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American Dream Serialization (Early Chapters)
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Maurice Stoker
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Tom Bradley
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: American Dream Title Page by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 1 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 2 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 3 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 4 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 5 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 6 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 7 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 8 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 9 by Jim Chaffee
01-01-2015
Modern Tragedy, or Parodies of Ourselves by Robert Castle
01-11-2014
Totally Enchanté, Dahling by Thor Garcia
01-04-2014
Hastini by Rudy Ravindra
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 5 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
01-01-2014
Unexpected Pastures by Kim Farleigh
10-01-2013
Nonviolence by Jim Courter
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 4 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
07-01-2013
The Poet Laureate of Greenville by Al Po
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part VI by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 3 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
04-01-2013
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part V by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part IV by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 2 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
01-01-2013
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part I by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part II by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part III by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 1 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
10-01-2012
DADDY KNOWS WORST: Clown Cowers as Father Flounders! by Thor Garcia
RESURRECTON: Excerpt from Breakfast at Midnight by Louis Armand
Review of The Volcker Virus (Donald Strauss) by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
01-07-2012
Little Red Light by Suvi Mahonen and Luke Waldrip
TEXECUTION: Klown Konfab as Killer Kroaked! by Thor Garcia
Miranda's Poop by Jimmy Grist
Paul Fabulan by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
01-04-2012
Operation Scumbag by Thor Garcia
Take-Out Dick by Holly Day
Patience by Ward Webb
The Moon Hides Behind a Cloud by Barrie Darke
The Golden Limo of Slipback City by Ken Valenti
01-01-2012
Chapter from The Infinite Atrocity by Kane X. Faucher
Support the Troops By Giving Them Posthumous Boners by Tom Bradley
01-10-2011
When Good Pistols Do Bad Things by Kurt Mueller
Corporate Strategies by Bruce Douglas Reeves
The Dead Sea by Kim Farleigh
The Perfect Knot by Ernest Alanki
Girlish by Bob Bartholomew
01-07-2011
The Little Ganges by Joshua Willey
The Invisible World: René Magritte by Nick Bertelson
Honk for Jesus by Mitchell Waldman
01-04-2011
Red's Dead by Eli Richardson
The Memphis Showdown by Gabriel Ricard
Someday Man by John Grochalski
01-01-2011
I Was a Teenage Rent-a-Frankenstein by Tom Bradley
Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Fred Bubbers
10-01-2010
Believe in These Men by Adam Greenfield
The Magnus Effect by Robert Edward Sullivan
Performance Piece by Jim Chaffee
07-01-2010
Injustice for All by D. E. Fredd
The Polysyllogistic Curse by Gary J. Shipley
How It's Done by Anjoli Roy
Ghost Dance by Connor Caddigan
Two in a Van by Pavlo Kravchenko
04-01-2010
Uncreated Creatures by Connor Caddigan
Invisible by Anjoli Roy
One of Us by Sonia Ramos Rossi
Storyteller by Alan McCormick
01-01-2010
Idolatry by Robert Smith
P H I L E M A T O P H I L I A by Traci Chee
They Do! by Al Po
Full TEX Archive
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Studies in Mathematical Pornography: American Dream - 8

By Jim Chaffee

Chapter 8
Analytic Continuation

Saturday I lolled in bed and began a deliberate perusal of the first chapter of Postnikov.

Momus had it right; it read like someone at a blackboard talking. Sloppy notation, mistakes, plenty of proof by intimidation: every calculation easy, all statements transparently true. I didn't know the Russian word for obvious, but it would have stood out in this text. Arbitrary, too; everything was pronounced to be arbitrary: let p be an arbitrary point on a manifold M and v an arbitrary vector in the tangent space Mp and alpha an arbitrary covector on the cotangent space (Mp)* and so on.

Yet eminently clear presentation. You knew exactly where the objects lived: tensor fields defined algebraically as module-multilinear maps, tensorial properties not some sort of coordinate preserving gobbledygook but in terms of module-linearity over the C-infinity functions. Tensors themselves maps on the tangent spaces or cotangent spaces as vector spaces, though there were some odd kinds of indices as superscripts and subscripts that I thought ought to be subscripts and superscripts respectively for fields of vectors or differential forms, but clearly distinguished on given tangent spaces or cotangent spaces as vectors or covectors. Nothing confusing or that deep when approached without trying to give some semblance of geometry, whatever that is. And best of all, the initial definition of differentiable manifolds avoided the tortured systems of charts and diffeomorphisms explicitly presented in most books like a kind of pornography.

It dawned on me that my multilinear algebra professor had been right when asked about the geometry lurking somewhere behind all this stuff, telling us differential geometry was the study of invariants under change of notation. It was pretty much all notation. It made my heart jump for joy to run across some solid meaning behind the orgy of indices.

