"He looked at me and said, all serious like, 'Madam, I want your company not your pussy."

"Why didn't he want your pussy, was he a fuckin' faggot?" said Nubia.

"No," said Martha Adams as she spotted Mark Morris looking at them, her, Nubia, Michelle, and Cloris, sitting all in a row at the County office on Tulome, talking about Martha's date the Saturday before. Martha glared at Mark as she had done with her children when they were small. This broke his stare as he mustered a slight shy smile and diverted his eyes back to the current issue of The New York Review of Books. Martha turned her head to Nubia and whispered ,"He said that he wanted a friend before a fuck buddy."

"...and what is wrong with a fuck buddy at least a woman can get some without all the other shit men put us thru."

`"Amen to that sister." Michelle and Cloris chimed in."

"No, he didn't want sex, he wanted connection."

"That is a fancy word for fucking; all men think about is getting pussy, just like my uncle Fred's old coon hound. That dog humped every bitch human or dog in three counties. My uncle had his balls cut off and that hound still humped. That's how he died humping a... ." said Nubia.

"Are we talking about your uncle or the hound," Cloris said

"Both. Uncle Fred died of a heart attack while he was at Susie's down near the river back home. My momma said that when he died all the dogs howled together, like they were treein' a coon. "Cloris, and Michelle all were holding the laughter back so hard that tears were streaming down their faces. Finally Cloris then Michelle broke into laughter and laughed so hard that the whole office heard it. A heavy sister behind the counter looked at them, smiled and said," Ladies can we keep it down there."

"Yes we will," Martha sternly said. As she waited for the women to compose themselves she glanced at Mark. He was staring down at the paper with his lips stretched in a smile and turning bright red. Martha got up and walked over to him. She picked up a canvas messenger bag that was in the seat next to him and sat down. He took the bag and put it in a empty seat on the other side of him. Mark looked into her eyes and smiled, Martha smiled back.

"We are pretty silly aren't we?

"Yes you are."

"What do you have in the bag?"

"A book of short stories by Rick Bass and a short story I am working on."

"You a writer?"

"Yes, I am."

"Been published?"

"Not yet."

"How long have you been writing?'

"About 40 years."

"And you haven't been published?"

"A couple of small press things but nothing too big."

"Long time to wait for a drink from the well."

"Yes it is."

"Do you love doing it."

"It is not a matter of love it is just something I do, like cleaning the kitchen or building furniture."

"So you think all men think about is pussy." Said Martha as if the word "pussy" was a name for her child or grandchild, a word. No more, no less.

"I would have to say yes."

"You are not supposed to say that. You are supposed to lie."


"Women want the chase to be coy. They don't want to tell some poor fool that they are not going to fuck him because it might hurt his feelings. Only when the fool demands pussy do they finally realize if they are going to fuck him are not. If they were honest with themselves they would have to tell that they knew were going to fuck him within the first 3 minutes that they met him. We be a bunch of cold hearted bitches."

"You said it." said Mark.

"You've been burned too?"


"How bad?"

"Not too."

"How long were you two together?"

"13 years too long."

"Any kids?"

"Yeah two boys, 13 and 17."

"What was the problem?

"I couldn't sit through 3 hour dinner parties," Mark said underneath his breathe. Shifting his weigh he moved his thousand yard stare to Martha's face. "I don't want to talk about it. Let's say that I was not a gentleman and she wasn't a lady. So what is your story"

"Got married in high school to the first boy I slept with. 20 years, two girls, house etc. Everything was going fine until he comes up to me and he says that he wants a divorce, been going down low ever since we were married. He said that he found his "true" love. I yelled at him, "I thought I was!" Tears formed in Martha's eyes as she whispered, "Loved that man with all my heart and soul. I could have stomached a woman, but dudes! Fucking faggot!"

"Pretty harsh isn't it?"

"Listen, dude, my x was out fucking boys bareback before he would come back and do me without a rubber. Dude I could have died! "

Mark saw the pain running wild and deep in her iris and knew that anything he would say would miss the mark.

"So women are bitches and men are assholes?"

