FICTIFICATION and ITS RISKS

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In my latest completed Novel, THIS INCREDIBLE SEX  COMEDY, the (often far-out) fiction is so closely mixed with solid thru-lines of autobiography that I will probably never be able to retrieve unadulterated versions of those personal memories again. I noticed this effect quite some time ago: if I based a character on a lover, friend, enemy or acquaintance of many years gone, the character became that memory. This can be a dangerous process: memories interlink to confirm one another and one fictified node can spread a malarial weirdness that distorts an entire period of remembered Life. For example: I’ve incorporated so much, from college, in the 1970s, in so many stories, that those memories are now all absolutely at risk. Oh well. It’s only fair that fiction’s pressure-wave feeds back up the silver pipe, now and then,  and changes me along with those I’ve changed.

The following chapters use timbres and textures, from my real Life, in the form of a now long-defunct Love I once enjoyed; bits of dialog and description stolen, living, from Life. That scene of the two in line for the Geneva Salt concert…

 

*********************************

 

THIS

INCREDIBLE

SEX  

COMEDY

(excerpt from) CHAPTER 16

 

Paul was a genuine Feminist. Biologically so, even, maybe. Claudia sensed the presence of a pretty little virtual womb in Paul. Maybe it was only the size of a vestigial twin in a baby but the combination of Paul’s radiant little virtual womb and his large cock (she’d nicknamed it Cockzilla but never had the nerve, despite the fact that EWA ( Everything Was Allowed),  during the Week of Miracles, to debut the nickname, because, don’t laugh, it just felt racist somehow to make too much of Paul’s size) was extremely attractive to her.  She’d always been a sucker for Hermaphrodites. Tim was all womb and no cock and Heiko was (had been) all cock, though it hadn’t been a big one. Tim, Heiko and Paul were all intelligent men, but who would Claudia claim was the smartest? Heiko had been given to quoting the Nazi charlatan Heidegger.  By cock size, in ascending order, the list started with Tim and ended with Paul. Tim, therefore, she decided,  was the smartest.

“May I call you Iris?”

She hesitated then said, “Yes. Yes, Paul, even that’s allowed. And it’s strange but I think I like it.”

“I love you, Iris Farahani.”

“Now it’s my turn. I want to try another kind of transgression. Are you willing? Be honest.”

“Everything is allowed. This is the Week of Miracles.”

“Good. I want to do the unthinkable and talk about a former love. I want to compare him to you, as you listen. I want to discuss how you two are similar and how you’re different. Can you stand that?”

“Yes. Everything is allowed. But I hate him.”

“He’s dead. Long ago.”

“That’s a little better. But I still hate him.”

“I know, love. He would have hated you, too!” She laughed. “But he would have pretended to like you. He pretended to like Tim. He wanted to appear to be above it all, I think. Or sophisticated. A European intellectual. He loved French movies. In French movies, ex-husbands and ex-lovers are always friends of the family, close friends of the husband, and they commiserate over the wife, who is usually some kind of force of nature, irrational, tempestuous and so forth or in the process of taking on a new, much younger lover, a toy-boy, who both men, who are shown getting adorably drunk together,  hate. Are the French really like this? I think he wanted to model his life on French romantic comedies of the ’70s.  I’d come over and fuck him once a week in his office and, after we’d fuck, he’d light a cigarette, invariably, and ask about Tim. Not just in a superficial way, either. We’d have detailed conversations about Tim and whatever Tim was doing that week. I once mentioned that Tim was having some kind of arcane tax problem with a business he was setting up in Yemen and Heiko… his name was Heiko... offered his own tax lawyer’s services, free of charge, until Tim’s problems were sorted. I thanked Heiko but declined the offer.”

“What did this Heiko look like? Typical German?”

“Oh, No. No. He looked a bit like you.”

“Oh, good.”

“But with hair.”

“Even better.”

“He was only thirty.”

“Wonderful.”

“Well, it was over twenty years ago, Baby. You had your hair then, too, remember. Also, I thought you didn’t care about your hair or lack thereof?”

“I didn’t until this Heiko character showed up.”

“He wouldn’t have looked as good without his hair as you look without yours.”

“That’s better.” He laughed. “Go on.”

“And his cock…”

“Yes?”

“I’m not exaggerating. I think it was literally forty percent smaller than yours? Forty four…?”

“Okay. My cheeks aren’t numb anymore.”

“And his semen tasted not very good. Yours tastes like crushed roses.”

Now I’m happy. Now I’m content.”

“Have you ever been with someone who looks like you, Paul? I’ve been meaning to ask.”

“What do I look like?”

“Black. You know:  black-ish. The blacker side of mixed.”

“Do you mean dating or fucking?”

“Either. Both.”

“I dated a Miss Black Minnesota in the 1980s.”

“Yes? And you fucked her?”

His phone rang… doo de doo

“No.”

“Kissed her?”

“On the mouth? No. I tried to.”

“Have you ever fucked a Black woman?”

“Nope.”

“That’s not possible.”

“It’s totally possible. It happens to be true. It’s probably more common than you think.”

“Should I be disappointed in you?”

“Have you ever slept with a half-German, half-Iranian man?”

