Thursday, November 29, 2007

Silver Was the Color, Winter Was a Snowbell: Part II, chapter 13 from The Edge of the World (a novel in progress)

Bino started seeing Paula all the time. He was, he told me, “in love.” He fell in love so easily. All it took was for a woman to smile at him half sincerely and he was hooked. He’d even been half in love with Thelma back in Ft. Myers, I found out. Half instead of completely in love because she never possessed even half of a sincere smile. A woman practically had to smack him in the face for him not to feel any affection for her.

Because of his attachment with Paula I began to see much less of Bino. Going out to dinner with her or just staying at her apartment on the Upper West Side watching television, he was always too busy now to hang out at the bars with me. Which meant that, aside from my job, I was pretty much on my own.

I began to take walks in town even more often than I had been before, and on weekends I’d take especially long ones. Taking my van on the ferry and leaving it near Battery Park, I’d set out in the early afternoon with Leon, my favorite dog, and walk the length of Manhattan Island. Through China Town, Central Park and Harlem, I wouldn’t stop until around midnight when I’d reach Inwood Hill Park at the northern tip of Manhattan. Standing there with Leon, I’d gaze across the Hudson River toward Englewood Cliffs, contemplating the land that stretched out towards the West.

I already knew that I’d never see that land, those cities Lily and Leonard had seen and which I told them I’d seen myself during my search for them. West was never where I wanted to be, but it wasn’t until I’d gone to New York that I realized I could resist its pull. And standing there at the edge of the park, gazing towards the West as the cool wind came across the Hudson, was like contemplating a car crash I’d never be part of, a sad tale which would never be mine to tell. My life was heading in another direction altogether, a direction few people had the courage to take.

Walking back down to Battery Park after midnight I was king of midtown Manhattan. Although there were cars passing by—and, here and there, the silhouette of a person in the distance—the streets, in essence, belonged to me. Like at Christmas, I was the man who ruled all the skyscrapers and churches, all the shops and restaurants and hotels. Every neon sign was flashing just for me, every traffic light turned to green so I could proceed uninterrupted with my journey back home. Secure in my domain, I walked tall, with Leon several paces ahead of me pulling tightly on his leash as he sniffed the ground that lay before us. Whenever the moon appeared between the spires of the skyscrapers he would pull his head back to look up and ponder its grayish light. He’d then let out a sound, a howl that was almost human in its mournfulness. I’d look up at the moon with him, feeling as if that howl were coming from me. As if being king had an element of sadness to it.

It was always sunrise by the time we got back to Battery Park. Both Leon and I would be tired, with my clothes full of sweat and grime and Leon’s dark fur matted against his body. I’d put him in the van then drive onto the ferry. Back at my house I’d leave him in the living room, where he’d fall fast asleep, then go into my bedroom where, even though I was just as tired as Leon, I could never fall asleep.

But as it was, my insomnia was a good thing. It prevented me from dreaming, from conjuring up those strange images and situations which would often leave me disturbed for days. Those strange visions which, although they were completely removed from reality, would cast an unshakable sense of doubt upon my waking hours. I was glad to be rid of them. And so it was that one early summer afternoon of that year I began what was to be the happiest time of my life when, after coming back from a walk through the South Bronx, I slept for the very last time.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Dimension of Stillness: Part II, chapter 12 from The Edge of the World (a novel in progress)

None of the women at the company would fuck me. It seemed that somewhere along the line I'd lost the ablity to seduce budding young business women. Even the receptionist was immune to my charms. I'd often notice her casting a furtive glance at me, but it was never an admiring look she gave me. On the contrary, it was always one of suspicion and fear, as if I might suddenly pounce upon her, dragging her off into a corner so I could have my way with her. Though I must say that that was exactly the sort of thing I had in mind whenever I cast a glance at her. With her meaty Brooklyn girl's ass, she would have been good to take from behind, pumping into her while her pendulous breasts swing like church bells beneath her.

Unfortunately I never got the chance, and after a time I found myself chasing after some of the women in Bino's crowd. It wasn't something I wanted to do at first—I'd spent enough time talking about literature with Lily when I was trying to take her away from Leonard. But since all the women in Bino's crowd were either poets or writers of some sort, it was something I'd have to do again.

I first went after Paula, a cute brunette who worked at the bookstore with Ron.

"Oh... you're the dog man," she said to me when I'd gone to see Bino and his gang at another reading. "I didn't recognize you without your dog."

The reading was in the upstairs room of the Cedar Tavern in the Village and she was standing at the bar, watching the proceedings.

"Well, yeah," I said. "But they wouldn't let me in here with a dog, so I had to leave him at home today."

"I'm a cat person myself."

"So, you have a cat?"

"No," she answered, shaking her head.

I waited a moment for her to explain, but "no" was all she cared to say about it or anything else.

I turned to Richie, the bartender. "A Jack on the rocks," I said, ordering what was to be the first of seven hours worth of drinks. Soon I was sloppy drunk and yelling at whoever was reading, even Bino.

"Read something good for a change," I shouted at him.

"Eat my fuck," he replied. He was never very good with the comebacks.

"Lemmy, maybe you better switch to coffee," Ritchie advised me.

"Shit, man, I'm just trying to have a good time. Work with me here."

I moved over to one of the tables and sat down next to a dark haired woman with bloodshot eyes and huge breasts. Although her face was kind of ugly, I thought I'd give her a try.

"Hey, you know that poem you just read?" I asked.

"Yes," she said, straightening up in her seat so that her breasts stood out and pointed straight out the door and towards my car.

"Well, you know, I heard it and I listened very closely the whole time. And when you were done I must say that I was really moved. Next to your poem, everything else just seems like so much self-indulgent wank."

"Well thanks," she said, looking me in the eyes and smiling."

"So, hey," I continued. "Would you like to come to my place and fuck?"

Before I knew what had happened she had thrown her drink—a scotch and water from what I could tell—in my face as I waited for a "yes" to come from her lips. Letting out a loud grunt, she stood and moved to another table. It was clear that she'd been having a bad night.

I wiped my cheek then went to the downstairs bar. When the reading was over Bino came down, accompanied by Paula. Instead of joining me at the bar, Bino and Paula went directly to a table towards the back of the room without saying a single word to me.

I sat there on my stool for a while, grinning at them as I hummed some old song that had popped into my head. When it was clear they weren't going to look towards me I turned away and stared at my drink, resting my elbow on the bar.

With my eyes open, and the sounds of conversation and the clanking of glasses and bottles all around me, I began to dream. Although I was completely awake, I knew it was a dream and not a waking idea or a product of my conscious imagination. And what I saw in my dream was a world where I was the only human left alive, the only survivor of a species which, after my death, would be extinct.

Aside from myself, and the plants and trees, the only living things in the world were dogs. They were crowding the streets, with hordes of them running down Broadway past Twenty-Third St. in a cityscape that was bereft of both people and cars. It was a noisy scene, but rather than car engines and horns, screeching brakes and squealing tires, the only sounds were those the dogs made. Barking, growling, and howling at the buildings and at the sky, they continued to move down Broadway, past Union Square, past Houston, past Canal street, until they reached the southern tip of Manhattan at Battery Park, where like people gathered around a backyard swimming pool, they jumped into the water. But once in the water, rather than swimming, they sank, sending feeble ripples toward the bank as they drowned there where the East and Hudson Rivers met.

I watched until all the dogs had jumped. Until the air was still and quiet and the ripples in the water had disappeared. Later in the dream I was back on Staten Island, standing underneath the Verrazano Bridge as I watched their bodies floating by. Dalmatians, Greyhounds, Poodles, Collies, Beagles and other breeds of dog, their bodies all bloated, drifted slowly down the Narrows into the Lower Bay. I stood there exhausted, feeling as if I were witnessing the aftermath of a massacre, because although they had jumped into the water on their own, I was sure that something had driven them to this. What it was I had no idea.

By the time I came out of my dream it was three in the morning and I had run up a bar tab I couldn't pay. Bino and Paula were long gone and only two other people were left at the bar. I put down thirty bucks and told Ritchie, who was now downstairs counting the receipts, that I'd pay him the rest, fifty dollars, later in the week. I never went back.
First posted, out of sequence, in May 2006.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bourbon, Dogs, and Arlene Dahl: Part II, chapter 11 from The Edge of the World (a novel in progress)

At work I was doing the usual things—plugging in numbers, generating new numbers, then generating reports on the new numbers. It went on and on... I'd wake up at six in the morning, get dressed then tend to the dogs. After that I'd take the bus to the ferry—I never drove to work, as parking in town would have cost too much. Getting off the ferry I'd walk over to catch the uptown N train to 23d and Broadway, then walk through Madison Square Park to the vendor on 26th and Madison, where I'd buy a bagel or a donut for breakfast. Then it was up Madison to 28th Street where the company's offices were, into the lobby where I always greeted the doorman with a sneer instead of a "good morning." Up the elevator to the fourteenth floor and to my desk in the front room right next to the receptionist.

It would take me an hour and a half to get there, and most of the time I was late, tired and hungover from whatever I'd done the previous night. I'd been trying to spend less money, since the depletion of what I thought was the ample sum of money I'd taken with me from Florida was what led me to work here until I could get my guard dog business off the ground. Still, I seemed to get more and more in debt. Though in the month after Christmas I saved money by dining on Christmas gifts the company had received. Gifts like a huge basket of cheese from Arlene Dahl, the celebrity sponsor of one of the company's lines of jewelry.

