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Monday, March 17, 2008

Calvary Cay

The First Eight Years of the Twenty-first Century Retold in Crypto-Allegorical Smut

It began with the fucking dogs.

Samuel had his dogs, hundreds of them, but the two he admired the most were a peculiar breed he called his twins. They had the heads of jackals with the piercing eyes of huskies and the smarmy grins of hyenas. Their markings were distinctly Doberman, while their hides took on a more wolfish shag. They stood on hind legs like grizzlies, only taller. And their ears—God knows where they got those ears. Long and ballistic. Sharp and erect. They had the ears of pagan rabbits.

Samuel watched them with satisfaction. They were his prize show dogs, his bread-and-butter dogs. He did not know if he could control them. He’d issue but one command: Fuck. And they obeyed. The brother fucked like a sewing machine. The sister churned out puppies like a sausage factory. The twins were large and hideous, yet strangely alluring and impossible to ignore. They were a landmark on Calvary Cay.

The twins never left the yard, but their puppies did. Puppies born the size of ponies dashed out of the yard and ran amok throughout the island. They mauled other show dogs so as to take the edge off the competition. They shat on their neighbors’ lawns and porches. They raided hen houses and iceboxes. Then they’d return home, bellies swollen, and vomit in the kennels.

Samuel kept his pit bulls in the kennels. They ate puppy vomit. It made them mean. Sometimes a few might get out at night and tear through the trailer parks. They often came back bloodied. Samuel didn’t always understand whose blood it was.

Samuel’s dogs barked throughout the day and howled throughout the night. Some people complained. Others respected him for his dogs. Many got dogs of their own and asked Samuel for breeding techniques and training tips. Sometimes he obliged. He could be generous that way. This made him feel good about himself, as did the drugs he liked to shoot and shove into his every orifice.

But then one Tuesday morning Samuel noticed something different about the twins. They smoldered in the lawn as though someone had deliberately incinerated them. Worse, their throats were slit, their hides torn open, their ribs exposed.

Everyone came by to gawk at the horrendous spectacle. Some, out of shock or disbelief or morbid curiosity, returned four or five times a day.

Samuel grieved. And when he was done grieving, he vowed revenge in a vague and ominous manner. This he accomplished by cruising the streets and flashing gang signs at anyone who looked his way. He was inarticulate in his signage, and few understood. So he drove to the mall and swore to the shoppers, swore to them all he’d slaughter the crackheads who killed his twins.

The shoppers applauded.

That night he unlatched the gate on one of his kennels and walked away.

That night he slept unsatisfied, with a fury burning in his gut and groin. He sweated hard. He made phone calls to ex-girlfriends and rubbed himself as they spoke. None were really into what he was getting at. Most just hung up, though some did stay on the line because they felt sorry for him. They regretted doing so because he would take so damn long, and in the end, both parties remained frustrated.

He phoned his posse. He said: “Whazzup, dawgs.”

They were all like, “Oui?

He said: “I’m up for some old school gangbanging. You rolling with me?”

They were all like, “Non.”

He said: “Word on the street is Kari’s turning her basement into a meth lab. You want a piece of that?”

And when they said no to that, he called them all a bunch of pussies and hung up. Way he figure it, if they weren’t rolling with him, they were rolling against him.

* * *

Samuel took a few bumps to brace himself for the drive to the East Side, into the middle of the barrio on Calvary Cay. His pit bulls followed him into Kari’s front lawn. He threw rocks at her bedroom window and yelled out her name.

She soon appeared on the balcony. Moonlight cast a cottony gauze over her head. She leaned her left arm on the railing and tucked her right one behind her back. “Samuel?”

He loved the way she pronounced his name: Sahm-oo-el. So exotic. Like spices, Samuel thought. Like paprika, maybe even thyme. He sniffed and rubbed his nose, then shouted: “Kari! Let me in!”

“Go home, Samuel.” She glanced around, saw her neighbors watching from their windows.

“You got someone in there? Who’s in there with you?”

“You are so fucking paranoid. Now go away.”

“Come on, what are you hiding from me? Is it that meth lab in your basement?”

“How many times have we been through this already? Why do you come here every week and tell me not to make the crack when you yourself are coked out of your skull?”

“Hey, my product is legit, mama girlfriend. But that shit you push makes the kids crazy.”

“I told you. I don’t deal in that. Now go away. Please.”

“Not until you let me in for a while. Give me a hit of black tar. I know you got that.” And he pulled out a fat wad of Franklins.

