From SJ

Fan Fic!

It is with equal amounts pride and trepidation that we offer here the first known instance of Sam Cabot fan fic.

Pride, because we’re tickled to have inspired such a personage as Steven Blier to write his first piece of fiction.  Trepidation because fan fic is something we can’t encourage for legal reasons having to do with ownership of the characters and our ability to get book contracts and film offers based on them.  Therefore knowest thou that this piece comes complete with an assignation of rights, meaning Mr. Blier is the author but Sam Cabot owns the thing.  Also knowest that Mr. Blier wrote this after he’d read BLOOD OF THE LAMB but before reading SKIN OF THE WOLF, so if you find a disconnect between this episode and the book’s events — and the true universe of the books and the Noantri — that would be why.

And now: TA-DA!  Steven Blier’s take on Spencer George and Michael Bonnard’s evening.

 

Michael fumbled with the keys to his apartment. The evening’s violence had rattled him, and even though he tried to maintain the hip, unflappable façade that had served him so well as a gay man in New York City, he had to admit his nerves were shot. He finally flung the door open, flipped on the lights, and reached back to give Spencer a comforting gesture of welcome. But Michael’s courtliness misfired when his palm, destined for the small of his boyfriend’s back, landed squarely on Spencer’s left butt cheek as he bent over to tie his shoe. At that very moment, Michael’s least favorite neighbor, Mrs. Frangulia, emerged from her apartment carrying two bags of fragrant garbage. Clad in a lime green muu-muu of appalling size and pattern, she appraised the two men with a poisonous glance. “Good evening, Dr. Bonnard.” She always pronounced his name “bonered.” Her glance fell on Spencer’s gluteus maximus, still cupped in Michael’s hand. “Just taking the garbage out,” she needlessly explained. An awkward silence ensued, perfumed by the odor of rotten cabbage and three-day old tilapia. Michael’s usual social graces deserted him. Normally he could handle a late-evening encounter with Mrs. Frangulia, even if he were bringing a far less presentable guy home for a quick roll in the hay. But tonight his mind was a blur. “Well, I’ll leave you and your friend to enjoy the…the rest of the evening.” She waddled down the hall as if she were the queen of Ruritania, her disapproval as fragrant as her trash.

“Nasty piece of work, that one,” muttered Spencer as he straightened up.

“Oh, she’s very fair-minded, she hates everyone the same, a big antipasto of prejudices. Don’t take it personally. She hasn’t had sex since Eisenhower was president.” There was an awkward silence. Spencer’s mind make a quick detour to the Eisenhower years, when he’d had an affair with one of the cabinet members. It gave a whole new meaning to “head of state.”

Michael cleared his throat. “I need a drink. You?”

“Ohhh…yes.”

“The usual?”

“Of course.”

Spencer sank into the living room couch while Michael went to the bar. He was glad to have something to do. They had spoken barely a word in the taxi home. Reaching for vodka, tomato juice, and Tabasco, he paused. A Bloody Mary. Of course. What else would a vampire drink, he thought with a bitter smile. He went into the kitchen for ice and lemon; in the darkened window he stole a glance at his neck, illuminated by the glare of the refrigerator light. He sported the kind of hickey that would relegate him to a few days of wearing turtlenecks. Surely Spencer’s love bite hadn’t drawn blood—that’s something that would have caught his attention. Yet in spite of all his medical training Michael couldn’t avoid the irrational fear that he’d survived a close call. He rummaged through the fridge and pulled out his own alcohol of choice, a Blue Moon pale ale.

“Here you go, baby,” he said as he approached the couch with the drinks. Spencer’s eyebrows arched when he saw the Blue Moon bottle. “Yeah,” admitted Michael, “to each his own.”

They gave the vodka and beer a little time to defuse the tension in the air. Spencer was the first to break the silence. “A werewolf. Funny, when you’re…when you’re…human….the only hair on your body is under your arms.”

“We Indians don’t do body hair.”

“Not even on your balls?”

