Cost of Ceremonies will be $11, shipping and handling included, from now on. If requested, I will sign copies, too. (I have forgotten how to change the price on Paypal. I will do shortly. Please send $11, despite what it says).
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Ceremonies is also available as an ebook. Cost is $3, from now on. I can send it to you as a PDF. (As above, I have forgotten how to change the price on Paypal. I will do shortly. Please send $3, despite what it says.
You can also order both the print book and the ebook of Ceremonies through Amazon.
I have begun to place Ceremonies on book blogs, like Goodreads. (A link to Ceremonies, print book, and a link to Ceremonies, ebook, have been added to the Links page).
Thanks to everyone who has expressed interest in Ceremonies.
For interesting sections from Ceremonies, please click on A Ceremonies Excerpt.
The Book Ceremonies
Copyright by S. Gray, 2016.
Sky and earth are balanced. When one is moving, the other is still.
Ceremonies contains a young painter’s meditations.
Be prepared. It is an unusual work.
The book is the record of the women whom he loved. The time covered is childhood, discovery of painting, school, college, travel, small town, rediscovery of painting, New York City, success at painting, Paris, travel again.
Ceremonies is not a conventional novel. It is a collection of scenes, stories, observations, lists, descriptions, etc. The entries are numbered and organized into sections.
It describes sex frankly, as a part of relationships, rather than excluding it as something about which not to be talked.
Ceremonies explores the rituals women and men go through with each other.
High School (Valentine)
University, first year (Ross)
University, second year (Nicki)
University, third year (Vanessa)
Factory (The Yellow Kid)
Group Home (Janie, Thai)
NEW YORK CITY, 1994-2004
Group Home (Michelle)
Studio (Red Cloud)
1. I sprawled on the cool, grey linoleum
I sprawled on the cool, grey linoleum, scribbling drawings on paper, with crayons, under a crib, in my parent’s bedroom. The scent of pollen filled the air. A square of light lay on the floor next to my parent’s bed. I was five. My penis felt a little hard.
2. The pretty neighbor girl reached in
The pretty neighbor girl reached in through the window and tickled me as I crouched in front of the passenger seat in my father’s old Buick. I laughed excitedly.
3. My Mom
My Mom hugged me. I liked her smell.
4. I bought Charlotte
I bought Charlotte a piece of candy with my last nickel.
5. I saw
I saw Mom on the other side of our living room. She wore a big, grey sack dress. She had a bulging stomach.
6. List One
We lined up by the big, chain link fence, waiting for the first day at Washington Grade School kindergarten to begin. Along with us boys were several girls. They wore short dresses.
Later, one little girl introduced herself to me by punching me in the stomach. The others just acknowledged my hellos shyly.
A slight, dark-haired girl held my hand throughout most of the day. She smiled at me and said her name was Nicki. She had a lisp. As I made my first attempts to learn the alphabet in the weeks to follow, she helped me.
At nap time we slouched on the thin mats, trying to rest. I peeked at the girls repeatedly.
I dabbed paint onto a cardboard, making a picture of Nicki, just before we had to leave.
While we waited for our parents, a couple of us boys peered wistfully through the door at Mrs. Wister, the pretty young Kindergarten teacher.
7. At school
At school, in the second grade, the line of girls abruptly surrounded me, laughing and poking.
8. In the schoolyard
In the schoolyard, uncertain, I offered her a necklace. She smiled suddenly and rose from the bench. She took the gift, which was thin and gold, like sunlight. Her hand brushed against mine.
9. I asked
I asked my Mom what was the difference between boys and girls. She blushed and spun away. Over her shoulder, she muttered that she would tell me later.
10. Excitedly, Pamela, a friend
Excitedly, Pamela, a friend, brought me a big book from Strahorn Memorial Library. She told me it was The Wizard of Oz. She insisted that I had to read it. She showed me wonderful colored pictures.
11. I paddled across
I paddled across the green-and-black Kishwaukee River and scrambled up the rocky bank. One of my friends sprawled at its edge. Three more boys splashed around in the shallows further upriver, their little butts wobbling. We were all ten years old. Summer sun burned us. A faint breeze blew. Since it was early morning, the grass was still beaded with dew.
I heard a noise in the woods. Several young girls strolled out of the trees. In unison my friend and I dove back into the river. The girls caught sight of us and began shrieking with laughter. When we yelled at them, they tried not to laugh. One walked up to the river’s edge to examine us more closely, however.
She returned to the others and spoke to them. Abruptly they began shedding their clothes, then waded into the river, too. Horrified, we fought our way upstream. The girls stopped and hovered near the bank. Their long hair spread out and whipped around in the water. A couple of them tittered.
Their leader called out, attempting to coax us to swim closer. The boys swore at them. I shot downstream to them, though. A boy struggled up out of the water and escaped through the trees. One by one, the others joined us.
12. When we charged
When we charged up the schoolyard’s icy slope, Valentine caught me by the shoulder and flipped me around, her eyes bright. I ended up on my back.
