The Cassander Canon: Cunt, Snatch and Glory
I’m taking a sabbatical this month, so you’re getting old school pre-2006 hiatus golden nuggets! This week is “Cunt, Snatch, and Glory,” an excerpt from my unfinished, unnamed novel about a groupe of people who never left the small Ohio college town after they graduated and who wreck the lives of contemporary students there. It was not that great except for some chapters like this. Enjoy!
Jack walked into the Admiral and saluted the barman. There was almost no one inside, except for a few transparent people huddled around the touch screen game or isolated in the cabin-like booths. He pulled his cigarettes and lighter out of his pocket and laid them on the bar before pulling out a stool. A song, minute and timidly saccharine played over the speakers, something made in the lost decades of silly pop.
“Dontcha got any rock and roll in this here joint?” he asked.
The bartender’s arms were locked into position against the rail with his head lowered between his shoulders, the attitude of a boring evening. “Jukebox is over there.”
“Who the hell played this then?”
“This is what comes on when nobody puts any money in.”
“Automated crap,” Jack said. “I admire your ploy. Frustrate everyone with greatest common denominator sappy piss music. Get the money outta their pockets just for some escape from these tedious tunes.”
“You got it.”
“Well, in that case, let me get some singles.”
“Out of twenty. Enjoy it.”
Jack peered into the booths as he walked the length of the bar. In the farthest corner crouched a well-dressed woman speaking intensely across a table to a thin, pretty boy. When he reached the back wall, she met Jack’s eyes for a second and then moved her hand to shield her face. He noticed that she had nice tits and the boy’s full attention. Both of them were oblivious to Jack. He took up a cocky position over the jukebox, one hand centered on top of the machine and the other impatiently pushing the button. The pages flipped slowly while he watched for familiar album covers. He slid his money into the slot.
Jack told the bartender, “I just put in side one of the only decent album you got in there.”
The first song started up, echoing through the empty bar.
“Yes. Now, that’s better. Now I can relax. How bout a drink.”
“What’ll you have?”
“’Hair of the dog that bit me, Lloyd.’”
“My name ain’t Lloyd.”
“And I guess you’re not a big movie buff either. Just make it whatever dirty well bourbon you got in here. Reach down there under the bar where you hide that nasty stuff and pour me a glass.”
The bartender produced the drink and took a few bills from the stack Jack had laid out next to his cigarettes. He seemed to be slowly usurping the bar with his loose possessions. He took off his sunglasses now and considered the middle-aged man, his throwback mustache and denim shirt unbuttoned down to the middle of his chest.
“Seeing as how we’re the only two strangers in here, how about you tell me your name?”
“Well, Dirk, I’m Jack Singer. Now that we’re acquainted, I’ve got a question or two for ya.”
“You seen a girl come in here tonight? She’s about this tall, standing up of course, dirty blond with sweet little jewels for eyes?”
“Seen a lot of those. They all left for that show over at the Grove.”
“Yeah, that’s where I just came from. They, ah, let out a bit earlier than scheduled. That’s why I was wondering if you’d seen her. She would’ve ordered a club soda.”
“I usually only give attention to paying customers.”
“Well, well, well. She might stop by. How about I wait and see. You can pay a little attention to me.”
“What’s the story.”
“Well, let me tell you, there was quite a ruckus over there at the Grove. I didn’t make it inside, wasn’t planning on it. But I happened to be walking by and the crowd outside drew me to watching. Seems they gave away a few too many tickets, and those left out in the cold when the band started up weren’t too happy about it.”
Dirk looked reflexively out the front window, thinking about business.
“Must be nice, don’t you think?”
“Being famous. Well, fame is one thing. It’s just a state of being known. But a lot of people confuse being famous for being wanted. That’s the game I want to be in. I’ve got a band of my own, you see.”
“I figured, the way you dress. Either you’re in a band or you’re one of them sleazy poet types.”
“Well, they’re not mutually exclusive. Lotta poets didn’t make it big ‘til they learned how to strum a guitar. And as far as your other comment, I’m going to choose to not be insulted by it, because, Dirk, you’ve got a point there. Nobody got too well-known in this country without having a little taste for sleaze. Lotta them don’t like to talk about it, once they’ve gotten where they are, or some of them act like it was something they took on along with the mantle of fame, but it’s there, and I’m living proof, from the moment of adolescence on. If you got a powerful enough taste for it, you’ll write pretty sonnets ‘til you’re blue in the face. Because, if you’ll allow me to twist a little conceit, Dirk—that’s what us rocker-poets do—being blue in the face is better than being blue in the balls.”
