I see penises of all shapes and sizes. Labyrinthine veins, melting ice chunks, urinal rim a bouquet of pubic hairs. My apartment offers a perfect view of the taquería bathroom. The broken windowpane smiles its toothless creep. Sometimes it is a belly or thigh.
Dreams of severing my sexual appendage with a butcher knife and hanging it from the pane like an icicle. I am a woman. My mattress is stuffed with pesos.
Hours of penises and convivial debauchery, fireflies splaying wings. I hawk rocks through windows of rental vehicles of bikini-goers at secluded beaches on the outskirts of Todos Santos. I still have balls—though hopefully not for long. My mattress fattens with mildew and hurricane fungus.
Veins bulge and dick holes wink. I consider offering to fix the pane, to explain the situation. But no manager wants to hear how some dude is staring at his customers’ genitals. These were drunks and even alcoholics deserve some dignity every now and again.
Urine melting ice chunks haunt me. Men might puke or collapse—but usually not. I have seen some penises more frequently than the back of my head and they are more recognizable.
I ponder repairing the pane. Some simple duct tape and cardboard or newspaper; such a simple task it is. There is a ledge and these things can be tricky. The cliff is strewn with garbage and there are jagged boulders beneath a precipitous overhang.
Was it worth plummeting because of a penis? What about thousands of them? Stale cigarette smoke sifts through tacos. Strangers taunt me with soulless secrets.
I dress dark to camouflage myself against the crevasse. It’s been years since I’ve gone climbing. It is easy because the bulb in the bathroom guides me. I no longer see cocks. A rooster crows from above. I inhale marinated flank steak and tortillas. A perverted echo of piss onto porcelain, clockwise orbits, splashes. The ice cracks as it melts. To die with these drunks would be remiss.
The bulb bursts and darkness engulfs my ascent. The rocks are slippery and the stench of the bathroom burns my hairy nostrils. I have never been this close to death. The cathedral of a thousand penises moans from above.
Duct tape between my lips, the sports section and funnies folded into a neat rectangle. I stuff it into the pane. Tape the edges. The bulb flickers. I stumble. A fist bashes through colored cartoons. I remember falling through fireflies. Soft and smooth, splintered moonshine, Garfield napping.
There is a rock blanketed with blood and this is my scalpel. I cut into the shock, beyond the pane, flashing lights and spotlights aimed at my bloody stump. I yank and tear till there is nothing that remains and gender bleeds into rusty beer cans and poison ivy.
I coffined the cricket and tossed it into fluorescent urine. Its antennae curled around an island glistening and glowing and fed by an ocean of sunlight. My wife’s mother was pissing in the shower. You could hear her dripping down the corner toward the drain. Grouts grew turquoise-speckled black mold. Tortilla smoke eddied with the inertia of dying dragons. We consisted of exploding rainbows and stars and our mattress mildewing forever.
Mother-in-law slept on an inflatable raft. It was an eight-foot crocodile with plastic grips. My wife and I made love on that crocodile a thousand times. But the reptile wa aging. The emerald scales on its tale had all but disappeared, as had the rope to attach its belly to boats. I tied it around my neck that night they vacuumed my daughter from her womb.
That abortion clinic begged to be shot with bullets—so after filling my belly with Jamaican beer—I fired a few rounds through the oval illuminated windows.
I never meant to kill that nurse. She was chubby and unable to summersault to avoid shrapnel. Glass jammed into her carotid during a cartwheel. Porcelain veneers on the nightly news scolding some monster with a penchant for targeting abortionists. Not a sad young husband with a wife with bloody knuckles and an empty womb. Not an honest electrician ashamed to look at himself in the mirror.
If the FBI ever finds those witnesses they seek—the fanatical—they will subdue me from the mildew of our mattress and coerce a confession. Mother-in-law hovers above the sink eating quesadillas. Her hump is high enough to hold her coffee cup. I wonder about my wife and what she will look like. How ugly can she become? I am a hideous old man with a lung hard as a rock.