13. Anna, a little, black-haired girl in my sixth grade
Anna, a little black-haired girl in my sixth grade math class, eyed me. I noticed her. We had just got back from recess. Mr. Osborne, our teacher, began chalking equations up on the blackboard. I peered down at my math book, then at the floor. A breeze blew through an open window, making me shiver. I sat in the back. She sat on the left side of the class.
The teacher droned on. I heard Anna giggle, and people stir around me. She giggled again. When the teacher faced us, the class quieted. He continued talking, his head tilted to one side. I stole a look at her. She gazed at the chalkboard, then looked at me out of the corner of her eye. Her cheeks reddened slightly. She made a face.
I bent over my book. When a big spitwad bounced off my desktop, someone snickered. Anna stuck her tongue out at me. I stared at her. She leant forward and glanced down, then scrutinized me hopefully. Mr. Osborne studied us both. Then he turned back to the chalkboard. The girl’s head drooped.
14. I felt myself
I felt myself up for pleasure, standing in my parent’s basement. My belly and balls strained. My muscles tensed. Spunk arced out my cock in a stream and onto the concrete, at least six feet of it. My legs felt weak.
15. List Two
In the summer morning my friends and I ran barefoot to the Kishwaukee River, cheap fishing poles on our shoulders, along the hot asphalt streets, then through the cool, wet grass. Nicki crouched on her front steps and waved to me as we scurried by.
Nicki crouched over by the other kids, her legs crossed and pulled up before her, her old green sweatshirt yanked over her legs, her arms wrapped around them. On the sidewalk next to her rested a pile of textbooks. It was on the corner of Taylor Street and Sixth Avenue. Despite the spring sun, I was cold, and I shivered. The school bus was due shortly. I tossed a softball up and down. After a while, Nicki tugged the sweatshirt back up over her knees, exposing the pale blue brassiere over her small breasts, then, yawning, she dragged the sweatshirt back down around her ankles again. I dropped my ball. It rolled toward her.
In gym, for the first time, we undressed and showered. I studied the other boy’s penises, with curiosity.
I loved painting with primary colors. It made me woozy. Pamela liked my paintings. She watched me work. A transistor radio held to her ear played “Surfer Girl”. We were in my backyard.
At Mass, wonderingly, I thought about the hair beginning to grow around my genitals. I studied the girls at Sacred Heart Church, too. Their breasts and buttocks were beginning to swell. Linda, my neighbor, yawned and stretched, pushing her big chest out.
I flipped through the book of paintings by a man named Monet that my Mom had given me for my 13th birthday. I loved Poppies.
I danced solemnly with Nicki at the Locust School eighth grade dance. We waltzed in perfect circles. We didn’t look at one other.
16. Tuesday morning
Tuesday morning I hunched over a desk in junior year Study Hall at Marengo High School, chin in hand, watching the snow drift outside like fog. It made a swishing sound as it brushed against the high, old windows. Somebody clattered by in the hall outside. My index finger traced the old desk’s edge.
Valentine sat a few rows ahead of me, her posture erect, reading a book. Her blonde hair lay like a cape across her pink sweater. She changed her position, leaning forward a bit. I heard her sigh. She flipped her hair back with a hand and rocked once.
Tom, a cousin of mine, looked over at me and waved. I nodded. A big semi-truck crashed through the gusts of snow up on Grant’s Highway, its engines rumbling. I opened a book and closed it. I yawned. I read a few paragraphs from David Copperfield. My 17th birthday was coming up. I wondered what my mom had planned.
Mr. Kane, the study hall teacher, rose and wandered over to the entrance, peeped out and returned to his desk. I read a bit more of the book and got lost in it. When I looked up, some time had passed. Valentine swung around and glanced at me.
Blood rushed to my face. My eyes dropped. I put my finger onto the book and pressed it down. My breathing quickened. When I raised my head, Valentine was reading her book again.
I gazed over at my cousin. He had his eyes shut. I shook my head. I felt an urge to get up and walk around but I knew I couldn’t. Snow rattled the windowpanes, and the radiators coughed softly. I shrugged.
After the bell rang for the next class, everyone rose and clattered out of Study Hall. Valentine walked slowly out. I followed her and stood watching while she disappeared down the corridor. As the final bell sounded, I found myself still standing there so I ran off to my next class through the empty halls.
At day’s end I saw Valentine and some of her girlfriends trot down the hall and out of the school.
Tom came around the corner and joined me as I walked down the street from the school. We strolled along. I started to speak a few times but didn’t know what to say.
Tom started telling me a long, involved joke. After a while, his voice trailed off. I noticed he hadn’t finished the joke. When I twisted to examine him, he gazed into the distance, smiling.
I asked him point-blank about Valentine, telling him about her in a hurry. Because I was so intent on speaking, I didn’t see a snowdrift at one corner and walked right into it, falling head first. Without a word, he helped me up.
My cousin listened sympathetically, nodding now and then. He bent and scooped up some of the now-melting snow. The sun was hot on us. He made a snowball and shot it down the street. Once he began to interrupt me but then stopped himself.
