Jay Sizemore writes poetry and short fiction that offends his family. He is way behind on reading the classics. His work has appeared in places like Ayris, Red River Review, DASH, and Spry. His poem “My Despair Trivialized” was nominated for Best of the Net 2013 by Cease, Cows. He currently lives in Nashville, TN, home of the death of modern music.
When I worked at Burger World, I made people eat my come. Every afternoon before my shift, while my parents were off working as middle class slaves and my sister played with dolls or whatever the hell in her room, I masturbated into a coffee cup two or three times. I kept the porn on mute. This delayed my orgasm, because I couldn’t hear the women moaning, but it was necessary to avoid certain embarrassment possibilities, which I won’t go into. My mother was a diabetic, so there was always a stash of syringes in the hallway closet, for her insulin injections. I would take one of the syringes and use it to suck up some of my baby gravy into the tube. This could be frustrating, because semen is thick, and sometimes more air would suck through the needle than come. Once I had a decent amount, I would take one of the condiment packs that I had not exactly stolen from Burger World, little plastic containers of ketchup and various salad dressing flavors that were sealed with a thin peel-back lid, held only with glue, and I would work the needle under the edge of the seal. Careful not to overload the packet, I would depress the plunger of the syringe, and squeeze it full of my spooge. Once I was satisfied, I would carefully remove the needle and rub the divot where the seal had broken with my thumb until it was smooth again. Give the pack a good shake to mix it around, and no one could ever tell. It was a sexual act, squared.
I wasn’t the only person ejecting bodily fluids onto people’s meals of course. There were others. Mostly bitter teenagers who did things like hock loogies into milk shakes, or take turns spitting into the mayonnaise. Some guys preferred just to rub their dicks on the hamburger patties before they cooked them. These people lacked imagination. There were cameras and supervisors who watched cameras, and it wouldn’t take more than a few times of food tampering before they were caught and scraped like burnt meat from the grill. The only thing I had to watch for was sneaking my doctored condiment packets back into the restaurant without any one noticing. It was easy enough. I just carried them four at a time in my pants pockets, and swapped them out with new ones every time I had to make a trip to the stock room to replenish the stores under the serving counter. It was fun to keep track of where they were and watch as they disappeared throughout the day, handed to random strangers, unaware that they were sucking down my seed with their fries or salad or chicken tenders. It’s hard to describe the pleasure I derived from this, or even why I did it, but I got a rush, a giddy thrill with each customer, and it came to be something I looked forward to, maybe even something I needed. It was cannibalism in reverse.
Things were weird at home, and getting weirder. My parents were getting divorced, thus ending my mother’s third marriage. The family dog, Maxwell, had run away. No one had seen him for three weeks. Meanwhile, my sister Dawn had joined the statistics of another pregnant teen, and she was claiming immaculate conception. She was only fourteen, and she swore she had never let a boy touch her crotch, let alone have sex with her. No one believed her of course. My mom accused my stepfather of being a pervert. Other people in town were happy to let that rumor fly, until the gynecologist confirmed that Dawn was still a virgin. Next thing you know, everyone’s convinced my sister is carrying the reincarnation of Jesus. She couldn’t go to school any more. Reporters kept stationed across the street with cameras pointed at the house. People lined up with signs and candles, Bibles and crosses. They said the end was near. I just tried to keep my head down.
People like to use broken homes as excuses. I’ve heard it too many times to always think it is legit. “My father beat me, so I became a drug addict.” “My mother was an alcoholic, so I killed twelve kids.” “My uncle molested me, so I raped her.” It’s worked before, so now people say whatever it takes to get out of responsibility of their actions. I won’t do that. I knew I was addicted to the secret I kept. It lived inside me like a leviathan that began to beg for more and more nourishment. I couldn’t stop feeding it, which meant, I couldn’t stop feeding people my semen. What’s odd, is I never thought about what someone else might be doing to my own food when I ate out. I just took for granted that no one was going to do that, just like everyone else every day of their lives. There is an unhealthy amount of trust between the consumer and the complete stranger flipping the burger. That stranger could have A.I.D.S. and could be cutting his finger and rubbing the blood on every hamburger bun. I knew I was in trouble the day my mom came into the restaurant to see me, and ended up ordering a salad. I had no choice but to watch as she chose Ranch dressing, and Jessa, a girl I was trying to talk to who had just been hired, put my two special packs on her tray. With mounting horror, I tried to think of a reason to stop this transaction from happening. I came out from the back, past the sizzling fryers, and stood by the counter.
