[ToC]

 

PACK OF WOLVES / SWARM OF BEES

James Brubaker

 

 

1

You're not my usual caddy, he says. Women like you don't caddy. He runs his hand through his unruly hair, careful, she can tell, not to expose his hairline. Oh, what's that? You're not a caddy? Let me tell you about my money. She knows it's a line, but she needs to see what happens. She needs to follow this thread.
 

2

He frowns, and when she asks him what's wrong, he says This is how I smile.
 

3

She watches him and holds the flag up out of the hole. He is sprawled out on the green, tight white pants down to his ankles, golf shirt pulled up. She marvels at the pale slab of his skin thrusting into the course's eighth hole. Is he flaccid, she wonders, when he pulls out enough for her to see his cock. Maybe just wrinkled with age. With each thunderous thrust, she watches his skin ripple, watches the grass wilt beneath him. He says, This is you. He says, This hole is all of your holes at once. He says, This is every hole in the world—in the universe. Somehow, the sentiment doesn't repulse her. Though the thought of the grass itself, sweaty and wilting beneath him makes her sad, she likes the slap of his body against the ground.
 

4

He takes her back to his room for dinner. From room service he orders a bucket of hard boiled eggs, an entire pot roast, a fleshlight filled with caviar, two baskets of fried chicken, a champagne flute filled with rice pudding, a golf bag filled with sliders, a taxidermied chicken halved and filled with buffalo wings, a hollowed out human bone smeared with pâté, a dried human heart stuffed with a cow's heart, which is in turn stuffed with goat cheese. He eats all of the eggs and fried chicken, picks at the sliders. When he's finished, he waits thirty minutes for his food to digest then pulls the pot roast onto his lap and starts grinding up into it, the meat's juices seeping through his trousers. She cranes her head searching to eye his bulge. He says, Have some caviar. Some pâté. She says, Don't you want any? He says, I don't eat that shit, but if it's still here in the morning, I'll find a use for it. She imagines him fucking the caviar, imagines his semen entering the small pieces of roe, conceiving a new species of fishpeople who will someday dominate the Earth.
 

5

He is wearing briefs and his golf shirt when he sits down on the bed to turn on the tv. She says, what are we going to watch? sidling up beside him, resting her hand on his thigh. She has something on her mind. God knows why, but she finds him strangely appealing.He says, “I want to watch the sharks.” They watch the sharks for three hours, his jaw hanging open and eyes glazed. She tries to stay awake by flirting, but dozes off a few times, her advances not so much rebuked as ignored. At one point, she wakes up and turns to find him fucking a rolled up towel with a cardboard triangle taped to it like a fin. He says, How do you like this cock, shark? She says, Did you make that fin? He doesn't answer, just continues to pump and thrust into the towel. She says, Doesn't that hurt? The towel? It looks rough. He doesn't acknowledge her. He massages the towel and talks to it under his breath: Aren't you supposed to keep moving, shark? You want a taste? Call me Quint. She says, Fuck me. She says, I can be your shark. When he ignores her, she slaps him across the face and grabs his hair. She says, Quit behaving like a fucking child.
 

6

When he is inside her from behind, he feels to her somehow both weak and strong. His movements are forceful, but something is missing. She wants to feel the strength of his thrust, but feels only air.
 

7

When she rides on top of him she bucks like she does at work. She runs her hands through the hair on his chest and it feels like sandpaper. She allows herself to look down at him and his skin seems almost translucent. She squints and tries to see inside him, tries to understand why she's there, what she's doing.
 

8

After they fuck, he says, You can never be the shark. He says, I'm the shark—me. She says, Of course you're the shark. Be the shark all you want, dear.
 

9

After they fuck, and after they talk about the shark, he says, I don't feel good. She says, Did I wear you out? He says, I think I'm going to be sick. She says, Go to the bathroom. He says, But my tummy hurts. She bolts out of bed in search of a trashcan. The moment she lays her hand on a heavy brass bin, she hears him gag then retch. She turns in time to see, pouring out of him, a flood of mucous and bile and chewed up food and a clump of toe nails and a wad of hair and what looks like bits of gristle from a fatty steak—swallowed whole without chewing—and a few paperclips linked together, and a clothes pin, two bobby pins, a nickel, two pennies, and other assorted change, a full set of fish bones like in a cartoon, a pair of half-digested driving gloves, some apple cores, a fake rabbit's foot charm, a guitar pick, cigarette butts, wine corks, a wad of dried chewing gum, hair plugs, stripper tassels, a g-string, the complete series of Frasier  on DVD, and a full set of teeth that may not be dentures—she can't tell from her vantage point. His vomit covers the side of the bed and spills over the edge like a waterfall, piling with various splats onto the vomit already covering the floor and spreading under the bed and towards the door. She says, Are you through? He pants. Strings of murky salvia hang from his mouth. He belches, spits, gags a little. He says, I think so. She says, We should get another room. He says, Why would we do that? and starts picking the change out of his sick, cleaning each coin off on his pillow case and stacking them on the nightstand. She says, I can't stay here. This is disgusting. He says, What's disgusting? It's just a little puke. He says, I'll stay on this side of the bed.
 

