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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Buddy Pegs, by James Nulick

joey2

 

KayKay lived on the second floor. Her cousin Rachel and I were friends, and when I was short on money after my father and I had parted ways, I said I needed a place to stay and KayKay’s cousin said go see KayKay, she lives in a small complex downtown. She says it’s very friendly. You’ll like it there. So I visited KayKay one evening after work, or maybe it was a Saturday. I called her on her cell and she said be right down. I stood outside the gated complex waiting for her. Welcome to Rainbow Acres, dear. She opened the gate and I stepped inside a dark alcove which led to a courtyard. A kidney-shaped pool, surrounded by tiki torches, was the centerpiece of the courtyard. I talked to the manager about you, KayKay said. She’s waiting to meet you.

 

***

Central Palms had been nicknamed Rainbow Acres by the residents because there were so many queers living in the complex. KayKay was not a lesbian – a black girl in her late twenties, she had once slept with my underage nephew, who was sixteen at the time. He had slid under the locked gate very late one evening to meet up with her, an impossibility if you weighed a hair over 120 pounds. KayKay’s cousin – my friend – told me my nephew had hooked up with her cousin more than once. So he likes black girls, I said. Or maybe just girls, my friend said.

 

***

Rainbow Acres had thirty-six one bedroom units, first floor and second floor. There was a small laundry room, coin operated, at the rear of the complex, near the manager’s apartment. The manager, a tiny lesbian named Diana, was somewhere south of sixty, and lived alone. Rent’s due by the third of the month. Don’t be late – don’t make me knock on your door demanding the rent. Just slip the check under my door by the third, and there won’t be a problem. On weeknights, quiet hours begin at nine. Don’t cause any problems and there won’t be any. We’re a small, friendly community and we look out for each other. Some are working people and some aren’t, but we all respect each other. Got it?

 

***

I was in-between boyfriends. My boyfriend and I had recently split up – the first time – and I was lonely. I’d met another boy, I say boy but he was twenty-nine, and although I liked him, and was willing to go to the gym with him, something I would never do under loveless circumstances, we just didn’t click. I gave and he received, there was no back and forth between us. I once tried holding him in bed, a few weeks into our whatever it was, and he violently threw my hand off his stomach. I was shocked, and lay motionless for hours, not moving, as if nothing had happened. In the morning he said hey and gotta go and I’ll see you after work. It took me a few months to realize his heart was an ice pack and nothing I could do, no matter how much I loved him, or thought I loved him, would change that. I nicknamed him the refrigerator, and would only call him the refrigerator when referring to him in conversation with the few friends I had. It became so bad I started thinking of my old boyfriend. I had to maintain a laser focus to prevent strolling down any familiar paths.

 

***

I was attempting to repair a lamp when KayKay knocked on my door. I didn’t realize you were so domestic, she said. I’m not, but I can’t call my daddy every time something is broken. Why not, she said. I do. I laughed at her frivolousness. She held a bottle in her hand. I come bearing gifts, she said. Got any glasses? Once inside, she set the bottle of Chivas on the kitchen counter. I like my scotch like I like my men, aged twelve years. I burst out laughing. Your cousin warned me about you, I said. That bitch knows I’m right! I took two mismatched glasses from a cabinet over the ancient stove. Girl can’t you afford a matching set? I’m only part-time, I said.

 

***

May – I began stalking the refrigerator. I walked my bike out the apartment door, hunched my butt over the seat, my left foot on the left pedal, my right foot caressing the pavement. I opened the gate, a carefully choreographed motion which prevented the gate from slamming shut. I rode into the May night. It was very warm, at least ninety degrees. I wore black Dickies, a black T-shirt, and a baseball cap – I did not want to be noticed. It was nearly a three mile ride from my apartment gate to his house. I pedaled on streets I had known my entire life, their names clicking off miles in my head. Virginia, Thomas, Osborn, Clarendon. I was the only one on the street; everyone else was sealed away in a dark frosty cave, hidden from the day’s sun. The blue light of television screens peeped through windows, briefly highlighting my anonymity.

