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Douglas

By
September 27, 2005

My wife and I were kick-ass archeologists. Found all kinds of old, important shit out in the jungle, dealing with dangerous natives, applying for grants. Holding hands, hiking. I liked the way she sweat. . .

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We were squeezing our boat around the muddy banks of the Nile in search of some pornographic statues. I navigated while Claire, my wife, travel companion and thesis advisor, was barbequing at the other end of the boat. She had thrown a bunch of shit on the grill: Italian sausages, brats, hot dogs, burgers, shish-kabobs, turkey burgers, chicken. The sizzling came off the grill as she flipped the meat and poked at it, flames reaching out and up. Her smile kicked me. I kissed the chef. I kissed her deeply as she cooked. She had to fiddle around my hugging body to tend the grill while I mouthed her. She cooked and we ate it, the food was great.

My wife and I were kick-ass archeologists. Found all kinds of old, important shit out in the jungle, dealing with dangerous natives, applying for grants. Holding hands, hiking. I liked the way she sweat, I liked her bratty moods and her mood swings, her shorts, her alcoholism. Things were going good; life was, of course, good. And that was when we had an adventure I’ll never forget.

We lay on our backs in the boat on the river, pants unbuttoned with our stomachs puffed out, bloated in the open air like we were starving to death. I cleaned the chunks of meat out of my teeth with a toothpick because I’m from Tennessee. Claire peed off the side of the boat.

Fucking felt good and full after the meal. We lay on our backs in the boat on the river, pants unbuttoned with our stomachs puffed out, bloated in the open air like we were starving to death. I cleaned the chunks of meat out of my teeth with a toothpick because I’m from Tennessee. Claire peed off the side of the boat. Plus we both have AIDS. Got it from a Chinese man whose cock I sucked, really pissed off Claire. I guess it was kind of dumb, ultimately. I’m not even attracted to men, and the Chinese man who I sucked off was particularly unappealing and clearly hadn’t showered in a long time. But I was at Meineke waiting forever to get my oil changed, and I swear to God I must have already leafed through half of the magazines they had there. The Chinese man waved his cock in my face and said I should suck it. Normally I wouldn’t have considered it, but I was just so fucking bored waiting for them to finish with the car. He stood there pointing at it as if it were an argument, throwing his hands up in the air and shouting. He seemed so determined that this was the right course of action for me. So I did it, man, life is short. When I told Claire that I gave her AIDS, she cried. That’s when I decided it’s not funny.

But the real adventure started when the next day we dropped fucking anchor, made camp, with a fire with wood stacked into a pyramid. It was smoky and I burnt my fingers on the matches. Claire lit the fire and she got it going when I couldn’t. She squatted and blew on the sparks and it flared up. Claire made a microwave pizza and did our taxes. We deducted paper and other office supplies, and we ended up paying some money. Which was fine, because I can hold my breath underwater for seven fucking minutes. No shit.

She rolled up her sleeves, and when she concentrated looking at the piece of paper, her eyes became bluer, her fingers moving with her pen. She finished and we sat and looked at the fire, talking.

Claire exhaled liked it burned, poked the fire with a stick. It broke in half; one half fell onto the ground. And she whipped the other half into the jungle. “You really think this is working?”

A dog died inside me. I looked around me to see if my scenery changed because of it. If I was silent long enough, the question would go away. Like sitting next to a crazy person on the subway.

A dog died inside me. I looked around me to see if my scenery changed because of it. If I was silent long enough, the question would go away. Like sitting next to a crazy person on the subway.

Claire picked up the stick and threw it at me and then rolled over and slept. Like a baby. Or a stupid cunt.

Here’s, by the way, where the real adventure starts. When I woke up next morning, Claire was still asleep, on her side with her ass sticking out. I went to collect some new wood for the fire, because I was cold and I knew Claire would make me a new one. I was grabbing branches when a gorilla came up to me and started nosing around. I was touched by how harmless he thought I was. I reached out my hand. He didn’t move, so I started talking to him as if he could understand. I told him about things that bother me, things that were on my mind, like the dog that died last night. He stood still and didn’t do anything, which made it feel like he was a good listener. It was nice.

I miss animals. I haven’t had much contact with them since Claire made me shoot my cat when we got married. It sounds mean, but she was very gentle about it. She said I couldn’t feasibly love both her and my cat at the same time in the same way, so I had to make a choice. He was a charcoal-colored cat from my bachelor days named My Gray Friend. I held him up in one hand outside the window. Claire rubbed my shoulder while I did it because I was sad, and it had to be done. His skull disgorged into the sky, his white paws twitching. The cat box tossed over the side from the porch, cat shit and kitty litter spraying out five floors onto balmy Malibu traffic. Claire helped me clean him up and hugged me, gave me tissues. She helped me say goodbye to My Gray Friend by sucking me up in currents of her own affection.

