That Obscene Masturbator of Night

That Obscene Masturbator of Night
by Elmore Snoody
“It was the way that front lawn was arranged that had me beating off,” Dilbert Drake told his interrogators.
“No more of that, you little bastard!” the detective growled.
“It was! It was!” Drake insisted, “I’ve always liked the way some lawns look! They speak to me! I can’t help myself!”
It is here that Dilbert Drake insists on laying the facts out to the detectives with clarity and precision:
Late the night before, he, Dilbert Drake, had been innocently walking home when suddenly he saw what did in fact represent one of his predilections — the nethermost lip of an orchid, bending and swaying its hymen with the flirtatious rhythm provided by a slight gust of an evening breeze. The stem tilts and dips its delicately towering petal seductively — the orchid performing this dance near a rosebush and an ivy bed within ten feet or so of the rosebush: Dilbert’s favorite. The surrounding lawn is almost perfectly square; its healthy greenness and newly mowed appearance shows that it is obviously tended with the utmost care by either landscaping professionals or the owners themselves. A garden gnome was flaunting its innocence conspicuously at the immediate side of the large concrete steps leading to the house’s portico; to Dilbert the gnome’s presence symbolized a second hymen. Dilbert looked at that portico, which had appeared to take on a seductive glimmer — yet another hymen… 3 hymens…! From far away in the distance Dilbert hears approaching a miniature symphony of soft violins; the delicate sounds rustle within the hedgerow on the side of the house — a light rendition of Bach’s fourth concerto, he thinks. He couldn’t take it anymore; nor could he bear the possibility that such a one in a million opportunity should be lost to him!
Now gently, now moderately, now vigorously masturbating in the bushes is Dilbert — just as a woman in a well-lit dining room behind a large un-curtained window finishes denuding herself before a late night shower. Dilbert absolutely insists to the detectives that at this moment he had been intent on the arrangement of the front lawn and its associated stimuli – so intent that he doesn’t even notice the woman as she drops her skimpy towel and starts giving herself an unforgettable pre-shower fondling. Unfortunately for Dilbert, he is seen pleasuring himself amidst the partial shadows by an old lady passing by on a skateboard, who promptly calls 911 on her cell phone.
“That’s how it went, Scout’s honor… and well, you know the rest,” Dilbert concludes, looking at the detective with sincerity.
“You were never in the Boy Scouts,” the detective said with disgust.
“No, Cub Scouts!” Drake insisted.
“As for me, I take a good solid mobile home with an understated dirt garden,” interjected a second detective, whose role it was to sympathize with the suspects. To round the thought out, he gave his penis a hard, virile slap with the palm of his hand.
“Well, now, you know what I mean then,” Dilbert stated emphatically – “it was just a flower, a garden gnome, and a portico! The woman was circumstantial!”
The first detective flashed a look of tutoring irritation at the second detective and then snapped his head back to Dilbert.
“You are going to tell us the truth, Dilbert!” he said menacingly.
“Intimidate me all you want,” Dilbert said smugly, “but you can’t treat me like an animal — I do remain a man, and know how to use utensils to eat my food, and most of the time, even how to successfully wipe myself after defecating.”
The first detective crouched and, moving like an angry spider in a deliberate kind of slow motion, approached the suspect, putting his enraged face inches away from Drake’s and staring him down with extreme, pulse-pounding, hot-blooded anger. “Not if we cut your hands off!” he suddenly screamed, his eyes almost popping out of his red face.
“Hey, hey, take it easy,” Drake said, somewhat taken aback.
The detective apparently took the suspect’s advice to ‘take it easy’ to heart: “You know anybody to call?” he asked in a rapidly changed, soothing tone. For, having suddenly relented of his ferocity, he now folds his hairy forearms lethargically.
“Only my cousin, Mrs. Maloney, and her husband,” Dilbert answered speculatively.
* * * *
Mrs. Maloney adjusted the non-existent lens of her fairy eyeglasses and looked around – she and her husband was in the big city!