I smoked dope and plowed ahead, wondering why this Russian called the mean value theorem Lagrange's theorem unless his argument relied on some subtlety of variational calculus that flew past me. Didn't seem to matter one whit, however. Got to what he called Cartan's equations for the connection forms in the last section of chapter two; seemed to recall Kobayshi and Nomizu proving a Maurer-Cartan equation and begin to suspect that they might have had something against Cartan. I didn't think the Japanese had any kind of hostility for the French, but maybe the Japanese at Berkeley and Brown did. I recalled that Chevally's ancient monograph on Lie groups had been dedicated to both Cartan and Weyl. Opposite sides of geometry. Strictly of historical significance, my advisor had said, but skinny nonetheless I'd noted.

Forced myself to stay inside, keep working, not give in to the temptation to head out and wander the quarter. Mustn't cut myself too much slack.

Before long I'd ducked out the window, stood on the catwalk watching the street. Gaggles of gawking babes everywhere, always with some man pulling them along. Once they hit this corner most turned back, alarmed at the sudden throng of males on the balcony at Lafitte's kissing and fondling and ogling the men in the street; blocks numbered above seven hundred patrolled by guys in leather, tight jeans, hands in each other's back pockets, here and there a dark-bearded queen made up in semi-drag. Aware they weren't in Kansas or Kansas-friendly territory any longer, the hetero couples slowed, then retreated.

I guessed how long it would take some of them to note the discontinuity in climate, that tourist-land for the straight crowd had vanished in a new territory. Slowing down, looking, "Uh honey, I think we ought to turn around" jerking the chick back away from the balcony where she stands staring up at the crowd of butch boys, hardly a nelly in evidence, beards and construction hard hats and tight shorts and work boots, maybe here and there a Nazi uniform, someone calling out "Show your tits" to laughter and hoots from the gallery.

I pushed myself back inside and finished chapter two, halfway through the book and ready to start Riemannian Spaces, then put it down and hit the street headed for a Jackson square teeming with tourists. Stopped at Café du Monde for coffee and beignets sprinkled with sugar, about all I could afford. Would have preferred La Marquise.

Returned for more dope and on into the heart of chapter three: Riemannian spaces. Nothing all that difficult, but I decided to get my ass on to the party uptown before it got too dark to read the street signs. The Balls lived on Calhoun, across St. Charles Avenue from the University, Calhoun meeting St. Charles somewhere near Audubon Park, but I didn't know how close to the park or how far off the drag. Besides, I didn't like walking that deserted, expensive neighborhood alone at night. Felt like chum.

I showered and changed into a tight sky-blue t-shirt calculated to showcase my blue eyes and the muscles of my torso matched to a presentable pair of khakis; a ploy to look simultaneously tough, vulnerable and handsome, an affectation I didn't allow myself on campus or in my own neighborhood.

The streetcar would likely be infested with residual tourists but I took it anyway since it would be easier to spot the cross street from St. Charles Avenue. I was never sure where I was once the Freret Street bus passed the Brown Derby Club at the corner of Louisiana Avenue until it arrived at Tulane, and though Freret was only a few blocks from St. Charles, it was on the wrong side of Tulane and I didn't know if Calhoun made it all the way through. I deliberately kept my universe bounded and rarely paid more than scant attention to any but the major streets.

In fact, they lived beside Audubon Park, just off the avenue in one of the stately old mansions. The walk to the front door seemed a city block, winding through trees that had seen the area when it all looked like the open parkland the other side of Calhoun. It was a bit early and I had considered killing time in my carrel reading papers, but thought better of it. I'd just as soon be early, get a head start on food and drink.

A brunette brandishing abundant décolletage via partially unbuttoned white blouse met me at the door. I followed the greenish aura of her loose pale slacks into a dark paneled room with ceilings so high they almost disappeared into the winding stairs we passed on the way to a hall larger than my entire apartment. Across the immense rectangular room lavishly decked out with tables of food, bottles of liquor, beer on ice, and a punch bowl filled with some red stuff I saw two of my host, each confabbing with a double of himself, quietly earnest, pulling at identical cigars. Like talking to a reflection in a mirror that didn't obey its reflector. One of them looked at me and smiled.

They waddled over in parallel and Jeremy boomed out "Mr. Butcher, glad you could make it. This is my twin brother Harry," and I thought Harry Ball, but said nothing. They wore identical blue jeans with waists likely double the inseam and pant legs rolled into massive cuffs showing red and green plaid flannel on the inside, identical checked shirts as unsightly as the one I'd worn to dinner, and broad green suspenders.

Harry held out his fat hairy hand and we shook vigorously. He had as powerful a grip as his brother.

