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We arrived at the beach and were greeted with a sky of slim, dark clouds. In the distance, a man played a trumpet. A child was buried in sand. While my friends swam in the ocean, I laid on the sand reading poems by Stephen Dunn. “You might as well be a clown, / big silly clothes, no evidence of desire,” he wrote. It didn’t take long before I dozed off. I shut my eyes and laid the book on my stomach. It was pleasant. “Excuse me,” I heard someone say. I opened my eyes and two freckled, smiling girls stood to the left of my towel.
“We’re students at Point Loma Nazarene, and we’re doing a spirituality survey. Do you think you can help us?” “I suppose so.” They took a seat on the sand and began to ask me a series of large questions. Some I could not fairly answer. When asked if I believe people are generally good or evil, I said I wanted to believe that people are good. I am trying to believe it. I said that the kindness of strangers astonishes me. But the truth is, I don’t believe people fall neatly into categories. I am leery about choosing one word or the other and attaching it to every person I meet. “What do you think happens to us when we die?”
“Well, that’s a tough one,” I said, “I just listened to a radio program that dealt with that question. In the 1920s, a man put out a classified ad asking for someone to help him prove the afterlife is real. A psychic ended up answering the ad, and the two came up with an idea. One of them would have to die and call out to the living person from the afterlife: “HEY, IT WORKED. I’M HERE!” I trailed off. “One day the man sat alone in his apartment and asphyxiated himself. The psychic never heard his call. She could only hear silence.” Neither of the two tried to convince me of a different answer. No heaven. The girls thanked me for participating and said that some people had turned them down, called them weird. “It’s nice that you’re interested in understanding other people’s perspectives,” I said. “What’s your name?” “Missy.” “Thanks Missy.” There was a pause. “This might be weird to say, but I used to have a dog named Missy.” I laughed. “She was a good dog. Really cute.”
In a dim rancho bar off Lake Morena, twenty miles into the trail, I spread a map on a booth table and decided to shoot west over the rum. The coast would have sleeping bags so I hitched from the lazy sunlit intersection. A plump stranger drove his big, ancient American pickup onto I-8. Soon slowing for an orange barricade of the government, smiling wide, he mumbled that the man waving us was a prick. We shook hands. I strolled, hot and wet, along tracks onto a station platform. Sliding in honking trolley on holy scrub hills to city docks of war, bussed north, and stepping to a hostel – sun dropped and moon hit. There I plopped in a top bunk. Great electric guitar jammed a few doors off with laughs, yells, and breezes drifting towards the monster ocean. Half-crazy, I gazed at a glowing night, swirling rum, humming till dozing. The den served early coffee and pancakes to share with vagabonds of Asia, plotting two-hundred-miles of mountain hiking into the sand. Space – time – faded; light rose. Buses back to by the trail didn’t fire up on Saturdays, but time was not important. Slumped under the umbrella of a two-chair table, in noon sun on a concrete patio, I chugged cold drafts to wet fried fish and fries down across from a tall backpack; my only luggage. There was a party on a nearby block to crash, before being taxied, a mess, off a smoky crowded curb to bed in Point Loma. And late the next day I counted how much cash was left in this next cheap hostel. “Would TV bother yuh, brother?” checked a traveler, towering in a double doorframe only one inch taller. “You’re good.”
He smirked in goofy limbo through fair bed head to his shoulders. “Yuh sure?” “Turn it on,” I welcomed him. The man sped to a sofa and crouched over our coffee table in faded shirt, pajama pants, and flip flops. One thumb mashed buttons. The other dangled liquor mixed on cubes in a gas station cup. “Where yuh from?” he asked, fixed on TV. White smiles news heads read Teleprompter lies, blinking a lot, nodding, and laughing in the plasma fifty. “I lived in the desert last, but was born in Atlanta. You?” “Oh, been traveling a long time. All around,” he said. Then the heads were grave, and told truth – wildfires had blazed in the Santa Anas. I cared about that, but it ate sky far west of where I’d walk. This stranger had an unrecognizable accent. “Where yuh headed?” “On a long hike.” “Oh,” he shouted, and fled the room. A ceiling fan spun. The man returned holding up a hiking, biking pamphlet. I stood, reaching. “Sit! Sit!” He motioned, scooting to the close end of his sofa. “There’s a place you should go if yuh can,” he explained, also digging a map out of his pants pocket. He went on about redwoods outside Eureka. There was an old farm community he’d go in, inspect for foxy women – maybe join.