I stopped speaking all of a sudden. We found ourselves almost marching down the sidewalk so we slowed. For a time, we walked along silently. As cars raced past us, they shot up slush.
Tom said I should ask Valentine out. I didn’t reply. When he added that he thought she liked me, I peered at him sharply and shook my head. We both shut up. We hiked faster, reaching my house. He came in with me.
We lounged around my bedroom, listening to Between the Buttons. Tom repeated his instructions. This time I nodded. But I said I still wasn‘t sure. He just grimaced and threw a glove at me, then changed the subject. When I mentioned Valentine again, he threw the other glove at me.
Early the next morning, in second period, a bunch of us ran around the field next to the school track, kicking a soccer ball. Puffs of white breath shot from us. The sky was grey, the sun just coming up. Snow still covered some of the field. I blocked a kick, angled it away from another player, then kicked it back downfield.
A few girls trotted around the track, dressed in gym uniforms, cinders crunching under their feet. Giggles floated across to me. I spotted Valentine racing around the far side.
The coach called a few players downfield. I wandered over to the track, waving at Valentine as she passed. She slowed down, then trotted over to me. She wore a skimpy t-shirt and shorts. Her blonde hair was in long braids.
We started to speak. Valentine smiled, stepped forward and touched my arm. She moved back, laughing awkwardly.
I found myself talking easily with Valentine. She listened, her eyes on mine. And she replied quickly. We spoke for a long while, shuffling around to keep warm. I forgot the time. She had to nudge me, whispering that the coach was yelling for me to return.
I twisted to go. Then we both spoke, stopped and laughed. I stumbled back to the field, grinning.
I scurried around for the rest of the hour, kicking the soccer ball. Because it was so cold, I cupped my hands and blew into them to keep warm. I hopped from one foot to the other when I wasn’t moving. Occasionally I glanced over at the track. Once Valentine curved and waved at me. I waved back at her.
The day flew by.
After school, I raced home and called my cousin Tom. I chattered to him about Valentine. He could barely interrupt me. When I wound down, I realized there was nobody on the other end of the line. I yelled, summoning him back. He said he had put the phone down for the last few minutes. Laughing, he congratulated me. I ate a hurried supper that night, wolfing my food down.
Hastily I scanned the lines for You Can’t Take It with You, the play we were rehearsing. Another rehearsal was scheduled for that night. After my mom shot me a worried glance, I toasted her with my glass of milk.
About 7 PM, through the falling snow, I galloped back to Marengo High School. Other people entered the building, laughing, chatting. I skipped up the steps and reached for the knob on one of the doors. Because I felt suddenly nervous, my hand dropped, though. I gazed away, then spun around and shuffled back down the steps. People pushed past me.
Eventually I crept inside. Two students stood onstage, already rehearsing. I trudged down the slanting aisle and sat in a chair halfway down the row. My head bowed, I studied my lines. After a friend shouted to me, I peeked up and nodded. I heard Valentine’s voice but didn’t look up.
When Miss Gifford, the drama teacher, called me up to deliver my lines, I stumbled on-stage. I discovered myself standing next to Valentine and blushed. She started to speak but, when I mumbled, she stopped. The teacher prompted us with our lines. Nervously I repeated them. She requested me to project more loudly.
Valentine said her lines, sounding a bit strained. We practiced our parts in what seemed like a stretch of hours. Above us the lights burned hot. Sweat dotted my forehead. My back felt strained so I shifted my posture. We finished our lines and left the stage.
I wandered over to the other side of the auditorium. Valentine looked at me strangely. Later, when I tried to speak to her, I stammered, then retreated. Then the rehearsal ended, and I escaped out a side exit.
17. The older girl tore
The older girl tore my penis out of my jeans. She flopped onto the pile of coats on the bed and curled her short, red skirt up to her hips. Awkwardly she twisted her blue panties down to her knees. She waved me over and swallowed my penis, her mouth swelling. Hurriedly she pushed my hips away. I was drunk. After I hoisted myself onto her and punched my penis in, we began seesawing up and down. She rubbed her cheek across my right shoulder. “White Room” floated up from the party downstairs, muffling people talking and yelling.
18. All of us hurried
All of us hurried into the dark, crowded Marengo High School gymnasium. The Squires, the band up front, played so badly I held my hands over my ears. We were all pretty drunk. We crowded into a corner. Someone produced a bottle of apple wine from inside their coat. We gulped some down. Joe, a friend, coaxed me into asking a girl to dance. I wandered past the low stage. As I slowly edged over, a knot of girls watched me. One of them, a blonde, chuckled when I came up to them.
Muttering, I pointed towards the floor. The blonde turned away, laughing with the other girls, then shrugged. We walked out while the band was still playing and swayed to “The Sultan”. She gazed over my shoulder distantly. The music ended abruptly. The blonde looked at me with boredom and walked off, without a word, leaving me standing alone in the middle of the Gymnasium floor.
19. At the cash register
At the cash register Jones blushed roughly when she first spotted me. Her head sank, and her fingers froze on the keys. She touched her short, brown hair. I spoke. She nodded and laughed.
