OPERATION PORK SWORD
He moves back to the bed, lies down. He’s unshaven, exhausted, probably drunk. We SEE alcohol bottles, photos, documents scattered on the table.
WILLARD (Voice Over)
When I was home after my first tour, it was worse. I’d wake up and there’d be nothing. I hardly said a word to my wife until I said yes to a divorce. When I was here, I wanted to be there. When I was there…all I could think of was getting back into the jungle. I’m here a week now. Waiting for mission. Getting softer. Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker. And every minute Charlie squats in the bush…he gets stronger. Each time I looked around…the walls moved in a little tighter.
He’s up now, naked, going into a frenzy, drinking, doing some sort of martial arts, eventually collapsing onto the floor.
I was watching Apocalypse Now when my cell phone chimed. I muted the DVD player.
I was alone at my parents’ cabin up in Big Bear Mountain. In the small living room the wood walls were stained dark after some intensified wood restoration. Only the flat screen television illuminated the room. The floor was textured with the pine needles and the dust that I had tromped-in from the woods outside over the last couple months. The curtains were drawn against the cold mountain air that penetrated the cabin windows at night.
Upon a stack of askew extra-large pizza boxes balanced a regiment of empty plastic bottles from Crystal Geyser spring water and V-8 tomato juices, like chess pieces. On the big coffee table, a bag of marijuana, a bong, a big lighter, and an assortment of liqueurs had taken the place of my parents’ coffee-table books.
I pulled my cell phone out of my front pocket and put it up to my ear. It was the call I had been waiting months for.
“Mr. Randy Ardorwood? This is Dr. Kowl’s office. A donor has been found. Can you be here at Kaiser tomorrow?”
I said, “Sure. I’ve been packed for a week.”
And early the next day I was careening down that loopy mountain road the same way I had driven it back when my bad luck had climaxed.
Or climaxed so I thought.
My really bad luck had all started before my college graduation. My mother had died a year earlier from intestinal cancer, her insisting that it was a “food allergy” until it was too late. My father, so opinionated and so sure of himself since he was a kid, became half a person without my mother. He filled the missing half with alcohol. He had his own little business thus his decline didn’t get him fired.
I, however, couldn’t get a job. Then I tried working with my father so that I could “take over the business” but it… he, was impossible. I just couldn’t do things his way. So I left.
I started selling marijuana.
I had come up to our cabin, or “your parents’ cabin” as they always stressed. Perfect solitude. A perfect hide-away.
And I had been perfectly lonely.
I had wanted Charly to join me up there and I wasn’t taking any chances. When I had been with Charly the last time, at her house, I had lost it in the middle and I panicked and couldn’t get Bender back. She got pissed-off and she made me leave and I hadn’t seen her since. I needed to get back in her game.
In the end, this whole nightmare had all been because I put too much pressure on myself. I am no “player”.
My friend Phillip gave me one of his father’s Levitra pills. I had never Levitra before. Phillip said, “Well, if you have an erection lasting more than four hours… you are welcome.”
And so Charly agreed to meet me at the cabin. She and I proceeded to have Circus Cannabis sex. At one point I had to close my eyes to keep my mind from foaming out.
URBAN DICTIONARY: Circus Sex (Voice Over)
I made my way past the men dressed as bears who were spinning on their erect penises like tops. I walked past the jugglers who occasionally tossed dildos into the vaginas of female clowns, with incredible accuracy, and I watched as a man sprang off of a see-saw and then did a three rotation back flip before he straightened himself out and landed his erect penis into the waiting vagina of his partner.
Finally, after we shocked the monkey three or four times, we collapsed and we fell asleep.
I woke up a few hours later because Bender hurt. He was still alert and he was turning purple. It was like Bender had a throbbing headache all of his own. I could feel the pressure from every pulse and it was fucking excruciating. We tried to get to a hospital in time but we were two hours up Big Bear Mountain. By the time I got into the Bear Valley hospital emergency room and got checked in and examined it was too late to do anything to save Bender.
I was rushed into surgery and Bender had to be removed.
