PART ONE: THE CONNECTIONS
A deflated young teacher/cartoonist named Peyton
Derente is bowled over by Skeeter Kitefly—and her astounding
“...What I want is, is, is—like a confessor. Yeah! What a
shame your name’s not Edward—see, that’s an educated kind of joke,
right? An ignoramus wouldn’t have made a joke like that. And before
you say what I really need is a minister-priest-or-rabbi you should
know I’m not that kind of girl, I mean I was a Chinese Communist for
awhile but other than that I’m not that religious. What I really
“Is for me to be your own personal sugardaddy confessor.”
PART TWO: THE CONFESSIONS
In the first of seven monologues, Skeeter boasts about
her origins, hyperness, compactitude, and "cutiepiety."
...Being all compactified like this, I just can’t help but
be extra-intensively alive. Which explains how come I’ve got
these sunspot-baby-blue eyes and this incendiary blonde hair, and all
this pixie dust in my brainpan and this bounce bounce bounce in my
zap! flash! step—and why it’s my duty to be cute.
Buttoncute, that is. A cuuuutie-pie, as they say...
While dining with Peyton at the Addis Ababa, Skeeter
(in an improvised harem outfit) talks about her need for attention,
distinction, and recognition.
...‘Course, that has its drawbacks too. Even now, when I’m
practically a quarter-century old, these big fat matron-types go out
of their way to squnch hell out of my face. They take it like this, in
their big fat matron-paw, and go [nutcracker sound effect] to
it. And then they always say, “What a PRECIOUS little face!” And every
time I want to tell them, “Well no wonder, there’s PRECIOUS little
face left when you get done squnching it!” (I mean I want to say that,
but it comes out “Mrmph glub shmug...”)
Over a jug of sangria, Skeeter goes on about romance,
intimacy, Sven-types, and the significant difference between
flirting and teasing.
...Speaking of blows and the Nothingbutt Theater, this
really ugly but supertalented guy named Joe Biggins and I once did
that wonderful sex scene from Jane Eyre for them. You know:
“I’ve got a blow—I’ve got a blow, Jane!” “Oh, lean on me, sir!” So
here I am staggering around under Joe, who goes and drapes
himself over me; it was disgusting but hilarious. Hee hee hee! “My
little friend!” sighs Joe. “Thank you, sir!” gasps me. “Tell me what
to do, I’ll try at least to do it!” Hee hee hee hee hee!…
After sharing a pizza and a six-pack and news about
her sister Sadie, Skeeter prepares to lay bare her own darkest
...I’ve never told anyone any of this before. Not even
I don’t want to talk about it anymore.
But I will say this.
It hurt, it hurt like hell, but it could’ve been a lot,
lot worse. Right? So no tears shed. See? No tears. I swore I’d never
cry about him. And I haven’t, ever. Not once...
A subdued Skeeter reminisces about growing up
(somewhat) in Marble Orchard, and the compensations of good food and
...You know those people who say if you get something
really weird off your chest, you’ll quit dreaming about it? Those
people are wrong. So I got out of bed and headed for the oven—not to
stick my head in it, but to bake swirls. My first in months; it’s been
too hot out to be baking in. Wasn’t so bad in the wee hours. I shocked
the beejeebers out of Sadie, though; she thought wacky burglars had
got into the kitchen...
Switching from vodka to lemonade, Skeeter tells more
about Marble Orchard, feeling restless and wasteful, and the need to
...And not just to be trendy, either—but To Be. And How
To Be. That is refreshing. When you can stand in front of a
mirror again, staring yourself square in that eye you’re keeping open;
and it doesn’t really matter what you’ve got on (it can be nothing at
all!) so long as you can say and think and feel and
mean: Getta loada me now! ‘Cause then you can quit your yappin’ and
MAKE it happen, any old how…
Laid low with cramps, Skeeter talks about Death—but
cheers up after a nap and returns to Life, especially as enhanced by
...So howzabout I take you out, right now, and you treat me
to midnight ham ‘n’ eggs? Ooh and some poppyseed muffins! Aw c’mon—so
what if it is a “school night,” or that we have to be at work in
eight-or-so hours? It’s not like I’m asking for breakfast in bed or
anything. Let’s have a bit of fun! That’s a practical
ambition, isn’t it? I mean, without practical ambition we’d just be
stumblebums and doodlesquats, right? Attaboy! Let’s go. I hope you
know some good all-night eateries around here...
