, not expressible in language -- or else it would be classifiable as 'that which is expressed by phrase X'".
"But if it can't be expressed by language," Juanita interrupts, "then why do you talk about it? Although I guess you're not really talking about it...."
"Well, my dear, why not? The paradox at the core of Zen and other such 'emptying' disciplines is that, logically speaking, no set of explicitly specifiable rules can ensure one the possession of this patternless state, nor even a certain probability of that possession, because then it would be categorizable as 'that which follows from following regime X'. But of course this paradox is no problem for the enlightened mind, which is beyond also the category of logic. And yet to reach this infinitely ineffable condition, one is expected to sit and fast with one's eyes closed for long periods. 'Zen', in Japanese, means simply meditation, in the literal, physical sense. An arbitrary biological specification.... Burgers are done, if you like them medium rare."
"Sure.... So if what you say is true, Zen Buddhism is a bunch of crap. It contradicts itself." She smiles, imagining herself digressing on profound and subtle matters of cosmology and metaphysics.
"But of course it does! What doesn't? Contradiction is the
heartbeat of the universe! Listen: by 'a bunch of crap' I suppose you mean 'not true'. But I don't give a horse's ass about truth. To me there are only two categories: interesting and uninteresting. New pattern and old hat. All the rest is corollary."
"Interesting," she giggles.
"I like the idea of Zen ... it's charming. I've never beenable to empty my mind for more than ten minutes or so though. I guess I'm about as far from a Zen monk as you can get. It's more the opposite with me: meditation transcends all categories by in some sense being nothing, but I transcend them by being everything. By taking every possible point of view -- at once."
"That sounds frightening," she says, with her mouth full.
"To you, perhaps it does. That's because this society makes a policy of imprinting its youth with the One True View on every subject. 'In God We Trust', says our money. 'In Money We Trust', says everything else, including our churches when they pass around the collection tray. We learn that communism is wrong and capitalism is right. We learn that good men sacrifice their lives for democracy -- whatever that means! That elusive word.... We learn that technological progress is good -- and that it's in the interest of big business to foster it. If, instead of propagandizing, our schools and media -- especially television -- made it a point to encourage the genesis of new pattern, new ideas, new inventions, new discoveries -- I can hardly imagine how much more bright and full the world would be!"
"Full, huh? You were just saying how full you are. You want to make the world in your own image."
"Maybe there's some truth to that," he shrugs. "What the hell -- make it in your image if you don't like mine! Just make it! do something! act freely! don't react like a robot, in every situation trotting out the same old patterns they plowed into
"It's not that easy," she says slowly, losing track of herself. "You should talk to my friend Carlos -- he says he wants to start a new political party for the ... how did he put it ... the equal distribution of technology. No ... the maximal utilization of ... I can't remember."
"That's a good idea but not, by itself, enough. Equidistribution and maximal utilization, I mean. An excellent start. But what good could a political party do? I mean, there're hundreds of 'em squawking their earnest little heads off! No, the way I see it, something radical is required. We need to take charge of an island somewhere and form a society according to our ideals. If it works, then maybe people will listen. There're too many pie-in-the-sky idealists trumpeting around stupid plans for...."
"Well, once you find this island, call me! I'll be the first settler."
"You're mighty gullible, sweetheart. You haven't even heard my ideas yet -- for all you know I'm a fascist, or a cannibal, or a worshiper of the ancient Aztec sun god. O Quetzalcoatl, forgive me!"
"I can tell by your voice that you're kind," she responds, wondering what's happening -- all becomes as in a dream, one moment flowing swiftly through another with the fluidity of blood
coursing through gentle porous veins. It's something in his voice, some eery divine enthusiasm. Too much energy, too much creative pulse, too much life.
"You've got me there," he grins. Reaching into a drawer behind him he extracts a bong. "Care for some dessert?"
She looks on blankly.
"Ever had hashish before?"
She shakes her head.
"Come on, try it! It's primo stuff -- my wife got it from
her record producer. You did know the music business was run by the Mafia, didn't you? They've got a lock on the Turkish hashish market -- the Turkish government locks you up if you try to smuggle drugs out without a Mafia I.D. card." He lights it, taking a deep, protracted hit, then hands it to her. "Just suck in -- it's easy; even a vacuum cleaner could do it!"
She does so and giggles: "Do you take pep pills, or are...?"
"Nope. I'm naturally this way. It's too much sex, I guess. Either that or too little."
Not knowing how to reply to that, she takes another hit and they pass it back and forth in silence. "I better not have any more," she yawns after ten or eleven hits -- "I'm getting delirious."
"You should take one or two hits after that feeling hits you," he grins effusively. "Come on! This stuff is potent, eh?"
"I have no spacis of comparison," she giggles brightly. "I've never tried it before."
"What brought you here anyway?" he wonders aloud, only slightly stoned.
"That's the same thing you said outside!"
"I ... um ... um ... I can't explain right. Right now. I mean, um...."
"It's quite all right, really. I was just curious."
"I'm ... feeling ... very ... hot." Whorls, whorls, whorls, whorls of dizzy dancing fluid wrap around the air, drape everything in a tizzy of drunk life; a woozy envelope of furious whirring blurriness drowns the boundaries between X and Y into delirious abandon. X equals Y. One equals two. X equals not-X. Flow, flow, flow, softly flowing, never-knowing, slowly growing inviscid abandon- gushing tendrils of pure warmth in far more colors than the spectrum should allow...
"Take off some clothes," he suggests. "I'm feeling rather hot myself." He feels his erection bulge and curve back into his navel. She looks down at her body nervously. "Don't be shy," he smiles warmly. "In some countries people go naked all the time, and no one thinks anything of it. On the beach we go basically naked. There's nothing to be ashamed of -- what, do you have some horrible expletive tattooed across your breasts or something?"
He is right, she thinks dreamily, imagining herself on a Caribbean island surrounded by intelligent, attractive people leading a rational, creative life without clothes on. "The nudity taboo is just part of the propaganda you were talking about."
"That's right it is! Give me one good reason two human beings shouldn't be allowed to observe eachothers bodies. As Friedrich Nietszche said: 'What is the seal of attained freedom? Being able to stand before oneself without shame!' There's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of!"
"What about mother and son?" she wonders -- again for some mysterious reason obscuring things. I'm not quite sure that he'smy father, she keeps telling herself. Don't want to make a fool of myself. His personality fits the description to a tee, but then he doesn't look a damn thing like the picture.
Spontaneously: "Have you ever had plastic surgery?"
He chuckles naturally: "No. Why would you think so?"
"Oh, I don't know ... it's the hash I guess. I don't even know what I'm doing anymore. I feel like I'm spinning off into a different reality." He stands behind her; he is unbuttoning her shirt. From somewhere thrum bizarrely angular, wide trumpet
blasts. He caresses her breasts. "Such delicate little buds!" he marvels, squeezing her miniscule nipples until they just
barely hurt. Everything spins around her mind; the walls have
hundreds of thousands of corners, each one harboring some
multicolored beast composed of walls and rugs and hamburgers and
stereos, with huge red eyes whose veins flow circles that are
nooses hanging alabaster angels who are orgasming and smoking purple peace pipes. As he carries her to the bed his mouth forays around her navel, her neck, her armpits, elbows, ribs, her breasts. As her jeans slide slowly off, as his tongue whips the softest part of her thighs in a fury,she cries out, "No! It isn't right!"
"What isn't right? It feels good, doesn't it?"
