I didn’t officially see her go. I made myself look away, pretending to watch for pedestrians. But I heard her, the first quick wisssh, then the sputtering gush. I saw the pee run and puddle the damp cement. A frothy stream ran under my work boots but I didn’t move. It wasn’t piss. It was her piss.
I couldn’t believe it. After my whole life, Michele’s pussy was right there . . . and I stared somewhere else. When the puddling stopped, she tugged my pant leg. She raised her face and gave me a funny smile. “You want to?” Her voice was sweet and girlish again.
“Want to what?”
“You know . . . ” Shy and defiant at the same time. “Wipe me. Girls have to wipe when they pee, you know. My daddy always wiped me.”
Maybe I could tell her about Mom’s cuddle-fish.
My mouth went so dry I could have spit wood chips. The sun peeped out of the clouds and everything looked super clear. More real than real. The wet crease between her legs was the color of champagne. My parents served it every New Year. I never liked the taste, but now sneaking a peek because it was too much, because I would die or go blind now I guessed I’d love it.
“I don’t have any tissue,” I sputtered, but Michele only shrugged.
That’s how it happened: in the middle of the Miracle Mile parking lot, I not only got to feel like I loved a girl, I got to feel when you touch one down there and love her at the same time. I trailed my finger so lightly on her slit, I hardly touched her at all. I’d have strangled puppies to do more, but there were all those people, those cars. All that light and traffic. The air felt like cold tinfoil.
I thought, idiotically, What would Bob Dylan do? Then I freaked. I imagined a station wagon owner footsteps away, ready to catch me. But catch me what? All I was doing and I couldn’t believe I was doing it was brushing my hand along Michele’s cleft, feeling the hot wet of her. The warm droplets in her champagne slit mingled with the chilly rain still on my fingers.
“Lick it,” she said. Just like that. Matter of fact. “Lick it.”
And, still standing over her, sort of leaning in, I slowly brought my hand up to my mouth. Yes! All the traffic noise seemed to fade away. The volume of the world had been turned down, leaving nothing but the roar of blood rushing from
my balls to my ears. I let her see what I was doing. My tongue sponged along my knuckles, over the backs of my hands. I tasted the briny flavor of what I guessed was pee. I made a show of it, darting my tongue between my fingers, wiggling it, like a goldfish plucked out of its bowl. Then she spoke up again.
“I didn’t mean that, Bobby. I meant this.”
I stopped my knuckle lapping, looked down again, to where her finger was describing little circles. Her wrist blocked all but the purple-pink clit. “You know,” she said huskily, “the little man in the boat.”
“You mean . . . right here?”
My face got hot. I imagined police. Choppers swooping out of the sky, fixing us in a telephoto lens, filming everything and presenting the evidence to a horrified jury. I could see the witnesses: Dolores Fish and Dr. Mushnik, Ned Friendly, Weiner, Tennie Toad and Farwell and Headmaster Bunton. All of them dying to testify, itching to send me to Perv Jail.
My head wouldn’t stop. I saw my mother, pill-drunk and burbling baby country-and-western,
hiking up her salmon nighty and tell the judge, “He wuvs to cuddle . . . “ They’d drag her from the courtroom facedown in a box of turtles, yelping for electroshock. Somewhere in sweaty heaven, watching all of it, Mr. Schmidlap would crack a Rheingold with his flipper while Dad banged his head off the nearest wall.
“BOBBY!” Michele’s harsh whisper brought me blinking back. “Bobby, GO AHEAD. Bobby, I WANT you to . . . ”
She touched herself and I shivered.
“But there’s . . . I mean . . . There’s all these people.”
“I know,” she said, but huskily, edging her back against the tire well of the VW bus. She parted her naked thighs slightly farther. “I know.”
The way she studied me, it’s like she was measuring something, seeing how far I’d go. Or else and this really made my stomach sink how much I loved her. I was so hard I thought my dick would crack off. But all those people! Those cars! The weather . . .
You didn’t think of sex and weather in the same breath. You didn’t have to. Not normally. Not ever. Except for here, in the Miracle Mile parking lot, where Lela the Hare Krishna, who used to be Michele Burnelka, was on the run from Shiva whoever Shiva was and on her haunches for me. Whoever I was. That’s what I wrestled with. Not, Can I do this? But, What the fuck was it I thought I was doing? And who the fuck was doing it?
