from About Ed

By Robert Glück


About Ed is a novel about the artist Ed Aulerich-Sugai. Ed was my lover during the seventies; he died in 1994. This excerpt is from the last section, Inside. I read twenty-five years of Ed’s dream journals and constructed Inside with forty-five pages of his dreams.



The air is fabricated, the weave magnified so many times that I pass easily between two bands of shadow, or the sky is littered with hundreds of blackbirds, each traveling shadow distinct. Skip and I hide from a giant bald man, his chaotic spell of dismembering bodies, flesh shards of cut paper, flying photos of intestines wildly spinning. We run for our lives, dodging sunbeams filtered by a mesh of arching roses.
                                                                            Before that a friend offers his body and gentle encouragement when a figure of both sexes abandons itself to free-swinging axery. I join in, slicing an arm. Flesh parts easily but the humerus doesn’t snap. He’s calm, shy about death. Chopping the muscles in his back, cracking his skull, I circle counterclockwise. He turns clockwise. I swing with all my strength. I can’t break his bones. He lives and I do in frustration. No blood but we have energy. 
                                                                            Before that borders darken to non-existence, one drop of spit crystalizing the idea of syrup. Open flames and friends, a dark woman spreading spit till she makes clear syrup on the hotplate hearth. Tiny soft white moths are the secret—wingless, their scrambling legs carry them through the air. Skinny trees, indirect light. There’s no hot or cold, velvet moss covers the bumpy ground. Ahead, the log cabin ready for virgin fauna, a heaven for reproduction. I stand in a cloud that shines into the forest. Under the blanket in the arms of an old friend—he isn’t gay but allows this freedom in the dark—the sacks of our balls touching. His face is quickly handsome, then immature. Twisted between his legs, I recall a dream of clear syrup and white moths. His wife enters, pure light untwists our bodies.  She becomes Mother, a world of complication.   
                                                                            Before that each person walks towards me, visible veins, blood vessels, liver and kidneys. Each freezes and dies as an outline, raised neon arms, splayed neon fingers.  Multicolored fingers jerk towards me—neon contorts. Superman. Telepathy works better. Superman gathering inner force Superman. Superman places my feet on a carpet, tilts my head back. He spins me and the essence is time lost. Kneeling, he presses my prostate, it swells with my erection—time dies.
                                                                            Holding my ass, feeling tight skin and the pressure of compacted waste—I can’t stand it, I scream in pleasure. One small compressed ball pushes past my sphincter: thud. Two fingers covered in shit—Look what you’ve done.
                                                                            Before that a door pops into view, then a projecting sign: TWO. Male right, female left. Racks of porn mags emerge in the hall—shiny cocks, jeans—then packs of underwear. The wrappers vanish, raw cotton black silky nylon multi-cut, exposing every bare bulge. Translucent men in stages of nakedness mill around aisles of mesh and cotton. A tan blond stands behind me cupping a mag of helpless desiring mouths and red swollen cocks. Outlines suggest searching fingers, ribbed close-ups, sweating flesh, pulsing triangular clothes. In full swing, males climb out of jeans into briefs and bodies. A blond pulls his pale butt apart, but discretely, lifting it a little. Open face, open to the image my cock pops out of white bikinis, creases become waves of ribbed cotton triangular codpieces waist strings mesh. Jamaican rum navy-blue exposing jeans uncover black cotton on tight torsos in networks stretched over soft skin pushing through mesh. Lying on hot sand, a jungle clearing, I bake in the sun, loose chartreuse super-mini bikini strings around my waist. My cock hangs out. My heart pounds through the air.
                                                                            With my jubilaic singing, screaming my fancy head off, I sing from a bay window into the golden sunlight, romancing the men in my life, those I love and yearn for.  
                                                                            Before that the sun has set but the sky is still bright with luminous rain clouds horizon to horizon. All races and casts scramble up the bank, feathered Mayans, Chinese, Africans, middle-class housewives. Children, babies, people I recognize, foreigners, my Japanese grandmothers—twins with brown lined faces. They jump up, I pull them over to safety.
                                                                            Before that I need to piss in a crowded multi-stalled restroom. The stench of warm urine, toilet seats covered in the relics of crowded bowel movements. Sidewalls don’t go below seat level, expose resting thighs and clenching asses. No toilet paper, streams cross the tile floor. The closer I come to ejaculation.
                                                                            Before that I return to a small porno theater, Skip and I in each other’s arms, bored, on the edge of expectation. It’s damp and icy, a mother and child watch from the back row. The film has three-dimensional actors: two nude boys watch anxiously as a cock emerges through a hole in the wooden floor, a skinny pale aching four-foot column, their erection. Black chairs and dark floor, we shift positions and dream.  
