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Authors: Florence Dugas

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BOOK: Dolorosa Soror
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***

"How did it happen?" I ask.

"That I came by? Luck. I found a poem for you. I wanted to read it to you."

"For me? Did you write it?" "No, of course not. Here, read it."
He hands me a photocopy. There is a painting by Dali on
the left. On the right, a drawing in pen and ink, the disturbing mask of an emaciated man, grimacing. Just above, this title: "The Persistence of Memory." Lower, a movie still, and I recognize Serrault holding Isabelle Huppert on his knees, while Aurore Clement watches in the opening of a door. Beside the photo, surrounded by a stroke of yellow highlighter, are these lines:

Papa

"My sweet Daddy, you hurt me,"
she said.
But the papa who felt the fire in the engine a little below his belly button raped—
in the tunnel of the garden,
in the middle of the cave that inspired her— Violette,
who then returned to her studies and,
betwixt the author of her sorrow,
and the mother meditating upon her vengeance,
finished
her next day's homework
in which people proclaimed the holiness of the family.

It was signed: Benjamin Péret.
I look at J. P., disbelieving: "Where did you find this?" "Hard to believe, isn't it? The Violette from the text is
Violette Nozieres, whom the Surrealists made so much of. I thought it would interest you."

He has good intuition sometimes.
"Who's in the mask on the right?"
"I checked: it's a portrait of Freud by Dali. Exactly what it
needed."
"Don't make too much of it, J. P. Don't make too much of
it."
I fall asleep later thinking that some imaginary assaults are
more violent than actual rapes.

***

A long winter month passed. I scarred over. A curious feel- ing of mourning overtook me and I grew accustomed to living with it. In my work, I kept trying to unite Plato and Tiresias. I imagined a ballet of intertwined bodies that separated little by little, then tried to find each other again—in vain. From this chaos emerged the character of Tiresias, but I had not yet decided if I would have a girl or boy play the part, because I did not imagine anyone in the role besides myself. Nathalie did not call me for a good two weeks. Then she reappeared as if nothing had happened ("Hello, how are you?")—but without waiting for the answer, as in the banal small talk of the real world. She gave herself to me again with much tenderness and much insignificance. I cannot rid myself of the impression, still, that tenderness is a means of camouflaging that one no longer has very much to say.

Notes

1.Twice I brought her girls, always under the pretext of photographing them. She would make them up, and we would take shots of them from every angle.

Each of them consented to a threesome on the condition that Florence would merely be a bridge between her and myself, in order to exonerate herself of all suspicion of lesbianism. Both times, the scenario unrolled with the same implacable logic. The girl would begin by tolerating Florence's caresses as long as I took care of—how shall I say it—the main activities of the scene. Then she would end up bobbing away at Florence's belly like a buoy, trying to return a hundred times over the pleasure that had been given her. Neither one of them had ever been sodomized, or so they said. Florence's mouth on their clitorises made them accept without complaint the dick that tore open their assholes—because I took them without excessive tenderness. Both tried to see her again. She would get undressed, but first there was, in one way or another, a plenary session in which we showed them the photos, some of which were taken at the height of passion. An exquisite moment of embarrassment. Reddened cheeks. Then smiles, abandon, and an orgy that Florence and I would disassociate ourselves from rather quickly. Afterwards, I would take them to a crepes restaurant where we would hold forth on the merits, not so evident to sensibilities less refined than ours, of salted butter on sweet crepes. Upon our return, they would stay only briefly; let's just say that the perfume of the flower of the chestnut tree lingers longer than they did. Florence and I would quickly show them the door.

2.Florence always had a hard time not defining herself with respect to literature, and it didn't go any better with her in this respect than with those who define themselves by television series. The body and soul built of composite images. Freedom lies in liberating oneself from the perpetual flow of the soap opera.

3.This is the only moment, in these too-truthful memoirs, in which Nathalie demonstrates a penchant for altruism. But I note, rereading this, how much this scene appears fabricated. Perhaps that's how we recognize real charity: it rings false. Too bad.

4.The naiveté of such an affirmation! That's how life is: in the heat of the moment, one says stupid things. And wisdom comes too late.

5.Nathalie knew what she was talking about. Very shortly afterwards, she gave me a brief glimpse of her autobiography. I still remember she had written, with that extraordinary taste she had for the crudest words: "You know why men go to whores? Of course the majority do it to have done what their spouses won't do. If all of,the proper ladies in the world knew how to suck cock, three-quarters of the professionals would be out of a job. But some men ask for much more than their wives would know how to give them, even when willing. I prostituted myself to earn enough to pay for my school and my sister's; my

mother drank up the rest. You can't imagine how far I went for money. I was sixteen years old and some days, I didn't even feel like a woman anymore. Not human, either. Not even animal. I had become the collar and leash. As obedient as a stone. A piece of flesh. Real debasement is not when someone butt-fucks you—after all, that's just something that will give you pleasure—but when you must offer your cunt to the German shepherd owned by the very respectable guy in the far stairway, who has such adorable blond children, and a nice, very prim and proper young wife, who doesn't know that her husband is paying the young bimbo in the near stairway, second floor, to eat out his ass with her tongue, then lick his feet, while he whips her with his belt buckle. That he ties her up spread-eagle, her legs raised high, then buries into her cunt all the fruit and vegetables he can find, the ones his kids will eat later, the bananas for their afternoon snack, the zucchini and eggplant for the evening's ratatouille, and don't forget the Coke bottles. That he smears dog food on her pussy, and she cries from the depths of her soul because even when she feels the dog's teeth rooting about in her labia, she knows she'll come back next week anyway, because she desperately needs the one thousand francs. That he'll ask her to fuck the dog next." Without entirely believing her, I loved hearing these details, if only because I wanted to witness her frenzy of auto debasement, her complicity in the destruction of herself; then I would lustfully kiss that mouth that had nonetheless perhaps fornicated with dogs.

