When I was in college, I visited New York City for the second time in my life. The first time was with an aunt, an uncle and a couple of cousins, and we did the tourist thing. (One of the dumbest things I ever did, was when we were coming down the elevator from the world trade center, I decided not to pop my ears to see what the experience would be like. When I got to the ground floor, the experience was painful, muffly sounding, and ultimately regrettable.) So this time around in the big apple I was an untethered college student of drinking age, but with no monetary surplus. I was there for a journalism conference; the 101 dalmatians live action remake. Disney was paying for everything so my broke ass survived on room service, the gift basket contents, and the mini bar. When I took a walk outside of the hotel, I went to FAO Schwarz, and then sat down outside of Radio City Music Hall. For a few minutes I watched hundreds of people go by and I became intensely sad. My soft pretzel lost all its flavor. Maybe it was my Midwestern Ohio sensibilities, perhaps it was because I was alone there, but I got the feeling that if I sat outside Radio City Music Hall every single day at the same time every day, I would never see the same person twice. And that depressed me to my core. I think everyone feels a kinship with New York City based on how many movies we’ve seen filmed there or stretching back further in our cellular DNA there’s still some recognition of taking that boat to Ellis island and trying to find one’s fortune and safety in the New World. For me, New York is a nice place to visit, but I don’t think I could ever live there. Millions of people, lonely as hell.
Arnie walked back to the frat house with the girl he’d met at the bar. She was unsure and tipsy, hugging her arms against the brisk fall air. The leaves and acorns crunched under their shoes as he said again “Just a little further.”
He couldn’t remember if her name was was Kristie or Christine. It had been loud in the bar: raised voices and a shitty cover band had fought for auditory dominance. “There’s a party tonight,” Arnie had told her trying not to sound like the overeager freshman he was. “Better music, free beer and shots, whaddya say?” Kristie (or Christine?) doe-eyed and apologetic told him she was still waiting for her friends, who were super late. It took begging on his part to convince her. “I’m actually not part of the frat yet. I’m a pledge. If I don’t bring at least one beautiful girl to this party (that got a smirk out of her) then I won’t be considered for the house. You only have to stay for one drink. Please?”
They rounded the block and could hear male rabble, some nu metal blasting out of a top floor window. Arnie got to the front door emblazoned with Greek letters and she paused. “I don’t know,” she muttered.
“One drink,” Arnie said. “You’d be doing me such a solid. Please?” She hugged her arms to herself, looked down the wraparound porch.
“I pledge I won’t hurt you. Please come inside?” She looked in his eyes, set her jaw, licked her lips and exhaled. “Ok, lead the way.”
Arnie grinned wide but he felt a little like a sleazy lawyer. He pledged he wouldn’t hurt her but the seniors were expecting a little more than one drink. Especially since said drink had a little something added to it. Most of the seniors were in med school and had access to what they called “accelerators” which made a female agreeable and then unconscious and then forgetful. Kristie (steen?) was basically an offering.
Arnie was surprised there were no other girls there yet. The first one to bring a girl back would mean a pledge bonus and he’d have first dibs to opt out of one week of hazing. She was introduced to a flurry of the upper classmen in their lettered sweaters and they got her a cup of punch and watched her sip it over the edges of their own cups, leering like foxes.
A couple guys went to show her the trophy cases and Arnie was led away with congratulatory back slaps and headlocks. “I’ve gotta hit the head,” he said as he pushed his way to the bathroom and locked the door behind him. A turd spun a lazy circle on toilet paper bedding as the last flush failed to drop its contents into its sewer pipe purgatory. Arnie felt like that turd. The girl trusted him. He led her to certain unpleasantness. He thought about what his mother and aunts and grandmother and elementary school teachers and girl cousins would think of what he did. This was wrong. He felt sick. He wanted to rush out and take her back to the bar.
The noise outside was getting more rambunctious. The music got louder. Arnie thought he heard someone shout about dancing on the pool table and cheers went up all about the room. Hoots and animalistic bellows. Shouting. Screaming. Broken glass. Something thrown against the bathroom door. The music stopping suddenly. Silence.