She was a big actress in the fifties, considered to be something of a sex star. A hot redhead with firm tits, she was now a plump old matron, although plastic surgery had spared her some of the more ravaging lines of old age. Arlene came to the office once when I was there. The receptionist was out to lunch at the time—whenever she was out I covered for her. Arlene stepped out of the elevator and looked around. Seeing that there was no one else there, she finally spoke to me.

"I'm looking for Mr. Charles Rivers," she said, holding her head back as if some foul odor had just entered her nostrils. It was entirely possible, because I was hungover at the time and may have been sweating stale bourbon from my pores.

"Just a moment, I'll ring him up," I said, picking up the phone and dialing. "Charlie, Arlene Dahl is here for you."

"I'll be right out."

"He's on the way out," I said to Arlene.

"Thank you," she replied. It was the most insincere thanks I'd ever heard from anyone.

Charlie must have gotten held up for some reason, because it was taking him a while to come out to the front. Not wanting to leave Arlene standing there bored, I said, "Arlene, thanks for the cheese."

She gave me an evil look which seemed to say, "The cheese wasn't for you, you knave." Knowing that I was annoying her, I persisted in my attempts at conversation.

"I really enjoyed it," I added. "I've been eating it for lunch the past two weeks. Making cheese sandwiches or sometimes just slicing it up and eating it plain."

Choosing not to comment on the praise I was lavishing upon her Christmas gift to the company, she asked, "Perhaps you could ring up Mr. Rivers again."

"Oh, don't worry, he's on the way..." I said. I wasn't about to bother dialing his number again. "So, have you been doing any acting lately?"

This last question was apparently more than she could take. She rolled her eyes, then stomped off on her own to look for Charlie.

Our other celebrity sponsor was Jennifer O'Neill. Her Christmas gift to the company was a huge tub of popcorn.

"Thanks a bunch," the note on top of the tub of popcorn said. "It was a great year. Shine on... Love, Jennifer."

Jennifer's fame rested on a single hit movie from the early seventies, The Summer of '42. It was a movie which, like all of Arlene Dahl's movies, I had never seen—though from what I knew, it was about a teenage boy who has some kind of affair with a young war bride, played by her. I remembered seeing the newspaper ads for the movie when it first started showing in the theaters. They featured a shot of her face as she gazed off into the distance, towards the water, perhaps. It was one of those all American faces—apple pie, baseball, and all that other homegrown shit. But even though I was only about ten at the time, the only thing I could think about while looking at her was what that face would look like if she were sucking dick. Not that I found her the least bit alluring. Indeed, Lily was far more beautiful than Jennifer O'Neill was, and back then Lily was the only woman I was interested in. But to see that clean and earnest image of Jennifer O'Neill defiled somehow did interest me. I wanted to see this heavenly beauty brought down to earth, down to the real world where people walk through their own shit and piss and where beauty is nothing more than the most direct route to a hard-on.

With her being one of the company's sponsors, I thought it was my chance to make a childhood dream come true. She lived out in California somewhere, and from time to time Gustave would go out there to see her. Whenever he made the trip the girls in the office would talk, telling stories about him going horseback riding on her ranch and how his going out there was more like a vacation than a business trip. But all the time I was at the company, Jennifer O'Neill never came to the office. Gustave always went to California to see her, dropping any other business at hand whenever he needed to show her some product or get her signature—things which could have been accomplished much more easily through the mail.

Of course Jennifer O'Neill—despite her rather commonplace sort of beauty—was much better looking than Arlene Dahl, who to me was just a dried out has-been actress. On occasion Charlie would ask me for my opinion of the situation.

"Charlie," I'd say, "no one gives a fuck about Arlene Dahl anymore. Most people my age don't even know who the fuck she is."

Charlie was one of the vice presidents in the company. He'd only started there about six months before I had, having left some department store chain that had moved its headquarters out of the New York area. He was one of the few people in the company who had a family to support, including children he was putting through college. Nearly everyone else, including Gustave, was younger than he was, and, being single, they had a lot more money to go out and have a good time with. Like me, Charlie didn't have much money to throw around. But more important was that he was the only person there to whom I could speak my mind without receiving a bewildered stare in response. Since he was new, he felt that he had to prove himself, which meant that he'd take suggestions from anyone, including me.

"If you ask me," I told him, "the company should dump Arlene Dahl, 'cause the only kind of jewelry the people who remember her are wearing are medical alert bracelets, and all their money is spent paying doctor's bills and buying expensive heart medication."

"Well, you're right on target there," Charlie laughed. "And Christ, even I think she looks scary."

"Yeah, you want to get someone much younger. Younger than Jennifer O'Neill even. Hey, have you seen Playboy's Miss April? Now that's the sort of sponsor you need. Tits all the way out to Coney Island and a muff that smells as fresh as the morning dew."

"How can you tell what her muff smells like?" he asked, feigning exasperation.

"Hey, I got an eye for these things."

Charlie gave my advice a try and began to audition new models to use in the company's brochures. The ones he brought in were more to my liking—tall, leggy women with slim waists and big tits, including one I recognized as a Penthouse centerfold from a couple of years back. But Gustave, who had the final say in the matter, didn't like any of them. He wanted to stay with Arlene Dahl, to attract older customers, and Jennifer O'Neil, who'd bring in the middle aged housewives.

"I know our market," I heard Gustave say to Charlie once as I passed his office. Lingering in the hallway, I continued to listen in on the conversation.

"But that market's pretty much a given," Charlie countered. "I think we can expand and attract younger customers. And in fact we should, because it's single young women who are most likely to have a lot of disposable income. And even those who don't are prone to impulse buying, taking out their credit cards to buy something for the sole purpose of keeping up with the latest trends."

"But we're not selling anything trendy. That's not our market. And if we try to attract that market we'll end up alienating our long term customers."

"Well, to put my two cents in," I heard Mr. Gurnsey interrupt, "I didn't like those models you brought in. Frankly, Charlie, they all looked like prostitutes. Straight from Tenth Avenue. Or Eleventh Avenue. Whatever. I remember in my day you always went uptown for that. It was five dollars a pop. Or was it ten dollars? Whatever. It was cheap. And that was what those models looked like. Cheap."

So the company ended up staying with Arlene—the not so grand old lady—and with Jennifer—the middle aged one hit wonder girl. Business remained steady but never grew just as the numbers I plugged in changed but never increased. And although the money I made at the company was enough to survive on, it wasn't enough for me to get my own business going. Which meant that, for the moment, I belonged to them.
First posted, out of sequence, in Febuary 2006.

Disclaimer: This excerpt from
The Edge of the World uses the names of public figures for the purposes of satire. Any other names are invented. The content of this work should in no way be construed as factual. It is a work of fiction.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Beer, Dogs, and Poetry: Part II, chapter 10 from The Edge of the World (a novel in progress)

A month later was when Bino and Ron had their reading. I'd worked that day, after which I went home to feed the dogs, and then to the vet to pick up a dog of mine that had gotten hurt earlier in the week. Since I was running late, I brought the dog with me instead of dropping him off at home.

When I got to the gallery the reading had already started. Ron and Bino were already very drunk.

"Me and Ron have already been on," Bino said when I sat in the chair behind him.

Ron then leaned over and started pouring his beer onto Bino's shoes.

"And now we're waiting for him to finish reading," Ron commented as a cigarette butt hit him on the cheek. "Hey who threw that?"

Rather than look to see who had thrown the cigarette butt, I turned to the front of the gallery. There I saw Phillip Evan Green, standing at the microphone and looking down to the large sheaf of paper he held in his hands. Turning back, I saw that Ron had stood up and was setting his beer bottle down on top of a large metallic sculpture.

Although the readings Ron arranged were never particularly solemn affairs—general drunkenness was always part of any event he orchestrated—this one was more unruly than most. People in the audience were not only guzzling beers, but throwing things at each other, putting cigarette butts out on the gallery floor.

Part of the reason for the unruliness of the audience had to have been Phillip Evan Green. Bino told me that he'd already been reading for fifteen minutes by the time I got there. That, plus the fifteen minutes I'd been there, meant that he'd been reading for half an hour-which was much more than anyone should ever be subjected to his pretentious academic ramblings. Still, it seemed to me that instead of throwing cigarette butts at each other to pass the time, they should have been throwing them at him. I picked one up and threw it towards the front of the room, barely missing the side of his face. Phillip Evan Green, however, was as oblivious to the object I'd tossed at him as he was to the restlessness of the crowd.

Phillip Evan Green was a person no one ever referred to as just "Phillip" or even "Green," because to do so would be to admit some degree of fellowship with him. Calling him by his full name seemed to create what was a necessary distance to him, as even those few people who considered him a friend, or colleague at any rate, never called him "Phillip."

The first time I heard him I began to laugh uncontrollably. I thought it had to be a joke, this fat guy who would read on and on while periodically looking up from his text to make some lame observation—an observation which would inevitably induce in him a childlike fit of giggling. I thought it had to be an act, that no one could be that great a fool.

But it wasn't an act. Phillip Evan Green was such a fool, and when I realized this his "act" ceased to make me laugh and instead horrified me. So while other people, when they'd figured him out, simply got bored and fidgety when he read, I became despondent.

It was a state of mind which, after the initial sense of gloom, always led me to take action. At the gallery I couldn't bear to listen to his whining voice one moment longer, so I stepped outside—but that wasn't nearly enough for me. I had to do something more.

