An excerpt from the new novel
by Basil Papademos
The sun's managed to drag itself out of another night. Going home, I see a couple of Hassids in stained white coveralls unloading a truck at the fishmongers on my corner. One of them stops, tugs on his beard then grins at me with a smarmy wag of the head.
Climbing the long staircase to our apartment, everything's
quiet. When Jill stormed out a few nights ago, she'd once again vowed to never
return but I half expect to find her sprawled under the duvet, that mop of
auburn hair spread across the pillow. Checking up in the bedroom, nothing.
Lines of pink sunrise come through the Venetian blind and angle along the
jumble of sheets. The little black and white TV Jill had pulled from somebody's
garbage babbles away on the dresser. The vertical-hold is shot so the image
continually rolls past.
Okay, maybe I won't go socio just because Jill doesn't come
back but shit - she should come back. She's come back before. We've had
some great fights in this apartment. Real crockery smashing,
wall busting mêlées as the guy downstairs bays like a wounded dog.
Jill tied my wrists to the bed frame and her hand gripped my throat. I stuck my tongue out as far as I could and she sat on it, stroked her cunt back and forth on it, rubbed her asshole on it till my jaw ached, then buried her moans and laughter in the pillow when I bit the soft inside of her thigh and drew blood as she came. Afterwards, we agreed it was some of the best fucking we've ever done and wouldn't have happened in some shitty little one-room bachelor pad.
There aren't many things worse than being trapped in a suffocating nightmare. You can't force yourself to wake up. You dream you've woken but then bizarre shit happens and you realize it's not over. You struggle for the light, groan and roll around but finally give in and let the miserable thing play out… forced to watch a redneck auctioneer with a wooden puppet's mouth rattle off meaningless numbers. He holds up a rat-sized creature by its long greasy tail. A reptilian thing, notch-backed, eyeless and limbless, hairless and toothless but with a muscular forked tongue. A prototype, the only one of its kind so far, it's been bio-engineered to slither inside human orifi and induce repeated violent orgasms. If required, it can also secrete semen with a precisely programmable genetic code. Experts predict the creature will one day rule the household pet industry.
A cloud of blue smoke swirls above the mob as they drive up the price...
I consider trying to get some more shut-eye but fuck it, sleep’s overrated. Anyway, like Al’s character in the diaper commercial, I am a man with important shit on the go. I bolt on my sunglasses and walk outside - look up at the mountain, make sure it’s still there. With the heebie-jeebies already crawling up my ass, I head up to see Tony, the artist and part time dealer.
The woman storms away with her offspring and goes into the nearby daycare. I take a few steps backward and use a hip-check to break off the Volvo’s passenger side mirror. The car instantly starts to scream. Nobody pays attention. I’ll have a bad bruise but it’s nice to see a pair of ugly holes in the door metal where the screws have torn out. I catch the mirror before it hits the sidewalk and carefully place it on the hood.
When I finally make it to Tony’s warehouse just north of the park, I’m covered in sour sweat, practically wheezing. I pound on the big double-doors and yell that it’s me. He stomps across the floor, lifts the crossbar then puts on a disembodied robot voice. “Dis-en-gaging.” Tony turns the big deadbolt as if breaking the seal on a pressure chamber. “Ptshhhh. Clearance-authorized-for-agent-Johnny. Enter.”
Tony’s an expansive guy, easily given to absurd and theatrical outbursts. He’s hirsute and proud of it. His hairline begins a couple inches above his thick brows and dense brush covers almost his entire body, front and back. To see him running naked in the woods, you’d swear Tony was Son of Sasquatch. He can fucking well comb the hair on his fingers and toes.