“Where you gonna hike?” he finally inquired from his sun beaten face, looking to my grey big bag on the floor beside me. “East, the mountains.” “When?” “After the banks open. I left the card at home.” “Short, brother?” “I’ll be ok. I’ll just sleep on the trolley.” “How much?” “Three dollars.” “That’s it?” He tossed a Lincoln on the table, imploring, “Don’t risk it with SoCal pigs!” and spit accidentally in my ear. “Thanks.” “No worries, brother.” I paid around a wall for the night. He drifted to kitchen cabinets. TV pushed a super cleaner on sale. I clicked it off and lay down. I imagined. Dust settled in light from the slats of white blinds. Then the large bohemian bore steaming plates. “Lunch, mangia.” He grinned, awaiting approval. “Good taste,” I lied, nodding. After eating, we fell on the topic of what it is to be alive, and I joked in a geek craze that, “I see life as a chance to create in a continuum of infinite potential and me as what I do do before I choke in the end.” I thought I was smart. “Sardonic, but well put,” he congratulated, in his husky old voice, laughed loud, and told how liberated he felt when he found that life is space dust and so he can do what he can.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA or BROOKLYN, NY I DONâ€™T KNOW I CANâ€™T REMEMBER we were on one of those streets in one of those cities where people moved to make it. it was around 4 am and we were drinking drinking the way we always do and taking key bumps from matchbooks bought a block down on the corner. there were poets and writers and several musicians wailing on strings screaming slightly out of key hoping the world or at least a few bums would notice. some of us held degrees none of us held jobs but all us were convinced that after we destroyed ourselves we would finally have all the time we needed to create.
we smoke cigs now down to the filter.
“Sc and ent. Da ven port , Iow a. Fuji XTra 800 ” by Bru ce Bal es
We were animals back then, unlicensed, unvaccinated, and unwell. In a tight pack, we rode our skateboards and bikes around town, spitting, smoking, swearing, stealing shopping carts from the supermarket, and diving into dumpsters for garbage, anything we could break; mirrors, televisions, radios, office chairs. Behind the apartment building we all lived in was a large hill, and just beyond it was a quiet retirement community. The majority of our hoarding treasures were dragged to the top of the hill and destroyed, sometimes we would kick and punch, other times we would light the things on fire. On the few occasions we found old televisions, we would smash the screens, rip the components and wires out with our bare hands, and beat each other until bruises blotted our skin. None of the old folks felt safe when we were around. One time we managed to pull a loveseat into the woods, along with some office chairs; we had a little base tucked away in the branches and leaves, but we lit those on fire, too, when we heard the older kids were having sex on them. There was dried blood on the loveseat, but the fire burned it away. We were bad kids, but it wasn’t our parents fault, they were working morning and night, because that’s just what you did. And we lived in a shitty neighborhood, which wasn’t their fault, either. On Fridays, the fat kid, Hector, I think his name was, would steal money from his mother’s purse while she napped before her shift at the tire factory. He usually got away with twenty dollars, and with that, we rode our bikes to the Wawa and feasted on candy and soda, all flavors artificial and natural, and good and bad. My teeth would hurt for days, but a life filled with cavities was a life worth living, or so we believed. We created our own version of Lord of the Flies, climbing trees, hopping from branch to branch, and pissing in the dirt. What feral little creatures we devolved into. Our lives stayed mostly the same as we grew older. Occasionally, the local girls would consort with us, daring us to throw light bulbs at bee hives, and questioning our manhood when we refused. So we threw the light bulbs, and the bees attacked in a cloud of black and yellow, the stingers hurt much less because the girls were hurt, too. By nightfall, the streetlights didn’t faze us because the darkness was our friend; it cradled us, protected us, though it often led to trouble. Our neighbors never slept when the shitbirds fired bottle rockets after midnight. Sometimes they chased us, and we were most alive. Things were different back then, we were animals. Anthony Muni Jr. is 22 and lives in San Diego. To date, he has published two books, which are available online; he can be found at anthonymunijr.wordpress.com, as well as most major social networking sites.