“That’s different.”

“How?”

Claudia laughed and made a sheepish “who knows?” gesture. Paul said,

“In the USA, right? Blacks… we Blacks… we’re something like 10% of the population. So, you know, if you’re Black in America, which is what I was, and you’re standing in any average American location, statistically speaking, there are going to be roughly nine or ten whites for every Black in the vicinity. So you’re ten times more likely to be served by a white or have a white colleague or a white lover… unless some kind of racist segregation effect is lumping an unnatural concentration of Blacks together. Otherwise known as a ‘ghetto’. And I grew up in a ghetto but I left the ghetto before I reached mating age. Never to return. A Black with another Black in America is as statistically unnatural as a Black with a White in Uganda, though most people are too casually racist to grasp that.”

“A completely logical and deeply unsatisfying explanation.”

They laughed.

“Okay, here’s my second attempt. Ready?”

“I’m all ears.”

“Ears? From where I’m standing you’re all arse. In the nicest possible way.”

“No stalling, Buster.”

“Okay, listen. I’m a Bohemian, Claudia. For half of my adult life, so far, being a Bohemian meant I had little or no money and no job prospects. Try finding a well-educated, great-looking Black woman who’ll settle for a guy who isn’t, at the very least,  in law school. There just hasn’t been, historically, enough of a Black middle class… a Black middle class of adequate venerability… to generate Bohemian Black Babes in any serious number.  It takes money to generate a generation of pretentious kids who seem wholly unconcerned with earning money. I’m just a fluke. I’m a freak. My Black friends and acquaintances are still, by far, the most materialistic people I know. Which is totally understandable! A hundred years ago we had nothing, most of us, we owned not even ourselves.  We were still trying to get the feeling back in our wrists and ankles after being chained for so long. So, of course, of course, most of us Blacks would have been revering recent purchases of white Naugahyde sectional sofas while some white family on the nicer side of town was wonderfully spawning, instead,  the Midwestern answer to Kiki of Montparnasse!  I’m sure there must have been three or four incredible Black Bohemian Girls, bumping around the vast territory of the continental United States, back when I was around but, sadly, our paths never crossed. And, by the way, I love you, too.”

“That one felt a little truer. But, still…”

“Ha! ‘But still’, nothing!  Do you know how happy I’d have been, at nineteen or twenty, when I was really diving into all that, for the first time… what an answer to my prayers it would have been if I’d met a girl who looked just like me and knew the books I loved and liked the same records and laughed at Monty Python, too? I’d still be with her! I never would have let her go! I never would have left the country! That’s all I ever wanted, a girl exactly like me… a girl whose hand I could clutch in public with the serene sense that no one could possibly, with any imaginable excuse,  say anything against it. A girl I could lie beside in perfect Adam-and-Eve mode, my arm touching her arm, feeling neither especially light nor dark, oblivious to my color for the first time in history, my wavy hair touching her wavy hair, our fleshy mouths and sharp little freckled noses  a perfect match? Don’t you think I fantasize about that girl… that woman,  sometimes, still? My perfect incestuous non-racial fuck twin? The copper-colored, wise-cracking,  Godard-digging, Al Green fan carrying a copy of First Love and Other Sorrows in her backpack? How do you know I’m not pretending that YOU are HER right… fucking… fucking…FUCKING… now…?!”

His phone rang… doo de doo

And Claudia had giggled and closed her eyes and concentrated on what Paul was doing almost violently, now, with both his thumbs and she came. She came like hot klieg lights being smashed quite rapidly in a long descending row by a big black baseball bat. Making Paul sort of angry (finally) had really turned her on.

Angry but gentle.

My God, she thought, I was goading him! I loved it! I’m terrible!

Later, they had a conversation in which either Paul or Claudia, in the bathtub,  said, while the other was scrubbing his or her back,  It’s not as though the audience remains constant while the general level of the artists and writers decline! Mediocre audiences call forth and anoint mediocre Artists while the awards are still awarded and the blockbusters roll on.

The Cosmic Rule is Waste.

That night they went to  a concert to see Geneva Salt.

A young act. Part of the new R&B&F movement. Everyone was raving about Geneva Salt, especially the thirty-something and twenty-something painters of Claudia’s acquaintance, so Claudia wanted to go.

There was a long line on a trendy sidewalk to get in. The line appeared to pour thickly out of the cafe on the corner and half-way up the street and right back into the open double doors of the TZAK THEATER. The line flashed and glowed with its own internal luminescence of little screens, overwhelmed every few minutes with the 20th-century clatter and light of a passing trolley. People hopping off of the trolley added themselves to the line. Paul and Claudia appeared to Claudia to be the only people in that line or even on that street or in that neighborhood who were older than forty. Everywhere you looked, there was a black and blue poster for INVOICE OF A GENERATION.

Paul, who had been a Poet when he was younger, was reciting short bits of poetry with his shiny brown head and fancy dark coat and Claudia wanted to suck Paul’s big bronze cock right there in line to reward him. Poetry as plumage: the day was coming when it would no longer work, probably. Why had it ever? How does Culture interact with DNA and DNA with culture? How and why had Claudia’s distant pre-human ancestors selected for a verbal/aesthetic trigger for vaginal moisture a million years before the advent of language? Especially since a Poet would be the very opposite of the archetype of caveman capable of hunting game and killing rivals. How had the lens and retina evolved, independently,  into Eye when neither was useful until both were ready?