Even the raindrops seemed to mock me.
“Michele,” I stammered. I was ready, but then . . . A Negro lady gawked at me from a Dodge Dart and it seized me up. I had to pull the words like olives from out of my throat. “Michele, I can’t . . . I can’t do it.”
I heard myself and I died. It killed me to find out this was me. I had everything I ever wanted. AND LOOK WHAT CAME OUT OF MY MOUTH!
It wasn’t like I was being a “good boy.” It was like, I don’t know, like I was scared. Or not even scared, just . . . guilty. That was it. My psyche sputtered like defective neon. One thought wrenched my brain: Mom’s seen a husband stroll under a streetcar. She’s seen a daughter disappear to Canada, her son fucked-up and flown home, kicked out of a pricey prep school. If that weren’t enough, picture her expression when I was arrested for public pee tasting, or whatever the legal term happened to be. How could I face her if I got popped for a sex crime? For the ten-zillionth time, I wished I was an orphan, like my long-gone father, just so I could relax.
Just to make things perfect, my voice squeeched into Jiminy Cricket. “Michele, I really like you . . . I mean, I’ve always, like, loved you, it’s just that . . . ”
“Forget it,” she said, her face hardening. She pulled up her pants and launched herself off the station wagon in a single movement, as though she’d been bouncing off cars and asphalt her entire life. “Forget it, Bobby. It’s nothing.”
This was so hugely untrue, so clearly not nothing, I hated myself for needing to hear it.
I held my hand out to help, but Michele ignored it and dusted herself off.
“You don’t,” she said with a brittle laugh, “you don’t think I was serious, do you? You don’t think I’m some kind of exhibitionist.”
“Gee, I don’t know,” I said. I just knew I wanted to rip my tongue out at the sound of “gee.” This was worse than Jiminy Cricket. My voice box had been hijacked by Wally Cleaver. Because I never said “gee.” Never before and never since. I was not a “gee” type person. But I couldn’t tell Michele that. What was the point?
To Michele, from here on in, I’d be the geek who said “gee” and didn’t have the balls to lick her pussy in broad daylight. With one move or lack of one I’d killed something horribly important. Whatever else happened, I knew I’d spend the rest of whatever time I had left walking upright trying to redeem myself.
When Michele slouched off toward the highway, I resolved to be a badass. A rebel. A daredevil. Keith Richards with Jew-hair. Whatever it took to de-lame myself, that’s what I’d do.
With no plan to speak of, I announced, “We need sleeping bags.” To which Michele replied, “Sleeping bags cost money.”
Remembering that she had all the money, and knowing I’d look like an even bigger lightweight if I asked for it back suppose she said, “No!” Suppose she said, “Fuck you!” Then what? I heard myself mumbling, Marlon Brando-style, “Don’t worry about it. One thing I know how to do is steal.”
And without another word, I headed back to the mall. Before I left, I thought I caught a flicker of respect in her eyes. It gave me hope. (And a partial erection.)
I was back in ten minutes with a pair of lightweight goose-downs, army green and waterproof.
When I handed hers over, I could tell she was impressed. With any luck, I wouldn’t have to knock off a gas station to make her forget my cowardice. I could probably kill a man with my bare hands and it wouldn’t matter now. Too-chicken-to-lick. It might as well have been tattooed on my forehead. What do you do when you’re branded and you know you’re a man?
Michele’s eyes grew huge under her Beatles cap. At some point, she’d dumped the rose-petal grannies, and I didn’t miss them. She squeezed the sleeping bag, then smiled. “You . . . you stole these?”
“No big thing.” I shrugged, and pretty much stood still while she hugged me. I didn’t want to look too eager. Didn’t want her to know what I felt. Most of all, I didn’t want her to accidentally touch my ass. The credit card was in my back pocket. The last thing I needed was her finding out I charged the bags to my mother.
From PERV – A Love Story, by Jerry Stahl. Copyright © 1999 by Jerry Stahl. By permission of William Morrow & Company, Inc.