Arnie slowly pushed the bathroom door open and saw there was a dead upper classman there, backwards baseball cap still on, throat torn out like an exploded pumpkin. All around the room, bodies. Blood pooling. The underside of the pool table lamp was dripping red. He saw the girl hunched down in the corner. He stepped over lifeless limbs and broken glass and she spun at the sound. The trophy room guy was also in the corner and his throat was torn out. Her mouth was smeared with gore, her eyes bleach white with a pinprick of pupil. In the gore he saw thin jagged teeth like sewing needles. She smiled, then leapt weightlessly across the room and pinned his arms to the floor.
“Thank you for inviting me in,” she hissed.
Though Arnie had pledged not to hurt her, she hurt him, at least those few seconds he was still alive.
I’ve got hair growing outta my fingers
It gets so long it hangs
I gave my fingers a haircut
I gave my fingers bangs
My girlfriend really likes it
She likes my fingerbangs
My girlfriend drinks apple cider
Drinks it all the time
She loves that apple cider
With a twist of lime
She loves cider and my finger bangs
Fingerbangs n’ cider
She loves cider and fingerbangs
fingerbangs n’ cider
My girlfriend eats pork butt
But not the lower piece
She only likes the upper part
She says it has less grease
She loves upper pork butt
And fingerbangs n’cider
Loves fingerbangs n’ cider and upper butt
opened the slender silver ashtray on the back of the carseat and saw a fossilized piece of gum in there like some Doublemint scented mouse brain. “Wonder who chewed that and what year it was chewed,” I thought. The chewer was most likely dead. The car was a 1977 Lincoln Continental Town Coupe with suicide doors. The airport loomed in the horizon, late afternoon bleeding its color across the sky dotted with planes taking off and landing, adventures in the clouds for all the ticket holders. Whatever. People on business with honey roasted peanut allergies more likely. The charm of airports had waned years ago due to too many delays, overbooked flights, and infants screaming like they were being eviscerated.
I couldn’t even muster the enthusiasm of a change of scenery. Contentment is an elusive entity. I’m never content where I am and when I do go out of town I’m preoccupied by the machinations of getting back home to fully enjoy the new experiences. The brochure promised a life-changing memory but I doubted I’d be able to unplug from the hardened routine for any length of time to let it register.
I left the vintage cab, tipped generously, filed through the screening queue, and eventually boarded. My overnight bag I kept by my feet. Once in the air, two bourbons helped me doze off until the treble speak of the onboard system announced our landing. The colors of the islands were magnificent greens and teals, dotted with multicolored flowers and striped through with pristine beaches. Resorts speckled here and there and I wondered in which one I was reserved.
Out of the plane, I removed my sport coat, the temperature being at least 30 degrees hotter than where I flew from, the air smelling of sunshine and promise. In spite of myself I relaxed and smiled, slipped on some dark sunglasses. The cab ride to the resort snaked up a twisty road, from switchback to switchback climbing ever higher until the road crested and presented the large wooden lodge in all its teakwood peaked glory. Palms bowed at the entrance and eager bellhops came every few feet to smile and offer help. I waved them off and checked in, walked the orange blossom scented carpeted halls and slid the key card into my room.
Throwing my bag on the bed, I walked over to the patio window and took in the view. The edge of the island looked far off. Private aerie indeed. The phone rang, a pleasant tropical ringtone like pineapples beaten on steel drums. “Welcome Mr. Caplan, good afternoon. We have all the arrangements made for your evening and we think you will enjoy what we have planned. The questionnaire you filled out gave us some ideas and we narrowed down the three best options. Know each companion has been specially made and never used by anyone, so we want you to fully enjoy.”
“Ok,” I replied.
“What time would you like the festivities to commence?”
I thought. I wanted to shower first, of course. “An hour? Hour and a half?”
“Excellent. That time frame has been entered and noted. We are excited to present your first option. You can decide to opt out if it is not to your liking, but we are confident in our algorithm and believe the first one will be the only one.”
“How many times has someone opted out and chosen one of the other three?”
The attendant laughed. “Never. Enjoy your stay.”
I hung up, showered, raided the mini fridge in my towel. After my second Maker’s Mark, a knock sounded on the door. I opened it and a crate was wheeled in by a bellhop. I tipped him and he left promptly after handing me a card. The card reade: “Key code 4196, for both container and character boot.”
