(with apologies to Franz Kafka)
((Well, not real apologies. I mean, fuck him if he wouldn’t have liked it. Yeah, fuck Kafka. Lunatic psychotic.))
HEADS I WIN, TAILS YOU LOSE
by E. Coli
It was a beautiful day. Peter brushed pieces of green, crusted sleep from his eyes and took in a yawn the size of a newborn babe’s first breath. The long white granny curtains in his room looked like sheer angels that had waited since sunup to greet him with their innocent knowing smiles. Tomorrow was his day off. He’d been looking forward to it for weeks. Today was only the precursor to better things, he thought to himself, and he clambered out of bed with an enthusiasm reserved only for the young and stupid. He stretched every muscle fiber in his body and hopped limberly onto the cool green carpet, Confidently, he shook tired brown curls from his eyes. It was going to be a beautiful day.
The shower felt exhilarating. Each steaming raindrop pierced his skin, making him tingle. Shyness not being one of his pronounced traits, he sang loud and crisply so all the nearby neighbors could hear the first botched six lines of “Rock Around The Clock” – six more times than they really cared to. Spring being in the air and therefore in everyone’s lungs, no one complained.
The bathroom sufficiently steamed, Peter picked up a brand new dry bar of iced blue soap and lathered his hands. It was customary for him to wash his hair, his face, and then the rest of his body, but this morning he was feeling especially horny. He rubbed the soap on his palms, thinking of the tingling feelings of sex and the hopefully wild upcoming week at the lake with Babe.
He closed his eyes and bent back his neck so the points of fast, hot water collided with the skin on his throat and dripped sensuously down his sensitive flanks. Eagerly, with the uninhibited spirit of post-adolescent youth, he moved his hands lower, to where fatherhood nestled proudly in the wiry underbrush. Ten happy instruments of self-fulfillment pushed their way through a rough tangled thatch, down, down to where? Peter fumbled. It didn’t take more than a couple of seconds for him to realize that his genitals were gone.
His mouth dropped open and water splashed in. The air in his lungs refused to leave until he coughed it out with dots of sour water. Throwing open the blue plastic shower curtain with rows of little cotton balls (what were they for, anyway?), he stamped his feet on the warm, damp bathroom rug and hopped in front of the cloudy door mirror. Carelessly and topped off with panic, he wiped off the film of steam with his palm and brushed a moist picture that should have framed his groin and a blood engorged animal balloon. He peered fearfully down to where his genitals were – or should have been. The running steam from the shower’s hose clouded up the silver vanity glass but not before Peter could see what he refused to believe. He smacked the side of his face with the palm of his hand, hard, but the stinging only made a terrible reality even clearer. A queasy feeling welled up from his gut and threatened to fill his mouth with sour acid. It took some serious effort to hold it down. The scene in the mirror faded to a moist, gray close. The screaming psychotic shower muffled the involuntary whimpers that escaped through his quivering lips.
“Oh shit!”, he though, over and over again. “Oh shit…oh shit…oh shit…”.
Paralyzed with fear, irrationality his only companion, he stood empty and impotent in the noise and the steam, like an iron worker in a turn of the century mill who realized the pipes had come to life and were ganging up to close in on him. Reaching down to confirm his drastic nightmare, Peter felt only hair. Waves of warm mist from the heady faucet covered his feet and shoulders, floated up, leaving his calves cold. A clearer look might explain the absurdity. Choppily, frantically, he felt his way to the door. The handle slid like grease around his soapy palm. The door opened. He peeked into his bedroom to be sure no one in his family had entered but that was unlikely. He had locked the door before going to sleep last night. My God, last night they were right there. Who had his genitals?
The cold outside air made him shiver bitterly. Goosebumps popped up on his skin. Towelless, water dripping from his sopping hair, he looked down, quickly, afraid and filled with panic. He let out a scream, then stopped himself midway through. Dammit, he sounded like a little girl. His cock and balls were indeed gone. It was as clear as the cold air. Indentations led the eye to a convergence that was smooth and even. No scar was visible. No sign that anything but dark, even skin and curly black hair had ever been there. Peter sat down on the edge of his bed and examined himself carefully.