I walked down to my van, attached a lease to the collar of the dog, then went back to the gallery. Since the people who were running the gallery were too busy keeping an eye on the crowd—and making sure that no paintings or sculptures were damaged or destroyed—they didn't notice as I stood right outside the door with the dog. Opening the door slightly, I watched Phillip Evan Green for a moment. His large belly was hanging out over his belt as he leaned toward the microphone. As soon as he looked up from his sheets of paper to make what he believed would be another witty remark, I bent down to the dog, pointed toward the front of the room, and whispered, "Sick 'em."

My dog dashed ahead, dragging his lease behind him, down the aisle between the two sections of chairs. As he forged ahead, people who were paying no attention to Phillip Evan Green suddenly found themselves turning toward the front of the room. With an elegant leap, my dog pounced upon Phillip Evan Green, who let out a horrible scream as the papers he held scattered in the air. He fell to the floor with a loud thud as my dog started tearing at his shirt.

"Holy shit!" someone yelled.

"Help! Help me!" Phillip Evan Green shrieked.

"Good God!" I shouted from the doorway, feigning horror at my dog's seemingly unprovoked attack. As I ran toward the front people began to scatter, backing away from me or else heading for the door. "Heel! Heel!" I yelled, then grabbed the dog's lease.

Bino ran up to me as Phillip Evan Green began to sob. "What the hell happened?" Bino asked.

"Christ. I went outside to check on the dog and he was barking like crazy..." I said, pulling the dog closer to me and shaking my head. "So I took him out, and as soon as I attached the lease to his collar he got spooked again and ran in here before I could catch him. The next thing I knew he was attacking Phillip Evan Green."

A crowd had gathered around Phillip Evan Green, who lay on his back bawling like a five year old. He was more scared than hurt, as this dog had been trained only to scare people, tearing at their clothing without actually mauling them.

But I must admit that while watching Phillip Evan Green writhe on the floor, I wished I'd had one of my more ferocious dogs with me that evening. A dog that would really hurt him, a dog that would have left him still and silent.

As I led the dog outside, the people who hadn't already fled backed away.

"It's all right," I said. "He's under control now."

I brought the dog back to my van, doing my best to suppress my laughter as Bino followed behind me.

From that day on—except when I was just going to work—I always brought one of my dogs with me when I went into town to take a walk. And with my dog I'd venture into any neighborhood I wanted to, no matter how dangerous, at any time of day. Because even more than a knife or a gun even, there's nothing that puts the fear of God in someone like a dog with the devil's eyes. People will run through dark alleys, over broken glass and garbage, to flee such a creature. They'll bang on people's doors in the dead of the night seeking shelter from its fast approach, use friends or lovers as barriers between them and its gaping jaws. Because when confronted this way by an animal, people surrender all their pretensions, all their beliefs in the lofty state of their being as they realize that in the end they too are animals.
First posted, out of sequence, in April 2006.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

White Feather Wings: Part II, chapter 9 from The Edge of the World (a novel in progress)

I spent Christmas eve at home, working with the dogs. On Christmas day I drove into town. After parking near Union Square, I walked around for a few hours. Up Broadway into the hundreds and back again. As I'd expected things were quiet. People were either inside, celebrating Christmas with their families, or else had left town for the holiday—which was what Bino had done. With the streets nearly deserted, I felt as if the entire town were mine. So while other people may have had their families and their Christmas gifts, I had this stretch of land, with all its avenues and skyscrapers. And standing on the ground, looking up to the pinnacles of all the buildings as I approached Times Square, I sensed that somehow I was above it all, gliding like some exotic bird—or a flying reptile perhaps—over a newly dead civilization's abandoned shrines and monuments.

The following day things were back to normal. The streets were filled with people going to stores to exchange or return their gifts or running errands they couldn't run on Christmas because most places had been closed. Suddenly I found myself feeling nostalgic—not for days long gone but for the day that had just passed. But I knew that Christmas would come again in another year, and I hoped that soon the day would come when everyday was like Christmas.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Last Day Job in the Unreal City: Part II, chapter 8 from The Edge of the World (a novel in progress)

Every now and then I would meet Vince and Karen in town. As I didn't know many people in the area, staying in touch with them seemed a good idea, especially since doing so would mean I'd eventually get the chance to fuck Karen. To my surprise I never did, even after they broke up. But soon I realized that the reason they broke up—and the reason I never got to fuck her—was that she liked women more than men. Somehow, during my many years spent going from one woman to another, I had never encountered anyone like her.

But perhaps that was because I'd always lived in small towns. Now I was in New York, where there was a greater variety of people than even I could imagine.

It was here where even the best dressed businessman would spit on the street before stepping into the limousine that was taking him to the Water Club. It was here where the well respected journalist, who had rubbed elbows and exchanged jokes with presidents, would venture to Avenue B to buy heroin from a man who didn't know what day it was much less who the current president was. It was here where bums in the park talked about politics and revolution in their piss stained clothes. It was here where cab drivers were renown poets or composers, where the pink faced girl next door was a dominatrix, beating up on old men and getting paid for it. It was here where the stripper with the huge tits and devil's fork tattoos all down her back was working her way through medical school.

It was here where every week you might cross paths with a particular person you were acquainted with, while with another person you might never cross paths. It was here where an encounter with a stranger might be cold and distant yet at the same time be almost comforting in its informality.

Everything that was impossible or unthinkable, as well as everything that reeked of cliché, could be found here in abundance. As it was, the only thing that was lacking for most people was space—which I had to a certain degree at my home in Staten Island. But for any kind of leisure activity, the place to go was Manhattan. That was where I'd meet Vince and Karen, as they too tended to gravitate to the city in their free time. And sometime later, it was where I'd go for work.

As things had been going slowly with getting regular clients for my guard dog business, I took a job in town with a direct mail marketing company. It was a small company, with only about twenty people in all. They sold costume jewelry: "faux" diamond necklaces, pendants, rings; "faux" rubies, sapphires, emeralds. Everything they sold was "faux." As the manufacuturers were all in Thailand or Malaysia, I imagined that most of it was assembled by child labor or indentured servants working sixteen hour shifts. At least I got to leave in time for happy hour.

My job was to generate sales reports, inventory reports, plugging numbers into their computer to get new statistics. Like so many businesses, they were crazy about statistics, as if the money that was going into their pockets didn't mean anything unless they had the proper numbers to tell them the money was real.

But while the company's president and vice presidents all had a fetish for numbers, the old man who owned the operation boiled it all down to one very simple concept.

"Profit, that's what it's all about," he said, nodding his tiny bald head. "Profit." I'm sure he was making a lot of "profit," but as for me my "profit" was ten dollars an hour.

I was was about ready to nod off when he started talking about "profit." He got my attention because at first it sounded like he said "prostitutes": "Prostititutes, that's what it's all about. Prostitutes."

It was my first company meeting, a few days before Christmas (I'd only been working there a week), and Mr. Gurnsey was giving a pep talk before taking us all out to a fancy Park Avenue restaurant for the annual Christmas dinner and party.

"Money for food, money for your breakfast—your eggs, your sausage, your toast." He went on and on. "Money for dinner—your steaks, your shrimps, your lobster, your caviar. Do you like seafood? I love seafood. And to pay for my seafood I worked hard. I worked real hard."

If you were to read his words on a page they'd look like some sort of rant, but he made these pronouncements in a calm, deliberate voice, punctuating each sentence with a nod of his head.

At the restaurant I ordered the most expensive appetizer and entree on the menu, and while waiting for my dinner I drank several rounds of screwdrivers with the best vodka they had—no rail drinks for me that night. Before dinner was served Gustave, the company president, raised his wine glass for a toast.

"Here's to Chester!" Only he and the vice presidents referred to the owner by his first name. Everyone else called him "Mr. Gurnsey," except on this occasion when, as a response to Gustave's call for a toast, calling him by his first name was permissible.

"To Chester!" we declared, raising our glasses, then sipping. I, of course, gulped down my entire drink and asked the waiter for another. After dinner Mr. Gurnsey went home while Gustave took us to a night club for more drinks and dancing.

I sat at the bar, watching while some of the other workers danced. One girl, when she was finished dancing, came to the bar to get another drink. Since I was the new guy, she thought she'd try to make a little conversation, make me feel like part of the gang.

"The dance floor's so sticky," she said after ordering her drink.

"Yeah," I nodded, "This place used to be a porno theater. But when home video came along porno theaters like this died out. I guess this floor here is something akin to dinosaur bones under the sand in the Arizona desert... You know, traces of what once was."

I was rather drunk by this time. I thought I was being charming, talking about my observations of a certain aspect of the business world, namely, pornography. Needless to say, she wasn't charmed.

"Oh, okay," she said, dropping her jaw. When the bartender brought her drink she quickly walked away.

Most of the people I worked with were my age or younger even. Still, they didn't last very long into the evening, and when they called it a night it was only half past eleven. I took a cab down to Avenue A and First street to the Scorpio bar. It was where I'd go to meet Bino, who, after I'd been in New York for a year, had also decided to move up.

When I walked in he was there—as he was for some portion of nearly every evening—sitting at the bar talking to Sally, the bartender.

"How was your Christmas party?" he asked on seeing me.

"It was excellent," I said laughing. "I had the surf and turf—a shrimp cocktail appetizer, prime rib for an entree. And I drank screwdrivers with Absolut or Finlandia, I'm not sure which, I just told the waiter to put the best stuff they had in it."

"Why didn't you order some Dom Peringon there?"

"Champagne? Fuck that shit," I turned to Sally. "I'll have a Bud."

"Back to the real world, huh?" she said.

"For now. Just for now."

