“A Prayer To Noah” (FICTION)
By Matt Labo
The Dusty Mug Tavern on East St. Charles Street. At coming dusk.
The improbable skyline to the west, giving onto the urban landscape in all it’s interstitial corridors. Cars rolling up and back in the dusty sun cracked streets. Carrion birds perched high along a rickety parapet wall. Big and rusty corrugated warehouses a block long, better days behind them, slowly corroding away amid tall, festering weeds. The slow decimation of neglect. Illicit merchants and pawn operators rucked in their shabby store fronts each. Keepers of junk items waiting for the perfect sucker. Precincts perhaps, where even a rich man can find the black hours of his bottom or indulge his peccadillos. Where he can do the dirty boogie by cover of night or in stark broad daylight with just a pocket full of cash. Which of course, also fetches from the dark corners of this riverside metropolis, pimps, hustlers, whores, and natural born thieves.
Outside The Dusty Mug, 12 East St. Charles, this drinking hole, this morbid dive, two gangly crack heads sat on the stoop. One of them resembled a jack-o-lantern with two dark fangs his only upper teeth, the color of burnt iron. With a derelict grin in our direction as we passed, he fired up with a match, a cigarette butt he’d just picked from the ground and reshaped with his filthy fingers. His partner looked half dead, eighty pound bag of bones, eyes sunk back in their sockets, fresh paint on his face from his fume huffing exploits. Inside the humid bar with stained, musty carpet and piss rank bathrooms I sat down with Marie Ribini and enjoyed beverages.
She was a cute one. Dark highlighted hair and feminine curves in good places. Gorgeous buxom cleavage and shiny brown hair. There was a subtle plumpness to her lips and a gleam in her well lashed eyes. And I’ll never forget what she told me in that place out of the clear blue sky. It started this entire thing.
“Daniel,” she said, tossing her hair lightly from her shoulders. “I have to tell you something personal.” A cat shot out from under a chair. A drunk old man jostled awake to laugh at nothing. A scowl from the scuzzy bar-keep who’s armpits stunk. All I could think was, I hope it doesn’t take long to say, I have to take a leak.
“What is it?” I said.
“Daniel I…don’t have orgasms I’m afraid. I don’t cum. It just doesn’t happen for me, like ever, like never.” She paused. “Other girls try and describe it but…”
“What?” Before that we were talking about action movies or I was telling a story I wasn’t sure was even true. This must have been on her mind pretty heavy. Plus no one had called me Daniel in a while. It was always just “Danny.”
“Really?” I said, my eyes following her lower body. “You’ve been missing out angel. Shame. You been with crappy lays. Guys with pitiful peckers who ain’t in shape.” Then I thought of something clever to say and it was “if you got clogged sinks you call Roto Rooter. For sexual work, you get in touch with me.” I carried a comb in my back pocket. Still do. I wore my pompadour greasy and large. It was no accident I had the look of a porn star, a stud, a seam reamer. It was a persona I went after with ferocity. I used it.
And of course, not only had her declaration caught me off guard, it sounded like a challenge of the highest order. I was thinking, old Danny Duffy, that’s my name, will fix you up sister and set you on the path of pleasure. And it worked. Sort of.
In the days that followed I did the work of a sort of lewd mercenary. A live-in sexual hireling and boyfriend. If you must know, I didn’t have precisely, technically a place of my own. And what could be more fun? It was my favorite kind of arrangement when you got right down to it. She had comfy living room couches and a wide-screen television. She had cereal in her pantry.
I soon decided that if I was going commit to this task, I had to be in better shape. I needed a routine for it. So long as it was an easy program and allowed for a pack and a half of day of cigarettes. So with some money I borrowed from Marie I went to a health food store and bought the most exotic juices not telling her how much that stuff costs. I wanted to be a sexual mercedes for this poor woman, who’d all her life gone without the only reward nature provides for a woman from sex. Unless you count babies as a reward. I don’t.
Mannington Gardens Apartments. Unit C-21.
“The livin was easy,” as they say, but nothing went according to plan during sex. She had no climax not even one. I could get nothing out of her never failing to exhaust myself each time. I’d handed her pornographic magazines to look at before we made love. Those ones that come in a sealed plastic bag and sometimes get stolen if you only have like ten bucks left. It didn’t work.
The next night, I spared no aphrodisiac. I fed her raw oysters by the dozen like some old sea captain which I shucked from their shells in the kitchen sink.
Then I broke new grounds with respect to dirty talk in the sack with her and half hoped she’d fake some type of climax but she didn’t, to our everlasting disappointment. Weeks went by. The season was changing. It was a bitch-o of a situation. Especially if she ran out of cereal which wasn’t anything I wanted on my budget. I eat a hell of a lot of cereal. She’s having no orgasms. This was life.
Then I mistook other body functions she would have for climaxes. Once she bucked a few times beneath me as though she were trying to throw me like a rodeo bull. I thought, finally, I’d done it, as I looked at her twitching there. I could already see myself back at the Dusty Mug on a Friday night bragging on it, her there to back it up.
