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Exquisite Corpse
Issue 8A Journal of Letters and Life

Chum (installment 5)
by Mark Spitzer (continued from Cyber Corpse #7)
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     BAN CHUM! That's what they've been telling us: the preachers, the teachers, the IRATE parents--but especially the Internet authorities, watching out for CYBERSMUT! Apparently, some school kids in New Hampshire logged onto this site and started repeating what they'd been reading. A seventh-grade teacher was fired for defending FREE SPEECH. The PTA proclaimed an ultimatum. The facts are not completely known--except for this: CHUM will not desist! And ZOLAND BOOKS will publish it come the Spring of 2001! So get it while you can, before Big Brother silences CHUM for corruputing the youth of America ON-LINE!      

      In this installment: MELON-LOVE goes sour as the spoiled stranger ups the ire, leading to the EXPOSURE of April's LETHAL secret, with poor DUMB Yann caught in the middle! Yep, the CAT is now out of the BAG and the KITTEN is missing! CHILDREN, tell all your friends!
     Chum XI

Nadine is behind the house cleaning windows again. She speaks to herself as she sprays and wipes, with jerky erratic motions, mocking her employer.
     "Oh, and after you do the laundry Nadine, then you can scrub the bathroom Nadine... and Oh, after you do the laundry Nadine, then you can polish the floor Nadine... and Oh, after you polish the floor Nadine, you can wash the windows again Nadine, they just need a little touching up, you missed some spots the other day. You are happy with your job, aren't you? I am paying you enough, aren't I?"
     She feels a spasm in her neck. Lately, this has been an increasing occurrence--something she is getting used to. Like taking her mother to Mother Kralik every morning, and picking her up every evening, and those glares they give each other across the table, neither of them saying nothing to the other, just eating and seething.
     And Yann! Where the hell is he? He's off at sea playing around, probably fucking some whore! Or planning his escape. He never comes by to see her. He doesn't give a fucking shit!
     Nadine squeezes the spray bottle like she's choking a chicken, over and over again. She doesn't even know it, but she just sprayed half the Windex on the window. She looks at it and lets it drip. About the only thing that gives her pleasure these days is the fact that April is still upset about her missing kitten.
     In the window, Nadine can see her reflection grinning back like a sicko, distorted by the ripples running down the glass. And she likes the way she looks.
     Nadine wipes the Windex off and hooks the bottle under the sash of her dress, tucking a rag in also. She starts to climb. The trellis takes her to the second story. This is how she got to the upstairs windows a few days before.
     Nadine gets to the bedroom window and looks in. She's surprised to see April there, thinking that she'd gone to the market. But nope, she's there, with her big stick-out tits, sitting on the bed, opening the package she just picked up at the Post Office.
     From where Nadine is kneeling, she knows that April can't see her, so decides to take a break. She wants to see what's in the box that's making April smile so hard. Then she sees why. The package is on the floor and April is holding a big knobby dildo in her hand.
     "Holy fuck," Nadine whispers. She knows what it is from looking in her father's nudie magazines--which she sold to some pervert sailor for ten bucks. The whole collection.
     April wastes no time in seducing the thing. She places it on the bed, then starts strutting around in front of it, glancing at it now and then with a coy sassy look in her eyes. Then, when April starts unbuttoning her blouse, Nadine pulls back a few more inches just to make sure she won't be seen. She knows she is in for a show.
     Button by button, April's shirt comes undone. And then it's off, and she's standing there, posing for the dildo with a lacy white bra on, restraining those big honking hooters.
     Nadine bites her lower lip. April is indeed a foxy lady.
     Then April steps out of her skirt, and is wearing some panties that are equally as sexy. They're the kind that go right up the crack of her ass--so there's a lot of long lean flank in the air. And whatta bumper!
     Nadine is surprised to feel her nipples tingle. What is she, some sort of lesbo? Hell No! She knows she's not that--otherwise she would've kept them pornos. She is hot for Yann's cock, goddammit!
     But so is April, which is why she's strutting around in front of the dildo, showing it her ass and shaking her tits in its face. This lasts another couple minutes. Then Snap, she unclasps her bra, and her boobs pop out. Nadine can't believe it. Now they're even bigger than before. How the fuck does she carry those things around?
     April grasps a breast in each hand and starts squeezing, trying to entice the dildo. She hoists a breast up to her lips and starts to lick the nipple. Nadine watches as it becomes erect.
     Then April lays down on the bed next to the dildo and peels off her panties. She lays on her back, with her feet toward Nadine--which, slowly, begin to part. A few seconds later, Nadine is staring into a wide-open beaver, surrounded by a nicely groomed, petite yellow bush--which isn't all big and overgrown like her "trashy black gash"--as her father used to call it.
     Nadine watches as April licks a finger and gently begins to frig herself. Running her fingertip up and down her labial lips, she occasionally moans, then settles on the clitoris tip, at the top of her glistening slit. And right beneath that: her asshole.
     Then Nadine hears vibrations. It isn't just a dildo, it's a vibrator, and April knows how to use it. She is rubbing it and rubbing it and rubbing it against her, and tossing her head from side to side, sometimes lifting her ass off the bed.
     Nadine can't help it. Since she discovers that she's diddling herself, and since she knows she's wet, she inserts her thumb into her cunt and begins to press on the place she believes her G-spot to be.
     Now April's motions are getting faster. Not only can Nadine see April's hot twat getting jerked off, but her asshole is opening and closing beneath it--and this, for some reason, makes Nadine hot.
     Fucking A, Nadine thinks, that rich bitch sure looks like a million bucks...
     Not only is April's pussy dripping wet and ready for fucking, but her tits are in the air and her nipples are as hard as rocks. And so are Nadine's.
     If I was in there, Nadine thinks, I'd be getting down between them legs. I'd be slurping her like a snowcone!
     But April refuses to plunge it in. She just holds it there on top of her clit and lets it hum away. It hums in time with her breathing, which Nadine can hear--and so she times her own exhalations to April's. Both of them are going for it, working something up: something hot and slippery, something deep and wet inside.
     Nadine feels her fist pounding her pubic mound. Her thumb is squishing around. She has never been so turned-on in her life, not even with Yann. Christ! Maybe she goes both ways.
     But still, April won't fuck herself. Nadine has to stop herself from shouting out advice. April is being all delicate and shit. She holds the vibrator tip against her lips, and tickles herself like a tease.
     Nadine, however, wants it hard and fast. She starts thumping and thumping, banging and banging her fist against her cunt, her thumb going in and out of her slickened lips, a grimace affixed to her face.
     Meanwhile, April, on the bed, is tossing her head back and forth, gaining momentum. And then she lifts the vibrator up and points it straight down, its tip poised on the apex of her sex. Nadine hopes she'll stuff that sucker in and get fucked, but again, she won't. She just holds it there as her asshole starts quirking like a little mouth whistling some tune. And then April comes, groaning softly.
     Nadine, however, can't get off, even though she's pounding and pounding away at herself. "Come on," she whispers to her cunt, gritting through her teeth. "Come on you piece of shit!" But she can't. She has to have something in her ass.
     "Goddamn you," she whispers to her anus, then takes her thumb out and grabs the squirt bottle and spits on the nozzle. She shoves it up her ass. It hurts, but not that bad. She crams it in as far as it will go, but doesn't pull the trigger. If she did that, she'd shoot ammonia into her colon, and that probably wouldn't feel too good.
     April is lying there breathing hard, her tits heaving up and down. Nadine is jamming and ramming herself. She feels a giant b.m. coming, but keeps on going anyway. She can see her reflection in April's window. She's all clenched up and furious, and about to come. She is on the edge. Shit is gonna fly!
     And that's when April sits up in bed, and Nadine thinks she might be seen. So she pulls back and pulls out. And since she knows she isn't going to come, she decides to fake it for herself, so lays back against the shingles, and pretends to sigh, imitating the lift and swell of April's breasts--but quietly.
     A few seconds later, Nadine can hear April in her room, rustling around, getting her clothes back on. Then she hears the door open and close, so she scrambles down the trellis and pretends to be hard at work.
     April comes around the corner, a healthy, refreshed glow on her face.
     "Hey Nadine," April says, with a strange, twisty curve in her voice. Nadine wonders if this is some sort of a hint that she knows she was watching.
     "Hey April," Nadine smiles back, "what's up?"
     "Oh nothing," April says, and stares back at Nadine, flashing her lashes, then looking around. "I just feel wonderful today. How do you feel?"
     "I feel great," Nadine finds herself replying, as she regards her employer with a similar look. She wants to rip April's clothes off and bend her over from behind. She'll lick her rich-bitch ass then shove the Windex nozzle up her butt. Her cute little asshole! Her cunt!
     "But," April says, with a sudden inflection of melancholy, "you haven't seen Poo-poo around have you?"
     "No," Nadine answers, affecting a sympathetic voice. She is imagining how she'll stuff April's face into the pillow, and slap her ass from behind.
     They each take a step toward each other.
     "I... I..." April is trying to say something, "I miss Poo-poo so much."
     It's obvious: they're going to hug. Nadine grips the spray bottle tighter. But when they wrap their arms around each other, she drops it to the ground.
     April presses her body against Nadine's, her breasts are practically in her face. Nadine places her hand on April's ass. They hold each other for a minute, then April pulls back.
     "Poor little Poo-poo," April says, with a slight sniffle, "wandering the island all by herself, looking for her mommy."
     "Don't worry," Nadine comforts her, "I'm sure you'll see her again one day."
     "Well," April says, wiping a tear off her cheek, "I guess I'll go down to the market now. I'm gonna go try to find that Mother Kralik, she's got something in her store I want."
     "You won't find her there," Nadine finds herself telling April, "because she's at work and her store don't open until for a few more weeks. And then it's only open in the evenings."
     "Well," April says, "then I guess I'll go for a walk."
     "Okay," Nadine says, and watches her start to walk off. But right when April is about to round the corner, she pauses, and turns toward Nadine.
     "Hey Nadine," April asks, "do you wanna have a drink later on? I could use the company."
     "Sure," Nadine replies, feeling all fluttery inside, "what time?"
     "Oh, howabout happy hour? Do they have a happy hour down at that lounge?"
     "No," Nadine says, "what's a happy hour?"
     April laughs at that. "Oh Nadine, you're just too much. Why don't we just meet there after you get off work... around six?"
     "I'd love to," Nadine says, as if accepting a date.      
     April smiles, nods, and walks off, as Nadine stoops over to pick up the Windex.
     "She wants it," she tells the squirt bottle, and gets back to work, wondering what she could possibly wear.