“Oh. Well. That part, I admit, is cosmetic.” Silence. Another few sips of beer and vodka. Michael took up the thread. “Funny…I have dated older guys. When I was in my twenties I had a boyfriend who was thirty-five years my senior. But you take the cake. Can you remind me—how old are you?”

“Well, that’s complicated. Let’s just say that I have been 51 for about 500 years.”

“Shit. I’m not dating you, I’m carbon dating you.”

They both laughed, though Spencer had first heard the joke in the 1950s when he was screwing that crazy Secretary of the Interior who used to pop off to Italy to get laid. Amazing what secrets lay hidden inside those sack suits. His mind came back to the present: his sweet, beautiful, boyfriend. Who was a werewolf. OK, it was time to come clean.

“I often wish I’d made the Change when I was a little younger. We Noantri are blessed with more muscle tone than the Unchanged, but…I was a knockout when I was 30.”

“You still are,” Michael grudgingly admitted, still caught between desire and distrust. “A silver fox.” There was another awkward pause. “Unfortunate metaphor.”

Spencer warmed to the subject. “Four hundred years ago no one gave a shit, guys got pudgy and it was considered…attractive. Well, acceptable, anyway. A forty-inch waist was a symbol of wealth, and we all wore those balloony breeches. You could have an ass the size of Covent Garden and no one would really know. Or care. People thought Henry VIII was sexy. But now every guy is expected to look like a 22-year old…” He sighed.

Michael felt his heart melting, and tried to fight it. A vampire. This man is a vampire. Then his curiosity got the better of him. “Then why did you wait so long to…to…I mean, what was the draw? Eternal life?” He barely stopped himself from adding, “The blood of small children?”

“Oh sweetheart. I never planned it. It…happened.”

“Someone bit you one night?”

“No. Saliva is not the only way to make the Change. Any body fluid will do.”

A pause. Their eyes locked for the first time that evening. The ice was melting, and not just in Spencer’s Bloody Mary glass.

“I was 51—a geezer in my world, one foot in the grave. Unhappily married with two nasty offspring and a wife no one could stand, least of all me. And I developed a…strange friendship with one of my serfs. He was always hanging around, and he would touch my arm when we spoke, and he was gentle, and I kept thinking, ‘I wish my son were like this guy.’” Michael leaned in and touched Spencer’s arm. “So. One night when the rest of the family was off visiting my wife’s even more unpleasant sister, this lad stayed after work. We had a lot of mead, and I mean a lot. And he…um…deflowered me. Four times. I’d never had sex with a guy before, though I now realize I’d had plenty of fantasies. Filbert oil is an amazingly good lube, by the way.” A pause. “Nineteen-year olds don’t last very long the first couple of shags, but they spring back up like Old Faithful. And the third time was the charm.”

Michael swore under his breath in Mohawk. “You came out and you became a Noantri the same night.”

“Right. And I never looked back. From either. This kid—his name was Burleigh, ironic because he was slender, a sylph…” Spencer got lost for a moment as he recalled the line of blond hair that snaked down the boy’s stomach. What a beauty he was. And still is, he mused, though that irresistible air of innocence eventually left him. Spencer fought his way back to the present. “Burleigh had no idea he would be bringing me into the tribe. He was pretty inexperienced, and I don’t think it had happened to any of his previous lovers—not that he knew, anyway. There hadn’t been many. In any case, it’s a pretty rare way to make the Change. You have to go at it pretty hard.” Michael abruptly put up his hand in a “TMI” gesture. “Anyway, he knew how to keep himself nourished. As I mentioned…any body fluid will do for the first hundred years or so.”

“Oh….JEE-zus!”

“Blood was hard to find. I wasn’t going to go around biting virgins in the middle of the night like that asshole Dracula. But plenty guys were glad to shoot their semen down my gullet. They practically lined up for it. And of course Burleigh and I had lots of lunches together in the field. We’re the vegans of vampires. But as I said, it doesn’t last.”

Nobody stays a vegan forever, honey.” The two men chuckled together. Michael slid six inches down the loveseat and quietly put his arm around Spencer, who leaned in an gave him a tentative kiss on his temple. “But enough about me, wolf-man. How come you become a Shapeshifter?”

