by richard ellis
He slipped down the side of the embankment and the three men were upon him. A busted off wine bottle severed the webbing between thumb and forefinger. The tip of a tin plated pointy toed cowboy boot splintered a rib. He can hear the river, feel the moisture on the grass, a cricket hops by his nose. Cricket leg barbs. Soil odor. Taste of blood. Such are the things noticed. One of the men works a branch off a tree. The suicide impulse slowly leaks away, but the urge to fight is probably useless now with odds of a healthy three against a bleeding and broken boned one.
With the shard of glass extruding from hand a furrow is carved down Branch Boys calf just as he is backing up to swing the branch down. Cowboy Boot kicks the exposed underarm. Broken Glass lunges the bottle at the throat and jagged edges bust off on the top of Bleeding And Brokens head as he attempts to lean forward. That really hurts. That nearly puts the lights out. Cowboy Boot connects under the chin, sending Bleeding And Broken flat on his back. Bleeding And Broken rolls himself around and dives head first into Broken Glass. He takes him down. Through cotton shorts he clamps his teeth down around Broken Glasss genitalia. Between molars and cotton a testicle ruptures when Broken Glass unwisely double fists the back of Bleeding And Brokens head. Broken glass releases a squeal like an orgasm induced by a hot coal to the prostate. He is effectively out of commission, one testicle dead and in need of surgical removal.
Branch Boy jumps, both feet down, on the small of Bleeding And Brokens back who twists slightly and sends Branch Boy to the ground. Cowboy Boot who clutched his own hanging gristle in sympathetic pain rears his boot back and sends it into the right side of Bleeding And Brokens head. He is out. He is kicked again and again and again. His body floats down river. Bleeding And Broken feels much better, almost relieved. Joy floods his mind as water floods his lungs. Branch Boy and Cowboy Boot help walk their testicular impaired partner back to the bars. Soon he will pass out in need of medical attention.
Chad sat on the shore in doleful countenance watching his body drift out of sight on the darkened white waters. He smoothed his grizzled blonde hair back while looking himself over. Damage done in the fight was gone. Everything. Even his blue Abercrombie and Fitch button-up remained tucked in. His hand moved from the top of his head to jawline where he discovered baby smoothness rather than abrasive stubble as it had been minutes before in life. His hands were well manicured and shoes polished. Other details about his physical appearance had improved to his liking. His body was more like The David now than a plump small breasted females. And every inch of his body tingled as if from the wind of the wings of a thousand humming birds. Death both felt and looked good.
Excuse me sir, a voice, somehow portentous, begged his attention, allow me for a moment to distract you from your just and vain revelry.
Chad scrambled back from the apparent direction of the voice, looking frantically for the unseen source. The unseen source moved in and Chad could plainly see. A foot in front of his face hung a sphere of meat, not great in size with a diameter just shy of an inch. No visible strings were attached and no motives or intentions could be read off the poker-faced Italian meatball facade.
I am, as are you, in a situation unique thus far in my existence. That something like this could never happen to me again, I cannot with any authority say. What I understand is that I have been given a temporary life my own. My life was by a direct cause and effect relation induced by your actions. In particular, your reckless oral gnashing of one, Mr. Troy Sullivans right testicle. Very gruesome, sir, and, I may add, fearsome, the testicle languidly traced a figure eight through the space before Chads face, pausing in its florid manner of speech. It seemed to be critically examining Chad. Chad stared blankly, mouth agape, and without so much as a word of warning, the testicle hurled itself against Chads forehead, striking hard and bouncing back to its pre-attack position.
Are you picking up on any of this, bitch!? it yelled. Chad squealed and, again, scrambled back. Death, bitch! shrieked the teste. Youre dead and Im with you until the rest of Troy catches up with me! Once more the testicle skillfully flung itself at Chads head. Chad fell flat on his back this time, arms raised and crossed in front of his face in defense. He started to cry.
Oh, you little fucking girl, chastised the testicle. Chad opened his eyes and wiped tears away. He could see the inherent cruelty in that dangling ball of meat. Suddenly and violently he attempted to pluck the testicle from the air, but he failed as his hand passed straight through. The testicle hovered, unmoved.
What are you? Chad asked, voice atremble.
Im your burden. Every man carries at least one burden to the grave.
You look like a little meatball. What kind of burden are you supposed to be?
Little, huh? asked the teste. Lets make this perfectly clear; I am Troys testicle; you bit me into oblivion.
Oh come on. How is one of Troys balls a burden to me? The testicle smacked Chads forehead. Ow!
Troys testicle isnt your burden. Im a fucking metaphor you stupid shit!
How can you hit me when my hand went through you?
Shut the fuck up, bitch. Whos the burden? Me or you?
But what are you a metaphor of? The testicle arced back and swung forward impacting directly against Chads left eye. Ow! fuck.
