Donald Asshole and Los Elementos de Rock
by Brendan Byrne
“Wheeze aint not lake no dimsort banned.”
The lines that make up Buss are clean and clear. Blacks and whites, an oval for a face, the occasional ellipse. Regular readers used to sometimes have trouble telling Jacket, Leeze and Buss apart, though the streets they stumble through and the demi-human saloon keepers, guinea-pig storm-troopers, salivating fans, beleaguered family members, lusty social workers, blind pirates, Finnish porn-stars, busking gypsy bands, prolapsed Bulgarian revolutionaries, mobile book store-owners, hobos, hobos, and more hobos they encounter are rendered with precise stereotyping, the 3 figures who make up the band De Sal-Mon Crudities all look exactly the same. Except for their hair.
Jacket has none. Leeze has 5 spikes that wave with the wind when they’re not standing up straight. Buss has long flowing hair, God only knows what color. They all speak the same too. To wit:
“Preeeteee peepss donna jig nawn ta funny.”
“Bleedy tea-cup aint lak may varhy awn muscus.”
“Lickmee creation, smhakee eternita.”
To the perpetual frustration of the readers of Los Elementos de Rock, a monthly 22 page comic put out by Fantagraphics, written and drawn by Milwaukee artist Donald Asshole (nee Maxmilian), while De Sal-Mon Crudities’ original line-up was Jacket on g-e-tar, Leeze on bass and mouth-organ, and Buss on hitting stuff, the girls have begun, caught up in a rabid seizure of Greil Marcus inspired Debord-fever, to not allow anybody in the band play the same instrument 2 nights in a row.
To make matters worse, the girls are omnisexual, and it’s not odd for an issue of Los Elementos to begin, end, or entirely consist of the 3 of them having limbic, intense, and impossible intercourse, so that even the most obsessed Los El fans (though they often have moments of revelation, leading to lambasted and derided posts on message boards on such web sites as Bald World Blues and Appetizer Apes, ‘you’re thinking with your guts, man, you gotta have evidence for this shit…’) cannot tell apart their favorite characters based on who is having sex with whom, because everybody basically has sex with everybody else in a sort of guiltless, AIDS-less world, this being the reason why most over 30 adult males read the comic in the first place; although, to DA (as he is known in the industry), the comic’s stated purpose (beyond the chance to experiment with surreal art, and to get paid enough to live on sitting around all day drawing a comic book whose plot, is invariably [except for the issues that were taken up with just, you know, fucking], Girls Go To Play Show, Odd Terrifying Impossible People Show Up For Show, Girls Do An Awful Job, Terrifying People Respond With The Level Of Politeness You Would Expect From Them, Everybody Gets Drunk And Then Fights And Then Fucks And Then Vomits And Then Passes Out) was to attempt to plumb the depths of the absurdity and existential despair caused by a life-style lived in the pursuit of pure physical pleasure, this being the reason why he had gotten written up in the New York Times Book Review last week by no less a notable than Art Spiegelman who called his 6 th trade paper back, a collection (not really a ‘graphic novel,’ words that when placed adjacent to one another made DA go into spastic convulsions and show the whites of his eyes to all) entitled AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! spit? “No kidding… a prime piece of the best American novel written in the 21 st Century.”
Anyway, to just nail that sucker in there, in recent issues (#54, 55, 56) DA has drawn the 3 ‘grils’ wearing hats which alternate from panel to panel. And sometimes not. This has caused, understandably, a flood of accusatory emails, some of which caused DA to laugh so hard he spat blood.
Donald Asshole wasn’t famous, or rather he was famous but not like punch-a-photographer-and-do-a-line-with-some-disheveled-Norwegian-rock-star, more like famous in a very small, sick circle, the type of circle where people begin to expect things of you they wouldn’t from, say, Lee Marvin or Camille Paglia. Like not being a sell-out. Like constant, unending strangeness. Like tits. Like dinosaurs. Like eviscerations.
But that wasn’t the problem. It was a problem, but it wasn’t like the problem.
The problem was that all the women looked the same.
Not in the comic.