“Oh—we’re born that way. We don’t…bite each other.” Spencer nodded, feigning innocence about werewolf biology. “I sensed that there was something different about me when I was a kid—when I’d get upset or angry I felt as if I were going out of my body in some strange way. I couldn’t explain it. But…” He stopped.

“But what, angel?” Spencer purred.

“Well, oddly enough, it was something like your experience. I got stoned on the reservation with a friend when I was fifteen. His Anglo name was Curtis. I knew I liked boys but I thought—I assumed—I hoped it was a phase. Like a lot of gay teenagers, I was just waiting until I got interested in girls. Anyway, it was a beautiful night and we went outside. I was a little high, but Curtis was smashed. We were lying next to each other looking at the stars, and he took my hand and put it on his zipper. I thought, I guess tonight’s the night I lose my cherry. It turns out Curtis had planned the whole thing and he knew what he was doing. He’d even brought a bottle of Glide.”

“A real boy scout. Always prepared.”

‘Pretty soon he was on all fours and I was pumping away behind him, a horny fifteen-year old losing his virginity on a gorgeous summer night. My heart was pounding. That’s when it happened—about 30 seconds before I came, I started to shapeshift. I’d had inklings of it before, but this was the first time I had the Full Monty.   “

“What did your boyfriend do?”

“Well, he really liked it doggy style—thank god—so he didn’t see anything. And he was stoned out of his mind—squealing and shrieking—Curtis made an astounding amount of noise when he had sex—so when I started to howl it seemed natural to him. He kind of passed out after he shot, I loped off and got my act together, and…”

“And told your brother.”

“And told my crazy brother. Who tried to kill you a few hours ago.” He sighed. “What a dick he turned out to be.”

“Well. He can’t hurt me, anyway.”

“So it would seem.” Michael pulled away, suddenly remembering he was in the arms of a vampire. “Look. You’re safe from him. But…I gotta know…am I safe with you?” He pointed to the black and blue mark on his neck. “I’m trying not to be freaked out.”

“Michael. Please. As you have probably noticed, it’s not your blood I want to suck.” A pause. Michael had to admit that five centuries of practice had given Spencer a staggering technical command of fellatio. “Anyway, werewolves are immune to the virus. Even if I wanted to…indoctrinate you…I couldn’t.” Michael felt himself flooded with relief, tinged with a strange hint of disappointment. He would always be an outsider. There was no clan he could join.

Spencer cleared his throat and touched Michael’s chin, pulling his lover’s face close. “You still howl when you come. The question is: am I safe with you?”

Michael gently pulled away. “You know how you teach yourself not to get a hard-on in the boys’ locker room during high school?”

Spencer chuckled. “I never went to high school, honey.”

“Not even Beowulf Prep?”

The tension broke as they dissolved in laughter.

Michael went on. “Well, anyway. It’s like that. You learn to get control. Can you live with the howling?”

“I take it as a tribute.” Silence. “Bed?”

“Yes. I’m beat.” Michael gathered the glasses and took them to the kitchen, while Spencer furtively put a hand into his right-hand jacket pocket. Thank God nothing had happened to its contents during the tumultuous evening. As Michael sauntered down the hall, Spencer took out the two blue pills he’d stashed there twelve hours ago and tossed them into his mouth. Viagra. The best invention, he thought, of the last twenty years. The much-vaunted Noantri muscle tone had the most irritating way of bypassing that one crucial muscle.

They crawled into bed, turned out the lights, murmured their ritual endearments, and kissed. Their minds were still spinning as they pretended to drift off to sleep. A few minutes passed.

“Spence. Can I ask you something?”

Spencer yawned. “What is it, wolf-man?”

“Did you ever fuck Shakespeare?”

Spencer snorted. “No, honey, I was a dinosaur. Will was into adolescent boys and he had tons of them. But Burleigh had a long affair with him. He worked in the costume shop at the Globe. He always claimed he was the young man of the sonnets.”

“No way.”

“Apparently the Bard of Avon was really hung, a Big Boy. And a total bottom. Can we sleep now?”

