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Authors: Stephen Dixon

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Friends

BOOK: Friends
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Friends: More Will and Magna Stories

Stephen Dixon

Contents

Magna as a Child

Cooked Goose

Friends

Magna as the Good Woman

pp. 221-224

Training to Magna

Finished

Magna Out of Earshot

Will The Writer

Only the Cat Escapes

To Patricia L. Dixon

FRIENDS

MORE WILL AND MAGNA STORIES

Magna As A Child

She gets on a train. A man makes a pass at her. “Hiya doing, darling?” She gets off the train. She waits on the platform. Another man comes over and says “Pardon me, young lady, but which way is uptown?”

“This
the downtown side, that what you mean?”

“This is the downtown? That's the one I want. This the local side of the platform?”

“That's the local side there. This is the express.”

“That's the one I want. The express. I have to get downtown in a hurry. Terrific business deal—you can't believe it. You're too young to understand that though.”

“I suppose so.”

She looks away from him, stands there, holds a book bag. She knows the man's a character. It happens so often. Men want to touch her on the subway, talk to her. They follow her on the street sometimes, and certainly give her looks wherever she goes. One took her hand the other week, held it gently enough, and said “Why don't you come home with me. It's a nice home. A really big apartment—anything you want in it could be yours. Antiques: they're yours. Not all, of course, but some, and the more valuable the better, far as I'm concerned. Lamps, chairs, dishes—anything of these is yours. Which one of those would you like?” “Do you mind?” she said, taking her hand from his. “No, really, I'm telling the truth. Whatever you want you can have. Lamps and
chairs. Dishes too. All of them. Curtains. Brocaded curtains. Lazy Susans. Silent butlers. Know what those are? I got two, both sterling silver, engraved, but you can't tell what the initials are they're engraved so fancily. Whatever you want. You're that beautiful. Beautiful as a princess. You are a princess. What country you a princess of, beautiful young lady?” She had to walk across the street to get rid of him.

This one stands beside her. She knows he doesn't have to go uptown or down. He just wants to be with her. If not her, then another attractive girl. She knows he wants to be on the same train with her. She has an idea he's going to sit beside her on the train, talk to her and then get off with her at her stop and follow her on the street or walk beside her. She has this problem. Not a problem really, but because of her looks she attracts strange men like this, old and young, and they cause her problems. She happens to be very pretty. That's not being egotistical to admit it. People have told her it, and some have said, when she's said she's not that pretty, “Come on. You're gorgeous, don't deny it.” But she's so young. Not even fourteen. Developed like a girl of eighteen maybe, and maybe older. Anyway, developed. And tall for her age. She might have already reached her full height. And men like her for her build and face. Young face, with very smooth clear skin, and her long blonde hair. They like her hair. They often tell her about her hair, just as they comment to one another or tell her about her breasts, behind and legs. Here comes the train.

“Our train,” the man says.

“Maybe just yours. I just realized I should take the local. It's a local stop I'm going to.” She goes to the other side of the platform. The express comes. He doesn't get on it. All the people who got off it go up the stairs or wait on her side of the platform for the local. He comes over to her.

“The local, that's right,” he says. “I have to take the
local—I forgot. What stop you taking it to?”

“Excuse me,” and she walks to the end of the platform. If there's a policeman around she'll stand by him. If the man comes over to her then, she'll report the man. If the local comes and he doesn't get on it, she'll get on. If he gets on, she won't.

But there's no policeman. The man's coming toward her. That's it, she's had enough. Who should she report him to? Nobody really looks that safe or nice to talk to. She'll report him to that elderly man there, but when she gets closer to him she thinks he might be a derelict. That woman over there then.

“Excuse me, ma'am, but I'm having some trouble with that man there. He's been bothering me.”

“What can I do for you, honey? Go upstairs. Tell the change clerk.”

“If I can just stand with you I don't think he'll bother me anymore.”

“Then I'm the one he might bother. Listen, honey, do what I say. Go upstairs, speak to the clerk in the booth. You want me to do it for you? I think I can in the time the next train comes.”

“I don't want to be left down here with him. Can we go up together?”

“Better that you do it alone, honey. Maybe he won't follow. If he does I'll say something, but I don't want to miss my train.”

She starts upstairs. The man starts up the stairs after her. She turns to him. The woman has her back to them, is looking down the tracks for the train. “Will you leave me alone, you crazy?”

He sticks his hand into his fly and pulls out his penis. He waves it at her. “Big, huh, and it's not even hard. Take a lick, kid. All you want. Free on the house and nobody here will
mind. Go on, take a lick of it. It tastes real good.”

She runs upstairs. He goes downstairs.

“That's awful,” she hears the woman say, “just awful. What are you doing that for to that poor girl?”

Maybe he says or does something. By this time she's upstairs and she runs out of the station.

She comes home from her art lesson. Her mother says “Hello, sweetheart, have a nice day?” and kisses her cheek. She says she had a rotten day, maybe her worst except for when she was very sick. Her mother says “Here, let's sit down and talk.”

“I don't have to sit down. I can't. I'm jumpy again just thinking about it. The art class wasn't bad—that's not it. Or not
that
bad. We had a live female model for once. Me, the big-shot, had been asking for one since they had the male model—”

“I didn't know you had male models. In the nude?”

“Sure, except for a strap down there, but when we finally got a female I almost died when I saw her body—a woman for the first time like that. It honestly scared me.”