A month went by. Casually I walked down the sidewalk past Brandt’s, the store at which she worked. It was spring. I glanced up and caught Jones staring at me through the store window.
20. At the pool party
At the pool party, all of us boys and girls lay out tanning or splashing in the water. It was early summer. School had ended. While we sprawled on the grass, without meaning to, briefly, for the first time, I brushed my hand against Valentine’s thin, brown arm and her long, blonde hair. She turned shyly in my direction.
21. Each time I found
Each time I found myself hovering over the phone, I shuffled away. A car stopped in front of my parent’s house, then passed on. Outside, every so often, a few clouds darkened the sky. No one else was home.
Shrugging, I hunched on the couch and reopened the telephone book, my finger underlining a number. As I dialed, I cleared my throat. When Valentine answered, I said hello.
She responded excitedly. My voice a bit high, I asked her out on a date. She laughed and said she had to check with her parents first. After a minute, she returned and said that it was okay. We made plans to go out on my family’s tandem bicycle. I hung up, my palms moist.
22. Valentine flew
Valentine flew back down in the swing, her skinny rear twisting from side to side, at Calvin Spencer Park. Her mouth popped open, and her blonde hair fell away from her shoulders. She giggled, then clamped her lips together. Struggling, she dipped back, her petite chest pointed up under her t-shirt and her legs angled horizontally. Her behind twisted again. I grabbed her slim hips, beneath her bunched jeans, her iliac bones hard and sharp, and pushed her up in the swing.
23. I called Valentine
I called Valentine on the phone and asked her for another date. She agreed. We met the next day, a sunny day with blue skies, and bicycled around town for a while. She and I talked quietly. While we peddled, it began to rain. We took shelter in a nearby house, chatting with the people who lived there.
24. Valentine and I
Valentine and I perched on the wall by the Woodstock city swimming pool, talking. It was a warm summer night. A hood of stars and a big full moon hung above us. Abruptly, we stopped speaking. We stared at each other for a moment. We kissed for the first time.
25. I sat in Senior year
I sat in Senior year Study Hall that fall, reading The Scarlet Letter. Colored leaves floated past the high old windows. For no reason at all, I felt myself getting a hard-on. I squirmed, settling my hands over my lap.
26. When I glanced up
When I glanced up, Valentine, a pom-pom girl, shifted her eyes to me and then away, smiling. She whirled around and revolved her hips, her small behind and short maroon skirt swinging around. As she dropped to the gym floor, at the fall Homecoming rally, she rocked her ass, still smiling.
27. Valentine slipped her
Valentine slipped her tongue in my mouth. She jerked back and smiled at me. We sat on a green blanket under an oak in her backyard. It was warm and sunny. I pulled her down and kissed her. She flipped her leg over mine. I touched her butt and then her left breast. She dug her face into my shoulder. She muttered that she liked kissing. But she said she wasn’t sure this was okay. She said she went to church.
28. List Three
Her mom drove Valentine and me on our date. As we turned a corner, my father waved at us from another car.
Jones kept looking at me. I saw her out of the corner of my eye. Impulsively she pitched forward and pecked me on the cheek. She glanced around Brandt’s hurriedly.
Valentine peered at me, and beneath her green blouse her thin, little nipples slowly hardened.
She burped petitely and giggled, slapping my hand.
Valentine sat close to me in our teacher’s car. We were travelling into Chicago to see the play Romeo and Juliet. “Get Back” began playing on the radio. I enjoyed chatting with her. She put her hand on mine.
When I wasn’t watching, Valentine stole my Doors T-shirt to wear.
I got to see Valentine every day in fourth period German class. She liked to sit next to me. She kept touching her long hair.
I tutored a new girl in math. She had big breasts. I stared at them. She frowned at me and sighed.
A pretty, blonde sophomore sat on my lap in the school bus. She slipped her arm around my shoulders. This happened every time the bus was too full. Her friend would sometimes sit on my lap, too. It was the high point of my day, I confessed to her. She grinned.
I sketched Valentine quickly, then handed her the pencil portrait. She gazed at it with curiosity.
“My Girl” came on my transistor radio. I said I had always wanted to dance like the Temptations. I said I wanted a purple suit. Valentine smiled politely.
29. As we sat
As we sat in her porch swing, Valentine whispered to me that maybe we could do something. I asked her what that meant. She responded, fool around or something. She ducked her head, turning bright-red.
30. When I thrust
When I thrust my tongue into Valentine’s vagina for the very first time, her hand half-rose to her mouth, and she blinked delicately. After a moment, her hands slid onto her belly. She fanned her fingers across her modest navel.
I licked at the right lip and then the left lip. As I sucked hard, they squeezed into my mouth. It was early spring; the smell of the roses below Valentine’s window filled the room. My fingers settled onto her oval thighs. I flicked my tongue against her clit, pushing it around for a while. Her hair shone now with the juice. I slid my tongue deep within her.