Dr. Kowl had called it priapism and that is what they warn about with Erectile Dysfunction drugs like Levitra. If you have an erection for too long and you don’t do something about it you can develop a clot in the dorsal vein of your penis. Your penis then becomes ischemic, a restriction in blood supply, and it will die and have to be removed. That is what happened to Bender. To Bender. I could not grasp it.
Charly had been horrified and she had vanished.
You would think a penis replacement would have been an easy stroke by now. I had read:
…the first pancreas transplant in 1966; the first heart transplant in 1967; the first hand transplant in 1998; the first ovarian transplant in 2005; the first full facial transplant in 2010.
But Dr. Kowl told me that the first penis transplant wasn’t until 2006 at the General Hospital of Guangzhou Military Command in China. The poor fuck had a half-inch stump after a traumatic accident. He was unable to have sex with his wife, or even to urinate standing up. But even though the operation was a success, with no signs of rejection, the new penis was amputated after two weeks at the request of the man and his wife! The poor fuck finally decided to give up the treatment because of his wife’s psychological rejection as well as the swollen shape of the transplanted penis.
I don’t get it. I don’t have a wife. Why would a wife not like the thought of some other guy’s Bender, guilt-free? Women. And I don’t care: the more swollen, the better, right?
Luckily I was still covered by my father’s insurance as an “employee” of his little business.
When I got to the hospital and I was waiting to be admitted I called my friends Phillip and Travis. They were both at Phillip’s apartment.
Phillip said to Travis, “Hey, Travis, Operation Pork Sword is a go.”
Travis said loudly, “We’re pulling for you, man.”
I said, “Still not funny.”
Dr. Kowl met me in the examination area. He yanked the curtain shut.
Dr. Kowl said, “Well, Randy, your day has finally come.”
I blurted, “Is the donor black?”
Dr. Kowl scowled and said, “No. No. But I think you will be, (ahem), pleased. Do you know who Roy Bronco is… was?”
I replied, “Sure. He’s a porn god. A porn-again Christian. Wait. Did you say was?”
Dr. Kowl said solemnly, “Mr. Bronco was found dead in his apartment yesterday by a friend. He was brought to this hospital. He was an organ donor.”
I said, in shock, “Yes. I’ve watched him donate his organ many times.”
Dr. Kowl leaned forward and said, “Mr. Ardorwood, do you understand that you have a donor?”
My phantom Bender stirred. I asked, still shocked, “What happened?”
Dr. Kowl tisked, “An apparent suicide. But all the tissues are in an excellent state and toxicology was negative. Surprisingly clean, in fact. We want to get you into the operating room as soon as possible.”
I regained consciousness inside an aural cocoon of beeps and clicks and shuffles and whispers. My eyelids parted like an egg cracking open.
I heard a soft voice say, “Welcome back, Mr. Ardorwood. You are in Intensive Care. How do you feel?”
My mouth said, “Muh.”
The soft voice said, “Are you in any pain right now?”
Was I in any pain right now? What was pain? Why should I be in pain? I had a vision of myself as a baby. Pain was a memory of something that I just couldn’t quite recall. I felt nothing. I had a glorious revelation: I was in Heaven.
The soft voice said, “I’ll be right back. Try to wake up.”
Try to wake up? What did that mean? The ceiling slid behind my head and then I could see just below me the landscape of a male torso. Where the crotch should have been was a pile of mashed potatoes. No, it was a cloud of gauze. It was moving.
Out of the gauze stepped a tiny figure. A tiny female figure.
I blinked ponderously and strained to focus. A tiny female with horns. A tiny female with horns and festooned with tiny piercings of sparkling jewelry. Her tiny ears were pointed. Her eyes glowed. She looked like a little demon, a tiny devil!
My mouth said, “Pot and pain-killers.” I felt myself drool.
I found it deliriously amusing. Until.
Until the little she-devil spoke, saying, “Hello, Randy.”
I rolled my head and cast my eyes around the IC Unit to see if anyone else was seeing what I was seeing.
The little she-devil said, “My name is Destina.”
