Shame House – Don Elliott aka Robert Silverberg (Midnight Reader #440, 1962)


We’ve been neglecting Robert Silvberg’s many sleaze titles lately — on his yahoo fan group, Silverberg recently announced that some Don Elliott books would be reprinted; he didn’t say which ones, yet, or the publisher, until things are solid.

Shame House should be a contender for reprinting, and is one of the better Don Elliotts he wrote.  The little novel could have been published in the 1980s and found an audience — it’s about Wall Street, in a way, and stock market speculators and their sex lives.

The narrator is Jack Thorne, a trader who has made his first million by 28.  Having made a $6,000 killing on a shifty speculated trade, he goes to a club to celebrate (even as a millionaire, the daily procurement of money is still a high), looking for a woman to fuck, and crosses paths with beautiful Francine,  who was actually seeking him out, on orders from her “master.”

She lures him to a Manhattan mansion of thirty rooms, says this is her home; Jack soon finds out she’s a “kept” woman of a very old Wall Street legend, Martin Veeland, a billionaire who got out of the stock market crash decades ago,  soon enough to remain rich.

If Francine had told me Martin Veeland was three hundred years old, I would have believed her.  His skin was like parchment, white and wrinkled and delicate.  There was no flesh on his face. The cheekbones protruded like knife-blades.  His eyes, infinitely old, infinitely wise, lay hooded in pouches of loose skin.  His lips were thin and harsh, and the hands that lay in his lap were spidery, long-fingered, almost grotesque in their leanness. Age had chiseled all the fat off the old man. (p. 33)

Francine is 22, and says she has been “kept” by Veeland for seven years, which means she’s been with the old man since she was 15.

The thought of a man in his sixties deflowering a 15-year-old Francine made me sick […] I looked at her. She was sitting up, and her breasts jutted forward with impudent beauty.  I pictured her at age 15, just as beautiful, but younger, more innocent, less worldly. And a wrinkled, pot-bellied old man topping her fair body with his own, clutching her swelling breasts in his gnarled claws —

“How? How did it happen, Francine?”

“My parents were dead. I needed a guardian.”

“And Veeland –”

“He heard about me. He invited me to come live with him. Not quite as an adopted daughter. To be a comfort for his old age. I understood. I got the message. I was very aware of things, even then.”

“And you’ve bee here ever since?”

She nodded.

“Sleeping with him?”

“When he wants me to.”

“And the rest of the time?”

She shrugged. “I’m free to do as I please.” (pp. 27-28)

Veeland also likes to watch her have sex with other men, or women, sitting in his wheelchair and getting turned on — then he has her after.

I saw a naked Francine padding across the room. Veeland was practically popping out of his wheel chair. His fleshless face was flush was sweaty, and his eyes held a new sparkle in them […] I saw Francine standing over him, facing him […] and then I watched in horror [as] she clambered onto the wheel chair, lowering herself to the waiting, eager Veeland. (p. 67)

Veeland sees his younger self in Jack,  seeing himself as Jack as Jack makes love to Francine, or the maid.  It’s a similar sexual show set-up found in the Loren Beauchamp book, Nurse Carolyn, later Don Elliott’s Registered Nympho.

At first, Jack doesn’t want to entertain Veeland, but he cannot resist Francine, and there is the enticement of money — Veeland gives him some stock tips that pan out, and Francine tells him Veeland sees Jack as a sort of son, and has put Jack in his will, to get 1/5th of his fortune.

Francine is in it for the money, too, as is the maid, Yvonne, and the personal secretary, the hulking Lloyd, who also has sex with Francine and Yvette for Master’s viewing pleasure.  They have all conspired to “kill Master with love,” to entice him more sexually so that maybe he’ll have a heart attack and die.  They know he is about to “buy” another 15 year old girl, parentless, and if he tires of Francine, she could get cut out of the will.  They recruit Jack in their plot.

But plots never work out as planned…Veeland may have millions and millions, but he also has creditors and has not been paying his taxes…

The cover actually pertains to a scene — wheelchair-bound Veeland does enjoy lashing either Francine or Yvonne with a whip, marking their flesh…

“He gets a kick out of seeing people whipped, doesn’t he?” I asked.

[Francine:] “Of course. And of whipping himself. Didn’t you enjoy it when you whipped me?”

“In a strange, abnormal way — yes.”

“It’s not so strange.  Every man enjoys whipping a naked woman.  Every real man. And every real woman enjoys being whipped. Men who don’t have the guts to whip a woman are usually swishes. And the only women who don’t like a man to be rough on them are dykes. Haven’t you known that, Jack?”

“I never thought about about it.”

“It’s true,” she said. “Kiss me again.” (pp. 146-7)

It is interesting to note that after 1962, many of Silverberg’s sleaze books have heavy S/M elements in them.  Was this is own doing or at the behest of the publishers, since S/M is always a popular topic, especially today, in erotic literature?

Silverberg also writes a pretty descriptive (for 1962) lesbian “69” scene, the show for Veeland between Francine and Yvonne:

It was strange to watch. I was developing a full set of emotional entanglements with Francine –call it love if you like — and it was weird watching the girl who meant most to me in the world writhing and panting in the arms of a voluptuous blonde […] They had shifted position again, 180 degrees. They were pointing in opposite directions on the bed, which made it easily possible for them to do what dykes do to one another, both at the same time.  I saw Yvonne bright and sweaty as she brought her mouth down over the V of Francine’s loins, and up at the other end of the bed Francine was providing the same faor for the busty blonde.

I won’t try to reproduce the sounds that the two of them produced. All I know is that it was disgusting, revolting, and yet, at the same time, strangely exciting, one of the most searingly erotic things I had ever witnessed in my life. (p. 94)

Veeland is a vampire — he feeds off the love and lust of young girls, and the virile bodies of much younger men. Rich old men as emotional vampires was a pet theme of Silverberg’s in the 60s-70s--Nurse Carolyn noted, and the billionaire who lives off the hightened emotions of other people in love, despair, or hate in the SF novel Thorns.

A darn good read.

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