The Chief Of The Navajo’s Sister



Jerome Turken


We watched JJ sit down on an entrance step on the other side of the schoolyard and bend his head half way to the ground to wait out another nose bleed.

“Why don’t you go over and ask him,” I said.  “Go ahead, just go over and say hello and just ask him.”

“Why don’t you go ask him,” Leo Spitalnik said.  “He likes you.”

“All right,” I said.  “We’ll toss.”  I took a penny from my pocket and tossed it up.

“Heads,” Leo said.  It came up tails.  He sat down against the fence.  I sat down next to him and we watched JJ bleed.

JJ was one of the best handball players in the schoolyard, and he did

like me; he had a habit of rubbing my head for luck before a big money game.

Every once in a while, for no reason, his nose would start bleeding, and he’d just sit down on an entrance step and fold his arms on his knees and lower his head over his arms and smile and wait it out, just letting the blood drip to the pavement until it finally stopped after forming a puddle a foot across.  I once asked him why he doesn’t put his head back or put his handkerchief or something under his lip to stop the bleeding.

“Stop the bleeding?” he said.  “Are you kidding?”

I looked at him.  “What do you mean?”

“Getting rid of that blood is good for me.  “It rejuvenates my energy.”

“Losing blood rejuvenates your energy?”

“Sure,” he said.  “See that blood?  It’s bad.  Bad, bad, bad.  It forms behind my nose and when enough is accumulated a little valve opens and it automatically starts flowing and cleans out my system.  See how dark it is?  Look close and you’ll see little black specks in there.  That’s the bad stuff.”

“I don’t see them,” I said.

He laughed.  “Ah, you ought to learn how to look.”

I needed JJ’s advice.  Because the information in those two books was not enough.  Figures 135 and 135 in Human Anatomy by A.J. Bendleman showed you where everything was, what it looked like and what it was called; and Modern Sexual Harmony by Samuel F. Prager, M.D. told you were a girl likes to be felt, rubbed and tickled and stuff like that to get her going, what he calls foreplay and fondling, and the different ways of having sexual intercourse.  But neither of them told you how you get a girl to cooperate in

the first place.  For that I had to depend on JJ.  He worked in Mr. Lurie’s

cabinet shop and may have not written a book on the subject but he had plenty

of practical experience.  Girls crawled all over him, and he was known to

handle three, four or more at a time.

We watched him straighten up finally and stretch his legs and fold his arms on his chest and lean back on the door with a contented smile on his face.

“All right,” I said.  “Go ask him.”

“I can’t” Leo said.  “He’s angry at me.”


“Last Sunday he asked me to go to Katz’s get him a pastrami sandwich and I refused.”

“You know you’re a bullshit artist, Leo?” I said.  I got up and walked over to JJ with Leo right behind me and sat down next to him.  Leo sat down next to me.  JJ opened his eyes and gave me a friendly nudge with his elbow and closed them again.

I was nervous.  I couldn’t seem to get my mouth going.  The words almost choked in my throat coming out.

“Hey, JJ, we need some advice.”

JJ didn’t open his eyes.  “Advice?” he said.  “Sure.  What kind of advice are we talking about?”

“Well,” I said.  “What if, you know, what if when you like a girl and, you know, and maybe she let you kiss her once or something, and you want to, you know‑‑“

“Hold it,” JJ said.  “Hold it.  Don’t torture yourself.  I think I got an idea what you’re trying to ask me.  You’re too young.”

After five seconds of silence he opened his eyes and looked into two

disappointed faces.”

“No we’re not,” Leo said.  “Look, I have a mustache already.”  And he pouted the little growth of soft, dark fuzz under his nose.

“Anyone got a magnifying glass?” JJ said, and he leaned back and closed his eyes again.  A few seconds later he opened them and took another look at our faces and busted out laughing.  “All right, all right,” he said.  “Don’t look so miserable.  Just give me a minute to figure out where to begin.  Because I don’t have any formulas written down.  To me it’s automatic.  I don’t think, I proceed by instinct, like slamming a killer into the corner.”  And he closed his eyes again.  After about half a minute he started nodding his head and you could see a certain kind of pleasure building up in his face, almost relish.  You could almost see his mouth water, like when he’s taking the wrapper off one of his juicy pastrami sandwiches.  He opened his eyes.

“All right,” he said.  “I’m ready.”  He looked into both of our waiting, open‑mouthed faces.  “Are you?”

Both of us nodded.

“All right,” he said.  “Now the first thing you have to know is, there isn’t a girl alive who don’t want to get laid.  Do you believe that?”  He looked at me then at Leo. “Well, you’ll just have take my word for it.  Every girl alive wants to get laid.  Now you might not think so from the way they act at first.  You want to know why?”

We nodded.

“Because of reputation.  Reputation is a big thing with them.  No girl wants to look easy.  So what you have to do is, you have to give them a loophole.  You have to go along with the fairy tale that they’re doing something against their will.”  He thought a few seconds then continued.  “Now never wait too long before getting the kissing started.  Let her know what game you’re playing right off the bat.”

“How are you supposed to know if a girl will let you kiss her or not?” Leo said.

JJ shook his head and looked at him as if he had just asked how he knows a saw cuts wood.  “Are you in the ungraded class or something?”

“No,” Leo said.

“Let me tell you something,” JJ said.  “Out of ten girls all of them will go for Clark Gable, none of them will go for Frankenstein and from one to nine will go for the rest of us, depending on our natural magnetism.  Now let’s say your number is three.  When you come across one of those three girls you have to be either queer or unconscious not to know she wants you to kiss her.  Now if you’re shy with girls that’s another story altogether.  Go see a psychiatrist because I can’t help you.  All I know about shyness is, unless you find a way to overcome it you’re going to be pulling your dingy for the rest of your life.”

Me and Leo looked at each other.

“You want to stop here?” JJ said.  “If you want me to stop here just say so.”

“No,” I said.

“No,” Leo said.

“All right,” JJ said.  “So let’s continue.  Now like I said, you start with kissing.  Kissing leads to hugging and hugging leads to feeling and feeling leads to all kinds of things, there’s no telling to what and how fast because no two girls are exactly alike.  Now what you have to bear in mind at all times is, we all know where we want to go with our dick, right?  Well, a girl wants our dick to go to the same place.  Never lose track of that fact.  The only thing is, you can’t show too much eagerness to get it there‑‑remember what I said about reputation being a big thing with them?  Okay.  The next thing is‑‑now there are exceptions, but with most of them what you have to do is, you have to get your hand there before you get your dick there.  Most girls need a little introduction, you know what I mean?  Now you could get your hand there from any direction, but I recommend starting out from their knees.  For two reasons.  First of all, knees are allowable almost right away for most girls.  Or soon enough.  They’re something girls show you all the time, so they don’t get too unsettled about getting them touched, you know what I mean?  Second of all, it gets their machinery going–girls have a lot of feeling in their knees.  One of them told me her knees actually start tingling when I touch them.”

“How about their tits?” Leo said.

“Jesus Christ!” JJ said.  “I already covered that.  Didn’t I just say feeling leads to all kinds of things?  Well, tits is one of them.  But knees are closer to the main attraction, ain’t they?  Don’t you know your anatomy, for crissake?  Now where was I?”

“Their knees,” I said.

“Their knees,” JJ said.  “Okay, you got your hand on her knees.  Now never go too fast‑‑not many girls like the idea of sudden plunges.  Just take it nice and easy.  Keep her going with your kissing and feeling and just inch your way up.  She may put on a show of trying to hold your hand back, she may even push it off.  Don’t worry about it.  Let her.  She’s just waiting for it to come right back again.  Just keep going slow, slow.  Never overdo your force.  Take it nice and easy, you got plenty of time.  Just keep your fingers active, even if they’re not moving up for the time being.  Keep playing them over those soft, luscious thighs of hers, it’s hard for them to resist that.  You caress, you tickle your way up, nice and steady.  No matter how tight she closes her thighs, never get the idea she don’t really want to open them.  All she’s doing is trying to make it appear that it’s you who’s doing the opening, not her.  Just keep your hand traveling, nice and gentle, and little by little you’ll feel those butter delights of hers loosen up, until they give way altogether.  She’s telling you she’s had enough fooling around.  She wants that hand of yours to get inside her pants and put her into the pleasure zone.  She wants you to start playing around with that powerful little joy knob of hers.”

Leo’s jaw was hanging in puzzlement.  JJ looked at him then at me then turned back to him again.

“Consult with Mark on joy knobs,” he said.  “All right.  You got your girl in the pleasure zone.  She is now ready.  Now comes the business of the rubber.  You know what a rubber is, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” I said.


“Yeah,” Leo said.

