The Sex Scene


Pia Pera

Excerpts taken from the novel Lo's Diary, originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 103 in 1999.

That's that. Hummie's definitely a bore in bed. He doesn't know anything interesting.

In spite of his vast "experience" he's way below Roger. He lies there like a straw man. A real sexual parasite. Aside from stammering some French poetry, he brings nothing of himself. And that's only quotations anyway. Nevertheless, a truly historic night: Miss Dolores Maze possessed Monsieur Humbert Guibert. Now I'll return him to Plasticmom, all tied up with ribbon and bows, a good hospital present. I'll deliver her adored monsieur with a bunch of flowers and the sweetest card in the world, the sentimental syrupy kind that the hen loves, especially now she's at death's door. At last, our interests coincide: let Hummie go back to his nice little house in Goatscreek with his devoted little wife. It's time for him to return to spiritual relationships: he's too inept for the body-to-body. After my endless fantasies about him, all he made me feel was acute nostalgia for Rowe and Roger. I dreamed that the three of us were in a canoe, under a blazing sun. Roger was kissing my hair, Rowe was paddling and was stringing together one dirty word after another, all the ones we know, wonderful dirty words, the sounds so beautiful they drive you wild. Roger and I repeated them with her, singsonging them clearly, syllable by syllable, and we were so moved by this music of divine obscenities that we burst into tears. The tears flowed down our cheeks, we didn't have the breath to continue, and the words failed us, as if they had run away: in fact we saw them up in the sky, "cock" written all in black, "blow job" in blue, "cunt" in red, "asshole" in emerald green, all those filthy words were suspended in the sky like clouds. Then the three of us held each other tight, sad because the dirty words had abandoned us and gone up to heaven without us, and we were alone, mute, left motionless in the silence of the lake. We kept hoping that the words would pour down on us again, but instead Chloe showed up to spy on us: she wanted to denounce us all to director Watson, and we ran away in three different directions. I found myself at Mary Jo's, and the hen brought me a present: a rag doll full of sawdust with Chloe's dumb face. "This will be your best friend," she said to me, and Mary Jo and I bowed to the ground: "Thank you, Mrs. Maze, it's very nice of you to give us this lovely doll, we promise to obey all the orders that come out of its belly, whatever they are." When the hen left, Mary Jo punched the doll in the belly and in a slow, drawn-out voice it wailed its order: "Cut me open, hurry up and cut me open." We obeyed, the sawdust poured out of the wound, and we were in a sand dune. The tiny windblown grains issued order upon order, a buzz of voices that followed us as we ran to the lake and dived into the water. It was cool there until the hen came to take me out of camp. She shut me up in her house, and put me in the arms of her husband, Humbert Guibert; but I wasn't me anymore, I had become Rowe, and I spit in his face, just like that time when I told him he had acted like a coward. I spit in his face and then I asked for something to drink: I'm thirsty, I'm thirsty, I said, give me something to drink . . .

Now I feel all bruised. It was so absurd. I am in the lobby of a stupid hotel with a convention of ministers, moldy unsexual types, except for Gerry Sue Filthy, who told me to sit in this chair while he looks at me, and that way he'll be inspired and write about me. It's really weird and exciting, to feel his eyes as if they were touching me, otherwise I'd be suffocating from boredom with these walls and their stupid murals showing scenes of hunters and trembling rabbits. Humbert stayed in the room to clean up. He doesn't want to leave a trace. He's afraid of the hen. With the hen around we'll never really have fun. The same routine as yesterday, when he went down to the bar first so that it wouldn't seem like we were staying in bed together. He even found the nerve to say to the waiter: "I don't know if my wife will be able to join us." Hypocrite! I left him alone because I was exhausted and just wanted to go to sleep. When I woke up, at first light, with all the toilets flushing, more or less at the same time we had to get up at camp, I found him in the bed instead of on the cot. O.K., it's time to seduce him, I thought, now or never, time for him to see how much I learned without him. In spite of him. I felt very happy at the idea of teaching him a lesson. I put my arms around his neck to give him a good-morning kiss, a kiss like a breath of wind, light as light can be, then I whispered in his ear: "You want to be with me?" The only response a dazed look. "Come on, let's have fun . . . " He has a dopey expression, like a sleepy man who doesn't know where he is or what's happening to him. "Are you for real or what?" Blank. "You're not going to make me believe you've never ever ever . . . " No, it's not possibleÑafter all, Celeste gave me a detailed report on the humanization of Plasticmom at the hands of her dear Hummie, it's not possible that they never did it. He must think I'm too small, I say to myself. Now I'll show him. Of course he wants to do it but he doesn't dareÑhe's afraid of the hen, enslaved by his wife, like all spineless husbands. With frightened eyes he lies stretched out on the bed, then he moves his head toward me, but not even an embrace, only dirty, quivery, drooly kisses sticky on my back. I won't let him get away with this, I think, a thing done and not done. I move him over, I check that it's all O.K., surprisingly it is, everything's O.K., then I kiss him, just to encourage him. Meanwhile he lies there, not moving a muscle, that skunk, he has no idea, just lies still the whole time and leaves me to take care of everything by myself. I even have to put the rubber on. The whole time he's pretending not to realize what the two of us are doing. Well, now I'll show you what sort of games I learned when I was out from under your retarded influence, you old jerk, I'll show you what we can do "at our age." He keeps his eyes closed so he doesn't have to see anything, but finally he can't help giving some sign of life, and even then he tries not to let me hear. He bites his lips, knits his forehead, suppresses his cries, and then goes rigid, like a plaster cast, and smiles at me idiotically, mumbling a few words in French that don't have anything to do with anything: in rhyme, of course. Kilroy was here, I shout. Kilroy was here, here, here! Now he'll tell the hen I raped him. Here it is, our great longed-for freedom, our magical moment together. It was almost better when the hen was lying in wait. More exciting. I climb off him while outside they knock with the breakfast tray. "Pass the potatoes," I say, "I'm starving." He hands them to me with a look of disgust (for the fries), then goes into the bathroom, comes back wrapped in his bathrobe and says to me: "Look what you've done, the bed is full of crumbs." Crumbs . . . Well, we're having breakfast, he's drinking his coffee, and he must have gotten used to the idea, because suddenly he gets all perked up and wants to do it again and again and again, and in the end it hurts. Really revolting, this morning seemed to start off well, but I have to say that the more he holds on the more deflating it is for me. And besides this day is so gray you could die, it's like there's a cover over the sky. He's a lousy lover, really lousy, either from too much or not enough, but always and in every way bad, the extremely boring Professor Humbert Guibert. And when he stops screwing he puts on his deputy-hen tone: "Get dressed and wait for me while I straighten up." What a pig. He wants to go swimming but he won't get his feet wet, he won't stop playing the fake father who tidies up: he won't take the risk. An idiot. A creep. Phony from head to toe. Well, why am I surprised, I already knew he was a double-crosser. Maybe I'm the fool. That's it, I don't know what got into me to deceive myself. It's only that once I saw him again I liked him, like the first time I saw him, and he looked handsome, and handsome is handsome, but I still didn't know how revolting he was inside. Besides, you always think that people can improve; instead, not a chance Humbert totally hardened into Humbert, rather, double Humbert, Humbert Guibert, whose soul is even more plastic than the hen's. Well, it's not so surprising, after all he's even more decrepit than Plasticmom, although with his suntanned face he manages to cover up his real age, the age of his heart. On the way to the lobby I see Filthy Sue paying his bill, and I pretend not to recognize him, as I promised, but Rimbaud starts playing with me, biting my wrists and licking me on the nose.