Paul recited Ezra Pound’s “The Evening of the Air Show over Midcentury Paris” (“A girl looked up”), the poem famous for being half as long as its title, and he recited an excerpt from Anne Sexton’s humorous “Milk Teeth” (“the nursing girl no longer  /gamine, graceful, grateful / those aren’t a man’s chompers”) and he did, extra well, with expert pauses and a deepened voice, Ted Hughes’ wonderful “Muck’s Wolf”:

as though some boreal woods’

twilit compulsions rushed it

to presume to nose

the door in, prance-print flameshapes in thick

sump-ink, muck into the architect’s summering

cottage, quite

up the stairs in sniffs and bounds after

culturescents leading its shitstink, meatbreath

mid-way cross the sleeping room’s

anterior library parquet, stopped fast

by uncanny’s decorum, the muckpaws now

dried thick alone mid-room as though

the beast just

dematerialized with boredom or rose

to the ghostly occasion of

shame

 

A girl in a group of girls in the queue, ahead of them, turned and applauded. Claudia smiled and joined in the applause, rewarding the girl for being both friendly and plain. The girl was in her early twenties and slightly heavy, with shiny, over-rouged cheeks and an upturned nose that looked carved, her blonde hair in a pile of Bavarian braids on her head, and Claudia knew Paul wouldn’t have touched her with his worst enemy’s penis. Claudia like the fact that Paul’s libido was inseparable from his vanity. The girl was American and told them her name was Steph and that her friends were Germans who’d never seen Geneva Salt in concert before. Steph had been to quite a few of the Salt shows in the US (in Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois) and one in Paris. She said,

“I just love Ted Hughes. I recognized that poem from Mr. Crandal’s course. That was the only course I got an ‘A’ in. I love Ted and Sylvia. Most of my friends loved Sylvia and hated Ted. And you know what? I just never understood that. He didn’t force that woman’s head in that oven. That was her choice. Everybody is all about whatever their choices are, I think. Right? I mean, come on. Cut the poor guy some slack. That’s amazing that you memorized the whole poem like that. I wanted to be an actress but I just could not memorize a page of dialogue. I don’t know how people do it. Are you guys American? I’m Steph. This is my bestie Silke and her sister Tina and Tina’s best friend Katja. Where in The States are you from?”

“I’m American but my Wife is German,” said Paul.

“Cool,” said Steph. “So how long have you guys been married?”

“Forty two,” said Claudia. “Years.”

“That’s amazing,” said Steph. “You’ve been married longer than my  Mom has been alive.”

Paul said, “She was a foreign exchange student. My family was the host family. I was seventeen and she was eighteen. We eloped to Vegas. And now, forty-two years later…”

“We’re going to have our first baby. I just got the news.”

“Oh my god,” said Steph. “That has got to be the most awesomely romantic story I have ever heard, no contest. Not gonna lie… I think I might cry!” Steph was staring at, and typing something entirely unrelated into,  her little screen as she said this.

Tzak was a sumptuously red velveteen Czech puppet theater from the late 19th century,  back when there were so few entertainments in the world that no form of it could afford to be devoted exclusively to the pleasure of children. The stone walls of Tzak’s cavernously-high-ceilinged auditorium were pocked in dense constellations of bullet holes, now considered charming, and hung with faded tapestries of a triple-headed eagle (headless snakes in its talons) and the name of Tzak’s founder (Mikhail Sabbati) along with those of its star attractions, now meaningless, and the risqué silhouettes of naked Belle Epoque coquettes with parasols and riding crops and pendulous bosoms. Each of the four moth-eaten, sepia tone tapestries was taller than a man and wider than two and a generation older than Claudia and Paul’s combined age, rippling on ancient breezes thirty feet above their heads.

“So I hear we’re married now?” whispered Claudia into Paul ear as the lights went down over the modest stage, which held no musical equipment on it; it was bare. The stage was half-ringed with jury-rigged cinema seating on various levels and all the seats were filled. To the rear of the stage was a single door painted fire engine red.

“And we’re having a baby too, don’t forget,” Paul whispered back.

People were applauding as Geneva Salt entered through the red door and took the stage.

“Now you’ve got me wishing that we really had eloped to Vegas at eighteen,” said Claudia, kissing the side of Paul’s neck.

“When you were eighteen I was thirteen,” said Paul, angling his cheek against her lips.

“Even more romantic,” whispered Claudia.

Cressida Babbitz was leading in the polls.

 

CHAPTER 17

It boiled down to the bio-binary of dicks and pussies. The meatspace Zeroes and Ones. Haven’t you noticed? The Erection is clearly a One; the Pussy a Zero. The One a meagre figure, the Zero the flipside of Infinity.

