Song Of The Day 1/16/2015: Laurel Aitken - "Bendwood Dick"

Chaste Portraits of Caribbean Life: My headache is killing me. Opening my eyes feels like a project I need to get corporate to sign off on. My knees are bent at angles unknown to geometry, shot through with pain. My wrists are tied together with strips of flannel. I somehow feel every fiber on them, and each one feels like a soft blade, yielding to the touch yet still penetrative with their poison. When I’ve exercised my eyelids to the point where they’re strong enough to leave open I finally see my surroundings, dimly lit by a single suspended light bulb casting an unhealthy amber tinge onto cold concrete.

I’m in a Public Storage shed. Craning my neck by centimeters to the left I see boxes that look like they’ve never been opened, and an upright wood stem with vertical branches pointing upward. They look like candleholders, minus candles.

I hear the rattle of a padlock outside, a click, a steely thunk, and the sharp metallic barrage of a corrugated tin door being opened. The daylight fills and deadens my eyes, but I see an outline standing within that square of light.

A squat, bullish head resting on a stocky frame topped by sharp tab collars. Arms in pre-emptive defense, ending in the frightening bulbs of clenched fists. Torso, hips and legs standing alarmingly still. For a moment or two he curses me with his silence. Then a smooth, drawling voice, leveling in softened menace.

“I brought donuts.”

Wrists still bound, I struggle to arch my torso into an upright position. He does not move, but the shocking glare that shot through my eyes is starting to recede. His silhouette is ebbing gradually into features.

“Glazed or plain?”

I don’t know how to answer that. I’m not a donut man.

“You got bagels?”

“I didn’t go to a bagel shop. I went to a donut shop. I have donuts. Glazed and plain. I got a chocolate one but I ate it and I don’t have it anymore.”

There’s something about him that’s cryptically familiar. Something distant and foreign, yet as classically American as apple pie and axle grease.

“Don’t matter ’sides. I believe we should be more focused on breakfast pastries more closely aligned with the spirit of traditional America. Perhaps you’ve read my book on the subject: Faith & Funnel Cakes: Christ at the Carnival. It had recipes in it.”

Wait a minute. That cinches it. I heard he was still around. I didn’t know how he’d come back, but I knew he would. And here I am, seeing it up close. Still I strain to pronounce the name.

“Wait… hold on a second… I know who you are! You’re Mark Dris–”

YES, yes, yes. Yes I am. That’s right. The disgraced former pastor of a Seattle-based church chain who bought his way onto the New York Times best-seller list and thinks any man who eats a chiffon cake needs to get thumped in the gonads by Macho Jesus. What about it?”

I am flush. I don’t know what to say. I stammer. He continues.

“I seen your blog, boy. I know where you’ve been going with it. You’ve been playin’ a bunch of foreign music from Jamaica, that forsaken island outpost where they consume that demon jambalaya and pay their spiritual respects to the voodoo queens the Gris-Gris.”

I shake my head. “That’s not Jamaica. That’s Louisiana.”

“What do I look like, a World Almanac? With its heathen columns full of deceptive Hindu-Arabic numerals? Nothin’ but the devil’s fingers, my friend. Perhaps you read my teachings about it in my best-selling book 2 + 2 = 666: Counting Towards Catastrophe. It got very high on the charts, though for obvious reasons I can’t say the exact position.”

“Whatever. What about the blog?”

“That’s why you’re here, man. I don’t think you realize what you’ve been doing with these phermone-arousing songs from the atheist West Indies. ‘Chaste Portraits of Caribbean Life’? You don’t know what you been messing with, do you? You don’t know what clam chowder you’ve been sticking your hollandaise sauce in, do you?”

All I know is we have to stop this man from talking about cuisine. “What’s your problem?”

“These songs you’ve been playin’ this week! These aren’t slices of everyday Caribbean life! ‘Fork She Garden’ is not about gardening, son! ‘Don’t Touch Me Tomato’ ain’t about no fruit disguised as a vegetable! Dr. Kinsey wasn’t a bacteriologist and that ‘stinger’ from yesterday ain’t from no queen bee! You feel me?”

“I think so but I’ll let you cover this.”

Sex, you godless cave bear! All these songs you’ve been playin’ this week have been about sex! You didn’t even realize it! How is that possible?”

Suddenly it’s clear. I’d been duped. Suckered in by metaphors, again. I was a sand dollar on a tarpit. Now I know why Brenda was snickering all week.

“Mark,” I relent. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know. Now I see where it all went wrong. I’m very sorry. I can only imagine how you, as a man of the cloth, would have been deeply offended by that material, and I clearly should have…”

“What?” he interrupts. “What are you talking about?”

“Uh… well, I mean, as the religious man that you are, I can only imagine how the content of those songs would have upset you. That wasn’t my intention, to program a week full of sexual innuendo and forwardness, and I can see how you might have…”

He starts chortling. I’m flummoxed. He peers at me with a thin, crooked smile. “You don’t get it do you? I’m not mad about those songs havin’ all that lewd content in ’em!”

“You’re not?”

“Of course not! I’m ticked off because they were too subtle!”


“They didn’t go far enough man! What do you think, I’m some sort of prude? All them songs were too tame!”

Now I’m really confused. “Hey,” I say, “now I’m really confused.”

“They’re too cute! That ain’t a way a man’s supposed to be about the pleasures of the flesh! Haven’t you read those message boards I used to fly around 15 years ago? A man needs to be direct! He’s got to leave nothing in doubt! In a committed and sanctified union, of course, but once that happens dude’s gotta be assertive! He gotta strut around the rec room with his plumage fully extended! Perhaps you read my thoughts about this in my book 700 Wives Can’t Be Wrong: King Solomon’s Guide to Happy Marriages.”

I’m exhausted from the vertigo. I don’t have any answer to any of this. Which is fine, because I have to wrap this up, so Mark takes us out.

“Try this song, you ’tard. ‘Bendwood Dick’ by Laurel Aitken. The very embodiment of the classic heterosexual man. No doubt about why he’s here. Absolutely nothing left to the imagination. This guy’s got a sideshow freak of an appendage that could bust that bell and paddle a boat through the Tunnel of Love. He stands on the ottoman and beats his bare chest. He chews up dehydrated meat snacks with savagery and remorseless abandon. This man knows who he is and isn’t going to be requesting moist towelettes from the steward. You got me? Huh?”

I sit, agape. He stands, now possessed. A moment is shared between us. Words are understood without being uttered. Then I kick him in the shins. He collapses to the ground. I run out, knocking over one of the boxes, and a bunch of books about extreme sports falls out. My wrist cuffs fall off and I make a break for it. I also steal the donuts. I suppose I'm a donut man after all.


And… scene! Thank you. Thank you all very much.

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