the Quaaludes and Canadian Club, I found myself crawling out of
shoes like a millipede, waiting for the black woman in the curtain
less window across the alley to begin. A giant scarab becoming
a woman behind steamed glass, flesh so dark and real I could almost
catch her fragrance.
Then she’d change again—into a mongoose, wriggling,
deranged—and I’d be naked too—dancing with her
across the space between the windows and our skin. Jesus, I was
ready to fight with her and bite her jewelry—to drink her
tongue and keep her in a wicker bottle hanging from my bedpost.
Every time she rotated and popped those glistening bare cheeks,
I’d think of a story an old wino in San Francisco told me.
One of the bouncers had taken pity on him in the pouring rain
and let him in to see the go-go dancers in their glass booths
at some joint in North Beach.
Some Christian nut job threw a Molotov cocktail and set one of
the clear cages on fire. Watching the dancer smash her way out
of the brittle blazing cocoon, the wino said he’d had his
first erection in four years.
It was with some of that same perversity that I kept my eyes on
the black woman, as she churned and morphed—wondering if
she knew how hard it was—not to slip into something more
comfortable like air—and seize her.
One night, hypnotized to breaking point, I started flashing the
lights in my rented room. She flashed hers back in crude fluorescent
code—she knew I’d been watching. It turned her on.
And when the window was finally fogged by her moist tantrum, she
pressed those soft huge breasts against the cold pane, and slowly
slid them back and forth, until the glass was wiped completely
She killed the lights then, and something in me too—because
I could only embrace my depraved innocence, which lured me on
at the same time that it repelled me back to being—if not
in love, at least in league with, women on my side of the window.
first novel Zanesville was published by Villard Books in late
2005. The Austin Chronicle called it "The most original novel
of the year" and it received a Starred Review in Booklist,
which praised it as "brilliantly inventive black comedy."
is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area but for many years has
lived in Australia and the Pacific Islands. A painter as well
as writer, his work has appeared in such publications as The Boston
Review, The Hudson Review, The Antioch Review, River Styx, ZYZZYVA,
New Letters, Prairie Schooner and The Hawaii Review. This excerpt
is taken from a novel in progress called ENIGMATIC PILOT, which
is scheduled by Random House for publication in 2008. For more
information see www.saknussemm.com
© 2010 by Kris Saknussemm
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