After Charles Bukowski
I was deep inside a dream about Zakk Wylde and Jason Mamoa when Dan woke me with his wailing. I pulled open the dresser drawer. There he was, nestled among my perfectly feminine phalluses. He clung to a mint-green vibrator like a life raft.
Dan was once six foot four and meaty. I met him at Parkway Lanes. He played a show there with his band Eternal Cadaver. I was mousey, but death metal made me brave, so I told him I liked their set and asked if I could bum a smoke.
“You don’t look eighteen,” he said.
When I graduated high school, I moved into his place. I was pretty much living there already, watching anime, eating frozen pizzas, and hitting the bong he called Corpsegrinder. A few years in, I started getting tired of it. How if I didn’t cook dinner we had to eat microwaved chicken nuggets, soggy and rubbery at the same time. And if I ever nodded along to an Adele song on the radio, he called me a poser.
“You think I still like living with your father?” My mom said. She pointed her knitting needles at me. “You need to get a hobby.”
So I made soap for a while. I tried cross stitch and crochet. Scrapbooking was the worst, because I realized nothing much had happened in the five years since graduation. Work named me Manager of the Year, but I hate the photo of me smiling from under my black hat, face shiny, surrounded by frozen meat discs and a machine that emits white goo like diarrhea.
Then Liz invited me to one of those Tupperware-style sex toy parties. It sounded pretty sad, but I had nothing better to do. She drove us to this cute ranch-style house with toys in every corner, but no kids to be seen.
Running the show was a fifty-year-old lady named Cynthia. We sat in a circle on folding chairs while she plied us with wine coolers. She gave us all order sheets, like the ones you use to sell magazines and candy bars in school. Then she brought out the big black duffel bag.
“This is for the men in your lives,” she said, holding up a green glob of transparent plastic. “Your worries about him cheating end tonight, girls. This will keep him away from that single mom up the street.”
The glob made its way around the circle of women. One by one, we shoved our fingers inside to feel the lifelike vagina texture. Some were tentative, others went right to town. Liz penetrated it with four fingers and a snort. A blonde lady marked her order sheet, holding her hand up like she was shielding her PIN.
“Now, for you ladies looking to get started down the road of self-pleasure.”
What came out of that bag next changed my life forever. It was small, but packed with enormous vibrating power. It was light pink and perfectly aerodynamic. It cost $24.95, batteries included. When we were done looking at it, Cynthia packed it away gently like a girl with her Furby.
That night I lay in bed listening to Dan snore. I pulled the vibrator from my purse, trying not to make a sound. When I licked the nob at the bottom, it roared. I jumped and turned it off. I stared at Dan, panicked he might find me out. He kept snoring. I turned it back on again.
Ladies, let me tell you, if you haven’t tried vibration, you’re in for the ride of your life. It makes you hungry, like you could never be satisfied. You could eat your pillow, or shove a rhinoceros up your hoo-ha. Keep on going and you’ll find happiness. No man ever made me cry when I came.
I masturbated the way teen boys do on TV shows. I locked myself in the bedroom while Dan watched TV. Hours and hours, until I got sore and had to invest in massive tubs of lube. I started buying every shape and size of sex toy I could find. There’s a 4-foot-tall dildo you suction cup to the floor. A purse-sized vibrator you can use while stuck in traffic. I dreamed of having a house of my own. I would display them like in a museum.
Then one day I came home from the grocery store to find Dan rifling through my drawers. He misunderstood my happiness to mean I was sleeping with his pimply little brother, and went looking for proof.
“What the fuck is this shit,” he roared. My precious babies were littered across the floor, dirtied by his massive paws. He held a turquoise dildo in his left hand, his eyes red and wide. “You whore.”
He came at me like a pickup truck rolling down the driveway. I grabbed the suction-cup dildo and swung it at his head. He went down, at least for a second. It was just long enough for me to tie him up with his bass cord and stuff him in the closet. I gathered up my babies to do a nice hot load in the dishwasher.
The first day I felt nervous having him in there, but it’s amazing how quickly the human mind can adjust to extreme circumstances. It’s true that for a while I forgot to feed him. He wasn’t like a fish or a hamster—there were no instructions for his care. It seemed as though he got smaller every time I checked on him. Eventually, he fit into the palm of my hand. Somehow, I wasn’t surprised. The guy was so insubstantial, made of nothing but hot air. For a while I kept him in a glass aquarium where our pet turtle once lived. But he kept trying to climb the sides, and by then he was the same size as a dildo, so I stuffed him in the drawer.
That’s how we got here, with him screaming in the middle of the night, clinging to my vibrator.
“That’s my favorite,” I said. “Get off, you dirty little man.”
When I picked him up, he screamed even louder.
“I can’t hear you,” I said. But I was getting tired of the insults. I played some Morbid Angel for courage. It wasn’t really appealing, the thought of using him as a dildo. I wanted to punish him, not punish myself.
Instead I grabbed my favorite vibrator and went to town, still squeezing Dan in my left hand. I was in the period of engulfing, where the world goes black and sparkly, when I noticed he was shrinking again. I felt so good I didn’t want to stop, and the more I squeezed, the smaller he got. At the end, he had vanished entirely, squeezed into nothingness as I came.
Chelsea Graham grew up in Michigan, lived a decade in Rome, and recently moved to Brooklyn. Her fiction has been published in Litro, The Stockholm Review of Literature, and Five on the Fifth. She holds an MSc in Sociology from the London School of Economics and a BA in Communication from the American University of Rome. Find her on Twitter at @neonanomaly.