“All right,” JJ said.  “Now getting a rubber on while a girls is in the pleasure zone can be a little tricky because you have to do it with one hand.  You want the other one to keep doing the girlwork because there’s a chance of her dying down if you stop and then you’re going to have to spend time starting her up again.  Also, most girls don’t like to see them things go on.  Not that they don’t already know‑‑pregnancy is a big thing with them.  But it looks too premeditated.  You know what premeditated means, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Explain it to him later,” JJ said.  “Now don’t even think about putting the rubber on beforehand.  You don’t want to go searching in your underwear when you got a girl hitting on all four cylinders.  But it should be out of the envelop ready for action.  And since there’s no way of knowing which hand is going to be doing what when the time comes, I recommend putting it in the pocket of your shirt.  It’s hard enough to get into your pants pocket with the wrong hand as it is.  With a girl to control at the same time it’s almost impossible.”

“What if you’re wearing a polo shirt without a pocket?” Leo said.

“You got a regular shirt with a pocket?” JJ said.


“Well wear it for the occasion!  All right, no more stupid questions.  I gotta go somewhere.  Now: as far as rolling the rubber on one‑handed goes, practice makes perfect.  All right, you got the girl wide open and you got your rubber on.  You are now in position for the main event: getting that banana of yours into her smelly jelly, beautiful, hairy masterpiece of nature between her legs, so warm, so snug, so full of all that pink, wet goodness. Whoooeee!  Wait a minute! Wait a minute!  One more thing.  It’s a good idea to save some strength on the possibility that the girl goes crazy on you and tries to take over altogether.  Because when that happens, WATCH OUT FOR YOUR SAFETY!!


That night I found Lenny Schwartzfarb in Miller’s squandering his money on the pinball machine as usual.  He worked part time at Century Cut‑Rate Drugs delivering prescriptions and stole rubbers by the dozen and sold them for thirteen cents each.

“I raised my price,” he said.

“How much?” I said.

“A quarter.”

“A quarter!  What are you, kidding?”

“You must think I take chances for nothing,” he said. “What if I get caught?  I could go to reform school.”

“Yeah, but a quarter?” I said.  “That’s triple the price.  I’ll give you fifteen cents.”

“No dice,” he said.  “A quarter.”

“For a quarter you can buy three in a drug store.”

“So go buy three in a drug store,” he said and lowered his head to the machine and carefully took measure to cock the hammer.

“I’ll give you seventeen cents,” I said.

He ignored me.

“Eighteen,” I said.

He held firm at a quarter and I wasn’t going to pay three times the price for a damn rubber.

Walking to the trolley stop after my violin lesson with Mr. Schneider I passed up two drug stores.  One had a crowd in front of the counter and the other had a woman behind it.  A third one was empty but I couldn’t see the druggist; he must have been in the back somewhere.  Before going in I wanted to see what he looked like.  After a few minutes he still didn’t appear so I figured I’d better walk in before he got customers.  His head rose above a partition behind the counter where he must have been working on prescriptions.

“I’ll be right with you, son,” he said.  He was an elderly man with white hair who reminded me of kindly old Judge Hardy.

When he came out I asked him if he sold shoe laces.

“Yes, I carry some,” he said.  “What color and length are you looking for?”

“Sixty inch gray,” I said.

He smiled.  “Sixty inch?  What do you want them for, boots?”

“My grandmother wears high gray shoes,” I said.

“Well, there’s a shoemaker on the next block,” he said.  “Up toward Clinton Street.  He might have them that long.”

“Thanks,” I said.  “I’ll try him.”

I walked to the other side of Delancey Street and found a drug store on Rivington Street that looked right. The windows were so dirty you could just about see through them.  There was only one customer inside, a man.  The guy behind the counter looked right too.  He had a thin‑line mustache and either didn’t shave that day or else had the kind of beard where you look as though you need another shave right after taking one.  I went in and put my violin down beside a rack of paper backs, half of which had half‑naked women on their covers, which was another good sign.  The man was arguing with the druggist over the price of something.  When he finally walked out I went over to the counter.  The druggist stared at me with a pair of droopy eyes like I was disturbing him or something.

“Give me three Trojans,” I said, almost whispering even though there was no one else in the store.

The druggist’s lips curled and he gave me a look like he was smiling with a bad taste in his mouth.  “No,” he said.

My head and ears flushed with heat.  “Why?”

“Why?” he said.  “Do I have to give you explanations?”

“You got a teen‑age daughter?” I said.

His brows lifted and his eyes goggled and anger came into his face.  “Get the hell out of here,” he said.

“Well if you have a teen‑age daughter,” I said, “you wouldn’t want her to get laid without a scumbag, would you?”  And I turned and walked out as calmly as I could.  He came from behind the counter but he didn’t follow me into the street.  With that potbelly of his he couldn’t have caught a turtle.

When I got to the trolley stop at the end of the bridge I went into panic.  My hand was empty!  I went back and looked in through the door to see if my violin was still in front of the book rack; my idea was to crash in, grab it and run.  But it was gone.  The sonofabitch must have put it someplace behind the counter and was just waiting for me to crawl back on my stomach and beg for it.  There was only one thing to do now: wait for another customer to walk in, someone kind‑looking.  After a while a sourpussed old guy showed up who looked as though he didn’t give a shit about kids.  Right after him two elderly ladies who looked like cat owners and pigeon feeders walked in.  I rubbed my eyes hard with my knuckles and thought of Lou Gehrig giving his farewell speech in the Yankee Stadium and followed them in.  The sonofabitch was putting what the man had bought into a bag.  He didn’t look up but I could see his eyes shift and his mouth smirk as soon as I entered.

“Just stand right there, sewer brain,” he said, meaning by the door.  He was going to wait until he was finished with them in order to deal with me the way he wanted to.

All three customers looked at me.  The ladies didn’t like that remark, you could see it from the looks they gave the druggist when they turned back to him.  I let out a loud whine:

“He took my violin!”  I was actually sobbing; tears were flowing.  I kept whining it over and over.  “He took my violin!  He took my violin!”

He made one pitiful attempt to deal with me.  He looked at the two old ladies.  “Do you know what he said!  I can’t even repeat it, that little‑‑“  But he couldn’t handle it, he knew it.  He stuck a hand under the counter and came up with my violin and walked up to me and stuffed it right into my ribs.

“Here!” he said.  “I don’t ever want to see you in here again, understand!”

“Don’t worry, you never will,” I said.  “When it comes to walking into shitholes once is enough.”  And I ran, feeling sorry for the two old ladies.

That night I got hold of Lenny Schwartzfarb again and offered him nineteen cents, and we split the difference.  So one lousy rubber cost me twenty‑two cents.


The three of us were slouched on the wooden crossbeam behind the illuminated billboard on Union and Harrison, waiting for Toby.  She was

supposed to meet us there at eight and we had gotten there at ten to and it was

already ten after.

“She ain’t showing up,” Sleepy said.

“She’ll show up,” Mendy said.  He was looking down Harrison Avenue with his eyes squinted and was dead still except for his jaw, which was slowly champing a lump of bubble gum.  He reminded me of one of those scouts in the movies with a mouth lumped with chewing tobacco, crouching behind some shrub on the lookout for Indians.  Whenever we’d hear the thin, crisp click of heels his jaw would stop, and when the girl turned out to be someone else, start up again.

“Don’t be too sure with that hoo‑uh,” Sleepy said, and he started on me again.  “I stiv say we should not a vet this vittle pisshead come avong with us.”  He had trouble with his ls and rs, pronouncing both like a soft v.  His teeth were chalky and had a green tint.  He was a head taller than me and half a head taller than Mendy and was so pigeon‑toed that when he walked his feet crossed.  “He’s bad vuck.  I wouldn’t be supvised if it’s because him she ain’t showing up.”

“Leave him alone,” Mendy said.  “He’s all right.”

Mendy was the one who made all the arrangements.  In Miller’s yesterday he had taken me aside and asked me if I wanted to get into it.  He was lean and wiry and had a reputation for two things: being one of the fastest runners in the neighborhood and being a first class con artist.  His eyes had a bit of a Mongoloid look and there was a flinty trickiness in them that put you on your guard.

“I’m tevving you, this vittle fuck is bad vuck,” Sleepy said.  “He vooks

too fuckin young.”  He turned to me. “When were you bar mitvahed, fuckhead?”

“I wasn’t,” I said.

“See that?” Sleepy said.  “I told you.  He wasn’t even bar mitzvahed.”

“So what?” Mendy said.

“He vooks about twev years ovd,” Sleepy said.

“Aah, keep quiet,” Mendy said.  “He’s fifteen.”  He turned to me.  “Right?”

“Fifteen and four months,” I said.

“There’s something vong with him anyway,” Sleepy said. “He’s too fuckin exact with that four month buvshit.  Why couldn’t he just say fifteen and forget about it?  That four month buvshit is a lot of buvshit.  Toby’ll take one look at him and tev us awv to go back to kindergarten.  I’m tevving you we shouldn’ta bvought avong this fuckin kid.”