Bino began talking to someone who had just come in the door. He'd gotten to know a number of people in the year he'd been in New York—mostly from a friend of his at his job at a bookstore uptown. It was that friend, Ron, who had just walked in.

Ron's demeanor was like that of a school teacher—a school teacher who was always pulling pranks on his students instead of the other way around. Like Bino, he did some writing—an activity that had yet to pay them much money, which was why they had full time jobs at the bookstore. He and Bino were part of some group of writers who called themselves the Insufferables or the Intolerables—something like that—and were now talking about a reading they were trying to organize at a gallery in Soho.

"Well, I guess we don't have any choice," Bino said. "Phillip Evan Green's the one with the connection to the gallery, so we'll just have to let him read."

"Yeah, that sucks though," Ron said, then turning to me asked, "Hey, how was your party?"

"Well, we had dinner, and then they wanted to go someplace where they had dancing. I suggested Billy's Topless."

"Shit, I just came from there."

"My boss thought it was funny, but some of the women weren't amused, so we ended up going to some kind of disco."

"Hah," Ron said, shaking his head. "Nice try, though."

"My boss did say we should go there for lunch sometime."

Ron started playing with an ashtray that was lying next to his bottle of beer.

"Hey, I heard that Phillip Evan Green tried to rape Judy Mendelson," Bino said to Ron.

"I don't know," Ron answered. "It could be true. I used to think he was harmless, but I've been starting to think otherwise."

"That's that chubby guy with the greasy red hair isn't it?" I asked.

"Yeah, that's him," Bino said.

"Christ, he's creepy as shit. I mean, he looks evil."

"Well, I don't know if I'd go that far."

"But you were the one who just said he tried to rape that chick."

"But I don't know if it's true," Bino said, shaking his head. "It might just be one of those rumors. Like what Carone would talk about."

"What would Carone talk about?" I asked.

Bino was drunk, and when he was drunk he had the tendency to say or report things he would normally keep quiet about.

"Well, after you'd left Ft. Myers he once said that he thought Lily was your sister, and that you were fucking your sister. Of course he was drunk when he said that. But shit, the two of you do look alike."

"We do not," I argued. "We have the same color hair, that's it."

"What's this about you and your sister?" Ron asked, turning to me as he accidentally tipped over the ashtray he'd been playing with.

"Oh, it's just some stupid joke someone Bino and I know is trying to pull on me."

"Well, I do think that's what it is... a joke," Bino continued. "Because he was pissed off at you... Something about you going after his sister-in-law."

"They'd split up. His brother and his wife. What's his problem with that? Besides, I didn't get anywhere with her, because as it turns out she's a dyke. Or she became one anyway."

"You turned her into a lesbian?" Ron asked.

"No, no. She did that on her own." I got Sally's attention. "Sally, a double shot of Jack. This beer is starting to sober me up."

After I'd managed to change the topic of conversation to something other than me I proceeded to get much drunker than I already was. After a while Ron left, while Bino and I stayed on until closing time. By then I could hardly walk. As I was in no shape to attempt to make it back to Staten Island, Bino convinced me to stay at his place.

He was living in a cheap apartment on Third Street between First and Second Avenues, just a few doors down from the Hell's Angels clubhouse. It was one of those tiny studio apartments where you had a loftbed, bathtub, sink and stove all in one room. Compared to his place, my small house was a luxurious mansion. I slept on the floor by the sink.

Except for the nightmare I had, it was the first good night of sleep I'd had in a long time. I'd been suffering from insomnia for a while, and the only time I got any real sleep was when I was so drunk I passed out. And although I woke up after a few hours, it was more sleep than I usually got.

When I awoke it was eight in the morning and I was covered in sweat. I'd fallen asleep with my winter coat on and the heat in the apartment was running on high. With Bino still up in his loft bed, snoring, I stood up, wiped my face with a paper towel, and walked out the door. I had to hurry home, because the dogs hadn't been fed for an entire day.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring: Part II, chapter 7 from The Edge of the World (a novel in progress)

There always comes a point in one's life where one has to sever all ties with some portion of the past. For some people doing so is a difficult and emotional undertaking. But as for me, my heading north—and leaving the south behind for good—was the perhaps the easiest thing I'd ever done. It felt good to be on the road, facing straight ahead into a distance which in my younger years might have disturbed me. And by the time I set out for New York such sentiments as loss and regret appeared to be well in the past for me.

Still, what people leave behind tends to accumulate in their memory, creating a mass which, however intangible it may be, possesses a kind of gravity. So as they grow older, and grow weaker, they are inescapably drawn to the past. Certainly I wouldn't be spending time trying to set the facts straight if I too hadn't been drawn to the past. Which isn't to say that I'm either old or weak. It's just that the dimensions of my past experience created a pull so strong that even I couldn't escape it.

When Carone and I drove north, however, that pull had yet to have an effect on me. If anything, what I felt was not a pull but a push; and several times Carone had to alert me that I was going far above the speed limit. "Even if it's just a fucking speeding ticket," he said, "you want to avoid any confrontations with the cops." I wasn't as afraid of cops as Carone was, and despite his constant warnings I couldn't help myself. With my foot pressing the gas pedal closer and closer to the floor just moments after each warning, Carone suggested that he drive, and after the first rest stop he got behind the wheel.

By midnight we'd reached Danville, Virginia, where we decided to stop for the night. I was in a hurry to get to New York and didn't want to spend one more moment in this or any other small town. I wanted to drive ahead, since it would only be another eight hours or so to New York. But Carone was tired and was now afraid not of the cops, but of my driving while he slept. It turned out the last time he'd slept in a car was twenty years previously, when a friend of his drove a Ford Mustang into a tree as Carone took a nap on the backseat.

"I could have died in my sleep," Carone whined. "And there's no worse way to go than that."

"Well, you could drown," I argued, "Or get boiled alive like a lobster."

"Hey, I'd rather be boiled alive, 'cause at least I'm awake to see my life pass before my eyes. If you don't get to see your life pass before your eyes when you die you're getting ripped off in a big fucking way."

It made no sense to me, but since Carone had been patient in helping me with the dogs over the past few years, I gave in to his demand that we stop for the evening.

He drove into the parking lot of the next motel we saw. Entering the room Carone immediately lay down on one the beds without even stopping at the vending machines to get a midnight snack. I wasn't sleepy at all, so I went outside and started walking down the road, thinking that when I got tired I'd be able to lie down and sleep. But when I got back to the room and lay down my mind was racing with thoughts of death. I was, in effect, too afraid to sleep, as Carone's fear of dying in his sleep suddenly began to make sense to me. That he nonchalantly had lain down to sleep without the slightest hesitation seemed like insanity to me. So I just lay back, listening to the sound of Carone snoring and to the cars that passed by every few minutes outside our room.

When morning came I hadn't slept for even a moment. I didn't sleep at all for the next two days. It wasn't until after I went drinking with Carone, his brother, and his sister-in-law that I finally got some sleep. We'd gone into town to a bar on Eighth Avenue and 46th St. a few blocks above Times Square.

Vince—Carone's brother—and his wife, Karen, had suddenly started arguing about something (what it was neither Carone nor I could tell). Karen got up from our booth and sat at the bar.

"Just let her cool off," Vince said, and then asked the waitress for three shots of bourbon. "This is the way to drink," he said to me. "Neat or on the rocks. Don't do those weird shooters my brother here orders—that shit'll fuck you up bad."

Vince's voice and mannerisms were just like Carone's, except that he wasn't nearly as heavy.

"Ah, you're just a pussy," Carone said. "You've never been able to keep up with me."

"I'm not nuts like you is all it is."

"That because you're too much of a pussy to be a nut like me," Carone said, giggling at his own response.

As they went back and forth like this I looked over to Karen at the bar. She was a dark haired German girl with a nice meaty frame. I'd had my eye on her since I first walked into Vince's house two days earlier to see her sitting on the sofa wearing these shorts that seemed to sink into her at the crotch.

"I'll go talk to Karen while you two play your little game here," I said.

I got up and stood beside her at the bar.

"I'm sorry. I've been in a bad mood tonight," she said slowly with her thick German accent.

"That's all right."

"Well, you're our guest. And with your marriage just breaking up, I'm sure you don't need to see Vince and I arguing."

"No," I said, shaking my head then smiling. "It's fine. It's like I brought a little bit of Florida with me."

"I guess you and Lily were constantly fighting?"

"Not really. Not until the very end anyway. We just let the bad shit build up without talking about it. Until it was too late to fix things up."

I shrugged my shoulders and turned away for a moment. Turning back to her I looked into her eyes then down. Karen thought it was a sign of the sadness I felt at the breakup of my "marriage" (all along I'd led everyone to believe that Lily and I were actually married) when I was really just trying to look down her blouse.

"Let me buy you a drink," Karen said, patting me on the arm.

We stayed at the bar for a few more hours, by which time Karen and Vince were on speaking terms again. When we got back to Vince's house I went into the guest room, lay down, and fell right to sleep.

The next day Carone and Karen went with me to look at houses while Vince went to work. It was then when I found the house on Staten Island. It was small wooden house, its walls painted white, with one bedroom, the living room, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom all on one floor. It wasn't much to look at but it had a big yard and was fairly isolated, the nearest house being about a football field away.

I closed the deal on the house immediately and began to set things up for the dogs, building fences in the yard to divide it into compartments. To shelter the dogs when it was cold or raining I set up some smaller compartments in the basement. Since the house was small, furnishing it was very cheap. I bought a bed and a dresser for the bedroom, a table and chairs for the dining room, and a sofa and desk for the living room which I planned to use as my office. When I was done the house still looked somewhat empty, but that was how I liked it. There was actually little difference between the way it looked the last time Carone saw it before going back to Florida and two weeks later when I'd completed all the work on it.

