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The Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Edited by Andrei Codrescu
ec chair poetick kultur anti-amthropomorphism
gallery zounds the making and unmaking of person
new economics of late capitalism
diaries and memoirs translation and her retinue
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the corpse reads classics letters the book of revelations and epiphanies
the making and unmaking of person
The New Economics of Late Capitalism

A Place Made for Doers
by Joseph Rogers

Miv and I have been in business near on fifteen years and yes I admit it things have begun to slow. But we're known. We've been in mags you name it: Hustler, Penthouse, Club International. I know for a fact the Feds have a file on us marked "Miv&Tev." The FCC has tried to bring suit five times. Thanks to the wonder that is Murry Schacter, J.D., we've negotiated deals.
     We invented PersonalizedPorn, there is very little debate on this issue. Miv&Tev are founding mama and papa. Still, some slut in Boca or a Fabio out in LA are probably claiming right now that it's their original gig. Making bucks off our brainchild. You just can't patent things like this. Believe me we've tried. Murry's tried. He's still looking into possible suits against known copycat acts across the land. You know who you are.
Gypsy. Her cries from the crib across the room wake me up. My face is in Miv's thick black hair. She wears a bandana to bed to keep the mop somewhat in control but there's no stopping it. It's always a little greasy and grows out wild in thin dreads. She's rolled over the other way and I'm in the same fetal pattern behind her, my body up against hers in every possible spot. She's just in skivvies and an old tee of mine and her leg hair stubble scratches against my skin. The elastic on her cotton panties is going loose. My hand slides under and I pinch her left cheek until I hear her voice all hoarse and sleepy.
     "What what what?"
     Gypsy's crying is soft and steady.
     "Remember that woman from Des Moines? She wanted to see me shaving your pubes into a heart?"
     I squeeze one of her nipples. Miv doesn't roll over, doesn't budge, just stays right there with her head on the pillow.
     "Was that for Valentine's Day?" Miv says.
     There's nostalgia all around us, you'd think we were talking about grandkids.
     "I don't even think it was," I say. "Ever think of sculpting it again?"
     Miv pulls the covers up to her chin and rolls more into her fetal.
     "Who's paying to see it?" she says.
      "Don't worry baby, I can feel it," I say. "A script's gonna come in today."
     "Our daughter's crying," Miv says.
So Miv's not the piece she was ten years ago, or even five, but I'm man enough to admit I've gone downhill a bit too. Plus, these days, with money tight, professional shavers are out. But digital editing. Wow. We've made the transition from Beta to VHS to LaserDisc to DVD. No problem. We're rolling with it. Don't say we're not open to change.
     Miv. What she once was. You have no idea do you? No way. Are you a former client? It's very possible. Have you actually tasted Miv's eyebrow sweat, her stomach skin, the thin light brown hairs at the small of her back, the glory and wonder that's the essence of Miv located we all know where? No you have not. Okay maybe one or two or a dozen of you have, but never mind. I discover new flavors in new places each day.

* * *

     I hold Gypsy in my arms and watch her little sucks on the bottle's rubber nipple. We're at the kitchen table and she's wrapped in her thin yellow blanket. The hair on her tiny head is soft fluff and my hand on top wraps all the way around, twisting gently and feeling the soft on my palm. We sit there together, Gypsy sucking and her eyelids closing, closing, and my lips touching the soft fuzz on her head.
     The future plays like a grainy home movie all over the insides of Gypsy. When I sit and look at her long enough I can see through her perfect dark skin. I can be a Watcher and sit and stare at all the crazy film clips projecting outwards from inside her, shooting all over the walls of the kitchen, and try to grasp onto something tangible that will finally let me stop watching, put her to bed, and be convinced that everything is going to be all right. Everything being rent money, Miv and me together, and Gypsy in this world.
     And I can see how watching can get addicting. But don't those Watchers out there realize that if they start coming down on Doers like Miv&Tev, turning their backs, acting all ashamed in public, then pretty soon their best friend's gonna be a mirror? Watchers watching themselves do nothing but watch. Watchers and Doers, we feed off each other. One needs the other, because without the each there is neither. Nothing to see here. Go on home.
