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Hammond B-3
by Dennis Must


Westley and I told several of our friends that Uncle Mark was a lion tamer, but were loath to say Aunt Agnes took her clothes off at the Elks Club.

“Does he shit like an elephant?” Shoes Calucca asked.

It didn't matter what anybody thought.

Though it was unseemly what Father's sister, Agnes, was doing--acting out her dreams in front of lavender velvet curtains (something you might see lining a display casket), yanking onto to those dry rot rags with one hand while peeling off her sequined bra and panties with the other, clicking her higher-than-a-sixteen-penny-nail heels to the tune of Alexander's Ragtime Band . . . and finally, the denouement--a vaginal opening disguised by what looked like husband Jimmy McIntyre's brush mustache, and breasts that hung off her bony chest like musket balls in anklet socks. But it didn't seem to matter to the inebriated, corpulent Elks.

“Hello, Aggie!” they huzzahed.

Each got as close to the apron of the stage as space allowed, hooting and hollering while Aunt Agnes strutted stage right and left, shoving her ass out just inches away from all the bulbous noses and lecherous mouths, then stopping, freeze frame, sticking her head between her legs and trying to get their attention with winking. But the Elks kept looking at her ass.

“Fucking men, you're all the same,” she spat, and lifted raffle tickets for the nightly $50 draw out of the spinning cage, and one by one drew them up the inside of her thighs and Jimmy's brush, tossing each newly-scented ticket out into the crowd, yelling, “EVERYONE GETS LUCKY TONIGHT.”

Until some surly bastard from back the room taunted: “Agnes, how 'bout fucking the Donkey?” And now the crowd whooped louder. Like, Jesus Christ, yes, what a grand idea.

“AGNES, FUCK THE DONKEY!” they chanted.

She feigned disgust. The cries become more insistent. She feigned shame. This didn't work either. Finally she laughed, threw up her hands in surrender and cried out to the top of her lungs, “Yeah . . . I want to fuck the Donkey!”

A vamp rose from the old man at the Hammond B-3. Agnes holding out one hand as if she were about to introduce a partner in her act, a spotlight focused on the velvet curtains, directly at stage center. The circle of light, the only illumination in the house, was perhaps a foot wide. We heard bestial noises that grew louder, and by Jesus it did sound exactly like a braying jackass. The patrons, these old Elks, were all now standing, clapping and chanting.

The jackass sounded exorcized, pitiful high decibel braying noises as if somebody backstage were shoving a hot poker up its backside. Suddenly, on the circular spotlight, slowly penetrating the curtain appeared to me what could only be a donkey cock. The men laughed uproariously. They abandoned their chairs and began shoving up against the small stage's apron, three deep, egging Aunt Agnes on.

“Fuck the Donkey, Agnes.”

“Fuck the Donkey.”

God, I thought, her saintly mother who daily attended St. Josephs just a couple doors down from this BPOE, the spit of a woman who played the numbers each morning after Mass, saving her winnings to put favorite son, Raymond, through Saint Benedict's Seminary . . . .

I mean if she could witness daughter Agnes about to engage in this bestial act, all the suffering she did to have her flesh and blood fornicate with a Donkey? It had all gotten so confused. Monsignor Raymond in splendiferous garments raises the Host to the flying buttresses, while Agnes lifts her ass to an unseen beast behind the curtain? In the first instance the parishioners bow and recite Hail Marys; in the latter, they quiet to a whisper as the Donkey enters Madame Agnes who closes her eyes, beatifically.

A hush fell over the wall-eyed men.

The Hammond organ's motors had been extinguished. Even the bartender who's seen the act, stirred. Suddenly the character who suggested it in the first place cried out once again.

“Take it all, Aggie! By Christ, take it all!”

Aunt Agnes, still bent over, her face to the crowd, raised a hand, supplicating, “Patience.” Finally with one last effort she leaned in heavily with her tiny frame to the thing penetrating the curtains. There was a moan, an audible moan, as if the Holy Ghost himself had spoken, like somebody backstage had clubbed the ass mightily in its head, followed by a high pitched braying.

“HOME!” shouted several men.

Then the movement began in earnest. Aunt Agnes moving forward and back like a yard bitch in heat. I turned away. Looked up at the proscenium arch. An elk head cast in plaster with archaic symbols surrounding it looked with approbation down on the fraternal goings on. The curtains shook in wild erratic motions; was the jackass having a cardial infraction?

But I'd already figured out the scam. Weren't no donkey back there giving it to my old Aunt. It was one of Uncle Jimmy's friends. She was getting it alright. Everybody there knew that. Except maybe Ronald Whiteside, the town idiot who was an honorary Elk. Everyone else knew one of Uncle Jimmy's gambling creditors just got paid.

When the men began to return to their seats, I looked up. Aunt Agnes lingered on the stage smiling at them all while she took her time picking up her clothes. Nobody any longer give a shit. Several had gone over to the bar. Only idiot Ronald watched her every last gesture before she disappeared from the boards.

Fucking actors, all of them--Uncle Raymond, Aunt Agnes, and Uncle Mark. Every last one of them was in the theatre. Sleight of hand. Why was our old man so different?

Westley went the following Saturday. “Did they do the Donkey Show?” I asked. He explained the procedure; a repeat performance.

“Funny,” I said, “Aunt Agnes gets to dance and Jimmy McIntyre won't have his arm broken.”

Monsignor Raymond would lift the Host to the mouths of the penitents until he contacted Parkinson Disease. But Agnes wasn't going to be doing the donkey much beyond sixty. Uncle Mark, I suspect, would agree that old men don't put their heads inside of a lion's mouth. Beasts are no respecters of old age.





About the Author


Dennis Must is the author of BANJO GREASE, Selected Stories (CreativeArts Book Company, 2000). His plays have been performed Off Off Broadwayand his fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologiesincluding Blue Cathedral:Short Fiction for the New Millennium (Red HenPress), Rosebud, Portland Review, RiverSedge, Writer's Forum, Salt HillJournal, Sun Dog—The Southeast Review, RE:AL, Red Cedar Review, Sou'wester, Blue Moon Review, CrossConnect, Exquisite Corpse, AlsopReview, Big Bridge, Linnaean Street, elimae, and Green Hills Literary Lantern.

He resides in Massachusetts with his wife and two daughters.