Me or you!?
You. You are.
The testicle began to shake as if going into seizure. Chad stood and backed up as the teste fell to the ground. White froth shook off in droplets as it convulsed and bounced along the rivers edge. Finally, it regained composure and approached Chad.
Oh my accursed existence! bemoaned the teste. Dear sir, I beg of you forgiveness. My very nature makes of me at times, a monster. But, I make of that no excuse. Within us all lurks the brute demon of primitive man that struggles against the modern constructs of society and civility, but does that excuse anyone of us from casting off the veneer and making of our fellow man a target for mockery, humility and unbridled rage? No. No, it does not. My attacks against your person are unfounded. And since we are bound together for the course of eight and sixty years, courtesy, civility and mutual respect are to be our greatest virtues.
Chad, puzzled and frightened by the testicles change in demeanor, eyed it suspiciously.
Sixty-eight years? he asked.
Yes, that is when the rest of Lord Sullivan shall be arriving.
Be arriving in sixty-eight years? How? How? Why!?
Old age. General consumption of bodily health.
The testicle sighed and stated manorly, Lord Sullivan. He is to pass on of age related ills.
Sixty-eight? How do you know all this? I dont seem to..
Look, bi…sir, I simply have the knowledge. I know.
Are you sure? The testicle contracted in size and jerked up and back as a thin stream of thick white fluid shot forward into Chads mouth and across his cheek. The teste then expanded and floated down to rest on the ground. Aigh, Chad wiped the spunk from his cheek then disgustedly wiped it off his hand onto his jeans. He noticed the holes at the knees had been replaced by death. He wiped more off from beneath his ear, Christ.
Very sorry sir. Mmhm. Very sorry. And yes I am quite sure. And no I am not quite sure how I am quite sure. Just am., the testicle yawned, Oh, getting rended from the body of Lord Sullivan and cast in such an ungraceful and ill dignified manner into the afterlife seems to have tapped my vitality for the evening. I would be in your service if I could rest up in that breast pocket of yours.
No way, I dont want one of Troys nads in my pocket. What is this burden bullshit about anyway? You said you were a metaphor.
Oh that, responded the testicle nonchalantly, Im not literally a metaphor. I guess you could say Im metaphorically a metaphor. I am what I am, exactly what I appear to be, a testicle in the afterlife.
But what did you mean by being a metaphor for my burden? sadness took over Chads tone and his eyes again welled up with tears.
Nothing, baby. Honest. I said it in anger. It has no real reflection on us; it was wrong of me, unacceptable. You dont have to worry, okay?
All right I guess, but what now?
For now I need rest. Youre probably tired too and a little overly excited from your recent death. Come on now. Lets sleep and tomorrow we can deal with this refreshened and rational.
Okay, I guess, and Chad laid down with Troys testicle upon the warm moist grass at the rivers bank, bathed in the light of a nearly full moon.
The rising sun glittered across the waves like sparks shooting from the tip of a roman candle. Flashes of light glinted in Chads newly opened eyes. The testicle laid like an abandoned birds egg in a tuft of dried grass. Careful to not make any noise, Chad arose and climbed the slope up to the bicycle path that wound its way along the length of the river as it flowed through St. Petersburg, WI. Chad walked from the bike path across a grocery stores parking lot to Sadovaya Street. Strolling down the street he discovered what he expected would be true. People were unable to see him. People did seem able to sense him, however, since they avoided walking into him. He wasnt always avoided directly. If he was walking right at someone they may suddenly receive the impulse to examine a poster in one of the many shop windows on Sadovaya Street or abruptly recall a need to turn back around rather than continue on.
Chad was at a loss. There must be something he had to do, but what he didnt know. There werent any other dead wandering the streets, but just because none were seen didnt mean there werent any. Rationally, the dead must either go somewhere else or the streets and country sides would be SRO with them. Maybe they live under the sea or on the fields of Mars. Nonsense. But where is there to go? Chad paused, an idea flickering across his mind. He concentrated, trying to pick up subtle signals or vague vibrations that might lead him to a portal, a transcendental tunnel to Dead Town, la ciudad de la morte, but no far off frequencies or ghoulish gibbering responded to guide him off beyond the grave. Disappointed with the lack of netherworld guidance, Chad walked to Nevsky Avenue where he had been renting a small efficiency for the past year.
There was nothing in his pockets: no money, no wallet, no chap stick and crucially, no keys. He tried the walking through the wall bit and wasnt too surprised to find himself on the other side in his apartment. He didnt know what he was doing here, but it felt good to be in a familiar environment surrounded by his possessions.
Which will soon become somebody elses stuff, he thought morosely. This thought depressed him. Soon he found the whole scene of a dead man sitting alone amidst the debris of his former life insanely morbid. He didnt even have any plants. Nothing lived. He left.
