She kissed a pipe the height of a child. I left the closet and ordered another drink. Ten minutes later she was beside me, glaring.
"What, wait, no, who did I kiss?"
"I showed him my cold. He said it was a bruise. Wasn't impressed. Look, I put my leg up, like this, but there wasn't a stool. He got hard. Tasted like ruined shit passing through the spokes of some bar. I decided to cut him deep enough to bother the tendons and hopefully cause an infection, unless he's a real faggot for the cream. Fuck your tendons. Buy me drinks."
At my house, she fell on the carpet, knees bent, black skirt yawning up her thighs. I had to sit down. I wanted to pose her around the house. I wasn't ready to perform. I was rarely in shape for a performance. I needed a few hours. She sprawled, suddenly, palms flat, arms suspended and shaking, inches above anything.
"You think I'm ugly."
"Not ugly enough."
"You should go practice being alive."
"Come toward me in telegrams of movement."
"You stink like Polaroid glue. Hack magician."
"Slide on your knees. Stop. Raise your chin. Stop. Closer. Stop. Rest your lips on mine. Mmes."
I pulled a ski mask over my head and poured some apple cider. She plopped back to the floor between my legs in a way that said she's bored.
"I know what I want. I want you to masturbate while I drink this, but don't close your eyes. Lie on your tummy and aim your ass at the ceiling like you're accusing it of something."
What I thought at first was anger matured into a smile. She nodded at my directions like something we both needed was about to happen.
"I smell gas," she said.
"Pipes are obnoxious. Pipes are cliché. You seem to prefer them to me. The one in my house has a gas leak. Maybe you should marry it. Give tiny Hungarian pecks when you say I do."
"Don't be jealous. Don't get personal."
"Don't disappear into the architecture. Don't leave me here alone wanting to fuck you with something sharp."
"Your local gas company will not tolerate that."
I began to sweat. She took out her cell phone and inspected the pipe, head crooked, fingers gliding up chipped metal. My spine felt misplaced.
"Hello, gas leak people? I need the innuendo shithead department. It's the basement of the house of the guy who can't get it up unless you kill the leak that's projecting some kind of prostate cancer into him. Yes, he's been a caricature of himself since birth. Mostly white, about six feet tall. I don't really know him, but his hair is okay. Shut up and come over. I can see the tendons of the penis, the penis of the house, the pipe, I mean, they're too exposed."
She clapped the phone shut. I was crying.
"You always cry," she whispered.
Between five minute intervals of sobbing, I said: "The placebo cream...of hope as a collective trick...for the human condition...to suck on...finishes me...and you're holding a fragile...mistake so common...that your rejection will not...be known as kindness."
"Don't hold his head like that. He'll become dependent."
"He's already impotent, ma'am, you let him wear a ski mask. Play mother and they cling."
The gasmen were in my house with rubber tubing stretched around their uniforms, heavy boxes glistening, contents banging with each movement. Unable to talk, I pointed toward the closet. The gasmen stepped closer, getting symmetrical behind me. A remote-control-shaped machine with a metal spout beeped next to my ear. They aligned their dialogue with the machine's rhythm. My sobs bent me to the floor.
"Sir, the girl beats you?"
"Sir, our machine dims the glass of time. Is your vans deference acting up?"
"Do you mind if we stuff our dicks in the leak, sir?"
"Do you mind if we stuff our leaks in the girl, sir?"
"There's no leak. The leak is from your baby dick."
"You pranked the government."
"Twenty years easy. Do the math."
"One fifth of a century of waking up to rape. Do the math."
"I was going to crack my knuckles when you said that, Bill, as a kind of punctuation, but I don't feel dramatic today, just fucking horny."
"We have rubber tubing, sir. That means we're impervious to the laws of man."
"I don't smell anything, aside from this asshole's tears."
"We have to take off our shirts to find the leak."
"Okay, hold on. Look at us. We have no shirts. Half-naked. Do the math."
"I do smell something. Guess what? It's a corpse, Bill"
"I thought you were Bill. A corpse ain't proof of hierarchy, Bill. Pants."
"The machine doesn't tell me there's a corpse, Bill."
"Then we'll have to make one or they'll fire us, won't they, Bill?
"Who said Bill? Did Bill? Ask Bill. They don't make tools for Bill. Do the pants."
"Now we're close enough to naked as we need to be to perform what it is they called us for."
About the author:
Sean Kilpatrick was raised in Detroit and maintains The Anorexic Museum featuring interviews with many authors. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in: Southern Gothic, Exquisite Corpse, Juked, elimae, NOÖ Journal, Action Yes, Melancholia's Tremulous Dreadlocks, Wicked Alice, Kulture Vulture, Mustachioed, 3AM Magazine, and Wandering Army. He is a two-time Pushcart Prize Nominee and his first book is forthcoming from Six Gallery Press. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org