The crate had a keypad and I typed the code. A hermetic seal hissed open and a dark human shaped figure slid out covered in bubble wrap and plastic. Feeling like a kid on Christmas morning, I hastily tore off the packaging and there she stood: a life-size Mrs. Butterworth, looking like a dark bottle filled with syrup but with obvious articulation, squinty eyes and smile, hands clasped at her waist. She looked hotter than her original design. Less grandmother, more sexy aunt or sultry cougar. Larger hips, plunging neckline, and a shiny booty. I felt stirrings and excitement. What in my questionnaire could have possibly triggered this? Age group of desirable mate? What flavor always brings comfort? I had definitely listed maple a couple times. While I had never had this fantasy, this was definitely in my wheelhouse, but a kink I would have never thought of for myself. The algorithm was impressive.
I flipped the kneecap open and typed in the 4196 code. A whirring, a hint of ozone, and suddenly the statue before me began moving fluidly and stepped across the room. The crate folded itself up and slid on its edge via two wheels into the closet, even shut the door behind itself. Mrs. Butterworth strode across the room and her voice sounded incredibly sexy, raspy yet buttery, like Kathleen Turner just keg-standed a pound of honey.
“This room is great,” she cooed. “Looove the view. Remind me your name again?”
Her face smiled and her eyes radiated desire. I thought i saw liquid flowing inside her, unless it was an optical trick to project the bottle effect.
I must have taken too long to answer because she purred, “Cat got your tongue?”
“Simon,” I said.
“Mmmmm, Simon. Speaking of tongues, Simon, why don’t you come here so I can taste yours?”
She/it stood with a leg out and I saw her/its long skirt was slit nearly to her belt, which offered a long narrow window of leg curve and a hint of underpants. Why would a pleasure droid need underpants?
I strode over and held her and she was warm to the touch. Soft like real skin, too. She smelled great. Like being sleepy and wanting breakfast and grinning. That’s what she smelled like. Like memories. I kissed her warm soft lips, feeling a carbonation in my stomach and a nervous system branched explosion comprised of yes and more.
She moved her tongue into my mouth and I caressed it with my own tongue, sucked it, rotated my head left and right, keeping her tongue prisoner. She tasted amazing. Like real maple sugar. She pressed her body against me and I could feel her hard nipples jabbing me just under mine. Her hot breath steamed my glasses and I threw them across the room. My attention was completely on this moment. I kissed her cheeks, sucked her earlobes. Though she wasn’t damp, she tasted of maple sugar. I licked her neck, she moaned, sucked in her breath so that under her ribs ebbed. I kissed down her belly as she unbuttoned the golden brown gown, let it fall to the floor.
I kissed down her legs, purposefully avoiding her nipples and vulva so her excitement would build and thus her energy. She had on some golden brown high heels and with the toe of one, she pressed my head back, dug the heel under my chin. She looked down at me with eyebrows up. “You want me?” she asked.
“Yes,” I croaked. She dug the heel in more, almost to pain level. “Then lick the bottom of my shoe and you can have anything you want.” Her mouth turned up in a grin on one side. I dragged my tongue against the underside of the shoe. (She was just in plastic and had only walked a few steps around 6 star hotel carpeting. It was not nasty.) Tasted like maple sugar. She pulled me up from the floor, onto the bed. She eyed me for a second, then started unbuttoning everything down the front. (Her processor must have computed buttons vs zips and reconfigured the seduction technique.) I was not really into S&M, but this was I guess diet S&M, maybe due to the questionnaire where I told about a time I was accidentally choked during sex (The woman was on top and leaned her elbows on the sides of my windpipe. It made for an intense orgasm, but not something I could ever plan on doing again.)
Anyhow, Mrs. Butterworth and I were nude and on the bed. (I can only assume Mr. Butterworth wasn’t watching from the corner or CCTV.) I finally gave her nipples release. Then I swirled my tongue on her clit while she hummed her moans over the tongue depressor of my cock. Everywhere, she tasted like maple sugar. I slid inside her with her below me. I went inside and hit her walls. She moaned and grinned. In and out I stroked with each stroke producing a moan from below.
