Sunday, October 05, 2008

Paint the Snake

I love you and you loathe me, but it's October (the month to end all months; the time for things best left unwritten to flourish; the greatest opportunity to enjoy both hot eats and cool treats) so let's put aside our petty differences to better embrace the Anything Goes lifestyle, if only for a moment.

(Take only what you needn't.)


Jeff Erickson is well aware that something is wrong. Glancing over his shoulder, towards his sleeping wife, he hates to consider just what that something is. She moves, slightly adjusting her left arm in an unconscious effort of increasing the comfort of her slumber. He watches as her hand creeps ever closer to his side of the bed, and in reaction he inches further away. He doesn’t know why. He loves his wife, but the glory of that rose is fading away without a doubt. Age is an enemy and he knows that the burden of time is beginning to fall upon the two of them without remorse. Just as he laments the steady loss of what was once a thick, healthy head of blonde, he cannot help but notice the lines forming upon her peaceful face. There is nothing that could disguise the fact: not her mane of chocolate hair, not the beauty of her eyes, nor the exotic nature of her complexion. He is getting old and his wife, Julianne, is not far behind. This is part of the problem, for youth is truth to Jeff Erickson.

Sitting along the edge of the bed, he recalls the words he would once use to describe himself. Handsome, daring; an exciting man with considerable business savvy. Now? A balding thirty-nine year old man; dependable, respectable and successful. He is still physically fit and he thanks the Lord for that gift day in and day out, but then again he was fit fifteen, even ten years ago, back when he was still a dashing youth full of piss and vinegar. Basking in the pale moonlight that seeps through the skylight, he quietly pushes his checkered boxer shorts down to his knees in order to examine the rejuvenated reminder of his spry prime. Free from the confines of its cotton prison, the essence of manhood stands tall, but is it proud? In a way, he thinks he should be jumping for joy, or perhaps he should stir his wife from slumber, as she would undoubtedly gasp in ravenous delectation. For the past three months he has been writhing in the silent agony of impotence. It is something far beyond the scope of physical dysfunction, however. Julianne assumes that such inactivity is a phase that will pass in due time, and that is one reason that he refrains from waking her. To presume that time is something to put faith in is naïve, perhaps even a sign of ignorance. His wife isn’t stupid, she just lacks an adequate level of pessimism. Studying his prize, entranced by his throbbing instrument of pleasure, he bears no intention of sharing this moment with his wife. Her body is like her face: still beautiful, but getting older by the minute, something to reminisce. Furthermore, it has all been done before, in several fashions no less. He still loves his wife though, and despite the magnificence of an erection he is troubled. This is the second instance of his being cocked since the onset of impotence and, just as the first occurrence, Julianne is not the woman stirring the passions within his veins. A question deftly arises: Does the flame of desire burn so brightly for someone that is not even a woman?

Jeff cannot answer this question, or, at the very least, he doesn’t want to. He hates himself for even contemplating such an atrocity. His throat is parched, acting in conjunction with his longing for sexual gratification. Pulling his boxers back up to his waist, he mourns the further containment of the roaring bulge but nonetheless he must quench his thirst. In silence he exits the master bedroom, carefully shutting the door as not to disturb his adoring wife. Through the darkness he makes his way down the hallway leading to the kitchen; towards refreshment. Passing the bathroom is inevitable though, and as he creeps by, he spies the tiny nightlight providing what minute illumination it may upon the family restroom. For a moment he pauses, as if he is a slave to his own penis. Poking and prodding, his desperate extension thrusts itself against the cotton barrier, striving to reclaim the fervor associated with the bathroom, the shower in particular. It remembers the first instance of phallic resurrection, as does he. Eleven days have passed…

…It was a matter of chance really, as fate was not within his vocabulary. Business was good at Rockwell; the engineers were content and thus his position in management was a delight. During such periods of prosperity an early withdrawal from the office was permissible, even encouraged, and he had long ago come to the conclusion that no matter how much one enjoyed work, it was still work, and thus he made the decision to take advantage of the opportunity with marked enthusiasm. An hour and a half scratched off of the work week was certainly a perk, as freedom at three-thirty as opposed to the usual five o’clock simply lengthened the weekend.