“Listen, bitch,” she said to him, “if I don’t get some coffee in me soon I’m going to decapitate someone.”
“Just make sure you don’t decapitate yourself,” her husband rejoined, “seeing all this fine, big city tail has had a certain effect on me, and I’m going to need a warm body tonight — head attached, preferably, but I’ll warn you that I’m not picky.”
“You big flirt!”
Mrs. Maloney and her husband laughed nervously as they walked down the city sidewalk, the two looking at the main drag and the slow-moving cars belching exhaust into the naked city air. Mr. and Mrs. Maloney’s weird mood was due to their being worried over the harshly absurd ramifications of their co-president having recently hired an ex-con — who had recently done a two-week stint at a luxury golf resort for selling crack to first-graders — to function as Chief Publicist and Marketing Consultant for their company Maloney and Maloney Sealants, Paint Thinner and Bleach. The husband and wife team was walking to the opening exhibition for their company’s new look, in which the packaging for their paint thinner cans was going to be revealed to the public — the cans were to be labeled with hallucinogenic images and colors suggestive of recreational drug abuse and getting messed up on LSD. At first, the company’s organizers, at the urgings of the drug-dealing publicist, had wanted the exhibition to take place indoors, without ventilation, which would have allowed the public to get stoned on the fumes that were a natural effect of the product. This would have been sort of an obvious marketing gimmick, especially given the new containers, but it was decided instead that the exhibition would take place at an open-air pavilion — with the winter weather it would get cold, certainly, but there would be the benefit of no public inhalation of toxins without ventilation, which would otherwise have caused lawsuits.
All of a sudden a loud female orgasmic moaning proceeded from Mr. Maloney’s phone. He put the phone to his ear and thumbed the answer key.
“Hello?… He did it again, huh?”
“Was Dilbert masturbating in public again?” Mrs. Maloney asked her husband.
Mr. Maloney nodded to his wife, and listened carefully for a minute. He then asked his conversant to hold for a moment. Stretching his arm to its full length, he awkwardly held the phone’s mouthpiece away from himself and toward the street traffic, speaking to his wife in calm, measured cadences as they slowed their footsteps in unison. “The police tell me that if we pick him up soon, they might let him go, and will hopefully be able to give him time off for good behavior.”
“Huh? Ask them again if they take credit cards.”
Mr. Maloney pulled the phone back from the noise of traffic to the soft shell of his ear. “Do you happen to take credit cards instead?… Yes, yes, I will have that amount transferred to you shortly. Just let Dilbert out. He don’t mean nothing.”
* * *
When the police received the money transfer they exonerated the masturbator, releasing him at high noon. The first thing Drake did was go and see his friend Blue Charlie at Blue’s salad shop, where Drake was to meet up with the Maloneys. Blue had a massive painting on the wall behind the food counter, which depicted a battle during the insurrection in Paraguay against the Jesuits. On it there were horses, guns, tanks, and numerous dead bodies. Blue was an ex-rebel, and had acquired the painting during his participation in the armed resurrection against the nuns, the controversial side-movement that died down as quickly as it had sprung up during the larger uprising. Many of Blue’s customers complained about the painting, but Blue knew if they wanted his special salads (featuring, or so Blue claimed, “the robust Paraguayan lettuces and fresh greeneries rocketed special delivery across the Atlantic every morning”) they had no choice but to abide. Below it, the painting’s electric purple inscription flashed its pixels in glory:
I don’t want to crawl into a hole and die — I want to be exterminated in the open.
Upon seeing the painting and this loud caption, Drake would frequently tease: “But you are going about it all wrong, Blue — if you want to make dreams like that come true you should open shop in Paraguay,” or “I know one way you could make a dream like that come true, Blue – move back to Paraguay,” or “if you want that dream to come true, Blue, you should try moving to Paraguay,” or, if Drake happened to be angry, simply: “You should have stayed in Paraguay, you cocksucker!”
