Has it been long enough to write this? It’s only taken me what, a year?
In all seriousness, there have been a mix of things keeping me away from the keyboard, from the unacceptable excuse of laziness to an increased quality of my life (such an increase, in fact, that there have been no gripes to catalog). That said, one of the chief reasons is that this story is unpleasant; yes, most of my stories are unpleasant, but this one is worse. Sure, one could suggest avoiding it for the time being, but not only have I already postponed too many Gripes (don’t worry, Fini – we’ll complete your tale someday), there is an importance in getting this one out of the way early.
Because it’s nasty.
Whatever, enough build-up. On we go:
The Gland Incoherence
After a somewhat bizarre trip across the state of Oregon (we’ll get to this another time), fellow writer Funky and I found a temporary home in the apartment of our friend, Garrett. He was living on the second story of a popular downtown complex, splitting rent with a friendly middle-eastern man named Abdul (who soon, from a mixture of general discomfort and strange American antics, would be moving out). There we cooked slabs of fish in whiskey, slept in a sweaty pile atop randomly assembled mattresses, and chain-smoked enough cigarettes to personally incite climate change. In a simultaneously fun and impossibly bleak way, it was a perfectly enacted stereotype of the urban, white, twenty-something lifestyle – communal, loud, directionless, indulgent, and somehow still quite lonely. Jolly Oswald was there, too.
On the second night of our stay, a tragically misinterpreted light appeared, something I took as a lifeboat to fight my grubby first-world emptiness with; this light was a young woman. Yeah, that’s where this grease-stain of a story goes. Good old unreliable Mack fucks it up again, combining his classic weakness with impossible ignorance and desperation that is (admittedly) often seen, though not usually implemented in such a catastrophic way.
Her name was Ysabelle. I mean it wasn’t; she went by Jasper, then revoked it (“call me by my real name,” she once asked me soulfully), then took back revoking it because fuck it. So we’re calling her Ysabelle. Just let that one slide.
She was an on-and-off nonbinary, hetero-but-sometimes-bisexual-polyamorous, semisexual nymphomaniac who was in love with two other people upon the time of meeting me (one of them being a trans woman who had recently reverted to identifying as male again, because they had just completed a stint in prison and wanted to fight for custody of their alienated children). Also, she was pretty nice. Also also, she had cervical cancer (this is important and you should remember it). Also also also, I’ve been thinking about giving up on this story ever since beginning this awful paragraph, but I won’t because it’s literally been a year since I’ve contributed anything to this literary pile of refuse.
The first night we met, she sat down on Garrett’s couch and told me that she had fallen madly in love with me. I asked her what made her so sure about this (we’d been talking to each other for about an hour, now), and she kissed me instead of answering my question, because it was both easier than improvising reasons behind a falsely proclaimed emotion, and I was too much of a shithead to ask for anything beyond spontaneous and rudimentary sensual gratification. That night, we slept in the same bed, but there was virtually no touching – though this detail may seem a little arbitrary, it left an incredible impact, as we were so immediately close and yet without a shred of intimacy. Beyond that first kiss, there was nothing.
Fast-forward a handful of days, and all of that would go tits-up.
See, roughly around the time of meeting her, I reacquainted with another young woman (don’t worry, she had a weird older boyfriend at the time, so this doesn’t quite go the predictable route, at least not immediately). Her name was/is/will likely remain Sofia, and I very much liked/like/will continue to like her. By like, I mean feel gross romantic things (I like her more than I dislike cherry candy, which is a really big deal if you understand how much I truly despise cherry candy, and also this is another thing you should keep in mind for later). When Funky and Oswald proposed we go and see Sofia, I was on-board in a way that lacked all subtlety and grace; witnessing the activation of my Attention-Seeking Vacuum, hindsight provides the understanding that Ysabelle was probably made nervous by this pitiful display of need, and opted to come along as a chastity belt rather than a guest. I was too dense to see this, as my empathetic skills had crash-landed at an record low, and I honestly believed it would be a wise idea to bring her along. It wasn’t.
Shortly after we reached Sofia’s house, it was painfully obvious where my attention would be for the remainder of our visit. Within minutes, Ysabelle had spread herself on Sofia’s living room couch, telling me that she was tired and wanted to take a break from all of the socializing. When I attempted to rejoin said socializing, she grabbed my pant-leg and drew me back to where she was lying, showing me a tattoo that ran the extent of her forearm. Terribly paraphrased by my garbage memory, it said “I was birthed from the rot and the flowers, and when I die I will at last rejoin them.” She told me the words bore great significance, but wouldn’t reveal what significance that was; when I asked again, she demanded that I admit my mutual love for her, and after I responded by saying nothing, it was her turn to repeat a question. I choked out something along the lines of “I don’t think so,” doubtlessly sounding like an intoxicated Muppet doing an impression of a deaf person trying to whisper across a stadium (this analogy solely exists to communicate my inability with tact, please don’t read into it). The response I gave upset her, but I couldn’t really tell (refer back to that Muppet thing I just apologized for), so I went out with the rest of the squad to drink water that tasted like runny mud and was also a muscle relaxant. Jump to a couple of hours later, and we were back at the house, loosened up and acting like a bunch of assholes.
“I want to go back to the apartment,” Ysabelle said.
Feeling genuinely terrible, the cruelty of the situation hit me like Ron Jeremy’s wrecking ball. Though not enough, I was very remorseful, and offered to ride back on the bus with her (none of us drove at the time). On the way home, she shared much of her life with me, some stories truthful and others clearly fabricated, and all I could think was “I have ruined this person’s life,” which was admittedly an amazingly dramatic thing to be thinking, but it gets worse so hold on a second.