 

***

I saw him through the window, a glimpse of him through the curtains. He was on his bed, looking at a magazine of some sort. His hair was cut very short, the stubble on his skull so thick it resembled suede. I must have stared at him through the window for five minutes. He was completely under my gaze, an insect, and he had no idea anyone was watching him. I waited for him to do something, to touch himself, to get lost in the magic of his own body, but he only continued reading his magazine, his lips slightly open. Even alone, he was boring. I lay my bike down carefully and looked to my left, my right. The bedroom window of the house opposite his was dark. I knew his two roommates were not home. I kicked off one shoe and used my foot to pry off the other. I unlooped my belt and dropped my pants, hiding them in the sunburnt grass. I stripped off my T-shirt and wadded it into a ball, tossing it on the ground. My empty clothes were a sea of black fabric that reflected no light. I stood at his window in my boxers and socks. He flipped a page in his magazine, his lazy eyes getting smaller. I traced the outline of his body through his pants, his shirt. I placed my left hand on a windowpane and slowly pulled on the muntin until the window opened, the cool air of the house blasting against my naked chest.

 

***

June – I met him in the no strings attached section of craigslist. He had posted pictures of his penis online. Once I had his email I sent him a face pic. He was Asian, small, with an empty face. His online profile stated he was twenty-four. You big, he asked. Short and thick, I replied. Like a beer can, I wrote, with a smiley face after the sentence. Oh good, thick good. I live in _____, he said. Can you meet at my house? We have dinner here.

He was Vietnamese. His name was Tuan Dong, which seemed appropriate. He looked thirty-five, not twenty-four. Why were queers always lying about their age? The food was ok – bland, warm, too salty. I’m not really hungry, I said. He grabbed my hand and led me to the bedroom. You really live here alone, I asked. Yes, he said. It was a big house for a single man – three bedrooms. I had my doubts – the décor didn’t match his blank page personality. His stripped off his clothes, then undressed me. He pulled my shirt over my head, giving me scarecrow hair. My penis was already hard when he slipped my boxers off. He paid attention only to the lower portion of my body, as if my legs were an instrument designed to allow my penis to move around. I catalogued his body as he knelt on the floor below me – smooth skin, unremarkable features, dark nipples, and a small but hard penis. He worked on me until I became lightheaded – Wait, I said.

We were both on his bed. He rolled over and opened the top drawer of a nightstand. As he did so, I looked at his butt. He had a nice butt. It had been a month since I’d had sex – at least with another person. I massaged his taut balls through his legs as he lay on his stomach, fishing for something in the drawer. He rolled on his back, a fold of blue cloth in his hand. It looked like a soft blue diaper, or a larger version of an eyeglass cleaning cloth. He carefully unrolled the material on the bed. Three thin stainless steel tubes lay on the cloth – each looked to be about twelve inches long, each with a metal bulb on the end of it. Rosebuds, he said. I don’t know what they are, I said. We watch video, he said. You’ll see. He retrieved a remote from the top of the nightstand, pushed a few buttons, and in a matter of seconds a video that had been paused started up where it had left off. On the screen, a man with a hard cock slowly pushed a thin lubed tube into his urethra, while his partner worked the button of his asshole like a telethon matron. I turned away, repulsed. I lifted his arm, kissed his armpit. He was nearly hairless. He continued watching the screen as I rolled his balls between my fingers, took his cock into my mouth. He moved in such a way that his genitals fell out of my mouth and were beyond reach.

You’re boring, he said. Why not try rosebuds? I envisioned my hands wrapped around his neck, squeezing the life from him. Would he struggle? He was small, delicate. He was weak and I knew it would be nothing, over in a moment. I don’t like pain, I said. It’s not painful, he said. It’s good – incredible! No thanks – maybe some other time. He sighed and lay back on the bed, watching the screen reveal its violent images. Having drove this far, I wasn’t leaving with nothing. I spat on his dick and rolled the foreskin over his glans, laughing because his penis was clammy and resembled a rice paper egg roll. He was as white and delicate as Lenox glass. What’s funny, he asked. Never mind, I said. I continued jerking him off, working his balls between my fingers. His upper legs involuntarily tightened, his breath quickened. He came on his belly, on my hand. It was a small amount – he’d probably masturbated earlier that day. As his dick softened he fast-forwarded through the DVD, frustrated that he couldn’t find a particular scene. I was bored. He obviously had no interest in making me come. I tugged on my dick a few times, disinterested in the whole evening, suddenly wanting a drink. Where’s your restroom? I asked. In there, he said. A closed doorway, which I’d assumed was a closet, led to a master bath. I pulled on my boxers, flipped on the light and washed my hands. I closed the door and tugged on my dick again, hard and fast. When I was about to come I twisted my body over an expensive-looking clothes hamper and lifted the lid, coming over a pile of soiled clothes. I pulled a dirty shirt from the hamper and wiped the tip of my dick on it. Fuck you, I said. When I opened the door I gathered my clothes and got dressed. I’ll see you, I said – knowing I would never see him again. See you, he said. His eyes never drifted from the television. As I closed his front door and headed toward my car I removed my car keys from my pocket and dragged a key deeply across the surface of the black Nissan Armada in his drive. I had something growing inside me, a nebulous hatred. I wanted to damage something, to draw blood. What was I becoming?