Taunts like these hurt Blue’s feelings, and sometimes Blue considered going so far as giving Drake a good smack, or even retrieving the sharpest knife from the small back kitchen and giving him a good reason to shut his mouth for good. For be it here stated emphatically that there is nothing more ethereal and at the same time brick-to-the-ball-bustin’ certain but that a private hurt becomes both more private and, so to speak, more public, when privately poked. Blue felt that way sometimes when Drake teased him.
“Have you seen my cousin?” Drake asked Blue unceremoniously as he strode inside the shop. Blue Charley replied that Drake’s cousin and her husband had in fact come a few hours earlier, hadn’t seen Drake, and then immediately left in furious anger.
“How fast did they expect me to get here?” asked Drake. “I was just released from custody twenty minutes ago, and they knew that that wouldn’t be until high noon.”
“I know they knew that,” Blue replied testily, “but they just said they thought you should have been here early when they was good enough to once again pay for your way out. They said they’d be back.”
As if on cue, part of the wall gave way to Mr. Maloney, who, pausing momentarily at the shop’s entrance with his fingers clasped around the door handle, looked as though he was surprised by having suddenly grown a second penis and was embarrassed to acknowledge that this new outgrowth had so abruptly located itself in his hand. Regaining his cool as fast as he lost it, Mr. Maloney let go of the door and pushed it open with his knee, shouting out with his characteristic good humor: “Drake, you old devil, ha ha ha!”
Mrs. Maloney’s purple-frizzy-hair-framed head appeared behind her husband’s shoulder with its characteristic razzle-dazzle obtuseness. She adjusted her non-existent fairy eyeglasses and shook her head at Drake in mock reproach.
* * * * * * *
“You picked a good time to get caught masturbating by the police,” Mr. Maloney said as the trio walked down the city block. “Just now we need your assistance with an ex-con who served a 2 week sentence a month back for importing cocaine from Columbia and trying to lace the pizzas in elementary school cafeterias throughout fifteen school districts with it. He’s been put on our consult service. He’s got connections, of course, and gets the job of publicity done quite well, but is notoriously hard to manage, and, it shouldn’t need to be added, he isn’t the most morally scrupulous sort.”
“Has he repented of his deeds?” Dilbert asked.
“Ha ha ha!” Mr. Maloney erupted, “‘has he repented of his deeds’! Ha Ha Ha! No, well, I don’t know, maybe he has, but the point is, we need somebody who… someone who has knowledge of some forms of deviancy. Since you share with him a tendency to obsessively repeat a particular criminal behavior, we suspect that you and he might be simpatico.”
“You think that little of me?” Dilbert said.
“No no,” Mrs. Maloney assured her cousin. “But you are getting expensive; we’re in financial trouble and you’re not helping with all this jerking off — the business is floundering and all the kids need to see the orthodontist! It’s a headache! I take valium to sleep at night! Soon we’ll need money to pay for my detox!”
“All right, calm down,” Drake said uneasily.
“It’s just that you know what it’s like to be caught by the police doing inappropriate things” Mrs. Maloney continued more calmly, “and we thought maybe you could run interference for us, put out some feelers, see if this guy can be trusted, at least for a few months. Use some of that jargon you perv –. Um, we don’t need him to be perfect, but we don’t want him spiking our food with drugs or trying to get the kids hooked on crack, either.”
Dilbert looked at her skeptically. “It’s not exactly the same thing. You should have seen that woman last night. I’m only human.”
Mr. Maloney chuckled, winking at Drake roguishly.
Drake received his cousin’s husband’s improper gaze and grimaced. “Well, you did get me out of jail,” he said reluctantly.
But when the trio got to the pavilion where the exhibition was supposed to be held, they was to find out a shocker — the drug-pushing consultant had been murdered!
* * * *
Way under the 40 foot high roof of the open-air pavilion, a policeman shuddered in the cold winter afternoon air and looked down at the body of Jenkins Collins. A police squad had finally cleared the area of curious spectators, but he and his partner had remained, and still had their job to do. He looked briefly up at the center stage, at a massive poster of a paint can drawn in wavy purple and pink colors, and looked back down at the body. He said: “I can’t imagine Collins could have been trying anything sexual in this type of weather — his erection would’ve froze, no matter how big a pervert he might have been. I think we should rule out anyone murdering him in self-defense, for anything sexual, anyway.”
