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Honey Tongued Hooker
9.13.2002 by Neale, every Friday.


An introduction by Neale (McDavitt)


Coincidences happen every day. Some people might try to attribute them to some higher power, some all seeing force pushing buttons behind the scenes to make things happen. "Things happen for a reason" people say, synchronicity is at work all around us, bringing people and things together in ways that could never happen by mere chance.

I've always believed that things just happen, and that meaning is linked to events by pattern-seeking human beings trying to make sense of the world. Sometimes, however, things happen by chance that defy all logic. It can be hard, at times, to believe in pure random chance when events jump into your face that seem so perfectly orchestrated.

The other day I got an impromptu invitation to a open mike at a nearby pub. It was a small, cozy place that seemed full of "regulars", people who went every week. The participants passed one by one, most reading poetry or playing guitar. Some time passed, and I was starting to settle into the role of spectator, I was becoming comfortable.

The M.C. then did something very odd, he said my name. Not only did he say my name, he said that I was supposed to go on stage and read a story to this small crowd.

My immediate reaction was that it was a joke. Someone must have told the M.C. to call my name. Before I could turn to confront the friends who had invited me, an older man sitting a couple of seats away from me rose from his chair and walked to the microphone. This was no practical joke, it was a very odd coincidence: this person shared my name.

This might not be unusual for some, but our names happen to be very unusual. I have never in my short life met a single soul who shared either of my names, and here was someone who shared both. The chances of such a person existing, let alone of me actually meeting him were fantastically small.

Despite Ash's warnings that contact between the two of us might cause the space time-continuum to collapse in on itself, I knew I had shake the hand of "The Anti-Neale". When his story was done I approached him and told him the situation. He was as shocked as I was by the coincidence.

"How do you spell your name?", I asked.

"Well," He replied, "it's a bit of an odd spelling, so it's probably not the same spelling as yours. It's N-E-A-L-E, which was my grandmother's maiden name."

"That's how I spell it too. It's my grandmother's maiden name. That's how I got it."

After some more conversation, I found out that our last names are not quite the same. He spells his McDevitt, while mine is McDavitt, but either could easily be a variant of the other from back in the days when most people did their spelling phonetically. I also have a hyphenated last name, so it's really "McDavitt-Van Fleet", but the coincidence still stands as one of the most amazing of both of our lives.

"I feel like there must be some meaning to this, you know" the older Neale told me, "Maybe I'm here to prevent you from following the same paths that I followed, as some sort of guardian angel. Hmm, I know what I can tell you - I'm about to become a father, and, well, wear a condom, ok?"

This week I thought it would be fitting to have a piece of writing by the man who pretty much shares my name. This story, Honey Tongued Hooker, was the winner of the 2001 CBC-Quebec Writers Federation Short Fiction Contest. Let Neale know what you think by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page.


Honey-Tongued Hooker
By Neale McDevitt


Yesterday I passed a 14-year-old hooker by the Dunkin' Donuts. Maybe 15. She had shoe-horned her little boy ass into a pair of white tights that looked like they were peeled off a Barbie doll. This baby slut was no Barbie doll, though. No fucking way. Barbie has healthy pink skin and big blue eyes painted on an unblemished face. This tramp was all glazed and bloodshot. Her eyes hung heavy on her face.

But there was something happening back there behind the 1,000 cock stare. Thinking back to sunny times on the farm? School yard days playing Red Rover with her friends and being teased by freckle-faced boys? Maybe. But I doubted it. I figured she wasn't thinking much beyond getting a batch of forgetfulness stuck in her arm or up her nose, or reeling in another two-legged meal ticket. Talk about a daily grind.

"Wanna date, honey?" she asked in a little voice as I passed. Honey? I hadn't been called that since I was a kid mugging around at the motel pool run by one of my dad's friends. In summertime, dad would hold court on a lawn chair surrounded by his cronies, the whole mob of them squeezed into Speedos and wrapped in alligator boot flesh. Just sizzling in the heat like happy iguanas on Galapagos.

The women could have been movie mobsters' wives: Dyed blond hair stacked high and hard; sunglasses that got bigger each year to hide crumbling eyes and once-sharp cheek bones; and wired up leopard bathing suits that creaked beneath the prodigious weight of migratory bosoms.

They'd sit there day after day, summer after summer, faces turned in reverential sacrifice toward the sun - the last of their Valentinos not yet lured away by the transient mysteries of younger, firmer sirens. They coated themselves with oil, gobs of buttery lube. Basting like big-titted turkeys, complete with gobbler necks and heavy brown drumsticks.

