In an old English oak across from the apartment building on
On the little kitchen table, next to a cold cup of coffee, a book of marine biology is lying open. On one page is a color photograph of a female deep-sea Anglerfish. She is large and bulbous, with unnatural teeth like a heap of translucent swords. A long rod of flesh dangles down with a glowing ball at its end. A very small male Anglerfish is fused into her belly permanently, like a benevolent parasite. On the other page, there is a color photograph of a limpet, which has anchored itself to a blue rock. There are other limpets fused to the top of it, like a small stack of party hats. Next to the book of sea life, is a thick copy of Dante’s “Divine Comedy". The young man’s friend DeEtta has been writing to him, extolling him to read Dante, so that they can discuss death. “To understand Christian afterlife mythology, you have to know Dante.” writes DeEtta, in impassioned handwritten letters. “It all comes from Dante.” But the idiot howling of the young man’s flesh for sex has drowned all thought.
His phallus has been erect for over an hour but he refuses to relieve himself. He has determined to remain pure for God, to break this shameful daily addiction. He has refrained from masturbation for three days and two nights now, the longest he has ever gone. This will be his offering to his dour, silent God. He wishes God were a woman. He wishes She would come to him and take pity on him. He wishes She would make love to him.
Behind the headboard of the little bed, there are night noises. Muffled shouts. Shrill laughter. The soft rhythm of a headboard thumping the wall. That would be his neighbor, the woman. “Walkie-Talkie” is about the same age as his mother. He has seen her walking up and down the hall, always the same, wearing bunny slippers and tiny gym shorts, her peaked nipples swaying left and right beneath an old t-shirt. She is always walking up and down, talking on a cell phone, possibly to the man who is inside her at this moment.
Outside the calling of the cicadas for mates seems to fill the room. The night is filled with the sounds of sex and the clamoring for more sex. The only sound he can hear which is not sex is the ticking of the windup alarm clock on the folding chair beside the bed. The ticking of the clock. The frenetic rhythm behind the wall. The cicadas crying.
Mercifully he begins to doze.
He must swim. He must never stop swimming or he will die. There is only the dark, and his paddling hands and kicking feet in the icy current. If he stops swimming he will sink down into the deeper dark, and killing cold where the water has no oxygen and he will suffocate. If he aspires to rise to the higher waters above, to reach to the happiness which he can sometime sense far, far away, his body begins to swell and bloat. As he tries harder to rise, to reach the happy world, his skin becomes taut, begins to itch and then to burn. Soon the hellfire pain is too much and he turns away, back to the freezing dark, weeping salt tears of despair into the ocean. He does not belong up there. He is a solitary creature of eternal night, cold and alone.
He has no use for hope. The knowledge of what could be only torments him more. He has only one skill of any use, the ability to smell out the little fishes which he catches and crams in his mouth, wriggling, swallowing them whole.
And now - there is a smell. A new smell, rich and musky. Not a fish. It is sweet and inviting. This smell, what can it be? It is meant for him – him alone. It fills his being with an immense longing.
He paddles his hands. He kicks his feet, following the smell wherever it leads. He has no will to resist or question, he can only follow. And there – up ahead is something he has never seen before. Until this moment he did not know he had eyes.
A tiny, bobbing spot of light. It is where the perfume comes from. He must go to the light. He swims harder now, feeling excitement for the first time in his existence. His only thought is his impelling need to be with the sweet smelling spot of light.
It is a lantern. It is a lantern held in the outstretched hand of a gigantic, monstrous woman. She has cast the spell of her perfume on him. He belongs to her utterly, body and soul.
Her enormous body is a dozen times larger than himself. Her huge breasts bob in the current. Seeing he has found her, seeing his phallus is erect and ready for her, she lies on her back and opens her legs for him wide, wide. Her vagina is cavernous. He knows what he must do. He doesn’t know how he knows this, but only what must now be done.