10

Earlier, when they were fucking, missionary, she said, When some men fuck me, I feel their urgency, their fear, their desire. He said, Quiet. She said, But with you, I don't feel any of that. I don't feel anything at all. He said, Quiet.
 

11

And also earlier, when they were fucking, she grabbed a handful of his skin and felt it slip between her fingers like sand. And when she reached up to touch his face, she felt only the cool, moist chill of mist. And when she dropped to her knees to suck him off, she found herself staring down a grimacing face positioned on the tip of his cock. The face said, You're going to put me in your mouth now, aren't you. She said, That was the plan. The face said, How much is he paying you? She said, Nothing. I like doing this. The face laughed. Up top, his full-sized head said, Is that face down there talking to you? What's that bastard saying? She said, It's okay. The smaller face said, You only like being with him because he wanted you, wanted to obtain you, and he understands himself only by that which he obtains, and so while he's fucking you he becomes you. It's the closest you will ever get to fucking yourself. She said, That doesn't make sense. The face said, It's the only thing that makes sense. The face said, I'm the only part of him that's real. That last part, though, was muffled, as the face passed between her lips and into her mouth.
 

12

After the sex and the vomit, she sleeps on the couch. When she wakes up, he is fucking one of the HDMI ports on the television, and then one of the Jacuzzi jets in the bathtub, and then a tightly rolled wad of cash, and then the space between sofa cushions, and then a wash cloth, folded in half and filled with shampoo from one of the hotel's tiny bottles, and then the tongue of his own shoe. He fucks, and he fucks, and he fucks, and he fucks, and she watches him. Then she realizes—he doesn't really fuck at all. He thrusts and he grunts and he moans. He coughs, and he gasps, and he squints. Sometimes small flecks of spittle spray from his mouth and collect on his lips and chin. Yes, she thinks, he fucks, but he doesn't fuck. And as she grows bored watching him, she absent mindedly rolls a magazine up, an issue of Forbes, and likes its heft, the way that it feels in her hand. When he comes back to the couch, looking for another hole, she, without thinking, strikes him with the rolled up magazine. He stops and looks at her, confused. She says, Boy, you're doing it wrong. She swats him again, square on the ass, and says Boy, you've always been doing it wrong. She swats him again, harder, and says, Grow up. She swats him again, again, again. A bruise begins to form on one of his ass cheeks. She swats him again, harder still. She says, Face me. He does. The little face on the end of his cock looks up at her, says, This is everything. This has always been everything. She grabs a fist full of skin from his belly and twists it in her hand, feels it slippery and rough between her fingers. She digs her nails in and can smell his blood like copper and motor oil as it fills her palm and runs down her arm. She swats him, still, with the magazine, now across the chest, the publication's crisp pages leaving cuts across his nipples. And then he begins to moan, to grunt. The face down below begins to gasp for air. And then he shakes, he shakes, he shakes. She looks down in time to see a puff of fine white dust, quick like a sneeze, escape from the tip of his cock. And then his body slumps. He is still.
 

13

Before she leaves, she checks to see if he's breathing, but can't tell. She checks for his pulse, but can't feel it. First she is afraid, and then relieved, and then afraid again. Surely she would go to jail, she thinks, if he were dead—but then he belches and curls up into a ball, slips his thumb into his mouth and begins sucking. She pats his head, tries to flatten an out of control cowlick sprouting from his hair. She thinks about the way he fucks without fucking, considers the way his hands wrap around every object they encounter, the way his mouth consumes. He is an untamable force, a conflagration, a pack of wolves, a swarm of bees, Ebola. He is a ruiner. She eyes a pillow on the bed and thinks about the power she feels inside. No—she's not going to do that. That's not how this will end. And then, before he can wake up, she slips silently out of the room and into the rest of her life, certain that she'll never have to think of this again.

 

 

 

 

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The vomit scene here was inspired by a memory of an old episode of Tiny Toons Adventures. I think it was an episode where characters are on summer vacation, and two of them—the younger versions of Porky Pig and Daffy Duck, I don't remember their Tiny Toon names—are in the back of a car, and one of them gets car sick and cartoonishly vomits and its full cartoon-y things like apple cores and fish skeletons. Also, the closest thing I have to a phobia is vomit. Like, I'm terrified of it. I've avoided things like going to parties and bars at points in my life because I was so afraid of encountering vomit. And I was trying to explore the abject and power and consumption and I just couldn't stop thinking of that cartoon vomit and it became the vomit scene in this story.