Authors: Iceberg Slim
Other Titles by Iceberg Slim
The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim
Airtight Willie & Me
Long White Con
“.Â .Â . my reason for telling my story is not money. I'm doing if for my poor dead Papa and myself and the thousands of black men like him in ghetto torture chambers who have been and will be niggerized and deballed by the white power structure and its thrill-kill policeÂ .Â .Â .”
ne early evening during the first week of February in 1969 I visited Otis Tilson. He was an incredibly comely and tragic homosexual queen with whom I had been acquainted for most of the twenty-five years that I had been a black pimp in Chicago, Illinois.
Otis lived in a third-rate hotel at Forty-seventh Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. He was colorful in fresh makeup, platinum wig and rainbow print hostess pajamas with the outrageously full legs.
His almond-shaped hazel eyes sparkled as he eagerly took the paper sack containing the gin I'd brought him and said in a throaty contralto, “Iceberg, you were an angel not to forget my medicine.”
We sat on a battered sofa in his one-room kitchenette. A tall, young black stud with a natural hairdo and a hostile face got off the rumpled brass bed, glared at me and slammed the door going out.
I said, “Otis, he's got rocks in his jaws.”
Otis raised a water glass and took a big belt of gin.
He giggled and said, “He's jealous and fatally in love with my old hot yellow asshole, and also he's afraid I might suck a new cock.”
I said, “How is Sedalia?”
He wrinkled his tiny tip-tilted nose and said, “I haven't seen Mama since I walked out on her in '68. I guess that rotten bitch is doing as well as anybody can in a wheelchair.”
A moment later as I was setting up my tape recorder, Otis's smooth yellow face became serious and he said passionately, “Iceberg, my real reason for telling my story is not money. I'm doing it for my poor
dead Papa and myself and the thousands of black men like him in ghetto torture chambers who have been and will be niggerized and deballed by the white power structure and its thrill-kill police.
“This goddamn society is crooked and corrupt from top to bottom. Lots of police, judges and prosecutors put their heads together and frame homosexuals into long jail terms. The hysterical bastards are really punishing the cocksucker and the faggot-hot-to-be-fucked-in-the-ass that are inside themselves.”
Otis paused and looked at me sheepishly.
He said softly, “Iceberg, was the machine turned on?”
He said, “I guess you'll have to erase what I said. I got carried away. I'll be careful and watch my language.”
I said, “The hell you will. Any book I have any connection with has to tell it like it is. You were beautiful. The gutsy language is you, the street and life, and it's real.
“I know something of what happened to you and your family, and I guarantee all you need do is tell your story like it is to prove a thousand points about this black hell and the poisonous pus of double standard justice, racial bigotry and criminal economic freeze-out, infecting and grotesquely bloating the hideous underbelly of white America's shining facade of democracy and freedom and opportunity for all.
“Start your story with Dorcas and that first time you lived with her as a stud. I'm going to lift your whole story off the tape and put it in the book, gutsy and like it is.”
In writing the book, I found it necessary in the interests of literary unity, clarity and values, to restructure and realign some scenes and events from Otis's rambling and often tearful account. And I supplied transitional bridges. Except for my minimal involvement, the unforgettable story is his.
There are no esoteric psychiatrist dialogues, dead preachments or leaden footnotes on the living pages of this book. The dialogue is in
the gut idiom of the queerâthe black ghettoâthe Deep Southâthe underworld. Critical social delineations are in the stark dramas of the internal and external conflicts of Otis Tilson's heartbreaking struggle to free himself from the freakish bitch burning inside him. And also in the tragic lifestyles of Otis's older brother and two beautiful sisters adrift in a dark world of pimpdom and crime and violence where good is condemned and evil applauded.
he lay beside me in the late March night, naked and crying bitterly into her pillow. The bellow of a giant truck barreling down State Street in Chicago's far Southside almost drowned out her voice as she sobbed, “What's wrong with me, Otis? Why is it so hard for you to make love to me? Am I too fat? Do you love someone else? Yes, I guess that's it. And that's why you haven't married me. This is 1968. We've been sleeping together for a whole year. I wasn't brought up like that. Let's get married. Please make me Mrs. Tilson. I hope you're not stalling because I married twice before.”
I just lay there squeezing the limp flesh between my sweaty thighs and feeling desperate helplessness and panic.
I danced my fingertips down her spine and whispered tenderly into her ear, “Dorcas, there's no one else. I think I've loved you since we were very young. I just have to stop drinking so much. Maybe we'll get married soon. Now, let's try it again.”
She turned over slowly and lay on her back in a blue patch of moonlight. Her enormous black eyes were luminous in the strong ebony face. Desperately I set my imagination free and gazed at her tits, jerking like monstrous male organs in climax.
