beginning of the end begins with a tit-flick and a cantaloupe,
and Mike’s wife, Kalli, flipping on the light, dropping
the groceries on the floor, and saying, “Oh. My. God.”
Saying, “You son of a bitch.”
Behind him, on the big screen TV, this Asian chick’s taking
it in the out way. Her palms pressing her tits together, her hair
cinched in roped pigtails. Mouth O’d the way Kalli’s
is now. Mike stands and says, “Babe, this is not what it
looks.” Noticing the shadow of his prick on the wall, he
holds a hand out mime-style and says, “At least I’m
not cheating,” and she says, “Yeah, at least there’s
He sets the cantaloupe down, embarrassed by the size of the hole
in the rind. His fingers spread, he looks around for something
to clean himself up with. “Thought you were going out with
Caroline,” he says.
“I think I’m gonna be sick,” she says.
On the screen, the girl’s reclined back in the guy’s
lap, her legs spread in a full split. Mike stares a second, then
blinks away. The shadow of his dick arches over, bowing as if
ashamed. He dusts a few pulpy clumps from the tip and moves toward
Kalli. She steps back, a hand at her throat. Eyes on the screen.
He stops, leans down to pick up the groceries, and she says, “Don’t
He sets the bag upright, wiggles his fingers, and says, “Don’t
worry, this hand’s clean.”
From behind, the cantaloupe rolls off the table and across the
floor—prick-hole over bottom, prick-hole over bottom.
She shakes her head and says, “Goddamn freak.” She
stomps out, slamming the door behind her, and he yells, “The
Greeks were freaks, babe. And they’re legends.”
On the screen, the image skips, then freezes in a twitch.
He’s in bed, drunk and waiting for her to come home.
He’d paced the floor for hours, swigging Juarez tequila
and having the argument out in his mind. He visualized her sitting
across from him, fingers laced, nodding her head. Listening to
his side of the story and keeping an open mind.
He would speak soft and slow, ticking his points off on his fingers:
First and foremost, masturbation is healthy. It relaxes the muscles
and aids in sleeping. Reduces stress and releases sexual tension.
It allows one to get in touch with one’s sexual responses
to better communicate one’s wants and needs to one’s
partner. It also discharges neurotransmitters into the brain,
which give the feeling of physical and mental well-being. Second,
it’s natural. Instinct. All the way back when we were organisms
bubbling in Earth’s primordial soup. When we slithered out
of the oceans on our bellies, flicking our tongues for food. When
we sprouted opposable thumbs and stood upright, we have had the
urge to mate. It’s in our cells. Our DNA. Like eating, it’s
a need. There’s a feeling and we react to it. You’re
hungry, you eat. You have to shit or piss, you shit or piss. Now
I know what you’re thinking: that we have minds and intellect
and that’s what separates us from the animals. But I say
what separates us from the animals is the ability to fantasize.
Think about it, fantasy is the combination of intellect, creativity,
and instinct, all of which have allowed for many avenues toward
a better quality of life. Example: with this combination, we have
better, healthier foods. We have indoor plumbing. We have the
ability to construct elaborate fantasies. Babe, we can’t
lay stencils over the wild inside us. We have to use it. Blend
it. Focus it. It’s not shameful. It’s not perverted,
not deviance. It’s as natural as a snake’s slither.
You’re right, he saw her saying. I see your point, he saw.
It’s late when her headlights fill the window.
After he’d finished off the tequila, he’d masturbated
twice, and went to bed. Now, a pearl of cold semen sticks his
boxers to his thigh. He hopes she didn’t tell Caroline.
She tells Caroline, then Caroline tells Bobby and Bobby tells
Art and… He shakes the thought away and listens. She bangs
around in the kitchen and his body seems to constrict an inch
and hold. She slams things in the living room. Kicks and stomps
through the bathroom, then comes to bed and yanks the covers up.
“Is it me?” she says.
And Mike is immediately up on and elbow, saying, “No,”
saying, “It’s nothing to do with you. You’re
“Then why then?”
“Cause it’s healthy,” he says, but his argument’s
jumbled in his brain. “It’s instinct, you know. Natural
like a snake…”
“I’m sure what you’re…doing…is healthy.
I’m sure it’s instinct even. It’s instinct I
want to fuck my boss too, but I don’t. Because when someone
else’s feelings are involved, there’s also morals
to factor in. There’s right,” she says, “and
“I was just getting in touch with my—you wanna fuck
“And you promised to love me ‘til death do us part,
not the fruit aisle at Wal-Mart.” She sighs. Clears her
throat. “What all have you done? I mean, besides the melon?”
“Cantaloupe,” he says.
“Mike?” she says, and he feels the heat from her face.
“I…(right hand, left hand, rubber bands to restrict
forearm circulation, blow-up dolls, Pucker Suckers, prosthetic
vaginas—big one’s, hairy ones, shaved ones, tiny ones:
‘Tiny ‘Giny’s with the New and Improved Itty
Bitty Clitty’s,’ a technique he invented called four-play,
where you thumb-rub the penis-tip while massaging your balls with
your other four fingers, prostrate stimulation with an electric
toothbrush, though he didn’t go A-T-M and brush his teeth
afterward)…just the melon,” he says.
Then, she rolls over, facing away from him and says, “Well,
it stops now or I’m gone.”
And she went to sleep.
He wakes up the next morning to a wet dream. He’s still
thrusting his hips and twitching when he opens his eyes. She’s
standing over him, arms crossed, dressed for work. Watching.
His chest going in, out. In, out. Feet taut as rebar.
“You’re off to a really bad stop,” she says,
shakes her head, and walks out.
At noon, Mike leaves the office and eats in his car. He’s
tried calling Kalli several times but it goes straight to voicemail.