I said, “Of course it is,” and I bobbled my head and then I said, “Who are you?”
The little she-devil laughed. It was like the staccato of tiny fire-crackers popping. She said, “I am Destina. Think of me as ‘The Genie of the Weenie’,” and she laughed and she began to dance and to hop all over my bed, twerking obscenely at me!
I could then see that where her “lady parts” should have been there was a tiny lobster claw!
I asked, “Why am I talking to a hallucination?”
Destina stopped twerking and she put her hands on her hips, her little lobster clicked and she stuck out her chin at me and said, “Because I own your soul, Randy.”
As things got clearer to me they got weirder. I said, “Of course you do. What?”
Destina said, “Where do you think a man’s soul resides, Randy? The previous owner of your soul train there,” and Destina pointed to the cloud of gauze on my crotch, “was a mister Roy Bronco. He cheated me. And after all I did for him: I answered his secret prayers. I saved him from his Christian laying-on-of-hands. I made him a porn god. All I wanted was his miserable soul. For Satan’s sake, his soul weighed less than one ejaculation! But no! His Better Angel told him, blah-blah-blah, ‘If thy member offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that thy member should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell’.
Destina raged, cursing, “Praise it! Praise it to Heaven! His Better Angel didn’t even count it as a suicide! It just wasn’t fair!”
I said, “Well, I can’t wait to tell Phillip and Travis about this one, but I really should be waking up now.”
Destina said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead…”
I saw the nurse coming over to me and she was saying, “Did you need something, Mr. Ardorwood?”
I glanced down and I still saw Destina grinning at me. I glanced up at the nurse and then back down to Destina and back up again to the nurse.
The nurse asked me, “Are you feeling dizzy?”
I asked the nurse, stupidly, “Am I awake?”
The nurse smiled sweetly and said, “It takes a little time for the drugs to wear off. Let me know if you start to feel any pain, OK? They’ll be here in a while to check up on you.”
The nurse turned and went back to the nurse station.
I said to Destina, “Well, I guess I’ll be seeing you, then.”
Destina sat down cross-legged on my belly, her little lobster snapping at me, and she said, “Relax, Randy, and give me a chance.”
I asked, “What does that mean?”
Destina replied, “You will find out in a few minutes.”
Two young nurses approached and then stood flanking my bed. They both said a quick “Hello” and the nurse on my left side said curtly, “We’re from Therapy.”
I must have looked still out-of-it to them. They proceeded to ignore my talking head. They hovered over my crotch.
The nurse on my left side removed my catheter and said to me without looking at me, “From now on try to pee in the container,” and she pointed toward a jug hung on the rail of my bed, “it is important for your recovery.”
The nurse on my right side whispered, “It looks like whipped cream,” and she grinned.
The nurse on my left whispered, “This is serious,” and she delicately began to remove the gauze and said, “More like cotton candy,” and when the other nurse almost giggled the nurse on my left said, “Shhhh. Observe this.”
I still had no feeling… then suddenly…
Both nurses inhaled sharply.
My scepter, golden with disinfectant, arose slowly and magnificently in the gentle grasp of the nurse on my left. She began to caress my soul train (Oh, God). It was like I wasn’t laying there as far as she was concerned. She began to explain to the nurse on my right who was apparently a student nurse, saying, “The penis is made of several parts. The Glans, or head, here (Oh, God), of the penis in uncircumcised men, is covered with pink, moist tissue called mucosa. Covering the glans is the foreskin, called the prepuce. In circumcised men, the foreskin is surgically removed and the mucosa on the glans transforms into dry skin. Two columns of tissue run here (Oh, God) along the sides of the penis, called the corpus cavernosum. Blood fills this tissue, here (Oh), and here (God), to cause an erection, such as this one. Finally, here, a column of sponge-like tissue, called the corpus spongiosum, runs along the front of the penis and ends, here (Ogd, Ogd, Ogd), at the glans penis, filling with blood during an erection, such as this one,” and then the nurse applied an ointment to her gloves and she began to stroke dreamily, slathering my new member until it glistened with the reflection of the colored lights of the ICU and then she said with sudden professionalism, “It is vital to assure the blood flow to this transplant, as I have shown you. And then you must thoroughly salve the transplant with antibiotic ointment. Every hour you will repeat what you have seen me doing. Is that understood?”