     Chum XII

After a couple covert masturbations, Nadine finishes her work, then goes home and gets off again, this time with some help from the cork handle of a fishing pole. Every time she's about to come, a white-hot flash appears in her mind, and in that heat, visions of April and Yann intertwine. Yann is either jerking off, or April is frigging away. But they're never doing it together. It's either one image or the other.
     Nadine has never been so horned up in all her life. She figures she better wear some panties for her big date, because she's been getting so wet. A spot on her dress would surely turn April off.     
     Nadine starts getting gussied up. She puts on mascara, lipstick, rouge, and covers up some zits. Then she puts on a bra and pads it with bumwad. After that, she picks out a dress that's way too tight, but decides she can suck it in. She doesn't know the buttons are straining in back, and crescents of flesh can be seen running up her spine.
     Then she goes into the kitchen. Her mother is sitting there smoking cigs with Mother Kralik, who immediately takes an interest in Nadine's appearance.
     "Oh," the old crone says, with less sarcasm than usual, "so you're all dolled up tonight, huh? Who's the lucky sailor?"      
Nadine considers lying, and telling them it's Yann, but she knows she might get busted.
     "April," Nadine says.
     "Oh," Mother Kralik says, raising her eyebrows and turning toward Widow Murphy, sitting there like a mannequin, "it looks like your daughter has made a new friend... her employer."
     Nadine's mother says nothing, just stares straight ahead. It's the same thing she does at work all day--just stares at a conveyor belt, watching for mislabeled cans which constantly pass by. The factory, however, doesn't care. They are required to have inspectors on all out-going products, no matter their competence level.
     "We're gonna go get a drink," Nadine tells Mother Kralik, with no emotion whatsoever. It appears as if their anger at each other has abated.
     "That's nice," Mother Kralik condescends, sneering only slightly, "she seems like a very nice girl... maybe I misjudged her."
     Nadine doesn't say anything. She puts some whitebread in the toaster and waits. She'll need to eat something before she goes out boozing.
     The toast pops up and Nadine places it on the counter, then sprays it with butter-flavored Pam. It's her favorite snack. She takes it and starts heading toward the door.
     "Tell April hello," Mother Kralik says to Nadine, as she opens the screen door.
     "Yeah, right," Nadine mutters, and steps out. She aims herself toward the port and comes upon that smart-ass kid with the Clapton shirt. He's standing in the street poking at a dead rat with a stick.
     "If you're looking for the rest of the clowns," he tells her, "the circus went the other way."
     She gives him the finger and looks for something to hit him with. There's nothing but the stick he's holding, unless she wants to look like a stereotype and hit him with her purse. Nadine grabs for the stick but the kid runs away.
     "Haw haw, clown-face, haw haw!"
     Nadine feels a twitch in her neck, but keeps on walking anyway. She makes it to the Dirty Dawgfish.
     April, already, is seated inside. She's sitting at the bar with a couple drinks in front of her. There's nobody else in the place except for the bartender.
     "Hi," Nadine says, grabbing a squat beside her.
     "Nadine!" April gasps, "What happened to your face?"
     "Whatta ya mean what happened to my face?" she demands.
     "Come with me," April says, and grabs her hand. She leads Nadine to the ladies room, where they shut the door behind them. It smells like piss in there.
     "What am I going to do with you?" April asks, and takes some toilet paper off the roll. "Your make-up is a mess. Here, hold still."
     April comes at Nadine with the wad of t.p., and starts dabbing at her face.
     "Fuck," Nadine whispers, shoulders sagging.
     "Don't worry," April tells her, a bit unsteady on her feet, "I'm going to fix you up."
     April wipes off virtually all the make-up Nadine applied, then takes out some of her own and starts putting it on her. For the second time in her life, Nadine sees red.
     "Hmmm, I don't think you'll need any rouge," April says, "but maybe this eye-liner will help."
     Then, after the make-up is reapplied, Nadine looks in the mirror. April has hardly done anything, and all her zits are visible now. Unlike April--who has perfect skin! Skin she'd like to...
     "Oh my God," April tells her.
     "Now what?" Nadine asks, not making any attempt to hide her irritation.
     "Well," April says, "it's your dress. Don't you have a better one?"
     "N-n-n-no!" Nadine stammers, "This is my best dress."
     "Well it's all misbuttoned and stretched out in back," April tells her. "Here, I'll fix it."
     April goes to work fixing the dress. Nadine has never been so humiliated in all her life.
     "That's about as good as it'll get," April tells her, now paying attention to her own reflection. "I'll have to give you some of those dresses I threw beneath the sink. Look, the best thing for you to do is just keep your back to the wall. It's no big deal, but you'll be alright. Just stick with me kid."
     April laughs at her own joke and primps herself a bit. Nadine is silent and withdrawn. Now April will never let her fuck her. Maybe she'd have to take the bitch by force...
     "Come on," April says, dancing out of the shitter, wiggling her ass, "we've got a buzz to catch, Yaaa-hooo!"
     Nadine follows April back to the bar, and tries to turn her back to the wall. The bartender immediately brings April a fancy yellow drink with an umbrella in it.
     "Oh thank you Hans," April tells him, and he bows flamboyantly.
     "Whatta ya want," Hans asks Nadine, not even looking at her.
     "A Bud," Nadine says.
     Hans disappears.
     "Oh I just love this place," April says, swiveling around on her stool, "the decor is so authentic and the people are so nice and friendly. Hans has been giving me free drinks for the last half hour."
     Hans comes back, and places a beer in front of Nadine. "Two bucks," he says.
     "Oh!" April suddenly exclaims. "The jukebox! I almost forgot!"
     April jumps up and starts dancing across the room, even though there isn't any music. Hans watches her, nodding his head in approval while Nadine digs through her purse, producing two crumpled dollar bills. She places them on the counter.
     "Thanks," Hans says, scooping them up. He goes to the cash register and April comes back. She leans forward, close to Nadine, and whispers, nodding toward the bartender.
     "He's got a nice butt, don't you think?"
