Being hungry for him made her realize how wonderful sex could be, how two people could do anything with each other and never feel dirty, or guilty.
She was so goddamn crazy angry with Jerry, and the way things had turned out, that she wanted to inflict the worst kind of pain on him.
By Dell Franklin
When Sally McCormick was attending junior college and still living at home, she’d have these feelings when she woke up in the morning. It was like, well, she was kind of happy, things were going along OK, but something was missing, and deep inside of her there was this feeling something really good, something really terrific and special was going to happen. She could not describe this feeling, or express it to her friends because it was just a feeling that pleasantly tugged at her and promised a certain experience that was going to occur in her life, and it would be the best thing that ever happened to her, and she knew it was going to be love.
Oh, she’d read about love, seen it in movies, and it was in all the beautiful songs and poems, and friends talked about how love happened to you when you least expected it, and when it did happen it was all that mattered, which was not how it was when she’d gone steady with a very nice boy named John Devlin in high school.
When she met Jerry working at Disneyland, it happened instantly. He was this tanned, carefree beach boy type, really handsome, not pretty but manly and charming, with kind eyes, and he was funny, a kidder, and not so serious like John, who wanted to marry her, but looser and natural and there. Though he hung out with surfers, he was more a loner than a follower, and she could see by the way he handled himself at Disneyland during lunch breaks that girls liked him, were interested in him in more ways than one, and some of the girls talked about how sexy he was, kind of a rake, but not a heel or a bastard, and he had this way of looking at her like he knew her secret thoughts and laughed at them, but not in a mean way, but like he saw something special in her, and, of course, it just happened between them like lightning, and at that second it was over for her and all she could think about was Jerry—nothing else mattered.
She went to school, went to work, but all of this was secondary to Jerry. She would have dropped any of those things to be with him, and there wasn’t any doubt they were in love, this was it, they just knew it, and they didn’t want to be around their parents and friends, and they could not get enough of each other, and making love, it was so new, so fresh, so deep, beyond all her previous fantasies, so…complete. She was satisfied, and yet she was not satisfied, as if she was hungry for him all the time, and being hungry for him made her realize how wonderful sex could be, how two people could do anything with each other and never feel dirty, or guilty, because both of them were always giving, trying to make the other feel better, and while they did this they felt their love growing and growing, until it was so full it had to burst, but it didn’t, and she knew then that this was the fulfillment of the feeling she awakened with those mornings, when she knew something like this was going to happen in her life.
Since they could not bear being apart, she could not bring herself to think about how lonely and painful it was going to be with Jerry gone for two years in the Army, or bear the burden of him going to Vietnam and getting wounded, or killed! But he reassured her that he would stay alive for her, no matter what it took.
She could not discuss her feelings with her parents. They felt Jerry was nobody going nowhere, a good time Charley, stuck at Disneyland for life. Her friends thought he was a beach boy Romeo with his wavy sun-bleached hair and looks, and he was vain, liking to cruise in his cherried 1955 Chevy and look at the girls. She knew this going in, but it didn’t matter, for she would’ve died to be with him. She did not look at other men. It was like life had not existed before Jerry, and they went on together from here on, sharing everything, and the worst part of his leaving was that she could see things and wish she could share them with Jerry. Every time she drove to the beach she thought of their making love down by the cliffs and caves, and driving around in his car reminded her of their making love in the back seat. They could make love anywhere, because they were always so excited around each other—she could smell his excitement, like a strong scent he gave off, and she loved this scent, and being near him and expecting him to kiss and touch her made everything inside her start churning and she could feel her own scent rising (it was something that happened around Jerry and only Jerry, and it was like being cleansed), and he told her he could smell her scent and it drove him crazy, and when he went down on her it was like he just could not get enough of her, could not stop himself trying to make her feel the most terrible pleasure a woman could feel, and this was what she missed like she’d never missed anything before in her life.
When he left he gave her his car. That’s the way they were. She’d have given him anything she owned if he wanted it, even if it was her most treasured possession, and he gave her his most treasured possession, his cherry ‘55, which he kept immaculate. He didn’t ask her to drive it or take care of it, but gave it to her, and this angered his brothers, who thought they should take care of the car, but he didn’t care, because it was like neither of them had these great big families, but were on their own and away from them and wanted to be on their own private island.
She wrote him every day when he was in basic training, and he wrote her short notes, because he was so busy, and though he said it was very hard, he also said everybody had to go through it, it was your duty, and that her letters kept him hopeful when he thought about being sent to Vietnam. He said that the thought of seeing her again made everything tolerable and rosy, and that every time he got her letter he felt great, and nothing they did to him could dim the happiness that her letters brought to him.
When he finally got a weekend pass she drove up to Fort Ord in Monterey and they never left the motel room, ate takeout and watched TV and made love the whole time, and when he came home for his 15-day leave they were together the whole time, and both parents were angry, but they didn’t care, because as long as they were together nothing mattered because they were together on their own island, didn’t want to get off, didn’t want to let anybody on, and when they wrote each other later on after he transferred to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and finally to his permanent duty station in Germany, they always talked about their island, and how nothing or nobody could ever budge them off it, and when he got out they would stay on that island forever, until they died.