Usually at lunch, he’d sit in the car leafing through one
of his books. He’d gone down to the Porn Warehouse and bought
Love You Some You: Hands On Techniques To Masturbatory Enlightenment
and Whack On, Whack Off: How To Switch Hands For A Little Strange.
He tosses the books in the backseat. He’s terrified. She
wants him to quit and he’ll try for her, but it won’t
be easy. He was feeling it two or three times this morning. Out
of habit, he went to the bathroom to fire off a round around ten
and had to stop himself.
He would miss it. That freedom to reach down and take hold. Grab
a few minutes of pleasure. To recharge his batteries. Capitalize
on a beautiful face or rack or ass he’d seen earlier in
the day and placed in the top drawer of his mental “pull-box.”
It’s magic, really, the control to speed up if you want
to go faster. Slow down if you want it slower. Get tighter, be
looser. And the confidence you get after it’s over, and
your hand doesn’t roll off, brow m’d, and say, “Is
He was diamond hard just thinking about it. He unzipped and slid
his hand in.
Quitting would be harder than he thought.
When you love food, it’s hard to diet.
On the way home, Mike can’t shake the feeling Kalli told
Caroline. He calls Bobby.
“Caroline tell you me and Kalli got into it?” he says.
“She might have said something,” Bobby says. “Why?”
Shit, he thinks. “No reason.”
“We’re grabbing a few beers tonight. Wanna come?”
“Better pass,” Mike says. “Got damage control
“Suit yourself,” Bobby says. “Handle your business.”
Mike hangs up. Wonders which business Bobby was telling him to
When Mike gets home and walks in the house, he knows he’s
screwed. He hears the hum of the computer as he steps in and can
see without seeing what Kalli’s looking at. He’d seen
this scene play out in his head several times. There was no way
around it. He’d hoped if he forgot about it, it would go
It didn’t. And here it is.
Since he’d started masturbating, he’d used the Internet
for a good deal of his porn. It started with nude celebrities—Pamela
Anderson, Angelina Jolie. Then old Marilyn Chambers movies and
Deep Throat. Now, it’s Brianna Banks and more amateurish
And though he knew how to get off on the sites, then get off the
sites, he could not figure out how to get the sites of the computer.
“Those are old,” he says.
She looks at him, her face cinched in the center.
stains under her eyes.
“Christ, Michael,” she says. “Spitnsplit.com?
“Those aren’t your better sites,” he says, and
wishes he hadn’t.
She looks back at the screen, shakes her head. “This isn’t
right. This is so not right,” she says.
He walks toward her and she puts a hand up, closes her eyes, and
turns her head.
“All guys have some,” he says, and she runs down the
hall and slams the door.
Her stares at the site. “Tic Tacs To Whales: Big Chicks
Blow Little Dicks.”
And his middle begins to tingle and tighten against his pants.
But he doesn’t feel ashamed.
Once you get caught with you dick in produce, there’s no
more shame to feel.
That night, he gets drunk and passes out. He sleeps on the sofa.
No wet dreams.
The next afternoon he comes home from work. The sun broken-yolking
into the horizon. He hadn’t touched himself all day. He
loves his wife. He’s gonna give this quitting a go.
He bought flowers and a Hallmark.
He pulls in.
The house is dark except for a flame orange glow in the living
room window. He goes inside.
“Babe?” he says.
On the floor, rose petals are strewn from the door through the
kitchen. He follows them into the living room.
“Kalli?” he says, peeking around the corner.
And there she is, tiger-striped in peach scented candle-flicker.
Leaned back on the sofa, legs spread. High-heels in the air, she’s
dressed in a red and black mesh camigarter, so tiny there’s
more cotton on a Q-Tip. She’s moved the thronged crotch
to the side, and with her middle finger, she’s rubbing herself
in baby circles.
“Hey,” he says, smiling. “What’s this?”
She raises a hand and slips a pin from her hair. Shakes her head,
letting the dark curls slide down her shoulders. She leans forward,
pours two glasses of wine, and takes a sip, never breaking eye
contact. She runs her tongue over her glistening lips, the edges
of her teeth, then leans back. Slips the thin lace straps from
her shoulders and lets them slide over her breasts. She runs a
hand over one of them and twists the nipple. She moans, clenches
a fist, and hooks her trigger finger twice, gesturing for him
She smells of honey massage oil. His favorite. He drops to his
knees, breathing heavy, and kisses her. He’s stripping.
Ripping his buttoned shirt. Peeling his pants off like skin. “I’m
sorry, babe,” he says, between breaths. “About it
She smiles and shakes her head No.
“I love you,” he says, and God knows he does. He always
had. She was the most beautiful girl he’d ever placed irises
on. She’d always been the one and he’d hurt her. With
his “instinct” he bruised the heart of the only person
that matters to him. He’s through with it, he thinks. He’s
quitting. For this sexy, smart, funny woman he’d fallen
in love with years ago, he’s going to be the man she wants.
Deserves. Out of this revelation, he caresses and kisses every
cell of salty, sweat-glazed flesh on her body. And for over an
hour, he works and works, trying to physically convey everything
bubbling in his heart.
But for the life of him…
recently won the Permafrost Literary Journal's Midnight Sun Fiction
Contest, the Touchstone Fiction Competition, and placed third
in the Cadenza Fiction Contest. He was nominated for the 2007
Best American Short Stories and a Journey Award, and has published
in Alligator Juniper, sub-TERRAIN, Rosebud, New Delta Review,
Summerset Review, Underground Voices, Conclave, Crannog, Mississippi
Crow, Vulcan, and NANO Fiction. His website is: www.invisiblebodies.com
© 2009 by Kevin Brown