Robert Bard

Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’

Circumlocution

In Mimesis on August 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm

*(As a brief note–and not part of the story–this material was previously published earlier on in this blog, but I have since moved this chapter to later on the story. Hopefully this does not confuse anyone who had read this before. Enjoy!)

 

Sometime after Reginald was almost hospitalized, he and Elizabeth were sitting in the car at a stoplight as she spoke on the phone with a collections agency about a car that she had owned previously. Her voice had been calm at first, saying, “I know I owe money. What I’m trying to get you to see is that the car was repossessed in September, so I don’t know why I have to pay for insurance for it all the way to the next July. Can I get a deferment?”

It hadn’t ended there. This was something alien to him. His parents had always provided him with a car to drive so that he could get to work, or to school, or wherever. They might have imposed strict regulations on using the car, but at least he had one. Now he was driving her to one of her appointments because the medical taxi that was supposed to drive her hadn’t showed up. It was frequently like this. No one seemed to be listening to her voice, especially not the person on the other end of the line. “I know that. I’m just asking for a deferment. I can’t make the payment right now. I’m homeless, and I’m unemployed. I have no money to give you. I just want a deferment so I can try and come up with the cash.”

Even now his parents were paying for his gas because he couldn’t find a job, and it wasn’t just the gas, it was the insurance. He had never paid a cent towards any kind of car insurance from the day he sat in the driver’s seat. His parents had paid it all. For all her life she had worked hard to pay for her own car and her own insurance and her own gas and every other car related expense. Her father had never contributed a cent towards it. In his defense it wasn’t just that he didn’t want to, it was that he couldn’t; he didn’t have the money to give her. When she got into accidents she paid for the car to be fixed, or bought a new one. Reginald’s parents always paid for the damage he’d done to their cars, the ones they provided for him. He’d had too many accidents to recount here, but the main underlying theme behind all of them was that they were his fault, and not the other driver’s. He’d hit parked cars on the other side of the road because he was too busy looking back at his brother who was trying to enter the vehicle as it sped away, backed into parked cars and driven off on multiple occasions, rammed into the side of a car while having an argument with his girlfriend on the cell phone while speeding through a red light, and slammed into a guardrail while a friend smoked a bowl in the back seat and bounced her head off the window and spilled the ash all over his seat. He’d had three accidents without leaving his driveway, causing significant damage to the car. He put enough damage on the same car to total it twice in one month. There were more; there were lots more. All of them had cost his parents thousands of dollars to repair, some of the time out of pocket because if they had reported it to the insurance company his premiums would have skyrocketed too much, or he would have lost his insurance. In total, his parents might have spent more money on buying and fixing cars, and on insurance to keep those cars on the road, than on his entire college expenses.

In addition to the accidents there were the speeding tickets. The most egregious of these was when he was going 96 MPH in a 55 MPH zone weaving in and out of traffic. He did this right past a State Troopers barracks. This was unbeknownst to him at the time, however, but he found out soon enough. His music was so loud (for anyone that is interested he was listening to Tool, the song “Stinkfist” at full volume) that he didn’t hear the siren behind him, and being a fairly unobservant driver it was a while before he checked his rear-view mirror. Apparently the cop had been chasing him for some time. This resulted in an arrest. His parents hired a lawyer, and the four traffic violations, including a misdemeanor and talking on a cell phone while driving, were greatly reduced to minimal points on his license. There were other times that, after blinding a cop with his high beams and speeding, the cop said bluntly that he could smell the alcohol on his breath, or on another occasion that they could still smell the reek of weed on his clothes, and somehow he had managed to pass their sobriety tests and come away with minimal points, if any, to his license, but most importantly without any DWIs or DUIs or anything of the sort. At one point he was shaking because he was afraid the cop would find the drugs he had on him, and when the cop asked why he was shaking he just told him cops made him nervous. The cop had showed up to court, reduced his two-hundred-and-fifty dollar ticket to a thirty-five dollar parking ticket, and said that they weren’t all so bad now were they (the irony in this is that the cop in being a good person was being a lousy cop, the necessity being that to be a good cop you have to be kind of an asshole, and always suspicious, making it so that being a nice guy, and a good cop are two qualities that are diametrically opposed to one another). Another time he had been pulled over without a license on him and wearing batman pajamas and a bathrobe midday, and the police officer let him off because he said he liked batman too. Whenever he got points on his license his parents would inevitably pay for driver’s safety courses that would take up to four points off each time. He’d had to do this numerous times, but even after all the courses, still had numerous points on his license, and an outstanding ticket that he had no way of paying for, but that his parents would eventually pay for, and bail him out again.

