Collections By Stephen Faulkner

__        Josey, you won’t believe what happened to me today, you just can’t. I’m not even sure I believe it myself, it was so unreal.

 

__        You’re right, Marie, I don’t believe it at all. It just can’t be true. Things like that just don’t happen. You must be lying.

 

__        How can you say that when I haven’t even…. Oh, now I get it. “Quit the preamble, Marie, and get to the point.” Right?

 

__        Words right out of my mouth. So tell me; what’s so unreal that you can’t believe that it actually happened? What’s the big revelation?

 

__        “Not a revelation, really, and not even so big as I made it sound. Well, anyway, get this…. I’m on the “preferred list” down at Aaron’s Collectibles, you know. Well, I got their “special issue” catalog for this month in the mail and it was just fantastic. You wouldn’t believe what they have in this month. I don’t know who the buyer had to bribe or sleep with to get all this stuff but whoever it was, it worked. Spode Limiteds, Lladro Numbered Editions, Hummel Originals. Can you imagine? Five complete sets of the Hummel “Band” collection – violinist, flautist, horn player, guitarist, the whole thing. Vintage 30’s – just incredible. And the envelope the catalog came in was only postmarked yesterday. Now, here comes the “you won’t believe it” part – aside from the fact that I almost had an accident in the car on the way down there, Anyway, are you ready?  Four of the band sets, all of them complete, were already gone by the time I got there and someone had bought the bowler hatted violin player out of the one set that was left, I tell you, Josey, I was just devastated.

 

__        Too bad. Did you buy what was left of the last set? Horn, flute, guitar and the rest?

 

__        What would have been the point? The violin makes the set. I just had to settle for something else, that’s all.

 

__        For what? For a Lladro?

 

__        No. All they had left was The Shepherdess and I already have that one. I really need the Goat Girl but all that they had of that one was a three incher with a chip out of the bottom. But let me show you what I did get, though. It’s really….

 

__        Don’t bother, Marie. You know my only interests in your knick-knacks come from your enjoyment of them. For myself, it’s all a waste of time. Just tell me what it is, that’s all. My pleasure is seeing the excitement in your eyes when you describe one of your acquisitions to me.

__        My pleasure is your pleasure, huh? It’s a pity I don’t have your own hobby to get really involved with, Josey. Instead of your always getting a vicarious charge watching my face brighten with the thought of a new piece I’ve just gotten or that I’m about to get, I could be delighting in your little triumphs.

 

__        I have my own triumphs; you know that. My hobby is social rather than material in nature. And for you to see the delight – rapture, really – on my face when one of my “acquisitions” have been truly successful, well, you’d have to have put yourself into something of a compromising position in order to do so.

 

__        Yeah, I imagine that I would. Not that I would want to be in one of your – ahem! – “acquisitions” when it happens. The trouble with your “hobby”” – and I have a hard time thinking of what you do when you collect as a hobby – is that what you have gained in the doing is so transitory that it can’t be enjoyed afterwards. Now look at this. Hey! Don’t make a face about it, just look. See? You can look at it, touch it, handle it, appreciate its beauty. I bought I, know that it’s mine, that it will last. In your “collection,” what do you…?

 

__        “Is that what you bought? A statuette of a naked woman? Marie, I had no idea. I mean, I didn’t realize that you, of all people, swung that….

 

__        Josey, what are you thinking? One track mind, that’ you, as usual. So all right, it’s a naked woman but there is nothing smutty about it. It’s the beauty of it that matters. Here, look at its clean, flowing line. Art Deco, 1920’s. I love it and always will have it to hold and look at….

 

__        Until you need some fast and ready cash. Then I suppose you could get a pretty penny for it, couldn’t you?

 

__        Give it a couple of years and I’m sure I could sell it for a lot more than I paid for it today, though I would hate to part with it. But that is a consideration. As long as the pieces in my collection re in mint or close to mint condition, the return I could realize could really be nearly astronomical.

 

__        The difference between us, then, is that you have to wait for your collection to appreciate in value while what I collect is given freely to me and what I give in return can be pretty damned valuable on its own to a man whose tastes are discriminating and he’s willing to show me how much what we do means to him….

 

__        Josey! You don’t mean to tell me that you actually…?

 

__        Don’t get all excited about it. It only happened once, and I didn’t even mean to. I just tossed off a silly suggestion while we were undressing each other. Something like, “Monetary considerations would be greatly appreciated.” You know, just a joke, really. I didn’t think the guy would take me seriously. I just did it to see what kind of reaction I’d get and if I could get away with it.

