For Every Tib and Tom Cat

divendres

The 12th and 13th chapters


12.


Maximine had been summoned by phone to Chuck’s little rambler uptown.
Driving upstate, curiosity gnawing at her, Maximine was holding the steering wheel with such trepidation that she had rammed her Jaguar into the cantilevered beam of an overloaded truck. The beam had a little red flag dangling at its end; the beam missing Maximine’s head by a fraction of an inch, she still had the wherewithal to get hold of the red rag and with it protecting her snakeskin glove get rid on the go of the shards of windshield restructuring most annoyingly her view of the perilous road. She’d arrived frozen at Chuck’s door. From Chuck’s she’d phoned for a garage attendant to come fetch the car, repair it and bring it back. She counted on the chat with Chuck to last long enough so that everything jived at the end. She saying good-bye to Chuck and the Jaguar with its new windshield waiting at the door.
She couldn’t get to Chuck’s faster than she discombobulatedly did. Had he discovered Coralline’s plot…? Knew he now the whereabouts of the would-be murderer…? Still more thrilling to think about — ah, the shivers of delight… Had the would-be murderer been murdered himself? Had he, Chuck the cripple, done the deed, gotten rid in his accustomed elegance of such pesky interloper? Very understandably, she was on tenterhooks.
“So tell me, what happened…?” First thing she said.
Seeing also such bad weather, Chuck, in anticipation of her hurried arrival, had been brewing some tea. Now he’d heightened the value of the cipher on the thermostat, he’d rummaged in his room and he’d come back with some woolen trousers and a two felt shirts and a robe so that Maximine could drop off those wet frozen clothes and be comfortable. Maximine was doing just that, peeling her tights and panties and next walking into the thick trousers…
Chuck was having a boner on his lap.
“Come on! I’m dying of acute nosiness-itis here!”
Chuck cleared his throat. “Well, it’s like this… Howard, that’s my private dick, a very sharp upright little fellow, had discovered where the prick who had fucked me lived, not lived, really, but hanged about in… A very disreputable queers’ joint by the stevedores’ docks. Nobody in his right mind would approach it, a den of sickness and crime.”
“I get you.”
“Last night, I had shed away all my impedimenta, all my materiel consisted of a new shooter, a point nine gauge, my mind was made, I had read a few absurd Buddhist riddles, it empties the brain of all notions and emotions, it makes you totally stupid, unthinking. The previous day I had had my wheels well greased. Then I phoned for a large wheelchair-accommodating taxi to pick me up. I told the driver, leave me at the docks… I’ll tell you the precise spot. He was quaking in his carcass, shitty crap of a beefy bully of a hairy man… Now, indelible barkings of a few mangy dogs… The dismal echoes of their howlings… I had premonitions of death. Sweet feelings of having at last done it all. I was ready to turn the gun to my own light-headed, sparks-carrying, delivered head. The taxi driver was fidgeting about, shitting in his pants, he was praying to his arch-druid or whoever the fuck, he had the hiccups, wouldn’t haggle at all. I gave him no tip; get lost, I said. The lost last rags of some recently unhanged fellow who had hanged himself from a light pole with no light rustled in the filth-smelling sea breeze… I entered the joint… It stank.”
“You are right!”
“I sat on my chair, I demanded a whisky, hot. There I was, with my eyes peeled, with a gun ready to burst on my lap; I had entered with my mind made to kill him on sight… But he was nowhere to be seen… I waited for hours, so it seemed… People were coming back from the crapper, people wound come in from the street… Never him. At last I risk it, I asked… Where’s the jackal…? Where’s Willie tonight…?”
“And…? God, the nerves are eating me alive, I’m all wet and sweaty!”
“The old man told me, you don’t know yet. He’s in the slammer. For killing a fellow cop.”
“For killing a fellow cop — that’s rich, that’s great!”
“My hearing’s pristine, I said, and yet I don’t seem to have heard you, I said. He was a killer-cop cop-killer, easy, you see so many of them lover’s tiff among those…”
“A lovers’ tiff! Magnificent!”
