“Devil in Deskeyes” is a short story
from a collection of stories and fragments
put together and self-published in 1975
under the title of ” ˈfa-byə-ləs  kəm-ˈpəl-shənz ”
i.e.
“Fabulous Compulsions”.

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Now that I’ve got your attention, pleadingly, was the subtext of the “Hello Fellow Wombats” he began his speech with. He had fifteen, give or take a few, minutes to pour out his words. This was, rather obviously, the first speech he had ever given. They (his fellow lodge members) felt that if this was going to be anything like his usual dull conversations, that it would be about fifteen, give or take a few, minutes too much.

He [Henry Deskeyes is the name, mediocrity and lackluster is the game] was surely going to have problems talking to his fellow “Hairy-Nosed” Wombats, who, besides finding most of his dangling-and-dragging-on-the-floor digressive conversations extremely boring, were anxiously awaiting the arrival of their special guest speaker of the night – the Hollywood actor Gregory Peck. Henry was being granted these few minutes, which if Mr. Peck appeared at the door would be slipped from under him like a rug, by the Grand Wombat himself, a Mr. Ed Shroff, who just had to give into the good natured request from Henry, for whom this was the last week with the lodge.

“This is the eve of my departure from this city and from six very, VERY happy years as a member of the Glorious Order of the “Hairy-Nosed” Wombat. I realize that as I leave you all behind that a big part of me will always remain here with you.

“My dear friends…fellow Wombats. As I break today the bonds of our comradeship I want you all to know that you will always have a very special place in my heart.”

(“Yeah and you can have a very special place in my ass, Deskeyes,” whispered one Wombat to another, with a snickered nudge.)

“I leave the warmth of friendship of you and all my neighbors for the warmth of the Florida sun, where I, Mina my wife, and the kids (Skeezix, who is 14, and Sanora, almost 10) can continue to strive for the health we so much love and wish to preserve. Oh no, please don’t misunderstand that we in any way feel that this environment is  unhealthy; that is not so! Why just yesterday Mina said ‘This is the healthiest emotional environment we have ever been in,’ and I agreed wholeheartedly. It is only in pursuit of more sun that we leave Chicago.

Only five minutes had gone by and some of the “Hairy-Nosed” Wombats were already dozing off. Some of the others kept glaring at the back door for some sign of their guest speaker arriving, and saving them from much more of this monologue.  Some “Hairy-Nosed” pranksters whispered remarks about Henry’s speech, including one about ‘using tapes of his speech as an international weapon’. Ed Shroff sat in the third row, the only person in the small hall that the Wombats rented twice a month for their meetings, who was listening attentively.

“It’s on a street called Palmdale, and I can see why, with all the palm trees that line its sidewalk. I’ll send you some pictures to pass around when I am settled in and have had a chance to take some. By the time we get there the furniture should have arrived, and that doormat ~ the realtor who sold us the house ordered it for us, he said it’d be there to greet us when we arrived ~ it’s got our name printed on it. The Deskeyes. It’s sort of a personal touch.

“We didn’t have to buy much new stuff for the place. It came with almost all the comforts. It’s got a completely electric kitchen, including a stove which has a computerized time setting. And walnuts cabinets, complete with all that Rubbermaid stuff. Central air conditioning and vacuuming too.

“Of course we did pick up a few small items while we were down there looking at the houses. We bought a really nice wine rack. We hear that people in the neighborhood like fondue, cheese and wine parties. It’ll all be exciting I’m sure. I can just see coming home from work and relaxing out in the sun, the wind chimes tinkling in the light breeze, and picking out a pipe from the pipe rack  . . . lighting up with some good tobacco, and the smoke mingling in the air with the smell of the dinner that Mina will be cooking.”

A census taken at this point in Henry’s speech to determine the quantity of sleeping people in the room would total out to an average of approximately 73%.  Henry continued.

“Perhaps a little Mantovani would filter out from the living room to where I will be sitting in the backyard, leafing through a National Geographic, or maybe a TV Guide to see what was on television later that evening. As the dinner was cooking and needed no attention for a while maybe Mina would join me in the yard. Perhaps she would put on that Helen Reddy album that she likes so much, and she could sit in one of the lawn chairs and leaf through her Ms. Magazine, or perhaps Viva or Glamour,  or maybe Time or People, which we both enjoy. Maybe one of those nursing magazines she gets because she’s a nurse.  That reminds me; I sure hope those magazines got the change of address notices by now.

“Skeezix might be up in his room, laying down on the bed under that TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE poster which he already stated must hang over the bed, listening to one of those rock groups he likes. I don’t know, lately some of that stuff he’s been playing doesn’t sound so bad. I guess I’m getting used to it.  That Frank Zappa character is a bit too much for me, but the Moody Blues seem pretty good. Not that I want to listen to any of it as a steady diet, but . . .

“And Sanora. I hope she will be happy in Florida. She is a bit sad having to leave her friends behind, and I’m sure she’ll meet new friends, but the process seems hard for her. But then again, friends, I find it somewhat hard myself to leave all of you dear people behind.  I’m sure we’ll both make it okay.”