PART THREE: THE CONDITIONS
Skeeter wraps up her monologues, cleans Peyton's
apartment, and christens his bathtub with her "exquisite young
BAHdee"—while he can feel only impending doom.
...Poor little penitent, already on record as having been
deceived by a bass-ackwards hoodwinker, having no one better to tell
her troubles to than the Wizard of Schnoz. Himself a a charlatan, a
mountebank, “something of a humbug”—pay no attention to that man
behind the venetians!...
Braced for the coup de grâce, Peyton undergoes
resurrection instead at the hoodoo-undoing hands of Skeeter's be-all
...How would the old you be handling this? Well, for one
thing it’d be YOU doing the handling, the unfrocking and depantsing,
the managing of buttons and zippers and such. Hamhandedly perhaps, but
at any rate upperhandedly; taking and having the advantage instead of
being taken and had. So this is what passive compliance is like, as
seen from the inside: stretched out here on the discarded huckaback
like a neck-wrung feather-plucked cold dead rooster...
Awaking in each other's arms, Skeeter and Peyton take
stock of the situation—and Skeeter suggests a further step to seal
their compact deal.
“...I may be a natural-born arsonist but I wouldn’t set
your chest hair on fire—not with a cigarette, anyway. Kind
of reminds me of this shag carpet I had in my place on Garfield
Street, back in Demortuis—except that was lime-green. And
less curly.” (Nibble nibble nibble.) “Making love on that carpet was
like doing it outdoors, in a field or meadow. I sure have missed that
carpet. Till tonight, that is.” (Nibble nibble nibble.) “Am I talking
too much again? I do make you listen a hell of a lot...”
Peyton gives his opening Art History slideshow of the
semester, distracted throughout by thoughts of Skeeter "making her
...Suppose I’ll have to start buying her flowers now,
flowers and candy and greeting cards for every occasion, keep her
picture on my desk, on my walls, and not stuck in any readymade frame
from K-Mart either, nothing less than handfinished hardwood goldleaf
molding will do, “if it’s good enough for Botticelli—” so off to the
races again, spend spend spend, still: doesn’t she give give give in
return? though putting it like that makes it sound like I am
paying for it, playing sugardaddy after all, but still: isn’t that the
way it always goes? “girls don’t pay, guys pay” and so we
do, but even if I AM isn’t she worth it?...
Skeeter introduces Peyton to her New Wave friend
RoBynne O'Ring, and all three go to see Risky Business at
an ornate about-to-close picture palace.
...The howler slid her shades down a long narrow snoot to
inspect him through eyes adorned by a quarter-pound of purple makeup.
They were very young eyes but immediately recognizable as belonging to
a tough chick, an urban girl, the kind Peyton had first
marveled at from Jazzbo’s car on inner-city road trips: eyes that
looked coolly knowing, sharply appraising, insolently challenging, and
provocative beyond the dreams of mortal man...
Feeling rather seduced-and-abandoned, Peyton starts to
suspect Skeeter's intentions and her friendship with RoBynne O'Ring.
...Supposed to have dropped by tonight. Hadn’t shown.
Hadn’t called. And here it was—what?—after nine; a stitch in time.
(“There’s glory for you,” said the Eggman.) Sugardaddyhood could only
extend so far, after all. Or could it? One of these fine months she
might be wanting—what?—“help with the rent,” say. Or no, better still,
help for Sadie with the rent; but “don’t let Sadie know.” Of
course not. Clever. Cunning...
Skeeter tries to put Peyton's doubts to rest, but only
succeeds in unleashing her own jagged grievances.
...Her face looked pandemonial in the lurid alley
lamplight. Eyeballs bulging hubcap-huge, their veins thick and
spirally as telephone cords; mouth distorted like McDougal’s Cave with
Tom and Becky trapped inside. And mauling at his arms again she
shrugged off all coverup restraint: CHING! went her winsome pink
chest, like wrathful bowlfuls of jelly...
PART FOUR: THE CONFUSIONS
Peyton and the badly-hungover Skeeter reconcile over
the phone, and Skeeter asks him to tell her a long boring
“...Now everybody points at me and says, ‘There
goes a dummy.’”
“I’m sure no one’s ever called you a dummy—”
“How do you know?! Maybe lots of people have! (Shniff.)
Like one of those big dumb happy broads that hang around bars and
clubs and—Ramada Inns, places like that. ‘Cept I’m just a little
dumb happy broad. When I’m happy, that is… (Shniff.)”