His studio is a big rectangle, with wall-to-wall windows at
one end. Pieces of plywood, disemboweled machinery and other found junk has
been left wherever it was dropped. He even manages to slap together a painting
or collage once in a while and they’re not bad, a kind of colorful
Tony can spiel long and loud - about the Reformation or the Mogul Empire, Alfred Jarry or the Templars, Hadrian’s penchant for cross-dressing - a paperback Norton’s anthology laid open at his side, John Donne or some other maniac heavily underlined. Not a man without ethics, Tony wields a convoluted moral code based on what he calls the “One Obnoxious Man Principle”, the belief that conflict is the source of all individual worth. Its primary tenet: War is the father of all things.
Hennessy and Al Polo are already here, sitting round Tony’s big office desk littered with various tools and trinkets. The Hen’s in one of his black guttersnipe get-ups, held together with staples and duct tape, wearing an over-sized bowler down to his ears. He’s slumped back in a typing chair, legs sprawled out, on the nod, the normally sly mulatto features now slack and neutral. The little bastard's beat me to the punch.
Al is sunk into the shabby black suit jacket he’s worn since 1976, bony legs crossed tight, the cut-rate Mephistopheles. Something of an anomaly, he claims to simply enjoy the company and manages to do so without coming off like a co-dependent weirdo. Al’s thing is obscenely expensive brandies, cognacs, malts - and lots of them, an alcoholic with fantastic pretensions.
I grab the hot seat next to Tony and ease in on him. “So, Toneski, what’s happening?”
“It’s May Day,” he deadpans.
“Lotta continua,” Hennessy murmurs, lips barely moving, as if a talking corpse.
“Lemme guess,” Tony grouses and puts on his Slavic peasant shtick. “You coming here to my houz with no dinars.”
“C’mon,” I whine. “Just something small till I figure things out.”
He rubs his fingers together. “Tonsko need many dinars - now!”
“Gimme a break with the goddamn dinars.”
“Fuck man,” he bitches, dropping the Shmengie act. “What am I, your private perfumed ass wiper? Can’t you get some money off Jill?”
My guts are twisting. I’m ready to puke on him. “She’s still not back.”
“Oh yeah? So what did you do to earn all this extra drama?”
“That’s right,” Al throws in. “Something personal called the old dumparoo.”
“Fuck you, Polo. You don’t have that inconvenience living with your mother, sitting on her lap every night eating perogies.”
“At least she never runs away,” Al replies, stroking his goatee.
“Just do me twenty bucks worth,” I keep bugging Tony. “Dole cheques are due soon.”
“Not possible,” he rejects my plea.
“Fuck ‘not possible’. After all the cash I give you?”
“All the cash you give me? What about the cash you owe me!? I can’t do anything because I don’t have anything! You think this is somekinda hobby!?”
“All right, already,” Hennessy snaps, eyes opening. “Will you at least let me enjoy this last morsel? Besides, can’t we go one bloody day without hearing about your-“
“You shut up!” Tony points at him. “In case it slipped the deformed piece of gray matter you have left, this,” he gestures with both hands. “What I’m doing here? It happens to be a felony. Y’know, jail, prison?”
“Keep it down,” Al says from behind yesterday’s Gazette.
“Keep it down!? You wanna tell the Man to keep it down!? He’s coming here this morning and I’ll have to French kiss his hairy ass and pray he lets me re-load even though I’m like three hundred short cuz I carry all these fucking deadbeats!”
Al tunes him out while he savors one of his stinky French smokes. Hennessy’s into a quiet nod, Tony’s noise remote as distant traffic.
“Why don’t you get out there and raise some goddamn venture capital!?” he yells at me. “Be a man, for chrissake!”
“Yeah, yeah. I’ll get right on it.”
I’m fucked. Tony’s got to have a small reserve but he’s keeping that in case he’ll need to hunker down and wait for the Man, who could take ten minutes or ten hours or all day or who the hell knows. And even if the Man shows up soon, he’ll give Tony tiny bits, just enough to make up the money he owes, and then, if Tony’s a good little halfwit, give him a larger count to work with. In other words, it could be days before ‘the Tone’ can front again.
