By Susannah Breslin.
A is for Anthropophagy
He was an anthropophagiac, and so he could never understand why, if other people could, say, eat green eggs and ham, why then could he not eat a woman if he so wanted? He shook his head back and forth as he sat in his armchair in his living room. The men that he saw out in the world every day wanted to eat women, and he knew this because he watched them chew at women’s faces in big mouthfuls, and grab handfuls of women’s buttocks, and as they did it say, Yummm, and, Mmmmm. The women, for their part, he knew they wanted to be eaten because he saw them on his TV-screen longing to be devoured and consumed and taken in every piece of themselves, and it was in their eyes and the hike of their skirts and the way they rolled their tongues around in their mouths. But, instead of doing what he so wanted, he sat here by himself every night, holding a bucket of chicken wings dowsed in ketchup with his imagination working harder than his stomach. It was ridiculous, he thought, a tear coming to the edge of his lonely eye. America is not beautiful, really, he saw now. He bit down on another skinny chicken leg in the blue bask of his TV-screen, and he wondered, why is it so hard in this world for a man to eat a woman?
B is for Bestiality
Things had, of course, started down on the farm. In the distance rolled the endless green hills, in the barn swelled mounds of yellow straw. Each day, before the rabbit’s cage, a young boy would come to stand, sticking his fingers in through the holes of the bunny’s small enclosure. Each night, the boy would return, taking the rabbit off into the dark trees listing at the end of the farm’s undulating grasses. It was not until, as a teenager, flipping through the pages of a magazine, that the boy found a new kind of rabbit to love. This one took the form of a naked woman in a pink see-through bunny suit, her boobs and butt curving out towards him from underneath her flopping bunny ears. His hand, meanwhile, had crawled like a speeding crab right down to his shorts. Decades later, when the boy had become a man, who had married and divorced and had a great many women, he had engineered his whole life so that rabbits were all around him now at all times. And yet, what he had found was that no matter how many buildings he built, or how many bunnies he humped, none of them could ever take the place of that old rabbit down on the farm. Finally, when he had, at last, become a very old man, and lay dying on his deathbed with his mouth drawn into a wide-open cry, outside of his bedroom door waited only a herd of blonde bunnies. And, yes, they whispered to each other, his last wish really had, in fact, been for rarebit. And, indeed, they cooed, in the end, he had actually died with his broken hips thrusting into what every single one of them hoped was some kind of rabbit paradise.
C for Conjoined Twins
You had to love them, he thought, for how could you not, for you could not hate them, could you? There were so many things about them, after all, to love. Take, for example, when he was having them both — for how could he not? — as the likelihood one of them would be moaning, even if the other was yawning her mouth or rolling her eyes, was still incredibly high. If one went along, the other one had to; this was the beauty of their Y-shape in God’s own design. Now, whether or not the two of them needed him at all — this was the thought that woke him up screaming into the night as they lay sleeping side-by-side beside him. He knew it was entirely possible that one day they would stop bickering and fighting and putting their fingers into each other’s eyes, and he would be the one underneath them while one of them held his hands and the other one sliced his tongue in two with his own steak knife. Their two noodles sat suspended in divided vessels above undivided bodies, but to what degree they ever truly worked apart was nature’s greatest mystery. Thank god, he thought, as he pushed the lawnmower past the window where the two of them were now standing with a hand on each hip, staring down at him through their four narrowed eyes as the wet grass sprayed up and across his face in the terrible summer heat once again. Thank god that I hold the key to their lock between my legs, and praise the Lord that I am the pile-driver of their undivining love for me.
D is for Dacryphilia
You never truly knew what you were getting into on the day that you were born, now did you?, she thought to herself. For here she was today, her hands shaped in two cups, as the girl’s insides tumbled into her palms. Surely, he had meant well with this gift for her of the anatomical doll who had arrived in a box marked SWEET SUE. But, when she had removed the female figurine’s breastplate all its insides had come falling out, and then, Oh, oh!, Milton had cried, grappling into the empty air with his fat, white, and pasty hands. It was too late. By the time Sweet Sue’s small lungs had toppled, and her dark slab of kidney had fallen, and her plastic heart sat woodenly up on top of it all, Darlene, for all intents and purposes, had already left the scene of the crime. Inside her mind, it was as if reality was only a chalk outline drawn around a blood-soaked body that had been gurneyed away to the morgue. She had gone back in her head to that moment in time at which she had stood across from the young boy down by the lake near her childhood home, envisioning gutting him like a fish out of water, as he had systematically eviscerated her with his small, pink, and narrow tongue. So, today, while, thankfully, he was no longer alive, having drowned himself many years ago in his own bathtub, as his wife had washed the dishes, even though the pieces of Sweet Sue were bone cold to the touch, Darlene could hardly wait to feel Milton’s heart beating hot and wet between her two hands as she squeezed out of him the sorry tears of his all too easily won love for her.