The person on the other end of the line did not seem to be getting the point. “You’re not listening to me at all. I can’t pay you because I don’t have any money to pay you with. I’m homeless. I’m not getting any financial assistance, but once I do I can start paying you back. I just need a deferment until I start getting financial assistance.”

The irony of all of this is that Elizabeth had worked in collections before and had enjoyed her job quite a bit. She had told him that the phone dialed automatically, and that on the computer the person’s credit score and history would pop up with all sorts of other information. She was quite nosy at times, and she liked the wealth of personal information that was readily available, with just strokes of her fingertips.

Her car had been repossessed, though, because she ended up not being able to pay the fees for it, but it wasn’t because of anything she had done purposefully. It was just a bad hand she’d been dealt. She had been in a car accident and developed chronic pain, bone spurs, and fibromyalgia had set in. Fibromyalgia is a disease that attacks your muscles in a fairly unknown way. It causes constant pain and fatigue, and the symptoms are similar to having an extreme case of the flu. At the time she was going to college full time and working full time, making Dean’s list every semester, with her first class at eight in the morning, and getting out of work at nine at night, five days a week. She would then come home and cook her boyfriend dinner, sometimes in lingerie, which he would decline and say that he had eaten already, and was too tired for sex. The stress of all this had wore on her until she broke down. She got tired of taking forty milligram Oxycontin twice a day with six seven and a half milligram Percocet in between, as prescribed by the doctor. It hadn’t taken away the pain. It just made it so that she didn’t care. Eventually the pain got so bad that she couldn’t get out of bed. She couldn’t keep her job. She couldn’t go to school. Her doctor told her that she couldn’t work for a year, and gave her six reasons why, and suggested that she go on disability.

During this time Reginald failed his first semester of college because he stopped going to his classes, but then managed to put together a string of five semesters of Dean’s list and one semester on President’s list, but he mostly didn’t work. While she had wore herself out from working so hard, he goofed off and experimented with drugs, including cocaine, LSD, and DMT (and of course marijuana and alcohol). This added to the drugs he had already tried, which included mainlining heroin and eating mushrooms. In fact when he mainlined a mixture of cocaine and ecstasy it had caused Isis to break up with him until he got sober, which took him a year and a half to do.

The inequalities of life were readily apparent in one car. In the driver’s seat was someone who was irresponsible, but who life had blessed with good health, well off and caring parents, and enough intelligence to do whatever he wanted to with his life, once he tired of being irresponsible. In the passenger’s seat was someone who had worked hard all her life until she had wore herself out, and who now was in constant pain and whose doctors advised her to not even seek a job or school for the next year, and yet no one was listening to her, and despite all her hard work, paying into all these government systems, she was unable to get disability, food stamps, or any kind of government financial aid because the system is not only fucked, it takes forever. It had been like this for months. She was (technically) homeless, broke, and in miserable health. Reginald’s voice is irrelevant. It is of the privileged class—the class that had supremacy for hundreds of years. Elizabeth is the oppressed, the underprivileged, the downtrodden, the hand reaching up for help but crushed again and again, but he, if he could somehow redeem his life will try to give her a voice and show her that all hope was not lost, because his one saving grace is that he loves her, and he will do anything for her.

Her voice was tremulous as she spoke into the phone, “I used to work in collections. I know that by law you have to give me a deferment if I ask for it. That’s what I’m asking for. Can I get a deferment please?”

The conversation could go on for hours. She had explained to him that collections agents are only allowed to say certain preset phrases, and they just regurgitate them back to you over and over, but by law if you ask for a deferment they have to give you one.

She went back and forth with the collection’s agent, and then the collection agent’s manager for quite some time, all the time just asking for a deferment. She explained that the constant calls from the collection’s agency were filling up her inbox and that her social services workers were not able to leave her messages when they needed to, and that this was exacerbating the situation by delaying the process of her getting aid, and that the fact that she was not getting aid was the reason that she couldn’t pay the collections. She explained that she really wanted to pay off the collection’s agency and restore her credit to some semblance of its former self, but that she would not be able to do it for at least a month, and that she was asking for a deferment only until she started getting assistance to help her. Finally the manager gave her some vague response about giving her a deferment for some indeterminate amount of time; it could be three days, it could be three months. Either way they wouldn’t tell her any more.

She hung up the phone and turned to Reginald, and said, “Sometimes, I just want to shoot myself.”

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A Chemical Reaction

In Mimesis on December 10, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Somewhere in upstate New York, Reginald was sitting in a tent with Elizabeth and her brother Benedict at a small music festival. Outside the tent there could be heard a thundering bass line that emanated from a gaily painted school bus equipped with monstrous subwoofers. The merry pranksters were alive and well, it seemed.

