by Benny Raymond
At the slight, brief soft touch of her fingerends as she placed the change into my palm, a few warm pennies in to the cup of my hand, no bills, I decided all at once that I remembered right now, right on the spot – it was in a flicker of lightning just then through the tall windows of the ultragourmand and postmodern, new, grocerystore — what it had been like once upon a time, all at once only forty-five years ago now, to fall in love. “Gaw-dess,” I murmured absently and then shook myself:
“Errm…aw, thanks lots!”
The demure sales associate in her bowlcut thick cap of very dark and rich and heavy, gleaming and glossy, hair of lustrous sable shot with highlights from the arc lighting high overhead in the cavernous grocery, made me a kind of up-from-under half-smile. For that full tenth of a second I hoped I was not making a senectuous and jaded kind of vile leer, nor any rictus otherwise limiculous, in return as I gazed into her brown, brown eyes. They sparkled in all the glitter of all that booming market all around us. They were wise moreover, as wise as all our daughters’ eyes, seeing the wide World dangerously, and confidently, through small narrow horizontal pebbles of diamantine polished glass, planed and faceted smoothly all around their bevel edges. These all-seeing lenses were held in place across her short neat nose, and to her neat small ears half-hidden flatly and nesting in their warm dens beneath her mushroom cap of shining hair, by a delightful confection of fine gold wires like spiderweb. In her black store skirt, white shirt and black string tie, her ivory face made her figure oldfashioned, chaste even.
“Is everything alright, sir?”
The young blond man looming behind her rang his husky voice like a gong, cobwebbed within and maybe even just a bit cracked. He was tall, with narrow hips, wide shoulders, eyes too close together in a greasy face and the holes in his nose were mere slits in thick coarse flanges. His lips although he might have been as old as twenty-eight, or thirty even, inappropriately in any case in a man, were as budded as hers and in fact pouty, only he was, too, an obvious mouth breather. Her anoxic supervisor, doubtlessly. Or maybe even something a bit more. Well…for now anyway, I thought sourly, just for awhile…. This tool no doubt doesn’t know what — who! — he has. But I did see anyway his sidelong, downward and, just for now anyway, proprietary glance at her. I thought his black store trousers, white shirt and black string tie loaned his athletic figure an air of uncouth smartness. His tie was that much longer than hers, and I expect even now, in remembering my exact impressions so long afterward, that after hours it can be, it pretty often is is what I mean to say, coiled and yanked tight around and around the swollen, bruised and chafed root of his flagging penis. This is to restore a faltering erection at the end of the many nights yet ahead of this aburd young bravo, at the greedy end of several hours at a go already of varied and interesting, erotic, performances. Heu, I murmured in remembrance of Yorkshire Latin in my father’s old school, far, far away from Indian-draped Old Mankato Town in southern Minnesota. Bel vir! Only not really, not with those squinty eyes and that blotted snout. Aloud, I spoke:
“Oh, everything’s groovy, man, nothing to get hung about,” I answered, faithful to the staggeringly awful patois of my stunningly useless generation in America, my fatherly false tones likewise just a bit blared:
“‘It’s just me,’” I said. “Like what Jesus said in the fable in the garden. ‘Just me….’”
“Well, then — thank you very much, sir!” yelped that apparently-already-sexed-up-and-doubtlessly-also-sexted-out young’un, shoving my paper bag at me across the counter-end. The rebarbative was a case simply unknown to him. And, with her, why ever should it even be needed? She, though, gave me the immortal treasure of another up-from-under soft smile. This made me see the soft fullness of her lip and, beneath it, the round smooth fullness of her young strong chin. Her quondam store hetman, and Goddess Alone knows what else after hours, wore that Hellish annoying grimace for a scant second longer at me, of yet another fleeting triumph, that smirk that so often mars the countenances of the young, our children.
As we stepped away from there, I blurted to my companion, Humbert: “Syphilitic Christ!” Humbert insists that we speak vernacularly whenever we are in the hearing of others up there in the ville on farm business; as pointed out by the late Idries Shah (pbuh) the real Sufis, in North America and England at least, do not have long whiskers, impenetrable thick South-Asian accents and they do not go around on flying carpets. Humbert additionally teaches ”that if you talk like you don’t got a lot of fucken vocabulary or grammar, and plus if you seem kind of stupid in general, well shit, they’ll treat you like you’re fucken normal”.