E is for Eunuch
You could call him nullified, or orchidectomized, or emasculated, or a eunuch, but he was simply the possessor of a penectomy, a person who no longer bore his penis, a man undeniably lacking in what he had previously carried in his lower basket, and he had, therefore, since become the ingestor of a multitude of hormone-filled pharmaceuticals, and turned into the personal curator of his own Johnson in a jar, and resultingly realized that he was now the type of individual who could silence an entire dinner-party full of people at the mere drop of a hat with the mere drop of his pants, and yet what he had discovered since this rather sudden change of life events was that while he had fantasized rapturously as a young man of chemical castration, and spent several years seriously considering moving to India to linger amongst the third-sexed there by the banks of the Katni River, it was actually only one year ago that his brain had become wholly overrun by words like “Elastrator,” and “Burdizzo,” and “Underground Doctors,” and it was only rather recently that he had found himself lying quite awake, because he had wanted it that way, on a cold kitchen table, because they had wanted it that way, praying to whomever looked over poor souls like him that someday someone would lean over him in some dark bed somewhere and be happy to find him so wonderfully smooth, but the problem was that now, today, at this very moment, in that imaginary bed he was truly lying, and he knew without a doubt, even with the lights off, that the person lying next to him was doing nothing but snoring, and coming down the back alleyways of his mind for him was his own terrible penis, and it was angry, and it was carrying at its side an entire suitcase filled to overflowing with his whole, long, lonely life that he had lived thus far, and, already, the suitcase was falling open and spilling its whole horrible mess out all over the floor of his mind, and he knew, with no reservations needed, thank you very much, that he would slip in it, and that this new smoothness of his, which had been intended to lubricate his life, would make it impossible for him to ever get back up again.
F is for Forniphilia
She was standing in the corner. She had a lampshade on her head. The lampshade was making her head sweat. I am a lamp, she told herself. She was standing in the corner with her arms straight down at her sides and a lampshade on her head, waiting for her husband to come home. Her husband wanted her to be a lamp. Her husband was great. But he wanted his wife to be different pieces of furniture, depending on the day of the week. That was hard. For her. It turned him on. She said out loud, “I am a lamp”. She didn’t really want to be a lamp, though. She wanted to be a human being. That was the problem. A lamp, she told herself. I am a lamp, she thought again. Who knew what she would be tomorrow? Maybe she would become an armchair. An armchair is better than a lamp, she told herself. But then it occurred to her that being an armchair would probably require her to bend both of her legs all the way back over her head so that her butt would become the seat. And that wouldn’t be comfortable. At all. Then god only knew what would happen if her husband wanted to sit down on top of her at his desk to do some work that he had brought home from the office. Probably, she would break. A broken armchair. She heard her husband’s key as it began to turn in the lock of their front door. She thought to herself, At this rate, I will end up as a bike rack. Day in and day out, she imagined in her mind’s eye for herself, she would ride around on the back of her husband’s car. In the wind. In the rain. In the snow. It would never end. The tall dark outline of her husband stepped into the room. I am a lamp, she told herself underneath the lampshade. That was what her husband wanted. She turned herself on.
G is for Giantessophilia
“I am a lover of large.” The very tall woman cupped her hand to her ear and bent down towards the tiny man to hear what he was saying. The tiny man cleared his throat pointedly. “I,” he shouted, “am a lover of large!” The tiny man watched the face of the giantess before him. He could see by her eyes she was undecided. He looked down the street. Her bus wasn’t coming yet. He returned to her gaze. He could understand her dilemma. Obviously, she had spent the majority of if not all of her life alone. After all, how could any one man deal with any one woman so very tall? It would be difficult to manage. It would be easier to manage someone smaller, someone you felt you could push around a bit, to get to do what you wanted. The tiny man fancied himself more of a big game hunter. He had known as soon as he had seen the very tall woman waiting for the bus that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. “I AM,” he bellowed as loud as he possibly could, “A LOVER OF LARGE!” He would be a challenge for her, he knew. She would have to make sure not to step on him in the kitchen, not to roll over on him while she was sleeping and accidentally smother him to death, not to crush him with what he suspected would become an overwhelming love for him. “LOVER OF LARGE!!” he yelled and winked. The two stood there on the street corner as the world moved around them. The very tall woman. The tiny man. The bus rounded the corner. For a moment, their future swung in the balance. The tall woman sized up the tiny man. The special needs of a woman taller than most were hard to sate, she knew. He, she decided, would do.
H is for Hardcore
You’d think that porn would have helped. You’d think that porn would have made everything better. You’d think that porn would have seen that your life went as you had planned. You’d think that “Barely Legal” would have started you out on the right foot. You’d think that “Stop My Ass Is on Fire” would have answered any questions you had along the way. You’d think that “The World’s Biggest Gangbang” would have illuminated your path into adulthood. You’d think that “American Bukkake” would have demonstrated the importance of hard work. You’d think that “The Vomitorium” would have reminded you this was the life you always wanted. You’d think that “Rough Sex” would have explained you were still alive, no matter how you felt. You’d think that “Perverted Stories” would have made it clear there was no other route for you to take. You’d think that “House of Freaks” would have shown you what it was you were becoming. You’d think that “Pink Eye” would have opened your eyes to where it was you were heading. You’d think that “Midget in a Suitcase” would have illustrated just how little growing room you really had. You’d think that the coprophagy and bestiality tapes would have driven you out to find the girl of your dreams. You’d think that “White Trash Whore” would have gotten you to see it was time to finally settle down. You’d think that “Gag Factor” would have gotten you through the vows. You’d think that “Ready to Drop” would have made you want to start a family. You’d think that “Golden Showers” would have carried you through the darkest times. You’d think that “Century Sex” would have kept you company when everyone was gone and it was you and porn alone, at last. You’d think.
