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.
Saul told me that his girlfriend was reaching the end, threatening to throw him out because he was such a lazy piece of crap. What alternatives did he have?
The joy was what caught him and chilled him. To glimpse a three-year-old who has spied a soccer ball rolling across a busy boulevard and is speeding toward it like a war hero’s wife at an airport gate is to meet motivating animal panic as if for the first time. To act or not cannot arise as an issue when horror and its antithesis have already begun a convergence that cannot happen and unquestionably will.
Every story has two centres. In Bradford long ago, under punitive laws, one centre was in North Park Road, where Werner lived. The second was in a district called Daisy Hill, home of Luka. These centres are less than two miles apart, a pleasant walk, tree-lined alongside large houses once inhabited by mill-owners’ families and their servants.
The Fig At the End Of the Palm
He ate her palm like it was a fig till she came with a soft gasping shudder. He’d started by kissing her hand. Then he turned it over and kissed her palm. She smiled and made a little sound of pleasure. He tickled it with the tip of his tongue and began to feel aroused. Kissing it was like kissing a mouth and it suddenly relaxed into something that wasn’t really hand anymore, it was welcoming, like an orifice, he thought.
Her preference was for tall, handsome men. Even more, she preferred men who looked like models. The darker their hair and complexion, the more she was drawn to them. The more chiseled and rugged looking their faces, the more she wanted them. She loved making heavy eye contact with strangers. They would be with wives or girlfriends, and she would get their attention and draw them in until they’d slip a phone number to her. Rain was a woman with no scruples and her promiscuity was famous. What she wanted, she went for, and got it.