September 17, 2015

On the Genehouse walk this morning, I saw an orange Godfrey maintenance truck pull off the highway and stop. A guy with a grey Harpo Marx hairdo climbed out, grabbed a shovel, and scooped up the very ripe body of an unrecognizable varmint. He tossed the body inside the truck bed.

“You’ve got the sexy job, I said. “Oh, that ain’t nothin’.” The guy pointed. In the truck bed was a dead fawn, a flattened possum, two cats, a headless dog, two blacksnakes, a mangled box turtle and three stiff raccoons. I nearly wretched at the putrid smell, but the truck driver took it in stride.

I once did a theater residency in a small northern Illinois town. A woman there invited me to a party. She was selling raccoon penis bone necklaces as gag gifts. The ladies at the party sipped fruity wine and whispered “penis bone” over and over. Male raccoons, it seems, have penis bones, and with the right permit you can harvest the road kill and fashion the hollow bones into jewelry. This woman was grossing five thousand dollars a year selling penis parts.

Norma K. was the first girl aside from my mom to see my boneless penis. She opened the business by pulling down her shorts (we were five), revealing what to me was a mysterious fissure. She was way ahead of her time: If social media is to be believed, everyone under the age of thirty has shaved their pudenda. If social media is to be believed, every male over thirty would give good money to have a hollow bone inserted into his penis.

I watched “Nature” on PBS last night, about sage grouse mating on the western prairie. Most animals only mate once a year. The males are highly motivated—or else they masturbate once a year, who knows. Oh, they prance and dance and wave dangly things from their extremities, just for the chance to bang the rather plain-looking females. The rest of the year, the females mother and the guys lounge around the wetland bar and fart.

Most men I know think about mating every four-and-a-half minutes. They claim their wives are quite attuned to the once a year mating thing, like they were sage grouse. Which is why men invented football and the endless watching of football.

I can’t help thinking what it must be like to be a male raccoon. At least we know why the male raccoon crossed the road so fast and fervently and why he didn’t look left or right. A raccoon tart was on the other side, and there was going to be a party.

“It was a dark and stormy night, the kind of night that nightmares are made of. I was driving up Clifton Terrace Road, on my way to see a dame, and I already had a boner. Then this raccoon ran out in front of me and I hit it full on, the plastic bumper of my Elantra torn in two and the coon flatter than my ex-wife’s boobs. I stopped and lit a cigarette and thought about the fragility of life. My cell phone rang.

“‘Are you coming,’ she said smokily. ‘No,’ I said resignedly. ‘I’m not coming. I’m thinking about the fragility of life.’ ‘Oh, moody you,’ she said sultrily. ‘If you change your mind, just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you?’

“I knew how to whistle, all right. Norma K. taught me how to cup my hands together and blow while she showed me her vagina.

“Suddenly, my dogs were tired, my feet were tired, my existentialality was existentially tired. I pictured my dead body being scooped up in a shovel by a guy and tossed into a compost heap.

“Then the dead coon stood up and ran on across the road. I swear it waved to me. I lit a cigarette and laughed at the fragility of life and wheezed and puked and farted and dry heaved and blew snot out of my nose and peed and cried like a girl. I was whole again.”


About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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