I is for Immobilization
The couple didn’t have a lot of money. The wife collected coupons, and the husband drove on fumes. They lived in a trailer surrounded by fire ants in a state shaped like a gun. The refrigerator was decorated with postcards featuring beaches and notes on the other side written to strangers. For dinners, they sacrificed squirrels, bowing their heads in silent reverence for the unknown lives of God’s most furtive creatures. What they valued were intangibles: marriage’s intimacies, a hand held on a night walk, the maintaining of the septic tank. Years passed like this. Eventually, the husband grew sick, and there was no money to take him to the doctor. Quietly, they circled the wagons, carried out whispered negotiations, waited for something to happen. Near the end, the husband requested his immobilization. This way, he explained, he would never leave her. The wife was ready. The next day, she emerged from the listing shed with a roll of duct tape and approached the husband in the bed. Moving systematically, she wrapped the duct tape around his body: taping his legs together, taping his arms to his sides, taping his mouth shut. For a time, she sat there, listening to his breathing. The husband breathed in. The husband breathed out. She did not want him to stop. Outside, the heat lightning flashed, but there was no rain. At this point, she had forgotten how long they had been married. A lifetime, it seemed. The day they married was one bookend; this was the other. She patted the husband inside his black cocoon. He was all in one piece. At the last minute, she considered taping herself to him, but there wasn’t enough tape left.
J is for Johns
I’m in my car across the street from a massage parlor. AMP. That’s what they call them. Asian Massage Parlor. I went to something like this in Vietnam where you got a haircut and a blowjob at the same time, but that was years ago, and this is the United States. I’ve been here an hour. I’ve got a business card in my hand. Some Asian lady almost as old as me gave it to me at a gas station. Must’ve recognized something in me, I guess. Maybe I’ve got mark written across my forehead. That’s not my name. That’s what I am. I hadn’t intended to be here. My golf game is improving. That’s what I’m focusing on. In retirement, it’s important to keep your mind, body, and spirit active, so I’ve been known to play bocce, and I’m a member of the Italian American League, and I play Sudoku. It’s not enough. Not the bocce, or the IAL, or the games. I have noticed there is no one in my world who is willing to touch me. Sure, sometimes a fellow will grab your upper arm and shake your hand with his other hand. It’s not the same. Look at me. I have blackish spots on me. I don’t even want to know what that means. I was married three times, and not one of them stuck. I guess I’m not sticky enough. I’m going to go inside. I’m going to talk to the lady at the front desk. I’m going to hand her my money. In the back, I’ll take off my clothes, and I’ll lie on a table under a sheet, and I’ll smile at the girl who enters. I don’t care if it’s five minutes, or thirty minutes, or sixty minutes. I’ll let her do whatever she wants to me. I need someone to get her hands on me.
K is for Kleptolagnia
The kleptolagniac moved about her apartment, opening and closing things. In her underwear drawer, she found the first item she had taken: a Boy Scout badge for having successfully set a fire that she had torn from the shirt of Tim Ribbins, 9, after he had kissed her and then given her a look indicating he was about to sprint in the opposite direction. In the medicine cabinet, she discovered a bottle of pills thieved from Maurice Portmanteau, 17, who had taken her virginity and in doing so fairly commanded her to steal something from him in return. In the silverware drawer, she located the see-no-evil wooden monkey figurine no bigger than her thumb that she had cruelly separated from its hear-no-evil and speak-no-evil wooden monkey figurine siblings that had belonged to Theodore Bart, 23, the R.A. in her college dorm who had seemingly favored the other girl in the three-way over her. On a bookshelf in the living room, she fingered a copy of Lord Jim, nicked from Obatu Rial, 34, her first and last husband, who had attempted to leave with only his books, a small request she had refused to honor fully. In the pantry, she peeled back the top of a tin of Vienna sausages, revealing a series of meaty tubes covered in gray-green mold, reminding her of their previous owner, Bettina Min, 41, who had provided a reprieve from an endless parade of men but proved herself no more capable of filling the empty pocket where the kleptolagniac’s heart had been. In the garden, she unearthed a prosthetic leg engraved with the name of its previous owner, Alan York, 52, the man she had gone out on a blind date with last night, who was at this very moment probably waking up to discover his date had given him a fake phone number and absconded with his substitute limb. She stood up, bent back her leg, and fit her knee into the top of the artificial extremity. She used an ace bandage and a belt to attach it to her. She wandered around the yard, moving awkwardly through the sun-dappled grass. For a moment, she felt complete, at last.
