A Piece of Ass. Part 7. Grapefruit Moon. Part 2
Lifting his rucksack from the floor and placing it carefully on his shoulder, Corey went over to a door marked toilets.
Inside was a long silver urinal, two men standing at it, a row of wooden cubicles. Corey locked himself in one of these, put down the seat, sat on it, took out his jar.
A wedge of flesh, jagged on one side, smooth on the other.
I’m doing this for you.
Closing his eyes Corey placed his hands around the glass and with the same whoosh, the same sudden lurching, he saw everything.
That Eli had contracted gonorrhoea of the eye socket and that another man who had put his dick in it had caught the gonorrhoea and had come and found Eli and taken him to an alleyway and beaten him with an iron bar.
That Eli had been found by a young woman called Mavis who was on her way home from her shift at Burt’s Wholesome Burgers. That Mavis had come in the alleyway to pee but that when she found Eli she had helped him up and taken him home.
That Mavis lived on the top floor of a tower block with her elderly mother.
That her mother was Vietnamese and Mavis was half Vietnamese, the other half being an American soldier in Oregon or Michigan or some goddam place like that.
That Mavis’s mum was used to patching up Viet Cong.
That she had seen worse wounds than this.
That Jimmy on the floor below sold knock off penicillin. That they got Eli some penicillin for the gonorrhoea in his eye.
That Eli broke down in front of such kindness.
That he sobbed.
That he said, how two days before, he had been raped by a gang of seven men.
That his arsehole was horribly distended and it hurt like crap when he shit.
That he said he had said too much.
That Mavis’s mum had tapped her nose and said she had seen some things.
Old things. Bad things. War wounds. Babies crying. Daddies dying.
That Mavis said that because Dave was a useless bugger and had been nicking from the till and giving his mates free burgers and didn’t wash his hands after using the toilet and had been caught wiping his nose on a burger bap Burt of Burt’s Wholesome Burgers had sacked Dave and there was probably a job going if Eli wanted it.
That Eli wanted it but that he thought he looked like a freakin’ freak with his freaky eye.
That Mavis and her mum made him an eyepatch out of an old pouffe cover that they didn’t like anyway.
That to make the eyepatch look trendy they stencilled an image of downtown Portland on it.
That they had wanted to do New York but it didn’t fit.
That Mavis had said that New York was a cliché anyway.
That Matt Groening, Courtney Love, and Gus Van Sant were from Portland.
That her dad might be from there too.
That he might be a schmuck.
That that’s what she thought.
That Eli was nervous when he went to the interview with Burt.
That Burt was really nice.
That Burt drove a Harley Davison and had Don’t Mess With This Shit tattooed on the backs of his hands but that he was a big soft bear with twin baby girls, Edith and Edna, and that they were the apple of his eye.
That Eli got the job.
That he really liked flipping burgers.
That he really flipping liked it.
That Mavis said after his first shift that he should go and collect his stuff from the toilet cubicle where he had been living and that he could stay with her and her mum until he got on his feet.
That she said, Is that all your stuff?, when he came out of the toilet cubicle with a single plastic bag.
That he said he liked to travel light.
That they had laughed.
That he hadn’t laughed in weeks.
That he woke with a jerk in the middle of the night and that climbing off the sofa that was his bed he had gone quietly out of the apartment and up the stairs and onto the roof of the tower block.
That he had looked out across the Capital City.
That the lights twinkled like Christmas lights. Or the lights of the night fishing boats out on the sea in that town where he had studied at the Swiss Card Sharp Summer Camp and Academy.
That one night there he had lent across the bunks and made up a story about having to practice kissing a girl and he had kissed that strange boy Corey.
That Corey was a man really.
That Corey was big and strong and handsome.
That Corey had beautiful eyes.
That he liked Corey’s plastic mac and his jumper with its Velcro straps.
That he wondered where Corey was.
That he wished Corey were with him here now.
That Corey would just hold him and to tell him everything was going to be alright.
That they would dance together here in the moonlight.
In the cubicle Corey first took out the knife he had borrowed from Raymond, the fishermen, the sharp knife that he used to gut fish. Then he had lowered his trousers and pants.
He had marked out the place on his buttock with a pen that morning in his room at The Moon Hotel.
It looked bigger in the harsh light of the toilet cubicle.
A pound of flesh.
An eye for an eye.
Early bird catches the worm!
Even in here he could hear the booming voice of the auctioneer.
You’ve got to be in it to win it.
There’s no time like the present.
Clenching his teeth, bracing his feet against each side of the cubicle, he thrust the knife in his buttock and cut.
In a circle.
Until there was a dull thud, or a splat, as the piece of flesh fell to the floor.
Then, lid off, quickly, quickly, he bent, retrieved, placed the flesh into the jar, where it floated, sank, met Eli’s, forming a kind of ball.
Yin and yang.
Two pieces of ass together.
Corey closed his eyes.
He could see it all.
He would hand in his jar at the booth.
Teenage. Genuine. Buttocks.
With psychic potentiality.
In the right hands.
So much pain. Wad the wound. Apply the plaster.
Cover up. Cover up.
A once in a lifetime opportunity.
To own this piece. Pieces.
Star crossed lovers.
In a specimen jar.
That formerly held pickled onions.
Let’s start the bidding at…
A gasp from the crowd.
Do we have?
A shuffling of feet. A press of bodies. Move close. Move closer.
Did I hear?
And so much pain. So much bleeding. Is it worth…?
And he would take this money. Oh yes!
Pockets bulging he would sit, or stand!, on the train.
Walk from the station. Run the last bit…. Home.
How much is that rent?
Tears of joy. Bundles of money. Red bills made less red.
We’ve got plenty left over.
Let’s tell EVANS to shove it up his…
But there’s something I’ve got to tell you. (He can’t hold it in.)
There’s a boy, a man!, I love. (There it is!)
And he’s waiting for me on a rooftop.
And so go to him. (his mum)
Go (his dad)
To (his dad)
HIM (his dad)
Because you can’t put a price on love. (His mum, putting her arm around his dad, smiling.)
£4500. Going once.
And so he goes.
£4500. Going twice.
And so he goes.
£4500. Going three times.
And he’s gone.
Bowled over. In the clover.
To that man there.
And this is the story I was telling you. It was the story about how I got this jar.
Did I make that clear at the beginning?
And about how when I put my hands around it there was this whole other story inside.
This story, the one I’ve been telling you about.
And I don’t know, I’ve not got it so good.
But this story…
It’s there. Always.
I only have to put my hands around the jar and I see it, them, these lovers, these happy lovers, dancing forever under the grapefruit moon, and the whole world seems well, you know, you’ve read it.
Grapefruit Moon by Tom Waits https://youtu.be/TKQaSZXEK2s