The pool was a treat for me and my brother. We'd spend all day in the water, wrestling, swimming, holding our breaths, pissing in the shallow end - all that stuff that ices a kid's cake. When we got wrinkly and blue-lipped, we'd wrap ourselves in towels and worm ourselves in beside dad. The conversation among he and the boys was always the same, shit-funny slags being tossed around and someone recounting the previous night's misadventures. They all used swear words like punctuation marks, and I revered them because they never changed the way they spoke when us kids skittered over. No rolling eyes or whispered pig Latin. I felt like I was privy to their secret, exciting world. I felt like an adult. Scooched there beside my big, laughing dad and spun up in my terri-towel chrysalis I was taught the invaluable lessons of humor and friendship and the community of men.

The wives sat in their gaggle on the outskirts of the sacred ring of lawn chairs chatting and scolding each other's brats. Every now and then they'd rattle their ice at me. "Honey," they'd yodel, "be a sweetheart and fetch me a rum and coke. Tell Sam to put it on Dutch's tab." Entranced by their conical breasts, I'd nod a dutiful yes and go water-bugging to the bartender. Sometimes I'd steal a sip on my way back. On those really sweet, sweaty days, when the sun hung up forever and the entire crew was there, I'd have a good little buzz going by the end of our stay. Hazy memories of warm summer days.

****

But this was no warm day at the pool and this teenage ass merchant was about 40 summers short of calling me honey. I stopped. She slipped out of the doorway and barged her tiny body into my open jacket. She repeated her offer, "Wanna date?" I instinctively shifted away from her, but she pressed her advantage inward. Her head was at my chest and her bloodless fingers brushed my hips. Those damaged blue eyes looked through me to the promise of a brief interlude from winter's street corner.

She pushed up against me, pushed soft but persistent. They hardly moved at all, but her searching fingers felt like they were looking to trigger the latch to a secret door. Like she was standing in the claustrophobic anti-chamber just a wall away from spacious breathing rooms. Her liquid hands poured across my body's bumpy surface, seeping into each crevice and filling them with something more than just quiet desperation. I thought of a blind man lost in a cave or a swimmer trapped under lake ice, pressing up against the hard surface and squeezing into every hollow to claw at the bitter promises hiding in the cracks.

Except this girl wasn't looking for a way out, she wanted in. The good whores learn how to read a man in seconds so they can tailor their pitch appropriately and lay the right bait. Nice Guy, Shy First-Timer, Protector, Hound Dog, Mean Fucker; they have all our angles covered. This kid repulsed me in a real primordial way, like meat gone gag-sour in the summer, but something about her made me feel sorry, even guilty. And she sensed it, like a street dog smells fear, impaling herself - almost gratefully, imperceptibly - on each sliver of empathy that jabbed out from my eyes. And she wriggled - more grateful than ever - on their tiny hooks. She wanted more from me than $75.

Maybe the banks of her childhood had eroded and fallen into this malicious river way too fast. I glimpsed the crying child standing among the levee's ruins as dark adult water swirled unabated around her legs, obliterating carefree, happy times. Spilled ink on a page. No gradual transition to help callus her up. No protective cocoon in which to sprout grownup legs and eyes and strong arms to beat back the beasts and whore masters. Suddenly there she was, the spent old hag in the little girl's shell, like those Russian dolls in reverse. The little one entombs the bigger one.

She pressed up inside me, up against my chest, squeezing in on my heartbeat and lungs. I felt her cat mouth sucking up my breath. Her thin-boned hands burrowed like small sparrows in the snow, digging deep into the cold to scavenge some warmth from my sunny memories. I let her stand inside me for a spell. We both needed it.

Did I feel juiced for sex? Fuck. Don't ask. Did I take her up on her offer? Did I feel the bitter zing of melancholy prick itself through my skin, ease straight into my vein and mix with my filthy, lusty blood? All of the above, friend. Intoxicating. Terrifying. But you have to believe me, I really wanted to take her somewhere else. A swimming hole. A country brook. A lake. The endless possibilities of oceans. I wanted to wrestle around in shallow water and splash her face and rub off the trashy paint. Wipe her slate clean. Soak her with cannonballs and hot seats and the inconsequential beads of compassion. Instead, I took her to a motel. I thought maybe they had a pool.

© 2000 Neale McDevitt




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