“Whoever murdered this cunt did the world a favor,” a second policeman said flatly.
“Still, now, it’s a crime, and people can’t go around killing each other,” the first policeman said.
“Yeah, yeah,” the second policeman said with resignation, turning his head back to the head manager of the ceremony, with whom he had been conducting a brief but laborious interview. “How long had the victim been working for the company, exactly?” he asked.
“We had only recently taken him on for a short time as publicity consultant till the business could recover a bit,” the head manager responded, as noncommittally as possible.
“Did you notice on his Résumé that he likes trying to get young children to smoke crack?”
The head manager smiled with nervous embarrassment at the policeman’s remark and suddenly the murmurings and footfalls of Dilbert Drake and Mr. and Mrs. Maloney echoed inside the pavilion. When the trio neared the periphery of the crime scene Mrs. Maloney’s voice began to make itself distinct.
“It’s our fourth girl,” Mrs. Maloney was saying to Dilbert, “our fourth girl to go through puberty, but we can never get used to talking about the old vagina again… well, hello, what’s this?”
The head manager, hearing Mrs. Maloney’s last words, responded with heated animation to his boss as she approached: “It’s a murder!” he screamed convulsively, pointing at Jenkins Collins’s mutilated chest, from which protruded the hilt of a large knife. Also, the drug dealer’s shirt was entirely soaked with blood. It was a real mess.
“Collins has been murdered!” the head manager cried out again: “Look at that, look at that — he got it right in the chest!”
“God damn, no need to scream,” the first policeman said angrily, “you’ve seen him for hours now…Anyway, where is the security footage?”
“The security footage! Of course!” said the head manager’s assistant from behind the circle that had formed around the body.
Everyone, including Dilbert and the Maloneys, followed the head manager and the head manager’s assistant to the surveillance room, padding on their way carefully around the small puddles of congealed blood that had pooled about irregularly near Collins’s body.
A VHS recording of the pavilion was always running inside the surveillance room. Untended and in tandem, the same two frayed tapes would record, rewind, record, and rewind for years on end before being replaced. The company that rented out the pavilion added, at an incredibly high price, a mandatory surcharge to all renters for this meager service.
The policemen, grumpy because of the weather and impatient to discover something about the murder, took turns bashing at the warped wood of the door with their shoulders while the head manager searched his pockets in a failed attempt to locate the keys in time to open the lock. The door presently bashed through successfully, everyone stepped through its chipped frame and into the surveillance room.
The second policeman soon found the light switch, and the full stuffiness of the room made itself apparent. “Wow,” he said, approaching the dusty VCR and rewinding the first tape enthusiastically. “You never see these things anymore.”
After about 10 minutes of rewinding and forwarding the two videotapes the policemen found a segment in the recording where two men could be seen talking on the pavilion floor at the very spot of the crime scene where Dilbert and the Maloneys had come across the police, Jenkins’s body and the company staff less than 15 minutes before. Everyone looked at the grainy images on the surveillance monitor: It was night; the lights of what looked like passing cars in the distance brushed over two men intermittently.
“That’s Collins,” said Mrs. Maloney, pointing toward the monitor. “He’s the one farthest from the camera, facing us.”
After the volume was finally tweaked successfully, the voice of Jenkins Collins could be heard. He was talking to a man whose back was toward the camera, and who stood in the manner of one erect, alert and rigid.
“The art of finance is knowing what is and what isn’t,” Jenkins was saying. “Specifically, it is non-gendered, and its identity is porous. It is fused binary with an aura of self-referential self-translucence. He is alcoholic polka dot party with a kick and a yelp; she is transversely correlated to thunder hopscotch at the tail-end of a polynomial, a crowbar with a long-ended torch-water moustache. He is unlikely but specific; she, feasible but unreliable.”