     One morning last week I opened my eyes from a little nap since the last time I was awake with Gypsy. Miv was dressed up all business and the bedroom smelled like Egyptian Goddess. I feared the worst. The worst being Miv hunting for a square job out there.
     Miv didn't even look over, just somehow sensed me staring.
     "I told you, if you won't go out and get a job, I will. It's long enough."
     Her thin dreads were back in a small fancy tie and she had her head tilted putting on earrings.
     "No scripts today?" I said.
     She turned to me full on with one earring in an ear and one in her hand and I sat up in bed.
     "No scripts today?" she said. "There hasn't been a script for a month and a half, Tev."
     "C'mon Miv. Listen to me."
     Miv had on the costume she wore that time she played the female shrink who comes to visit me on death row. I was in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit the entire time.
     "Just a dry spell, right? Just gotta ride the trends, right? You know what Tev, the shit we did, what we started, it's over. No scripts equals no work."
     "We just need to evolve it."
     "I don't want to evolve it like they do out there. Fucking wackos."
     "I hear you Miv. Just listen."
     I reminded her of the lack of qualifications for square jobs issue. She showed me some cleavage.
     "And we're selling the equipment," Miv said.
     "No one's touching my equipment."
     "All of it. Cameras, lights, props, costumes."
     "Props and costumes? Who's in the market for our props and costumes?"
     "Stop freaking, Tev."
     Gypsy began to cry in sirens. We were talking louder to get above the crying and I could feel the words moving through my throat.
     "I'm not freaking," I said. "What about your dildo collection? I notice you failed to mention pawning that."
     "I'm going to get work. Real work. And the reason is Gypsy."
     Gypsy's cries were piercing. They climbed to that perfect pitch and volume where the crying is the only thing you can hear in the world.
     "Don't start in with that real work shit. You know what we do is the realest. You sound like one of them Watchers out there. We're Doers, Miv. Doers."
     "Aren't I doing something? What are you doing? Why don't you spend some quality time with our daughter. She's crying."
     And then Miv was gone and Gypsy was bawling and I felt like a fucking sleazebag criminal in cuffs and an orange jumpsuit.
PersonalizedPorn is whatever you want that's what you get. We've got some props here in the studio but we encourage the sending of your own personals. You lay it all out for us in an email, we review your Script, and we decide if it's a go. When times were good we could pick and choose our Scripts. We only did the most creative, dare I say artistic, the things that actually got Miv and me revved. But lately times have been tough. It's slim pickings on the wire and so we do what we get. No it does not make me happy to act out some of these things. We've bent a little. Compromised our integrity a tad as of late. But Gypsy is going to be one year in the world soon. There are expenses as I'm sure you're aware.
     Most people just don't want the classics anymore. The age-olds. The archetypals. Nurse and doctor. Old man and Catholic school girl. French maid and wealthy dude. There was a time these were our bread and butter. One time a woman submitted a French maid request and she wanted Miv and me not only to come together, but this woman wanted us to sneeze at the same time too. And so Miv had the feather duster right in my face and she was looking up at the light and it was overall just pretty uncomfortable but in the end it was quite a sensation, let me tell you, and I was pleased with the product we sent out.
     Some of the Scripts are downright sick and possibly illegal. Especially lately. Murry tells us the law's foggy on a lot of this stuff. No precedents. Miv is none too pleased with the way things seem headed. And sure yes I feel bad when she gets uppity and threatens to "take her goods elsewhere where they're more appreciated" and I start calling her Saggy Saggerson and other names just as crowd-wincing. But business is business, right? Isn't that what they say? We ride out the trends, I told her. We have our boundaries. We pass on violence like the Knute Rockney and say absolutely no to Water Sports and Fecal Fun like the Dirty Sanchez. Even Blumpies, which are red hot right now, we've said not a chance. The thing is, the problem is, that lots of others out there aren't turning away these requests. And the FCC's gone lazy fair. Hands off, man. Back in the day, Miv and me would've never gotten away with all the nastiness that goes on today. You want to see a head spinning, take a look at poor Murry these days. It's putting us out of the game.
