“Would you kiss a dead dog?” asked Jordan.
He concentrated on my eyes to see if I’d flinch. I’d lose if I showed that I was grossed out. It would be conceding that rules had power over me.
“It’s a dare,” he added, as if anything we’d said to each other over the past two weeks hadn’t been both dare and flirtation.
We sat on my parents’ porch that sticky June, haze wavering over the weary lawn and crumbling sidewalk. Other kids our age filled their summer afternoons with popsicles and tire swings. At twelve, Jordan and I eschewed such childishness. We were growing up fast, racing each other past adolescence. We wanted to be adults, but not just adults; we wanted to reach the limits of adult conduct, and then smash those boundaries, too. We wanted to transcend taboo.
Freud’s psychosexual stages begin with the oral, and then move into the anal, the phallic, the latency, and the genital. We followed his descriptions as if they were a manual. Through the summer’s early weeks, we exchanged dares following Freud’s progression. I challenged Jordan to lick off the sweat that pooled, salty, between my thighs. He dared me to slip my finger into his ass up to the knuckle. He fondled my pussy with curiosity, wrinkling his nose as he investigated the origami folds. I rubbed the head of his dick, amazed and baffled by its bizarre elasticity, until he told me I was doing it too hard and shoved me away.
We were frenzied for dirtiness, for transgression, for that illusion kids have that you can ride boldly into uncharted terrains that no one else has ever discovered. Sin and disgust had been thoroughly explored millennia before Jordan and I were born, but at twelve, it’s easy to be the most perverted person you know.
Freud, for all his psychological innovations, lacked true insight into the nature of desire. He never understood cunts, that humid landscape of fur and folds. He imagined them as terrifying, gaping maws, vaginas dentata plotting to devour his envy. He believed clits were dangerous abominations, inflicting hysteria and epilepsy on their hapless bearers, best to be sliced out of madwomen with surgeons’ knives. If Freud had understood clits and cunts, maybe he’d have grasped sexuality’s true power: its ability to consume the unknown into that darkness which pulses in the heart, thereby transforming mystery into territory explored.
Jordan bulged beneath denim. I was slick. I imagined matted hair, fleas, maggots; Jordan watching me, having to do whatever dare I proposed next. “Yeah,” I told him. “I’ll kiss a dead dog.”
I ran into Jordan at Burning Man last year. He was with a group of crazy polyamorous gay guys who ran a survivalist compound in New Mexico with guns and cars that had been armored like tanks. Their campsite had built an enormous light beam that towered like a phallus over their tent, pouring light over the desert so they could always find the way home.
Jordan was subbing for a couple of bears who were part-owners of the compound. He wandered the desert in handcuffs, a neon green merkin over his shaved pubes, and a shit-eating grin on his face. I ran into him at a booth that was decked out like a coat check where doms could leave their subs behind like cumbersome winter wool, to be picked up later. The tent was full of giggling girls, and Jordan, who looked the same at twenty-six as he had when he was thirteen, the way some gay guys do.
“I know,” he said, when I told him that. “In thirteen years, all I’ve managed to do is become a college drop-out, pick up conversational Spanish, and get Herpes.”
“You got taller, too,” I said.
When his doms came back to get him, I followed them home, the only hag in fag company. We ate oxy brownies and then went to watch the belly-dancers in the next tent jiggle while we drank their homemade rum.
Jordan told his bears about me. “Once Annie bit my neck and drank from it, like a vampire. We were still in elementary school. I had to wear scarves for a week afterward, to hide the marks, but it was worth it. It was hot. We did some crazy shit.”
I moved to New York City as soon as I could get out from underneath suburbia’s thumb. I started out working in a dungeon, but it wasn’t for me. What’s the point of being a sadist when control flows in the opposite direction, bought by someone’s wad of green? I took jobs doing whatever seemed interesting: nude modeling, clerking at the free grocery, transcribing interviews, counseling addicts through detox. Once at a flea market, a runty Jewish guy offered to pay me $20,000 a year to spend my weekends with him, driving through the tri-state area while he picked through garage sales and junk yards to find abandoned batteries and decaying computer parts. The only time I ever put my lips against any part of his body was when he cut his arm on a metal scrap. I licked away the blood.
Freud believed mature women yearn for penetration, that their orgasms derive from the invasion and conquering of their flesh with phallic swords. Freud never imagined mature women could seize the clitoridectomizing knife in their own fists and scratch its ecstasy-killing blade across their wrists, to co-opt for themselves the erotic pleasure-in-pain that Freud and de Sade tried to hoard for themselves.
