Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Satisfaction

An Erotic Novel

by Alina Reyes

“With this novel Alina Reyes confirms her place among the greatest contemporary authors of erotic literature.” –Top Femme (Paris)

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 160
  • Publication Date August 18, 2004
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4146-0
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $12.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date December 01, 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-9936-2
  • US List Price $12.00

About The Book

The new novel from the internationally best-selling author of The Butcher and Behind Closed Doors is a breathless tale of a married couple determined to restore the youthful passion to their sex life

Alina Reyes is one of France’s most popular erotic novelists, renowned for fashioning sumptuous prose out of a carnivalesque scene with a cameo from Batman, or a corpulent butcher’s dirty fantasies. Satisfaction, her new novel, is an equally witty, fearless, and playful take on contemporary sexual mores and the normalization of “kink.”

A typical suburban American couple, Babe and Bobby have been married for several years and are dismayed that their sex life no longer thrills them. But when Babe spies on her husband in the garage, pleasuring another woman on the hood of his vintage Cadillac, she becomes highly aroused. She tries to catch the ‘mistress’ leaving, to no avail. Instead, in the trunk of the car, Babe finds a life-size doll whose resemblance to a real woman is astonishing, and, taking Bobby’s sex toy for her own, Babe finds all of her repressed desires coming vigorously back to life.

With language that is energetic, visual, and powerful, this brazen and original work confirms Alina Reyes as one of the most potent erotic novelists of our time.

Tags Erotica

Praise

“With this novel Alina Reyes confirms her place among the greatest contemporary authors of erotic literature.” –Top Femme (Paris)

“A virtuosic farce of a novel.” –Christophe Tison, Cosmopolitan (Paris)

‘reyes describes the disorder unleashed by the blow-up doll . . . with the ecstatic use of language that has made her one of our greatest authors of erotic literature.” –L”ind”pendant (Paris)

Praise for Alina Reyes:

“Her depiction of sex has sparked a resurgence of erotica as a lost literary tradition.” –The Times (London)

“Utterly absolutely sexy . . . [an] explosive buildup of sexual tension.” –Literary Review on The Butcher

“Nothing short of staggering . . . an erotic tour de force, an exploration of raw sensuality–fleshy, beautiful, and obscene. When you put it down, exhausted, you know you want to read it again.” –The London Evening Standard on Behind Closed Doors

Excerpt

Satisfaction

a

It is in her mouth. Enormous, hard, good. Right into the back of her throat. Her cheeks, her palate, her tongue, her lips. It is fat and heavy. Hard, good. Rubbing, touching, prodding, it fills her. It fills her, it goes down to her stomach, overflows. It runs into the joints of her body.

Afterward, she is in seventh heaven. Once freed, her mouth breaks into a grin. Her eyes glaze over, she is out of this world, absorbed in her own satisfaction.

The breast, the teat, the cream, mother’s milk.

Babe turns over in bed, again and again, without opening her eyes. And each time she leaves a door swinging open inside her through which her well-being slips out and anxiety seeps in. She is groaning, panting, her closed-up face is drawn with anxiety.

A warm, milky death is spurting out of the dark; the sticky sheets turn cold around her body like a corset of stone. It wants to kill me, Babe thinks. It’s after my skin.

The thing sticks to her skin, that snake, that cold, slimy snake that slides up from the bottom of the bed, wraps itself around her, encloses her, presses her thighs together, dislocates her vertebrae.

Then at full speed a Southern Pacific train comes hurtling in through the window, throbbing, whistling, slicing through the night like a noisy asteroid.

O God, You who know what we have done, Bobby and I, within this bed, and what our parents did before us, and their parents before them, the immemorial crime, the seed of Evil planted in the bodies of man and woman! Spare me, O Lord, perforate me with your forgiveness!

Around the bed the deep, sparkling night pinned her with its staring owl eyes. She lay paralyzed, listening to the noisy silence of the shadows, their endless, amplified creaks and sighs, but in which she could no longer hear the dreary hooting that she thought had woken her from that cataleptic sleep in which, for years now, she had buried a good third of her life.

Death had entered the house. She was sure of it. Images of knives, axes, saws and huge guns sent terrible, exquisite twinges stabbing through her mind and her chest.

