King Leer

You do what you have to do to make a living….. Not one of Patrick’s proudest moments, but something more to add to the long list of things he did to get by. He wrote this in 2004.

I remember Deià when the village was a haven for pornographers.  A burgeoning nest of bohemian writers and painters soon becomes a honeycomb for dope dealers, Don Juans, and other hangers-on. Such was the case by the late sixties and seventies.

To cite a few examples: Michael was a pint-sized Manson type who used his sexual charisma to send his women off to Morocco to smuggle hash and kif into Mallorca; when one of these was busted and jailed, he fled his house down the Clot road, leaving quite a few ruffled birds in his wake.  Another dealer new to the village showed up one Sunday afternoon with a suitcase packed with slabs of dark brown hashish, but his buyer didn’t show, and he had to sell a key for a pittance to get back to Palma and off the island.  And more than one trafficker in acid had graced the village with their dreams; they shall remain nameless, though all residents know who they were.

As for the Don Juans, in summer they occupied tables on the terrace of Las Palmeras, selecting new potential conquests as they descended in their innocence from the bus.  The competition was not all that fierce, since hembras outnumbered machos by at least three to one.  It was a moveable feast, to use Hemingway’s phrase, a virtual carnage of hearts and hymens.

No wonder, then, that an American nick-named King Leer harvested a few budding writers into his pantry of pornographers.  He was a lawyer who had inherited a printing company as payment for keeping a hard-core criminal out of prison.  On the premises he found four manuscript books, later called the Bibles, the titles of which were Thy Neighbor’s wife, The Captive Virgin, Up Boy Up, and Teacher’s Pet.  Soon he had some thirty-five writers producing one book per month, many of them living on Mallorca.  They were printed in seventeen languages and sold around the world.

Among those in Deià were Nick A., Jay C., Bill and Cathy M., Bob S., and Janice M., to name a few.  Bill was sort of the Wyatt Earp of this community, having notched up twenty-two wife-swapping books by 1973.  He was living in Miramar at the time, on the site of Ramon Llull’s monastery, later a summer residence of the Archduke.  Back then Miramar had running water (in the rainy season), no electricity, and all the pine logs you could carry for the fireplace on the extensive grounds.

For a while, Miramar became the place for week-end orgies, attracting all the low-life as well as a Mallorcan gardener who evolved into a serial rapist, possibly out of frustration from suffering rejection by even the loosest of ladies; I saw one laugh in his face with her mouth full of  partially masticated bread.

Like many others washed up on Mallorca, I needed money.  Ruthven Todd sent me to Miramar, and Bill was my mentor for the first three books of seventeen in my opus of porn.  We became drinking buddies over the several months we knew each other, often meeting in Palma at Mam’s Bar, meeting place at the end of the month when writers delivered their typescripts to the maitre d’ of the Hotel Victoria.

Bill and Cathy eventually squabbled when he fell for a younger woman, and Bill lived more and more frenetically.  He often asked “Are you ready for the Big One?”, a veiled reference to death or destruction.  He grew to be accident-prone.  The brakes went on his motor-bike sending him into a stone retaining wall on the long descent from Son Marroig to Deià.  A container of petrol he thought was kerosene exploded in his face when he threw it on a reluctant fire in the chimney.  Eventually he ran head-on into a bus, killed in the act.

Ruthven came puffing up to my house in Galilea to bring the terrible news.

“Bill has killed himself,” he pronounced.  We tossed down a few glasses of plonk together, and Ruthven wound his way down the path to his own house to sleep it off.  I continued with wine and then brandy till I was fairly drunk, not usual for me.  My wife Lois sat with me till evening, but when I threw my glass into the fireplace and bawled like a baby, she suggested I go out for some fresh air.

I know now the tears were only partially for the loss of a friend; mostly our grief is for our own disappearance at an undetermined but certain day in the future.  The Seat 600 lured me into its driver’s seat, and I set off down the hill, through Puigpunyent, over the winding mountain road to Esporlas, up the hill to Valldemossa, and on to Deià.  All the way I nursed my knowledge of the evanescence of life, half blind from alcohol and self-pity.  Many nights I had made this journey after Lois had gone loveless to sleep, in search of companionship in Deià.  In the course of writing the pornography, damage had been done to our sex life; we could barely touch without laughing, she finally suggested I should find relief elsewhere.  Since our daughter was born, she had in any case lost the little sex drive natural to her.

This time I had no anticipation of finding a target for my pent-up lust.  I knew only that was approaching a place where self-expression was accepted and in fact expected.

There were no signs of life in Miramar, so I drove on into Deià.  On a week night in winter, the town was in those days was practically deserted.  Turning into Es Porxo to double back toward the center of the village, I noticed lights were on in Bob Bradbury’s place.  I parked in front of the Town Hall and knocked on his door.

Piano Four Hands by Hannah Bonner, 27 Feb 1972

Suzy was home, and though we hardly knew each other, I asked if we could read some Mozart four hands music together.  Soon we were slam-banging through the happiness of D Major together, frolicking with a guy who had been in the ground for nearly two hundred years.

Afterwards, back in the street, I felt almost post-coital, and looked upwards for the first time that night.  The stars burned individually in the blackness above, imperceptibly racing away from each other, firm proof that our swift approach to extinction mars in no way the timeless beauty of the universe, or art.

Deià 6 August 2004 (occupying 133 minutes of my 70 years)