He walked down the hall to another apartment; his pulse increased and respiration became uneven if what he had was truly classifiable as pulse and respiration. Nerves jangled like a thiefs in the presence of a cop.
How many times had he fantasized in junior high and high school about invisibly frolicking about the female locker rooms? He entered Sonyas apartment and began looking around. She lied in bed. Chad moved in extremely close to examine her sleeping body: hair mussed from a restful night, face clean of make-up, dried spittle on the corners of her mouth, full breasts resting one atop the other as she lay on her side, nipples the color of dead rose pedals, veins and arteries pumping blood, ribs showing through, eyes liquefying in their sockets, the stench of putrefaction, rot, decay, putrescence. Chad reeled away from Sonyas body, turning his head and putting his hand to his brow.
Rotted, she rotted there right in front of me, Chad whispered. He slowly turned back around to face her. All was well. She was waking up. Chad sighed,
Maybe I should keep a distance. Not focus too intently, he mulled.
He watched her make the bed, make toast, eat, and get ready for the day. As she stepped from the shower an hour later, Chad started to touch himself.
Sonya ran the towel up her leg. Chad started to manipulate himself through his jeans. She bent over to dry her feet; he undid his fly and began casual cable pulling right there in the bathroom. He felt delirious. Death had taken him and he was jacking off like there was no tomorrow. There must be sex for the dead as well, he reasoned. If I could find someone… His thought trailed off as he felt the end at hand.
Oh Chad, young man, dont you realize there are more important things to be done?
Chad yelled, Gah! and shoved his erection down into his jeans and zipped up hurriedly. His ghostly visage reddened as the testicle swung around his head to face him.
I do understand the immediate thrill and, yes, even desire of going about in places unseen by others, especially where members of the opposite sex are to be found in variegated stages of undress, professed the teste as Sonya slipped on a pair of white panties covered in small pink hearts. I suppose it is even something one may have to get out of his system, continued the testicle, raising its voice, but I dont have the time for it! What the fuck do you think youre doing sneaking off at the crack of dawn you stupid fucking jack-off?
I just, I wanted, I just needed some space. I need to find out who I am now. I wasnt sneaking off. I only wanted some time to myself, whined Chad.
Oh, thats great. Meanwhile Im supposed to bide my time and what? Sit around by the river waiting for you to come back? Fine, bitch. Whatever.
Oh, fine. Go ahead and call me names every time you get angry, said Chad as he rose to the offense.
Fuck you, cunt! Youre going to have to listen to me and put up with it. Otherwise youll be lost you miserable piece of shit. Roaming the Earth without a clue what to do without me. Think youre ready for that? You need me. You have no idea whats out there. Please, I dont want you to get hurt. The testicle changed its tone from rage to concern.
Sonya stood, wearing tight felt black slacks and no top. Currently she penciled in eyeliner. In the bedroom the phone was ringing. Sonya, Chad and the testicle ignored its call.
What are these important things to be done? asked Chad. Sonyas recorded voice could be heard telling the caller shed get back to him soon as possible.
Important things to be done? pompously mimicked the testicle. The singular most important thing is to expedite our passage from this realm?
Expedite our passage? To where?
Over the answer machine: Hi, Sonya, this Eddie calling. If you really could be back to me as soon as possible thatd be great. Ahh, shit. I dont know. Um, I have classes until four and then Ill probably go visit Troy in the hospital. Yeah. Thats right. You heard it. So, call me later then, okay? Later.
Ha! exclaimed Chad.
Sonya ran into the other room, picked up the phone, said, Hello? Hello? Hey Eddie? Shit, and put the phone back down.
Thats a noble spirit: take delight in the suffering of others, stated the testicle. Youre sign of joy is a slap to both my and Troys misfortune.
Troys misfortune? Im the one who got killed down by the Little Neva, not that fucking ape!
Sonya returned not at all perturbed about missing the call. Chad reëxamined her body. Oh to hell with you, Chad shouted and masturbated with renewed vigor.
Howd you like me to help? asked the teste seductively.
Shut up, Chad hissed.
Let me help, Chad. Ill roll my pink meatiness up and down your stiff spout.
I said, Shut up, Chad said, working it, groaning.
Gently massaging its length while lubing it up with my seminal emissions.
Leave me alone, he growled. The tower sagged. Hell, even Rome had to fall.
Let me ease into your darkened man canal to push your magic buttons within, Chad. I want to. I need to.
I dont need you to. I dont need you.
Put me in your mouth, baby.
Agh, Chad toiled with his fallen instrument and commanded it to rise, Come on! he demanded, but his penis was clearly going nowhere. Goddamn
you, he cursed the testicle as Sonya finished her face.