"What's your game, Mr. Butcher?" he asked. "Slaughter?" He chuckled alone, pleased with his joke. Jeremy scowled.

"It was at one time, sir. I slaughtered Asian long pig, but we didn't bother to eat them."

He didn't seem to know what to make of the remark and stood mute. Jeremy smiled.

"Yes, I guess that is true," Jeremy said.

"Oh, I get it," Harry said. "Army man."

"Marines," I said.

"Reformed," Jeremy said, "now a gentle PhD candidate in mathematics at that prestigious institution across the street. Not Loyola, Tulane," he added.

A leggy blonde in raggedy blue jeans cut into short shorts strode into the room. Jeremy turned to watch her approach, his eyes glued to her upper torso, oblivious to the spindly pins and boxy hips. Her tits hung like overfilled water balloons from high up, almost from her shoulders it seemed, swinging back and forth within a blue ribbed tank top cropped above her midriff. She halted beside Harry. The flesh sacks ceased swaying and sagged flat against her chest, their nipples, visible through the material, pointing at her toes. She stood five ten or so in her flat sandals, dwarfing the Ball twins. Her navel hovered far down on that elongated torso and I realized if the blouse had been cropped an inch shorter those fat nipples would be uncovered.

She beamed an expansive toothy smile, a narrow face of unexceptional features framed by limp, waveless hair hanging almost to her shoulders. The colors of her brows matched the hair, it all seemed natural, and her smile dimpled the corners of her mouth. Her blue eyes openly appraised me, laughing maybe. A happy woman, I thought. Sincerely happy. No artifice.

"Who is this beautiful man?" she asked. "A new actor?"

"No, dear. He's a civilian. A former killer turned academic," Harry replied. "Studies accounting."

"Please," I said. "Mathematics and accounting have nothing in common."

She took his arm and stared at me. She could have draped her boobs over his shoulders like a floatation device.

"When are the other girls coming, Harry?" she asked.

"As soon as the shoot is over, Dina. Be patient." He looked at me quizzically. "Have you ever thought of acting. You have the looks."

I didn't say anything.

Dina said Harry made films. Jeremy coughed.

"I can't act," I said and Jeremy laughed.

"Porn films, Mr. Butcher."

"Ohh," Dina said, "what a perfect name."

"Doesn't matter what kind of films. I can't act."

Dina moved up against me. "My name is Dina," she said. "Shall I call you Mr. Butcher? It seems so formal," rubbing my chest with small hands.

"Call me Whitey," I said. "There are more like you?"

"There is no other like Dina," Jeremy said. "She is one of a kind. They broke the mold when they made her. Perhaps we can screen one of her films for you, since it seems you are unaware of her talents."

Dina walked away to a table with booze and I stared at her meager ass, flat as a pancake framed by straight hips. If not for the tits she would have no physical appeal, and to me they were no help. Ugly as a mud fence, that was what came to mind.

"Some ass, huh?" A woman's voice this time, and I turned to see Gundrun smiling at me.

"Might be to some tastes," I said.

She pulled me away from the twins who stood now grinning broadly, their heads together, murmuring some private jest. Both wore the same damned thick toothbrush mustache covering upper lips behind which mouths hid in such a manner that teeth appearing in a smile offered a sinister surprise.

"You prefer the rounder type, then."

Looking down at her standing with hands on hips looking up at me, I knew I needed a joint. I thought dwarf: short legs and short torso. Slender except for swollen hips and round protruding ass, tits distending buttons and deforming seams of a taupe silk blouse; melons packaged firmly within a cleavage-revealing brassiere. Shiny new jeans resisted the outward expansion of her hips and thighs, but tapered so drastically to her ankles I wondered how she'd gotten into them.

"I prefer a smile," I said, referring to asses but knowing she took it as a compliment regarding what she wore on her tiny carmine mouth. It beamed with my words. Her face outrageously long, a huge face atop a tiny person, not helped by the lumped chin and oversized square red plastic frames, nothing like the narrow rectangles she'd worn at dinner. From my high vantage, her blonde hair sprouted like a fountain atop her head far above her spacious forehead, freezing bluntly at her shoulders. I imagined greenish blonde.

I lit up one of my hashish primed cigarettes.

"I thought it was a joint," she said, freeing a Gauloise from its blue packet and tapping it taut.

"No, but there is something a bit extra in this." I handed it to her and she inhaled deeply.

"What would that be? Nice taste," she said blowing twin plumes from her nose between us like a gray fog.

"A little hashish nestled within the Perique."

"Can I have one?"

"Of course. I apologize for not offering but hardly anyone likes this tobacco, particularly not women."

"I've been smoking Gauloises ever since I went to France my sophomore year in college." She took another long drag and vented again from flared nostrils. "I got pregnant that year and had my first abortion."