     Nadine looks over her shoulder and checks out his ass.
     "It's okay," she tells April, "but there are better buns on the island."
     "That's for sure," April agrees, "he's not really my type anyway."
     "And what is your type?" Nadine asks, no humor in her voice whatsoever.
     At that moment, the music starts up. It's Bad Company, singing about some kid named Johnny who bought himself a six-string and set out to become a rock and roll star.
     "Yessss!" April shouts, and jumps up and starts shaking it. "Come on, Nadine, let's dance!"
     April pulls Nadine off her stool and out in front of the jukebox. Nadine tries to imitate what April is doing, but doesn't do a very good job. April notices that Nadine can't dance worth shit, so leads her back to the bar.
     "I just love classic rock," April says, and downs half her drink. "It's so... so... I don't know... Classic!"
     Nadine chugs her beer and orders another. Hans brings it, and waits for another two bucks. The song ends and another one starts up. Some Aerosmith hit. April can't help it, she jumps up and starts shaking it again. Hans is mesmerized.
     "Whatta woman," Hans says to Nadine.
     "Yeah," Nadine agrees, not knowing whether she'd rather get between those tits or lop them off with a cleaver.
      The door swings open and a bunch of fishermen walk in. Grizzly old One-Eye is leading the pack, and all of them are wearing crisp new shirts.
     "So you can carry 'em around like a six-pack!" he yucks, delivering the punchline to some joke. The men burst out in laughter.
     And that's when they see April getting down on the dance floor. They immediately hush up, and concentrate on her, simultaneously heading for the bar. When they get there, One Eye isn't looking and he bumps into Nadine.
     "Sorry pal," he tells her, not even looking, and keeps on moving. They all sit down on the other side of her.
     April comes back with beads of sweat forming on her chest. She unbuttons a button and lets her cleavage breathe.
     "Wow," April tells Nadine, "it feels so excellent to dance. I really miss my c.d.s."
     "C.d.s?" Nadine asks. She has never heard the term before.
     "Yeah," April says, guzzling her drink. She finishes it, and sets it down, just as another arrives, compliments of Hans. This drink is served in a fancy coconut-looking cup.
     "Oh Hans, what service!" April gleefully tells him, and leans across the bar, planting a kiss on his cheek. "That's so sweet!"
     Nadine rolls her eyeballs, then suddenly remembers about her dress. All six fishermen next to her can see her back. She immediately stands up and walks to the other side of April.
     "Where are you going?" April asks in astonishment, swaying a bit because of the liquor. "You aren't leaving me here, are you?"
     "Uh, no," Nadine says. "I thought maybe it would be better if we sat over there, at that table, you know... by the wall."
     "Nonsense," April says, and grabs her wrist. "You sit right back down. This is where the action is!"
     The next thing Nadine knows, April is guiding her back to her stool, and sitting her butt back down. What is she supposed to do? Resist? Nadine settles shamefully back on the stool, hunkering over the bar. No doubt, all the fishermen are laughing at her dress. She decides to lump it.
     "So how do you like it here, miss?" One Eye asks across Nadine.
     "I love it!" April cries, and jumps up and throws her arms wide. "I love it, I love it, I love it!"
     "We're glad you like it," another fisherman says. "We don't get many nice folks like you moving to the island."
     "Oh come on!" April waves her hand, stumbling back a step. Immediately, all six fishermen leap to their feet--but Hans reaches her first. He places a hand on her arm to steady her.
     "Oh thanks," April laughs, and continues to laugh. Then all the fishermen laugh with her, sitting back down in their seats.
     "Have you visited the lovely beaches of our fair island yet?" One Eye asks, as Nadine turns to sneer at him. He, as well as the other fishermen, are putting on a show. They never speak like this, using words like "lovely" and "nice." In fact, hardly a sentence ever escapes their filthy mouths without the word "fuck" in it.
     One Eye, however, keeps on acting like he's wearing a halo, smiling graciously at April. "Well," he tells her, "if you'd ever like a personal tour from a native of the island, please do let me know, I'd be glad to show you all the coves, many of which are ideal for swimming and sun-bathing."
     "How cavalier of you," April nods, and sits back down and sips her drink.
     "Name's Gaston," One Eye says, reaching a hand across Nadine, "Gaston Lawless. Barkeep, another drink for the lady, on me!"
     He ain't no Gaston, April thinks, he's fucking One Eye the fucking loser.
     "Pleased to meet you," April answers back. Handshakes and names are exchanged all around. Nadine, of course, is left out.      
      Yann would never treat me like this, she thinks--then remembers that Yann and "Gaston" are on the same boat. If these assholes just got in, then that means Yann is back on the island.
     "I'm leaving," Nadine whispers to April, but April doesn't hear her. She's too busy flirting with Hans, so Nadine waits to get a word in edgewise.
     "Your yard looks divine," a fisherman breaks in. It's that asshole she sold her father's pornos to. "Did you have it professionally landscaped?"
     "Oh you flatterer you," April says. "No. It was Yann. He stayed up all night long out of the goodness of his heart, and did it for me."
     Nadine hates the tone of April's voice, as well as the fakey fishermen who nod approvingly toward each other, cocking their heads and lifting their chins and making such polite conversation.
     They talk for an hour about nothing--all of them except Nadine, sipping her Bud and watching them. April is really starting to piss her off, acting ditzier than usual. Nadine, however, decides to stick it out--because then maybe she can get in April's pants.
     After her fifth or sixth drink, April leans forward and whispers to Nadine, "These locals are so adorable... I'm so lucky to have ended up here! I guess it's just another case of being in the right place at the right time."
     "I wonder where Poo-poo is though," Nadine whispers back, just to bring her down a notch.
     "Yes, you're right," April says, "I suppose I ought to head back, just in case she's waiting for me. She's probably at home right now, waiting for her mommy."
     The women rise to leave, amidst the objections of the men. April, however, promises to come back and grace them with her presence again. They walk outside into the cooling, darkening dusk, April swaying drunkenly, Nadine sober--and sharp as a blade.