The student nurse asked, “At the stroke of every hour?” and then she turned her head away and shook with a stifled giggle.
The nurse said, “Get a grip,” and then she turned to suppress a laugh.
The nurses carefully swaddled my new member in gauze again and departed.
I was breathing fast. Another nurse came over and looked at my monitors and asked me with a sweet smile, “Are you all right?”
I was aware of Destina standing on my stomach. She said to me, “That was just the beginning. You fell asleep for nearly an hour. Almost time to ‘get up’ again for your next therapy.”
Do you know how when you are having a weird dream you just accept the premise of the dream as if it was a normal reality, without question?
Well this didn’t feel like that.
I was druggy but I was having a hard time accepting little Destina. That made her seem all the more real to me!
I asked her, “Destina, you say you own my soul now…”
She interrupted, “I don’t say I own your soul, I own your soul.”
I continued, “Fine, sure. But isn’t there usually a deal with the devil, you know, a loop-hole out of the possession, if some condition is met?”
Destina laid herself prone on my chest and put her chin in both hands and raised her legs behind herself and crossed them at the ankles and she asked me with mock sweetness, “Like what, Randy, dear?”
I answered, “Well, I don’t know, like, like… True Love’s Kiss, or something.”
Destina dropped her hands and stood up saying, “Jeez, Randy, are you gay? Not that being gay will save you. But sure, sure. You find a real True Love and you will be free and I will go back to Purgatory,” and then Destina laughed, “But I don’t think that what you are about to experience will make you think of just one ‘True Love’, ever again! Saying ‘I love you’ while you are orgasming doesn’t count.”
During the 3 a.m. therapy the student nurse slathered my personality again. And seeing no one watching and thinking I was drugged under, she lollipopped me!
I had been moved out of the ICU. The doctors and nurses had insisted that I get out of bed and out of my room and walk around the hall to aid my recovery. It was a struggle. I walked bow-legged because my bells were still ringing. I really preferred to stay in the bed and keep up with SpongeBob SquarePants on TV, a perfect harmony with my state of mind. Destina liked to watch it with me.
Phillip and Travis visited me one afternoon while I was taking my mandatory walk around the hospital corridors.
Travis asked me, “Hangin’ in-there?”
I answered, “You wouldn’t believe me.”
Phillip said, “Don’t be hard on yourself. Let it out, stud.”
I said, “Well, I can tell you this: I don’t know if it is my new (ahem) confidence or what, but the nurses won’t leave me alone.”
Travis said wryly, “They aren’t supposed to.”
Phillip said, “Yeah. You are a freak. The second penis transplant ever!”
Then Phillip looked at Travis and said, mocking me, “But what if the spirit of Roy Bronco does live on in young squire Randy?”
Travis asked, “Isn’t a squire the arms-bearer of a knight?”
Phillip replied, “Yes, yes, the arms-bearer for Sir Roy Bronco,” and then Phillip and Travis bowed their heads and genuflected.
I said, “Listen, guys, I’m not just imagining it. I told you what happened with the nurses in the ICU.”
Travis said, “Yes, and just how much medication were you under?”
I protested, “Well, that is not all. Since I’ve been out of the ICU it keeps happening. I swear!”
Phillip said, “Oh, so it is a magic penis, is it?”
I said with a mix of fear and anger, “Yes, dammit, and I can’t tell you the worst of it,” as Destina stuck her tongue into my ear, unseen by anyone else, and then laughed gleefully as she stirred an erection under my flimsy hospital gown.
Phillip and Travis tipped their heads at me in sympathy and Phillip said as if to a retarded child, “OK, OK, Randy, you’ll let us know when you are ready. We’ll let you rest now,”
Travis noticed my uprising and he said, “You don’t have to point the way,” and then he and Phillip left snickering.