 

***

July – I responded to his m4m craigslist post. His name was Juan. My complex was gated, so if he was ugly I would simply turn around and head back to my apartment. He didn’t know my name, didn’t know which car was mine in the small lot behind the apartment complex. We agreed to 8pm and he was there, as promised. He was more handsome than his pic, which was rare. The sun had finally slipped behind a few tall palms and was threatening to extinguish itself. I opened the gate and let him in; he followed me to my unlocked door. Would you like a drink, I asked. Sure, he said. I massaged his crotch as he sipped his whiskey. I took his hand in mine and led him into the bedroom.

When I was younger, in my mid-thirties, I was more open to friendships that threatened to go nowhere. A friend of mine at work was a rock hound. My girlfriend and I collect rocks, he said. We go on hiking trips on weekends and set up a tent. Do you find nice rocks, I asked. Oh yes, he said. I’ll bring some in sometime. He was unassuming, in his mid-fifties. He was in good shape for his age. He had wiry white hair and a thin build. He often came to my desk during lunch break and told ridiculously inappropriate jokes. What do you say to a Mexican in a three piece suit, he said. I don’t know – what? Will the defendant please rise? With my Teutonic surname he obviously had no idea I was Hispanic. I tried imagining doing something as simple as camping with a loved one, but I couldn’t. Come to my desk when you have a moment, he said.

The cutting equipment costs about twenty grand, but I got all my equipment on eBay for seven thousand. An empty Crown Royal bag sat to the left of his monitor. Splayed on his desk were perhaps twenty stones. He picked each one up and told its story – a story older than both of us. This one is from California. I found it on a beach outside San Francisco. You ever been to Pacifica? I shook my head no. He told other stories. This one is from Washington state. The good ones sound like glass. He took a small pointed hammer from his desk and demonstrated. The polished rock had a glassy sound when he tapped it. He then picked up a small river rock and tapped it to great effect. Boring, he said. Can you tell? I picked up a greyish-white stone that had been cut in half. What appeared normal on the outside was filled with purple and blue crystals, an amazing world crushed and hidden under a million years of dirt. His cutting equipment had opened it up and exposed its beauty to the world. You cut and polish all these yourself? Yes, he said. I imagined him in his garage, with his rock hound girlfriend at his side. Is this what happiness is? Look at this one, he laughed, looking around to confirm that we were alone. He held a penis-shaped rock in his hand. It was approximately four inches long. I found it in a cave next to this one, believe it or not. He picked up a geode that resembled a vagina, its purple lips exposed to the world. They fit together perfectly, he said.

I climbed on top of Juan and something miraculous happened. As he was fucking me I came on his belly. This had never happened to me before – I had no idea such a thing could happen. I realized at that moment that I would always remember his name, the belt buckle riding below his navel, the way his hair fell on the pillowcase. I emptied everything I ever was onto him. After he came he was very still. He then rolled on his side, his head balanced in one hand. I’m married, he said. I have two daughters. Why do this? I asked. I guess I’ve always been like this, he said. I’ve always known. But my wife, I don’t know. Maybe she’s bored. He was quite handsome, late twenties. His daughters must have been very young. She has no idea? I asked. I don’t think so, he said. Maybe. I looked at his hand and saw the ring. Ever been with a married man before, he asked. Yes, I said. A boy in the army, I said. He was my friend. After we fucked, he never spoke to me again. Typical man, Juan said.

I don’t know when it started, Juan said. I lay next to him, listening. I said nothing. I would go to these clubs, he said. There were men there, dressed like women. Trannies, you know? But some were real men. There were these lockers. You could rent a locker for forty dollars and a little room for sixty. You could walk around nude – people often did. The girls stayed near the bar, which only served Cokes and bottled water. Seven dollars for a Coke, shit like that. I’d always wanted to feel full. I bought a pair of nylons and dropped a golf ball into it. I tied the nylons around it and shoved it up my ass. It took forever but I eventually got the hang of it. I’d do it at home, then go to the club with a golf ball up my ass, walk around. I looked at him, the part of his hair, his lips, the way his chest moved as he breathed. My wife never suspected. Just going out to meet the guys, I told her. She is always so jealous of me talking to women, but she really has no idea. I had a little piece of the nylon, a tail, sticking out of my ass. A guy was blowing me at the club and I told him to yank on the tail when I was about to come. Jesus, it was incredible. So liberating. I thought I was going to come forever. It’s easier now, maybe not so exciting. But that’s how it always is. Juan relaxed into a pillow, his splayed fingers behind his head. I tried imagining a golf ball up my ass but couldn’t. Anything else, I asked. Women’s clothes, he said. Pretty vanilla. You’re not vanilla, I said. I rolled him over on his side. I looked at his ass, the divots on his lower back. No tail tonight, I said.