He was still not fully cognizant of himself or his surprising dilemma. He lifted his legs up onto his mattress and crossed them in a yoga position. Looking down at his unfamiliar body, he used his thumb and index finger to ply apart his body’s fur to examine the skin which nurtured it. Smooth and unmarred, there was no obvious trace of foul play. No scars. No incisions. No marks of any kind. Peter felt himself getting sick again. This time he threw up in the wastebasket.
Time working against him, horrific images flooded his mind. Babe staring at him in a final disbelief. Parked cars and laughter, all directed at him. Warmth and intimacy and a deadly fear. Old age. Empty rooms. Loneliness. And a knocking at the door.
“Pete. Breakfast is on the table. Come on down. It’ll end up getting cold and you’ll end up going to work on an empty stomach.” No kidding.
He managed a grunt to serve as an image of feigned sleepiness so his father would just go away. How could he go to work feeling like this? His genitals were gone! Disappeared. Stolen. Lost, he didn’t know. Did things like this happen and it was just that no one ever talked about it? He thought about a story he’d read once in the National Lampoon. It was about a guy who woke up one morning to find that his penis was gone and had been supplanted by a vagina. He looked down at himself and sighed at the silver lining. At least his friends wouldn’t be getting him pregnant in a perverted gang-bang. Thank God there was no vagina. Just skin and hair and bone underneath. And maybe his penis and testicles? Perhaps some way, somehow, his genitalia had receded into his body. Maybe they’d inversed like a balloon when he moved into an unfortunate position when he slept.
Frantically, hoping for a lesser misfortune and maybe a quiet surgical procedure, he pressed and probed his fingers into his flesh, searching with trembling fingers and palms for some sign of his lost genitals. The usual muscles and bones and cartilage were in all the familiar places but there was no sign or hint of his sex. Still queasy and wanting to wretch, he dug his face into his pillow and cried until he’d run out of tears. Then he cried again. It did him no good.
Sometime later, there was another knock on his door.
“Can I come in, son?”, asked his father.
“I’ll be down in a minute”, answered Peter.
His father’s footsteps faded. Peter looked himself over once again, more used to the idea of the bizarre theft than he was ten minutes ago but still not ready to face the world. He decided he would skip work today. He would tell Stoller he was sick, which was, he felt, the truth, although he couldn’t really tell his boss what was really ailing him. “Sorry boss, someone stole my cock while I was sleeping. Can I take a few days off so I can get it all sorted?”
“Sure Buddy. Tell you what, why don’t you take the whole month. Maybe I can send Dave and Arty by after we close and help you find the little devils. No worries, it wasn’t like you were using them or anything. Hey, gotta go. Old Miss Landry’s pussy is missing and she thinks she left it over in the paint department.”
Getting up from his bed, he slipped his smooth, nude body into a pair of old blue jeans and a black T-shirt with cut-off sleeves. Self consciously, he looked down at himself, searching vainly but expectantly for the familiar friendly bulge. He thought of putting some rolled up toilet paper or a rag down there but decided against it. Too obvious.OK, be cool. Just be cool.
Putting on what he believed was a nonchalant expression, he skipped down the stairs to the breakfast table. Jennifer was just finishing up her scrambled eggs. Mom was pouring Dad some coffee. Placing what he hoped was a carefree smile on his face, he skipped the last stair and approached the table.
“Goooood morning!”, he said.
They all looked up at him. His mother dropped the coffeepot on the floor and screamed. His father gagged on a piece of bacon and choked it into his setting of eggs at just around 1,000 miles an hour. Jennifer’s mouth and eyes opened wider and wider until they were almost out of their sockets, a curd of fresh egg hanging from the side of her lower lip. He tried to maintain his composure while an ever-growing ball of electric fear buzzed around in his stomach. Something was extremely wrong here.
“What’s the matter? Haven’t you ever seen a god before”, he asked his stunned family. They were not amused. Shock will do that.