ASTOUNDING META-CLITORAL ACUMEN
I slam my third foot on the brakes,
skid round the corner
into the viscous slime-reality that bubbles
at right angles to the ever-spearing forwardness of time
Take a bite from the hodgepodge quilt of writhing body parts --
impregnated with LSD --
that shadows like a grimacing mask my mind
(a chunk of shoulder spewing testicles and dust of quaking bones
and trembling lusty gush of penis-peeled-like-banana,
and this insouciance ineffable of mine that keeps it dancing
like a piranha tongue entranced with taste of blood
It laughs, it dives
its frenzy through itself
to rhythms born and often died beneath the foggy ruins of time
-- To hot Neanderphallic rituals of reason lashed by rhyme)
The cock of Jesus Christ,
as his grin spreads across his crucifix,
smiling empty days and empty rays of light,
illuminating every forlorn pore of my existence,
setting to drunken dizzy dance every last quantum of my life
A shit I took when I was five
arises, looks me in the eye, and spits a whirlwind of petunias,
livers, sycophantic strife, and never-neverlilies prancing wild abandon-crazy lapping sounds from cosmicunts and dusky dawns and everywhens of whetherwings and plunges through my heart with its furnace-of-passion forged knife
A smile I stole from a softly mendicacious doll of seventeen --
a glimmering dance on shimmering shadowshoes
just hinting that the wife of death is passion
and the cunt of death is life
and all the groans of death in wild orgasmic mesmerizing hollow overfull screams are but the hot Neanderthal rhythms of the underside of life,
that cunt that shoots you in the arm like too-pure heroin
and lifts you past the aimless whether-drifting (wildly whipping)
of the vagaries of mind
into the subtext of the cosmic contradictionary,
into the gazing of the hurricane of mind,
that stillest hour,
that fullest cup,
that down is up,
that moment mesmerizing that grabs your everdubious by the balls
and shoves it right on down Christ's open mouth
As the everecumenical erection jumps and moans,
and writhes in spasms
which myfurnace eye discerns to be the product of fractional distillation of the ninety-ninth derivative
of the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh week
of the seventh eclipse of the prodigal son
I am the outsider's outsider. I am the Nowhere Man. I am the taut and breathless chill of death-beyond. I am the square-root- of-negative-one'th coming of the messiah. Oh! Oh! Oh! Give it to me!
Take it from me!
Make me fibrillillate in the ninety thousand twenty nine varieties of postequilibrium orgasm, and lay out on the beach of the internal oceans of bubbling blood and spoiled green semen,
caressed by the first rays of the twenty thousand six new rising
suns of the neverlived galaxy of undivided wholeness and pure pure love!
As Christ's cock bursts its seams --
it seems he was a masochist and nailed himself up there solo, all except for the left hand which was done by his sadistic lover Judas --
it seems the universe is undeniably undenied,
its farthest fathoms divagated,
as its undulating motions seep through all the trivial seams
that separate concept here from concept there
in the fabric of the whirled
And as he catches a droplet of come in his mouth
and his tongue tingles with seven spastic sensations
and forty nine theories of the origin of life
and the planets of seventy three alien suns
and the earlobe of dried-out eternity
oh, and occasionally on Tuesdays, quite a writhing neversmile of dead infernities can cackle from these throbbing alien suns whose light, though never burning merely on the spectrum of our eyes, can singe the soul of anyone whose hole, whose emptiness in that secret place, is deep enough to laugh and turn that corner of the mind, and laugh and cry and spit up come and shit and snot through everytaste bud and wonder what it is that universal love and hate spew out of, why the spicy hot bittersweet dribblings of
the cunt of Christ are tumbling like infection-pus from the
staring eye of the hurricane of mind -- for who can turn the corner but the very Christ who dies every second within every mind -- for why is the universal mind a drop of semen from the cunt of Christ on sweaty mornings-after -- hermaphrodite messiah -- and set the universal crotch to daylight savings time -- occasionally on Tuesdays, there is a love that never dies (there is a love that never questions
what it is
(to question is to hide)) Occasionally a decomposing earlobe or a shard of chipping femur or a trachea detached and whorledly wondering what's the widest spurt of blood that could be obtained by sticking hypodermic needles into the cock of Christ at orgasm and, well, possibly a yesterday delight or a medleymorning aftertrickle of unpenitent lustiness life, but far more likely an evermore nevermore raven of ravingwild tenderness perverted toward Hitlery splatters of strife and the graveyard of too many and also too few souls of nothingness, an emptiness trembling inside -- as the cock of Christ yells and recoils fromits
unbounded orgasm, from its spurt which was God, and in seventeen languages bellows the national anthem of the state of matrimony and turns into a rubber hose or a pumpkin pie and glimmers at the sky while Judas cuts it off as a memento and takes it back to his hut, puts it in epsom salt and feeds it with hemerrhoid ooze and hot curry sauce daily till one day it grows up and becomes the
"You know," she contemplates slowly, "I've often thought the exact same thing. I really have. Not that you talk to much, I mean ... the other stuff ... Almost in the same exact words, even. But I didn't let it run away with me. Especially when I was going out with Dave, I used to feel that way. But since I've been with Steve, the thoughts have hardly come at all...."
"That's great. Now why don't you break up with Steve and let me go out with him, then maybe they`ll stop coming to me!"
"God, you're crazy!" she giggles effusively. "C'mon, let's
"We won't tell Dave," Grandma coos goodbye.
"Grandma, it's Steve!" chides Melissa, cheery but annoyed. "And he wouldn't care if you did; it's not a date or anything,
we're just going out for ice cream."
"Oh, I don't know, that sounds like a date to me," rumbles
Grandpa. "What exactly is it you have to do to have it called a
date these days?"
"Oh, Harold, really!"
"Now, Maude, I was making a valid point. The cultural network exerts a considerable influence on the linguistic network, and in particular on the semantic content associated with a given morpheme. In this case...."
"Goodbye, Grandpa," I interrupt -- glimmering at theindifference of my rudeness.
"He sounds like a very intelligent person," remarks Vlad
as they saunter down the sidewalk.
"Yes, but it's all wasted at the dinnertable," she laughs a little bitterly. "What does he do?"
"He was a physicist -- or, no, an analytical chemist. He worked at U.S. Steel for a long time...."
"Hmmmmm. Tell me, do you think I'm psychotic."
"What? No ... I mean ... I guess I don't know you well enough to tell ... I don't even know what it means, exactly, except that it's even worse than neurotic, which is what Dad always calls Mom when they're in a fight."
"Last school I was at, they sent me to the official school district psychologist, who told my parents I was borderline psychotic, and heading across the border fast. She seriously wanted me locked up."
"Yeah ... well, I've been in trouble with the shrinks from the beginning. In first grade I figured out some formulas from algebra -- I had the quadratic formula, or something a little messier but equivalent to it -- and I used to like to play with them in class, seeing as I was a little bored being taught how to do things I'd been able to do for years. But the thing was, I didn't know about x's and y's and z's, you know -- I used little squares and triangles and people and houses and so on. So the teacher saw me making these weird scribbles and she asked me what they were and she sent me to the shrink after I tried to explain but she couldn't understand -- you know, I didn't know any of the words for the things, and I don't think she knew too much about algebra, either. I tried to explain to the shrink, then, but she just wouldn't listen -- no one would believe it wasn't nonsense. Finally, I caught onto the game and I told them I'd never do it again and they let me go.... Jeez, I guess I sound awfully serious talking about all this stuff when I hardly even know you. Tell me, Melissa, what do normal people talk about?"
"Huh? I don't .... I don't know... uh...."
"Come on, admit it! I know I'm weird. I'm probably the weirdest person you've ever met. I'm a fucking psychotic, for Christ's sake! Look at me!" He waves his arms around wildly and extends his tongue and makes erratic choking squeaking sounds by pressing a finger against his throat and screaming. She giggles nervously; he falls to the ground and palpitates as if seizuring.
"Look," she says, a little angry, "what's your point? You don't have to prove you're weird to me, I fucking believe you, okay!"
"Sorry," he says, getting up. "You want me to go?"
"No, I just wish you could act...."
"Act normal? Come on, say it!"
"No ... it's not that ... you just seem so nervous, that's all."
"Of course I'm nervous, goddamnit! This is my big day! This is the first time I've actually tried to talk to a normal human being, you know. Well, I mean, to someone my age, anyway. To someone in my school." He grins mischievously: "My
psychiatrists always said I should try to reach out, to fit in
"This is surreal, it really is. I feel like a character out of Dostoyevky."
"Ooh, aren't we educated!" he laughs sarcastically but warmly as they resume to walk. "Which character do you feel like? You know, come to think of it you do look like the picture I always had in my head of Aglaia Ivanovna."
"I don't know ... no one in particular."
"Just the general atmosphere of lunacy that seems to follow me around like a bad case of measles."
"You're so strange! Maybe we'd better talk about physics again or something...." What is it about him? He's so weird -- still, I kind of like him, I mean ... oh, I don't know what I mean -- I mean, everything he says is a little off, you know, but he seems like he means well, like he's making an honest effort, I mean, maybe, maybe what he said was right, maybe he's just out of practice at talking to people, I don't know --
"You sure you don't want to go out with me tonight? It doesn't have to be a romantic sort of thing, you know -- I just want to be friends. I haven't had a friend in four years."
