One Way or the Other

Another Exciting Adventure in … THE GRIND
(Act I: All Wounds)
(Act II: The Status Quo)
(Act III: Covet thy Neighbor)



When you’re being propelled through the air at a ludicrous speed, your crotch on a collision course with the head of a parking meter, you have a lot of time to think. Naturally, you’ll be thinking about how exactly it was that you found your balls about to strike a sturdy metal object.

The answer to that was boredom, which is what had led me to pick up my phone and push some buttons.

“Max,” the voice on the other end said. “What might be the purpose of this call?”

“What are you up to tonight?” I asked Sean.


“Is there room for me in this occupation?”

“I’m accompanying friends for what is likely to be an evening of drunken frivolity,” he replied. “Given your propensity for alcohol abuse, you’ll blend in seamlessly.”

You have friends?”

He grunted. “Admittedly, their relationship is strongest with my former spouse.”

Recalling the feel of my palm stroking her thighs, I sighed wistfully, “Ah, Sara…”

“The one to whom I refer is Johanna.”

“How many ex-wives do you have?”

“More than I care to admit,” he confessed. “We’ll be gathering at Byrne’s pub on Eighth Avenue near Fortieth Street at nine p.m. I’d recommend punctuality, given that the venue will almost certainly change repeatedly throughout the evening.”

And it did. Frequently. Sean was accurate in observing my propensity for alcohol abuse, but what he hadn’t told me was that it would be eclipsed by that of his companions, Adam and Stacia. I don’t know how much I’d imbibed in my attempt to keep up with them, but, since most of my memories involved me getting another drink, I’m guessing it was a lot.

Sean, as always, remained dry. I assumed this was because he was an artificial life form, a conclusion I’d long ago reached, given his vocabulary and posture. It could have been something more depressing than that, but he’d never explained it to me, and I’d never asked. Regardless, he was comfortable with sobriety, which is why, after the other two left the table for a few minutes, I felt like it was safe to request, “Could you get me a refill?”

“Why would I do this?” he replied.

“I’m in no condition to stand.”

“Inebriation,” he asked, “or erection?”

“Second one.” I don’t know why I told him that.

That’s twice you’ve experienced this in my presence.”

“It’s not you,” I said. “It’s the women you surround yourself with.” All night, Stacia wiggled and giggled and made me more woozy than my blood-alcohol content. I would have thought she was flirting with me, had it not been for the wedding ring adorning the hand she used to pluck ice from my bourbon and suck on it. That, along with the way she had to keep tugging her skirt down as she danced in front of the jukebox, led to the current predicament in my pants.

Adam’s matching ring made me wince. “That is a blessed man,” I concluded.

“And what, pray tell, guided you to this declaration?”

“He gets to know that woman carnally.”

Sean shrugged. “If that’s how you choose to measure fortune in this case.”

“Why wouldn’t you? She has to be utterly amazing in the sack.”

“Really,” Sean replied. “I myself am quite skilled with the egg toss. Perhaps she and I can combine our resources to compete in the three-legged race, and thus dominate the church picnic.”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” My fury existed mostly to cover up the shame I felt for using the phrase “in the sack.” Really, though, I had no other words. The blood had long ago fled from my brain.

“Unless, perchance, you were describing her talents while engaged in coitus,” he continued, “in which case she is indeed quite skilled, as I have been informed with a great deal of accuracy.”

“Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?”

By now, the bartender appeared between Adam and the object of my desire and pointed his thumb to the door. Stacia floated over to the booth, leaned close to me, and tickled my ear with her whisper: “It’s illegal to dance in this stupid city. We have to go.” Her T-shirt covered her up all the way to her neck, but my lust seemed to grant me X-ray vision.

“I’m going to need a minute,” I told her.

“We’ll be outside.” She fished an ice cube out of my otherwise empty glass and wrapped her lips around it before sashaying all the way to the door.

I groaned.

Sean followed them without a word.

A few minutes passed before I was fit to join them.

“Where to?” Adam asked as he hopped over a parking meter.

Because I couldn’t comprehend someone doing what he just did, it didn’t register in my brain. “We’re only a few blocks from the International Bar,” I suggested.

“Is there dancing?” Stacia asked.

My pants stirred. “No, but the drinks are cheap.”

Adam bounced over another parking meter and agreed, “Cheap drinks are good.”

What I was seeing now broke through my concentration, and I pointed. “What?”

“This?” he confirmed, clearing another one with the same casual effort I put into walking.

I nodded.

“Piece of cake,” he told me. “Watch.” He repeated the action, the minutiae of which I studied with disbelief. “Now you try.”

And that’s how I ended up on the sidewalk, curled into the fetal position, my testicles liquefied. The good news, though, was that I wouldn’t have to worry about inappropriate erections again. Probably forever.

to be continued…

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