Eileen Myles writes with a certain stripped grit, disarming us with the bare dissonance of her fiction. Here, in a resurrected excerpt from her 2001 novel Cool For You, Myles brutally evinces the coming-of-age of a young dyke.
There was a little job I had down in the financial district. Bank of America. Filing student loans. A huge wall of folders, a large sweeping wing of a mechanism. They moved up, they moved down. I was there all day. Behind me a huge window and all the buildings were out there. It was blue as heaven.
After work I found a little bar that reminded me of Boston’s stockbroker scene. An old little bar tucked away. I got used to going there after work and stuffing my face with pretzels and chicken wings. Some guy would offer me a drink. Sure, gin and tonic. He’d usually lose interest fast, I was so boring. I’d just stand there and smoke. How did I ever survive. I closed the place one night with a guy. I was really bombed. I wanted to go a little farther with somebody. He had short hairs combed onto his forehead a little bit. He was a businessman, a salesman. Really creepy, in the beginning, but I got used to him. Writer, huh. Astronaut, marine biologist, what the fuck. I’ll buy you some more, he said. I was shaking my pack. What do you smoke, Parliaments. I nodded. He threw them down on the table. He smoked Newports. I’ve got a great idea, Arlene. Since we’re both kind of new around here, why don’t we go to Fisherman’s Wharf and get some seafood. Whaddya say. He lifted his glass and threw back the ice, but his little eye was looking at me like one of those whales that surface for a moment. I’m kind of broke, I said. My treat, Arlene. I’m really enjoying talking to you here. I shrugged and we were off.
I think it’s a sin. It was a sin when Leon touched my body. I just thought you’re lying here and you’re lying. You just can’t get up. I’d like to pick up the cup he brought me, to lift it again. We sat down at a table in this huge restaurant. It was black outside. We were near water. I’m a girl. He would light my cigarette. I couldn’t read the menu. My head was swimming. I got another drink. I was obedient to the situation. I tasted it. It was like everything was liquid, everywhere. We got these big bowls of soup, red in tureens with thousands of fish with legs in them. Shrimp, everything bobbing. It was probably delicious but it seemed awful. My drinks kept lining up around me. Don’t you have any money, he asked at some ridiculous time. He was presenting me with a bill. His face was wide. His hair was short. I think his name was Martin. Marty. I think we even got a drink at the end, one of those double shot things like a Rusty Nail. Amazing. He carried me out. The bed was spinning in his motel. Take your dress off, he said. I’m comfortable, I said. Do you want to take a shower, he asked. I just wanted to lie in the dark. He took his shirt off. His pants. He had socks on still and BVDs. He had little skinny legs and one of those old men wide flat bodies with a little belly. It was just like if he lied down flat he’d be big pancake. His nakedness was really creepy. Just seeing his body made me feel stronger. But somehow I got my dress off. I feel like a man. Just to be even remembering this. Then he pulled his underpants off. A little dick. He kept putting spit on it and whacking it. It was like it didn’t matter what I saw. C’mon help me, he said. So I helped him. He didn’t want to kiss me. He didn’t want to hold me. His little dick wouldn’t get hard. Get down there, he said. Just kiss it, he asked. It was his spit I couldn’t stop thinking of. The dick, that little thing was nothing. It was dark. I mean it was pretty dark, just from outside. I remember sucking on his stupid little dick. Rub your tits against my legs. C’mon. I had really small breasts. I tried. It was like touching someone. Shake your tits. Pull yourself up a little bit, so I can see them. I couldn’t do it. C’mon shake your tits. It felt stupid. I couldn’t do it. Why was the salesman demanding a show. Why did I have to do it. Shake them, shake them, please. He was jerking himself off by now. C’mon. C’mon. C’mon. It was so dark in his motel room. Shake your tits, shake your tits. The cars going by made scars on the walls. It was dark. C’mon shake. I shook.
Excerpted from Cool For You by Eileen Myles, published by Soft Skull Press. By permission of the author.
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