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.

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