His letters from Germany started to change after a while. He had never griped about anything the whole time she had known him. He was always so up, and strong, like a rock, he could not be discouraged and stood up to anything that came along, somebody to lean on, a fortress, her hero. But after a few months at this place called Baumholder, which he called “The Rock,” there started to be, like, a crack in the fortress. He bitched about how terrible the place was, like a prison, but worse, because they had him shooting off these loud cannons and artillery rockets day and night, and the noise never ceased and his ears always rang and he couldn’t hear half the time, and everything was dirty and dusty, or icy and snowing and freezing, always dark and depressing, and he wished he were with her at the beach in the sun, riding the waves and making love, and he didn’t know how he was going to make it for another year, and now her letters were more important to him than ever.
He sounded so lonely, and needy, like a little boy whining for his mother, like, well, dependent on her, while Sally felt that being over in Germany, no matter how terrible, was a situation he should be thankful for, since it wasn’t Vietnam, where guys were getting killed every day, and she told him this, but he wrote and said she could not possibly understand what it was like, and that half the time he wished he were in Vietnam, so he could blow off big guns at the little Charlies from North Vietnam miles away. Now everything he wrote was so down, so negative, and it began to turn her off, and when this happened she felt she was losing what was most important between them, like he was this different person than the one she knew and loved, and she hadn’t seen him in so long, (it would be nine months when the holidays came up) and she was lonely, and it was harder and harder to write the same kind of letters she’d been writing him for a year, and she had to have some kind of life for herself besides writing him, and her girlfriends told her that these relationships never worked, that guys went away in the Army and changed, could not go without women and went to prostitutes and got venereal diseases, and hearing this made her sick to her stomach, when she thought of Jerry with those girls…she just could not picture him being the same way with them as he was with her, but guessed that it was true that men had to have women, especially the sex part, and here she was not thinking about sex, though lots of cute guys who worked at Disneyland were thinking about it when they hit on her, guy after guy, like an avalanche of guys pursuing her, like dogs in heat when Jerry left and one particular guy, a ride operator named Bill Lancaster, who was 26, was relentless in his pursuit of Sally, always telling her how beautiful she was, and he was handsome, and she had to admit she was flattered by the attention and compliments, and she was lonely, and so missed having a man touch her, caress her, hold her, and it was enough to make her cry to think about what she and Jerry had had together and not being able to do it for almost two years…it didn’t seem fair at all, especially if he was having sex with prostitutes and putting his health in danger.
So she went out with Bill. At first they didn’t do anything, just had dinner and drinks. Bill was different from Jerry, more of a hustler, where Jerry, though kind of a hustler, was also more of a man’s man, more of a gentleman than a playboy, and he was romantic. Bill tried to be romantic, but it seemed unreal, artificial, like he had this line, this game he played to set up a romantic atmosphere. But still, he was very convincing, and he kept telling her Jerry was in Germany, and being in the Army meant he was like all the other GIs over there—they drank, brawled, bought whores, became like wild animals, became negative and resented civilians, because it was a time in their lives when the Army turned a man into something different, especially overseas, and it could not be helped, especially if you had the kind of duty Jerry had, and Bill felt it was stupid that Sally deprive herself from the things in life that gave her pleasure and made her feel like a woman, and he said she should never feel guilty, like so many Catholic girls do, and that the Catholic Church and religious parents controlled you and inhibited you from doing all the sexual things that seemed so sinful but were natural, and now Bill was telling her how attitudes and morals had changed in the world, as people were discovering how wonderful sex was, how they were breaking down the old Victorian shackles and living for the moment, and so one night they had a few drinks and went dancing, and started kissing, and for a while it was exactly like she was kissing her Jerry, after they shared her first joint and she was in bed naked with Bill and she wasn’t thinking about Jerry at all, just felt this man’s arms around her and his sex inside of her as he squeezed and kissed and gave her pleasure.
She wanted it, needed it, made up her mind she was going to do all the things with Bill that she’d done with Jerry, wasn’t going to hold back, and after this happened she could no longer bring herself to write Jerry when letter after letter came, asking her what was going on? What was wrong? Did she still love him? Had she forgotten him? Was she in love with another man? Why wasn’t she writing? Then one of his brothers wrote and told him about Bill, and he wrote and asked was she doing the same things with Bill that she’d done with him? And he said he was starting to hate her because she could not be trusted, was like all the rest, a liar and two-timer, and not the person he had loved, because he no longer loved her, and then came the letter of all letters, the most horrible, spiteful, evil letter any man could write any woman, it just staggered her that he could sink so low—the stuff he said about her, calling her the filthiest, lowest, basest whore on earth, garbage, phony, hypocrite, a siren, a pretty little goody-goody Irish puritan who was nothing but a lowdown cocksucking cunt, a depraved monster who belonged in porno movies, a person who disgusted and, revolted him, and that as far as he was concerned she was dead, and in fact he actually wished she was dead!