I climb the stairs and fill the toilet tank with Mountain Dew. The cricket swirls with bubbled cockroaches—but jumps as their orbit descends. Such glory is not possible, yet this creature has resurrected itself from excrement. It bounces and boomerangs between toilet and mirror and faucet and sink.
I cup the cricket between callused fingers. It’s crocodile green. The creature summersaults onto my tongue. I feel it in my stomach jumping. I dream of vomiting and building a miniature nursery with the energy of an atom bomb.
My wife tells me to remove the cricket. She lies awake—often till dawn. In the morning she begs me to dig a hole in the backyard and shovel the fertilizer on top of her. I could never kill something living inside of me. How could she not understand?
One night she swallows a decent chunk of pills and falls asleep with a pillow on her face. One of those body pillows pregnant ladies love to cuddle with. She snores so I swagger into mother-in-law’s room and lie beside her on the belly of the crocodile. She does not push me away. My wife leaves at dawn but never returns. She takes the crocodile with her.
Girls in The Gravitron are slutty. I walk on padded walls. People respect me. They revere me while spinning weightless and upside-down with wayward nipples, an orbit of bellybuttons. A swoop of blonde hair brushes a wad of bubblegum and coagulated popcorn vomit. A fusion of body deodorant and adolescent panic rising from sunburns and mosquito bites.
“Look at that skill.”
“This is his Gravitron.”
Many move like monkeys. Some cannot handle centrifugal force. I inhale it through
unkempt nostrils. My girlfriend trims them in moonshine. She is thirteen. We lie in the middle of the Bank of America hill behind Burger King smoking cigarettes while watching stars. When it’s cloudy and the natural satellite shrinks into invisible, we allow the hairs to grow. She has been in the hospital for a couple weeks in a coma after she tried to outsmart The Gravitron.
Nobody can outthink it. God masturbates in The Gravitron. Sometimes our underground reputation attracts kids from other counties, other states. They tip to inspire us to turn a blind eye to creepy public perversion and debauchery. It is a good job that allows time for street hockey in the middle of the night in the cotton candy abandoned parking lot of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
“You do a good deed to the community,” said the town drunk behind the bowling alley.
When we were pissing together, he told me I was his hero.
“You should stay here year-round,” said a soccer mom at the liquor store.
“Absolutely,” said the Egyptian cashier. “My daughter is so cool when the carnival is in town.”
A sewer swallows baby teeth from children of pedophiles who fondle toddlers in the Fun House. The Gravitron has its own rules. We enforce spinners. We endure. It swallows smelly orifices. The machine provides for our family every autumn. Grandma’s wrinkles are spun from the centrifugal forces of fallen leaves raked into rainbow puke. Reveries from decades dead glisten in the eyes of older divorcees mesmerized by our shimmering orbit. We watch cool kids spin and spew obscenities. We make an ugly boy’s dream come true.
The Gravitron does not ask for forgiveness. The reputation of the mayor’s eleven year-old daughter was irrevocably destroyed last October. It does not want anybody to be haunted or hunted or worshipped. It wants to pump Master of Puppets. The Gravitron knows all.
On Cabbage Night somebody pours three gallons of gasoline on The Gravitron and strikes a match. My uncle is engulfed. He dies in the smoke. He takes one final spin as flames lick the door with shriveled tongues. His body is bones and ash and machine is burnt to a taco.
“Who could have done it?” my mother asks.
She stuffs her face inside an oven but we yank her. Scars from the oven racks collage her cheeks and forehead and lips. She spins in circles in the bathroom after her nightly shower. The burns ooze and crust and coagulate. Her hairdryer howls.
“People try to destroy The Gravitron for revenge,” my grandfather says. “We must protect her.”
Grandpa warns of other ambushes. My surviving uncle sells his house. He hangs himself from the chimney. The contractor discovers his cadaver marinating with a nest of squirrel eggs in his ears.
The carnival arrives with another Gravitron and people look defeated, depressed, bloodshot eye sockets deepened by the innocuous monotony of the new machine. Children abandon the amusement after the first night and start sitting on my lawn. I knew it would come to this. I welcome them with Mexican blankets and Iron Maiden and lawn chairs.
