Delphine, With Love and J. D. Salinger
William Starr Moake
It was raining again in Oostend, a bone-chilling drizzle that
blew in from the North Sea. Pulling up my coat collar, I slipped
and nearly fell on a wet cobblestone street enroute to the bistro.
The outside of the tiny building was painted like a mural in gay
colors with a large eye across the gable roof. It looked out of
place in this cold gray city known for its busy shipping port.
went inside and shook the rainwater off my coat as I looked around
the room. There were only a handful of customers in the place
and I immediately spotted Delphine sitting alone at a table. She
was a young British woman I had been corresponding with via email
for a few months. She always ended her her emails with "Love,
Delphine," which intrigued me. It was a customary farewell
to a person who was emotionally close, but I was a stranger to
Delphine -- just another chat junkie on the World Wide Web.
looked exactly like the photo she emailed to me. Winsome was the
descriptive word that came to mind. She was thin with short brown
hair, dark eyes and a cute face. She glanced nervously in my direction
when I approached her table.
finally meet," I smiled.
gave me a limp handshake and I took a seat.
look older than I imagined," she said.
get that a lot. Do they have a decent house wine here?"
waiter brought a carafe of white wine and two glasses. I filled
our glasses and took a sip of mine, nodding my approval.
like the mural on the outside of the building."
don't say it looks picturesque. I might throw up."
laughed. "Well, I wouldn't want you to lose your breakfast,
but it certainly stands out."
are you staying?"
must be loaded."
not that fancy."
suppose your wife is at the Glenmore thinking you've gone shopping
told you I'm divorced."
married men say they're divorced."
I am divorced. Really."
suppose anything is possible. So you're a fiction writer, huh?"
novels and a short story collection published in the past five
That's very impressive."
as much as you might think. My last book didn't sell worth a damn."
have you been doing in Belgium?"
grinned at her. "Did you actually read any of my emails?"
course, but I forget things easily. You'll have to be patient
visited the Ardennes."
southern Belgium. How long have you lived in this country?"
years, but I don't get around much. What's in the Ardennes?"
didn't read my emails."
get angry. Pretend we never corresponded."
went to Bastogne."
say I've ever heard of the place."
the scene of a pivotal engagement in the Battle of the Bulge."
blank stare from Delphine.
know, World War II when Nazi Germany tried to conquer England?"
wasn't born yet."
it still happened. You can take my word for it."
I remember. You told me your father was in the Army."
was one of the soldiers called the battling bastards of Bastogne."
father was a bastard?"
literally, it was just a nickname. Never mind."
you in the Army?"
were wounded in battle, I suppose."
but I didn't return with all my f-a-c-u-l-t-i-e-s intact."
made a harump sound. "You didn't have to spell out the word."
a line from my favorite short story about war. Salinger wrote
assume he's an American author."
never read J. D. Salinger?"
not terribly fond of American writers."
I get home, I'll email you an address where you can read some
of his writing online."
I'll talk about myself if you don't mind."
want to know everything about you."
an orphan. My mother may be alive somewhere, probably out of her
head on crack and being fucked up the arse by some dodgy Romanian
porn director somewhere. My father is very much dead, bless the
incestuous swine. But I do miss him sometimes."
like to shock people, don't you?"
smiled coyly. "Are you shocked by the way I talk?"
I just wonder why you feel it's necessary."
kept smiling. "Did I tell you I returned to hooking a month
ago? My clients are okay, they're into pretty straight stuff and
they're loaded. I just hate it when they talk too much."
quit your milk bottle job?"
didn't pay enough money to keep a dog alive. I don't mean to brag,
but I'm quite amazing in sex. I give ferocious blowjobs and I
come very easily. When I fuck, I go on for at least four hours.
I love it up the arse, I like it with girls, I like it tied and
and spanked. There's no one in my life that I haven't had sex
with. The only ones I don't like are Flemish fishmongers who pay
happened to your boyfriend?"
is a rentboy now. He doesn't like the hooking since he has to
fuck really repulsive middle-aged clerics."
some life you describe."
mean not respectable. Haven't you learned yet there's no such
thing as a respectable life? There's just life."
guess I missed that lesson."
making fun of me, but I know what I'm doing. Everyone wants to
fuck me. It's not that I'm the most beautiful girl in the world,
not even the most beautiful girl in this wretched coastal town
-- just the randiest and wildest, the one who looks underage and
helpless. Men love underage minge."
old are you? Tell me the truth."
as I said."
your real name is Delphine?"
rolled her eyes. "Of course not. Practically all the people
I know use aliases."
you running from the law?"
still don't think it sounds like much of a life."
me tell you what I did a few weekends ago. My neighbor is this
smug old fart who's always bragging about his colonial past in
the Congo, but he's like the Flemish Hugh Hefner and he held this
big party at his house with tons of bourbon and cocaine. He invited
every vixen he knew and I was one of them."
interrupted her by chuckling.
word vixen always makes me laugh for some reason. It refers to
know it means a female fox. I'm not stupid, you know."