A bedtime story of Peyton's early life as "Lumpy," his
evolvement into the Wizard of Schnoz, and what turned him into a
babe magnet ... for awhile.
...Popping the buttons off a Rapunzel’s blouse (“This is
brand-new!” she would wail) or wrenching the hooks right out of her
bra (“I just bought this! I don’t BELIEVE you!!”) The
incredible pitfalls of getting to second base. Cornwallettes almost
always dressed expensively, and Lumpy had to shell out a hell of a
lot—without any reciprocation worth mentioning—to make amends after
each infrequent date.
(But I’m a wizard, dammit!...)
A flashback look at Peyton's attempt to beguile
Skeeter's stepsister Sadie, years before being bowled over by Ms.
“...You,” said Mercedes, “have been talking to our chests
for the past ten minutes.” “That’s because I’ve been talking to you
from my chest,” he responded, clapping a hand on his heart.
“Oh gag!” “Not at all—entirely in earnest. I plan to be an art
historian, you see, so it’s my duty to penetrate to the heart of
things.” “Not by staring down my front you’re not,” said
Times having changed in the Reagan era, Peyton's
artwork is no longer welcome at a magazine he helped found. Skeeter
meanwhile plans her return to college.
...Downstairs the phone began to ring again. That would be
Skeeter, calling from Wheeville as had become her nightly habit. “I’m
here. Talk to me,” she would say—and hang up. At which point Peyton
would call back and assume the charges, Sadie having squawked about
the triplex phone bill. “Why don’t you simply call collect?” he’d
asked. “I like to hear the phone ring,” Skeeter’d replied. So he would
dial her number and she would say, “Whoever can this be?” and they
would have long nonsensical conversations...
Peyton joins Skeeter's family for Thanksgiving, but
absorbed in his own stagnancy he feels (and acts) far from thankful.
...The old question: What is the purpose of Life? The old
answer: To puncture romances, O Tillie. So take off your green
spectacles and see your Emerald City as the handiwork of a hoodwinking
Wizard, a snake-oily charlatan peddling purple-bark sarsaparilla to
the unwary. A fraud and a sham: I am, I am—
&nbrsp; (And there was Skeeter peering through the window,
Skeeter popping through the door, Skeeter in a bright red apron and
ovenmitt, radiant as any sled-in-the-furnace rosebud...)
Skeeter's effort to snap Peyton out of his funk causes
a fresh breach between them; so the penitent Peyton offers a
confession of his own—about Joyce Finian, the spectral Girl of His
...Peyton had grown somewhat accustomed to her hollow
brink-of-drowning eyes, but tonight he was struck by how infinitely dry
they seemed: all tears shed. The very pupils losing their Glocka Morra
glint, dissolving into the irises to form two black holes—
And then; and then. A lass and a lack.
Like that scene at the end of Invasion of the Body
Snatchers, where Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter hide in a cave
from the pod-people who’ve replaced their friends. Dana’s exhausted,
dozes for just a second … and awakes taken over, body-snatched, having
become a pod-person with coldblooded eyes in a blank masklike
face, one of the chillingest images in Peyton’s picturewatching
memory: you’re next! you’re next!!...
In the middle of a Yuppiefied winter, Skeeter and
Peyton face different interpretations of faith and joy.
...They sat awhile in silence then. Weary of
confession-making and -taking: the confusions of absolution. Skeeter
disentangled her hairbrush, setting it down among the sprung-loose
flaxen threads. Split ends in need of gathering up and tying together;
winkle winkle winkle.
“So,” she said, “is that It, then?”
His eyelids twitched, and turned to her. “Lately,” he
said, “I haven’t been so sure…”
PART FIVE: THE CONCLUSIONS
Springtime comes: Skeeter graduates from college after
only seven years, and Peyton marks the occasion with a validating
“...Jeez, what have you got in here?” Skeeter
gasped. “Big flat emeralds? Or, I know—my thousand pairs of fishnet
stockings! You went to Tickle Me and bought out the store!”
“Guess again,” said Peyton. “Take your time and take your
choice,” he added, laying a small sealed envelope beside the box, and
holding Skeeter back as she lunged for the loot.
“Wha-utt? Do I only get one of these? I have to
choose between them?”
“Ask me another.”-“I want another, I want ‘em
both! Why should I have to pick just one?”
Gallic shrug: your life, my love...