     Chum XIII

"I don't feel too good," April tells Nadine, weaving up the street, heading back to her place.
     "I'll walk you home," Nadine says, even though it's obvious that this is what is happening. What she really wants to do is see if April will invite her in so she can get some. But still, there's something else she really wants: to lay down the law about Yann.
     "Umm," Nadine says, and takes a deep breath, causing a button to pop on her dress. "What do you think of Yann?"
     "Yann? I think he's a hunk."
     "Yeah, me too," Nadine agrees. "I'm so glad he's mine."
     "What?" April asks, steadying herself and staring at Nadine--who keeps separating into two Nadines then merging back to one.
     "Me and Yann," Nadine answers, "have been doing it for a while... so like, uhhh... he proposed to me and I said yes."
     "You're kidding," April says, trying to bring Nadine into focus.
     "No, it happened right on your lawn."
     April wavers for a bit, squinting at Nadine. Her vision comes into focus. Nadine's neckline has shifted, and her bra is visible now. There's a piece of tissue peeking from it. April wonders if she should tell Nadine or not.
     Nadine, on the other hand, can't understand why April's taking so long to respond. She figures that April's getting ready to tell her she isn't worthy of him. If she says it, Nadine thinks, I'll deck her right here in the street.
     April, however, surprises Nadine by answering in a sincerely happy tone: "Oh Nadine, you caught yourself one hell of a man, I'm so happy for you!"
     "You are?"
     "Yes," April responds, feeling something going on in her gut, "he's wonderful... you're so lucky Nadine. I'll tell you what... if he wasn't taken, I'd be all over him, he's so... so... so... so totally awesome!"
     "I'm gonna keep him forever," Nadine replies, "no one will ever come between me and him, he's my totally awesome hunk."
     "Nadine," April says, starting to choke, "you gotta... gotta hang on to that man... you gotta hang on to him like he's your own child! You gotta keep him happy and do whatever he wants you to... I mean, you gotta do everything you gotta do to keep him, because if you don't... there's plenty women who will."
     "He won't go with any other women," Nadine says, "he'll only be with me. He loves me, he'd kill for me. And I'd do the same for him."
     April laughs, even though something is rising inside her. She covers her mouth, then removes her hand for a second.
     "I think I'm gonna get sick," April tells Nadine, then steps forward, drops to her knees, and pukes in the street. Nadine stands above her, proud of the effect of her news.
     April pukes again, and then a third time. After that, she wipes her chin then sits there breathing heavy for a while.
     "Are you okay?" Nadine asks.
     "Huh?" April asks, shocked to find she's not alone. She doesn't know where she is, or who she's talking to. When she looks at the form hovering above her, all she sees is a blur. Gradually though, it comes into focus. It's Nadine.
     "Jesus," April says, "I must've blacked out or something."
     "You barfed," Nadine tells her.
     "I did?"
     "Yes, don't you remember? It happened just a minute ago."
     April looks down and sees the puddle of vomit, and it makes her want to upchuck again. She stands up and starts to stumble up the hill. She doesn't remember puking, she doesn't remember anything. All she knows is her throat is burning.
     "How much did I drink tonight?" April asks.
     "Five or six," Nadine says.
     "Five or six what?"
     "I don't know... fancy drinks."
     April starts digging through her purse. She gets a pack of Tic-Tacs out and pops a bunch in her mouth.
     "Mint?" April asks, offering the package to Nadine.
     "Naww," Nadine says, with annoyance. "You do remember what we were talking about don't you?"
     April begins to swoon again. The blood is pulsing in her head. She looks at Nadine, whose mouth is opening and closing like a carp sucking scum off the surface of a pond. April figures that Nadine is asking her if she needs any help getting home.
     "Yes," April answers. She reaches out for Nadine and Nadine is there, supporting her. April shuffles along, in and out of vertigo. Nadine helps her up the hill.
     Nearing April's house, they begin to hear accordion music. Yann is sitting on April's front porch, with a plain white t-shirt on. His biceps are pumping away as he squeezes on his squeeze-box.
     "Yanny!" April sings, suddenly breaking from Nadine. She lurches toward her fence and goes running into her yard, wiggling her ass like down in the bar--overcome by a burst of drunken energy.
     "Wooo-hooo!" she cries. "Play it Yanny!"
     Nadine follows April into the yard, but stops in the shadows. She looks at Yann's shirt and knows it's new, the fucker! What's come over all these men?
     Yann has started on an old sailor's song of the island called "Shandy." April squeals with delight, and starts twirling in her yard like a drunken high-school girl.
     Yann sings:

      "Oh Shandy, she came one day
      to a lonely port in a lonely bay
      where the old salts fish
      and their women slave
      to make it through the day.
      Aye, to make it through the day..."

     "Rock on Yann!" April cries, stumbling over one of the windbreaks Yann constructed in the yard. She keeps on dancing, throwing her arms into the air and prancing around like a prima donna.
     Yann sings on:

     "Oh Shandy, was a bawdy lass
     with a curvy stern
     and a healthy yearn
     for sailors such as Bart.
     Aye, for sailors such as Bart..."

     April's balance begins to get better as her dance becomes increasingly erotic. She struts around like a bitch in heat.

      "Now Bart was built
      like a sturdy scow
      with a prominent prow
      which made the ladies swoon.
      Aye, it made the ladies swoon..."

     "Yo ho ho!" April breaks in with the chorus, swinging her hips like a fag in drag--while Yann grins away like an idiot.
     Nadine feels her neck start to twitch. Shit, it's happening again! She fucking hates that bitch!
     Yann picks up the tempo:

      "So when Shandy did see
      young Bart back from sea
      and the bulge in his bilge
      she released a gasp
      with both hands clasped
      and a burning in her breast.
      Aye, a burning in her breast..."

     Nadine's neck starts spazzing out. She puts a hand up to conceal her throat, but it doesn't matter anyway. All eyes are on April, now doing a pole-dance with one of the columns on her porch, as Yann keeps going:

      "'Now Shandy lass,' this lad did say
      'You're quite a fine sight today
      may I take you for a sail?
      Aye, may I take you for a sail?'..."

     Nadine's neck is freaking her out. It hurts. What the hell is wrong with her!? Why won't the fucker stop!?
     "Yo ho ho," April sings, really getting into it, "Ho ho ho!"     
      Yann steps it up even more.

      "So off they went in a summer squall
      which mattered none at all
      for the swell of the sea
      was something to see
      as she lay there in the hold.
      Aye, she lay there in the hold..."

     "Yo ho ho!" April puts in, then sways up to Yann and shakes her tailfeathers in his face. Yann laughs and grins a great big shit-eater toward Nadine, even though he doesn't know she's there. He can't see anything in the shadows.
     "'Oh Shandy girl, the wind's picking up'
     the hardy seaman told his maid
     as he dropped his jib
     and she lowered the sails.
     Aye, she lowered her lovely sails..."

     Nadine, meanwhile, is positive that Yann is smiling at her, and making fun of her because of her struggle with her neck. He's laughing at her--and she can't do a thing to stop it! Her muscles are jerking away on their own. Tears stream down her face. She's in its power! It's got her! She's toast!
     Nadine can't take it anymore. She has to get the fuck out! She turns and bolts, leaving them together--Yann still singing gleefully:

      "So they tossed and they turned
      as the ocean churned
      splashing the lovers
      from ankle to neck
      as the rollers rolled over the deck.
      Aye, the rollers rolled over the deck..."

     "The rollers rolled over the deck," April repeats, singing along, her ass eclipsing his face.

      "'Bart my love, we're going down'
      the saucy lass cried through the storm
      and 'Aye my love, I know' he replied
      for down he had already gone.
      Aye, for down he had already gone.

      Till up he come
      and slipped in his mast
      making it fast
      while waves washed over the hull.
      Aye, the waves washed over the hull..."

     April dances around Yann and comes up behind him. She presses down on his shoulders, and his muscles turn her on. She caresses the back of his neck.
     "Yo ho ho," she sings, "Ho Ho Ho!"

      "And they might've prayed
      and they might've swum
      but the tide was rising in Shandy
      as their vessle went down
      and down and down
      for both were feeling randy.
      Aye, both were feeling randy!"

     April comes around in front of Yann and pretends to fall into his lap. He stops playing and both of them laugh. Yann puts his accordion away, and then it's silent.
     For a few seconds, they stare at each other. Yann is transfixed by her lips--those lips he's seen at sea consuming the horizon--those lips which have become his only goal in life--to press to his.
     April is breathing hard from dancing. Her chest is heaving up and down. Her eyes are shut and her arms are reaching up. They find his head and start to pull it down. Her lips--those lips--they part. Yann can see the tip of her tongue. Her mouth opens like a flower. It is her entire person. He lowers his lips toward hers.
     "Hic!" April hiccups, and instantly passes out.
     Yann stares at the woman on his lap, and those lips he must kiss or go nuts. Easily, he could sneak a kiss. Easily, he could wake her up, and she would not object. Either that, or he could do the gentlemanly thing.
     Which he does. He carries her up to her bed, takes off her shoes, and tucks her in. And he doesn't even kiss her good night.

