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The Second Annual Fiction Issue

Orgy

There's a famous line from the movie The Wild Ones. Marlon Brando, playing the part of a motorcycle rebel, has rolled into town, and when a townsperson asks him, "What are you protesting against," he says, "Wha'd ya got?" Although Brando was...

Photo by Roe Ethridge There’s a famous line from the movie The Wild Ones. Marlon Brando, playing the part of a motorcycle rebel, has rolled into town, and when a townsperson asks him, “What are you protesting against,” he says, “Wha’d ya got?” Although Brando was almost 30 when he made the movie, he represented a form of adolescent rebellion, against powerlessness, and against an adult world that constantly reminded him he wasn’t old enough or good enough. A child protests by saying no to authority because saying no is the only choice it has, and, like Marlon Brando, that’s what I was doing, standing in a shower stall with Alan. He’d invited me to what he called a bathroom party in North Hollywood. I wasn’t busy so I went. I found the apartment, rang the bell, walked up the stairs and a few people were standing in the living room, but mainly people were in the bathroom, a large bathroom with a large jacuzzi bathtub filled with beer. There was also a pink-tiled shower and a few chairs against the wall and some people were sitting on the edge of the tub. I didn’t see Alan, but I heard his voice coming from the shower. “Come on in,” he was saying, and I peeked over the top of the shower door and there he was, hair wet, drinking a beer with two girls, all of them naked. I changed my clothes in a room that was being fumigated, and when I had everything off but my underwear, I stepped past the people sitting around the marble bathroom, stepped inside the shower, and it wasn’t a big shower stall but it was big enough, and since everyone was naked I flung my underwear into the hallway. Alan welcomed me with a beer and introduced me to Amanda and Athena, who were students at CalArts. When I asked them why they were wet one of the girls turned on the water. I went under first and then we switched positions, orbiting around in the stall, and although we were literally next to each other, we could move around without ever quite touching. I say “quite” because there was a certain amount of unavoidable butt bumping butt and sometimes genital brushing against thigh. But it was all very relaxed and innocent, and somehow, being naked made everything seem funny. When someone opened the shower door and looked inside we thought that was funny. I was laughing and the girls were laughing and Alan took a bar of soap from the rack and started soaping up Amanda’s back. She was short, and less voluptuous than Athena, and she moved away her wet hair. Using the soap Alan scrubbed her neck and her back and her side ribs, and when she lifted her arms he began soaping up her armpits and around to her chest, lathering up her small breasts, and then he handed the soap to me. Athena was turned so that her back was facing me, and holding the sandalwood soap, I began massaging her tanned shoulders, rubbing suds across her back and upper arms, sliding it up and down her spine and down to her soft, slightly less-tanned buttocks, and I kept going, farther down, into the crack above her legs. I was reaching down, pressing my soapy arm against her wet skin, and she didn’t seem to mind, and I certainly didn’t mind, and I was surprised when Alan, at about that moment, told Athena to look at me. “Who does he look like?” She cocked her head. “I don’t look like anyone,” I said. “Does he look like a movie star?” “I’m not a movie star.” “I’m asking her.” “Which movie?” she said. “Do your walk.” I’d told him about my Steve Martin walk. “You know,” he said. “The one where you just stand there.” The problem was, I didn’t want to do the walk. “Come on,” he said. “Not now.” The girls were looking at me, and I was looking at Amanda’s wet hair and Athena’s blue eyes, and then Alan said, “Be yourself.” Normally those are very calming words. Normally they precipitate ease and relaxation, but under the circumstances, what were they supposed to mean? He had decided who I was and was trying to tell me who I was and… “Be myself?” “Just do it.” “Do what?” I was about to say, “Wha’d ya got?” when he told me about a job, a travel piece about a resort in Mexico. I wanted to tell him to fuck off, but the thing about anger, it needs an object. I wanted to engage my anger and vent my anger, but Alan, as my object, wasn’t playing along. He was standing there, squeezed between naked bodies, bemused and oblivious, and then he said, “You’re acting like a child.” In The Wild Ones, the townspeople were scared of Marlon Brando, not because he was wild or seductive or tough—later in the film, as I remember, he showed a delicate, sensitive side—but because he saw the inequality of power. There was a dissatisfaction in him, and even if it was an adolescent dissatisfaction, the town fathers were afraid the dissatisfaction would spread. All rebellion springs from the asymmetrical relationship of authority to non-authority—father/son, master/slave—whatever it is, the balance of power has to be unequal, and to Marlon Brando it definitely was. He felt the need to protest, but because he was in a position of non-authority, he had to display his protest and declare his protest, or wiggle his protest into a place it could fit. At a certain point Athena pushed open the shower door and we all ran to the fumigated room. Someone grabbed a towel and we began drying each other, passing the towel between us, noticing, as we did, the sizes of our penises and the different ways of trimming hair. “Let’s all go to my house,” Alan said. Alan wasn’t a father figure, and as far as I knew he wasn’t an authority on anything, but he wanted me to be something I didn’t want to be, and the only response I knew was to protest. Protest has now become passé. We’ve seen so many struggles amount to so little that we accept inequality as a fact of life. We’ve become convinced of the ineffectuality of protest, but sometimes all we have is protest. The girls, who were drying each other, more or less ignored Alan’s invitation, but I had the feeling they might have been willing, and would have been willing, but when he suggested again we go to his house, I told him I wasn’t interested. “I don’t think so,” I said. And it wasn’t that I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing. When I told him I wasn’t interested it had nothing to do with him or Athena or my enjoyment of being in the shower, soaping up a naked body. I was like a kid saying, “I don’t want to play,” but really I did want to play. I did want to go to his house, but like a powerless child, the only thing I could do was not do. The only way I could protest was by saying no. THREE STORIES | 1 | = 1226) { echo "2 | "; } if ($limit >= 1227) { echo "3 | "; } ?>