The Asshole Book Club has reached a point where it no longer brings books to the party. To quote Aidan, “I don’t have fuckin’ time to read.” Aidan was never much of a reader. What he most enjoys reading is the upcoming band list at The Empty Bottle. I like to read, and write, and Chicago reclusive author Clive Javanski and host of this final Book Club likes to do both. Lately we’ve all been bringing more writing than reading material. Even Aidan, who the last time brought a short story he wrote on his about a much older Chicago tour guide he, in his words, “banged.”
So from hence forth these gatherings will be known as “The Asshole Writer’s Club.”
For our final meet and drink under the “Book Club” moniker, Clive read from his recent essay based on a true story entitled “Lenny’s Shoe Shack (and Sex Club).” Clive said he changed some names and location “to protect the assholes” but supposedly the story was based on a place in Berwyn.
Lenny was somewhere around late middle age, Clive said, and smoked incessantly. “You were allowed to smoke in Lenny’s – in fact, it was insisted upon.”
Clive would go to the shack with his uncle when Lenny held his twice-a-year special where you get a free pair of slacks with the purchase of shoes. Sometimes Lenny would tailor the slacks for the customer in the back room. “He’d have a cigarette in his mouth, a tape measure in one hand and with the other hand he might squeeze your balls,” Clive said.
About one weekend a month Lenny and his wife Shirley would host secret sex parties that included poker and partner swapping. “I went once,” Clive said. “I ended up spanking Shirley while Lenny took pictures.”
“Shirley had a beehive hairdo,” Clive said. “Kind of outdated but it looked good on her. She was a big woman, too. Smoked as much if not more than Lenny.”
At this point our female guest for the final Book Club, Diane, lit a cigarette and sighed. Diane is a grad student at the University of Chicago. I met her there in the spring. She was a writer too, and brought a short story about the (true) time she stole a car in Hegewisch (far south side, for those unfamiliar).
“I was stranded there. I was drunk. I missed the train. I said fuck it and found a car with the keys inside and drove it to my apartment in Ukrainian Village. I never got caught. I’m sure the asshole got his car back – I parked it down the street and it was gone in a day. I just didn’t give a fuck.”
At that point I spilled my beer on the table. Clive wiped it up with one our friend’s Smith’s “Hatful of Hollow” T-Shirt. I didn’t bring a book or a story this time, but my contribution to the night was pretty serious – a growler of Half Acre’s Space IPA.
Aidan and I got to talking about getting our band, UK Grief, back going again. He showed me a song he was working on called “Good Evening, Fräulein.” He got up suddenly to go to the bathroom. He was gone a long time. So was Diane. They came back in the living room 30 minutes later. Clive had left for Quencher’s. Diane went to join him.
“I came out of the bathroom,” Aidan says, “and this Diane chick was standing there. She looked at me and said, ‘I can fuck you in half.’ So I let her.”
With that Aidan left for Quencher’s. I finished my pint of Space and went to join them.
I went to meet Randall, a guy who claims to have been part of a mysterious cult based in Chicago and nearby Northwest Indiana. Their “base” was mostly along the lakefront shared by both states. A house on the lakefront there, a cottage on the lakefront here, etc. And a couple of high rise apartments along Lakeshore Drive. Everything was looking out towards Lake Michigan.
On the phone Randall said he believed the cult (he wouldn’t tell me their name, if they had one) numbered about 30.
Supposedly in April they headed off on small boats on Lake Michigan during a storm and disappeared. On purpose, Randall said.
Now I’m going to save a lot of this cult stuff for a future post, because I’d like to introduce Windi.
Windi also claims to have been a part of the cult. Randall confirms this. While Randall lives in Northwest Indiana and attends community college. Windi moved to Boston where she is an art student at Tufts University.
Randall is a little chubby with dirty blond hair and beard. Cargo shorts, sandals, a rugby jersey. He also had with him a gumball machine. Windi was short, with short straight black hair and a pair of vintage eye glasses. Her clunky boots didn’t seem fitting for some of the beach walking we would do but she had a cute short summer dress on. One of her bare arms showed off a small tattoo of a boat anchor.
Oh, and she had armpit hair.
I brought Aidan along. He thought it would be entertaining. He had beer. He seemed to make Randall nervous. Windi didn’t give a shit.
Aidan looked over Windi. “Fuck me,” he says.
“What?” I say. “Like you haven’t seen that? You’ve been in some of these Chicago clubs.”
“I mean fuck me, like fuck me, she’s hot.”
We started at the beach south of McCormick Place. Randall walked us up to a little hill where there was foliage. He said one of the cult’s telescopes was there, but not anymore. This was the case at several other locations along the beach (we drove to the Indiana side). The telescopes were for observing something out on the lake, but Randall didn’t know what. He said he just an underling. Someone who was “part time” and cleaned and did odd jobs. So was Windi, although I sensed there was more to what she did. I said this too Aidan as we were walking behind the pair.
“How the fuck do you even know if they were in a cult, if there was a fuckin’ cult? And if all of them disappeared in the lake how come these two didn’t? How the fuck were these two even in it?”
They weren’t invited, Randall said. Windi was quiet. She dropped back to walk with me. She asked me about my name, where was from, what I did, and if we could get a drink after.
I said yes. I never shared a few pints with a girl and her hairy armpits. After the cult tour ended (again, more later – I’ll admit there’s some spookiness to it) Randall and Aidan went there separate ways. Windi and I went to Haymarket Brewery. We ate, drank, and talked. She kept kicking me gently under the table with her big boots, on purpose I don’t know. I didn’t mind.
Windi asked if I could drop her off at her friend’s place on Belmont, where she was staying.
“But first let’s hang out in the back seat of your Jeep,” she said.
Windi had armpit hair, but she had a wonderful technique for pants removal. And despite her armpit hair, she was smooth everywhere else. I kissed a girl with armpit hair, I thought. So cross that off my list. Wait a minute…that’s not on my list. I did a lot more with a girl with armpit hair that night.
I dropped her off. She invited me to visit her in Boston. I asked her if she could tell me more about this cult. She just smiled, kissed me and pointed to her tattoo.
“Liffey,” she said. “I like that name.”