“Mmm.”

Spencer rolled onto his side, enjoying the comfort of Michael’s gentle embrace. A subtle backward movement of Spencer’s hips confirmed that his lover’s equipment was also in “snooze” mode. No surprises there; Michael had always been a morning-sex guy, and that suited the older man just fine. The minor irritation of a Viagra headache was a small price to pay for the delicious roughhousing the morning would bring. “The beast with two backs.” Yes, Willy was a really good writer. And a sweetheart. It had been sad to see him lose his heart to someone as manipulative as Burleigh, who had grown devious in the 150 years after hooking up with Spencer. As he drifted off to sleep, Spencer made a mental note to send his old friend a quick email the next day. It paid to be on good terms with a guy like Burleigh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a helluva town

That was the original lyric to “New York, New York” from Leonard Bernstein’s “On the Town.”

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For the movie that was changed to “It’s a wonderful town” but either way, we set SKIN OF THE WOLF there because we love the place.  We hope you’ve enjoyed these countdown posts, and though we’ll keep posting, we’ll close the NYC part of the countdown with Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Jules Munchin in this clip from “On the Town.”

Please get your copy of SKIN OF THE WOLF as soon as you can, and thanks for staying with us!

 

 

Native American resources

We’ve focused a lot during this countdown on Native American issues, but of course we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s interesting and meaningful.  If you want to look further into some of these questions, or anything else relevant to Native peoples, here are some useful resources.

An exhaustive Native American resource page.

Wikipedia’s Indigenous Peoples of North American portal.

Indian Country Today Media Network.

The text of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

And because I can’t resist, here’s a link to an article on Rez Ball.

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National Museum of the American Indian, redux

This is a video from the NMAI about a sculptural work entitled “Always Becoming.”  This is what the NMAI has to say about it.  Thought you’d like to see it.

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These clay sculptures, titled “Always Becoming”, range in height from seven and a half to sixteen feet tall. The clay — malleable and forgiving — is built around natural materials to represent origin, family, and belonging in Native cultures. A walk through the sculptures exudes a quiet, peaceful sensation of entering a place rooted in the past, but always looking towards the future.

The pieces, painstakingly crafted by Santa Clara Pueblo artist Nora Naranjo-Morse, are designed to melt back into the earth over time.  But, why?

The inspiration for the figures is drawn from Santa Clara Pueblo oral tradition, and they are named Father, Mother, Little One, Moon Woman, and Mountain Bird. They are crafted from naturally changing and evolving elements of the earth such as dirt, sand, straw, clay, stone, black locust wood, bamboo, grass, and yam vines. The past shaped the sculptures, but they will change and evolve, much like the Native people whose heritage they represent.

Naranjo-Morse drew inspiration from the unique relationship that Native peoples have to the environment, and the Museum’s commitment to educating visitors about this bond. She used the same mud mixture used to build homes and structures in the Southwest to finish the sculptures, emphasizing the idea of the museum and its grounds as a home for Native people and their vibrant cultures. She also used personal touches on the sculptures – the Father sculpture is centered by a viga, or wood pole, from her home. Hand cut by her parents in the 1950s, it represents the ideas of ancestors and family.

As the sculptures transition and become part of the earth, artists, including Naranjo-Morse’s daughter, will return each year to add new elements. An evolving community of artists will conserve the sculptures, bringing their own experiences and stories to life with clay.

Artifacts at auction

If you’re wondering why Native Americans seem so sensitive to their art and artifacts being sold at auction, consider this.  And consider the icy blood of someone who’d even consider purchasing it.  And the total tone-deafness of the auction house that accepted it in the first place, before bad publicity made them pull it.

 

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The Upper East Side

In SKIN OF THE WOLF, Spencer George, arriving in New York City for the first time in his five hundred years, purchases a townhouse on the Upper East Side.  Though no longer the highest-income zip code in NYC — that dubious honor has moved a bit downtown, to the east 50’s — the Upper East Side is still the home of sedate old money.  Lots of museums and galleries line the streets, as well as embassies and consulates.  Spencer lives just off Central Park and feels right at home.

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