On my way out, I run into the Man at the elevator - of course. His broad smile lights up the corridor and he’s clearly pleased at the prospect of catching Tony with his pants down. If there was an alarm nearby, I’d set it off. The Man’s about five-five and wide as a doorway. He has a steroid-induced muscular bulk that makes his dark eyes bug out like some goiter case. The Man comes on warm but probing. The Man remembers all names, phone numbers and old debts. Occasionally, when the mood is right, the Man’s big hand sweeps before the debtor and the obligation vanishes. But if the fates are on the rag, the Man may don a pair of deerskin gloves with pockets of sand sewn into the knuckles.
“Johnny,” he greets me. “Johnny the Carp. How’s Tony been treating ya?”
I’m not sure what to call him. Mister Man? Sergeant Man? “Uh, not bad,” I say. “Guess he has his problems.” I instantly regret opening my mouth.
“Problems?” the Man asks and turns an ear toward me. “What kinda problems?”
“Well… it’s tough to keep things in line, right.”
“Things? What things?”
“Uh… y’know, his coming up short sometimes, I guess. I dunno.”
The Man frowns at the floor between us. “Short,” he repeats and his eyes snap up to me. “You seen Vern around? What do you guys call him, the Raging Skull, right?”
“No, haven’t seen him. Is he back in town?”
“So I hear,” the Man replies slowly.
“How’s he doing, clean?”
“Clean?” he snorts. “That guy’s feet stink right through his shoes!” The Man is being funny. I laugh at his shitty joke. A power saw screams from a workshop down the hall then stops. “You gotta number, Johnny?”
“Yeah, you.” He taps me on the chest with his middle finger. “A number where I can call ya. You got something like that, Johnny?”
“Uh, I don’t have a pen on me,” I stall, worried about where he’s going with this.
“We don’t need a pen.” The Man’s eyes focus on my lips as I recite the number. He looks me up and down. “So, how much you owe us now?”
I’m ready to break into a run. “Uh… a hundred bucks, but I’ve-“
“Not too bad at all,” he cajoles, enjoying my dread. “A real stand up guy.”
The Man continues down the hall and leaves behind a waft of peppery cologne. I watch the wide back, the rock hard ass flex in the stone-washed jeans. When he reaches Tony’s door, I make for the stairs.
Hm, that’s wasn’t too bad actually.
Maybe the Man’s thinking about a personnel shake-up after all of Tony’s
financial debacles. I’m instantly absorbed in a rich fantasy. Good money,
lucrative career, some local status, all my frets resolved. But the heady
optimism quickly fades. That asshole won’t call. He’ll freak on Tony yet again
and Tony will get his shit together for a while and then it’s
rinse and repeat. The Man’s nice-guy act was just a casual warning because he’s
heard I’ve been scoring on
I drag my ass down
At the corner of Marie-Anne, I see Slim sitting in the window of a tiny café with another woman, a shave-headed young dyke she’s been banging. I can’t figure out what she sees in this baby chimp. Slim’s shoulder length, bleached blonde hair comes straight down from under a backward Oakland Raiders ballcap, torn and faded oversized jeans belted and bunched tight at her thin waist.
I sidle up and notice a book on the table, 18th century English social history. On the cover is a painting of serfs or somebody getting horsewhipped. She vaguely re-introduces her friend then frowns up at me. “You’re a mess.”
She pulls me down by the sleeve. “Come over to my place in an hour or so,” she whispers into my neck. “I got something.” Her little tattooed chimp friend gets all dismal over Slim’s secrecy. She angrily lights a cigarette. I grin at her and shuffle off, high on anticipation.
Slim and I met a couple years ago. Since then we’ve gotten pretty tight and regularly cheat on our respective partners with one another. Hennessy had introduced us at a shithole bar on Lower Saint Denis where Slim was working. The three of us slept together a couple times then I ran into her a few weeks later when I’d left Jill at home late one night to go out to the Main for smokes. Slim was among a gang of drunks on the sidewalk in front of the Bar Saint Laurent at closing time.
