by Kris Saknussemm

Without 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 clean.

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.


Kris Saknussemm's 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."

Kris 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 or

Succubus © 2010 by Kris Saknussemm

2 Fork Hwy
"Is a website run by two very different writers and two good friends, Katie Arnoldi and Kris Saknussemm. It’s a mindscape where the language fetish is openly celebrated - where we support and promote the work of friends and fellow travelers - and where we investigate and discuss the lives and achievements of some major figures in the arts and sciences."






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