No time to breathe. The pages of the bed are sharp, closed. She is trapped in the middle of a book, one of those books with a cover in the shape of a tombstone, filled with large, scary gilded letters, one of those old stories where the corpse comes back to life beneath six feet of freshly dug earth. In the depths of terror, the corpse taps its fingers against the lid of its black, black coffin . . . And the cemetery, the macabre cemetery with its thousands of tombstones, lined up like an army in the moonlight, the dead souls, the earthworms, the decomposing flesh, the grinning skulls, all completely silent. No one can hear Babe, when she tries to tell the world there’s been a mistake, I WASn’t DEAD! Too late . . . Years later, grave robbers will open the fatal casket and find her frozen fingers gripping the side and, though there is not much left on the bones, her face twisted in sheer horror . . .

Babe opened her eyes with a start, and lay there stiff and straight, eyes and ears on alert. An old record. This sudden awakening, this black, impenetrable night, this panic: the record of her life.

Her lips opened in an O–small at first, but then wider– but her “O God” stuck in her throat, didn’t even produce a murmur.

A nightmare? She tried to activate her memory, but she could scarcely remember who she was or where she was. Her limbs felt like lead due to the sleeping pills. It wasn’t until a vague but nonetheless even greater anxiety took hold of her that she could make the effort to sit up and feel around in the dark for the switch of the bedside lamp.

The thin strap of her mauve satin nightie had slid down her dimpled arm, and a moon-white breast had slipped out. Her flesh gave off a smell that was both bitter and sweet; it made her want to massage it, eat it. Next to her, the pale pink pillow, color-coordinated with the comforter, bore the imprint of Bobby’s head. He wasn’t there.

Babe laid her hand on her heart, which was pounding away inside her rib cage like that of an animal caught in a trap. She realized her breast was exposed and readjusted her nightie slowly, casting her eye round the room to flush out any intruder who might be watching her. A face pocked with holes stared at her with a surprised look from the mirror of the dark closet. And this creature, immersed in the dim light, looked more like the ghost of a supernatural child than a grown woman.

She gathered her courage, and opened her mouth again to call for her husband. A moaning sound from the depths of the house stopped her in her tracks.

A voice, a sort of sad but obscene song, was coming up from the cellar.

She felt as if she had been whipped by a silken lash. She was now completely awake. Her hair–and her nipples–stood on end. She arched her back.

It was a long moan, long like the noise of a cat in heat, and dismal like the howl of a pack of ghosts. She waited to hear what would happen next, tingling with electricity.

She didn’t move for several minutes, stared at the closed door. If Bobby had gotten up to go to the bathroom or the kitchen, why hadn’t he left it open?

The house remained stubbornly silent. Babe threw back the covers and went out in her bare feet. When she opened the door of the bathroom next to the bedroom, the pale light from the window fell on the landing.

Babe glanced round the room. It was ghostly. Cold gleams reflected off its ceramic fittings, its faucets and its mirrors in all directions. It looked more like an operating theater, or even a torture chamber. She wouldn’t have been surprised to find Bobby’s body lying there on the tiled floor, lifeless, contused, bloody. Disemboweled, hacked into pieces, decapitated, castrated, lying in a dark pool of coagulating fluid.

She stayed there a moment, captivated by this vision. A cold sweat trickled slowly down between her breasts and from the inside of her thighs down to her knees, which began to tremble. On the floor next to the tub, a round puddle gleamed like a silver dish. Babe approached slowly and recognized the magnifying mirror that she used to apply her makeup. The metal-framed glass had rolled there of its own accord, just to incite her to do what she was about to do.

She crouched down over it, legs apart, and tucked the hem of her nightie up in her neckline so that she could get a proper view of her crotch. In the magnifying mirror her open sex looked like a split tomato, or some large, blind mollusk. The cold air from the surface of the glass caressed the delicate skin. The red flesh glistened in the mirror; it seemed to ripple. The hairs licked round it like flames. The smell rose, as tangible and powerful as squids’ tentacles. Babe opened her mouth, and breathed in the intoxicating language of her intimacy. From the depths of her being her body spoke. Called out.

The flesh became more and more moist, shiny like the devil himself. Babe knew he could get out through that doorway, but she didn’t want to see him, so she closed her legs and stood up abruptly. She left the room and started to feel her way along the wall of the landing, her breathing shallow.

