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Theatre of Incest

an excerpt from Theatre of Incest out now from Dalkey Archive

Entrance Window

When, as a child, I first caught sight of my mother naked, I thought she was being punished. The rain was beating on the roof of my troubled dreams, and the thunder roaring, raging. I was frightened. My bedroom window looked out across the long driveway into the trees, and it was dark, the trees quaking like ghosts. I wanted my Mother, I wanted to pee. I began crying and got out of bed, wandering down the dark corridor and then along the balcony that looked down into the living room, Mummy! Mummy! But my voice was smothered by the storm and the howling wind. Then a flash lit up everything like bright day and I saw them below for an instant, both pale and raw-looking. My father was doing something terrible to my mother, humping and jerking on top of her, and she was crying and groaning. I was filled with amazement. Then I went back to bed very quietly, although I wanted my Mother even more than before. I lay awake for a long time but I was no longer frightened of the storm.

The Entrance Toilet Window

When I was only about four or five, Melle, as my mother called her (for “Mademoiselle”), a stocky, tough, mustachioed Frau, raised me to face level and swilled my little penis about in her mouth with some gusto. Melle was German. My mother had been raised by her. Perhaps it is to this premature act that I owe my special predilection? Or perhaps not. Of course I was quite helpless in her muscular grip, but I have no reason to think that I wanted to resist this tender rape. On the contrary. But Melle was a hard, dominant old bitch. And what was my mother’s attitude in all this (she certainly suspected something)? Approval, I guess. Or at least understanding.

Father’s Bedroom Window

The first time I wore my mother’s silk panties, they were much too big, they kept slipping off—my little penis was stiff and they slid down over, and I would pull them up again, exacerbating the sweetness. I had deliberately avoided looking in the tall closet mirror, and would only just peek at myself prancing out there, doubled, just glancing out of the corner of my eye so that I—I mean I in the mirror—wouldn’t appear to notice that I was watching. And I out there in the room, pretended not to see either, hardly turning my head, so that both of us seemed not to be watching the other, and I could see me as I really was, almost without anything of myself being involved. I forgot the other me with the slithery sweet touch of the panties about my bottom and between my thighs, stroking my little balls like feathery fingers. I danced and skipped so that the panties would slip off by accident and I would be revealed, and then I pretended not to see myself out there with the same stiff little penis watching me, and I’d look away quickly. Of course I had to come back and forth again each time, otherwise I would go off the edge, and I couldn’t go beyond this invisible barrier either. Now I knew how Mummy must feel her softness inside. Soon my cock and balls became moist with the silky caress of the panties and I could hardly breathe, and the mirror cracked! No, it was the door that opened in the mirror! I couldn’t move. I heard a light laugh tinkling, and the door closed again. I took off the panties in a rush, not easy because they were tangled and wet with my penis, which stayed hard despite my shame, and I ran to the closet drawer and stuffed them back where I found them, and gave one last look at the big mirror and saw myself, funnylooking, very small, naked, white-faced, my penis still sticking out. But why didn’t she come to spank me? How long did she watch, I wondered with a thrill of panic.

Window of Main Bathroom

I was jealous of the men who knew her when she was twenty-seven. I felt they had taken unfair advantage of me. I had worn her panties and wet them, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted more. I remember watching her when she prepared the blankets on the playroom floor for my afternoon nap. I watched as she bent over and her skirt rode high up her legs and I could see her tender thighs resplendent in the white stockings, almost all the way up, to where the white stopped and the darkness of her groin began. And when I lay down in my bed and pretended to sleep, and she came over to see if I was asleep, I would glance up quickly when she turned away and glimpse her white-pantied crotch for an instant. Whenever I got a chance I spied on her. I saw her sometimes through the keyhole of the bathroom. Once I saw her completely naked, but all I could look at was the dark cluster of hair at her pubic mound. I was amazed at it, it seemed to belong to an alien world. I watched it, she walked back and forth as if on show for me, and I could examine it very closely, a furry animal that didn’t altogether belong to my mother. One time, I must have made some noise because she suddenly looked right at the keyhole as if she could see me. After that, whenever I tried to look through the keyhole, to my disappointment and frustration there was something on the other side blocking the view. I realized of course this meant that she knew I knew. And curiously, while that shared consciousness embarrassed me, it also created a thrill of anxiety. I of course didn’t know about fucking. I just knew that it had to do with that thing between her legs. I only had the following two pieces of information: when the boys were in music class and we sang an old children’s song, “I’m looking over a four leaf clover...” we would substitute other words, “First come the ankles, then come the knees, next comes the bush—” and something about “between the trees.” I could never remember or “get” the next line, but I knew it concerned the secret of the furry crotch she had displayed. But what would it feel like if you put your hand in there: that was my preoccupation. The other information I had was the explanation proffered by a little companion, that the man puts his thing inside her thing. The graphic idea horrified me and I had to stop thinking about it.