L is for Lesbians
Denise liked to go to Costco early, because if you went early, the whole place wasn’t swamped, and Denise didn’t really like people, especially not the kind that lived around here. Molly, on the other hand, liked to go to Costco midday, because she thought it was more fun to be trying to get your hands on one of those pre-cooked chickens while everyone else lunged at them. Near a towering stack of canned olives, Denise helped herself to a sample from the older woman whose lot in life was to warm up pieces of pulled pork and watch Costco customers stuff them down their gullets. The pulled pork looked sad, Denise thought, inspecting the shredded wad. “I’ll eat it,” Molly offered. Without thinking, Denise popped the pork into Molly’s half-opened mouth. Behind Molly, a man wearing a baseball hat celebrating some war or the other stopped and made a face at them. Suffice to say, Denise and Molly didn’t blend into the crowd down here. In a sea of, as Denise liked to say it, GAWD BLESS MURICA shirts and MAYUD IN MURICA jeans, the two women, with their hair dyed colors not found in nature and tattoos celebrating their otherness, were standouts, to say the least. The dumb redneck behind Molly jabbed his elbow into his depressed-looking wife’s ribs and motioned at Molly, who was blissfully unaware and happily chewing her mouthful of cooked pig meat. Suddenly, Denise was sorry. Sorry she had ever expressed a lack of interest in going to Costco, sorry that for some reason having to do with her dead mother she had continued to refuse to marry Molly even after they were legally permitted to do so, sorry most of all that she had never kissed Molly in public, not in two years, and the one time Molly had attempted to kiss her, on a dock behind a restaurant at sunset, where no one was even there, Denise had withdrawn. Sorry, sorry, sorry, Denise chided herself in her head. The idiot man’s wife turned her mouth into a shape indicating it was bearing witness to something terrible and sour. Denise had had enough. She reached out and grabbed Molly somewhat too hard and pulled her to her, so they were standing breasts to breasts, hip bones to hip bones, pelvis to pelvis. Molly smelled like agave shampoo from Whole Foods and friendly armpit sweat. Denise pressed her mouth against Molly’s mouth, which, thankfully, opened willingly, and closed her eyes so as to avoid the surely aghast mob of offended peoples circling around them in this godforsaken backwards state of mind.
M is for Melissophilia
She had a thing for insects. She had a lot of things for a lot of things, but what she really had a thing for was bugs. Men, in her life, had come and gone, but the insects stayed with her. She had wandered through her backyard as a young girl, collecting ladybugs, and fireflies, and crickets in glass jars. Late at night in her room, she watched while they glowed, and fought, and died. When she grew up, insects would appear to her at the strangest times. As she slept, they would arrive in droves, buzzing around her sleeping head. When she was lost on a road, a swarm would descend upon her, obliterating the world around her. While she was having sex, they flew out from within her, bees from her mouth, wasps from between her legs, and flies from her ears. The men, for their part, were not so persistent. At a certain point, she had realized, this was her fate. For her, in life, as it happened, insects were the only thing upon which she could depend. So, she found herself lying flat on a table, naked, most evenings. A large man crouched over her, tattooing a chaos of insects onto her body. Over time, a maze of bees droned quietly across her stomach. A winding parade of ants crawled up into the secrets of her armpits. A great praying mantis stood itself up along her backbone. When the man was almost finished, and the woman was entirely covered by his work, the two realized they were in love with one another. For years, the man lay next to the woman, watching the insects crawling the great expanse of her body, moving, and writhing, and shifting in the dark.
N is for Narratophilia
I work at Starbucks, and when the order taker barks the next person’s name, I write the name, and under the name, in cursive, carefully and slowly, I write fuck you. I stop for a second and look up at the guy who’s about to get the cup. Frank, that’s his name. He’s handing the girl a few dollars and has no idea what’s happening. I look back at the cup. FRANK, it reads, in ink from my pen, FUCK YOU. Fuck you, Frank, I think. Today’s my last day. The drink is ready, and I hand it to him. Near the door, I see him see the letters on the side of the cup, pause, look at it. He looks around a little. I wipe the counter. Does Frank know it’s me? Maybe. The next day, I come back. I didn’t quit. I hate this job, but I need the money. FRANK, I hear the guy working the register shout. I write FRANK on the cup. Under that, I write, YOU STUPID FUCKING BITCH. I wait until Frank picks up the drink. This time, I lean back against the counter like, what? I want to see what he’s going to do. He reads the cup. He mouths out the words. Stupid fucking bitch, he says silently. He stares at the cup, and his cheeks flush a little bit. I go back to wiping the counter. I have four hours left in my shift. The next day, I come back. I’m going to quit today. I mean it. Maybe half an hour after we open, I hear it. FRANK. I’m not the person writing names on cups today, but I walk up to the girl who is, and I tell her that her bagel is burning, and then I pick up the cup, and under the word FRANK, I write, I’M GOING TO RAPE YOU. I know this is wrong, and people I go to school with would get really mad about this, girls mostly, and talk about rape culture endlessly, but the reality is that I have this feeling about Frank, and the best way for me to say it is for me to say what I’ve said on this cup. This time, I push myself in front of the machine and make the drink myself. I can see Frank out of the corner of my eye. He’s waiting. I wonder if this makes him want to get a boner, or if it’s about the words and how they look on the cup, or if it’s about the gap between us and the lines we’re using to try and realign ourselves. Frank walks over to a table, sits. He hasn’t looked at the cup. What the fuck, I think. I don’t get it. I don’t get Frank. I thought I did, but I guess I don’t. Fucking Frank. Right before he leaves, Frank walks over and sticks a twenty in the tip jar. I get really hot all at once, and I feel really pissed at the same time. This is confusing. I forget about it and work the rest of my shift. The day I quit, Frank comes in right before closing. I’ve spent the whole day waiting for him. I’m ready. He bypasses the register and the line altogether, and there I am, and I slide the cup across the counter to him, and I see his face when he sees it. I’ve covered the cup in words, everything I want to say to him, it’s black with them, like chicken scratch, and every word is filthy.