     What happened to the creative and the fun? The artistic? Like the Script from that couple in Toledo, been married 35 years. You do the math as far as their age. What they wanted was a cat burglar scene. The woman, I think her name was Agnes, wrote us a nice letter on flowery stationery. Miv fell in love with that catsuit. Shiny pleather and the little fake girl gun she kept in her boot. Miv came in through the window and tied me up and gagged me. Took everything I had, let me tell you.
      Or the anonymous guy in Worcester who sent us a bunch of casts and slings and bandages. It was a little bulky but I wore it all while Miv straddled me in a nurse's outfit.
      Or the M.D. from Wichita Falls that wrote us have we ever heard of Axillism? Turns out it means having a hard on for armpits. The hairier the better. Miv didn't shave for two weeks and let me tell you it was a whole new world. Snug. Like a first date, I told Miv.
      Or that time we dressed Miv up all regal and she used my face as an actual throne. It's called Queening. There are names for these things. Things like for example good old Coitus a Mammilla. Ejaculating between breasts. It's usually women who want to see that one.
     But once the Internet came along everyone and their mother started doing Hot Carls and Dominatrix Toilet Training and you name it. It's all violence and bodily eliminations. And everything is filmed with a grundle-cam, right up in there. It's one step away from a pelvic exam.
Outside the kitchen windows and down three stories is the courtyard. The apartment building is shaped like a U with grass and walkways in the middle. There's this stone bench down there right in the glare of one of the lights. No one's ever sitting on that bench and grass grows up around the short legs, grass the weed-whacker can't get at. The stone's got a couple cracks with some moss growing out of them. You can tell the thing was hand carved or chiseled, that someone took care shaping and creating it. That it's an original. It's a relic out there. An antique among the pink flamingos and fuzzy sheep and wood cut-outs of chubby women's rears, as if bending over and weeding the flower bed of perfectly spaced marigolds. The green, green cookie cutter sod lawn. Mulch. The buzzing pink neon over the entrance that says: Vista del Callejón. Teal plastic trash bins and perfectly manicured shrubs. No one likes a hairy bush anymore.
     Inside the kitchen is dark except for some glow coming in from one of the courtyard lights outside and making a square patch on the floor. Gypsy and I sit within its boundary. All around the rest of the kitchen is darkness, getting darker into the corners. Me and Gypsy, the only people in the world. Not doing a damn thing.
     When Gypsy's eyes close and don't open back up again for a few minutes and I can tell she's asleep from the way her breathing feels against my chest, I get up from the kitchen table and place her back in the crib in the bedroom. Gypsy and Miv: my two women sound asleep. I shut the door lightly and head to the kitchen to have a drink and sit and think. A can of Hamm's and me and my thoughts like: what if Miv had actually gotten a square job. Would that have been so bad? At least she put herself on the line out there, what have I done? And then every sip of Hamm's is just more self-doubt and helplessness pouring in and I've got to get the fuck out of this kitchen and I get up and bag up the week's trash.
     Tomorrow's trash day but most people have their shit out on the curb already. At the Vista del Callejón we've got two dumpsters always overflowing with trash. They get wheeled out and parked in front of the building in the street and the two things sit there all night looking like they just pulled up for valet parking.
     Usually I wait until right when the sun starts coming up to carry out the trash. That cold, wet waking up time when the world's all yours. When if you take time to notice it you can see the world has stopped turning just for you. There's no one else on this whole big fucking ball. You don't have to do to get by. You can do just to do.
     The trash bags, one in each hand, and I drag on down the stairs and out to the street. Bags are pushing out the tops of the dumpsters. From about five feet it's all the individual trashy smells - cheesy, pungent, stale, bitter - combined into one big rotten that's the exact smell of death, no doubt about it. I've got my breath held and I hurry up and throw the bags in one of the dumpsters.
     Cold air hits my exposed calves and moves up under my robe. I spread my legs apart and feel the breeze on my ballbag. Nothing on under my robe, I just can't do it. It'd be like wearing socks to bed. I generally go commando on a regular basis. That's what Miv calls it wearing no skivvies: going commando. I always called it free-ballin'.
