Doc Savage

Doc Savage Cover

The sun was barely up and already muggy; more August than October. That’s why I hadn’t gone out that morning-had humped and sweated two thick, buggy ridges the day before and felt wrung out. Didn’t feel like archery season. I liked the woods in the fall; not the summer, so I let them go without me-I’d hunt the evening; spend the day reading and chilling. That’s what I was doing when Jerry’s girlfriend Lynn padded softly into the kitchen. We were all staying in her grandparent’s decrepit farmhouse in the foothills of the Adirondacks.

I wished I could say I was reading Kerouac, Gary Snyder, even Hemingway but actually it was one of the Doc Savage series; don’t remember which-there were a ton of them and I’d had most as a kid. Brought them hunting with me because they were small enough to pack and there was something reassuring about them. Having read and re-read them for years, they calmed me and brought me back to earth when I got too high. Which was hard to avoid when hunting with Jerry and the boys.

Lynn said “Mornin”, soft and sleepy and I looked up with a ready smile to find her completely and totally naked, a wrinkle from the bed clothes traced along her hip. Not a thread, not an earring, nothing. “I can’t sleep in anything in this weather”, she said. “I hope you don’t mind.” No, I told her, I’m fine. I put my head down to read again but that didn’t feel right. If she came down dressed I wouldn’t read and ignore her.

The smells of sleep swaddled her-all like baby milk, vanilla and dried sweat. She picked a cup from the sideboard and poured, her back to me, skin shining in the morning dim of the old house. Sugar was there and the cup tink-tink-tink-tinked as she stirred. She had a great ass-that I knew from the jeans she wore. Her butt was like Marcia’s a little smaller, maybe firmer. No, couldn’t have been. Marcia’s butt was bounce a quarter off it firm. Marcia-Jesus. Hadn’t thought of her in months. She liked me to spank her-the first girl who ever asked for it. I didn’t get it at first, but I’m a quick study.

She laughed like I was tickling her; and she’d fake these little ‘ooohs’, and ‘ouches’ like I was hurting her. As if ever that could have happened. She broke up with me when she went off to college. Didn’t want any encumbrances she said. That was her word. I thought I was going to be her husband, but suddenly I was an encumbrance. Christ.

“I’m going back upstairs”, Lynn said turning a little my way so I could see her tits. She liked them and should have, but her eyes, looking sideways, betrayed nothing. She was giving a show but couldn’t tell if it was for my benefit or hers. “There’s a cross breeze up there-feels sweet and you can still taste the last bit of evening.”  I thought to say ‘Yeah’, but some kind of weird, strangled sound came out, so I kept my mouth shut as her bottom disappeared into the shadows and creaking, back up the stairs.

I had never been so hard in my freaking life. It was like all my morning-wood ever rolled together but I didn’t know if it was Marcia’s memory or Lynn’s reality that lit the fuse. I read a paragraph, Doc was in trouble, but remembered nothing. Read it again-then a page, then the same page again. I tried reading aloud in a whispered mantra to bank the fire but it wasn’t working.

Then I heard the creak again-on the stairs. I knew, and started reading harder, silently but unable to drown the sound of her bare feet scuffing across the old hardwood.

“I thought you would follow me.”

She was still naked, her body-facing me now-luminous in the knife edge of sunlight that was peeking through the kitchen window. Golden dust motes twinkled, a cape swirling in the air above her.

“I could.” I kept my eyes on hers as she waited to hear more. “Can I spank you?”

The corner of her mouth lifted; her eye caught the sun. She turned slowly, languidly, a weekend swimmer taking a turn in a pool. “Sure”, she said over her shoulder as her butt walked off again into the shadows.  “Just not too hard.”

For a second, I thought of Jerry. No, less than a second. I’d known him since first grade but it wasn’t like we were brothers or anything. I cringed at the squeaking sound the chair made pushing away from the table.