"Um ... well, where would we go? Willow Heights isn't exactly a hotbed of activity on Tuesday nights."
-- What are you saying?! Go out with him?! Why?!
"Well, I've been going into Philly every night since I've been here, having reached that same conclusion about five minutes after seeing the town."
"Oh, really? You have a car?"
"Yeah. It only takes about twenty minutes ... well, you'd know."
"I really shouldn't. I mean, we're kind of going steady and all -- things have been going so well ... Steve wouldn't like it."
"Why wouldn't he? What's the big deal? You didn't have any plans with him, I mean, did you?"
"No ... I was going to do some homework."
"Study for my French test tomorrow, do my calculus homework, write up my physics...."
"Tell you what ... uh, what time is it?"
"Just after seven."
"I was going to go to a party at seven-thirty or so. We could go there right now and I could have you back in time to do your homework tonight."
"You don't give up easy."
"Am I being overbearing? I've always been told I was overly aggressive."
"Come on," she says, taking his hand. "Let's go." They about-face and return to his car, waiting just down the street from her house.
"It looks like hell," he apologizes, "but the engine's in perfect order. In fact, better than perfect -- I retooled it myself."
"By the way, where are we going?"
"Oh, it's supposedly the opening of some exhibit at some artgallery. But you know these things, they always turn out to be parties. Free beer and free food, and the people are a hell of a lot more interesting than our fellow students at Shitbag High.... Oh, maybe not, you know, but at least they're different." As they drive off he eyes a dial on the dashboard. "Shit, we're low on fuel. Have to stop and pick something up along the way." He pulls a case of tapes from beneath the seat. "Buckle up!" he grins chidingly, and she does ... "What kind of music do you like?"
"What do you have?"
"Oh ... let's see ... Thelonious Monk, Beethoven, Jeff Beck, the Dead Milkmen... uh, you like rock and roll, I guess?"
"Check this out." He pops a tape in, turns it loud. I've never heard anything like it -- electric guitar, yeah, but not rock or blues or anything you'd hear on the radio, more like
a wildly mutated Bach fugue -- a thousand unbelievably fast
trills and perfectly-interbalanced harmonic subdivisions attacking
eachother so mercilessly -- "Sounds like Mozart on acid, eh?" he
laughs after a minute or so, turning it down a bit. "Yngwie
Malmsteen. Heavy metal classical. This is his first album, I think his best. After this one he went too commercial for me."
All of a sudden, he stops by the side of the road. She looks around; there's not thing in sight except road and woods. Come to think of it, she ponders, this is an awfully weird route to take to Philly. Surely it'd be faster totake the highway!
He gets out of the car and starts scooping up wood from the ground. Then he opens the trunk of the car and starts dumping it in. "What are you doing?" I ask finally.
"Fueling up!" he replies, with an unwaveringly straight face.
"The car runs on wood?" she asks, sarcastically.
"In fact, it does," he says quietly, obviously savoring the moment. "I modified it myself with a kit I bought from an ad in Popular Mechanics. It also runs on gas, but wood's cheaper."
"Well, yeah, cause you can't find gasoline by the side of the road."
"One thing, though, the car tends to smoke a little. But it did pass the emissions test."
"I didn't mean it that way...."
He chuckles wryly: "There're no two ways about it. Either I'm crazy or I'm not. And there seems to be a general agreement on the former of the two possibilities."
"This is Melissa," Vlad grins to the overalled girl full of freckles who opens the door.
"Hi," says the girl with a quiet smile. "I'm Madeleine."
"She's one of the guests of honor," says Vlad. "See that big thing over in the corner there? That's her concoction. Also a couple smaller things around the room."
The big thing in question is a bright orange canvas on which are hung around fifty old tennis shoes, painted various colors,
in the shape of a mutated face.
"It's ... uh ... very interesting," Melissa says meekly.
"Thanks," replies Madeleine. It is apparent that Madeleine is extremely shy; somehow this gives Melissa comfort, makes her feel that these strange people, all dressed in sloppy clothes and bandying six-syllable words around as they curse and guzzle their beers, perhaps are not as different from her as they might seem.
"I've got something showing here," says Vlad quietly as he leads her toward the keg against the opposite wall.
"Oh yeah? Where is it?"
"I'm not sure I want to show it to you. It's not what you'd call a great masterpiece -- I'm not much of an artist." He laughs and shuffles his feet nervously. "You might be able to smell it from here."
"Smell it? What do you mean?" Charmed right through her discomfort -- "Of course now you know I have to see it!"
"It's hidden over in the corner -- as far away from the food and drink as possible." They reach the keg. He pours himself a half-full glass... "Want some?"
"No thanks, I don't think so."
He tastes it and grins -- "Good move!"
She elbows him playfully -- "Come on, now, show me where your painting is."
"It's not exactly a painting," he cautions as he directs her towards it. It's kind of a multimedia sort of thing."
She sees it and is immediately embarrassed by the predictability of her reaction: "Oh my god!"
It is a piece of typing paper glued to a canvas and smeared with shit. The paper says:
hgjjh/hjcgkhhgfjsxdfgy/;p.'ojjydfgvrhny,;,jumfvngfbx/khil/cv/gxc sjklhlfdsjklhlfgsdjklfghlsdjklfghldsjklfghlsdjklhjfhsdjklfghlsjd lhlfgsdjklfhsdjklhjfghlsdjklfghlsdjklfghldsjklhlfgsdjklfghldsjkf hlsdjklfghlsdjkllfgsdjklfghlsdjklfghlsdjklfghlsdjklfghlsdjklfghl djklflghdsjklfghsdjklfghsdjjklfghlsdjklfghlsdjklfghlsdjklfghlsdj lfghlsdjklfghlsdjklfghldjsklfghlsdjklfghlsdjklfghlsdjklfghlsdjkl sdjklfghlsdjklfhlgsdjklfgksdjlfsdjklhlfsdjklfghsdjklhfsdjklfghsd klfhlgsdjklfgsdjklfghsdjklfgsdjklfgsdjklfsdjklhlfgjkldshlfjsdklh lfgjdkhlfjkdhfsjkdhlfgksjdhlfgjklsdfgsdjklfghlsdjklfghlsjdklfghlQ jklfghljkesohrjkerhlekjrhlkwejlrthlkjlwqrhlkwjlqhlrkwjlrhlkjwerh wejklrhlwejklrhljeklwrhlwkerhljklwerhlkwejlrhljklweeweeweeweewee rhlwejklrthlwjklehlrtjklwehjrtwjklertwejklrthljklwehlretjklwhlrt jklwehlwejhklrtwetjklrtjwklethlrtklwerthljklwetrthlwetjklrthlwet thljwklrhlwjklerthlklwerthljklwerthljklwlhwjkletrthlwetjklhlewth wetjljlwetkwetjlrtwethlwetkletwjlrekwtjlhlrwjwretjrwetjklwretjkl rwjklertjklwjklwretjklwerthwjerthjweklrthjklwerthjklwerthjklwert jklwertwertwertwertwertwertwertwertwertwertwertertwwertrwetwertw rtwertwertwertwertewrtwerterwtwerthjjhjhhjhjjhjhhjjhjhjhhjhjhjhj
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Lust for antigravity, for an infinitude of time, for freeze-dried soul, for whatever vortex of hyperreality's being advertised on
XXTV right now, for the cock of the spacetime continuum, for the
XXXXmiraculously seamless ivory flowing of your breast, for your
delicate trembling at the tickling of my touch, for your handssqueezing me and squeezing me and sparking life into me, for the tingling green porcupinish magic that occurs when I see your face, for the toenails of crimson grizzly bears turned liquid, forbuggly farting, for the sun, for the man in the moon smokes dope, for the emptiness at the center of the whole thingXXXXXXXX
"Your poetry is interesting," Melissa says haltingly after a minute or so of profoundly puzzled staring. "But I don't understand what it has to do with ... with this."
"Neither do I," says Vlad quickly. She looks, plainly, dissatisfied. "What I mean is," he continues, "it just gives a feeling I had when I was making it. Part of that feeling was that everything is meaningless, you know ... I think that's always part of the message of this kind of art -- it directly represents the meaninglessness, and so on, and so on. Most of it, though,in this case, was a feeling that as an artist you're bound to get shit on!"
"You tell her Vladimos!" yells a drunk, whose hoarse coarse
voice says he's at least around forty, from directly behind
her. At his voice she jumps and nearly trips over herself.
