MAX excerpt

Max, the blind guy (a novel by Mark Beyer)

We meet again. Not five days have passed. Tomorrow Janey starts ballet practice. We could have waited but I’d promised my daughter, and Greta, that the family would go together to the first practice. We’d meet the instructor, make Jane feel comfortable, perhaps say a few words to other parents because Corinne was the only face (with her rabbit eyes) from the neighborhood.
Jools smoked some grass before she led me to her bedroom, as a mistress leads her Friday-night gigolo. She said to me, “Make me come with your mouth and I’ll reward you.” Who is this woman? I asked myself, though it was a far off sound, like the edges of thunder. Our history was equally distant; she might have been a new person to me, an unknown woman before last week. I took off her panties and forgot to say something profound; a simple “thank you” would have done well enough. I’d say something later. Just then my mouth was full.
I felt I was living among the bucolics of Virgil, or the ravagers found populating Ovid’s tales, and Chaucer’s travelers. These were the first thoughts that afternoon as I ate Jools’s pussy, which got sugary wet as she breathed heavily but didn’t thrash. I thought of a reply, and made it short, the ending muffled by the folds of her vagina covering my mouth. Then she came and, in the middle of that rush and flood, I pushed my tongue as far into her as I could, which made me snort like a pig. Jools laughed and lifted her legs, up high and back. The view brought me to my knees. She’d left a puddle, my mouth was sore, my face damp and sticky. I dropped my pants to my ankles.
Look what you’ve done,” I said, and pointed. “Now you’ll have to kiss him until he cries.”
Jools rolled forward onto her knees and elbows, gripped my cock between her hands to make the head grow purple with a few squeezes. “Does he cry a lot?” she asked.
I panted out a reply. “Like a bawling brat.”
She squeezed and stroked. “Then he’ll need to be punished.” And here she addressed my penis. “Nothing to worry about, my lovely one. I’ll console you afterwards.”
Unsteady on my knees, I held her shoulder for control. “You’re a good woman.”
Let’s wait and see,” Jools hissed. She slid her mouth over my cock and I watched it disappear. I thought, What a hungry slut! It was not a damning word. I’d thought of a few worse ones for myself between the four days we’d been apart. A moment later I pushed her back on the bed and sank my cock deep on the first thrust because all of that juice would be the cushion to her pain. She didn’t yelp, only a moan, and then others. They sounded out the letters F-U-N — F-U-N — F-U-N. My regret was that the first real smile on my face all week was lost in the softness of her neck.
A third and fourth meeting, then a fifth &etc on into the weeks that followed. We call our hours episodes: our time is short, filled with sex and only sex; episodes of fantasy and insanity. Bedcovers come down, clothes are tossed to the floor. The touch of our skin only feeds the cravings we have discovered for each other. We hardly speak beforehand—mere bawdy drivel that comes from trysts; you’ve heard these, made them up yourself I’m sure—and afterwards we talk of the little-much-else that lives outside these walls. We laugh from under our warm duvet at the world: art and business and Chicago and the bits left to us after we have drained our loins of their tantalizing urges, drained to the point that we dare not touch the over-sensitized pink & purple parts.
I park in the same street and walk, unaware of the world, to her door, touch her button, and slip upstairs into a world of our choosing. Her house is always warm—it turned cold outside early, before the winter solstice, and early-dark afternoons, arrived—always clean floors and freshly laid sheets, a joint ready for us in the ashtray, food and bread on the kitchen island “for later” that is sometimes, not always, indulged upon. With each episode I take the time to notice Jools, what she looks like, where she enjoys my hands before, during, and afterwards. I have time to see her because, as furious as these hours have turned into, my mind grows accustomed to the pace; I learn to slow down the events, each move of an arm, hand, hip, leg, lips. I can watch her—and myself, when I so desire.
