I offered my first hand-job during fourth period Space Science under the marble carved with horrible initials and misspelled conjectures of dead alumni who balled too hard, and meth addicts with psoriasis in their early thirties who still swing perpendicular from brass stripper poles adorned with interminable fingerprints of bloated ghosts and decomposing titty dancers. Those still alive, weeks away from active decay are sweating through leopard open-crotch thongs. Defecating steaming blood in the urinals or interminable mirrorless bathrooms beneath the dressing spa reeking of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, cocaine, cigarettes: a gourmet fusion for champions. Exotic ballerinas with the porcelain of woolly mammoths and atavistic Australopithecus with half-hidden erections in decrepit strip clubs on Central Avenue with strobe-illuminated veneers: the residual effect of economic disintegration and sanctions on varsity football scholarships.
Dad was wacked for his black onyx Range Rover with the custom fluorescent pink and purple paintjob of throbbing veins and gushing blood. Arteriosclerosis New Jersey State lottery scratch-it tickets satisfied the down payment: with enough remaining for satanic stars sewn into lush cumulonimbus leather–with the passenger beige from overweight buttocks. When Dad realized he won–twice in a row–his face went sharp purple—flipped ashen, almost albino, and ghostly tangerine when he severed the tip of his nostril and earlobe with the aluminum stay-tab of the Keystone Light he was holding.
We learned to launch during fifth period Earth Science. We had no lubrication and my palm was already coarse from third period gym class: dodge ball. I fucking rock at dodge ball. Beamed the shit out of avocado-eating geeks and the horde of synophrys anti-Semites; cute cinnamon challenge kids with unibrows whose parents smoke crack…aiming for their glasses or testes when Ms. Carver was busy scolding the cool boys for aiming too high–slinging at the chests or asses of popular girls: those bitches and future coke-head strippers with ectopic sebaceous glands and Walmart cashiers who never pay me any attention because my body resembles an adolescent dude and my face is camouflaged in pimples and blackheads so pervasive that the boys´ bathroom stall closest to the window on the third floor of the science building is filled with labyrinthine blueprints of my pores amid boogers and purple pus. One afternoon after detention, I headed with the clandestine stealth of an Afghan warlord inside the enemies´ shitter, urinals glowing so exotic with golden treasures glistening in the setting sun, a pubic bouquet of black hairs on marble ledges. This glimpse into the edges of madness made me smile, seeing that the degenerates had enough knowledge to replicate my face and flat Columbian chest perfect except for seven recent blemishes, two mosquito bites, and a half dozen new blackheads on the tip of my nostrils. The art geeks must have offered some advice–perhaps even with consolatory guidance from Mr. Ashcroft, the patriotic and popular art teacher-turned-failed sitcom actor always reeking of patchouli oil and plaster of Paris, with the patriotic reputation of freebasing cocaine in tinfoil all throughout the eighties. I have no idea what basing blow entails, but the way some of the popular pretty cheerleaders say it and the faces of the athletic boys and skinny stoners smoking sherms curling their lips to expose chapped overgrown ectopic sebaceous glands expanding beyond oral mucosa and vermillion border, makes it seem like an ethereal Rasputin daydream rather than an exorbitant nightmare.
Anyway, my wrist was hidden beneath the marble table we shared with two other boys. We were in the back left corner of the classroom, concealed by the broad shoulders of the football goons and Ramapo hockey assholes, so Mr. Renegan could not see us from his hunchbacked position beside the marker board where he scribbled orbits of planets and remedial formulas for finding black holes. The stoners and crunchies shared a sheet of lysergic acid diethylamide at this point, animated blotter tabs glowing on pallid tongues full of fungiform papillae, as skaters ate doses of Molly. The lights were dimmed and the shades were pulled. Mr. Renegan was using the overhead projector and aiming its spotlight on the board. We could hear the symphonic orchestra of pencil shavings on loose leaf paper, pens scribbling notes and replicating diagrams, Trapper Keepers and binders with the secret inside folds and crevasses covered with swastikas or hairy dicks or rudimentary vaginal impressions.
