Girls Love Them Some Crabcake

by Wayne McCray

Here at Swim Press we celebrate new writers with very little publications under their belt. But we also want to make space for more seasoned authors here on the blog. We received this piece in our inbox on the theme of Bodies and we couldn’t resist.

tw: mention of rape

Girls Love Them Some Crabcake

Jaybird called Crabcake, but got his Mama instead, and then got an earful. It wasn’t anything he hadn’t heard before. Ms. Levin was like that, liberal but blunt. Even so, Jaybird was able to say what he had to say before hanging up.

“Man, that woman is something.” He concluded.

He knew it would take a minute for his friend to reach his house. Crabcake moved slow. He couldn’t help it. Knowing this, Jaybird prepared a few tuna salad sandwiches, grabbed a bag of chips, a bottled soda, and sat outside on the front porch. Every now and then, Jaybird would glance down the block but didn’t see him. Ten minutes later, a partial pair of legs dangling in the air caught his attention. So Jaybird leapt to his feet to swing the fence gate open.

They dapped, hand to limb. Crabcake made his way to the top step, flopped down, removed his colorful gloves and backpack, then stole Jaybird’s lunch. That was ordinary. Since both boys treated the other’s house as home. Hungry, Jaybird made a second trip to the kitchen and then returned with more food and drink.

Before long two thirteen year old boys began talking shit and did it so naturally the language used became a bit profane and reckless. The banter got so bad that Jaybird’s Granny came to the screen door to make sure she hadn’t misheard them.

“Is my hearing bad?” She hinted, putting them on notice.

“No ma’am,” both shouted, followed by a promise to keep the racket down. She then left, but only after giving them both a stern look. With her gone, they continued clowning, but clamored less. Soon Jaybird asked his friend about his current problem.

“Say bruh,” Jaybird said. “I just got into town and found out you’re on house arrest? Like, what the fuck? What did you do, huh?”

Crabcake’s face frowned, clearly thinking, searching for the right words to express himself. And once he found them, the story was a real doozy. It was so wild that it left Jaybird in awe, wishing he was there.

“Get the fuck out of here.” Jaybird replied. “Seriously?”

“Seriously!” Crabcake said. “I saw it all.”

“Like everything?” Jaybird questioned.

“Everything,” Crabcake asserted. “Your time will come, just watch?” 

“Yeah, right,” Jaybird said. “Not unless she jumps off the page.”

“Now I’d like to see that,” Crabcake told him.

“You would?” Jaybird said, both laughing.

“Anyhow,” Crabcake admitted. “I owe you big time.”

“As always,” Jaybird replied.

“I know, right. Would you believe I hadn’t been beyond my front yard for the last month? It’s been so frustrating,” said Crabcake. “Sometimes my fingers twitch from not holding a pencil or brush. So you know it’s bad. Man, I’ll be so glad when this is over. That’s why I’m so happy about being down here. Thank God you and my Mama get along. For some reason she likes you. Why? I still don’t know.”

“Whatever?” Jaybird joked.

“Jaybird? Jaybird!” Granny’s shrill voice punctured through the screen door. “Telephone!”

“Be right back,” he told his friend.

Jaybird hurried into the house. It was his favorite first cousin, calling from a house full of first cousins. Madison was elated and told him so. First, she welcomed him back home for the summer. Next came the ultimatum that he better get over there and fast. They had a lot of catching up to do and fun trouble to cause and he agreed, saying she should look for him soon.

Madison then changed the subject and spoke about his guest, not realizing he was there, by offering titillating details about what Crabcake had gone through. How angry parents wanted Crabcake locked up for statutory rape, as a degenerate, or for something. Good thing he had this white lady’s generosity on his side; besides his mother, it also helped that none of the girls betrayed him. They didn’t blame him at all, but admitted consent.

“Damn?” Jaybird replied, shocked.

Although the gossip got juicier, Jaybird decided to cut it short and told Madison that he had company and didn’t want to be a rude host. She wanted to know who was there and learned it was Crabcake. Suddenly, theatrical screaming followed. Jaybird jerked the phone far from his eardrum, but close enough to listen, and break in to talk. He threatened to hang up if she didn’t stop acting silly.