Please continue with your story."
party was great and I had sex with a gorgeous Flemish girl. She
smelled really nice and she had small tits. I love girls, even
though I love men more and I couldn't live without cock. But once
in a while I have to fondle someone else's tits to feel good."
get it. You're bisexual."
just a word. I'm a crazy lover."
realize I'm quite skinny, but I have really nice tits and I've
been in a few porn flicks. I guess I shouldn't be proud of that,
but I am."
think you're a very pretty girl, Delphine."
lowered her head and looked away. "I wish you hadn't said
my honest opinion."
don't want to be pretty. It's what men say about a girl when they're
not interested in fucking her. I want to be sexy."
is the first time in five years I haven't been aching to fuck."
not a tragedy. You just need a rest."
looked up at me with pleading eyes. "Take me to your hotel
don't really want to go there."
see if I'm hiding a wife?"
it to me."
should learn to trust people more."
right, I believe you. Don't you want to fuck me?"
way too young for me. I'd feel like a dirty old man."
looked confused."You knew how young I was before you came
want me to believe you traveled all the way from Hawaii just to
talk to me?"
to visit Bastogne. But your emails made me very curious about
a very good writer. I was impressed by the short story you sent
eyes glistened with tears. She pushed my hand away when I reached
out to touch her cheek.
need to cry about it."
filled up her glass with wine. "Drink. It'll make you feel
seemed like a fascinating girl and I wanted to meet you. What's
wrong with that?"
she said, draining her glass.
want something to eat?"
don't eat lunch. I'm on a diet."
in shape for another porn flick?"
glared at me with dagger eyes and poured herself more wine.
bad joke. You want to go for a walk? You could show me the city."
is a shithole and I'm no tour guide."
be willing to pay for your time."
and spend the day together."
not that desperate for money."
are you so angry with me?"
thought we were friends."
folded her arms. "Yeah, pen pals."
that a kind of friendship?"
in my experience."
sighed. "I can see I've put you in a bad mood. Why don't
we meet here again tomorrow afternoon at one and start from scratch?
I promise I won't say anything to upset you."
shook her head. "Are you for real?"
far as I know. Would you like to see my driver's license?"
frowned. "Yes, I would."
took the license out of my wallet and she examined it.
actually do live in Honolulu."
must have thought I lied to you."
don't know what I thought."
it a date for tomorrow?"
paused to make up her mind. "If you insist."
days in a row I went to the bistro at one in the afternoon and
waited for a couple hours, but Delphine failed to show up. I was
more disappointed than surprised. On my last day in Oostend I
plugged my laptop into the hotel room terminal to check my email.
There was no message from Delphine.
fact, I never heard from Delphine again. After I returned to Hawaii,
I sent a long message to her email address with the online address
where she could read some of Salinger's work. It came back immediately
with a notice that the recipient was no longer available at that
email address. I would write her a snail mail letter, but she
never gave me her street address and even if she had, I didn't
know her real name and I imagined that she moved often without
leaving a forwarding address.
I think of Delphine and wonder what happened to her. Behind all
her brash talk, she possessed a certain fragile quality of injured
innocence that touched me. She was an English waif lost in a jaded
underworld ruled by Flemish fishmongers and fake Hugh Hefners,
drugs and gorgeous bisexual women, aching to fuck her way out
of the nightmare in which she was sinking as if into quicksand.
grew up in Michigan and worked as a journalist for several years
in South Florida. After majoring in anthropology in college, he
traveled extensively, freelancing as a travel writer/photographer.
Moake is the author of three books of fiction, two novels and
a short story collection all published since 1999. When he is
not writing, Moake works as a freelance web designer and software
programmer from his home in Hawaii, where he has lived since 1972.
William Starr Moake
Delphine, With Love and J. D. Salinger
© 2005 by William
All rights reserved.