Teddy-bear dude turns sideways to me, twisting his head to the other side. Dude’s thinking I can’t see, but from between his lipsticked lips he pulls a chewed-up, used rubber. Some old rubber he wore or one he’s found on the set, I don’t want to know. After watching my share of faggot porn flicks, it’s no surprise they get off on eating their own jizz. Eating anybody’s. The kid’s showing him both pills, the wood pill and the cyanide.
The teddy-bear dude points. Dude shrugs his shoulders and points one finger, going, “That one, I guess.” Sheila’s holding the door open, lights from the set blinding us. Sheila goes, “Number 72, if you’d care to join us . . . please.” The kid hands over that piss-soaked teddy bear. The kid’s fingers are stained black, his skin of his biceps and lats, his obliques stained blue-black, the color of those lesions you get from Kaposi’s sarcoma, the gay cancer. The handwriting names of Barbra Streisand and Bo Derek bleeding all over the kid’s hand. The kid goes, “Thanks.” On the TVs, it’s my whole, entire life passing before my eyes. On one, I’m some presidential dude drilling my tool into the First Lady and Marilyn Monroe until my head gets shot off in some ragtop driving down the street. On another TV, I’m a teenage pizza-delivery dude bringing extra salami to a sorority house. Kid 72 goes up the stairs, toward Sheila waiting in the doorway. On the top step, he stops and looks back, looking skinny with all the bright lights around him. The kid puts something in his mouth and tosses his head back. Sheila hands him a bottle half full of water, and he takes a swig, bubbles showing every swallow. The door shuts, and he’s gone. The teddy-bear dude’s gripping the edge of the buffet table, leaning on it. I say to him, did his old man ever have any kind of sex talk with him? The teddy-bear dude goes, “May I borrow your cell phone?” I go, What for? And the teddy-bear dude feels around on the table with one hand, picks up a rubber, and puts it into his mouth, spits out the rubber. He goes, “I’d like to call in reinforcements.” Of course I have a phone. In my gym bag. I hand it over, going how in high school I used to date this gal named Brenda, a real fox, a total stone fox, but at the same time a genuine lady. The teddy-bear dude holds the phone to the top of his nose, leaving just room for one finger to press the buttons. Squinting his eyes, he goes, “I’m listening ...” On the TVs, I’m an old geezer pumping a candy-striper in some nursing home. At the same time, another TV shows me as a Cub Scout doing my den mother. Talking, I go how Brenda was the girl I saw the rest of my life with, us getting married, having babies, Brenda and me building a house and growing old together. Anything, just so long as we were always together. How I felt about her, I loved her too much to ever try and fuck her, so much I didn’t even beg to suck her titties or shove my hand down the front of her jeans. We had that kind of mutual affection and respect. On the phone, the teddy-bear dude says, “Lenny?” Still gripping the table with his other hand, the dude goes, “I need to place a rush order.” Sophomore year, I loved Brenda so much I showed her picture to my old man. Here’s how he always was: My old man took the snapshot from my fingers. He looked at it, shaking his head. He handed Brenda back to me, saying, “How’s a doofus like you rate something so fine?” My old man goes, “Kid, that snatch is way, way out of your league.” And I go how I wanted to marry her. On the TVs I’m a soldier, a grunt private dodging Jap bombs and banging Hawaiian babes in Hawaii in From Her to Eternity. On the phone, the teddy-bear dude says, “Right now, I need an escort, anybody with a dick, any race or age, so long as he can get hard, pump, dump, and bail.” Teddy-bear dude says, “No, he’s not for me.” Dude goes, “I’m never that desperate.” When I said my plan to marry Brenda, my old man smiled. He smiled and threw his arm across my shoulders. He goes, “You dork her yet?” I shake my head no. And my old man goes, “You want a surefire way to not get a gal knocked up?” The teddy-bear dude catches me looking at him, and the dude goes, “Keep talking, I swear I’m listening . . .” My old man said the way ancient dudes never got their ladies pregnant, before rubbers and birth-control pills and sponges and shit, was, a little bit after they shot their wad, with their dick still buried deep, ancient dudes knew to piss just a dribble. Just let a trickle of piss leak out. Piss, my old man said, was enough acid to kill the sperm. He means to pee inside her. He says Brenda won’t know. My old man says this trick is something all caring dads tell their sons. It’s a kind of legacy they hand down from generation to generation, and if I ever have a little boy, I’ll tell him the same. That sophomore year was the last great time in my life. I had a girl I loved. I had a dad who loved me. On the phone, the teddy-bear dude says, “Fifty bucks, take it or leave it.” Dude laughs and says, “You must have some loser, a meth head or junkie, who’ll stop by for fifty bucks ...” My night I finally made love to Brenda, it was beautiful. We spread a blanket under a tree covered with little pink flowers, just stars and flowers above us. We brought a bottle of wine