"You want some weed?" he continues gelatinously...
"Do you smoke pot?"
"I've tried it. But I'd better not, I've got homework tonight."
"It's good stuff. Sinsemilla, straight from Turkey."
"Laced with rat poison," adds a woman from across the room. "Wait -- look! someone's coming. A real person!"
"What are we, androids?" retorts Vlad. He opens his wallet, pulls out a hundred and hands it to Melissa. "Pretend you're buying this painting from me," he whispers as the person approaches the door. "We've got to create the impression of business."
"Uh ... wait! what do I say?!"
He puts his fingers to her lips: "Improvise!"
The person walks in, starts browsing. Melissa observes amusedly as roughly half of the fifteen or twenty artists and
assorted cohorts in the room assume serious postures...
"I have to admit that was fun," laughs Melissa in the car as they leave around nine o'clock. "I really shouldn't have had that beer, though."
"Why, do you feel sick?"
"No, I mean, because I've got to go home and do physics and stuff....
"Hey, don't worry about it. I can help you if you really think you'll have trouble, but I'm sure you won't. Anyway, listen, you know, the best way to get rid of a drunk is to smoke a little pot."
I giggle skeptically.
"No, really. I'm serious -- it always works for me. Alcoholdepresses the central nervous system; marijuana stimulates it."
"So they cancel out? There's some good biology!"
"No ... I don't know about the biology, but it really does work. C'mon, try it!"
He starts the car and drives awhile.
"I'm sorry," he continues softly as we near the bridge ... "I didn't mean to be pressuring you -- I was only trying to help. I never understood the thing people have against marijuana. Really it's a far less severe drug than alcohol -- medically and mentally both."
"No ... you weren't pressuring me." She tries to snap herself out of the daze she's crawled into ... it's useless, she decides -- "Oh, what the hell, maybe it will work! Gimme a joint!"
He obliges rapidly.
"God, this stuff is strong!"
"It's my own mixture .. half sinsemilla, half hash. It'll really clear your mind, I'm telling ya."
"I don't know about that, but it sure makes me feel woozy. And dizzy. Woozy and dizzy. Wizzy. Doozy. Ooh ... it makes me want to squirm!" I wiggle absurdly in my seat, feeling like a worm on a hook....
"Hey, it's really clear out tonight!" he says, eyeing the sky most mysteriously, or so it seems to my muddled mind. "You want to go stargazing?"
No response. Just swimming, purply spirally wiggly swimming.
"It's only about ten minutes out of the way, I know a hill where there aren't any lights. It's a wonderful night for it -- full moon, too! You won't see a night like this often, not around a smog center like Philly!"
"Oh, sure, what the hell!" I laugh. "I've always liked astronomy."
"Me too. I built my own telescope -- ground my own mirror and everything. It's painstaking work, but I didn't really mind it. I like details, I guess ... I like building things, getting every detail right. I guess that's part of my insanity. I love things like tables of numbers too. Just the way they're right down to every last mark on the page, you know ... I used to have all the logarithm tables memorized, when I was a kid. Now my memory's slipping in my old age...."
"Tables of numbers..." she laughs. "Never turned me on too greatly, no no no.... Insanity. I think I'm going insane, right now. Might as well go ... no way I'll be able to do physics...."
"Forty five minutes you'll be as sharp-minded as ever," he says. "Mark my words."
"With what? Got a pencil?"
"Ha ha ha. I can tell you're really stoned -- only a stoned person could find that funny."
"Oh, fuck you!"
We pull over by the side of a dirt road strewn with random gravel and he takes a telescope from the trunk -- a big reflector, say six inches wide, with a funny finder scope perched on top in the shape of a cone almost, and we're looking at craters and he's telling me the funny Latin names and his hands on my shoulders as I look and I turn around and kiss him I hardly know what I'm doingbut it sure feels good and the grass is so soft did he plan that and you know it's okay when he kisses my neck like that and mmmm mmmm mmmm and anyway Steve wouldn't mind oh of course he would but, you know, so what if he did, what the hell, I mean, everywhere, I don't know, what do I mean? I think it's the pot -- okay, undo my shirt, mmmm, that feels good, I mean really you're being a bit silly -- he can kiss your neck and it feels so soft and delicious I mean then -- mmmm, your tongue! Oh, grind! -- why can't he move an inch or so down, mmmm easy to loosen, yeah, right there in front, God, my nipples are burning up Oh! can they take any more attention, round and round God! Oh! I think, Oh! it feels almost like he's paying an homage to them -- God, what are these silly thoughts, God that feels good, Oh! why didn't you let anyone do this before -- didn't feel right, I mean you know Dave was so disgusting no he wasn't just not quite ... and Steve never cared to, I don't know, just too awkward -- Vlad's not awkward here, not a damn bit, but he seems so ... so otherwise ... what? what? mmmmm, God, I bet they're bright red, I think they're about to burst ... ooh, I can see his naked body right in front of me, press against me, against me, feel your hands against my ass, feel you clench me, clench me, squeeze me! No, get those fantasies out of your head or you might let them happen! That wouldn't be all bad! But -- no, not quite yet, you're not ready yet -- Why not? One could start at thirteen, there's no reason not to! God, that feels good! Mmmmmm... oh, mmmm, my bellybutton feels like it's next to my vagina, like it's straight through, like there's a direct connection from one to the other, like sometimes he's turning me right inside out ... oh God! is that my voice I'm fucking panting like a dog no actually I'm not fucking I'm just panting like a dog ha ha ha ha ha oh my God! that's so wonderful ... mmmm yes, oh, move my underwear out of the way, grab my hair in your teeth, rub me slowly -- this isn't a fantasy is it -- But it is! -- but it's happening -- but it feels so good, how could it be wrong? but Oh! faster now, rub it good, rub right there, yeah, like that, roundyroundyround, yeah, Oh! stuck his finger in when? didn't notice, God, oh! hee hee hee hee -- he sounds like he's sucking a popsicle! I wonder how I taste ... funny you never bothered to find out, all those times touching yourself there -- Oh! it's so delicate, so smooth, it's all running out! feels like he's got at least three fingers up there -- feels like Oh!, feels like his lips are so warm but how could they be God! my whole body is covered in sweat -- why can't I get rid of these sillyhead thoughts and just dance on his tongue like one huge nerve? God! that feels wonderful but why do I have to say it to myself -- oh, who cares? Oh! oh! God, that feels wonderful ... so ... so -- Ahhhh! Ahhhhh! Ahhhhh! Just right! Just like that, yeah! Oh, harder, yeah! Plug it in! God, am I thinking these things? Yes! Shove it in there -- now! Fuck me now! Fuck me good! Fuck me! Oh! Oh, God! It feels so -- feels so shiny -- feels like tingling, tickling ... feels like any second I'll explode, like ... every touch runs through my whole body! Oh! Oh! Vladimir!
His lips on my mouth ... so that's what I taste like. So bitter!
I'm so limp.... "You're delicious," he whispers after hekisses me.
"That felt wonderful," I smile slightly, passionately. "Incredible. Really. I just want to lie here, forever."
He kisses my cheek and my navel and my inner thigh. "Eventually you'd rot."
In an eerie soft glow we drive back to my house and I actually finish my homework without difficulty and I so bleary dream of him
so furiously, intensely that my panties're soaked in the morning but then when I arrive at school the next day he's gone. I call his house, but there's no reply. After a week I ask the principal, aghast, and after the usual rancid runaround he tells me slowly, honestly, in his dead-man's parched voice that he knows basically nothing about it. I believe he hasn't even noticed! I stop by the gallery he took me to and ask about him: nothing. He's always in and out, they say. Then a week later I read his obituary in the paper. Corpse of honor student found in Delaware River. Cause of death: drowning. Possibly suicide. I go on with Steve as before, not telling him anything about that miraculous night ... a little kissing, some fairly intelligent conversation, but no real excitement, no adventure, no novelty, no thrill, no every touch filling my body with delight, etc. etc. Where before I was contented, I'm bored. I think about Vlad every minute -- awake, asleep, his image haunts me like the smile of Christ must haunt a saint... For no particular reason but the irrationality of (maybe, probably) love I get his locker partner to let me take his stuff and in it I find some soiled gym clothes and some tattered looseleaf notebooks filled with scribblingin some foreign or code language. Life goes on ... the next week my mother announces that we're moving to Brooklyn; Daddy got transferred, and he'll get a big bonus if he moves there immediately. He's already found a house. I don't really give a shit. My friendships here are fizzling; I've only got seven months left anyway. Nothing matters much. Maybe in Brooklyn I'll find some kind of excitement. Someone like Vlad. Or Vlad? No, that's crazy; he's gone, you dippy bitch. Or something.
