A blackhead wriggles its way from a plugged-up pore, bracketed by the fingers of Mr. Harry Gibbon... who wipes the worm on a washcloth... who blows/sniffs into his fist to check his breath for stink... who plucks a protuberant nose hair, agitating tear ducts; he has to sneeze. Behind him, out the bathroom door, down a corridor, to the left, a brown paper package lies on the living room carpet (Harry sneezes), its wrapper still intact despite contents removed.

Back down the hall, Harry (still engrossed by the medicine-chest mirror, underpants swaged by buttocks aping his jowls, legs a bas-relief of varicose veins) camouflages a bald spot, strand by thinning strand.

Satisfied, he dons his robe, ties it with a flare in front, then modestly lets his shorts drop underneath. He takes a step, turns, hesitates, pivots back, re-opens the chest to retrieve a buff-brown bottle. Splashing Old Spice on his hands, he pats palms to cheeks. One last quick perusal. Perfect. He is ready.

On the living room couch, a quilt drapes contours feminine. Harry's approach, wine in hand, is patently debonair. He pours a taste for his guest, fills his own glass, proposes a salutation.

"To us, my Sweet."

His lips caress the cheap rosé. Eager for seduction, his eyelids put on weight. He downs his drink, pours another—the abstinence of his visitor unacknowledged.

"I made us a bite to eat. Nothin' fancy, mind. Just a little snack in case you was hungry."

The kitchenette is set, atypically, for two, with long-stem roses in a jar beside a pair of liquorish-twist candles. A pale pink tablecloth matches the pink paper napkins. Plastic dinner plates queue for the evening's fare.

"Would you like to hear some music? Debussy, perhaps?"

Harry does not wait for his dinner guest's reply. A pre-selected record rests upon the turntable. "Claire de Lune" gushes forth, from four strategically-placed speakers. Harry waltzes past and settles down to dine.

He ladles a bowl full of soup. He slurps it reflectively. The music, flowing like syrup, extends its veneer... adds a coat to the cellophane protecting each stick of furniture.

Between helpings of tuna-fish salad, the joys in store revive—Harry's prickly heat a surefire indication. Appetite suddenly shifted, he shoves aside his plate. Longingly, he casts a look toward his companion... whose noncommittal calm sets his fingertips to drumming... whose undeclared temptation provokes his ardent urge—though he procrastinates... until, rising slowly, he crosses to the couch, disrobes with impatience, and hovers like an angel at the apex of a Fall.

Beneath his hands and knees, the couch cushions wheeze (their other occupant buoyed in passive apposition) as Harry's trembling touch traverses swells and hollows... each distinct, if cloaked by the interceding quilt... unresisting... unresponsive, also, except for a muffled squeak—a rubbery sounding noise that betrays an inert source... which finally lies exposed under Harry's grunts of passion; peering past his shoulder, the blow-up doll just gapes.

 

 

"Hey, girls...

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