She’d led me over to the mountain. It was still late winter and we fell into a rolling tussle up behind Etienne-Cartier’s monument, among the trees, in the snow, to scratch and claw at each other in the dark and get soaking wet, hair full of icicles. She took me back to her place to defrost, a sprawling attic slum on the top floor above Schwartz’s Deli.
I hadn’t seen such a long, lean body on very many women. Those small, perfect breasts, the narrow boyish hips, deep green eyes and a dissolute beauty that always reminds me of Charlotte Rampling in The Night Porter. Her high cheekbones and thin lips underline a supremely indifferent surface, impenetrable as buffed granite. She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever been with and that took some getting used to.
It was while we were screwing that she’d casually mentioned her boyfriend, Gerry, was asleep in one of the other bedrooms. Slim told me he was a big brain and that she’d goaded him to the hilt but he refused to react, making her somewhat depressed. No matter how many men and women she dragged home, Gerry was impervious. I remember admiring him.
I kill some time by cuffing a couple packs of smokes at Mario’s
Duty Free Depanneur then loiter at the magazine racks
in the lobby of the Forty-Forty building on the
“That’s been postponed,” he replies with his glib little air. “I have agreed to learn to speak the historically valid dialect of French known as Quebecois, along with a smattering of Joual. That’s the colloquial parlance used by working class folk of rural French descent.”
“I try,” he replies mildly.
“Okay, then. How about a demo?”
Warlock shrugs modestly and clears his throat. After a long pause he enunciates carefully. “Bon joor, mez ah-mee.”
I wait but that’s all. “Wow. You’re a regular Jacques Parizeau.”
“Thank you,” Warlock acknowledges with a short bow. “By the
by, Johnny, I happened to see your wife
“I’m so glad I ran into you,” I grumble and refuse to take his bait. I put the magazine back and leave him standing there, aglow with malice.
I find Slim in one of the bedrooms, just out of the bath. Her hair drips, that lean polecat body wrapped in a beach towel. She mutters a greeting while ducking into the room’s sloped corners to sweep out dust and debris.
Slim drops her ass onto a bare futon on the floor and begins to peel away some crusty condoms stuck to the orange crate nightstand. I watch her hold them over a lit match. Each one sizzles and flames before she lets it fall it into an ashtray. The burning latex and petrified sperm give off an acrid plastic odor. I sit next to her and she lays a pair of tiny packs between us.
“You’re a peach,” I say and begin to set things up.
“Warlock told me that Jill’s left again.”
“She’ll be back.”
“Enjoy it while it lasts, Johnny. You’re pretty miserable when she’s around.”
“Yeah, well, so’s she. That makes us even.”
Slim reaches down to her pussy then casually examines the clear vaginal fluid between thumb and index finger held a half inch apart, judging the density. “That English guy I was seeing, Trevor, he’s gone too. Went kinda crazy on me.”
“You seem to have that effect on people.”
Slim leans back on the heels of her hands, ankles crossed. “Trevor,” she says again, faintly amused. “He told me he had a nightmare about you.”
“Anyway, he made a big scene, swore at me for about an hour, then left to go tree planting in BC.”
“Stupid Limey. He’ll probably get eaten by a bear.”
“So what prompted Jill this time?”
“The usual bullshit,” I say, preparing my dose. “Me and Hennessy, me and you, me and this shit here, me - and me.” I stop and look at her. “Maybe I should change the locks while I have a chance.”
Slim smiles a bit. “She’d just kick the door down. The woman’s a wildcat. But it was pretty funny when she threw your typewriter out the front window.”
“Yeah, some poor bastard walking by almost got brained by the fucking thing. Although, the guy was nice enough to knock on the door and give me the sheet of paper that was still in it.”
“Gad, you two are so melodramatic.”
“Look who’s talking. What about all these neurotic guys flinging themselves at you?”
Slim rubs her eyes. “Yeah, it’d be really handy if let me know they’re nuts before I fuck them.”
