NECTARINE is a collaboration between French-born Berlin-based artist Fette Sans and myself. Fette sent me pictures, which inspired the text, which inspired more pictures, which inspired more text, and so on. The full exhibition, featuring similar collaborations with other writers, will take place in Spring at Infernoesque in Berlin.
Note: The story is very graphic.
by Tommy Smith
Photographs by Fette Sans
He performed oral sex on the woman he claimed was his daughter.
She wasn’t his daughter really.
He had stolen her as a young girl.
She was walking home from school.
She had blonde hair and wore a dress.
This man pulled up in a van.
This other woman got out of the van and took the young girl into the van.
The man and the woman kept the young girl.
The man constructed a cage in his basement.
He fed her a couple times a day and a couple times a day he would come in and fuck her.
No one knew what she was thinking.
That is to say we have no way of recording what it is that raced through her mind.
We can only guess.
They let her out from time to time.
Mom are you there?
After years she forgot she was a young girl they stole from the street and instead she accepted the reality that the man and the woman kept insisting was the real story that they should not tell anyone should anyone ask questions about if she was their daughter or not.
She was their daughter.
You’re our daughter.
Say it to me say you’re my daughter.
I’m your daughter daddy.
He bought her dresses.
His wife, the woman who helped steal the young girl from the street, had grown older.
They let their daughter roam free outside her cage and in the regular household because this was the trust they were starting to develop with each other.
The mother was in her late fifties.
So he bought his daughter shoes.
Try these on.
Oh I like these.
Go ahead and try them on.
Is it okay I mean can we afford them?
Don’t worry about that just worry bout gettin them dogs on them toes a yours.
The man had read earlier that day about how rare flowers often existed in the spaces between molten lava floes so to pick these flowers also meant possibly exchanging your mortality for briefly possessing exquisite beauty.
He was now not thinking that.
His face between her legs.
He had forgotten to shave.
Every now and again she let out a whimper.
What my beard?
A little prickly.
A little what?
Prickly your hairs prickle my legs.
I’ll show you prickly.
And he fucked her, and against her wishes she came, then he came inside her and told her to wash up.
The daughter knocked twice.
I’m in here.
Can I use it when you’re done?
I’m using it.
I’ll be in the kitchen til you’re done.
The daughter sat silent at the kitchen table with a sheet wrapped white around her.
She thought of what she would do later tomorrow.
I will have to clean the house tomorrow.
I will have to dust the windowsills.
Maybe he might make me wash the windows.
Maybe mom will have me help her in the kitchen.
She thought of her first mom.
She stared at the kitchen telephone.
She didn’t think to pick it up.
She wasn’t planning on calling anyone.
She just stared at the shape of the phone.
The way you stare at a cloud.
The bathroom door popped open and the invisible sound waves reverberated off the walls of the hallway and bounced into the kitchen where a lessened bandwave found purchase in the eardrums of the daughter and she looked up.
Her mother was standing in the hallway.
It’s all yours.
Imna have you help me tomorrow.
We’re gonna teach you to read tomorrow.
Well ah thanks ma.
You should learn to read cause you’re way too old to be dumb like this.
And the daughter stared at her hands and shifted in her sheet and out squeezed a bead of semen crowned with a blood swirl.
The wife made breakfast early in the morning.
The man woke at five.
If it was clear he watched the sunrise.
Gods frst lite he’d say.
You want a coffee?
What’s that wife?
I’m gonna make a coffee fer us.
Gonna make that Instant.
Nah I like the real beans.
Make me the Instant kay.
As the man’s wife walked to the kitchen her own mother came to mind.
Her mother sitting on the edge of her bed crying.
Why was she crying?
She doesn’t remember comforting her mother.
This must have been thirty years ago, what was she crying about thirty years ago?
The kettle finished boiling with a whistle.
She scooped a spoonful of Instant in a cup and poured in hot water with a brown oily swirl.
Her husband drank the hot cup quick.
The wife thought about all the tasks she already did around the house.
In the backyard bloomed a tree of nectarines.
When the wife walked underneath the branches into the cool shade she’d take in a breath of moist dirt air.
You could smell the nectarines ripening on the vine.
The heat of the sun humming inside them.
She’d bite teeth hot into the poking fruitskin.
A lone line of juice trailing down her chin and beading into her neck’s nape.
Goldurn now I getta napkin she thunk.
It was her job to pick the ripe nectarines but every now and again she’d eat one before bringing into her husband.
The girl never got any nectarines.
She never gave her none.
