7/25/2013

Crawl in Bed With Edmond Manning - Bring Your Sunglasses...


Crawling Into Bed with Edmond Manning And a Good Book

1) Important things first, are these sheets silk or cotton?
Edmond:  Cotton. Definitely cotton. Wait, I'm not actually sure. I don't change my sheets very often and so, I'm never quite - oh wait. These are silk. They're dark maroon, sexy, slippery cranberry-colored sheets that deeply contrast my pale, white, mortuary skin. (I'm super pale Irish.)

2) *blinks* I see that. Are you by chance allergic to sunlight? And Garlic? *shakes head* Sorry. Having a "twilight" moment. What are you wearing?
Edmond: Why, nothing of course. Yard after yard of naked, all pasty white boy. Vampires look at me naked, splayed and snoring across the blood-red sheets and whisper excitedly to each other, "Old Country Buffet. Right here." If you're uncomfortable sleeping naked next to the equivalent of vampire cat nip, I can wear my boxers with little duckies on them. I sometimes wear those in winter. 

3) Oh, no. Don't feel obliged to dress on my behalf. I promise not to ogle…much. What are we snacking on in bed while we read tonight?
Edmond:  Oooo - so glad you asked. I poured us both a huge glass of 2% milk. I always drink a big glass of milk before bed. I wasn't sure if you were a crackers or cookies kind of sleepover friend, so I have a little tray to set between us with Oreos, Nutter Butters, those chickeny-flavored crackers, and Cheeetos. Help yourself. 


4) Excellent selection, but I'll have to forego the Cheetos. I wouldn't want to get orange powdery cheese on these silk sheets. If I open this nightstand drawer, what will I find?
Edmond:  DON'T LOOK IN THAT DRAWER. Ahem. What I meant was, you might find all manner of sexy, provocative --awwww, who am I kidding? In my 20's my nightstand drawer was full of condoms, lube, and cock rings. A chain harness. A few old neckties for, you know...but these days it's mostly full of cough drops, Kleenix, Nyquil and floss. You know, in case you wake up in the night and you have Nutter Butters stuck between your teeth. I am officially old. 

5) *chuckles* Do you roll up in the blankets like a burrito, or kick the covers off during the night?
Edmond:  I'm a kicker. Definitely. It amazes me I wake up in the same position every morning:  sheets kicked off. Face down, spread eagle, like a murder victim pushed off a tall building. One pillow behind me. One pillow on the mattress in front of me. My head is never on a pillow. They just...snuggle me. Why is there a pillow behind me? What good does that do? How do I create this same arrangement night after night?

6) Hm. Good question. I suppose setting up a video surveillance to find out is out of the question? Thought so. Can I put my cold feet on your calves to warm them up?
Edmond:  I would prefer you do. I like cold feet on my legs, on my feet. I am a living furnace at night. You could slow-cook a Sunday pot roast in my bed at night. Bring on your cold appendages. 

7) *coughs* Okay then. What are we reading?
Comics. I always read comic books before I fall asleep. In fact, I often am asleep with my arm propping my head up, light on, and after some fantastical dream, I jerk awake and notice that I'm 'mid-reading.' I pull the chain that turns off the light, toss the flimsy comic book to the floor, and nest between pillows, waiting for starving vampires to slobber over me. 
 Oh...I guess we're also reading my latest release, KingMai, by Pickwick Ink Press. It's a continuation of The Lost and Found series, in which narrator Vin Vanbly travels the world 'kinging men,' with his unique brand of erotic sensuality and manipulation.  Should give us interesting dreams tonight. 


Excerpt below:   

The events in this novel take place in 1996

Chapter 1


Ladies and gentlemen, the BBC proudly presents another episode of Vin Vanbly, Farm Spy. Today, we follow the case—nah, no time. Only ten minutes until we begin his King Weekend.

