Called “wildly inventive, profane, and hilarious” by Bret Easton Ellis, these short stories from the author of the cult classic Dear Dead Person head in countess surprising directions—from a skiing Hitler on the bunny slope, to a man dealing with dubbing porn tapes and cleaning up an overflowing toilet, to the sex lives of bears.
“Surprising, rollicking and clever, but not for the faint of heart . . . Truly original stories.” —Publishers Weekly
“[A] playful mélange of erotic black comedy and domestic pathos, dysfunctional families and all-too-functional men, dictators and lumberjacks. Weissman is an expert juggler of tone.” —Los Angeles Times
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HITLER SKI STORY
Adolf Hitler was not known for his skiing ability. He was not comfortable on the hill. The incline frightened him. To be blunt, he was a terrible skier, a bundle of conflicting limbs and joints all colliding at the groin. The whooshing sound of speedy skiers made him jumpy. He did not take well to icicles forming on his manicured mustache. He resembled a walrus pup with narrow ice fangs, a look flattering on some gentlemen, but on his face not so at all. When asked, if you could be any animal, what would it be? as cold-blooded and smooth-skinned as he himself was, the walrus, or any sluggish lower mammal for that matter, was not on his list, even if he gave an amphibious impression of breathing through gills rather than nostrils and mouth. Yes, he was fond of the whiteness of the snow, just as Ahab was mesmerized by the whiteness of the whale, but he was a complainer; he whined about cold temperature, moaned about fatigued thighs, his lace-up boots pinched his flat bony feet, and to make matters worse, he had wobbly ankles. The T-bar and Poma-lift disturbed his balls. Hitler read Moby Dick in translation, a gift from Goebbels, in the privacy of his own prison cell, while he was writing Mein Kampf. The salad days. He never learned English, unlike today's ambitious multilingual Europeans. Like so many lonely men of that period, and many still today, he masturbated to the scene in Melville's novel where all the shipmates join hands in a bucket of whale sperm and squeeze the gooey coagulants and sing a brotherly tune of labor and soul. If only Leni Riefenstahl could've put such a sequence together in Triumph of the Will. But it probably would've disturbed the mise-en-scene. Hitler did not own his own pair of skis. In order to appear like the common man, a volk-skier, he rented. On a similar note, Hitler was eager to trade in his penis for something less drowsy, but organ transplants, or substitutions, in that area of the body were not foolproof, and, as history has proven, severing one's own penis and surgically grafting on a new and better one, a bigger, more charismatic jimmy, is frowned upon and remains an unsafe practice. Hitler's penis floated about his crotch like a hollow pinky. He wanted his cock to sway, a slab of meat that commands respect, that could be pounded against tables and the tops of people's heads, and if it were to be weighed on a postage scale would register at the very least four pounds. How could a man of modest physical stature, he often fretted in the bathroom mirror, convince the population of a master race, when he himself, and his faithful but never-to-be-fully-trusted assistants (a group of unsavory men, some tubby and slow, others skinny with pockmarked faces), were, in a sense, the furthest thing from a sight for sore eyes, or for that matter, a thing of beauty? Handsome they were not. Der Fuhrer & Company were specimens of ill health, poor diet, and cryptic exercise. He dreamt that boys would drop their knickers and salute him, not with a raised arm, but with their young erections — long rows of adorable poles all at 45-degree angles. Hitler could only snowplow. He fell often. He pouted. He'd lie in the snow and curse. He'd try to stand up with his skis pointed downhill only to fall again. He couldn't follow instruction. Then along came Miss Braun, a great skier: bumps, downhill, GS, deep powder, and aerial jumps. The fraulein was a hot dog. Yes, Eva was fearless, to a fault. It almost cost her her life. After a day of flirty skiing with Olympic champions Gunter, Heinz, and Klaus, Eva would catch up with Adolf on the bunny hill. She'd stop abruptly and spray a blast of snow all over him, and then giggle madly. Sometimes she'd throw out a hip, knock him to the ground, and sing, "Dolfy on his duffer." She was always trying to get a rise out of him, bless her naïve heart. Unfortunately his response was always, "I'll kill you." She'd cry. He'd kiss her on the nose, he'd say meow, and as with most couples, the little hurt would disappear from the mind. Hitler painted a watercolor of a man sawing off his own cock. The idea haunted him. Of course, he threw the picture away. If you can't salute