O is for Octopus
She was a master of tentaculation. She was a cepholapod of considerable abilities. She was a writhing mandala of be-suckered sensory organs, feeling her way along. A long time ago, a man had been turned into a cockroach. Thusly transformed, he lay in bed all day, flailing and kicking as life passed him by. She, on the other hand, had awoken in the middle of a dream that had never left her. That morning, rising from her bed, she had been utterly transfixed by the writhing shadows of her newly sprouted tentacles projected before her on the wall. Now, she walked the city with her arms fanning out behind her as if she were the distant cousin of an Indian goddess. She let the tips of her limbs trail across the storefront windows, leaving behind small patterns of sticky suckers. She reached out to all the men she passed, tugging their ties from their necks, tracing careful lines to their zippers, gracefully winding herself around them. She had a particular need inside her. She had a sinful wanting within her. At the end of the day, she found herself at the edge of an ocean. She made her way into it. She sank to the bottom. She watched the legs of the men who had followed her kicking far above her. She let her never-ending arms float upwards towards them. She took hold of their ankles and wrists. She pulled them down to her. In her garden, the men entertained her, locked forever in her tentacled embrace.
P is for Porn Star
You live in North Hollywood, or Van Nuys, or Los Feliz. You were born in 1993, or 1995, or 1996. You’re blonde, or you’re a redhead, or you’re a brunette. You’ve got a great body, or an outgoing personality, or you just like to have fun and party. You wear socks to your knees with weed leaves on them, or a cut up shirt that reads FUCK YOUR HUSTLE in cursive, or a side ponytail that’s ironic. You listen to hip hop, or are a big fan of Diplo, or go every year to Indio. Originally, you’re from North Carolina, but you got your start dancing at a strip club in Miami, and the first scene you did went straight to the internet. Your parents don’t know, or they don’t care, or it doesn’t matter anyway because you do what you want to do. You didn’t have an agent, you got an agent, the top agent who signed you told you to move to Hollywood if you wanted to make it big so you did. In the Valley, you screw on a soundstage, and you’re not going to lie: it’s awkward sometimes, and there are days a part of you wonders how you went from being a psych major to this gig. Personally, you’d rather stick to girl-girl, but there’s no money in it, so you start doing boy-girl. The checks get bigger. Your Twitter following grows. You have more Facebook friends than real friends. Some dork in Indiana makes an entire YouTube channel dedicated to all your scenes with the hardcore sex taken out so it’s you talking to the camera and that’s it. You’re white hot, someone tells you, which seems as good a time as any to follow in the footsteps of the girls who came before you, and you kick things up a notch. You do a three-way scene. You do a gangbang scene. You do an orgy scene in which you lose yourself in a way that reminds you of being drunk even though you’re sober because above all else you’re a fucking professional. You’re an entrepreneur, but what you really want to do is DJ, and you model for American Apparel, which is like whatever. One day, a middle-aged guy recognizes you in the back of a CVS as you’re buying tampons and self-tanner, and he tells you you’re beautiful, and that’s creepy. It’s hard to believe it’s only been six months. It happened that fast. You don’t tell anybody, but you’ve made more money so far this year than your dad made in the last five. You’re not stupid, you don’t spend it, you hire a financial planner and save it and invest it. This is your hustle, your five-year plan, the Excel spreadsheet that will fulfill your spin on the American dream. Once upon a time, girls like you were meat puppets, dime store idiots turned out by suitcase pimps with last names ending in vowels, ground up suckers spinning out on Instagram accounts. That’s so not you. You’re better than that. You’re a brand. You’re a business. You’re a star shooting across the Valley sky forever and ever.
Q is for Queer
The mother knew the son was gay the moment she laid eyes on him in the delivery room. She took the swaddled form from the nurse and pulled it close. Across the room, the husband was gazing vacantly into the distance. The husband was slow and unsophisticated. He would have to go, the wife decided, her life now dedicated to protecting the son and his interests. Within a year, the wife had divorced the husband. She was no longer the wife; she was only the mother. In his highchair, the son gazed loopily at her and emitted a thin line of drool, banging his organic sweet potato-covered spoon against the tray. The mother shoveled another spoonful of orange glop into the son’s mouth and planned his future. When he requested to be a princess for Halloween, she would buy him a pale blue Cinderella dress bedazzled with rhinestones. When he announced he was going to be a fireman, she would hand him a tiny axe and a red fireman’s hat. When he left for college, she would hang her arms around his neck like an albatross. When he married the man of his dreams, she would weep. When she died, he would lean over her and realize they were the same.