This fuckin kid.  Like there was some obvious connection between my being two years younger than them and Toby’s not showing up.  What a moron.  They brought me along because there would have been no Toby tonight for either them if they didn’t, unless they were willing to make up the money for the missing third person.  Because according to Mendy, Toby had a minimum charge of ninety cents, three guys at thirty cents each.  So it was just as lucky for them as it was for me that I happened to walk into Miller’s

for an ice cream pop while they were there working on Leo Spitalnik, who

kept refusing.

“Oh, no,” Leo kept saying.  “Not me.  No sir.  Get someone else.  I’m too young to die.”

Maybe Sleepy dozed off on his feet when Mendy finally gave up on Leo and turned to me in desperation.  “How about you?”

I didn’t even hesitate.  In fact even before Mendy approached me I was

already on the verge of offering myself.  Then as soon as it was settled a wave of fear went through my bones, because the next thing I thought of was the same thing Leo was thinking of: The Chief of the Navajos.

Mendy was getting very annoyed with Sleepy.  “Aah, why don’t you just shut up?” Mendy said.  “I say he’s all right.” He picked up a stone the size of a golf ball and flung it into the darkness of the weeds behind the billboard.

The whole lot was overgrown with them except for a small clearing where the windowless sides of two old frame houses met at the inside corner, reached by walking through a barely defined path.  It was completely hidden from the street, and in daylight we’d often go there to play craps or blackjack.  Sometimes you’d find the remains of a kids’ clubhouse there, made up of used cartons and old boards and sticks.  It wasn’t uncommon to see a used rubber or two on the ground.  It was into this little clearing that we were going to take Toby one by one, if she ever showed up.  Sleepy had brought along a dirty old army blanket that smelled like an overused towel, and had already spread it on the ground there.  According to Mendy, for the thirty cents each Toby would let us feel her up, including everything, show us her cunt and give us a hand job.  But no fucking.  I don’t know if Mendy and Sleepy had rubbers on them but mine was in the pocket of my shirt like JJ recommended, just in case.

Toby was famous in the neighborhood. She was a great big juice‑ popped plum.  She had big tits, big thighs, big ass, big everything.  She looked nineteen but had to be under sixteen since she was still going to school, failing everything every term, waiting for her freedom.  She always wore nylon stockings, even in the summer.  They could have holes and runs, they could be full of stains, she’d wear them anyway.  She lived in an old tenement on Penn Street near Lee, and sometimes I’d take a walk there just to look her over.  She’d be sitting on her stoop or on a fender of a car parked in front of it, eating an ice cream pop or a hunk of candy, or devouring a handful of sunflower seeds, cracking them so fast that she’d already have another one between her teeth before the shell of the last one even hit the sidewalk. Sometimes she’d be reading a comic book or a picture magazine, more often than not sitting there with her legs open enough to show most of those huge, bulging thighs above her stockings, not in a cock‑teasing way but in true nonchalance.  She seemed to have only one problem: her brother, Gibby, who insisted on protecting her from anyone who came sniffing after her.  At seventeen, eighteen he was still playing cowboys and Indians.  He was Chief of the Navajos, a tough, wild‑ass gang who wore headbands with turkey feathers stuck in them and leather vests decorated with skulls and crossbones.  They prowled the neighborhood like they were looking for pioneers in covered wagons to massacre.  No one gets too close to Toby, that was one of Gibby’s cardinal rules.  Whenever he came across someone hanging around her, a guy not aware of his reputation‑‑someone’s cousin, or something‑‑he’d walk right up to him in his Indian uniform and stare him away like a broom, and then Toby would scream:

“What the hell’s the matter with you!  Are you crazy!  Can’t you get the fuck out of here and just leave me alone!” And Gibby would yell back: “You better keep that trap of yours shut or I’ll kick both your asses in next time!”

Sometimes Toby would get so furious she’d actually take a swing at him, and Gibby would just push her off.  But every once in a while she’d get on his nerves and he’d give her a couple of open‑handed whacks across the face.  If he got real angry his fists would close and he’d punch her into some corner, yelling: “If you keep waving that big ass of yours around the world like a fuckin whore I’m going to cut it the fuck off one of these days!”  And for a few days she’d walk around with a black eye and a swollen face, or something.  But nothing Gibby ever did seemed to change Toby’s behavior.  It was as if she had to get the shit kicked out of herself for some kind of renewal every so often.

So now, waiting there behind the billboard for Toby to show up, as much as I respected Mendy’s shrewdness I was hoping he had used a little extra caution this time.  Although it didn’t look like we were going to need it.

“She ain’t showing up,” Sleepy said.  “It’s twenty‑five after awveady.”

“I’m telling you she’ll show up,” Mendy said.

“And I’m teving you she ain’t showing up,” Sleepy said.  “Vet’s go vooking for her.  That hoo‑uh needs a good kick in that fat ass of hers.”  And he went around in a circle kicking bunches of weeds.

Pure bluff and bluster, but it was getting me nervous.  Every once in a

while that moron did something so stupid you wouldn’t believe it, something completely without rhyme or reason.  Last summer he threw a match into a bundle of papers in front of a wood frame house on Lorimer Street and they had to call the fire engines to put it out.  He once picked up a four year old kid and hung him by his collar on a fence spike and left him there crying.  I was on the verge of saying goodnight and getting out of there when we heard the click of heels again and there was Toby, rounding the corner and walking slowly toward us up Union Avenue.

“I told you she’d show up!” Mendy said.  “Patience always pays.”

When Toby reached the billboard she stopped right in the center of a piece of sidewalk illuminated by the lights and looked squint‑eyed into the weeds with a hand to her forehead to shade her eyes from the glare.  She was standing right out there lit up in all her glory like she was in the center of some stage.  Mendy jumped to the ground and started out toward her.  When she caught sight of him she walked right in.  As soon as she reached us she said:

“Give me the money first.”

“You don’t trust us?” Mendy said.

“Don’t make me laugh, trust you,” Toby said.  “Give me the sixty cents right now, beforehand, or yiz can all go jerk yourselves off.”

Sixty cents?  That slick sonofabitch.  They were going to pay Toby fifteen cents each and I was paying thirty cents to make up the minimum.  But that didn’t matter.  I was in a daze looking at Toby, who I was going to have at my disposal in just a few minutes, standing there overflowing with just about everything.  And she wasn’t bad looking either‑‑she looked sort of like

a pretty Wallace Beery.  Watching her now I would have been willing to give

her the whole sixty cent charge myself if I had it.

“All right,” Mendy said.  “Just take it easy.  I was only joking.”  He walked back over to Sleepy and me.  “Okay, she wants the money first,” he said.  “Get it up.”

I handed him my thirty cents.  As the money was changing hands he kind of jostled me around so that both of our backs were toward Sleepy.

“All right, Sleepy,” Mendy said.  “Where’s yours?” When he held out his hand there were another two dimes in it for a total of fifty cents.

Sleepy handed Mendy a quarter.  He heard everything I heard.  Didn’t

he know how to divide sixty by three?

On his way back to Toby Mendy’s hand went back into his pocket.  He gave her the money and she found a sliver of light to count it in.

“What have you got here?” she said.  “You’re five cents short.”

“That’s all we got,” Mendy said.  “The other kid didn’t have enough money.”

That conniving bastard.  He didn’t put a cent in.  I glanced at Sleepy.  It looked like he was in some kind of deaf and dumb stupor.

“What a bunch of cheap bastards!” Toby said.  “I’ll let it go this time but next time I want the money in advance.”  She lifted her dress and rolled the coins into the top of her stocking.  “If anyone touches this I’ll murder him.  All right, let’s get going.  Who’s first?”

“Me,” Mendy said.

Toby knew where to go.  She turned and walked right into the vague path in the weeds with Mendy behind her.  Sleepy, sitting there on the crossbeam beside me, got active for some reason.  He started to swing his feet, sway back and forth and hammer his fists in the air at nothing at all.  But his face looked stupefied, his jaw drooped and his eyes were dead.

Inside the weeds there was some rustling around and then Toby’s voice rang out like she was talking to an audience.

“Take your finger away from there, stupid!” she was yelling.  “It’s in the wrong place!”  Half a minute later she sounded out again.  “Can’t you come!  What wrong with you, for crissake!”

“Wait a minute!”  Mendy’s voice was a raspy whisper. “Wait a minute.  What’s the rush?”

“What’s the rush!” Toby screamed.  “Don’t think you’re going to keep

me here all night!”

There was another minute of silence then Toby again: “That’s enough.  Let’s get to the next guy.”

“All right, all right,” Mendy said.  “Willya just calm down?”  After a while he came out buckling the belt of his pants.  Sleepy stopped moving and looked at him, but whatever he was looking for didn’t seem to register in his head.  When he jumped down and went into the path it looked like he was sleepwalking.