with it (the veiny human wurst) or eat with it (like a shovel) or fight with it (like a sword), what good is it for, huh? he wondered, wiggling lifeless all one's life, waiting for the kindness of strangers to bring it happiness (don't hold your breath); indeed, more often than not it was the sweaty obliging palm of one's own. Hitler painted snow scenes. Those he kept. Some he gave away to friends. He painted a male figure licking an ice- cream cone. A ski instructor tried to teach him stem Christy but Herr Hitler would catch an edge and plant his poles like he was digging for oil. Hiding his true feelings, he insisted he loved skiing. Politics and athletics were a difficult combination but he forced the issue. Similar to the certainty and assurance of a slow-moving tank he was content with the stiff ungraceful snowplow. Why learn something new if it's going to get you into trouble and make you look foolish? During a lunch break Hitler drew a sloppy swastika in the snow with his urine. Then he drew an upside-down heart. Then he dropped his ski pants and crossed them both out with a loose splatter of feces. The great outdoors, he thought. Traveling without the proper ointments was a serious problem. He wouldn't permit anyone to film him skiing. The only conceivable image was of the headman standing with his skis at his side, or on his shoulder, or exiting the chalet, striding toward, never away, from the camera. He had a flat uninspiring butt which he would've also liked to have traded in for something else, something more solid and global. He scratched his anus like a monkey infested with ticks. He'd smell his fingers and fall asleep. He dreamt he was caught in an avalanche, buried under 10 feet of snow. A St. Bernard came to his rescue. Hitler was fond of dogs. He preferred dachshunds. The large hound spoke German. It said, Wiedersehen. And then, for no apparent reason, it defecated on his face. And yet, and this is the amazing part of the dream, the heat from the feces prevented him from getting frostbite and saved his life. Another close call. Sure, it was only a dream, but wow, what a good one, and then of course you might ask, why so much shit? Interesting question. It was three in the morning. Maybe a shit facial, he thought, with its many organic properties, would cure him and his ministers of their dire complexions. He craved chocolate. So much for heading in the right direction. He nibbled away. A fudgy night. Yes, a bar of chocolate, always by the bed. He closed his eyes and thought, I hope someone remembers me like this.
The day I am born brings injury and death to many people. My mom is a beautiful lady with a huge scar running down her back from a surgical procedure that almost killed her. A lonely flute whistles a sorrowful note. As a little boy I sleep on the floor in the kitchen with the oven on and open to keep warm while she has intimate moments with many strange men in the bedroom — at least 10 a week, sometimes 20 or 30 when she is not menstruating. Their laughter and screaming booms through the hanging bed sheet that serves as a partition so I practice punching and strangling my pillow to drown out the sounds of their sex. Violence conquers all. I write that in my journal.
When I turn 15, an age where I could be of some use, I am compelled to pick up a lead pipe and beat one of my mother's suitors in the head until he is bloody and without pulse. Even though the men are bigger than me — on another night I beat a second man as well — they are easy to destroy with their heads facing down, always on top of my mother's. Killing her customers is not something she appreciates me doing, but I do it nonetheless, spontaneously, and I clean up all the blood and brain matter with soapy water and many sponges. Three hours after midnight I roll the men into garbage bags and drag them with great effort to the town dump. Since the men never tell anyone where they are going when they visit us, we never have trouble with the police. I pull out a kitchen knife and stab my football until it is dead. One night I stab my mom. Slit her throat. She is plastered on cold sake. I'd like to say it was an accident, but that would be untrue. Everyone in our neighborhood knows my mom is a prostitute. I kill her before someone else does. It's better that her son be the one. Along with instructions on how to gouge a person's eyes out, the Bible recommends that we clean the feet of our loved ones with the hair on our head. I dig a three-foot hole in the ground of the public park where townies bury their pets and that is where my mom rests in peace, bless her worried gutted soul. I pack up a knapsack with a plunger, hammer, pipe, hose, razors, wooden sandals, and a pith helmet, anything hard and sharp that can be used as a weapon. In the middle of the night I walk 10 miles to a new neighborhood, sleep under a bridge in a cardboard box.
