I had a totally different subject in mind to kick off today’s Playpen, but this absolutely bonkers piece on James Brown changed my mind.
It’s lengthy (three parts) and batshit insane. A sample:
Mr. Brown, you don’t want to do this, she said.
He did not turn around. She kept pleading. Finally he put a hand on the shotgun and said if she didn’t take her clothes off, he would come back there and help her.
Now he did turn toward her, as did the gun. His face was still twitching. She began taking off her clothes. A rhinestone headband that she wore every day. The red bandanna from around her throat. Her white boots with gold tips. A long denim skirt that a friend’s mother had given her.
Brown came to the back of the van, smelling of Brut aftershave. He grabbed her by the hair.
It lasted for hours. The pain was excruciating. He talked about being a stallion, about the way God was blessing her. She pleaded and pleaded, then gave up. He slammed her head against the wall of the van and tore an earring from her ear. He said if she told anyone, her family would be killed.
She couldn’t breathe. Her heart raced. He wanted to finish, but couldn’t, and so he kept going. She had never felt such pain. She felt as if she were floating away, looking down at herself from above. She asked God not to let her mother find her naked and dead in the woods.
She told him her family would be looking for her. Her husband would come looking. This seemed to affect Brown. He left the van for a while. The back door was partly open, possibly damaged when he’d smashed a tree. She could see fog, and lights from the highway. The lights illuminated a barbed wire fence.
Brown returned and started the van. He drove back to the road. Cold wind sliced in from the broken door. Jacque saw more lights, and a bridge. She put on her clothes.
Back at the office, Jacque got out of the van, carrying her boots. Brown sat in the driver’s seat and said nothing. She was bleeding, and her head hurt, and she couldn’t think straight, although she knew she would have to find her in-laws’ house in the dark. She started her Cadillac and got on the highway. Then she saw the black van again. Brown was trying to run her off the road. She drove faster, but he stayed beside her, and finally she pulled onto the shoulder. He got out, yelling at her, banging on the window.
What do you want, she asked through the glass.
You forgot to tell me you love me, he said.
That’s just a taste. Really, I’ve got nothing else today. Read it all, and if you’ve got anything left afterwards, well, you know where to go to share.