“The white pills are called ladies,” Benedict explained, “and the pink hearts are called, well, pink hearts.”

Reginald was concerned. He thought when we went on this trip that he was just going to be doing acid or mushrooms, or maybe even DMT if he was feeling adventurous, but his mental health professionals had strongly advised him against taking ecstasy. It would most likely cause a manic break, he’d been told, and on top of that it could have a negative interaction with his medications and cause an uncontrollable fever that would kill him. He looked at the pills with hesitancy.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve been told I might die if I take it.”

“You’ll be fine,” Benedict said. “Hell, you’ve shot it before. After that what harm do you think just taking it will do. Trust me.”

Benedict knew about Reginald shooting it before because Benedict had supplied it and shot it with Reginald. Last time Benedict had crushed up twenty E pills in some cocaine and they had spent the rest of the night shooting it up. Reginald had crashed really hard that night and had ended up sobbing uncontrollably in the backseat of the van he’d been driving, only to come back and shoot up more. Finally he had called Isis and told her what had happened. She had immediately broken up with him. It was curious now that his girlfriend Elizabeth was offering to do it with him. Hell, she’d actually had a more extensive drug history than Reginald himself actually had. In a way this turned Reginald on. Drugs had always been a taboo topic, but he couldn’t stay away from them. At least once or twice a year he would lapse back into using hard drugs and marijuana was a pretty constant thing. He wanted to do the ecstasy, and consequences be damned. If he died, so be it.

“How much are they?” Reginald asked.

“I’ll give them to you for ten a pill,” Benedict said, but then quickly added, “but you’ll want at least two.”

“How many are you taking, baby?” Reginald asked Elizabeth.

Elizabeth held up two fingers.

Reginald could feel a sinking feeling in his stomach. He felt this way every time he did hard drugs. He loved the way they made him feel, but the initial commitment was horrible. It was a very surreal feeling. He knew that he could die, but it didn’t seem to matter to him. He could hear every mental health professional he’d ever seen telling him not to, but he ignored it. He wanted this. He knew, as was the case with every time before, that he would feel better once he’d done it. He said to Benedict, “Fuck it, give me two.”

“Righto, buckaroo,” Benedict said. “I’ll get them to you in two shakes of a camel’s dick.”

Benedict turned around and searched through the duffel bag that was next to his air mattress. It was a considerable size tent, and the three of them very comfortably fit into it. After fumbling around for a moment or two he turned back to face them.

“Just pop two of these bad boys in and you’ll be rolling your panties for Christmas ornaments,” he said, with a wild mischievous grin on his face.

Reginald didn’t know why he would listen to Benedict. Here Benedict sat wearing three day old cargo pants, a shirt that said “Lick This!” with pictures of Girl Scouts on them, and a bandana wrapped around his head. He had gauges in his ears that were close to an inch, and looked like he hadn’t shaved in a week, bathed in about as long, and most likely hadn’t cut his hair for a year or more. From what Elizabeth had told him, Benedict had been diagnosed as a sociopath by two separate doctors, molested Elizabeth at an early age, and then laughed in her face when no one believed her. He also had a nasty habit of peeing in other people’s drinks. During one of his last relationships he had moved in with his now ex-girlfriend, and had taken to peeing in the fish tank, the food containers and about everything else in the house, as well as having anal sex with his ex-girlfriend’s fourteen year old sister and his ex-girlfriend in the same day. Elizabeth also had suspicions that he had slept with the mother, though she could not confirm this. Not only this, but Benedict was also the main ecstasy provider for the county that he lived in, and had in one year spent 80,000 dollars on drugs for personal consumption. Benedict had told Reginald himself that one of the drug dealers that he worked with would only take phone calls at a certain appointed time, and when he had walked into the dealer’s house on one occasion he had seen the walls covered with assault rifles and a couple kilos of heroin just sitting on the table. Benedict had spent some time running drugs for this man.

All these reasons aside Reginald decided to take Benedict’s advice over his mental health professionals’, and when Benedict gave him the pills and a cup of water (an open cup of water), Reginald swallowed the pills with the feeling that this might be his last night on Earth.

Better to go out with a bang, he thought.

They went outside the tent after taking the pills and waited for them to kick in. They got to talking about The Chappelle’s Show and how they all lamented the fact that it was no longer on the air.

“It was one of the best shows on television,” Elizabeth remarked.

They all agreed.

“Did you see the episode with Rick James?” Reginald asked.

“That was bullshit,” Benedict said. “I fucked a guy’s couch once, that nigga didn’t do shit.”

Reginald broke out into hysterical laughing for a moment, and it was hard to tell if it was the ecstasy coming on, or if he was just particularly tickled by the idea of Benedict fucking a guy’s couch. He laughed until tears came from his eyes, and just when it seemed that he had a hold on it he burst out laughing all over again. “I fucked a guy’s couch…” he said. “Jeez.”