There was a faint glimmer of light on the top steps of the staircase, but then it tumbled away into a well of darkness. She started to descend, one hand on the banister, her body tensed. Every time she made the stairs creak, she stopped and lifted the hem of her nightie from her dark belly to wipe her brow.

When she reached the ground floor, Babe found no sign of Bobby, dead or alive, in either the living room or the kitchen. Now in even deeper darkness, she placed her foot on the flight of stairs that led down to the cellar.

At the first landing, the stairs made a right angle. From here Babe could see a line of light beneath the door. She could also hear muffled sounds, sporadic, incomprehensible snatches of words, like someone talking in his sleep.

Babe was gripped by a desire to know what was going on. It made her forget her fear. She resisted the temptation to go place her ear against the door. She had a better idea. She was suddenly feverish, almost delirious. The curiosity excited her, filled her with something more burning than sexual desire. She hadn’t felt like this for ages; she was thrillingly alive, ready for anything.

She dashed back up the stairs and, overcoming her fears, went outside the house, just in time to see the chalky, almost full moon disappear behind an enormous cloud as compact as a mountain. The garden was now pitch-black. She went out into it; her body lost all solidity and merged into the dark mass of the night, a fortress whose labyrinthine architecture re-formed with every step she took. She felt her way around the walls, quickly, silently. She found her way to the back of the house, where a spot of light could be seen through the bushes.

On all fours, Babe approached the skylight. The damp air and her own sweat stuck the satin to her white, warm, throbbing flesh, endowed with an animal life of its own, uncontrollable and triumphant. Her behind was exposed to the breeze, and the cool air felt like a blessing. A strong odor of earth and mud rose to her nostrils. Her peroxide hair tumbled down in front of her eyes. She brushed it aside and smeared her cheeks with her muddy fingers. She had a desire to eat the damp grass that smelled so sweet just inches from her face, even the earth itself. The earth was rich with all the dead it had absorbed. It was good, soothing. What body wouldn’t want to enter it, or take it into itself?

Normally, Babe would have rushed off to have a wash, but now she couldn’t be in her right mind, for instead of this healthy reflex she had only strange ideas in her head; they filled her with an exaggerated sense of well-being so strong it almost hurt.

Very slowly she inched forward until she could see through the grille into the cellar. The window was recessed into the wall and was covered in dirt. But she could immediately make out Bobby. The world turned on its head, and she had a dizzying view of Bobby fucking, and of herself, of herself spying on Bobby, sparkling with curiosity, herself concentrated, miniaturized by curiosity like a speck of stellar dust blasted at high speed across space by a monstrous, cosmic desire, dust to dust. She had this gripping, dizzying view of something she should have seen a long time ago.

b



Ah, les femmes . . . !” my ­father always used to say. These were the only words of French he brought back from the Normandy landings. That’s why I thought for ages that the Second World War had been one enormous battle to conquer some vague notion of Womanhood. Ideal woman? Little women? A man must devote himself to desiring them all, and only the man who has the power can possess them all.

Obviously I didn’t think about it precisely in those terms; I’ve never been that hot in the brains department. But all the same I have my own way of seeing things. For example, if I made a film about the war, I’d show that millions of soldiers were sacrificed like . . . sperm on their way to the egg. An egg called Vital Space, or Peace . . .

Yes, that’s it, it’s a sort of spell. Men battling for some glittering future . . . A fat mother . . . A giant . . . Ravenous . . . Orgasmic . . . Just think what they could do with special effects. I should have been a filmmaker–no one in Hollywood has ideas like mine. People in movies spend all their time killing one another. Obviously that gets you involved. But if I made films I’d introduce some poetry into the violence . . . For example, instead of an ordinary car chase, I’d have mine in the teeth of a hurricane, with all sorts of obstacles along the way: people, animals, trees, roofs etc. smashing into the windshield . . . A family killed by the mob? OK, but I say let’s have twins feeding at their mother’s breasts, and let’s see milk flowing with the blood . . . Whatever, this is just off the top of my head, I’m just trying to show that I’m not short on ideas. The real problem is that I just wouldn’t like the Hollywood lifestyle. It’s all sex, drugs, partying. I’m just a simple guy. If I got into that I’d end up sucked in, not knowing how to get out. Pity. I’d have knocked them dead with my ideas.