     Chum XIV

Half-stomping, half-running, Nadine and her neck storm through the night. She goes down to the beach grabbing at her tendons, trying to stop them. Falling to the sand, she grapples with her throat as if it's something separate from her--as if she could strangle it into submission. Eventually though, the twitching subsides.
     Nadine sits up, covered with sand and bits of ground shell. She stares out at the half-moon rising above the horizon. There's enough moonlight for her to see the beach. There's a stick next to her. She grabs it like a dagger and drops her eyes toward the sand.
     "Sand," she says, "such nice... nice sand... such perfect, smooth... sand."
     She jabs the sand, then does it again. She slits it from its anus to its thorax, then tears its belly open, gouging at its innards. She disembowels the sand, leaves it gutted like a slime-line cod, then stands up and spits on it.
     Nadine screams at the sea, a bloody murderous incensed scream. She screams so hard it feels like flesh is ripping in her throat. And the more it hurts, the more sense it makes to keep on screaming. Maybe the pain will rip her gorge wide open, and then her demons will escape.
     "Shut The Fuck Up!" some voice cries out, coming from the silhouette of a trailer parked up the beach. It's a woman's duty to submit. Her mom always told her to keep her mouth shut when getting raped, and pretend she's somewhere else. Just spread 'em and shut the fuck up--that way you're less bound to get beat up.
     "Fuck You You Fuck!" Nadine yells back, her voice crackling and popping. She starts making toward the trailer, but catches herself. What's she gonna do--burst in there and change the world? Fuck that! She turns around and heads in the other direction.
     Eventually she comes to an oyster bed, so follows it upstream. She comes to a shack surrounded by animal skulls. She walks up to the door and pounds on it like a cop.
     "What!?" Mother Kralik screams from inside. "Hold your horses!"
     Mother Kralik comes to the door and yanks it open. Her place stinks like rotten meat. Nadine pushes her way inside.
     "You look like you could use a drink," Mother Kralik says, bemused.
     "Yeah," Nadine says, "I'll have me one."
     She sits down at the table where Mother Kralik has been constructing wax dolls. One of them is a sort of grotesque Barbie doll, with oversized boobs and yellow grass for hair.
     Mother Kralik sits down across from Nadine and removes the doll, then pours two shots in some cups. She slides a shot toward Nadine and Nadine immediately slams it. She pours another shot for Nadine. A bigger shot.
     "How'd your date with the rich bitch go?" Mother Kralik asks, a smirk affixed to her face.
     Nadine downs the next shot, then hesitates. Her voice is slurry when she speaks. Clean shirts appear in her head.
     "I'll kill that bitch! The fucking bitch, I'll fucking kill her!"
     "Oh come on now," Mother Kralik says, obviously trying to get her goat, "she means no harm to you. And it's not like she's any prettier than you."
     Nadine stares at Mother Kralik in disbelief. How could that ugly old hag say a thing like that?
     "What!?" Nadine snaps. "I can't believe you'd say such a thing! She's way prettier than me, she's sexier than me, and she's got everything I don't, including... including... including..."
     "What?" Mother Kralik asks, pretending to inflect a maternal concern in her voice. "What does she got? Does she gotta livelier personality than you? Does she got better clothes than you? Does she got more money than you? Is she taller than you, smarter than you, more worldly than you? Is she a better fuck than you?"
     "You know what she's got!" Nadine returns, growing more and more enraged. "She's got everything! She's got this island by the balls! She's got Yann by the balls! She's even got you by the balls!"
     Mother Kralik twists a wrist in her hand, and pours Nadine an even bigger shot, grinning like a pedophile. "Now, now... she's a lovely lovely girl," Mother Kralik tells her. "She'll probably marry one of our men and have lovely little children with him."
     Nadine flings her cup to the floor. It shatters.      
     "Bullshit!" she shouts. "That's my department!"
     Again, Mother Kralik feigns concern. "Oh, Nadine, you poor poor thing. You must control your rage. This is what you do... when your hate boils over like that, you gotta keep it all inside. You gotta smother it, keep it down. Or else you'll end up... well... hurting yourself."
     Looking at the ceramic shards all over the floor, Nadine is suddenly terrified.
     "Hurting myself?" she asks.
     "Yes," Mother Kralik says, sipping her whiskey, "I didn't want to tell you, but I had a vision."
     "You saw something?"
     Mother Kralik twists her wrists, and glares across the table to let Nadine know she isn't fooling around. "Yes," she tells the foolish little twit, and pours her a new shot in another cup, "but remember... fate can be reversed if you want it to. You control your destiny, you control what happens. But you can blow it. So don't blow your top, or you'll lose sight of what you need to see. If you feel the barometer start to rise... you gotta force it back down. You gotta not go with it! Don't even scream! Crawl into bed and pull the covers up over your head... and wait."
     Nadine guzzles her whiskey down, buries her face in her hands, and tries to choke down the growls rising from inside. The words of the old witch carry a lot of truck with her. She's the one who yanked her into the world, as well as her mother, and most of the women on the island--and Mother Kralik hasn't let them forget it. And she's also the one who won't let them forget that she has powers they don't have--which is why Nadine believes that Mother Kralik has been looking into her mind ever since she can remember.
     Nadine's skin instantly goes clammy, and she feels a trickle of sweat drip from her pit. Should she apologize for that day in the cove?
     "That's alright," Mother Kralik assures her, and pours her a double. Nadine takes a glug and downs it all. She pours herself another shot.
     "Let me give you some advice," Mother Kralik tells her, "it's okay to laugh. Just remember that! You can always laugh. Laughter is your only salvation."
     Nadine nods to show she understands, then places a hand to her forehead. She wonders if she's feverish, but knows she isn't having a fever. She is a fever.
     Things start to swirl--she's got to get home! Nadine downs the rest of her drink, then staggers to her feet and the whole place reels.
     "Are you alright?" Mother Kralik asks, feigning concern, but Nadine doesn't answer. She heads for the door.
     "Are you sure you're alright?" Mother Kralik asks again, but Nadine ignores her. She blunders out and into the night.
     "Remember," Mother Kralik calls after her, "laughter is your only salvation!"
     She watches Nadine swerve toward the beach, and laughs at the little moron. She'll get what's coming to her. Oh yes, she'll get exactly what she deserves!
     Nadine stumbles home without getting raped, falls into bed and everything spins. That bitch! That bitch is fucking Yann right now! While she's preggie! And Yann doesn't love her! Cuz of that bitch, That Bitch, THAT FUCKING BITCH!
     Nadine pulls the covers up over her head and growls like a fiend from hell. "Rrrrrrr! Rrrrrrr! Rrrrrrrrrr!" She holds it all in. She can't fall asleep. Hours go by, she stares at forms in the darkness. Maybe she's asleep and maybe she isn't. Maybe she's just dreaming she's awake. She can't tell. It's four in the morning. She's hot, she's sweaty, she's wet, she's horny. She's either fingering herself or dreaming she is. She's drunk and can't get off. She gets up--but still, doesn't know if she's awake or not. She doesn't know shit.
     Like a zombie, Nadine wanders out and into the street--lapsing in and out of a fog. When she comes to April's house, she enters the yard, then goes into the house. Then suddenly she's there, and so is April, lying in her bed. It's all a dream, it's gotta be a dream! How could it not be a dream?