“You’ve got a point there, kid.”
“Do I like to sing? Yeah. Do I like jumping around with my three idiots behind me, grinding out some sweaty noise? You bet. I like owning a crowd for a while. I like the feel of colored lights burning into my retinas and dancing with a microphone stand, all that. But really, who doesn’t get into rock and roll, no matter what type it is, if it isn’t for the little ghels?”
Jack ripped open his soft pack to get to the hiding cigarettes. His lighter clicked and flared. Dirk topped off his drink and took a few more bills.
“Y’see, Dirk, we are living in a world, now, where there’s only three ways to get sure pussy. One is to be good-lookin’, I mean really good-lookin’, which, let’s face it, most of us aren’t and that only gets you three-quarters of the way there in most cases anyway. Or you can have an arm for something, tossing a ball or catching one, something like that. Again, something you’re kinda born with, but those mules do a lot better than ninety-percent of us even if they’re cruel and ugly. Or you can carry a tune, put together a song, and reel the ghels in that way. That’s why they call a good tune catchy.
“Now, sure, Dirk, the good-lookin’ guy has his charms and the athlete is big, tough, strong, playful. All good qualities. But if you’ve got a song to your name, well, you’ve got it made, because there isn’t much more important to a lot of people than their private love of certain songs and the people who sing them. Movies make you shut up and watch, shut yourself off from everyone else in the theater. Books, well, they’re just too long. But a song is three minutes long, short and sweet, you get my drift? Three minutes, but it’ll move you farther than any goddamn piece of prose toward any destination you want to go, jumpy, free, or stoned. So you’ve already got the little ghels by their hearts and minds. All you gotta do after that is show it off on stage, and they’ll throw themselves at you pussy first.”
The hushed couple hurried past Jack and went out the door, connected by the hands.
“Losing customers, Dirk,” Jack said. “Might as well pour a drink and charge yourself for it.”
“Nah. Maybe in a bit.”
“But you see where I’m going with this, don’t you, Dirk? Any fool can front a band if he tries hard enough, no matter what he looks like, sings like, or dances like. Gene Simmons, Dirk. Slash. Lyle Lovett or Tom Waits. Steven Tyler, for chrissake. These are ugly men, Dirk! Ugly as Cain’s mark. But you think any one day in their life since they had a hit that they ever lifted up their hand without finding an eager piece of ass under it?
“It’s another life, one most guys dream about in abstract terms, never thinking that it’s really possible, that their wildest fantasies are being enacted at this moment by other men. It’s a dream most guys shrug off and exchange for a skinny little thing with flat hair and gapped teeth because she’s the only steady thing they got. Pour me another one, Dirk, and take two for your time. Oh, it’s so horrible. These guys everywhere faced with the very true fact that women are outnumbering us, out-populating us in every acre, but they grab the nearest eager thing and turn her steady. You ask any guy what he wanted to be when he was a little kid and he’ll tell you cowboy or astronaut. Which were you, Dirk? Cowboy I bet.”
“Cowboy or astronaut. The hard loner or the heroic explorer. What these boys should be given as role models is rock stars. But, sadly, that time when you get a guy you worship, say a Hendrix or a David Byrne or a Cobain, by the time you find one of those guys to admire, you’re fourteen and the world’s starting to look a lot less fascinating and the chicks around you are already acting as unapproachable as the stars or the far mesas. You following? I think I’m getting a little too worked up here, a little wordy. Take this stuff away. Gimme a beer to sip on, would ya? I need to slow my mind down.
“What I mean to say, Dirk, in simple terms, is that I, unlike many of my contemporaries, am willing to look the true nature of a man in the face and take the necessary steps to achieving the goal of having constant, strange, and exciting pussy made available to me. I want it lining the walls of the green room when I come off stage. I want it camping outside my apartment building. I want it sending me envelopes full of underwear and wild promises. I want it swimming in my pool and taking showers in my bathroom and reclining on my couch.