Illustration by STRNGLV
I had this vision While laying underneath A bed of leaves That I was a Rapt Escaldian. A bird of God. Wisdom incarnate, The lady Sophia, A existential traveler. I hated the world Dwelled in only I I! I! I! I! Until my world exploded in its highest moment When I met freedom It was too much. When I met 100% presence And 100% self-consciousness While playing the game of life, Yes I met the vaulted “It” I stood on the brink of nothingness And stared down into that dark cavern. I lost my balance and fell in And into the pitfalls of insanity I went I became the incarnation of Bruce Lee For a couple months. My Dad pulled me, his only son, out of This delerium. Though I never left it, or perhaps I did, Perhaps I don’t want to, Perhaps I perhaps… That’s it, I just don’t know… where am I now? Back again, Definitely agedDefinitely broken But pretty damn real. At least more real than before. And what do I need to remember? There is Love in this nothingness.
I grew up in the 90s which means I owned a pair of roller-blades. I am not ashamed to admit I pretended I was a robotic superhero as I raced around my neighborhood. My suburban house was nestled in the middle of two steep hills. Many hours were spent laboriously skating up them in order to fly back down yelling, “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE”!!!1!!!1! After a few (okay more like a shitload) surprise pavement landings and collisions with parked cars (I never said I was any good) I quickly realized videogames left me with significantly less flesh wounds. My hand-eye coordination is truly at its peak when I am in a seated position. My friend Matt asked me, “HAY, JERK-FACE, DO YOU WANT TO REVIEW A MOVIE”? To which I replied, “Sure thing, ass-hat”. Matt then sent me Imagine-bladeshun, a Canadian rollerblading films made by our northern brethren. This film features a whole bunch of dudes that know how to do a shit load of tricks on rollerblades. The following is my unedited initial reaction: “Whoa, people know how to do more than just skate backwards? HOLY HELL, NONE OF THESE CRAZY PEOPLE ARE WEARING HELMETS AND THEY ARE GOING REALLY FAST”. The film is sprinkled with inspirational quotes in between shots of guys flirting with death. The soundtrack is also exceptionally good and I judge this based on the fact that none of the songs made me want to kill myself. I was struck by how unpretentious this film is. There is a genuine positive tone that does not come off contrived or forced. In an age where youtube videos of bros riding an assortment of contraptions to the “songs” of Linkin Park while calling each other “fags” has become the norm, this was a breath of fresh air. The film also stayed congruent with their feel-good messages. Even when filming took place in a busy public area, no one was an asshole to any of the passersby. I hope you American douche bags are taking note of this. Here are some awards: Most righteous trick: Leon Basin jumping up and over a fucking wall and flipping around all casual. Best Jacket: “How to be Unpopular” worn by Todd McInerney. Call me, we will write a novel.
“I am submitting a work inspired through correspondence with Kevin (Kenji-Kai Yee), below. This piece will also be incorporated in my latest work, Seven Strings of Freedom: A Poetic Treatise on Incompleteness, and some of Kevin's upcoming work” -Jason Greendyk
From nothing An authentic poverty What ground justifies the Sea? This life is a desert A boundless ocean floor And heaven holds a sense of wunder So long the many rivers of Art The creation of beauty ex nihilo Flow uphill to run through the ocean valleys In the distorted shadow of death Hors catégorie A grounded sense of mastery In the lust for new wunders Cast perpetually the pure hunt Of stray dogs in the graffitied streets Gods in the backwards sense Stay fakey to the end Cherche lavi ’Til you sink your teeth into real authenticity Where no lies must be
pressed Forced into the concrete A perpetual truth Even in the changing hues of the silence After an adrenaline induced high The addiction to dwell in the cathartic moment The bountiful echo of the universe Fortifying your exhaustion Feeding your soul umbilical in spiritus mundi In spiritus fakey come back to life Harness the nexis of your energies And see things again with Reason Carve out your next escape into existential Freedom Calculated Your next embrace of the abyss Devour the cunt of Lady Luck