                                                                            Before that a boy genius is worshipped and treated like a retard. I understand the protocol for disabled boys and follow bathing instructions to the letter. His body oil films the surface. I stick a soapy finger up my ass to clean the flesh tube. A young woman parts the air below revealing a forest. Three youths, aspects of escaping genius, push bundles, paddle, and swim desperately. They’re doing fine, I remark.  I prepare to live. Back in the study, I follow instructions, squirming on a soapy finger. A genius is lost in the night. 
                                                                            Before that I’m turning summersaults to stay afloat in a small room with the trappings of home, plus hundreds of people, black, white, yellow, brown, talking with a 40-piece band. I wander from room to room—where are the underwear and wrestling mags? A German Shepherd chases Lily. A muscular black man in red hotpants and black snakeskin wrap-around shirt contorts in the silent room, earphones tight. He bends his knees, flexing, coooo. Loose white pants don’t mask his thighs and bulging crotch, buttocks keeping the beat, delicious. I’m lying on a sofa, turning to watch him drift with the music. He says, “I’m horny,” fly open. A girl fondles his cock—it doesn’t grow but hardens.  Her lips slide around it, her lips are mine.  His cock becomes Lily’s nose next to mine. She’s in my arms, head on shoulder, fast asleep. The golden haze is gone. I’m trapped in a white sterile room. Mac keeps me company: “They hid a flying saucer at a base in South America.” Mac is a breeze blowing in opposite directions. I look out the window at that military base: silver jets launch over filthy white-gray barracks, palms in the distance. A spot on the Chilean coast circled in red. I sense what new beings feel, the violent amazement. Lunch is a midget zombie with gray jellyfish skin—a long fat object waiting to be eaten. The wall opens on a chute stuffed full. I shove him in. Souls in white jackets sit patiently, others walk to pass the time. We are intelligent and lost, becoming more and less ourselves as our puppeteers deepen the hue.
                                                                            Before that Skip and I crossed the wide highway.  I yelled run and climbed halfway up a steep embankment. Turning around I saw Skip choose to lie down and let cars run over his legs, his torso, his head. He still talked, flattened into a wafer. I watched in disbelief but I wasn’t really moved. 
                                                                            Before that we run lighthearted through woods and down a grassy gully to damp sandstone caves, a maze of square arenas at different angles. Animals scurry ahead. We enter a chamber with a sandstone altar. A sandstone priest comes to life and others too—a faceless female essence. They’re menacing but I feel their weakness: they’re sand. My hand circles my face once, the priest opens his white eyes, the faceless woman smiles, a door opens above, light pours in. A busy dime store engulfs us.  Under “N” we look for Needs.  Smiling pals, Skip and I stroll arm in arm in a busy subway tunnel lined with shelves of imported Chinese food, deciding between pickled and dried, smoked abalone and shrimp, clams and oiled crab.  Walls radiate indirect sensibility. Trying to hide my erection, we discuss the politics of revealing erections in public. I feel freer to expose it—the head pokes past my waistband. Skip asks, “Can I see it?” as we stroll. Tight white cotton stretches across soft firm muscle, presses between balls, loose sack skin.
                                                                            I strangle a white cat-rabbit in a cardboard box, twisting its furry neck bones.  It looks at me, distance growing in wide dark eyes, open, close, open, close…It falls like a feather and I cry I cry I cry.
                                                                            Skip, tall and blond, invites me on a walk. I feel disbelief and unworthy—he has insight into the body. We find a glade and make love. Four straight people make love—two women and two men. The world opens, I have what I want. Picnicking families drive up—our spot becomes public.  He takes me to and through his house to a wooded hillside. He opens himself completely. Construction workers watch. We move to the privacy of his house, entwining as we disappear. 
                                                                            Before that six hands fondle me from behind. My erection grows. A cat licks my lips and presses his lips against mine. He sucks and pulls back turning the kiss into a kiss with a smack. The door opens, the cosmos descends, the air is glass, the sky infinite black, vast space is defined. Each galaxy turns before me. I travel, a motionless comet through the vacuum. 



San Francisco-based Robert Glück is a fiction writer and New Narrative theorist, author of the story collections Denny Smith and Elements, and the novels Jack the Modernist and Margery Kempe, which was republished in 2020 by New York Review of Books Classics. His collected essays, Communal Nude, was published by Semiotext(e) in 2016. 



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