Katherine Dunn- Geek Love

katherine-dunnjpg“’‘I’ll do it, Mr. Binewski,’ she says, and I just about sent a present to my laundryman.’”


“Her heat beats through the inch of air between us.”


“Suddenly the staggering love bursts away from me like milk from a smashed glass.”


“Nobody carries more cash than they can afford to lose.”


“That winter was a slow time for the show.  Business was steady but we all had time to think and dose around.  Giving Papa time to think, as Arty put it, was like pumping random rounds into a fireworks factory.  The odds favored dramatic results.”


“I could hear the tears in his throat.”


“The dumb little fuck was supposed to be so goddamn sensitive, how come he couldn’t figure it out?  All he had to do to make me like him was need me.  All he had to do to make Arty like him was drop dead.”


“’He’s cute.  Almost like a norm.  And he’s innocent.  As innocent as an earthquake.”


“I looked in the mirror trying to see the fear on my face.  It was in my liver and invisible.”


“There are parts of Texas were a fly lives ten thousand years and a man can’t die soon enough.  Time gets strange there from too much sky, too many miles from crack to crease in the flat surface of the land.  Horst theorized that we’d all live longer for ‘wintering in these scalped zones.’  The redheads moaned that it just seemed longer.  As the days and miles wen on they stopped moaning and leaned toward long silences.  Their faces took on the flat, wind-tracked look of prairie.  ‘The grave looks good by bedtime,’ they said, but the complaints lacked their usual spice and crackle.”


“’The day she graduated from college.  Me still worried.  She had my heart wrapped in barbed wire.’”


“’Sound is physical.  I’ve been watching Miss Oly . . .’ He nodded to where I perched on his work stool.  ‘Her ticket talking got me thinking.  Sound is a vibration.  It carries through matter.  When you hear, it’s not just with your ears.  A sound actually affects every cell of your body, making it vibrate and pass that vibration to all your cells.  That’s why they say a sound is ‘piercing’ or a scream ‘goes right through you.’  It does.  It actually does.”


“He took frequent opportunities to explain how temporary this ‘post’ was for him and how thrillingly adventurous it was for a concert performer and graduate of fine New York music academies, such as himself, to doss down on a cot in a trailer shared with twelve sweaty, spitting, cursing, chortling roustabouts who viewed him as one rung lower than last night’s beer farts.”


“He didn’t remember much of the trial, though he was quite clear on being booked.  The photographer and the fingerprinting struck him as dull.  He felt he should struggle or shout, cry, anything to make the proceedings important.  But he was too tired, and looking into the faces of the uniformed men going about their work made him anxious not to disturb or trouble them. ‘Who knows what their wives are like?’ he thought.”


“Then he dreamed that he was in the open door of a plane several thousand feet above the earth and he had to jump holding a baby in his arms.  It was his baby.  He jumped, pulled the rip cord on the parachute, and it didn’t open.  The emergency release didn’t work.  He was falling fast.  The wind tore at him fiercely.  He was gripping the baby as tightly as he could but the wind pried under his arms, strained at his muscles, and suddenly the baby was loose, falling beside him, just out of reach.  He  flailed and groped in the air, trying to reach it.  The baby was falling just a little bit faster than he was.  It was below him, falling away from him as he fell after it.  The earth screamed up at him.  He knew that the baby was going to hit first and he would see it, would know it for a whole fraction of a second before he was smashed into a pulp himself.  The terrible millisecond of that grief burst in him and he woke shrieking.  He couldn’t get the dream out of his head.  He prayed that he would have the dream again but that this time he would fall faster and be allowed to die first.”


“She was pulling a pair of pants up her thick legs and her blouse wasn’t buttoned yet and she looked up at him with her hair flying around her head and he saw her fear in her heavy face and he saw the fear spot just where her neck joined her body- the deep dent where the life eddied close to the surface . . .”


“The truth is always an insult or a joke.  Lies are generally tastier.  We love them.  The nature of lies is to please.  Truth has no concern for anyone’s comfort.”