The child in your soul High on the midnight river Sips the apple juice And chases the ball under the poker table A black five led in ballet â€™Cross the orchestra of red violins Distilled by their compliments Lahoda jahoda twirling her pink umbrella In the gardens of remembrance Now black and white Stepping on the concrete choir bed And dancing along the hills In the graces of guarded pedestrians Caressing architecture On the edges of potted flower shrines And the trunks of ancient trees A neighborhood spectacle Twirling along the stairs in lavender breath A feminine deity Machismo sheathed in grace Along the steep rises and adorned flats Of a soft meter And painting on the murals of cultural displacement A fast line to breathe in passing A twirl of a glance to invite A harlot on the wall with flowers in her hair And rabbitsâ€™ skulls in her temples Whites trailing off
A quick tap in and the hills are thine To dance upon in solitude Up across and down Holding hands and parting ways In the noise and whip of the whirlwind The horses and soldiers on their pedestals Statues offering the sky â€™Las we keep our feet to the wundrous ground in steady step And spin to lightly levitate Crossing lines and passing out of sight The concrete shimmering like an ocean in our wake The board unanimous its silence And the queen follows suit Sheds her cards for peace and quiet Takes a deep breath Outside of the abyss that grows As you feed it imaginary numbers More and more day in and day out An eternal consumption exponential regress The imperfect wholeness of Reason Discarding the incompleteness of its production
For every breath we take therein Of its momentary absence Is worth a lifetime Severed from the ties of rationality Deliver me said Freedom Nothing but love incorporated Injecting the copy of the free love marketplace into itself Laissez faire post contemporary Let the poetry of its silent gnawing Stay sunken in the shadows Let it live in the wake of the corporeal storm Powerless and apocalyptic and pure The innocence celebrated only in the highest Art Only in that which reaches deepest into the abyss Full and true circular logic Barring its own imperfections In a semblance of completeness Severed drastically from the strings of the world’s soul The umbilical cut of your rebirth in spiritus mundi The second son who sees with insight Your own world chasing itself around and around again Chase Freedom to the end Spin your wheels with courage Into the forbidden spaces of the intellect The deductions that would throw you Off the Wall To your logical death in the abyss
And by the invisible hand of Reason You pulled yourself through To the other side of things You are that which has brushed closest to God While bathed in the light of the morning star The devil’s morning kiss As you see yourself off To the perennial generation of imaginary numbers The Invisible Hope Feeding the incompleteness theorem Always moving forward, a trivial notion An itch from deep within the pit For something more And every product of beauty scratched the surface With an edge of pending satisfaction La petite mort A divine sexuality In a Christian sense of wunder By force of Reason The rape of the muse Tied by the seven strings of Freedom Le Madonna Noire va lázni Houslista grating the strings For lack of practice and nothing more Lahoda jahoda’s umbrella policy stark black Burnt out from the sunshine
I beg you transcend the divergence of binary poles of catégorie Force the parallels to merge into one steady stream One tributary of the midnight river Flowing uphill to the Sea Coming home find your soul in animus Tibetan sand paintings on the wind Feed the black cover sheet of the abyss With the red heart of passion ’Til it warms to pink And shines in the immeasurable shallows of the light Come from the sun in spiritus fakey ’Las the world is upside down Best would you defy gravity Aside You opened the door to step out of the manic drive forward The incessant productivity And you raised your eyes along the streets Perhaps in the slightest hope that death May have followed close behind And would run you down in your moment of conceptual pause ’Las the angels drove by you and let you stand in the rain Watching the bobbing of pink umbrellas Shroud the sea of people in forward motion The crowd an asset of some invisible financier Chasing Freedom You let the racer backed banks waltz into the sunshine Tracing the twirling boxed steps along the wunderground And the incorporated hesitations of imaginary numbers Your mode de vie catégorie.