R is for Robot
“Hello, Chipp Champion.” The robot’s facial recognition software was working. Her eyes shifted and refocused to gaze at him. “Hello, robot,” Chipp Champion said. The robot’s head was still in the wooden box. It was tucked into the same compartment as what appeared to be the left calf. “It’s going to be a beautiful day, isn’t it?” The robot blinked twice. She had long dark eyelashes and a way of ending her sentences with an upbeat tone that pleased him. He looked around. The garage doors were still closed. She must have a weather chip inside of her somewhere. Over the course of the afternoon, he worked dedicatedly to assemble her: attached the foot to the calf, hooked the arms into the shoulder sockets, inserted the vaginal cavity between her legs. By the time he was manipulating the head, it was dark outside, and he could hear the cicadas singing. There was something romantic about it: her head in his lap, her eyes staring at the ceiling, the soft weight of her body across his legs feeling almost human. He clicked the neck into place, and her head rotated back and forth on its stem. “Chipp Champion,” the robot said, “installation is complete.” He stood in the doorway, his figure outlined by the kitchen lights behind him, and waited, watching the robot get herself on her hands and knees, struggle to stand for the first time, gingerly make her way across the cement floor to him. She stumbled slightly crossing the threshold; he wanted to reach out to grab her but didn’t – it was important she learn to do things on her own. He watched her stagger into the kitchen. She surveyed the living room. She rested her left hand on the granite countertop of the kitchen island and drummed her fingers. She was taking it all in: her new life with him. He would have to buy her some clothes, he realized. He couldn’t let her wander around naked like this. It didn’t seem right. He went over to the sliding doors that led out to the pool. “Come,” he said and beckoned to her. Outside, he helped her get situated in the other chair next to the table. He lit the gardenia-scented candle. He placed a glass of sweet tea on the placemat in front of her. She wouldn’t drink it – she couldn’t drink it – but it felt weird for him to have sweet tea and for her to have none. He watched her eye the pool warily. The sound of the cicadas rose. Underneath their chorus, he could hear her gears whirring.
S is for Symphorophilia
I have spent my whole life chasing disasters: women, implosions, collapses. The day the earthquake happened, I was in my car, one of thousands of vehicles clogging a cement artery funneling humans into the City. The moment I saw the bridge moving – the cables swinging like jump ropes, the paved lanes buckling from the strain, the towers teetering in the lack of surety – I began masturbating. Looking back, I would not say it was particularly sexual but more reverential. The double deck slammed down onto the lower deck, I ejaculated, and seed sputtered across the steering wheel. No one noticed, I am fairly sure. They were too caught up in their own raptures. Truth be told, I did time my apparent spontaneous elopement with my current wife to the planned demolition of a Las Vegas casino that was intended to make way for new construction. I pretended not to look as the structure fell in upon itself, but I could see the glow of the destruction reflected in her irises, and later I conjured up her expression – something halfway between terror and titillation – as I entered her on our honeymoon bed. It is possible these desires of mine – which I assume to be natural yet am told are not – are related to a significant incident in my childhood. One night, my father flew into a rage, shot my mother, and turned the gun on himself. I was a toddler, my aunt tells me. I assure you, I don’t remember anything of it. I ascertain, though, I may have been impacted by the incident. I am bound up in the concentric circles surrounding its epicenter. I am caught in the calm of that storm’s whorling eye. I have been known to hover outside the circle of light at the entrance to an emergency room, my chosen lover held close to me, my lips muttering sweet nothings in her ear as the sirens blare and the red lights spin.
T is for Trichotillomania
The best thing about getting cancer was that it cured my trichotillomania. I stood by in horror – my body ravaged, my head bald, my breasts robbed – and watched myself shed its hair. Since 11, I’d been doing it myself: removing the hairs one by one. The thrill of the pluck. The admiration of the prize. The consumption of the object. I was Ouroboros, eating myself. The diagnosis was grim. The tumor spotted inside my stomach was bigger than a honeydew melon. I wasn’t expected to live. Instead of cutting me open across the middle, they dosed me with drugs. The toxic army acted with impunity, the leader and its minions slaughtering every fast-growing cell within me. My gums bled. My tongue mildewed. I was denailed. I felt dismay as the hairs fled their roosts of their own volition, denying me their extraction. One morning, I grabbed a fistful of head hair, tugged it out, and shoved it in my mouth. (I was in the shower. No one knew. Not even my husband.) It wasn’t the same. I couldn’t tell if I was suffering from chemically-induced anhedonia or if the process of auto-depilitation had lost its eroticism. I gagged and vomited in the toilet. Eyelashes fell. Eyebrows made themselves absent. Eventually, I was hairless. In the tub, I checked to make sure. As I expected, my pubic area was nude. A Brazilian wax paid for by medical insurance, I concluded, and laughed, my wails bouncing off the bathroom’s travertine tiling. My husband tried to help. Realizing I was despondent, he showed up at my bedside with a small box and a bottle of glue. He spent several hours reattaching my hairs to various parts of me. The next time I showered, they unstuck themselves. I was a Sphinx. In the end, it was important for me to remind myself that every experience contains within it a lesson. After the cancer was gone, my hair grew back, and I became a changed woman. I never shaved, I never waxed, I never plucked. I grew like a forest: my armpits the ferns, the place between my legs the mosses, the lengths of my legs the centuries-old redwoods. My husband bowed respectfully every time he went down on me.