“I asked, did it happen to happen here…? The old gizzard, I mean geezer said, No they shared an apartment, it happened there… Willie tried to hang himself by all at once throwing himself through the window with a rope tied to the range — the rope unraveled, the gas poured out on, the jackal broke a leg when he fell…”
“Oh, how deliciously does it all jam together in the end! Perfect, I love it. Will he get the chair next…”
“The wheelchair? Are you thinking poetic justice…?”
“Silly, I mean the electric chair. What are you doing, fidgeting also down there, you still got the gun?”
“No.” And he joked, in a stiff way of talking, as if he’d learned the language not from a Chinese, but from a monkey. “You wet, I stiff, Jane.”
“What…? Ah, poor Chuck, I didn’t know you still could…” She was so touched, she felt she had to be so caring now, Maximine. She opened Chuck’s fly. His little ratty fellow was at attention all right. “You need it so much, let me help you get a little…, maybe between the two of us we’ll manage to get you pebbles off…?”
Maximine went to rinse her mouth. Chuck wiped his lap with a napkin. When Maximine came back, she fixed herself a cognac.
“What I don’t understand,” Maximine recommenced, sitting down on an armchair, “is why would he have attacked you in the first place…? This you haven’t ascertained. Your little dick fellow didn’t get to the bottom of it.”
“No, he only discovered the guy. Not his motive. You are right. I still have my doubts… In fact, I was hoping maybe you could tell me something about it…”
“Me? What do I know?”
“As per our converse by the bogus lake at Chuckeline’s laying of the body…? I thought you gave handles to pin my hopes to. Like I was imagining… Where did the orders come…? Could they have come from Dick…? From Coralline…? From the both of them…?”
“Ha! Here you are being ludicrous, some manic imp of obsession is bilking you of your own powers of reasoning. If you think it might be a pissed ex-lover…! You must have jilted plenty others, Chuck…”
“But with the money to actually hire a punk…?”
“You are dreaming, you are out of your mind. As for the two of them in a tandem, a conjoined plot between the exes! They hate themselves more than ever. Don’t you know Dick’s remarrying…?”
“A do we know her? Is it the dumb Norwegian?”
“Never…! She’s a tie, I’m told.”
“She’s tight…? A tie, too tight…? A tie against whom, by how many points…? I… Or tied to whom…? A Siamese twin…? I knew the guy was a pervert, with money, and now more that his parents are off the charts, but…”
“Not Siamese; a Thai, from Thailand.”
“Narrow cunts, I’m told, sphincterous… Well, I’ll be…” His smashed legs didn’t impede Chuck to still wiggle his glutei either.
“You got that right, baby. She’s about four feet tall, I’m told. Of course, it figures, good grief.”
“I know, I know…” Both knew that Dick went for tight narrow spots. “A new Thai now, what do you know…? Coralline must be furious! I remember how furious she was already at Chuckeline laying of the earthly… How do you call it…?”
“What…?”
“The earthly used-up, exploited husk, casing, scabbard, what’s the word I’m looking for…? Snake..?”
“Snake, snake, snake…”
“The snakeskin he molts out off…”
“Ah, the shedding…? The cast-off, the exuviae…? Tunicae serpentium exuviae…”
“That’s it, the tunic the snake doesn’t want any longer, out of fashion, last year’s model, how do we call it? The despoil, the spoil, I got it, the molted earthly sheath…”
He still looked dubious.
“Pish!” said Maximine, “a fig for all those useless words. We need clear notions, not true? Few word, clear ideas. Is that not Buddhist also? Not a wide vocabulary to muddle still more the muddle muddy waters…”
The window showed the spectacle. The tempest roared on. Next to an obviously dead duck, there were visible traces of violence. Molting dead birds, how odd. Forcibly picked whores. The living cocks of fellows dead in a terrible collision, the nails growing, the beard too, the cocks throbbing, like the body of the beheaded duck, wanting emancipation, wanting a life of its own. The back of the other building, another rambler with another cripple inside maybe, pondering about the head of the head of the dead molting duck, what’s the dead head thinking, thinks the dead head on the cripple’s shoulders, or has his head been also cut off…?