Mendy sat down on the ground and lit a cigarette.  He didn’t look too happy.  I was loosing my nerve.  When I put my hand to my shirt pocket it was shaking so much that I had trouble feeling the rubber.  I was listening for sounds coming from the clearing as if that would give me some idea of what to expect, but there was complete silence.  Sooner than I expected Sleepy

came walking out zipping up his pants.  I couldn’t move.  Toby’s voice blared


“Well!  Where the fuck is he!  I ain’t got all night!”  And I was sure that not only every single tenant in those two houses, but the whole population of Williamsburgh were now aware of what was going on in there.

“What the fuck are you waiting for?” Sleepy said. “Get the fuck in there.”  And he gave me a shove in that general direction.

Walking through the path my whole body was tingling. More than tingling.  Shivering.  When I got to the clearing the first thing I saw were two white shapes on the ground, and as my eyes got used to the dark I could make out Toby in shadowy detail lying back on her elbows on the blanket, a rectangle of darkness framed by broken shards of glass glinting dimly in whatever light was reaching them from the billboard and street lights.  Her skirt was wrinkled up around her hips and her legs frogged wide open, showing the white triangle of her panties between those massive thighs ballooning out above her stockings.  Her blouse was open and her white brassiere pulled above her tits, which were hanging loose and jiggly, its two large brown circles showing big as half dollars.  And me thinking, why couldn’t the sun be out?  I should have brought along a flashlight.

She was lying there waiting for me to do something. “What are you going to do, spend an hour looking at me?” she said.  “Get down here and start already.”

I got on my knees beside her and stared at her.

“What are you looking at me like that for?” she said. “What’s the matter with you?”

I ran my fingers over one of her thighs, lightly squeezing them.  The

smooth softness of her girl flesh almost put me in a daze.

“What are you doing that for?” Toby said.

“Don’t you like it?” I said.

“What are you so worried about what I like?  Do what you like.”

“I am.”

She looked at me as if I were crazy.  “All right,” she said.  “If that’s what you want to do.  But I ain’t got all night, don’t forget.”

“I’m just doing it for the time being,” I said.

“What do you mean for the time being?” she said. “What do you think, you’re going to keep me here four hours, or something?”

I couldn’t get my fingers off her thighs.  I heard JJ’s words: keep playing them over those soft, luscious thighs, you caress, you tickle your way up.

After a while Toby said: “Will you tell me what you’re doing?”

“Feeling you up,” I said.

“So what are you hanging around down there for?” Toby said.  “What’s the matter with you?  Don’t you know how to feel a girl up?  You better stop wasting time and get to my tits.  Take your dick out.”

I took it out and she took hold of it.  I cupped her tits.  Lightly massage them, brush your palms over them, gently pinch the nipples.  Those were Samuel F. Prager, M.D.’s words.  Toby was lying there still, her eyes closed now.  Get the kissing started.  I forced myself.  I leaned over and kissed her lips.

“What are you doing now?”  She slurred that out, her lips still in contact with mine.

Whatever I was doing, it must have been right, because I felt her

nipples come out, hard.  Erect, the book said.  I slid my hand down and felt her stomach, then lower down.  Her eyes closed and her face was changing.  Then it had no expression at all.  Except every time I moved my hand down a little further her body kind of twitched and she grabbed it and let out a soft little scream, then loosened her grip again.  My hand was getting to where it wanted to go, but not the way JJ described it.

“What’s going on here!”  It was Mendy.  He and Sleepy were standing at the end of the path looking down at us.  Toby raised herself on her elbows.

“Get the hell out of here!” she yelled.  “You had your turn!”

They backed away obediently but their faces couldn’t understand what was going on.  Sleepy kept moving backward and tripped over something as he turned.  But Mendy stayed there looking at us, like he was wondering why Toby was spending so much time with me.

“Well?” Toby yelled.  “What the fuck are you waiting for, a trolley car?  Move!”

Mendy turned and went back into the path.  Toby watched the opening a few seconds, then yelled, “All the way back!”  And there was the rustling of their retreat.

Then she lied down again.  “Go ahead,” she said.

But when I went ahead she held my hand back forcefully, then she relaxed again, allowing it to move down a little further.  When it reached her hair her nails dug into my skin and she moved it back a little, then suddenly changed direction and thrust it right into her crotch.  I was trying to feel something but she was pressing it in too tight.  Then she started bumping herself into it and I lost control of it altogether.  I just sat there watching her in total amazement.  It looked like she was suffering, or something.  Her mouth was wide open and her head tilted so far back that her chin pointed straight up.  A low, gurgling sound was coming out of her.  That went on for half a minute then she stopped dead still and let out a low little scream, still pressing my hand into her.  She started breathing like she had just run five blocks without stopping.

Then Mendy and Sleepy were in the end of the path gaping down at us again.  Toby got up and pulled her brassiere down and elbowed her way past them buttoning her blouse.  They watched her recede then looked at me.

“What the fuck did you do to her?” Mendy said.

“Nothing,” I said.  “I just felt her up.

“Yeah?” Mendy said.  “So how come she looked so insuvted?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“We ought to bveak his ass,” Sleepy said.  “It just go to show what

fuckin bad vuck he is.  If you insuvted her you better be veady for your own funeval, that awv I have to say.”

“Aah, I didn’t insult her,” I said.

“Yawv full of shit, you little cocksucker,” Sleepy said.  “Get the fuck out of here.”

Just as I got past them I heard the gritty scrape of hard sand and pebbles, then I felt the sharp pain of a kick in my ass.

“What the hell did you do that for?” I said, turning.

It was Mendy.  “I just wanted to show you what we’ll do to your head if we can’t get Toby again because of you.”

Walking through the path I heard Sleepy say: “If it was up to me he

wouldn’t even be walking vight now.  Both his vegs would be bvoken.”

On the way home it felt like it was all a dream that was still going on.  I don’t know what I was feeling.  Except maybe a general sense of deprivation.


When the trolley slowed down at my stop I hugged my violin and jostled my way to the exit door.  Getting off I caught a glimpse of chubby young schoolgirl standing in the doorway of the boarded up store near my corner that Lee Hardware used for extra storage.  As I walked to my street she started walking toward me.  She had a white ribbon in her hair and was wearing regular schoolgirl clothes: a plaid skirt, white blouse, white ankle socks and flat shoes like any thirteen, fourteen year old girl would wear.  She looked like one of those big oversized girls who are always last when the teacher has the class line up in size order.  And then as I got closer I recognized her.  It was Toby.

I didn’t know what she wanted from me.  I thought Sleepy was just giving me some more of his shit when he came over to me in the RKO lobby Saturday afternoon after the movie.  I was waiting for Leo Spitalnik to come out of the men’s room when I saw him approach licking an ice cream pop.  He stood in front of me leering with a big idiot grin on his face, still licking.

“What?” I said.

“Me and Mendy got Toby again last night,” he said, and took a few

more licks.  “She put out for us.”

“Yeah?” I said.  “Good for you.”

“Boy, was that good,” he said, and gave out one of those stupid loud insucks with puckered lips.  “It was so good.”

I turned and walked to the door of the men’s room.  He followed me.

“You’ve in tvouble,” he said.

“What do you mean, trouble?” I said.

“She told us she’s vooking for you for hurting her feevings.  She says if she finds you she’s going to cut your bawvs off.”  He was licking that ice cream with such fake relish I felt like pushing it right into his face and running.

“Yeah?” I said.  “That’s interesting.  Thanks for telling me.  I appreciate it.”

“She asked me where you viv,” he said.  “I didn’t tev her, I just gave

her a vitv hint.  I said you viv on Vutvedge between Marcy and Vee.  Now you have something to think about, pisshead.”  And he walked away licking his pop with a big shit‑eating grin on his face.

Now I have something to think about!  For past two weeks Toby was all I thought about, seeing her lying there on that blanket all exposed like that, feeling her, hearing her, smelling her.  And that commotion she went through!  I must have played that night out in my head a thousand times.  I was thinking of approaching her on my own and trying to get her to give me that hand job I paid almost double for and never got, but I couldn’t get up the nerve.  And then Sleepy filling my head with what I thought was just bullshit but kept

worrying over for the past four days.  And now here she was, not ten feet

away, looking straight at me.  I turned and started walking the other way.

“Hey you!” she called out.  “Where you going!”  I almost started to run.  “Stop!  Hey, stop!”

I turned.  “Who, me?” I said, and stood there frozen as she came walking toward me.  I couldn’t get over the way she was dressed.

As soon as she reached me she put her hand inside her blouse and took out a fountain pen and held it out to me.  Her hand was shaking.  “I got this

for you.”.

“What for?” I said.

“Don’t you like it?”

“Yeah,” I said, taking it.  “It’s a nice pen.”

On her face was a queer, uncertain expression, like she was smiling but wasn’t used to it.  She looked at my violin case.  “You play in a band?” she said.

“No,” I said.  “I’m taking up the violin.  I just had a lesson.”

“Oh,” she said.

For a moment we just stood there looking at each other.

“Well, you want to do something?” she said finally.