 

***

Somewhere around fourteen I discovered this wonderful thing. When I wanted to jerk off, which was pretty much all the time, I’d go into my bedroom and close the door, turn on the TV like I was watching it. I’d get completely undressed and lay on my bed. I would concentrate on my breathing, slow it down, really listen to it. It took a lot of practice, but after a few weeks it became easier. I would lift my back off the mattress and slowly drop my legs over my head, my head between my knees. I kept breathing, concentrating on nothing. When my head was sufficiently blank I’d concentrate on my penis – it was only a few inches from my face. I would collapse my back and fold myself further, using the wall for leverage by pushing my feet against it, then dropping back down, working my body until my spine became a warm paperclip. I would mouth the tip of my dick with my lips, stop breathing, fold down further, and collapse into myself. Another few minutes of controlled breathing and my entire dick was in my mouth. I’d suck it for I don’t know how long – time lost all meaning. I’d caress the base of the shaft between thumb and forefinger; bob my head up and down, move with the direction of my spine. It often crossed my mind how ridiculous this would look if my mother were to suddenly walk in, but I didn’t care – I was a slave to the rhythm and pull of my body. Jets crossed the night sky, planets slowly died, people were starving in Mumbai – I didn’t care. I built myself up to the moment of the inevitable, the liquid rush filling my mouth. There is nothing greater than coming in your own mouth, swallowing the ocean that roars between your legs, a sweat-slick ouroboros with your ass in the air.

 

***

Sept / October 2007 – The present became so terrible I began fondly recalling the recent past. I rolled my Free Agent out the door, its nubby tires blackening the carpet. Outside I walked it until I got up some speed, hovered over the seat and rode around the courtyard. It was hot and out of my peripheral I saw four or five people sitting around the kidney-shaped pool in the middle of the courtyard. They were drinking. Someone yelled nice bike! He came rushing toward me on his own bike. Ride to the store with me, he said. Uncle do you mind? A man in his early thirties looked at me warily, then nodded. He was a muscled-up gorilla in a T-shirt. The boy was slight and very young, maybe eighteen. His baseball cap was turned around on his head and his clothes were very baggy, as if he were still kicking remnants of 2002 around. We rode to Circle K and I bought grape blunt wraps. I’m Joey. I’m living with my uncle until I get my own place. His big pronouncements sounded funny coming from such a small body. He was a natural flirt, easy and confident, moving freely among the crowd like a greased ball bearing. We soon found ourselves making regular trips to my younger brother’s house on the west side of town. My brother sold high grade chronic. This shit is stupefying, Joey said one evening. We were in the car headed back to my apartment. Cassadaga was in the CD player, blasting through eight speakers. Joey pounded his fist into the headliner. I love your car, he shouted.

KayKay noticed me riding my bike around the block with Joey after work. Don’t be getting yourself in trouble, she said, admonishing me from the second floor. I looked up at her face, her pulsar crotch. I’m like Alexis Carrington up here! I see everything! She spread her hands wide to indicate her domain. Sometimes Joey would ride his own bike, a Haro Hyper, or if he was being lazy he would ride on my buddy pegs, his fingers tightly gripping my shoulders. Who’s that, he asked. Nunya, I said, laughing as we made our way through a bumpy alley.

It went on for a month, the trips to Circle K, the blunt wraps, the Icees, hanging out in my apartment drinking Pacífico. He sat on the couch zoning to my bootleg DVDs of Sifl & Olly stoned and laughing. When he removed his baseball cap his closely-cropped hair had indents in it from the cap. He rubbed his hand over his hair, waking it up. I got a scar, he said. He lifted his shirt and a zigzag cut across his abdomen like an ice-breaker cutting through forbidden territory.

