Inspired by Une sale histoire by Jean Eustache
My story is the kind of story that women will scorn to read. I should tell my readers now that the actions of the episode that follows are less important than the philosophy hidden inside of them. In fact, the study of the tale, in which I would say the hole is the most important character, is by far more interesting than the story itself. However, even though you may have concerns over certain details (I might add a touch of melodrama), I assure you that everything I will tell you now has really happened to me. The events took place in a Parisian café. The essence of the story should not be altered by details like this but I shall give you at least a minimum of context. I needed to work outside of my home and this café was big enough to let me enjoy the noise of a crowd while remaining isolated.
One morning, after placing my order with the waiter, I made my way towards the ramshackle staircase at the back and walked down to the smelly restrooms. I locked myself inside one of the toilet cubicles and quickly unbuttoned my dress. After I pushed away some abandoned pubic hair I placed a few pieces of paper against the cold ceramic and repulsively rested my naked thighs against it. Someone – I couldn’t confirm the identity of that person yet from where I was seated – entered the restroom and, locking the door next to mine, started unzipping. They didn’t sit down straight away. After a short silence, in which I recognised the concentration needed to generate enough pressure to push urine through a narrow urethra, I realised that person was pissing standing up.
Everything, as we well know, happens first in the body and later in the mind. My belly started producing some extraordinary noises that I was ashamed of, a shame accentuated by the certainty now that the person in the unit next to mine was in fact a man. I listened to his piss hitting the water with a low reverberation in the white porcelain bowl. I listened to it stopping and starting again with a more brutal flow, as if pissing itself – the act of pissing – was more important for me to hear than to perform. Two or three minutes passed and my neighbour, still unaware of his silent audience, came out of his compartment to wash his hands. I hadn’t moved from my distinguished place and I felt suddenly empty – although my basin bore no visible account of body rejection.
Other than the embarrassment of being found in the opposite sex’s restrooms, I felt relieved when I heard the man exit from where he came from. At last, I could concentrate on finishing what I had initially come here for. It was at about the same time, a little after I had activated the flush, that another person – I assumed a man – entered the same booth that the previous intruder had abandoned. I was no doubt being stupid to freeze immediately after I heard the sound of the door lock and the man’s trousers falling down around his feet, but I couldn’t unburden myself from my new state of stupefaction. His pissing, which took about thirty seconds, was a gentle steady stream. To my surprise I found its smell not as unpleasant as the previous one.
I stood straight up to my feet with my dress still unbuttoned and resigned myself to wait silently for the path to clear again. I aligned the point of my sandals with a row of tiles, the floor of my two-metre-square habitat looked like it hadn’t been mopped for what seemed an eternity. My gaze fell unwillingly onto an unidentified dark substance roaming around a small puddle of suspicious milk. I gagged at the sight of a clod of hair wrapped around what seemed to be the remnants of a worn-out plaster. The day was hot and even though I usually forget unpleasant things, the memory of my gummy thighs, as if I had dipped them in jam, is still quite vivid.
While I looked down to the floor I noticed a ray of light flashing across the varnished point of my toenails. I almost missed it, nervous as I was to look a second more at the filthy floor, for fear of some kind of contamination. The light was so faint and barely noticeable at first. I couldn’t identify its origin. Only after I bent forward and twisted my chest to align my eyes with the corner of the wall was I able to perceive – not without some unpleasant effort – a small gap, visible only from a certain angle, from which a timid light was flickering.
Once I decided to examine the nature of the gap – first its placement at the bottom of the wall, then its curious aim – there was no turning back. I soon contorted my body with a fold in my belly I didn’t know was possible, placing my stare at the level of the hole with my cheek against the floor, and as soon as I managed to raise my butt high, in a position that resembled the Islamic prayer, I knew I was making my future as irreversible as my past. One could say I did not lack courage, most people would have given up a long time ago, but one could also say that I was intelligent and still open for learning. At this stage of the story it may be important to remind my readers that everything that followed I did in the hope of honouring that last statement.
By some strange magical attraction the hole was forcing me to look into its centre. Like a bullseye to the other side of the world, it gave me a perfect insight into the next-door compartment – more precisely, the contours of the hole contained, no more, no less, the entirety of my next-door neighbour’s sex. Suspended in a sunbeam, detached from the body it once belonged to, the male sex appeared to me in its purest form. I felt overwhelmed by an electric joy. For the first time in my life I discovered that my physical comfort mattered less than the danger I felt in transgressing.
In the week that followed I visited the café every day, at first without thinking, denying my secret intention to look through the hole again. Walking down to the toilets I would stop before the giant mirror hanging in the staircase and admire the new smugness in my changed face. I smiled to think I was in charge of a very important mission. In the entire building lived thousands of men who would walk through the cubicle door unaware that at any moment my eye would capture them directly from the sex. The gratitude I felt was unexplained and I made no effort to understand it.
I knelt on the dirty floor, my hair dipping into remnants of dubious water. I knelt and I attentively watched the parade of penises going through the fissure of the wall with mute satisfaction. I listed my favourite ones, judging them by their size, their symmetry, their colour. I couldn’t help but think that I was spoiled. I remembered as a teenager being at odds with the male organ. On rare occasions when I had felt adventurous, I had reached out a hand in the dark (while clenching the other) in view of encountering the opposite sex. With the tip of my fingers I had touched its softness with a vague sense of permission. Now I had a direct, unbroken, unchallenged, secret access to all men’s penises in the world, and I sensed a powerful urge to see them all, to know and possess them all.
