ELEPHANT AND CASTLE… a bedtime story for sophisticated insomniacs,  from the collection  NOT REALLY DIFFICULT TEXTS


Venal Cunt spread her legs like a vile temptation at the end of the night, face deflected, eyes unplugged. Long and elegant and platinum-haired and bone-white with her sexy puckering lisp. The only color is the childish yellow scrawl of her bush and her pupils like residue in cocktail glasses and the raised red chevrons where she scratches her right wrist incessantly like a fox in a fur-lined trap. Even her nipples are white. She says what do I need to read for, my life is a bestseller. She says don’t take all day. Needy Cock lowers himself into the snob-dry vadge with pragmatic detachment and he cradles her too-small-for-compassion skull while he pushes in, prospecting in vain for as little as a teardrop’s quantity of moisture.

The days run together like yolks. His savings evaporate and his postcards begin to repeat themselves. Surfers march like bowlegged Aztecs into the Rite Aid for sunblock and the bakery in Ralph’s sells cinnamon buns at four a.m. and the gardeners wield their shoulder-slung gas-powered leafblowers like AK-47s and yes the Mexicans are poor as pigeons but they are polite and very clean and it’s no wonder the blacks feel threatened. I’ve never seen so many convertible-driving Aryan teens in my life. Not even on television.

Literature doesn’t prepare you for any of this.

His students shriek and clap. They say, Say schedule again!



Needy Cock can tell by the look on the cop’s face that the cop is disturbed by something about Needy Cock’s demeanor. Something doesn’t add up. This is not a by-the-book domestic. Wifebeaters are usually not so. What. The two of them are out in the hallway by the open door of Needy Cock’s flat and his cop’s two colleagues are inside and Venal Cunt is communicating tersely from within the locked bathroom.  Refuses to come out.

It’s a beautiful day. A sack of Krugerrand-colored sunshine pours through the skylight, absorbed by the infinite dinge of the hallway. How many times has he plodded down this very hall to this very spot in front of his very door without having noticed that the pattern in the carpet is dollar signs? Well he notices in the extremity of his tribulation and the hallway appears to him as terribly run-down and it strikes him that he is now the working poor, one of Graham Greene’s shipwrecked whisky priests with a twist: an author of books who has recently resorted to borrowing money from one of his villa-dwelling students to pay cash for cafeteria sushi. O, this foot-blackened carpet and cigarette-sooted walls and cigarettebutts on the laundryroom stairstep…

Needy Cock finds that he’s strangely unashamed as a curious Queer neighbor (probably the one who made the call to the cops in the first place) steps out from two-doors-down and steals an avid glimpse. I Will Survive blares defiantly from the Queen’s open door. How many times has Needy Cock phoned the police in the dead of night to complain about the level of the disco music and this, ironically, is the first time they finally come?

What was the fight about, Ma’am? calls the cop through the bathroom door.  He’s a freckled bull with bristly rhubarb-colored hair, scratching his chin. His partner is tall and black with close-set eyes and a mustache. The black has a hand hovering near the heavy gun on his hip and more of the essence of his being is concentrated in his pistol-hand than in his face at the moment. The pistol-hand is worried. How does the pistol-hand know that Venal Cunt doesn’t have a weapon in there?

Was it about money? the ruddy bull, the spokesman, the one with the degree in sociology, offers. Was it about debt?

Venal Cunt snorts. They can all hear it through the bathroom door. A hefty snort of derision. None of your fucking bithineth, she screams.

A career criminal couldn’t muster as much arctic contempt for a uniformed cop as Venal Cunt, in the waning throes of her beserking, is spitting at them. Needy Cock has to admit he admires her for it and yet he realizes that his admiration only exacerbates the problem. Like when she was banging him across the apartment with kick-boxing techniques she’d spent the year learning, at Needy Cock’s suggestion and expense, as a way to channel her anger. He’d seen the humor in it. And she’d looked magnificent to him while doing it, too, even as she was kicking his thighs and punching his ear and his balls and knocking him over with a reverse hooking roundhouse and smashing things she had first carefully identified as his before smashing. A splintered wooden bar stool is arranged like kindling across the bed. Steel-framed pictures are knocked off the walls and stunned with cracks. The phone is smashed and first editions are ripped and stomped-on and strewn about in what looks like the aftermath of a one-woman fascist rally or show.  A fancy soup, still warm, is dripping from the walls and windows.

Who started it, Ma’am? the uniformed sociologist with a gun in their living room tries again.

Venal Cunt snatches the bathroom door open. The bull steps back into a near-crouch in a reflex as she steps forward, six foot two in platform shoes, red-faced but otherwise camera-ready, and she says, It wathn’t him, it wath me. Can you fuckerth pleathe get the fuck out of our fucking living room a. eth. a. p.? Can you pleathe just go?

