Friday, July 31, 2009

First Things by Spencer Dew


In the morning one of the houses across the street catches fire in a minor way. Four hook and ladder trucks come out, plus some kind of fire department ambulance, a couple of cop cars.

We sit on meditation cushions at your breakfast table, an old industrial wire spool right up against the window, and we watch as guys in flame retardant coveralls, holding breathing apparatuses, shake hands and give high fives and chum around. Apparently the fire has brought out people from different stations, and there is a lot of good-natured joshing - You old son of a bitch, stuff like that.

You tell a story about a fire in the building you lived in years ago, in San Francisco, which sounds more to me like a story about a fireman you met and then later fucked, on and off, purely casual, for years.

It is our first morning together. You claim it a good omen that the house across the street doesn’t burn down, that the people there aren’t hurt. We see one of them, an elderly lady, with a lapdog, standing on the porch. The dog yelps a little, seems to want to jump down, but she holds it tight in the crook of her arm. We can’t hear for sure, but she seems to keep saying thank you to the firemen and the cops.

After breakfast - yogurt with berries and nuts - we fuck more, mainly anal, because you say you like that best, that it allows for more feeling. You like to feel it, you say, and you also say, during the act, please, please, please, please, please.

So by ten or so, maybe nine thirty, I am bored as hell, already regretting you. Your bedroom, hung with its dumb found-object art made by old friends of yours, including one lesbian ex-lover, currently pregnant thanks to the wonders of science, stinks like whatever organic lube you use, which smells to me like paste, the kind of paste we all had to bring to kindergarten, way back, just so we could make messes with it and wrinkle up otherwise good examples of drawing or coloring or watch some freak peel strips of it, dry, off his desk, and eat it.

That kid later got arrested for statutory rape. But this is a story from my life, so it doesn’t get air time. You’re telling me, instead, all about your parents, all about the divorce, all about your mother’s second marriage, your father’s coming out, your mother’s second divorce.

You start in on your brother’s suicide attempt, but I tell you I’m taking a shower, that I want to take a shower. That’s when you accuse me of being rude. Just because it was in my asshole, is that it, you say.

But maybe you were joking because after I’m done in the shower, having scrubbed my dick with every hippy soap and shampoo and lotion you own, I come out and you’ve made tea with soy milk and are in the middle of some reminiscence about happier moments from childhood, Orange Julius and little kid birthday parties at McDonald’s, with Mayor Mc-, Maybe Mc-… You can’t remember his name.

I ask for sugar, but you don’t have sugar, sugar is processed and corporate and bad for you. You pat my belly and tell me you have something made out of crystallized maple syrup, and I think, clearly, about how I need to put my clothes on and leave, and how you need to put some clothes on just because, but you sit there on the meditation cushion in a threadbare orange robe left hanging open.

You ask how I lost my virginity, because, you say, you were a late bloomer, and then you start in on that story, and it has details that I just don’t want to know, mainly about the public restroom facilities on our Interstate system but also about your body, which is just there, spilling out between the tattered sides of your robe, deflated tits and folded belly and a bush that maybe has grown an inch or two since I last had any dealings with it, which dealings involved nearly choking to death, or so it seemed. It was so quick, you say, and then we got back in the car and kept driving. But I always used the campus ride-share board after that.

I realize that even though my first time was in a Super 8 during Fall Formal my junior year of high school and that I probably only lasted two minutes and my girlfriend scolded me, after, for walking to the bathroom in bare feet, because she just knew the carpet had to be filthy, even still, I realize, that first time went on for years, crushing and passionless, a staggering relationship founded more on the idea of endurance than anything like enjoyment of each other’s company.

My first time nearly led to marriage, I say, and you laugh, though you then tell me you almost laughed so hard that tea with soy milk came out your nose and you clearly didn’t laugh that hard at all, more a polite giggle, as if we’re already faking emotions and lying to each other about it.

That night you explain the symbolism of the pieces of art hanging in your bedroom, many of which were made specifically with you in mind, designed to speak to your particular biography. You have no showered, possibly for days, and I use both my hands to part your pubic hair, thinking mainly of myself, though you like it. Please, you say, and, later, Please stay the night.

Requiem for John Sex - Cave

Spencer Dew is the author of the story collection 'Songs of Insurgency' (Vagabond Press, 2008). He lives in Chicago and has been published in many venues, including Thieves Jargon, THE2NDHAND, Juked, Diagram, and Word Riot.

Photo by Adam Lawrence.
Street art by
Rod Stuart Loves The Hamptons.

Chicago's Cave are master of live loop and pulsing rhythms.

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