Frisee is a member of the Chicory family, whoever the fuck they are. It’s a pale, bitchy vegetable that looks like a tumbleweed or a hairball, and feels just as bad as either going down the hatch. Charging money for it is a crime and the fact that it’s happening is a sin. Is anyone out there willing to come forward and honestly say that they’ve enjoyed a frisee salad? Not its components, for whom you most likely had to forage – the fucking weed itself. My hatred peaked last summer when a bite of salad at a pool party almost killed me. There I was, at some chef’s cooking competition, in the process of choking on a piece of lettuce in front of my peers and colleagues. Gulps of booze couldn’t force the tickling frisee nodes down my throat. My life flashed before my eyes. Not wanting anyone to see this happen – really, this is the shit writers’ nightmares are made of – I put on my best poker face (despite having difficulty breathing) and ran around looking for a bathroom to either die in or, by chance, survive. I’d like to thank my mother and father for instilling in me such party-going etiquette. Once I got through the bathroom door, the sink was hardly visible through my hot slurry of mascara; one blurred glimpse of myself in the mirror looked as though I’d been pepper sprayed. The first heave hit before reaching a stall, so I gripped onto the sink’s counter and hacked from the tips of my toes. Drool was everywhere as I shoved my fingers down my throat trying to retrieve it. Finally, I towed the fucking frisee up my esophagus like the two ton anchor it felt like. I would live to smear this vegetable! If choking on mochi in Japan is a public safety concern, then worldwide frisee-induced death rates must be astronomical. Join me in ostracizing the chefs who use this unruly vegetable, unless you want to die a stupid death. Choking on frisee and being attacked by a California Condor are tied for the most embarrassing life-ending scenario ever. Die with dignity: stay away from frisee.
The stuff is long and wiry – a disappointing bush that leads to nowhere, not even being full. I should have thrown it in the pool to begin with and watched it float off like a cheap weave. Frisee is either served in afro form, for you to cut with a fork and knife, or as pre-cut sprigs in a salad mix. Either way, you’re fucked; the stuff is virtually indestructible. Even the sharpest teeth and booziest saliva couldn’t take it down. Congrats, frisee – outside of the Century Egg (look that shit up) and a white rapper I dated in 2004, you’ve made it to the top of my ‘why did I ever put that in my mouth’ list.
Frisee monster by Matt Lewis
The door’s electronic lock clicks open at 12:47. I sit up from my relaxed position on the bed, quickly smoothing down the back of my hair and the front of my polo shirt before the door opens. “Hello,” a voice, soft yet weathered, says. “Ben?” “Valerie?” “Hi,” she says, toting in an oversized purse slung over her bent arm. She’s wearing white short shorts with black pantyhose, a skin-tight black tank top under her knee length overcoat. She said she was 26, about five-foot six and 115 pounds. She said her measurements were the same as a Playboy model’s. She wasn’t lying. She’s stunning just like her pictures, except for her hair. Now it’s a cherry-red topped with pink beaming under the room’s light. “Wow, you are beautiful,” I say. “You think?” she says. She sets her purse down on the dresser. “I don’t think I’m the first man to tell you that.” “Well, I just dyed my hair today and I wasn’t so sure it fit me.” “No, it’s great,” I say. “You’re a cherry-topped sundae.” “Mmm…” she says, curling her lips in. “You like cherries?” Scooting up on the bed, closer to her, I say, “I do. I had some not too long ago. They’re delicious and so good for you.” “This cherry could do some good for you,” she says, slipping off her jacket. ---
Today’s Gospel was from the Book of Luke. Jessica followed along in her Bible. The one I gave her. She’s finally beginning to understand about God’s love. She has been saved and now is open to His word. His love is working through her now. Father Donaldson explained in his sermon the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus was being tested about how to live according to the law. The expert of law wanted to know whom he should consider the neighbor to love as himself. Chapter ten. Verses 25 through 37. The message was more relevant than Father Donaldson could fathom. It’s one way God speaks to me. Father said, “What Jesus tells us here is that we cannot choose who we help. We, as God’s people, are to love and aid every one of His children” Jessica tugged down the hem of her black skirt to cover the tops of her knees. She no longer wears short skirts, ones that hug her and advertises her features. She respects herself now. She’s repented. She’s asked for forgiveness and received God’s forgiveness. She sees His plans for her. Her hair is straight and brown, not flashy blonde and tangled in greasy strands anymore. Her sweater covered her arms and the scars. She’s gained weight. She needed it. Looking at her, seeing her whisper “Amen” to Father’s message, made me smile. It’s the reward I don’t need. I’m hungry. The coffee and bran muffin weren’t enough for breakfast. --After church, as Father Donaldson was shaking hands with everyone leaving out the front door, he stopped me and asked me to remain behind. Jessica left to have brunch at her mother’s. I declined her invitation earlier this week.
I told her it was important for her to reconnect with her family and make her parents proud. The Fourth Commandment. I was on the third decade of the rosary, praying for all the lost souls on the streets, when Father Donaldson came and sat next to me. He reminded me of the monthly social. They're serving coffee cake and runny scrambled eggs to the Cafeteria Catholics. The ones that pick and choose when they want to act like Christians. The ones that talk about God’s will, but never do anything about it. The ones that think they’re brothers and sisters in Christ, but don’t do anything to earn it. Everyone knows Dave Rockwell comes hung-over every Sunday. The same people know the man holding Catherine Humbolt’s child isn’t the father. These same people don’t do anything to prevent it. They just talk about it. They take His love for granted. They think being in the right building at the right time every week is enough for salvation, going to Mass so everyone else can see they’re there. “Ben,” he said, “I’d like to thank you again. Your mission work is impeccable.” “Thank you, Father,” I said. He breathed in deep, leaning forward. His white alb didn’t conceal the dandruff flakes flowing down from his silver hair. He took off his glasses. “If we had even five more people as dedicated to the cause as you, we’d work ourselves out of our calling,” he said. “It’s what God wants of me,” I said. Father Donaldson breathed in deep, exhaling slowly. It echoed in the empty church. “Father?” “Yes?” “Why is it that I feel you didn’t want to speak to me to sing my praises?”
Another deep breath. He leaned back, looking at me. His eyes were relaxed but his lips were terse. I could tell he was uncomfortable. “Ben, there’s talk…” he said, pausing to rest his palm against his cheek and leaning into it. “Some people are concerned about your methods, why you won’t let anyone else help. They don’t doubt your successes, they’re curious of your methods” “I cannot deny my duty to stop the sewing-circle chatter, Father” “I know, but I wanted to let you know. Just give me something to quiet them. Something to tide them over if the results aren’t enough” I said, “Tell them to read Matthew, chapter twenty-five, verse forty. Maybe that will remind them that we’re not all coddled into the lap of luxury.” Father began the verse, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people…” “That you do unto me,” I finished. “It’s probably the most important thing Christ ever said.” “I’m not denying that, Ben. I’m not questioning your passion or effectiveness,” he said, scratching his cheek. “Well, the simple question is: what are you doing?” “God’s will,” I said before excusing myself and walking out. --At home, I prepared myself a salad of spinach, turnip greens, almonds and raspberries. It’s much better than the cold sausage links at the social. It’s also loaded in fiber, something we often neglect when caring for ourselves. I change into my flannel pajamas and bathrobe. I sat on the couch, my laptop on the coffee table. I check for the postings. Craigslist. Casual Encounters. There’s an easy way to spot the frauds. No eighteen-year-old girl who’s supposedly a ten trolls the Internet looking for a romp from random men trolling the Internet for young women. I want a real woman, who wants real things.
Spelling and grammar mistakes help validate that there’s a real person behind the words. I checked my messages. Valerie responded. The subject line of her original post was, “wanna know a secret? lets get together now!” times are tough. just got fired, dumped and evicteed. need company and a real gentleman. looking for dinner drinks and fun. i’ve got a crazy sense of adventure and the right man makes me open to anything. ur pics get my pics. I sent her a picture with my wife cropped out. She sent me one’s of her, a G-string poking out the back of her jeans. Brown hair enveloping a cherub face. Sara was shopping with the boys. They go to the 9:30 service while I go to the eleven. I usually work at the store at night until about five in the morning. It’s been about a week of messaging. Valerie wanted to meet me. Not at a restaurant, but a hotel. must have room service. lets get friendly and order up Rahab. Knowing it would be a long night, I took a nap on the couch, my salad churning away in my stomach as I drifted off after praying for my family, the strength of the Church and the wavering hearts of those belonging to it. “…may glory and honor be brought to Your name. Amen.” --Valerie is like the others. Her jacket hangs on a chair in the corner. She’s slowly peeling off her tank top, revealing her deliciously firm breasts that topple out of her tight black lace bra.