So, anyway, the adventure, it was nice to see this gorilla being nice to me and talking with me. We spent some time together, good time. He hopped up and down and made gestures, licked his hands, danced around in a circle, made noises, sang in his head voice, beat his chest, and pet the other animals. I didn’t understand his singing; it was some ape language that didn’t make any difference to me. Whatever it was he was saying, it was very demonstrative, like a child unloading talk from the world he lived in.

“You and I are friends,” I told him. “I think I’ll call you Douglas.” I put out my hand to christen him and seal the deal, introduce myself. He shook it and nodded.

He was so sprightly and pleasant; I thought it made real sense to take him to meet Claire. Douglas jumped on my shoulders and we bounded through the jungle back to the campsite. We sang songs together from television commercials, in harmony, me in English, and Douglas in his incomprehensible language. When we got there Claire was up and walking, already with a new fire going and bacon sizzling.

“Well, whatcha got there?” A happy curiosity, her mouth open, delighted.

“This is my new friend Douglas!” I told her.

Douglas hopped off my shoulders and knuckle-walked over to Claire and shook her hand.

“Why, what a talented little ape! Nice to meet you, Douglas.” Douglas looked up at her earnestly and nodded. Nice to meet you too.

Douglas hopped up and down, bouncing around the campsite, dancing. He was happy. His hands flipping to his sides, rubbing his chest and rubbing his head. Elbows up in the air, grunting.

Claire stood arms akimbo, still delighted. “He’s got such energy, a very enthusiastic animal!” She was almost singing.

Douglas heard her compliments and got even more excited, dancing around, wiggling his hips and grunting, kicking his leg out. He took the pan from Claire and finished cooking the bacon. He flipped the bacon with the spatula, stamping his feet and smiling, singing.

Hoohoo HOOhoo umph, grumph hoo hhaaa ha!” Douglas sang.

Claire couldn’t believe it. “So much vim!”

I needed to get some more wood for the fire. “Is that okay honey?”

Claire looked up and puffed, blew her bangs up in the air. “Of course, sweetheart, that’s great!”

I looked back at Douglas, hunched over the sizzling bacon. “That cool, Douglas?”

“Ho-hay,” he said, thumbs-up.

This was fucking good. This was pleasant for her. Claire can’t decide to leave when she’s pleased about something else. Not at the same time. Something’s always got to be pushed into the background. If only I could thrust something on her every moment, a circus of distractions. Shit that she could be surprised by or think is funny: touching Christmas cards, funny commercials, challenging sports. I could force every single thing on Claire and she’d have to deal with it. She couldn’t be sick of me because she would forget me in rest of the noise. And she’d forget but she wouldn’t say no. As long as I remembered her, we were still in love.

Douglas had Claire strung out, mushing her face into the ground, her pussy opened, ass lifted up in the air. Fucking her in a confusion of muscles and gulping, slapping the back of her head. His pink cock goring. She was limp with resignation. Douglas puffed and rammed into her and she squealed.

I came back with the wood bunched in my arms. I dropped the wood at my feet. And saw it. Douglas had Claire strung out, mushing her face into the ground, her pussy opened, ass lifted up in the air. Fucking her in a confusion of muscles and gulping, slapping the back of her head. His pink cock goring. She was limp with resignation. Douglas puffed and rammed into her and she squealed.

I was going to do something. Something I had to do. Like it was already ready for me. The thing to be done: was an iron cast, my intentions just pouring into the mold of what I was about to do, or had already done, a million years in a million ways. My hands gripped a sledgehammer. I pummeled the furry motherfucker’s head, bashing in a ring of puss and monkey. His skull crunched, battered into a soapy mess. I could smell my arms swinging, my legs were getting hairier. Punch me in the face and I’ll spit out the blood. I crushed the fucking Jesus out all of it, out of this whole damn thing. I used every bit of myself to its utmost capacity, did everything I could do.

Douglas’s hips fucked Claire two more times and then his carcass fell on top of her. Claire may have been screaming. Her body was covered with goo and she pleaded like the war-wounded. What? What did she say, she needed to speak up. But she was screaming. Screaming, and I couldn’t hear her. It was noise, some filthy background. What?

“Pull his penis out of my vagina!”

I ripped his torso off of her and she fell to the ground and covered herself and curled into a ball.

I walked back to the tent and grabbed the machete. I swung the knife above my head and cut into Douglas’s corpse yellow, his organs and hair. I cut bone and he crisped and he was made into little moist pieces. Claire, I think, was probably screaming more. That’s it. That was the adventure. This all happened in the eighties, by the way, so think of our clothes differently. The End. We went home. Claire made steaks and wiped my fucking ass for me and approved my dissertation.

Karl Roloff was born in Madison, where he attended University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has a master’s in philosophy from Boston College, and a master’s in theology from Harvard Divinity School. The author of one novel, Shadowboxing with Repugnance, his stories have appeared in Noon and other literary magazines. He currently lives in Madison and is at work on a novel.

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