I wondered why she was telling me this stuff. It didn't go with casual acquaintance. Like me telling some stranger how I got into the Marine Corps. But her words changed steadily as she spoke, a bit dreamy, prolonged and floating. She was already wasted as she lit up the number I gave her.

"This is good shit," she said.

"Its alright. I have better. You won't see God with this."

"Who cares. Let me give you a tour," and she took my arm, guiding me past Dina who made like she might join us but stopped from what I took to be a warning glance from Gudrun.

We passed the woman who had greeted me at the door, now engaged in earnest discourse with a man dressed in a white uniform and chef hat carrying a tray. Gudrun ignored them both and steered me toward a long hallway.

"Who was that?" I asked, mostly about the woman.

"Just hired help. Shawntel is the woman's name. She works for Jeremy and I try to stay out of their way. He calls her an administrative house-keeper. The man is a cook. Jeremy insists on domestic help. Family tradition."

"He's from here?"

"Born and raised. Notice no accent."

"Well, we have a couple professors at Tulane from here and they speak like they could be from anywhere."

"It means they're from the good neighborhoods and the good schools. Not yats."

"So I assume it's true his brother really makes porn films."

"Yes. He has a home in California, somewhere near Santa Barbara, but his major studio is in the San Fernando Valley. He also has one here in New Orleans. They are doing a production tonight and several of the actresses will be here later. Maybe some of the actors, though Jeremy discourages it. He calls them sleazy."

I could see she flew above us all now, so buzzed she all but glowed. Her hair breathed green, a crown of radioactive seaweed. When we got a ways down the hall, she jerked me around a corner and up a narrow stairwell.

"This is our gallery," she said, and we entered a room with a bunch of couches or daybeds or something like that, lots of them, and beyond that a narrow space with a banister overlooking a room below with more plush lounging furniture.

"Jesus what is all this?"

"It was set up for Harry to use in filming. He does some production work here. Of course, the house is so big no one notices."

"It does seem to go on forever."

"Jeremy's niece Anabel calls this the Escher room because it seems architecturally impossible."

"How big is this place?"

"It has somewhere around thirty major rooms. Many tucked away," and she moved closer, ran her hand over my thigh. "I play around."

Hanging silence. I brought out a joint.

"This is superior," I said. "Do you use coke?"

"No. I don't like the feeling. It makes me jangly."

I lit up and took a hit, passing it to her. She took a hit and we stared off into the space over the railing.

"If we didn't have so much company expected," she said, "I'd rip your clothes off and throw you on one of those banquettes right now. But not tonight."

"It must be a real bitch to air condition this place."

She shrugged. "I don't know what Jeremy pays. Probably a lot. He keeps it very cold."

"I noticed."

"You must have lunch with me one day."

"So long as it isn't a place like where we had dinner."

"I noticed you didn't seem to appreciate it much. Jeremy is a gourmand."

"I'm pretty simple. Burgers, poor boys, cooked seafood."

"People here say poboy. You like raw oysters?"

"Haven't tried them. Fried."

"Raw. We'll go to a raw bar one day."

We smoked the rest of the joint and she led me off to more rooms, hidden rooms and public rooms and a library past a lot of muddy old paintings hanging in dark and darkened rooms, then eventually down the big stairway at the front.

"I hope Bobbi makes it," she said as we rounded the long sweep and came into view of the party. "She's having boyfriend trouble."

"I didn't know she had a boyfriend."

"Of course not. She wouldn't say anything about that. She likes to get laid."

"Well, I wouldn't know. She dropped me off."

"Don't bullshit me. She was going to be all over you. She doesn't do anything for nothing."

I let it go unanswered. The noise levels rose as we descended. Lots of raucous female laughter at which Gudrun mumbled what sounded like "braying bitches." It came on like falling out of the sky into a dream. Or delirium. A group of women dressed in what could only be called poor taste stood alone in the middle of the room surrounded by people in suits, in tuxes, in jeans and leisure suits, even a Nehru jacket, the place jumping as if we'd been away days rather than minutes. I noticed Jeremy glance at his watch as we entered.

Immediately Dina grabbed me away from Gudrun and dragged me over to the clot of women.

"Girls, here he is. Isn't he beautiful?"

One of them, fragile looking, not five foot tall and skinny as a rail, so pale she looked like fine bone china translucent in daylight and covered in tattoos, with platinum hair and faintly blue eyes that almost vanished into the whites, looked me over. "Is this one of Harry's new discoveries?" she asked in a baby voice.

"No," Dina said, "he's a civilian."

"He ain't much to look at," the pale one said. "Darker. Real men are darker."

Dina snorted. "We all know what kind of dark you like, Mirabelle."

