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Amber Paulen


Taken from: The Body’s Long Madness, Part 3, Pg. 127-129:

The two men wait outside the door in the evening on that Friday. Each is holding a bottle of wine and Andrew has in his other hand an additional bottle of vodka. Andrew has already told his brother all about this young woman, Arianna, about her sex and the liberated way she makes him feel. The brother would like to try that out for himself, but he supposes there is a friend that is just as pert and ready as Arianna is said to be. The two men wait at the door full of sexual promise and expectation. They are confident; their bodies sturdy and solid; they have brought gifts; there is no doubt that they will succeed.

Arianna buzzes them up. Joy and her have created a scene full of sexual promise. Joy even infinitely more knowledgeable than Arianna, who keeps in full-stock her own sexual prowess, stimulations, the sparkings of desire. And so, the debaucheries of the weekend begin, slipping all four back into those ancient times of Rome when moral conduct was lax, or just not as well developed. It is this night that Valerie calls and Arianna agrees: if Joseph says she can come, let her come, as long as I’m not responsible.

The night is long, of more teasing than sex itself. They all fall asleep with exhaustion and drinks. Joy and the brother taking ‘The Private Room,’ Andrew’s mouth dropping with this revelation: “Why on earth have we been sleeping on the floor?”

“It’s Joseph’s bed and I don’t like fucking in it,” Arianna slurs. And so, they build their bed on the floor, just like they have before.

The apartment on via Cicerone spins full-tilt. Arianna imagines that she is the center of this wheel, that she is the axle around which it spins. It gives her great pleasure to sit back and to look at the scenario that she feels to have created: the chaotic atmosphere the place has assumed. The living room, which are her sleeping quarters, have been completely displaced: clothes, books, papers, thongs, plates, cups, bottles, litter all surfaces. The large table behind the couch can no longer be seen nor distinguished. The people, the three she feels to have gathered together, have all clicked; giving her the impression that every nuance will be stretched to full potential. The chaotic Germans even compliment the mess for there are at least four of them piled-high in Klaus and Monika’s marital bed. There is drunkenness and sex. In the morning, or by the sun, mid-afternoon, the night has already begun. Joy and the brother can be heard through the still silent apartment and Arianna, who has risen to smoke a cigarette, smiles knowingly to herself.

This is perfection. In many ways she wishes that this could be her life for the rest of her life; this chaos that so represents how she feels within, where nothing is certain, nothing is stable, nothing clean nor pure. Only these wicked rules of who she is and who she will forever be.

Arianna exhales the smoke above Andrew’s sleeping head. They had attempted sex but had been too drunk, slipping it up, trying too hard, eventually collapsing onto each other and onto the floor. She looks at his exhausted face; the innocence of man’s sleep, hardness saddled-up by dreams, childlike, his hair falls over his eyes and she thinks that he is beautiful; his naked body under the thin sheet, the nakedness of all men. What is it about herself that craves penetration from him and his kind? That thought as unordered as the room, as their night last night—the looks on their faces when they walked in to find two attractive ladies lounging and sipping wine so scantily clad. The smiles that crossed two faces, and how they entered the room in swaggering strides, as if we had offered them for the night, the whole world. That we could sit topless for so long without consciousness, they soon got used to it, stopped ogling one pair and then the other. The weakness of man being the strength within myself.

With the cigarette stubbed out, Arianna lights another, enjoying the sounds coming from the room across the hall and the deep breathes of the sleeping man. The Saturday traffic is heavy four floors down. The sun pours through the tall windows and shatters on the dusty wood floor, amplifying the dirtiness, reflecting among the room’s large whiteness. Arianna drifts to Joy’s invitation to San Francisco, to becoming a stripper and the indulgence of starting again, to cut all ties, to leave this place and Joseph and even Finland again—to begin anew. That tempting phrase; to carry oneself away and free of the past that haunts and latches with memory of who one will always be. That past clings, there is no doubt; there are ways to trick the past, to shake it off so it does not hook so tight.

She stumbles upon the idea of destiny, which she sometimes believes and sometimes does not. Most times there is no sense in the whole mess of stuff and what happens to her and around her just happens like numbers when drawn at random. The closest she can come to some kind of purpose, some kind of steadiness within herself, is her body, she guesses; her body has always proved the most stable, the most true, the most simple to predict. Any reaction to an equal and opposite action. A short skirt will always bring more results than a longer one: this is a basic rule of Nature. Those high heels on Joy always manage to turn a higher percentage of heads. If life could be narrowed down to such simple equations, well, that would be perfect; destiny would make sense and so would all those other categories of organized thoughts. But as it stands, the room is a mess, life is a mess and it’s best to make as much as a mess as one can, to go along with it so as not to get sucked in.

‘I have my philosophizing. This is a body that thinks.’ The lost solidity of the night before, the drunken flux of the liquescent physical being has managed some alteration in the mind, a temporary new way of thinking. Not a blind cheerfulness but an immanent inevitability that Arianna feels a part of.

The man stirs on his wooden bed. Arianna goes down to him, arousing him until he wakens and does not waken. They have soft sex on the rigid floor.

Bracciano Italy
February 2008

Note: Help! me finish this annoyingly omnipresent book! There are pages and pages still waiting at the gate!


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