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illustration by Drew Blomquist

by Neal A. Corl


Nora Mae is this girl I met. You know that first time she wasn't wearing much but a g-string. I have a clear recollection of her bantam titties, but not her nipples so I assume she was wearing pasties. Self-aware of her near nudity as she was, she managed to discuss literature and monster trucks. She was both uninhibited and self-conscious, talking directly to me so crazy manic real but with a short attention span. I stayed out of the conversation as much as possible. I didn’t want to seem to care – as usual I was nonchalant.

After that she was coming to some clubs where I worked the door and as far as I knew she was being nice trying to avoid the cover. Overall I think she was genuine and nothing like a phony, though I’m sure she didn’t mind getting in for free. It wasn’t like she was exploiting some mad attraction or crush I had on her; it’s just that I’m a man and she’s Nora Mae.

Someone, God maybe, poured this woman into faded jeans, boot cut over two-tone, but mostly red, shitkickers. Last night she came right over to me and said my name loud and smiling. She said she’d been thinking about me. She had been out in Los Angeles lying by a pool, sipping frozen drinks. I imagined her by the last pool I was lying beside in LA. Small, beautiful, fragile next to the pool on one of those chaise lounges with a hundred thin straps conjoining a supple surface for that alone full-bodied Venus of Willendorf woman. Kicking fucking ass all by herself in the sunshine, thinking about me. Suddenly we weren’t talking about LA anymore. I had to leave her by the pool and catch up with her kicking ass in the East Village. I tried to kick some ass too; then we exchanged something real. Not real between us like a moment, but some straightforward, sincere observation about something or other – nothing heavy, just real.

Then she was off. She jumped into Fudgie’s arms. I could see that he was struggling to hold onto that girl really hard. I could see, too, the ass on that girl. I had pictured her so vastly different by the pool. She was neither fragile small nor full-bodied but just woman.

I left. I didn’t even say goodbye. But you know I should have given her the whatfor and the knowhow. No. That’s bullshit and I know it. What would I have done? Thrown her across my knee and paddled that sweet ginger ass? Carried her out of the joint over my shoulder and kissed her against every parked car on the way back to her place? Maybe in the old days, but not these days. I would have just been quiet and talked slow because I’m in oh-so-ripe-for-love pain. I need some understanding and some tenderness. I need that love that can’t stand no talking just yet.

I stole these milk crates about ten years ago. One of them had, No Sex Just Hold Me, scribbled on the side in Magic Marker. That’s how I feel right now, finally. Just.

I can’t hang this one off a damn balcony or knock the salt and pepper shakers off of the kitchen table to fuck that one like some porn star on crystal meth. I can’t stare down at anonymous scalps in taxicabs and bathroom stalls when they’re down on their knees. My heart ain’t in it. If I’m going to give it to her in a doorway or an elevator, it’s going to be after she can just hold me.


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DUCTS summer issue 2001
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