The Franchiser

The Franchiser by Stanley Elkin Read Free Book Online

Book: The Franchiser by Stanley Elkin Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stanley Elkin
Tags: Ebook, book
telephone, automobiles. Even radio and aviation were in the air. He lived, that is, in conjunction with the incipiency of things, taking for granted all those objects and ideas that developed as he developed, in neck-and-neck relation to the world, so that he moved, or seemed to, as it moved, creating in him alphas of stability and settlement and an imagination which could take anything the world could dish out. He died in 1950 at threescore and ten, as if God Himself were an actuary.
    “I said nothing ever happened to him, but that isn’t the same as saying he took no initiatives. He did. Falling in love in his fifties was an initiative. It must have seemed the oddest event in his life. Yet even then he lived with the incipiency of things. The love songs whistled and hummed and played on the pianos of Tin Pan Alley came into existence even as he overheard them, so living still in his Johnny-on-the-spot connection to the world, to the lyrics and melodies of songs not yet even copyrighted. And this is the point. Such a man, a man for whom there have been no surprises, when such a man is surprised, the surprise has got to be devastating. It gives him the tidal wave and sets him apart from himself, defying all his Geneva conventions. He’d been my father’s partner. My father spoke well of him. When Julius fell in love my father could not understand that Julius’s old loyalties and habits and routines were sabotaged, and never detected Julius Finsberg’s scorched-earth policy against the character and personality of Julius Finsberg. Julius’s love—a girl much younger, a hoofer—giving him ambitions, big ambitions, big ideas. So he cheated my father and went into business for himself. And this was part of his stability and honor, too, your man of fifty being no fool, understanding as well as any detached gossip that he could make no dowry of a body already almost used up, knowing he would have to offer such a girl door prizes of wealth, loss leaders of power and connection.
    “Only there are no smooth revolutions. The habits and orthodoxies of a lifetime are not overturned in a minute. It was all very well to will my father harm, but another thing altogether to alter his flesh’s bone structure, its overbite and fingerprint and timbre.
    “This is what happened. When he married his hoofer—it took him three years; he was fifty-three—he married self-consciously and slowly. Not only did he intend to take a wife, but to take a mother, to have sons, daughters, earnests to what I have called his orthodoxy, pawns to his respectability, and so I imagine that he fucked to conceive, willing his sperm home, body English on the tip of his prick, bobbing, weaving, dancing his gism up the hoofer’s alley like a bowler. She had triplets—daughters. But Julius wanted a son—a man wants a son; it was Julius who designed the costume for the male lead in Carousel , who, working from Hammerstein’s ‘My Boy Bill’ lyric, invented the big leather belt worn over the loops of the trousers like a rope, the woodsman’s checked shirt and cowboy’s bandanna, inventing all that tender denim swagger, symbols not of masculinity but of responsible tenor fatherhood—and again he fucked to conceive, his concentration in orgasm complete, all encompassing. He had twin boys and now had sons as well as daughters, but triplets, twins, embarrassments finally to a man his age. Where was the single son or individual daughter he had yearned for to make his normal life normal again? So again he took his hoofer to bed and again fucked only to conceive. Triplets. By this time he should have suspected, accepted. But he had been a bachelor for fifty-three years. He was set in his ways. He was passionate to father not crowds but an individual.
    “Every time in the first seven years of his marriage he took the hoofer to bed he impregnated her, and every time she yielded triplets or twins. Triplets alternating with twins in the hoofer’s seven fat

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