From my hiding spot in the corn, I watch Mai Kearns on his front porch, watching his watch. Watch. Watch, watch. I like the word watch. Kearns wears a solid yellow T-shirt I have not seen before, which means either it’s new or one of his good tees. Yellow looks sexy against his hazelnut skin. I wonder if he realizes that color is perfect on him or if it’s a happy accident. He must know. I’ve been aching to kiss his dark copper neck, to glide my pale fingers down those strong arms, slightly less sunburned than his neck. I want to caress his chest, and to compare his farmer tan to what’s under his shirt. And, of course, his ass. I bet it’s a goldeny-brown, a tender shade that flushes when you kiss it, worship its rippling goose bumps.

His eyes… I can’t wait to see those hard, dark eyes staring right into me. Today I will see his eyes up close, no longer through binoculars.

Over the yellow tee, he’s wearing a white linen shirt, unbuttoned, the one he wore last Sunday when they ate dinner on the backyard picnic table. I almost strolled out of their cornfield to ask for a steak. Hard yellow corn, baked potatoes, fat red and gold tomatoes in a bowl, and his mom made a pie. I wish I knew what kind of pie. I’ll ask him. Tried to catch a whiff, but from my hiding spot, I could only smell dirt and corn.

His flat tummy peeks out as he stretches his arms behind his head. He looks at his watch again. I love his tummy. Slender guys have cute bellies. Or whatever you call his lack of belly.

God, I want to have sex with him.

He glances at his watch again and jerks his arm away. He’s already pissed and I’m not even late. I remained so adamant about beginning exactly at 6:00 p.m. that my impending tardiness will surely burst a vein in his neck.

He leans over the wooden porch’s railing, staring down the narrow, country road leading to his parents’ farm. Still no sight of me. He clunks his worn cowboy boots down the front steps and with clipped strides crosses the house’s front, the only side scraped and primed, ready for its repainting. Standing in the yard, he peers beyond the driveway but he can’t see far, not with cornstalks seven, eight feet high everywhere around us.

Okay, time for the final alignment test.

I step backwards, deeper into the field, and tighten my grip on the cornstalk in my right hand. Pressing my foot against the stalk, I wait until he’s looking away and with my boot, I punch it.

Crack.

Mai’s head snaps straight toward this field. He knows what he heard.

Yup, he loves the corn.

After staring in my direction and hearing northing further, Mai storms back to the porch and flops hard into an Adirondack, his morning coffee chair, lifts his feet to the railing, and then scrapes his boot undersides across a banister spoke. His mom’s not going to like that—Kearns, you know better. But the man can’t stand to be doing nothing, and this latest distraction betrays his impatience.

5:55 p.m.

Fuck it. I can’t wait until 6:00 p.m. I want our time together to start right now, this very second. I stride from the field into the neighboring grass and wait for him to notice me. He’s, what, fifty yards away? Sixty? Not close enough to distinguish eye color or read expressions accurately, but close enough to notice there’s a person now standing here.

Mai stands again and after flicking a few dirt chunks off the railing, catches me in his peripheral vision. He turns to look at me for a moment, peers in my direction, and jumps back a foot.

“Hey, bubba,” he yells. “That’s our corn.”

I love it. That’s what he calls the men in DeKalb. He once emailed me the word meant nothing more than a playful swipe at the locals. He lied. It’s more than a gentle snub. He hates the town bubbas, the redneck high schoolers who taunted him, a hurt exacerbated because he once loved a local bubba. It’s exhausting to hate what you love and love what you hate.

He stares at me, then glances down the road.

I cock my head, but say nothing.

Across the front yard, driveway, and expanse of grass crushed flat and ripped open by tractor wheels, he cups his hands and yells, “You…are you Vin Vanbly?”

I nod.

He yells, “C’mere.”

I shake my head in refusal, exaggerating the motion so he can see it clearly.

I smile, remembering the many months it took us to get here.

When we first started emailing six months ago in March, Mai argued the sheer impossibility of so many kings, arguing the nightmare bureaucratic and legal consequences. He next launched real-world crime statistics like missiles, demanding explanations for how any utopia could remain untouched by humanity’s worst. In another email, he insisted that with many countries barely acknowledging women’s rights, so how could they recognize each woman as the one true queen? Despite his goading questions, Kearns didn’t really want answers.

He wanted to believe.

He waits a minute, staring at me hard. “Hey, could you come here for a moment? I need to talk to you.”

I shake my head again. With my right hand, I motion for him to come.