Jools had always been a heavy woman who believed in her body, its heft. She wasn’t so big, back when I worked the cash register and watched her sell paint kits to kids. She’s taller than I am by an inch, and broader in the shoulders and hips. Her size is not something created from fat, or excess sports-muscle gone to seed; she’s merely a big woman with a proper frame to carry her. She is so unlike Greta that I find it unnecessary to compare them. The “variety of two” came to my mind about a month after we began our affair, on a night when I had gone home and, after showering, disappeared into my studio for a couple hours. I returned late to the house and found Greta in the bedroom, reading a book. I mauled her with kisses and my love for her, trying to interest my wife in sex, which she fought but not fiercely (only enough to put me off), and I made her hot with my fingers and lips, my tongue finding for a few moments her pink seam, my hands holding onto her skinny ass, my shoulders pushing up between her short legs, lifting them high and hooking her knees over my shoulders; holding her like this while I licked her, which earned me a deep moan so familiar I almost called out in answer (“Hi there!”) while her hands continued to pull at my hair, those little hands and slight, thin fingers with the bitten nails that could no longer scratch me. She remembered something then—I felt it in her body as a jolt—and she pushed at me to get away—get me away—which I finally did but not gladly, knowing only that this was the beginning of “a new us” and I would have my wife back soon. She couldn’t resist for very long because we were together in bed each night and I had become more adamant at the same time as I was far more tender, and, I think, from the look in her eye, she didn’t want to resist any longer. Maybe she knew something I hadn’t given her the credit for figuring out. And … but back to Jools, whose heft felt good when she was on top of me, her long thick fingers and those nails doing their work on my scalp, down my chest, on my inner thighs and around the horn, if I may coin a phrase. Her hair is a bundle, a mop, a dark silky mop that catches in my fingers when I try to draw my hand through its long loops. She washes it before we meet and sometimes it is still damp. I explore her head, find many gray hairs, wonder if she finds as many on me. Her ears are not large, and lie flat against her head, which is odd, mutant, sci-fi-ish, but no matter. The feet pearly and smooth, a corn on the outside of one pinky toe; I kiss this. Her breasts are pillows, dough pillows, which she likes me to knead but not too hard, and for me to play with her nipples, wash-boarding under my fingers, licked and sucked by my tongue and lips. There’s an orgasm lurking under such manipulation, but she doesn’t let me finish. The demand for me to fill her cunt with cock is always on top of this wave, this unsteady jiggling of big tits that I hold between my hands and agitate, vibrate, make them animate objects that simmer my desire.
(It feels good to speak this way, a calamity of language and story; I’ve been alone too long, held in silence beyond my nature — or that which is good for health. My concentration to balance over a canvas must be a religion, with all its warnings and restrictions. It’s my yoke. A torturous salvation.)
Jools is older than me, and being beyond forty she shows some minor lines at the corners of her eyes and mouth, two deeper lines beginning between her eyebrows and taking three branches up to the middle of her forehead. The littlest lines—capillary width—crease along her top and bottom lips. She’s not a sun lover, the bane of most women’s wrinkle fears, so they are worry lines, or work lines. I recalled the effort she put into paper making, breaking down the material to fibers for her artisan papers using her strong hands, pulping it and working her arms to make a mash of the cotton and various textile bits, celluloid wood pulp, even the slut’s wool found under beds. Her muscles worked and her breasts swayed; those thighs beat like pistons, her arms made moist with that pasty gruel. Above all of this was that face of hers, working through emotions. Had she been thinking about me then? I remembered that I had thought of her, sometimes, but there was no time, then, and no need for that kind of desire. The days we have together now are episodes of unguarded excess—which is an oxymoron because isn’t taking something to excess already an unguarded act? I laughed at our urgency.
When our sexual energy wore down, we traded words in the daylight up towards the ceiling or into a warm chest that rose and fell with easy breaths. She told me of her childhood, stories I had not heard before. The big white house in the Sauganash neighborhood, where there was only herself to roam and explore its three floors and various nooks. Solitude. Nothing to share. Few friends, and those only-children too. It made me think of my own lonely childhood (brothers or not, I’d been isolated through my own personality), and how I missed having the posse of friends with whom I could widely explore our leafy-tree and sunny-happy neighborhood; I remembered such groups of boys I’d seen across the backyards, or from a window while I was drawing in a book those thousand cubes which I thought so clever. Our mutual storytelling never lasted long.

We wanted to make our own stories, or at least memories. We called them fuck-fables.

(from pages 144-45 digital ed.)

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