Anyway, during the war, the real one, like in the ­movies, American men, among them Johnny Wesson, the future father of Bobby, who’ll never be half the man Johnny was, arrived like superheroes by air and sea and fed those half-ass Europeans a good slice of humble pie. My father never tired of telling us how the women they liberated threw themselves at their feet by the millions (or at their balls, as he put it once the empty beer cans started to pile up on and under the kitchen table where he and his pals would sit rehashing the same old stories of boozing and women year after year).

Those European women fell for the American men big-time; they just loved their broad shoulders, their chewing gum, their sense of humor and their music. From then on, their own men, shamed and confused, like the rest of the world, had no choice but to settle for second place. That’s how we became the masters of the planet.

Ah, les femmes . . . ! Pa thought that all you had to do was keep them under your thumb, and he thought he managed that quite well. Maybe, but as he himself acknowledged out loud several times a day, that didn’t mean he could understand them. I don’t understand you, Mary . . . I’ll never understand women. What the fuck is going on in your head? Etc., etc.

One night, Mom left the house while everyone was asleep. Pa must have been out of it, because he didn’t even hear her starting the old family Plymouth. My brother and I didn’t hear anything either. Or maybe I did wake up, but I didn’t say anything, didn’t move. Your memory can play tricks on you, so we’ll never know for sure, not you, not me.

Mom drove all night. She parked on Daytona Beach, the only beach in the world where everyone drives, and then continued on foot, leaving the key in the ignition. It was the only car we had. Then someone stole it.

She left her shoes on the sand, a pair of white pumps with short heels, like they made in those days, the late sixties. She headed straight for the sea in her sky-blue dress. She didn’t stop when she reached the water. She couldn’t swim; she knew what she was doing. She was the only mother we had. The sea could not refuse her.

So that’s how we lost everything all at once. As Mom always used to say, “Troubles never come singly.” If she’d wanted to take revenge on Pa, she couldn’t have done any better than deprive him of his car and his wife at the same time.

If she’d wanted to take revenge on Bobby and Timmy, who were always squabbling and giving her headaches (the consequences of which would be inflicted on Pa later in the evening), she couldn’t have done any better than deprive them of a mother and abandon them to their father.

But if she’d wanted to take revenge on herself, she could have done better than take her own life: she could have stayed with her husband.

It was my eighth birthday. I didn’t get a party, because Mom wasn’t there to bake a cake and all the rest. Pa was mad–he was rapping his fingers, walking round in circles, holding his head in his hands to prevent his skull from exploding. He gave full vent to his annoyance, saying things like: “I can’t believe the slut has walked out on me!” and: “How am I going to get to work without the car?”

Timmy was sobbing–he was four years old, he still acted like a baby with her (always in her skirts, while I just wanted to kill him).

It’s like I grew up all at once. I took care of my brother: we dressed ourselves, I made breakfast, and before going to school I dropped him off with the woman next door, who would have liked to keep him.

After that we never cried, Timmy and me. Even when we learned six days later that Mom had been found on a beach, green all over, completely naked, half eaten by crabs. And they never found the car. (Or else we cried a lot as we clung to Pa, himself shattered by the shock, and later as we clung together in my bed. I can remember violent, dramatic tears, but there’s no way of knowing whether I imagined them or actually experienced them.)

I know, that explains a lot. Otherwise I wouldn’t be talking about it. I’m not one to dwell on the past, but it’s well known that everyone needs to take stock at certain moments in their life, and this is such a moment for me. This is the first time I’ve tried to piece together the puzzle of my life; there aren’t many pieces, it shouldn’t take too long. I know Babe wouldn’t agree with that. She reads women’s magazines with all those personality tests, and she thinks we’re all extremely complicated, especially me (everyone thinks I’m complicated and mysterious, but the only mysterious thing about me is that I’m very simple–they’re all very simple, like a child’s puzzle, but they don’t want to admit it).

After the death of my mother, I went from being a borderline dunce to a borderline good but virtually autistic pupil (I thought of myself as an adult by now). A little later I started growing hair in places there wasn’t any before, and I discovered a new source of consolation: my dick.