THIS HAS GONE TOO FAR
"Yes." Whorls, millions of multicolored corners, abysses ever small and large, abandon growing in wide cycles, each cubic millimeter of her flesh alive with dragonsbreath and torrents,
floods and earthquakes, comet's zoom and sunspot oddity, bright sun glare and green moon eeriness; what, why, where, how, when, why, who --
"Listen," he says, as his mouth and his hands stroke her vagina expertly, testing the size of the tremor obtained by caressing each spot. "I don't want us to do anything you don't
want to do. This feels good to me, does it feel good to you?"
Suddenly she can't grasp hold of anything anymore. Who am I? Who is he? What are we doing? What does it mean? What does it mean to mean? What are we doing? "It feels wonderful,"
she whispers smoothly, honestly. "Up further."
"How about here?"
"In other words, anywhere?"
"Do you want to have sex with me?"
"Yes!" she moans, thickly, sincerely, in exactly the same tone as the four times before.
As he enters, he feels her hymen break and he whistles. "Does one equal two?" he grunts, savoring the unique yet cliched glow of the situation.
After ten minutes Marcella comes in. "In our own bed, nonetheless!" she yells. "Josef, this has gone too far!"
"It hasn't gone anywhere yet," he retorts as he pumps, "we've only been at it five minutes."
Marcella sees a bloodstain on the sheet. "Does she have her period or did you pop her cherry? My God, she doesn't look a day over seventeen! Where do you get these women?"
"That's the strange part -- she just came to the door, shortly after you left. Wouldn't say why she was here. So I gave her some of that hash you got from David -- and it was yes! yes! yes! from there on in -- ."
"About seven inches in, right. That hash! That fucking so-
called hash! Did you notice it was just a little sticky? A
slight black residue?"
"Perhaps... I wasn't paying attention -- it was already in the bong."
"That so-called hash was full of opium. I tried some last night before I went out with Art; it gave my head quite a little spin!"
"No extra charge, I take it? Just a little bonus thrown in 'cause he likes you?"
"But imagine the effect on someone who's mind isn't numbed by a lifetime of drug abuse."
"Mine isn't," he retorts.
"Well you've got a very, ah, unusual mind," she retorts icily. "When I first got stoned ... well, when I first smoked nothing happened. But the second time I tried the stuff I nearly cursed out the director of the dorm! And there was no opium in it either! I mean, now I could drink a pint of battery acid. I'm immune. But if you've...."
"I've never had a particularly strong reaction to it. But anyway, I don't need to imagine the effect on an innocent mind -- I can feel it! And it feels damn good! Tight, for one thing."
"Not as well reamed as me, you mean? I think I'll go to the museum or something -- I don't care to stand and look at this all day."
"Well, why don't you join in, then? No one's stopping you! She doesn't know what the hell's going on -- just shove your nookie in her face and we'll both have a taste. Assuming you don't have to weewee, that is. Although she probably wouldn't mind thateither, I never could get used to the taste. Too acidic. "
"No, I don't have to weewee," she giggles, obliging him. As she gets into position: "Mmmmm. Why haven't we tried this before?"
Half an hour later Joe soars into an orgasm of unparalleled length -- at least ninety seconds, he thinks to himself afterwards. I couldn't have that much come! Maybe I'm turning into a woman. If so, so be it! And then a tremendous thought strikes him: if ninety seconds, why not ninety minutes? Why not a lifetime of orgasm?! A second later, the thought seems less tremendous. He slips out of Juanita and turns onto his back, resting one woman on each shoulder. They all slip into sleep.
He awakes to the too-intense scrutiny of Juanita's brown
eyes. "What's the matter?" asks Marcella coolly, calmly.
Upon receiving no reply, she subtly shifts her head towards
Joe's. But he is silent. "That hash was laced with opium," says Marcella. "Joe didn't know."
Joe squeezes her firmly. "Enriqueta. That's a pretty name. I knew a woman named Enriqueta once."
"Was she as beautiful as this one?" asks Marcella, digging
her teeth into his ear.
"She looked very much like her, in fact," Joe replies. "She was a couple years older, though -- I guess she was nineteen when I met her."
"You're talking about my mother," says Juanita through a sudden veil of tears.
"What's that?!" cries Marcella.
Joe just smiles.
"You mean...?!" Marcella exclaims, aghast. "My God! My fucking God!"
"What's the story, Armand Kipple?" asks Juanita, slowly, softly, still a little stoned but trying to be lucid.
"Armand Kipple? What's that?" asks Marcella -- clearly, observes Juanita, very genuinely surprised.
"The story may be coming to an end very soon," says Joe gravely. "Very soon. I'd advise you both to leave the premises at once."
"I will not!" insists Marcella. "What are you talking about!?"
"I suppose you know the story, darling daughter?" he says, raising an eyebrow. "Don't make that accusatory face at me -- I didn't know you were my daughter. Come to think of it, you do look a bit like Enriqueta did at your age, but not all that much. The resemblance is far from overwhelming. In any case, isn't it true you knew of our relationship, but you chose to keep it secret -- why? I asked you if you wanted to have sex with me, in exactly those words, and you said yes -- so if there's any crime involved, it's only statutory rape. Do you remember me asking you?"
"No. I don't remember anything after we ate but a lot of
corners and a lot of flesh."
"I've never heard of a charge of involuntary incest," chirps Marcella, slowly recovering from her shock. "You'll set a
new legal precedent."
"Oh, no I won't," he replies, sitting up straight so fast he knocks them both aside. "I'll be out of the country by midnight,that's where I'll be."
"I'm missing something," says Marcella. "What's going on?"
"I guess there's nothing to lose at this point," Joe grins morbidly. "After my first wife, Enriqueta, left me, I got pissed off at myself. She left me, she said, basically for being too abstract. For being too much of a dreamer, having no contact with the world. Always lost in my thoughts, didn't pay her enough attention I guess. It was a pretty clear-cut thing ... she was right, and I loved her so it bothered me. So I joined the CIA. When she left me I was a year away from my doctorate in linguistics -- I was a cinch to get a post, knowing Spanish, Russian, Chinese, French and German. I've always had a knack for...."
"You're wandering," says Marcella.
"Of course I am. So, anyway, it came about that they didn't want to use me anymore -- for just about the same reason Enriqueta left me. Too abstracted, inattentive. Brilliant when I was paying attention, but a job like that allows for no lapses. I nearly killed myself a couple of times by thinking about the state of mankind or the universe when I should've been thinking about my ass. Anyway, I lasted about eight years."
"I didn't think you could retire," interrupts Juanita. "I
thought they killed you."
"A stupid myth, my dear. But you were right about the face lift. My voice was even altered -- though a good voiceprint interpreter could smoke me out. And I started a new life in the New York literary scene. I had plenty of back pay saved up -- no time to spend money when you're on assignment -- so I spent all my time writing. After about four years of struggling, writing short bits for the 'alternative press', I finally found what I was looking for. Maybe a year and a half ago. A thousand page meditation on the contradictoriness of the universe, one might call it: a style of writing that really expresses my fundamental attitude on life. I called it Deep Inside the Cosmic Cunt. But no one would publish it. I haven't written shit since, incidentally. Then I met darling Marcella here and she helped me publish it ... I should say, she got it published for me. And" -- here he breaks into song -- "all the critics loved it in New York! Well, one or two of them anyway. Which is good, since they were the only ones who read the damn thing -- no one bought it!"
"Say, you look familiar," muses Juanita, scrutinizing Marcella's face with all the energy summoned by her distress.
"You've probably heard one of my songs on the radio," Marcella suggests, and begins singing: "Why do you have to leave me hanging by this thread? I think of you... you make me wish that I were dead.... Oh pleeeeeease...."
"Yes! That's you?! I just lost my virginity to my father and a rock star! This is crazy, I can't even think anymore!"
"Opium doesn't wear off that quickly," Marcella reminds her. "And I'm not really a singer, I'm really an actress."
"What movies have you been in?"
"Oh, I was an angel in 'Homeward Bound' -- you probably didn't see it; it was a really stupid movie about this woman who
returned from the dead to find her husband had married some
"Didn't see it," says Juanita, shaking her head.