Reginald wiped the tears from his eyes. He could feel the ecstasy coming on strong now. He was filled with euphoria. This was almost better than heroin, though he could be thinking that because he hadn’t done heroin in eight years and didn’t really remember it that well.  He got up, and they all decided to go see what music was playing.

On the trip down to the field, Benedict gave Reginald another E pill.

Reginald was filled with love. He loved Benedict, and he loved everyone that he passed, but he loved Elizabeth most of all. They held hands as they walked. Elizabeth had done herself up real pretty. She was wearing a green and yellow tie die shirt, and had green mascara on. Reginald thought she was the most beautiful woman in the entire world, and he was elated that she was here with him. More than anything he wanted to have sex with her, but he knew that would come. They now had a very active sexual relationship, and it was something they both thoroughly enjoyed.

The road down to the concert was unpaved, and there were many other fellow travelers along it. People were dressed in all sorts of unusual attire, and carried colorful lights and other marvelous things that caught Reginald’s attention. It was like he was a child all over again, and was wide eyed in the candy store, looking at an oversize lollipop. It was getting hard to walk, and Reginald was relieved when they finally got to the field. He could feel waves of unadulterated pleasure sweeping over him like a constant orgasm. So this is ecstasy, he thought, what the hell have I been doing with my life until now? He quickly made up his mind that this was his favorite drug of all time, and he’d tried pretty much every kind. Heroin was fun, but it made him doped out, and he had puked last time while at dinner with his grandma coming down from it. Coke was a blast, and it made him feel like god, but to be honest it was essentially simulated mania, and he felt pretty much the same when he was having an episode. The biggest difference was that mania was free, and lasted longer. Ecstasy just made him love more. That was the feeling he felt. He couldn’t understand why the government had made this illegal. He wasn’t dangerous while under the influence of this drug, but he might fuck everyone he sees. Man, woman, whatever, he didn’t care. Not only did everyone look better, but he was getting aroused just feeling Elizabeth running circles on his palm.

When they came to the field the music was blaring. Reginald could barely stand. They all lay down in the grass, and tried to relax as much as possible. Elizabeth started tracing her fingers up Reginald’s arm, and then back down again. He had never felt sensations like this before; it was like his entire body was the head of a gigantic penis. Every nerve was tingling, and his head lolled back and forth.

The stage was moving down below them, and there was a teeming mass of people that looked like a roiling pot of water on the stove, fluctuating, vicissitudinal, one collection of flesh, and sweat, and pleasure. Reginald wanted to get down there and dance, but was unable to move. The most effort that he was able to expend was to half sit up, resting on his elbows next to Elizabeth, and look from the stage to the woods, to the stars.

Benedict gave Elizabeth and Reginald their leave and went down to be closer to the stage. Reginald looked up at Elizabeth. She was so beautiful. More beautiful than anyone he had ever seen, and his relationship with her was so special. He loved her more than he had ever loved anyone before in his life. “I want to marry you,” he said. “Hell, if they had a priest here I’d marry you right now.”

She gazed over at him. “I want to marry you too.”

United in this moment of extreme bliss and euphoria the two lovers lay next to each other, letting the waves of pleasure roll over them. There could be no love greater than theirs. They had loved each other since they were children. Their idea of love was defined by the other person. They were the physical embodiment of love to each other. Romeo and Juliet didn’t have shit on them. Romeo and Juliet was teenage infatuation. What Reginald and Elizabeth had was a mature, steadfast love that had lasted for three-quarters of their life already, and showed no signs of stopping. Reginald was overcome by it.

“Let’s head back to the tent,” he said. “I want to be alone with you.”

Elizabeth agreed emphatically, and they slowly got up, though it was difficult. Reginald was stumbling the whole way back, and stopped to use one of the portable toilets. He was in there for some time, and when he came out Elizabeth said, “There were two toilets in there, and I don’t think you hit either one. I could hear you pissing on everything else though.”

Reginald laughed. “Nothing on me is there?”

Elizabeth shook her head.

“I didn’t think so,” Reginald said.

They made their way up to the tent and, after getting some gum for their grinding teeth and drinking plenty of water they got inside.

“I have never wanted to have sex so badly,” Reginald said.

“I know what you mean,” Elizabeth replied.