6.Good torturers can sense, through their victims' cries, that particular moment when the brain reverses the messages, or refuses, at the very least, to transmit suffering. They know when to stop, how to leave their prey the time to come back from this side of ecstasy, all in order to be able to make them suffer all over again.

 

Chapter XII

February

 

I masturbated rarely then. At least, not while alone. I did it sometimes, of course, while making love—as when you want to climax quickly, but your orgasm is playing hide and seek, and you don't want to wait any longer, you've had enough of being there. Alone, it was extremely rare. Between J. P. and Nathalie, I had the impression of covering the entire range of my desires, or nearly.

One night, I was surprised to discover I was caressing myself distractedly, with a languid finger, as in books, as if I did not know what I wanted to happen. But the story I was beginning to tell was already written in my head, though the first sentences were only then being articulated.

I am with Nathalie, bound as I have so often bound her, my spread legs flush against the headboard, my ankles tied, thighs open wide. My arms are spread, as if I were on a cross, and tied to the foot of the bed. We are alone. She strokes me, kissing me all the while (my finger becomes her finger, then is mine again, alternately), touches my breasts and pussy, jerks me off nonchalantly, much as I would do myself.

Then she disappears from my line of sight. I close my eyes. I hear the terrible whistle of the whip manipulated at top
speed and feel the bite of leather between my thighs. Just as I strike her.

I begin to jerk off with frenzy, and I feel, genuinely feel, the terrible punishment that covers me with blood, from the interior of my thighs to my navel. In the middle of an imaginary, thrashing denunciation, which is much more cruel than any real punishment, I come hard, my back tense, eyes rolled back in my skull.

It should have ended there. My hand still plays with my overexcited flesh, and I watch, as if outside myself, without feeling anything, the sequel to the imaginary scene, the whip that rains blows, the torn sex, the blood that splatters the wall...

It is no longer Nathalie beating me, but a man wearing a leather hood and clothes. It is the hood I had bought for Nathalie, but the strands of hair on his neck are gray and dull.

Each blow of the whip bites away a bit of skin, a piece of flesh. He tears my sex bit by bit.

Mutilation...

Finally she sees him head-on. He stops beating her and, taking two steps towards the bed, slides to his knees between her spread, worked-over thighs. Leather hood and jerkin. He opens a sort of bulging codpiece, the kind they wore in the Middle Ages, takes out a cock of Biblical proportions, and puts it in her, in the middle of her bloody bush.

With each thrust of his loins he tears her. Each time he halfway pulls out of her, she has the impression his cock is covered with scales that point backwards, like a pheasant's ruff or a samurai's armor. He tears the inside of her cunt as he has already flayed the outside.

Mutilation...

The man finally comes—and doesn't she know who he is, with his gray hair peeking out from the hood and those leather eyes—and it's interminable, like hot acid running in her cunt, destroying everything, transforming her into a lake of blood. He pulls out of her, tearing her for the last time, turning her inside out, like a glove. An indistinct and reddish mass, still trembling, runs between her thighs onto the bed.

Suddenly, she does not know where he has gone.

She turns her head. Nathalie is there, lying on the floor, six feet from the bed. She calls to her, but she does not respond.

A voice comes from offstage, as if from the other side of the door: "But what have you done to the child?
What have you done to the child?

The voice repeats the same sentence again and again, with violent, hysterical intonations. Then she begins to cry.

That's what woke me up. It's curious—no doubt I fell asleep after the orgasm, and the dream set the story in motion. Or was the story a ruse I clung to so the dream could manifest itself?

That's the problem with dreams. The stories they tell are not necessarily true, being neither the reflection of nor the metaphor for true stories. Dreams offer you beautiful lies. Easy solutions to artificial problems.

I am drenched with sweat. My cunt feels abundantly wet, as if I've hemorrhaged during my period. I put my hand to my sex, look at my fingertips. But no, there's nothing, nothing more than the usual liquids of pleasure.

I am in terrible pain. Great! Now I don't even need to be whipped to be in pain.
1

It is a little bit past two o'clock in the morning. I get up and drink a glass of water. I am not at all sleepy. I take down a book, read two pages; it falls from my hands.

I think again of what I had written about Tiresias.

I toss and turn. I get up and go into the bathroom. I pick up a pair of scissors and cut my hair very short. With the blue shadows under my eyes, my face without makeup, and my anxious expression, I look more and more like a young boy who is a little naive, a little licentious.

I put on the gray outfit, the jacket and pants J. P. gave me, and a big fur-lined raincoat, and I go out into Paris.

***

Quai Conti, Quai Malaquais. I got off on the river side on the stairway across from the Vert-Galant, where the fireboat of the river firemen is moored.

It was humid and cold, very cold. The Seine had risen a lot in those last days, and there remained at best ten feet of stones safe from the waves.

Several drunks were sleeping at the foot of the Pont des Arts.
I kept walking. The water had invaded the banks so much
that the barges at the quay were comfortably moored. I reached the arch, bathed in the night of the Pont Royal. Shadows moved in the darkness. Men, as usual.

The misery of homosexuality, of those who ventured there to finish the night looking for a final cock "for the road," or to lie in wait for family men who came to give free rein to their fantasies at six o'clock in the morning on a winter day.

I kept going. I went towards the tip of the quay but could not reach the little stairwell that went back up towards the Rue du Bac. The river wet the feet of the large poplars and beat against the support works.

I retraced my steps, alone in my thoughts—more alone than I liked.

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