No need to spell it out, everyone knows the score. Serial masturbation, teenage rebellion, fights with my father, first girlfriends, drinking, wishing I were dead . . . Whatever the variations, you can’t avoid it: you have to go through the hell of adolescence. You emerge from it bolted up securely like a rancid cunt inside a chastity belt, or else simply a goddamn bloody cunt–fascinating but repulsive.

Anyway, emerge from it I did, don’t ask me how. (Don’t ask me anything. That way, you’ll be able to let your imagination go. What more can I do for you? Look at my pretty face, look at my athlete’s body; with pleasure you tell yourself you’re smarter than me . . . and yet . . . those eyes . . . What if he’s not as dumb as he makes out? No, that’s not possible, look at me . . . That’s it, get carried away, look for the secret!)

My first marriage didn’t last long. “It’s over, I can’t take any more of your lies,” she screamed, and would get so riled up her bones would protrude from her skin and her eyes would pop out.

However, she said this for a few years before she finally cleared out, taking our son with her.

What lies? What is it that they want? They’re always digging for something. You can give them everything you’ve got–your balls, your money–it’s never enough!

OK, OK, Babe taught me not to speak like that. It’s my father talking. It’s like I’m possessed by him. Every so often he gets inside me, takes over, speaks through my mouth, moves my arms like some ridiculous puppet. I have to exorcise myself to get rid of him, a job that gets harder and harder, more and more violent. And one I have to do more and more often.

I was single for quite a while after that. I got a job at the Road Forks Garage; that was enough to keep me happy. I was very wary of women at that time. This was when Internet porn was becoming available. For years I screwed around without laying a finger on any of them. No diseases, no hassle, all very refined. But all good things must come to an end, and finally I cracked. Babe wasn’t the first person I’d contacted on the Web who wanted to meet up, but she’s the first I actually agreed to get together with.

I’d never seen anything as gorgeous as her face. Same goes for her body. She wasn’t a child-woman, she was a baby-woman. Her skin smelled like fresh bread; it was all soft with an odor that made your mouth water. I knew she hadn’t been born just the day before, but she had that wide-eyed, innocent look, as if she was new to the world.

I adore women. I think they should fight for their rights–I’m right behind them on that. But the way these modern women come on to guys, looking for a fuck . . . that makes me run the other way. If you’re going to step into that trap, good luck to you!

Babe was different, totally different. We liked each other, and that was that. It’s been ten years now. We got married the weekend after we first met. The boss let me borrow a white Cadillac that had just been checked in to the garage. I took her to Las Vegas, and we had one of the best Elvises for the cere­mony. A late-period Elvis–sideburns, swollen cheeks and a white outfit to match the Cadillac, the jacket with a big collar encrusted with diamonds.

His voice was a bit too loud, not as smooth than the original, but he had gusto; he sang “He touched me,” which added something profound to the wedding–and gave me a massive hard-on. Every time our King sang and repeated, “Oh, he touched me,” he seemed like he was a man with a sacred mission; it was as if Jesus, or Babe, was actually touching him, and he was generously allowing us to share in his ­emotion. As he sang he leaned over toward Babe through the open window, then stood up and leaned over again, looking at the bride as if he were in a trance and about to achieve a state of ecstasy. Then the priest, a thin, businesslike broom of a man, had us make our vows. We slipped on our rings, then drove off.

A real nice wedding. I find that on a special occasion such as this, a drive-in provides both solemnity and sexiness. Every­one gets turned on in a nice car. You feel like you’re alone in the world . . . Free . . . All-powerful . . . Isn’t that right?

There were other cars waiting behind us, but ours was the classiest by far. We went to eat in a super Tex-Mex, then we spent our first night together at Caesars Palace in a luxury suite for the price of a motel room. It was an unforgettable night, as it should be . . . (Especially for Babe.) (Only joking.)

A man’s lucky if he finds the woman of his life. I don’t understand those people who get divorced at the drop of a hat. Babe and I, we’ve had our ups and downs. So what? I wasn’t going to give her up for that. She’s solid gold. We are of the same mind on just about ­everything.

Just about everything.

It’s thanks to her I got back in touch with my son Tommy. She hasn’t had a child herself, but that doesn’t stop her loving other people’s kids. We’ll grow old together, my blonde lady and I.

