The Pleasure Palace: A Visit

For M.H. & M.V.

It was a late hour on a rainy evening when This Reporter received his assignment to cover the Pleasure Palace. Rain pattered on the ceiling and whipped across the windows of my room in the small downtown hotel; but having worked for fanzines before, I knew the conditions: file before the deadline and expect the usual rates, i.e. nothing. The payoff was in seeing that name in print — and not at one’s own expense. Publish or perish; one more credit for the resume sir, one more open door. The rain then was no longer a noise to be enjoyed but an expense to chalk up with the rest to the cost of fame. Off then. Perhaps the trip would be worth it.

* * * *

A bit of history might be in order when covering such hallowed institutions; special conditions, however, render such matters both difficult and unnecessary. For one, tradition has it that Pleasure Palaces have always existed and always will; that indeed they are if anything an inescapable part of the national landscape. Most people are familiar through rumor if not direct experience with the workings of the archetypal Palace. To further bury the dead past it seems that neither accurate nor systematic records are or ever have been kept. One is stuck then with an irritating wham-bam-just-the-facts-ma’am presentation. Theory, set and setting have little role to play. But said it has been that one best gets to the heart of the affair, the power and the glory as it were, through rigorous description.

The Palace in question is an encampment of old red brick buildings in the eternal capital style: evidently some thought is given to the esthetic sensibilities of those frequent visitors from the realm of professional politics. Therein lies a clue, though of what import I know not: for those tastes whose satisfaction requires no small investment may be said to earn their panderings. The layout of the buildings will seem at first to be random and even aimless, making travel between for the neophyte a bit confusing. A tidbit gleaned from the staff, apocrypha, has it that this apparently thoughtless arrangement was in fact the result of careful planning by a crew whose work was shamefully rendered nil by the late discovery that most would do their inter-building travel by foot rather than by car. Never mind. One gets by.

We have the outside, or at least all of it that is necessary no need to note the carefully tended patches of brown, the ;absent wheelchair ramps, let alone the utter disregard for water and sewage draining. Enough medicine on hand, it seems, to nip those frequent outbreaks in the bud. What matters for us are the nuts and bolts, the internal machinery, beauty being skin deep and all that. Fashion is at best a whim, at worst a manipulation. And so for the indoors.

Multitudinous arrays! Racks, spikes, irons! Tools to delight the jaded cognoscenti! Echoing screams! Halls where it is safely assured that the sound of dull sense being rudely awakened has not ceased for centuries! All around the spoor of extraction and the sign of tastefully mopped up winelike substances. An endless party for those so fortunate as to enter. Never ending games to fill those wasted hours with the joy of regularity and security. Never has the Palace been attacked during wars: never invaded and the walls never breached. Some rumor to the contrary of course floats around, but that? Simply part of the menu. No work need be done by those happy vacationers. All is provided free of charge to the carefree residents and clientele. A cheerless staff avoids appointments with appropriate glee. Schedules in dazzling volume are produced and pronounced void through action: strict observance within the standard infinite variance. It is for the satisfaction of the clientele’s needs that these pointless exercises are made: some must be convinced of a destination in order to fully experience the joy of ne’er arriving, Including, of course, those members of the staff that only believe themselves to be!

The activities are for understatement delicious as are all such forbidden fruits for the uninitiated. Every imaginable brand of loving torture can be found to satisfy any possible desire. And yet curious anomalies are found upon interviewing the participants.

“How does it feel?” one might ask of some orgasmic wreck enduring the Nth involuntary application of some finely crafted thumbscrew or other.

“Feel? comes the reply, “What does that word mean?” Or better yet, they understand: “Feel? I don’t feel anything.” How cross purposes it seems at first!

At first, yes. For there are as many and as varied responses as there are stimuli… although this is denied by the higher placed and more scientifically minded members of the staff. Take the revealing squeal of one who has just enjoyed the rare treat of having had each and every fingernail removed at once and in a trice while a single chosen tooth was instantly mashed into powder by oh-so-special miniature hydraulic presses. The sought-for terror it seems according to this one’s testimony, lies not in the act itself, oh no but in the foreknown inevitability. Why go they willingly to each and every room where such luxurious lacerations are applied?? To staunch the flow of fear! By walking unaided they know that they won’t be thrown out to face the unknown! Indeed, one must assume that the woman who chose to have her clitoris first hot-iron seared and then with wrench ripped out would be best off following this path should the terrors elsewhere be so great as to outweigh these.

Horrors worse than they know exist, it seems. How to produce a garden variety horror that will be in contrast a pleasure?

But a further discovery is made. Some of our connoisseurs, it seems, place stock in tales of tables reversed. At random, and consistent with the law of caprice which governs those who govern others, one struggling adoration filled bootlicker or another will be chosen to join the staff. Sometimes, staff members are with relish and entirety against their will violently thrown down among the ranks of the vacationers. Pleasure can be found both in submitting and in watching others submit.

And so we see but a rough overview of the many pleasures available at the Palace. For some the love of pain and the pain of love are enough. For others, regularity alone will suffice, and pains are not registered as such. Others quest after what would be for some intolerable boredom and banality. Still more enjoy most highly the knowledge that Daddy is there, and that though He may at times be somewhat less loving than He might, at least His divine love shows through in that He protects us from Himself when it takes His fancy. In the end we have those-lucky few who get their kicks wishing they could do unto others what they bid others to do unto them.

Sad it is that those on the outside, whose numbers are, admittedly, growing thin, never get to know His mercy. Left to the bitter winds of foul chance and evil struggle, endlessly busy cleaning the rice bowl when the meal is finished and so on, they know not what they miss.

But for those on the inside, consolation can be had. Once in a while they grow insufferably bored (those capable of it), and manage to send out recruiting teams to round up a few whose fresh straining will keep them occupied throughout the lonely and uneventful eras, the winter nights of the state.

Yr. Faithful correspondent from the other side of the looking glass,
HPU Gerry Reith, Box 381, Sheridan, WY 82801

Originally appeared in Inside Joke #9

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