tagNon-EroticThe Deadbeat Club Ch. 02

The Deadbeat Club Ch. 02


"We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

Till human voices wake us, and we drown."

TS Eliot "…Prufrock"

Part I: The Book of the Grotesque

When we arrived at the airport I found the sunlight that bathed the terminal halls claustrophobic. I put on my sunglasses and sought a dark bar in which Selene and I could find some relief from the glare of day.

I was somewhat amazed to find myself at the gateway with Selene and had no idea how we had passed security—I had no ticket. We had crossed from the main terminal to the gateway inappropriately, perhaps illegally.

But we had crossed many inappropriate lines in the last 24 hours, so I wasn't about to question this much more mundane breach.

Everything my daughter did was done with the knowledge she could get away with it. The angel barring re-entry to Eden would have been no match for her, so I didn't fault the TSA.

Outside the bar's, plate-glass windows I watched mannequins walking this way and that. Though they were of differing colors and hair-styles their features appeared all alike. They seemed purposeful as they walked about the terminal, or read intently from some newspaper or magazine. But it appeared to be the same purpose one has when dancing a minuet. Everything must be done a specific way to be accomplished correctly—but outside the dance none of this really meant anything.

Somehow, I felt I had known all of these dancing mannequins in some previous life. They now all looked the same to me—attractive but unreal, hollow, dead.

Reflected in the tinted glass of the bar, I could see dark shadows of a man and a woman sitting at a table. Their images were distorted by the glass, grotesque.

"It's nice to be back in the dark with you, again," Selene whispered with a sarcastic seductiveness.

After glaring at her in an attempt to check my irritation, I said: "Don't forget that I'm still your father."

"Oh, I know," she smiled, "…and so much more."

I wanted to slap her. But what would be my moral justification?

"Please Daddy," Selene's tone had changed and become sincere again. "Let's not worry about last night. We'll drop it and pretend it never happened."

Then lifting her drink, she toasted me, "…no looking back."

I poured a pouch of salt into a pile on the corner of my paper plate, so I could flavor the semi-stale French fries the waiter had brought me. That little pile of salt suddenly represented most of my life to this point.

I pondered how low I had sunk over the past 10 years, and now this…my daughter.

Perhaps I could blame it on the wine—but that had been done before—and done a lot (no pun intended).

No, nothing would be the same again. Many lives have milestones: birth, graduation, marriage, children—death. But I had just added one I doubt Jimmy Brown would have ever heard the bells ringing for. But I was hearing them…and I knew that the bells, indeed, tolled for me.

Selene's flight was called. I walked her to the gateway to kiss her goodbye. I kissed her in the blinding, bright light of the terminal in an awkward embrace.

"What will you do now, Daddy," Selene said, reflexively.

"I will go to find some dry land."

Selene stared at me quizzically: "Meaning…?"

"Lenie', I have waded in a long river and my feet are cold and wet."

I hugged my daughter again, and turned away.

Part II: The Lady of Shallott

Returning to the coffee shop, I found myself faced with one of the oft-quoted verities of life: you can never go home again. My life had been altered by what many might consider an unfortunate incident. I would have preferred, 'accident.' But it was none such a thing.

And then there was the other news. Mona was dead.

Her husband was found a short distance from the house, in the rain, crying and babbling to himself—drunk. Some said he was half slurring, half singing, "Greensleeves."

They tried to discern what had happened, but these things are always—to some degree—beyond explanation.

Somewhere between poor judgment and random chance can lie...the curse.

There is no doubt Mona wanted out of the marriage and into a better life.

"She met me for drinks," Monica explained, defensively. "She said she wanted to be like me. And…well…I told her she couldn't be like me. We were so different…our backgrounds and upbringing…maybe...well, I wish I hadn't said that. I think I hurt her. But she wanted things she saw I had, and I just didn't feel they would be within her reach. I didn't want to mislead her…that's all."

"A curse is on her if she stay

To look down to Camelot."

We all attended the funeral and Mo had organized a modern reception with slide show and narrative.

All of the facets of birth, childhood, graduation and then—mistakenly—wedding day were shone across the screen. The picture of Mona smiling on her wedding day caused a horrified hush to come over the small audience.

"The curse is come upon me."

I felt nothing but love and sadness for this poor creature, this poor girl, who only wanted what she saw others having—some love, laughter and control over her life.

As I passed her, I gazed upon her face for what I knew would be the last time. Her perfect features in sleep blurred as if she were dissolving in a vision, dissolving from this world like they say the Buddhist saints do.

Mona had never really been a part of the coffee clique. She didn't really belong to our 'club,' I thought. But she was a friend. And more important, whether through intent or neglect, Mona had never hurt anyone.

"But Lancelot mused a little space;

He said 'She has a lovely face;

God in his mercy lend her grace,

The Lady of Shallot.'"

Part III: Remembrance of Things Past

At 5:15 AM, sitting alone in a coffee shop, one can stare out into the blackness of dying night and be overwhelmed by memories. Without the distraction of daylight we become deluged by random images, thoughts and feelings—like the creatures often conjured before us in the twilight of sleep.

