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Feast by Keith Banner

Wednesday they could be seen walking beside the street, two young guys in
dumpy clothes carrying heavy plastic grocery sacks. The sky was beige and
snowy, the area flat with a stripmall parking lot and dead trees. The
stockier one was named Carson, the taller and thinner one Brad. Their
apartment complex was just beyond the strip-mall, and inside the complex muddy
paths snaked from building to building.


“All the trees are brown,” Carson started singing. “And the sky is

Brad said, laughing, “Please please don’t sing. Do not fucking sing.”

Carson continued to sing his heart out, all the way to their one-bedroom

Inside was what you might expect. Lumpy sofa. Posters of Citizen
The Smiths; Antonio Sabato, Jr. smiling in a Calvin Klein underwear ad; an
Escher print, black ducks transforming into white ones, that they got one
afternoon at a head-shop while buying a beautiful blue bong that Carson lost
somewhere. A pickle jar filled with pennies and nickels. A bean bag chair
losing its styrofoam beans. It smelled bad, old smoke and the sour
dark scent of dirty clothes turning mildewy. The bedroom had a mattress on
the floor and stacks of old textbooks that someday they were going to return
to the bookstore for cash, as neither of them went any more to the community
college where they had met two years ago.

They put the food into the kitchenette, and then Brad sat down on the
beanbag and lit a Salem Light.

“Get your ass in here,” Carson said, faced with the task of putting up all
the food. But he was only joking. He loved the abundance of food.

“You’re the one who fucking wanted Thanksgiving,” Carson said.

“You did too,” Brad said.

“I don’t really give a shit,” he lied. Carson looked lovingly at the huge
frozen turkey, then out at Brad who was blowing smoke-rings. Outside the

window, three kids passed in winter-coats, screaming and laughing. It went
completely dark as Carson put the turkey into a sink of luke-warm water to
thaw. Brad started watching a fuzzy version of Wheel of Fortune. It was
raining freezing rain.

“Give me a cigarette lazy-ass,” Carson said, flopping down beside Brad on
the beanbag.

They smoked, then both drifted into drowsy calm. Carson imagined what
cooking all the food would be like because he had never done Thanksgiving
before and Brad couldn’t cook and God would he miss Brad, and Brad was
thinking of his sister and how his sister last week when she asked him to come
over for Thanksgiving told him not to bring Carson, and Carson was thinking of
candied yams which they had purchased in big heavy cans and in the grocery
store he had thought about what people must think of them, two dumb fucks
buying a turkey and all the trimmings, but no one cared really. At the check-
out, the cashier said without inflection, “Some feast.”

Brad rolled over, looking at Carson. They pushed their faces together and
kissed until Brad could almost taste whatever Carson was tasting, a mix of
cigarette smoke and sour breath. Then they got naked. Brad licked around
Carson’s lips and chin, the silence inside the apartment almost like what
might be inside a sealed envelope. This silence made their pleasure seem
special, Brad licking until he got to Carson’s stomach, licking the bitter
sweat inside his belly-button, Carson’s dick swelling against Brad’s neck as
he licked. There was this eerie happiness right then, Carson touching Brad’s
hair, Brad’s tongue in his belly-button: all the food they just bought
connecting to the sex they were about to have, and then Carson went half-moon
with his body so they could suck each other at the same time. They kept it up
until they came at almost the same moment, which was something they had been
working on.

After, Carson fell asleep. Brad went into the bedroom and got on the phone.

“We’re not showing up tomorrow,” Brad told Liz, his sister.

“You’re welcome,” Liz said.

“Not without Car,” he said.

No response.

“Why?” Liz said.

“Why what?”

“Why do you stand by that son of a bitch?”

“Come on,” he said.

“Whatever. Happy Thanksgiving,” Liz said and hung up.

Lying on the mattress, Brad watched the ceiling for a while. Outside the
window all he could see were bare tree-limbs cracking against the black sky,
frozen rain glowing like glass against the branches.

They woke up around midnight. Smoked some pot and got naked again, kissing
and sucking but not going anywhere with it. Finally, still naked, they watched

Comedy Central while they still had cable, drank Car’s favorite, Peppermint
Schnapps from the bottle, until they fell asleep against each other.

Thursday Carson got up before dawn, after sleeping only three hours. He
showered and stuck the thawed turkey into the oven. He read the directions on
the Stove-top Stuffing box, then decided to take a smoke break. In the
apartment, he felt so safe, and within this safety, Carson imagined what he
looked like the day the cops came over. It was like very peaceful, being
arrested. He looked into the peephole. He saw them, and thought, Should I
run? He thought about talking his way through, but in the end he just opened
the door and they came in and in a stilted voice the black-guy officer read
him his rights and they didn’t even handcuff him. They just escorted him up
the cement stairwell to the cruiser.

It was $4500 in bad checks. Carson wrote them on two different
accounts, one closed, the other one totally made up. The ease with which some
tellers and cashiers accepted his checks had given him a sense of pride and
self-reliance, as if he had an aura about him, as if he could just like go up
to people and fuck with them and it would be, “Go right ahead. We love being
fucked with by you, kind sir.”

But on Monday he was going to court and then probably to jail.

“Brad,” Car said, smoking, looking out the window. It was snowing now.

Brad was dead to the world. Car got a whiff of the turkey cooking,
and then it was like he got demonic amounts of energy and started making
instant mashed potatoes and cooking stuffing and baking rolls and by
nine-thirty in the morning it was ready and he made Brad get out of bed
and eat.

“This fucking early?” Brad said, terrified at the sight of all that food
sitting everywhere: bowls of corn and peas on the carpet, a turkey that
looked as if it had been pulled apart and then put back together sitting in
the corner on two paper plates, mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, the whole
nine yards just everywhere.

“Buffet-style,” Car said.

At one point in the day-long meal, Car started feeding Brad kernels of
corn one at a time like the way a Roman emperor would be fed grapes by his
slave, and Brad said, “You are so full of shit Car,” and Car said, “Yes sir.”

Then Carson stopped doing the corn thing. All of a sudden, he looked like
a rat in a cabinet when the cabinet door opens, all caught and dim-eyed and

“Feast before famine,” Car said.

Brad kept his mouth shut.

“Feast!” Car yelled, so horny it made the food go bad in his stomach. A
total ache just opened up, like a crater. He crawled over to Brad and took
Brad’s pants off, like he was changing a baby’s diaper. Car then put some
mashed-potatoes on his finger and spread Brad’s legs, and Brad gulped, “What the
fuck is this, man? Nine and a Half Weeks?”

Which made them laugh, but they did not stop.

The mashed potatoes felt totally weird, warm and gushy going up, but at
the center was Car’s finger, and there were more potatoes, until Brad felt
completely full there, like he’d just shit his pants.

Car started eating the potatoes in Brad’s ass, lying on his stomach,
hungry as hell. The potatoes filled his mouth, and his tongue dug up into Brad.
Car could not stop. Brad started moaning and jacking himself off, thoughtless
with it, also aware how stupid it might appear to strangers. But then again,
it was stupid only from the outside looking in. Inside, it was beautiful. It
was all they could do. Like Car was eating him alive, Brad thought, and then
he stopped thinking at all.

Read Jamboree, the second part of this story.

For more Keith Banner, read:

Traveling, Remaining Still
The Wedding of Tom to Tom
Fruitcake’s First Official Murder Poem

Keith Banner