Jenkins’s companion, meantime, remained silent. The back of his head had been moving up and down, indicating his agreement to Jenkins’s strange words. “That is interesting,” his voice could indistinctly be heard to say in response. Very swiftly, however, his right arm shot straight upward, his clenched fist held high above his head as if he was going to use it to hammer in a railroad spike. His back braced; there was the flash of a knife’s blade, and he buried this object with violent fury into Collins’s chest. Collins tumbled backward like a suddenly deflated eel, and gushes of blood spatter roared upward in fountains, arching through the air, descending, and landing upon the pavilion floor, squirming and accumulating on its surface like drops of red oil raining down from the night sky.
The first policeman was flabbergasted at this twist of the plot. He watched as Jenkins Collins fell downward on his back and his body became still.
“That, then, must have been how Collins died — when that guy stabbed him,” he said, staring at the monitor screen with astonishment. Some moments passed as he thought the matter over. He paused, looking with surprise at his colleague, the two assistants, Dilbert and the Maloneys. “Collins was stabbed!” he concluded.
“He is a distinctive looking assailant,” the second policeman said, pointing at the screen toward the murderer, whose nebulous, retreating frame, in appearing to mimic a particular variety of the tango, slithered away from the shifting patchwork of shadows and light littering the pavilion’s floor before his ghostly form disappeared, finally, into darkness, like a pebble suddenly slung off the face of a nocturnal cliff into an endless sea.
“No no no — he’s a slippery character if I ever saw one,” the head manager’s assistant said.
“Now we just need to find him,” said Dilbert Drake.
“He was signed in as ‘The Ambiguous Gentleman,’” the head manager said.
“With or without the definite article?” asked Dilbert, who had taken out a pencil and notepad, and was looking at the first policeman expectantly.
“Why are you asking me?” the first policeman replied irritably.
* * * *
It hadn’t taken long before Dilbert Drake, a few days after the embarrassing incident beginning this account, having dedicated the better part of a sunny afternoon to fiddling around on the internet, found out about an ostensibly secret society that had the same name as the man who killed Collins, only in the plural — “The Ambiguous Gentlemen.”
Excited, Dilbert printed out a list of the society members.
“Now if I could just find a prostitute,” he thought aloud, grabbing some clothes off the carpet and putting on his underwear, leaving his apartment and loudly slamming the door behind him. It had warmed up a bit and though it was colder outside than in his apartment and his testicles found themselves contracting inside his underwear, the sun nevertheless felt good on his half-naked skin. He reached his car and put the key in the lock, causing the other keys on the chain to become their own beam-ends, their shafts oscillating, with tentatively ebbing persistence, next to the car door. Dilbert put on his sweatpants and t-shirt, wrenched the keys sideways, pulled the handle, opened the door and got inside, rammed the keys into the ignition, and revved the old Subaru up angrily. Detective Dilbert Drake — undeniably, it had a ring to it, and he was the biggest douche bag in the room if this wasn’t the moment where he could go out into the world and make a name for himself.
Now, Drake had learned on the internet that ‘The Ambiguous Gentlemen’ was more a secret cult than a society. It had, once, all been top secret; however, the cult had agreed to list its members’ names and titles on the internet, so the cult had become sort of a society — a society that could be legal and enjoy tax benefits. Big mistake!
“Big mistake, you mothers,” Drake repeated aloud, “Big fat mistake!”
He paused, reflecting for a minute or two. “Big mistake!” He suddenly screamed yet again, pounding the dashboard with the hand that wasn’t controlling the lurching car. Drake started to see little dots around him. He calmed himself down and returned to his thoughts with more composure.
‘The Ambiguous Gentlemen’ was supposedly an intensely loyal society, and the way Dilbert saw it, his best bet would be to go through the list alphabetically. If a possible suspect was going to be stubborn and he couldn’t find out whether the ambiguous gentleman in question was or wasn’t, in fact, the ambiguous gentleman in question, then he would simply find them and butcher them all one by one… well, no need to go that far, but he must not be afraid to improvise — he would have to employ cunning investigative techniques: He would displace the conversational flow so as to fool the suspects into talking and giving away more than they might like to. Eventually, he would find the right guy.