Every day I steal things and get in fistfights. I meet a lot of people this way. I join a gang called the Teddies and quickly become the head dude by kicking everyone's ass. By 21 I am protecting and selling girls and being a stone cold cool guy with shades and a leather jacket, with the nickname of Noodles because I only eat ramen. One day I get jumped by 10 guys and have to lay low, drink sake, soak in a bubble bath, and heal my banged-up bones. A week later I'm having sex with one of my lady friends in the bubble bath and this guy walks in and tries to cut me with a rolling pizza cutter. Trombones blaring, swooshy cymbals crashing. I yell, hey dude, get the fuck out of here, who are you, but he keeps on swinging his arms, yelling, so I get out of the tub naked, with the exception of my underwear, and land a single roundhouse kick to his sweaty crooked face. I take the pizza cutter out of his hand and press a big snowflake pattern across his smooth back. Thin lines of bright red blood seep out of his skin like angel hair neon.
This particular incident lands me in jail, the first and only time in my life. I'm put in a cell with a man who never speaks: I call him Silent Man. We become friends by not looking at or speaking to each other. I enjoy our quiet times together. In jail I am reunited with many old enemies in a cell opposite mine. They start mouthing off so I say, are you my bitch, come paint my toenails you little cunt dog. They yell back that I am the cunt and I belong in a cunt kennel, so I spit a 10-foot lougie right onto the bars of their cell — a mucousy spit blob that dangles from the metal and reflects light as if it were a string of crystal — which flames their fury and only makes me happy inside, at peace with the world. The jailer gives me a green toothbrush for general hygiene which I melt down one end of with many matches, stick a razor blade into the softened end, wrap some wire around it to keep sturdy: Presto, I'm ready to cut someone in the face, which I do at the urinal the day before my release date when some guy gets aggressive with me for taking too long to pee.
When I get out of jail the world seems different. Girls in bell-bottoms. Go-go boots. Incense burning. Everyone wearing long hair. Pink sunglasses. In 24 hours I become a mod hip cat and return to my usual antics. I steal a leather jacket and walk straight to a bathhouse. The girl puts too much soap in the water. Bubbles hit the ceiling. We have sex with our underwear on. Both of us. Super kinky. That's how I like to do it now. Don't ask why.
So we're wrestling in the bubble bath, splashing and going crazy, when all of a sudden this guy somehow sneaks into the room and starts watching us. I say what the hell fucker, I'm real mad and I'm going to get so much angrier you won't believe it. He bows his head. It's Silent Man from prison, so instead of killing him, I towel off, we say hello, shake hands, and I ask the girl in soapy panties, a student at the university, to read a book for a while, which she does without complaint. After his release from jail, Silent Man tells me, he suspected his wife of being disloyal so he flew into a jealous rage and slashed her in the face. Turns out Silent Man was wrong and he feels very badly right now. I pat him softly on the back. The gesture ignites further grief. He begins to cry. I get dressed and look out the window. Never console a weeping man with a gentle hand. Emotions explode through the tear duct.
Outside I see five guys ready to fight. Silent Man wipes away his tears, blows his nose louder than a fog horn, and says no way dude, no fighting for me, I run a noodle house, come visit. I say no sweat buddy and step outside. This big gorilla asks me for a cigarette. I pull out my pack, shake a butt loose, and offer it up. He grabs one and jams it into his mouth. I spark a flame from my lighter and hold it out for him. Just as he takes that first puff, I drill him in the jaw with an upper cut. Down he goes. That's called a cigarette punch, works every time. Then I kick all their asses. So much fun. After the fight these guys, they are so crazy, they want to buy me drinks. I say okay dudes. So we go drinking and become good pals. We form our own gang with me as the leader. We call ourselves The Punks. We smoke a lot of cigarettes. Every night I get myself a girl. I am a cool bachelor.
