Two Women / The Gentle Madness / Men
In the beginning was the Word
She kissed my neck as she washed my back, holding the extended shower head in her hand and guiding it over my bones. The scalding hot spray fell over the tight skin of my shoulders and rolled down between the scars of my back in easy, ragged rivulets, like a thin line of gasoline leading straight to the generator, ready to burn, already reeking.
I put my hand between her legs and my fingers crawled inside her while my scar tissue burned white hot in secret behind me. I pushed her against the marble wall of the shower stall and leaned into her, buoyed on her chest.
The deepest freeze of the year. There are bills to pay and ice has accumulated on the porch and the windows. The heater is broken and the walls are uninsulated. The letterpress machine, sweet gentle behemoth, is sitting alone and abandoned in the cold, unprotected, the metal burning cold to the touch and the ancient German rubber splitting like dry lips, black enamel flaking and steel turning slowly to rust.
I worry about it. I am overwhelmed with worry, reserved and resigned. “I will pray,” I decide. “I will pray for my press.” And I slip out of the bed, high on pills so that I cannot feel the pain in my back as I twist and turn, and I get down on my knees. I clasp my hands beneath my face on my bed and I pray.
“Please God, protect my letterpress from the terrible weather, as you have protected me and my dog, in my home, as you have protected my family and friends in their homes, and the homes of their own friends and families. Thank you, God, for all you have done for me, and please continue to protect me, and preserve me from my follies, and my sins. I will try to be good, to do better. I will be good like you intended me to be. You have gifted me with good behavior and I have squandered it, but I will not squander it anymore. I love you. I love you. I love you.”
In a white cement motel with bright red hollow metal doors I locked myself in and got high on the rat-nest warm air that blew out of the radiator. A girl in purple eyeliner reminded me of the neon lights from the cafe I once tried to pick a boy up, drunk. I couldn’t believe where I was. I couldn’t remember. I had forgotten my name and how to walk down the stairs. I had forgotten how to sit in chairs. I had forgotten how to lift my feet and, in fear of falling, refused to get out of my bed. But I was not in my bed. I was, like always, in the window, standing there, a monobrow growing like Jesus Christ. I use a pair of tweezers to pluck the hairs between my eyebrows.
Life cuckolds me; I am a cuckold.
I was naked, afraid, and alone, and I did not believe in Jesus Christ. My blue down winter coat frayed in the armpit and the sleeves tore away in the avalanche. When the helicopters came I laughed at them and pointed to my disconnected foot. “Do you see the stupid shit I’ve seen? I’ve seen some shit!”
When I visited my parents, I noticed my father had a testosterone gel in the bathroom. I tried some, rubbing it into my skin. Soon I could feel my muscles again, especially my penis, and I wanted to use it. I called a girl to come visit me in the valley of discontent, and she did, and we fucked on the couch Henry Miller-style, without a condom, good and filthy, and my leg started kicking like I was a dog as I came all over her, covered in her come.
She left me, the gentle carpenter, for an animal, a so-called artist. I didn’t know she was into bestiality. I should have expected it.
The Cross and Dash befell the heavy-headed heartache, broken in his back like he was beat with a pipe until his bones snapped. That way, loose and ready, he could fly, and he drifted over the thermals that rose from the mushrooming explosions and burned in the lasers that lined the skies. Roles reversed and terrorists slipped out of their golden holes…
Into the holes… those filthy, ingrown holes, burrowing into the dirt and the granite… (He described to me, in all the details, his fantasy of cupping the balls of Michelangelo’s David and sucking that hard, marble cock. “That cock is too big,” I said, laughing, “You would choke on marble.”)
What happened in the garden of Gethsemane? Why was there agony, then, in the moonlight? Did Jesus get caught with a boy again? Pretty naked little boys, playing with their biting asps? A hand within the cobra’s den… What kind of world do we live in? Just what is going on here? Is nobody safe?
I cowered in the closet, then, and covered my ears while the thick stench returned to me.
Horologium Aeternae Saptientae. That is the name of the book that I bought for $1,200 when I was rich, in 2012. It was printed in the 15th century. Someone drew a dragon in it. A demon-headed dragon with a wolf’s tail. It devours its tail. I try to read what the dragon is trying to tell me – it must be important, but I cannot read lettre-batarde Latin. I just cannot.
A short man, with a monobrow – did he live in Japan? Did he ride the winged horse to Jerusalem again, spreading the good word of Judea?
“But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
He crept between his sleeping friends, true believers, and touched them as they snored, but they did not return his advances. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
And again, a Sorrowful Mystery of a Sleepless Rosary, round like the face of a putto and pink, cherished, pale.
I took her by the hands to New Orleans and we rode in a chariot of fire down the streets as they shone in the midnight lightning, full of color, and roses bloomed out of every orifice. I plucked the flowers from her eyes and said, “farewell,” and then I hitch-hiked my way back across old Pontchartrain.
“Suck that golden tit,” I sung, images of the donkey show still in my mind, “the golden cock of Jesus Christ.” I slapped the stilly spinning corpse as it hung like a rope swing and rotated, casting a shadow long against the desert ground.
In the tundra, on the edge of the sea frozen over and unbroken by ships where the white bears roam without spirit, a naked man laid with his cock in his hands and his white thighs turned blue in the ice as he prayed to the sun for deliverance. “Deliver me, God,” he said, “for I am a Christian.” He prayed to Christ with long hair and white skin in his image. “I look like a Christian man, don’t I? I think like a Christian, don’t I? I feel guilty like a Christian, and I suffer like a Christian, and, like a Christian, I believe in good and evil – don’t I? Don’t I at least believe in good?”
Nothing came true that day nor the next day but it was all pure miracle regardless. He couldn’t describe it to anyone. They all saw what he’d seen but they could not describe it. It was a pure miracle at all, all the time, in every way. It was so miraculous that most people took it for granted and were immune to it.
Only in the presence of evil – as evil persists – did the miracle seem real again. It did not take great evil for me, because I do not believe in the necessary of evil, but for some people, it seems to take evil to even exist.
In the presence of the starry-eyed demon, who in darkness sits on top of your chest and stares into you, right into your eyes, and consumes you, there were the last few minutes of the forgotten malcontent, and everything comes blazing fast like a fire, behind your dilating pupils, melted, into the abstract of the black and expectorant; I moved away from the shadow in the corner of the bed and took my place in the seat of the flagellant. I offered my flesh – I was a wreck – and I promised to never tell a lie again. “I will never tell another lie,” I said, pretending to pee over my empty and neurotic toilet bowl. There was no one in the other room listening.
Over dinner I told John about the dreams of the murderous transparent-skinned putti at Christmas. And then I told him about my plan to transform the neighborhood.
“I want to make this part of town the “Orchard District.” Take all these empty lots and clean them up, and plant fruit orchards. Peach trees, mostly, maybe heirloom apples, even nuts.”
It was not actually my idea. It was my fathers, and as soon as he said it I started laughing and did not stop. I loved it. It was the perfect ideal.
“One of these days,” I said, letting myself get carried away, “I’ll really take this family to the next level again. I’ll gather up all of my father’s properties and leverage them until I own the majority of the poor neighborhoods on this side of town, and then I will sell the lots to developers as the “orchard district” properties raise in value. Then I’ll take that money and put it towards down payments on commercial lots in the city. That’s really what I want to do – go from residential real estate to commercial.”
But that was not really what I wanted to do. I wanted to trade in rare books. Exclusively old books – preferable no later than the mid 1500’s. I wanted to trade on an institutional level – buy and sell individual treasures to museums and universities, as well as private collectors.
Meanwhile, John bragged about his women. Two women. “You are whore,” I told him. “You are a slut and a whore and all you care about are women.”
I had two women, too, and they were whores, and I could barely stand them. They were unhealthy – that is why they were whores. Like me, weak, and too intellectual – I do not like those types. I am not a total narcissist.
In a picture hanging over the fireplace a woman with large breasts and black hair waits for me in the car under the moonlight while I in my suit sit and picnic under the stars with John and his women picnicking with us. You cannot see my face in the painting and my black-haired whore is laughing from her hill in the distance.
“I don’t chew ginger gum,” I said. “I’m a Christian man.”
She was Catholic, and I loved it. I felt like James Agee around Catholics. “I could have been a Catholic,” I said. “I could still be one,” I added, although it was probably untrue. I was baptized a Protestant and I will die in the spirit of the Protestant death.
“No… No… (So spake the wailing ghost)… I’m just another Protestant… I have no church but Jesus Christ, no book but the bible, and no light but God, no life but guilt, so purity but suffering and shame in the name of the crippled mortal flesh, penetrable, and the transcendental spirit. I am not a man, but a ghost, made of ghost-stuff, formless and weak, no father, bad son, only ghosts…”
My ancestors did not have to work a day in their life for over a century. I do not intend to have to work a day in my life, either, because I am a Chapman.
“My body is my temple,” I chant, crying out for the desecrations I have committed against it…
The Word was the bird
Spaghetti westerns… stamped passports… (I lost mine on the plane, a thief stole it, I know who it was, he had beady eyes, I had to go to New Orleans over Christmas to get a new one so I could return to school in Scotland, it is too bad though, because I missed my sister’s wedding)…