     Usually I get that trash in the dumpster, take a deep inhale once I get far enough away from the death smell, and my ass is back inside. But tonight I'm just staring at that bench. Everything is dark all around except where the few lights on poles shine in the courtyard. One shines on the trimmed shrubs. A couple members of the Vista del Callejón's lawn zoo stand motionless in patches of light. And the bench, all lit up right in the center of everything.
     I take my robe out like a dress as I sit down on the bench so my bag touches first and then my bare ass. The cold, rough stone is a shock but I ease down into it like it's bathwater.
     And that's when it comes to me. It hits my gut first with a liquid wave, then up to my chest with a burn, then into my brain with a ring and tingle. This is how ideas are born. The treasure chest or drawer or gigantic trunk that holds all the ideas, all the creativity, that motherfucker don't open too often. And when it does, when you're presented an opportunity to reach in and go for yours, to grab whatever it is you need to get you out of the corner you've found yourself crouched in, get you back into the middle of the floor, back on that stage that is your only life, you better do it.
      And I know what I have to do, what Miv&Tev have to do. When you pull an idea out of life's toy box it feels like anxious and nervous and scared shitless. You're anxious to get things going. And you're nervous that, good God, this might actually work. The world will know your name for shit like this. And then: do you have the balls? You're scared shitless too. You're scared because what if this doesn't work. What if you wake up tomorrow and you're still in the goddamn corner. Because in your mind now, with this solution you've been given, you've already driven clear through this Great Plains flatland stretch of your life. You've seen a change up ahead on the highway. A town, a fucking gas station, anything. The scared shitless is that you might just have to keep on driving. That this promise of change and evolution was just a mirage.
Now I'm on a mission of try not to think and just do and I run up to the apartment taking the stairs three at a time. Miv's drooling on the sheet next to the pillow. Her spit drips out into a little puddle on the collection of brownish drool stains. She likes the familiar smell of those stains and sleeps with her face right in them.
     The covers only cover her up to the waist. My old blue tee is thinned from Miv sleeping in it every night and it stretches over her tired tits. They're soft and off to the side but those little brown nipples are hard and poking through as always. Her mouth open and drooling, her perfect face. That nose that curves up just a little. Just enough to where pride doesn't ever become stuck up bitch. Her soft eyelids and crazy long lashes. Her Miv do. Just the right amount of natural grease so it stays funky, and of everything she's got it's what makes her look only twenty and not the almost double that she actually is. I shake her awake and look hard for the exact moment Miv re-enters this world, her life. Ours.
     "I've solved our problems, baby."
     "Huh?" She gives me a one eye open look as if there's a bright light shining overhead. The room is just different shades of dark and shadow.
     "I'm saying go run a brush over those teeth and splash some water wherever it stinks. We're going out."
     "What are you talking about?" Now she's sitting up and rubbing and scratching.
     I just watch her. Just watch her birthing into this here and now.
     "What time is it?" Miv says. "You're crazy. You've finally lost it completely. That's it, right? What the fuck are you talking about? We're not going out. How's Gypsy?"
     "She's fine. And not out out. Just right outside. And Gypsy can come too."
     "Look baby, you're sleep deprived. Delirious. I understand, Tev. That girl sucked on my tits for three months straight and I couldn't get a word in edgewise. Baby girl is running you into the carpet. You come to bed, baby. Come here."
     Miv reaches out for my package. She gets in under my robe and puts her warm sweaty hand on my cold dick. My hand instinctively goes for one of her nipples. Even just moving my hand lightly over the tee shirt covered nipple I can already taste it in my mouth. She's on her hands and knees facing me. Between her legs thick black hairs escape out the sides of her little girl pink cotton panties. The hairs get lighter and thinner onto her thighs. I take her hand off my dick.
     "I know it sounds crazy, Miv. I'm just asking look at my eyes."
     Miv puts her dark pussycat eyes right into mine and I try to send a vibe to her that says: What I am telling you is truth. The door opened up and I pulled it out. For us. Please trust me.
     I say, "Throw on that black thing I like. I've got to do a few things. Then we're going outside, right outside in the courtyard, and we'll take it from there."