He lays on his back, feet towards her vagina, which is winking like a giant’s eye in anticipation. Her huge hand grasps his legs and pins them tightly together. She guides his toes tenderly, slowly into her vagina. He holds himself still. She pulls his feet into her, then his knees, then his legs. Now half his body is inserted into her, only his chest and arms and head are left. He holds his hands and arms straight at his side, and strong muscles deep in her womb grasp him, ripple, pull him into her relentlessly. This must be. His erect phallus rubs against her vaginal skin as he passes and he orgasms thrillingly into the water. Her huge hand caresses him with affection. His chest is enveloped in her warm, comforting slickness. Then his neck. Now only his head. His eyes take a last farewell glance at her face, glowing in the light of the lantern in her other hand. He knows he will never see his beloved’s face again. He worships her. He loves her. A great sleepy peace overcomes him. The muscles pull, her sex hair waves in his face like a bed of seaweed as his head is sucked inside and her vulva seals shut over him forever.
The young man moans and weeps in his sleep. Without waking, he rolls onto his belly and rubs his groin against the sheets.
Through a twilight of murky golden sunlight, it drifts in lukewarm currents, feeling nothing. As it drifts, it passes over a shiny flat blue rock on the sea bed, hidden behind a hedge of pink coral. Here – here is as good a place to die as any. It drifts among fishes without purpose, eating and sleeping, trying not to be eaten. It has sought wisdom and failed. Why is there suffering? What is happiness if it is so fleeting?
It drifts down, lights upon the rock and attaches itself there.
But what if someone tries to take my rock away? It feels rage and fear.
It is my rock! I found it first. Mine!
Ah. Attachment causes suffering.
I am woman.
The old self falls away and she opens to world, vulnerable, fearless. She discovers she has had legs all the while, but immersed in suffering could not see them. She has arms to embrace. A womb to give birth. Breasts swell and blossom on her chest, sprouting sensitive nipples. She parts her legs and there is a sting of tearing and a cleft appears there, pink and moist. She touches herself there and thrills with ecstasy. Liberation. She exudes perfume from her cleft so as to call others to share her wisdom.
I am man!
Between his legs, instead of a cleft he sprouts a rod, stiff, and prodding and eager to join with her cleft. A pair of balls to fill the rod. His chest swells and he has strong shoulders and powerful buttocks, the better to drive his rod into her cleft. He descends on her, lights upon her and she opens to him. He fills her again and again. The more fiercely he clutches her, the more fearful he becomes of losing her.
She begins to die. The man with his penis inside her rages and weeps with his inconsolable grief. She caresses him, admonishes him. All that lives must die, she says. All that dies returns. I will return.
They fall upon her in a pile and the cycle of birth and death begins again.
An old man opens his eyes in a satin box six feet under the churchyard sod. A sound has brought him back from oblivion. He can’t recall what the sound was, or where he has been. The lightless box fits him loosely and there is an annoying odor of decay and age. He touches the fabric with his finger and the old cloth falls away. He touches his hand to his face. The skin is hard and brittle.
There! The sound again. It is a trumpet, blaring almost in his ear.
He pushes the lid of the box and it breaks easily. Knowing instinctively in which direction to dig, he tunnels up through the earth with his hands. Tiny roots. Then grass. Sunlight stuns his withered eyes as he bursts forth into the world he has forgotten. A great wind is beating in his face.
All around the old man the churchyard graves are bursting open. Men and women, even children are climbing out of the ground.
Its hard work, exhausting to lift himself free of the old body into the new body. To be born again. After a great struggle he stands behind the hollow mold of his old self. He is nude. His new body is youthful and fresh. His muscles are strong, shapely and beautiful. All around him, the men and women are bursting their skins, climbing out of them, naked and young and joyful. He catches the sight of a young woman reveling in her new found beauty and his penis becomes erect. Between his shoulders there is something wet and crumpled which is trying to unfold. He shakes his shoulders. Takes another great breath and presses it into his shoulders.
“Unh!” The young man opens his eyes. His whole body is tingling. He lifts up carefully and waits for the clenching spasms in his cock to subside. There is a shiny pool on the sheet. He climbs off the bed, pulls off the wet sheet and tosses it into the corner. In the bathroom he stands at the sink and washes the sticky gunk off his body.