"Leave that stupid dog alone," Humbert rages. "All we need is for you to get rabies, and then you'll both be in the hospital." What a jerk. He's got to be more contagious than any dog. Meanwhile, Filthy Sue makes a face behind his back. I yell at him, You're a shit just like Plasticmom, who'll never get me a dog. All the emaciated ministers and their skinny wives look at me horrified, a bunch of bony hands covering a bunch of toothless mouths. Only Filthy Sue winks and gives me a thumbs up.

I'm not sorry I screwed Humbert Guibert if only because:

1. At least it's good for my skin.

2. Now I know he's absolutely worthless and I won't waste any more time on him.

I don't ever want to waste my time again on this type of swindler who's only good for the hen. I don't want to waste time, that's it. You don't get a thing from an imbecile like that, sperm by the gallon, but truthÑnot a drop. To me it was obvious what he wanted, only he didn't want to admit it, above all he didn't want me to know, the big fat hypocrite. He doesn't have the nerve to say what he wants, he doesn't know that we all have the right to our own happiness: the Constitution says so. So he's under me and I'm kissing him, I'm licking the edges of his lips, I'm touching him lightly with my tongue, stuff to make a mummy come to life, and he can't not get excited, in fact he is excited, but he tries not to look into my eyes, he keeps averting his; still, he has no escape, because right under him is my hand, and there's no way to deny what's happening, no way at all, yet he runs away from me and chases me both at the same time. He'll go on like that to the end of his days, without admitting a damn thing. He thinks he's superior because the mere idea of eating french fries in the morning makes him sick. I suppose now he'll be in a hurry to escape from the scene of the crime and join his hen wife in the hospital.

He must have had his fingers crossed behind his back when he pledged to be faithful to her. He can go to bed with me, but in fact it's only a game and Plasticmom is still the one in control, still the one to decide how we live and who sees who, and Hummie will never be brave enough to do anything against her will, he'll never dare to challenge her, he's so scared. He allows himself all these great liberties because Madame Guibert is in the hospital and out of the running. For me to have fun with Hummie, the hen would have to croak in the hospital: it happens, once in a while, a mistake, the wrong anesthetic, whatever . . .

Hummie promised that tomorrow when we go to the hospital he will tell her he is in love with me and it was a mistake to marry her and they must leave each other, and if she threatens to go to the police he's ready to face anything, even prison, even the electric chair. But I don't want you to go to prison, I tell him, I don't want you to die. I also explained to him that we can arrange things so it's the hen who dies and can't hurt us anymore. She's so mean and nasty that if he were so bold, so cool, as to tell the truth she'd persecute us, punish us. All we can do is kill her, pull out the IV, give her the wrong medicine, whatever, since a shit like her for sure doesn't deserve to go on living. Does she give anything to the world, anything good? Nothing at all, nothing, she grabs everything for herself and keeps us from being happy. Hummie began cackling like a madman and said: You really want her to die? Yes, I said. O.K., he said, that's it. O.K., baby, it will be doneÑwinking an eye. Wow! What happened to him? Did he become someone else? A snap of the fingers: "O.K., abracadabra, the hen is dead, do you believe it now?" Wow wow wow!!! And then we'll be like Bonnie and Clyde, the two of us, adventuring through the world.

But maybe we don't actually have to murder her: when I show up in all these sexy clothes that her second and last husband bought me, she'll die in a burst of rage. She'll choke on it. Definitely.