Soon I began concentrating on the dogs. Carone had set me up with a man in Valley Stream who had some good dobermans which I could breed with mine. Within a year I had twenty dogs—all strong and fierce—and my business was ready to take off.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

All the Beautiful Names for Oblivion: Part II, chapter 6 from The Edge of the World (a novel in progress)

Things went on this way for a while. Drinking with Bino and Carone at the bar, fucking Rachel a few times a week and, here and there, another girl or two.

I'd been drinking a lot, usually just beer. But whenever Carone was with us at the bar he'd order a round of shots. Although through the course of an evening he'd get very drunk, he'd never pass out. He'd just get giddy and start asking for watermelon shooters, lemon drop shooters, any shooter he knew the name of and sometimes ones he didn't have names for. "Let's have a round of those... what do you call them motherfuckers with the kaluha and the rum or whatever. What do call those, Mown Brountain Fizzess? What the fuck? Bring 'em over for all of us. It's on me, fellas."

Bino was never one to refuse a free drink, and after a time neither was I. Coming home drunk was a good excuse for not fucking Lily with her big belly, and hanging out with Carone and the dogs was a good alibi for those nights with Rachel. Bino didn't seem to mind my fucking her, although I kept it a secret from him at first.

I always tried to look out for him. Although sometimes he had to be cut down a notch or two, as on those occasions when he'd get a bit too confident about himself. I'd always bring him back down to earth as soon as his head started to swell, saving him from a worse fall later on. So when he began fucking Thelma, and started thinking that she thought he was something special, I made him realize that she'd fuck just about anyone. He was disappointed at first, sad even, when I told him how easy it was for me to get her to fuck me. But to make him feel better I encouraged Thelma not to stop fucking him just because she was fucking me.

It was the same way with Rachel. He felt bad when he figured out that she and I were fucking. But to make him feel better I had him come to the hospital with me when Marly was born.

"With this new baby I'll have an excuse to tell Rachel why I can't go over to her place," I said on the way to Lily's room at the hospital. "Pretty soon Rachel will quit running after me."

He nodded solemnly.

"And then she'll start to take you into consideration," I added, even though I knew he didn't have a chance with her. It was like throwing a bone to a dog. Because even though the bone was useless, to the dog it was a prize of sorts—or a symbol of hope even. And when Bino was down, that's what I gave him.

When I opened the door to Lily's room she was holding Marly. Bino looked at Marly with a sense of awe. He wanted to have kids himself one day.

"Here she is," I said, stretching out my hand. "My daughter, Marly."

Bino didn't know that she was actually Leonard's daughter, just as neither he nor Carone knew that Leonard was my brother and Lily my sister. What Bino did know was that to name her Marly was my decision—that after Lily had named the dog I demanded I be the one to name this new baby. Because if it had Lily's decision again, the baby would have been given a name like "Girly" or something ridiculous like that.

When I'd told him the story, Bino said, "Yeah, Lily's got a strange attitude towards names," as if he had some kind of insight into Lily's rationality. Although he'd speak to Lily whenever I brought him to the apartment, they'd always discuss books, writers, foreign films, and little else. Where Bino got the impression that Lily was odd when it came to names I'll never know. But that was him, always picking strange details out of the air and speaking about things of which he knew nothing.

But I must say that as far the name Marly was concerned, it was something I too just picked out of the air. I'd pretended that I was pondering the matter seriously when the only thing that really concerned me was where my next fuck was coming from. When after a month had passed Lily asked me if I'd come to a decision I said, "Oh yeah... Marly. Marly Jane Bay." "Marly" and "Jane" were the first names that came to mind at that moment. They had no particular meaning for me, nor did they have any nostalgic value. I had never, as far as I could recall, met anyone with those names. At any rate, I'd never fucked anyone with those names.

This isn't to say that fucking would have made me remember. Granted, my memory isn't what it used to be, which is one case in which I'm no different from every Joe and Mary around me. Bino, though, had a memory which was rather alarming in its scope. That he was a drinker had no effect on what he recalled. Often he would remind me of things I'd said, things I'd done, as if there were something wrong with my sense of history—or as if I were rewriting my own history, changing the details to suit my present purposes.

He was wrong, of course. He was also wrong about my feelings towards Lily, believing, as he did, that I didn't actually love her and that my running around on her indicated that I was unwilling to make any sacrifices for her.

Sacrifice: To his excessively romantic sensibilities, that was the greatest sign of true affection. But Christ, my whole life has been one sacrifice after another, and for me to try to list them would an extreme act of vanity.

Suffice it to say that when I left Lily, after having lived with her for a few years, it was for her own good. Leonard had come back, and in the state he was in my presence would simply serve to remind him—and Lily—of their own failures in life. I had managed to develop the skills to start my own business and to be my own boss, while they would always have to work for someone else, making small change and struggling to make ends meet.

Indeed, there were many differences between us, and for me to live with them was similar to having a king living in the servants' quarters. Nevertheless, they somehow believed—or at least Leonard did—that they were the ones who were like royalty. With his inbred little family, Leonard saw himself and Lily as a king and queen exiled in a foreign land, biding their time in the hopes that their steadfast actions would put the world in proper motion. I wasn't about to destroy his dream, misbegotten as it was, by setting him straight on the ways of the real world—which is what my mere presence would have done.

Still, his return was not what prompted my departure, as by that time I was ready to leave Ft. Myers. The dog I'd given Lily had run away while I was taking him for a walk. A less assured person would have taken this as a sign that he hadn't quite mastered the art of training dogs, but I knew it meant something else altogether. And what it meant was that I was to follow its example.

On my last night there I took Lily down by the river, where I told her of my plans. Although she took it hard, she seemed to understand. I'd been there for four years, I told her, when at first I'd only planned on staying a week or two. I had provided for her and the kids, bought them what they needed for their home and in the meantime had found a business I wanted to be involved in. And the place where I wanted to develop my business was New York.

I left her down by the river so she could collect her thoughts, then drove to the bar to meet Carone.

"So... you're ready to make the big move," he said as he gestured with a french fry.

"Yeah, it's about time I got out of this fucking town. It's way too small for me."

"Well, that's the way you are. Me, I like being a big fish in a small pond."

A waitress came over to take my order. "A Bud, please," I said, winking at her.

"Whatever happened to that Rachel chick?" Carone asked. "You heard from her since she left town?" With me leaving town he'd become nostalgic all of a sudden.

"Nah, I ain't heard a thing. I just know that she went out west somewhere and went back to school. Or became a hooker. Shit, how the fuck should I know?"

Carone took a bite of his steak and cheese sub, then said, "Hey, take it easy there, Lemmy."

"Hell, I just want to think about the future right now," I said.

"Well, I'm all ready to go if that's what you're worried about."

Carone had let me keep some of the dogs I was training at his place and, since he'd been planning a trip back home, was going to drive up with me. We'd arranged to stay at his brother's house in Westchester County above New York city. He'd stay there for about a week, during which time I'd look for a place of my own where I could set up myself and the dogs.

"I got my guy to stay at the house and handle my dogs while I'm away," he continued. "I got the trailer set up to take your dogs. Everything's cool."

Later we went to Carone's house, where we went through a bottle of bourbon and an entire roast chicken—though it was Carone who did most of the eating. I mostly drank, sitting back on the porch listening to Carone tell jokes until I passed out. In the morning, we hitched up the trailer to my car, put the dogs in, then drove downtown so I could close out my bank account. Stepping out of the bank I had a cashier's check and a huge roll of hundred dollar bills. I got into the car and floored it as the dogs started to bark, leaving a trail of noise that would serve as a farewell to my days in Florida.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Sparkling Machinery You Call Your Destiny: Part II, chapter 5 from The Edge of the World (a novel in progress)

I would have left town right when Lily told me she was pregnant, but I'd just started learning about dogs at the track. I was intrigued by the dogs. Left alone, they ate, they slept, they fucked. With the right training and breeding they could run, they could guard, they could sniff out suspects or drugs, they could attack. And, like people, they could be controlled. At first the dogs were simply a hobby, my work being my dealings with people. But it was through another friend of mine, Carone, that I got the idea of using dogs to make a living.

Carone was a big fat motherfucker from New York. He always seemed to have a sandwich in his hand. Not those little sandwiches made with white bread and a couple of slices of turkey, but huge Italian sub rolls stuffed with endless layers of ham, salami and cheese. Carone was constantly eating, wiping mayonnaise from his mouth with the back of his free hand and making conversation between gulps. His business was guard dogs, but for fun he came down to the track to bet on the greyhounds.

"Dogs, they're man's best fucken friend," he declared. "Shit, man, if you took away all the women in the world it'd be no big deal for me. I'd just start fucking dogs..."

"You mean you haven't already?"

"No, not yet..." he muttered as he eyed one of the race dogs. "Hey, Lemmy, check out the ass on this greyhound bitch. Goddamn, that's a nice dog ass!"

The dog ran away as soon as Carone moved towards it.

"If you want to fuck these dogs you better learn how to talk sweet and sophisticated to them," I said. "These are classy dogs, not street mongrels."

"Hell, I forget sometimes."

Carone and I walked towards my car and then drove to the bar where we always went after work. Bino was already there at our table, lifting a bottle of beer with his left hand because his right arm was in a sling. Carone and I sat and ordered drinks as Bino began shaking his head.