I’m afraid it’s not that simple, Ma’am, the ruddy bull counters, regaining the force that he’s lost as a man in the bulwark of the law’s tradition. He’s well aware that out of uniform, in a nightclub, in his dancing shoes, he’d be less than a mosquito in Venal Cunt’s ear. He regains his manhood in the Judeo-Christian majesty of the civil laws he has sworn a kitschy oath to protect.

The discretion to press charges in a domestic abuse call is not entrusted to the private parties involved, for obvious reasons. He gets out a little notebook. It’s up to us, he nods to his tall black colleague and the short blond one with Needy Cock out in the hallway, to make an evaluation at the scene, and act accordingly. Taking our observations under advisement, it’s the prerogative of The State, he gestures out the window, whether to press charges or not.

But they do leave, after a cursory admonition for Needy Cock and Venal Cunt to try to get along, with the tall black nodding at a framed Helmut Newton of a naked, welt-breasted goddess saying Nice picture and doing a double-take as he realizes the model is Venal Cunt herself as a teenager. How far she has fallen. Needy Cock points out the photographer’s autograph on the print. The ruddy bull, taking leisurely note of the almost-ornate library that Needy Cock has amassed on tall shelves against two adjoining walls of the living room, inquires if they’re Needy Cock’s books.

Needy Cock lifts his chin and says yes.

The ruddy bull says everybody should read more.



Needy Cock closes the door quietly and tip-toes in the kitchen to get a bucket to start the long clean-up. The fancy soup on the walls, books and everything else is hardening. The glass from shattered pictures needs sweeping up. The splintered bar stool disposed of. Prater Violet is a write-off.

Venal Cunt is back in the bathroom and he can hear her crying again. He turns the kitchen tap off and he puts the bucket down and he stands there, face to heaven, hands in fists as he begins the nauseating process of re-entering then sealing himself again within the digestive cocoon of his tall tale of a marriage. He still feels that love. He raps softly and enters the bathroom in order to embrace his Venal Cunt as her knuckledboned back is to him. Her shoulders are hunched in the prayerful habit of weeping. Needy Cock tentatively touches the soft cotton scallop of her elegant and perfumed shoulder blade …  just that hesitant fingertip’s touch…

…  Venal Cunt spins and drives a knife into Needy Cock’s chest. Needy Cock grabs at the blow as if to catch tossed car keys and the blow glances off his chest with a stinging thud and Venal Cunt is clutching the bladeless handle and whimpering to avoid his touch with girly, finger-wiggling spider-horror, sidestepping him. Needy Cock grabs the shower curtain sloshed with greetings of warm rich liberated blood.

He calls out with absurdly gentle indignation. Venal Cunt! Venal Cunt! The pain of the blade in his body isn’t so bad but the social shock of it is sickening, humiliating, awful, for they have crossed the dimming border into the Land of the Violent Poor with the Violent Poor’s tacky gaping knife and gunshot wounds and so they have descended again, this time definitively, in class. Even as he grabbed for the shower curtain, seeing a twist of hysterical stars, Needy Cock knew the cheapo curtain would never support his ambushed weight and they’ll need to buy another and he cries Venal Cunt! but Venal Cunt has run into the bedroom and slammed and locked the bedroom door and leaned the box spring and mattress up against it and jammed her thumbs in her ears, knuckles at her temples, to wait the process out. 

He’s gasping in the tub. Legs uncomfortably over the side of it. He can smell his favorite crayon colors and taste the splintered lolly sticks he used to suck to get the dregs of the flavor out. The sucking wheeze and bubble and spritz of a textbook’s fatal chest wound. Gingerly, afraid he’ll touch a pimple of the exposed organ itself, he fingers the richly spreading body-heat thickening his Fred Perry polo shirt and the blade at the center of the shirt’s gore and notes that the handle snapped off when Venal Cunt drove the blade in. The metal protrudes an inch from the puckering slit. Touching it’s like tapping a tooth. Needy Cock recalls with unexpected longing that sexy birthing-grunt Venal Cunt expressed while driving the two-dollar steak knife home. 



That night she fucks him. Lights off of course. She strokes the crusted periphery of the wound. Strokes also, with a virgin’s inquisitive grace, the metal itself… which he discovers he very much enjoys having tugged. She touches it “accidentally,” at first. She touches it again more boldly. She pays it more direct attention, twisting and tugging and jarring it as they lose themselves in the howling drop towards massive orgasm and she displays the kind of dirty fascination with the blade anchored firmly in his dead heart that he had always hoped for regarding his genitals.

She strokes the jagged edge of the dull glint in the dark room postcoitally. He thinks they should have done this years ago. He thinks how things could be worse. He thinks of all the American girls he will score with this new secret weapon. He thinks like he was born to do it.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR [letters are vetted for cogency and style]

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