“I want blondes. I want redheads. I want those caramel Indians and those olive oil Mediterraneans. I want jungle fever. I want the sick rush of nymphets. I want Southern belles and California girls. I want chain-smoking pussy and goody-two-shoes pussy. I want strippers dressed like nurses and nurses who think they can strip. I want leather. I want pink cotton. I want leopard print. I want whip cream and champagne. I want corsets and teddies, g-strings and fishnets. I want to join the Mile High Club. I want to be a john and a trick. I want bookworms and table dancers. I want naughty secretaries in glasses and eager schoolgirls in plaid. I want cowgirls and socialites. I want co-eds and MILFs. And what do I want from all these ghels? I want blowjobs. I want handjobs. I want reverse cowgirl and doggystyle. I want face-up pussy and face down pussy. I want to tittyfuck and I want anal. I see all my money’s gone, so I won’t trouble you for another drink. Dirk, I want tits. I want big, boastful breasts and spoonfuls of sugar. I want swaying tatas and bouncing jugs. Dirk, I want ass. I want a smooth, firm can, and I want a thick side of ham.
“Dirk, I want gash. I want cunt, snatch, and glory.”
Jack sighed, extinguished one cigarette and selected another.
“Glory, Dirk. What happened to it? The truth is, in a country where it is promised to you from an early age that there are more ways to get your rocks off than stars in the sky or sands in the desert, in a nation where porno outsells every romance novel and chick flick, in a land where our forefathers grabbed up every virgin space of soil between our shining coasts and never gave a damn about pulling out or wearing a rubber it is becoming harder and harder to be the sexual animals we’re born to be. There is a crisis, Dirk, and a plague on our domain, and it is love. It is candlelight and holding hands and little candies in the shape of hearts. Well, those are the disguises love wears. What is love, really, but simple stability painted up like a whore and called a saint?
“And goddammit, Dirk, if I haven’t caught the disease, too. It’s like fluoride in the water. It’s like smallpox blankets. And I think I’ve been contaminated. I’ve been breathing in this puritan air too long. I’ve been unsuccessful in any kind of dick-waving, cock rock venture, and I’m finding myself lookin’ to be steady and settle. Even worse than that, Dirk. I’m wanting to start it all over like some prude and give it up to a virgin. A lotta guys might dirty into that, and I wish to god it was like that, but it’s not. It’s not wanting to take away her useless innocence. It’s wanting to wash myself with it, the most naughty parts first.”
Jack tried to scoot himself back and stand up. He started to assemble his belongings.
“You see what they do to us, Dirk? You see the dangers of our moral ascent? You give up your goddamn dreams and tell your cock to lie still. Like a puppy. And for what?”
Dirk shrugged his shoulders.
“Don’t answer then. S’alright. Well, my songs are all done playing, I’m outta money, and I drank too fast. Helluva business you run here, Dirk. Helluva businessman you are. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some vomit to attend to.”
Jack made his way through the door just before the sweet, sterile pop started to waft through the bar. He took a left down the sidewalk and reached the poster-covered fence and there was no point in fighting it anymore. His stomach lurched and his puke came spraying out, dropping with a heavy splash onto the dirt and yellow grass. He braced himself against the fence with both arms and felt himself sway from side to side. A second wave poured out of his mouth, weaker than the first but twice as bitter. He waited for his body to relinquish the control of balance to his mind. Invisible moments passed by, made up of random lengths of time.
He spat once more with finality and raised his head. His eyes jumped from poster to poster, their colored squares backing in and out of focus. He recognized one of the fliers. It poked out from underneath a few others, its main title obscured. Jack swiped at the overlaying sheets, leaving ripped corners stapled to the fence. He grunted and ignored the spasms in his empty stomach in order to more fully concentrate on his task. His fingernails dug into the wood of the fence behind the paper. His arms flexed, and the scraps went flying. Jack pried out tacks and bit at stubborn corners. He ripped them into shreds, strips, and slices. The misshapen confetti floated down to the ground, piling around his feet and dusting his clothes. When he was done, the dark, weathered wood was bare except for the shining staples and one nine-by-twelve placard advertising Jack Singer and the Rod Mockers, appearing last Thursday, all ages, no cover.