Okay, gang. Here is another excerpt from the new novel. Again, even though the novel is hardcore erotic, this excerpt is appropriate for all readers.
These are a few very short chapters from Part One.
Excerpt from Thug Luckless: Welcome to P-Town. (Approx. 3 & 1/2 pages)
Taken from Part One: Mavis Says Goodbye
© 2020 Marilyn Jaye Lewis
Mavis had lived alone in the apartment since the accident at the plant. Her husband was “one of the lucky ones,” she said, who had died instantly. Their two children, who had been at the school down the road from the plant, had practically melted, but it had still taken them a while to die.
“The hospital, of course, was full. And I mean beyond belief full,” she said. “My kids had to die in a long row of children, out on the sidewalk. In front of where the school had been just that morning. They couldn’t be moved, you know. I couldn’t take them home with me so that maybe they could die in their own beds. What was left of their skin would have just fallen right off if I’d so much as touched them.”
Since those days with Mavis, I have met many women in P-Town whose kids had died in that long line of melting children out on the school sidewalk.
I have tried to picture it on my inner screen – that long line – but all that comes up when I focus is a line of baby goats that have been set on fire, and I don’t know what it means.
I hear the screaming, though. Of the baby goats. It’s horrible.
I cannot process suffering.
That’s how I damaged one of my hearing sensors. Slamming one side of my head into the concrete pylon of the old overpass. Trying to make the horrible sounds of screaming stop.
* * *
The apartment building where Mavis lived was six stories high, and had two large apartments on each floor. But only two other residents were left in the entire building, besides Mavis – both of them were women who had also lost their husbands and kids in the accident.
I got to know those two women very well after Mavis died. She died from what was called an aneurysm – of the heart. Her heart unraveled. Something like that. I’ve tried to picture it but nothing comes.
All the women from that building are dead now. No one lives there anymore.
* * *
Mavis wore pretty dresses. Pretty, like her. With flowers all over them. And she wore shoes with high-heels and with open-toes but no backs to the shoes at all. They looked dangerous but she could balance on them just fine.
When she was in the kitchen cooking at night, I sat at the table and watched her. We would talk while she cooked. She would place a cup of coffee in front of me. And a plate of food, when she sat down with hers. Of course, I don’t eat. But I sat there with my unlit cigarette in my mouth, a cup of coffee in front of me. The sugar bowl. An ashtray. A plate, with food on it; steam rising from the plate and from the coffee cup.
A fork. A knife. A spoon.
She sat across from me at the table. Sometimes we spoke while she ate. Sometimes she talked on and on, not expecting me to join in. Other times, she was silent and it looked like she was listening to something in the distance. Something outside the window, down the street, and very far away.
* * *
“It’s always so damn hot now – always.” Mavis would come to bed in a tiny nightgown. It hardly covered any of her skin but she still said she was hot.
The plumbing wasn’t great but there was still electricity in most places in P-Town. Lights worked. Appliances worked. But the machines that made the air cold, those didn’t work anymore and no one from the city would come to P-Town to fix those. They wouldn’t fix anything in P-Town. If it broke, it stayed broken.
“They’re afraid,” Mavis explained. “They think that if they come here, they’ll all catch what we’ve got and then go home and die. But that’s just stupid. It doesn’t work that way. If you weren’t here during the accident then it won’t affect you. It’s not that simple. Nothing is that simple. But it sure is easy to be stupid, isn’t it, Bill?”
“Yes,” I would reply. And I knew for sure the reply was correct.
* * *
Mavis said, “Sometimes I get so tired in the afternoon that I can’t keep my eyes open another minute and then I lie right down and fall dead asleep for five minutes. Just five minutes. And I feel myself step out of my body – right out of it – and I take off and run. I’m free. I’ve got stuff to do – to investigate. To see. To feel. I come back, and I can look at my body, I know where it is. And sometimes I say, ‘I’m not getting back in. I’m done now.’ But then I always get back in and then I wake with a start – like I’m falling.”
I don’t sleep. I don’t dream. I don’t know what any of that stuff feels like. But when Mavis would talk about it, all those words were in me – I could see them and I understood.
The day that she died, I saw her on the screen inside me: she took off and ran. It was just like she’d said had happened in the dream. She was free. Done with it. She left her body and did not get back inside.
* * *
Mavis called it “spooning.” To spoon. “Like spoons, and how they fit together in a drawer,” she said. “It’s an old-fashioned word but most people still know what it means.”
I was not pre-programmed to spoon, so she pressed my “learn” button and then told me to lie on my side on the bed, as she was doing, and to make my body form a sort of ‘s’ shape – as hers was doing. And then she told me to press up very close to her.
In that position, we fit together perfectly.
Spooning. To spoon. Like spoons.
I committed it to my memory and she was happy.
I worried about the heat, though – that she was already too hot and that maybe this close proximity of all my mechanisms to her body would make her feel much hotter. It did. But she didn’t care.
“My husband and I – we always slept like this. This is what I want. It’s okay.”
I came from the factory fully functional in many positions but for a long time, Mavis did not want to use any of those. Only the ‘s’ curve.
“Just this,” she said in the dark. “This is what I need. So many things went into me in all those same positions that you were pre-programmed with at the factory,” she explained. “I know all those positions. There’s nothing wrong with them. In fact, so many good things came out of me because of those positions – babies, joy, delight, ecstasy. Rapture, even – do you know what rapture is, Bill?”
I scanned my screen and found ‘rapture’ and it was very agreeable. “Yes,” I told her. “I know what rapture is.”
“I lost everything in the accident. All the good things that came out of me – of my body? They’re gone now. I cannot get any of them back. I can’t put any of them back inside – even though I wish I could. I wish I could push them all back up inside me and never let them out. Keep all my rapture safe and never hear the screaming. But it’s impossible. Now I just need something to help me pretend that the loss of them is not permanent. I need something to follow the gaps of me – the bends, the curves, the places along the outside of my body that are empty. That’s all I need now. It calms the voices.”
“What does that mean?”
“They call to me – it’s constant.”
“Who calls to you?”
“My children. My husband. They call to me. But I can’t go yet. And until I can – having you to wrap around me like this? It calms the voices.”
“I see,” I said. Although I did not really see. However, many of the words she’d spoken were not unfamiliar to me and had rushed to my inner screen – colliding with each other, shooting around like a sudden heat applied to electrons. That was what it looked like – her words on my screen: like a kind of science. And then, just as rapidly, her words tumbled from my screen, rolling right down the edge of it, like a waterfall of sad words, and then disappeared. A science of dying.
Then it was just dark, and she was breathing, and her ‘s’ curve fit into my ‘s’ curve perfectly on the bed, and so I held her – just like that. The breathing going in a rhythm of lifting and falling.
“What were your children’s names?” I asked her.
“My daughter’s name was Olivia, and my son’s name was Chester. We called them Livy and Chess.”
I felt the names find their places in my vocabulary feed.
“What was your husband’s name?” I asked.
“Bill,” she said. “My husband’s name was Bill.”
I couldn’t process it. “Bill? But that’s me. I’m called Bill.”
“I know,” she said. “You can have the name now – I’m giving it to you. It’s yours. You’re Bill now.”
A man came up on my screen who was nameless, but only because I had his name now. I was Bill. Then the man with no name disappeared.
And then it was just the rhythm of lifting and falling – her breathing, filling the space around us on the bed. Between us there were no spaces, though. Those gaps were filled.
© 2020 Marilyn Jaye Lewis
Excerpted from Thug Luckless: Welcome to P-Town