They had a separate, smaller tent than the one Benedict had, and it only had room for a queen size air mattress. Reginald started to get undressed, but was having some difficulty doing so. Elizabeth helped him, and then got undressed herself. The sensation of the cool night air on their exposed skin was delightful, and they were already quite aroused. Reginald kissed Elizabeth, deeply and passionately, and the sensation was incredible. It was electric as she caressed his skin, and he could never remember a time that he had been more in love. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He always had. Ecstasy was only intensifying every feeling that he had ever felt for her, and he was overcome with emotion. They made love, discovering one another’s body in ways they never had before. He was elated just to be alive, and to be with her, here in the middle of nowhere, the music driving their passion as they embraced.

I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours

In Mimesis on December 8, 2010 at 7:38 pm

He had given her the power. She knew now that he wanted her, and how badly. She knew now that he’d wanted her for years, and that he’d had this aching desire inside of him. Even though they had spoken of this desire on AOL Instant Messenger and she had expressed a mutual desire for him he felt like Prometheus chained to the rock, the vultures ready to pick out his innards. He was on his way to pick her up at a temporary shelter for people with mental disorders, and his thoughts were racing. Surely she must be playing a game with him. She could not really desire him. He had too many flaws to be loved. That was why everyone had rejected him before. His brief encounters with sex had been disastrous. His first kiss had been forced on him (or more like he had been forced into it). Reginald had been with Elizabeth and her boyfriend Samuel at a party, and Reginald had been brought his girlfriend Dolores with him. All he had wanted was to be with Elizabeth and not Dolores, but probably sensing this, Samuel had pushed Reginald’s and Dolores’ heads together, uniting them their first kiss. Reginald felt like he was cheating on Elizabeth by being with his own girlfriend. He did not desire his girlfriend. He had only gone out with her because she had asked him to and he felt it was polite to say yes. He was envious of Samuel.

He honestly couldn’t even remember some of his other girlfriend’s names. They had been inconsequential. There had been another, the first girl to take off her shirt for him, and they had taken turns scratching each other, and nibbling up and down their chests and necks, feeling the sharp teeth tug gently at the skin, the excitement coming from the sense that the other person could bite as hard as they wanted, but chose to be gentle instead. This girlfriend would later cheat on him, and they never got farther than foreplay. His extreme social anxiety made it impossible to interact with any of the girls he was interested in, especially Elizabeth. There had been other girls that had come along and asked him out, and during those times he went out with them out of what he felt as courtesy, knowing that he would want Elizabeth to do this to him if he had asked her. One girl had been especially forward with him, and had taken to grabbing at his crotch during class, and he had massaged her upper thigh, on the inside. A teacher noticed this and asked that they switch desks, which was difficult for Reginald because he was afraid that everyone would see that he was aroused, as it was plainly visible through his jeans. He and this girl had taken to making out in parking lots, and occasionally left hickeys on the other person’s neck, and as some of their classmates described it, sometimes it looked like a gorilla had punched them on either side. This had culminated in Reginald receiving oral sex from this girl in the parking lot of a Raymour and Flannigan’s, but she was unable to make him ejaculate. Reginald attributed this to her not being very good at it, and wanted to have sex with her when they got back to her house, but she had declined stating that she was afraid it would hurt due to his size. Reginald took this as a boldface lie, and felt that the reason she wouldn’t have sex with him had been because he couldn’t ejaculate for her. She had left, like all the rest, under vague circumstances, and with his feeling betrayed, and unsure of himself, and he always felt himself longing for Elizabeth. He did not desire these other women, only her.

Then came Isis.

Apart from Elizabeth, Isis was the first girl that Reginald felt strongly about. The only problem was that they lived on opposite ends of the country, and were too young and didn’t have enough expendable income to see each other. Their solution was phone sex, which they engaged in sometimes in excess of four times a night. Finally Isis saved up enough money to visit Reginald and they had two weeks of basically non-stop sex. Reginald lost his virginity to her, which his brother walked in on. Perhaps they shouldn’t have had sex on the couch downstairs, but after waiting six months they didn’t really care. They didn’t use protection most of the time, once again because they didn’t care. As before though, Reginald had difficulty ejaculating, and more often than not had to pull out and finish himself off on her. Isis claimed that she liked it when Reginald ejaculated on her breasts and stomach better anyway. This pattern continued for the duration of their relationship. They would have phone sex and send erotic pictures of themselves to each other while they were apart, and then have sex virtually non-stop while they were together. The periods where they were together got fewer and fewer. First it was six months, then a year, then the last was a year and a half. Overall they only spent six weeks together.

During their last visit together Isis told Reginald that she wanted to wait for marriage. Reginald was furious. He felt betrayed, and that she was being hypocritical. He knew however, how to get her to have sex with him, and by the time they were in the hotel door, their clothes were off. She asked if they should go for condoms, but then decided against it. The rest of the visit turned into Isis trying to hold out, and Reginald finding ways to get her to have sex with him. One night he just suggested that they sleep naked together, but once she felt the warmth of his skin against hers, she was his. Once again, they didn’t use a condom.