“I don’t think that’s very funny”, said his father. “You know, Peter, you’re going to damn far.”
“I think it’s funny”, said Jennifer.
“What are you talking about, Dad?”, Peter asked, now adjacent to the table.
Jennifer squinted at him. Still in her chair, she backed away from the table without getting up until the back of her chair touched the refrigerator. His mother screamed again, then again, each wail being louder than it’s predecessor. His father, egg and bacon literally on his face and vest, sat silently, awed and unsure. He looked like he was trying to say something but Peter couldn’t understand what that something might be. Finally, mysterious words of horror and shame came from his awestruck, open-eyed sister.
“Peter”, she said, trembling, “What happened to you? What happened to…to…your thing?”
A sick and now familiar nausea welled up in his gut. He tried to hold his tears inside but the smile painted on his face was obviously not genuine. He looked down at himself, at the missing bulge, and felt puzzled. He could not run. Not knowing how they knew, he couldn’t help but cover his face in shame.
It was then that he found his genitals.
It was like looking for your lost keys when they were in your pocket all the time. Or finally finding your lost wallet right under your nose. Or in this case, on it. Peter found his genitals, displayed in all their natural, working glory, growing healthily from the center of his face.
The doubt in his family’s minds that perhaps this was some sick practical joke was dispelled by the look of sadness and fright Peter now displayed. They could see that he had not known, although they couldn’t imagine how he hadn’t known. The only sound in the house now was his mothers incoherent babbling.
The words God and Jesus were heard in the mix. Jennifer stared at her brother in disbelief (and, Peter hoped deep down, in admiration!). Robert McDonald, also known as Dad, looked away, rubbing his eyes over and over, shaking his head from side to side and moaning like a helpless child. Peter was close to bursting out into tears and he didn’t want his family to be further humiliated; he turned and ran to his room. Once there, he locked himself in his bathroom and tried to figure out what he would do next.
Muffled downstairs were the words “Now just keep calm.” Peter ignored them. They were in another world. Their genitals were safely and properly concealed, never to be thought about or talked about in public. This problem was all his and he had no intention of being calm. Somehow, in some bizarre Kafkaesque way, a cruel joke had been played on him and he wasn’t laughing. What was worse, there was nobody around he could hit or place blame on.
There were other considerations, too: considerations of a more practical nature. How would he circulate in public? He had to go to work, he had friends, and he had Babe. Would he be able to get this thing fixed? Would he be able to have kids? How would he urinate? Where the hell were the tubes from his kidneys attached to? When was he going to wake up and start the goddam day?
It was no dream. Neither was the crackling erection that had begun to emerge from his face. Terrified and sexually excited, he turned around and looked at his face in the mirror for the first time that day. His penis was draped over the bridge of his nose and it would have hung down like a lone puppy dog ear were it not for the fact that it was swelling fast. His testicles seemed to smile at him as if they were independent personalities. They were draped gently over each of his nostrils. The loose, mottled skin attached neatly to either side of his nose. For the first time, he reached up and touched them. His apprehensive fingertips made them quiver. The penis rapidly filled with blood and curved out of his face like a banana shaped nose with a triangular red Bozo bulb at the end. It was sexual pleasure he was feeling for the first time in the flesh of his face and in his genitals, too. It was pleasure exquisite.
But that wasn’t what his erection was all about. He had to piss!
He lowered his head over the toilet, hopeless dismay in his heart but excitation hidden somewhere nearby. He was an untrained toddler learning to use the facilities. The feelings were familiar but the visceral sensory placements were bizarre and confusing. He kneeled down, cold white porcelain against his chest, a faint odor of organic ammonia wafting over his nostrils. He help his breath and shot a steady line of warm, yellow urine into the water, on the side of the bowl and over the tan, sectioned tiles of the bathroom floor. Some of the stuff ricocheted off the side of the bowl and splashed in his face. Things didn’t look they were going to be easy.
And they didn’t look like they were getting any better, either.
