Beth Mann's Blog

Beth's Urban Tales of Wonder and Decay

Beth Mann

Beth Mann
Long Beach Island, New Jersey, USA
November 11
Hot Buttered Media
I'm a writer and creative consultant. I have years of experimental comedy and strange theater under my belt. I surf. I cook. I love wine, men and song. And puppies. I effin' love puppies.

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OCTOBER 27, 2009 10:19PM

In Bed with the Devil (One Last Time)

Rate: 89 Flag


“So how’s it feel having sex with a dead man?”

“Good,” I gasp. “Very, very good.”

We laugh at the gallows’s humor. We can make jokes while having sex. We’re at that point with one another.

Soon the laughing makes way to sighs and moans. A tear runs down my face but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying being naked with my ex-boyfriend this one last time.

God, can I really call him an ex? That implies that we had a legitimate relationship, which I seriously question. He was my part-time lover in New York City years ago. When everything was falling apart there, he was my guiding light, my protector - which is a scary thought. Because Robert is the Devil. But when you’re in Hell, you look for the leader, I suppose.

Robert could make Caligula blush. He is debaucherous, cavalier and deeply self-centered. He embraces his self-destructive behavior in a truly shameless manner that one can’t help but slightly admire.

Robert is old-world beautiful. The kind of man they don’t make anymore. Big, rugged, broad-shouldered, well dressed. A former FBI agent. An esteemed soldier. He’s a professional sharp shooter and an overall badass. Now he owns several businesses in the city and holds orgies in his elegant wine cellar, with candles burning everywhere and the finest wine and coke pouring all night.

Robert is a compulsive liar. And an addict. Everything that pours out of him and into him are lies.

While not as self-destructive, I can go there with the best - or worst - of them. I consider myself a Dark Lighter. I can go where the dark people go, and return to tell the tale. I can keep my light. I can keep my light.

Robert loves to tear off my clothes. He loves to see me naked. He tells me I’m his angel but I’m a trophy to him. He tears at my clothes when others are around so they can see my body. Being pretty unashamed in that department, I’ve often let him.

Not this night. Those wild times are done and I’m here for one reason only.

Tonight I’m visiting him at his Jersey shore home. He brought a friend along and we went out to eat – the best food, the best wine, the best everything. While Robert may rot in Hell for eternity, he is brilliant company – charming, wicked and wild.

When I tell him I won’t go back to his boat for more “fun”, he flips. He towers over me, bellowing, but I never fear him. Though I probably should. I’m drunk. He’s drunk. I want to sleep. I want to stay at his house and be left alone. His orgiastic desires bore me.

“So how does it feel having sex with a dead man?”

“Good,” I gasp. “Very good.”

We laugh. I cry a little but he doesn’t know.

That is what he says to me the next morning. After I leave his house at the break of down, enter his boat and slip into bed with him. Anger quickly dissolves into the pleasure of our two bodies coming together. He smells like a man should. Robert is the father figure to end all father figures in my life. It’s a shame he is the Devil because he sure fits the Daddy bill well - so big, so fierce.

We have sex. Soberly, beautifully. I know I can no longer go to the Dark Place with him - but this place is full of light and beauty. And he shines because Robert shines sometimes.

His cross keeps dangling in my face and I want to rip it off his neck. How dare he? How dare he use God like he’s used everything else? It can’t save him now anyway.

“Take the cross off, you liar.”


“That cross should burn your skin. Don’t negotiate with Jesus now, you hypocrite.”

“Better safe than sorry, angel.”

The cross swings, the boat rocks, the sunlight pierces through the windows and we fuck comfortably. Like two people who’ve fucked comfortably many times. It’s the best sex we’ve ever had. Perhaps because the stakes are higher. He is dying of pancreatic cancer and has less than a year to live.

“So how does it feel having sex with a dead man?”

“Good,” I look into his wild blue eyes. “Very, very good.”