He had thought, at first, that he was losing his sight. But pigs and men and drawers and radio towers and cell-phones and Elvis Costello glasses, they all looked the same as before. If anything, they were sharper in relief than the women. The women, all they had was two dots for eyes, a line for a mouth, a perfectly round head, two lashes of hair going down out in backwards Ss down from their scalps. He immediately assumed a waking dream; he had done enough acid for that. So on and off with the light switch. The lighting, indeed, did change. He tried flying, from a standing position in his living room, of course; he wasn’t stupid enough to take a trip off a roof or attempt the clear blue sky with his powers unknown. Didn’t work. He tried conjuring up belly-dancers. No belly-dancers. All his waking dreams had belly-dancers. That was years ago, but some things don’t change.
Here’s something else that had never changed:
Donald Asshole had never gotten on with men. He’d had a father and uncles and 2 grandfathers and at least seven baseball coaches and a squadron of priests and teachers and co-workers and drinking buddies, but he’d never settled around them, never disgorged himself of whatever hatreds and self-immolations and whiney bits of flotsam were stewing about in his soul. Their responses to questions he deemed important seemed minor without being subtle and as interchangeable as he found the sports teams their conversations centered around. He genuinely didn’t know why this was, and he didn’t think that learning its origin(s) would do a damn bit of good, so he tried not to think about it. His true friends had always been women. He talked to them one-on-one; he kept them apart and referred to each around the others only tangentially. Some of them had been or were or could have been his lovers; others were not and could not have been. Eva and Ysabel and Tara and Lauren and Persephone and Beatrice and Nancy and Margerita and Eleanor and Alexandra and the other Beatrice and Lorie and Hedda and Irene and Karen and Brita. Now, he could not tell them apart on the street, and when he arranged to meet them, their fleshless black and white forms moving in for a hug terrified him far more than any large scale biological attack could. For a while he spoke to them on the phone, deriving his feminine solace in that manner. That is, until all their voices became a single sugary sweet thirty-three-year-old-trying-to-sound-like-a-seventeen-year-old’s trill. He stopped calling. He tried to form friendships with males, of course, but it did no good. He sat in sports bars and called up some guys from high school and started going to the gym and started hanging out in gay bars, but it did no good. There was not a single male type he could stand. They all left him empty and deeply bored.
So he was friendless. Which was not what was bothering him.
Donald Asshole had always been a hermit of one kind or the other. As a child under the covers at night with his Thor or X-Men, as an undergraduate burrowed somewhere deep in the library forcing himself to read Hegel, as a grown man working a job he hated so he didn’t have to have a room-mate. He could do without friends for a while. Long enough for this whole thing to sort itself out.
No, what really bothered him was that the women didn’t have faces anymore. After some weeks, they lost even the dots for eyes and the line for the mouth. And then all their breasts started to look the same. Same medium weight, same mass. B cup. No cupcake, no gigundo. They all had just a little lift. They were boring breasts. He even went to an art class just to see a nude model. The breasts were almost cosmetic surgery-perfect. He snapped all his pencils in half.
He couldn’t draw the next day, and he didn’t feel like jerking off or watching tevee, so he went for a walk.
All the women wore the same white skirts. Triangles they were. Coming out sharp at the sides. Their legs were just sticks. No shoes. Feet were just black lines.
He went home and sat down and looked at a blank white sheet of paper.
A single word balloon.
“Everything is repetition.”
He had drawn a girl. Just a quick sketch. But real and filled out. Looked a bit like… Jesus, who? Some celebrity? Someone he’d known in college? Beatrice or Lauren?
He drew a second word balloon.
“Everything be repetition.”
“Eva-arythin ast reppy.”
Like Jacket would say it.
Buss hit something in the background. He closed his eyes. She hit it again. It was his computer monitor. He called hear it squeal and creak and crash onto the floor.
He opened his eyes.
Leeze was sitting on the desk in front of him, a short skirt on, her legs open. He stared at the crux where leg met leg. A perfect triangle of trimmed hair. He couldn’t discern lips, but there was the shadow of the skirt. On the inside left thigh: a birthmark that looked like the South-West coast of Ireland.
He stood up and stared down at his rigid hard-on like it was a previously unnoticed prosthetic.
Leeze laid back on his work desk slowly, tucking her head under his window shade. Dark out. He couldn’t see even an outline of her face. He grabbed her knee. Perfectly warm. Bony.
Buss stomped the printer into the ground, 1-2 1-2.
