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"Tucking Fingers," short story excerpt

Wednesday 6/16/21

“There are the kind of tits I want, and the kind of tits I need,” Julien would say.


He was from Paris and had come over for his junior year. I’d never heard someone speak in a worse way about women, but they liked him a lot.


“To hoodwink a girl into sex is the fairer path than treating her true,” he advised us with sufficient solemnity—while eating a cheese-dripping meatball sub—that he actually held his finger in the air like he was Vanity Smurf delivering a lecture on Hamlet.


I laughed my ass off, even as I said, “What the fuck is wrong with you, you little rapist?”


We were fairly convinced he was crazy. There was a certain temptation to damn all Parisians as what my friend George called “fuck bags,” but cooler heads prevailed and we determined that Julien was probably his own warped thing.


He was writing a thesis on the film director Jean Cocteau and his masterpiece Beauty and the Beast from 1946, though why he’d come to Alabama to do this beat the hell out of me. I think he pretended not to speak English that well.


“Ben,” he’d say, when we were sitting out on campus and some girls walked by. “Do we dip the wicks?”


“They have some say.”


“Should I ask?”


“No.”