Martha nodded yes.

"So why," said Mark

"Why what," said Martha.

'Why love," said Mark.

"We are NOT talking about love, we are talking about pussy."

"Then, what about love?"

"What about it?"

"Do you think people need it," asked Mark Morris.

"Yeah I do. People need to love and be loved and yet they don't want the pain of

being vulnerable. You can't have one without the other."

"Was your husband vulnerable."

"No he wasn't, he wouldn't, he couldn't, let me in. When he found someone he could, he did and couldn't lie about being queer any longer."

"What about your marriage, the kids?"

"Just that. Marriage and kids. Things. You don't have to love to be married or have children ... they lied to us."


"Society, our parents."

"Maybe so." said Mark. "At the least it was a sin of omission, they thought they were protecting us from the ugliness."

"Did we do that to our children," wondered Martha out loud.

"No, we divorced before they got out of grade school and came out of the closet before Junior High. We scared them by our authenticity. They were the collateral damage of our lives. How come the innocent get hurt," whispered Mark.

"I don't know."

"What about pussy," asked Mark quizzically?

"What about it?"

"What does the hunt for pussy has to do with love, "said Mark

"Really nothing. Men confuse their need for connection with their need to find something warm and wet for their little heads. Women do the same. They may paint it up and make a loud fuss about it when it ends, but it's still the same, just trying not to be alone.

"I listen to this motivational speaker who says that he firmly believes people are trying to seek the divine through love."

"That is probably true, writer-man," chuckled Martha.

"What is so funny?"

"I can track the finding thru love part, but I can't imagine trying to find God through fucking."

"Me neither, but I think he must be meaning the love without the sex."

"All work and no sugar......naw can't hang."

There was nothing to talk about, for now, and both of them felt it. They watched the Disney film on the TV and smiled. Both of them thought of when they saw the film for the first time, when their children were young enough to see it. Both smiled deep smiles of remembrance and regret at what was said and wasn't said, done and wasn't done; as all parents do when their children are grown.

Mark felt escape pulling him away from a simple memory of things past and to the pain that would follow. He tried to fight and stay with the memory knowing the pain and healing would follow, but his mouth fell open and out ran.

"When was the last you got laid?"

Martha kept her shock to herself and lied, "last week. Why?"

"It has been six years for me."

"A little too long isn't it, everything alright?"

"I don't know, the only woman I was with in the last twenty years was my X and..."

" felt guilty if you thought of yourself with another woman," interrupted Martha.

"No, not guilty, more like a fool. A fool for putting up with fifteen years of bullshit and lousy sex."

"That bad?"

"God love her she tired, but we just didn't fit. She had only a couple of men before we met and I played sailor in the whore houses of the Far East for ten years. We couldn't sync. When she wanted to do it I was too tired and when I wanted to get kinky she wouldn't even try, called me a pedophile."

"For what?"

"Asking her to shave her pussy?"

"What she have against it, it is only hair?"

"She said it made her a little girl,"

"Did you shave?"

"Not then, I do now."


"Why what?"

"Why do you shave, now."

"Because it feels clean. Also, my eye sight is getting so bad that I couldn't find it in the bush, so I had to shave it off. And 300 count sheets feel so good on my freshly shaved balls," Mark laughed as he met Martha's eyes in a frightened vulnerable stare. Martha saw it and didn't gasp in horror, but smiled.

"Poor man," she muttered.

Just then one of the clerks called over the PA," Number 62"

"That's my number," said Mark rising and grabbing his bag.

"What are you doing tonight for supper," said Martha


"Want a home cooked meal?"

"Does a bear shit in the woods," said Mark.

"Then call me at this number ,"Martha said as she scribbled down a number on a slip of paper. She handed Mark it on his way to the window and quietly said, " bring your tooth brush."

She walked back to the girls and set down.

"Well," questioned Nubia?

"He is coming for supper."

"And then what.'

"We are going to fuck."


"He needs it."

"And you are giving it away for free.. I suspect."

"Some of us have mercy."

"Have or need, "questioned Nubia.

"Maybe both." said Martha.


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