“What?” I said.

“Whatever you want” she said.

“Whatever I want?”


I couldn’t get the words out.  She got them out for me.  “How about what we did last time?” she said.

And then it was like my mind tilted for a second then came back.

“What we did last time?”

“Yeah,” she said.  “Well?  How about it?”  And right out in broad daylight, she picked up her skirt and let it drop again.  “Don’t you want to have some fun?

“All right,” I said, looking around.  I was nervous as hell, standing there negotiating with Toby right around the corner from where I lived.  “When?”

“How about right now?”

“Right now?  I don’t have any money on me right now.”

“Who said anything about money?”

“You mean for free?”

“Yeah,” she said.

“Well, I can’t right now,” I said.  “I eat supper at six o’clock.  How about a little later?”

“What time?”

“How about eight o’clock?”  Then I remembered about seeing.  It would

be almost dark by then.  “Wait a minute,” I said.  “Make it seven‑thirty.”  That would give me about a half hour of seeing time.

“All right,” Toby said.  “Where?”

“Where?” I said.  “I don’t know.  How about the same place?”

“I don’t like that place,” Toby said.  “That high grass and all that crap laying around gives me the creeps. And it stinks of piss in there.”

“Where then?” I said.

Toby thought a few seconds.  “Don’t you know any place?”

I stood there trying to appear as though I was thinking but not a single

thought was entering my head.

“How about your roof?” Toby said.

“We can’t,” I said.


“Because the only way to get up there is to climb a ladder in one of our closets.”

“My roof then.”

My next thought was, Toby’s roof was also her crazy brother’s roof.  “Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t know if I like roofs,” I said.


I thought a moment.  “What about airplanes?”

“Airplanes!”  A little giggle struggled its way out of her throat.

“All right,” I said.  “On your roof.”

“You know where I live?” she said.  “226 Penn.  The door’s always open.  Seven‑thirty.  Don’t forget.”

Toby’s house and the one right next to it were the only tenements on the block.  All the others were brownstones.  Climbing the five stories I was shitting in my pants on the possibility that that lunatic brother of hers might pop out of some door and kill me on the spot, since why else would I be in that building but to fool around with his sister on the roof?  But I didn’t run into anyone at all.  In a corner of the roof behind a little extension above the stairwell I took my rubber from my wallet and put it into my shirt pocket again.  After a while I heard a door open but it wasn’t the one to Toby’s roof.  It was the one in the adjoining building.  I was about to run back down when Toby appeared carrying a newspaper.  As she swung her legs over the  three‑foot high divider between the buildings her skirt climbed up to her hips almost.

“Let’s go over to the other side,” she said, meaning the other side of the stairwell.  Which I thought was a good idea just from the point of view of safety, since it was located between the two roof doors, so that if someone appeared through either one you could make a run for the other.  Toby spread the papers and got some bricks from a bunch piled near the ledge and put them on the corners of the papers to keep them from flying away.  Then we just stood there looking at each other.  I was expecting her to lie down but it looked as though she was expecting me to do something.  She started to flutter her eyes like Clara Bow.  I couldn’t get myself into motion.  Suddenly fell backward right into me.  I threw my arms out just in time to catch her, then I had to use all my strength to hold her.  She was dead weight.  Her face was uplifted and her eyes were still fluttering.

“Kiss me,” she said.  She puckered her lips.

Kiss her?  I could hardly hold her.  I tried to lower her but half way my strength gave out and we flopped onto the paper.  I landed right on my ass

with Toby on top of me.  What was worrying me more than anything else was

someone coming up to see what all the racket was about.  I thought of Gibby.

“Do the same as you did last time,” she said in a funny, shivering voice.

So I did.  There was still enough light to see her clearly, if only I could have gotten myself into position to look.  But it was no use, I couldn’t move. She was hugging my shoulders like a bear.  Even before I managed to get my hand to the right place she was already vibrating into it, with such speed that I had trouble holding it there.  Then something happened.  My hand must have moved out of position too far or too long and she grabbed it with both her hands to get it back to where she wanted it, and that left my other hand free.  I took the rubber out of my shirt pocket and rolled it on one‑handed, I had that down pat by now.  Somehow I managed to get between her legs, and now all I had to do was free my hand and replace it with my dick.  I tried to pull it from her grip with all the strength I had.  I almost pulled her right off the newspaper altogether.  She just wouldn’t give it up.  But I faked her out.  I relaxed a few seconds then yanked my hand free.  And then I was fumbling around, trying to get my dick inside her panties.  She kept right on vibrating for about ten seconds‑‑it took her that long to realize that what she vibrating into was no longer a hand. Then she clamped her legs right around my body and got me in such a powerful scissor grip that I almost stopped breathing. “I’m not in the mood to fuck!” she yelled.  She got one of her knees into my stomach and gave me a shove that sent me flying on my ass again six feet in front of her.  She had the crook of her elbow over her eyes and was just lying there like that on the crumpled newspaper.

I was worried about the racket we had just made, and that brought Gibby to mind again.  I was paying more attention to those two roof doors than I was to Toby lying there all exposed like that.  I wanted to get the hell out of there.  Toby took her arm from her eyes and looked off in the distance a moment.  Then she turned to me.

“Stay here,” she said.

“How about all the noise,” I said.  “What if someone heard us?”

“Aah, don’t worry about it,” Toby said.

“I have to get home,” I said.

“Wait a minute,” Toby said.  Now she had a very strange expression on her face.  She looked almost rigid. “All right, you can.”

“Can what?”

“Fuck me.”  Those two words came out of her mouth hard as stones.

“Right now?”

“Yeah, right now.”  She was half sitting now, leaning back on the palms of her hands, her uncovered legs not exactly closed but not to spread either.  She was rigid as a statue.  She pulled aside her panties and I stared, hardly able to believe what was happening.  When I tried to get into position I couldn’t get steady enough.  Her legs kept clamping and unclamping my sides, like she was trying to decide what to do with them.  And she kept wriggling around.

“Wait a minute!” she said.  She lodged her hands between us.  “You’re missing!  You keep going to the wrong place!  It’s not pointed right.  She shoved herself back.

“Well how about pointing it yourself?” I said.

“What do you mean, me!” she said.  “How about you!”

I was embarrassed as hell.  Why couldn’t she give me some help?  That was a big thing with Samuel F. Prager, M.D.  “Well I tried my best to get it in

there,” I said.

“I think there’s something wrong with it,” Toby said.  “It keeps going to the wrong place.  It keeps missing.  It must be bent, or something.  I’ll give you a hand job, okay?”

That finished off my hardon.  It was completely dead now and felt as

though it could never be revived again.  The rubber, not to tight to begin with, came right off in her hand.

“What’s the matter with you?” she said, giving it to me.  “Can’t you keep it up, for crissake?  There’s definitely something wrong with it.  It doesn’t go in the right direction.  It must be damaged, or something.  Maybe it’s crooked.  You ought to get something done about it.”

“Aah, it’s only temporary,” I said.  I tried to look very calm rolling the rubber and putting it back in my pocket.  “Well, I have to go now.”

I walked to the roof door without even looking back. Hurrying downstairs I was thinking, Holy Moses, what do I do now.  What do you do when there’s something wrong with your dick?


Dr. Lichtner’s waiting room should have been called his worry room.  All three of us were sitting there shitting in our pants.  The two men, both about fifty, had come in after me.  Both were wearing business suits.  One was short and thin and had a mustache like Ronald Coleman.  He was snapping over the pages of a magazine, raising his eyes and glancing around the room every ten seconds like he couldn’t get interested in anything.  The other one had the body and face of a bulldog.  He had his legs crossed and his arms folded on his chest and was just staring at the floor.  About as often as the first one glanced around the room, he raised his right elbow and extended a finger to lift his left sleeve and glanced at a heavy gold wristwatch.  Two

other men who had been sitting there when I walked in had already gone into

the examining rooms and hadn’t come out yet.  They also looked worried.

The receptionist, a tall woman of about forty with teary eyes and a narrow, hooked nose was bustling around a small cubicle of an office that was separated from the rest of the waiting room by a low partition.  She was whirring to and from filing cabinets and in and out the examining rooms; she was typing, stapling, filling out forms, answering telephones and whatnot.  She was wearing a white uniform and, as busy as she was, had a kind, gentle way about her.  She kept glancing at me and smiling, trying to set this edgy kid at ease.  That made me worry even more.  I tried to smile back, but how can anyone smile who’s wondering if anything can be done about his dick, wondering if he’s going to have to live out the rest of his life without ever getting laid, don’t even talk about getting married and having children.