There was a slight tremor of the earth, as if the elephant who supported it fidgeted with his fly. Maximine woke up from her reverie… There was some fruitage trodden underfoot. She got up, went to the kitchen to fetch a pail, a sponge. Through the kitchen’s window, looking at the side of next rambler, a forgotten coop, a few dispirited hens and some molting ducks were in there, half-melted, like wax in the heat, by the cold. The winter worm was raging. As the tropical crocodile in the slime of his sleep by the bank flattered himself as the master dauber of the flats, those poor songless birds were now spoils given over to the sneers and the gibes of the elements that flatten the beasts with less luck… One gets too much, his neighbor nothing… Until death doth us unite in the same fucking fate…
“Say, you know what!” She popped back, all enthusiasm.
“What!” Chuck was startled; the warmth, the storm, the little sex, the cognac, the lull, all had combined to make him pretty drowsy…
“Say, I was thinking… Maybe it was all an elephant thing!”
“An elephant thing…?” Uncomprehending.
“Your creepy leg-smasher? He had learned somehow about your psychotic pachydermal hatred… Ok? And say he privately, secretly belonged to a fanatical pachydermal sect — I bet you, there must be a few of those in the States… Crazies for every mania, collectors of molted skins, you name it, hauptneigen und kot lecken, diese Wissenschaften sind miteinander verschwistert…”
“What…?”
“Sorry, my readings… Trying to keep up with Coralline. These two sciences, nodding yes boss, and then shit-licking, often going so close together you could say they intermix…”
“Is that Marx? Are you becoming a pinky Commie?”
“With my money?”
“An extravagant specimen, a fanatical maniac of a special sect, pachydermatous or otherwise.”
“No, but no shit. Couldn’t it be…? They worship elephants, the witlings, the poor suckers that belong to this sect… Take somebody like your late dad…”
“Dad. Maybe you’ve got something there… He’d flame up if somebody’d say something anti-elephantine in his presence. He would threaten to crash the fucking taxi unless the client retracted… He’d get mad as hell, that’s a fact; that’s why I had such a frightening growing-up… Eager to get out of home the sooner the better.”
“Let’s say the cop-killer killer-cop, the killer-cop…, no, I’ve got it right the first time, let’s say he was also a circus buff, first passion in his pea-brained big head, second being his motorcycle…? Might have attended the Circensian functions, the Barnumian games, often enough, every chance he got. And he might have noticed how you never appeared near any of your hated nemeses — the beasts and you always at opposite ends of the program — he’s getting very suspicious after a while… He’s a psychotic fathead, he only goes to the circus to see the elephants — your dad reborn, your dad all over, murderous little pea-sized brain and all…”
“Indeed, I see your angle; not crappy at all, the idea, not crappy…”
“Obsessive fuckers are known to figure out all kind of stupid schemes. He realizes that you keep in never, never getting near them, not even greeting together in the last gung-ho, never once with them; he’s stupid, but here’s his obsession; his obsession makes him sharp in this point only; he notices… Even in the event of a fire, sauve qui peut, yet, elephants and you, always at the farthest ends one from the others… The gross objects of his adoration the most hated shapes for you imaginable. A rectal fear of them for you, a rectal fixation in him… This things happen all the time…”
“Indeed they do; all kind of queers to make up a world. I’ll tell Howard to investigate this new standpoint when the guy’s released… Or when he escapes…; he being a cop, so-called escaping is much easier.”
“Yeah, but in his case he killed one of them also.”
“So? Lovers’ spat — they are all faggots, you know.”
“Well, dear me, of course.”
“It’s maybe the tightness of the uniforms attracts them…”
“Oh say, talk about queers! Old foggy Bobby and me are celebrating our 25th anniversary. Will you be there…? Everybody’ll be! And you are invited. I’ll have somebody to pick you up, ok?”
Chuck beamed. He was grateful. Women were really a gift of…, let’s see, let’s say, Buddha…?


13.


The blizzard roared on. Maximine’s phone rang in her purse. It was the garage people, regretting to say that due to the fact that they had lost the current they were unable to fix the Jaguar and return it as promised. She, good-naturedly enough, said, don’t worry, tomorrow first thing in the morning. The drones at the other end of the flying photons were happy to agree.
