7


The painting on the wall, a watercolor, is of a village, very rustic looking, with cobblestone streets.  One one side of the street three squat stone buildings with steep thatched roofs jostle each other for space, while on the other side a single wood house huddles alone.  Puddles show here and there amongst the cobblestones, and the dirt runnels on either side are muddy and wet.  There are trees too, long and thin, lining that narrow passageway, and both they and the buildings they surround have something wavery about them, as if they were waterlogged.  The trees are flecked with orange and grey and brown, for the season is autumn.  Clouds overhead, unseen in the visible part of a hazy blue sky, cast the foreground of the painting in shadow.  Halfway down the street there is a splash of dim yellow light, and in the midst of that light a solitary figure stands.  He looks quite far away and very small.  His shoulders appear to be slightly hunched, and one foot is extended.  Forward or back?  It's difficult to tell.  Is he walking towards me or walking away?  Perhaps he's merely standing there, bundled up tight in his thick overcoat, waiting.  Looking back, or looking ahead?  He does not beckon, he does not gaze – he simply looks.  As he comes he goes.  He is doing both, he has done neither.  He is walking stilly.  He is caught in time.



My hands smell slightly sour, slightly doughy.  My skin is always slightly damp to the touch.  When I breathe I can feel the air rushing into my nose.  Because I want to move on, I suppose.  Because I am restless.  Because I'm bored.  I can stroke my own lips with my fingertips, sure.  But it's not hard to remain frozen, once you've trained yourself to it, once you've made it your habit.  Better than clichés.  The back of my head itches.  There are little itches here and there all over my scalp – all over my body.  Tiny ticklings, like little ants crawling through forests, crawling through grasslands, of hair.

I listen.  I always listen.  With each stroke of the pen I listen.  I hear crickets chirping.  Even here, in the middle of town, I can hear them outside my window.  I don't.  I did when I was a boy, and we lived practicly right next door to the country.

The man who lives on the second floor of this house is called Frank.  Franks stands just under sex feet tall and has a broad, meaty sort of body, big in the shoulders, thick in the legs, round and hard through the belly.  He has curly black hair, and coarse black hairs sprouting from forearms, as well as across the hard walls of his chest – what I've been able to see of them.  Frank used to be a cop.  What he does now I don't know for sure.  He fucks alot, I know that much.  A whole series of women through the years I'd guess, though lately or at least since I've started noticing it's been the same one – a tall, bony, lank-haired young woman with wide hips and large breasts.  She looks like she's had kids, like she's still young but gone to seed.  I can hear Frank and her going at it through the floorboards.  Nights, afternoons, mornings – don't either of them never have to go to work?  Or maybe she's already on the job and Frank has more money than I know.  Or maybe he's got something on her from his days as a cop, something that makes her an especially easy lay.  Or maybe she just likes sex.  Maybe they both do.  They sound like they do.  Frank is quite muscular, he has alot of bulk.  I imagine him, hairy, hairy everywhere a man should be hairy and then some, his broad back a wide armful, his thick thighs and calves quite a legful.  And the ass?  Good, I'm betting, nice and big and round.  Though you can never tell about asses for sure.  Until you see them live.

Steve.  Where are you now?  I haven't heard from you since that night.  Did it help, our meeting?  You were all anger, violence, and greed.  I hadn't seen you that way in a long time.  What set you off, what started it all?  You were calmer when you left, but grim, your face set like stone, your eyes two black embers, still glowing.  Did you go home to the wife and kiddies?  When's the last time you gave her a good fuck – is that what you were thinking?  Or did you go to a bar, top off the evening by picking a fight with some drunk?  I went home.  Maybe I should have tried the streets, I didn't cum, you almost never make me cum, not on purpose.  Steve.  Steve.  Waiting in time.  Steve.  The carpet is green.  It's grass and clouds and the tops of trees.  Steve.  My feet lie flat on the carpet.  Steve.  Two long, wiggling flappers.  Steve.  Steve.  Steve.









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