"This is fucking awkward," he said.

"Hell, maybe you'll come out of this ambidextrous," Carone suggested.

"Then you'll be a two fisted drinker in every sense of the word," I added.

"This isn't really a big problem," Bino said, lifting his beer. "The real problem is that I can't write with my left hand. I've tried, but it's just not working."

"If you ask me you can't write with your other hand either," I said.

"Whatever," Bino said as he motioned to the waitress for another beer.

"So, you want to get in the guard dog business," Carone said changing the subject.

"Yeah," I answered. "That's a business I can take anywhere. Race dogs you can only do down here, in Massachusetts, and a few places out west. And I hate Massachusetts and I hate the west."

"Yeah, I left there as soon as I could," Bino said, shaking his head.

"But you had problems out there," I argued. "You had to get away. Me I just don't like the people out there."

"What happened to you out there?" Carone asked Bino. "Got some Catholic girl pregnant?"

"No, nothing like that."

"It was his sister," I explained. "They were crossing the street together when a car hit them. He made it, she didn't."

"And now my hometown doesn't, like... Well, it isn't very pleasant for me anymore. The atmosphere just seems very oppressive."

"So you went all the way to the other side of the country," Carone said as he raised his hand in the air to get the waitress's attention.

"Hey, we were talking about dogs!" I said.

"Oh, okay." Carone turned to the waitress. "An order of onion rings." She started walking away when Carone added, "Shit, and a burger too."

"You're going to kill yourself with all this food," I said.

"I thought you wanted to talk about dogs."

"Yes, the dogs."

"The best ones, in my opinion, are Dobermans. They're a bit smaller than German Shepherds, but they're easier to train."

"No, I want the biggest dogs I can get—maybe I can combine the two. Or what about wolves and wolf hybrids?"

"No, you want to stay away from them. Especially the wolf hybrids. No one can tell what those fuckers are going to do. They're the most likely to maul you for no apparent reason."

"I can handle that shit."

Carone shook his head emphatically, "No, trust me on this. You want to use dogs that are as purely bred as possible."

"Yeah, stick to the inbred mutts," Bino interrupted.

"You don't know anything about this," I snapped at Bino. "Stick to your fucking writing."

"Hey, I'm just following Carone's advice."

"Well, that's it to start with," Carone continued. "For the training and breeding, just hang out with me and the dogs and then..." Carone looked away towards the kitchen, then shook his head. "Wait... I can't talk any more until my food comes," he said, then stood and walked over to the juke box.

Bino raised his eyebrows and watched as Carone put a few quarters in the slot.

"Yeah, he's really baked," I said to Bino, who on hearing my comment started to cackle.

"But he's a good person to talk about a new business with," Bino said at last. "Because he's hungry. Damn hungry."

In a moment Carone's first song began to play:

You grew up riding the subway
Runnin' with people
Up in Harlem down on Broadway
You're no tramp but you're no lady
Talkin' that street talk
You're the heart and soul of New York City, girl...

"And eating seems to keep him from dancing," I added.

"I thought it was gravity that did that."

I stood up to go to the restroom. When I got back to the table Carone's food had arrived.

Later that evening I went to Carone's to see his setup with the dogs. He had his office in the basement of his house. Behind the house was where he had his kennel: a large fenced-in area, part of which was covered by a tent, plus a shed at the far end.

"It doesn't take much money down here to house the dogs, because you can leave them outside most of the time. But if you got your business where it gets cold you're gonna need some place to keep them warm in the winter."

We walked into a section where he had a Doberman puppy. The puppy started to approach us, its tail wagging, when Carone yelled, "Stay!" It stopped for a moment then continued its approach.

"Stay!" Carone yelled again but much more loudly this time. The puppy stopped and lay its head down on the ground.

"That's it." Carone walked up to the puppy, patted him on the head, and gave him a biscuit.

"You should train all your dogs yourself," he said looking back at me. "And the time to do that is when they're puppies, eight to ten weeks old. If you wait too long it's a little harder, and dogs that you've started training late can create some headaches for you further down the line. And of course some dogs will be more difficult than others."

"I don't think I'll have any problem with training them," I said. "I'm pretty good at that sort of thing."

"Yeah. Well, at any rate it's easier than trying to teach people."

"I imagine it is."

It didn't take long for me to learn how to train the dogs. Carone had given me a puppy the next time one of his bitches had a litter, and I brought it home telling Lily it was a gift from me to her.

"Why don't you name it?" I said.

Lily held the puppy and studied it for a while, patting its head and looking into its eyes. "Let me think about it for a few days."

She lay it down on the floor and it began running around the room. When it spotted Kiddo it examined him for a moment from a distance, then approached him cautiously. Kiddo, of course, was completely oblivious to the dog. The dog, however, grew agitated as it stood before him, and soon began barking at Kiddo as if he were a prowler or something. It must have been its pure Doberman blood that led it to look upon Kiddo with suspicion before I'd even begun to train it.

"Come!" I shouted to the dog. "Come!" It turned away from Kiddo and trotted back to me.

Soon enough I had it trained to ignore Kiddo as if he were simply another piece of furniture. I had it trained to piss and shit outside when I took it out for a walk. I had it trained to sit, fetch, and heel. I had it trained to jump when I said "jump!" And, finally, to attack when I said "Sick `im!" Eventually it even learned to take an interest in the television. It would sometimes sit in front of the television, watching the screen with squinted eyes, its ears perked up as if it were eavesdropping on some private conversation. At any rate, it seemed to have more of an understanding of what was happening on the screen than Kiddo did.

A week after I'd brought the dog home Lily finally announced that she had a name for it.

"I think we should just call him Dogg—with two G's at the end?"

"What? You act like you've got a million names running through your head this past week and then you come up with Dogg?"

"Well I did think of a lot of names, and Dogg is the one that best fits him."

"Don't you want to give him some clever name. Or to name him after some writer, something like `Fielding' or `Trollope'?"

"That would be silly."

"Silly, how so?"

"It just would."

I argued on and on but Lily insisted that Dogg would be its name. And so it was. I had to give in on this matter because by this point Lily was far along in her pregnancy and I refused to fuck her. As her pregnancy didn't have the effect of diminishing her sex drive, she was always begging for it. I had to make something up, saying that it wasn't that I didn't still find her appealing with her big belly, but that I couldn't get myself to believe that it was safe for a pregnant woman to fuck. Letting her name the dog, then, was a minor concession I had to make to keep her happy.

By this time I'd started fucking Rachel, the waitress from the bar where Bino, Carone and I went after our days at the track. Thelma, for some strange reason, refused to speak to me anymore—which was fine with me, because I'd gotten tired of her. And besides, Rachel looked like she'd make a good fuck.

Bino, however, looked at her in a completely different way. Unlike Thelma, whom he didn't even really like, Rachel was the sort of woman who really moved him. It was easy to see that what Bino had for her wasn't simply a crush and that he was, in fact, in love with her. "She really isn't your type," I'd tell him. But he'd go on about how she was smart, beautiful, sweet. How she was just out of college, taking a couple of years off before going to grad school—which was why she was just waiting tables here in Ft Myers.

Me, I just liked her body. It wasn't as voluptuous as Thelma's, but it looked nice and firm. She was one of those shy, somewhat reserved girls who I knew could have her world turned around if the right person fucked her. And I was the right person.

Still, I gave Bino a chance, and when I saw that his romantic approach was going nowhere I moved in on her, unbeknownst to him. He was out of town at the time, visiting his family out west. I was at the bar with Carone that night, and when her shift was over I asked her to join us for a few drinks.

Rachel didn't hold her liquor very well. A couple of beers and a shot and she'd be laughing hysterically, forgetting everything she'd ever learned. After a few more rounds she knew she shouldn't attempt to drive home so I, of course, offered to drive her there.

And it was there that I fucked her. I fucked her while she was drunk, fucked her against the wall, her legs wrapped around me as she screamed and panted. I fucked her in her bed as her radio played Bach and Vivaldi, sounds that covered up her screams but made her squirm and stretch like a child having a nightmare. I fucked her in her mouth and in her ass, fucked her in the morning when she was sober to make sure she'd remember that it wasn't just the music that made her sweat.

When she went into the shower I picked up the phone and called Lily. I told her I'd stayed over at Carone's house, that we'd been working with the dogs, and that afterwards we drank until we passed out. Lily was always very easy to fool. Or perhaps it was just that I was such a good actor and anything I said, no matter how far from reality it was, sounded like the absolute truth.

"I'm going to the track now," I said. "So I'll just see you tonight."

"Okay, Lemmy," she said without a trace of suspicion in her voice.

Just as I hung up Rachel stepped out of the bathroom. With a towel covering her body she looked embarassed, nervous even, and turned her head left, then right as if she were searching for something.

"I'm so hung over," she said finally.

"I don't feel too bad," I told her, even though my head was pounding. I then got dressed and went to a diner. I sat at a booth and the waitress, a woman somewhere in her late fifties, immediately set down a glass of water. "I'll just have a coffee to start with," I said. She looked down at me for a moment as if she were examinging me, then walked off. Watching her as she went behind the counter to pour the coffee, I opened up my bottle of aspirin. As I put the aspirin in my mouth and took a gulp of water she looked over to me.

"One of those nights, huh?" she said.

"Yeah," I said, giving her a tired smile. "Bourbon, vodka, rum... I was mixing my drinks like an amateur."

"You should know better than to do that."

"Sometimes I forget what I've learned. Not that I know all that much."