“We’ll have to tweak a few glitches, mon ami,” she said to Chuck, “I’ll have to spend the night here. No current, no car.”
The Chink was only too happy. He insisted that he wouldn’t have thought to allow her to risk such a risky trip back to her home anyhow. “In that storm. Are you kidding?”
Maximine excused herself. Went to the can with her phone. She rang home. The Polish maid Marietska answered. “Where’s master Bobby?” Maximine wanted to know.
—Ma’am, he’s upstairs, writing.
—Ok, listen. That freaking snow storm has done it. Almost did me in too. Doesn’t matter. Listen… Now I’m caught by it — you get it, like in a game of tag? Am it…! What…? Skip it. Tell him I’m irretrievably detained chez my friends… We have no current either,” she lied, “all we girls are thrown in together, playing cards by candlelight. We are giggling up a riot. Huh…? Skip that also. Tell him I’ll be back tomorrow, I’ll call again when I start the trip back, ok? This you understand…? Listen, you know dildo…? Dildo! Yeah…, yeah… One of those…,” now she lowered her voice still more, “you’d be happy here, we have a Chink…, a Chinese, yes, he used to be a human dildo, yeah…, believe it or not, the whole of him in, head first, his pate…, his head all shaved, and lubricated…? Creamed…? Yeah, a human dildo, I’m telling you… Isn’t that quelque chose…? I know it sound incredible… But so do so many tales one hears and tells, no…? Huh…? No, he’s not active anymore. Poor boy, listen, I’m no snitch… No tell-tale bitch… Me! That I don’t like to gossip…! Anyway, you know me, Marietska… But, listen, he got his legs crushed by the foot of an elephant…, both of them, yes, sahib! The human dildo. Ain’t it awful…? I’ll tell you all when I come back. Now go glide to the commodore’s sanctum, and… Go up to the den, and tell Bobby I won’t be back tonight. Let him not to worry. Got it…? Ok, signing off. Adieu, adieu.”
Chuck had been fixing some light supper. He’d opened some tins and cans, he’d washed a few tomatoes… With a frown of concentration, he was wrestling now with some long-handle pincers trying to reach an upper shelve and rescue a bag of nuts…
“I was talking to the maid.”
“Is she one of those cute packages?”
“Do you Buddhists think of something else aside from the bagatelle?”
“We Buddhists are dirtier than I could ever intimate…”
“Dirtier as in the ca-ca-making sense, or rather in the highly sexed piggy sense…?”
“The first one rather, alas. What’s the way to the Tao…? The master answers, Up the rectum straight to the stars. Another neophyte asks, How does it feel to feel that blissfully inhuman condition, Zen? Answers the geezer, farting as loud as he can: Catch!. A third fool asks, What’s meant by the sacred name of Buddha…? The master goes back behind the shrubbery, rescues one of his discarded shit-wiping sticks. Precisely that intangible smell.”
“Wow. Creepy religionists. They are all the same the world over… Aren’t they Jesuitical…? Though, in this Chinky case… The student what he really learns is never to ask anything. And if he does, he’s told shit up rather than the much plainer shut up.”
“But enough about ca-cas. Voilà, supper’s ready. Let’s feast.”
Under the aegis of the blunt spittle of the snow, with tiger-like ferocity, the two friends went at it. “Gee-willickers, but it’s good!” Maximine praised, her felt shirts speckled with food, for they had chosen to eat with their fingers as the crippled host had forgotten to provide the table with forks, knives and spoons. “Good-riddance to clumsy machinery,” they had declared, oblivious to the terribly silent hue and cry raised by the shades of their more educated ancestors.