His first suspect was the principal at a private high school for girls. Drake could see the imposing architecture and grounds of the school up ahead as his car continued tearing down the street. Since it was fast becoming dusk, Drake had to roar the engine wildly to make it through the school’s entrance gate before two aged men, with a twinning adolescent urgency, could succeed in closing the two gates together. Drake’s car burst through in time, however, the gate blasting apart violently — in the collision each one forming a considerable dent, exactly identical, on the corners of Drake’s Subaru’s front bumper.
“Have some respect for your elders!” the enraged Drake shouted, shaking a clenched fist through the open driver’s side window at one of the two aged security guards, both of whom, however, were stumbling, with almost identically similar movements, in identically symmetrical patches of shrubbery, on either side of the entrance.
Drake slowed the car down casually and drove around the school parking lot on the lookout for a suitable parking space. Finding one, he parked, jumped out, and entered the school, walking around and looking at all the sexy young girls strutting their stuff through the corridors. The girls were divided into two types: Drake passed turbaned middle-eastern girls, their bodies completely covered, who looked like elves inside the billowy costumes of druids; he passed half-naked western girls with FRESH SNATCH logos on the backs of their short skirts. “There’s no middle ground,” Drake thought, feeling his blood pressure go up as he looked around with mildly frantic breathlessness. Finally he found the door he was looking for — the door’s lettering read “Principal Harry Truman.”
Drake knocked with loud, violent urgency.
“Good grief, come on in — and don’t break the door down!” An angry-sounding man thundered from behind the door.
Dilbert opened it and walked in. Seated behind a massive oak desk, a medium-sized man on the smallish side, conspicuous only for his red bow-tie and matching red-framed glasses, was looking at him angrily. Dilbert looked back manfully, returning the other’s gaze. This farcical attempt at manhood was destined to be short-lived, however, for soon their emotions became so intense that both dissolved into womanly tears.
An Egyptian girl who had intended to see Principle Truman paused for a moment outside his door and listened to the sonorous blubbering of two men coming from inside the office. She waited fifteen minutes for the crying to stop, before giving up and walking away, not wishing to be late for class.
Eventually the two were able to speak through their sobs.
“Why did you have to look at me like that?” Dilbert cried out through his tears, “I just have a few questions.”
“You looked pretty mean yourself,” the man wheezed back.
Some moments passed and they gradually got control of themselves. Dilbert introduced himself as a detective — to which Truman gave a skeptical nod — and started in on his line of questioning.
“Truman,” Drake began in a tough staccato, “you are listed as one of the members of ‘The Ambiguous Gentlemen.’ Is this true?”
“Harry Truman, born and raised, or, mostly. And yes, I am proud to be Auxiliary Treasurer of ‘The Ambiguous Gentlemen.’”
“Truman, eh? Any relation to the fast food magnate?”
“He’s my brother,” Mr. Truman said.
Dilbert allowed a long pause to lengthen further. Suddenly the principal burst out impatiently, “Look, what is it you came for, Mr. Drake? First you scare me to death trying to break my door down, then you engage my emotions to the point of tears. Don’t strain the small talk as well!”
Dilbert glared at the suspect. He thought for a moment. Really, the principal shouldn’t think he was the only one who had a right to start singing the blues. Dilbert informed him of how his own day, three or four days ago, had gone.
“Why were you masturbating in public?” Truman asked.
“Stick to the facts!” Dilbert countered. “Now, tell me what you were doing when that Jenkins Collins character got murdered!”
But the sad “fact” was that the high school principal, as he now told Drake, had spent those early morning hours on the night of the murder in the janitor’s closet, giving a certain female teacher — the love of his life and the sole meaning of his existence — the time of her life. For, the two had gotten married just a few weeks back. Truman took out a VHS tape and waved it back and forth over his massive desk calendar. He smiled greasily, which gave his red glasses and bow-tie the appearance of having been superimposed onto the head and torso of a rodent. His greasy smile lingered on his lips, before he said: “I have both events recorded.”

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