She was in a fuzzy white jumper that matched the desert-bone-white of her hair and pubic bush (which Paul had asked her to grow a little, five days of fluffy white growth, which is not much but the near-centimeter of growth felt like his, he wanted something of his on her), on her back on his work table, bare white feet with iridescent green toenails on his leather shoulders as he was standing, still in his leather coat, collar up, no pants or shoes, hands braced on the table, doing his best not to come. After Paul’s ejaculating condomlessly in Claudia’s Pill-free uterus the very first time they’d made love, at the beginning of the week, they’d decided, as unlikely as Claudia Chang was to get pregnant at the age of 62, to be a little more mindful of where his semen went. Claudia didn’t mind swallowing it (it’s an acquired taste but it grows on you; it tasted like “crushed roses” as she put it) but they’d been experimenting with masturbatory tableaux of late. She liked to come with Paul in her and then watch Paul masturbate and, sometimes, masturbate while watching Paul masturbate and then, as a coda, have intercourse again. Or stick an object up his ass. At their combined age of 119.

They visited two different brothels on two consecutive days and utilized three different prostitutes.

The first visit they were both novices. They found the brothel by reading Customer Rating comments on the Internet. For the brothel called LADY LAY they read generally positive feedback which intrigued them; for example:

Very good place.would recommend to everyone. Had so much fun with NICOLE . Such a sweetheart . I would visit her whenever I can. More over anything one could totally communicate with her. I would rate a 5starts for her figure (boobs ) and the way she connects with a person.shes an angel In a bombshell.if it’s to be honest I would love to f**k her till I die. Oo and I forgot to mention, She blows like a GODESS.”

…from a customer identifying himself as “Fearless Leader”.

It was a long, detailed comment from a disgruntled customer identifying himself as “Steven McCabe”, writing about an experience in another brothel, the brothel HUND UND KATZE,  however, that really grabbed both Claudia and Paul’s attention.

“Terrible experience. I’ve been to a lot of places like this one around the world; some were great and some not. This was the worst of all.

The girl, Sandra, had a horrible attitude. She complained about everything: you’re too close; don’t touch my leg; don’t pull out so far (she allows a 2cm range of motion); don’t put your arm around me; etc. Nothing but rules and complaints.
After a few minutes of that I just gave up and decided to leave. I was fine just accepting my losses. But she wasn’t.
She began to lecture me for the next five minutes about how I can’t expect her to do whatever I want (I did not want anything remotely unusual; just the standard service you get anywhere else). It was brutal and she wouldn’t stop. Even when I said she was right and it’s all my fault, just so I could leave, she still wouldn’t stop.
That lecture is the reason for this review. Without it, I would have just moved on, but lecturing me afterwards, even when I wasn’t angry or arguing and just wanted to leave, was too much.
I’m sure there are also nice girls working here (only three choices on this day and against my better judgement I did not leave), but I can’t excuse them for employing someone like Sandra.
For that reason, avoid Hund und Katze. If you go anyway, definitely avoid Sandra at all costs. Even if she is the only one available, don’t make the same mistake I did. Go anywhere else.
EDIT (added later): Also, take note that the majority of the five star reviews come from the H and K owners themselves or from a girl who works there. I didn’t realize this until just now. I should have done a bit more research and gone elsewhere.”

Sandra’s character, in Steven McCabe’s lament about a hired romance gone terribly wrong, had taken on a narrative depth that Nicole (despite, or because of, her purported ability to blow like a Goddess) lacked. Sandra’s character spoke to them commandingly from the (virtual) page, demanding to be taken seriously, and the drizzly morning of the day after reading about her, Paul and Claudia travelled to an U-Bahn station nearest the brothel called HUND UND KATZE and then walked 50 meters without umbrellas in the light rain, along a formerly well-to-do boulevard that had been bombed heavily during the war. Paul pushed on an unpromising-looking brass buzzer (on that tatty-looking stretch of Kantstrasse, just around the corner from the shopping centers of Wilmersdorferstrasse). Climbing two narrow flights of loud wooden steps they then pressed another buzzer and found themselves in a dimly lit waiting room with chintzy, ’50s-era, red-velvet-upholstered furniture. There was a row of high-backed chairs, lined up along one dark-green wall, facing floor-to ceiling black velvet curtains on the opposite side of the windowless room. The distance from the row of chairs to the black curtains they faced was maybe four long paces. On either side of the long row of high-backed chairs was a lamp, with a brocaded and tasselled shade, on a little round table, lighting the room with tired yellow lights like suppertime despite the fact that it wasn’t even eleven in the morning. By Berlin standards it was the crack of dawn.

There was soft music in bad taste… Beatles songs performed on a synthesizer mimicking a harp… and the smell of vinegar-based German disinfectant, which Germans think of as the smell of cleanliness. They had come to seat themselves in the row of chairs by following instructions handwritten neatly on a cardboard sign taped to the black enamelled door of the waiting room. So Paul and Claudia sat side by side in the center pair of chairs in the long row, holding hands in Paul’s lap, and it reminded Paul of a mixture between going to the dentist and a puppet show (although he’d never been to a puppet show) and he whispered this to Claudia, who squeezed his hand and lifted the pointer-finger of her free right hand to her lips as though they were attending the Opera.