All morning, I had been haunted by random images from Mona's funeral the day before.

In the back hallway of the parlor, Tracy whispering to Sofia who leaned seductively against the wall. Soon the whispering turned to a tentative brush of lip to lip, which in turn fell to open mouthed kissing. Soon, Sofia's arm wrapped around Tracy's neck and she appeared to be devouring the life from him…all, even while his fingers lifted the front of her skirt to find the folds of her nylon-veiled sex.

In the next room, Sofia's husband Sonny was oblivious, arguing with Jay and some of the others about some local sports team. The children squealed and played from room to room.

Mona? Mona just lay still throughout the tumult and waited quietly for her final journey to begin its float—not down to Camelot, but across the river Styx.

I felt a sickening disgust for all of the 'mourners'—my friends.

Then my thoughts were suddenly distracted by Jeremiah who sat huddled at one of the other tables. His table was a mess with crumbs and half spilt coffee.

"He is a filthy degenerate," I thought, agreeing with Jay, Sofia and the rest.

As I lifted my coffee to take a sip, I noticed a ring of wetness staining the table. As I turned to look back to the counter from which it was served to me, I could see a trail of coffee leading to my table. The flawed cup had a leak in it.

"My sins run out behind me and I do not see them…"

An old allegory of the Desert Fathers spoke to me.

I left my coffee behind and walked out into the darkness.

Part IV: Mr. Tambourine Man

"So, whattaya' think? Really? You can tell me."

Jay had let me read his masterpiece. The screenplay that was going to bring him gazillions.

It read like something between an Arnold Schwarzenegger and a Three Stooges movie—only too violent for Schwarzenegger and not literate enough for the Stooges.

I really wasn't sure what to tell him. Some things can be improved, others can only be burned.

"Well, I think the part where he drives the car through the wall has been done before," I offered, hesitantly.

"Hey, you got it!" Jay laughed.

"Got it?"

"Yeah, it's what they call allusion. Not ill-usion. A-llusion," he instructed. "Think they'll get it, or is it too subtle."

"Well Jay, it's about as subtle as driving a car through a wall."

He looked at me for a moment—maybe a little annoyed:

"You bein' funny?"

"Uh-uh. Dead serious." 'In fact,' I thought, 'about as dead as the chances of selling this script.'

"What about the sex stuff?"

"Well," I advised, "I think the standard sex scene in movies is kind of a goner. You can get so much more extreme stuff online than what you can put in movies these days. So, the movie-sex seems a little boring. I think it just slows the plot down, ya' know?"

"Hmmm…" he was pondering all of this and not taking it very well.

"So," he said, "what did ya' like about it?"

I was really on the spot now. My mind struggled back through the hundred plus pages of non-sequitars, mayhem and typos.

"Well, I think if you cut out the violence and the sex…and maybe focused on the little girl in the beginning. You know, the one traumatized by the giant insects. Except, leave out the giant insects. Just focus on her…you seemed to understand her."

Jay looked at me like I was a giant insect:

"Are you fuckin' nuts or what!?!!"

All I could think was—after having read his script, he had a lot of gall to ask me if I was nuts.

"Can't you just re-write it a little?" he persisted.

"Jay, I'm not a professional writer. I can't write like that. I have to write about things that really interest me. I'm not a technician."

"Yeah, but that shit you write won't sell. I'm writing something that can make money. Don't you wanna write something that makes money?"

I sipped my coffee and thought about it a while:

"Only if it's also the kind of thing I'd like to go see—or read. Otherwise, not really. Look Jay, the only reason I write is to read things I can't find already out there. If I could, I'd save my time…really. I'm too lazy to write stuff I could as easily buy."

Jay was becoming exasperated:

"So—let me get this—you're telling me you write for fun? Are you fuckin' nuts or what?"

"Well, for fun—and because there are things that just come to me. I don't cobble them together so much as transcribe them. They sort of get dictated to me…in a way."

He looked at me incredulously:

"What kinda bullshit are you talkin' about!?!!"

I thought about it for a while:

"Look, if I had to work at it, I wouldn't write. At least, I don't think so. If there was a price to be paid, uh-uh."

I thought it over some more:

"Nope. I never paid for a thing in my life…at least, nothing important"

Part V: Lady Chatterley's Lover

As one would have expected, Monica's townhouse was spotless. The décor was very modern, uncluttered—in fact, sparse of furniture—and of little or no color. Everything from carpeting to coffee-table, to lamps and end-table, to chairs and couch were pure white.

The feel of her home was one that was very New Millenium and very clean. One might even describe it as sterile. I imagined she might be rooming with HAL 9000.

Monica had broken up with her fireman boyfriend. She had kept him busy dousing her fires since the divorce. But since he had now also been disposed of, she had invited me over as her latest surrogate.