__        And did you…? Did he…?

 

__        Yes, he did. Fifty dollars. I think I must have felt the way an actress who’s in love with the theater feels when she gets her first paying role. Like I was stealing or something. Doing what I love to do and getting paid for it? It didn’t seem right somehow, made me feel kind of guilty. I went right out and gave the whole fifty to a priest at Saint Anselm’s for the church’s poverty drive.

 

__        You didn’t! I would have gone right out and….

 

__        And bought a Hummel violin player with a bowler hat. I know. But like I said, my collection’s free and clear. There’s nothing to buy; no money changes hands. Oh, well, sure, there are some things to buy like make-up, new clothes now and then, trips to my gynecologist and contraceptives. I would have gotten those things anyway. The big expense is alcohol. Six bucks a drink at Hunter’s but with their bartenders making vodka Collinses almost three to one, it’s really not such a bad deal. Six or twelve bucks on a bar tab and I usually get lucky. Like with your fancy bric-a-brac, I do it for the pleasure, so the money spent is worth it to me.

 

__        Bit like I say, Josey, after all is said and done, what do you have to show for it? A half hour or so of foreplay, maybe a full hour for the whole thing. A couple of orgasms and if the guy has something communicable maybe a case of the clap or something exotic that the doctors in the States haven’t found a cure for yet. All that done, your collection‘s all in your head, just some pleasant memories, that’s all. Joe, Jack, Jimmy, Bob, Bill, Tom, Dick, Harry – one has to be pretty much the same as all the others, I would think. All bunched up in your head as one face, one cock, two balls…. Like one man meshed together out of many.

 

__        Oh, no, that’s where you’re wrong. They’re all individuals. Sure, If I just trusted to memory they’d all become a single mass of faces and genitals in my head. But…. Have I you ever shown you this before?

 

__        A high school composition book? No, you never… Wait a sec. Josey; don’t tell me that this is your “little black book”? But why so big?

 

__        Look closer. It’s not a “little black book.” The phone numbers I want to keep I have elsewhere. I call this my “memory aid.” See? About a half page per each…. Well, call them conquests if you want to. I hate that word, Nothing is ever conquered when everything is given and taken freely. Except for that fifty I made that one time and that shouldn’t count.

 

__        Not if you gave it all to charity, I suppose not.

 

__        Anyway, see this sheet here? Two sides, four guys. That was last weekend’s tally of…. Well, of whatever you want to call them. Lover is a good word.

 

__        “Friday: Jason P.; Saturday: Gregory O. and Edgar R.; Sunday: Abdul Q.” Abdul?

 

__        Works for the Saudi Consulate. Young, dark and hairy as a gorilla, even on his back. Recited selections form the Koran as we undressed. Could barely keep it up, no matter what I tried. See the black X? Means loser. Sweet man, a little eccentric, but a loser all the same. Probably had some hang-up about making it with an infidel or maybe a Mommy complex of some sort.

 

__        And the red asterisk next to Edgar R?  What’d you use, a felt tip?

 

__        Edgar…? Ooh, yes, Edgar. Mmmm!  Red anything means definitely contact again. Asterisk is the highest, overall. With a name like Edgar you’d expect a bookish guy with glasses and who whispers instead of talks, shy and retiring, you know? Well, he was like that at Hunter’s – his first time there – but when I got him home…. Wow! Talk about passionate. That man could kiss. And hung like a Clydesdale. Shit, I tell you, Marie, with a shlong like that…. Ai-yi! I’ve never been split open so wide or plowed so deep I’m scared he might have hurt my cervix. If I get pregnant the kid would have to be his. Even with all my precautions – the pill, like always, and a diaphragm – I wouldn’t be surprise if his spermy flood got through and knocked me up somehow.

 

__        Josey…!

 

__        I know, I talk too much. Just read. Keep the book until I see you next, if you want. I only cruise on weekends, so I won’t be needing it for a couple of days yet.

 

__        Really, Josey, I don’t think I….  Hey, take a look here. What does “pos.” mean?

 

__        Hmn! Oh. That. It means positions. My own short-hand. But it’s all pretty self-explanatory.

 

__        “Pos. – missionary, fem-top-straddle, fem-top-lain, shower-standing-rear-vaginal, doggie-all-fours, wheelbarrow-hands-only-support, front-lain, pillow-raised-middle, side-lay-frontal, side-lay, fem-back/male-front.” Really, Josey, you expect me to believe…?