Paul pictured an unseen dormitory of girls of all shapes, sizes, colors and disposition; a long room of bunk beds with girls in repose in their bunks, reading or eating chocolates,  or sitting up with their legs dangling off the beds’ sides, smoking and laughing or daydreaming, all of them young, some naked, some in pyjamas or dressing gowns, a few very beautiful, so many chatting in different languages. This was a scene from which beloved Foreign Film of Paul’s beloved youth?

The black velvet curtain before them wasn’t quite floor-to-ceiling. The curtain didn’t quite reach the floor, and when someone walked along behind the curtain to a spot near the curtain’s center, they could see this person from the ankles down and that she or he  was not wearing provocative or brutal heels, as expected,  but what appeared to be red ballet slippers.

Paul was wiping Claudia’s snow-white vagina with a green silk handkerchief, daubing it maternally, as he remembered their adventures among the prostitutes.  A Thursday morning and Friday night among the prostitutes.

Claudia was supine on Paul’s work table, Paul’s keyboard and monitor pushed to the side, Claudia’s frosted bush receiving the simple and direct message of a warm wedge of sunlight from the aging afternoon  which had been hiding behind a long train of passing clouds and spirits.  Her pussy  appeared to sparkle and her jumper to glow. Paul’s back hurt a little and he rolled his shoulders and looked sharply left then right. Paul, a little drunk with orgasm,  not having yet bothered to put his semi-hard (still) cock away, said, in a mock-serious voice meant to disguise his seriousness,

“Iris Farahani, I want to use our Week of Miracles to do more than fuck each other. I want to tell you things I’ve never told anyone. Things that might make you think I’m crazy.”

“You’ve really got me curious now. And scared, a little? Maybe?”

“Don’t be scared. It’s very simple. Everyone loses and gains things with Time. You lose a certain kind of innocent beauty and gain a certain kind of intelligent gorgeousness, for example. And one thing I lost was a power to do something that everyone who isn’t just batshit believes is impossible.”

“Okay.”

“But you’re crazy about me for this week and everything is allowed and you’ll hear me out, yes?”

“I will hear you out because I do love you,  maybe even longer than this week, yes. I will hear you out and reserve judgement for this week at least.”

“And swear yourself to secrecy.”

“I’m already sworn to secrecy.”

Paul laughed. “I forgot.  Actually, it’s more than one secret  I want to confess and the first secret is not such a big deal. If you told anyone the first secret, they’d just think I’m sort of pathetic, but not necessarily insane. It’s not so much a secret you should keep for me, it’s a secret I was keeping from you. I don’t want to alienate you. But this is the thing. Neither one of us is stupid. We both, I guess, understand the burden of intelligence. Intelligence is a tool and a cross to bear. It’s an isolating thing, don’t you find?”

“It can be, Paul, yes.  Maybe, sometimes, with some lovers, I’ve used sex as a way to bridge what seems like an unbridgeable gap.”

“Sure. But you and I both know that only works for a few fuckings. Then the gap is revealed to be much worse, much bigger, than it first seems. Am  I right?”

“Yes. Yes you are. But…?”

“I’m being mysterious, still. What I wanted to confess, first, is the minor secret that I talk to myself. A lot. Because I think it feels as though I’m the only one who can converse… I don’t want to say ‘on my level’…”

“Okay…”

“It’s not a high or low thing. Maybe it’s a frequency thing. But I find that if I don’t talk to myself I go a little limp inside. From boredom. Ever since I was very young. I have these ongoing phantom conversations. My lips don’t move but it’s exactly as though there’s a conversation and a conversational partner…”

“We all…”

“Sure. But these conversations can go on for hours. For days. Weeks. My books. All my novels. Each book was a conversation I happened to write down…”

“Okay.”

“There are running characters… very real to me.”

“Like the imaginary friends of small children?”

“Yes.”

“Interesting, Paul. But not so crazy. Not disturbing crazy. Cute crazy?  I’m not alienated from you by this confession at all, Paul, despite the fact…”  she laughed  “…that it even contains a claim within it that you’re more intelligent than I am. You are so innocently arrogant.”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too. So, continue.”

“Okay. Now, this is the big secret. It may seriously change the way you think of me.  You will question my sanity. This will either cause you to love me more or love me less but I doubt the level will remain exactly the same after I tell you. Are you ready? Be honest.”

“I’m ready.”

“Good.”

“I’m totally ready.”

“Please listen with an open mind. The first time I noticed I could Time Travel I was thirteen. This is no coincidence. You’ll understand in a moment. It was the second time I ever masturbated. The two self-pleasuring events were separated by two weeks. The first orgasm I ever had engulfed my young body with a fever of progressive tingles that lasted for hours after. My toes were on silver fire as were my fingertips and at the moment the big O started I blacked out, our I thought I blacked out. I was blind and numb for a moment and then the lingering tingles swept through me. I was watching a popular Television series of the 1960s. It was called The Flying Nun. I don’t know why The Flying Nun was a trigger because the lead actress, Sally Fields, was mousy at best. But I was watching that day, alone in the little house I shared with my mother, and sexual inspiration hit me and I inserted my selfish teenage boner between the main cushions of the Naugahyde sofa. The cushions were encased in clear vinyl slip-covers. The seams of the edges were rough but the planes of the vinyl surfaces were smooth and it was summer so the vinyl was hot and I fucked the sofa while watching The Flying Nun. And that unprecedented orgasm, the first I was conscious of ever having, was devastatingly good.”