His uncle knocked on my apartment door on a Saturday evening. It was somewhere around 10pm. I opened the door and he said in a very stern manner Joey needs to come home right now. His words sounded forced, like he wasn’t used to talking to other adults. He’s only seventeen, you know. How old are you? Thirty-six, I said. That was the last time I saw Joey. One day I came home from work and opened the apartment door to escape the world. A small envelope had been pushed under the door. I closed the door and opened the envelope. It was a thank you card, the kind that came in a box of ten. I’ll be eighteen in 6 months, it said. Can’t wait until March! It was his name on paper, one last time.

I googled his name a few years ago and saw that he was serving a life sentence for murder, a drug deal gone horribly wrong. He was twenty-one years old when he was sentenced – LIFE – did I not love him enough?

 

***

November 2007 – I missed Joey. I hadn’t realized how important he had become, despite the minimal amount of time we had spent together, until he was gone. I was imagining March, how terribly far away it seemed. I went on a website called Men4Rent and ordered a hustler whose tag was SK8RBoy. His guest book was recent and complimentary. Lasts long, takes forever to come. Nice lips. Bubble butt. The usual. Two hundred dollars per hour, one hour minimum. We agreed to 8pm. Prostitutes were less complicated – money was exchanged, and there was no useless talk. SK8RBoy reminded me of Joey. How old are you? I asked. Twenty-two, he said. His name was Eric. He took off my clothes. My body was old, flabby. It had once been twenty-two. I felt very far away. Do you mind if I keep your boxers when we’re done, I asked. Sure, he said. I gave him a fifty dollar tip for the trouble.

I took a high school typing class when I was eighteen. I was a senior. I thought if I’m going to be a writer, I’d better learn how to type. Typing without looking, without thinking about the keys. Just let the words flow through my fingers. There was a blond boy in class. Paying any attention to him was unusual for me because I didn’t usually like blonds. On our first day of class he wore a Slayer Reign in Blood shirt. I decided I had to know him, his name. I asked the teacher, a man in his fifties, the blond boy’s name. He considered me for a moment. Michael, he said.

Michael learned how to drive by driving my car, a battered Volkswagen Sirocco with a manual transmission. Find it don’t grind it, I said. Michael was fourteen, a freshman. He had the underdeveloped body of a prepubescent girl. We spent a lot of time together. His father was an engineer, and never seemed to be home. There was a sister, maybe thirteen, and no mother. The sister often had a girlfriend over. One evening as we were watching Night Court on a Trinitron Michael strutted into the living room in his briefs and danced before the girls. He pulled his waistband down and jiggled his dick in front of his sister’s girlfriend. The girls screamed and laughed. Michael was large for his age, his penis surrounded by an untamed bush of dark curls that seemed impossible on his girlish body. I pretended to find Harry Anderson more interesting, but I inventoried Michael with a quick side glance that betrayed nothing.

 

***

I was in love with him, but he didn’t know it, or if he did, he didn’t let on. I let him wear my high school ring. It fit nicely on his pinky finger. His friend Ewell was jealous of our friendship. You guys are always together, he said. We were sitting outside the school cafeteria. Fucking fags. Fuck you man, Michael said. I’m not a fag. We traded Iron Maiden shirts, something I’d never done before. When he gave me his shirt I kept it in my room, inhaling the armpits, the neckline. I wore his Powerslave shirt and he wore my The Number of the Beast shirt to school on the same day. No one noticed. Was our love real? What kind of love was it? Our relationship was odd, like a married but sexless couple who knew everything about each other except the most obvious.

Can you help me run away, he asked. My mother’s being a bitch – she wants to get back together with my dad. I liked it better when it was just my dad. We should change your hair, I said. You could live with me and my sister, I said. Michael shook his head yes. I would ask my sister later, once Michael was stowed in my bedroom. We drove to a supermarket on the west side of town and looked for hair dye. I want to dye my hair black, Michael said. It’ll match my nails. He laughed. I bought the box of dye – Michael never seemed to have any money. He had recently turned fifteen. Can I drive, he asked. He was getting better, smoother. Yes. Be careful, I said.

His mother found us, the hair dye unused, the box unopened. What were you going to do, she asked him. I said nothing. Michael stared at the carpet in my sister’s apartment as if it held all the answers to the world’s mysteries. I can’t believe this, she said. You know we love you, don’t you? I think that’s enough, my sister said, rescuing me from having to open my mouth. I watched Michael get into his mother’s Jeep Cherokee. His sister Jennifer waved from the back seat, her hair pulled back and held together with an elastic hair tie. She was quickly becoming a young woman.