Fuck talking. I already know he wants to back out. “Something important came up.” That’s about half the excuses I get. Also popular lately is “I only showed up to explain why I refuse go.” Blah, blah, fucking blah.

When I invite men on my King Weekend, they never know what to expect, only that they must submit to my every demand all weekend. When Friday evening arrives, they realize my promise to help them “remember the man they were always meant to be” seems awfully vague weighed against a full weekend of total submission and obedience. I’m sure they worry it’s all dungeon basements and restraints in metal chains but lucky for them, I’m not that kind of guy. I guess I’m not surprised men want to back out at the last minute. I probably would too.

Mai tilts his head and skews his face into what might be a frown. Can’t tell. But I dig the cowboy angle of his body, hands on his hips, fighting me for control over this single moment in time. I wish I had a camera.

Almost the entire Kearns’ farm lies behind him. The dilapidated red and white barns don’t need new paint; they need new wood to go under the paint, and then new paint. The barn they use for storing tractors and hay shows its ribs in a few places, and a few massive corrugated tin sheets stretch themselves across squares of missing roof, protecting its modesty. I can’t imagine it’s effective in winter. The animal barn appears in better shape. They take good care of the cows. It’s clean inside—well, as clean as you can get with forty-three shitting cows. I’m not a farmer but from my night-time lurking around the property, I could identify dozens of necessary improvements once money is found.

No, Vin, don’t think about that. Don’t think about the farm.

He saunters across the yard, extra-casual, attempting to disguise his irritation. Damn he’s hot, even when he’s angry. Maybe especially when he’s angry. I get the appeal of angry men. They carry a clenched power in their eyes and fists, threatening immediate, immoderate action. While I do not want the anger, I love the accompanying raw testosterone. Bring it on, bubba.

After he storms across the white-stoned driveway, he skirts the scything machine, whatever that thing is, careful not to step on the border of impatiens I’ve seen his mom water and weed. Clearly, this rusted thing is beyond salvage. The rubber wheels are years flat, the blades dull and useless. I want to believe the surrounding pink and white flowers communicate his mother’s Midwestern sensibility regarding beauty: if this piece of crap stays in our yard let’s make it look like we intended it. I have to remember to ask him where this machine came from. I have a theory.

When he reaches the grass twenty feet from me, I start backing into the corn.

He stops and puts his hands on his hips. “Yes, yes, just like Field of Dreams. It’s been done, Vin.”

I leap back a few more feet until I’m sure I’m hidden, then turn and dash down the row. People associate cornfields with either Field of Dreams or Children of the Corn. That’s a pretty fair dichotomy: Found Kings’ interpretation, Lost Kings’ interpretation.

For a split second, I question my decision to review the full history of the kingdom where every man is the one true king, every woman the one true queen. Depending on how we move, I may recap the highlights. Okay, stop questioning the weekend flow. I can’t change much now. And no more second guessing. I must stay in the moment or my face will betray clues of what’s to come. Besides, Mai practically memorized the Lost and Founds backstory on my AOL home page just so he could better argue with me.

Get present. Stay present. No more second guessing.

From a distance, I hear him say loudly, “Hey, c’mon. I need to talk to you. What are you doing?”

When I do not answer, he says, “Don’t you guys have corn in Minnesota? Couldn’t you do this at home?”

I remain silent as a gentle breeze ripples through the field and I listen to the fat, broad corn sheaths slap each other across the face, like thousands of rugged drag queens.

Mai is quiet. I am quiet.

It’s not spooky if you’re a farmer, the quiet of the earth.

In the past three weeks, I’ve observed many flavors of quiet while skulking around the Kearns’ farm. Mai drinks his morning coffee in silence, boots perched on the chipped railing until his mom yells from the kitchen. There’s corn-slapping silence, which is not silent at all, but an army of invisible accountants rustling papers. Mai and his father work side by side in silence at times. They talk, they joke, they even argue loud, but in their silence I can hear them share the same love for what they do. Cricket-chirping silence, the silence of dirt, cow silence, and the exhausted quiet of an August day, a day spent milking, pounding, feeding, culling, sharpening, smashing, driving, hauling, milking again, then suddenly guzzling icy water from a sweaty glass at sunset. All that exertion and nobody gets off? I couldn’t handle being a farmer.

