25 Points: Darling

by William Tester
Knopf, 1992
177 pages / $9.95 buy from Amazon







1. “I have this room inside my head, a lightless, nightmare kind of room that I pretend is where I am. A smaller me sits in its darkness.”

2. “My mama in her mirror smiles at her, ahold of me, jewelry, makeup, mother, child. She pets my cowlick down and pats me gentle swattings on my butt. She’ll take or leave me– queen of us. She’s pretty. Mama lets me know that she’s the most loved one of us. I move for room to let her sit beside me, scoot across the stool. I’ll flirt for her; I’ll court, or woo her with my smallness. I’m this big: my head tops even with her dresser, with my hand to make a bridge. It feels like I’m this bunch or bundle, six potatoes in a bag. This pet. A useless tiny person, me so close down to the ground, potato legs and chest and elbows, with my big potato head.”

3. “Her hair reminds me then of boards.”

4. “Sometimes her neck is like an animal alive inside of her.”

5. “By now I’ve half decided how it is we’re going to die, Jeab gone to elsewhere in his liquor, me– I’ve wallowed on the thought that I’ll be shot down like a dog, or struck with bricks fell from a window, held and throttled while some killer smacks a hammer through my skull in a squirt of pain.”

6. “It wanders backwards lost and blinded toward an ant bed death to come. Me, I’m a giant to the bug. I wonder what its tiny mind is like, what nonsense it must live.”

7. “I hear the gyroings and gears inside the belly of the world, oily and in tar– and in the sky, the set chain of the wider all– turns.”

8. “A kind of line in me connects me to the gym and chilly stalls, a line that draws me like a toy across the sky between my arms, the flapping, thuddy noise of sprinters, shouting, fearful coughing me.”

9. “Chlorine and sneaker smells of feet the taste of pennies dew our air.”

10. “He butts his head bone in her bag like he is eating her from out of her or pulling out her blood.”

11. “Well, this is how you milk a cow. Head in, with a rhythm of rowing an Indian canoe, the floaty duck, the slow, enormous heron birds, teal blue and winging off a pond’s flat water. Elbows lower than my knees, pressing the all of me, until Darling, letting loose her milk, presses the bulk of the barrelous, swollen all of her back at me; we are a balancing act. I sort of turn it in my hand, like this, like so. One, and then another teat, like my thing is. Squirting her. Just her milk, my breath. Like so. Like this is all the world inside our barn. The flashlight causes straws to shadow straw shapes on the boards along the stall walls. And Darling moos.”

12. “I’m swimming sightless in the deep up in her milk; I’m lost in dark down in a hole, like parts of sleep: I’m kind of gone.”

13. “I should be pushed around by Jeab– or have him mount me like a dog, have dirt or cow manure kicked on me– how dogs or bulls will do to a smaller dog or a smaller bull.”

14. “But now is how we are here in the country in our house; every one of us is dead.”

15. “My mother lifts me up off of the grass. She crooks my head up and lowers my butt so I can see what all there is here at the fence behind our house: our horned young cow, the barn, and farther out, our ribbed and clodded fallow field in furrows broke and barren, the swollen tractor in it coupling something, backwards, buggish, rusted-toothed, and over all of this, the leaning, siloed, hard and cloudless hood of unimportant blue.”

16. “So I’m a monster taking her! I’m on the job. I’m loving her. I dip like this spills from my innards, like my thoughts of this have hardened into muscles in my arms, my skinny calves and back and shoulders, solid now, with my bad thoughts– like what I think could step apart from me, my red and meated thinking leave and leap into my cow. A lunging hound comes from my body, from my heaving, hungry me. Then she is mine. I’m squishing fine inside of Darling. She can’t look to see the violence. She can’t see where I’ve put in. She can’t keep her mind fixed on our fight as well as me. This tired dog gives up her struggle and collapses in a tub where she is mine. A rain of light thins on the darkness. Clouds are rags across our moon. I see the shadowed depth return to things, the wind come up and love on us as I spit onto Darling in the glimmer of the stall. She’s panting. I’m up on her riding like my brother back of her. I’m shrinking. Now I think like Jeab. I’m him. I put myself inside again. I plug this awful hard I have into my pretty doll. I put myself inside of hers. We’re lovers now. I win.”

17. “This heifer’s calf has come out dead, but from this heifer only half the calf spills head out on the ground. Its forelegs, girth, and all the rest of it births unborn wet inside.”

18. “As if the place knew who we were. It knows us, knows the secret things that Jeab and I have hid in us, as if the hole remembers everything that we are here to do. We live somewhere. We have a place there in the world where Jeab and I know we belong.”

19. “The hard and shining pureness of each thing is sure with light: but slowly, pines and pond and pebbles, tires, waxy needled sawgrass, cut-up Clorox bottles, teeth.”

20. “Every shape is rising!”

21. “My dolly bobs my butt against her riding me on top of her; she bumps my butt bone on her hip pin’s knuckled ridge; she eases shuddery; she cants.”

22. “Or is he buggering our bullock? Has his cock blow down its throat while I pretend that I am sick to stay alone at home with her. I pick my breakfast-oily eggs. I con my folks. I think of Doll.”

23. “Mama and Daddy in the bathroom turn the bathtub water on, their voices boinging on the water. Water sploshes, muffled noise. When the water stops I hear my mama mutter something, Kay and Bub, and something other, Bub and Jeab, like everything she says to Daddy has somehow to do with me. I see their legs locked in the water and their places dark with hair, my mama straddling my daddy, then the shower. Water sounds. Him naked, hair in the water on my mama coupled up. I see her furred and fitting skin. Him coupling Mama in the water as her face turns into mine, with Mama bent into the shower water, naked, me as her.”

24. “I put a knob like his on her, and underneath my brother’s thing, I put her lipped and pinkish hole. A slit, he says. A tongue in teeth between her legs, a mouth in fur. Her skin pretended in my head.”

25. “She has these vacuum-hosey rings around her throat where I could hold, where I could pull her hosey throat from her– or put her in my mouth and bite it sucking from her head.”

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  1. Jacob Siefring

      Holy crap! This book’s a gory riot of language!

      I laud your decision, Elan, to let the book speak for itself, without trying to describe or frame it. Even though it seems mind-blowingly well-written, I’m not about to tear into this book any time soon, for just from these tidbits I feel queasy and unsettled…

  2. Elan Lafontaine

      A litle nunday Dulceé de Lechéé a la His Bœufness. Hape urr nut Licktose Unnnnhhhhhtolerant.

  3. reynard

      shit is tight

  4. lorian long

      yeah, damn.