The wife in fact had no feelings for the girl.
She called the girl a girl and not daughter like the husband did.
But the wife had tasks like taking out the trash in the bathrooms every day.
Like fixing all the meals and buying groceries.
She’d take the girl shopping.
Stay close to me and don’t sat nuthin.
The girl in a simple dress and flip-flops nodding.
With a finger she scoops a lone lock of her dirty hair flipping across her eyesight and tucks it ‘hind her ear.
Can you rub my shoulders?
This is what the wife would say to the girl.
Can you massage my feet?
There’s a part of my neck that only you know how to untouch.
Your fingers unlock the muscles of my back.
She’d count her jobs in her head.
The wife would count the amount of jobs the husband gave her in her head when no one was looking.
She’d count the hours she’d spent on him and assign a dollar amount or worse she’d think about all the other things she’d done for him.
You wanna marry me?
Yeah I said I wanna marry you he says and pulls a lock of hair from out her eyes.
But I don’t known you fer a time yet.
And then he said something about how God’s love was eternal and shining on anything on earth that found a shard of love on this sinner’s planet.
She didn’t understand all of it.
There were his eyes.
They were blue.
She liked that a lot.
Later the police would ask her why she stayed with her husband all those years after kidnapping and brainwashing a little girl for twenty straight years.
They got a lot during the trial.
She remembered thinking, They’ve really done a lot of research.
They’ve done more research than me on my own life.
I don’t even remember half the things they’re talken about.
I suppose this is what cops get paid fer.
The husband turned to his wife and he looked like he was going to hit her but instead he said Did you clean out her room?
Room was their word for pen.
Did you clean out her pen?
Can you clean it?
This was in the first year, when they were still figuring out if they were going to kill the little girl, or just keep raping her, or maybe the wife would like the fuck the girl sometime?
The husband seemed to be pushing this to become a reality.
He kept making hints at the dinner table about more love in the house.
Then he would motion his eyes downward to indicate the basement, where the young girl lived in her pen.
It was really a cage.
Ten years pass.
She’s grown but her eyes are sensitive to light.
Sunlight’s a little too much.
It hurts her eyes actually.
What else can you tell us about the subject?
We found the place where they kept her outside in sort of a quasi jail.
A summertime jail in the backyard.
They would keep her in the basement during winter but in the summer they’d lock her in a canvas tent.
The detective sniffed.
She could see the stars.
This was in the backyard?
The neighbors just thought he was growing weed.
The man in the cop uniform said these words while flashbulbs made his face glisten.
The young girl who is now a young woman was watching the television in a hotel room.
We should maybe give her a name.
Tracee doesn’t remember much about her childhood.
She lived in her original town, before the kidnapping, since her birth until eight years old.
Or was it ten?
How old was she?
She didn’t know.
They used to call her by a different name but the man and his wife told her to answer to a name that they gave her.
That’s your new name.
But my name’s Tracee.
We’re just going to call you by your New Name okay?
Don’t make me bring dad down.
Tracee knew that he wasn’t her dad.
And sometimes when he’d come downstairs and unlock the padlock and flick on the overhead light and a fluorescent flicker would pop on overhead he’d have this look animating the flesh over the face of his skeleton.
The skeleton would be smiling and the eyes searching for something.
Tracee would dream of the skeleton writhing on top of her, the bony fingers snapping the straps of her panties.
Then the same thing in the morning, where before the husband went to his position at a local parish he would rape over and over a girl who he claimed was his daughter.
I think we have the facts now.
We can see the whole picture of their relationship.
There was a sense of love eventually.
But we should look at this love as evil.
The love that these two people swore under oath?
It was evil.
The wife would later smoke cigarettes in front of a woman who called herself a counselor.
Outside the bars of the prison windows clouds roil overhead and for a moment the wife looks out and says nothing, then turns back to the counselor and resumes her story about how she first met her husband.
He was a boy I knew from my town.
Remember goin to the middle school with im.
We had detention together one day then he got transferd to another school.
At detention he passed a note that said I looked purdy.
I didn’t see him fer ten years after that.
I was broke and I’d got myself set up with a temp agency.
They’d got me a job packin instant cameras in boxes then sealen em up with packen tape.
He was the guy that shared my roll a tape.
We’d pass the tape back and forth.
I touched his hand once and that was when we knew.
It was right then we knew and so we made up an excuse to see each other over coffee then at coffee we decided to get a drink later and the drink turned into dinner then you know how these things go.
I was in love.
for jaycee dugard