I couldn't take my eyes off her waifish countenance bounded by falling ringlets of fine silver-white hair so frizzy it formed a nimbus like an image of the Virgin.

She wore a short black skirt and combat boots that amplified her shapeless bird-legs and hipless lower chassis. Her body was straight without so much as a hint of a curve. Covering a torso delicate like a child's, a blazing red blouse hung loose and unperturbed by flesh protrusions from her neck fixed with a thin strap tied in back. It ended just above a navel outlined in red flames. Extending from her shoulders midway down her upper arms intricate patterns variegated in a rainbow of bright hues, purples and reds and greens and yellows and blues, intricate details of a mélange of unrelated shapes streaming together, geometric and animal and vegetable, flowers and a snail with an eye on its shell, a St. Brigid's Cross in bright yellow straw, solid color to the shoulder on her left arm but with stark white flesh showing through between fleshy red petals on the right, ending behind her shoulders but continuing round her back.

She rotated slowly to display a dorsolateral aspect, lingering when facing forward so I confronted a female Chinese doll with thick black hair and giant rounded ears wearing jade earrings tattooed all the way down to the small of her back, dressed in a purple coat with filigreed golden sleeves and red collar and bounded above on Mirabelle's left shoulder blade by what seemed to be a kind of mandala or throwing star with a red geometric egg drawn in the center, festooned behind it all in red flowers extending to Mirabelle's right shoulder blade.

Dina whispered in my ear that Mirabelle's stage name was Albina. That she had a tattoo on her mons with red flames and snarling around her vaginal lips a wolf's mouth with sharp teeth. The words Black Snake Whore etched below the flames on her mons. Her scant bodily hair permanently removed. Her aureoles inked in red flames and her nipples solid ebony.

A meatier one with brown hair tumbling down over her shoulders stepped between Mirabelle and me. Maybe a half foot taller, she had olive skin and blue eyes and curves: round breasts with nipples pressed against a gray dress she might have painted on, ample hips and sturdy legs displayed in dark nylons to solid mid thigh. She wore black high heels with studs around the base and straps around the ankle and across the top of the foot. In profile a rounded forehead and sharp nose with substantial bridge displaying a small bump high up, her eyes close set and narrow, her mouth wide, straight and unsmiling.

She pushed up against me, her body hard as a rock, and said, "He's probably got a small dick." Her husky voice spread thickly over an eastern European accent.

From the back of the group someone said, "Not small enough." I couldn't see much of her, but what I saw didn't impress me. Long face verging on horsy, small mouth, high forehead, small chin, coarse straight brown hair hanging to where it appeared it had been cropped with a pair of pruning shears just above rounded bony shoulders. She did have green eyes, though, a dramatic touch against the dark hair, and on the cheeks around her straight nose light freckles that she'd tried to cover with makeup.

"That's Linda," Dina said. "She's a valley girl; lives near the studio in Chatsworth. A real Los Angeleno."

"That should be Angelena," Linda said.

"Linda does only girl-girl and solo," the one still pressing against me said. "I prefer girl-girl and solo, but I can work with boys. If they are pretty. But Linda can eat pussy like no one on this planet."

"Whatever," Linda said and walked away. I noted she dressed as if going to work in an office, an ill-fitting long skirt and white blouse.

"And this," Dina said, "is Susana. She's from Hungary."

"Czechoslovakia," Susana said, playing the word out with a guttural finish. She ran her hand against my crotch before she backed away. "You're wrong, Miss Albina. He might give some of your favorite snakes a run for their money."

"And who are you three?" I asked the trio of washed out blonde toothpicks standing in the background. They chimed together in girlish voices, "I'm Bambi."

"You're all Bambi?"

"Yes," another chorus with giggles.

"We're filming The Three Bambis," Dina said. "Of course we need three real Bambis."

"Stage names, though. Right?"

"Who knows?" Susana said deep and low.

I looked around the crowded room. Bobbi stood talking to Gudrun in a corner. I spotted what I thought had to be Misty talking to Harry and Jeremy and did a double take. Extricating myself from Dina and her covey, I made my way over to Gudrun and Bobbi, grabbing a beer on the way. Three bartenders manned stations along separate walls and women in chef's hats and white outfits stood preparing pasta dishes to order before elaborate setups on either end of the room.

"Hello, Manly," Bobbi said. "I'd have asked you to come but had to take care of something and wasn't sure I'd make it."

"That's all right. I got here." I pulled Gudrun aside. "Do you know that black woman over there talking to your husband and brother-in-law?"

She looked and shook her head. "I've never seen her before. I would guess she's with the actresses judging by how's she dressed."

Gudrun walked off to join them and I went back to Bobbi who seemed as solemn as her clothing, blue jeans and a plain dark blouse opened far enough to show what a meager fissure existed between her insubstantial boobs.