“Where are we going to find a dog corpse?” I asked Jordon that hot afternoon on my parents’ porch, as damp from arousal as from the humidity. Jordan said he knew where there was one, said to wait until night when we could take the walk alone through the balmy dark. He’d sneak out to meet me at my house at ten o’clock. I was supposed to say I was sleeping over at his house, which we’d been doing once a week since we were seven.
Is there anything better than anticipation when you’re thirteen years old and sex is a shiny bike you’ve seen in a catalog which you can’t wait to unwrap for your birthday and ride triumphantly down the street?
The Marquis de Sade never succumbed to Freud’s urge to dissect sexuality into segments and stages as if he were a mortician laboring over an autopsy table. De Sade was brave enough to admit what Freud denied: that the center of his moral universe was his own throbbing erection. Is it any wonder I like him?
High risk-takers get their rocks off rolling dice with life and limb. That’s us, the Marquis and Jordan and me. Jordan and I knew it when we were thirteen—hell, I knew it when I was five and stood on the playground watching the blood pour out of Jennifer Hong when she fell off the swing and ripped her arm to muscle, the open wound flooding with blood the color of a cunt, aroused.
Jordan’s bears asked if I wanted to sleep with them at their campsite. I went back and listened to them talk about their wind power generators and cisterns for catching rain-water and the turrets they were planning to build for when the country declared martial law and the US military came to kill all the fags, which was going to happen by 2030, they said, at the latest. The one I thought of as Grizzly had written an article about it which was scheduled to appear in The Sun, in an issue about environmentalism and apocalypse.
The bears cuffed Jordan to one of the tent stakes and went off to sleep together—to give us some time to catch up, said Polar, thrusting the key into his pocket. Jordan curled into his sleeping bag and we talked the way we had when we were seven, and it didn’t matter that we were twenty-six and he was a fag and I had been a whore, because we were those thing when we were kids. We just hadn’t done them yet.
We talked about our parents, and how I hadn’t spoken to mine in years, but he still called his once a month. “Do you ever get fucking sick of people assuming you’re unhappy?” I asked.
“Hell yeah,” he said. “I love my life.”
“Me too. Me fucking, too.”
You hear lots of things when you’re someone who likes to fuck, when you’re happy to take it in a bathroom or alley, from five women or ten men. Damaged. Abused. Self-hating. Broken. Compensating. Unloved. Narcissistic. Shallow. Histrionic. Stupid. Gullible. Scared. Angry. Nutjob. Exploiting. Exploited. You hear lots of things when you’re someone who gets wet when you look at blood, who once came hard from watching a tattooed man drive a spike through his boyfriend’s cock.
Well, fuck you, whoever’s reading this. Fuck you for assuming that I was sexually abused, or that I’m probably a serial killer, or that the “patriarchy” made me damaged. Fuck you for wanting my life to be something you can objectify. Fuck your theories, and fuck your questions, and fuck your scandal, and fuck your good intentions. Fuck the man who’s reading this and thinks I need a good fucking, and fuck the woman who’s tittering behind her hand because she thinks she’s better than me because the sight of blood doesn’t make her drip, and fuck the editor who bought this piece because he thought it would attract salacious readers.
Fuck you who shrill and gossip, getting fat on your couches while you watch prime time TV before drowsing through your mundane, vanilla sex. All intercourse is power. It’s the conqueror and the conquered. It’s the blood coursing through veins and the boundary between pleasure and pain.
Fuck you from the open air where I’m not afraid to fly, my fist up my girlfriend’s cunt, my mouth full of my boyfriend’s prick. That sound you hear is our laughter, righteous and ringing.
The dog was six blocks from our house, in the gutter beside the abandoned lot, its guts ironed into asphalt by twin tire tracks. He’d been a mutt, a big one. Patches of tawny fur clung clumps of muscle and bone.
I kneeled by his muzzle, his teeth grinning in a jaw fetid with decay, his red tongue half-eaten and lolling.
“On the lips,” said Jordan, his shadow jagged over me. Tires screeched a street away, headlights filtering through trees. The scent of blood flowed rich and liberating as an ocean wind.
“With tongues?” I asked.
“No,” said Jordan, and then with trembling in his voice, he added, “Maybe.”
I placed my lips against the mutt’s muzzle and took its ragged tongue into my mouth, the taste of death humid and savory on my tongue. Over my shoulder, Jordan’s breathing grew harder. He panted, and I felt his spray on my shoulder. My mouth heaved with death and fur. The dog’s corpse pressed against my legs. My cunt dripped. Orgasm crashed, incipient: the best kind of orgasm, the kind sought in death’s jaws and demanded, seized, and then ridden out with the teeth of mortality still digging into your skin.