Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders

Samuel R. Delany in The Boston Review:

Barbara said, “That’s a lot of trouble.”

“Ain’t no trouble at all,” Jay said. “It’s nice out on Gilead. Next time you get a day off, we should take you both. Cook hamburgers and hotdogs on the back deck. Bring that boyfriend of yours, Mr. Bodin, out, if y’all can stand us for an afternoon.”

“Oh, Mom—come on! I’m seventeen, now. I wanna go out there. Today—tonight! Please?”

Jay said, “He ain’t got to be back at work with Dynamite on the garbage run till Tuesday. The boy can come on out and see the place. We ain’t gonna let him stay up all night, believe me. We’re up and movin’ by four-thirty—we’ll have him back here when you get in for your shift. And we’ll give you a call.”

Twenty feet away, below the shingle, the sea made the sound of something rushing off somewhere, even while late-summer waves moved in toward grass, sand, and rock. At the world’s rim, an elongated gray-green scab crossed part of the horizon, one end thicker than the other: Gilead Island.

Barbara started up the steps, a sack hanging from each hand by twine handles. She looked back. “All right. You can go. Thank you, Jay, Mex—really, that’s nice of you two. I mean it’s something for Eric to do besides sitting around at Dynamite’s all afternoon.”

“Oh, Mom—thanks!”

“You thank Mr. MacAmon—and Mex.” She managed to open the door and went in.

“We’ll phone you,” Jay said. “We won’t let him forget.”

So, among anticipations of new orgies and excesses, with the two boatmen Eric wandered down dusty Front Street to the wooden gate of the Gilead Boat Dock, joking and relating his recent adventures on the garbage run with Dynamite and Morgan, while Jay swaggered and laughed and fumed in disbelief, and, with his blasted face, barefoot Mex looked about the silent autumn and western light gilded the glass and made white enameled window frames near platinum on the evening street.