I felt an electric spark quicken my limpness. Frantically I closed my eyes and gnawed and sucked at the heaving humps. Her outcries of joyful pain pumped rigid readiness into me.
She pinched it. She moaned and held herself open.
She screamed, “Please! Please, fuck me before it falls again.”
I lunged into her and seized her thighs to hold them back. But as I touched her fat softness I felt myself collapsing inside her.
I was terrified. So I thought about Mike and the crazy excitement I had felt long ago when I pressed my face against his hard, hairy belly. Then in the magic of imagination, instead of Dorcas, it was the beautiful heartbreaker Mike that I smashed into.
Later, I lay and watched Dorcas sleeping. Except for added weight and faint stress lines etched into the satin skin, she looked the same as she had on that enchanted spring day when I first met her twenty years before.
What a chump I had been then to dream that the daughter of a big shot mortician could really be mine.
â¢Â Â Â â¢Â Â Â â¢
Mama had warned me then, “Sweet Pea, don't you get your heart broken. A slum fellow like you don't have a chance with a girl like that. Her father will see to it. If anyone despises poor niggers more than dirty white folks, it's so-called high-class niggers like him.”
Mama had been right. He had helped to marry her off and broken my heart. The prejudiced bastard was dead now.
By sheer chance I had run into Dorcas a week after his death. She was a trained mortician, but she was lonely and needed help.
I knew right away that there was still lots of warm sweet voltage between us. Two days later I moved from Mama and the tenement flat where I had spent most of my life.
I hadn't dated a guy since I moved into the funeral home with her. I put off marrying her because I knew that freakish creature I called Sally was still alive inside me. I was afraid of Sally. I couldn't marry Dorcas until I was certain that the bitch Sally was dead.
I thought about the freshly embalmed corpse of Deacon Davis lying in the mortuary morgue downstairs. I would have to groom and dress it by midmorning for viewing in the slumber room. I tried until dawn to sleep. But it was no use. I couldn't get the corpse of Deacon Davis off my mind. I decided to prepare the deacon.
I eased out of bed and slipped on a robe and slippers. I took a ring of keys from the dresser top and went down the front stairway to the street. I went down the sidewalk through the chilly dawn to the front door of the mortuary.
I unlocked the door and stepped into the dim reception room. I walked across the deep pile gold carpet into the office. I switched on a light and sat down at the old mahogany desk. I took a fresh fifth of gin from a drawer and sipped it half empty.
The shrill blast of the desk phone startled me. I picked up and said, “Reed's Funeral Home.”
Mama's high-pitched, rapid voice chattered over the wire, “Sweet Pea, it's been over a week since you visited or called me. You know I have a bad heart and I'm all alone. Don't let that woman make you neglect your mama. Think about it and let your conscience be your judge.”
Before I could reply, she hung up. I started to call her back, but decided against it. I took two more belts of gin and went through the darkened chapel on my way to the morgue at the rear of the building.
The heavy odor of spoiling flowers and the harsh chemical stench of preserved death burst from the slumber room. I walked into its shadowy blueness and paused beside a cheap chalky casket with a bouquet of stale blossoms lying on the foot of it. There was a poignant message scrawled on a smudgy card:
“Happy journey, Papa, to the arms of sweet Jesus. See you soon. Lettie, your loving, lonesome wife.”
I stared down at the tired dead face, creased hideous by the lifetime terror and torture of its blackness. I remembered the puckered emblems of hate on the corpse's back.
I turned away from the pitiful corpse wrapped in the shabby suit. I walked unsteadily down the long murky hallway to the morgue. I opened the raspy door. There he was, a skeletal black blob on the porcelain table that gleamed whitely in the half darkness.
I walked across the room and the scraping of my feet against the concrete floor was like shrieking in the tomb quiet. I flipped on the high intensity lamp over the table. I slipped on rubber gloves and stood hypnotized, sweeping my eyes up and down the white-haired wasted corpse.
I shook with rage as scenes and sounds of the awful past shattered and filled the bright stillness. I was nine years old when the corpse everybody respectfully called Deacon Davis lived on the third floor of the Westside tenement where Mama still lives.
I remembered that first time in his apartment. His hand was hot between my legs, caressing the throbbing tip of my stiff little organ.
His voice was hoarse with excitement. “Kiss mine and lick it, you dear little boy, like I did to yours. Mine is a magic wand to make any wish come true when you make it cry tears of joy.”
I put the long, crooked thing in my mouth until I spat its slimy tears. I cheated the wand and made two wishes: That poor Papa found a steady job. And that Mama wouldn't be so bossy and cruel to Papa anymore.
To my complaints of wishes unfulfilled, the deacon would grin and say, “I know what's wrong. My wand must cry deep in your bunger, my dear boy.”
For more than a year, until he moved away, the deacon shoved his wand deeply into me. The deacon sure ruined me. He really did.