Werewolf and Other Stories
The grove was heavy, dark, and cool. Dripping, slushy sounds massaged some deep part of him, soothing. He needed to rest. He needed to recover. Looking down he saw his skin, supple in the moonlight. His belly was full and bouncy. Smiling, he laughed quietly at the sight of the bulbous orb in his lap, skin stretched tight around it. Like a ball! He thought, and giggled. Little rivulets of blood, magenta and rust, dribbled from the corners of his mouth. The head of his flaccid penis stuck out like a tiny cap below his gut. He sighed. Her body, dead next to him, was now an object of comfort, vaguely like a pillow, blanket…puppy? Gradually, he regained his mind.
We left the dim light of our small city in the late evening. The sky glowed, a mix of black and cerulean blue that seemed back-lit, like a computer screen.
He’s driving now, but slow. We are on a dirt road, pretty well out of town. He’s turned off the headlights as he does on moonlit nights. It’s something about the country he likes. I’m always a bit nervous when we make out. I know he wants to fuck me. We haven’t yet. I like how much he wants me. I feel like I can make him do anything, even though all I’ve done since we started dating is stuff he likes to do. Anyway, he likes the light of the moon better than headlights on some nights near his parents’ home out of the city, and he’s excited now, so he fingers me with increasing fervor. I’ve always felt I deserve some sort of punishment for things that have happened, or for just being who I am. The instant his touching becomes painful is like a balloon full of glitter bursting. Unnerved, I wretch, but it’s a tingling emotional sickness that doesn’t last long enough to stop anything. He twists me out of my seat, off of my back as he stops the car on the dirt road. My eyes have adjusted. The air is hot. The ground seems bright white now. It’s that chalky dirt. Not the red kind. My face is pressed against the door handle, and my cheekbone burns. My fingers are on the window. I feel a sting, but I don’t move or scream.
He grabs a fistful of my hair and pulls my head back, tearing at my bottom lip with his teeth.
Later that night I sit in a detached garage where one of his bandmate’s dads works on cars for a living, mostly painting them. It’s where the guys hang out at night. I drink Budweiser tallboys, one after another. Tacked up pages from porn magazines adorn the walls at regular intervals, all lit by a long and glaring fluorescent bulb. Every can, piece of trash, glossy page, pock marked and stubbled face, sizzles in its ugly photon bath. It dangles and sways, precarious master of the nasty scene below. My mom says I’m slumming. It’s true. I love to drink, but I always thought if I ever started it would be with some sophisticated something that, now, I’ll probably never know.
I don’t really talk to anyone, and no one seems to notice. Every once in a while, I start to feel nervous, like I need to join in their conversation and act cool, so I laugh at a joke or make a comment, but none of them look at me or respond. They’re all getting high. Smoking weed. Talking about weed. Talking about smoking it, growing it, selling it. Blunts made from grape cigarillos. Hydroponics. Roach clips. Schwag and seeds and papers and resin. Something sort of scientific-sounding. Something sort of political. I’m staring at a girl who is much curvier than I am and a few years older, too. She is blonde, like me. I wonder at her curviness, thinking to myself, “See, she is acceptable, and she’s not extremely thin.” I drink deeply from my can, savoring the wheaty taste, the weak bite of carbonation, but loving most the haze in my mind. The girl whose hips are round, whose thighs touch at the top, leaving no gap, has a hairless pussy. Waxed, shaved, something, smooth and razor-burn free. She is tan all over. Her breasts are huge and her nipples peach colored. They almost blend with her golden skin. She’s dressed like a school girl. Like a little girl. Like a child. Otherwise naked, she wears a backpack and white Keds with white knee-high socks. Her hair is in pigtails. She stands on a wide avenue, lined with trees—a true Academy! What looks like the lush, irrigated quadrangle of a New England boarding school lolls behind her, both pastoral and institutional. I imagine all of the old distinguished men who work there fucking her. They’d bend her over their desks and let their shriveled ball sacks brush her taut, stretched thighs. I have a different kind of appeal, I tell myself. I’m the starved, waifish kind of pretty. Gaunt and frail, beautiful and delicate. I don’t believe I’d still be attractive if I were curvy, or even a normal weight. I decided that years ago. Men like me thin.
“Maybe what we fear most is deep inside of us—the horrifying notion that we, too, are capable of unthinkable atrocities. What thin line separates you and me from Jeffrey Dahmer, H.H. Holmes, Albert Fisch? And can it be crossed? If we’re lucky, we’ll never find out. I’m Michael Avery, and you have been listening to Tales. Tune in next week for a unique episode—the first in our special October edition of the podcast featuring extras, extended programming, and possibly even a special guest or two…”
The show host’s voice fades, and my thoughts turn to his final analysis, drowning out closing plugs and thanks to listeners. What line separates me from the serial killers I’ve learned about on TV shows, in the news, in books, reproduced as characters in film--whose lives have been dissected first by detectives and now documentarians? Maybe it’s the line of human nature. A nature that, like a line, extends from the despicable depths of existence to the inspired, altruistic, and transcendent, cutting its upward path with ease and precision, the sickening differences between people like gaping crevasses, deep, dark, and alienating. We say we are more than animal, but for every person who conscientiously flushes a public toilet, there are five or ten more who drink Coors Light while sex chatting pre-teens, or worse.
I think of this as I walk through the park, alone. I see groups of men here and there, playing disc golf. I wonder if I’ve ever met a serial killer. Later that night my brother and I speak at length about our brushes with the scum of society—those we think might have gotten us, had we not escaped. We sit under the stars, enveloped in the warm air of late spring, utterly safe. On the concrete, edging up against a manicured lawn, where tiny rabbits feed on grass seeds not five feet from where we sit, the calm permeates our environment with such palpable richness that the animals become sluggish in a fog of peace.
Her most recent work originated from an intensive study of narrative as it relates to the static, painted image. After researching numerous iterations of horror and sexual violence in the books, films, music, and television series of pop-culture, the artist generated a group of paintings and writings that isolate, hyperbolize, and revel in the thriller/horror/gore genre’s language and imagery. The visual and literary vignettes produced for the project do not critique their sources, which included everything from films like Peeping Tom (1964) and Elle (2016) to Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. Instead, they elevate those especially juicy and disturbing morsels of grossness, terror, discomfort, and emotional pain found within these works, and produce an ugly sex-violence concentrate, meant to be viewed and read without constraints of a typical narrative, such as time, place, or reason.
Jessamyn Plotts is a painter and writer currently based in Dallas, Texas. Her direct approach to the image making process generates a broad array of quickly rendered works that reflect the discomfort, aggression, anxiety and humor inherent to the treatment of women in American culture. She received her BFA from Texas State University in 2015 and completed additional course work in painting, drawing, and art history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and at the University of Texas at Austin. She has shown her work in Austin and San Antonio. Presently, she is a MFA candidate at the Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University.