“Hey, mom, don’t you know Ranch is bad for you? I thought you were trying to watch your cholesterol?” I completely made this up.
“Is it bad for me? Huh, oh, well, it’s my favorite. I’m eating a salad at a fast food joint. Cut me some slack, son.”
My mind flipped like french fries shaken in a basket. It was an odd mixture of nausea and insane excitement that worked through my guts like spiders made of springs.
What can I do? I thought, other than just grabbing her salad dressing and running away, which might cause a scene I don’t want to explain.
I was stuck in a whirlpool of my own creation, and I had no idea how deep it could take me.
“You know I read somewhere that they use the same ingredients in Ranch dressing as in white paint and sunscreen. Isn’t that gross?”
“Yeah, well, vanilla flavoring is beaver piss, so what are you gonna do?”
At this, Jessa placed the salad on the tray, and my mother smiled and winked as she picked it up.
“Are you due for a break? Wanna sit with me while I eat?”
I thought I was going to puke.
“No, I can’t. I’ll see you when I get home.”
She turned and walked away, and I turned and walked on shaky legs to the back. I sat on a pickle bucket and placed my head in my hands. I tried not to imagine my mother squeezing the white sauce all over the leafy greens of her salad, the way it would smear on the black plastic fork as she shoved each bite into her mouth, scrunching and smacking her lips with delight. Her pink tongue flicking out and around the edges of her lips for any residual creamy goodness. I tried not to imagine her smiling as she swallowed my dead swimmers.
Overcome with nausea, I suddenly had no choice but to spin myself around and thrust the lid off the pickles so I could vomit, very loudly and very violently. The tart aroma of vinegar mixed with the scent of my previous meal’s acid and bile, and this made me wretch again, until I was dry heaving and streamers of saliva hung from my mouth down into the bucket. The shift manager was there at my side.
“What the hell are you doing? Those pickles are coming out of your check. Get the fuck out of here.”
“Okay, okay. I’m sorry. It wasn’t like I meant to.”
“I don’t care. Get to the bathroom and clean yourself up, and then go home.”
I could see people at the counter with confused looks on their faces. They probably were hoping I hadn’t ruined any of the cooking surfaces with my vomit, or that I hadn’t just spread a contagious illness all over the kitchen. If they only knew what I was truly capable of. The whirlpool was just getting started.
When I got home, the house was so quiet, I could hear the crowd of people across the street chanting some kind of prayer.
Get a life, I thought.
And then I could hear something else. At first I thought it was my sister talking to herself in her room. It took me a few seconds to realize she wasn’t talking. The first loud moan of carnal pleasure was a clue.
Holy shit, I thought. She’s not a virgin after all. And I’m about to catch them in the act.
I walked on my tiptoes through the living room and into the hall. Her bedroom was on the right, and the door was closed. I could her her mattress squeaking and a general commotion of movement. The reality of the moment felt detached from my senses.
Who could it be? There was no car in the driveway. Who cares. Beat the shit out of them.
With each step closer, my emotions swayed erratically from rage to elation, completely forgetting the shame of earlier. I was about to solve the mystery. I was about to be a hero. I just had to remember not to kill him. Whoever he was. I eased my hand around the cold brass of the knob, taking a deep breath. Dawn cried out in pleasure, and with that I couldn’t wait any longer. I spun the knob and flung open the door, fists clenched and ready for bruising.
“Aha!” I started to scream, only my mouth hung open and no words came out.
My sister was sprawled out on her bed, by herself, with her hands between her legs. She was completely nude, which I expected, but I didn’t expect her to be alone, and I didn’t expect to see creamy white goo smeared all around her pelvis and onto her chest. She shrieked and jumped back, yanking a blanket up over herself, and causing a commotion of thin plastic noises as other items that had been piled on the bed were slung to random disorder.
“What the fu-”
“Get out! Get out! Pervert! Why are you here! Out! Now!”
My eyes scanned the room, and I felt myself slip down the wormhole of oblivion, the ocean above me collapsing in on the whirlpool as it brought me into its womb. Among the items that had been scattered from the bed were three empty packs of Ranch dressing. I had gotten so in the habit of preparing my sauces for future work days, I had begun storing them in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. It appeared my sister was using Ranch dressing as lubricant. I couldn’t imagine why, but in my moment of shock, I could imagine very easily now how she had gotten pregnant. As she screamed, I slowly and deliberately backed out of the room, and shut the door behind me.