I nursed my coffee for half an hour, then ordered a scrambled egg sandwich and hash browns. When I was finished, and my breakfast seemed like it was going to stay down, I went to work.
The title of this chapter, The Sparkling Machinery You Call Your Destiny, is taken from “The Sadness of Things,” a song written and performed by Nick Currie (better known as Momus). The title of the previous chapter, My Significance in an Indifferent Universe, is a reworking of another line from this song.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My Significance in an Indifferent Universe: Part II, chapter 4 from The Edge of the World (a novel in progress)

Of course I always had other girls around; and at work, during that time I spent working on setting up my situation at home, I was fucking Thelma. It was her image that I had in mind when I told Leonard that story about the woman at the racetrack, but I'd changed things around a bit. Although Thelma was always at the track she wasn't a gambler but rather my coworker, and unlike the woman in the story she wasn't at all shy about showing off her body. She would flash her tits for no reason at all, lift up her skirt not in the ladies room but on the way to the ladies room. She wasn't much to talk to, but no one cared, especially not me and my friend Bino. Bino and I took turns fucking her during our lunch breaks. I always took her up to the roof. Rolling around up there with the sun beating down on us, we always lost our sense of where we were—or at least I did. It always felt like a dirty metal rooftop in Paris to me, with Thelma my sweet little French pastry that I'd picked up from the sidewalk and brought upstairs.

Bino, though, always brought her to this grassy area right behind the building. Sometimes I watched from the roof as Bino went down on her—he seemed to like that more than anything else. He was one of those sensitive types who liked to get right down to a woman's smell, eating her out as he held her hand while someone like me would always reach up for a woman's tits.

"Hurry up, you mutt!" I'd yell down to him when he took too long, "What are you waiting for? The second coming?" When he'd finally get around to fucking her it wouldn't take very long. Still, he'd hold on to her, resting his head on her chest and sighing. "Okay, Thelma," I'd have to shout, "get up here. Now!" Thelma would then come up to the roof while Bino stayed down below. He liked to listen as Thelma and I fucked, and to insure his pleasure we made as much noise as we could so our sounds would reach him—he was, after all, our friend. But sometimes, as a joke, we remained quiet, which would always frighten Bino somehow. "Hey," he'd yell, "what the hell's going on up there?" It took a lot of effort to be quiet when we were fucking. It was like denying that we were animals, a denial which created such pressure inside of us that when we finally let go the release was exquisite. We'd scream like people in terror, hitting each other as if fending off an attacker.

And one time, after I had come, I pushed Thelma off of me with such force that she tumbled off the roof. Bino had been shouting suspiciously the whole time, and Thelma came crashing down on him just as he started to yell, "I'm coming up there!" at which point I heard a thump indicating that Thelma had hit the ground. While still reclining I reached for my pants then pulled a cigarette from the pocket. I lit it and, taking in the smoke, gazed up at the sky for a while.

It was an overcast day, and as I stared at the clouds I imagined that with the sheer force of my mind I could make them disperse so that the sun would shine upon me. To my delight they began to do just that, and in a short time the sun's rays poked through an opening in the cloud cover. I stretched my arms, letting the light shine all over me.

When I finally got up I walked to the edge of the roof and looked down. There was Thelma, unconscious, sprawled on top of Bino who looked like he'd just woken up from one of his monumental drunks—his eyes blinking, wiping from his brow what to him probably felt like sweat but was actually blood. Adding to his shock was the opening in the clouds I'd created, which sent the sun's hot rays stinging down upon his face.

"Get up!" I yelled.

"I... I can't," he muttered. "I'm in pain."

I reached for my jacket and pulled out the small bottle of aspirin I always carried with me. "Here," I said, tossing it down to him. The bottle landed on Thelma's back.

Bino reached for the bottle, then examined it slowly, his eyes still blinking. "I don't think this is gonna do it," he said with some difficulty.

"You're a pussy!" I shouted as Bino let the bottle slip from his hand.

They required an ambulance to get them moving again. Each of them had a bad concussion, while Bino had, in addition to that, a broken arm. Looking back on it, I supposed that they were lucky they weren't hurt more. But at the time it happened I couldn't take Thelma's fall, and Bino's catching that fall, very seriously. I had just had a good fuck, after which I had made the clouds move, so naturally I was in a rather jubilant frame of mind. Seeing them down on the ground, I expected them simply to rise just as I had risen. That they couldn't surprised me at first, but then I remembered that they weren't like me.

Indeed, no one was, nor would anyone ever be like me. I had been through things that would kill anyone else—and come out of them even stronger than I had been before. I had learned how to make things happen, how to make the things I wanted mine—and how to make the things I saw in my mind become real. There was no obstacle that I couldn't either obliterate or else get around. There was no riddle or puzzle that I couldn't solve. And, above all, there was no one who I wanted to fuck who I couldn't fuck.

That evening, after checking on Bino in the hospital, I went home to Lily. She'd fixed some fancy dinner—chicken in wine sauce with wild rice on the side. I'd already eaten on the way home from the hospital, so I told her I'd bring it with me to work the next day and eat it for lunch. I then sat down in the living room to read the paper while Kiddo stared at the television. Later Lily and I fucked until I fell asleep, and that's the way things should have gone for the next four years. But then a week later when I got home from work Lily told me she'd been to the doctor. She was pregnant again, which meant that another little retard was on the way.

Since I'd only been fucking her for a week that meant the baby was Leonard's. He was apparently such a fertile fucker that his sperm defeated the pill yet a second time. And even though he'd gone, he'd found a way to leave a little piece of himself behind.

It was fine at first. I enjoyed it when Lily's tits started to get bigger, but when her belly grew I was annoyed. I'd fucked enough fat girls when I was in school. The fat girls were always pointless, drunken fucks—experiments in which I was trying to prove what I should have already known by that time: That I could get it up anytime, anywhere, and with any girl.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Bitch World: Part II, chapter 3 from The Edge of the World (a novel in progress)

To make Lily mine I had what I called my dog plan—my canine agenda. And the first order of business therein was to make myself handy around the apartment. That meant taking care of Kiddo, their retarded little devil child. How Lily and Leonard found it in themselves to dote upon this strange creature was beyond me, because all Kiddo could do was stare into space. He'd pay you no attention, eat only when you shoved food in his mouth, then follow that by shitting and pissing in his pants. In this way he was worse than a house cat—a cat, while paying you no attention, would at least leave his shit in the litter box. Kiddo, though, you had to keep cleaning. Not that it mattered to him when his diaper was full; two days accumulation of shit and piss wouldn't even make him blink, much less cry in discomfort. It's just that his shit had this horrible stench about it that wafted through the apartment like a gust of wind coming in through an open window. So I kept him clean in the evenings, on weekends, and whenever Lily and Leonard wanted to go out. "Go and have fun," I'd say as I patted Kiddo on the back, "I enjoy spending time with my nephew."

When they were out of the apartment I'd try to train the little fucker. There was a framed picture of Leonard that they kept in their bedroom; I kept taking it and putting it in front of Kiddo's face. I wanted him to learn to pay attention to things, namely his father. I wanted Kiddo to pay Leonard too much attention. I had come to understand that Leonard would continue to like Kiddo only if he remained the way he was, like an oblivious goldfish in a bowl. If Kiddo were to start following him around the apartment, staring not into space but at the person he recognized from the photograph, then Leonard would get uncomfortable. And rather than finding his child's attention endearing he would find it, at best, and extreme annoyance—and at worst an insufferable burden.

Then next thing I had to do was buy things for the apartment. I had to transform this small but comfortable home into a cramped, claustrophobic storage room. I bought furniture—a dresser drawer, a huge sofabed. I bought a bulky stereo system, a wide screen television. I bought unnecessary gadgets for the kitchen—a yogurt maker, three different kinds of food processors, a meat grinder, a 24 piece set of pots and pans. Very soon the apartment was so cramped and cluttered that walking through it was like making your way throught the rubble left behind after an explosion.

I then began watching the wide screen television all the time when Lily and Leonard were home. I hated television, but I watched it—I watched anything but what Lily and Leonard wanted to watch. Since I was the one who had bought the wide screen television, no one was in the position to argue with what I chose to watch on it. I knew that Lily and Leonard both loved television; but I also knew that in essence television meant one thing to Leonard and another thing to Lily. So when there was a program on that they wanted to see, they'd go into the bedroom where they'd put their old black and white set. Lily, though, soon got tired of that and began coming out to the living room to watch my television. She wasn't as dedicated to specific shows as she was to a good television.

Meanwhile, the training I was giving Kiddo took hold, and he began following Leonard everywhere. Sometimes Leonard would be in the bathroom, taking a heavy beer shit, when suddenly he'd lift his head to see Kiddo with that ungodly look in his eyes. "What the hell is he doing in here?" Leonard would scream, "I'm trying to take a fucking shit, goddamnit!" It nearly took all my inner strength to keep from laughting whenever this happened; and whenever Lily and Leonard left the apartment I found that I'd begine to chuckle slightly before breaking into out and out laughter until I was in near hysterics.

As for Lily, I had a training program for her as well. I had remembered that before she ran off with Leonard she was planning on studying literature at college. With this in mind I began buying books for her. I got her addicted to the English novel—Hardy, Dickens, Fielding. In doing this I managed to monopolize all her leisure time, so that when she wasn't watching television with me she was reading. Then, when she was finished with a book, I'd discuss it with her. I'd point out Dickens's "ambivalent feelings towards the industrial revolution," Hardy's view on "the role of nature in the shaping of human destiny"—shit like that which would make her go back and read each novel again. On Sundays I'd bring home the New York Times. Lily would go through it methodically, beginning with the front page then moving on to the editorials, the business section, the arts section and the Sunday magazine before finally settling on the Book Review, which would inevitably lead to her going out and buying books herself, thus taking away even more from the time she spent with Leonard.

