"Ooh, widdle girl make her poppa mad! Widdle girl do a baddie!"
"Cut it out!"I repeated, my voice still Jiminy Cricket–like, and cracked her across her goosebumped caboose. I was suddenly tired, and I didn’t know if she was making fun of me. I slapped her a second time, before I had time to think about it and scare myself some more. To my surprise, I was erect again. More surprising, each time I spanked her Sharon gave a tiny cry, a pouting little "Meanie!," and wiggled her behind as if asking for more.
"Now you git it," Tennie hooted. "Now the cowboy’s gittin’ up to a gallop. That’s what you’re s’posedto do," he said, speaking very succinctly, as if teaching a Mongoloid to wait at the curb for the light to change. "That’s what a girl wants, that’s what a boy gives her. It’s just po-lite-ness, son . . . It’s just na-ture."
I didn’t see it that way. But I didn’t not see it that way, either. The fact was, I sensed that the best thing about this experience was that I didn’t have to think about anything. That, for a few blessed seconds, maybe minutes, if I got lucky, my brain could just shut off. So that, against all odds, my dead father’s eyes, my mother’s graveside crying, the echo of Farwell’s shrieking at three AM, when I heard him through the flimsy walls, "Daddy don’t! Daddy come down from thechandelier" — all that pain-fuel that flew around inside my head would just DISAPPEAR. I could escape, or at least block out the Bad Thoughts for however long I could slap or fuck or just hang on to the willing local girl in front of me.
But, of course, I was wrong about that, too. No sooner did I pop off than I saw Sharon glaring at me like I’d burped in church.
"Oh, that was magic," she sighed. "That was heaven on earth."
No doubt she would have gone on like that, but something happened. Her eyes opened wide, her mouth twisted sideways. And then —
I heard the voice a second before the slam of the basement door and my companions scuttling up the outside steps.
"Daddy, NO!" Sharon screamed. But it was too late — the belt caught me across the back, a flaming lick.
"Jesus H. Fuck, what’s going on down here?"Jerry Stahl is the author ofPermanent Midnight. He lives in Silver Lake. "Daddy’s Girl" is an adapted excerpt fromPerv — A Love Story, a novel forthcoming this fall from William Morrow.