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Excerpt from — Zudd: No Bargain in Debasement

Smiling an angry smile as he pictured her cool condescending face, he flicked it (so hard he hurt his finger) and the big room jumped alive in a paralyzing son et lumière of startling sights and deafening sound —colored lights turning, whirling, revolving, a panoply of planets and suns and moons and darting comets, while new and old musical noise pounded and blasted and screeched. Jesus Superstar. Heavy metal. Rap, featuring every savagery —Rape the women! Kill the pigs! Smash Whitey! Burn! It's our turn! Videos on a preset TV screen presented karate killers in action against Mob cutthroats. On a wide movie screen a gaucho in black leather whipped a naked blonde girl (not really beautiful, but the hard Nordic features pleased him), who writhed in ecstasy. This gave way without plausible transition to another sequence in which she whipped him in return after forcing him to undress —he did it with a leering grin —whereupon his ecstatic writhings imitated hers exactly.

In a corner, a great ape sitting on a platform against a jungle backdrop paddled a naked female mannequin. Her happy, surprised, pretty face was turned upwards, the graceful hands fluttered. But the ape's head was not right. It was not an ape but a man. The brown hair was parted on the side. The eyebrows and nose and teeth and jawline were model perfect. Ivy League. Jack Armstrong. It was the best he could do. That was the way they had come in his nocturnal foragings. He found them at auctions and in the trash bins behind department stores, in the sidewalk displays of SoHo's homeless merchants, and on the street —discarded, or fallen from a truck. In junkyards and pawnshops.

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The ape's right hand, that held a sawed-off paddle, was raised as if in salutation. Too bad the human face was almost effeminate, Jack Armstrong or no Jack Armstrong. But the ape proper was a humdinger. He had found it at a carnival auction. It was mechanized. Pressing another switch would make it paddle the mannequin. Zudd did not care to press it, just yet. He wanted Catherine Harlow.

On the floor were the supplementary heads and figures to go with the dummy and the original fierce primate head. And a flagellator whip, a stout walking stick, a baseball bat.

Tacked up all over the walls were his erotic posters, each featuring a position, a temptation, a taboo. Stills from movies, mostly, that he had captured on his VCR and enlarged.

Not enough. He needed the right woman.

It was all waiting for her: Wall to wall carpet. A big bed. A kitchenette on one side and a bathroom on the other. Mahogany furniture. Leather armchairs discarded by Foote's decorators. A small bar. And all this psychedelic action —the colors, the drums, the sensation of menace. Mirrors everywhere, around and over the bed. What more could a woman's secret eroticism desire? This lure was his masterpiece. Catherine Harlow would love it, when she saw it. Somehow he must get her to see it.