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Again, rated R for all the fun stuff. Part 2 of 2. For the record, I split it up for readability, because, let's be honest, who enjoys reading porno epics on-screen.
Around a long rectangular table in the studio café sat Briana Banks, long blonde locks pulled back in a tight ponytail, and a handsome, wiry man with trace amounts of facial stubble whom Lars’s father identified as Ted, her husband and fellow enterprising ‘erotic actor’. Between them, at the head of the table, was a baby carriage with dimensions roughly proportionate to that of a small refrigerator, it’s innards made not of bottled condiments or leftover take-out, but rather what appeared to be a mute four-month old child, swathed past the point of recognition in cheerfully color-coordinated baby garments. All parties were casually dressed, though stylishly so. Lars instinctively scanned the room for cameras as he let his father guide his wheelchair to the table. He sat next to ‘Ted’, while his father kissed Briana on the cheek and took the seat next to her.
SCRIPTED. Stage directions. Bodies strategically placed to enhance the mise en scene. The handsome costar, the semi-real baby that hadn’t move since he entered the room. Lars felt his genitals shrivel, as if the hands of winter itself had unzipped his pants and clutched his nuts like a baseball.
“That’s a very nice baby you’ve got,” Lars said smugly, wishing he had been given legs so that he could cross them pretentiously. Briana beamed as any REAL mother would, not surprisingly, given her acting background, but ‘Ted’ remained aloof, his annoyingly symmetrical face brimming with a totality of non-emotion. Lars found his performance forced and unconvincing.
“Her name’s Abby,” Briana said, poking the mass and rubbing the a bump that Lars took to be the baby’s nose. “She’s all tuckered out from our trip to LA.”
“We had to shoot a beach scene with a Cabana boy,” Lars’s grinning dad interjected, knitting his fingers behind his head. “Nothing in Canada would do for that. Only disgusting manure clogged beaches and hillbilly parks, if you know what I mean.”
Everyone laughed, even though it wasn’t funny, and so Lars did too, aware that somewhere invisible to him a dangling black box had probably prompted LAUGHTER with buzzing thumb-sized balls. Or maybe they all knew their lines, and a host of anticipatory responses to counteract any possible unscripted lines he might say. Lars began wondering if research had been done, perhaps by his mother, for the purpose of accumulating a catalogue of his favorite phrases and common speech patterns he used. Playing off this catalogue, another compendium, equally thick and listing appropriate responses, had likely been written and studied by everyone at the table. Even the baby knew its role, waiting silently until some verbal or physical cue zapped it to life, ideally during an awkward moment when all else had failed and to keep the film rolling they needed a wailing sparkplug to jumpstart the action. The only possible solution, Lars realized, was to respond in such a way as to nullify their own research by acting completely out of character.
“I heard that they’re going to clone an armadillo next week,” Lars said, interrupting the inane industry-speak that had been playing out around the table without him. “And its name is Nixon. Nixon’s a fun name for an armadillo, I think, even if the thing is really a bitch. Are female armadillos called bitches, dad? Like female dogs? It would make a helluva lot of sense if they did, don’t you think so Ted? I mean, armadillo’s are kind of like little dogs, in their own way. Little fucking rodents things, under all that hard shelled exterior.”
“Uh, yeah, sure,” Ted muttered, looking at Lars’s father. Then silence. Then, on cue, the baby let out a shrill, alarm-clock cry, its arms flailing wildly. The lunch was cut short when Lars’s dad had to take a business call and had to send Lars home in a Para-Van.
Taking care to avoid detection, Lars tucked the collapsible tripod and camcorder into a gym bag and slid them under a blanket on his lap, casually wheeling himself through the house.
Laid out before him on a metal baking tray like a do-it-yourself lobotomy kit were sharp utensils ranging from a pair of gardening shears to an Exacto knife. Catching the refracted light from the miniature disco ball rotating lazily on his desk, the assorted blades shone rainbow fingers on his face. TODAY IS GOING TO BE A GOOD DAY, the bright flecks said, because rainbows always lead to that pot of gold, if you just follow the light. And right now that light made a crooked line down Lars’s body, down his crotch, bending slightly between his non-legs before slicing across the floor.
Lars could see himself on TV. A tangled vinyl python of red, yellow and white cords nested behind the set and snaked across the floor to the camcorder. The connection was fabulous. Held on the wall by four cuts of scotch tape, a large sheet of paper, Lars’s script, hung with all the stage directions and dialogue drawn on it in fat block letters.
Dabbing the bright red ‘record’ button, he read:
“MY NAME IS QUENTIN CASH AND I MAY NOT HAVE ANY LEGS, BUT I AM A FUCK MACHINE THE LIKES OF WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN ON THIS PLANET. MY PENIS CAN STAY ERECT FOR SEVERAL HOURS.”
As he said this he slid his jeans off, the legs stuffed with rolled up tube socks to give the impression that they held something more human than cotton and elastic. Lars was naked from the waist down, his penis erect and surrounded by a patch of razor-burn dotted white skin. Using the television set for guidance, he aimed the remote control at the camera and clicked the zoom function, until the entire frame was swallowed by his waist and heaving stomach.