“Later cousin,” he replied. “I’ll let him know, okay. Bye.”

Jaybird hung up. He returned to the front porch, frustrated, in utter disbelief, and finding Crabcake still feeding his face.

“Dude, like what the fuck!” Jaybird clamored.

Crabcake replied, blank face: “What?”

“That was Madison on the phone,” said Jaybird.

“Really?” Crabcake asked. “Did you say hello for me?”

“Shut it,” said Jaybird.

“What did I do to you?” said Crabcake.

“My cousin is off limits.” Jaybird demanded, “Okay? Not Madison!”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Crabcake said. “I’m not stupid and I didn’t think she was into that. Even though, I don’t see what’s the big deal. All I did was sketch girls who liked posing naked. I didn’t screw any of them.”

“Uh huh?” Jaybird told him. “I bet.”

“I didn’t, alright. Honest.” Crabcake promised.

Jaybird continued, “Is it true? Jail was threatened.”

“And some,” Crabcake lamented. “Luckily, I wasn’t lynched.”

Jaybird just shook his head. His best friend’s notoriety had become both admired and hated. Crabcake then laid it all out, of how it all began from an art contest submission and its relationship to a fast redhead girl, Samantha, and her female friends. Unbeknownst to him, Samantha’s mother was a notable graphic art designer and critic and sat on the Art Institute’s selection board. She judged Crabcake’s illustrations. Months later he received a congratulatory letter. Not for winning but being the youngest runner-up. It got him a full college scholarship offer upon high school graduation, which made his mother proud and excited.

Somehow, Samantha found out — likely from her mother and proximity to that world. Her mother and friends considered him somewhat of a prodigy, who hadn’t made it into high school yet, but had exceptional talent that neared genius. So one school day, while at recess, Samantha walked up and flat out asked him just that.

“Say Crabby,” she called him. “I’ve heard you could be the next Da Vinci or something and was given a scholarship offer too?”

“Who told you that?” Crabcake replied, confused.

Samantha just stood there, arms folded, and head tilted. She had her doubts and wanted proof, so she dared him by suggesting he do a portrait of her. So a secret date was set and they played sick then hooky. It was this meeting that created all the uproar. Samantha arrived unnoticed, knocked at the backdoor, and went down a flight of stairs in the basement. She didn’t anticipate finding a bedroom, along with a small but impressive studio, with tons of privacy. Crabcake knew his Mama and her boyfriend, Cornbread, would be gone all day. Her working at the book store and Cornbread driving his cab in the business district.

She perused a bit, checking out his room, and all things within it, then began undressing. Soon blouse, bluejeans, panties and bra made a trail on the floor. Samantha then laid naked across his unmade bed and said: “Say Crabby, draw this?” Now up until then, Crabcake had never seen a naked girl. Not in the flesh and never where he slept and definitely not one that twisted and contorted her anatomy so provocatively.

“Which position do you like?” Samantha asked. “How about this?”

Crabcake became a bit fidgety, horny even, from the hard-on he had. To hide it until he could relax, he set-up and sat behind his adjustable easel. His anxiety gradually disappeared once he stopped looking at her as a sexual object, but as a beautiful life form in its natural state. Multiple poses and hours later, Samantha stood behind him still nude; her chest resting against his back, arms hugging him, and looking over his shoulder.

“That’s me alright,” she said. “That’s definitely me.”

She then got dressed, chose a picture, and asked him to sign it. He had proven his drawing abilities. It should’ve been kept secret, what they had done, but she told her a select number of precocious girlfriends, and they told theirs. Soon that tiny circle of girls found his basement as a really cool place. They all loved showing off their figures, believing they could become famous one day, and find themselves forever shown in art galleries or museums.

“So who ratted?” Jaybird inquired.

“Nobody,” his friend replied.

“But you’re on punishment?” Jaybird hinted.

“True that,” Crabcake replied. “My mom went into my bedroom and like an idiot I left out one of my sketch pads and being the busybody she is, she thumbed through it and recognized some of the girls I had drawn. So when I got home from school, I got cursed out and had a finger waved in my face. But when she asked where it all took place and I said downstairs, she literally lost it.”

“That’s what you get,” Jaybird began laughing, “for being stupid.”