“Okay. But what… ”

“I’m getting to that. The first time I had an orgasm was so good and so powerful it actually frightened me. I wasn’t in a rush to repeat the experience. Despite how good it felt. The word ‘bliss’… suddenly you understand, when something like that happens, that some ecstasies can be too much, you approach them with a kind of Hebraic shame and caution and that’s when you finally grasp what they mean by ‘bliss’. So I crab-walked around the issue, avoiding my own erections like the plague. It was 1972, I was in 8th grade, my science teacher was Mrs Shaw. We had a big assignment, I had to do this presentation for science class.”

“So the little genius built a ‘Time machine’?”

“No. The presentation had to do with the difference between Meiosis and Mitosis. It was the last big assignment before summer vacation. I had to draw cells and paste the drawings on a large piece of cardboard. I remember, very vividly, drawing cells and cutting out the drawings and slathering the backs of the drawings with white glue. You know. I think you have it here, in Berlin, too…”

“Elmer’s glue! The smell…”

“Yes. It smells like mother’s milk. To appeal to the…”

“My God, yes! I never…”

“I remember the backs of these drawings full of glue and the drawings warping and rippling when I attached them to the cardboard because the glue made the paper I’d drawn on too wet.  Saturated.”

“Yes.”

“So, this science presentation was a big part of the two weeks between the bookends of the first two times I ever ejaculated. There was also a movie I went to see with my Aunt Elaine. These details are relevant, don’t worry. We went to see the science fiction film THX 1138. I’d read Ben Bova’s novelization of the script already and I tricked my Aunt Elaine into taking me to see the film. She thought it was about space ships and ray guns and monsters from outer space. I knew it was a cautionary dystopian vision with a pretty high sex content.  It takes place in the 25th century or sometime post-apocalyptic. Maybe there’s been a nuclear war. Humans live underground and sexual intercourse, for whatever reason, is prohibited. You’re supposed to masturbate down a hose while watching state-sanctioned pornographic holograms so the state can harvest your seed for in-vitro reproduction. Like, it’s a control thing. The plot of the movie is, basically, a man and woman,  who are roommates in this dystopian underground society where natural intercourse between men and women is forbidden… the roommates begin fucking. That sets the plot in motion. And I tricked my Aunt Elaine into taking me to see this film June of in 1972, two weeks after the first time I’ve ever ejaculated.”

“Okay.”

“Now, Elaine was, by far, the more attractive of my mother’s siblings. She was thirty or thirty one and I was thirteen and the only reason the first orgasm of my life wasn’t dedicated to her was purely a matter of convenience. I mean, Sally Field, dressed up as the Flying Nun, was there, in front of me, so it was her I was sort of seeing while I fucked the couch. But it should have been my Aunt Elaine, who was stunning. I tricked her to taking me to see THX 1138 and there’s a scene with the lead character,  played by Robert Duvall, masturbating to an image of a naked Black woman doing some kind of so-called tribal dance to bongo music or something. She’s a hologram so she appears sort of transparent and blurry but you can see her big brown swaying tits while she’s dancing. And I’m sitting there watching this with my Aunt Elaine… I don’t know how she got me into the theater. This is R-rated stuff and I’m thirteen. Maybe I looked old for my age? But I couldn’t see those big brown swaying tits and not see that it’s my Aunt Elaine up there dancing. I’m seeing those big brown tits as her big brown tits. I’m paralyzed with embarrassment and excitement.”

“Wow.”

“What I wasn’t aware of at the time. Because you’re aware of so little, at that age. So focused on yourself. I was sighing and moaning softly while I sat there. The first time I sat there in the theater seat beside Elaine watching a naked brown, semi-transparent dancer with swaying tits, I wasn’t aware of the fact that I was loudly squirming and sighing and moaning in adolescent agony, longing for release. The second time it happened, I could hear myself although I was powerless to stop it. You’ll ask yourself, what does Paul mean by ‘the second time it happened’? I mean this. Elaine took pity on me and reached over and lay her hand gently across the tortured lump of my lust-distended crotch. I was wearing dark brown gabardine pants and a polyester shirt with boats on it. She lay her left hand on my crotch,  lightly at first, but began to apply pressure with the heel of her palm. With a polishing motion like this. And of course I exploded. I saw stars in the movie theater. This orgasm was even bigger than the first I’d ever had two weeks before. The theater went black for a moment and when I regained consciousness I was humping the vinyl-sided gap between the main cushions on the famous Naugahyde sofa at home. I wasn’t in the theater beside my Aunt anymore at all.”

“What?”

“Yes. I was there again, stuck right back in the moment after my first ever orgasm,  because I had travelled two weeks backward in time.”

“Okay.”