Kari unlatched the front door, peered outside. She said, “You can come in for a moment, but you leave your dogs outside.”

Samuel stomped his boot up on the door, kicked it in. Kari fell back on the floor. The dogs ran past her, barking and slobbering.

Samuel said: “You don’t tell me what to do with my dogs.”

“I have dogs, too.” Her lower lip quivered. “They’ll tear holes in yours.”

Samuel tightened the crotch straps on his jumpsuit. “Your little wiener dogs? They wanna fuck with my bad boys?” He chuckled. “Fine. Bring it on.”

Kari pressed her right hand to the base of her spine and sobbed. “What’s happened to us, Samuel? We were once so close.”

Samuel scratched his head. “I guess I don’t remember that far back.” He sniffed. The house smelled of black tar. He reached down to help her up. She offered her left hand and let him pull her to her feet.

“Was it so long ago?” She stepped close to him.

He ached for her, but pushed her away. “I don’t trust you, mama girlfriend.”

“But why not?”

“I’ve been hurt before.”

“Not by me.”

“No? How about that time you fucked that little punk. K.W., was it? That broke my heart.”

“You were ignoring me then. I didn’t think you’d even notice”

“And the way you carried on for years with that bull dyke next door.”

“Irene? Oh, please. All you wanted then was to watch me fuck her.”

Samuel grinned. “Yeah, that was pretty hot.” He lost himself in the images she conjured in his head.

“You have elaborate desires, Samuel,” she whispered. “I can help you.”

His dogs tore through the basement and the pantries. Their growls echoed throughout the house. The snarls of other dogs joined in. Piercing yelps rang from the crawlspace under the stairs.

He narrowed his eyes at her, looked her over. There was something strange. “Why do you always keep one hand behind your back?”

She shrugged. “No reason.”

One of his pit bulls returned to him. Blood ringed its jaws and neck.

He told Kari: “Show me your hands.”

She lowered her gaze and shook her head.

“Take your hand out from behind your back and reach out to me.”

Trembling, she obeyed.

He said: “Sic ’em, boy.” And the dog lunged, seizing her elbow.

* * *

Kari woke to a white sun washing over Calvary Cay. Her bed, stripped down to bare mattress, seemed to exhale damp and raw breaths, an odor like a week’s worth of troubled sleep. She wore nothing but his old football jersey. It smelled of him: Stetson cologne and charbroiled beef.

As she sat up, the stump of her right arm turtled into its sleeve. Samuel knelt by her side, holding her left hand to his bare chest. “Good morning, gorgeous.” He leaned over her and kissed the twine stitches where her arm ended, let his tongue linger on the knots he’d tied. “I always dreamed of having you this way.”

She offered a faint smile. “You have such elaborate desires.” She spread her legs and tugged at his crotch straps.

“Hold on now, mama girlfriend. How about hooking me up with a hit of black tar, you know, to get my engine going.”

She groaned, rolled out from under him. “Is this all you want me for?” She padded down the hall, pretended not to notice the blood and fur and teeth caked on the walls. She returned from the bathroom holding a dog collar and chain, an executioner’s hood, stripped extension cords, and alligator clamps. “Are these mine or yours?” she asked.

“I’ll, uh, have to ask my dogs about that,” he mumbled as he tightened surgical tubing around his bicep. He offered her the tender side of his forearm and said, “Fill’er up.”

“Pump it yourself,” she sighed, tossing him the gear. “You can no longer afford full service.” She heard his dogs’ nails clicking down the staircase and turned away to gaze through the window. “The neighbors are watching.”

“Good. I’ll give them a show.” Samuel fastened the dog collar around her neck, tugged it sharp and flashed inarticulate gang signals, something like a thumbs-up or an A-O.K. But the passion never flared, the black tar wouldn’t take hold. He pressed his pelvis against her stump, but his dick shrank away from her cold dull flesh. His skull ached and his ears rang.

She checked the bedside clock. “How long is this going to take, Samuel?”

“Stop calling me that!”

“What shall I call you?”

“Shit, I don’t know. Call me ‘uncle.’”

She crossed her arms and pouted. “I will not.”

“You will.” He pressed his boot against her throat. “C’mon now. Say ‘uncle.’”

She coughed out: “Uncle. There, I said it. Now tell me, Uncle Samuel, are you finished?”

He raised his hand to slap her face, closed it into a fist instead. “You shut up. This is your fault. Look at you. You’re hideous. You’re a freak.”

