That Friday I worked late and caught up on a number of things I had been putting off. To reward myself, I dropped into Luther's Tavern for a B&B--that's beer and bratwurst at Luther's. And there was Huffman. I hadn't seen him in years.
"Hey, Huffman!" I said. "How are you? What's happening? Where have you been? Are you still writing?"
Huffman is a poet. I think he is a good one, but what do I know? I'm a city councilor and a tax lawyer.
"Artie!" he says. "Have a seat. Beer?"
So we are sipping some cool ones, just like always. After some chit-chat, it comes out that he is seeing a stripper named Stella, who dances at the Pink Slit. I've heard of the place, who hasn't? He explains, "But I don't like hanging around there until she gets off. Too noisy. Bad atmosphere. So here I am. She should get here around one."
"So. What have you been up to these past years?" I ask.
"You really want to hear the story about my three lost loves?" he asks.
"Sure. Sounds as poetic as all hell," I tell him.
"All hell. That's about right," he muses. "Well, I got this study grant and headed off to Paris..."
Paris is a great place to hang out [Huffman relates]. I had my notebook, as always, so when the Goddess sends me some lines I can write them down. But somehow I got involved with this group of crazy Frenchies who did combats de automatons. That's robot wars to you. They claimed that their group was directly descended from Jean Tinguely--you know, the guy who did the self-destroying sculptures.
So this one night we all went over to Spalanzani's workshop. Spalanzani makes especially clever battle 'bots. We got to talking. It seemed that he had written some stuff himself, so after the group left, he and I were chatting.
"Did you ever see my 3-D show?" he asked.
"Don't be. That's good," he told me. "Because now you get to see it for the first time." And he fished around in a drawer and pulled out a pair of glasses. Weird looking jobbies. "Here." he said. "Put them on."
"Wow," I exclaimed. "I feel stoned just looking through these things. Uncanny optical effect."
Coppelius smiled. "Ever met my daughter Olympia? You'd like her. Just a sec and I'll send her out." He disappeared into that rabbit warren of rooms he had behind his workshop. Then out comes this babe—a dancer's legs and high firm tits. Spalanzani does not reappear.
"'Allo, 'Uffman," she says.
"Hello, Olympia," I tell her.
"'Allo, 'Uffman," she says again. Well, maybe her vocabulary is limited. With a body like that, who cares?
"You are beautiful, Olympia," I tell her.
"You like to look my bodee?" she says.
"I would love it," I tell her most sincerely.
She zips off her dress. No underwear. Her breasts seem to point improbably upward. It's a weird scene, but that's my life.
"You like to look my bodee?" she says again. Sure I like, Olympia.
"I like to fuck your bodee," I tell her. Hey, at least I'm honest.
"You want to fuck my bodee?" she asks, then lies down with her legs spread.
"Sure," I tell her, shucking my jeans. Soon I'm naked and dipping my unit into Olympia's well. It slides right in. So I begin the old in-out. I'm setting up a pretty good rhythm when I feel Olympia's pussy beginning to throb. Wow! A snapping pussy, yet. But soon I feel her vibrating madly. This sets me off and I pump a gallon of jism into her. I'm lying there embedded in her bodee with a last few spurts draining out of my dick when I notice that her pussy is still humming. After a minute or so I'm up and ready to go again. (Usually it takes an hour or more.) This time she gets on top and is grabbing my prick with her powerful pussy. I can feel waves of vibration pulsing up and down my dick. I am just about ready for a second monster cream.
And then there is a crash as the door bursts open. This old guy comes rushing in. "Get that dick out of my pussy!" he snarls at me.
"Your pussy?" I exclaim. "What do you mean, your pussy?"
"Because I invented it. And Spalanzani hasn't paid for it, damn him. Bounced a check off me. So I'm repossessing it."
He pulls out a #3 Phillips screwdriver and sticks it right into Olympia's bellybutton. And then to my horror Olympia's entire pussy comes loose. I take off the glasses. There are connectors in Olympia's abdomen which the old guy unsnaps. With the glasses off I am beginning to catch on—this is not an actual human woman. Meanwhile Olympia is talking.
"'Allo Coppelius," she says.
"Hello you little doll," the old boy says, setting a row of dip switches inside Olympia's abdomen.
"'Allo Coppelius," she says again. I'm getting sick at heart.
"'Allo Cop..." she says, but he has powered her down. To hell with Paris, I am thinking. I throw the 3D glasses in a corner and leave.
You know I had a group. [No, I didn't know, I told him.] Well, it didn't get much attention outside Europe. I was blowing harp and singing my songs--a regular Bob Dylan, that's me. The group was from all over, and it looked it. Personnel were always leaving and new people would drift in and join ... you know how it goes. One month we are playing reggae and the next month somehow it has become techno-synth. Quite an experience.
So we are playing the Cafasoso in Munich. After the show this guy comes up. Seems he is looking for new talent. The gig is in Venice next month, and it is outdoors! Right in St. Mark's square! Our sound will be bouncing off of all that fine Renaissance architecture.
It's a good gig. The city fathers of Venice have built a wooden platform that covers several acres of St. Mark's plaza. We get the crowd up and rocking. They are stomping so hard I'm afraid the campanile will fall down again. But it doesn't.
Afterwards, we are cooling off in a sort of little tent that works as a green room. This violet-eyed brunette pops in. She has no trouble getting past security, or past anyone else, I can tell. "I'm Giulietta," she tells me, "But you call me Julie." Her accent is delicious.
She says all the right things about our music, and I must have said all the right things to her because next we are in a gondola headed for a palazzo on the Grand Canal. It's pretty old, and the first floor is almost awash in canal water. But the second floor is magnificent, floor to ceiling windows and old masters.
"Your place?" I ask.