“I know it sounds a little too crazy.  I’m making serious claims about the unknown mechanics of the Universe here and tying these claims to my spunk.  I jumped up and put my swimming trunks on again and ran into the kitchen again where we kept the calendar. It was the kind of calendar where you tear off the page at the end of the day. And the calendar told me that it was Saturday, June 3rd, all over again. The two weeks between June 3rd and June 20th, which I had just lived, felt like a dream and felt that way more and more strongly as the orgasm receded and I repeated my experience of that interval of Time. Had I imagined all of it? Was it all just part of a really vivid masturbation fantasy, triggered by a Flying Nun, that felt like it lasted two weeks long and culminated in a second orgasm? Everything felt like a deja vu. I realized that I had jumped off the sofa and pulled on my swimming trunks and checked the calendar before. And everything I did after checking the calendar, like fetching a new roll of paper towel to clean my semen off the sofa… I’d done all that before, too. You know when you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing or that is somehow terribly embarrassing and it’s as though you’re watching yourself doing it? But you can’t stop yourself from doing it? That’s exactly like the two weeks of June 3rd to June 20th, for me. Because the stupendous force of the orgasm of the afternoon of June 20th completed some sort of circuit with the orgasm of June 3rd and sent me right back to it. I have no idea how or why but it really happened. And I’ve never heard of anything like that happening to anybody else.”

“Because who would believe such a story?”

“Do you believe it? Be honest.”

“Part of me does and part of me doesn’t. A tiny part believes, a big part doesn’t. That big part of me just thinks that maybe you’re such a great writer because you have trouble separating fantasy from reality. When you write you convince yourself it’s real and that convinces the reader it’s real, too. I guess I need to hear more details. So, you lived that two weeks all over again, exactly as it happened the first time. Yes?”

“Yes. That’s how it felt. It felt as though whatever I did, I had already done, no matter how hard I tried to do something different. For those two repeated weeks. Also, listen, to be frank, now that I’ve confessed this to you, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s true myself.”

“Let’s assume it is. So tell me what happened when you arrived again, the second time,  at that seat in that cinema beside your Aunt on June 20th? 1972?”

“Elaine put her slender brown hand on my gabardine crotch, exactly as she had before, and I gushed  explosively, point-blank,  into the roof of my crotch, exactly as I had before,  but this time the orgasm was much more mild. Almost disappointing. It sort of fizzled out. I’m thinking there must be some kind of conservation of orgasmic energy law at work.  If the orgasm were just as strong it would have kicked me back to June 3rd again and I’d be trapped in a two-week loop of my life forever. But the orgasm was mild so I proceeded with Time in the usual sequence.”

“Interesting. And what happened next?”

“Elaine and I acted as though nothing had happened. It was still early in the film so we had another hour to sit there  in the dark and get our stories straight, so to speak,  the stories that we would tell ourselves,  you know, for the rest of our lives,  to justify what had happened.  When I think about it, it’s almost as hard to believe  as the Time Travel: my mother’s beautiful sister, the famous Aunt Elaine, masturbated me with the heel of her palm in a theater! The only evidence that it had happened at all was an embarrassing, heart-shaped wet spot in my crotch like this big. But  I had a program for the theater and I held it strategically over the wet spot when the lights went up and walked out to Elaine’s Volkswagen that way and kept it covered until Elaine drove me home. We never said a word about what happened that afternoon and we never did the deed again, despite the fact that I still had high hopes that she’d be my first blow job.  I think Elaine probably thought she’d given me my first orgasm that afternoon watching THX 1138. When you think about it, for thousands of years it must have been traditional that the pubescent son would lose his virginity to the prettiest young Aunt in the family. It must have been that way for centuries, that kind of light incest.”

“When was your next experience of OTT (orgasmic time travel)?”

“Well, it didn’t happen the next time I pleasured myself, which only produced a surprisingly weak orgasm. I had been looking forward to re-experiencing a toe-curler. But the time after that, three days later. That was a whopper.”

“And so on that big orgasm you travelled back to the moment after ejaculating in the cinema with your Aunt and then you re-lived the following three days, from the THX 1138/ Elaine orgasm until the next whopper,  all over again?”

“Yes. And the repeated orgasm was again too weak to knock me back to repeat the previous orgasm a third time.”

“Well, as special as you are,” said Claudia, “You can’t be the only one in the Universe this happens to. I’m not saying I totally believe it’s possible. I’m speaking hypothetically or as a creative exercise in logic. Perhaps it’s just unusual but not miraculous, or perhaps it’s not even that unusual. Perhaps it’s common or even universal but the difference is, perhaps, that most people aren’t aware it’s happening. For some reason you are. For some reason you notice, explicitly, these eddies in Time. How often does it happen to you?”

“Oh, it stopped happening ages ago…  last time must have been after college. I don’t think it even happened a dozen times, total. It seems to be tied to the intensity of the orgasms, because there were instances, when I was thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, when it  absolutely failed to happen. But when the orgasm was a toe-curling capable of blacking me out, a little, it kicked me right back to the previous toe-curling orgasm on my Time-line.”

“Should I be offended that I’m unable to make you come hard enough to make you time-travel?”