I flipped her over and tongued her ass, buried my face there and licked away. Maple goddamned sugar. I mounted her from behind, stroked fast then slow. “Pull my hair,” she grunted as I felt her vulva clamp with excitement. I wrapped some strands around my fist and tugged. Her head went back and her mouth broadened in pleasure. She pressed herself back against me, to the hilt and deeper. Her toes curled and her mouth sounded like a first time rev on a motocross bike. I slid my thumb in her ass, increased my speed going in her. Light and pleasure braided into one, my body seemed to move on its own tempo, extremities tingled and convulsed. My hands shook as I gripped her sides, her moans such sweet music, the vibration, the tempo, until…………..cascading sparks from the best fireworks on the 4th of July. A release, a return to the senses, an exhale of happiness before all the shitty floods back into the world like a thunderclap. To orgasm is to produce lightning.
A sheen of sweat had beaded down her back. I didn’t lick it but I know what it probably tasted like. I had selected the post-coital cuddle option which was fine, except if you moved too abruptly she would offer to get you a glass of water.
The next morning I checked out still grinning, ran my credit card. I decided to upgrade to take home. The thought of destroying her was too much, but like they said, you are the only one to use it, so if you don’t buy it after, they will incinerate it. After I signed, I asked the guy what my other two options would have been if I hadn’t kept the maple queen. “We can’t tell you that. But on next visit, we can show you.”
Ah, so that’s how they keep you coming back. Since Mrs. Butterworth was coming home with me, I wouldn’t be back.
Eulogy for godfather David
Anybody who knows me has at one time or another heard me talk about the pig roast. It was so important that it had a THE at the beginning. It’s not like you were going to a pig roast, it is THE pig roast. Happened every year Labor Day weekend or at least it did.
When godfather David sold the farm and moved into town that pretty much halted the party. Sure, there would be gatherings on Labor Day weekend with other people who lived close by, but there was not a magic camaraderie of this nearly village size amount of people all camping at Dohn’s Farm for the weekend.
The pig roast was more important to me than Christmas. It was hands-down my favorite holiday for my entire life. I was born in 1975 and I had the luck of being the youngest person ever to attend the pig roast. (others may claim that someone else took the title by being a fraction of something younger, but we know they’re just jealous.)
So, the pig roast being an annual celebration, this special group of people, sometimes got bigger and sometimes got smaller, but there was always a core group of people you can count on to see every single time. And the linchpin in the whole operation, the roving life of the party, the master storyteller, both King and Jester, the one and only legendary David Dohn.
He had a gravitas about him similar in some regards to Christopher Walken, but godfather David had by far a better voice. His voice to me always reminded me of something wooden. Not emotionless, but with a depth like some old table with scratches and writing in it. Or like a wooden ship with a thousand adventures etched in its hull. If you trace each line in the wood, in his face, it’s a story, and you could never see them all, hear them all. His eyes always looked like serious machinations were going on behind them. Most of the machinations were hilarious jokes and anecdotes.
When he told a story, or a joke, his sincerity and mournful pauses were amazing; especially given the fact that you knew there was probably a dirty joke punchline at the end of it. One pig roast we tried to do a talent show, and godfather David’s entry was a memorized reading of the story of Abiyoyo. His face danced in the fire as his spirited recitation dazzled. Abiyoyo is dear to my heart because of this. One of my favorite pig roast memories. (I was too young to witness the time an aerosol canister in the fire burned his eyebrows off.)
He had a beard, and he twisted the ends of his mustache; not in a hipster way but in an effortless kind of cool steeped in a well-read tradition, forged in a type of calm wildness all his own flavor.
His hats were many, but if I were to conjure a picture of him in my mind, it’s a straw cowboy hat; him grinning and laughing while holding a good cigar between his teeth. He would stroll around the pig roast from tent to beer garden to euchre table, seemingly always humming the melody of Mrs Robinson and going “deet Dee-Dee Dee.”
When things fascinated him, he shared it with you and usually finished it with a chuckle, a sunshine grin and “Idn’t that neat?” He introduced me to Tom Waits’ song “What’s he building in there.” He recited the words with such dusty serious reverence that when I finally heard the real version, it paled in comparison.
Godfather gave me guidance a couple times. One time I was playing guitar around the fire, and when I had finished a song, he said plainly, “I sure wish you could play that better.” You can bet I practiced more after that. Another time I was getting obsessed with the Marx bros and bought a top hat and was wearing it around the pig roast. He took it off my head and introduced the concept of a rakish angle so that his godson wouldn’t look like a dork. I perch my hats at a rakish angle to this day.