“Speaking of nuts, what’s happening with your bald little chimp, the one at the café. What’s her name?”
“Celine. She’s cute and has a pretty sweet little pussy. I was actually going to bring her back here this morning but she got on my nerves - her constant need to be reassured about her stupid drawings.”
“I’ll thank her next time I see her. Y’know, I was up at Tony’s before I ran into you.”
“Uh huh, I figured.”
“Anyway, he was dry and freaking out, short of money as usual. But when I left, I ran into the Man in the hallway. Strange thing is, he soft soaped me and wanted my number.”
That perks up Slim’s interest. “You think he wants to replace Tony?”
“I wish. But you know how it is. The fuckin’ guy floats these stories to scare the Tone then they always kiss and make up.”
“Yeah, it’s too bad. Tony’s a nice guy and everything but I wouldn’t mind some consistent service.”
“You and everybody else.”
Slim gets up and grabs a small square of foil off the bureau. It has a hardened brown puddle on it. She fires up a lighter and uses a foil tube to inhale a few hits. I watch her undo the towel and let it fall to expose purple, blue and gold bruises on that tight ass of hers, down those long legs.
“Shit,” she says as I roll down my sleeve. “I should have given you that after we screwed. It’d be nice if we could both get off for a change.” Her pupils are contracted to pinheads, eyes almost totally green. Slim stands over me with a nasty smile.
“What about you?” I ask while carefully putting away my tools. “You’re already ripped.”
“That’s okay,” she chuckles. “I’m a girl. I can usually manage something.”
I barely run my fingers between those closed lips and catch a heady scent of how wet she is. Slim’s hips begin to sway back and forth ever so slightly. I take her knees and raise my chin. Her pussy lands right on the tip of my tongue, perfectly balanced. She tastes of soap and heat. Slim groans deep in her throat as my tongue curls in and she grabs a fistful of hair. She grinds against my mouth, thighs trembling, then reaches for her clit. The momentum builds fast. Within a couple minutes I feel a little bit of come wash over my mouth and chin. Having that tiny button sure is a nice advantage. “That was pretty good,” she grins and hangs onto her pussy with both hands, pulling on the blonde pubic hair. She wrinkles her nose. “But I want the big one. Y’know, the ball breaker.”
Slim pushes me down and straddles my waist. She opens my shirt and her teeth latch onto my shoulder. Fuck - her bites really hurt, deep incision s that bring up a flash of anger. She’s drawn toward earlier wounds, to re-open them. She undoes buckle and button and zipper, yanks off my boots and socks and pants and my two dollar Montreal Expos wristwatch, throws it across the room and cackles when it smashes to bits.
“C’mon,” she murmurs, sounding a bit fed up. “Fuck me from behind.”
Slim gets off me and I smack her ass hard. She yelps and giggles when I take a bite then lick the two red arcs left behind. I drag her up by the hips and her pussy is slick. Those long fingers snake down below and feel for her clit, for my cock, tugs on my balls. “So you think you can come?” she asks.
“I dunno. How about you?”
“Yeah, I think so. Fuck, I’m aching.”
The thing is – if you’ve used a fair bit of dope, having a serious, head-busting orgasm turns into a monumental struggle where you must pound the absolute fuck out of each other. Every muscle and tendon screams at the limit of endurance, going mad because you can sense that it’s right there, just out of reach, inching closer then it recedes, cockteasing yourself into lunacy and if you’re with a woman that hasn’t used, sure, she can come and come again and yet again and she thinks, yeah, okay, it’s great and all but how long is this going to take? He’s still fucking the living hell out of me and I’m getting kind of sick of it. I’ve got to get up and go to work in the morning.
But Slim has the same problem as me and she’s got nowhere to go so we’re soon curled chest to back. Our bodies collide as the motion builds and it all drives into a red horizon. I yank on her bleached hair as we screw and Slim laughs with frustration, her voice skipping along. “Fuck, man, this feels so good. I wish I could come.” At least she’s got that little button and it does help her pussy shudder out another partial convulsion. But it also makes the deeper itch even worse so she rolls over to face me, pulls me back in and the room whirls.