The curse of early celebration. Next thing I knew, she spit up a half digested oyster which floated in beige digestive liquid down her chin where it puddled at the top of her breasts and stunk like nothing I’d ever experienced.
This condition of hers…it made a mess of time. It made foreplay and sex like a kind of…shipwreck with a beginning but no real way for it to end from her perspective. It was “Gilligan’s Island Sex.”
Upping my game, I employed every position from the Kama Sutra and others I’d seen in porn. I have a particular affinity for the screen work of Jerry “Fucker Boy” Butler, who starred in alot of good 80’s stuff. Back when it was all about VHS tapes. His techniques however, did little to help the situation.
So I put to use each and every type of “normal” sexual device, your standard store bought rubber dildos, your trendy straight dildo in 9 volts, your Japanese Shinzu pussy plunger. Then when that didn’t work, a few obscure contraptions from questionable sources. One of them had to be plugged into a wall socket and at first glance appeared like some egg beater covered with a balloon then fitted into a drill. Even guys like me try and avoid those adult entertainment stores which have those peep show booths. I don’t like the lighting in those places. Or the total freaks you see in there. And you surely don’t want to run into your own doctor thumbing a copy of “Anal Invasion 2” or “Mr. Dirty Cock.” In those peeper booths it’s no less depressing. For an endless succession of quarters I normally need for smokes, you get to watch naked Russian girls smuggled out of Siberia who sometimes get found floating in rivers. The guys that run them, you don’t want to mess with.
Marie said she liked guys in mustaches, so I bought a little novelty shop stick on jobber, and combed my hair like Burt Reynolds. I added some chewing gum to the routine for effect and performed an erotic Smoky And The Bandit act on her, complete with CB talk and car chase noises.
Each scheme to produce an orgasm, a climax, fell well short despite the fact that Marie seemed to enjoy herself the entire time as any other woman would in bed when Danny Duffy is pumping and muff diving her and living on the cheap. I’m a better fuck if I’m not over-exerting myself all day at a meat counter, or behind the wheel of a cab or bagging groceries. I’ve said that to a good score of women.
Deep throaty moans were her calling card. She writhed and shifted her body around. She pinched my ear lobes and dug caverns into my back with her nails. I would listen carefully to the noises she made. Just waiting for signs of her climax. A louder grunt. A sudden burst from somewheres. Mind you, a little afraid of being thrown up on since that oyster incident.
Afterwards, in my exhaustion, helpless as a baby, I’d be subjected to a woman with no sexual time clock installed. She’d be just getting started and I’d literally turn to lay facing away from her. It did no good. I’m talking groping of the most violent nature and savage-like gyrating or gesticulating against me, all from behind. Like she was trying to fuck me up the ass or something as I shrunk into fetal position with tears coming out of my eyes. Her big melon breasts squashed against my back, she was an athletically powerful woman. I’d have to cup my hand over what was left of my cock and balls to shield it from a reach-around move from one of her hands.
That was the rub of it. Her insatiability. I always had to signal the end of sex time verbally. For, barring a crescendo how else would it end besides with me saying, “quit it. I came for the last time tonight.”
And she’d be upset, the poor thing. Not because the sex was over, but because she realized how clueless she was about sexuality altogether, having been all these years incapable of the best part.
Marie had a full time job as a secretary. But for me it’s not easy being all day stuck in an apartment outfitted with just basic cable and nothing else. The networks have those garbage shows on. I was half tempted to read a book. But reading isn’t my thing. However, I did start sketching cartoons on a pad as I was watching them, trying to imitate the animated characters as best I could. I was pretty good at it too. I did a hell of a Batman one day. Then the next day, which was even more productive, I did the Bat Mobile on a separate page and started feeling the beginnings of the pride of accomplishment. Finally I decided, that if she’d spring for it, I’d like to send away for one of those art tests advertised on television to see if I had what they called, “aptitude.”
Then, things began to turn to the less fortunate.
After another fruitless episode of lovemaking, fending her off I might have raised my voice a tad as I was in need of some kind of creme from the drug store. Anyway, she took it bad as we lay there in bed.
“I’m a freak,” she said sobbing on my shoulder. An explosion of emotion during which a good boyfriend was supposed to comfort her and be able to show how much he cared or very easily slip into a kind of role you learn to play that looks exactly like it. Then she said, “you must hate me.”
“I don’t hate you,” I said, softly hugging her. “I just hate that Noah gave you something wrong with your body. That’s all.”
“Noah?” she asked, easing away to stare at me with pretty angry looking eyes. “What the fuck was that about?”
“Let me explain.”
So I had to go into that long story. I’d told it before. It started when I was a ten year old boy. And like so many other childhood stories, it began with the mother. My mother. You see, out of the blue she started dressing like David Hasselhoff one day, even styling her hair after him. Like a boy. This was confusing to me.
Then gradually, over a few months, she was dressing and acting like one of my dad’s bowling buddies at the very same time she began sleeping in the spare room. My father never truly understood either. They argued over it for months. Then finally she ran off with a female crossing guard named Nancy Lavender while my father was at work and never came back. Poof. Ever.
