As I awoke one afternoon from uneasy dreams, I found myself transformed in my bed into a gigantic dick.
The plump Englishman at the foot of the bed was the first sign. He held a cigar so long that when he put it in his mouth he looked like Pinocchio lying. His left eye was big and pink and covered with veins crawling like bloody vines toward his pupil.
I groaned as I tried to sit up in bed. I was hydrated. The first sign of trouble.
Kaufman—the plump Englishman—tapped the swollen orb stuck in his face.
“Pink eye,” he said.
Then things got weird. My head swiveled to the right as though by remote control—I was too remote to control it. This was not my moment. I was not here.
But an enormous man clothed only by his facial hair was. There was a steel spatula in his hand. I noticed something atop his head: a chef’s hat. His eyes grilled me until I had to ask: “Who are you?”
“Rrrrgh,” he growled. He smacked the spatula against his hand. “You. Sunny side up.”
“What’s this all about?” I directed the question toward Kaufman.
He nodded toward my left. My head swiveled again. I saw Bjord in bed beside me. A violent snore crawled into her head and performed a tribute to flatulence. My heart jumped, Kaufman shielded himself and the fat chef jumped half out of his skin—because god knows there was nothing else for him to jump out of.
“Newton’s Law, Mr. Schlong,” Kaufman said, lowering his arm. “For every action, an equal and opposite reaction.” He paused. “Surely you are aware that one’s actions come with consequences. There is no person who arrives without the drowning steel anchor of past baggage.”
I looked at Bjord. I couldn’t see her chest move. She might as well have been a doll I’d brought to bed. She’d lost her signs of life.
“What does she have to do with this?”
The Fat Chef took a step forward. Elephantine things swayed in a way only his mother and his lover should ever have witnessed. Again he spanked his hand with the spatula.
“I think a better question you ought to ask yourself,” he began, stopping to growl, “is what does this have to do with her?”
“Alright,” I barked, throwing off the sheets and swinging my legs on to the floor, “I’ve had about enough.”
The Fat Chef gasped. It sounded like disgust. Kaufman paled. His infected eye twitched.
“Mr. Schlong,” he whispered, “what is that?”
He was looking at the mark on my chest—a spot about the size of a quarter, directly over my left breast. Dark, surrounded by red. It had been crusting over, a scab preparing to heal. But now I noticed a trail of blood running through the forest of hair on my chest.
“Impetigo,” I said. “Skin infection. Common in children.”
“What about adults?” Kaufman whispered.
“What about adults?” I retorted. “What the hell kind of people break into a man’s apartment and stare at him sleeping, bring pink eye into his home, along with a fat man with a spatula and eyes lusting to prepare a feast? What kind of people? Huh?” I dressed. “I don’t expect anyone to break in ever without an offering of cognac, and I don’t expect anyone to show up naked without a bottle in their hands.”
I glowered at the chef. He raised his spatula. Kaufman stopped him.
“Watch,” he whispered.
“Last night I thought I went to bed a man,” I growled. I tossed up the furnishings on my desk. My nearly organized desktop had become an absurd battlefield of fruit, beer cans, wires and handwritten reminders I always forgot to remember. I couldn’t find a tie.
“I had a lover, I had romance, I had prospects,” I continued. “This morning I wake up a dick. And not a private one, either: a dick so public I’m practically screaming it to the world.”
“I’m afraid I don’t follow,” Kaufman droned.
“I want a burger,” growled the Fat Chef.
“Nice guys don’t wake up with women and not kiss them good morning,” I said. “Nice guys keep their desks in order. Nice guys know when to say no—to bad cases, to life when it gets in the way of good cases, to diet soda. Nah.” I found a tie and cinched it around my neck so tight my lungs went into overdrive.
“It’s a dick that lives this life. It’s a dick who has enemies who break into his apartment like harbingers of doom. It’s a dick who sleeps into the afternoon, who tells himself the alarm clock doesn’t matter this morning, life will sort itself out, right? It’s a dick and I’m a dick. A public dick.”
“Mr. Schlong,” Kaufman carefully interjected. He pointed. I followed the pointed trajectory to my chest. A crimson stain was growing across my shirt, like my body was marking where my heart should be.
“You should really get that checked out,” he said.
“Where’s the beef!” the Fat Chef growled. He turned his flabby enormity toward the increasingly wan Englishman. “Did we come here to run through all the ingredients in his life? The guy’s overcooked! Are we gonna deep-fry him or put him in the fridge?”
He started to pace. Empty glasses shook and clinked together around the room with the tremors from his footsteps.
The Fat Chef leaned down toward Kaufman’s ear. Kaufman closed his bloated pink eye and tears ran down his cheek.
The Fat Chef lowered his voice. He said, “Every time this situation starts to sizzle and boil… you dump in cold water.” He paused. His breaths were like an old bull anticipating the charge. “I say we turn up the heat.”
I leaned on my crutch. My knee was bandaged, a reminder of Valentine’s Day, when one of Kaufman’s overzealous goons had blown out my kneecap. I waited.
Kaufman faced me as he pulled out a silenced pistol.
“You see, Richard, you thought this was what you needed, I’m sure—a free attachment, a sort of Band-Aid that would fall off when it was done. But it’s just not you. You want these attachments, but you don’t need them. They’re your undoing. They’ve always been your undoing.” He leaned forward, glanced at Bjord, whispered to me in confidence: “Wait ‘til you learn what’s inside her.”
“I’ve had enough,” I said. I reached for the pistol in my shoulder holster. Unfortunately, as I reached across my chest to do so, I drove the ballpoint pen in my chest pocket into my already bleeding wound.
I felt the warm rush of blood course down my stomach. My shirt turned as red as a rose. I looked to Bjord. Her eyes flashed open. She abruptly sat up in bed, twisting to look at our visitors. Then she faced me.
“I’m sorry,” she said, and I knew she meant it. I felt the cold, rigid steel of a spatula violently introducing itself to my skull. Everything went black and red.
“It’ll be alright, old boy,” Kaufman whispered, but I was too far gone to understand.