     Nadine pulls back the sheets, and there it is, her rich-bitch nakedness, totally exposed, and lying there all succulent, with those monster tits beckoning her. And her snatch--dim in the dusk of the room. That body--she could either kill it, or lick it to death.
     April moans, and places her hand on her crotch. She's out of it, and rubbing it--still fucked up. She doesn't know Nadine is in the room. She doesn't know she's having a wetdream. She doesn't know nothing.
     Nadine places her hand beneath her own dress, and feels her crotch. Her panties are damp, and full, like a sack of pudding.      
     April moans again, still fiddling with her clit. She separates the folds in it. She wants it.
     Slowly, gently, Nadine gets down on the bed and follows April's thighs up to her musk. The opening is slick and pungent, delicate and ready. Nadine touches her tongue to the nub, and licks a briny bead.
     "April," Nadine mutters, but can't think of anything else to add--so says her name a few more times, even though she knows she sounds pathetic. "April... April..."
     April moans again, and squirms, lifting her legs just a bit. Nadine gets in there, burying her face in it. The softness of her sex pulls her tongue in. Nadine delves as deep as she can, moves her tongue around, then goes to town, lapping like a terrier--doing to April what she would have her do to her. It doesn't matter who is getting serviced, it's happening to both of them. Nadine feels it rising inside her. She is in love and she's about to come. She can't help it, she starts to cry.
     April, however, pulls Nadine's face in further, thrusting her pelvis into her face. Nadine's sobs are stifled, she can hardly breathe--yet still, she is on the edge of coming as she licks away at April's clit, jiggling it--while April increases the grind in her groin.
     And then April comes--or, at least, that's the way it seems to Nadine--who suddenly feels a smack against her ear. Maybe April meant to cuff her, or maybe she didn't. Maybe that's not what even happened. Nadine can't tell, but that doesn't matter at the moment, because now she's starting to come herself. Flashes are flashing inside. Smack! Smack! She pulls back, gasps, and feels her muscles jerking all over.
     And still, she is crying. Crying because she's never felt this way before, crying because April let her lick her pussy--and there's no other place she would rather be than where she is, getting from April what nobody else has ever given her in her entire life. Something she can't name, but knows, because it hits her in the solar plexus--and she knows she will never get it again. Or feel this way again.      
     And so she bawls--in orgasm--as the flashes increase in her head. SMACK! SMACK! Blackness, whiteness, darkness light. SMACK! She's hot, she's cold--she can't even see. The smackings get harder. They're outside of her and inside too. SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! Now it's not so comfortable.
     Nadine rises and the flashes cease. She aims herself toward the door. She runs as fast as she can, away from April, away from her own mortification, assailing her wherever she blunders--laughing at her, mocking her: "HAW HAW HAW HAW!" The laughter chases after her, across the beach, into the streets, and into the dusk of dawn.
     In the morning, Nadine is in her room, not knowing if she really went out or if she dreamt it all. All she knows is it feels like there's an infection coming on--no doubt from all that finger-fucking of late. She's never jacked-off so much in her life.
     Nadine has a splitting headache. She rolls over and looks at the clock. Shit! She's late for work.
     "Fucking fuck!" Nadine mumbles, gets up, gets dressed, and throws a couple aspirins down. Her mother is sitting at the kitchen table, just as late for work as she is.
     "C'mon," Nadine says, and leads her mom out the door. They walk down to the factory, and Nadine leaves her in the lobby. Someone will find her and put her to work--if what she does can really be called work.
     Nadine walks up the street, trying not to blow chow. The day sucks. It's gray and dingy like dirty bath water, and she isn't quite clear about the night. She knows that April stole her man, and that her neck had gone berserk--so that's why she went out and got drunk. Probably down at the Dirty Dawgfish. Where else?
     For some reason though, Nadine is not pissed off. For some reason, she just feels indifferent, and she doesn't know why. For some reason, she also feels oddly... satiated.
     And there's a phrase in her mind which keeps repeating: "Laughter is your only salvation... laughter is your only salvation... laughter is your only salvation..."
     Why is she saying this to herself? Did the Lord come and speak to her like Joan of Arc? Yeah... that's gotta be it!
     Nadine keeps heading up the hill, repeating this phrase in her mind. It will keep her sane. She will transcend.
     "Laughter is your only salvation... laughter is your only salvation... Laughter is your only salvation... laughter is your only salvation... Laughter is your only salvation... laughter is your only salvation... Laughter is your only salvation... laughter is your only salvation... Laughter is your only salvation... laughter is your only salvation... Laughter is your only salvation... laughter is your only salvation... Laughter is your only salvation... laughter is your only salvation... Laughter is your only salvation... laughter is your only salvation... Laughter is your only salvation... laughter is your only salvation... laughter is your only salvation... Laughter is your only salvation... Laughter is your only salvation... laughter is your only salvation... Laughter is your only salvation... laughter is your only salvation..."
     Nadine reaches April's fence and wanders into the yard. Yann, wearing another brand new shirt, is sitting on the porch with April. His duffel-bag and accordion are at his feet. They're eating breakfast. No doubt, his dick is still wet.
     "Oh, good morning Nadine," April says, her voice unusually flat.
     "You look like shit," Nadine is surprised to hear herself say.
     But it's true. April doesn't have any make-up on, her hair is in tangles, and there are circles beneath her eyes.
     "You can say that again," April agrees. "I don't know what happened last night... I have a splitting headache and cotton-mouth. I feel all drained. I think I got sick or something."
     "You did," Nadine tells her, "and it wasn't a pretty sight."
     "I can't remember much," April says, "but thanks to Yann... I somehow made it to my bed."
     "I bet you did," Nadine says.
     She doesn't even look at Yann, and Yann tries not to look at her.
     "Well," April says, "I guess you could start by picking up the house. The place is a mess pretty much everywhere, especially the kitchen. Yann is not the tidiest cook, but it was so nice of him to come over and make breakfast for me. I'm sure I would've had to wait for you to come over if it wasn't for him, because I can hardly lift a finger."
     "Sure," Nadine says, and clomps inside. Why would that rich bitch even tell her that crock-a-shit if she wasn't trying to cover something up?
     Still, Nadine is surprised that seeing them together didn't make her blow her top. She's so surprised in fact, that she laughs. A laugh she's never laughed before.
     "HAW HAW HAW HAW!"     
     Outside, staring at their ham and eggs, Yann and April hear the laughter of Nadine, and look up with uncertain expressions. It's a strange laugh--a laugh they've never heard before. And not a happy one.
     But then it stops, so they chuckle to each other, then go back to eating. Yann starts gobbling his breakfast down, as April pokes her yoke. It pops, and an orange fluid oozes from of it, spreading across her plate.