 

__        The man has staying power. What can I say? How many positions do you count there? Eight? Nine?

 

__        One, two, three…. Umm…. Nine of them.

 

__        I came like rockets with the first four. Broke the monotony with other things; it’s all there, you’ll see. The other five get all rolled together in my head. Like a space shot, all jets open to the max the whole trip, just one continuous orgasm. Notice the numbers in the right hand for Abdul, Jason and so on? I rate my orgasm with them on a one to ten scale – zip for Abdul, five and half for Jason, seven for Gregory, et cetera. With Edgar the scale exploded. I didn’t know what to put. Ten was too cheap. If it was a piece of porcelain you’d probably call it priceless. Anyway, read on; it gets interesting.

 

__        You mean where it says “Sans Int. Pos.”?

 

__        That’s it. “Sans Intercourse Positions.” It means, oh, any position that doesn’t entail actual cock and cunt screwing. You know: foreplay kind of stuff.

 

__        “Sans Int. Pos.: cunn., fell., fingers, hands, 69, athletic 69, G.S., sod. – doggie, sod. – frontal….” Athletic 69?

 

__        He sat up while I was blowing him and hoisted me so that I had my legs wrapped around his head and he tongued me crazy while I sucked him off. I was head down and getting dizzy but I loved every minute of it.

 

__        What about “G.S.”?

 

__        Golden shower.

 

__        He pissed on you or you on him?

 

__        Me on him. It was an accident, really. I was riding him, sitting up – fem.-top-straddle” is how it’s written there. I was playing with my clitty as I was going up and down with him way inside of me. Just as I was getting my first rush of an orgasm…. Well, I pissed on him. I didn’t mean to do it, it just happened. I don’t think he even noticed. He didn’t say anything and even if he did notice, it dried up pretty quickly.

 

__        And “Sod.” means sodomy, right?

 

__        Right. Don’t really like it but by the time he suggested it I’d already been laid three times – I think – and had been both the tongue-er and tongue-ee maybe twice, so I was willing to try just about anything to keep the ball rolling. So to speak.

 

__        Ball rolling. That reminds me – what about him? He was virile all this time. Nine instances of intercourse and however many of fellatio, sixty-nine, sodomy, masturbation….

 

__        What can I say? The man had staying power. I helped, of course – educated hands and an expert tongue. Five hours and he only popped three times. It didn’t seem fair to me but he said he was satisfied.

 

__        Sounds like he’s got you spoiled. Anything less will seem – hmmsh! – anticlimactic. So to speak.

 

__        Yes. So to speak. But it doesn’t stop me from trying to find better, though. Almost a lost cause, when you think about it. A five hour erection on that guy and with only two wilts. Sweet and affectionate almost to a fault when he wasn’t dreaming up some new, untried configurations. And just look at those stats.

 

__        Stats? You mean these? “Ht. 6’ 5”, Wt. 240 lbs.” Big guy, huh?

 

__        More than you know. Keep reading.

 

__        You tape measure them before you make love to them?

 

__        Don’t be silly. Just call it a trained eye. I’ve made it with enough weight lifter types to know a 45 inch chest from a 50. Those numbers are only approximate but I’ll bet if I’d asked I’d have found I wasn’t more than an inch or two off. But keep going, the best is yet to be heard.

 

__        What? Legs and arms?

 

__        They’re there, too. But something else. You know what I mean.

 

__        Oh, that. Yes, of course.

 

[PAUSE – A WHISTLE OF AMAZEMENT]

 

__        Kielbasa! Is your trained eye that good? I mean, couldn’t it possibly have been just eight or eight and a half inches?

 

__        No, it was a nine all right. Actually closer to ten but near enough to the halfway mark to make it iffy.

 

__        And six inches in diameter? Now, really Josey….

 

__        Well, that part was really just an educated guess.

 

__        Nine times in one night….

 

__        Day and night, actually. We got started at about five in the afternoon.

 

__        All right, then. Nine times in one five hour period.  And with that…?  My God, girl, how could you even sit down afterwards? Or even think of trying it later that night with mushy Abdul?

 

__        Hopes of one fantastic success being followed by another. Boy, was I ever wrong.

 

__        Still, though, a red asterisk for Edgar….

 

__        And he deserves every crossed line of it. Turns just about all the others I’ve had – or thought I had – rather pale by comparison.