She turns and slides down her shorts, bending her knees as little as possible so her apricot-shaped butt sticks up in the air. She’s wearing the same underwear as her pictures. She’s trying to entice me and it’s working. Standing there, with firm legs at shoulder’s length, she says, “Before we get to the fun, let’s take care of business.” She asked if I was a cop on the third message. They always ask if I’m a cop. She goes through the list of her prices and rules: A hand job is twenty. No kissing on the mouth. A blowjob is fifty. Straight sex is a hundred. No tying her up. No hitting. Dominatrix comes out for one-fifty. To watch her masturbate is fifty. Anal is one-fifty. “Well,” I say, approaching it carefully, “I don’t know what I want until I get into it. Sometimes I like to get crazy, get dirty.” “Oh, the kind of stuff your wife won’t let you do?” she asks. “Yeah,” I say. “How about we start with five hundred and see where we go from there?” She smiles wide. She takes the bills from my hand, puts them in her purse and takes off my shirt. --I kissed Sara goodbye before I left home. She’s a good woman and a wonderful mother to our two boys. After we met, we both knew we wanted children. She stays at home while I work, making an honest living at the 24-hour Big Box store as an overnight manager. What I don’t make at the store is supplemented by donations from those at the church who believe in my work. The true believers know the ends always justify the means. On my way to the hotel, I stop by Café Fresh for a piece of cherry cobbler, the one with the whole-wheat crust. It’s handmade and a great source of fiber. That and a cup of black coffee. I’m going to need them.
The café was dead, but it’s the only place to get something to eat at this hour. Unfortunately, it’s also a popular hangout of the street crowd, the drunks, heathens and the restless. Those who don’t know any better. I took Sara here on our first real date. I’m reading from the Book of Genesis, chapter 19. It’s the story of God’s angels raining down sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah to stop the perversion that engulfed its society. I think of what Father Donaldson said. In times of doubt, I wonder where God is now, to allow this kind of deviancy to permeate our lives. Internet pornography, prostitution, rape, teen stars flaunting their developing bodies. It’s as if we’ve all forgotten we were created out of God’s image and chastity is a virtue. A young couple chatted away in a booth in the corner, obviously discussing a movie they just saw. They were both modestly dressed. The girl, with her dark hair and eyes that squint up when she laughs, reminded me of Jessica. I can only hope these two are as wholesome as they appear. I pray they have good families and belong to a church. I hope they respect each other and themselves. I say a quiet prayer for them. Hoping and praying isn’t ever enough. I drove to the Radisson downtown around midnight. I registered the room under my real name. I checked in, paying for the room in cash. Sara thinks I’m working tonight. “I’d like to leave a second key here,” I told the front desk clerk. “I’m expecting a guest.” “And what is this one’s name, Mr. Landry?” he asked. “Valerie.” --On her knees, she undoes the button on my slacks and unzips the fly. She yanks them down to my ankles with my boxers. She’s seasoned at things like this. She strokes me a few times, looking up at me and asking me
if I like it. I tell her I do. When I’m firm, she pulls a condom from her bra and wraps it around me. After that, she doesn’t hesitate to put me inside her mouth. She lathers me with passion and execution. “Lay back,” she says. “Let me work.” Looking down at her, that red hair swarming across my lap, I ask, “Do you want to order room service?” She doesn’t answer, she just keeps licking and sucking. Soon I don’t care and lean back onto the bed. She crawls up the bed on top of me. She asks me what I want next. I tell her I want her nude. “Leave the stockings on,” I say. She climbs off me, and slowly strips herself bare, the bra first, the matching panties second. Valerie has a small scar, one that’s barely noticeable, on her inner thigh. “What’s that from?” I ask her, pointing at her leg. “Oh nothing. It was an accident when I was a kid,” she says. “Tell me about it,” I say. Her arms at her waist, she says, “Do you want to sit around and get to know each other, or do you want to fuck?” “So, I take it you’re not looking for a gentleman?” “Honey,” she says, stepping one leg over and straddling me, “that was just all part of the ad. Now you paid for me, do you want to use me?” Lord, forgive me these sins of the flesh. I tell her I want to watch her masturbate. I tell her I want her wet for me. On her back, she slides two fingers down to her crotch and begins rubbing in small circles.
