Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Number on the John Wall

The Number on the John Wall
Parisian Press, 1972

“The number on the john wall was mine. It was written in pencil. Underneath it were the words Call for exciting sex. Will do what you want. I had signed it by my first name, Jim.”

So begins quite possibly the most politically incorrect novel ever written two decades before the term “political correctness” existed. Jim Hinzer's The Number on the John Wall (Parisian Press, 1972) chronicles two very educational days in the life of blond, blue-eyed college student Jim, whose boyfriend Larry has just walked out on him.

Jim is devastated: He and Larry have been together for three years, since they were both 17, and Jim has only himself to blame. He drove Larry away by being a petty, jealous jerk. Miserable and at loose ends, Jim drags himself to Ed’s Coffee Shop, where he and Larry used to hang out. He never really noticed the graffiti in the men's room before, but with his "beautiful Larry" gone, the tangle of sex-oriented boasts, entreaties and come-ons leaps out at him. What the hell, Jim figures -- this is already the worst day of his life, so he might as well live dangerously. All Jim wants is distraction. What he gets is a crash course in the ways of gifted and talented youth, a cross-section of whom happen to attend a specialized school around the corner from Ed’s. Jim isn't sexually naive or inexperienced, but the kids who respond to his hastily scrawled come-on really blow his mind.

Jim’s first taker is lean, sinewy, 12-year-old Roy, a polite, white-blond cutie with dark-blue eyes and a big dick who declares himself “basically heterosexual” somewhere between the time Jim finishes sucking him off and when he asks for a friendly goodbye kiss. “I can’t do that,” says Roy firmly. “I’d have to reevaluate my entire behavioral pattern.” To say Jim is flummoxed by this “strange, pretty, gentlemanly boy” who leaves with a formal farewell and then gallops off down the street like the half-grown kid he is would be an understatement.

And there’s more -- much more -- to come, starting with giggling nine-year-olds Craig and Arthur, best friends curious as to whether “a man’s mouth is more satisfactory” than that of a girl, like Craig’s little sweetheart. Jim is suitably taken aback by the precocious demands of these alarmingly young, disconcertingly articulate boys who giggle about his “enormous phallus” and marvel that “its dimensions are considerably greater than [those of Craig’s] stepfather.” Hmmmm, therein lies an ugly train of thought that Hinzer sidesteps to focus on Jim’s discovery that they’re more virile then he ever imagined cute little boys could be.

A time out: This should be utterly appalling. The Number on the John Wall is the book you keep stashed so far out of sight that it might as well be on Mars, and a pseudonym was never more thoroughly warranted. And yet it’s kind of a shame, because Hinzer, whoever he was, managed to strike a tone that suggests Jim is less a reprehensible sexual predator than a good-natured kid who’s emotionally younger than he looks and doesn’t have a mean bone in his body – that's seriously accomplished writing. It helps that Hinzer gives Jim boundaries: He’s willing to blow the “pretty little cherubs” – after all, one is already being serviced regularly and the other is understandably eager to catch up -- but nothing more. And he really is curious about these precocious little prodigies, their weird little kinks and the strangely detached way they talk and think about themselves. After all, when the 12-year-old Jim discovered he could blow himself, he didn’t start gathering information and making charts: He just made himself very popular at parties. The Name on the John Wall is obscene without being particularly salacious, its dirty details described in the earnest manner of a high school science report.

And now, back to Jim. As he ushers out Craig and Arthur, giggling impishly as they speculate about which of their classmates will call next, 16-year-old Mike shows up at the door. Tall, handsome and in the market for a good straightforward fuck, he’s just what Jim needs to banish buzz-kill thoughts about his lost love. In fact, Mike is actually looking like potential boyfriend material until he makes it clear that he’s the good time that’s been had by all and doesn’t plan to change. He hangs around just long enough to tell Jim his next date, Kip, is the school’s “black beauty” and that if someone named Ingo calls, he should take a pass: That Ingo is just “too kooky.”

Genial Cote d’Ivoirian Kipling Keats Longfellow turns out to be another solid fuck, spiced up by blue-black skin and a posh anglo-African accent; after they’re done, Jim is ready to call it night. Which is, of course, when “Star” calls: The 14-year-old redhead just wants a shoot off, but the by the time Ace calls Jim has had enough and postpones their rendez-vous until the next day.

The blond, all-American looking 12-year-old Ace shows up promptly at 10AM, carrying a bag of rotten oranges with which he wants to be pelted. He also brings his own drop cloth, which he politely tacks up in the kitchen as Jim marvels. After Ace, Jim is expecting Frank, who turns out to be a graceful, gentle Native-American who pulls up in a silver Thunderbird and just wants to be licked from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Perfectly pleasant, though it turns out that “Frank” isn’t one of the gifted children at all – he’s just a handsome construction worker who’s been working on the new supermarket going up on Chestnut Street. A little lesson in not making assumptions, except that it worked out just fine so it’s not much of a lesson at all. The real Frank, a slim black-haired, brown-eyed and well-endowed 17-year-old turns up shortly after, wanting to be fucked to the Battle Hymn of the Republic. A little odd, but after the oranges Jim is starting to feel unshockable, which may be why Jim ignores Mike’s advice about Ingo and makes a date with him for later.

While Jim’s waiting, along comes Jimmy: He’s “nine years and three months” old, talks in a breathy baby voice and wants to play ”daddy,” which at first appears to involve nothing more than Jim (the fact that they share the same name goes unremarked, but it's a little creepy) pretending to be a horsie and letting Jimmy ride him around the room. It’s when Jimmy asks for “daddy's milk” that the game comes into focus. The exhausted Jim takes the path of least resistance (which isn't to say it's not exciting), but it's clear that he's not sorry to see Jimmy go. Jimmy's breezy parting remark about his promise not to tell mommy why she's not getting any daddy's milk packs a nasty wallop.

Ingo comes along soon after, and turns out to be an existentially bored Eastern European who’s done everything and is inured to it all... except the oranges, which Jim repurposes to thrilling effect. And then Jim is alone again with his unhappy thoughts: All that distraction, and he can still think of nothing but his beautiful Larry. So he picks up the phone and calls Binkie, an old friend… and what do you know? Larry is there, pining for Jim Awwww.

The Name on the John Wall appears to be Hinzer’s only credit, which may mean nothing more than that he worked under multiple pseudonyms. Or maybe it genuinely is a one-off; either way, it’s a true oddity, a singularly unerotic catalogue of perversity wrapped in a fairy-tale ending, at least for Jim and Larry.

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