by Ken Ichigawa
We heard about the Innsmouth Special from a trucker we met in the Haven Brothers' Diner in Providence. At least, he said he was a trucker, but his huge hog outside forced me to suspect he was just another doped out biker from Warwick or Smithfield. But he described it with such meticulous care that we knew it must be true.
The tales of Innsmouth filtered in with urban myth. We knew about the grave of Mercy Brown and Nellie Vaughn, we knew of the Devil's Foot rock in North Kingstown, we knew of Drum Rock, and we knew of the haunted tower in Warwick Neck. Of Massachusetts we knew very little, but we always heard of Innsmouth.
But never of the Innsmouth Specialty, which our interloper now related to us, our ears peeled back with interest.
"Yuh wanna know where the good action is?"
"Sure," I said.
"I'll tell yuh where the good action is. Is alla in Innsmouth!"
"Isn't that where those people live?" asked my brother. My brother actually had seen Innsmouth, once, from a distance.
"Yeah, yeah, thass parta the special, man, thass parta the special. Yuh see, they got what you call a Brothel there, a real freakin' brothel, inna middle uh town. Yew go there, and yew get a real specialty act, man, a real freakin' specialty act. I mean, you think you been inside it all?
"You ain't been in jack till you got the Innsmouth Special, man. It's freakin' crazy."
"What's so special about it?"
"Man, they got this girl there, Eliza, Eliza Marsh, the things she can do with her body make a man weep. Damn. Yew really need tuh check it out."
We talked with him a while longer, getting explicit directions to the Brothel, and the card, so they wouldn't hassle us at the door. My brother hit him up for concise directions to this house of ill repute, for he longed desperately to experience something new and unique in this recycled world of Graeco-Roman antiquity. All we needed now was transportation.
So we headed back from the downtown area to our Fox Point apartment on Williams Street, taking in all the benefits of a stroll through the old city, changed with modern intrusion, but still ancient and weird as ever. My brother and I discussed the Brothel, and I expressed my apprehension, assuming it would only be yet another unsatisfactory sexual experience in a lifetime of unsatisfactory sexual experiences.
"We've done it all, mon frère," said I, "all the specialty acts that I care to think of under the sun. The trans, the bi, the gay, the black, the asian, the freaks, all of it. And I found all of it left a hollow feeling in me. Am I a beast? Is this why? I am an adequate lover, no doubt, but, should I really keep doing this? Why will this be any different?"
"It may not be different," he said, "I won't lie to you. But we've got to try, because somewhere, I know, somewhere out there, meaning does exist. And this is the only possible avenue. Even if it doesn't succeed, at least some of the awful tension of being a man will be released.
"Plus, I want to see Innsmouth. Don't you?"
I had to admit that I did, having heard the legends of the degenerate town. Incest and demon worship. Who could say no?
We went back to our apartment and found our roommate, Jeremy, asleep from a night of alcoholic splendor. "Let's take his car," said my brother. I nodded, agreeing. We found a map of all Massachusetts, and managed to locate the town. We planned the quickest possible route, and loaded up on caffeine pills and amphetamines, ensuring an optimal driving performance. Speed.
My brother drove the whole way, refusing to let me drive once he started, screaming out oaths and curses, damning me to Hell anytime I suggested taking over. The stimulants kept him in good control of the wheel, and he averaged about 95 miles per hour. We made Innsmouth in three hours, and parked our car just outside the city, near some woods, and walked the rest of the way in. The biker in Haven Brothers' told us to. Apparently, the citizens of the fair town of Innsmouth, in this year of our lord, don't drive much, and tend to look down on those who possess the motorized abominations. The sounds of a vehicle echo throughout the town, heard in all quarters, so silent is Innsmouth at night.
We stalked cautiously through the town, seeing vague movements in the shadows, never directly encountering a resident of the town. Strange sounds came from boarded up buildings, dilapidated and on the verge of tumbling over, but we walked on. The directions the trucker gave us seemed to be accurate, and we soon found ourselves in the center of town, looking directly at something called The Order of Dagon Hall.
