Taking the Bone

(from In the Cancer of It All)

by Jordan A. Rothacker

Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530; Public Domain


The Abortionist voted for George W. Bush. That day she had received the new Jane Magazine and the horoscope told her to “Try something different today, surprise yourself.” She wasn’t surprised when he won and looking back she naturally assumed it was her vote that put him in, even though he lost the popular vote; she knew the use of her powers always created greater conflict in her life. As it was the first time she ever voted, it was exactly the way her luck worked.

The plastic keys were tough beneath her fingers. She pounded hard at her sexual memoir, pounding harder at her sexual memory. The working title was “Taking the Bone” and it was not intended to be pornographic or clinical. Really, it veered from the erotic by quite a bit and she liked to refer to it as “rhapsodic,” though if the reader did not pick up on that she would settle for it to be perceived as a “lament.”

The title came the way of all double entendres, in a flash of visceral smut. Looking back over the years and the penises, or bones, she accepted and took them for all they were worth, she saw them all as one violent stream of insertions, and over other words like cock and hammer, bone stood out the most in viewing this thought reel, and sent her into another image. The image at the end of the semiotic chain was from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001,” where at the beginning of the film the ape/man hominid lifts his arm to the mighty beats of Strauss and takes hold of power by taking hold of the bone. So in writing her sexual memoir under this title, she is aligning herself with her most primal image of empowerment.

Out the window she looked as she typed, the parking lot all but empty, the sun piercing. A distraction was what she sought in her memoir, her sexual past, a distraction from what is supposed to be her true work. By day the Abortionist was a full-time student at work on a Master’s degree in History, specifically the history of the nation-state. Another study of power to occupy her time. One could say she was a student of power. She was most intrigued by the fleeting quality of power, its fickleness and fragility. In Riasanovsky’s History of Russia, a class text, she hones in on a line on page 16 about the Avars: “Their invasion is dated AD 558, and their state lasted for a century in Russia and for over two and a half centuries altogether, at the end of which time it dissolved rapidly and virtually without a trace, a common fate of fluid, politically rudimentary, and culturally weak nomadic empires.” The notion, not of genocide, but of the extinction of an empire was a marvel to her. The people who were once Avars might have seed in someone, but their power and might as a people were gone. They were conquerors conquered by no one but themselves, and in a history of their once conquered lands they occupy less than a paragraph.

Summer heat on the other side of the window is an alien concept when the conditioned air blows. The Abortionist sat under the vent; it was the best view for her desk. The cold blow of the air chilled her in its mechanical intervals. Her nipples hardened bra-less against her thin tank top and she pulled over her head the light sweater from the floor next to her. When the blowing ends she will take the sweater off; the cycle is further distraction. The moments before the sweater gets over her head she is fueled in the work of her memoir with the prickling feel of her nipples against her top. The shiver of goose flesh that the cool air runs over her arms, neck, and loose breast intensifies the feeling of “being in” her own skin. The auto-erotica continues momentarily within the sweater as the new heat around her breasts relaxes the contracted flesh from the nipples, allowing the expanding and loosening area to touch more of her top’s texture.

The Abortionist wishes there was a way to bring both of these pursuits together into one discipline. So far she has found no place in the history of the nation state for her sexual memoir and no place in her sexual memoir for the history of the nation state, unless of course she slept with her Thesis Advisor. Maybe she should have pursued a degree in Woman’s Studies or something more Post-Modern, like Critical Theory. This thought of unity is just another distraction, but it has merit. Each bone she ever took is a history unto itself; some repeated penetrations onto the same shaft would necessitate a 726 page volume like Riasanovsky’s work, while some random insertions would require no more space than what he spent on the Avars. Yet each one was a conquest, each she notes, was an empowerment; they didn’t give it to her, she took it from them. She was never a tyrant, but conquest has its price. Where are all those bone-bearers now while she sits here alone composing her history? It is known that history is written by the victors.

She writes on, her skin tightening, air-conditioning blowing down on her, its sound carrying down from on-high the silent screams of her death-born children, to her the fevered pitches of triumphant glee.



Jordan A. Rothacker lives in Athens, GA where he earned a Doctorate in Comparative Literature and a Masters in Religion from the University of Georgia. Rothacker majored in Philosophy at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY, and his life has been split between New York (where he was born) and Georgia. His journalism has appeared in periodicals as diverse as Vegetarian Timesand International Wristwatch while his fiction, poetry, and essays can be found in the likes of Red River ReviewDark MatterDead FlowersStone Highway ReviewMayday MagazineAs It Ought to Be, and The Exquisite Corpse. 2015 saw his first published book-length work, The Pit, and No Other Stories, a novella (or “micro-epic” as he calls it) from Black Hill Press. His most recent work is the novel And Wind Will Wash Away (Deeds Publishing, August 2016). He loves sandwiches (a category in which he classifies pizza and tacos) and debating taxonomy almost as much as much as he loves his wife, his dogs, and his cat, Whiskey. www.jordanrothacker.com



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