U is for Underpants
UNDERPANTS, the sign over the door read. The line was down the block and around the corner. It was opening day. At nine, she let in the first one – a man in a navy business suit carrying a briefcase embossed with his initials. She scanned his face and led him to the bikini-style section. His hand hovered over a pink and turquoise striped pair. She shook her head slightly. His hand moved to a lavender pair with no stripes. She nodded. In a changing room, she put on the underpants. In the middle of the store, the two stood opposite one another. For a moment, the man in the suit hesitated, unsure what to do. Sexdar, she called it jokingly. The ability to look at someone and know exactly what they want sexually. For years, she had trotted it out at parties, a trick to amuse the masses. Invariably, the eyes of the individual under scrutiny would widen as she spoke aloud their unspoken fantasies. It was like being psychic, but a perverse version. The man in the suit was breathing heavily. His brow was shiny with a light sheen of sweat. He had put the briefcase down somewhere. His right hand opened and clenched. This gift of hers had come from her former profession. The overexposure to sexual scenarios had made it possible for her to see inside of people. It was a blessing. It was a curse. She tugged at the belt of the wrap dress she had put on this morning, and the fabric pooled at her feet. She had hardy hips and presentable breasts. For most men, that was enough. She hadn’t the faintest idea what the man in the suit did for a living – something boring, assuredly – but she was absolutely certain that – … “What,” the man in the suit interrupted. “What do I do?” His voice was plaintive. He searched her face for an answer. “Nothing,” she said, checking the clock on the wall behind his head. Through the cement blocks, she could hear the sounds of the men outside growing restless. They wanted to come inside, too. “Nothing at all,” she said.
V is for Vagina
Several years ago, the average guy goes to a strip club. It’s his coworker’s bachelor party. What’s referred to as a feature dancer is appearing at the club that night. She’s a porn star, apparently, and a famous one, at that. He pays for his overpriced drink ($17), takes a seat at the rail (next to the stage), and participates in the conversation about tomorrow’s game (Green Bay vs. Bills). A string of unmemorable girls take the stage, disrobing to random songs, crawling across the floor and looking for dollar bills. Finally, sometime after midnight, the place goes dark, and the star appears in the halo of a spotlight. There’s something different about her; her presence reminds him of the movie poster for “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.” She stomps around the stage, rips off the little clothing she’s wearing, and bends over in front of him. Her vagina winks at him. This moment changes everything. Afterwards, he waits in a line with a bunch of other average guys who are paying $20 to pose for a Polaroid with her. At the point it becomes his turn, he spots a small table next to her. She is selling copies of her latest movies ($45), underpants she has worn sealed in Ziploc bags ($75), and boxes containing silicone replicas of her vagina ($150). He smiles stiffly and points at the mold. Her bodyguard (6’6”, 305 lbs., former OT for the Patriots) hands him a box with a fake vagina in it and takes his money. The porn star nods happily, and he goes back to his friends who tease him mercilessly. The next day, he wakes up early and doesn’t have a hangover. He watches the game, and in the late afternoon, he retrieves the box and removes the mold from the plastic bag in which it has been packed. Now, it’s just him, and this plastic vagina sitting on the edge of his bed. Outside, someone is using a leaf blower to blow leaves off the sidewalk. The shades are drawn. Through the floor, he can hear the sound of the guy downstairs watching the next game. He looks at the vagina and thinks about the dancer last night: the curve of her back, her fake boobs with half-moon surgical scars underneath them, the hairless V between her legs. According to the box, the toy was molded on her body, and he wonders if this close relationship indicates the fake vagina contains with in it some type of spiritual essence of her. By the time he inserts himself inside it, the leaf blower has stopped, and it’s dark outside. It’s awkward: his face in the pillow, his eyes closed, his brain thinking of the girl on the stage. A part of the average guy knows he’s having sex with something someone made in a factory, but in the end it doesn’t really matter.
W is for Waterboarding
In recent years, the number of requests for waterboarding that Mistress Clarissa receives has multiplied exponentially. It’s as if every man in this city of millions can’t wait to get on her table. In the course of a day, she will likely get a dozen requests from existing and new clients who demand she nearly drown them. Somewhere between reading about it in the Times and seeing it on CNN, these gentlemen have turned an interrogation technique into the fetish of the moment. Even the most vanilla fetishists who used to be happy with a good spanking are handing over thousands of dollars for a full course of watering. In fact, the trend towards sexual terrorism is so overwhelming she keeps raising her rates for the hour it takes – the hooding, the strapping, the boarding – to keep the number she doses daily manageable. Earlier this year, someone added her to a review site of erotic providers, and everyone is raving about her. In the last week, she’s doused a billionaire from China, an internet entrepreneur from Brazil, and a diamond distributor from South Africa. Professionally, she explains, she gets it: They feel they can’t ask their wife/girlfriend/significant other to do this to them. Personally, she admits, she doesn’t get it: It’s not clear what these men are getting out of it. “This morning,” she observes, “I was pouring, and the client was convulsing, and it occurred to me that maybe every person is a box that contains a secret.” She shrugs. “I guess they’ve decided I’m the one they want to torture their secret out of them.”