What is it you would have me do while you engage in this business of self gratification? While you vainly labor against the death you must accept, I am forced to endure immeasurable injustices by merely being in your presence. Chad, it is I who am to be a burden unto you. And allow me to disillusion you now if you think it is to be any different, tersely confronted the testicle, or if you think death is an extension on lifes playtime.
Chad fell to Sonyas linoleum bathroom floor. He covered his face with his hands. Oh Christ, he moaned. Im too young. Twenty-four years wasnt enough. I didnt believe it and now here I am: a ghost jerking off in his old neighbors shitter, Chads soft whisper cut in and out like a radio station drowning in static.
Hey, youll make it. Everyone goes through this eventually, okay? Youre not alone. You are not unique in any way, shape or form. Billions of men have had to move on from life at age twenty-four or younger. So keep your pecker up, boy, consoled the testicle. It even seemed to look concerned.
I meant that in the British sense, as in stay tough, but if you like, why dont you go ahead and finish yourself off. I fully sympathize with what its like to be denied just before the moment of ultimate truth. Ill wait in the hall until youre done, the testicle glided off to the door.
Wait, ordered Chad. Sonya left for the bedroom and busied herself with the arduous task of selecting a top. Im ready to go now. I dont want to waste anymore time here.
No. Go ahead and finish, have a good come. Ill just be out in the hall, the testicle moved closer to the door.
I dont want to finish now. you ruined that, and it doesnt matter anymore.
One word, Sonya, slowly enunciated the testicle.
What? Why do you want me to finish so badly its almost like youre trying to ditch me, Chad said, lights going off and on in rapid succession through his head. His face writhed, lips pulling back into a wince, eyes widening like an amateur actor feigning fright. This cannot happen. It simply will not stand.
The testicle bolted for the door, but no sooner had it begun its flight when Chad lunged out, batting the teste into the door with one firm fore-arm swing. The testicle feebly whimpered as it sailed gracelessly, not through, but high into the door with a splat like raw hamburger. White and red streaked behind the teste as it sickeningly slid down the green aluminum door like a husked snail.
Chad then struck again, this time throwing himself into the door, palms facing out at chest level in bench pressing posture to smash the teste between his bodily force and immovable storm door. Chad and the testicle both tumbled through the door, exiting Sonyas apartment, into the hall where they crashed against the opposing wall and toppled onto the floor, screaming.
Sonya clasped her necklace, a little archer down on his knee, poised over her cleavage, when a wall shaking clamor arose from beyond her wall.
Scot was absent mindedly placing his dishes in the cupboard, hungover, and wondering why in hell he was already awake and why he bothered going to classes anyway when a violent thud behind the cupboard rattled the dishes and sent a lazy-Susan, turned up on its side, rolling down to strike him full on the crown of the head.
Sonya ran to her door and opened it a crack, chain latched.
Scot walked, methodically shaking his head back and forth, jaw firmly clenched in practiced pent up rage. He threw the door open and first saw Sonya peering out through a thin slot between door and frame. He followed her gaze.
Their neighbor was down on the floor, naked and on one knee. His right hand was held between legs. Blood flowed freely and prodigiously around his hand, through his fingers, drizzling onto the floor into a grizzly pool around his planted knee. He was holding his left arm out straight, hand raised, palm upturned as if beseeching the heavens for reason. In his palm was a bloody clump of hairy meat. A stained knife lying a few feet away told some more of the tale.
He insanely sniggered at his severed testicle held up like a torch, the truth to bear, Dont leave me! I dont know what to do. Please show me the way.
Why the fuck do you want to abandon me now? And then he paused and carried on with aristocratic airs, moving his hand left then right in a slow waving motion.
I never said, dear, dear Chad, that I was to leave you. My intentions are not to deceive you. It is still my hope that we may live agreeably together for some time, but it is you that asserted a need for space and time. You left me, then I tracked you down to that tart Sonyas where you engaged in impure acts without me, Chads eyes fleetingly met Sonyas. Sonyas lips pulled back into a pursed half smile; her lower lip quivered. Scot stared unflinchingly at the ongoings even as he blanched.
Fuck you! Chad screamed. Fuck you you cant go! I was confused. I didnt know what I was doing! he shrieked more violently than before.
Look bitch, you initiated this you miserable cunt., he said.
He closed his fingers over the wad of scrotum and testicle, clenched down and struck himself across the left temple.
Ow! You cant treat me this way. Youre staying with me no matter what, said Chad. He jammed the grotesque mass of flesh and organ into his mouth and chomped and ground his teeth, retching and gagging.
Scot put his weight on the door knob, unable to view anymore or cope with the hangover; he vomited where he stood. It made him feel better.
Sonya laughed and cried simultaneously and involuntarily.
In a declaration of triumph their neighbor roared, There! There! You see!? and brandished his fist at the air.