"We can talk show biz some other time," says Joe tensely. "Now listen, Juanita, you've got to tell me how you got my name -- how did you find me? I know you didn't recognize me because I look nothing like I did fourteen years ago. You must have tried pretty damn hard to locate me -- the CIA honchos aren't so easy to bribe. Only a few foreign nations and criminal syndicates can
"A... a friend of mine got your name from a detective agency," she whispers hoarsely, marveling that she's not far more upset at what's transpired. What's happened is gone, past, finished, she tells herself; but she knows she's just making excuses. But hell, he doesn't seem upset about it either. The concept of incest holds no fear for him, apparently. But then he has bigger things to worry about. "God," she lies, "I don't know if I can live with myself after this." She tells herself that the opium trip is over, though a spinning sense of cycling circus madness fills the air. Maybe one's body always feels this way after sex, she wonders vaguely.
"You may not get the opportunity to," he replies gravely. "But anyway, there's nothing inherently wrong with incest. Although we didn't use any birth control -- assuming you're not on the pill."
"Stupid," says Marcella.
"Hey, you're the one who stuck opium in the bong," he points out calmly.
"He walked into the place -- uh, it was ACUMEN detective agency, on Myrtle Ave. in Brooklyn -- and asked them what it would cost to locate Armand Kipple. They said ... they ... said they'd just spent ninety thousand bucks looking for him -- you -- but they'd give him the information for free. Then as he left the place the guy who'd talked to him was shot through the head."
"Interesting," Joe said. "That could have a thousand possible interpretations, couldn't it. Most likely the man knew he was about to die and figured what the hell. Who knows what rushes through a doomed man's head. Well, maybe I do, at this moment."
"Who exactly wants to kill you?" inquires Marcella.
"It all has to do with drugs," he replies, obviously impatient with their questions, stepping out of bed and rummaging through the drawers for clothes. "Ladies, I'd advise you to get dressed. The CIA is in league with one cartel of distributors. But the governments of the nations where the drugs are grown are often in league with different cartels. Hurry up; none of us are safe anymore. None of us. There's no telling who's plotting what. Your friend too -- what's the chance they got a decent look at him?"
"Uh ... I don't know."
"Well, if they did, his life's in danger. Serious danger. It's up to each one of you individually, of course, but in my opinion we had all best leave the country."
"What?" gasps Juanita dizzily. "Just run away?"
"But why would they want to kill us?" asks Marcella. "It doesn't make sense."
"Who's an undercover agent and who isn't is always a very debatable issue. You're in close league with me and hence could be suspected of intelligence activity -- also, you could be taken as hostages and tortured."
"Is he sane?" asks Juanita tremulously.
"Heretofore, yes," replies Marcella. "This sounds as crazy to me as it does to you, darling." She clutches Juanita to her breast.
"Get out of bed!" he yells. "Come on! I hear something funny!"
"He's hearing things," says Juanita, spewing tears. She starts to scream: "He's just upset 'cause he fucked his fucking daughter!"
They hear a banging at the door: not a mere knocking, but an
obvious indication that someone's trying to force it down. "Come
on!" Joe yells. "Grab some clothes, or jackets anyway, and out this window."
Marcella nearly tumbles off the fire escape on the way down
but Juanita grabs her hand.
"What will I tell Mom?" squeals Juanita as they board the first taxi they see.
"Where does your friend live?" insists Joe. To the cabbie: "Just drive! And quickly! Here!" He hands him a hundred dollar bill.
"This makes no sense!" exclaims Marcella.
"Write her a letter now," says Joe. "Here's pen and paper."
THE SQUARE-ROOT-OF-NEGATIVE-ONE'TH COMING OF THE MESSIAH
The audience is seated in an enclosed area, three walls of which are flat. The fourth wall, toward which they face, is gently curved; in the center of it hangs a large painting of Christ crucified (with a spotlight fixed on it), and on each side
of the painting stand two (or three) televisions, stood on top
of eachother. On top of the left stack of televisions is a
blender; on top of the right stack is a popcorn popper, full of
popcorn. Where the crotch of Christ should be there is a hole in the painting, through which hangs a balloon, to be inflated from
behind the painting. The second television from the bottom on
the left side is connected to a VCR, which is backstage. A
slide projector focuses on the area above each stack of
A figure draped in black with a devil mask, to the mouth of which is attatched a clip capable of holding a popped balloon.
A woman naked but for a long black cape, a pair of devil's horns and a halo, her face covered by a mask of featureless black paper.
Two instrumental songs: "The Other Side of Sanity", "Gwum GwumGwum Gwumbldy", each around four minutes long.
Two poems: "I Feel Death Spread Her Legs", "I Slam My Third
A bunch of slides: around one tenth abstruse mathematical
formulae, one tenth biological diagrams of body parts, two
fifths various colorful images of distorted figures, and two
fifths assorted expressions such as: I FEEL DEATH SPREAD HER LEGS, SET THE UNIVERSAL CROTCH TO DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME, WARGASM,
WARGASM WARGASM WARGASM, GOREGASM, MOREGASM, ENDOPLASMIC RETICULUM, WHOREGASM, SNOREGASM, BROWSING THROUGH THE COSMIC
CONTRADICTIONARY, BROWSING THROUGH THE COSMIC CUNTRADICTIONARY, DEEP INSIDE THE COSMIC CUNT, SEX DRUGS AND THE AUTOPOIETIC SUPRAETIOLOGY OF TRANSNIHILISTIC ...METAMETAMETAPHYSICS, SNOTS OF DESIRE, THE SQUARE ROOT OF NOT, EEK A MOUSE, I AM THE MATHEMATAX COLLECTOR, I AM THE OUTSIDER'S OUTSIDER I AM THE NOWHERE MAN(NIKIN), JESUS H. CHRIST, LEGS HER SPREAD DEATH FEEL I.
Five special slides: "The Network of Culture" and a sequence of
four "The Network of Cuture Degenerates".
A video, lasting around ten minutes, the first fifteen seconds of which present the title "Mephistopheles' Workout Video". The remainder of which presents three or four people, in various states of dress, undress and cross-dress, exercising themselves by masturbating with household items, shaking their heads yes and no, picking their noses and other orifices, spitting, sucking eachothers navels with plungers, et cetera.
At first a curtain, hung from one end of the curved wall to the other, obscures the set from view. The room is absolutely dark. The show starts with the introductory, piano-solo section of "The Other Side of Sanity". Then a drumbeat comes in and from
backstage are heard the following words, and the sound of a
hammer banging nails:
First Voice: "Oh! Oh! Oh! Harder! Harder!"
Second Voice: "Scream for me, baby!"
First Voice: "Oh Judas, yes!"
Second Voice: "Look, hon, you'll have to cross your legs; I only
brought three nails."
As the dialogue ends the main body of "The Other Side of Sanity" begins. The curtain is drawn. All the televisions blare static.
The popcorn popper begins popping, spewing corn onto the floor.
After about five seconds images begin to flash from the slide
projectors. After about fifteen more seconds, the video comes on the one television (the other televisions maintain static); simultaneously, a voice from backstage begins reciting "I slam my third foot"; simultaneously, the cock of Christ begins slowly inflating.
A little over two minutes into the recital -- with the line "As Christ's cock bursts its seams" -- the cock of Christ pops. A figure draped in a black robe, wearing a devil's mask, emerges from the corner where the right side of the curved wall meets the side wall and walks very slowly towards Christ. A little less thantwo minutes later, as the recital nears its end, he gets there. With the line "Judas cuts it off" he rips it off and clips it to its mouth. As the recital ends, the popper is turned off; the music ends, but the static and the video continue. The figure turns and faces the audience and speaks:
"The great philosopher Friedrich Nietszche proposed to call his final book The Revaluation of All Values. Unfortunately, before he could write this book, he went insane. As Nietszche realized, the first stage of the death of a culture is the attatchment of new meanings to old symbols, often meanings diametrically opposed to the original ones. Ahem. A culture may be viewed as a
network of concepts, of habits, of patterns, each one connected
to those to which it is related" (slide of "The Network of Culture" is shown on right hand side). "The death of a culture is brought
about by a short circuit in this network" (on the left hand
side the sequence of slides "The Network of Culture Degenerates")
"Old connections decay -- old wires fray -- and new ones spring up in their place, bringing into proximity ideas previously as distant as masochistic orgasm, gay junky love, and Our Savior Jesus Fucking Christ" (Five second pause). "God rest his motherfucking soul."