Valentine rocked her head from side to side, lips pursed, eyes half-closed. She placed her hands on my shoulders and bent forward. After I thrust my tongue inside again, I rippled her musky vagina. I ground at her, my face wet. She moaned and closed her thighs against my cheeks. I heard someone come into her parent’s house downstairs.
I bounced my tongue within Valentine. Quickly I massaged with it. Her hips suddenly jerked up and down several times. She slumped back and listed sideways on her creamy bedspread. When her hands left my shoulders, she began flushing. She smiled weakly, long blonde hair strewn across the pillow, small buttocks flattened out. On her slight, vulnerable breasts her nipples were hard like needles. She put her teeth jagged against her lower lip.
31. A warm fall breeze
A warm fall breeze from the Strahorn Memorial Library’s open window lifted Valentine’s skirt and revealed her green panties, which briefly covered her lovely rump, then let it drop back down to hide them.
32. Valentine leant
Valentine leant against me, cooing baby talk, as I drove her around for the first time in my old, red Pontiac. Her head rested on my shoulder. We rode up Route 23. The car’s tires hissed on the wet pavement. Lightning wrinkled across the fall sky.
33. Description One
Valentine’s pink cotton shirt. Her breasts not large but well-shaped. Arms slightly muscled and elegant. Firm and the flesh pale with goose-bumps. Ribs rippling faintly, and a neat line between them, where they divided. The skin tanned with downy hair. Her stomach rounded, though only gently. Her navel a tiny, simple slit.
Valentine’s jeans. Her small, soft buttocks. The zip. Coin slot of cunt. Her belly between narrow, slightly boyish hips. Ending in long, coltish legs. Ragged tennis shoes. Long, slender toes.
34. I pushed my arms under
I pushed my arms under Valentine and carried her, blankets and all, to the couch in the living room. Her breath smelled from the beer at the party. She clasped her arms around my neck, struggling slightly. After I laid down beside her, she propped herself up on her elbows and threw the blanket over me. She circled my waist with her arms, giggling, her hot breath coming and going, and yanked me closer. She mumbled that she had never been drunk before. She yelled that I was a bad boy for getting her drunk.
35. I ate dinner with
I ate dinner with Valentine’s family one Sunday afternoon. Her dad kept kidding us. Each time Valentine rubbed her shoulder against mine. Her mom tried to hush him up. After the meal, she herded us out into the sunroom and left us alone. Snow had piled up against the glass. She and I held hands self-consciously. I tried to talk about Travels with Charley, a wonderful book I had discovered. She shrugged.
36. Valentine dashed up
Valentine dashed up to me suddenly and grinned. She had, it appeared, just gotten shiny, brand-new braces. Her thin, pink little tongue rested against them, lifted and fell.
37. Valentine’s eyes were
Valentine’s eyes were just about closed. In her open hand she held a yellow hyacinth.
38. Description Two
Valentine’s behind was boyish compared to other girl’s. Each cheek was small and distinct from the other. They touched only in the middle and hung in circles over her thighs. In her back pocket was tucked a big, blue comb. Her spine curved up from it. Her perineum emphasized her hips. Her old jeans were tight. A red patch held up part of one cheek.
39. Valentine reached
Valentine reached toward my jeans tentatively. She smiled. Then her hand settled on my penis. Blushing, she ducked her head.
I glanced around. No one else was near us on the hill above the Kishwaukee River. We sat on a huge log, our legs dangling. It was cloudy and cool spring weather. Daisies flowered around us.
I unzipped my jeans and pulled out my soft cock. Valentine grinned widely, then looked away. Finally she placed her index finger on the tip.
She bent down and rested her head on my thigh, her eyes closed. She grabbed my cock and began stroking it. For a long time she did that. Then, awkwardly, she peered up at me.
Valentine licked the tip and retreated. I took my stiff cock out of her hand and began jerking it. She lapped at my balls slowly. She giggled. After her blonde hair got in her way, she straightened and tied it back. I asked her to unbutton her blouse, and she did.
Valentine slipped her mouth back over the tip of my penis as I masturbated, bobbing her head up and down. Then she slipped off the log and stood in front of me. Blushing again, she smiled and folded her hand over her eyes. She dropped her hand and stuck her warm tongue against the tip. While I stroked my cock, for a moment, she sucked on it. Then she leant back.
I came suddenly on Valentine’s slight breasts. She flinched, closed her eyes and squealed. She waved both hands slightly.
After a minute, I handed her some tissues. She wiped her chest daintily.
40. I woke early
I woke early in the morning to discover she had left me a present. I opened the walnut box on my table and found beneath some sprays of bush-clover a set of children’s paints in gorgeous, primary colors.
41. In English class Valentine
In English class Valentine darted her small foot against mine. She smiled easily, her china-blue eyes dropping down. I smiled back. She said something to someone else, grinning. She bumped her foot into mine again.