My arm was pumping and Louis Field´s appendage was like a prosthetic limb I had been missing my entire life, psychosomatic, unaware of what it meant to have that Harrison Ford Fugitive sensation of completeness and control. Little did I know, the friction was displacing the skin from his shaft and frenelum, and he was grinning and sweating and his breath warm against my neck. His eyelashes were fluttering and his palms were clenched against the blank white page in front of his fat face covered with sweat. The two boys across the table were watching, waiting for us to finish. Louis Field launched and I wiped my hand on the marble, filling the scriptures and impressions of dead soldiers.
Pulling my chair closer to the table, maneuvering aluminum chairs, I aimed each arm for the two boys and pumping, we became a four planet orbit in a galaxy where the inertia was mine. The whole world was spinning in front of me. The words and phrases of Mr. Renegan made complete sense. We watched the dust rising from the humming projector into the ether. The schoolbooks told the truth backwards, the words were onomatopoeia parables and palindromes.
From that moment on, there was no turning back. I gave aggressive hand-jobs fifth period for the rest of the semester, till June, when we sweat and smelled strong: atavistic and fierce as alligator-wrestlers and the boys had six fingers inside me and my orifices were depicted with meticulous precision in every shitter stall on the third floor, and Mr. Renegan preached about The Big Bang Theory while pontificating about recent discoveries of a tenth planet in the Milky Way, declaring how we as students will never know the answers. Something about traveling beyond the speed of light is up to us. Something about that bright flash in the desert and the winking eyes of adolescent stars.
Already dying, the boys played musical chairs in that ten minute span between fourth and fifth period and girls at other tables tried to offer foot-jobs and massages with their big toes. Half the class had their zippers down, and another quarter had mosquitoes on their faces from the open windows where the aroma of fresh grass came through the grass clippings. Flies and mouths wide, ectopic sebaceous glands overgrown beyond vermillion borders of oral mucosa, we merged into our own orbits, and the hierarchy of adolescence bestowed me the glory of pyramiding popularity amongst both sexes, or genders; but who the hell had time to focus on second period semantics and English classroom discussions?
Not when there were hand-jobs and orgasms awaiting on the third floor of the beatific Martha Dickinson Science Building during timeless fifth period, when forty minutes floated into the beautiful mysteries of a parallel universe, albeit imperfect pattern of dust on a baby butterfly´s wings.
We were decent students at our marble table, but after we memorized the conjugations of follicles and warts since climaxing after eating: enables the human brain to embrace the infinite knowledge monotonous pedagogy cannot sift through. The smell of onion bagels exuding from their yellow incisors, sesame seeds between the upper front teeth and the simultaneous explosions. After the boys rested, they would raise their hands, head to the marker board and answer the questions scribbled in rainbow bubbles. They would perform math equations in mere seconds, questions more complex than those that would leave them breathless and in near full-fledged tears after a five-minute diarrheal deliberation in the mathematics classrooms two periods earlier.
Magic formed and these boys went from failing to the top of the class. The geeky girls and nerdy boys would watch for our secrets, but my fingers could flicker without a hint of arm muscle movements. The boys could grimace with poker faces and only the explosion would be heard as it bounced atop the bottom of the table with the inertia of warm Jell-O. Lady Gaga became the national anthem. Sometimes, it would collect on my sneakers, and in the spring, the toes of my sandals were stuck together so that in period six Geometry, I would peel them with the eraser of a number 2 pencil.
My quad muscles were huge and this helped me join the cheerleading squad for next football season. The boys did my Space Science homework and we studied after class on the big yellow school bus, where I sat on their laps as handsome bullies watched till dual erections pulled me toward the emergency exit and the anti-Semitic boys gradually developed Schmiss scars on their faces and foreheads.
But then it happened: the spring semester report card and the failing grade in gym and French. Summer school began--and there were no marble tables in the dining hall--where hours were wasted going over conjugations, vocabulary, and antiquated verb tenses about innocuous classroom activities that seemed foreign. Then the boys started talking. The bathroom walls were painted and the stalls were replaced with reflections of my constipated cheeks, grunting into obscurity again. The rumors spread to my family and before the tangerine dawn of the new school semester, the adults and teachers and even Mr. Renegan knew what happened, and where.
Still, my popularity skyrocketed, and the Fall came without any of the anorexic girls landing on my pimpled face. The acne was borne via relentless testosterone increases which occurred during the hottest weeks of summer when my Indian parents locked me inside my bedroom for a few hours every afternoon so I could ¨figure it out.¨
My brother came in one evening when I was sleeping off the effects of the cinnamon challenge. The residual burning of my chest and nostrils was not enough to keep me awake, and when I woke he was pointed at me, moonlit memories of learning how to swim together merged into this moment when his moaning overcame the whistle of the wind against the colonial shudders. His eyes flickered and he caught me in the earlobe.