Then the figure begins to walk -- just as slowly as before -- toward the left stack of televisions. When he finally gets there he -- very slowly -- removes some popcorn kernels from his
pocket and fills it up; from backstage it is turned on. He
then walks, just as slowly, toward the left corner of the curved wall.
As the figure begins to walk from the center, the song
"Gwum Gwum Gwum Gwumbldy" comes on; simultaneously, recital
from backstage of the poem "I Feel Death Spread Her Legs" begins;
simultaneously begin, once again, the slides. This time a few
new paintings and phrases have been inserted. About fifteen seconds after the figure begins to walk, a human penis comes through the hole in the Christ painting where the balloon used to be.
When the figure is about a foot from the left corner of the
curved wall, a woman with a plain black mask over her face, naked
but for a long black cape, a pair of devil's horns and a halo
emerges from backstage (at a normal pace) and steals the balloon from his nose with her teeth. She then falls to the ground,
her body perpendicular to the Christ painting, her head toward it
and her feet toward the audience, and rolls until she lies on her
back in front of the center of the Christ painting. Then she
props herself up on her hands and begins to, slowly, spread her legs.
As the song and recital end, the video, televisions, slide projectors and popcorn popper are shut off. A voice from backstage says "Ronald Reagan is God!" A second later a four-foot-long balloon in the shape of a nuclear missile plunges from the ceiling into her crotch. One last yell from her and backstage in unison: "I feel death spread her legs!". And then the curtain drops.
THE MADMAN CHORTLES
you know the consequences. You know the importance of this.
Alright. Okay. Good. I'll calm down as soon as we land on S... on 137-A, all right? Location six. Riiight." Sarcastically:
"Have a nice day."
"It doesn't sound like you're retired," observes Marcella.
"You can never completely retire, not from the job I held,"
he replies curtly.
"But you remember all these numbers...."
"I've been expecting this moment every day."
Carl enters the taxi with a frankly puzzled expression. "Can someone explain to me what's going on?" he says quietly.
"Not me," says the cabbie.
"Shut up!" yells Marcella.
"I can't explain here," says Joe.
By the time he can explain they've rushed through the airport through a door marked EMPLOYEES ONLY into a small plane and are in the air. "This is crazy," says Carl -- "it's all happening too fast. I didn't even bring anything, she just rushed me out the door and now I'm over open ocean."
"I thank God you were nosy, Carl," ponders Joe. "Otherwise I'd have had virtually no warning; I'd probably be dead right now, or tied to a wall with electrodes buzzing into my testicles. Of course, you two wouldn't be involved."
"Hey," Carl replies, "the only interesting thing in my life was Juanita anyway. I don't mind leaving it all behind. But where are we going, anyway."
"We only just met last Monday," Juanita blushes, sending Joe
an icy stare that means she hasn't informed Carl about their
little bout of incest. She is patient as the colors fade; a few tears burn her large eyes still but the pain is predominately
swallowed in the fever of the moment. "I don't know the exact location," replies Joe, "but it's supposed to be somewhere in the Caribbean."
"There's something a little too crazy about this," sighs Marcella. "I don't trust you even if you are my husband. If you're CIA you're a trained liar, right?"
"The CIA never lies," says Joe with a totally straight face; then he grins radiantly.
"Why do they care so much to protect you?" wonders Carl.
"They're afraid he might give out information under torture," says Juanita.
"But then they could just kill him," protests Carl. "It's not in your interest to know everything," cuts in Joe. "We just all have to lay low for a while, that's all you need to know."
"How long is a while?" persists Marcella. "What about Anais Nin?"
"She's dead, don't worry about her," retorts Joe. "As for how long, it depends."
"On what?" she persists.
"A lot of things."
For a long while Joe is quiet while the others talk; determinedly absorbing themselves in trivia. Marcella sings a few songs from her album; Carl tells how his father got lost for fivemonths behind enemy lines in Vietnam. Juanita is uncharacteristically quiet. He just doesn't feel like my father, she tells herself again and again. Not one bit. He hardly seems human. Superior in some ways. And a hell of a lot crazier. It's hard to believe I have that in me.
Sometime after they've stopped counting the hours the pilot
yells: "Mr. Savage! Got Washington on the radio." Joe hurries forward.
A few minutes later, Joe returns to six eager eyes. "What would you say if I told you I have nothing to do with the CIA?" he asks them quietly, softly, calmly. "That I'm just a rich eccentric who changed my name for kicks, got plastic surgery to improve my looks, and hauled you all out here on my private plane for the fuck of it."
"I wouldn't be surprised," Marcella replies, astute and emotionless.
"She knows him better than we do," says Juanita to Carl.
"But how do you explain the killing?" asks Carl nervously.
"An unrelated incident?" shrugs Joe grinningly.
"Prepare to land," says the pilot. They strap themselves in and snap rapid questions at Joe, who refuses to speak. Shortly they land -- on the water, not far from a rolling palm-strewn beach. Joe is aware of their keen suspicion scrutinizing his every twitch as they row the rubber raft he procured from the back of the plane toward the shore, as the plane zooms away. He picks his nose and sticks the snot to the end of his nose, as if to mock them: You want to look at me suspiciously? Read some meaning into this!
"Look, sweets," Marcella proclaims as they land, "it's time for some answers. What did Washington say in the cockpit? I'm sorry I didn't think to listen in."
"He's been dead two hundred years," says Joe abstractly, staring skyward. "Imagine -- total isolation. We'll have to live on coconuts and breadfruit! But we'll at least be safe."
"At least the weather's nice." Juanita speaks reluctantly.
"But is it true that we're the only ones here -- no supplies, nothing? I mean...."
"No, there's a supply shed in back of the house on the other side of the bluff." He points to the right, and there is indeed a bluff near the horizon. "But according to Washington we're the only ones here right now."
"Let's go investigate it," suggests Carl.
"Soon," says Joe. "First let's go for a swim. It's so damn beautiful -- such a contrast to the grimy grey Wall Street Harlem grittiness of the city!"
"That's for sure!" exclaims Juanita. "After all, we do have an indeterminate period of time to explore the island." With that she sheds her clothes -- all noticing that she forgot to slip her underwear on when Joe rushed them out the window -- and gallops into the gently undulating blue. Joe and Marcella follow suit. Carl stands there numbly as the others tumble in. Juanita, the object of his nervous high school lust, in this novel situation bares herself to him unembarrassedly, without a second thought. And then Marcella -- this rock star with the body of a centerfold -- bouncing her breasts almost against him as she sheds her clingyundergarments, pink and lost in lace ... I can't let them see how excited I am, he madly panics, but then I can't just stand here either. "Aren't you coming?" calls Juanita. "The water's wonderful!"
He simply stands and stares, aware of naught but his erection and the bodies of the women bounding naked, strong before him. It's totally natural, he tells himself severely. There's nothing wrong with getting excited at the sight of female flesh. That's how sex works. But still a hurricane of shame, guilt overtakes him. Caught in this whorl of self-absorption, he hardly notices Marcella bounding toward him. "What's the matter?" she asks, in such a warm and friendly tone he nearly plunges his face into her chest. "Come on in! If we're going to live on an island together we've got to get comfortable with eachother, don't we?" She unbuttons his shirt and takes it off; he tries not to let his breathing quicken. Then she unzips his pants and takes his penis in her mouth. In fifteen seconds he shoots off; she makes a point of licking her lips after she swallows it. His cock hangs limp now, shriveling back to around one fifth its former size. "See, now there's nothing to be ashamed of," she smiles softly, smothering his tense face in a kiss then moving his lips around her breasts. "Come into the water with the rest of us!"
He takes his pants off slowly, and takes her hand as they jog toward the splashing surf. "Look at you," she laughs as they near the water, squeezing his cock -- "already ready for more action! I'll bet Juanita wouldn't mind a little kiss right now!" Carl turns to run but Marcella holds him fast. "Oh Juanita," she calls out mischievously. "Carl has something to show you!" Juanita approaches, drained of all inhibition by the whirlwind of events that has astounded, ravaged, ravished her these past hours. She engulfs him in a cavernous embrace, and awkwardly grabs his cock and directs it into her trembling hole. Then she feels Joe splash up behind her, wrap her buttocks in his palms and press his cock against her other hole -- not trying to enter, just pressing, rubbing up and down, stoking a lashing fire sensation of unbridled love. Finally he enters her vagina, joining Carl's cock in a throbbing pulsing pound of eerie bliss so roaring thunderously torrential that she thinks each thrust will make her burst, will spill her warm insides into the massaging hum of the sea. Marcella slowly rubs her crotch against Carl's hip, explores his body with her mouth...