I don’t think I smiled for six days.  The day after Toby told me there was something wrong with it I went to the Bushwick Avenue library and spent three hours looking over Human Anatomy by Samuel F. Prager, M.D., and reading about diseases of the male genitals in Medical Symptoms and Diseases.  I’d gotten it into my head that my dick had something missing, some muscle or nerve, something like the balance system of the inner ear that we learned about in Science 1.  Besides telling about diseases the book had some information about size and feeling and getting erections, but nothing at all about getting into vaginas.  The next day I went back and found another book called The Home Book of  Medicine.  It didn’t say much about dicks but there was a section in the back on medical specialties, which is where I found out that for my kind of trouble you go to a urologist.  That’s what I was reading instead of my American History book to prepare for the regents, which was coming up in less than two weeks, and I still had four hundred pages to go because I only read half the book all term.  And then after that I couldn’t do any history reading either because my mind was too fucked up about having to tell a urologist that I can’t screw right because there’s something wrong with my dick.

I remembered the advice Mr. Scaglione once gave my mother about doctors: “When itsa to eat, Italian.  When itsa opera, Italian.  When itsa wine, Italian.  Buta when itsa doctore, Jew, at’s all.”

So I took a walk to the Primo Cigar store near the Marcy Avenue station and looked up physicians in the Manhattan classified–he had to be out of our neighborhood altogether.  I picked out about fifteen Jewish‑ sounding names with ‘Practice Limited to Urology’ after them and copied down their addresses and telephone numbers.  When I got home I studied the list and narrowed it down to Abraham Leibowitz and Stewart Lichtner, since they didn’t have middle initials, then decided on Lichtner because Abraham sounded too old.

The next day I went back to the Primo Cigar Store and made the call and asked the receptionist what the office hours are.

“Dr. Lichtner sees patients by appointment only,” the receptionist said.

“Then I’d like to make an appointment,” I said.

“Can you tell me what you want to see him about?”

“It’s personal.”

“I see,” the receptionist said.  Then there was a pause.  “Would you mind telling me old you are?”

“Sixteen.” I made myself a year older, since you had to be that old to

get working papers.

There was another pause.  “Will one of your parents be with you?”

“They’re in Florida,” I said.

“Don’t you think it would be a good idea to wait until they get back?” the receptionist said.

“They won’t get back for another three months,” I said.  “I have to see Dr. Lichtner before that.”

“Are you in pain?”


“Do you have an unusual discharge?”


“What makes it so urgent then?”

“It’s personal.”

“I see.  Who referred you to Dr. Lichtner?”

“No one.  I got him out of the classified telephone book.”

“I see,” the receptionist said.  “Just one moment. I’m going to put you on hold.”  When she came back she said, “All right, Dr. Lichtner will see you.  Would Monday, July 23 at 4 PM be all right?”

“That’s two weeks from now,” I said.  “I can’t wait two weeks.”

“Well, if you’re not in pain and you don’t have an unusual discharge, why not?”

“Well, I’m very upset about what’s wrong,” I said.  “I might have a nervous breakdown in two weeks.”

“A nervous breakdown?”  There was another pause.  “All right,” the receptionist said finally.  “I’m going to put you on hold again.”  This time she didn’t get back for about four, five minutes and I had to put another nickel into the telephone.

“All right,” she said.  “Dr. Lichtner will squeeze you in this Tuesday at 2:30.  That’s June 10.  Can I have your name, please?”

That was Friday.  The next three days were an ordeal of waiting.  I lost half my appetite.  I stayed home moping around the house all day.  When mom asked me what was wrong I said my stomach didn’t feel right, so she kept feeding me soup and taking my temperature.  If I had to go to the store for her I’d dodge and duck up the street watching out for Toby.  I wanted to avoid her altogether.  On the trolley coming home from my lesson last Wednesday I stood behind a cluster of people so that she wouldn’t catch sight of me if she was waiting for me.  She was standing in the same doorway wearing the same schoolgirl clothes.  I let three more stops go by and walked back home along Marcy Avenue.  The next day I developed trouble breathing; my lungs always needed more air, and it kept getting worse, until, sitting there waiting my turn to see Dr. Lichtner now, I was just about suffocating under a blanket of gloom, dreading what he was going to tell me in the next half hour.

One of the men came out of the examining rooms.  He still looked worried.

“You can go in now, Mr. Geller,” the receptionist said.  The man reading the magazine practically leaped out of his chair and tossed the magazine onto the pile and went in.  The receptionist followed him, then came right out again.

“All right, Mark, you can go in now,” she said.

She led me through a corridor about twenty feet long with two doors on one side, both closed.  On the ceiling, running its length, were two long fluorescent tubes, giving everything a stark, white look.

“Dr. Lichtner’s consultation room is at the end,” she said.  It felt like I wouldn’t make it, like before I got half way there my legs would buckle under me.  “Just be seated, Mark.  He’ll be right with you.”  She closed the door.

It was a tiny room, crammed with just about all it could take.  There was a desk and chair and a second chair in front of it.  The wall behind it was lined with books, and hanging on the two side walls was a collection of about twenty diplomas.  There was even one from some Japanese medical society.  The fourth wall had two windows with a bookcase in between that went up to the ceiling and was jam‑packed with books and file folders.  The desk itself looked more like a display counter than a working desk.  It was filled with all sorts of statuettes, carvings, paperweights, photographs and some gadgets I couldn’t even make out.  On a narrow wooden stand squeezed in behind the desk was a trophy for bowling.

I sat down and waited.  After a few minutes I heard quick, heavy footsteps approaching then the sound of the door knob being pounced on; the latch opening tightened my stomach for the moment of truth.  In zipped Dr. Lichtner in a white smock, flinging the door closed behind him.

“Hi!  Sorry to keep you waiting,” he said.  He was so energized, it wouldn’t have surprised me if he leaped right over his desk to get to his chair instead of walking around it.  “I’m Dr. Lichtner.”  He put his hand out for me to shake.  “Your name is Mike‑‑?”

“Mark,” I said.  “Mark Ellenbogen.”

“Oh, yes, Mark,” Dr. Lichtner said.  “Mark Ellenbogen.”  He was very thin and his hair was cut short, almost crew cut.  He had a funny complexion, flushed reddish areas shading into pale, like a peach.  I liked his eyes, dark and enthusiastic; they almost twinkled.  You would have taken him for about twenty‑four if his face weren’t wrinkled to forty or more.  All in all he looked just about as gentile as they come.  “You’re the nervous kid, eh?” he said, managing a smile that somehow seemed to be concerned with my personal problem.  “What seems to be the trouble?”

I took a deep breath.  “I think there’s something wrong with my penis,” I said.  After blurting that out my throat seemed to have closed up on me.

“You do?” Dr. Lichtner said.  “Tell me about it.”  Then he went into thought.  “Wait a minute, I’ll be right back.”  After a minute he came back but he didn’t close the door all the way.  He left it open about eight inches.

I looked at the door, then at him.

“It’s all right,” he said.  “I always leave it open a little.  If I close it it gets very stuffy in here.  Now you said you think there’s something wrong with your penis. Why?”

After about ten seconds of complete silence Dr. Lichtner thought he’d better prod me.

“Well what about your penis do you think is wrong?” he said.  “Does it hurt or anything?”

“No,” I said.

He waited a few seconds for me to go on.  “Did anything unusual start happening?” he said finally.  “Anything different that you’re worried about?”

“Not exactly,” I said.

“Not exactly.  Well what exactly about your penis prompted you to

come to see me?”

“Well there seems to be something wrong with it.”  But I couldn’t get what out of my mouth.  It was like my mind stopped working altogether.

“Does it have anything to do with urinating?” Dr. Lichtner said.  “Peeing.”

“No,” I said.

“All right, it has something to do with sex, does it?”

“Yes,” I said, and just sat there.


I finally got it out.  “Well, to tell you the truth, something’s wrong with my penis that prevents me from having sexual intercourse right.”

“Really?” Dr. Lichtner said.  “What?”

“I don’t know,” I said.  “That’s what I came her to find out.”

“Well, what makes you think there’s something wrong with your penis that prevents you from having sexual intercourse right?”

“Well, I can’t get it in,” I said.

“Why not?”

“I don’t know.  It just doesn’t seem to be able to get in, that’s all.”

Dr. Lichtner had the tips of both thumbs on his nose, sort of pugging it up, and his index fingers were pressed together on his forehead. “Well do you know where you’re supposed to put it?”

“Into the girl’s vagina.”

“Do you know where that is?”

“Right below the urethra.”.

“Uh‑huh,” Dr. Lichtner said.  “You seem to be pretty familiar with the female genitals.  Was hers wet?”


“Uh‑huh.  I take it you know what a hymen is.  A cherry.”


“This girl you tried it with,” Dr. Lichtner said. “Does she still have hers?”

“Who, Toby?” I said.  “If she does two guys are lying.”

“Hm, I see,” Dr. Lichtner said.  “So she’s that type of girl, is she?”  He nodded.  “Um‑hm.  Tell me, was this Polly in a position that enabled you to get it in easily?  That is, did she have her legs spread and her knees bent up?”  As an afterthought he added, “I assume that she was lying on her back, with you on top.”