He threw the keys of his S-10 onto the table alongside the usual assortment of junk mail, as he was eager to loosen the noose associated with professional life. The microwave proclaimed that it was exactly forty-six minutes past three. His wife would not return for another hour at least; Fridays were her turn to make a grocery run after work was through. However, he was fairly certain that his daughter would be home by now. Yet it appeared that both were absent and in realization of this fact he smiled, for it meant that he could mix himself a drink without fear of reprisal. As of late Julianne had been harping on him about his drinking habits, saying that their daughter was at an impressionable stage of life. The consumption of alcoholic beverages in the presence of teenagers sent a negative message, or so he had been told, and to pacify his wife he often resisted the urge to enjoy a post-work, homebound happy hour. Neither of them were present at the instant, and he could hear the siren song of Bombay seductively whispering in his ear, ushering him towards the liquor cabinet.

Setting the blue bottle upon the table, he had begun the search for a suitable glass when he was momentarily startled by an unexpected noise originating elsewhere in the house. Perhaps he had been mistaken; his daughter might be home after all. Ruled by curiosity he stepped out of the kitchen and into the living room, facing the hallway leading into the bedroom. There both his gaze and his body froze in unison, paralyzed by a luscious shock that ravaged his senses.

Likewise stood his daughter, undoubtedly stunned by his mere appearance within the sanctuary of their home. He could feel the dark chocolate of her eyes focus upon him, glossing over in disbelief, and it was the certainty of confusion that granted him the opportunity to study the unwitting instigator of his surprise. The damp towel that withheld the majority of her delicate, steadily developing physique from his sight was bleach white. It was as if the essence of purity had draped her in amiable flakes of the brightest snow, deliberately playful in its intention of tickling his eyes. Similarly, the hall surrounding his daughter was of a congruent hue to the towel itself, thus further accentuating the copper that was her exposed flesh. Tucked beneath her arms, the towel failed to completely deny him a glimpse of the quaint crevice, an emerging chasm signifying the otherwise hidden breasts of a girl on the verge of womanhood (he was not exactly sure what the term womanhood meant but he considered breasts to be a necessary component of the equation). His glance was swift, as aversion served to avoid the fearful possibility of discovery at the hands of his own progeny.

She gasped. “Dad! What are you doing home!?!” He tried to think of something that would pacify her, yet his mind was devoid of any tact, let alone wit.

“I just…” He paused to shrug, as if the movement would provide credibility to his guise of embarrassment. “I decided to leave work early. I didn’t know that you –“ She cut him short, interrupting his apology with multiple obscenities. Rushing past him, she furiously leapt down the stairs that led into the basement which was her lair, and subsequently he heard the slam of a door. They were utterly separated now, and yet his mind was still lingering in the magic of devious fascination.

Consumed by a yearning that was still incomprehensible, he returned to the kitchen and mixed himself a potent concoction. Gulping the gin, he savored the flavor that washed down his throat with a detached sense of satisfaction, for it served to dull the tempest that was brewing beneath the tranquil surface of his skin, and yet the vivacious bulge emerging from his crotch spoke a language all its own. The bestial manifestation was like a slap in the face, for the amazement was undeniable: after weeks of languid dormancy the roar of vigor had returned with a vengeance. The reason behind this renewed vitality frightened him however, and he sought to exorcise the demon of incestuous carnality but it remained, toying with him. He couldn’t help but envision what lie beneath that flimsy, lily-white obstruction. He wondered if there was a patch of darkness growing between his daughter’s tender legs, and if the color of her nipples were the same as her mother’s; an appetizing hue of burnt sienna that a tongue could savor as if feasting upon ambrosia. He shook his head violently and took another gulp of his drink. He felt like a monster but that was not the problem. The dilemma arose in that he could not make a decision as to whether or not he enjoyed these emotions, although part of him already arrived at an obvious conclusion.

