Unnatural Urge as told by Joe Black to Orrie Hitt (Midwood, 1962)

hitt - unnatural urge

Another one of Hitt’s peeping tom books; this one is written with much more confidence and grace than The Peeper and Peeping Tom. The prose is so smooth that I have a feeling the editorial hand was involved here — such as when a female character refers to sex as “having relationships.”  I don’t see ol’ Orrie using that term himself.

Was this one edited by Elaine Williams (ala Sloane Britain) like Hired Lover, The Cheaters, and Two of a Kind?  Possibly. The pub. date is 1962 — there was a two year gap between books that Hitt did for Midwood; maybe he was too busy providing titles for Kozy and Chariot, and of course Beacon, his prodigal home.

Joe Black, apparently telling Orrie Hitt the story of his peeper urges in a bar somewhere, runs a gas station in Clinton, NY (a town that appears frequently in the Hittverse); he has taken the business over from his elderly father, who has married a young woman, Linda, who happened to have broken Joe in to the world of sex when he was a teenager…

Linda is a bad one — and Joe’s father knows why the girl married him: for the security of money.  The old man made some good investments, and the gas station — the only one that offers credit in Clinton — turns a tidy profit.

Like the narrators in the previous two peeper books, Joe Black knows he has a problem and he desires to conquer his need to prowl and peep.  He has an obsession with red-headed women, like the first one he peeped on as a teenager…so when a young gal named Mille Link, having inherited money, pops into town with her sports car, his urge sparks up even greater, and he keeps having fantasies about her.  (She is the “link” to his past and his urges — the red hair and that first peeped girl…)

Hoping to quell the sexual urge of the eye, Joe marries a girl named Sally a week after dating her — she thinks it’s a whirlwind romance meant to be, he just wants a woman there for his needs. But he finds she’s not enough, and she finds that the marriage was a mistake.

And then there is Linda, his step-mother, and her sister Alice, both vixens…he gives in to Linda, but passes on Alice’s advances in favor of spying on her via her boarding house window.

And then Linda catches him…she has something to hold over him…she knows.

Linda is a masochist.  When she’s with Joe, she says, “Rape me.”  She likes it rough. This is the first I’ve come actoss Orrie dealing with an S/M relationship:

It was a wild nght for both of us that I didn’t care to remember the next morning. We got drunk, both of us, hitting each other, yet we were drawn together with the violence of combat troops in a war. In the gray dawn, I could see hr puffed lips., the ugly red mark where I had struck her. I could feel the torture of my own body where she had bitten me repeatedly.

“Once more,” she begged.

“You’re a slut.”

“And you’re a pervert.” Her swollwn red lips met mine. “Hurt me again, Joe.”

I did.

Hard enough to make her scream. (pp. 146-7)

Now is that any way to treat one’s step-mother who is only four years older than you?

Joe hates her, so hurting her comes easy, but he is frightened by this inner demon, just as he’s frightened by his need to peep.

I am starting to wonder about Hitt’s obsession with older men marying younger women as it appears again and again.  Sure, it’s James M. Cain territory but Hitt focuses on it too much and he seems to loathe it, and it’s often a narrator’s father who weds the young ladies, or the the woman is the protagonist’s lover and they plot a murder.

Did Hitt’s missing father marry a younger woman, leaving him and his mother to fend for themselves?

Who knows.

Why psychoanlyze a writer?  Much can be said for Hitt’s alter egos all being over six feet tall and 190 lbs, or womanizers, or peeping toms — itt being a portly 5’5″, married with 4 kids, at home all day writing and happy about it all with his iced coffee and cigarettes and beer.

Even “Kay Adams” was disappointed to find out “Orrie Hitt” was not a tall handome man in his 30s.

I digress…

There are several sub-plots going on in Unnatural Urge:

1. Joe’s father dies in a mysterious hunting accident.  The old man likes to get drunk and hunt crows.  One day while hunting he comes across a photographer taking nude photos of a young woman (another Hitt obsession and common theme).  Then he is found dead, apparently his shotgun accidentally went off and he crawled under a barbed-wire fence, blowing half his head off.  But Joe doesm’t buy it; his father was an experienced hunter, drunk of not, and would never be that careless with his shot-gun.  Joe susopects foul play and while the sttae troopers dub it an accuidental death, Joe starts doing his own investigating, using his peeper skills…was it the photoagher and the model?  Did they kill is dad so he wouldn’t turn them in?  Or was it…

2. His step-mother informs Joe she is pregnant.  He thinks she did it on purpose to snare him.  She wants him to divorce Sally…first the father, now the son…

3. One of Joe’s employees has a wife, Helen, who has a lesbian thing for Linda’s sister, Alice…Joe even witnesses the two women go at it in bed as he peeps on them.  But Alice doesn’t want to be in a dyke relationship and stabs  Helen…

Joe goes to see a psychiatrist of some sort in the next town, using an alias, to help “cure” him of his peeper urges.  The doctor seems to cofnuse him all the more, giving him a Rosarch test and psychoanalyzing his childhood…

No happy endings in this one.  Joe drugs Linda and takes her, unconscious to an abortionist, while his peepering goes off the handle…he is betrayed by his wife, Sally, and ultimately Linda too…who needs a happy ending with all this dark stuff going on in Clinton, NY?

On the Hitt Scale, this is a 9.2.  Recommended.

One Response to “Unnatural Urge as told by Joe Black to Orrie Hitt (Midwood, 1962)”

  1. […] is a reporter, reporting on his own prowls and peeps; in Peeping Tom, the narrator is a painter; in Unnatural Urge, he’s a business man. In this one, the narrator, Johnny Brady, is a plumber, and he works for […]

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