Shortly after he returned home they broke up, and shortly after that she informed him that she was pregnant. He reflected on the irony in this. His sexual career was only six weeks long, and now he was going to be a father. It was only during this last visit that he had been able to ejaculate while inside of Isis, and the only times that they hadn’t used a condom was perhaps twice the whole visit. So in two times of Reginald ejaculating inside a woman, he was a father. His joke to her about having assassin sperm no longer seemed funny. What followed after this was the most painful decision of his life. Briefly during his relationship with Isis he had learned that Elizabeth was single, and he had considered breaking up with Isis in favor of Elizabeth, but now he had a child with Isis. He decided to marry Isis. It seemed the appropriate thing to do. He had made his bed. He must lie in it. Isis, however, did not see it that way. She insisted that the child be given up for adoption. A bitter struggle ensued. Finally Reginald caved and signed the adoption papers. Having sex could have horrendously painful consequences. For a year Reginald was too depressed to consider another relationship. He contemplated suicide often. Elizabeth was with someone else now. There was nothing for him to stick around for.

A chance encounter at a liquor store changed that. He hit on the cashier, and invited her to a party. She declined, but gave him her number instead, and suggested they meet up another time. That was the start of the most intense relationship Reginald had ever been in. It lasted a month. Heartbroken once again he vowed to give up on women entirely. He sought out a gay friend of his and exchanged oral sex with him on a few occasions. He attempted to have sex with him, but he could not get hard enough and the friend was too tight. He attributed this inability to his not really being attracted to his friend.

Finally, Elizabeth showed up. She dropped back into his life, and he confessed his love to her. She had still been going out with her boyfriend at the time, but things were on the rocks, and they soon broke up. Elizabeth had had a history of being in long term relationships. Reginald had known most of Elizabeth’s boyfriends, as they had traveled in the same circle, but he had never really inquired as to her sex life. He assumed, sometime erroneously, that she had had sex with all her boyfriends, and a lot of it. He was not passing a judgment on her; it was just what he would have done in the same circumstances. He knew that Elizabeth had had more sexual experience than him, but this was not a turn off for him, but it did intimidate him. Usually he wanted his women to be as virginal as possible, and was disgusted by the idea of a woman having multiple sexual partners. He was even further perturbed by the fact that a woman he was interested in might also have a sexual desire for other men. He held the belief that his women should be chaste, and that he should be the only man that they now desired, or had ever desired. This stemmed from an extreme inferiority complex, and especially if he knew that the woman he was with had been with a man whose penis size was greater than his, even by a slight margin. He was afraid that he would not be able to satisfy them, and that they would leave him because of his smaller size. He had this fear with Elizabeth, because he knew the size of one of her boyfriends’ penis. This was not unusual. Everyone in the school had heard stories. Apparently Elizabeth’s boyfriend had asked his dad one day what he should about preventing his penis from getting wet while going to the bathroom. His dad had been stumped, and asked what he was talking about. His son went on to say that whenever he sat down on the toilet his penis hung down into the water. This was a well known story in school. It was also well known that despite his size, he did not know what to do with the damn thing, and so all his sexual relations were still left feeling unsatisfied. Reginald feared that because he knew that he was smaller than at least one of Elizabeth’s boyfriends, and because of his relative lack of sexual experience, that he would not be able to satisfy her, and that she would not go out with him because of it. So much of his future rested on his performance in the bedroom, he thought. It never occurred to him that Elizabeth might see more in him than in his sexual performance. Despite being told by every girl he was with that he was at least bigger than average, he was incredibly insecure about the size of his penis. The only other penis he had seen in real life, that of his gay friend’s,  had been much bigger than his, and those he had seen in porn were often to the point of ridiculousness. He couldn’t help but think that she might laugh at him once he undressed. How humiliating that would be! For him to expose to her his body, giving her knowledge of all that he is, and in so doing offering himself up to her power, and then for her to turn on him. He next thought of the sexual side effects he had experienced from the medication he was on. Many of his sexual encounters had ended with his losing his erection, despite either being inside a woman or even mid oral sex. It was something he couldn’t help. What if that happened with Elizabeth? He remembered one of his girlfriends recoiling in horror as he tried to masturbate to get an erection again. Finally she had told him to just cut it out, and had taken her clothes and left the room.

He was nearing the shelter now, and was perhaps five minutes away, but still the thoughts were racing through his mind. He thought about his problem ejaculating. Would Elizabeth take offense to that, as some of his sexual partners had? The overwhelming anxiety was too much for him. He would tell her that he would not have sex with her today. He reached the shelter and called her so that she would come outside. She told him she would be right out, so he left the car running and listened to music while he waited. Finally, after what seemed like forever, he saw her come out the front, walk up to his car and get inside.

