I had made up my mind that it was never going to happen.
But Channel 59 was playing a Saturday October afternoon marathon of neutered horror flicks – Halloween 2, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Carrie – all interrupted, periodically, with brightly announced ads for local car dealerships along with speaker exploding reminders about the playtimes of long cancelled network shows and newly produced syndicated sitcoms. “See Mama’s Family every Saturday night at 7:30!” and – “Go back to a simpler time every afternoon from 3 to 4 with the Ingalls Family and Little House on the Prairie! Unsurprisingly, that Little House time slot was a favorite at Eden Heights, the old folk’s home that I volunteered at every Wednesday afternoon with several other eager, socially minded classmates. One of the beleaguered yet incredibly feisty residents – she once spat at a visiting Bishop and threw the rosary that he offered her back into his mighty, quickly reddening face – was a particular fan of the show. Every time that I entered the home with my fellow ambassadors of conscientiousness, I could hear her bellowing from her bed, “1,2,3, 4! The kids are here! The kids are here! I’m gonna kiss ‘em then I’m going kill ‘em. I’m gonna kiss ‘em then I’m gonna kill ‘em. Then, 1-2-3-4, I am gonna make ‘em sit ‘n watch Little House on the Prair-r-r-ie!” She, quite simply, was my heroine.
Her outrageousness seemed on the same Zen-like plane as Patti Smith, a squawky voiced punk priestess whose LPs I had begun discovering in cut out bins, after school, at mid-range department stores like Fisher’s Big Wheel. Most recently, I had found her 1976 recording Radio Ethiopia shoved into a tightly packed, impulse buy side rack at a grocery store checkout lane in Salamanca, New York. I loved the incongruity of finding an LP that featured a song called Pissing in a River, which I was surprised to discover was a fairly mournful ballad about the fading embers of youth, in a supermarket that catered to grade school moms and the hopeful, soon to be tenured teachers at the nearby academy of higher learning.
That afternoon, unsurprisingly, Lou also had his own ideas about further education- in this case, my own. Gathered together in his living room to watch the previously described, mostly bloodless terror-thon, he nestled against me, leaning his head on my shoulder, breathing words of hysterically inept seduction.
“You can take me like Rod takes Tina, stud,” he whispered in my ear, referencing A Nightmare on Elm Street’s doomed couple.
I chuckle nervously.
“That didn’t end so well, Lou.”
“True.” Beat. “You’re no fun,” he purrs with a cattish pout. He’s a round, bald bastardization of Ann Margret in Bye, Bye Birdie, a film that my brother and sister and I have recently watched in this very room while my parents were visiting, gossiping about church business into the long hours of a small town Saturday night. Now, on a kittenish roll, he begins rubbing at my crotch in long, incredibly cloying circles. I shift away from him, decidedly uncomfortable, a fact that he just as decidedly ignores.
“Take me now, Brian, and I’ll buy you a flower and bring you to the prom like Tommy did with Carrie.” His eyes twinkle, a comic counterpoint to a statement that is not only desperately silly, but almost unknowingly cruel. It hits too closely upon desires that I have long harbored in secret. I would love for some handsome young athlete to proudly escort me to a school dance. Often I have longingly stared at schoolmates driving off from Homecoming mixers in cars with their college age sweethearts. How, I wonder each time, did they pull off such a seeming impossible, totally desirable coup? Even my dreams at night are filled with images of me on dinner dates with ripped n ready soap opera studs…and the fact that Lou so assuredly crowns himself as being superior to them in desirability pushes at me with a fiery force.
“Fine,” I say. “Let’s do it!!”
“Show me what you got!”
For the first time ever, I grab at his pants. Leering my fingers at his belt, I jerk at it with awkward revulsion…pawing at him, almost claw-like, the way my mother must do with certain objects. I have watched her make the motions I am now making 1000s of times. Her right hand withered by a childhood bout with polio, I have had to help her open cans, latch the buttons of her girdle, reach for out of place objects since the early days of my childhood. Now, I am, momentarily, afflicted like her, the physical cause of my distress not some relentless virus, but the seemingly unstoppable sexual overtures of Lou.
For the first time, Lou seems a bit nervous, if agreeable.
“Let me do it,” he squeaks. Then, in what is probably mere seconds, but feels like a film-roll eternity, his black tweed pants are down and bunched at his thighs. I almost laugh at what their unbuttoning reveals. Lou’s underwear is luminously grandfatherly – large, white cotton briefs with majestic give. Standing there, momentarily knock-kneed, he hardly represents the “underflair” highlighted in actor-model Jack Scalia’s highly provocative ads for Eminence briefs.
Still, pent up annoyance rallying me forth, I reach for their elastic band below Lou’s smooth, rounded gut. Maybe he has an amazing cock? It almost might make this worth it, but…
It is stubby and short – a thin 4 and a half inches. But I’ve started this and, as with the other awkward encounters I’ve had with older summer stock actors, I believe I’ve begun this, so I have to see it through. I don’t want to suck it, though, so I cup my palm around it – squeeze it once, twice, three times. Lou gasps as tiny drools of ejaculate start to leak from the tip.
Suddenly, a car door slams and the sound of crunching gravel echoes closer and closer to the back entrance of the rectory. It is my father coming to pick me up.
Lou’s eyes flare with mortified adrenaline. He hikes forward, dragging his pants up his nearly hairless legs, hitching his fingers into his underwear and pulling them towards his belly almost simultaneously. Boisterously calling out “Hello,” my father enters through the kitchen, as Lou scatters up the stairs to change.
I wipe my thankfully clean hands down the sides of my jeans as I turn towards the television. Jamie Lee Curtis, clad only in a hospital nightgown & what I can only assume is a very bad wig, hobbles down a long & winding corridor – a dankly lit path that does not seem to end. I sigh, as my father swings his head into the room and waves at me. I nod, my thoughts elsewhere. I am concentrating on Jamie and the path she jaggedly weaves down. I think that if she can make it out alive, maybe so can I.
Note: (My first horror movie buddy was a priest named Lou Hendricks. Several years ago, Hendricks was named by the Western New York Catholic diocese as one of their most unrepentant predators in the ’70s and ’80s. Thus, I grew up watching monster movies with a monster – a man who was like an uncle to our family. Over the next few months, I will be sharing some of my stories from that period of time.)