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Everything Changes

There had been a light snow around midnight so now I could see the bunnies in the yard, little dark blobs against the light gray. Hadn’t seen them for a while-it never occurred to me that they were haunting the yard all night, nibbling the frozen clover invisible in the darkness. She had stayed over and even the cats were on edge. She slept soundly upstairs allowing me to slip away for a glass of ice water and a pill. Quick shower against the funk of the night sweats while waiting for the tranq to take over. Had to stay ready when she was here. Didn’t know when she would come to me strapped, needing me to roll over and bite down on the pillow. It wasn’t as painful as it had been, but not comfortable, that’s for sure. Actually, after a few times, it felt more sad than anything. She no doubt got more out of it. She forbade haircuts recently-wanted to yank at it. Probably got the idea from that bumper sticker; you know the one: ‘If you’re gonna ride my ass at least pull my hair’, or something like that. She’s gotten pretty handsy lately. We were having dinner a couple of weeks ago over on the South Side at a new place-no one knew us. Everything seemed fine and I said something, can’t even remember what, and when I looked up she slapped me-full across the face. The restaurant was a white tablecloth place, all muted and quiet like and the slap rang out like plates hitting the ceramic floor. Her eyes were not flashing, like they would when she was angry. More questioning-curious. I rubbed the sting out of my cheek and said nothing while the diners settled back into their grazing, masticating and murmuring. Later that night she caned me beforehand and the pain was a true distraction leaving no time to feel anything- which I guess was the point.  Over the last four months I’d pared my book collection from over twelve hundred to eight and sent two closets of suits I never wear to the Veterans. I sold the motorcycle, still in pieces, that had been a project for years so I’m making progress. Still, when I told her once-I think it was the weekend of the slap-that I was in the mood for sex she said ‘Sure. What kind?’ I was stuck for an answer which probably led to what happened. It was fine though-she made it worth my while in the long run. But I have to have a ready answer next time.

Balzac

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Nose picking at Morrison’s grave

Flew to Paris years ago on business. I was saddled with a mid-level manager who was as loose as uncooked pasta so I had to entertain myself. Because it was those times, I snorted coke crouching in the lav then couldn’t sleep the whole way across the Atlantic; drank too much in the darkened plane till I got tired of it then dropped a Quaalude. The times, as I said.

By the time we landed the drugs had cancelled each other and I was straight, but wine drunk and it was midmorning. He wanted to go to the hotel to “freshen up” whatever that meant, but it was my first trip to Paris so I commandeered the cab and barked “Pere Lachaise!” Where? he asked. Cemetery, I said. We’re in Paris and we’re going to a cemetery? Who’s buried there? Balzac, I told him. Balzac. Turned out to be true but what did I know? Just said it. Didn’t want to tell him we were going to Jim Morrison’s grave.

The jig was up when we got out of the cab and picked up a map from an old woman on a folding chair and started following the makeshift signage. As we got closer, the graffiti thickened, the litter deepened and just as we reached the small circle of pilgrims passing a joint, which I grabbed at, the sun hit me like an ax and the night of red wine split my skull. Somewhere there is a picture of me talking to a pack of German girls one of whom had some English. None of them thought Morrison was buried there. That he was dead at all. I had no problem with him being dead-that it could happen. That’s what people did: some sooner some later. I never thought he wasn’t buried there.

Until the morning, years later, when I saw him working in a bait shop in North East, PA where we had gone salmon fishing. We were almost sick at the time, having drunk all night and barely sober in the cool autumn morning. Aside from the fishing and wine, North East was known for fresh donuts made in a bakery with huge foggy widows on the main drag. People lined the street for them. That was back then-not now. Now it’s all Horton’s and Dunkin and that shit.

So the first thing we did was split two dozen fresh, gooey hot glazed donuts and sweet steaming coffee from Styrofoam cups. Then went to the bait shop near the creek where Jim Morrison sold us salmon eggs and hooks. It was surreal. I couldn’t stop staring at him. I even called him “Jim” and he looked at me like I was nuts. It wasn’t till later, on the stream, that I realized the guy didn’t look like Morrison at all, but like a fat Val Kilmer. I had them confused from the movie.  Fucking embarrassment. Coulda been worse. Coulda thought he was Doc Holliday.