     She looks at me like, Who are you anyway? It means she's in for whatever. That playful, sexy look she gives with her eyebrows. It's shit like this is why we're together. The craziness. The mystery. If you look into your lover's eyes and you say absolutely, I know this person, exactly. I know this person, period. Then that's the end of you two. Because that means you're saying, This person's not changing anymore. This person has stopped evolving. And once that happens they're already done. You don't know it because they're living and breathing and maybe even fucking, but they're the Night of the Living Dead. And that means that whatever connected you has withered and fallen off. And you're just some comfortable schmuck going through the motions of your played-out life. You already know how this whole thing turns out. You're a fucking rerun.
     Miv heads off into the bathroom suddenly Miss Wide Awake and I call after her, "Don't shave."
     While Miv's in the bathroom I set everything up. I make a quick phone call. By the time she comes out in her long black silk number I've got Gypsy all bundled up and the stroller folded into portable mode and we're ready to go.
     Miv&Tev are no stranger to the spotlight, believe me, and Miv doesn't look uncomfortable at all sitting there on the stone bench while I tuck Gypsy into the stroller. The stroller is at the edge of the spotlight that shines on Miv and the bench.
     Miv's arms are crossed and her hands are in her armpits and she shivers just a little. Her eyes are looking all around, at the windows up and over and behind us. It's like she's never noticed we have all these neighbors, those dark windows up there. The empty eyes of the world.
     Seeing Miv looking all around like that, I start feeling brand new too. Thinking how nothing is ever the exact same and noticing things like a clay pot with a plant up on someone's windowsill on the second floor, and a brown water stain that's dripped all the way down the white stucco from the roof. And I sit there looking all around, at Gypsy in her stroller and at Miv looking all around like me, and I realize, man, I have never been right here.
     It gives me a stiffy.
     I get on the bench with Miv and when her eyes spiral down onto me I pull her against my body and look right into those dark pussycat eyes. Miv could look at you one minute with those eyes and you'd be begging for mercy, please baby don't hurt me, I ain't too proud to beg, anything, anything. And then the next minute she's looking up at you, outside in the middle of the night, on a bench, in the spotlight, and it seems those eyes are big enough to hold anything in the world, hold the world itself. She's just waiting for you to give it all to her.
     In the corner of those eyes are some eye boogers, Miv calls them sleepies, and I dig them out with my finger. Her crazy black Miv hair, I lean right in and smell. I know she's not wearing those pink little girl panties anymore. I know under that black number it's all Miv. And before I speak into her hair, I move her hand beneath my robe and onto my hard dick.
     I say, "We're rolling."
     When I pull my head back she's looking all around again, in the shrubs, at the flamingoes, behind us, above us, all the while still holding onto me beneath the robe.
      "There's three," I tell her and I move my eyes up to our windows, the two dark rectangles right in the middle of the third row up on the wall of windows in front of us.
     "There's a wide angle on the whole courtyard, street and all. Then I've got one zoomed in on this area around the bench. Then the super-duper-zoom way in on Miv&Tev."
     It's brilliant really, the set up. Getting footage from those three angles to splice together later. Miv gets it right away and her lips go crooked. She smiles up at me like that, saying without saying: This is how I love you. This is why we're we.
     She says, "Goddam."
     And that's when it starts. Miv&Tev doing what it is Miv&Tev do. We start slowly. Miv keeps on the nightgown while I'm on my knees on the ground, my face between her thighs. She doesn't hold off with her decibels either. There is only a certain amount of ooh and ahh with Miv and then it's this loud, wavy, higher pitched but husky thing. Like what Mae West would've have sounded like if she did porn. And pretty soon I hear something else too.
     Voices. From open windows. At first just a couple, then the gossip train no doubt starts. Phones are ringing. The word is spreading inside the Vista del Callejón. I lift Miv's nightgown over her head and put my mouth on her nipples. My robe's on the ground. This is what they want to see but don't. A few people have already come out into the courtyard. Miv lifts my face up to hers and her eyes tell me it's her turn to take the reins. She lays me down on the bench and gets on top.
     This is going to work. This footage could be our meal ticket. I know we'll be able to market this, as much for the reaction of the Watchers gathering around as for what we're doing. They've used us for long enough. It's our turn.