“Did you see that?” I blared accordingly, in impeccably impenetrable southern Minnesota North Midland American. “That chesty young sonofabitch, that God-damn young punk, that piece of shit, acted just like I was going to reel out my cock and commit some fucken solecism right there on the fucken spot or, anyway, invite that extraordinary young woman to accompany me on Thursday evening to hear the Old Mankato Moondog Baroque Harpsichord Quintet thrash out a little Telemann. What a fucken tool!”
I regard the use in the speech of iration of fuck in any way, shape or form as just plain below the salt and low-class, and plus it is just way low-class, but Humbert insists as part of the disguise that it, too, be heard to trip from our communitarian lips on our trips into the community of Mankato, that pioneer river city rotting under its mansard rooves and that some say is “under a curse”. It is supposed to be because of hanging all of those Indians the day after Christmas in 1862, after the uprising in August of the Summer before. Humbert says in fact that there is something to this, that Old Mankato indeed does sit ”smack dab in the dead God-damn middle of” a vortex:
“Can’t blame the fucken town founders, they were just of bunch of the usual modern up-to-date nineteenth century fucken fools and no more sensitive than a bunch of fucken toilet seats…but, this berg DOES sit in a fucken vortex, something only a fucken Sufi could know, naturally. That’s why everybody, and I mean every God-damn one of ‘em, here is just a cunt hair more off the beam than anywhere else nearby….” Humbert is a real wet blanket most of the time as the forgoing doubtlessly shows, however he is also a great man in his own circle, and not only my serjeant-at-arms and farm major-domo and teacher in the intricacies of the Median Sufism since 1986; he is also my friend. Now he advised me on what had just happened behind us at the cash register:
“Yeah, man, I did see that you was obviously in some kind of a God-damn sudden coma of wild-eyed excitement, man, and plus that yer fucken left leg was twitching around to beat Hell all over the fucken place down there out of her sight, under the outside edge of the fucken roller-conveyor…man, you was just plain within a ace of falling over bass-ackwards into the fucken psychosexual abyss and sewer of your fucken late youth and early maturity, man, what a fucken shithouse that was, man, I remember those days…yech. You was having a real fucken crisis of dignity now too, man, deja fuck-it-ALL-up-by-the-numbers vu all over again! Whoa, man!”
“Oh, for Christ sakes,” I rejoined. “Humbert, my man, it is with regretful and melancholy satisfaction — those are the only two kinds of this that there are morally, you know – that now at sixty-three, and now that the little bird has flown away forever and ever from out of the golden cage, I can tell you that that young woman is in no danger whatsoever of any undignified manifestations by me. As I consider Viagra and erectile dysfunction rings and such adjuncts all as being, well, immature and plus…JUST FUCKED UP (a lady by a nearby Buick had shot us an inquisitive and completely all-Mankato kind of look at the sound of the word “Viagra”), I give you my word: that young person alone with me would be as safe in propinquity (the lady, an obvious Realtoress, Old Mankato swarms with these and has for going on forty years, had decided that, as obvious farmers, we probably didn’t have a lot of loose cash money laying around the place, let alone any Cialis or anything else interesting, and had ducked on down into her car) as a 200-ton statue of a dead dog in the park at the concert hall. Cast iron, moss, fungus and all!”
“Yes,” answered Humbert after a second or two, “such a a rueful episode goes real way far to demonstrate the main or, indeed, sole uncompromised virtue of this state of existence, namely its brevity. Or, anyway, it’s a Hell of a good fucken reminder, by God….”
It was starting in just now on a fine autumnal mist of rain as we crossed the parking lot, there was a rich scent of wet earth that promised the Spring-to-come, now only six months away; and, even as I assured Humbert of my bona fides, I did too, for a moment, closely, see the image upturned of a damp ivory face and eyes and lips, and the tiny beads of moisture on those lenses, blurring her vision. A sudden question occurred to me:
“Say, Humbert, do you suppose that these little bastards nowadays even still say ‘tool’ when they are running down some asshole or the other?” “Fuck, what do I know…do YOU think maybe it’s really supposed to be articulated as ”…goes way real far’?”
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[13 October 2010]