Later in the evening his wife saw fit to chide him mildly. Her reproves were, of course, oblivious to what his thoughts were regarding the subject, instead focusing upon their daughter’s tumultuous adolescence. Julianne scolded him for not appreciating the fact that, at the age of fourteen, a young woman was incredibly self-conscious and the last thing a daughter needed was to be surprised by her father while half-naked. She was shy around boys, Julianne told him. She was uncomfortable with her body; kids still made fun of her mixed heritage; teachers complained that she was a daydreamer. To all this and more he listened. Mildly intoxicated, he found it remarkably easy to nod in agreement, satisfying his wife with the occasional “yes” or “I know”. To say that he actually understood anything about the mind of a teenage girl was a complete and utter lie, but nonetheless it was an effective strategy to assent, rather than argue, with his wife. Eventually the chiding subsided, allowing him to enjoy an evening with two of his favorite companions, gin and television, although secretly he thanked his wife for her actions, as they worked a bit of magic in their own way. The guilt placed upon his shoulders diminished the influx of troubling thoughts, as did the absence of further interaction with his daughter throughout the course of the evening. Only once did she emerge, cautiously inching up the stairs to retrieve a can of soda from the refrigerator. At that point, she was no longer the dripping temptress; she was his daughter, covered in stonewashed jeans and a black T-shirt that bore the insignia of Stone Temple Pilots (and he was vaguely aware that it was some sort of music she enjoyed). It was comforting to see her clothed, formless and sexless once more. As she emerged from the kitchen with a can of Pepsi she offered no acknowledgement of his presence, and was thankful for this small courtesy. Life had been restored to mundane normality…

…In the dead of night, amid the darkness, life is not normal, nor is it comfortable. Rapacious from thirst, he drenches his throat with water, refilling the glass repeatedly. The thirst refuses to subside, just as the glorious, hellish erection does not relinquish its hold upon him. He wipes his forehead knowing that he is sweating profusely. Eleven agonizing days of disturbing, carnal dreams gnaw upon his mind and for all this he is aware of an itch that tickles his very essence, whatever that may be. Water does not, cannot silence it. He contemplates excessive masturbation but that only infuriates him, as it will only delay, not eliminate the itch. He clenches his teeth to the point of ache because there is no avoiding the wicked truth: He is Father, but that comes second to his being Man primeval.

She listens to music in her sleep, he has heard it before and he feels the pulsating bass heighten his longing. Bathed in generous rays of the moon, her skin is vibrant and fresh, something pure. He slides into bed with her; it is a twin mattress, designed for the comfort of one but he is not deterred, for the two of them are not separate entities. He pulls her flimsy panties down to her knees as he watches her face contort as it stirs from the depths of convoluted, teenage slumber. Delicately he places one hand upon her mouth for he cannot allow her to utter a single word of protest, as it would destroy the ultimate passion. His other hand guides his devious entry, and he smiles as her eyes widen; he does not gather pleasure from any pain she experiences, but rather he grins in response to the corrosive ecstasy that accompanies the primal penetration which blurs the distinction between the He and the She. His daughter does not struggle but her eyes stare into his own with blank numbness, as if she is attempting to somehow understand what is going on. She does comprehend the physical activity, and he knows it; his best guess, however fleeting such consideration may be, is that she cannot fathom who is doing this to her. However, he is unwilling to entertain the idea that she feels anguish, for he is providing calm, gradual thrusts, just as he did the first time he made love to his wife. He needs to believe such a thing just to contain his own sanity. As his ecstasy continues to climb, he strokes her hair lovingly, for he knows he must keep her docile, mainly because his mind is dancing madly, construing imagery at a rate that is exhilarating. He thinks of three distinct scenarios:

He thinks of a day long past, back when he and his wife (whom at the time had been his fiancé) had been renting an apartment in the semi-lucrative Windsor on the River establishment, spending most of their days frolicking to the bittersweet melodies of Stevie Nicks. He had been watching an episode of the Dukes of Hazzard just as Julianne burst in through the doorway, drenched in the commodity of a sudden, furious downpour of rain. She muttered something about “fucking rain” but all he had been able to do was study the wet mane of hair with fascination, just as he was totally enraptured by the heaving of her chest, a shapely figure accentuated by the plastering of her T-shirt against her flesh. He couldn’t recall if the previous, generous bombardment of Daisy-imagery fueled his desire, but regardless he engulfed his fiancé immediately, savoring her wet perfection with animalistic glee. That evening they made wild, passionate sex the likes of which he would forever recall with a certain glimmer in his eye. The things she did that night, the way their bodies glimmered with sweat as they consecrated the worn leather couch; these memories are heaven. Something died that night though, never to return.

He thinks of a recent event that burns within his mind, that of his daughter no longer being his daughter, as she stepped into his view wearing only a towel. In that spontaneous instant he saw all that he once claimed as his own, and still did, but it was like stepping back in time, and perhaps itself a slice of superior goods, for was his wife ever this perfect? Yes! At least, he thinks so – but Julianne was faded, marred by the specter of age, whereas his daughter was pristine in her vitality, almost as if she is a reincarnation; not of a soul but of memory, brought about by divine intervention to reward his infatuation with youthful vigor. Or, he thinks; they may simply be perfection given life, a life that he can embrace to regain his own sense of personal decay. Then again, it could be nothing but a favorable result of genetics; and who is he to theorize?

But there is one other thought that his mind ushers forth, and it is one that cuts through him with serrated efficiency. He thinks of a little girl, one so full of joyful curiosity, sitting upon the front porch, happily watching the fireflies as they dance in the summer evening, while he sits behind her in his favorite patio chair. Prodded with questions regarding the nature of fireflies and their sparkling fire, he responded to the child with a shabby tale of wondrous fairies that loved nothing more than to show the world their majestic brilliance. It was a horribly simplistic tale indeed, and it had been composed at the spur of the moment, lacking any semblance of creativity, and yet the child smiled in amazement, chattering on and on about how she was glad that he knew so much about the world. It is here, in this fragment of time, that he wishes he had not recalled anything at all.

He realizes he is finished entertaining his body at the same exact moment that he knows he is about to choke on his guilt. Drained of his lust, he cannot bear to look her in the eyes, let alone be near her shivering frame. He pulls away, leaving his daughter to the empty caress of the night. Running his hand over his stained, jaded manhood, he methodically wipes away the excess ichor and seminal discharge and places the cooling refuse upon his plaid boxers. Life is too short to recall that devils lie in delayed reactions, and he collapses into his own bed, exhausted by such strenuous exertion.

He wakes in the morning empowered by vigor the likes of which he has not felt in years. He showers fanatically; soap is his best friend now. He eats breakfast with his wife, as he always enjoys her bacon and cheese omelets. Out of habit he inquires where their daughter is, as she should be up by now preparing for school. His wife sighs with a familiar tone that hinted to an absence from school; their daughter was quite adept at becoming ill if she so wished. She tells him “Megan tells me she’s not feeling well, and to be honest, she did look a bit sickly.” He nods and tells his wife that she might as well stay home from school then. With that he kisses his wife goodbye, a kiss accompanied by a playful stroke of her rear. He alerts his wife to the fact that he feels better than ever and that she will be in store for a treat this evening, and that he hopes she has a good day at work. With that he sets off towards the daily grind but it will not be the daily grind at all, for he is viewing the world in a way that he once considered lost to the sands of time. He is reborn, but there is a question that arises from the back of his spine, and this dreadful query burrows into his mind: For how long will he feel this great?


R.J. MacReady

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