Position follows position, and when they finally leave the water, utterly exhausted and at least as fulfilled, they amble blissfully, wordlessly, toward the distant bluff, all holding hands. The mood is one of tender reconciliation to a life of steamy tropical laziness and haze. No one notices the strange
slant to Joe's smile...
until they reach the top of the bluff, and looking down they see: McDonald's. Burger King. MAACO. Fifteen cars and a hundred houses, sprawled in angular rigidity: a panoramic exultation, to their Eros-tainted eyes, in the cold lustless complexity of the mechanical world. "We're in Florida!" Marcella shrieks, reading a license plate. "You fucking liar!"
"Exactly the point, my dear," smirks Joe carefully. "The factis that this whole mess was a mistake, made worse by the panic-stricken rashness I demonstrated by telling you my true
story. When Washington called on the plane they informed me that it was all a mistake -- that the man who was trying to locate me was actually within the CIA."
"But then why was he trying to locate you?" protests Carl, infinitely skeptical even through the tender resignation that his body sends his mind.
"They thought he was a double agent," Joe explains. "That's why they killed him. But then, you see, it turned out it was all a mistake: he wasn't working for the Russians at all. He was a triple agent, masquerading as a Russian agent infiltrating the CIA. So the whole thing was internal: no knowledge was leaked, except through me."
"Knowledge was leaked to Carl," points out Marcella. "How do you explain that?"
"I don't know," Joe admits. "I guess it was part of the act. Such intricacies are never really resolved: in this business you can always go one level deeper. It's almost as if everyone's working for everyone else."
"I don't see what you mean there," says Juanita.
"Well, regardless," shrugs Joe, "we're in Florida, on the ocean. Orlando's just about straight inland. Anyone want to take in Disney World?"
Carl and Juanita exchange dizzied looks. "I guess we really should go home," they respond simultaneously.
Joe holds his hands up. "Fine. No problem. It's getting dark out -- want to call your parents in case they're worried? Let them know you're all right."
"I can't decide if you're completely crazy or not," admits Juanita.
"I just want to get away from you," says Carl to Joe. "You're one crazy motherfucker, and I don't believe a word you say. What kind of man would have sex with his own daughter??!"
"You took part in it too," reminds Joe gently, not defensively.
"I was confused," Carl parries weakly. "You have a strange power over people sometimes. But not right now -- not over me anyway. So maybe now's a perfect time to get away. I should walk away right now, that's what I should do."
"Bye bye," Joe says cryptically, an aggravatingly saintly glimmer in his eye.
"Look! You seem to assume it's impossible for us to realize you're full of shit and just walk away!" Carl's voice rises.
"I try not to assume anything," says Joe quietly. "In any case, why don't you let me fly you back to New York. Right now. There's a huge airport in Orlando, with flights leaving round the clock."
Carl assents grudgingly, and they proceed to a phone booth from which Joe calls a cab, which he pays in advance with his seemingly limitless wad of money. In near-complete silence they march through the airport, to the ticket counter where Joe pays in cash, on to the fortuitously just-about-to-take-off plane. There is a moment of gigantic hesitation when it comes time to selectseats from among the row of four they were given; awkwardly, Juanita moves toward the window, and Joe next to her, then Marcella, then Carl.
About halfway through the flight, after the drinks are served and taken away, Marcella ventures a few words: "You've been strange as long as I've known you, Joe -- the strangest bird I've ever met. But this is far and away the strangest thing you've ever done."
"He's trying to teach us a lesson," puts in Juanita. "Trying to teach us not to put faith in anything."
"But he succeeded only in teaching us not to have faith in him," Carl snaps out bitterly.
"But what was the function of the sex?" Juanita wonders determinedly. "Just to weaken our resistance, to make us more credulous? Isn't that sort of unfair."
"Sex is like magic," says Joe steadily. "In fact, it's just about the only source of magic we have left. Magic, in the medieval period, was similar to church services in that it functioned on two levels: the surface plane of palpable absurdity, of inane formulas and ritual chants, and then that miraculously powerful plane to which this shallow surface gibberish served as a portal, that miraculous power at the core of every being. I mean, there's no doubt that the various causal pathways postulated by magic, by religion, were preposterous. But they symbolized something: nonlocal connection, universality of structure and influence, universal interdefinition, nonobviousness of causality. Ah, yes -- on the surface level, magic is stupid. But it indicates certain very profound facts. The idea that the pentagram can cause demons to arise hints at the way the change of one pattern in
one part of the mind can completely change a person's outlook ... one seemingly insignificant event can alter a life.
"Sex, too, is ridiculous. To crave so strongly the touch of the skin of -- of only certain members of the opposite sex of the same species. Not knowing why -- just to desire it so intensely that nothing can obstruct you from devoting your life to its pursuit. Such scintillation at the mere sight of the flesh against which you desire so drastically to create heat. To randomize. Imagine how an alien, possessing an asexual reproductive system, would react to sex -- not merely to the act but to the enormous role it plays in every aspect of our societal dynamic. Why do we feel this way? Part of it is obviously biological. And part of it, I think, is that sex is structurally similar to love. It is, one might say, the projection of love onto physical space. Both fuse two into one, molding In and Out from the perspective of both participants. The same abandonment to animal instinct, to gesture rather than language; the same exclusion of all else from a dyadical universe, et cetera. I suppose the orgasm may be seen as the actualization of all these passionate vague stirrings towards In/Out unity -- in this case the sign contains the ultimate realization of the signified.
"Still, that doesn't explain the particularity of it, does it ... the way we're attracted to one type of body over all others. I mean, after one has already obtained pleasure from contact with the more sensitive areas of the bodies of members of the opposite sex, it's not hard to see how the mere sight of these areas couldexcite one by virtue of their power to suggest the pleasure they've given. That's nothing more than a confusion of visual input and tactile input ... a use of sight as symbolic for touch, to be precise. And the same sort of explanation applies to homosexuals or bestialists ... still, this wouldn't seem to explain the intensity of it. Maybe the pleasure gained by looking at these zones actually increases cybernetically -- by a self-reinforcing feedback loop, if you see what I mean. The more you look at them, the more, each time you look at them, you associate with them the pleasure you got by looking at them...."
"Stop, please!" shrieks Juanita. "I don't believe I asked you for a complete analysis of the metaphysics of sexuality."
"That was far from complete...."
"You know," she continues abstractly, interrupting him, "you really do have the potential to be an immense destructive force in the universe."
"He's not destructive," protests Marcella.
"He's sure destroyed the balance of my mind! It's as if, around him, all the logic and the common sense intuition that I've developed over my sixteen years of life are totally meaningless. I mean, if I read the events of the past day in a book I'd think the book was shit for expecting me to believe such nonsense. I mean, I fucked my fucking father! And I hardly even care ... I don't understand that; you'd think I'd be drastically, irrevocably wounded by it, you know. And he convinced me the incest taboo is a stupid superstition."
"Destruction." puts in Joe, "is only bad when something better is not created in the place of that destroyed."
Carl wants to hit him. "And what exactly is it that you propose to create in the void left by the destruction of your daughter's life? Not that I expect you to tell me the truth?"
"What is truth?" smirks Joe quietly.
"Said Pontius Pilate," adds Marcella. "And Jesus never answered him. 'Truth? What is truth?' If Jesus'd opened his mouth, what do you think he would have said?"
"I am the truth," Joe solemnly whispers, his grin growing
"But you're not," retorts Carl harshly. "You're just a rich crazy sex maniac who likes to run off at the mouth."
"I deny none of those qualities," softly smiles Joe. "I also deny the concept of truth. And yet, in a sense, I do believe that I embody the greatest truth yet known to man."
"You're so fucking full of shit," grumbles Carl. "You're seriously deranged, you know that? You're so damn elusive. I don't think it would be possible to win an argument against you; you always slip out through some obscure logical loophole -- and if there isn't one, you drill one. You make no sense -- you're pathologically dishonest. I don't even think you have an identity -- you're...."
Converted by Andrew Scriven