Second Window of Main Bathroom

She sat me on the bidet and washed my penis thoroughly until it stood out “like a little soldier,” she said laughing, and leaned down, her large head of reddish hair spilling about, veiling the sacrificial feast. Then she drew me to my feet, took me to the bed and pulled me on top of her. I was barely an adolescent, I didn’t know how to do it. I pretended I did but was imprisoned in all her straps and clasps and belts and hooks and hasps, I rolled on top of her trying to get in but it was a complicated machinery and I didn’t understand how it all worked, which bits came apart and which stayed on, what was I supposed to do? I wallowed about on this sleek expanse of white flesh that I lusted for and didn’t know how to get into! Finally, despairing of me, she just englobed me between her thighs, swallowed me into her body. I was lost in this dark sea, perhaps I would drown, I thought, and I swam out farther and farther until I could no longer see the shore and it was peaceful. I talked to God and I know he heard me. However he did not let me die then. The next day I was very curious and wondered if I had really done it, I mean fucked her. It was the first time and I wasn’t even sure that I had!

First Living Room Window

The first true erotic opportunity did come a little later. I liked to think it happened when I was thirteen and she thirty-four. My awkward, over-thin, gangling puppy-frame at that age would have floundered on hers, ripe, rich, superb at the exact apex of her sexual force, happy, amused, touched, to initiate this childman who had just shot up to his full adult height. It happened easily enough, in the stateroom of that trans-Atlantic ocean liner on which I was traveling with my parents and little sister. I was starting on the sex hunt, but knew nothing of love relations, an innocent. My mother (and father? I don’t know really, as if his presence were irrelevant: kind-natured, sentimental, obsessively concerned for her health—she outlived him by three decades—always apprehensive, utterly vulnerable, and no match at all for her. As she once told me, “You know, mon petit, in couples, one of the two is always dominant.” In the last years of their life together, she had relegated him to the farthest corner of their gloomy mansion in Brussels, so that he not interfere in our obsessive relationship) and my sister and I were always on a ship heading in one direction or the other across the Atlantic. My mother was no doubt indulgently aware of my erotic ardors. For I had become interested in an older woman (older?! was she thirty? or thirtyfour? what did I know!) on shipboard, and early one evening a woman had invited me into her cabin in order to help me with my bow tie. There was a definite erotic aura, I remember being terribly nervous and excited.


I was aware of the woman’s perfume and her backless gown which gave an air of nakedness, and I stood very close to her so that she could readjust my tie and perform the complicated loops and knots, her breasts (I could tell the outline of her nipples!) just grazing the jacket lapels of my first tuxedo as she leaned forward a little, my erection growing embarrassingly evident. If she had touched me down there, quite accidentally, I would have ejaculated immediately. But nothing happened at that time, I must have blurted some excuse and hurried out to conceal the cause of my extreme embarrassment, which no doubt would have offended her mortally. No, it could have been much later, after dinner at the captain’s table, after the movie, after the evening bingo games, when they had all gone to bed. I sneaked out of the cabin which I shared with my sister (my parents so ignored my burgeoning sexuality that they still put us in the same cabin!) with my shoes in my hands, and putting my jacket on again but not the bow tie, hurried back to her cabin, and waited for minutes outside the door, not daring to breathe, listening for any evidence of her presence inside. Finally I tapped very lightly, shocked at my own boldness, and heard her voice call out. I couldn’t move until the door opened a crack and she stood there, looking surprisingly small without her heels on, wearing a nightgown that revealed the deep cleavage of her breasts. She opened the door wider and pulled me in; I was shaken by the brusqueness of her gesture, and inside the cabin I just stared down at her as she stood revealingly, her body outlined in the filmy gown. Then she took both my hands and placed them on her breasts.


Ah, if it had happened that way, then perhaps I would not have been seduced by my mother as I was a few years later, because I would already have been initiated into the erotic delights of a lover. No doubt that is why she intervened when she did, having become aware of my so far ineffectual ardors. Alerted to the impending peril (oh my God why couldn’t they have let things be?), she called me to her cabin in order to warn me about the perils of sex. Imagine, she told me, what happened to me the other day. “I tell you this, my sweet darling, because I want you to be aware of the dangers of sex. I had fallen into deep sleep on my bunk (probably had a glass too many at the captain’s table yesterday evening, we were often invited, for my charms I believe, ha ha, she trilled), and abruptly I awoke with a strange feeling. I found the steward, who had apparently let himself into my cabin and had lifted my gown, unless it had fallen open during my drunken sleep, and he was busily lapping—she didn’t say ‘cunt’ of course but her circumlocution was far more evocative—between my thighs. Of course I protested furiously and drove him from the room. So you see how careful one must be.” Why is it that I felt more than moral admonition in this graphic description, something of a connotation of rivalry? Of course it effectively ended my pending initiation by the other woman..

Alain Arias-Misson is reading with Diane Williams and Meredith Brosnan at KGB on Wednesday, December 12 at 7 p.m.


Alain Arias-Misson

Alain Arias-Misson, writer and artist, has written short stories and essays on American fiction.


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