The nurses on duty all noticed my erection pushing my gown out in front and they whispered to each other as I hurried back to my room. I heard one nurse call out to me, “It is time for your sponge bath,” and Destina concluded with a whisper into my ear, “My SpongeBob.”
I left the hospital after a month and I just wanted to be alone, to get my head, this head, together. I was feeling totally used. I used to think I would like being treated like a piece of meat by dozens of women. But the reality, it was more like being a sex slave (and, yes, I could almost hear Phillip saying to me, “You’re welcome”). It was a chore! Something was missing.
I drove to the cabin. I sat in front of a pinewood fire, preoccupied. The fire was snapping at me.
It made me think of Destina.
I said out loud, “I am not gay. I am just not a player.”
Destina appeared, sitting on the ledge of the fireplace mantel to mock me, saying, “Did you feel that? That was the temblor of a thousand guys alone in the night, clutching themselves and crying out for your life, wet-dreaming your life.”
I said, “Thanks for that image. Now I know I’m definitely not gay.”
Destina asked me, “What is wrong with you?”
I replied, “I wish I knew. I know this should be my dream.”
Destina asked, “Is it me?”
I answered without thinking, “No. It’s not you. It’s me. I have never been with a, well, ‘woman’ this long, ever.”
Destina said indignantly, “Hey, I heard your quotes there when you said ‘woman’. I can tell you that I am…I was the prettiest female on planet earth. Far more intelligent than any of you men, and believe me, whatever you said it would have sounded stupid to me,” and Destina stood erect and walked the mantle like it was a fashion runway, saying, “I had a sense of grace about me. I was the definition of awesome.”
I was surprised and I said, “So you weren’t always a demon, or devil, sorry, or whatever you said, ‘The Genie of the Weenie’?”
Destina said softly, “No,” and the burning wood popped.
I said, “Well, you might as well tell me. Or we could watch DVD’s.”
Destina said, “Purgatory is a big Laundromat and you are alone in it with no entertainment. You can only watch other souls going around and around in the big washing machines. Billions of them. I had to get out. I took this job as Genie of the Weenie.”
I said, “Oo-K. But why would a beautiful woman (and I could accept that she was still beautiful when now I looked at her without fear)… why would such a beautiful woman end up in Purgatory in the first place?”
Destina replied, “In the last place. Actually, in the next to last place. And: are you kidding? Do you realize how many beautiful women are in those Purgatory washing machines?”
I said, “What did you do that was so terrible?”
I could see Destina’s eyes suddenly glisten in the firelight. Was she crying? I warned myself that this could all be part of her diabolical plan.
Finally she said, “In life I was Doña Juana and I owned a great ranchero in old California. I had a million cattle. I had a thousand lovers. I persuaded any man who worked for me, married or not, to please me. I had hundreds of wealthy suitors.”
I said hesitantly, “Well, nothing wrong with that. You didn’t really hurt anyone. They all knew what they were doing. It was a different time.”
Destina said, “There is no different time. Time never changes. People change and you think that is time. It is not. I was stealing time from others, like I was slaughtering ignorant trusting cattle. And you are wrong twice. Even though the wives never knew, I hurt their marriages.”
I said, “Well, today you would have been a celebrity, or powerful business woman, or a senator!”
Destina said, “What I was, before I was Doña Juana, I was an ugly Indio orphan girl kept by the church. The harder I prayed to God the harder my life became, the greater my ignorance of love. So after one particularly unjust beating I dared the Devil to help me. I cried, ‘Give me all I want and you can have God’s fucking useless soul’. And so a miracle happened and I became Doña Juana. But I still never knew love.”
Destina bowed her head and she started to cry. She began to sway precariously on the mantel. I jumped up and I clutched her and I held her to me.
I said without thinking, “Destina, I love you.”
Destina sprang from my hands back onto the mantle. She began to hop up and down and to shriek, “No! No! NO! Damn! Damn! DAMN!”
Destina began to fade from my sight and then she vanished completely.
Yet she haunts me.
In her last moment Destina had seemed to smile at me.
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