“You look great,” he said. “And you know I’ve never lied to you.”

She smiled, and they drove back to his house, chatting intermittently about what her day had been like at space camp, which is what she called her day therapy outpatient program, so named because of all the people she deemed space cadets. He couldn’t get sex off his mind. She did indeed look beautiful today, and she was wearing a shirt that showed just enough cleavage to be tantalizing, her breasts straining against the fabric. He couldn’t take the tension. Once they arrived home he suggested they go across the street to his friend’s house so he wouldn’t have to be alone with her. Then he wouldn’t feel pressured into having sex.

“Want to go hang out with Richard?” he asked.

“Sure, but I was kind of hoping we could get some ‘alone time’ at some point,” she winked at him.

He cringed, but she didn’t notice. With all this anxiety he was having he couldn’t stand the thought of having sex with her. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to (he did) it was just that he was afraid that she would be disappointed in him and that their friendship would be too awkward after that and that he would lose her. That was something he couldn’t bear.

They walked across the street and saw his friend Richard and some other kids he knew hanging out on the porch smoking marijuana. There was no reason for alarm. No policemen patrolled the area. They were quite safe. He called out to his friend, “What up, cocksucker!”

His friend was quick to reply with, “Not much you dirty mic. Tell me honestly, on a scale of zero to Irish how drunk are you?”

They both laughed, and he gave his friend a pound, and likewise greeted all the other kids there. “So did I just interrupt some gay orgy or what?” he asked.

“Yeah, you know, we were just blowing each other and jerking each other off,” his friend replied.

“You mean like this?” Reginald asked, and started making a long, drawn out, masturbatory motion with his hand, though going dramatically slow, while staring his friend in the face. After a couple of up and down motions he reached out to his friend’s crotch area and started pretending to give him a hand job in the same motion, then pretended to touch the two imaginary penises together.

“Oh, you never make it touch!” his friend laughed out.

Elizabeth seemed genuinely confused. Reginald turned to her and explained, “Oh, you don’t know The Whitest Kids You Know? It’s one of the funniest shows on television.”

His friend elaborated, “It’s called ‘slow jerk’. Basically, you know how when you think something is real boring you make a jerk off motion? Well it’s like the same thing, only real slow. It makes it real creepy. And then,” his friend started laughing, “he pretends to finish all over his face. You have to see it.”

They all laughed, and agreed that they should watch it, so they went inside and looked it up on youtube. One clip turned into a couple, and finally Reginald started feeling more comfortable. The presence of his friends eased the tension between him and Elizabeth. Suddenly Elizabeth took Reginald by the hand and tugged on it, and said “I think I left my purse in your car. Want to come with me to get it?”

Reginald looked at his friend, almost pleadingly. His friend sensed what was going on, but was going to be of no help. His friend said, “I guess I’ll see you in a bit then. We’ll be here.”

Reginald followed Elizabeth outside and they walked across the street. She turned to Reginald, “I hope I didn’t give the impression that I don’t like your friends, but I was hoping we could get more intimate.”

What could he say? It finally had come down to this. He couldn’t back out now. He nodded, and instead of walking to the car they made their way into his house, and up into his room, where they sat down on his bed. She remained about two feet away, while he faced her. He could feel his fingers trembling as they had on the couch before.  She took his hands in hers to calm them, and moved closer. The room was dim, as the light was fading outside, and he went to switch on the light, but she stopped him and dragged her finger along his chin. He began feeling enormously aroused and uncomfortable at the same time. Would she judge him like all the rest? He placed his hand on her shoulder and caressed her arm. She looked down at his hand, then back up at him and smiled, with all of her face. She leaned in and kissed him. The mixture of emotions was like an elixir to him, each separate emotion mixing together to make up what he felt. It was hard to pick out each individual emotion, just as it would be hard to pick out all twenty-three flavors in Dr. Pepper. Her lips were soft on his, and she kissed gently, and with reserve. It was not at all overpowering, and it was as if she sensed what would ease him into this. She reached down to lift up his shirt, but he stopped her hand and said, “I really couldn’t stand losing you after this. Why don’t we wait?”

She smiled and said, “You don’t have to worry about anything. You’re stuck with me. Remember?”

He could feel his muscles tense, but he lifted his hand off of hers, and she undressed him, and then he did likewise to her. Finally naked together they pressed their bodies against one another’s. She was warm, and her skin was very soft to the touch, even more so than his hands, which had not seen a hard day’s work in their life. They had both revealed themselves to each other, and had equal knowledge and power. She said, “How do you want me, baby? I’ll do anything.”