42. I rotated her
I rotated her rosy, hard-nippled breasts leisurely. The nipples cut into my palms and clung to them. I stroked her stomach, for a minute. As I tickled her armpits, she giggled. Over and over my hands smoothed her belly and whisked across the inside of her thighs. She whined huskily. My hands slid under her small buttocks and squeezed tight. I flattened a hand on the small of her back. Outlining, my fingers moved in circles around her vagina and girl-hair. I slid them up and down the hard, unfolded lips, one at a time, again and again, and eventually inside. Wonderingly I touched her engorged clit. She quivered, stretched tight and quivered again. I held Valentine’s cunt like a sacred object and kissed it reverently.
43. List Four
Valentine lay curled in the crook of my arm, sleeping. Her warm, steamy breath tickled my neck. I read “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” with amazement. I woke her to tell her about the story. She peered at me grumpily and shook her head.
I kissed her. It was morning. Her mouth needed cleaning.
Valentine blushed at the mere sight of my penis. She got really red. Laughing, she covered her face with both hands. Her rounded eyes peered through her fingers. She bent her fingers and placed the tips of them over her mouth.
I laid on the stage for my role in The Lottery, the spring school play. Miss Gifford directed a girl to cross the stage. The girl objected, however, because she had to step over me and she was wearing a skirt. So I flipped over. I heard her chuckle. As she stepped over me, her foot grazed my butt.
In one hand I held a brush. I flipped around to examine my portrait of Valentine more closely. Oil paint sprayed all over her. She squealed.
When she had her period, she gave off a vivid smell.
Emily, a friend, came up to me at my school locker. She asked me to wear a black armband because of the war. It was spring, May Day. Nervously I turned her down. She nodded, putting her hand on my shoulder.
After I told a dirty joke, Valentine froze. She avoided my eyes, got beet-red and turned away.
I leafed through the Life magazine about Peter Max. I adored his paintings. Jones had given me the issue.
Valentine slurped at my penis. She popped up and laughed outright at how it throbbed.
After I grabbed Valentine, she hugged me, snaking her arms around my neck and her legs around my waist. She stroked my shaggy hair. Then, child-like, she kissed me on the tip of the nose. Her lips parted, and her braces appeared.
44. Valentine said
Valentine said she wasn’t comfortable with me. I replied that I didn’t know what that meant. She shrugged and turned away. She said she didn’t want to talk about it. I asked her what made her uncomfortable. Valentine said she didn’t know what. Something about me. I said that didn’t help me. She shrugged again and responded that she was sorry. Then Valentine murmured, perhaps I was a bad influence. I drank, and I touched her. It was against what her church taught her.I said I didn’t know what to do.
45. Jones smiled abruptly, uncontrollably
Jones smiled abruptly, uncontrollably, leaning next to me on the counter at Brandt’s. She grabbed the hem of her cotton jacket and wove it back and forth. Her shoulders and hips flared back, and her pencil-tipped breasts arched forward. She shoved her hands in her back pockets and jerked her chest from side to side self-consciously. Her lips opened and closed, twitching. She touched her dark hair. As she went on thrusting her breasts out, I shook my head. I stepped away from her.
46. In my Pontiac
In my Pontiac Valentine bent down and dabbed at penis with her tongue. A light flicked on up on her parent’s porch. Her head lifted up. No one appeared on the porch. Her head dropped back down. She sighed.
47. Nervously I left
Nervously I left the group of boys lounging against the wall. It was the end of the year dance. We had just graduated. The Breakers, the High School up on the stand, broke into “Standing in the Shadows of Love”. Dancers milled around, a few taking a step or two. I watched the girls, then tried to get over to them. One of them eyed me. The crowd closed, though, and prevented me. For a minute, I wandered around, then returned to my friends.
48. Valentine crouched
Valentine crouched on the bed, her long, blonde hair pulled back, her knees pressed against her small chest, reading the Sunday Tribune comics, nibbling on an index finger, in her parent’s home. I had brought her some hyacinths. She ignored me. I picked up the paper and studied the colorful Prince Valiant strip. Outside summer rain pelted the windows.
49. The morning
The morning Jones’s family was scheduled to move I walked over to her house to say goodbye. I found her sitting outside on the steps. She rose when I approached and greeted me, her eyes moist. I stooped down and plucked out a few blades of grass. The grass was wet with early morning dew. As I straightened up, Jones, red-faced, slapped me.
50. I kept putting
I kept putting my feet in Valentine’s lap in her livingroom but she kept shoving them off, making faces and nasty comments. She told me to stop it.
51. The girl in the Sacred Heart choir
The girl in the Sacred Heart choir began singing in a soft, hesitant alto. She stopped, however, reddened and bowed her head, her thin, white shoulders caving in.
52. I sat in
I sat in Valentine’s living room with her and her parents, trying to make conversation. Now and then one of us glanced out of the farmhouse window and over the rolling hills beyond. Her mother grimaced and tried to be pleasant. Valentine remained silent. She frowned angrily.
53. I drove over
I drove over to Valentine’s house to say good-bye. I was off to attend college. I said that I wanted to stay in touch. She nodded and shook my hand. She said that she didn’t want to. She said goodbye.
UNIVERSITY, FIRST YEAR
54. During The 400 Blows
During The 400 Blows, in the Holmes Student Center, now and then, Ross pushed her elbow into my arm. I had invited her along with us, as an afterthought. I was at Northern Illinois University, an hour south of Marengo. Later, we ended up at a party at her friend’s, side by side on a couch, pushed against each other, in a corner.