“Shut up,” Crabcake resented. “It’s not that funny.”

“Yeah it is,” said Jaybird.

“Man, I had never seen her get so mad. She stormed through the entire house, gathering all my art supplies and locking them up. My crayons, colored pencils, charcoal, markers, drawing paper, you name it, including art books and comics. She wasn’t playing. As soon as she notified all the girls’ parents, things went downhill fast. She half expected concern, but instead felt the opposite, and endured being called all kinds of ugly names. They even sicced the police and children services on us,” said Crabcake. “I feel like I’ve let her down by doing what I love to do.”

“It’ll be alright.” Jaybird poked, “Good thing you didn’t fuck them. Now that would’ve been some shit.”

“Maybe?” Crabcake said.

“There you go?” Jaybird joked. “Say, don’t go anywhere.”

Jaybird sprang to his feet, reentering the house, to his bedroom, to open and dig to the bottom of his footlocker to retrieve a gift. It was wrapped in brown paper bag paper. He returned, sat down, then handed it over. Crabcake’s face brightened. They dapped before it was stuffed into his backpack.

“Say bruh,” Jaybird said. “I see you’ve gotten good at handwalking?”

“I know, huh?” Crabcake told him.

“Your hands don’t get tired and beaten up?” Jaybird replied. “You know, your drawing touch doesn’t suffer?”

“Nah, not really?” Crabcake admitted. “These soccer goalie gloves do wonders,” showing them off. “Cornbread purchased them so I wouldn’t hurt my fingers.”

Cornbread got the idea while watching gymnastics on television and saw a female gymnast handwalking on the sideline. She was quite proficient at it and showed remarkable upper body strength, balance, and endurance. So Cornbread figured if it worked for her, then why not for Crabcake. He really disliked his girlfriend’s son doing monkey sprints up and down the street. It bruised his butt and wore out his pants bottom too. Handwalking had its upside.

Moreover, Crabcake’s prosthetics did its fair share of bruising. The ends of his legs would become sore and black and blue from constant wearing. So Cornbread took time off from driving his cab to make Crabcake master handwalking, from his first assisted baby steps to unaided strides to stair climbing to standing on one arm. Now his mom hated it, for it was unusual, saying it wasn’t a good form of locomotion, having an inverted perspective. In time, both adapted; mother and son, but Crabcake ran with it. He preferred handwalking almost as much as drawing and painting and his torso strengthened as a result of it, making him look sleek and fit.

Granny came to the screen door and interrupted: “Crabcake? Your Mama just called. She wants you to come home. And Jaybird, don’t take all day. Come right back, okay?”

“Yes ma’am,” Jaybird responded.

“Think you can manage?” Crabcake cautioned. “It’s been awhile.”

Jaybird laughed by pointing at his oversized calves, which got that way from lugging him around ever since they became childhood friends. Some of the neighborhood and their kids considered a black boy and white paraplegic boy as friends as an oddity. Some began calling them The Thing. Since it was two conjoined bodies with two legs, mismatched heads and arms, constantly walking up and down the street regardless of weather.  

“Seriously?” Jaybird countered, “Piggybacking you home is nothing. Besides, I have a girlfriend back home with more chest and butt than you and she’s not light.”

Jaybird knelt down so Crabcake could climb onto his back. Crabcake curled himself firmly around his body and off they went. Although it was a familiar sight, it was something to behold watching Jaybird traverse several city blocks so easily. Carrying another appendage was nothing. Having to deal with a talkative Crabcake was something else altogether. He was like another consciousness, possessing its own ideas, motor skills, emotions, and perspectives. Their bodies agreed even when they didn’t.

Jaybird was suddenly told to stop. At that moment, a black-built white woman exited Crabcake’s house. She was quite sexy, donning a massive blown out carrot-colored Afro, in bohemian clothing, but offset by the sparkling diamonds on her ears, neck and finger. The sunglasses soon shaded her sparkling green eyes, leaving only her bright smile, and she spritzed herself before gliding across the sidewalk toward them.

“Hey Mrs. Pollock,” Crabcake spoked. “Is something wrong?”