Slowly she starts, panting with her own movement. Her fingers move faster, she moans more. She gets louder. She reaches one arm behind her, pulling her breasts with her. Beads of sweat form on her forehead. She screams, “Oh, God, yes!” She stops. She spreads herself open. She says she wants to fuck. “I want your cock inside me,” she says. I climb on top of her. She grabs me and shoves me inside her. She wraps her long legs around me, linking her feet near the small of my back. She pulls upward, telling me she wants it hard. She’s not afraid to make me do it if I won’t. I shove my hips into her and she bites her lip. “That’s right,” she says. “Like that.” I continue going, thinking to myself that my wife would understand. Valerie is panting and moaning like a whore should as our sweat mixes. Between heavy breaths, I say, “I want to go on your chest.” I talk the way I do because that’s what she expects. If I started saying — Lord forgive me — cock, tits, ass, pussy, cum, she wouldn’t be as surprised as I’d like. Her face scrunched in passion, she says, “For another hundred, you can do whatever you want to me. No rules.” “None?” I ask. “None!” she yells, nearing climax again. I wait until she comes to pull out of her. Straddling her torso, her breasts right there, I lean forward and kiss her on the mouth. Wet and inviting, she kisses me back, licking my tongue like a lover she missed. She pulls the condom off and pushes her breasts together around me. Letting go of my tongue for a second, she says, “Come all over me.” I feel it coming so I push. I push not to come, but for something else. The reason I messaged her. The reason I eat all those high-fiber foods. Everything for anticipation of this moment.
Illustration by Andrew DiPaolo
“Excuse me? You’re low enough to take a shit on a stranger to get your rocks off!” My pants and shirt on, I say, “Well, I know I wouldn’t sell my dignity like that for anything. What I just proved is that you have absolutely no self-respect. Besides, I work for a higher power.” Pulling the covers over herself, my feces smearing further up her, she yells, “What the fuck does that mean!” These are the methods in question. I wouldn’t expect any of them to understand what I do. They’d only see how I did it. I say, “You are God’s daughter. You may not love yourself, but God loves you. He doesn’t want you here. He has plans for you.” With those words, her face is wiped blank. There she is, covered in feces, the taste of latex in her mouth, and someone is telling her God loves her. It’s the same reaction nearly every time — nothing. I’m driving a garbage truck through her life. I continue, “He wants you sitting beside him in the Kingdom of Heaven, but you won’t get there by prostituting yourself so you can probably, most likely, support a drug habit or an abusive boyfriend.” Twisting in obvious discomfort, she yanks a pillow over her face, only strands of her bright red hair poking out from underneath. She screams at the top of her lungs, her hands shoving the pillow firmer onto her face. “God is watching you, just as he does with all of us,” I say, now fully dressed. “He wants you to be happy. He wants you to respect yourself, as you obviously don’t now.” Along with another hundred-dollar bill, I leave a bright pink pamphlet on the nightstand. Inside are pictures of smiling, modest women with children, with their families. They beam in pride of who they are. The woman on the front, the lovely blonde sitting on the porch of a two-story white home, is my wife. I took the photo. Under it is a quote, “Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness. ~ Leviticus 19:29.” I say, “There are plenty of women like you who have been forgiven their
Today is beautiful. It should be remembered as such.
The statues in the center of town have cracks in them. Their plaques tarnished. Vines adorn their bases choking cold marble, and climbing. Late at night, if you stare at them, they begin to breathe. In unison, they step off their pedestals, marble fragments like breadcrumbs trail behind them, and they march. Their footsteps precise and deliberate, shaking off vines still clinging. They walk to the stony southeastern shores of Lake Ontario. Subtle waves sound like someone breaking glass. Their almost smiles unchanged, perfectly taciturn, they face east, and hold hands. Some fingers splinter, and the remnants sprinkle the rocky beach. Do they feel it? Their feet shallow in the smoothed stones, standing together, holding one another, they watch the sun rise over the black water. Together, in that strange time when the earth is still a deep grey, but the sun is giving birth to the sky, they witness today take its first breath.
It just happens that way usually, me and her waving patiently. Lung plumes explode (a perfectly shaped maw) thawing lemon hair the way emergency candles melt over echoing Merlot bottles smeared with Easter bunny chocolate. We blow smoke kisses. She tries to wink. I understand.
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#10 is here! Gemma Correll drew us a pug on rollerblades with a birthday cake for the cover. What's left to say? Oh yeah, the people invo...
Published on Jan 3, 2014
#10 is here! Gemma Correll drew us a pug on rollerblades with a birthday cake for the cover. What's left to say? Oh yeah, the people invo...