At least, I thought we would. Before she discovered Carmen.

g

Crouching down in the grass, her face straining toward the skylight, Babe doesn’t know why that story about the hole in the ozone layer has suddenly come back to her. It’s as if the sky has opened for her and she is hovering above the cellar like the eagle over the prairie, and what she can see is Bobby’s Pistol, and his face filled with a wicked pleasure as he kneels on the hood over the girl’s face pushing it down her throat, in and out, in and out.

A blonde goes into an optician’s and says:

“I’d like some dark glasses.”

“Are they for you?”

“No, they’re for the sun.”

Shirley Gordon’s latest. Because she has hair like crows’ feathers, she thinks it’s OK to regale me with jokes about blondes. You can’t choose your neighbors, and this one’s a nightmare. Always spying on us and trying it on with Bobby. For years I’ve been wanting to slap her, insult her, dig my fingernails into her fat flesh, beat her stupid face to a pulp, scratch her eyes out, clean my toilet with her scalp, chop her into pieces with an axe.

Among other things.

Instead of this, I say really intelligent things to her, which makes her quiver with rage and run away like Lucifer from the Cross. For example:

‘do you know what the philosopher Pat Amodley said in his latest book, The Cultivated and the Uncultivated? “Perversion or religion, voyeurism is a passion that can take on different values on the scale of good and evil, of the ugly and the beautiful, of the trivial and the spiritual. The voyeur is excluded from the spectacle by fascination, but is connected to its actors by identification. Secret looking can constitute an experience of trance. Of metamorphosis even. The staring eye, in its cruelty, chops up Time in transversal, transcendental slices. The edges of the body spread out, separate into gaps open to the air, through which the spirit exorcises itself, demonizes itself in the ecstasy of the fugue.” Not bad, eh? Do you know what the American Indians used to do? They shut themselves away in sweat lodges until they escaped from their own bodies and, in the form of an eagle or some other animal, explored another dimension of the world. What would you be, Shirley? A hog? A rat?”

To tell the truth, I didn’t manage to say this at all, any more than I managed to knock her head off. But why is it that I feel obliged to listen to her, even sometimes smile at her?

It’s weird. The girl Bobby is thrusting his Pistol into looks like me. The same face as me. Except she’s dark, instead of blonde.

Apparently, our lot is built on top of a former Indian cemetery. Shirley told me, but Bobby doesn’t believe it; he says if you think about it, the whole of America is built on an Indian cemetery. One time Shirley started making out that the dead were among us. She’s nuts. A prick-tease. A clairvoyant who has to invent mysteries. If I hide myself it’s to know the truth better.

I’d forgotten Bobby’s Pistol was so big. How is she managing not to choke on it?

I, Babe, am in the shadows. Invisible. Warm, damp, dark. Like the night. And Bobby in the light. Exposed. I am spying, and my whole body is this gaze, in its electric, irradiating shell. Let the Lid of my Shell open, and it is I who illuminate the Spectacle.

“W hat are you doing, Bobby? What are you doing with your Pistol?”

“It’s not a pistol, Babe. It’s a dick. It’s my dick, Babe.”

S he used to be afraid at night. Of going outside. Of stepping on a toad. When it rains we are invaded by huge, black, slimy toads. They surround the house, silent and motionless, like traps, with their fat globular eyes and their repulsive bodies; they inhabit the damp nights, the invisible horror of defenseless nights. Who knows what might be going on when you can’t see? What might you do without realizing it? What might happen to you? What might you tread on? Even in the best-kept gardens, the night is ­menacing.

Nevertheless, she did it. She launched herself into the blind world, she trampled the damp, secret, forbidden grass. The one known as Babe. Me. I am. I am the Night. The Night in me. Who sees my Night? Not even me. The Night sees me.

“Look, Babe, it’s my dick. Look at it.”

Babe, this so-called me who gets up in the morning, does all the things everyone does and then finds, by the time evening comes, that the days are too short.

Because even if she has been very active, even if she has worked, earned her hamburger by the sweat of her brow, I have done nothing, I have done nothing really Deep, really Personal, I have not exercised my Freedom, my Singularity, for there is never time for I in a regular day, even if she seems to be doing her own thing, Working Out, Seeing People, Thinking about her Career, her Health and Beauty, filling her void with the same things everyone uses to give themselves the feeling that they exist–which is nothing but packaged, sterilized shit that obliges her, Babe, to fatten up the pharmaceutical industry in order to lose the Bad Taste of her life.

