I walked across my shadow, past expectation, with a discreet limp and a gnarled cane. The shadow mocking me with the thought of the cane and the cane itself having sometimes failed to keep me erect.
All my life I’ve worked in and around porn. First as a writer, then as an editor, and finally as a web content provider. Most people recoil in horror when I tell them what I do. This is the United States of America, after all, Puritania with a capital P. Unless you’re in the business yourself, you don’t realize that it’s still a business. You’ve got customers to satisfy, schedules to meet, bills to pay, and workers to contend with. Ah, the workers!
She had been looking at his back for the better part of three hours, pretending to read the book she brought. It was her armour, her anchor, whenever having a coffee or a meal alone, in public. Seneca. It wasn’t pretence. She didn’t take it to show she was smart. Recent events and reading this book had made her even more aware of the delicate, fleeting nature of her existence. It had changed the way she looked at herself. What she wanted out of life. The needs and wants of a body that would one day wither and be left to decay. Such a sad thing, she thought while she stroked the soft skin of her thigh under the table. Not just a vessel to carry around a bewildered mind, but so much more than that. How her senses connected her to the material world around her, in sometimes pleasant, sometimes painful ways.
Before Covid and lockdown I ran in the evenings, but now I go out early to avoid other people. And working from home suits morning running as I have to be back by 9 am to log in.
Sugar and nutmeg. Maisy sniffed again. Not sugar, syrup. The cheap, oleaginous glucose stream of childhood IHOP visits. Nutmeg needled through the cloying scent, sharp as fresh pine.
Ruth felt nervous, passing through just about the most cracker part of California on the long drive from LA back to her home. Three hours up the I-10, near Palmdale, a brother had been found hanging from a tree. ‘Suicide’, the ‘investigation’ had concluded. Very likely, Ruth thought. The ‘Confederacy of California’, the news stories had said Palmdale was known as. She’d never been to Palmdale and had no plans to go. But she doubted that Palmdale could be more cracker than this long desert stretch of Southern California east of Palm Springs and its neighbor cities, on the way to Arizona. To Ruth this part of California felt like Arizona, and Arizona was pretty cracker.
Chloe wished she had never read the poem her boyfriend, Ricardo, had written about the girl in the alley. The image of Ricardo pinning the black-haired, almond-eyed beauty in a short leopard skirt up against an alley wall outside of The Dresden haunted Chloe.
‘I want to fuck my uncle. I mean not my uncle, like, not Andrew as my uncle. I want to fuck him like he’s a stranger to me. I guess if I looked into his eyes though, I’d remember my mom — they have the same eyes — so I’d close his eyes. And I guess if he spoke, I’d remember he was my uncle, so I’d shut his mouth and tell him not to speak. But then if he heard my voice, he’d remember I was his sister’s daughter, so I’d cover his ears. And if he smelled me, he’d smell the vanilla candles my mom and I love to burn, so I’d block his nose too. Then the only thing left for us to do would be to touch each other, and I mean truly feel each other, and really, that’s the most important thing about being with another person when you think about it.’
Sometimes, he would take the portrait from the folder in which he kept his youthful poetry, and gaze at it for a long time. Doting over it, reminiscing. It was a portrait of his sexual organ. Life-size. The drawing was in the classical style, with each detail drawn to such a refined level of final lines, that the whole shone with the entrancing glow of perfect harmony. And the play of light and shadow had been done with such skill, that the black seemed to undergo an entire spectrum of shade shifting, all imaginary, of course, from an airy, pearly pink, to the slightly more intense pink of a ripening raspberry, then deeper still, until it took on the shade of a red, ripened cherry. Finally, it was the color of congealed blood – the color the head of any male member becomes on the verge of the final moments of ecstasy and ejaculation.
“We need a redesign, a rebrand, we’ve hit a rut.” Clemens flops onto a leather beanbag.