"My family's place," she tells me. "Ca' dei Leoni. 15th century and decaying for 500 years. Just like my family."
We climb to the third floor, where the ceilings are only 12 feet high and the woodwork is all Scandinavian blonde. Her bed (satin sheets) is the only furniture in the room.
"Candlelight is better, don't you think?" She lights an extravagant number of candles.
She reaches under the bed and pulls out a carved wooden chest inlaid with mother of pearl. Inside is a dagger with a fancy hilt and a small box with some white powder. I know what it is, of course, but I've stayed away from it pretty much. But here she is, chopping up the powder with the knife and offering me a snort. "Makes things work better," she tells me. I sniff a little, then a little more. So does she. Snorts like an expert.
Soon it comes over me—you know, the feeling that you are a philosopher king and could think great thoughts if you wanted to, but right this moment you don't need to. Especially if there is a luscious woman next to you.
"Some wine?" she offers. We sip for a bit, while my eyes take in her body. She smiles. "Rub my feet," she says. I'll start with the feet, but I won't end there, I vow.
I start by sticking my fingers between her toes, making her sigh. Then there is kneading the soles, followed by running up the Achilles tendon and then rubbing the kneecaps in a circle. I massage her thighs, noticing that her eyes are closed.
"Lift up," I tell her, and she raises her hips so I can slip her panties off. Her thighs are falling to either side. Her pussy opens up, so I run my tongue right up the middle of it.
"Oh, you musicians," she says.
"Don't dismiss poets," I tell her.
"Shut up and get back to work," she tells me.
So I am manfully munching her pussy when the door opens and a carnival figure enters. He is wearing a mask with a very phallic nose.
"Shit," she whispers into my ear. "Schlemile. My dealer."
"What the fuck is going on here?" Schlemile says. "Why aren't you over at the Danieli like I told you?"
"Kiss my ass," she yells. I'm at a disadvantage, being naked.
Schlemile advances on her. Grabs her arm, twists it up behind her back. I'm getting pissed off. Then it comes to me ... the dagger! I rummage in the wooden chest and my hand closes on the hilt of the dagger.
"Let her go, you son of a bitch!" I'm yelling. I hold the dagger out in front where he can see it.
"Knife, huh?" he snarls. "We Venetians know about knives."
"You're not a Venetian," says Julie. "You are a god damn Calabresi."
There is a lot of yelling and then he comes at me. Falls into the dagger. Dagger slips between his ribs. Then I am standing holding a bloody dagger while Schlemile is crumpled on the floor. I drop the dagger in horror. Meanwhile a thought is trickling through my mind: So that is what it is like to kill someone. Take note.
Julie is sitting on the bed rubbing her shoulder. Her face is quite pale. Finally she asks me what time it is. I tell her one thirty AM. "Good," she says. "The tide will be flowing out through the side canal. Put your clothes on."
I take the shoulders and she takes the feet. We drag the body down to the landing stage at the side of the house. No one is watching. We dump Schlemile into the canal and watch him drift slowly off in the direction of San Michele, the cemetery island. A fitting terminus.
Finally I take her hands. "Will you be OK?" I ask. She nods. "Goodbye, then," I tell her. She nods again, turns, and reenters the Ca' dei Leoni. The door closes. I go to the hotel and have a stiff drink. Tomorrow we are off to Denmark.
I finally said to hell with the music scene. The other guys were ready to move on, and I had enough money to keep me going for a while. This vision of Greece with sunlight and whitewashed buildings kept coming to me. Besides, I had a letter from Olympia Golden—you remember her? [Vaguely. Poetry Seminar at NYU, right?] She was staying on Tilos with her dad, the conductor. Wanted me to come. So I did.
Tilos is a small island in the Dodecanese. Not much nightlife. Olympia and her father were living in the old village above Megalo Chorio, in a restored villa. Terrific views of the southern Aegean. Water piped from a spring above. No electricity. "Don't need electricity to play the piano," explains Olympia's dad. "Besides, pirates can't get us up here." He chuckles. "Unless Alesia's uncles and cousins come after us." (Alesia was their Greek maid of all work.) There had to be an explanation about the pirates. I would ask Olympia later.
But later we are sitting on a wicker sofa on the terrace, watching the sun sink into the ocean. "Look closely and maybe we will see the green flash," I tell Olympia.
"Huffman, there is something I must tell you," she says.
"OK," I say, my eyes fixed on the last bit of the solar disk. Enough to make you believe in Phoebus Apollo.
"Pay attention, Huffman. It's serious."
I look at her. Meanwhile the sun has disappeared, taking any green flash with it.
"I can't have sex with you. Or anyone," she says.
"You caught something?" I ask.
"Not what you are thinking. It's my heart. At Columbia they told me I could conk off at any minute, which means no excitement. That's why Daddy and I are here. It's quiet and beautiful, and a good place to be if I do d-d-d..." But she is tearing up.
"But there are no doctors here," I tell her. "What happens if something goes wrong?"
"There is a doctor. Dr. Wundertaeter," she says. "German refugee. Supposed to be good. He will be up here tomorrow."
She unzips my fly and hauls out my unit. "Least I could do for you," she says, and takes me in her mouth. Gently. Avoiding any excitement. But it's nice, so I settle back and let her work on me. After a while there is a quiet orgasm, which she handles in her own way.
"That was nice," I tell her. I put my arm around her and we watch the darkness gather as the sky turns shades of deep purple and the first faint stars appear.
Next morning Dr. Wundertaeter appears. Frankly I don't like his looks. I don't think that concentration camp survivors would like his looks either. But what do I know? He disappears with Olympia while her father and I are sitting on the terrace sipping our morning coffee.
"Do you know this guy?" I ask him.
"He comes with good recommendations," her father says. Shrugs.