Snuggly wrapped in each other, under the covers, in the hollow of the bed, where the homely long-fasting child, or the woman-sniffing-cum-diddling dude, or the homebound eager cripple would have his tail and his nose (two-faced slippery Oriental devil, much like unto an elephant, alas) both well cared after and well “shone” through, all said and told, once the long snuggling were (if ever) concluded, was going to come 16 times in a row (in the meantime, Maximine, as per her custom, would come none,) told themselves now and then cute confidences…
Roughly at the same time, roughly at the other end of town. Bobby the unpublished writer and Marietska Baratinsky, the maid, were also cozily enwrapped in each other’s members at the sunken middle of the little bed in the writer’s den. The woman was relating some more episodes of the deadly Baratinsky exploits… Bobby at her side, was beaming, he was enjoying the racy proximity, her tits’ softness, the animal effluvia of her young crotch, her hairy legs, her endearing accent…, even the exotic flavors of her foreign farts — that was happiness — wasn’t he a blessed author…? How many millions upon millions of wretched authors wouldn’t have given up an arm and a leg and a neck to be in his situation…
He cooed, he bleated, he purred, he snored, he fizzed, he got slapped, he smiled, the image of contentment in the densely perfumed, densely balmy, densely top-heavy dimness of the many-layered carpeted room…
Maximine was saying: “Snared by such scoria, the hapless creep. Which time is it…? He might be in bed, already. With her. Though be not afeard, my friend. No hanky-panky whatever. He is like Sartre, another impotent chump, bedding the girls, but only for kinky, rather “curly” reasons… Curling together, sharing the warmth and the intimacy, thus pumping them all the better, the closeness and the penumbrae helping a lot to bring along the murmured protracted confidences… That Marietska Baratinsky! I hate them all, the Baratinskys. They’ll be yet the death of me — their family story. I’m up to here with them all. And booooring… All miracles, and sickness unto god, and tremendous heresies — shit!”
Bobby was “taking notes” just by clicking on and off a tiny electronic word recorder. The Baratinsky babbled no end.
“I didn’t know Bobby was such a well-known writer. Like Sartre, you said?” Chuck’s nose was embedded in one of Maximine’s savory oxters.
“No, the crazy bastard writes a novel a month. Millions of novels he’s written by now. He says he’s so creative, he gets them out of the air, he says, god-like, ex-nihilo, he says; I say, no, not ex-nihilo, ex-silly-girlie-oh.”
“He’s very keen with them young things, then?”
“No, you are not listening. Emerge, what are you doing, burrowing in like a freaking yellow rabbit…? You make a hole in there… He doesn’t hire them for fucking, he hasn’t fucked in decades. Writers are like this… No stamina left for the activity, too physical for them…”
“Or maybe is the essence. Not enough of it. It figures, of course. According to the sages and the wisdoms of the ages, the brains and the balls draw from the same substance.”
“Another red-neckish rural myth, my poor boy… Some of them are not really ugly, those wenches… But, god, are they stupid…! We’ve had them all. Any kind, you name it. That’s the sole task of his agent, not of finding him a publisher, they’ve given up on that before starting — a wise move too — no, he just has to find the girl belonging to the ethic group Bobby wants to write about that month…”
“She’s the help. The help in the writing. The muse, you mean?”
“The help in that and nothing else. The bitches don’t do shit at home. Only lolling about, and talking… Gee, they talk! They talk or they are sacked. Marietska, at least today she answered the phone. Sole chore she’s liable to have accomplished in the whole freaking day… If she’s not in the mood, she does not even do that… They are there to add a bit of panache, to enhance the situation, if you will; a social maid, you could say, employed for purposes of cachet; they open the door to the visitors…, they speak their foreign crap… They jiggle their asses… They never cook, never go shopping for groceries, never clean the house; other people have to do this… He hires them just to suck them dry, of information, of snippets of village lore… When he’s not writing, there he lurks, always at home, after the maid, pestering her to exhaustion — he gets socked now and then, once in a while, the insistence getting on the nerves of anyone, with the foolish grisette today maybe having a nasty period… Shingilla, or Priscilla, or Futilla, whatever… Girl, come on, come on, don’t make me suffer like that… Tell me about this, and tell me about that… Pumping the poor girl for writing material, until there is not a drop of ink to waste in her, not a worthless anecdote left in her… Once they’ve been sucked dry, he sacks them. Don’t worry, no exploitation whatever — unless is the other way around again — he’s been doling them green smackers by the sheaf, like they are damned manna — and those are only tips for nice obedience — he pays them beautifully, and then… the severance fee amounts to a sizeable marriage dowry — she can now get a splendid trousseau which lands her some creep — that’s their universal dream — for most of them, anyway — landing a fellow, so that now they can slave their life away for the abusive creep. Up until now she was working for money, now she’ll work for free till the end of her married ordeal… Stupid, unschooled broads, I’m telling you — they don’t realize that no man will ever again, not by a long shot, be paying them the attention Bobby paid them — Bobby will always be their vital high point.”
