Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Bless Our Wounded Characters

The dirtiest thing I’ve ever written.  Very hard to say.  I’ve had characters who had sex with various robots, acts of cannibalism, sex with Jesus, ghosts, vampires (technically necrophilia, they’re dead), sasquatches, aliens, a variety of extinct hominid species, goddesses and a wife with Alzheimer’s.  And also zombies, which, unlike vampires, would be necrophilia with the unlovely.

That last would have been a story published once or twice here, called “Farewell My Shadow”.  It imagines an apocalyptic “Walking Dead” future in which a woman named Ruby is demanding her son in law produce a grandchild for her, which may be unrealistic with her daughter in an unfortunate condition.  The daughter  .  .  . just don’t ask her to go down on you.  Ruby’s husband is also in an unfortunate condition in the next room.  After a lot of this and that, the son in law tries mightily to perform cunnilingus on his late wife . . .

.  .  .    It was fizzy, sweet-sour and high on his tongue like a well chilled champagne from Hell. On the fourth lick an immense ammoniac puff of decay swamped his senses like rancid cheese, even cutting through the shielding smell and sting of the gob of Ben Gay stuffed up his nose. He thought about baseball scores as he licked her and licked her one more time trying to spit her out of his mouth as best he could.

When she seemed ready he lifted up, took up the position again and plunged his half flagging cock into her. She was all rank, cold, spoiled meat. The acid taste in his mouth was of his own breakfast fighting to rise up his throat.

Annie’s busy mouth had stopped moving. His late wife lay very still as if she were accommodating his weak thrusts. His manhood stiffened up. He came quickly. Like many things, it wasn’t so bad if you didn’t think about it. He spurted and pulled out instantly. His cock was alive with a writhing blanket of semen soaked maggots that dripped off onto the sheet in clumps. He frantically wiped it on the stained, foul smelling sheet. Annie was struggling with the tennis ball in her teeth again, lying still no more, trying to get at him. He climbed down and sat on the floor beside the bed with his head in his hands for a long time. Her straps were coming loose. He let them come loose and waited. His lips moved silently with a prayer. Or possibly a curse.

Her feet touched the floor as she tottered over him.

One may say she's about to go down on him and eat him out.

Ruby isn’t having much to work with either.  She mounts her late husband from a above, without quite realizing how   .  .  . fragile  .  .  .  he is.

Ruby went down the hall to the other bedroom. She stopped at the door and put a gob of Ben Gay up her nose to breathe safe and went in. Her husband Bill lay on the bed, trussed up in belts and horse bridles like Annie, as if he had been readied for a randy sex game. Except Bill had been a walker for awhile longer than Annie. It was he what done it to Annie.

A strange thing, his cock had become erect when he passed. This was a common thing for corpses someone said, even walker corpses.

“I’m sorry honey,” she said as she undressed. “It’s all God’s punishment for what we done by you and Annie. Let’s get it over quick. I just want to do right by you so you know I’m sorry.”

She spit in her hand and wet herself. She put a towel over his mouth and pressed the tennis ball between his teeth. “Now you’re safe,’ she said.

She unwrapped a condom and carefully rolled it on him as all the while his teeth champed and chewed on the tennis ball. She spit on the condom covering his phallus and wetted it. She straddled him and slipped him inside. “Do you love me, honey?” she said. “Do you forgive me now?”

She began to jiggle her hips up and down on him vigorously, remembering how it used to be when they were first married and fresh and new. This man who was Annie’s father and the rightful grandfather of Annie’s children.

And then. Something.

He was still inside her. She could feel him inside her.

Yet she felt . . . unanchored.

Ruby reached down and felt the rubber rim of the condom dangling freely between her thighs. She looked down at her husband’s groin. “Oops,” she said.


So that’s going for the gross out.  Predictably that story has come close to seeing daylight a few times but never quite sold yet.  In one case the publisher picked it up and then went out of business.  What can you do?

The most violent story I ever wrote by far, whose first scene descended into rape and sodomy was “Miss Julia’s Cake Club”.  I love that story and I love that character.  It was a story of transformation, which the best stories are.  It’s the kind of story that made me want to be a short story writer and believe that I could do it.  It had soul.

From a wire rack next to the little sink she took two chipped bowls and a pair of steel spoons.   She set them out on the table with a roll of paper towels and took a bottle of  beer for Jorge from the old refrigerator.  As she put her hand in and felt the brown glass, she knew the motor had died again. 
She took Jorges bowl and ladled hot soup into it.  There was no steam from the soup, and she took a glance under the pot and saw that the flame had finally gone out.  The stove and now the fridge.  These problems always seemed to pile on at the same time when there was no money.  But there was never any money.  She put the soup in front of Jorge and hoped for the best.

As she served some soup for herself she heard him slap his spoon on the table.

“The fuck is this shit?” he said.

She looked at him hesitantly, the bowl in her hand half filled.  “How is your soup?”

