SCENE: Said the rat-faced drunk in the strip club: "You know, if I wasn't lucky enough to be a human being, say, if I was a Bonobo monkey, I'd be trying to screw you up the ass right now."
He paused. I looked at him trying to smile.
"Yeah, I'd be trying to fuck you in the ass right now, in the middle of the floor," he continued. "How the hell would you like it if I was sittin' here trying to fuck you in the ass? I'm sittin' here and I just --- you're a little guy -- I just try to bend your ass over --- fuck ya? How the hell would you like that?"
I didn't answer. I was scared of him. Days before, the man explained, he had found his five-year-old daughter watching a nature special on the Bonobo monkeys, and it made him sick. The Bonobo, for those who don't know, is a West African primate that has sex practically all the time, whenever and with whomever it can. Bonobos know no gender or incest boundaries when it comes to the dirty deed: mothers and fathers pair with their children, as do sisters with brothers, sisters with sisters and brothers with brothers. They are a matriarchal society, and observers note with some interest that there is absolutely no violence among them. They are the only non-aggressive primate group, as well as the only animal that masturbates for pleasure.
"You know Bonobo moms have sex with their kids right after they're born?" said Bonobo, silly with drink. He grimaced across the stage at the Baby Doll Lounge. The Baby Doll, before it was forced out of business by the puritans running New York today, was a gaunt, homely rectangle off White and Church streets in Tribeca. It had a minimally stocked liquor shelf, red ceilings, black walls, and warped funny mirrors along the dancers' stage, which was staple-carpeted unevenly, as if the soused Bonobo had set them up. A girl in dyed-red hair, with a forty-year-old face and the perky body of a 17-year-old, nibbled her fingers over the tatty carpeting. The age difference made me think of some R. Crumb twist on Frankenstein: old head that knows the moves on a new body that can do them.
"I find my kid watching this stuff on Channel 13," continues Bonobo. "Graphic stuff. And my little daughter's watching these monkeys bang away at each other."
"Bonobo's a funny word," I said.
I started thinking up variations. "Bonobable" for something honorable and good; "to bonobe," to have sex, a variation on "to bone"; "bonobalicious," the superlative of bonobable.
"When I saw that, I felt like killing those Bonobos," said Bonobo. A stripper approached at his dollar beck, poking her packed bra at his forehead. "No, baby, I wanna go downtown."
"They're repulsive. They're really repulsive. They're everything we're not," he said. "What really bothers me is my five-year-old is watching this stuff. It's just disgusting. Nature. Nature is disgusting."
SCENE: The safaried men, in jungle khakis, on elephants, the Hannibal men with cheek-scars -- one with pussing eyes and a raging fever being carried in a stretcher. Still others, jawing a meager ration with eyes cocked at dripping leaves; rain-dread and malarial yellow-eye; slave-men lowing, tea being set in the mosques of netted tents at night. The drizzling of fires going out, gew-gaws of stars, the rhapsodic sounding and thumping of a beast somewhere afar. Bloody sacks humped on flat rocks -- the porters clicking with the cricket, knowing something is afoot, at the least that a long night is falling.
He imagined this as she lap-danced. Her breasts were enormous, soft and fake. She could still squeeze milk from them, which he had not thought possible after such a knifing. "How kin ya still gi' milk?" he asked.
"I just give birth four months," she said.
The Bonobo Hunt would last months, he decided after the lap dance. First, sickness among the men, and spawning mutiny, and loathing for the natives, and abuse. "Where are the Bonobo?" asked the strapping hook-nosed men with green teeth and faces burnt.
Went the drums: "Wedonobonobo wedonobonobo wedonobonobo." Civilized men who are really in nature, who have no repair but wits and sweat, end up hating nature. First of all, nature is indifferent. We die, it goes on. Wand of cycles the Romantic pulls from felt hat: triad of banalities -- sea, sex and sun, for example.
Nature is quite boring, actually, repetitious, modulated by a hugely organized caprice, the weather, which men take to be Providence -- which viewed from the fireplace with the bed-bug lady lover seems the honeymoon suite. Nature is really something awful, giant stomach, very intestinal. This writer remembers when he broke his leg in the wilderness, on the Green River, which feeds the Colorado, in a desert canyon with no option but down-river to Lake Powell. He remembers the laughter of the canyons when, balancing on an oar to take a dump, he fell in the warm turd, and just lay there for awhile, 'cause it was warm and his leg was getting cold.