I’m engulfed as those green eyes glare and urge me beyond the dying flesh, the river of isolation. Slim knows she must sweet talk me, purr to me, keep me working. C’mon, baby, you can do it. C’mon, baby, fuck me, fuck me. We burn up with friction as our pubic bones bash, deep bone bruises that will hurt for days. Slim’s knees come up high to squeeze my ribs, one hand dug into my neck and the other down between us, jacking herself to our rhythm. She’s all the way off the bed now, ass against the tops of my thighs as I hold her up by the tail and slam into her. I’m on the verge of a stroke or a heart attack, gasping irrational obscenities over and over while our sweat flies and then finally – finally we manage to really come, bodies and souls shattered and shrieking and the back of my head blown away.
HO-lee shit. My heart thumps in my ears as we roll apart, both of us utterly wrung out. As it all slowly subsides in trembles and twitches, Slim shows me our come mixed together on her fingers, a ghost of a smile at her lips. “Congrats, baby.”
Good thing I have enough of a functioning brain filter left that it intercepts my vocal chords before I can gush a load of weepy nonsense that would instantly turn me into a big fucking drag, into one more dipshit guy that won’t leave her alone.
wandering down the
grapple with one another while onlookers yell drunken curses and beer bottles
explode on the cobblestones. Both combatants are blood splattered and foam at
the mouth. A pug-faced female of their tribe flits around them in torn fishnets
and a filthy wifebeater. She spurs on the struggle
with a torrent of guttural Joual.
The vortex appears to be centered on the cash bar somewhere at the other end. A few partiers stumble through the mob pretty much naked while a pair of lanky women near the door dance slow and loose, their shirts off. Thumbs hooked into one another's belt-loops, both of them wear big sunglasses and face the ceiling, both of them high as fuck.
This shindig's spent so there’s no point in trying to hit the bar. We get out of there and parting ways, Hennessy gives another one of his ready-made shots, along with a bit of money for a cab. The streets are empty and the driver’s a pro so I just beat the sunrise in the door.
Hennessy hammers on the door five hours later, already back in my face. He’s sweaty and distressed, tells me about a government yenta that wants to be double-teamed. The Hen says he haggled her up to two-hundred over the phone but she gets first right of refusal upon seeing the merchandise in person. With almost zero endorphins in my blood, the idea of performing three-way sexual calisthenics with some horny, extra sassy stranger holds about as much appeal as a steak knife colonoscopy.
“She’ll slam the door in our faces,” I tell him. “You look like stepped-on cat shit. Christ, your skin’s not even brown. It’s gray.”
“You aren’t exactly appetizing either, you know. I wouldn’t vomit on you if I was paid.”
“Well, that would depend on how much, wouldn’t it?”
“If you have any bright ideas, Johnny, I’m listening.”
“Okay,” I grump, “where is this hot-to-trot character?”
“Inner sanctum of my ass. Will she write for us?”
“She’s not that kind of doctor.”
“What the fuck. I’ve never understood this pretentious academic bullshit. What good is having ‘Doctor’ in front of your name if you can’t write a goddamn narcotics prescription? It shouldn’t be allowed. It’s fraudulent advertising.”
Hennessy sighs at my kvetching. “Can we go now?”
When we get to
Hubby’s a snarky, cavey-chested middle-aged guy. He’s already down to nothing but a pair of blue and white Y-fronts and has patches of gray hair on his shoulder blades. He’s not too impressed with us either. “Where did you find these two specimens? They look like refugees from a palliative ward.”
“You wanted something street,” his wife bitches at him. “So I found you something street.”
He turns up his nose, looks away and points at the door. The doctor lady walks us out. She gripes under her breath, offers a few mumbled apologies and fifty bucks each as compensation. I should take it as a sign. After we score, Hennessy runs off to a sociology class at Concordia, The Housebroken Dog As Consumerist Metaphor in Late 20th Century Western Society.