55. List Five
Ross helped me knot my long hair into two braids.
In Fundamentals of Life class, in the Visual Arts Building, the young girl modeled her large, dark-nippled breasts for us.
Ross pulled on an old, baggy pair of my jeans, which barely stayed on her hips. When she trotted across the room, they tended to fall down.
In the Evans Field House gymnasium the cheerleaders lined up. When I glanced over, the red-headed cheerleader shifted her eyes at me and away, grinning. She whirled around and revolved her hips, making her nice butt swing around invitingly. As she dropped to the gym floor, she lifted her skirt and ground her cunt, still smiling. She winked at me.
Blushing, Ross mumbled that she had gotten birth control pills at the student clinic.
At the Huskies football game two girls tried to pick up John, my roommate, and me.
On the rain-swept street the cheerleader tucked a piece of scrap paper in my hand furtively, then fled. It had her phone number. I tossed the paper away.
Ross kissed me then as if it had been something she had always wanted to do.
I fingered Ross’s old jeans pleasurably. The seat was shiny, and the crotch was worn a bit thin. The legs were somewhat frayed at the bottom. The jeans smelled of her scent. They recalled her curves.
56. Ross stuck her
Ross stuck her lower lip out when I told her that I couldn’t visit her over Christmas break. We sat in my tenth floor Stevenson South dorm room. A tear trickled from her eye and made its way down her sallow face. She looked down, and her wavy, brown hair spread out over her shoulders.
57. I walked into a friend’s room
I walked into a friend’s room at the Neptune dorm. Nicki sat talking a guy. Her hands strayed onto the couch and picked at its red-and-black pattern. When she saw me, her eyes widened. She glanced away quickly.
Later I saw her whispering with him, off in a corner, their heads together. She kept peering at me. I hadn’t seen her since the eighth grade. She had moved to Belvidere. I didn’t know she was a student at NIU.
58. I lay naked with Ross
I lay naked with Ross in the grey room, my heart beating hard. Though we had removed our clothes, I still felt very warm. Her animal scent was heavy and forbidding. I gazed at her triangle of hair, squat and black. Then I stared across the room, without thought. Wind hissed through the trees outside her Douglas East dorm room.
Tentatively I slipped my arm around Ross and grazed my lips against her cheek. She returned my kiss hungrily. I placed the palm of my hand against her fat, little breast. We kissed again, thorough, patient.
I lay mute for about ten minutes, aware of the heat of Ross’ body. Trembling, I slid my leg over both of hers, pressing my weight against her belly. I flicked an index finger inside against her cunt’s pliant walls and yanked it up and down. She moved convulsively. We exchanged some words. Then my cock, erect against her perineum, jerked briefly and almost unnoticeably, wetting the pink cotton sheets beneath us.
59. Ross and I walked
Ross and I walked along Lincoln Highway in the Mobe antiwar march, hand in hand, chanting slogans. It was fall. Overhead it was cloudy. People from DeKalb watched us stolidly.
60. While I read Theater History
While I read Theater History on Thursday night, I heard a low thunder. It repeated. I tramped out to the lounge to see what it was. Outside a blizzard whirled. Below the Stevenson South dorm tower a mob of people stampeded over one of the parking lots. John and I hustled down to join them.
The crowd, mostly men, gathered beneath the Douglas East dorm and then began pelting each other with snowballs. Lights flicked on above them, and windows flew open. As I watched, the mob divided itself more clearly into two. Several guys howled. A boy whipped a huge ball of snow over his head and pranced away, his arms waving.
More snowballs floated down. A parade of women shot out of a dorm exit, with many men howling enthusiastically, before a resident assistant slammed the door shut. Slowly the crowd grew to several hundred and streamed off to another side of the building. Two girls got trapped near a car. A few guys crowded up against them but the girls shouted at them to get away, and they withdrew, apologizing. Later I realized this was Nicki and her friend.
At the Douglas West dorm men hammered on a big plate-glass window playfully. It broke beneath their fists. The resident assistant there screamed at them to leave. Women on the floors above her, however, started yelling, encouraging them. A few men shouted back. The boy with the huge snowball skipped by, half-naked now. Part of the mob swirled off to the dorm’s north side. We trailed along.
With obscene remarks students zipped snowballs at a crowd that charged them, a particularly nasty one smacking a guy in the forehead. John and I came upon three girls peering out a first floor window, and when we spoke to them, they asked us what was going on. We tried to explain. Following our account, they invited us in to their rooms. After they held a back exit open, we sneaked in.
They led the pair of us down a dark hall, whispering noisily. We darted past a few open doors. Without noticing us the resident assistant raced by. A girl wrapped in a towel scrambled by us, squealing. The women hustled us into a room and slammed the door shut behind them. Inside it was bright but they turned the lamps down fast. Outside the mob still howled.