     Chum XV

Down at the docks, One Eye and the captain are readying the boat to drag for skulpin, or "bullheads" as they're called on the island--which hosts a special breed: the Arctic cabezone, which spawns nowhere else in the world. It's the most Gothic of its kind, with unimaginable bubble eyes, a behemoth toad-head, ornate fins, a greasy oily hide, and bellies that bulge with other fish, which are also thrown into the mix, and chopped up into dogfood no matter their state of decomposition. And this is how they're caught:
     First the fishermen chum the kelpfields with what is left from the shark bombardment. Then the boats go out and drop their dredging nets--which is illegal in all countries of the world, because dredging drags across the bottom, tearing up eco-systems. Plants are uprooted, shellfish are disturbed. It affects every single organism there, down to the micro-organics, and it takes decades to recover. An area is never the same. Fish take off, populations are lost, extinction occurs. All in the name of dogfood.
     The fishermen reason that this is recycling: using cod-chum to bring on the shark, and shark-chum to attract the skulpin, and skulpin-chum to lure ratfish, and so on. But what they don't know is that chum only works when there are bottom-feeders to entice. And every year there are less and less.
     The modern Arctic cabezone is not the same as a century back. They have moved from the weeds to the rubble where the nets can't reach. Where they no longer grow strong and fat, but anemic--due to the scarcity of natural plants, and therefore nutrition.
     Which is why the diet of the Arctic cabezone has become completely different, now that they compete with rockfish and eels, and the other fish of the rubble--whose jaws are stronger, and more conducive to crunching up crustaceans. Which is why the Arctic cabezone is now a stunted mutant, only half as large as it used to be.
     Which means that the Arctic cabezone, in essence, is gone from the planet, and has been replaced by a weaker species, with less efficient genes. Thanks to the fishermen of the island.
     One Eye and the captain whistle as they work. Charlie and Lester and Fred come on board, wheeling tubs of chum. All of them are sporting new shirts, and being careful not to spill.
     "Morning Gaston."
     "Morning Frederick. Nice day eh."
     Greetings are exchanged all around. And then some tom-foolery:
     "Hey Cappy, since when did you start shaving?"
     "Aww lay off Charlie! Since when did you start wearing deodorant?"
     All the men laugh, and go about their various chores. They all know when the change came about, but nobody is willing to admit it. They're fine with feeling fine. And not even angry at Yann for being late, and not helping out. He'll be along soon. They know it--and they envy him for this.
     "Look at those hypocritical Sonsabitches!" Mother Kralik scoffs, coming out of the cannery. It's cig-break time, and the women are following her.
     "Yeah!" Widow Flanahan puts in. "What the fuck's gotten into them!? With their snazzy new shirts and their spiffy little attitudes! Those Fucking Fucks!"     
     "You know damn well what's gotten into them!" Mother Kralik snaps. "They're outta their fucking minds! They're living in a dream-fucking-world! They think some angel is sitting on their face!"
     "I sat on Charlie's face once," Widow O'Reilly puts in, "but the fucker never came back!"
     "Why's that?" Mother Kralik asks. "Cuz you were old and fat and dripping like wax? Cuz you were starting to rot? Cuz there was some younger sweeter pussy around, like your daughter!?"
     Widow O'Reilly doesn't even have to answer. It's the same story for all of them. Nadine's mother, however, is in a bit better shape than the rest of them, standing there scratching her ass obliviously.
     "Fuck them!" Widow Flanahan puts in. "Those fucking fuckers, they wanted it once! But once they stick it to you, they can't stand your child-bearing hips and saggy tits! We can't help it! Fuck those fucks for fucking us!"
     "Yeah!" Widow Flanahan adds. "Fuck those fucking fuckers! They fuck us and then we're trashed! Kaput! Forget it! And they don't change no fucking diapers! Nope! Go out and get drunk, that's what!"
     "Come on girls," Mother Kralik says, "let's go give them a piece of our mind!"
     "Hey," One Eye says to the crew, "where the fudge is Yann?"
     The fishermen crack up. They've never heard anyone substitute "fudge" for "fuck" before.
     "I don't know," the captain answers, "maybe he's fudging on his fudging way."
     Again the men guffaw. Being wholesome is inventive.
     "Hey Assholes!" Mother Kralik says, walking up to the boat. Her hags are standing behind her, all of them covered with dogfish blood.
     "Yes?" One Eye asks. "May I help you ladies?"
     For a moment there is silence, and then the men burst out in laughter, spraying saliva. They try to hold it in but they can't. They laugh even harder. The idea of them as ladies is laughable.
     "Yeah!" Mother Kralik tells them. "You can tell us what the fuck's up with the shirts and shit! Is the Pope coming or something!?"
     "Yeah!" Widow Flanahan adds. "Who you trying to impress!? April!? Shee-it! That bitch'd never have nothing to do with the likes of you... fucking One Eye, you fucking loser!"
     "Ahem," One Eye answers her, pretending to clear his throat, "the name is Gaston. And as for your gracious opinion, it really doesn't matter to me. As you can see, we are busy--"
     "Busy being full of shit!" Widow O'Reily breaks in. "She ain't no angel! I mean, what the fuck!? I mean, you think you're better than us or something!? Talking like gentlemen and shit!? Combing your hair and shit!? You ain't better than us! You're the fucking same as us! So cut the fucking shit!"
     The other men get back to work, but One Eye feels the need to act as their ambassador.
     "Madam," One Eye humbly bows, "I am deeply sorry if we offended your delicate sensibilities. It's just that we feel like being tidy, okay? Now there's no harm in that, is there?"
     "Yes!" Mother Kralik says, pointing a blood-stained finger at him. "There's harm in you fuckers acting like you're the Shit! Cuz you ain't the Shit! You're just the same as us! You kill fish, we kill fish! We make dogfood, you make dogfood! And when somebody washes up on shore, dead or alive, you're just as guilty as we are when some schnauzer in the Ukraine takes a dump! Like that guy with the rings... you made him into dogfood just as much as we did! We're all in on it fucker! We're in the same goddamn fucking boat!"
     "Maybe so," One Eye says, "but the difference between us and you is that you are covered in smelly blood, and we are wearing nice new shirts."
     "Fuck You!" Widow Flanahan bursts out. "You limp-dick Piece of Shit!"
     "And it feels nice to wear nice shirts," One Eye calmly goes on, "and exhibit some pride in personal hygiene. You should try it sometime. You might feel better about yourselves."
     The fishermen snicker--and that's when the whistle at the factory blows, signaling the women to get back to work. Mother Kralik decides to go for one last jab.
     "Nope!" she tells One Eye, "that's not the difference between you dickless fuckers and us! I'll tell you what the main difference is! The main fucking difference is that you fucking want to fucking kiss that rich bitch's ass! Oh yes! You've got shit all over your nose already, Gaston! She ain't no saint, she's gotta motherfucking asshole, so don't go pretending she's Mother Theresa! She sits on the shitter just like you. And her shit stinks! Just like yours... though probably not as bad! My point being, you fuckers want to rape her, because you want to rape your mommies, but you ain't got no mommies no more! All you got is us, we're your motherfucking mommies, and it's gross for you to have to rape us! So you want April for your mommy, because you're a fucking baby! You're all fucking babies! Hairy fucking fat stinking babies that want to rape their fucking mommies!"
     One Eye rolls his eye toward the sky. "You think that makes an impression on us? You think that what comes out of your trashmouth sounds like anything other than jealousy? Haw! You're just an ugly old hag who never got a chance to bloom. You're jealous, all of you! Because we admire beauty."
     "You're Rapists!" Widow O'Reilly shouts out. "So don't pretend you ain't! Raping your daughters, raping your wives, dreaming of raping April! Rapists! All of you!"
     "Say your little theory does hold water," One Eye replies. "Say we do want to 'rape April,' as you so crudely put it... then what's the difference? I mean, is what you want to do to her so different than what you accuse us of? As if what you would do isn't as horrible as what we would do--if your little theory is true. And maybe it is and maybe it isn't. But regardless if it is or isn't, you'd do worse and you know it!"
     The whistle blows again. Mother Kralik, however, refuses to budge. She has locked eyes with One Eye, and is glaring into his brain. He pretends as if her scowl doesn't touch him, as his statement hangs in the air about the women--and they all know it's true: they'd use torture and mutilation, they'd destroy completely--to destroy what's been destroyed in themselves. An eye for an eye, a cunt for a cunt!
     Mother Kralik starts to mumble, and roll her eyes around in her head. The way her body starts to jerk looks as if she's being poked by invisible pins.
     "Uh oh," Widow O'Reilly utters.
     "Oh shit," Widow Flanahan says.
     "Curse Ye!"
Mother Kralik suddenly snaps, her voice rising from an unfamiliar place in the bottom of her thorax. Her eyes are nowhere to be seen. "For now I cast my curse upon thee! At sea! You're Fucked Mister!"
     One Eye stares back, nonchalantly. He doesn't respond. The whistle blows again, as Mother Kralik's eyes pop back. And then the women turn and go.
     Charlie and Lester walk up to One Eye. He's standing there like a mannequin, as if his feet are pinned to the deck. He's staring at the hags walking away.
     "Come on," Lester says, slapping him on the back, "don't worry about that."
     "Yeah," Charlie adds, "don't worry, be happy."
     One Eye turns toward them, and forces a smile.
     "Crazy old loon," he eventually says. His words seem as forced as his grin. "She can't do nothing... she's full of it."
     Still, One Eye doesn't look too convinced.
     "Where's that Yann?" the captain asks, coming up from the hold. "We're ready to head out."
     One Eye breaks from his daze.
     "Yann!" he answers, pretending cheer. "Yeah! Where is that guy!? I spose we better sound the foghorn."
     "Okay," Fred says. He goes to the cabin and pulls the chord, blasting the horn. The men begin untying the boat. They'll give him a few minutes--the lucky bastard.