One night I meet a girl who wears three pairs of Day-Glo panties. We wrestle in a bubble bath. Maybe we have sex. Hard to tell. I'm thinking yes. I feel her muscle around me but it might just be her thighs. She lies on her back and prods my BVDs with her bare feet. When will the eel return to the pink cave? For a split second I am happier than I've ever been in my life. Of course all of this belongs in my journal. Then she pulls a knife on me. From across the street a twangy banjo is plucked. She's a country girl. She says I raped her once and sold her to a brothel. Hey, no way girl, I say, not me. I throw my clothes on and she chases me to an abandoned warehouse and calls me a bastard-prick. We fight off and on all day. Harmonica music pours through the room. Real saucy. We make up. She asks about my childhood, my mom. I think, no mind games for me, chick. I mash my mouth onto her lips. A big make-out session ensues. A brassy trashy tenor sax curls down from the rafters.
An older guy appears out of nowhere and says he wants to join my gang. I say why not, lug-head. Every night I take a bubble bath and then go out and eat a steamy bowl of ramen. An older established gang called the 4-H Club shows up. This guy with a Fu Manchu wants to fight me. Don't make me laugh, I say, while sipping the cloudy dregs of my miso broth. I reach down with my right hand and remove the wooden sandal from my left foot and smash the goon in the face. Both our gangs get into a big brawl to the accompaniment of bongos in a three- two beat. A kid on a skateboard films us while a little girl pulls him along by a string.
This is the beginning of a big turf war. I want to drink beer and bust up some places so that's what we do and get real bloody fighting these new conservative 4-H guys in business suits, who are slow and fat and become humiliated super easily. We run and fight them some more under the same bridge I used to call home as a boy, which brought back many bad memories. A single deep note from a cello. A lone raven flies overhead and squawks. I kick one guy in the head and his face rips right off its hinges, like he was wearing a plastic mask. The 4-H guys ask us if we've seen the Punks. I say no stupid fuckers, we are the Punks, now fuck off and urinate in your pants.
Silent Man from noodle house materializes out of thin air and asks my gang to return to his place for sake. We drink for a while but then the 4-H guys raid the place with guns. I'm shot in my left arm, my leg, and stomach. My crew carries me home. I might die. A doctor dresses my wounds, pulls out a giant needle for a blood transfusion. My girlfriend laughs and says she's Type O, like me, the universal blood type. During my recovery I fear the 4-H Club will try to kill me but instead Sir Big Ears, the head 4-H dude, comes peacefully and asks me and my gang to join his silly posse. He says that everyone in town wants me dead and without his protection I'm doomed. Sir Big Ears worships me because he likes the way I fight. I watch his eyes drift across the room like he's concentrating on floating dust particles while I think about his crappy proposal. I remind him of what he was like when he was a young street fighter. I tell Sir Big Ears, no way man; I don't belong to no one. I call my own shots. I give him the hang loose sign, laugh wild, then double over in pain. Noodles, he says, you are a stupid daredevil. You'll be rubbed out five minutes after I leave the building. The Ambassadors want you dead and they control everything. I say okay I'll join your gang, whatever. We do a smooth soulman handshake, bang knuckles.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Headless"
Copyright © 2004 Benjamin Weissman.
Excerpted by permission of Akashic Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. BLOODTHIRSTY MAN,
Hitler Ski Story,
Of Two Minds,
Wicked Maid Churning Butter,
Monkey Man Killer,
The Fecality of it All,
3. TIPS FROM THE SENSUAL MAN,
Tips from the Sensual Man,
Pink Slip of Wood,
Dear Après-Ski Forum,
4. TECHNICALLY DADLESS,
Death by Toilet,
My Two Sons,