Sally cried, was never so wounded, so stunned, and when she showed the letter to Bill, he said Jerry had lost it and cracked, was weak, a loser, a psycho, and she was lucky to find out what he was really like, and when she thought how she’d felt about him, and how she’d loved him, and the island they’d been on, she was sick to her stomach, threw up, and went into a depression, and drank, and she was so angry, so goddamn crazy angry with Jerry, and the way things had turned out, that she wanted to inflict the worst kind of pain on him, wanted to hurt and slice him to the emotional core, so his suffer-ing never ended and he realized what a rotten bastard he’d turned out to be, and when she thought about how he had made her feel about him, and how she could discover in herself the rage and viciousness and evil hatred to feel this way about somebody she had once loved so deeply and pledged to love forever and have babies with, it occurred to her that perhaps Jerry was right, and there was this part of her that was just as rotten and sluttish and filthy and no good as Jerry accused her of being, and that she was really not the person she had always thought she was, and so, in a drunken orgy with Bill, to per-manently sever what had been between her and Jerry, she made these ghastly pictures of her and Bill having wild sex together and mailed them off to Jerry, knowing that they would destroy any last vestiges of hope they’d have together.
But what really hurt and lingered and gnawed at her like a worm eating away at a rotten apple and would not go away was that what they’d had together no longer existed, and what they had together was the best thing that had ever happened to her. The loss of that, the trust and belief they had in each other, the intimacy, the hunger, the little island they had created, to protect each other, well, without that, she unraveled spiritually and plunged into an emptiness so complete, so desolate, that she seemed adrift, outside of herself, lost, and this was when she began to go on crying jags and screaming fits and smoked pot and drank herself to sleep night after night, until Bill abruptly left her and she began sleeping with guys at Disneyland, one after another taking advantage of her demise and fucking her like hungry animals. She didn’t care what they did, or what she did, just wished to escape, be wild, and crazy….
She stayed away from old friends and her parents, just worked at her job in the haze of a hangover, and when she looked at herself in the mirror and thought of herself she saw this different person, this stranger, this tramp, this whore, whose worth was only of the flesh, who was no longer worthy of any man save those who wanted to mount and fuck her until they were exhausted and had had their fill and slunk away, most of them spending as little money and doing as little entertaining as possible before getting her high and….
She knew Jerry was getting discharged. He had never written back. A couple months before Jerry was to get discharged, Sally was threatened by none other than Bill Lancaster, who ordered her to shape up and get a hold of her life because he was now her supervisor and would have her fired. She made up her mind to quit drinking, smoking pot, taking sleeping pills. She vowed to be strong. Went to church. Talked to her mom. Confessed every tawdry detail to her priest, which was quite an ordeal, but, in a way, cleansed her. She began eating better and sleeping better and ran a mile every day and buried herself at work and in school. Guys kept asking her out, but she didn’t want anything to do with any of them, or any man, period. And, in the mornings, the old longing began stirring in her again, a feeling something special, some-thing new and exciting was in store. She felt like a young, hopeful girl again, instead of a burnt out whore.
One day she went to the car—Jerry’s car—and there he was, lean-ing against the fender, in his usual Hawaiian shirt, OPs and Mexican sandals, but he looked so different! Older. He was 22 when he went in, and she swore he looked close to 30. His hair was darker, and his face was pasty, like he hadn’t been in the sun for years, and his eyes were puffy and red-rimmed, and he had this scar running down his forehead from his scalp to his eyebrow, and his nose was bigger, and crooked; he looked like he’d been through hell, he was this new person….
Still, he was Jerry. Just being near him, things started working inside of her all over again, and she found herself smiling, because he was Jerry, and it didn’t matter how he looked or how much he changed or how pitiful and weak and angry and crazy he’d become, and as she stood before him he took her hand and pressed her fingers against the jagged scars on his forehead and smiled, exposing a chipped-in-half front tooth, and then they were kissing, and holding, and squeezing tight, and it was like nothing bad had ever happened between them, like they were returning to their island, and everything was instantly going to be OK again, and she could smell him, smell his excitement, his scent, the same musky scent he always gave off when he made love to her, and she knew he still loved her, and they went straight up to her apartment and ripped off their clothes and, she was shocked at how his body had changed, because he was so pale, and a beer gut had replaced his tan, washboard stomach. Still, they fell on the bed, rolled around, groaning, kissing, and his kisses were not tender, or passionate, but brutally hard and overpowering, and the next thing he was straddling her and shoving his penis in her mouth, and then he turned her over and entered her from behind and began ramming her without mercy, ramming her harder and harder, hurting her, and she began crying, and he stopped, and her crying turned hysterical, she beat on the bed, sobbing, and Jerry rolled her back over and held her tight and told her how sorry he was, he was just screwed up, and she was the last person he wanted to hurt, he could not bear to hurt her, and he kissed her tenderly on the neck and told her he’d never hurt her again and would love her forever, and he was crying, crying as hard as he’d ever cried in his life, even harder than he had in Germany. §
Dell Franklin is publisher of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached by email at publisher@rogue voice.com.
Part I of this story can be viewed here: