the short story collection THE BLIND GODESS, from which the next story is taken, begins thus...
Sometimes, I think God was not entirely serious when he gave man the sexual instinct.(Graham Greene: A burnt-out case)
These stories are about a whole gamut of sexual tendencies, formerly known as perversions, and nowadays in the West referred to as variations so as not to upset the Gay movement.
All the oddities described herein exist in the Natural Order of Things, I have invented nothing, only modified the circumstances and details.
There are eleven stories in the present collection, my notes would stretch to many more, but enough is more than enough, so I didn't even manage to make it up to a round dozen. I confess that the topic fascinates me a great deal, so much so that it tends to show up in my books. The reason is that I had the opportunity to become acquainted with these matters direct as a Clinical Psychologist at the Outpatient Clinic for Sexual Deviations, under the Psychiatric Unit in Apollinaire St., Prague, and was initially as put out by it all as are my critics. However, (unlike them) I was unable to surmise that this was all some kind of "flickering on the far side of the subjective", given that I was facing the bearers of these oddities, real, tangible, though innocuous enough looking people. That must be why it all left such a deep and lasting impression on me. For me personally the existence of these things is a kind of antipode to overrating the importance of sex, something present-day Art overindulges, most notably literature, which makes sex a kind of sacrosanctum.
The real world teaches us that these are all instincts, which may become unhinged in these various comical, grotesque and horrifying ways.
To end with, let me say that the explanations offered by official psychology are, given the evident basis of these behaviours, entirely spurious: These are neither conditioned reflexes, nor the expressions of subconscious tendencies of whatever origin. They are the 'bugs' in instinctive programs, such as when a computer misbehaves, and I assert that this opinion will one day prevail among the Chairs of Acadaemia. It is most surprising, given the progress in information technologies, computers, robotics etc. that this hasn't got through yet, most probably due to the fact that the psychologically-mided are not usually the proponents of the information sciences. That will do, I think, by way of an introduction.
This story is inspired by a real event, which took
place neither in the old country nor my second homeland but elsewhere in Europe.
Although there is a sizeable Czech émigré community there, I am not too familiar with the place.
That is why I've held back from setting the scene in detail.
Joseph was off to catch a train.
His pocket held an envelope bearing his weekly wage.
His mood was festive, befitting a special occasion.
He was a very small man, Joseph, having worked much and eaten little since childhood.
Joseph's attire consisted of scuffed and ill-fitting clothes of a shabby grey colour, these being his smartest dress-suit, while on his feet he wore the normal workaday beaten-up shoes, shined up. These he jostled and scraped along the ground, dragging his feet as if they were too heavy for him. He wore a wash-faded red chequered shirt and a dark blue necktie, crumpled to the width of a pull-cord. Atop his peaked skull sat a small bluejay-feathered hat, visibly too small for him. He had bought the hat once upon a time for the sake of that very feather and took its small dimensions to be part and parcel of the deal, a necessary hindrance en route to his prized objective. His weatherbeaten face was creased into myriad folds, as though it had been cut out of a piece of paper, crumpled up, squashed into a tight little ball and then unfolded again.Around his muzzle, jowls and cheeks he was blue-shaven, with an islet of longish tufts on his neck. His eyes were blue, small and deep-set, as timid and longing as the eyes of certain dogs. His hands, butchered and hardened by work, huge to the point of caricature, hung cadaverously limp by his sides as he strode along the road, flapping only passively. From close up he smelled strongly of manure. His age was quite indecipherable. He might have been some 150 cm in height - in truth a little under that.
Having reached the provincial station where chickens rummaged about and flowers peeped out from under the roof-girder leaning out of their hanging baskets, Joseph went to the ticket office and asked for a third class ticket to the nearby town.
He mumbled his request so much that the clerk had to ask him to repeat it. He bought a return ticket.
On the train, Joseph stood in the corridor by the window, leaning out at times in his peculiar, hard to describe torpid manner, which featured sticking out his scrawny rear, knees slightly bent.
With his shovel of a hand he beckoned and waved here and there to people, and to cows, grimacing with evident delight.
It's hard to judge how the passing world might look through his eyes, but we may not be far off to imagine Joseph's world looking like a colourful, gawkish and naive childhood drawing.
Quite in keeping with his grinning, waving and pendulous leaning out would be, almost certainly, a sun with a smiling face, smoke rising out of chimneys in little coiled mattress springs, each differently angled, people with rakes in place of hands, as it were, and cattle, dogs and chickens undifferentiated in size, all of them reaching up to human shoulder height.
Poised above Joseph's world, most especially so on that summer morning, floated a gleefulness born of a kaleidoscopic sweet ignorance of the horrors of existence.
At last the train halted in the town and Joseph stepped out, facing against the direction of travel. He stood on the platform, contentedly surveying the scene. Then he headed off to the station buffet, where he bought a half litre of lager. He sat himself at a round table outside the cavemouth of the pub itself and torpidly, portentuously sipped his beer like a gentleman farmer. At the same time he was rejoicing at the sight of the little engines.
Having finished the glass he wiped his gob with his sleeve in landed-gentry style, pulled up his trousers and set off.
The street was long and Joseph watched himself in shop windows, feeling pleased with himself. The sky was blue with one or two ringleted clouds and the sun beaming cosily.
A while later he was to be seen striding with all dignity through a thickly planted park, surrounded by its curly lush greenery. The weekend promenaders were drifting in, slowly but surely gaining in numbers.
From the bandstand, crowned with a tin flag, brass band music was playing. The hearty and mildly lunatic m-tumtum, hm-tsamtsam seemed to express the very essence of Joseph, as he strode along undulating and rocking in the knees, sporting on his head the dark and shrunken gamekeeper's hat. At the same time the music seemed to capture his dopey happy mood. Joseph traversed the park in good time, despite having dawdled by the pond to look at the swans and having bought and drunk another beer from the motorised travelling refreshments vendor. At last he saw the Gate and almost gave a little leap of joy.
He bough his ticket, went through the metal turnstile and strode on in. With never a pause, he was pursuing his Aim. His soul flew onward to its desired rendezvous.
The Moose drew in through his nostrils as Joseph turned the bend in the path. It hurried to the fence, rubbed against it, pressed its snout to the mesh and snorted. Joseph grinned happily back. He poked his sausage-shaped fingers through the wire and scratched the funny bignosed deer on the forehead.
Burbling something he walked to the corner of the enclosure, the clove-hoofed animal following, to the spot where bushes grew right through the fence into the enclosure, keeping him out of sight of any visitors that might turn up. The moose enclosure was remote, few people knew about it, most of them hurried along the better-beaten tracks.
How to describe what happened next?
Having glanced all round, Joseph began to urinate into the enclosure.
The moose, being a lover of salt as are all herbivores, began to gulp down the stream, then moved closer to its source. (Incidentally, latest research shows that herbivores regularly lick urine because they need the urea contained within it to aid their digestion.)
Joseph was holding onto the fencing and gyrating rhythmically. Finally the moose swallowed the second course. Whereupon Joseph wandered off to the garden restaurant, and had a beer, and then another.
He had no interest in the other animals, though he returned another three or four times to the moose enclosure. On one occasion he had to come back unsated, because a group of visitors lingered around the moose, but he had success two or three times.
A smarter man would have been afraid, aware of the danger of being discovered. Not so our Joseph. Fortunately enough, the whole thing never took too long. Thus far he had been lucky, and had not been observed.
So Joseph spent a pleasant weekend day with his beer and his moose. By the afternoon he felt hungry, took out of his pocket two hunks of bread joined together by bacon fat, wrapped in newspaper. He ate slowly, carving off rough chunks with his curved pruning knife.
He was drinking like a fish.
By the time the sun was going down and they rang the bell at the gate to gather up the visitors, Joseph was already making his way back - to the gate, through the park, down the long street to the station. He was reeling a bit, but because he was not being rowdy in any way nobody took any notice.
His face was serene and unperturbed.
Having spend almost his entire wage-packet on the fare, entrance and beer, it was just as well he'd bought a return ticket, way back then. What remained would do for the meagrest of meals during the week.
But Joseph was content.
Joseph had maintained this lifestyle for some considerable time.
He'd never had any interest in women, or men, or children. He was attracted solely to large hoofed animals, regardless of gender. Why this is so, nobody knows.
His brother, who used to live with him at the farm and was now a lower ranking career officer in the army (unlike Joseph - whom the army had refused for his height) - had tried his best to wean Joseph off the thing.
A few times he beat Joseph up quite badly - he was sick of having to hush things up for him - and Joseph cried and pleaded, assured him he'd outgrown it all now, but he never did. It was, you see, like denying a normal man access to women. A couple of times his brother took him to a cheaper brothel in the mistaken, though widespread belief that it was all due to lack of opportunity, that he would learn from the professionals and be done with it. But Joseph had no interest and managed only after a lot of mechanical effort by the wench. He never asked to go again, and never went. This was something quite inexplicable for Joseph's brother, baffling as it seems perhaps to you, has seemed and will continue to seem to others.
In 1659 in Spain two yokels were burned to death in punishment, one for "loving a she-ass" and the other for "lying with a swine". The chronicler, padre Jerónimo de Barrio Nuevo expressed considerable surprise at this: He could not see why, when for a mere centavo you could hire no less than three women of pleasure in succession. (Unfortunately since the seventeenth century the price of prostitutes has gone up, even in Spain). Well - it is a sort of perversion, that's all, and nobody knows why it happens, even though some do kid themselves or gullible laymen roundabout that they understand it - there are two main theories, with offshoots - one more idiotic than the other.
In the end the brother went off to the army to improve himself, leaving daft Joseph to his fate and Providence to look after him. Fortunately, it seemed he'd lost interest in the farmyard animals.
He had his moose, whom he visited every Sunday. He was devoted to it, and faithful.
Joseph was striding through the darkening park toward the station and melodiously reciting a song, like a pre-school child with modest musical talent, whose ear for music will develop only later ."Na tý louce zelený..." (On the green meadow, the deer they are grazing...) . He lived under the delusion that a moose is a deer because he wasn't literate and did not pay much attention to nuances. With a certain consistency of aesthetic style he was substituting for the individual elements within that popular trinity of wine, women and song. The stand-in for the centrepiece of the triad was admittedly absurdly grotesque, yet in many ways the new trinity of beer, moose and melodic recital fulfilled the same subjective requirements.
Joseph was too stupid to spend time pondering or ruing his abnormality. He wasn't harming anybody, he wasn't damaging anything and he had all he wanted.
He didn't have to pay the moose, the entrance fare to the zoo was far cheaper than a life-size doll, and he'd have had to take the train anyway to visit the whores. There was nothing nasty to catch from the moose, either.
Look at it another way: he didn't have to maintain the moose, the moose didn't answer back or argue, wasn't capricious, didn't forbid him to drink his beer, and didn't cause trouble over seeing other mooses. It couldn't have a conversation with him, that's true, but that wasn't what Joseph was after.
If, as many erudite experts on the subject would have you believe, Joseph was doing this for lack of a normal outlet, then ours would be a sad tale and Joseph would deserve our commiserations.
But Joseph wanted nothing else.
He had what he wanted, and he wanted for nothing.
A truly fortunate man!