Chapter 10 – Party of the Jealous God

LI’s far flung correspondent and part time hitman, Mr. T. in NYC, thinks this is the worst chapter in the book so far. He might be right. Certainly it is… facile comes to mind. A little too facile. But I need these characters, I need the sound of their voices, and I think I know why.
Anyway, please comment.

Chapter 10 – Party of the Jealous God (first three pages)

Alexander Stitching’s first intimation of fame reached him in 1974, when he led the neutralist side in a debate at Oxford (“Resolved: A Curse on both their Houses”). The debate was televised. Stitch’s team narrowly lost, which led to much shedding of admonitory and horrified ink in the Tory tabloids (“A Generation of Vipers”), and an editorial in the Times. Stitch had ventured the opinion that Harold Wilson, the Labor Prime Minister, was a “wart on the big bare bottom of capitalism,” which was, as he hoped it would be, much repeated. This remark was all the more newsworthy in that Stitching’s father had served in the cabinet of Wilson’s first administration, back in the sixties. Stitching’s father had been the minister of some very worthy office – transportation, nutrition, something very infrastructural. Since being ennobled in 1968, he’d retired to the scummy pond, crumbling house, and various quantities of moony sheep (the result of a complicated system of grazing leases held by neighboring farmers that the minister could somehow never break) on the clovered hillsides that constituted the family estate in the South of Ireland.

When Joan met Stitch, he’d been out of college for five years. He’d invested that time in writing essays for British journals in a style that derived its absurdities from Waugh, and its politics from Trotsky. It was all very exciting. When not radicalizing in the privileged and dulcet tones of the propertied classes, he was off reporting on places in the Third World where guerilla warfare seemed likely to break out at any moment. Joan met him a couple of days after he’d disembarked from a plane taking him back from the Philippines. How were the Philippines, Joan had wanted to know on the morning after (which she had not even wanted to avoid), and he’d said, “you never quite know what’s goin’ on.” He was using the voice of Jack Nicholson in Chinatown. Joan laughed. “Really,” he resumed in his own more rounded vocables, “the question is whether Marcos is going to simply flee with his piles of loot, or whether he is going to go the way of the dictatorial death star – the collapse inward, the soldiers amassed in the street firing upon the unarmed protestors day one, the soldiery turning the weapons on the officers week two, police stations blazing brightly in the night as the center does not hold, and of course the old standby of some final flight out on your Yankee issue Huey helicopter. That, my dear, is the Philippines.”
“I want to be there for the Huey.”
”Good girl. Here’s something: what the idle rich do, and that includes a bunch of men who’ve made their piles in that beautiful Laotian H during the Great Imperialist venture in Southeast Asia, is they literally rent units of the army. For a party, say, they will pay off some captain who will commandeer a passage through the streets for the cars of the guests, line up his men with their guns, and will literally shoot interlopers. That is, your average Filipino trying to trot home by the usual route, or some such. Quite fantastically corrupt.”

Sex and drugs were mostly good the first year. The optimum, Joan thought at the time, was finding a man who was consistent about sex and drugs. And that was hard. Mostly the drugs/drinking – Joan didn’t distinguish between the two -- was one thing, and the sex was another. Mostly the man got stoned and then got unbearably talkative and egotistical. Or the man went down on her and his tongue started to wear her out, like an over-energetic puppy greeting its mistress. Or he took tit time like she was some kind of wet nurse. The man clambered aboard her and his dick turned to an industrial product, and he was off plumbing on some plumbing expedition, thinking that if he wacked hard enough, and Joan moaned loud enough (usually at the frustration of it all), a sweet would drop out of the machine. Or the man was too liberal. The man would say, sex isn’t dirty, mama, sex is natural. Joan would silently comment on the oddity of thinking that there was some opposition being stated here, as though the dirty were not the recoil from the natural. She wanted to preserve dirty, dirty was good. But Stitch made her come more than anyone had, in mewling, shameful joy, he had a dick of flesh and blood and nicely proportioned, and very sweet, vulnerable testicles -- with the left one sagging below the right one, and himself rather conflicted about that asymmetry. So fucking was good, mostly, he payed proper attention to her equipment instead of thinking of it as some kind of uncomplicated sheath God created for his own, and it was very socialable. They talked afterwards, drowsily. He made her laugh, he was articulate through the stresses of alcohol and the varying focuses of pot, and the one time they dropped acid together he said, I’m not doing this anymore with you, and he was right. He was surefooted, she thought.


Patrick J. Mullins said…
You don't quite like your characters, maybe. 'Quite fantastically corrupt(?)' sounds more like something a popinjay would say in a Met Museum lecture (Olivier Bernier comes to mind) than somebody with the Real Dick. 'Joan' seems benumbed in this part, more like the kind of women Cyzia Zyke brought to Costa Rica (or whatever C. American republic) and fucked in 'Oro' and then threw out rather than someone who'd have a career and a brain. I'm not sure, though. Every one of the sentences about the sex might be better if they were given long paragraphs, even sections. Maybe there should be a variety of sex smells and not so rushed. However, this is all guessing.
roger said…
Patrick, thanks for the comments.

I've done the extensive sex stuff in other stories, but here, I don't think I need it. Plus, I am sure that people I might intensely dislike have real dicks -- and I did not want to saddle Joan with somebody that I particularly approved of - for reasons of plot later. I'm still not quite sure what to do about this chapter, but ... I always think about your comments.
Patrick J. Mullins said…
'Liking a character' is not the same as approving or disapproving of one. Liking one means he comes to life. Anyway, with such gaps between sections, any comments are completely out of context.
Patrick J. Mullins said…
Yes! my last remark was accurate--this method of unconnected excerpts works only up to a certain point. I don't need to make any more comments, because it will always be pointillistic, and that actually automatically imagines another work from the connected one.
Alan said…
Speaking of unconnected excerpts -- are you going to give us one that explains how a character who is obviously Christopher Hitchens gets mixed up with a bunch of Austinites?
roger said…
Alan, all in good time!

Hey, since you were bugging me about the Edna thing, I decided to take LI's little jihad a little farther and write to the NYT stringer who I think is covering the Gulf Coast/Houston at the moment.

We will see. But with the Tulia book being reviewed everywhere, maybe the national press will pick up on the plight of those poor guys. In which case, maybe this blog will be morally justified after all...