Because she, a woman, never actually knows what being a woman means. Others seem to know quite well, especially men, who have very clear ideas about what they want you to be or don’t want you to be: that girl Bobby is fucking and definitely not that girl. That girl and her opposite. Other women also seem to know this. You see women everywhere, on TV, in magazines, in ads; woman is represented in a very particular way, comes in clearly defined forms, has a very precise way of talking to men. Babe knows the user manual for this cumbersome body off by heart; like every little girl, she has always known it; yet it is as if she has to check the manual for the washing machine after every wash: you push the buttons, but when it breaks down you realize that you don’t know what’s behind them, you don’t really know how the thing works, and you find yourself in a fine mess.

‘m y dick. What have you got to say about that, Babe? Do you see how much this girl likes it?”

A car passed slowly in front of the house and drove off down the deserted streets. It was a night in late April, already warm and humid. She had discussed it again yesterday with Bobby: wasn’t the hole in the ozone layer turning all the seasons upside down? Nothing was in the right order now: the seasons were going mad and telescoping together as if they, too, were gripped by fear, the desire to turn over or have done with the good old days. Do you believe all that crap? Bobby had said. They had had a bit of a showdown over this, just for something to do. No, seriously, she was sure They were hiding lots of things. He didn’t really give a damn, so long as it didn’t stop him polishing his chrome and selling his cars.

Babe would have preferred to have an intelligent husband, but that’s a rare commodity. And they can deceive you, as her first husband had done. Most of the time intelligent men are unfaithful, or worse, depressed. At least Bobby had remained the same cute, happy-go-lucky, uncomplicated boy she had fallen for all those years ago. Despite the strange look in his eyes.

‘do you want some, Babe? Do you want me to stick it in you?”

At first she had been a little afraid, like everyone is. That absent look in the eyes, as if he were looking at something inside himself, or far behind you, anything but the here and now. But that was nothing, nothing at all.

‘s top messing around. Just look at my dick.”

“Your dick, yeah, I know. So what? Why’s it better to say dick than Pistol?”

H e was a fine boy, a real homebody, he wasn’t interested in politics, he didn’t go drinking in bars. He spent his free time doing odd jobs in the basement or smartening up his classic car. They ate dinner together in front of the TV, which was a stress-free way to pass the few hours before bedtime.

They would sometimes spend the evening in the little study next to the living room, watching DVDs or chatting on the Web–that passed the time even more quickly. So they never got bored and never took any risks: all Babe wanted was to hold on to her Bobby and her creature comforts, and he only exploited his pretty face and his strange green eyes to stay top dog on the Road Forks Garage sales force.

Crouching down in the grass, her face straining toward the skylight, Babe hovered over the cellar and looked at Bobby’s Pistol. His face filled with a wicked pleasure as he knelt on the hood over the girl’s face, pushing it down her throat, in and out, in and out. Stretched out on the pink Cadillac, her long black hair fanned across the windshield, her doe eyes fixed on the lightbulb above, her limbs spread wide, calves against the fenders, the girl suddenly looked toward the skylight. Babe withdrew behind the wall, her heart thumping.

Her body was churning with violent, contradictory sensations. The fear of having been discovered, sexual excitement, jealousy, shame, anger. She felt guilty and in danger. All these emotions formed a strange cocktail in the pit of her stomach, and it was ready to explode. She would kill if she could.

Bobby was wearing nothing but his socks, as usual. Babe was now hanging on to the bars of the grille with both hands. Too bad if the whore sees me. Let her say something, let it all come out into the open! All she knows how to do is lie back and let herself be screwed without moving a muscle, flattened against the hood of the car, her lips clamped round the Pistol like a vacuum cleaner nozzle. Under my own roof!

When he gets up, the girl lies there, spread flat, inert. Her mouth gapes open in a ridiculous fashion, as if it were still filled by some phantom dick. Only the restless dead become phantoms! She has the same face as Babe, more open. And a body . . . Long, slim legs, large, firm breasts, a bushy, plump pussy like an apricot. She doesn’t move a whisker. A corpse. She looks completely stoned.