Caught three nice steelhead that morning, on the eggs I bought and only puked once behind a tree. Kicked leaves over it. Turned out to be a good day overall.

Mark

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A December warm front had filled the valley with a thick drizzling fog that turned midday to dusk. I had just left the Vet’s club heading for Tony’s Wild Irish Rose on the corner because I had a thing for the daytime bartender. Too early to tell if she was open or interested, but it seemed promising.  Had to put in the time to find out but things had started to look up over the past couple of weeks.

I stopped short noticing a distinctive shadow down the block in the fog.

“Mark?”

He was less a person from here than a dark smudge on a dirty gray sheet.

“Mark! What the fuck are you doin?”

Mark was below me through a gap where a church had burned, across the alley on the railroad track. From what I could tell, he was more than half way through Master Chen’s 60 movement tai chi form. I knew the form well enough; he’d been trying, with varying degrees of success, to teach it to me over the last two years. But that was in his dojo, two blocks up next to the bodega. Not down on the tracks.

He would do this kind of stuff when it struck him. And it was much easier to deal with him when he was drinking. Then he knew, on some level, at some lizard brain level, that what he was doing might be stupid and would allow himself to be talked out of it. He lived with the hard-wired assumption that he might be wrong because he was a drunk.

Now, four months sober, there was no reasoning with him. He could not be dissuaded from ANYTHING! Today he was frighteningly sober. The kind of aggressive-sober only drunks could get. And he was doing tai chi on the railroad tracks.

“I smell the booze coming off you”, he growled when I got close enough.

Better a shot of CC than getting hit by a train, I thought. But said nothing. His movements were crisp but flowing. Hundreds of years of meditative body mechanics brought to bear on the rocky ballast in the down side of town.

“Put me on the list”, he said.

“Which one?”

“Your pallbearer list.“

Shit, I thought. I had forgotten I’d told him about that. It wasn’t like I’d written it down or anything. And it wasn’t final. There were ten or twelve possibles that moved in and out as the mood struck. Unless they died, then obviously, off for good.

“I said I didn’t want to do it”, he went on. “But that will be fine. I’d like to speak too. Say something about you being weak and a drunk who shoulda died years ago and saved the air for the rest of us.”

“I don’t know if that will go over. I’m sure I’ll have family there.”

“Betcha I won’t get an argument”, he said, still never looking my way.

There was a growing rumble in the tracks. The afternoon CSX, filled with coal, was winding its way down river but was slowed by the big curve and the bridge on the other side of the switching yard. Still-by the sound of the whistle-it was no more than a half mile away.

“Train’s comin’”, I said.

He ignored me and kept to his pace. He’d probably finish in time. Nothing to be done.

I walked up to The Rose and sat at the end of the bar where I could still see him through the window. Treena, following my eyes, placed a beer in front of me and poured a shot. “He was in here earlier looking for you.”

“I was at the Vet’s earlier. What time did you start?”

“Trying to get an extra couple hours”, she explained. “Hadda take tomorrow off. Headin’ down to West Virginia. My old man’s gettin’ outta jail.”

“Your father?”

“No dipshit. My husband. Did eighteen months. Early release.”

“Didn’t know you were married.”

“Who wants to talk about their husband in prison? Went in with the meth-hope he’s coming out clean. Said they fixed his teeth.”

She smiled. Her teeth were good, except for the cracked one in front.

I pounded the shot and chased it with the beer as the train blew by a little too fast; it’s whistle, loud and bawling, rattling glasses behind the bar. Couldn’t see Mark anywhere.

I signaled for another round.

 

Someone once told me that Jerry Garcia died getting straight. If he had stayed an addict, he’d still be alive. I don’t know about that but Mark Krajack never woulda faced down a train drunk. He woulda joined me someplace outta the fog for a beer and tried to converse over the roar of the whistle. That’s what he woulda done.

Merry Christmas

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(It’s isn’t “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or “A Wonderful Life” but after posting, then reposting, this the last two Decembers, I beg your indulgence again… )

On his knees, head cocked against the smoke from the cigarette in the corner of his mouth, he spun the tree slowly.