Jacket spoke in his ear, her voice strangely sweet and rough. He had never before wondered what she sounded like. Sounded a bit like him, actually, when he was drunk. He could smell her hundred-dollar perfume and American Spirits menthol cigarettes and wet Doritos musk.
“Oi Aye, righ’ soony. Iz purfec to lak sez upon ye. Howz mattas?”
He undid his trousers, and they descended maybe half on inch, and he slipped his cock through the pee-hole of his boxers.
“I’m fine, Jacket,” he said. “How are you?”
Buss put her hand through a wall and howled something lovely.
“Decidela demmy-yumma. Weeza lak a dict, bu’ no ye no? Jeez lak weez ar-cut-ulate whatssa nees be lak said. Righ’?”
Donald pushed Leeze’s right leg open, and she moved her own left leg a little. He reached for her torso, but his hands went down on either side of it. He pushed his cock into her, the triangle enclosing it, nearly cutting him off from it. She was very dry, very tight. It was extremely painful, but he had no desire to remove himself.
Jacket slid a cold finger into his left ear, and Leeze had a warm, soft hold on his balls and gently began to jiggle them.
“Wass weez wanna tell yeez is tha: thars anly 1 kinda musac an’ tha’ aint mucus.”
A line from one of their songs.
He jerked his hips into Leeze, and she jerked in towards him, and she was slippery now, and he kept going, and he felt himself going past her thighs, up into her stomach, and his cock churned through steak and Caesar salad and shrimp (de grils only ate food that started with the sound, not the letter, S), his hips were barely contained by her rib cage, their tips shredding his buttocks, till his cock was out of Leeze’s mouth, and he felt the triangle of her vagina cold and clear and metallic suck up to his sphincter, and she shuddered around him, and Buss beat a boot-black fascist rhythm on the ceiling, and Jacket hizzed as Leeze slipped further behind the window shade, and he stood on his workdesk, empty white pages crunched between his toes, and Leeze thrashed wildly behind the shade, and it was night day night day night day night day, the moon and sun jerking through the sky like sped-up stop-motion, and Donald Asshole seized wordlessly in the air, and there was a hard wind inside, his eyes shut themselves, and there was the brutal pressure of thumbs on his eyeballs, and he thought he could see something that wasn’t ink and paper, something that wasn’t flesh and fingernails, and Jacket said, “Wall ye shouln’ wash ‘cuze washes be harses and yeez be naw cawbay!” and Donald Asshole came, but nothing came out.
Jacket walked slowly across the vacant, frozen room towards him. He was surprised to find himself standing against the far wall, fully clothed and not bleeding. She was a head shorter than him, a Paddy cap on that head, a blemish smattering the center of her forehead. She wore black jeans and a button-up white dress shirt which was a couple sizes too large for her; her eyes were wetlands-filthy blue. She was smiling in a kind, peaceful way. It made him feel warm and close and safe, like he was clutching an old, shaggy dog, until he realized he had never drawn her smiling that way, and that such smiles were usually reserved for none-too-close friends with terminal illnesses.
She stopped just short of him. He could smell her: a sweet, thick body odor.
“Did you understand what I said to you?” she asked him, her voice croaking, as if it hadn’t been used for a long, barren time.
“No,” he said. “I never almost never understood what you were saying. I just wrote it down.”
She lifted her face up to his, her smile becoming slyer, something he knew. “I said: you shouldn’t wish, because wishes are horses, and you’re no cowboy.” She slowly leaned away from him, then rocked back on her heels. “Did you like your ride?”
He stared at her, unable to think of anything to say. She walked to the door and closed her hand around the doorknob. She turned to him. “Are you coming with me?”
“What?” he said. “I don’t know. Where are we going?”
There was no smile on her lips anymore. “Are you coming with me, Donald?”
He didn’t know what to say, but his mouth was opening, and he knew he was going to have to say something.
She smiled again, it was no pure thing, and then she opened the door. On the other side, everything was white and black, clean and clear. But there were no ovals or ellipses. Everything was straight. Everything was flat.
About the Author
Brendan Byrne was born in the District of Columbia in 1982. He lives in New York City and almost has a degree in somethingorother from Hunter College. He tends bar until such time as his body learns to photosynthesize.
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