“It’s fucking cold.  That’s how my soup is.  Stuff isn’t cooked right.  Look at this shit.”  He held up a half raw chunk of yuca  root.  “You’re always feeding me shit like this like maybe you want me to die or something.  You don’t how to cook anything do you?  You don’t know anything.  Jesus Christ, you’re a stupid cunt.”

She took a deep breath, sighed and sat down across from him with her half a bowl.  She bent over it and said a soft prayer to the Holy Spirit to have peace this evening.  She took a sip.  Well, he had a point.  It was cold.  It needed good fresh spices.  Even some hot sauce would have fixed it more or less.  The magazine people would have put some fresh rosemary from their lush green  herb gardens.  Imagine a sprig of green rosemary or basil floating like an olive branch among the meat and vegetables.  Even he would be impressed.

“Beer’s hot.  Soup’s cold.  Why the fuck can’t you do anything right?”

“The refrigerator’s— – “

“You’re not going to tell me it’s busted are you?  You’d better not tell me it’s busted.”

She shrugged.  “Okay.”  Moving her spoon around she found a little meat and lifted it.

“Hey!”  His fist pounded the table making the bowls jump.  Startled, her hand dropped the meat on the table.  “I’m talking to you!  Look at me when I’m talking to you.”

She looked up, set her spoon down next to the spilled meat and waited.  His face was a certain way, his voice a certain way, all of which she took in and calibrated with the weather eye of a fisherman’s daughter.  


His hands were on the table.  His right hand was balled into a fist.  That was bad.  On top of everything else, the gas, the fridge, the bad soup, now there was that fist.  If he stuck to just one bottle of beer she might get through the evening all right.

“You don’t know how to cook.  You don’t how to clean.  Hell— - you don’t even know how to fuck a man right.  You’re a lousy lay, you know that?  You’re the worst fuck in the world.  Why don’t you have any kids?  Tell me that.”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t want to have kids?  Is that why you never want to fuck?”

“No,.” she mumbled, waiting to get back to her soup.

“What?  I can’t hear you?  Why’re you such a lousy fuck?  Huh? You lay there like you can’t stand  it.  You know what you look like to me when you lay there with your fat ugly  legs out?  You look like a dead fish.”

“Okay.”  When she reached for her spoon again, she saw her hand was shaking.  She wondered if Jorge saw it too.

“Why don’t you have any kids yet?”

“Because you’d beat my ass in front of them,” she whispered.  Suddenly she realized she’d said it, when she only was only supposed to be thinking it.  

For a moment he did nothing.  He sat quietly, aghast, genuinely surprised.  Almost amused.   “What did you say?”

“What?”  Now the shake was in her voice.  He would certainly notice that.

“Don’t what me.  What did you say?”

“Nothing.  Just eat your soup before it’s cold.”

“It’s already fucking cold!  Don’t you listen to anything I say?”  Jorge stood up.  “I said— – what did you say to me?”  He moved his chair away from the table with his foot.  “You said I’d beat your ass in front of them.  Isn’t that what you said?”

“Jorge.  Mi amor.  Please.”  She reached for her spoon.  His hand shot out and swatted it away from her.  It clattered on the floor.

“You said I’d beat your ass in front of them.”

“That’s not what I said!”  But now he was moving, coming around to her side.  She stood up.  “Jorge, don’t –“

It gets pretty bad for Julia after that.   I don’t know if I could write that scene now.  My life is, overall, too pleasant.  I don’t know where to call for that inner darkness that I had then.  We need the darkness sometimes, and I suppose life being what it is that may come again, I dunno.  Or maybe things are just different.  The most dirty?  Yeah, gross maybe.  The most violent?  So far.  What I know is, I look at these stories and I love these characters.  I would love them if somebody else wrote them.  They are in their way my heroes.  I just don’t want to meet any of them in a dark alley and I hope there’s a literary heaven somewhere where the wronged and the dead and the abused have a chance to be with the lover they lost and the dream that was stolen and feel some hard won happiness.


  1. Oh! I haven't thought about Miss Julia's Cake Club for a while (though I wrote about An Early Winter Train on the ERWA blog a few weeks ago). That is definitely a violent, and a powerful story. Seems more relevant all the time, too.

    1. I think a lot about transformation these days. Miss Julia was special to me because it was all about transformation. And I wanted her to have a happy ending, complete with bluebirds, after all the hell I put her through.

    2. I hope she did have a happy ending! But I'm not sure I have the courage to find out.

  2. These are great excerpts, Garce, though I can't really imagine either of them being "dirtier" in any sense. The zombie sex is gross to the max (the effect I assume you were aiming for), and the scene with the violent husband is pitch-perfect.

    1. It was pretty gross. Looking back, I'm wondering why, now, I never had the woman go down on her late husband. There was some kind of a squick there, some place I couldn't go, but I don't know why.

  3. I know what you mean about these stories having soul. It's always interesting to pay attention to when a story really feels "live." I believe there are many ways to the place you need to find to write that way. I don't think it's impossible when your life is happy—at least, I'd like to think it's not. :)