"Did Gudrun jump your bones?" she asked.

"What?"

"Just now. On the tour. Jeremy timed you two and I bet he guesses she did."

"That's nuts. She just showed me around. What is it with everyone here? They all seem to think about sex constantly. Must be the water."

"Come on. Those two have a clandestinely open marriage. They both do whoever they can, when they can. But Jeremy can't keep up with Gudrun, not even with the porn stars available. She travels a lot for work and she fucks everyone she can find who's willing. She even gave him a venereal disease once."

"You seem to know a lot about their private life."

"The whole town knows. He rejects the girls working for Harry, though I suppose Harry could set it up. Says they're whores and he only does it with willing volunteers."

"You ever do it with him?"

"You kidding? I don't go for short fat bald guys who smoke cigars and wear suspenders."

"He seems taken with Dina."

"Oh yes, he likes those floppers. But his brother screws her. And he uses her to get deals done, too. She was a whore when he found her, or so it's said."

"She's ugly as hell."

"Funny, most guys are knocked out by her. They see those saggy floppers and go ape-shit."

"Your boyfriend one of them?"

"I don't have a boyfriend. Don't have time for that. Too much work."

We passed a silent moment.

"You watch Gudrun," she said. "She's after your ass, you'll see. But she'll fuck anyone who'll have her. And she has some dugs of her own. She just doesn't display them so flagrantly."

"I doubt they're anything like those things hanging off that Dina."

"You'll find out for yourself. Just wait."

I excused myself and headed for one of the chefs in white to look for macaroni and cheese and get the hell away from her.

"Macaroni-cheese, honey? I don't know. What kinda cheese you like? We got no macaroni, babe, just spaghetti and fettuccine and these rotini here…" pointing to some twists. "Oh, yeah, babe, we got these rigatoni but they big for macaroni cheese. What kind macaroni cheese you wanting? Like baked in the oven, cause we ain't got none of that neither." She paused for a minute, then added, "I can try to do cheese spaghetti."

"I sort of thought like out of the box, you know, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with the little package of cheese powder that turns to goop with milk."

"Oh, honey, I gonna fix you with fettuccine and butter cream Parmesan sauce. It's the best cheese pasta they is."

"I don't know…"

"We ain't have no cheddar-type cheese food here, honey. Mr. Ball, he don't cater for such as that. But I know what you mean. I fix in my home, from the box, but I like American Beauty best. It got sweeter cheese and better pasta. More bite."

"I buy that one when I see it. It's cheaper."

"Yes, honey, that too. I gonna fix you up with this here fettuccine dish."

"Okay, but the thing about macaroni is its less messy."

"Believe me, babe, ain't nobody here gonna worry about you got a little cheese on your shirt or chin."

All the time she'd been smiling and a cluster had formed behind me but she'd kept right on, a yellow-faced woman with orange hair who could have been in triplets with the Ball twins, including the mustache. She turned around and tossed a tong full of skinny noodles into a basket and dunked it in boiling water, meanwhile whipping up a scoop of butter and cream into a kind of sauce she thickened with brittle grated cheese. She plopped the noodles into a shallow bowl and mixed in the cheese and cream and butter mixture until it dissolved and coated the noodles.

"Pepper, sweetie?"

"Sure."

She ground pepper from an oversized wooden contraption.

"That enough?"

"Fine," I said, clueless.

"Now you eat that hot, cause it ain't much good when it get cold and hard. Get you a glass of that good Italian wine over there. Some Chianti."

I grabbed a fork and tried twisting the stuff around but it didn't work well, so I lifted it dangling from the fork and lowered it into my mouth. I couldn't believe the flavor: sweet and rich. Amazing. A whole new world opened up, if I just knew what the hell that grated brittle cheese was. I made a note to go back and ask. I passed on the wine, grabbing a glass of water to wash it down before starting on Wild Turkey.

Gudrun towed over a doughy guy of medium height wearing a sparse attempt at what Harry and Jeremy had growing on their lips. His neatly cut thick dishwater hair stuck up in disarray around his head as if he didn't believe in combs; he wore the saddest expression on his face, likely a result of eyes like a beagle bulging from above dark folds.

"This is a distant relative of Jeremy's," she said, "from the California side of the family. He works here in New Orleans now. His name is Kip Downland. Kip, this is Whitey Butcher." Then she was gone.

"Whoa, that's some spaghetti technique, dude," he said. His slow delivery would have sounded drunk had he not spoken with such deliberate annunciation.

"What kind of distant relative?"

"That's bull. He knows my mom. Met her once in Barstool." I couldn't reconcile that the words seemed slurred above the precision of the speech.

"Pardon?"

"You don't know Barstool? Otherwise known as Barstow. She worked project management there with a company he owns. They had some problems and he had to reassure the government. He got to know her."