Well it’s been ten minutes, and our good friend Henry Deskeyes’ words have lullabye’d to sleep all but two men, one of which will fall asleep within the next two sentences coming out Henry’s mouth, the other who is none-other-than Mr. Ed Shroff, the Grand Wombat himself.  One other man, whom it would serve no purpose to identify by name, the same man who minutes before was throwing around jokes about Henry Deskeyes’ speech, is now asleep and dreaming of people all around him dying, falling to the ground for no apparent reason – other than it was Their Time To Go.

“As I would sit in the yard looking over at the Mickey Mouse needlepoint pillow (that Sanora made by herself) perhaps Mina would look over at me. She might put down the magazine she was reading. Laying it down next to the terrarium, filled with cacti and a few tiny chameleons, she would smile slyly at me.  Mina is a beautiful woman.
[For those keeping track, this is the point where the Grand Wombat is left alone as the only set of open ears, amidst a roomful of assorted dreams, ranging from hunting expeditions and baseball games to one about building The Ultimate Structure (It goes something like this: A big building. A huge building. The biggest building ever built. A mile high, and I would be the architect! It would reach into the sky, its golden cupola probing deep into the white clouds. It would be a building King Kong would want to climb. A building Ayn Rand would have multiple orgasms over. And I, I would be the architect! ~ And so on and so forth).] Ed Shroff listens attentively.

“She looks over at me with those wonderful eyes full of passion and I melt under their heat-power. She slides out of her chair and comes over to me. Her lips touch mine and she slides her tongue out just a bit to wet my lips, and then dips her whole tongue into my mouth. Then I put my tongue in her mouth as her hands begin grasping at the hardness increasing in my pants.

“Perhaps she would open my zipper and pull out my stiff flesh and rub it, sliding the foreskin back and forth. Then she would slide down and wet the tip with some saliva to make the skin slide up and down with more ease.  Her tongue would then slide all around my cock-tip, teasing me on and on, pulling the shaft up and down with one hand while the other gently massaged my balls.”

A crystal clear drop of saliva formed at the corner of Ed Shroff’s mouth, glittered orange-blue for a second as it reflected the colors of the hall décor, then slid down into the grey hairs of his beard. His heart beat faster. Next month was the Grand Wombat’s 59th birthday, and he would not be there to celebrate it.

“My cock would be disappearing and reappearing in and out of her mouth, slowly at first but then faster and faster as my back began to arch from the oncoming orgasm. And then, looking in towards the house to make sure Skeezix or Sanora were not about to pop in on us, I would come into my wife’s sweet mouth. She would embrace my body afterwards, and I hers. She would then remember the dinner and rush into the house.

“In the kitchen, as she mixed the stew she was cooking I would come over to her and slide my hand under her dress. She’d be wearing no underwear in that Florida heat and she’d be moist, excited by what she had done to me.  I’d glance at the staircase leading up to the kids’ rooms and then sit on the kitchen floor and slide myself under Mina’s flowing dress, which drapes almost to the floor. I would be almost completely hidden under it. (If at this point one of the kids went by they might not even notice me under there.) I would bury my face in her, licking her delicious juices and getting intoxicated by her taste and scent. She would shake and quiver as I licked her clit and stuck my tongue as deep as I could reach inside her. Finally her stomach would tighten and she would let out that beautiful sound she makes when her body is lost to her orgasm.

“Afterwards at dinner we would share a smile across the table. The kids would finish up fast so the could go in the den and watch TV.  Days would all be like that, filled with many happy and loving moments. On weekends we could have back yard barbeques. Perhaps some hot dogs, baked beans. Our little lives rounded out with orgasms and . . .

[CRASH! The Grand Wombat’s body fell to the floor, coins from his pockets rolling in all directions on the polished floor of the hall.  The suddenly-awake Wombats didn’t know what happened, they only heard the noise and what would end up being the last word of Henry Deskeye’s Farewell Speech – ]  . . .sleep.”

There was no reason to rush for any telephones, as some of the “Hairy-Nosed” Wombats did, for the Grand Wombat was quite definitely and most permanently dead. Cause of death: heart attack.

Gregory Peck was delayed at the airport in Miami, Florida (coincidentally the same airport that Henry Deskeyes and family would be arriving at some 8 hours later to take a shuttle flight into Fort Lauderdale), and sent a telegram that he would be unable to make the “Hairy-Nosed” Wombats’ meeting.  Stop. If they could perhaps plan another date he would be happy to reschedule.  Stop.  Deepest regrets for any problems caused.  Stop.  Gregory Peck.

*   *   *

The ambulance had left. Henry Deskeyes had left. The hall was empty with nothing but the echoes of the night just passed.  The events of the day resonated in the room.  If you listened close enough you could still hear Henry’s words floating on a sea of snores.  Henry’s Farewell Speech was still roaming the room.  So was the inaudible sound of a heart speeding faster and faster, distressed and excited, until the blood vessels could not withstand the pressure and burst, and then fell silent.

Also in the room was the echo of a short conversation between two “Hairy-Nosed” Wombats, who will remain anonymous.

“What happened to the old man, do you know? I fell asleep when Deadeyes got to talking,” said one.

“I don’t know. A heart attack I guess. I was asleep too. Hah – maybe he was bored to death,” replied the other chuckling.

Eventually the room gets filled with the sounds of a cleaning crew dusting and mopping, moving chairs and picking up paper cups. The lights go out, and any sounds from the past are lost forever.