He decided to counter her relinquishing of power to him by giving it right back. He lay down on the bed and said, “How about you get on top.” He did not want the power. He wanted her to enact her desire for him. She crawled on top of him, and guided himself into her. This was the moment of supreme bliss and unity, the closest that two people can get. It was the culmination of their love for each other, this physical bond. He ran his hand up her back and grabbed onto her shoulder, pulling her close to him. The pressure of her breasts against his chest aroused him further, and he could feel his love for her increasing. He had waited for this since he had first had thoughts of sex. His love for her predated sexual desire, so when he felt sexual desire his first thought was to connect it with his love for her. She was perfect in his eyes because from such an early age she had been the ideal concept of his love, and what he judged all others against. How could another woman replace her when she was the definition of the word to him? This unity that he felt with her was intense, and as they made love he finally whispered in her ear, “I fucking love you. I really do. You mean the world to me, and I would do anything for you.”

She leaned in and kissed him and whispered back, “I fucking love you too, baby.”

Awareness

In Mimesis on December 8, 2010 at 7:21 pm

They sit on his couch.

They sit on his parents’ couch.

Inside his parents’ house they talk sharing in each other’s heartbreaking sorrows. She is in pain, and they lay in each other’s arms while his parents sleep upstairs. He is embarrassed that his pain is so trivial, and he runs his fingers through her hair to soothe her, saying, “I wish I could do more to help.”

She holds him tighter. “There’s nothing you can do, but having you here does ease the pain a bit.”

In this moment he sees the line between them. He sees himself, his life of privilege, of ease, free from want and care, a roof over his head, a car at his disposal, college tuition paid in full, health insurance, good health, and all of that vastly different from her, marking her as different, and somehow more fully defining what he is. He rejects his life and feels shame that there is a great inequality between them, in the hands that life has dealt them, but he recognizes her as being equal before his eyes, if not his superior. If it were not for his parents he would be in the same place as her, and he knows it. He wishes that he could provide for her. She is homeless, and is moving from couch to couch, occasionally staying in a temporary housing facility for the mentally ill. He, on the other hand, is still living with his parents at twenty-four years old, with no job, and no way to move out. Her homelessness is not the product of laziness, or a lack of drive to work. In fact her doctor had given a note with six disabilities that claimed should prevent her from working for at least the next year. No longer able to live on her own she had gotten in touch with her mother’s side of the family after about a twenty year gap and they had offered to take her in, and then kicked her out on the street a short while after because she had pierced some underage girls’ ears at a family party. He had implored his parents to take her in, but they had turned a cold shoulder to her. It didn’t matter to them that he had known her for eighteen years. His parents had only been recently introduced, and despite trying to appeal to his mother’s Christian morality by pointing out that here was a very real instance of charity where she could exhibit her good will by taking in a homeless person, and not just a strange homeless person, but someone her son knew, his mother did not want the invasion of privacy, and let the situation drop, and so left her son’s friend a step away from the street. He would never be without a home. His parents would always give him everything, but he was entirely dependent on them, and had nothing to give her, and it grieved him deeply that he could not provide her with a stable home, where she could rest and focus on her health. A great tremor runs through his body like a gust of wind through a forest, and he whispers in her ear, “You know I love you, but I just can’t tell you enough. I just wish we had our own place, and that I wasn’t unemployed so I could support you. I feel so useless.”

She looks up at him and sees the anxiety wracking his face, and says, “You really need to loosen up. C’mon, stop worrying so much. If I can cope, you can cope.”

The hurricane of his mind created a turbulent obstreperousness so loud that he had trouble hearing what she had said. He tried to quiet the beating in his chest, but she nestled against him and placed her ear against his heart, “There. You’re still living. I’m still living. We’re here, and I’m not going anywhere. You’re stuck with me.”

The irony of the situation did not escape him. He was supposed to comfort her. He was supposed to be the rock, but he crumbled into so many pieces, a desert full of sand. He looked deep into her eyes and he could see them smiling back at him, happy in this moment after so many years of pain. What could this mean? He had nothing to give her except his love, and love cannot buy you groceries, cannot pay your cell phone bill, and most certainly cannot pay for your medication. There was nothing, he felt, that he could do about her housing, but he knew that if he could trade places with her and take all of her pain, and all of her hardships, and all of her suffering on, even if it killed him he would do it in a heartbeat if it would remove it from her. He caressed her cheek, speaking softly, “You know that if I had to choose I’d give all that I have to you.”

She nodded, and their eyes met, locked in place. He felt impotent, emasculated. He could not provide for the girl he loved. He had four dollars and twenty-seven cents in his pocket, the rest of the money he had in the world. He was of no more use than a suckling babe.