I get home and call Jill’s name. Nothing. But her battered old copy of My Mortal Enemy is gone from the back of the downstairs toilet. She’s been here. Then I find two sheets of paper on the kitchen table; unlined pages torn from one of those big black hardbound sketch books she uses as a diary. Both are filled with her jagged up-and-down handwriting.
I met Niki's new boyfriend last night. Johnny - if that is his real name. I couldn’t believe his pat one-liners about never appearing before dusk. But I did like the fact he was shaved and scrubbed and had gotten dressed up for Niki. He wore a second or third hand black suit jacket that was clean, a pressed vintage white shirt, buttoned at the throat, with the tails hanging strategically down past the jacket, undone French cuffs covering all but his fingers and knuckles. His ensemble was completed with black jeans, scuffed police boots and a pair of wrap-around sunglasses on his head. I believe this is the uniform worn by the secret agents of a defunct country.
told me she was attracted to his sense of humor, his easiness, along with his
thin body, his black hair and largish nose. This big nose business is
interesting. Many women are drawn to that feature, myself
included. Well, a man with a small nose just wouldn’t be right, now, would it? Niki said that Johnny had moved here from Hogtown not long ago and they met at the Bar Saint-Laurent
(where else). She is nineteen and impressed with herself at having sparked what
she believes to be the more than sexual interest of someone ten or eleven years
Willa, Niki’s friend from Halifax, was there as well. She gave us hilarious descriptions of some men she has known. Example: Too often a man who at first seems exciting turns out to be immature and sexually dysfunctional. He becomes mean and vindictive as soon as you get him home and undressed and expect to enjoy one another’s bodies. Or he has a touch so weak and reticent, he makes you feel sexually dysfunctional. Then we have the ‘cock-proud preener’, as Willa put it. He stands next to the bed and strokes his penis to get it just the right semi-erect. ‘An extrovert!’
It’s pretty funny stuff but why can’t Jill tell me this in person? I read the other page.
Niki is upset about Johnny and I. We acted out a ludicrous scene in her kitchen.
She asked: "Are you sleeping with Johnny?" When I nodded, she said, "But, Jill, you’re my cousin."
"I know, sweetie. I’m sorry. What happened doesn't mean anything."
Niki turned the water on all the way then shouted: “You've been with Neil since I was in Grade Two, Jill, GRADE TWO, and I know you've never cheated on him – not until now. I’ve probably slept with more men that you have. You’re 33, Jill. THIRTY THREE - and now that you want to be ‘young and wild’, you have to ruin things for me. I’ll share Johnny with Willa but I don’t want to share him with you because you make everything so awful and serious. I hate you!”
Or something in that vein.
It’s fairly evident Johnny has
little interest in either Niki or Willa for anything
beyond sex, despite their exchange of books (His
hackneyed arrival with Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty
essays was ridiculous. Artaud? Really? I wonder how many copies
he has inventoried to offer impressionable young women.) Niki
‘paid me back’ by bragging that the
three of them had gone to bed together and “spent hours and hours having all
kinds of sex and talking about art and history and everything else.” It
was difficult not to say something cruel and now she refuses to speak to me. I
hope Niki soon realizes there are plenty of Johnnies
I have invested so much time
and energy into Neil's career that I put aside my own motives, selfish or
The page ends in the middle of a sentence like that, needing a drink. So, what, I never had a say in any of this, like some brainless cock on wheels?
Isn’t it always the way? Diaries never sound like the person you know in real life. The voice in a diary is always so goddamn reasonable, personal propaganda designed to make everyone else come off like total assholes.
One of our contributing editors, Basil Papademos, recently completed his second novel, Mount Royal, excerpted above, a book he calls his "love letter to Montreal." It will be published in spring of 2011. His first novel, The Hook of it is, was published by Emergency Press. He is currently in Thrace, in the Greek/Bulgarian/Turkish border region, researching a third novel.