 

__        You gonna call him? Set a date for the next time you’ll get together?

 

__        That’s what a red asterisk means.

 

__        And it doesn’t make you feel like a… like a….

 

__        A tramp? A slut? Whore? Nympho? Easy lay? Well, Maybe the last two. For myself, though, I prefer to call it simple eagerness.

 

__        Collecting eagernesses, orgasms, men. Quite a hobby you have there. Still, what it all really comes down to are tangibles and abstracts. For all you have written here, the main things you have collected are just memories. Abstracts. Nothing you can touch or see.

 

__        Don’t have to. The doing is the main thing: that seeing, that touching. Like an actress and her craft, once the play is over, the performance is a memory. But one which leaves her with a feeling of something accomplished, something given as well as gained. Anything of an abstract nature has that at its core. With your hobby you gain, but what do you give? Twenty five, fifty, a hundred dollars or more to Aaron’s Collectibles? Does Aaron groan in orgasmic joy and appreciation as you write out the check or place the crisp, new bills into his hand and walk out of the shop with your purchase?

 

__        You’re blowing a smokescreen over the whole thing. What it comes down to is the pleasure we derive from what we collect.

 

__        And as I collect my pleasures I also give pleasure in return. An equal exchange. The pleasure I give to the man – as much as I can find out from him about it – does too double my own. Interaction. You can’t claim that kind of satisfaction from your hobby, no matter how rare the treasure you buy.

 

__        No, I can’t. I really don’t know how to answer that, no matter what kind of defense I could mount to counter what you just said. Makes my own hobby sound like a petty, selfish thing. Get, buy, acquire, collect. All for my own satisfaction and nothing more. And it’s a pleasure which I don’t think that I could amply describe.

 

__        But that’s the whole point, don’t you see? For both of us. Our own satisfaction – owning or doing, it doesn’t matter – the pleasure involved, no matter how we go about attaining it. A shelf full of curios for you, a book full of names, stats, positions and memories for me. “Oh looky look at all that I have. Aren’t I just wonderful?”

 

__        You make it sound so petty and self-indulgent.

 

__        Well, isn’t it? I mean, maybe it is. I don’t like to think of in those terms, but I can see your point. Each of us satisfying some personal obsessive hunger. Material objects and sexual experiences. What’s the difference?

 

__        Matter of preference, I suppose.

 

__        That’s all? Nothing to do with style?

 

__        What does that mean?

 

__        What does that matter, you mean?

 

__        That, too. Style doesn’t mean anything if you’re not content with it. If you’re not content, why even do it? Style doesn’t matter a fig, then, either.

 

__        So there you are.

 

__        Just choices, then. Preferences.

 

__        All right then. That’s settled.

 

__        How about morals? Right and wrong. Something else you don’t think about, I suppose.

 

__        If it’s right for me, I try not to let it bother my conscience.

 

__        And the guys you sleep with?

 

__        Fuck with, you mean. Let’s call a spade a spade, Marie dear. I figure that if they do it and accept my terms – and they are indirectly agreeing from the first flirty glance – then it must be all right with them, too.

 

__        So, then there’s no worry what’s right or wrong as long as it’s right for the individual. That’s your story?

 

__        In a nutshell, yes.

 

__        Relativist.

 

__        You want to talk philosophies? Fine, but don’t expect anything earth shattering from me.

 

__        So, then, it’s my Hummels, Spodes, Lladros et cetera and you with your collection of cocks, balls, missionary, doggie straddling sixty niners and what not. Yours is yours and mine is mine and we’re friends because we don’t compete.

 

__        Well, that’s not the only “because,” but it is one factor of our friendship, I guess. We go for different things. Something of a harsh assessment, but fitting, as far as it goes.

 

[PAUSE]

 

__        Still, Josey, with your “hobby,” there’s nothing to see, touch or feel after the – what do you call it? – the transaction is completed.

 

__        Ah shit! Are you still harping on that?  I thought we finished with that point a while ago.

 

__        It’s not a point, it’s the point as far as I’m concerned. Look, here’s the result of my little obsession for this past week. Late 20’s Art Deco, semi-glazed female nude figurine. You can see it, hold it, feel its weight and texture. And what do I have from you? Words on paper, descriptions of penile dimensions and how it cleaved you open upon entry into your vagina. Nine orgasms, whoopee! I wish you had some pictures to show me, at least.