She stroked her stump. “You did this to me.”

He cocked his fist back and unleashed it on his own ear. “Stupid,” he growled. “Fucking stupid.” He punched his own ear until it bled. “Stupid.” He pulled the hood over his head and, blinded now, ran into a wall. “Stupid.” He staggered back, then charged again.

“Samuel, if this is not working for you, can you maybe reattach my arm? Or get me a new one?”

The hood blustered with the suck and blow of his heavy breaths. “Yeah. Yeah, I can fix you. Just give me time to think. I’ll fix you right up.”

* * *

The solution came to Samuel shortly after his puppies came to vomit in Kari’s house. The puppies reminded him of their parents, the twins. He recalled their churlish grins and their pagan rabbit ears and the way they’d fuck. Thinking about how puppies were made—that made him beam.

He raced out to his car and rummaged through the trunk. Soon he returned with a long black plastic bag, the kind with a zipper running the length of it. He flopped it over the only chair in Kari’s house that was not yet broken or burned. “Get naked,” he told her.

Ooh, Sahm-oo-el, what have you brought for me this time?”

He couldn’t tell if she was mocking him. He suspected she didn’t always appreciate the gifts he brought her. The 12-volt catheter, for instance. It seemed a bit meager compared to, say, the gold-plated AK-47s she received from some unnamed former lover.

Samuel thought: She will love this. He unzipped the bag. He couldn’t think of anyone in the world who wouldn’t love this.

Her smile widened as her curiosity grew. “What is it?”

It was pink and furry. It had soft floppy feet and spongy gloved hands. It had flatiron incisors and soulless black eyes. Above all, it had ears, long and erect.

“It’s the Easter Bunny,” Samuel announced. “Put it on.”

She shrank away. “No, Samuel. Happily I have done many naughty things for you, but this I will not wear.”

“Oh come on, mama girlfriend. Try it out.”

Crouching back into a corner now, she shouted: “No!”

And slowly it dawned on him: The more she resisted him, the more he desired her. He called his dogs in, circled them around her. “You will wear this,” he told her. “Not only you, but the bull dyke next door and every other crazy bitch in this slum. I’ll have you all in bunny suits. You will love the bunny suits. You will learn to beg for the bunny suits.”

“This is what you want?” she sobbed. “All the women of my barrio dressed as Easter Bunnies for you pleasure?”

He forced the bunny head over her own. “It’s a start,” he said. And he stood back to admire his creation, this naked amputee with the pink rabbit head, her two rigid ears longing to pierce the sky.

It was enough for her.

More than that, he realized, it was perfect for everybody.

* * *

And that’s how it began on Calvary Cay, now better known as Easter Bunny Island. It didn’t happen overnight or even in seven days, as New History books would have you believe. There was resistance at first, mainly in the barrio. Irene the bull dyke did not submit until pit bulls chewed off both her legs mid-femur. But once she went down and accepted the head, the remaining residents severed the appendage of their choice and donned pink rabbit heads quite willingly.

Men, women, it didn’t matter. Everybody seemed ready for the change. And that was important: They made the decisions for themselves, everything, from what limb to lop off to which shade of pink fur.

The pussies in Samuel’s posse took it a step further and made a fashion statement out of it. Supple amputees strutted, sometimes hopped down catwalks wearing only the pink rabbit head. There were modifications, of course, both creative and practical. Castration was the rage, mastectomies tres chic. Sure, it seems blasé now—in fact, it’s hard to imagine a world without hare-headed eunuchs at every turn—but back in the day it was all so cutting edge.

The festive de rigueur soon spread to the malls and trailer parks. You’d think the trend might’ve died out there. It didn’t. Surgical modifications and bunny heads persist like the earrings and blue jeans in days of yore. They seem classic, timeless. Suitable for all age and ethnic groups, regardless of sex. And what’s best is nobody fucks with anybody else anymore.

As for Samuel, his own dogs devoured him and then promptly died of blood poisoning, but he will be forever remembered for the way we are now, this New World Order his Father had prophesized.

Stephen Ausherman's stories and essays have appeared online at Y.P.R., Nerve and Swink, and on paper in The Sun, New Letters, Bullfight, The Korea Times and elsewhere. He was selected as the 2005 Writer-in-Residence at Buffalo National River in Arkansas, Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, and the Bernheim Research Forest in Kentucky. His latest book is Fountains of Youth. For more info, visit