“It’s not you, dearest.  I’m just a bit less sensitive now. ”

“And,  aha, you see, it happened to you, predominately, during adolescence, when your sexual energy was at its hysterical peak. And isn’t that the time in everyone’s life during which Time seems to pass most slowly? When our sexual energies are most uncontrollable? Perhaps we know why, now. It passes more slowly for us as teens because we keep repeating bits of it. Maybe you’re some kind of pioneer.”

Claudia thought for a moment while getting her pants back on, her shiny silver hair falling forward over most of her face encased in an ephemeral sheath of pleasant odors. Paul studied what he could see of Claudia’s face (the left eye and the right corner of her smearily-lipsticked mouth and her tongue-tip budding between her teeth as she concentrated on laborious buttonings) . They had stumbled into the mapless territory of the wild terrain of the off-limits military ordnance-testing grounds of the next phase in any such relationship.  Quirks revealed.

“Paul,” asked Claudia,  quite seriously, “What’s the most erotically exciting thing you can think of? Something you’ve always wanted but never had the nerve to ask a lover to do with you?”

Paul began to laugh hysterically.

“I’m sorry,” he laughed.  “I just…”

Paul  turned away, wiping tears.

Paul and his bullshit.

His jokes and his lies and his fertile imagination.

Claudia’s eyes narrowed. “And that’s why, if we were together, we would have to break up now.”

“Claudia…” Paul tried to hug her.

“No.”

“Please…”

“You have a dark side. A cruel side. Always making a fool of someone. You have to take a perfectly intelligent person and turn them into an idiot, yes? The sport of would-be Kings.”

“No, no, no. It’s not like that at all.”

“Then what is it?”

“Do you remember Sandra?”

“Who?”

“The prostitute.”

“Yes.”

“We told her that elaborate story.”

“We told her you were a journalist who’d been held hostage by Jihadis in Yemen for years. For four years?  We said you were all over the news. I couldn’t believe she believed that.”

“Right. We came to her on the day after my release.”

“Right.”

“Jimmy Carter and Dennis Rodman negotiated my release.”

Claudia started laughing. “Oh God…”

“My first sex after four years of being forced to eat raw goat and uncooked lentils and recite verses from the Koran.”

Claudia was circling Paul’s living room, laughing.

“I told her I’d been forced to piss on the Bible and wipe my ass with its pages.”

“Remember? I told her that the sight of sand makes me violently ill now. I can never go to the beach again. I can never use an egg-timer.  I used to love wood-working but now…”

“Remember?”

“Remember? We told her that my mother had died while I was a hostage. We made her cry.”

“Did we tell her that story to make a fool of her?”

Claudia was leaning, head down, hair swaying silver in front of the absinthe-green water of the river or the canal, all fingers splayed on Paul’s big window, as a tour boat went by, sniffing. She said,

“I don’t know, Paul.” Claudia had to fetch a tissue off Paul’s desk and blow her nose. “Did we? Didn’t we feel superior to the gullible, working-class prostitute?”

“Of course not. We told Sandra that story to help us believe it was true. We wanted to be other people that morning. A new experience.  A new life.”

 

3 Comments

  1. “Everyone loses and gains things with Time. You lose a certain kind of innocent beauty and gain a certain kind of intelligent gorgeousness, for example. “

    I would substitute “your” for the first instance of “a certain kind of,” and then cut “certain “ from the second. Otherwise pretty fine, Stephen. Constraint I still maintain is your biggest issue.

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    1. Jeffy! Well, no. The sentence you suggest as a substitute means something other than the original; you’re indulging in editing-as-gesture-of-Ego… without the goal of preserving, or sharpening, meaning. You need to learn to close-read instead of skimming; that’s the first point. The second point is that you’re treating a character’s dialogue as though it’s part of an essay in a magazine! Loading his sentences with qualifiers is the character’s effort to be precise. I’m in sympathy with this character trait and understand that not all “innocent beauty” is the same and so forth. I’ll give you a gentleman’s “C” for your effort, Jeffy! Read slowly to appreciate the nuances and well-built books will mean more for you. (ED.’S NOTE: if you’re new around this site: Jeffy is my Special Troll; I’m not being gratuitously crusty with a well-meaning citizen, I’m sparring. I’d assumed I was finished with Jeffy a few months ago…. but… )

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      1. In fact, one could say, Jeffy, of the character responsible for uttering the sentence that you would (in unreflected haste) relieve of meaning, as Henry James says, in Portrait of a Lady: “There were certain differences he had never perceived, certain habits he had never formed, certain obscurities he had never sounded.”

        The function of the “certain” is to point toward particularities that happen to be snoozing, or seething, offstage. Minus “certain,” the sentence becomes explicitly banal; uselessly general. Substituting each “certain” for a qualifier is unnecessary… the capable writer either gets to these later or uses the implication, that they exist, to texture the character or the récit without slowing the passage down. In the case of the sentence of mine you attempt to critique, the “certain” points to specific-seeming qualities the character doesn’t need, or want, to specify.. perhaps they are, between Paul and his Lover, understood?

        Henry James, Mr. Qualifiers Himself, uses an awful lot of “certain”. I wouldn’t be surprised if Portrait of a Lady contained hundreds of examples of “certain”.

        Got it?

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