He’d been prodded and poked and tested and biopsied until he was ready to scream, which he did. After the greatest minds at the nearby county hospital had scratched their chins raw and admitted defeat through referrals to “specialists”, they sent Peter home. His Dad picked up a hat for Peter at the haberdasher’s at the mall. It was a damn big hat.
The family had a meeting and decided that surgery was probably going to be the only option. His mother called the school, and told Jennifer if she mentioned anything to her friends she’d be ridiculed. Who would believe her?
In his room, Peter gazed at the ceiling in shaking despair. Who was to say that if the surgery was a success, thing’s wouldn’t change right back to the way they were now. And how the hell were they going to put his dick back? He tried to look at the whole thing logically but none of it made any sense. And he could tell by the looks on the faces of the doctors, hell his own goddam family, what he was in store for. He brushed his newly replanted member from his cheek. It began to stiffen. “Son of a bitch!” he said, and started to cry.
A careful knock on his bedroom door hollowed with the wood. “Son? Can I come in?”
“Sure Dad”, he thought. “I’m just relaxing here in bed with a stiffie popping out of my face.”
His father cracked the door and called to him again. “Yeah Dad.”
Bob Macdonald sat down at the foot of his son’s bed, carefully avoiding eye contact with the boy. Paul’s member had taken on a life of it’s own, flip flopping in the air like a lazy dancing cobra.
“Look, we’ll get this thing figured out somehow. We called the school and told them you were sick and you’ll be out for a while. Your job, too.” He glanced up and the boy’s erection caught his eye. He tried to look his son in the face without staring. He didn’t succeed. “Modern medicine…”, he began.
“Fucking modern medicine never heard of a guy growing a dick on his nose Dad. Name me one case. One!” Peter’s turgid tube, fully engorged and ready for engagement, bobbed up and down in avid agreement.
“Could this have happened because you were playing with yourself? It’s normal, you know. But, I don’t know, maybe if you do it too much…”
“What? It’ll drop off? Bullshit Dad! Bullshit!” His tears rolled gingerly and steadily onto his full testicles, glinting the ends of his pubic hair with a salty dew.
“Son, I don’t know what to say. But your Mom and I, and Jennifer, we’re all behind you on this thing. You’re our son, no matter what.” He tried to hug Peter, who turned his face and genitals into his pillow and just cried. His tears were greasy and salty. At least he hoped they were just tears.
Allison Barbara “Babe” Peters yawned and took in the first fresh breaths of daylight. Her eyes ran sleepily open and she smiled with the self satisfaction and confidence that only a popular teenage girl can know. Her room, carefully placed with overly adorable stuffed animals, reeked of Daddy’s Girl, and that was the way she liked it. She glanced down at her perfect breasts and smiled lazily, enjoying their even mounded firmness and delicate pink nipples. Peter had called them his cherry blossoms. OK, not exactly poetry but it meant something coming from him. She smiled as she thought about the boy, about his smiling blue eyes, chiseled nose and the bulge in his jeans she’d felt when he kissed her goodnight. Carefully and deliberately, she inspected her soft nipples and watched them rise as if by magic. “Hi”, they said to her, unabashed and friendly. “Wanna play dice?”
She rolled over and hugged herself, imagining Peter’s confident touch. Her pillow bunched up, she moved her mouth gently over it’s surface, seeing Peter’s face and tasting the touch of his hair on the side of her cheek, which strangely at this particular point in time smelled and tasted a bit like laundry soap and fabric softener. She felt a strange arousal, one familiar yet in some odd way different, as if she were touching bright colours or tasting a song. She trembled uncomfortably and shook back her confidence with a quick and easy mental shrug.
A yawn placed itself at the back of her throat. She wanted to sleep in but knew she’d be late for class if she even tried grabbing an extra five minutes. She was yet to meet an alarm clock that she could beat.
She swiveled around and placed her feet on the carpet with ladylike precision. Her toes pushed into the carpet like ten perfect skin colored pearls digging in to the sand and looking to return to their lost oysters. She shook her long, dirty blond Marsha Brady hair from her eyes and walked to the full sized mirror across from her bed. She was the very definition of arrogant vanity. Arrogant because of her innocence, Vain just because she could. And then, of course, she screamed.