“Yes,” I said.

“Was your penis hard at that point?”


“And knowing precisely where the vagina is you still couldn’t get it in?”

“That’s right.”


“I don’t know.  That’s what I came here to find out.”

“Well do you have any theories?”

“Well, maybe there’s something wrong with the tip that’s supposed to give it the feel of where to go.”

“That kind of guides it in?  Like little feelers, or a little pair of eyes, or

something?  Radar, like bats, maybe?”

“I don’t know.  Something like that.”

“Uh‑huh,” Dr. Lichtner pinched his nose a few times.  “Let me ask you

this: how big is your penis when it’s hard?”  And he held his two index fingers out in front of him to show me how to show him.

I showed him.

“That seems fairly adequate,” he said.  “Now show me how fat it is.”  And he spread a thumb and index finger to show me how to show him that.

I showed him that too.

“Nothing wrong with that,” he said.  “Does it get real hard?”


“Does it stick up?”


He looked at me for a few seconds, his elbows resting on his desk, his two index fingers rubbing the wings of his nose.  “You know what masturbation is, don’t you?  Jerking off.”

“Yes.”  I felt my head flush

“Now there’s nothing wrong with masturbating,” Dr. Lichtner said.  “Practically everyone ever born masturbated at some time or other.  Probably even Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein masturbated at some time in their lives.  You have masturbated, haven’t you?”

“Yes,” I said, and my eyes lost focus completely.

“It’s all right, it’s all right,” Dr. Lichtner said. “Does anything come out?”


“Does it feel good?”


“I mean socko good.”


“Everything sounds perfectly great.” Dr. Lichtner said.

“Yes, but I just can’t get it in with a girl,” I said.

Dr. Lichtner stared at me.  “Tell me, how many times have you tried to have sexual intercourse?”


“So you tried once and failed.”  Dr. Lichtner stared down at his desk like he was deep in thought.  He looked up.  “Look, Mike, it’s a matter of simple mechanics.  Let me show you something.”  He got up and switched on a sort of spotlight, illuminating what looked like a batch of stiff cardboard panels hinged to a pole that was fastened to the wall.  He swung the panels around, like he was turning the pages of a book, until he got to a white one that had two black cutouts sticking to it, a man and a woman in screwing position, except the man was kind of floating in air above the woman.  He had a hardon and the woman’s vaginal canal was cut out.

“Now watch this,” Dr. Lichtner said.  He slid the man toward the woman and guided his penis right into her vagina. “A damn good fit, eh?”

I nodded.

“Now of course these positions are relative.”  And Dr. Lichtner turned both figures upside down so that the woman was now on top.  “You can even do it standing on your head if you want.”  And he placed the figures in that position. “Simple, isn’t it?”

I nodded but I wasn’t satisfied.

“All you have to do is get into any position that gives a good fit between your penis and her vagina,” Dr. Lichtner said, “and just stick it in using the ordinary sense of touch, the same as if you were sticking your finger in.  That’s all there is to it.  As far as feelers or eyes or radar or any complicated guidance system is concerned, forget it.  There ain’t no such thing.”  He stared at me, waiting for that to sink in, but he must have seen the puzzlement in my face.  “Were you in the right position?”

“Yes,” I said.

“And you still couldn’t get it in?”


Dr. Lichtner looked at me a moment with narrowed eyes. “Let me ask you, how well do you know these two guys who gave you the testimonials for this Polly?”

“Toby.  I know them from around the neighborhood.”

“And they never exaggerate.”

“Well, I’m not sure.”

“Uh‑huh.  This Polly, I suppose you had your finger up there?”

“Yes,” I said, but as soon as I said it I had second thoughts.  I didn’t have it up there.  I just had it there.  But before I had a chance to take it back Dr. Lichtner’s momentum carried him to his next question.

“I mean, did it swim up?”  Dr. Lichtner said.  “As a matter of fact you should have been able to get two fingers up there with that type of girl.  So why shouldn’t you be able to do the same thing with your penis?”

“I don’t know why,” I said.  “I had it right there but it just wouldn’t go


Dr. Lichtner was looking at me like he had run out of ideas.  “This Polly,” he said, “she isn’t a nervous girl, is she?  I mean, she does have all her marbles, doesn’t she?”

“I don’t think you could call Toby nervous,” I said.  Or was even that right, now that I thought of it; that funny smile on her face, the way she whaled into me that I didn’t know what I was doing, that I had it in the wrong place, instead of just showing me where the right place was without making a fuss over it.

“Would you mind telling me exactly what happened?” Dr. Lichtner said.

“Well, to tell you the truth I was kind of nervous,” I said.  “So maybe I didn’t have it in the right place.  And then Toby telling me that I didn’t know what I was doing got me more nervous and I lost track of exactly what happened and she kept on backing away saying there’s something wrong with it, maybe it’s crooked or damaged, or something.  Then she pushed me off her.”

Dr. Lichtner nodded.  “I see,” he said.  “Crooked or damaged.  She’s wrong!  So maybe you had a little trouble feeling your way in there.  Even with experienced people that happens from time to time in the excitement, for crissake.  Even with married couples.  Now listen to me.  You look like the type of fellow who when you go looking for something you find it.  Now sometimes you have to be a little aggressive in a situation like that.  I mean, even if this Polly is experienced as hell, maybe she wants to make it appear as though you’re kind of taking her, that she’s not giving herself away so easy, if you know what I mean.  Some girls act that way, no matter how many times they were laid.  The one thing all of them hate is to look too easy.  They try to look as though they’re fighting you off sometimes, even if it’s the twentieth time they’re having sex.  By the way, how old is this Polly?”

“About sixteen,” I said.

“And she’s well developed?”  He held out his hands like he was holding a beach ball.

“Very well developed.”

“Uh‑huh,” Dr. Lichtner said.  “How big is she?”

“About a half a head taller than me.”

“Well, why don’t you go see her again?  And this time just take your time about it.  Just remember, it’s a simple matter of lining yourself up right with her, that’s all. Take another look at that board.”

I took another look and nodded.

“In my opinion there’s absolutely nothing wrong with your penis, Mike,” Dr. Lichtner said.  “It’s perfectly normal.  As far as Polly goes, just get her legs up and take your time getting it there.  Be a little firm.  I mean, don’t force her or anything, just be a little firmer than she is, that’s all.  A lot of girls like that.”  The inside of Dr. Lichtner’s head seemed to be bubbling now.  His dark eyes were blazing.  For the first time during the visit I really began to believe that he knew more about sex than Toby did.

“That’s your prescription, Mike,” he was saying. “Just put it in and start screwing, for crissake!  It’s as easy as putting your hand in a glove, for crissake!  Easier!”  He got up.  “And if Polly gives you a hard time don’t

worry about that either.  There’s nothing wrong with you.  There’s something

wrong with her.  Get yourself another girl.  The heck with her!”

When Dr. Lichtner got up I got up too.  “Just one more thing,” he said.  “You do use a condom, don’t you?  A rubber.”

“Yes,” I said.

“Good,” Dr. Lichtner said.  “Just don’t worry about it.  Most guys have trouble the first time.  They get lost in the excitement.  Especially at your age for crissake.  If you just remember the mechanics of the thing you’ll be all right eventually.”  He extended his hand and we shook.  “Give me a buzz in about two months.  I’d like to know how you make out.  By the way, forget the fee.  I wish I had someone like me around when I was your age.”

As I got up a whiteness retreating from the open door caught my eye.  Was that the receptionist?  What was she, listening or something.  Aah, who cared?  Walking back out it felt as though a thousand pound weight was just lifted off my chest.  The corridor seemed less stark, mellower.  The receptionist was busy sorting some papers.  She looked at me and smiled.  “Goodbye, Mark,” she said.


Outside it had just begun to rain.  I looked straight up at the sky and let the drops hit my face.  Jesus, the air smelled good.


Mr. Schneider was already pacing the floor, yelling: “Vee are not in F!  Vee are in E!”  He cupped his ears and listened to the ceiling, then bent down and listened underneath the table.  “Vere’s dot E flat?  I don’t hear it anymore.  I vunder vat happened to dot E flat.  It vas here ven you started, I heard it mit my ears.  E flat, little E flat, vere are you?”  He calmed down and looked at me.  “Mark, you know vot?  The E flat is not here anymore.  It got lost somevere.  Go home please and look for it, eh?  And don’t come back until you find it.”