"Ok, we're supposed to turn left here, and then head towards the East Side of town."
"What's Dagon?" I asked my brother who shrugged his shoulders in response. I peered into the Hall and saw a strange figure move past, wearing a diadem. The smell coming from the Hall left a disquieting effect on the rest of our journey, because it seemed to follow us wherever we went. I waited for it subside, to leave me be, but it followed no matter where we went. I now wonder if it had been there before we saw the Hall, but I hadn't noticed. Was it the smell of Innsmouth? Did it really originate in the Hall, or come from somewhere else?
I could tell my brother laboured under the stench, because his face lost its calm amphetamine serenity and he began to breathe out of his mouth, avoiding usage of his nose as much as possible. We walked fast, I suppose, and soon we found the southern waterfront section of town, and knew the Brothel couldn't be far away.
My brother began to shake with anticipation. I, on the other hand, shook with stimulants, not terrible concerned with the coming experience. I knew it would be the same as all the others I'd gone on with him, profitless and degrading.
Boarded up buildings, inhabitantless, greeted us on all sides, showing us the lonely and miserable desolation of the legendary town. Soon, though, we saw the building which had been described for us. My brother shambled up to the door, and gently knocked three times (a sign we had been assured would gain us entry). There was a pause, and the sound of some rumbling behind the door, and I was filled with the queerest notion that we were being observed by someone in the building, even though all the windows were boarded. Someone slid a bolt behind the door, and it slowly opened.
My brother pushed his way in, and I followed. Before anything registered with my reeling brain, my brother handed the card to someone, and the tense air left the room, replaced by a breezy relaxed one. In the light, I could only see the dimmest outlines of things, but the girl who took the card seemed to be suffering from a strange malady which had only begun to set in.
Quite frankly, she looked like a fish. I've seen the look before, but never so advanced. Her coarse face, which was grey, and the bulbous eyes all disgusted me, and I hoped that I would avoid her at all costs. I only wanted the specialty. My brother, on the other hand, seemed to take a delight in the idea of bedding this wretched creature. He grabbed her and kissed her, saying, "We want love."
I said, "I've heard much of this Eliza Marsh." Then, hoping it wasn't true, I asked, "You aren't her, are you?"
The girl replied in a slow, thick voice which reminded me of the sea, "No. No. Yew'll be looking after Eliza, then?"
"If it can be arranged. We've got the funds, if that's an issue."
"I can tell yew gentl'men have funding. I can spot 'em, I can."
"Well then, where is she?"
She giggled a little as my brother fondled her, and started pulling her towards one of the empty rooms surrounding us. As he dragged her in, she said, "Yew'll want the last room on the right. She's there, alone. Waiting, fer yew. Heh, heh, heh." My brother pulled all of her into the room and the door slammed. I wondered how much this spectacle would cost us, but like any sex addict, dutifully went towards my prize, regardless of consequences.
I walked past open and closed doors, catching glimpses of movement and strange moaning. Since it was dark and poorly-lit, the movement didn't disturb me as much as the sounds. The sounds coming from men seemed in tune with the experiences they were (presumably) undergoing. But the female, if I can call them that, were hideous groans. They sounded like battle-cries of drunken barbarians, and the ensuing death rattle of any horde's invasion.
I shook as I turned the doorknob to Eliza Marsh's room, fearing what I would find on the other side. There were no lights on in the room, and I coughed a little, hoping that the sound would evoke a response from whomever was in the room. I met with success, for the room filled with the sound of a strange voice, even thicker and bubblier than the voice of the "girl" my brother now made love to. "Wut is yer name?"
I stammered out my name, and she said, "That shore is a nice name yew got. So do yew want to make love wif me?" I said that I did, and she said, "Come to the bathtub."
"We make love in the watur."