“Oh, no. Not at all,” she said, after applying lip balm to moisten her full lips. “I just came by to talk to your mom and tell her she didn’t have to worry about those obsessive

Philistines anymore. You’re free. No more threats of being locked up or ruined, okay? I’m on it. Honey, you’re one of God’s gifts and I’m not about to let it go to waste. So I came up with a solution. I think you’ll like it.”

“Say, weren’t you…,” but Jaybird was muzzled. As a neon glove quickly covered his mouth. Crabcake only spoke, talking respectfully, letting her know how much he appreciated her help. Jaybird just listened, but realized he had seen Mrs. Pollock before, somewhere? She stood there without airs, her head slightly tilted, looking at them both, while her handbag dangled richly from her other arm. Suddenly, she bent down and kissed Crabcake on the cheek, which shut him up.

“I’ll see you in about two weeks, okay.” Mrs. Pollock hinted, then got into her sedan and drove off.

“Playboy?” Jaybird thought. “Yeah, Playboy?”

Jaybird was suddenly pinched.

“Ouch,” said Jaybird. “That hurts.”

“Let’s go.” Crabcake ordered. “I know she’s fine, but damn.”

Crabcake’s brownstone was up ahead. Once inside it was foggy and funky and overwhelming. Ms. Levin lay inert across her tuxedo chair, indulging a fat blunt, and listening to bebop. Even now, the interior favored a black art museum, full of cultural memorabilia and artifacts and crazy geometric paintings. Hellos politely followed before Jaybird continued, carrying Crabcake downstairs, straight to his basement bedroom.

To Jaybird’s surprise, the basement was tidy and uncluttered and not its normal creative mess. Mrs. Levin wasn’t kidding, she must’ve cleaned it up after locking away all his art supplies. Crabcake soon parachuted off his back, landing onto his platform bed. He then unburdened his backpack, removed his gift, and opened it carefully. It was a bunch of adult male magazines. Twenty in all and he rustled through each of them, one after another, page after page, unfolding centerfold after centerfold, of different ethnicities, with great joy and delight.

Jaybird’s father had far too many of them and several subscriptions. They wouldn’t be missed, but he warned Crabcake don’t leave them lying about as he did his sketch pad and never show them to anybody, not even Cornbread. “So enjoy them,” Jaybird told him. “I got to get back.” Up the stairs he bounded, through the fog, past an upright Ms. Levin, said and waved goodbye, and ran out the door and was gone. Down the street he ran, but along the way, he kept thinking about Mrs. Pollock, certain that he had seen her before. Playboy? Oui? High Society? Penthouse, maybe? It gnawed at him.

As for Ms. Levin, she sat there for a bit before going downstairs. Soon the music went silent and the sound of creaking stairs warned Crabcake of her approach, giving him just enough time to stuff the magazines underneath the mattress. Her almond eyes lingered,  looking up and down at him, at the bedroom in general, then took a few more puffs before taking a seat at the edge of the bed.

“I saw Mrs. Pollock today,” Ms. Levin said.

“I figured that,” he replied. “I saw her before I came inside.”

“Oh, okay.” She said, taking another puff. “Well, you know, all that rape nonsense is finally over and for good too. Mrs. Pollock assured me of that. She also urged that you should quit drawing your female patrons, including her daughter, and branch out. Constantly looking at one kind of physical beauty could prejudice your creativity. She said you should draw as many body types as possible. So from now on, you will attend Aesthetic Studios to sketch them. Cornbread will take you there, alright. It’s been arranged. They’ll have professionals. Men and women alike. I’m not a big fan of it, of all this nudity, but I understand; plus, let’s not risk that full scholarship. Right?”

And Crabcake agreed; however, he was disappointed. He already missed looking at the girls. They loved them some Crabcake and deliberately showed it off by taking off their clothes and exhibiting it solely for him. Too bad, they couldn’t model at the studio. Besides, their parents would go bonkers. Still, the news was upbeat. In another two weeks, he would have his stuff back so he could further his craft. Just thinking about it made his right index, middle finger, and thumb itch something terrible, so he gently made fists.

“Mama?” Crabcake said, nervously.

“What is it?” She replied, after blowing smoke. “Anxious?”

“No, that’s not it,” he replied. “Can I bring Jaybird?”

You can find more from Wayne McCray at @WritingAbsurdly

cover photo via Pinterest

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