“A Maecenas.”
“A passing angel of beatitude. Glorious Bobby, remembered fondly all over the freaking world, for decades to come. In a hundred years, old centenarian little ladies remembering the American miracle. An immensely kindly man that for a month provided to each and every one of their desires, that even worshipped them, that went to all sorts of privations to make them happy, only so he could hear them talk…”
“And a saint.”
“The month over, the novel done, is bye-bye. And they richer than ever they could hope to be at this early age short of robbing a bank or winning the lottery… So now the same song all over again. Here the new girl comes along. Broken English, strange habits.”
“A new maid with every novel. How resourceful.”
“He’s never published a thing — posthumous glory he hopes — the documentary work of a century — last of the primitives — the indispensable cultural link from the monkeys to the starlings.”
“Ain’t that a bird…? You notch his tongue with a little cut underneath and it can talk better than a parrot.”
“Maybe he should hire a parrot next, or a multilingual of a talking starling. I meant, an inhabitant of another planet. A lunatic. A Venusian… Anyway he pretends his books are all dyed-in-the-wool studies in a particular ethnicity or other. And the only thing he does is copy the drivel these silly girls tell him…! You tell me the rubbish! Now, sure, he’ll be proud to write the lame invitation to our big anniversary — he’ll include some jaw-breaking Polack shit — and then the hackneyed turd, as always: Come celebrate life with us, for life’s a-waiting at our humble abode… Something lousy as that… As always. All his published stuff is like that, nonsense of this sort — social communications we issue ourselves — somebody in the family croaking, some birth, a marriage… He’s a stickler for words, he says. But that drivel is all that reaches the public. He takes great care in fashioning his little cards — with a quotation in the dying tongue of the idiot he’s working on — or with — imagine: all those unsophisticated poor lasses, hardly able to read, and then…, choosing with him some pertinent ditty in their quaint little language, and then he adds the zinger, in English — ah, and, let’s not forget, his signature at the bottom to authenticate the authenticity of the author of such authoritarian writ. Yeah, such masterpieces, the freaking sucker.”
Marietska was pumping “da massa” — she’ll talk Negro for fun — an added bonus — who doesn’t love exoticism, above all in bed? And now she had nothing better to do, and he would pay handsomely for the little service…
Chuck was quietly coming for the umpteenth time. Maximine was disgusted with her rich husband and her seraglio or peasant tenderfoots…
“Pump them dry, and hire another, and another…, and another… To the infinite… Will it ever end…?”
“How metaphysical, ok?”
“Nameless wonders… You know…? Maybe you do, you being a Chink and all… Geography is peppered with people claming to be the most crazy nationalities — ethicality gives me the shits. All those silly slubberdegullion girls… A Quichua, a Maya, a Cossack, a Kazakh, an Ibo, an Ubu, a pygmy, a Masai, throw in a Kurd — absurd!”
Chuck was too tired now. He said, turning in, covering his head and his eyes with his sleeping wideawake: “Not so absurd… In this manner, he knows profoundly about the world, about its amazing variety — the truth of it all deep down, first hand, from the horse’s mouth, the mare’s mouth — the nightmare’s — and without moving a leg from home — a trip round the world with just another trip round his chamber… Hmm, a genius, your man…”
“A fucking passive static rotting scarecrow, you mean. One needs to go out and see the things close up and first witness, no intermediates of shit — you want to see the world, you want to see the elephant…!”
She realized she’d made a faux pas. “Oops!”
“No harm done, except the that was my dad’s favorite saying.”
“Oops, oops and re-oops, then!”
Bobby was sleeping, so was Marietska; Chuck’s eyes were closing of themselves. Only Maximine, who knows why, was unhappy tonight.

Never so well

Never so well
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C.R. Morell his paltry efforts,

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