My sister and I got into an argument and I moved out of her apartment. I stole her television while she was at work because she owed me eighty dollars. I moved into a ratty house with a bunch of friends. I had my sister’s off-brand television, a few books, and a bed. My room was a blank. One of my friends, a boy I hardly knew, always walked around the house with his shirt off. He had a habit of riding his Kuwahara up and down the hall. He peddled into my room one evening, dropped his bike and sat on my bed as I watched television. Wanna hit this, he asked. He held a joint in his hand. Sure, I said. After the joint was gone he lay on the bed next to me. We were propped against the wall, a slump block sofa. I thought of my sister sitting in her apartment without her television, my niece and nephew screaming because the box was gone. I feel terrible, my friend said. Me too, I said. I stared at the homemade tattoo on his bicep. It was a girl’s name – Andrea. Who was she, I asked. Just a girl I knew, he said. He was twenty, two years older than me. I miss her like I haven’t missed anyone before, he said. I studied the sagittal hair below his navel. She’s gone and I’m so fucking bored. I was stupid. I’m always doing stupid shit, scaring people away. You’re not gay, are you? No, I said, pretending to watch television. I’ve got another one if you wanna hit it. He dug around in his pocket as I fingered the remote. Sure, I said – anything to keep him in the room with me for a bit longer.

 

joey1

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** This weekend we get a real treat because the d.l. and, much more importantly, author (‘Valencia’, ‘Distemper’) James Nulick has given us DC’s readers, maker(s), commenters and lurkers exclusive access to a new short fiction work. Please spend the time you spend here this weekend poring over it, and please say something or other to James in your comments because, as I know I don’t really need to tell you, sharing work here or anywhere is both a generous and courageous act replete with hopes, nerves, and curiosity. Thanks a lot, folks. And, of course, biggest thanks to you, James! ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, D. Thanks, man, glad you’re with me on her. Her legendary turn in ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They’ is what originally made me a fan. And her great performances in ‘The Maids’ and Altman’s ‘Images’ more than cemented that. Oh, that former bottom of the sea thing does give Palm Springs a more positive spin. And I guess their film festival is supposed to be better than one might think. I’ve never been much of a fan of Michael Chabon, but his son seems cool. ** Steevee, Hi. Thanks, I’ll search knowing that. I remember, as perhaps you do, when TLC actually was a channel that attempted to provide what its moniker promised before said moniker got shortened to that acronym. I like your idea of what you want your protagonist to talk about at the end. Yeah, that sounds like a really good, exciting idea. ** B, Hi, Bear. Wow, a Friars Club. That’s funny and intriguing. My parents took me to see that ancient insult-hurling comedian Don Rickles perform at one of those when I was young. I remember wanting to punch him in the face even though I was a pacifist at the time. And I remember the club smelled musty. I’ve never been to the Armory, no. Which is quite strange, as I’ve always wanted to. I saw that multiple Cate Blanchett video work in Melbourne when I was down there. I found it very irritating and phony, and I kind of hated it, but people seem to like it, so who knows. What did you think? Have a most fine weekend, man. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi, Dóra! Good, good, I’m really glad you’re feeling hopeful. I’m picking up my new glasses this afternoon. In the meantime, my poor, dismembered glasses and I are still like a seal balancing a ball on its nose, but with a resultant slight headache on my part that hopefully the seal wouldn’t have. Nice about the lovely meeting with your writer friend, but, oh no, about the possible arriving cold. It does seem like half my friends here have a cold or a flu at the moment. I hope it backed off, or, at the very least, takes it very easy on you. My day … Our producer found a promising seeming young physially disabled guy, so we’re going to meet with him soon. That was good. A bunch of other film stuff. I ordered my new glasses. That was good. Then Zac and I met up with the newly returned Michael ‘Kiddiepunk’ Salerno and Benedetta ‘Oscar B’ DeAlessi and their newborn son Milo. That was very nice. The baby seems very cool, although he was having a big crying jag for most of the time we were there. Zac and I brought along an ice cream buche that we bought for them back when it was buche season, and we bought/brought a completely amazing galette de rois, which, if you don’t know, is this cake that basically all French people eat during the month of January each year. It comes with a paper crown on top and a toy baked inside. Whoever gets the slice with the toy in it gets to be the king and wear the crown. Benedetta was the king. We got the galette from the legendarily and truly greatest bakery in Paris, Du Pain et des Idees. Their breads and cakes and things are like going heaven on earth via your mouth. So the galette was insanely delicious and was worth the 45 minutes we spent waiting in line in the freezing cold to buy it. Anyway, we all had a lovely visit, and then I came come and crashed. Nice day. Do you have intriguing plans for the weekend? And fingers very crossed that you don’t get that cold. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Yes, she’s so amazing in ‘The Maids’, right? She and Glenda Jackson: what a combo. ** James Nulick, Hi. First, ‘in-person’ gratitude galore for the gift of your wunderbar story! I don’t think SY wrote. Maybe a memoir or something. Thank you for praising my interview-seeking eye. I’m getting replacement glasses this afternoon, and not a moment too soon. I can say with total objectivity that Zac’s and my new film is going to be absolutely fucking amazing. Word. 37 custom designed pinatas! Have a very, very good weekend! ** Bernard, Hi, B. Oh, okay, understood about the secretive project. Oh, please, please do send me that Domenica del Corriere stuff. A post will result! Henry Fuesli … no, no post thus far. His name sounds vaguely familiar. I’ll go see what’s what. I’m sure I’ll see that famous painting and slap my head in ‘duh’-ness. I don’t know that ‘A Christmas Carol’. I think I skipped her TV work when post-making to save myself some hours. I think you might have mentioned the last time I saw you that Doug Lang’s health hasn’t been so great. I’m so sorry to hear that. Yes, a lot of poet losses recently. David Meltzer just the other day. Requesting old days counts as a question I think? Yeah, surely. ‘Have you rerun David E’s Frank O’Hara day, or the Kuchar Bros, or Perec?’ No on the first two, and I will in those cases. I think I did repost at least one of my Perec posts not too long ago, but let me check to make sure. Thank you! Be as Bernardian as possible until Monday at the very earliest. ** Okay. You know what to do if you haven’t yet done so. Enjoy James’s work and make some noise please. See you on Monday.