I had served Monica in this role before. But my interlude with Selene had left me changed, and I'd found myself unable to rise to the occasion. So, Monica had also invited Joan over to befriend her—and stroke her ego.

"You look beautiful tonight," Joan whispered, as her fingers stroked a strand of Monica's hair, tucking it neatly behind her ear.

"Funny, the men in my life aren't making me feel that way," Monica answered accusingly, staring across the table at me.

"Who needs men?" Joan asserted.

"Who needs anyone if all they do is talk," Monica slurred slightly, bringing a glass of wine to her lips. Then her eyes darted across the table, locking with mine, ensuring that the object of her remark understood whom he was.

We were communing over some Chianti and a loaf of warmed bread. A meal as simple and uncluttered as the décor surrounding us.

"I'm sorry, I guess I haven't been myself since Mona's passing," I lied.

"Mona, Mona, Mona! I'm tired of talking about her like she was some perfect angel or something," Monica blurted, drunkenly. It was hard to tell whether jealousy or guilt drove her resentment.

At this, our hostess arose and left for the pool. I watched her through the sliding glass doors, wading into the pool up to her waist—then diving abruptly, as if to drown out the voices that might be speaking to her.

Joan followed her and also entered the pool. She appeared to have the urgency of one saving a drowning victim. Once to the far side where her victim awaited rescue, Joan began to hold and whisper to Monica, attempting to assuage whatever feelings were tormenting her.

The swimsuit Monica wore was a white one-piece that rose very high at the hips. She looked stunning.

Joan just wore denim cut-offs and a T-shirt that had a picture of a dolphin on it. With her hair cut short, Joan looked the obvious man to Monica's woman. She began to gently wipe the tears from Monica's cheeks and soon began to kiss her neck. It was clear that this time Monica was not going to push her away.

Joan took Monica's face in her hands and brought their lips together. The initial kiss was one of immediate passion. Joan had sensed that her moment had come and was not about to lose any time, whether I sat by witnessing the scene or not.

Monica's eyes closed providing her the false sense of anonymity that alcohol can engender. Her head fell back as Joan's mouth fell to her neck and buried itself into her flesh. Now it was Monica who became the object of gratification for Joan's needs, as she began to succumb to the voracity of Joan's desire.

As Monica leaned backward from the pool's edge, Joan began pulling down the straps of her suit, literally tearing one of them from her shoulder. Monica's breasts were bared, her nipples taut with the anticipation I had seen in them many nights previous. Soon the more masculine partner was mouthing the breasts of her lover, roughly. Marks were forming around the soft flesh that Monica yielded to her suitor, whom issued a muffled grunt, and then tore the rest of Monica's suit from her hips, till it just slid down her thighs into the water.

The stout woman then lifted her lover from the water, laying her on the edge of the pool where Monica's thighs gently gave way, parting in invitation to Joan's assault.

Kneeling between the relenting thighs beneath her, Joan kissed each in turn and then—after pausing for several long moments, staring at the object of her passion—began to apply herself to Monica's slickened and swollen vaginal lips. As I watched, I thought of a devotee performing some intimate sacrament.

Monica grasped her own breasts firmly and began to roughly maul herself, her eyes clasped tightly shut, as if straining to use the sensuality of Joan's ministrations to drown out all memory and desire of and for herself. Perhaps, she also sought to drown out remnants of guilt over her calculated divorce and her narcissistic advice to Mona—and perhap, just perhaps, her compulsive need for cleanliness.

Yet, even now her sex was done while performing ablution in the pool.

Monica groaned under the lash of Joan's invasive tongue, writhing on the edge of the pool and slowly closing her thighs about the face of the invading presence below. As her excitement mounted, her moaning turned closer to muffled squeals. She clamped and loosened her thighs from about Joan's head, again and again. Her eyes never opened.

Suddenly, Monica's back arched under the persistent tongue of her new lover. Her thighs clamped in a prolonged embrace, smothering Joan from view.

"Yes…" Monica hissed, loudly.

She seemed oblivious to whomever or whatever had provided her pleasure. All that seemed to matter was that she had found release.

Both women appeared passionate and, at the same time, strangely self-involved.

Moments followed in which the two seemed frozen in time. Then the feminine lover's thighs slowly fell open releasing the instrument of her pleasure.

Joan lifted herself from the subdued thighs before her, and turned, waist high in the water, looking over at me—her taunter. Her face glistened with the residue of Monica's submission. The look she gave was one of satisfaction and triumph. I wasn't sure whether she sensed greater triumph over me or the object of her desire—Monica.

Then the masculine woman leaned forward, kissing the lips that once censured her advances, but were now freely offered up to her. She looked down at Monica as Parsifal must have upon his grail. But my view of the two women then dissolved into an image in which one served as stake, binding the other to her. As Joan turned to me again, she seemed baptized not in water but in heat and flame. My sense was that any grail quest was doomed to martyrdom.

I wasn't sure Joan could survive attaining the Holy Chalice. Inevitably, questors find the sceptre empty—both of substance and of spirit.

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