The events took place as follows:
We arrived at Garrett’s apartment, and nobody we knew was home. Abdul had some friends over, and they were playing a game in the living room, dance music pounding from a speaker near the balcony. A sinking feeling filled my gut, sickening but difficult to explain, and I couldn’t keep my sight from locking onto my own feet.
Once we retreated into the bedroom, Ysabelle shut the door behind us and threw me a small bottle of lubricant. I almost dropped it, and when my eyes unlatched from what she had given me (I swear to God, I thought it was lip balm at first), she began to tear her clothes off like they were on fire. It looked like a bad eighties commercial, where a glam-rock girl with a pixie haircut and Member’s Only jacket is knocking shit off the shelf like it’s going out of style, and apparently this is supposed to be selling you Levi’s jeans. Only I didn’t want the Levi’s jeans that Ysabelle was selling me, so I stood there like a scarecrow and watched as my reality became a hilarious nightmare.
“I want you to fuck me,” she hissed, trying to tear my shirt off and scratching my back. Her nails reminded me of a movie poster I saw once, where a werewolf was ripping his claws through the screen, making this face like “I don’t give a shit, I’m breaking the fourth wall!” However, in this case, the fourth wall was the skin between my shoulder blades, and it wasn’t a Joe Dante film.
Soon enough, we were on the floor. “Put on the lube,” she was snapping at me. “Put on the lube.” I had never used lubricant before, and this whole ordeal was ludicrously weird, but I did my best to comply. Uncapping the container, I spilled way too much into my palm, and began mashing it inelegantly against my partially flaccid penis, the liquid far colder than I had anticipated, dripping onto the carpet and sheets beneath us. The scent of artificial cherry flooded into my nostrils, and I began to wretch, trying to pretend like I was stifling a cough as vomit threatened to eject from the back of my throat.
“Is it on?” she asked.
I tried to nod, propping the balance of my body onto one elbow and hurling the lube angrily across the room, the frigid sensation that once coated my balls transitioning into one of heat, awful stinging heat, as though the substance was attempting to drill into the follicles of my testicle hair. My thighs trembled and I began to sweat, but the combined tension and extremity of the moment prevented me from articulating this pain, so I said nothing.
“I shaved my pussy,” she gasped, her speech greatly worsening the sense of impending sick. “Put it in.”
Biting my lip, I began to enter her, but like all other happenings within this story, such an act did not go as planned. There was something inside of her, something bulbous and fleshy that was so large in size, it seemingly left a bulge in the skin above her groin. The sight and feel of it shocked me, and my mind returned instantly to her cervical cancer, my hand brushing over her skin in attempts to recognize what I was dealing with, the rough hairs of her shaved vagina scratching my open palm as I resisted the urge to break my own neck. There was something wrong here, and although I was worlds away from being a sexual expert, it was all too apparent that this was a special sort of case.
Pulling back from her, I stood up, grabbing my underpants and sliding them on at lightning speed. Our gazes connected, and she too shot up, whipping a blanket like a cape about her shoulders and sprinting into the bathroom. Upon Garrett’s mattress, I sat alone, sliding back into my clothing and doing my best to ignore the stench which now filled his room.
When she returned, she was weeping. “I don’t know what you did to me,” she cried, holding out her bloody hands, squeezing her legs together with a tuft of toilet paper jutting out the front. “Do you have something?”
“An STD, do you have an STD?”
“No,” I scrambled for the right thing to say, fidgeting awkwardly in place. “I don’t. For sure I don’t.”
“Then,” she tilted her head down, shadows casting dramatically across her face in the shitty lamplight, “I think you found it. The cancer; you found the cancer.”
Although I have no clue how such a thing works, or if one is actually capable of “finding” cervical cancer with their botched erection, there was no doubt in my mind that whatever had just transpired was deeply wrong.
That night, once Garrett and Funky had returned, we all laid down together and watched an animated movie. After she had fallen asleep, I brought Garrett into the hallway and told him about what happened. He had been drinking something at the time, and upon gaining this information, pitched his cup against the plaster wall, glass shards and extra-pulp orange juice cascading through the air. “I care very much about her,” he said, stepping about the glass (we were both barefoot). “I haven’t told you this before, but when we first met, she told me that she loved me, and we also had sex too, and I also found the cancer.”
He spoke frantically – “I mean I found it, the cancer. I found it, too. I touched it with my penis.”
I shook my head and he disappeared through a nearby doorway, quickly returning with some traffic cones he’d allegedly stolen. Setting them on either side of the mess, he clapped his hands together as though dusting them off, then headed back into the apartment. The cones, along with everything else, remained there unattended for days.
The following morning, we made coffee and sat out on the balcony. She was leaving to see her doctor soon, to discern if anything new and/or horrible had occurred inside of her body. I dumped a comical amount of Funky Mannequin’s raw tobacco into a rolling paper and nodded along, beginning the second stint of chain-smoking that would prove to rival the first. About halfway through my massive smoke, she proposed to me.
“Let’s just get married,” she said. “We love each other, we can just get married and go wherever we want to.”
Politely as I could, I declined, so she took a bus to Vancouver and asked the no-longer transgender parolee if he would like to marry her instead. He also declined, so she stayed in Portland and drank the baby to death.
Oh, you thought I was going to end on a funny line. No, that’s seriously it, that’s how this story ends.