"So where you from, Kip?"

"Taft. California."

"Don't know it."

"A suburb of Bakersfield."

"Heard of Bakersfield, but don't know it."

"You'd have to be there. Mostly vegetables and country music and Mexicans."

"Doesn't sound like a good place to be."

"To be from." He scanned the room. "Man, there's a lot of split-tail here."

It took me a hanging second to catch what he meant. "Yeah, there is. But the real interesting stuff is courtesy of Jeremy's brother Harry."

"I know that stuff. I got my eye on that Hungarian. But she's pretty cool about me. As in not interested."

"There's others. The Bambis."

"Yeah. What a trip. Skinny though."

A black guy dressed in a lavender leisure suit and pink shirt with a heavy gold chain hanging outside the coat wandered over. He wore long, pointed saffron colored shoes.

"This is Jerry," Kip said. "Jerry, this is Whitey."

Leaner and shorter than Kip, Jerry seemed nervous. I couldn't tell if it was feeling out of place or just energized. Skin so black he almost glistened. Only the second black I'd seen tonight. He looked me in the eye and I held out my hand. He shook lifelessly.

"What's going on, Kip?"

"Lot of babes here," he said.

"What do you do, Kip?" I asked.

"Jerry and I work over in Jeff Parish. Out by the Huey Long Bridge. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Government boondoggle. Drilling holes in salt domes to pump in oil."

"Don't know about it."

"It's in all the papers."

"Man don't read no papers," Jerry said. "That's cool. I wouldn't know nothing about it if employment people hadn't sent me out."

"I don't read papers, that's true. Waste of fucking time. If its important you'll find out soon enough, and there's never a damned thing you can do about it in any case."

"Jeremy owns one of the companies that hired me," Kip said. "Saved me from Taft. Now I run a software package that generates bogus reports."

"I got on cause they ain't got no minorities there," Jerry said. "I don't do a damned thing, but pay's okay. Looks like they ain't got too many minorities here neither.

They ain't even got no black help."

"I saw one other black here," I said, "a chick I met once in the Quarter."

"You meaning Misty. That nasty bitch be everywhere. I wouldn't let her suck me off with your dick. No telling what nasty shit that bitch be putting in her mouth."

"She must be gone," I said. "I don't see her."

"The black chick?" Kip asked. "She's around the corner preparing to audition for Harry."

"What the hell?"

"Yeah, bunch of guys be lining up to get they dicks sucked. You say that an audition? I thought she doing it for fun. She always be doing that shit."

"I thought she did it for money," I said, "not fun."

"Depends on if she likes you looks or not," Jerry said.

"Sliding scale," Kip said. "Interesting idea. She wants to be in the movies and Harry wants to see her perform. He won't get involved except as a spectator. If he likes her he'll bring in some of his talent and see if she can take it up the ass and such. But he'll pay her tonight whether he uses her or not. I think I may get my dick sucked. It's free."

"That nasty bitch," Jerry said, "put anydamnedthing in her mouth. I would not be doing that shit, Kip."

"She ain't gonna give me VD with her mouth."

"Maybe wors'n."

"Did you see the albino?" I asked. "With the fucking tattoos? I have never seen anything like that. Looks like she'd glow in the dark."

"You ought to see her in the movies," Kip said. "She likes them big and black."

"She ain't turned on by me," Jerry said. "Not big enough, I guess. But she just guessing from the outside. She ain't seeing nothing I got. But they all just bitches anyway. Ain't nothing special."

"You guys interested in a little smoke? I need to sit and rest my leg and I am ready for a joint."

"Shit yeah," Jerry said.

"Count me in," Kip said.

We began making our way out of the room when Dina snagged me.

"Oh, God, tell me you're not leaving. I don't know anything about you."

"Believe me, nothing to know. We're headed for the outer room to sit and smoke a joint. I need to get off my feet."

"I thought you might be going to participate in the audition. I can provide better."

"No, Dina, I am no actor and I will not be on display. If you want, come with us."

Blue eyes alight, she turned on a smile displaying an even row of regular upper teeth under a straight upper lip bounded below by a wide oval, like a half moon decked out in ivory. Slightly oversized front teeth angled in the least smidgen along their dividing line.

We found a dark corner with a glass topped coffee table and I plopped onto an uncomfortable couch that might have been an antique. I pulled out a joint laced with gummy Nepalese hash.

"Let's start with this," I said, "then I have something sweeter for dessert, to bring us closer to god."

"I wish I had some coke," Dina said. "Harry is so stingy with it. He only likes to give it out when we shoot."

I pulled a bag from my pocket along with a short, silver flat-bladed folding knife and nail file. "Lets start with the dope."