     More voices right near us but no one dares come into the circle of light. They don't want to be part of the show. They don't know this time they will be. Miv is riding me and moving her hands over her tits, squeezing her nipples. My hands hold her hips and her ass. We're finding a rhythm.
     In the air from the more and more mouths gathering in the courtyard, the words: baby, the baby, but the baby.
     Why would this be traumatic for a baby? I'd kill to see a video of my parents creating me. But the gathering crowd gasps and sighs and lets out their oh my's while looking up all straight-A-student to some god.
     The only quiet person in all this: Gypsy. All the beauty all around and people are just too afraid to appreciate it. Hold it. Make love to it. Not one person out here circled around us turns to their spouse or their neighbor and touches them, kisses them. No one even looks at one another. No one does anything dangerous.
     We know the cops are there when we can hear the walkie-talkies amongst the crowd. This gets Miv really going and I can feel her start to quiver. She's sitting on the bench, her back arched, her toes gripping the grass, and I'm on my knees in front of her. Inside her. She's thrusting and flexing and moaning and Mae West-ing so loud it echoes off the building. The cops don't make a move. They just stand there amongst the semi-circle of gawkers. And I know what they're waiting for. What everyone is waiting for.
     And Miv&Tev make it happen.
     Miv's smooth brown skin, her small hard brown nipples, sweat on her forehead, her black hair wet and clinging to her face. Her black hair wet and all around me. Taking me in. Coming to meet me.
     And then I know it's gonna happen for her, and for us. I can see it and feel it, that my world is all hers, that her world is all mine, that the whole world is all ours. That we're noticing it, in this right now, that the world has stopped turning just for us.
     Everything goes still and soundless. There's no one else on this whole big fucking ball.
     And then Miv and I are holding on tight, stuck together with what came from inside us. Gradually the noises of the world turning come back: crowd chatter, cop walkie-talkies, Miv's breath, my breath. It's so pin drop that you can even hear Gypsy's short sleep breaths from the stroller.
     We peel off when we're good and ready and Miv pulls the black nightgown over her head. Her hips move from side to side like she's everybody's mama as she walks over to the stroller. The crowd of twenty or so swells backwards to give her room.
     That's when the three cops, two guys and a chick, move in on us all slow and casual with their thumbs hooked on their hips the exact same. The lady cop's dark blue slacks grab and hug her in the crotch. She's short and husky with long curly hair and the police slacks just bunch it all up down there into this soft meaty V. When you do what me and Miv do, pretty soon everyone just starts to look like they're wearing a sexy costume.
     My hard on spits up a bit as it goes down for the count. The cops come in only so far and watch me put on my robe. Miv is holding Gypsy in her arms and rocking side-to-side looking into the yellow blanket.
     The cops are in no rush. They know we're going in, we know it too. I know, even if Miv doesn't, that the lady cop will come up and take Gypsy from her arms. That she'll take Gypsy in a separate car to somewhere other than with us. But I know too that we'll get Gypsy back in an hour. Believe me, I already put a call in to Murry. He'll be down there waiting for us and no way we'll spend the night.
     Gypsy in Miv's arms, all wrapped up in the thin yellow blanket, she's a glowing moon against the sky of Miv's black silk.
     And then there it all is, shining out from Gypsy. Images flashing all over the place and I know no one sees them but me.
     The lady cop goes towards Gypsy and Miv. The two dudes come for me. My eyes stay on Gypsy as the cuffs click and tighten on my wrists, as my shoulders pull out of their sockets. My eyes stay on Gypsy until right before Miv finishes letting go of her, when I'm finally able to grab onto something projecting out from inside the yellow blanket. Just a quick flash of the grainy home movie of our future that lets me finally stop looking.
     This is what I see: We're driving in a station wagon on miles and miles of highway. A gradual incline until we crest a hill and there spread out in front of us is a sparkling city in the low afternoon sun. It could be Vegas, L.A., the City of the Future. It's anywhere but here and it's the place where things happen. We've got our whole lives up until now in the back and Gypsy's in the front between us. Miv stares those dark pussycat eyes of hers out through the windshield and says, "That right there looks like a place made for Doers."




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