Isle of Dogs Part 2
this is from Part 2 of Isle of Dogs. forthcoming
And then there was the library and Baby Sips’ languid lessons, question-and-answer sessions seated on harem cushions in the stacks, an old history book open before them on the stainless-steel floor. They learned how the old world fell and the new one arose. They learned about batons, acid baths, and purges.
Sargon thought about his Sire and what he had said about cloning. If he was a clone, that meant he was his own father. And so he did something he had never done before. He scrutinized the portrait of the very first Sargon. It did not look like his Sire really, as his face was young and framed by the silver fabric and thick seals of the spacesuit. The eyes were distinct and catlike, shaped exactly as his were, as were the nose and the mouth, fleshy, fierce, and domineering. Even so, his expression never seemed that way! But Phaedra’s sometimes did. He was beginning to notice her change in subtle ways, that she was more adult than he was, and sometimes laughed at him. There was that time they saw two dogs humping, which usually made them laugh and go, Ew. But this time she said, “Those dogs are fucking.”
Fucking. That was a bad word. You were fucking crazy or fucking stupid. “Fucking?” he asked, and she squealed.
Since she couldn’t tell him what fucking was without laughing so hard he couldn’t understand her, he finally gave up, and asked Babylon Sippar.
Baby Sip fetched a filterless cigarette from a mahogany humidor and sniffed it. “Gerund of the verb to fuck. Origins obscure, an extremely old Anglo-Saxon term for sexual congress, also used as an intensifier unrelated to coitus.”
“Are there pictures?”
Baby Sip raised his eyebrows and put the cigarette back in the humidor. He reached beneath the desk and pulled up the hookah hose and puffed. “Damn,” he grumbled. “Excuse me, it’s unlit.” He ducked beneath the desk and pushed the on button. There was a gurgle and hiss, and soon the honeyed aroma of opium filled the air. He puffed and sighed and sipped his glass of brandy, considering at length his charge as Librarian and duty as tutor, as well as considerable ambivalence towards the family that had both maintained him and murdered his kinsman. “Yes. But I would prefer not to be the first one who shows you. However, as Librarian I can refer you to the Winter Palace Library Holding Catalogue volume H-M. It contains citations for encyclopedias of ‘Human Sexuality,’ which I believe you will have no trouble locating on your own, as I have not referred you in any way to its contents, I think you will agree.”
Young Sargon made his way to the third tier and opened The Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality on the floor. The first page he turned to had a map of the reproductive organs, the vagina looking like the Island of Manhattan and the penis like one of its towers, but the next contained photographs of vaginas and penises and under the word fuck he found the definition—the act of sexual intercourse, coitus or other penetrative activity of the penis or similar device, including intercrural and anal intercourse and other forms of frottage, e.g., digital penetration of the vagina, but excluding however oral sex. So it was as his Sire and Robin had described it. And now it had a name. He put the book back and decided again it was nothing he would ever do, with man, woman, or beast.