There was nothing to say after that point. He had won. Dad would not understand. Mom signed the divorce papers and took us away soon after the factory foreman learned all about the facts: those discrepancies of his daughter. The bosses had no problem with Dad smoking blunts at the froggy park during lunch breaks with Old English bottles between his thighs in the back of the company car. This was a luxury they all enjoyed together, but his seed spreading herself around the town, and sending a half dozen boys to the emergency room in sedans for chaffed, often flayed, appendages--was too much for the world to take.
The sky began falling. Not all at once, but gradually the cumulonimbus descended from the heavens and the eyes of the raindrops were spying. Every store in town, every fast food restaurant–even the fucking drive-through–they would whisper about me–linger a second longer when handing over the plastic straws and paper bags full of fries and condiments. There was no safe place, so I retreated to the only spot where nobody would find me: behind the abandoned hockey rink where pigeons shit and squirrels inhabited the rust and rotting wood of an unwise investment. I cut my wrists with rusty razorblades. Not bad, but enough to bleed into the termites and feces from rabid raccoons. I sliced my thighs and the top of my tits and my vagina. Nothing was deep enough to kill me, but it felt wonderful to be alive and gushing into something again. The termites gathered and the mosquitoes feasted on my earlobes and knuckles.
I wanted to stop, but the razor has its own plan, its definite labyrinthine inertia. The rains made the wounds seem superficial and the puddles were beautiful beneath the fragments of broken clowns and carvings. The drizzle did not stop my hand from shaking. I did not return home that night. Not because I was dizzy and exhausted and shivering with stray dogs neglected by the invisible hand of humans, but because the Adam Smith hockey rink was where I wasted years watching my brother play. He was the captain. His number still hangs from the rat-eaten rafters, a tattered tapestry with the hole in the six missing.
When I woke in the dampening morning orange, my face was coagulated with blood and fur and the retired jersey was covering my body, stuck to my face with the blanketing beauty of a white sheet kissing a corpse. See if the boys would want hand-jobs from an infected scab. A plum instead of a tangerine: arteries burnt beyond porous purple ephemeral surface cracks. They watched me in the halls as I swaggered past the lockers, the good-lookers and losers alike all pupils bulging from shallow sockets. Mr. Renegan grabbed me and hovered over my body in the bathroom stall. Cold water with bubbles of frowns and grunts and dark tunnels illuminated by expurgations and snaps from camera phones…halter top wrapped around my wounds, naked and bandaged, groped by clusters as commotion came and disappeared, and new faces: students, teachers, principals, paramedics, police, paparazzi, petrichor, the smell of stagnant chlorine and ammonia inertial in the ether of oxygen masks and needles.
Parents peering into my pupils, unable to speak, months merged into days and all I could see was the hair that grew on my scabs, then between my scars, and from underneath my arms and knuckles and heaven-knows-where-else on my paralyzed shell which could not decipher colors through the hospital gown and rubber mattress soaked in sweaty sheets that creep into my pimpled crack. It must be clustered with a constellation of pus and zits because through all the injections and scraping of the dead flesh by nurses my cheeks are all that–shooting discomfort and pain. Meteorites must be colliding in the chaffed bed sores. Pressure ulcers and the hairs that grow on the top of my tits: beneath my chin and the aroma of my skull in the air, eating shadows amid messages on the intercom and beeping monitors and the occasional frantic hysteria in hallways.
Sometimes, they wheel me through the corridor and smile. They talk about the vegetable. Parents talk about their love for me, but my ears are perfect, and through the walls I listen to them cursing the whoring Satanism that arose in me. The nurses shave my armpits and they scream in glory that my irises made a movement. Dad and Mom run into the room covered in sweat, reeking of sex, yellowing gray and white hairs so curly, but all they see is the mirror and the movements of the nurses grows fleeting and nervous. The doctor straddles me and all I can smell is my armpits as the school bus screeches to a halt outside a window stained with boogers.
Matthew Dexter lives and writes in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He survives on a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of shrimp tacos, smoked marlin, cold beer, and warm sunshine. On Twitter, he's @matthewbdexter.