We passed the joint and I poured out some of the cocaine and chopped it up a bit, divided it into four lines. Dina had a rolled greenback ready.

"Ladies first," I said and she tooted a line. Jerry and Kip went, then I followed.

Things brightened up. People seemed to be talking but I ignored them and pulled out a bud of Sierra Madre sinsemilla. Unfortunate they couldn't see the threads of purple and red weaving through the seedless bud, sticky to the touch; I crushed it carefully and rolled a tight joint.

"What's that? Thai stick?" It seemed to be Kip talking.

"No, some sins from Mexico. Sierras they said."

"Treasure of the Sierra Madre," Kip intoned. Jerry might have lofted to some other planet. Dina stared at me dreamily, creeping me out.

"Here," I said, "another line and then smoke this," setting up four more white lines.

"How's your feet?" Dina asked.

"What?"

"You said you needed to get off your feet. I guessed they were tired."

"No, Dina. My leg. I have a bad leg."

"Oh, I'm sorry. How's your leg."

"I don't know, man. They haven't brought it in yet." Kip again.

"Where'd you hear that?" I asked, preparing another line.

"A guy who'd been a Navy corpsman in Vietnam. Told me he said that once in triage to a guy who'd lost his leg. The guy was hollering 'My leg, how's my leg?' and the corpsman said, 'I don't know, man, they haven't brought it in yet.'"

I laughed and Dina said that was horrible but laughed anyway. Jerry mumbled, "Cold. That's cold."

We snorted the coke off the table and I lit the joint, took a deep hit.

"That's good coke," Kip said. "You have a source?"

"More or less," I said.

"Can you get me some?" Dina asked.

"Let me check. I have a friend but he's not a dealer. He just parted with a bit of this to me at cost. He might be able to get some, but probably not a lot."

Dina rubbed my thigh absently as she stared off into space.

"I'm fucked up," Jerry said. "I'll see y'all later." He wandered towards the big room.

"Whoa, that's good dope," Kip said. "Man I would love to get some of that shit."

"That's almost impossible. Get it from a friend as a kind of gift. The shit sells for a fortune. Like two hundred fifty bucks an ounce or so."

"That's not so bad," Dina said.

"Rich for my pocketbook, but I know people who'd go that price," Kip said.

"Damn, Dina, you must have some money. That's like four grand a pound. I hate to pay even a tenth of that."

"Oh, I make good money. People like my movies."

"It's the acting," Kip said.

"I settle for Colombian when I can get it, but I smoke rope from Mexico sometimes at one fifty a pound. May take more, but not that much more."

"It's the crystal purity of the high I pay for," she said. "What kind of friend gives stuff like that away? You must provide some very special services." She withdrew her hand and got up, looked down at me, then walked away.

"Jealous bitch," Kip said.

We sat a while and then Kip went away and I sat alone, mulling over covariant differentiation and parallel translation along curves, geodesics. I might have dozed off. Suddenly Harry was standing over me talking.

"What?"

"I said we need volunteers for that girl Misty. She's insatiable. Frenzied."

"Christ, man, don't throw your banners at me."

"No, really. Its unbelievable. I've never seen anything like it, not even with Albina."

"What? You want me to watch?"

"No, I need volunteers. Particularly ones that might be hung."

"No way. Don't you have a stable of film studs?"

"I got them here. She went through them all."

"Kip expressed interest."

"We used him, but he's a real disappointment."

"Not me. Sorry."

He wandered off muttering to himself. I got up and saw that the party had dwindled to a crew that looked like goat herders and nymphs, or maybe nymphos. Twisted expressions, turbans and hair shirts and I knew I was fucked up. Had to get home. Jerry and Kip were drinking together, alone, backs against the wall, holding off the mob of whispering aliens. I wandered up.

"How was she?" I asked.

"Perfunctory blow job. Didn't like me, I think. Not my type."

"I clued you on that bitch," Jerry said. "Man, we got to split. But we need to get together another time, dig?"

"Sure. I'm game. Call me at the Tulane Math Department. Ask for Mr. Butcher or Whitey or some permutation of those. They'll get me the message."

I was about to hit them up for a ride when Dina glided up behind me.

"I thought you fell asleep," she said. "You looked so peaceful."

"Dreaming of you," I said.

"Don't bullshit me. You need a ride or something? I got a car here."

"Yeah, I do. But I was going to ask Kip or Jerry here. No need to trouble yourself. Besides, this city is the murder capital of the country. Dangerous out there."

Kip's eyes widened. "Man," he said, "you're weird turning down a ride from this babe. You take my car and I'll take the ride from her."

"Come on," she said, hooking her arm in mine and pulling me towards the door. "You're coming with me."

She grabbed an unopened bottle of Wild Turkey and we headed out into the morning.

© Jim Chaffee 2011