 

__        I’ve got an old Polaroid around here somewhere but that would mean employing a third party as photographer. Changes the whole…. Oh, what is the word I’m looking for? Ambiance? Sounds like a word you’d find in a restaurant guide but I guess it’ll have to do.  A third person changes the whole ambiance of the situation. Spontaneity goes right out the window with a flash going off in your face every so often. You feel like you have to pose instead of just enjoying what you’re doing. And who would be taking the pictures? A woman? I’d be spending half my concentration wondering whether or not she’ll want to get into the action. A strange kind of jealousy when you think about it. A man? I’ll be mentally sizing him up for his possible inclusion thereby causing the guy I’m shtupping to lose his concentration wondering if and when he’ll have to share me with the other guy.

 

__        An odd kind of dilemma. Nothing like that with my hobby. Except when another collector’s got his eye on the same piece as I do. On the whole, though, as soon as the purchase is made, no more worries. The piece is mine, it’s there in my hands, neatly and safely done up in bubble wrap for protection from any accidents. At home, proof of purchase is right there on the shelf or in the hutch. Three-dimensional for all to see. No pictures needed, no description or written notes. There it is, and that’s all.

 

__        Very nice, I agree. Pleasure to the eye – most of them, anyway. Like men, it’s all a matter of taste.

 

__        That’s the final measure then? Just taste?

 

__        Probably not. It’s a good starting point, though. But we’ve been tossing this back and forth now for what? How many years has it been?

 

__        Since high school graduation. You celebrated by going down on Mister Sulgrave, your old tenth grade math teacher – or so the rumors had it and you told me later – and me by buying my first Hummel. “Busy Student.” I still have it in my collection. Seemed appropriate at the time, besides the fact that I’d fallen in love with the sweet chubby face of that little girl concentrating on her ABC’s.

 

__        And you think that “taste” or “style” or any one word you might come up with would do any of it justice? Yours or mine?

 

.__       Well, we could chalk it up to “lifestyle.” Is that better?

 

__        Same terminology. It’s just us, Marie. Each with her own peculiarly personal preferences. Let’s just leave it at that.

 

__        I guess you’re right.

 

[PAUSE]

 

__        Josey? You busy this weekend?

 

__        Hunter’s again, I guess. Or maybe the Red Orange. Their Happy Hour is the best that I’ve found for drinks and their male clientele.

 

__        No chance of your company then, I suppose. Over at Aaron’s Collectibles or at the South County Flea Market.

 

__        It depends. Any cute guys?

 

__        I thought you’d say something like that. Cute guys? Mmm, sometimes at the Flea Market, I guess. I don’t pay that much attention.

 

__        You wouldn’t. I see that you’ve still got that old Bel Aire in the driveway. A regular tank, that car.

 

__        Always was, you know that. So?

 

__        And a back seat that could comfortably sleep two.

 

__        Uh-huh. I’m beginning to get the drift here. Keep talking.

 

__        Tell you what. You’ve got me for Saturday on one condition. Or, at least, one that will sound like two.

 

__        Whatever. Just say it.

 

__        I’ll bring my Polaroid. After the shopping is done and I find myself a likely candidate for the continuation of my “hobby,” you be the photographer.

 

__        I see. I pick up the porcelain, you pick up the guy. No competition.

 

__        You kidding me? With your figure and that adorable face? I’ll expect I’ll have to fight like hell to even get a guy to look at me with you nearby.

 

__        Thank you for that. Now about the photography…. You’re talking about you and whoever in the back seat, pants around his ankles, you pantiles with your skirt hiked up to your belly button, doing the hot and nasty while I’m hanging over the back of the front seat snapping candids…. Have I got the gist of it?

 

__        Very astute girl. That catches it perfectly.

 

__        All right. I’ll do it. But on two conditions.

 

__        I think I saw this coming. One, of course, will be that I’ll have to buy something.

 

__        Right.

 

__        And the second?

 

__        You clean up the back seat afterward of anything that might cause stains.

 

__        Fair enough, I guess. Fairer still would be the old rule of “She who makes sticky mess with man shall be the one who does the cleaning.” And I wouldn’t be surprised if you and I will have to share that little chore equally.

 

__        You mean that you think that I…?  And doing it while you and your guy are in the back seat as I and…?  Oh, please, sister, just don’t hold your breath for that little scenario, that’s all I have to say.

 

__        And don’t you expect me to spring for forty or sixty bucks on a Lladro or a Royal Doulton or something. Not the first time out, at least. Remember, dear, I’ll be a virgin in your little world, too.

 

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