“Push! You’ve got to push!”, said the nurse with commanding authority. “If you don’t it won’t be over for much longer.” Her brogue was mild, but still reminded Babe of Scotty on Star Trek. A brief moment of hearty satisfaction crossed her mind like an angry pigeon as she envisioned herself shoving a handful of pink and oh so nice smelling dilithium crystals up the Scottish nurse’s ass.
Ally thought back to the meeting, the one the parents had arranged in the dark front room next to the musty old sun porch with the gnats and mosquitos. She recollected the hours the two of them had spent there, talking and then more. Her mind’s eye described in intimate, life-like detail the way he’d kissed her while gently parting her second set of lips and sinking deep into her wet and strangely tender warmth. The pain became fuzzy and the room became a badly blurred picture in a doctor’s office waiting room: Dogs playing poker on a velveteen plane. The trembling that came to her throat and her cervix at the very same time, a double-orgasm that lifted her to the face of heaven for not seconds but minutes. The feel of Peter trembling uncontrollably as the damp, white smelling fluid gushed into both her orifices, his Adam’s apple extended and swollen, his cheeks turning deep red like the picture of that kid on the apple juice jugs they sell at Dickens Fruit Stand.
Peter had been gentle and caring, from the first soft kiss to his awkward, fearful entry, and then through each deep, confident thrust months later. They’d had little but some experience with sex, and this was far beyond any of that. They’d both become something else, something no one else was but something only they could share. Somehow, their chemistry had altered, new nerve fibers generating in parts of their bodies where they’d never been before. Fluids, different ones with different smells, viscosities and yes, tastes, oozed in places they had no right to be in but still were. Internal organs had shifted and changed. Sexual intensities burned in new places. Each of their cheeks were flushed red, turgid, engorged and obvious, with the electricity of sexual irritation rampant and dominating. Neither Peter nor Allison doubted that anyone had ever had orgasms in more than one physical area at all, let alone two people, and for hours at a time. It was, they both confided in a whispered conversation sometime later, intoxicating.
Sweat poured down both their faces, enough to fill several large glasses of water, and new tastes echoed over their skin with growing control. Strange new fluids had rolled through their pores, their facial pubic hair entangled in a citrusy, sticky undergrowth. Allison’s eyes had rolled back into her head as the electric pleasure pushed her to the point of passing out. And as release came, she felt her vagina swell like a hot air balloon, and jets of fiery semen shot between their locked mouths.
The movie exploded and her mind felt a pounding, painful flash. How could such pleasure, such transcendental ecstasy, result in such intense pain just 10 months later?
“Push Allison! You’ve got to do this.” She could feel the thing in her chest move, struggle, pressing against her relocated lungs. Her breasts, which had swollen to nearly twice their previous size, resembled hardened bowls of Jell-O, no longer delicately firm fleshy mounds designed to display a single perfect edelweiss on each summit, but swollen, nurturing silos, aching to release their fatty lactic cargo. They’d become painful but necessary inconveniences, and not two months ago she’d reluctantly had to tell Peter to stop touching them.
A sudden, visceral movement crashed brashly up through her chest, her lungs pulled back and she became suddenly numb. Her cheeks, reddened with bones unnaturally spread, felt suddenly quiet as the pain dimmed to normal. She heard a baby’s cry.
“It’s a…it’s a…girl.”, said the nurse, uncertainly. Allison looked up and saw the tiny thing the hospital people were cleaning up. She pushed one more time and a fleshy mass with an attached cord, a mind almost of it’s own, pushed it’s way out of her vagina, wetting her shiny cheeks with brown and red blood. She smiled, new feelings swarming over her like a thousand stubborn but gentle bees. That tiny thing, that beautiful, tiny thing.
In the adjacent room, Peter’s parents stood by uneasily to see Peter’s mouth widen in a similar impossible scream. Under the cold fluorescent lights, they watched him give birth to their grandson. He looked just like his father.