21 Comments

  1. I’d like to read more of that story.

  2. Yes, I recall when TLC actually was “the Learning Channel.” Also, when A&E actually was “Arts & Entertainment,” not a series of “Duck Dynasty” marathons and endless reality shows glorifying cops. My parents can complain bitterly about these losses for hours, although cable has moved on – I think Viceland has some really interesting shows, although half their programming seems aimed at people who are doing bong hits while watching the channel. (One of their more recent additions is a show about cooking with cannabis.)

  3. Beautiful Beautiful BEAUTIFUL stuff, James . Reminds me of one of my favorite Sondheim songs sung here by the beautiful Gavin Creel

    Latest FaBlog: “Including ‘and’ and ‘the’ “

  4. Hey James and Dennis

    Long time it’s been since here was I! Happy New Year.

    Read this twice, once this morning and again just now. James, the subject and your perspective would have had me anyway, but I especially like your warm spine. I like the form and its rhythm too. Is this an excerpt from a bigger project? Will more of it be forthcoming? I’ll definitely be reading Valencia very soon.

    How are you Dennis? I’ve been in the Scottish countryside over Christmas with very slow internet. It’s ecstatically quiet and when there are no clouds at night the sky is full of stars. Have you got your new flat sorted out now? Exciting to read about the new film!

    Best

    Joe

    • Joe / New Juche,

      thank you for your lovely words.. no, it is not part of a larger project, it is a stand-alone piece. Thank you about Valencia, I hope you enjoy it!

  5. James – this is beautiful, as is all of your writing. You know I’m a huge fan. That fandom gets stretched and strengthened anytime I read something new from you. I hope you’re well and I’m wishing you a very Happy Birthday, as well! xoxo

    Dennis – Hey – happy new year! Sorry for ducking out – xmas wasn’t a lot of fun so I lay low. All good now though. Hope your new year as started well – exciting reading about the progress with yours and Zac’s new film. Have you found any time to work on your novel?
    Oh and I don’t think I gave you a link to my end of year/best of 2016 thing, in which you feature a few times of course. It’s a big long ramble with a load of photos I took of art from over the year: http://bitmapcrematorium.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/2016-past-tense.html

  6. Hi!

    Thank you! The cold seems to take it easy on me, indeed! It’s nothing too special.
    That’s really nice news about the promising seeming actor your producer found! When can you meet him?
    I’m glad the meeting with your friends and their little baby was so pleasant! Oh, yes! I remember learning about the galette de rois tradition when I was in high school! And god, I looked through the page of the bakery and I literally couldn’t choose what I’d try first. I’m a huge fan of high-quality pastry!
    I spent my weekend curing myself and preparing for my thesis presentation so it wasn’t that very exciting but in the evenings I’m re-watching Twin Peaks and I really enjoy that. I got this book, The Secret Story of Twin Peaks for Christmas and I want to read it when I remember every little detail about the whole series.
    How was your weekend? I hope it was lovely!

