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  May 2005
volume 3 number 2
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David Herrle May 2005



photo by jerry hicks

    David Herrle is a freelance writer/editor from Pittsburgh. He is founder of SubtleTea and Bookolage, as well as author of Abyssinia, Jill Rush and Sharon Tate and the Daughters of Joy.



We Are Electric Meat

(excerpt from Where Are You, Fine-Wine Face?)

    Mona had always loved Beethoven’s “Moonlight” sonata. The patient unrest, the quiet anguish, the to-and-fro tempo.

    Da-da-da/da-da-da/da-da-da/da-da-da/one-two-three/one-two-three/one-two-three/one-two-three. Beethoven’s music was, as Mona put it, “graceful sadness."

    While the “Moonlight” played, Mona imagined Beethoven’s precious fingers. She wondered if such an artful man could also be an artful lover. Could he play a woman’s body like a piano? She closed her eyes, imagining nimble fingers tapping the moon’s mad sadness from her body. Da-da-da/da-da-da/da-da-da...

    Nero would be back soon. Mona felt profane. She felt like she was teasing the good boy who truly loved her while the bad boy would soon reap her physical rewards. She felt like a Judas-woman betraying the moonlight’s only begotten song. Nero had seduced so many women, and Mona knew this fact. He freely shared the most perverse stories with her. However, Mona’s attraction only increased. She belonged to a lucky heritage, a chosen harem, but she had unlocked Nero’s honesty. She had concluded the heritage, stopped it in its tracks.

    “Lucy, I’m hooome!” Nero called in a Desi Arnaz voice. He poked his head in the door and then jumped all the way in, thrusting a dozen roses toward Mona. “Ta-daaaaa!”

    Mona turned off the CD player and accepted the flowers. “Aw, thank you, Nero. You’re sweet.” All her distrust for him drained. “Did you find the wine?”

    “Of course I did, legs,” Nero boasted through perfect teeth, showing the bottle. “As red as your cheeks will be...after the spanking.”

    “I’m impressed!” said Mona. A few seconds later she realized the cheeks innuendo. The quick image warmed her. She took the wine and roses to the kitchen. “Want some wine now?” she asked, setting the bouquet and bottle down on the counter.

    “Yes!” Nero cheered. He inched his way into the kitchen like a swashbuckler, waving a closed umbrella like a sword. Mona backed up, grabbed the bouquet from the counter, and parried his attack. Something shattered on the floor below her. Mona stepped forward and slipped, crashing face first to the floor. Nero broke caught her body, but her temple hit the leg of a chair. Pain blinded her.

    “Mona, Mona!” Nero lifted her to her feet. “You’re okay, you’re okay. You knocked over the wine bottle and it broke.”

    Shame replaced the pain. Wine spread like a blush over spanked cheeks. Mona hid her face in Nero’s chest, fighting sobs. Her body shook. She felt wine on her legs.

    “You’re okay, legs. You’re okay. You’re just shaken, that’s all. Come on, let’s go in the other room. Come on.”

    “I feel so stupid,” Mona said. “And that fall. I could have...I could have broken my neck and died.”

    “No, no.”

    Nero tried to get her to sit but Mona politely pushed him away. “Yes! I felt like I was going to shatter like that bottle! Look at me! My whole body’s shaking like a leaf!”

    “Thank goodness leaves don’t shatter,” Nero joked.

    Mona laughed. “They break if they’re old,” she pouted, returning to his big arms.

    “Thank goodness you’re far from old, Mona. You’re in youth’s nucleus.”

    I hardly know this man, Mona realized. Despite all the time we’ve spent together, I really don’t know this man!

    “Look at it this way. You almost died back there and I saved your life. I’m your hero.”

    “Nero the Hero,” Mona giggled. She rubbed her temple. “You saved me.”

    As Nero squeezed her and pecked at her neck, Mona imagined her dead body sprawled on the kitchen floor. She became aroused, thinking of how easily and quickly death happened, how powerful the living are compared to the dead.

    “Mona, we all die. That’s why we need to have a blast while we’re here,” said Nero. “We’ve hardly several decades, and hardly a few of sexuality. Even Marilyn Monroes shrivel and die. You, Mona, will die someday.”

    Mona’s eyes had trouble blinking. To blink would be to miss a millisecond of Nero’s white teeth as he spoke. “I will die some day,” said Mona. The bare statement inflated her crotch. For the first time in her life she found the thought of her death arousing. She imagined a lifetime of excess and indulgence taxing and fattening and stressing her body until death would come as a relief to the frame and organs and brain and old, overused tongue. I will die someday. Nero wrapped around her like a boa. Someday my body will turn blue, bloat, stink, decay, Mona thought. But now I am powerful, a goddess compared to the corpse I’ll be after death. Mona’s heart pounded like police at a door.

    Nero grinned proudly, flaunting his white teeth. “The world is at your tongue tip, Mona,” Nero whispered. “ There’s no time to worry about limits. Your body craves all it can experience every moment. It knows the clock; it knows mortality. It’s desperate and greedy. To hell with heaven and the Pearly Gates. You’re heaven; I’m heaven. And sometimes we can be naughty. We can dabble in hell, too.”

    This man’s mouth is the Pearly Gates, those teeth that rip and chew meat. They could bite me awake. Chew me like meat. Mona grasped for control. “But what’s the use of it all if we die anyway?” she asked. The “Moonlight” sonata seemed a figment from prehistory, a vague noise from a worthless, brutal past. It’s all the same stuff, all meat, all electric meat that’s attracted to other electric meat.