“This is it,” Grandpa says. He hugs everybody in the house. He is sobbing as he crawls onto the roof.
Everybody in the family has sold their homes and businesses and vehicles—except me. My two-bedroom duplex is jammed with eleven relatives. The grass and sidewalk is polluted with pimples and Styrofoam cups full of sinus medicine, grape juice, and jolly rangers. Neighbors do barefoot cartwheels beneath a full moon as fireflies settle into orifices. Kids climb trees where they smoke blunts. People are laughing with glowing gums and lips loaded with lightning bugs.
Grandpa summersaults from the roof. Grandma follows suit. Mom howls as she plummets. People are clapping. The mayor is smoking a blunt from a branch. Toddlers are roasting marshmallows. Old men are grabbing garden shears to amputate my toes. In the stars, nostril cartilage glows green and yellow. They point to an oak where they wish to hang me.
“What did you ultimately hope to accomplish?” asks the mayor’s son.
They rope me to the limb and amputate my middle fingers.
“The Gravitron is The Devil,” the minister says.
The deputy nods.
“The Gravitron is always watching,” a fireman says.
We made weightless kidneys expand. We made the town into monsters and made monsters into the town. We smelled secrets beneath popcorn and cotton candy. A fusion of flatulence and testosterone and fledgling boobies—we turned bullies into slush and savages to stoicism.
I scream and climb the bark with the ease of walking on bubblegum walls. The Gravitron smiles and melts into cumulonimbus.
I sit in the whiskey dark of a Dutch oven sniffing farts from a jar. My wife’s snores are angry and awesome, as if cursing demons beneath rippled cotton. Lip sores are snow camouflaged summits in a tangerine dawn melting through the edges of the blind. I can smell the cumulonimbus closing in. The inertial drift of an avalanche is winking.
Duncan grabs a fluorescent lighter from his sweaty armpit. I spy him sleeping in my iPhone through the silhouette of my wife’s camel toe. Robins are chirping from the treehouse he can no longer climb. The snow owl is singing reveries—things I should never mention marinate in the strobe light pulsing through his bedroom—pumping blood through hardened arteries. Amber incisors are illuminated like a Jack-o’-lantern. I listen to an antique headboard hitting the wall as he masturbates on a king-size mattress carved by gluttony.
Duncan knuckles the lighter down into the covers and aims the flame at her anus. Everything happens for a reason. I pretend to be sleeping. A percussion of snores vibrate across an opaque Vermillion border. The sun is dripping orange and tangerines across the carpet. Duncan’s nostril hairs poke pockmarks on sullen flesh. I wonder why he jumped from the roof of his cabin at fat camp. Why he landed on his head and how the counselors called to warn us he was brain damaged even as the ambulance arrived. The doctors said his brain was fine: a miracle.
A vestibule between science and wizardry. That is what my wife calls it. I cannot help but watch flames shoot across charred cheeks. Catching whiffs of whiskers singeing: praying to Beelzebub. Neighborhood children chastise that obstinate hair curling from his nostril mole. Now it is gone; a trench blown from the map.
This is war. His eyelashes vanish. She shifts as the crust of the earth’s mantle during an earthquake. The puckered sorcery is upon us. The walls and static electricity and our son curled into a mountain. There is no turning back. We are capped in cotton as flames shoot falling stars from amber moons.
This is my heir, my seed, my cave. There is no escape as the summit beckons. He pokes and prods into the womb like a Sherpa into a tent, or a crevasse of skeletons. We watch, four irises wishing we would crawl back into the birth canal. Pillows melt into rheum. We hold him till the blankets burn and the springs burst like popcorn kernels as the bedroom spins upon twelve-thousand blackened bellies.
Like the nomadic Pericú natives before him, Matthew Dexter survives on a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of shrimp tacos, smoked marlin, cold beer, and warm sunshine. His fiction has been published in hundreds of literary journals and dozens of anthologies. He is the author of the novel THE RITALIN ORGY (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing 2013). Matthew lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He can be found here:
–Art by Petra
–Art by NiiCoLaZz