Sure, I thought, just part of the specialty act. I moved blindly in the darkness to the bathtub, using the sound of her voice and the splashing water of the tub to guide me towards my erotic destination. When I got to the edge of the bathtub, the smell kicked me in the teeth, and I said, "What the hell is that damned odor?"
"Yes, can't you smell that?"
"Oh, that's the watur. It's salt watur. We make love in the salt watur."
More specialty, I guess, so I started taking off my clothes. When I was naked, I slid into the tub, and moved myself up towards Eliza. I touched her face, and immediately recoiled. Her skin felt coarse like unfinished wood, and each pore seemed the size of a crater. I couldn't even be sure of her hair, what it was like. She giggled a thick gurgle, and I gasped.
She moved over me, and even as I protested, even as I screamed, "No!," I felt myself growing aroused by the idea. I knew with what I slept, and it appealed to me. She descended.
I met my brother in the lobby. The girl he'd slept with giggled and played with his hair. I noticed her hands were thick and webbed like Eliza's. We paid the whore, and left the brothel as quickly as possible. He seemed worn out and exhausted, speaking little until we had left the slum.
As we walked back to our car, he said, "Well, screw it. I'm never doing this garbage again."
"Me, either." I could only agree whole heartedly.
"What a rip-off. What a damned rip-off. She was the lousiest whore I ever slept with. I think she thought I actually liked her. You were right, you know, these whores are worthless. This isn't the way to find that meaning we're looking for. This isn't anything but a good way to catch something fatal."
I nodded my head and said nothing. I wanted to scream at my brother, but I didn't. I knew how fruitless it would be. So I shut up and drove us home, wordlessly. My brother went to his room and I went to my own. I sat back on my bed and I recollected.
What I had wanted to tell my brother was this: that I had finally achieved the meaning that he and I had long sought for all these years in our decadent whore mongering. When that . . . creature and I consummated our lust, I had finally seen a way out of the static of modern antiquity, that yesterday and today could be escaped and the future really embrace.
Her gills moved with passion, breathing, and her eyes stared unblinkingly, and my mouth filled with nausea and my nose with stench, and she and I had become as one, for a brief splitting moment, I knew who I really was in the grand chaos of the entire universe. A glimpse into the universal. Her webbed paws moved up and down my back, trailing slime, and her thick voice moaned out the sounds of battle. She and I both saw the truth . . .
And finally, when it was over, I left the bathtub and I put on my clothes back on, which stuck to my wet body, and moved away without saying anything. I walked to the edge of the room, to the very door, and turned on the light. I looked back at what I had just discovered myself with and saw a creature more frog than human, grey and sick looking, rolling in the filthy waters of my lust with her nude, scaly flesh and webbed limbs. She tried to smile at me, to express a similar discovery of her own meaning, but the muscles had atrophied with time, and her fish face made a horrible grimace.
I shut the door behind me. My brother was right, he really was. We can never go back to whoring. Never, but our reasons are different. My brother left the second oldest profession behind him, because it filled him with an even greater emptiness than the one he felt ordinarily. So great did the void grow that even he, the blindest of men and the biggest of liars, couldn't ignore it. He finally accepted what I'd told him all these years, that indeed, the whores were no good, and that meaning did not lie in the sweaty embraces of an unknown.
Strangely, that meaning does exist and can be found in the arms of a something named Eliza Marsh. My brother was a real prophet, in some ways, because he always said, "Where the wind doesn't blow, and where the dying elephants go, in the kisses of the weird, in the overtures of the freakish, that's where the real meaning exists." He was right; in the crystal prison of Graeco-Roman Christendom, this modern antiquity, I found the meaning I'd long desired. With Eliza Marsh's elongated lips and pungent odors, I found it. In Innsmouth, my truth. To return to another whore would be a betrayal and a useless act; men are visited with epiphanies but once and mine had come and gone, with the gruntings and curses of a whore not quite human.
Created: May 16, 2000; Current Update: December 1, 2004