Then, a fist of town out of mud: they see it many miles away, with its strings of smoke over the hills. They proceed carefully, knowing the region is full of tribal enmities, hatred of the white man, and many small bugs. One such bug, a few unfortunates in the party learn, lays its eggs in human flesh: a type of spider, they learn, after the newborns hatched from Messr. Barnabus' calf. The bite innocuous at first: a splotchy fret of red surrounding two bloody, squinting eyes where the teeth delved. Barnabus, organizer and most impassioned of the Hunt, put it aside and told no one, as none of the symptoms of heavy poisoning followed. And told no one when the bite swelled; he swathed it in bandages; for the pain, he shot a cylinder of morphine daily. And still told no one; and feared, for reasons he knew not, to remove the bandages. For the wrap seemed to grow, to bulge outward a little bit daily, and the pain itched up his leg into his spine, gave him headaches, hot flashes. Nights he dreamed of many legs hauling on his tongue, and he awoke thinking they were ants. Which did not bother him, mind you, Barnabus being a tough guy, of generous muscle.
Till one day, at break in a cool valley stream, under the jungle shade, he removed the bandages. The flesh around the wound had grown very soft, pale as chiffon, almost transparent; but the wrack the wound had put on his spine prevented him bending over for closer inspection. He called to a porter. "You," he said in the native tongue, "take a look at this, will you?" The porter came up, looked at the leg, and backed off with fear in his eyes. "You give birth," he said.
Feeling the cool, the bandages removed, the eggs had begun to hatch. The flesh crawled a moment. Then his leg exploded in pain; the flesh around the midpoint of the calf began to ripple, like a calm sea; it shuddered, lay still.
Messr. Barnabus got angry. "What the hell is going on?" He stood up. Suddenly, the flesh popped, and out came a flicking leg.
The porters got excited, but kept their distance. "Bwana giving birth," they shouted.
SCENE: Half-naked woman in rags with a pair of bent glasses hanging off her putty-shaped nose, running amok among the Bonobo hoards, who are screeching and oooing, alternately screwing each other and looking coy. The woman, a college professor who teaches women's studies and anthropology, finds a small garrison of the wretched beasts fingering a solemn mother about to give birth; the tiny, mucusey head pumps forth from her fat yam-colored vagina. Nearby, a brace of young, frail Bonobo sit stupidly on a log. The woman begins to give orders. She has perfected the means of command, a Morse-Twat Code: she effects it by falling on hands and knees, raking the sky with her hindquarters, and dipping a dildo in her vagina, and by varying depths, speed changes, and angles of entry she communicates to the massing Bonobo the threat peering out of the jungle.
"It is Man! He is coming to destroy your happiness!" cries the Dildo, now slamming most eloquently in her anus. "He would destroy all Nature if he could. You! Commandeer that trunk! You! Get off her, and arm yourself with this twig! You! Raise your thumbnail! Defend yourselves against Man!"
By this time, the Bonobos are muttering and drooling with interest. They understand the orders, the threat, their imminent destruction, but find much more compelling this silvery bar winking with sunlight out of her bonobable ass. "It is bonobalicious!" says one, as a Troubadour hacks his arm off.
"We must bonobe her," says another, moving to mount the young anthropologist when an elephant gun shears him in half. "Take her to Bonobalopolous," cries a third, but as this fair city was in the midst of being overrun, the anthropologist suddenly found herself the object of affection of several dozen very randy Bonobo males. It had not been her plan.
In fact, so whacked was her plan that invading Man, bristling with machetes and shotguns and bloody to the gills with slaughter, saw this impromptu orgy -- and joined in. Man and Bonobo boffed side by side, even taking turns with courteous bows. Once the men had finished, they slaughtered every last child of the ancient tribe, and the bonobos were no more.
SCENE: They were finished. The money lay on the table: two hundred-dollar bills, sweat-heavy and crumpled on a plastic poker table in a corner of the room. He looked at her closely, affecting the engaged eyes of a man in love.
"Yeah, alright," she said.
"Shh," he said, fearing the fat black man outside the door. "Could Ijust look at your teeth a second?"
"My teeth are fake. Fuck off."
He pulled out a fifty.
"Okay, look at my teeth."
Three, five, seven, ten -- he counted ten caps. They were porcelain white, toilet white he suddenly thought. Your teeth are toilet white. How many hours did it take in the chair to make those teeth. How much money. He looked closer at the gums: they were red, almost bleeding. The cap-edges dug into the sensitive gum.
"Your gums are bleeding," he said finally.
"Yup," she said.