my old man gave me for the occasion. Champagne. Brenda baked chocolate-chip cookies, and we got a little loaded and made love. Not like in movies, where it’s a dick and pussy in a battle to the death, porking and banging and slamming, but more like our skin was having a conversation. By smells and tastes and touch, we were finding out about each other. Saying what we couldn’t with words. Both of us naked on the blanket, little flower petals falling on us, Brenda asked if I brought some protection. And I put my finger touching her lips and told her not to worry. I said my dad told me the secret to being careful. On the phone, the teddy-bear dude says, “I don’t care how scuzzy and old the guy looks. Even if he’s fat and disgusting, I’ll pay the fifty bucks.” Under that tree of little flowers, Brenda and me held on to each other, carried each other through our first climax together, the start of our lifetime. The promise ring was around her finger, and we’d drunk the bottle of wine. We stayed wrapped together, me on top of her, still inside, and aching to take a leak from all that sweet champagne. On the TV screens, I’m a gray-haired millionaire tycoon giving it to my secretary across a carved wood desk. Other screens, I’m a plumber snaking the pipes of a bored housewife. Laying inside Brenda, just so to protect her, I let a little piss leak out. That bladder of mine was busting, and my flow couldn’t shut off. My little dribble kept gushing, and Brenda rolled her eyes to look into my eyes, our eyes close to touching, our noses touching, her lips brushing my lips. Brenda said, “What are you doing?” And bearing down to stop, clamping down to not piss, still inside her, I said, “Nothing.” I go, “I’m not doing anything.” On the phone, the teddy-bear dude goes, “You have somebody in mind?” He laughs and says, “I told you, I don’t care how gross ...” Brenda wrestled against me, rolling side to side on the blanket and beating me with her fists. She kept saying, “You pig. You’re a pig.” Underneath my hips, Brenda bucked and squirmed, telling me to get off her. To pull out. And I kept saying, not yet. My hands holding her arms, I kept saying this was to keep her safe. On the TVs, I’m in ancient times, doggy-styling Cleopatra. I’m an astronaut, doing round-the-world with a green alien babe in a zero-gravity space station. Under those flowers and stars, on top of Brenda, I couldn’t stop until she worked one knee up between my legs, kicked her knee up, fast, and crushed my balls. With that smack, the pain took over. My dick twisted out, popped out, still rock-hard, piss still spraying, hot champagne piss hosing all over both of us. I grabbed my crushed nuts in both hands, letting go of Brenda’s arms, and she rolled out from under me. Something fell and hit the side of my face, too hard to be a little flower, hurting too bad to be spit. Brenda grabbed her empty clothes and took off running, and that’s the last and final time I saw her: running away from behind, with my piss running down the insides of both her thighs. The teddy-bear dude goes, “Fine, send whoever, just send him now.” Dude shuts the phone and hands it over to me. That’s how come I advised the kid the way I did. Teddy-bear dude makes a face, spits something chewed-up on the floor. Another condom. He squints his eyes at me and says, “You suggested that confused young man urinate inside of his mother?” No, I go. And explain about the cyanide pill Cassie wanted, how I was supposed to bring it inside the locket, but the kid agreed to carry the pill to her. And the teddy-bear dude, his mouth falls open fast as his eyebrows jump up. His face comes back together, the dude swallows and goes, “Those two pills he showed me—you’re saying one was cyanide?” And I nod my head yeah. Both of us, we’re looking at the closed door to the set. On the TVs, I’m an old-time caveman daisy-chained in an orgy with a tribe of other humanoids, dirty and hairy and hunched over, none of us quite human, not yet evolved. The teddy-bear dude shrugs his shoulders, going, “Even if the kid takes the wrong pill, we’ll still set the world record.” Dude says, “I called an agency, and the cavalry is on its way.” Dude says how this agency knows somebody who’ll do an hour for less than fifty bucks. Some old dude, the agency says, the joke of the adult industry, flabby and wrinkled, with scabby, peeling skin. Bloodshot eyes and bad breath. Some porn dinosaur the agency can’t book, they said they’d try and contact him, rush him over here so he can fill in for kid 72. In case the kid’s dead or gone limp or told Cassie he loves her and gets kicked out. Teddy-bear dude goes, “Based on their description, I can’t wait to see how bad this monster might look.” He’s blinking his eyes, looking out one eye, then the other. He rubs his eyes with the heels of both hands, blinks fast, and squints up at the TV screens, frowning. On the TVs, I’m a totally buff naked model in the center of a figure-drawing class, getting sucked off by beautiful coed art students. What bounced off my skull that night, my last night with Brenda, what hit me too hard to be a little pink flower—it was my promise ring I’d gave her. In my hand, my phone starts to ring. From the number on the screen, the incoming call is my booking agent.