The first thing that drew my attention was the diversity of their appearance. I always imagined there was not a dick in the world that was not just like all the others, with the same old folds in the skin, the same two balls, the same sort of hair, but after weeks of observations I was forced to conclude that they were all in fact very different. Amongst their multitudes there was always one that stood out as it appeared through the hole, perfect in every way. When that happened I would succumb to the violent urge of rubbing my clit against my hand until a great spurt of electricity would come out of it. Something felt terribly wrong about doing this with my face flattened against the cold floor, but I believe that element allowed my orgasms to be unrestrained. Like the desperate final defence of a wounded animal clinging to its last chance of survival at the bottom of a pit, it coloured them with a delicious bitter taste.
Here I find it worthy of note that while I had undoubtedly a wide range of dicks at my disposal outside of these toilets – being a fine-looking girl and men being generally easy captures – I had chosen to huddle up in a morass of shit to look at them from the vortex of a hole. The hole was tiny and, you know it, located at an impossibly low point. Hours of contortions generated horrible cramps, not to mention the humiliating walk back to my seat crippled with pain and my hair smelling of piss.
One day after hours of looking through the hole, as I walked in front of the bar where a row of middle-aged men were seated, I heard a voice say: ‘All this just for a hole.’ It seized me. Was it possible that my secret pleasure for raw and anonymous meat had leaked through the walls and the whole world had seen it? It felt as if my front-row ticket to the privileged theatre of masculinity had been stolen from me. The men looked at me quite calmly and assuredly and it dawned on me that my adventure with the hole was maybe not a concern for them, their depressed looks and greasy hair indicated that it may have actually been the opposite: I was facing my tribe. They all knew the hole and in an intellectual bond that only men knew existed, they shared the same addiction for it. I wasn’t sure if this new revelation was more of a concern than a relief but I welcomed it, content for a moment to have found a community I belonged to.
My dependency was horrendous while it lasted and worsened in the months that followed. Although I had never experienced the desire to imitate the opposite sex before (I always thought of myself as a feminist), I now resembled the repulsive men sitting at the bar with a precision that was uncanny. They didn’t complain that I was a woman. Our similar habits and the nature of my addiction had limited the feminine characteristics of my appearance, which facilitated my integration. Every day I drank and sat with them, negotiating my turn to visit the hole. I understood my obligation to accept my fate as one has to accept the universe. I considered the discovery of the hole as a gift, a miracle that I never hoped for, so I accepted even its most inconvenient conditions.
At the time, I was seeing a man who knew nothing about my infidelities. Coinciding with my new activity, his sex had gradually stopped interesting me. It felt, in comparison to the male sexes I admired every day, domesticated, too easy to grasp, available. The members that paraded before my eye in the toilet felt much more exciting, captivating scene-stealers, as if the dissociation of the man’s sex from the man’s body was the key to reveal god’s most hidden work of art. Thousands and thousands of masterpieces waiting in line for my delight, sucking all my attention like a passionate photographer through the lens of her camera. It was the space that separated me from them that created the attraction, and knowing that the violation was perpetrated without the acquiescence of their owners.
I always wanted to unmask the faces that my favourite dicks belonged to. I would walk up the stairs following the anonymous man hoping for some life-changing revelation, but I was always disappointed. As soon as I would see his face, to my grand sadness, all excitement would go away. There was something about the unknown that was obviously part of the arousal for me. As soon as the sex had a face, that the face had a voice, that the voice had a name, that the name had a job, it all lost its interest to me. I was trapped inside my own personal peep show and the eye of the hole was the only connection left to my carnal emotions.
Those are the facts. I am not lying to you. The hole took over my life. There was no place it was not. I am not a great analyser – it took me months before I became aware of the total implications – but I gradually discovered that the journey I had set out for was much more ambitious than I initially imagined. It was not just about a dozen middle-aged perverts and one single woman squandering their money on disgusting espressos, taking turns at a Parisian bar for the love of a crack in a toilet wall. The hole had existed long before the world itself had begun and it would continue to exist long after we were gone. The hole had been there long before the wall, long before the toilets had been built, even before the plans of the café took shape inside the architect’s head, long before the city itself – none of those transient things mattered. What mattered was that the hole permanently and secretly existed, that it was the axis around which the whole universe and ourselves turned.
All these things I know full well are very hard to talk about. Most of the time I am unable to summon the courage to discuss them. I once tried to confess my habits to a group of female friends. I tried to make it short, omitting certain parts as though I didn’t wish to lose their memory by saying them, my choices of words were ordinary, they didn’t present a fair description of my internal struggle. The women’s eyes looked away as I spoke, as if I was speaking aloud a blasphemy. ‘Have you got nothing to say?’ I finally asked after I finished my story.
‘I have,’ said the bravest one after a short silence. ‘Please tell me what you think,’ I said. ‘I dare not,’ she replied. Eventually she spoke her mind. It was a single sentence. I never shared my story again.
I had predicted the end, but it is one thing to predict the future and another when it finally happens. The café closed down and the city condemned the whole block to demolition. I decided to walk by the site the day after its destruction. Even though nothing was left of it I was certain that the hole had remained alive underneath, like an eye into the past, still glowing and magnificent. I arrived and I did not close my eyes in front of the immensity of the cavity, my curiosity getting the better of my fear. Workmen were busy shouting and drilling in the empty space where the café used to stand. My eyes searched for the hole inside the fresh crater, it could be anywhere between the mess of tools and machinery. I felt uninvited, intruding into an abominable chaos, unable to find anything, until it dawned on me that the empty void of monstrous anatomy was in fact the extension of the hole. Like a prophecy accomplished, the hole had turned into a bigger hole. I walked back home relieved and happy.