    And thank you, James, for your piece! I really enjoyed reading it!

  7. Hi, James! I enjoyed your piece very much, thank you for sharing it. I especially like the structure and the tone. I definitely need to read ‘Valencia’ now.

    Hi, Dennis! I’m sorry for not writing back on Friday. It was Three Kings’ Day and I went to spend the day with my mum, who lives outside Barcelona. We ended up visiting some family I hadn’t seen for a while. That was pretty stressful, I’m not used to family meetings anymore and I got back home exhausted. Yesterday I woke up with a slight emotional hangover. Haha, I get it, Fauchon is sort of like Zara. But again, it was delicious for us. Damn, fancy madeleines are hard to find, but I’m sure you will if they do exist. About Caen, I understand, it makes perfect sense that you have to shoot there. Wow, pinatas!! So, so cool! Hope you had an awesome weekend!

  8. James, I’ve been following your work for a long time and with each new piece you come more into your own as a distinct voice. I think the auto-phallatio piece stands out and the line–working my body until my spine became a warm paperclip–will stay with me until the end of time and, if we’re honest, that’s the most we can ask for from a work.

    I also dig the character description you get from the observation that the roommate at the end of the piece was always riding his Kuwahara up and down the hall. There is infinitely more that can be described in any scene than will be described, so it is not a matter of description so much as a matter of what we choose to describe and that one line brought that character to life for me.

    Finally, other than glistening lines about spinal paperclips and the such, the hallmark of your work for me has always been the sense that the author has been to these places in some form or another and you bring the same authenticity to this piece. Rosebuds sound painful but also real. This kind of writing expands the reader’s known universe. Kudos!

  9. @ James, I’m a fan of Valencia and a social media friend of yours, and I love Buddy Pegs a great deal also. As other DLs, have been saying, this bountiful gift leaves me very keen to read more.

  10. @ DC, you heard anything about The Lure? Andrew just sent me that trailer, and I can’t work out if it looks brilliant or terrible.

  11. @James–Are you working on a novel now?

    I feel guilty bringing this up in the same post, but ever since I saw Kubrick’s THE SHINING on New Year’s Eve, I’ve been interested in very early Stephen King. When I was a teenager, I read several of his novels, and THE SHINING was the only one I thought had any literary value. My parents work for their local library’s book sale, and tomorrow they’re going to see if the book sale has any spare copies of it they could give to me. I just took CARRIE out of the library.

    • steevee,

      I have outlined a new novel, but I haven’t started writing it yet.. I’m busy editing two manuscripts, neither mine, one is a novel, the other is a poetry collection. When I have finished editing those two manuscripts, I’ll begin waking up at 5am again to start work on my new novel.

      I hope your insurance issues have been resolved.

      • Thanks, but they haven’t. My doctor’s office said they’d take care of it, then I never heard anything from them. I need to call the doctor again next week.

  12. Dennis and friends,

    Oh dear, I realized I spelled Volkswagen Scirocco incorrectly, I hope you all found it in your heart to forgive me!

    Thank you to all who read and responded! You could have spent time with your families, been eating ice cream, driving your dream car, and yet you bothered with this little nugget of digital filth. Again, thank you!

    This was actually a molting act – my last and final piece of sexual writing. I’ve outlined a new novel which has nothing to do with sex, or skateboards, or BMX bike boys.. it is about an unemployed fortyish-something morbidly obese woman who lives with her mother and enjoys playing solitaire… and headgames. And that’s all I will reveal!

    Dennis, thank you for hosting this weekend, you are always such a lovely and beyond-gracious host… Merci!

    final thoughts.. / future non-sexual craiglist post :

    Wanted

    Fairly obscure writer seeks mature woman, preferably late fifties or early sixties, to teach me solitaire. Totally nonsexual. I have my own deck. $50 per 1 hour session, your own transportation a must. Teach me the philosophy and soul of the game. Face pic required.

  13. James – a great reminder that I need to read more of your work. Fantastic.
    Dennis – hi, so much good stuff lately. I still want to live in the unexploded fireworks. Been hung up on making sounds lately. Hope you’re great and more.

  14. hi dennis, hope all is well and that you get good news about the tv show and anything else you want good news about. i’m popping by really quickly covering my eyes with my fingers haha b/c i just wanted to tell you i did another chapbook thing and this one is on gumroad so no google mess

    https://gumroad.com/l/psnKW

    have a good day !

  15. Have a very nice body and wondering where we can hook up to fuck

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