We all told each other our names in a rush. Sadie, one of the girls, dug bottles out of a cooler hidden in a drawer. As we drank, she put The Soft Parade on the stereo. Maureen, another girl, hurried over to the window and spied out on the crowd. She ran back to the bureau, found a box of herb and flipped it open. She rolled a joint, lit it and handed to me. I had never smoked before. I put it to my lips and inhaled. The students outside roared. I didn’t feel anything from the marijuana. Suddenly the resident assistant burst into the room, shouting at us to leave.
61. In the Gilbert dorm Colette, Ross’ friend
In the Gilbert dorm Colette, Ross’ friend, curled up in my lap, her arms coiled around my neck. She said something that I didn’t hear clearly. Grimacing, she gestured for me to kiss her. She clung to me languidly for a second, before she leant back. I stood up, dumping her on the floor.
62. Ross found a cigarette
Ross found a cigarette, lit it shakily and drew on it, the cigarette angling with the suck of his mouth. I went on fiddling with the thick stub of her nipple. A bottle of Ripple stood on the floor of her Douglas East dorm room. She plucked my hand from her shirt and flopped back, the cigarette caught in the corner of her mouth. Hastily I grabbed at the bottle but she snatched it away. The cigarette balanced itself neatly across her lips as she rolled around. She spat it out and ground it under her shoe. She tipped the bottle up and drank.
Ross trapped a giggle with her stubby fingers and stared at the floor. Saliva bubbled on her lips. She shoved her frizzy, brown hair back. A hiccup rippled past her lips, and a breath of liquor shot down her nostrils. She grabbed at my hand, giggling again, and propped herself on an elbow. After she swung up on her knees, laughing, she stared down at me. She reached for my penis, murmuring. But then slowly she collapsed on her ass, fell sideways onto her face, and passed out.
63. She fell asleep
She fell asleep in the Douglas East dorm lounge, studying Political Science, her head in her arms. Ink was braided around her fingers.
64. Ross looked up
Ross looked up at me with dull eyes. She slumped back on my bed and licked her lips. Then she bent forward, her arms propped on her knees. She mumbled that she had forgotten what I had said and insisted that I repeat myself. She sighed, then frowned at me. Suddenly she hopped up and stared out the window at the low orange sunset over the snowy cornfields. She muttered that she was sad. After a few minutes, she hurried back to the bed and dragged the covers over her head.
65. When I groaned
When I groaned, Ross frowned. Her hand continued to chug on my cock, her grip soft, her fingers relaxed. Sighing, she rocked on her bottom. Her other hand slid down my thigh. Quietly she licked her thick lips. I lifted my feet and set them down, felt an orgasm rising and groaned again. She tilted her face up and stilled her hand. My swollen glans peeked beyond her fist. Twobeads of seed rolled from its slit.
Ross resumed massaging my cock, frowning. I wrapped my fingers in the strands of her wavy hair. She nodded a few times, then rubbed her hand against her slightly acned cheek. She wound my penis in an arcing circle and tugged it again. Two students walked by outside my dorm room, talking. I untangled my hand from her hair and lay back on the bed.
Ross flopped down, one arm crooked over my left thigh. She smacked my cock up and down. She spat in the palm of her other hand, then swirled it around the tip of my cock. Her fist crept up and down over and over. I mumbled. She rose up on her knees and grabbed with both hands, her fingers twisting my penis. I plucked at one of her puffy nipples. Spunk streamed out of my cock in links of grey over her hands.
66. List Six
Ross and I studied together in the Stevenson South student lounge silently, our heads bowed. Our stocking feet touched and parted and came to rest against each other’s. They entwined.
At the East Lagoon, in the snow, we stood embracing, a half-moon close above us. We wore army jackets. She had a dank smell. We both had long hair. I had a big beard. She smiled fearfully.
Ross and I and some friends darted around the basement of Woolworth’s, an old five-and-ten store in DeKalb, inspecting the merchandise, chattering. She and I held hands. It was a sunny, wintry Saturday morning.
Ross gave me a poster of Blue Poles for my birthday.
At the party in Neptune, when I slid my arm around Ross, she leant in against me and rested her head on my shoulder. Her hair smelled like sandalwood. My hand touched her breast’s rim. She snickered sarcastically. She said hello to a guy she knew.
She used that mouth to suck cock.
I couldn’t be sure but I thought she was winking at me.
As she brushed by me, I touched her smooth, silky arm. Her countenance was unchanged. She didn’t notice me.
Instead of taking hold of the doorknob, by accident, Ross grabbed me by the rear.
Her flannel shirt was wrinkled up on her little arched buttocks by static electricity, uncovering the lower third of her left buttock and all of her right buttock.
In Design class Ross called to me but I didn’t answer. So she started to sob.
In McCabe’s I struggled through the crowd to get a Heineken. A pretty blonde sitting at the bar stared at me, smiling. She touched her hair. I looked away, then returned to Ross.
67. The phone rang, startling me
The phone rang, startling me. It was Ross. She said that she still had her cold. We paused. I couldn’t decide what to say. She also groped for words. She mumbled that she was depressed. Our talk trailed off.