     Chum XVI

Nadine walks into the kitchen, but doesn't much feel like doing dishes. She decides to start picking up the house from the top down, so walks up the stairs and into April's room. The place is a mess, just like she envisioned it: clothes all over the floor, the bed unmade--and in the center of it: a giant wet-spot.
     Nadine starts to see red again, and her impulse is to let out a scream--but then she hears that voice in her head and what it says ("Laughter is your only salvation...") so restrains herself. And it makes her feel powerful to hold it in.
     Nadine laughs and strips the bed. She knows that laughter is a cover up, and it hides the way she really feels--but she also knows that if she doesn't laugh, then she doesn't deny. And if she doesn't deny, then the truth is right there in her face, and that could be deadly.
     Nadine laughs again. She decides to spy on April and Yann, so sneaks downstairs and tip-toes to the window by the porch. Through the curtains, they can't see her but she can see them.
     "I must admit," April says, "it did take a couple cups of coffee to get me going this morning. But I feel much better now."
     Nadine recognizes April's non-stop tone returning. She's starting to blabber again, like always.
     "Well," Yann tells her, "I'll be sailing out today."
     "Sailing!" she teases him. "You call yourself a sailor? Where've you been, Anchorage? Homer? Juneau? That's what I thought. Some sailor you are. I'm more of a sailor than you, ya know. Let's see... the Mediterranean, Italy, Greece, the South of France... around the Cape, Tahiti, Hawaii, the world! I've sailed the world, Yann, I've done it all! Well, actually, that's not true--but I'm still more of a sailor than you. Once I even sailed to--"
     That blabbering bitch, Nadine thinks. She can see Yann leaning forward, intent on every word she says.
     "--Ecuador! I'm not kidding Yann, a person can sail around the planet! And if you're going to call yourself a sailor, then you should sail more than just down to King Salmon. You should definitely do some sailing in tropical climates. A foxy hunk like you could take his pick in Tahiti. The men, of course, are just as beautiful as the women, but the women, they'd flip for you, Yann! You could have the Island Princess! No, you could have two of them!"
     April stops talking for a nanosecond and stabs the last piece of egg on her plate. But Yann is hypnotized, and doesn't even know she isn't talking until he sees the egg slip between her lips--those lips which are going up and down for him, opening and closing for him, puckering for him, forming syllables for him...
     "Look Yann," April says, with a slightly serious tone in her voice, "next time you're out there sailing around for the halibut--ha ha--just ask yourself What the hay? Then start making for Tahiti. Or the Caribbean! Anywhere. Just don't not do it, or you'll end up never doing it, and the consequence of that is that you won't get to open up your world. So open up your world Yann, sail the world! Tahitian maidens! Take it from me Yann, I'm a writer, and writers know these things."
     April has a little bit of yoke on her lower lip. Yann has been watching it. Her tongue flashes for just a second. It searches out the drop, darts at it, licks it off, and then it's gone. Unknowingly, Yann imitates her tongue with his, licking at the same exact spot.
     "But Hawaii," April goes on, pouring herself another cup of coffee, "Hawaii's the place! That is, if you can afford it. A starving writer and a dirt-poor fisherman, of course, would have trouble affording anything in Hawaii, much less the boat to sail there on. But I've got resources Yann. If you ever want to take a jaunt down there, just let me know. I'm talking grass skirts, native sun, slinky bikinis, Hawaiian dances... this is how they dance Yann. The hoola! Beautiful girls. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful girls!"
     April jumps up and starts swinging her rump. Yann's eyes, however, are affixed to her lips.
     "What do you write?" he asks. "Novels?"
     "Well," April says, sitting back down, "I haven't really written anything yet, but that's because I'm waiting for the right time. It might even be in the middle of the night. When a writer gets hit by an idea, it doesn't matter what time of day it is, she's got to get it down on paper! So, when the idea hits, I don't care what I'm doing, I'm going to stop everything and get it, and take it from there. I'll probably write about my life."
     "Your life?" Yann asks. "Sailing around?"
     "Well, some of it would be about that, but some of it would be about other stuff. You know, the people I know, the places I've been, the jobs I've done--"
     "What jobs?" Yann asks.
     "Well..." April says, not so sure she wants to bring this up, "you know, various things here and there, mostly in California. I've actually led quite a life. It would surprise you Yann."
     Nadine pictures April's life back on the mainland: she gets up in the morning and the butler brings her breakfast on the veranda while the maid goes upstairs and cleans the sheets she's been getting fucked on. Then a truckload of money comes in, freshly made off the exploitation of poor people, and April directs it to one of her private vaults. The truck pulls up and a giant vacuum-cleaner sucks thousands of dollars out.
     Nadine can't help it, she laughs at her own imagination. "HAW HAW HAW HAW!"
     Yann and April are taken by surprise, to hear Nadine so close by. It's that laughter again--that disturbed eerie laughter.
     Nadine figures it's time to sneak away. So she slinks back upstairs, missing the final scene: Yann, a bit wigged-out, stands up and bids April adieu, but she grabs him, and hugs him before he walks off.
     "It was so sweet of you to come by this morning," she tells him, "and check on me. Be sure to stop by when you get back."
     "I will," Yann says, "and don't booze it up too much."
     April laughs and slaps Yann on the butt. He picks up his gear and starts making for the gate.
     "And keep your eye out for a boat that can make it to Hawaii," she calls to him, "and catch lots of fish Yann!"
     "Okay," he calls back, then waves, and steps out and into the street. A foghorn can be heard sounding in the bay. It's telling him to get his ass on board.
     April watches him run down the hill, his tight-ass buns pumping away. Yeah, she thinks, and considers heading up to her room to jack off. But for some reason, she doesn't feel the need--probably because of that wetdream she had in the night. She can't remember exactly what happened, but she knows it was good.
     Yann runs for the dock, and makes it to the boat right when it is pulling away. He leaps for it, and lands on the deck. One Eye looks up. He actually has his hair combed.
     "Where've ya been!" One Eye demands. "Romancing our new national treasure?"
     Yann doesn't say anything, just smiles. It's nice to hear One Eye not saying fucking this and fucking that, it's nice to see the fishermen with clean new shirts, and an air of respect for themselves. And all because of April, because she landed on the island.
     Yann heads for the bow and watches the shore pull away from the boat. Was she serious about going to Hawaii? And what, really, were her "resources"?
     "She sure is something, ain't she?" One Eye asks, coming up and ribbing him. "Yessirree, St. April, that's what we should call her, closest thing to God ever landed on this rock. So holy she don't even shit."
     Yann laughs. One Eye still has some of his old sense of humor left in him, as do the other fishermen.
     "Hey!" the captain barks, coming around from the stern. "Who's got the crank!?"
     "Who's got the whiskey!?" One Eye returns.
     "Who's got the porno!?" Charlie shouts out.
     "Right here!" Lester answers back. "I bought a box off Bubba's daughter! He won't be needing these anymore."
     Yann goes to the rail and stares out to sea. It's a gorgeous day to envision April's lips.
     "Holy Fucking Shit!" he suddenly hears One Eye exclaim. "Look at the stinking hooters on this bitch! Wait a second..."
     There's something in his voice that makes Yann spin around--and when he does, he finds himself staring straight into the asshole of a centerfold gal. She's bending over and looking straight at the camera from between her legs, two great boobs dangling down like udders--and an inviting look on her face like she likes to get it from behind. From anyone.
     Yann, of course, looks for the bush. And there it is, beneath her ass, above her boobs, spread by a pair of parting fingers, revealing something erectile and pink, and slippery enough to slide right in.
     "Whatta ya think?" One Eye asks.
     "Whatta ya mean what do I think?" Yann answers back. "It's porn."
     One Eye, however, doesn't have to tell Yann to look any closer, it's obvious who it is--back behind the flesh and the sex. But still, Yann searches for the face. And there it is. Everything changes.
     One Eye lowers the porno mag, replacing April's face with his own. He's wearing an eager grin.
     "Looks like she does take a shit!" he laughs. "Haw Haw Haw!"
     Yann is dumbstruck. He grabs the porno out of One Eye's hands and turns to the cover. It's a Hustler, and April's on the cover, sporting pasties on her knockers. "Million Dollar Movie Muffs!" reads the caption, "See April Berger's T & A and Much Much More!"
     "No Way!" Yann says in disbelief. "No Way in Heck!"
     The fishermen laugh at Yann.
     "You better believe it!" One Eye shouts out. "She's a movie-bitch and she's butt-ass naked! That's what she is! Bitch thinks she's better than us, the cunt! Hey Yann, can you get me a piece, that is, if she ain't a fucking dyke!?"
     Yann turns away, but the fishermen surround him, peering over his shoulders.
     "Lemme see that slut-ass bitch!"
     "Hey man, that's my twat mag! Give it back!"
     "C'mon Yann! Stop hogging all the pussy!"     
     "Go away," Yann tells them, but of course they won't. Yann finds the section on April, and the sailors cheer and jeer with every picture of her.
     "I wonder if that camera-fucker got to stick it in her!" One Eye yucks. "Bitch'll fuck anything! Even me! Baw Haw Haw!"
     "Shut up!" Yann orders him, paging through the never-ending beaver shots, looking for an explanation--as the fishermen, behind him, continue to roar with laughter. If they don't shut up, Yann thinks, he might have to teach somebody a lesson.

     Well, there you have it folks, another BANEFUL installment of CHUM! What will happen next? Will Yann WUSS OUT and go with the flow? Will April be GANGBANGED? What atrocities lurk in the mind of Nadine? And howabout that Mother Kralik? Who can tell? I'll tell you who: ZOLAND BOOKS! But until then, keep tuning in to the BIZZARO world of CYBERCHUM--only on the Corpse!

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