It wasn't long before the only person paying Leonard any attention was Kiddo. Indeed, in our tiny apartment it had become impossible for Leonard to find any peach and comfort. And although he was able to live with the situation for the moment, I could see that very soon something would make him snap. What finally did this was when Lily came home after having cut off her long hair, which was something she did as a result of my subtle encouragement. I knew Leonard had a bit of fetish for long hair; I knew it would upset him no end to see Lily without her long blonde locks.

So I talked to her. I made her think it was her own idea. "Lily," I'd say as we watched television, "your long hair is beautiful, but it mush be such a bother taking care of it." Then, whenever I saw a woman with short hair I'd say, "That's a very becoming hair style. "I can see why that do is getting so popular." Lily would begin playing with her hair, but not the way she used to. Where before she would absent-mindedly caress or run her fingers throught it, she would now pull at it nervously, trying to move it away from her face and behind her ears.

Then finally, one Saturday morning while Leonard was still asleep, Lily went to the hair dresser. I was in the living room watching television when Leonard came out. I told him a story about a girl at the track who had gotten so excited as her dog raced ahead, that when she started jumping up and down her halter top, unable to withstand the force of her bouncing breasts, fell apart at the seams.

"The guys in the stands around her," I said, "took one look at her tits—huge tits—and started applauding. They didn't care anymore whether or not their dog won the race. Just the sight of those tits was victory enough for them."

Leonard started laughing.

"Then she tried to cover herself up," I continued, "first with her hands and arms, but that wasn't quite enough—these tits were huge, I tell you. So she used her hair. She had long dark hair, really thick too. And it worked. She covered her tits with her hair, held it in place with her hands, then ran out. Everyone was still applauding. They started jumping up and down. You'd think they'd all just won a million dollars."

Leonard kept laughing. It was the best story he'd heard in a long time—of course, I'd made it all up. Then just when he'd finished laughing and had caught his breath, Lily walked in. The timing couldn't have been better. When he looked at Lily an expression of near disgust came over his face.

"That looks terrible," he snapped.

Lily had cut her hair short, very short; and where she once had those long flowing tresses she now had short blonde locks that barely covered her ears.

"Well I like it," Lily barked back, "and anyway it was getting to be a pain in the ass taking care of it when it was long."

Lily then turned and went into the bedroom where she picked up a book and started reading.

She and Leonard didn't say another word to each other the rest of the weekend. Lily spent the whole time lying in bed as she calmly read The Life And Opinions Of Tristram Shandy. Leonard, on the other hand, was restless. He stayed with me in the living room, alternating between watching television and staring out the window as Kiddo, displaying an almost superhuman constancy, stared at him. When Leonard had had enough of this he moved swiftly towards the door, announced that he was taking a walk, then rushed out before Kiddo could catch up to him.

At the end of the following week Leonard quit his job.

"I need to get away for a while," he said to me. "Take care of Lily and Kiddo until I come back."

"All right," I said, "and don't worry. I'll take care of everything."

I knew Leonard would be gone a long time. I knew he'd find it difficult, once he was on the road, to turn around and come back to the world I created for him here. And now that he was gone it was time to create a world for myself. In order to do this I first had to make sure that Kiddo stayed out of the way. The answer to this problem was the television. So just as I had trained him to watch Leonard, I trained him to watch television. It didn't take long. At the end of a week spent setting him in front of the television and immediately putting him back if tried to move away, I had him staring intently at the screen. It didn't matter what was showing, whether it was the news, a game show, a movie of the week or a simple test pattern. Kiddo had grown accustomed to sitting in front of the television. And watching it.

With that done I took a deep breath, because now it was time to move in on Lily. Time for my dog plan to reach its climax. Time for me to receive the trophy I'd been waiting for, the reward I could almost smell when I showed up at Lily and Leonard's door like a stray dog, the prize I could almost taste when like a dog I schemed against my brother. When like a dog I used his own son against him and put ideas in Lily's head. When like a dog I watched Lily from the doorway, then crept into her room. When like a dog I sniffed her—her belly, her breasts, her thighs, and the spaces in between. When like a dog I rubbed up against her, then fucked her from behind, fucked her in the ass as I howled and barked and peed, staking out my territory, making certain that in this dog eat dog world I would have one bitch who was all mine.

The Sunshine of My Life: Part II, chapter 2 from The Edge of the World (a novel in progress)

From then on it was one girl after another. It took less and less time and planning for me to get them. And while it had taken me nearly half a year to grab onto Miss Dupree, I got it to the point where I could often get a girl to fuck me ten minutes after I'd met her.

And in the five year period from the spring of 1974 to the spring of 1979 I'd been with over a hundred girls. Blondes, brunettes, redheads; white girls, black girls, oriental girls; girls with large breasts, girls with small breasts, even one freak of a brunette, half Cherokee-half Irish, with two high cheekbones, two long legs, two big brown eyes, and three nipples the extra one being on the bottom of her left breast. Some of these girls I knew by name—Kathy, Denise, Emma, Annalisa. Annalisa was a wild one, had Tourette Syndrome, used to scream "motherfucker" or "suck my dick" as we walked hand in hand down Broad Street. Others I had no names for and so made up my own names, names pertaining to where or when or how I'd fucked them. Names such as "The 2pm Showing Of For The Love Of Benji" or "The Dumpster Behind Oglethorpe Hall In The Pouring Rain With One Tennis Shoe On" or "Up The Ass On The Midnight Bus To Gainesville." Some girls were young, had never even seen a man and didn't know what to do, some of them were grandmothers who had no idea I'd fucked not just their daughters, but their granddaughters as well. Some girls were poor, some girls were rich; some were tall and thin, while others were short and fat. I had one who was five foot eleven and weighed one hundred pounds, another who was five foot one and weighed two hundred pounds. One girl was a doctor's daughter, very clean, wore bright red and yellow clothes and only liked it up the ass while pulling up her favorite lemon pleated skirt. One of them was a garbageman's daughter, liked it nice and easy, nice and slow, made me say "I love you Judy" when her name was really Maureen. One of them was a blind girl, she knew how to touch, liked the sting of pepper on her lips, the viscous feel of cum on her fingers. One of them was a deaf girl—"Wuck me wuck me you tud!" she'd scream, "Hood Hod Ahm honna hum!" By the time I was seventeen I'd had every kind of girl there was to be had—every kind except one.

So I made some phone calls. I looked for people named Bodine. I knew that was the surname Lily and Leonard had taken, and more importantly I knew Lily and Leonard while they hardly knew me. After a week of research I knew exactly where they were and what to do.

So I moved down to Florida. And when the time was right I knocked on their door. And gave them a story. I told them I'd quit college after two years when in fact I'd just graduated. I let them know I was smart, but I didn't let them know how smart. Because in truth I had gone directly from my freshman year in high school on to college. It was a waste, my teachers agreed, to keep me in high school when I was more than ready for college, which took me three years to complete. I was a little slow getting though, yes, but I didn't want to take on too much work at once—after all, I had a multitude of girls to deal with. At the end of my second year I was bored, I wanted to be done with school. But it was during my third and final year of college when I met that deaf girl—Weesa was her name. With the grunts and groans she made, fucking her was like fucking a wounded lion, and fucking her I began to wonder how Lily would compare. I wondered what sounds Lily would make if she didn't have to keep quiet. I wondered about Lily's long legs, if she'd make me chase her or just roll over and spread them, make me rub her belly, good girl good girl, before fucking her like a farmboy fucking his first sheep.

So I moved down to Florida. Palm trees, beach resorts, dog races. I got a job at the track. After two weeks I knocked on their door. I told them that I'd just gotten into town, that I'd had a hard time on the road. I told them I'd been looking for them all over the country. In Rock Springs, Wyoming—"A dark dirty town," I said, "full of drugs, prostitution and murder." In Galveston, Texas—"a sweet and peaceful city by the sea where the slow and pleasant streets are lined with oleander." I didn't let Lily and Leonard know how easy it was to find them—that would have made them suspicious.

So they took me in. I'd done quite an acting job on them. Though my surprise at their having had a baby wasn't acting at all, because despite all my investigative work the fact of their son's birth slipped right by me. And while I could understand their having a baby simply as an experiment—biological and sociological—for them to have a baby simply as an extension of their marital love was, as far as I was concerned, an extreme act of self indulgence. I was shocked and nearly did throw my plans out the window by phoning our parents. But looking at Lily, who at twenty-three, and after having given birth to a child was even hotter than I remembered her being at sixteen, I came to my senses. More than anything I wanted her ass, and as she told me how she and Leonard were in love I imagined her naked, her legs spread apart, waiting for me to give her the big one, make her beg, fetch, roll over and howl like a dog. I knew that day would come, but I had to play it cool, play it safe, and above all play ignorant.

So I stayed quiet, pretending I was still contemplating whether or not to tell our parents, when I was now merely considering the revisions I'd have to make in my plans. It would be like Miss Dupree all over again—it would be difficult, very difficult, which was all the more reason to do it. Most of all it would take time and patience. But sooner or later my hot bitch of a sister was going to be my own exclusive piece of ass. She'd be my blind girl, my deaf girl, my black, white, poor or rich girl all rolled into one tight little package. And I would be the apple of her eye.