Bobby, the bastard, is bending over her. Delicately now, as if the whore were made of sugar, he slides a hand under her shoulders, another under her hips. He lifts her up, turns her over, lays her on her stomach. He parts her buttocks, pushes his nose in, takes it out, introduces a finger and . . . slowly starts to polish his Pistol. Not in any hurry, so calmly it becomes quite enervating. Finally he decides to lie on her, and pushes his Pistol all the way into her little hole.

Just like in the videos he used to bring home. At first, Babe liked them; you could even say they really turned her on. But she soon realized that it was always the same thing, and she would never see the thing that would really ignite her fantasy: two men fucking. All these films showed love scenes between women, but never between guys. The problem was she couldn’t bring herself to believe in these women. With their honed bodies and silicone breasts, they looked like no woman she knew, not Shirley, not herself. In the end the only thing that excited her in these videos was seeing some guy in the corner of the screen jerking off while he waited his turn. It was the only bit that was believable, the only vaguely mysterious part of the whole thing. All the rest was just sinister, and Babe started to resent it as if it were a personal attack on her integrity and her beauty.

Allow her angelic face to be transformed into the muzzle of some dirty bitch? Never. Babe was born lovely and would stay that way. When she was quite young, she had decided to disguise her beauty under a veil of modesty. So that there could be no misunderstanding. And indeed, because of her physical appearance, people saw her as a paragon of virtue.

‘my dick, Babe. Don’t turn your nose up. Admit you’re mad about it.”

No, no, not at all. Neither she nor Bobby could have taken it upon themselves to tarnish the ideal image everyone had of her. In the end she became disgusted with sex, with all these lewd images that gave her such painful thoughts. These absurd situations and grotesque positions, the terrible dialogue, the guys with their bodies shaved, the women with their pussies shaved, the enormous dicks, the dilated orifices, the upright breasts, the stupid faces.

There was a time when I aspired to become a refined, sensitive, cultured woman. When I tried to understand art and literature. But I would have had to struggle against the whole world, and I didn’t have the strength for that. There was a hint of shadow in my mind, a seed of renunciation, and I let it grow.

He’s going at it like an animal, calling her names, grunting. She has never seen her Bobby like this; God, it’s as if he’s possessed by the forces of Evil. Babe is finding this painful, yet she also understands him: this slut’s flesh is supple, voluptuous, available, completely subjugated; you could do anything you want with her . . . Could any man resist? Even a woman would want to . . .

And on the Cadillac, what’s more! Bobby is crazy about his “queen of queens,” as he calls it. When he first got it Babe would see him caress it like a woman–if anything, more lovingly. It used to belong to Elvis Presley. He had spent a fortune to acquire it. When he brought it home last month he was so overjoyed that, after spending a good hour in the garage fixing it up, he wanted to make love in the middle of the after­noon. But it so happened that Babe had an errand to run, and she let him down as gently as possible before getting out of there as quickly as she could.

Bobby’s Pistol thrusts in and out between the girl’s buttocks yes, yes, it’s bigger than usual, he’s even looking at it himself as if he is amazed by it, and at the same time his body is erect and tensing more and more, his whole body seems like a giant dick, stiff and a little twisted, it’s as if gallons of blood have petrified in his veins, he looks like he is in pain, it’s terrible, it’s fascinating how he grimaces, more and more . . . He bobs his head, throws it back like a man crucified, closes his eyes, opens them again, my God he’s going to bugger . . . His face contorts with pleasure, go on, go on, you bastard, you motherfucker, you’ll pay for this, bastard, bastard . . .

Babe would rather she hadn’t, but she couldn’t restrain herself: her hands slid under her nightie, between her legs, where It was warm and moist. She came quickly, then came again when Bobby, with a quick step back, pulled out and shot his load, groaning, and with so much vigor that the first spurt hit the pink bodywork which he had so assiduously polished.

She doesn’t hesitate in the dark, it’s as if she can see with her eyes shut. Her legs are trembling, drained of strength by the pleasure, but she is serene despite her urgency. Without a sound she closes the front door behind her and goes back upstairs. Finally her bedroom, welcoming as a womb. She slips between the sheets and pretends to be asleep as she hears Bobby’s heavy footsteps approach.

Copyright ” 2002 by Editions Robert Laffont, S.A., Paris. Translation copyright ” 2004 by David Watson. Reprinted with permission from Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.