I became a godfather myself and when I asked his sage advice on how to be a godfather, it was short. There may have been some bourbon happening.
So, “Godfather, how do I become a good godfather? What’s the….what do I do?”
With his eyes half lidded and the head wobble of someone who has all the answers, he said, “Well, do you know the Lord’s Prayer?”
“Well there you go.”
A clap on the back, a puff of cigar smoke, and off he went to the firepit.
There’s a passage in “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner where he’s describing someone’s silhouette as being cut from tin. That person was so real, so alive, so present that their own shadow had mass. That’s how I feel about Godfather David. He was a rare specimen. His shadow could cut.
For a few years in a row, I helped cut the grass out at Dohn’s farm. It was a ride on-mower, and I didn’t have very much experience with it. The first year I accidentally ran over his chestnut tree. Just chewed it to a nub. The following year, the tree had bounced back….and I mowed it to a nub again by accident. He was angry and disappointed, and told me so. The following year I don’t think I touched it, either because I was super careful or maybe it’s because I didn’t mow that year at all. Seven or eight years later godfather pulls me aside and shows me the chestnut tree, and lo and behold it is solidly strong and robust and thriving. It resembles less a tree, and more a tall bushy column. It came back stronger after two incredibly hard events.
All of us here probably feel mowed down to a nub emotionally. But I can see, have seen already, the strength of us, and we will come back stronger. He would want us to be that chestnut tree. He wouldn’t want us moping or sad. He’d want us laughing. And telling jokes.
Playing euchre and drinking bourbon.
Sharing memories and stories.
Cute little Pogo
I drove over to Amy’s place with a lab bag and some tools. When she answered the door she had her pet companion Pogo under one arm. It had short fur which looked light blue in daylight, purple in shadows. It’s face had a mixture of cute and confusingly sad, like a pug. I didn’t like looking in its big eyes, so I aimed my gaze elsewhere.
Amy placed it on the floor while she put the kettle on, made small talk about my lab job. The pet companion looked from her to me, licked its lips and tilted its head, twitched an ear in puzzlement. I think it had doubled in size since the first time I met it.
Amy droned on about the myriad of cute things Pogo did. One of them that had her in hysterics was that Pogo sneezed. That was the whole story. I know some people change when they become pet owners, but for Amy this was too soon, too much. I wanted to get a sample of this thing’s fur, run some tests. I wasn’t sure if it was a dog or cat or mini capybara or what.
“So you think you can track down Pogo’s litter?” Amy asked. “I’d love to reunite him with his siblings.” I held the bag open while she took the tongs and plucked a large wad of fur from its back. I felt its eyes on me and I avoided its gaze. The first time I met Pogo and I looked in its deep round eyes, I began to feel a lovely calming euphoria, but a suspicious one like I had been drugged.
“Don’t you want to pet him?” Amy held him right in my face. I sneaked a quick glance in its eyes as if to test myself and that warm drugged glow pricked up, so I shut my eyes and faked a sneeze.
Amy set it down, grabbed the tissue box, held it out to me. “Oh, I hope you’re not allergic!” I had some words to say but they all dropped when I saw Amy’s hand around the box. Her ring finger and pinkie were missing, shoddily bandaged.
“Amy, what happened?”
She sat and rubbed her finger stumps. “Oh, you know. Just kind of an…accident. I was petting Pogo and making dinner and I guess I must have had sauce on them or something because he….nibbled them….and he was so cute…..he kept nibbling…..it didn’t even hurt….I guess he was just really hungry.”
A cold darkness settled in my guts as I drove to the lab. This creature, whatever it was, and wherever it came from, it was dangerous and up to no good.
The lab results were quick. The fur had an oil composition similar to cannabinoids mixed with painkillers. Petting it made you happy, agreeable, and free of pain. Addictive combo. I surmised its eyes must have some hypnotic quality. Might also be pheromones involved. Pogo was a threat.
I raced back to Amy’s. Whatever I had to do, it had to be quick. I kicked open the door and dropped the crowbar I was carrying. Pogo had grown again. It hulked over the kitchen table. It was swallowing Amy up to the neck and her face turned to me, a wide smile. “It’s ok. I guess he’s just really hungry.”