I’d come home from school one afternoon and I’d overheard my father on the porch sobbing over it, cursing God. Saying to himself how God is punishing him for cheating on his taxes that one time. And boozing it up. He was certain that God had punished him by turning my mother into a lesbian.
So I came to the conclusion that God wasn’t fair. How could a few extra deductions on a tax form ever warrant such punishment on our lives? Enough to see my mother transform into David Hasselhoff like Night Rider before stealing the girl and riding off into the sunset? I was mad at God like my father was.
But I had this plastic model of Noah’s Ark I’d gotten at a church Christmas party when I was 7. It was my absolute favorite possession in the world. I’d kept all the little plastic animals in a separate shoe box for safe keeping. My Sunday school teacher had loved to tell how Noah gathered up all the innocent creatures so they could be saved. And what had God done, except cause the damn flood in the first place? And just by his words. God was a mean boss. Who sat on his lazy ass and made fucky decisions that hurt people. Noah, had saved the day. So my father sort of allowed me to put Noah as number one in the book. And I’ve never rearranged things ever since. I like to be unconventional anyway. Artists are. I use it.
“So that’s how I got my religion,” I said. “Danny Duffy marches to the steady beat of his own drum doll.”
She started crying even harder. For fuck’s sake.
Normally when she cried, I’d just hug her. But this was different. This time, she scrambled away from me across the apartment wrapping herself in the sheets and trembling. Standing by the window in her makeshift toga, tears running down her cheeks, she was hysterical. “I’m so fucked,” she kept yelling.
“But why?” I said. “I’m not understanding any of this baby. We’ll figure this thing out.”
But then I had an idea. She was obviously in the throws of an emotional fit. And weren’t emotions the most fertile ground for orgasms? I could put off going downstairs for a cold bowl of original formula Captain Crunch. And I trotted across the room to fetch her into the old Duffy huckle buck.
She hit me. Like hit me. Hard. In the jaw. She really leaned into it. And I went reeling sideways into a shelf, knocked it down and was smacked on the head with falling hardcover novels. I must have lost consciousness for a second because I awoke naked in a heap against the wall, surrounded by all the classics. Bronte. Poe. The Great Ghatsby. All the books I should have read but never bothered to. And I said to her, “it’ll be okay angel. We’ll go to a doctor. One of those girl doctors. We’ll get some medicine for you or something.”
“It’s not just me,” Marie blasted. “You drive an 80’s model Plymouth. It’s in a parking spot with my apartment number and it’s humiliating. Worst thing on the block almost.”
She had me there. But I didn’t see it as defining me or anything as I tried to see if my jaw was broke.
“You have a bunch of Al Demiola CD’s all over my apartment.”
Yeah, he’s the best there is, I thought. After Frampton.
“You play air guitar.”
How’d she know? Only one way. She must have been watching what I do every day, as a private ritual after she walks out the door to go to work the sneaky bitch.
She goes, “you chew food like a rat. You ate four t.v. dinners today leaving only the processed mac and fish one I cannot stand eating. And you never work. No job. And I can’t believe I’d date you and let you into my bed the sleezebag you are. Noah gave me a sexual defect? Does it involve the animals? Who would say such a thing?”
She was right. A little. I was currently out of work for five years. Semi retired from the maverick vitamin industry. I’d sold them door to door. Meaning, I found guys in a bad financial spot and had them do most of the legwork. Guys who wouldn’t be able to kick my ass if things didn’t go well for them. A lot of little tiny guys. Problem was a few people developed eye boils from the products or some kind of severe rash. And the law came cracking down. I’d gone to jail for a few months. Lost all my inventory. Pawned all my jewelry for food money and drinking. Life was no less cruel to me as a 41 year old than it was when I was ten. Some kind of wretched hex curses me the entire time. And it doesn’t help that I’m never spoken highly of in the aftermath of anything. Not the beneficiary of doubts. No one asks me to be a scout leader. No one asks me for advice.
And now here I was, arguing with my woman over our finances and my religious beliefs. Defending myself and my lifestyle. She threw me out anyway. On the streets. Like boom. And without a red cent of go around cash.
My mechanic buddy Harry told me if you live with a woman for a certain amount of time, it’s like a common law thing. You get to stay. So I asked a cop if this was true. But he just laughed at me.
So I found a fenced in, but unlocked abandoned junk yard on the outskirts of town where the Plymouth blends in nicely. Where tall weeds grow in between the wreckage of the auto industry. There’s even a hose near the back corner of one of the buildings on the property with running water so I can wash up whenever I want. I have my privacy. And my wheels. It’ll do till I get my bearings.
No one ever comes here save a pair of teenagers, a boy and girl with the prettiest pair of tits ever. And… as luck would have it, there’s a scrapped 83 Plymouth Colt on the premises. Mine’s an 84′ but the mirrors are the same which was pretty sweet. I was able to replace my side-view mirror finally, even if the color doesn’t match. Nothing a can of spray paint won’t fix. It’ll be right as rain.
I’m calling Cindy Rae again I think. There’s a rumor her boyfriend Curtis got locked up on a burglary beef and the cops have the goods on him plus a snitch or two. Curtis is a two time loser who’ll be lucky to come home in ten years. Danny Duffy can use that.