In a daze, I stumbled into the hallway bathroom and closed the door. I didn’t turn on the light. I tried to imagine the looks on everyone’s faces when the paternity test for the child came back and it wasn’t God’s. I tried to imagine watching a niece or nephew grow up with Downs Syndrome or birth defects like flipper hands, or maybe something worse. Who knows what recessive genes lay dormant in our own bloodline? How could I ever explain this away? How could I ever forgive myself? I could hear Dawn sobbing. How had I let my addiction get this out of hand?
You should kill her.
I watched myself in the mirror undress. I turned the hot water knob on the tub. Steam began to fill the room and I pulled up the drain plug so the tub would hold water. I don’t know why I did that. I had no intention of bathing. I think I had seen it in a movie. I watched myself open a drawer by the sink. There was a packet of Gillette razor blades that my stepfather kept for some reason or other. They didn’t go to a shaving razor. They were utility blades. I slid one out of the pack. I noticed that I had a slight erection. I couldn’t help but smile. Standing on my toes, I set my dick on the cold porcelain countertop, next to the sink. I pressed the head down with my left thumb. I cut with the razor, as deep as I could, as close to the base as possible, pressing down as I slashed in a quick motion from left to right. The pain was momentous, but it didn’t make me scream. The room filled with white hot light. The edges sharpened. Blood spurted from my pelvis and sprayed the mirror, spread across the porcelain like spilled paint. I had not gotten all the way through. With grim determination, I pulled back from the sink, exposing the raw tissue, and veins, the hard white bundle of corded ligament at the base. There was a half circle of dark blood where it was once connected to me, spilling crimson in rivulets and streams to the floor. I cut across again, this time dragging the blade across the porcelain first, to make a surer incision, and this time I succeeded, slicing the ligaments and remaining skin, and pulling it away from my body. The world was on fire. Blood was squirting from me like black piss with every heart beat. Still, I didn’t scream. I held it in. I held it all in. Hands shaking, I dropped the razor to the floor and stumbled. The penis in my left hand dangled like a limp sausage with one bloody end. I let it fall into the toilet and flushed. Then the spots at the edges of my eyes closed in, shrouding me in darkness.
When I woke in the hospital bed, my mother and sister standing at its end, all I wanted to do was scream. I felt under the blankets with my hand blindly, felt pain when I touched the bundle of bandages at my crotch. It was as far as I could reach, as my wrists were in restraints. At least I had succeeded in something. Good luck finding that in the sewer pipes. I had cured myself of one addiction, and as soon as I could get out of this hospital, I would cure myself of the other: the addiction to oxygen.
“Why would you do this to yourself?”
My mother was in tears. I just stared blankly past them, my eyes focused on nothing. My sister didn’t speak, she kept positioning herself behind mom, as if she needed to hide from me. I thought about the baby growing in her guts, my monster of a son or daughter. I wondered what she would name it. I imagined the disappointment of the street cult when their savior turned out to need Special Education, someone to change his diaper for life. I imagined the confusion, the cognitive dissonance of needing to believe something so fiercely that the truth doesn’t register when it is born. How does one reconcile worshiping a retarded incest baby?
They’ll still say it is God’s child. Even when they know it isn’t. They’ll claim it to be an angel trapped in a worldly body. They’ve gone too far to turn back now.
“You’re lucky your sister saw the blood and water running into the hall. I hope you can talk to me about this. I hope it wasn’t somehow my fault.”
“Oh, he’s awake. Good, just in time to get some food in that belly.”
The nurse was walking in, pulling a cart with covered containers of food on a tray. She pushed the cart next to the bed, twisted the tray so it was positioned over my lap. With a push of a button, I was raised into a sitting position.
“Today we’ve got salad, chicken strips, coleslaw, and vanilla pudding for dessert. I didn’t know what kind of dressing you like or condiments, so I brought an assortment.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” my mother said, “we brought some of those from home. He keeps them from his work. They’re his favorite.”
I watched in disbelief as my mother produced packs of ketchup and salad dressing from her purse. As the nurse checked my vitals, mom removed the lids from the food, began drowning my salad in my own spooge-laden balsamic. She covered my chicken tenders with my semen-laced honey mustard. The nurse seemed satisfied with my results, nodding as she was taking my pulse.
“Boy, his heart is really racing. This kid’s a fighter. Let us know if you need anything.”
She wrote something down and walked from the room. I was in utter dismay as my mother cut the chicken strips into bite-sized chunks. She pushed a bite of dressing-soaked lettuce-carrot mix onto the fork and held it toward my face.
“Open up,” she said.