When I say this, a smile crosses flashes across his face that I've never seen before, like a man pleased with himself, a man who for one moment rose above his addictions and allowed himself to be sexual and intimate with a woman he loves. It’s the smile of a man who is proud of himself, proud that he pleased a woman. I know I will remember that smile forever. He tries to hide it by looking away.

“Stop hiding. I see you smiling. I know you feel good.”

He hugs me. We laugh. I start to cry a little but he doesn’t know.

Special thanks and credit to Steven Stahlberg's 3D image "One Last Time"


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bunnies, death, sex, life

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Well, christ. I'm sorry. Bottom line, very sorry.

Fucking cancer.
I hope you're on the pill, 'cause we don't need another anti-christ.
Beth, I love the fearless, smart woman that you are. Your writing, as it so often does, makes me stop and read more closely, because it is a reflection of your heart. (and I know you're not really fearless, but it's so cool that you don't let that stop you.)
Wow that's a great piece. No shit.
I find your writing intimidating Beth
and, that is a compliment. Your "friend"? He'll be ok, or I should say
maybe that he seems ok. Like you note he's lived well
and got something most of us will never have.
You, on a boat.
powerful writing.... Your words accentuates your talent, your spirit. ~R~
This is an intense story. Thanks for sharing it. I knew a "Devil" once, who was brought to mind by the one you describe. The one I knew got murdered. Murder and cancer are both evil. We need more angels to vanquish them.
To lose such a friend, lover, guide into the darker worlds..........
sex and death, as perfect complements as light and shadow, real life more layered than the most artistic contrivance

fine piece of work, Beth, you alone know the cost
A really strong piece. Your repeated element brings a humanity to a character who otherwise tries to live without such. As you say, the Devil.
Beth. I'm not sure how to react. Sorrow for the tears you shed, though it strikes me as necessary and healthy that you shed them in the way that you did at the times that you did.

There are men that are addictive in their elemental natures. Your ex is very intelligent -- deciding to believe is the smartest choice to make. After all, we can't know for certain there is no God, so choosing to believe is a good hedge.

I wonder if it can ever be over, if being able to keep your light means that he will be drawn like a flame back to it. I guess only you know the answer to that.

And if I've misread this, and he is, actually, a dead man, then you have my sympathy, my envy, and my sister love.
now, that's some writing. the story? every up and down i can think of. wow. and again.
I feel as though I were there in that bed with you. Vivid doesn't begin to describe it.
"But when you’re in Hell, you look for the leader, I suppose."

Yes. Yes you do. I thank God you did and still shine so brightly and share it with us. Love.
Fact or Fiction, this is compulsive reading and beautifully written.
this writing is pure, no words wasted, no punches pulled - I am bruised but happy every time I read your work
Gorgeous writing and a tender but sad tale.
Wow. Speechless........again.
Bunnies? This is a really strong post, in a my God kind of way.
I am glad you had this last time alone with him and that it was good...ok great....ok freakin wonderful! I'm sorry for how it will end...
Great writing. I didn't know if it was fiction or not, still don't!
What Steve said. Also Great Writing.
Are you one of those Goth kids?

Brilliant writing. Love the pic at the top. You are so fearless.
An incredible piece of writing.
GORGEOUS writing.

I have known a devil or two in my time and I'd go to the dark place with them all over again, in a heartbeat, no matter how irrational.

You've captured the gorgeous ambiguity of the Dangerous Man in this piece. I commend you.
¡Orale! tempting is the sweetest fruit...the wine of grapes with "noble rot"?
And I know that I'm damned if I never get out,
And maybe I'm damned if I do,
But with every other beat I've got left in my heart,
You know I'd rather be damned with you.

"Bat Out Of Hell" - Meatloaf

You said, "I start to cry a little but he doesn’t know."

Trust me, he knows.