“Was she wearing drawers or something?”

“No—only he did, the male, though his behind cheeks showed. And when he bent over to make the towel under him right, one testicle showed too, someone said—though I wasn't looking at the time because I had a feeling it'd happen. But the women don't. And when she undressed in the booth she didn't even pull the curtain, nor when she got dressed again. I think she should have. There were lots of boys my age too.”

“I think she should have also. Complain to the teacher. You don't want to, I will, but I think you're old enough to
complain when you think something's wrong. You do enough home. But tell me, sweetheart, what was it that scared you about her so?”

“I didn't know women could get so big down there and different from me too.”

“You know what you look like?”

“I've held a mirror to it. A teacher—in Hygiene—suggested us to.”

“The model probably had babies. Don't let it scare you. You have plenty of time yet, and maybe she was also a little messy.”

“And, well, I know what you're going to say, but I almost got molested on the subway going to Art. A man showed his penis.”

“He exposed himself? Maybe you shouldn't take those classes anymore.”

“No, I got away okay, I swear it, and since it was the first time ever, I don't think it'll happen again.”

“I don't like it. Let me talk it over with Papa. But it was quite a day for genitalia for you. If you were old enough I'd advise your having a real drink. What about some cocoa or milk? I'll warm some for you.”

“No, I'll be okay. You need help with dinner?”

“You're not just trying to bury it? You do feel better now that you got it out by telling me it?”

“Yes, Mom, yes. I won't let that experience with the man warp my future sexual and married life.”

“That's a smart girl. Because he's destroyed, don't let you be.”

Magna makes the salad, sets the table, does her homework, has supper, is told by her father to stay off the subways from now on unless she's traveling with someone, reads a novel she got out of the library last week with eleven other novels. She wants to read three novels a week for the
next month. She thinks her mind needs it. She finished two this week and is almost done with this one—
Barchester Towers
, the longest and most boring of the three, or just the one whose language, style and consanguinity, as her teacher would say—she thinks that's the right word—but anyway, she got this far with it and if she doesn't finish it she'll be behind schedule. Then a friend calls.

“Magna,” Sarah says, “I'm in love.”

“Do tell me about it.”

“Act more excited. It's big big news.”

“Oh, do tell me about it.”

“A boy in my school.”

“Oh, a boy?”

“Don't be funny. A very tall masculine boy. He proposed to me today. Actually got on his knee. I said ‘Get up, jerko, unless you want to be there for the next five years.' For in five years I should know, shouldn't I?”

“Am I believing this? Okay, I'm believing this. He just wants to get in your pants, Sarah. What's his name?”

“Not true and his name's Toby.”

“Sounds like a clown. Drop him. No clowns allowed. Only serious names and serious professions. Charles, Henry, Ernest. Statesmen, physicians, writers, composers, choreographers, painters. Especially painters and all those in the plastic arts.”

“Magna, you're too staid. You also should have a boyfriend.”

“I almost did on the subway today. Listen to this. A man wanted to take me home. Said he'd give me anything. For starters, he showed me his penis.”

“No.”

“Actually, that was another one last week. Nothing exposed. This one today—and he was my second potential boyfriend in three minutes. The first on the subway went
goo-goo with his eyes till I thought they'd pop out—but this one, well, he brought his thing out and said—Wait, are my folks around? No. He said ‘Lick.' I could have killed him. He was insane. If I had a gun I would have shot it off—truly.”

“You wouldn't.”

“Maybe not, but I've been thinking, isn't there something they can do for men like that? Women too if they jump all over boys our age the same way? Oh, boys wouldn't mind. They're dumb enough to think it's great and they're so attractive if any woman suddenly pulled out her breast to them and said ‘Suck, eat, crunch, squeeze.' But men. Maybe they could show them pictures of rats eating garbage same time they show them pictures of little and big girls.”

“Good idea. We can show these films in movie theaters. We can charge admission and make lots of money.”

“I'm speaking of photographs, not movies, and you're missing my point besides.”

“I'm not. Magna, you're getting too serious for me. But what did it look like this rope he had?”

“If you mean by rope, big, or if you're just using it as another word for any sized penis—”

“Was it ugly, I mean? Sounds as if it would be. With bumps and scales on it and disease leaking out.”

“All of that. What do you think, I took time to stare? I felt sorry for him at first and also that he was very depraved, but most of all I was scared.”

“So you admit that?”

“Sarah, why wouldn't I?”

“I don't know. I had nothing else to say. But you want to hear about Harry? That's my new flame.”

“What happened to Toby?”

“Toby is what I wish his name was. I know you don't like it, but I do.”

“Okay, okay, so long as your story doesn't have genitals
in it. I'm tired of that today.”

“Harry wouldn't do that. He might want to one day—with me, in a nice way, no creep flashing his raincoat on the street, I mean—but that's some day, not today. I met him in the lunchroom. In a half-hour I knew he was it. He waited for me after school. Already sound too good to be true? He escorted me—that's the word he used—if he could; you know—to my ballet class.”

“I like the word escort. He's sounding good. He have a friend?”

“He says he has a few and they're all almost as nice as he is. Harry's not modest. He also plays the cello.”

“My favorite instrument.”

“If that's so I won't let you near him. I told him the cello was the most beautiful instrument in the world, but I don't like any string sound but the guitar. And the mandolinski.”

BOOK: Friends
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