    The beautiful man pointed a finger and touched it to her nose. “Fun, Mona. For fun. Come into the bedroom with me, Mona.”

    Mona could only nod. They drifted into the bedroom.

    “How old are you, Mona?” Nero asked, unbuttoning her blouse.

    “I’m…uhh…I’m thirty…”

    Mona’s shirt blew apart. “Have you been with many men?”


    The man nestled his nose behind her ear. Mona couldn’t feel his large hands. She imagined them circling her body like warplanes, choosing their targets, preparing to attack erogenous territory. She pretended to be a blindfolded prisoner before a firing line, waiting for the teasingly delayed bullets. Mona waited for Nero’s absent hands as he swabbed her ear with the sly muscle in his mouth. Soon his hands would meet her flesh like hammers. She felt her shirt glide down her legs and over her feet. Mona’s bowels tightened; her neck went limp.

    “Only…a few…men,” she admitted. Knowing she was crashing, Mona tried to stabilize. She tried to focus on the gloomy, sober first movement of the “Moonlight”, but her body was all Presto Agitato.

    “They were lucky men, weren’t they, Mona?” Nero taunted. “Lucky to have touched you, to have experienced you. Their death-aware bodies were desperate gluttons for your body, your lucky body.”

    “Yes, yessss…lucky…” No Havens to save her now. She was alone against this devil.

    “Why did you let them, Mona?” the man asked, unzipping the back of her skirt.

    “Because they wanted me,” said Mona. “They desired me.” It’s happening. I’ve held out, but now it’s happening. I’m letting it happen. Letting him, letting him…

    Nero’s hands finally clenched around her. He lifted her arms above her head. Mona gasped. Nero ran a finger from her arms to her waist. “This is all there is. Life is short and bodies are shorter. The body is the sole meaning in the universe. Once it ends, you end. Once you end, another body takes your place. This body is all there is, Mona. Let me please it. Let me share its brief meaning.”

    “Okay…I’ll let you…”

    “The moon can watch. I’m the Big Bad Wolf, Mona. Don’t worry about anything but the bright red now in your body…”

    Mona let the man ravage her. Through the window the moon glared at them like a disapproving mother. She felt the backs of her legs strike the bed and fell back.

    We smell, thought Mona, waking the next morning. So much for glorious bodies. We smell. Nero lay on his back, snoring. His mouth gaped. Mona could slightly see his eyeballs between the eyelids. He looked dead. His nipples were hard in the morning cold. They were pale and weird. Every mole on his belly and chest repulsed her now. She could smell his sour breath.

    “We’re decaying everyday,” Havens had often said. “We’re in a constant struggle against degradation and rot.” Mona hadn’t allowed herself to think of Havens since she first visited Nero’s penthouse. She could hardly remember Havens’ face as she lay on the smelly bed. She not only smelled Nero, but she smelled herself on Nero. And Nero on her own body. Never again, she thought. Never, never again. What was I thinking? How did he get here? I don’t even know his last name! I know how he sounds in ecstasy but not his full name!

    The rude sun filled the room, boasting the same light that had illuminated the moon last night. Mona once liked the sun. Lately she dreaded it. It made her feel tired, exposed, and ugly. She felt so much prettier at night.

    Mona studied Nero’s vulnerable body. She could hack it to chunks with an axe if she wanted. She found it difficult to believe it had so pleased her only hours ago. How quick, the body’s fall from grace. She turned away.

    “Good morning, legs.” A hand touched her bare back.

    “Good morning,” Mona said, standing. The hand touched her butt.

    “Yummy,” said Nero.

    Mona retrieved her panties and slipped into them. “I need a shower.”

    “Oh? I thought we could go for Round Three.”

    Twice. The first time I let him and we did it twice. I’m already used! Used! “I’m sore. Sorry.”

    “Ah, the pain of pleasure.”

    Mona turned and suddenly asked, “How many women have you done this with, Nero?”

    “How many women? Why?”

    “Why? Because we had sexual intercourse all night, that’s why! I want to know what kind of man I’m really with!”

    Nero shook his head like a toying parent with a child. “Got things backwards, don’t you, Mona? Why does it matter now?”

    “It doesn’t,” Mona snapped, getting a towel from the hall closet.

    “Want me to make us breakfast?” Nero called.

    “I’m not hungry!” She slammed the bathroom door.

   Once the hot water struck her skin she began to feel better. She lathered soap over her body, scrubbing as if shedding shame and regret. Havens, Mona thought, I’ll never forget the waterfall. How it veiled us from the others, though we could see them, like a two-way mirror. The thought of Havens invigorated the cleansing.

    Mona closed her eyes and concentrated on the steam and the water’s strong pressure. “Washing the animal away is a sacred activity,” Havens always said. “Civilization is so fragile, so easily degraded.” Mona decided that she’d break it all off with Nero as soon as she finished her shower. Never again, never again, she vowed.

    Mona believed so even when she saw Nero’s form through the translucent shower curtain and steam. She believed so even when the shower curtain opened on one side and Nero stepped in. She believed so even when Nero’s hands ran through the lathered soap on her body. But when his mouth began to work its black magic, Mona lost her belief in soap. Mockery rained on her; all her noble will wilted. Not like Havens. Nothing like him, she thought. Not like Havens. Nothing like Havens. Worshipping nothing more than my body. Not me, just my body. Not like Havens. Nothing like him. And I love it. I love it. I love it, love it, love it…

    Mona spilled to her knees and returned the worship in a wet blindness.

copyright 2005 David Herrle