That’s the way my head was working.  For the past two Wednesdays I had started out for my lesson nice and confident.  Coming home I was going to get off the trolley at my stop and walk right up to Toby and follow Dr. Lichtner’s advice.  Simple.  But both times about half way through the lesson I’d start getting the jitters and lose my concentration, botching up notes and driving Mr. Schneider crazy and myself even crazier.  Then going home, by the time the trolley reached Rutledge Street I chickened out and went the three stops further; and she was there in the doorway of that boarded up store waiting for me both times.  If I avoided her again tonight it would be the third time.  What was bothering me was, what if Dr. Lichtner was wrong?  He didn’t examine me or anything.  All he did was question me about it.  Toby saw it.  She felt it.  She must have seen and felt enough dicks to know when something was wrong with one. And then I was saying to myself, That’s ridiculous.  Dr. Lichtner is right.  He’s a doctor.  He knows what he’s talking about.  Then I was saying, No, Toby’s the one who knows.  Then Dr. Lichtner again.  My mind was swinging back and forth like the pendulum of a clock. Dr. Lichtner, Toby, Dr. Lichtner, Toby.  My head was half out of commission.

Slowing down at my stop I wiggled behind a big heavy man for Toby not to catch sight of me, but out of nowhere something rose up in me and I jostled myself to the door and got off the trolley.  I was half numb.  As soon as she saw me she called out “Hey!” and came walking toward me.  She was dressed in the same schoolgirl clothes.  And she used the same words.

“You want to do something?”

“I can’t,” I said.


“I’m sick.”

“What’s the matter?”

“You were right,” I said.  “There is something wrong with my dick.”

That funny unused to smile started up in her face. “What did you do,

talk to your father, or something?”

“No,” I said.  “I went to see a doctor and got it examined.  He gave me all kinds of tests.  He said I have a rare condition.  I was born with it.”

“What condition?” she said.

“I don’t like to talk about it.”

“Come on, you can tell me.”

“Well, my dick has a faulty balance system,” I said. “And every once in a while it gets dizzy.”

“Get outa here, dizzy,” she said.

“You don’t believe me?” I said.  “You noticed it yourself, didn’t you?  Why do you think it keeps going to the wrong place?”

She looked at me.  She was thinking.

“You know a dick has a balance system,” I said, “don’t you?”

“Sure,” she said.  “But I never heard of it getting dizzy, that’s all.”

“Why are you smiling?” I said.

“A dick getting dizzy is funny.”

“Well, it’s not so funny to me.”

“So what are you going to do about it?” she said.

“Well, my doctor recommended mustard plasters.  If that doesn’t work I’m going to need an operation.”

“An operation?” She still had that funny smile in her face.  “I’ll go visit you in the hospital.”

“You must think I’m kidding,” I said.

A serious quality came into her face.  “Well, anyway, you can still play around, can’t you?”

“Sure I can still play around,” I said.  “But I’m not worried about

playing around.  What if a girl wants to have sexual intercourse, or something?  What do I do then?”

“Well, can’t you put it in with your hand?”

“It won’t work,” I said.  “My doctor says my hand is connected to the same balance system.  He recommended finding a girl to help me out.  She has to put it in for me.  She can’t be bashful about it.”

She looked at me, her brow crimped with thinking. “Well, maybe I can help you out,” she said.

“You?” I said.  “I don’t think so.”


“How are you going to help me out if all you can do is yell my dick is in the wrong place, there’s something wrong with it?”

“Well maybe I can help you out now that I know it needs help.”

“Aah, I don’t believe you,” I said.

“No, I mean it,” she said.  “We can go up to my roof again.  I can’t

promise anything but I’ll see what I can do, okay?  I’m really serious.”

And she was, I could see it in her face.  But I didn’t like the idea of her roof again.  “How about someplace else?” I said.  “The roof is too risky.”

“Well do you know someplace?”

I went into thought, knowing I was going to come up with nothing at all.  “All right, your roof,” I said.

“The same time, seven‑thirty?”

“Okay,” I said.  “Wait, let’s make it eight o’clock this time.” Seeing was still on my mind, but someone else’s now.  Because how many times can we bang and thump around like last time without someone coming up to see what was going on?

“All right,” she said.  “Eight o’clock.”

After supper I shut the door of my room and from underneath a batch of loose-leaf paper and my stamp album where I hid it in the bottom drawer of my desk I took out Samuel F. Prager, M.D.’s book and studied that diagram until I had it memorized.

As I was climbing up the last flight of stairs leading to Toby’s roof a kid about twelve or thirteen walked out of one of the apartments on the top floor.  I was wondering if he noticed me.  On the roof I stood near the door until my eyes got used to the dark.  The newspaper was gone but the bricks were still lying in the same position.  I heard the door of the other roof open and Toby appeared in the light of the hall inside.  She was carrying newspaper again.

“Where are you?” she said s she stepped over the ledge.

“Here,” I said, walking over to her.  She spread the newspaper on the

ground using the bricks to hold them down as before.  I was ready for her to fall into my arms again, but she didn’t make the same mistake.  She sat down on the paper and unbuttoned her blouse and lifted her brassiere and pulled her skirt to her hips.

“You like to look at me?” she said.  “Comere.”

I got down next to her.  I had that diagram memorized like a map.  I felt the rubber in my shirt pocket.  She took hold of my hand and put it right between her legs.  Her grip tightened and her nails dug into my hand.  My finger went in maybe an inch or less and wouldn’t go any further and then I knew that nothing was going to get through there except maybe a lollipop stick.  She let out a little yelp and I withdrew my hand.  She turned away and began whimpering.  I was sitting there next to her dumbfounded, trying to think of something to say, when the roof door crashed open and there was a spill of light from the hall and Gibby was charging at me like a wild man.  He pounced on me and yanked me right off the floor and gripped me in an iron headlock, then went for Toby, dragging me by my head right along with him.  He had my head clamped so close to his that I could hear his mouth froth and his teeth gnash.

“You whore!  You goddam whore!”  The words were coming out of his mouth in foam, like he didn’t have any breath left in his lungs to get the sound going.  “Goddam you! Goddam you!”  He was crouched over Toby punching her with his free hand, joggling my head right along with the thrust of his body, and she bellowing, “You fuckin bastard, you fuckin bastard!” scuffling around the floor, her plump, powerful legs thrashing out at him.  Until his fist was smeared with blood, and she now curled into a ball, yelping with each blow, her arms clamped on her head, sound coming out of her in a shivering whimper.

Then I was whipped around and my feet left the ground until my body hit the low wall edging the roof, and when I looked up Gibby was coming at me in a low, stalking crouch.  Not even aware of what I was doing I leaped up and charged toward and past him, heading right toward the opposite ledge. Two things were possible: either I stop or I dive right over it.  I slid to the ground like sliding into a base and Gibby flew right past me, except his hand rapped my cheek, and he kept on going right toward the ledge, his arms reaching out like a pair of wings, like he was going to take off into the wild blue yonder.  It must have been pure survival instinct that made him drop and slide on his knees until he was stopped by his head smashing into that brick ledge.

By the sound of his head meeting that brick I didn’t think he was going to get up so fast, but I didn’t turn to find out.  I was just hoping he didn’t get a good look at my face.  But I took a look at Toby.  She was lying in that messed up newspaper still curled up in a ball, whimpering like a hurt puppy.  The next thought that came to my mind was, I ought to pick up one of those bricks and finish that sonofabitch off while I had the chance.  But I kept on going.  I hopped over the ledge to the next building and went down as calm as I could and ran the three blocks to Muroff’s drug store to make the phone call.

When I walked in one of the customers at the counter turned to at me, then they were all looking at me and buzzing.  Just as I closed the door of the

phone booth Muroff threw it open again.  He was goggling at me with a large

wad of cotton in his hand yelling:

“This isn’t a damn hospital!  What the fuck did you come here for!”  I didn’t understand what he was talking about until he started to wipe my face.

“Where the hell is the blood coming from!” he said.

“It’s someone else’s,” I said.


“It’ll be taken care of if you just let me make this phone call,” I said.

He wiped my face around a little more and studied it.  “Just don’t get any blood on the telephone,” he said and went back behind the counter.

I put a nickel in and dialed the operator and told her I needed an ambulance.  When a cop finally answered I said: “There are two badly hurt people on the roof of 226 Penn Street.”

“Can I have your name?” he said.

“Wolfgang Amadaus Mozart,” I said and hung up.  Then I went back to Toby’s street and waited on the corner.  Two minutes later a patrol car turned into the block the wrong way with siren blaring and roof lights flashing and screeched to a stop in front of the building.  Two cops got out and hurried inside.  After a while one of them came back down and stood in front of the entrance.  It took another ten minutes for the ambulance to come.  The driver and a medic got out and they and the other cop went into the building.

I took a walk to the East River and sat down on a bulkhead between two docks and just looked at the Manhattan skyline and the cars crossing the Williamsburgh Bridge almost right above me and on the other two Bridges in the distance.  After a while I calmed down.  I took the rubber out of my pocket and unrolled it and dropped it into the water splashing against the bulkhead, thinking: Maybe that thing was never used but some kid is going to see it and get the same thrill and go into the same daze and get the same hardon that I had gotten whenever I saw one floating around in the water; with the same fever in his blood, the same yearning in his heart and the same imagining what was going on here in some parked car the night before, or maybe in that patch of weeds right behind me.