Mai enters the cornfield. “Vin? C’mon.”

Last week from this field, I witnessed a more ominous quiet right before evening milking, as both Kearns and his father raced toward the barns from opposite fields. I peered around the sky wondering how they knew, as the storm seemed distant to me, but in a screaming cloud of dust, Kearns jumped out of his pickup and yelled to his father, “I’ll take scratch.”

Didn’t know what that code meant, but they got most of the cows inside before the first serious lightning snaked down and pierced the earth’s skin in viper silence. A hair-raising peal of thunder rent the air and made me drop to my knees, wincing. They stayed in the barn and I remained in their cornfield, alternating between delight in the storm’s viciousness and cowering in absolute terror.

In a tenor close to—but not quite—yelling, he says “Yo, Vin. Chasing through cornfields isn’t as much fun when you’re a farmer. It’s like being at the office.”

Why would he say that? Neither one of us works an office job. He knows that.

“C’mon, man, I need to talk to you.”

I try to imagine the dark shadow across his face as he surrenders and storms down the row where I disappeared. But I already have moved seven or eight rows over and quietly, I think. I’ve been practicing my own silence, racing through cornfields for three weeks. I lost weight, which is good. I’m down to 205, 210.

Okay, fine: 215.

Once I spy his boots deep in our field I shout, “Experts predict family farm ownership will fall by 44% over the next six years, leaving farming in the hands of seven major corporations.”

I take off running down my current row, hunched over at the waist to avoid protruding ears, navigating each stalk with hard-won expertise. I pass him, more than a dozen rows over, and unless he specifically looks for feet, he can’t see beyond three or four rows at a time. I’m confident he does not know my location until I yell my next statistic.

“By the year 2011, the farm crisis will collapse the national food supply chain, rendering millions of Americans starving to death in their own homes.”

I yell over my head, straight up, making my voice harder to trace. I’m already on the move so he can’t make out my exact location. I cross several rows over, race back the opposite way, screaming statistics he gave me regarding pesticides and their long term impact, their decay rates, and in my best imitation of a crow’s hoarse voice, shouting, “Y2K! Y2K!”

Until Mai and his doomsday numbers, I had never even heard of Y2K. Apparently, it’s going to kill us all. Kearns spewed statistics during every email conversation in our early exchanges, and when we chatted live on AOL, he threw numbers at me frequently as well. And here I assumed I read a lot. He mostly reads articles as opposed to books. He hides behind numbers, percentage points, and grim predictions for the future. He thinks they will protect him so that when his heart next breaks he can cross his arms and say, “Told you.”

Mai drops to his knees, peering through the stalks to search for my legs. Good idea, Kearns, but too late—you’re dealing with a cheater. I already left the cornfield and now lie face down on the western edge in the grass, covering my blond skull using the broken stalk and its ears. I can be difficult to spot when I choose.

He stands and yells, “Quit fucking around, okay?”

I can only see his legs, spread-eagle, standing rigid right near the field’s center.

C’mon, Mai, listen. That silence rippling through the corn is your kingship, whispering your true name.

Careful, Vin. Don’t get cocky. Know your place. Though I am in boss mode, I must not forget who is the servant and who is the master. I serve the Found Ones this weekend and though he has not yet crossed over, Mai Kearns is my one true king.

After a moment, he takes off. I recognize his quick stride—he’s fucking pissed. Didn’t take much.

He’s so ready.

I stand, move a few rows in, and yell to him, “Follow my voice. Game’s over. Come this way. I’m over here.”

Mai stomps through the field toward me and once he emerges in my row, twenty or thirty stalks down, I note despite using his body’s bluster to communicate his frustration, he avoids breaking a single ear. Yup, he loves the corn. Problem is, he also hates it.



4 comments:

  1. Awesome interview guys! Edmond, I love your humor.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We need pictures of the ducky boxers please!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think the ducky boxers are better left to your imagination Truly. You'll thank me later. And thanks, Mary!

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  4. Oh, Edmond...you are a trip. ;o)

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