This was writing of epic proportions, Beth. Sending you good thoughts and prayers.
You nailed it Tom Walls -- the line is "I'm frightened by the devil
And I'm drawn to those ones that ain't afraid"

excellent writing. Like a poem.
Oh Beth, you are so honest. And I identify. I have been intimate with two men who were dying of cancer -- one --incredibly --three days before he died. And it was heartbreakingly gentle and beautiful and unforgettable.
Poignant and moving-- an incredibly written story. Intimacy is brought to another level, I guess, when one of you knows he will die soon, no matter what his failings were in the past.
Beth, I felt like I was a voyeur into your sex life while reading this. It was intense. the cross was pissing me off too!! I've had lovers die (later, of course!) and it is so surreal, so very surreal. I love the picture you found.. and I have seen anyone else mention this, but my mind works this way.... I love the fact that you found a scrolly pube looking thing for the ending! And you can click on it! LOL
that stopped me cold in my (mental) tracks.

I'm so sorry. life is too fucking short.
Well fuck pancreatic cancer. It has taken a friend not yet 40, and two beloved uncles, and now your friend.

Wonderful writing from Beth as always.
Powerful, and brilliant, and sad, and universal in some ways. You are an amazing woman, so clear about who you are in all your incarnations.
Superbly written...absolutely the best essay that I have read in years. Thank you.
You take me to places I haven't been. That is why I must keep reading.
I was really moved by this...and then I read Dr Blevins' comment. And I had to laugh. I hope you did, too, through the tears, even.
Darkness on the Edge of Town.
Well written and intriguing (from several perspectives)

Because Robert is tall, broad-shouldered and wealthy, you forgive all of his addictions, lies, abuse, and debauchery. And you will sleep with him, despite your knowledge of his True Self.

Furthermore, the moment you choose to cherish and remember forever is the moment that flatters you as his Saviour, the person who could make him overcome his Dark Side, even though decades of behavior indicates that his Dark Side IS is True Self.

Is that really the person you want to be?

Is the message you want to communicate to the world that being tall, handsome and wealthy means all is forgiven?

Or, like so many of us, are you a slave to your primal instincts?
I often wish that more writers, including myself, could find the pitch-perfect "voice" that you have. Great writing.
wow...amazing story. how am i supposed to concentrate on work now?
Damn can you write!

Some people get many years and fill them with nothing.

I think it's better to take the years you get and fill em with as many experiences as you can (good and bad). Sounds to me like you've given Robert lots of good experiences...the definition of a true friend and lover.

We are all dying every day. I already feel like I am in hell half the time. I wish I could handle it like Robert.

Inspirational/aspirational. Thanks for the great writing.
I'm blown away by this. Brava.
Incredible as usual, love the visual, relate to the material. Dark side and demons.
Wow. I remember other stories about him, but this is the killer diller.... I love the writing, the honesty and the beauty of this. You rock, girl.
As someone who avoids intimacy even when I have the sniffles, I found this post deeply disturbing.
Moving, sad, exhilarating and optimistic in some twisted way all at once. I'm sorry for your loss. Would love to hear the history of you. Rated.
Not being flippant about a beautiful,wicked, and witty story that has something very sad and serious in it, but this is the kind of writing that makes me jealous. In a good way.
There are very few times that I've written as well as you have in this piece. rated
"I can keep my light. I can keep my light." Yowza. This is terrific.
Soooo... If I'm reading the Q&A correctly here he did it like three times. Are you sure he's dying?

Keep The Faith
Thanks again for all of your comments. I'm remaining a little quiet on this one. Hope you understand. But I've read all of your comments several times. You guys are all truly amazing. Why can't I have a little more of this in my real life? I guess I do.
Robert's a lucky stiff.
And you shine all the time, lady. Even in the Dark Places.
Oh Beth, this is tragic, raw and so beautiful.
Very well written. I was blown away.
Great writing Beth...
Great. "I can keep my light. I can keep my light."

GreatGreatGreat. Just fell in love a little bit.
Are you folks for real?
This was beautifully written.
I read this yesterday but needed time to consider...and now that I have, I can tell you how much this piece moved me...well I can't really in a comment, but suffice it to say, Briliant.
Wanted to show off Steven Stahlberg's work for a moment, who was kind enough to give me permission to use his image for my piece:

Buzz Lightyear, wanted to briefly comment:

I'm not concerned what message I'm sending, at the risk of sounding cavalier. It's life - messy, imperfect and sometimes morally horribly off-base. I'm not some morality teacher here...far from it and just the opposite occasionally!