“Beside Mama, in my own folding chair, with my feet sticking straight out in front of me, I thought about my innards.  Just a few months ago before I’d had no idea whether my reproductive equipment worked.  There was no evidence.  But that week I had become a full-fledged bleeder and was still absorbed in this first change in myself that I had ever noticed.  The click and the buzz of my synapses kept making the same connection.  If you can change, you can also end.  Death had always been a theory to me.  Now I knew.  The terror hurt so good and I nursed it and played it like a loose tooth.”


“Our fanged armadillo was suddenly peeled, shell-less.”


“What made me really sick was that I didn’t want my twins to be rescued.  I was glad Arty was mad at them, delighted that he didn’t want to see them, cock-a-hoop delirious at the thought of them utterly out of the running for Arty’s attention.  Big, festering chunks of my heart glowed with a dank cave light of celebration at their lovely talented lives trapped by the Bag Man.


“Scrawny ten-year-old kid, wailing like his heart was boiling out through his ears.”


“So the kid says he thinks when he dies all the creatures he has ever hurt will be waiting for him, looking at him, still hurting from the hurt he laid on them . . . Says he was walking along ‘just now’ and stepped on a lone ant before he noticed it. ‘Failed again as usual’ seems to be his feeling.  So he flops off the rails and goes berserk on the anthill.”


“Chick was lolling on the carpet with one shoe untied and both socks crumbled down.  A small pencil stood on its pointed tip on his bent knee.  The pencil rocked steadily like a metronome, broke rhythm for a tiny jig, and then lapsed into a four-four waltz in the space of a thumbnail on his denim-covered knee.”


“Lovely you are, and kind to the tender young of ravening lions.”


“Like colors or a spring tree against that kind of blue sky that pulls your heart out through your eyes.  Pretty things will swarm you like that, like your heart was a hive of electric bees.  He was like that, the geek boy.  He made normal seem beautiful to me.”


“’He started to love me, you see?  He was so pure, like a leaf against the sky.  I don’t mean he was naïve or innocent or a virgin or even a virtuous boy, though he was nice, but that he was purely, from tip to toe, from nose to tail, absolutely what he was.  That was normal with a big N.  That was what I loved.  But when the look in his eyes changed, I realized, if there’s one thing a healthy, beautiful and utterly normal boy does not do, it’s fall in love with half a pair of Siamese twins.

‘That’s how I learned.  It’s O.K. for me to love a norm like that.  But if he comes to loving me it’s because I’ve twisted him and changed him.  If he loves me he’s corrupted.  I can’t love him anymore.  I won’t pretend it didn’t hurt.’”


“My stomach came all the way out and snapped back like a frog’s tongue.”


“She was completely out.  Those glasses were as useful to her as shoes, right then . . .”


“My pulse filled my head as though my heart had punched its way up my throat and was stuck beating in my ears. “


“Papa looked young again, leaning in the doorway to shout the news; his mustache bristled with power and pride, which he used to say, ‘are the same except that pride leaves the light on and power can do it in the dark.’”


“Part of being pregnant is that you think about it so much that you’re seldom bored.  Terrified often enough, but rarely bored.”


“It was my secret ace, like a bluebird tattooed under the pubic hair or a ruby tucked up my ass.”


“Then the real fear began.  With the baby outside me and vulnerable, I suddenly saw the world as hostile and dangerous.  Anything, including my own ignorance, could hurt me, kill her, snatch her from me.  I wanted to cram her back inside where she’d be safe.  I was too weak to protect her.”


“I felt my lungs ice over.  I couldn’t snap back at him.”


“The sky above Molalla was aching blue but I walked from Arty’s tent to our van in the same air I’d sucked all my life.  It was a Binewski blend of lube grease, dust, popcorn, and hot sugar.  We made that air and we carried it with us.  The Fabulon’s light was the same in Arkansas as in Idaho- the patented electric dance step of the Binewskis.  We made it.  Like the mucoid nubbin that spins a shell called ‘oyster,’ we Binewskis wove a midway shelter called a ‘carnival.’”