X is for Xenophilia
We were on the planet for many years before the inhabitants presented themselves. They arrived in some sort of hovercraft and spent several hours levitating thirty yards off our third deck. Apparently, they were unsure whether to retreat from us or to board us. Eventually, they decided to join our crew, and we watched with delight as they walked the gangplank to our welcoming bay. We fed them from our rations and engaged in friendly conversations. Internally, we were abundantly thankful for their ascension to our lowly station. We had spent the last decade with only one another, and at that point we had had our fill of each other’s company. Slowly, we paired off, and the process was so smooth that we almost didn’t notice as Willard, João, and Yegor departed the ship and occupied satellite housing facilities with their new mates. Initially, we believed these locals who had accepted us with embracing arms and sidewinder smiles were our doppelgängers. Alone with them, we found them to be another species altogether. We looked on with slack jaws as they revealed themselves to us: their ability to switch faces at the drop of an astronaut’s helmet, the way the skin stretched taut across their alarmingly symmetrical bodies, changed colors under duress, the mysterious orifices that, we swore, relocated themselves on a near nightly basis. It was like dating a thousand-mile wind in a far off galaxy you’d never visited. Did we trust them? Hardly. Did that stop us? Of course not. Were we not men? We were. No matter what our leader had declared at our sending-off ceremony, we knew we would never be returning to our homes, our wives, our children, and we had to make do with what we had in this new place. We insisted upon solace and reproduced. Our offspring were chimera, logically. Featureless faces smeared across the fronts of oversized heads precariously perched atop miniature bodies that could run for miles. We put them to use gathering specimens that we downloaded and sent back to our oversight group. In the evenings, we watched the suns set and held our odd broods close. Silently, we prayed to whatever thought itself omnipotent in this great sea of black space that the couplings we had undertaken would not devour us whole as we lay sleeping.
Y is for You
You live in the suburbs. You drive the same car everyone else drives. You pull into the driveway of the house next door, and you don’t realize it’s not your house (because every house looks exactly the same) until your key doesn’t fit in the lock. You get up, you get back in your car, you go to work. Your life is great, your life is boring, you think you’re going to put a knife in your eye if you have to spend one more day like this. The boss yells at you, so you go in the bathroom, and you rub one out and feel better immediately. That night, you search the internet for porn – big girls, hot guys, total deviance – and nothing turns you on except for when you give up and masturbate in front of the mirror while shooting a series of short videos of yourself doing it, which you send to no one. You’re dating; you cheat. You’re married; you get a divorce. You’re single; you fuck everyone. You got to a bar, and nothing happens, so you go home and try to masturbate in front of the mirror while shooting a video of yourself again, but the thought of what you’re doing and the fact that there’s no one you can send it to is depressing, so you give up, and you go to bed instead. You wake up in the morning. You decide to change your life. You get in your car, you go to work, you do your job. You stop rubbing one out in the restroom, you stop searching the internet for porn, you stop masturbating in front of the mirror while shooting videos. You become a better person, you learn to appreciate your life in the suburbs, you never have another deviant thought in your head. That is, until you end up masturbating to the video of yourself masturbating in front of the mirror while shooting a video of yourself, and you come as you watch yourself come, and you realize you’re a pervert, you’re a deviant, you’re a freak, that’s just who you are.
Z is for Zombies
As part of the one percent, Allan and Eleanor survived the zombie invasion in near-perfect tranquility. They had built their McMansion far underground, and the illuminated digital views of pastoral landscapes enabled them to pretend they resided on the surface. In another life, Eleanor had made a killing selling zombie-themed erotic fiction. That was before the epidemic. At the time, it didn’t seem possible the human race could be impacted so significantly, and as a way of dealing with widespread anxiety, Eleanor’s readers had worked themselves into a frenzy by sexualizing what would turn out to be humanity’s mortal enemy. Allan peered over his screen and surveyed his wife reclining on the fainting couch. “I have no heart,” she moaned seductively. The front of her peach silk robe fell open, and her mouth gaped. As he watched, she slid on to the floor and waved her arms up and down like she was making snow angels in weather about which they’d forgotten. “I am undead,” she called and spread apart her legs. “Are you a zombie?” Allan asked and moved his screen aside. His wife the zombie rubbed her flat stomach. “I am full of brains,” she gurgled. Allan stood up and removed his shirt. Behind him, the digital landscape shifted from a view of the cliffs in Scotland to a sunset exploding over the Dead Sea. “So they’ve finally gotten you,” Allan muttered and unbuckled his pants. “Reanimate me,” the zombie on the floor wooed. With that, he fell upon her.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Susannah Breslin is an author, journalist, and blogger.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, January 7th, 2015.