With that said, in this story, it was my final time with this person. It's about seeing some light in someone when all you see is darkness. I don't like Robert because he's wealthy or tall or handsome. And I'm certainly not his savior. I like him because he's an amazing man who I've been close to for many years. At least that's how the story goes.

His sickness (not the physical one) prevents me from spending too much time with him, so there is a moral high ground I take. I choose not to be around there's the "good" lesson I'm supposed to impart to the world...ha. Where's my gold star? Ha...

But more importantly, its a story. Just a story. Truth or not, it's just a story. Sometimes on OS is the equivalent of someone running into a soap opera star and getting mad at him/her for screwing over so-and-so on the show. Creative distance is required.

Thanks for the Blink excerpt, by the way. Read it last year and think about it often. Primal stuff always there, driving, driving.
Gosh, Beth, I couldn't stop reading until the end. Powerful, wonderful writing. I was aware that you never lost your Self throughout the story, even in the surrender, and that impressed me.

Thanks for the great, real read.
Years of fears, of wasting a life, lead to a life well lived... Death does not define us... My only fear is the only real one, rejection... Sounds like a kat I woulda' liked, f'in cancer... Great story Beth...RRR
Beautiful writing. Nothing wasted.
I love this piece, Beth. The writing is flawless and vivid. It makes me remember all of my own devils and helps me to forgive myself for staying with them longer than I should have. Your line, "I can keep my light" is especially delicious.
This rings bells. Rated for honesty, regardless of truth.
I truly enjoyed this bittersweet post; but, sometimes dear Beth it is better not to listen to the Devil's voice.
"He hugs me. We laugh. I start to cry a little but he doesn’t know."

I woulda known. I'm betting he did too.
So, what would happen if he knew you cried? Will you let him know? Or was that it, that one final time? Beautiful piece. Gutsy, sexy, provocative, tough, tender. Good stuff. Thanks.

If you liked Blink, I have another book to recommend to you.

Daniel Gilbert talks about the 'psychological immune system', which is our brains' way of taking lousy events in our lives and recasting them so they are more palatable to ourselves.

I think your story about Robert may be a case of the psychological immune system in action.

You say, " I like him because he's an amazing man who I've been close to for many years. At least that's how the story goes."

Whoops, I see it's kicking in...

Because, in the very next line you say, " His sickness (not the physical one) prevents me from spending too much time with him..."

And in your story you go out of your way to emphasize what a lying amoral narcissistic manipulative A-hole he is.

When observing from physical and informational distance (as opposed to Creative Distance), one wonders why you spend ANY time with this jerk, let alone sleep with him.

Given that physical and informational distance, my inferences may be faulty. But what I think happened is that you gave in to your 'primal stuff' ("He's tall! He's handsome! He's high-status! He's great in bed!, etc.) against your better judgment.

Then, in order to be OK with your giving in to the primal stuff, your brain created the story of drawing the Light out of the Darkness. And, as a writer, you are VERY good story-teller...:-D...

Again, from physical and informational distance, what you describe as "...a man who for one moment rose above his addictions and allowed himself to be sexual and intimate with a woman he loves.", I see as a man who got what he wanted and thought to himself "Yep, I still got her wrapped around my finger..."

You could justifiably ask "Why do you care, Buzz?". As you say, it's just a story.

That's true. But stories can have consequences (Remember the 'story' about how Iraq had WMD and ties to Al-Queada?).

I guess I'm just hoping to spread the meme that we should be a little more skeptical about the stories we tell ourselves.

Good luck to you.
Excellent prose. Love the economy of words.
Wow, well written.

But... went from being too tired to fuck and him screaming at you daddy-like, to fucking.
How'd that work?
And as a comedian and a writer, I'm surprised at you: you know there isn't such thing as "just a story." There's the world as you see it, and there's the world as you'd like it to be.
good christ...I missed this on my hiatus.