“How’s this?” he asked knowing it was not so good. It had looked OK in the lot.

“It’s fine”, she said. “Better than fine. Beautiful.”

“Just like this then?”

“Yep.”

He tightened the screws in the stand and sat back on the floor. It had been two years since she’d been cancer-free and half that since he’d had a drink. They had decided that drought would end tonight though-an exact year from when it started. One year in the desert was enough.

He’d bought a bottle for the occasion. Later though. First he had to turn two boxes of too many parts into Tony’s spaceship and Tammy’s dollhouse.

“I can see the twins have been good this year”, he nodded at the toys. “What about you?”

“Me? I’ve been good…I’m always good…” she said with a slight-almost shy- smile. “Mostly…”

“Mostly? Do you have something you want to tell me?”

“Nothing specific…just general…things…”

“Well”, he drawled, “I might have to take care of that.”

She reached for his pack and tapped one out. She held it between her fingers but made no move for the lighter.

“It’s been awhile.”

“Like you said, you’ve been mostly good…”

A light blush dusted her cheekbones. “You won’t break me, you know.”

He ground the cigarette out in the ashtray beside him and exhaled into the silence.

“What will we drink to?” he asked.

“To?”

“Yeah, like what will we toast?”

She looked up at the spruce that was really too big for their living room.

“How about ‘being’.”

“Being?” he asked.

“Yeah.” She said. “Being. Sometimes that’s enough.”

He followed her eyes to the bare tree top.

“Sometimes that’s plenty.”

Wishing you Peace and All Good Things…

Chelsea – 2

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Perchenonso.tumblr.com

(Continued from Chelsea)

The sliver of moon had slipped past the window, leaving only a dull gray glow over the room. Gennie roused beside him with a snuffle and rolled into his chest. He slipped his arm behind her head to make a space to snuggle.

“You awake?” he whispered.

She murmured something that could have been yes, no or maybe so. He settled back into his pillow happy to close his eyes and let sleep take him back down. Until he felt her hand slide over his thigh. It fell there not by chance but with a purpose, moving slowly up to his cock which, more awake than he, rose eagerly to meet her. She took him in hand slowly feeling him grow. He rolled toward her gently pushing her over with his shoulder.

He licked at her neck then left his tongue’s glistening trail down her body following the receding blanket. Full of her heady night smell he added his tongue to her own lubrication. She responded with a soft moan and drew her legs to her chest. In the quiet almost clandestine manner of midnight sex he pushed her further backward and slid into her all at once and completely, answered by a hiss rather than a daylight moan.

“Try to be quiet”, she said folded up on herself.

“Why?” he asked, sliding out then back in wet, easy motion.

“I feel bad. Chelsea doesn’t have anyone right now.” He kissed her lightly, for a moment taken by her sweetness and consideration. Then his kisses became deeper, harder mimicking the push of his cock into her. She thought she was being quiet-would have liked to have been quieter, she truly would have. She whimpered into his shoulder, biting instead of moaning…she was doing the best she could.

In her room, where the moon still shone brightly, Chelsea rolled onto her side. Their lovemaking hadn’t awakened her, but she was awake, if barely. Eyes closed she slipped her hand into the loose waist band of the cut off sweats she wore for pajamas. She drew her legs up and found herself easily in the damp folds. Exhaling softly, she rubbed gently to the rhythms coming from down the hall.

Continuing…

But Why?

Because,

I want to gasp as you bump your fingers slowly over your handiwork.

I love to hiss at the cool burn when you drizzle the lotion over me.

I want to remember this all day.

I want to feel you all day.

When you’re gone,

I want to feel the tiny buzz when running my own fingers over the tight ridges.

I want to feel them wriggling below when sitting later.

To pause anytime and see a reminder of what we did this morning.

I want to reach back anytime and feel them.

Touch them.

Then make myself feel something more.

There was a time when the memory of your smile-of your hand in mine-was enough;

A long time ago.

Sometimes I wish you weren’t-but

You are too gentle to leave bruises so I could see them for days.

But you’ll be back soon-

To again, scribe your signature,

On me.

 

If you enjoyed, see Corduroy