In our previous episode of Arnold Schnabel’s never-before-published memoir, Arnold -- “the Rhyming Brakeman”, recovering from a mental collapse with his mother at his aunts’ boarding house in Cape May -- has met and befriended four “beatniks” on the beach (Rocket Man, Gypsy Dave, Elektra, and Fairchild). After dinner and marijuana at their pad, Elektra invites Arnold to go out onto their second-floor back porch for a smoke. After a brief conversation she tells him, “Come here.”
Long ago and far away, on a planet called 1963, in a time called Schnabelia...
I was only about a foot away from her. I didn’t have very far to go, to go to her. I took a step forward. She put her hands around my waist.
“You’re a real man,” she said.
“Technically, yes,” I said.
“Those other boys in there, they’re boys, not men.”
“They seem like nice guys,” I said.
“Boys,” she said. “Not men.”
Now she was pressing against me.
“I want you to kiss me, Arnold.”
What the hell, I’ve always aimed to please people. I kissed her. It didn’t kill me to do so. And for once I surrendered, and I fell, and it was as if a great part of me at last opened up to life. Previously I had felt that nothing could be quite as pleasant as lying in bed on a cool afternoon with nothing to do, staring at the ceiling and dreaming of a world beyond this world, but now I was not so sure.
We disengaged, she laid her head on my chest. I had an erection. Perhaps I was not completely out of the norm after all.
And I had a thought.
“Wait,” I said. “Elektra, aren’t you Rocket Man or Gypsy Dave’s girlfriend?”
“No,” she said. “But I don’t dig these labels. What does that even mean, ‘girlfriend’?”
“I don’t know,” I said, honestly enough.
“Do you want to go to bed?” she said.
“Oh,” I said. “Yeah, it is getting a little late, I suppose, but I don’t usually go to bed quite this early —”
“No,” she said. “I mean go to bed with me. Here. Now,” she said.
“Oh,” I said.
“I can tell you want to,” she said, pressing her hip against my erection.
“I — this is embarrassing,” I said, “but I’m a practicing Catholic. I don’t believe in extra-marital sex.”
“Oh, give me a break, Arnold. You can’t really believe all that crap. What good does it do you? You just had a complete mental breakdown you said. Give yourself a break. Sex is natural, man. You think the priests don’t have sex?”
She had touched on a delicate subject. In my work as a parish usher and as a CYO boxing coach I had heard rumors. Many rumors.
“Arnold,” she said, hugging her body close to mine. “I can feel you.”
And indeed I could feel myself. I knew of course that it was the marijuana, the wine, my own barely controlled insanity, but I felt all of myself now suddenly within my erection. It almost felt as if it were pushing me away from her. She had my back against the rail now as she pressed herself against me and it almost felt as if this damnable erection I was suffering was, as I say, pushing me back, trying to push me up over the railing and off the porch, perhaps even up and out above the trees and house-tops behind me.
I took a breath.
“I think we should go inside now,” I said.
(Click here to go to the next episode. Check out the right hand column of this page for links to other installments of Railroad Train to Heaven, and to the sublime poems of Arnold Schnabel, now available as ringtones, read by such notable actors as Patrick Stewart, Brad Pitt, and Martin and Charlie Sheen.)