Unwavering, the camera watched as he pinched his foreskin between two Godzilla-like fingers, stretching the skin like a wad of veiny sculpting putty. And it watched as Lars snipped, the scissor blades cutting through a cluster of nerves. And then Lars passed out from the excruciating pain coursing through his body, the camera still rolling and focused on his right hip – the only part of his body still on-screen.
The hospital was whitewashed and fuzzy when Lars opened his eyes and soaked up the mise en scene. Hanging over him were the disembodied heads of his mother and father, their faces transformed into oval-shaped ghosts by the bright light behind them.
“Quiet, quiet,” were the first words that Lars heard. Though he couldn’t place the lips forming them, the words’ whiny intonation told him that the voice belonged to his mother, who seemed to possess a defective voicebox incapable of speaking at any reasonable indoor decibel level. “How are you feeling, son?”
As the scene came into focus, Lars came to terms with his surroundings. His father was standing to his right, crossing his arms over a cream-colored polo shirt. Gripping the metal guardrail of his stretcher, his mother was impeccably made up, a glittering gold necklace cutting a V across her color bones. Behind them the angel-white outline of a twenty-something nurse stood against the square of green drapes enclosing them, hands crossed compliantly behind her back. Lars wondered whether his father had been drawn to her authenticity and propositioned her for a ‘lead role’ in one of his hot new films while Lars was comatose.
“Jesus H. Christ, Lars, what the hell’s the matter with you?” his dad said, running his hand through his hair. “You want to be a Jew or something? Is that what this is about? Is Jesus not good enough for you all of a sudden?”
“Brian!” his mother said, glaring reproachfully at him. Lars hadn’t heard the name ‘Jesus’ spoken around the house in years, except when his dad was looking over the script of one of his films and testing expletives out loud. “Lars, honey, if you want to convert, just tell us. We’ll find you a nice rabbi and throw a party. No need to go chopping yourself up.”
“You’re lucky they could fix your piece after the hack job you pulled,” his dad spat. pacing along the curtains. “And you still won’t be able to use the damned thing for over a month.”
The ride home was awkward and silent, the leather interior of the family van seeming like a black hole of vacuum-sealed antimatter from which no sound escaped. Lars liked it that way, because it saved him the effort of attempting to explain why he mangled his genitals in front of a piece of video-recording equipment and subsequently passed out. His parents decided, rightly so, that the incident had not been motivated by an irrepressible desire on Lars’s to undergo religious conversion and find Yahweh. Unfortunately, they now saw it as some sort of cry for help.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with kids nowawadays,” his father said, his booming voice breaking the silence. “Back when I was young, we didn’t need to cut ourselves to be cool or to feel like men. We just did drugs and tried to nail cheerleaders, like any sane person would.”
Before Lars’s mother had a chance to breathe, his dad preemptively waved her off with his free hand. “A little pot never hurt anyone, I don’t care what the experts say. We used to get high all the time and now look at us. Christ, I wipe my ass with twenty dollar bills.”
His father’s eulogy for days passed made Lars grimace, as did the thought of him soiling money in the john. Lars’s mood plummeted even further when his father pulled it into the driveway and parked next to a familiar ink black beamer with its top down. The license plate read, ostentatiously, ‘GD DCTR’.
Dr. George was already inside, making himself comfortable in the living room as he dissected Lars’s letter to Briana over a glass of brandy. He nodded gravely at Lars, who felt like a slab of meat being wheeled into the butcher’s on a gurney as his father pushed him up the ramp built over the trio of stairs leading to the kitchen.
“Go to your room and get yourself a change of clothes,” Lars’s father commanded as Dr. George rose like a magnet to his side. “You’re a mess.”
After squirming out of his clothes, careful to avoid any incidental contact with the head of his penis, Lars struggled to stretch some underwear over his bandaged crotch. Two failed attempts later, he acquiesced and swung a warm blanket around his waist like an apron, feeling only slightly emasculated. On the bright side, the blanket’s perpetual semen-crust had thankfully been washed and the soothing aroma of lavender replaced the smell of dank, sweaty cotton.
As he spun into the living room, the air felt tense, possessing the consistency of a vat of wet concrete slowly congealing and incasing everything in its bowels. Lars rolled his wheelchair and eased himself onto a reclining Lay-Z-Boy, taking care to keep the blanket draped over his naked lap. His father came over and confiscated his chair, then worked the edges of the blanket under the cushions, pulling the soft fabric taut and binding him to the plush leather chair like a straightjacket. His gauze wrapped penis was so sensitive that even a hint of friction sent shockwaves of pain through his body. His wheel chair was folded and leaning against the credenza, an arm’s length from Lars’s father, who poured himself a glass of scotch and sipped it scotch neat. Responding to signals sent from a remote control that Lars’s mom aimed skyward, the lights dimmed with an ominous slowness.
Scattered around the living room, Dr. George, Lars’s mother and father rigidly occupied pieces of designer furniture, faces tethered to the images that unfolded like a televised rolodex on the screen. Lars felt both ashamed and bitter about his parent-imposed house arrest, but also accomplished, beaming as a rookie actor/director would watching clips from a movie, his movie, which had been nominated for an Academy Award. He felt the urge to turn down the volume and give a play-by-play: “And here’s when the blades of the scissors got stuck. Oh, oooh, look, here dad comes in and finds me unconscious on the carpet. Here he’s fixing his hair and smiling for the camera…”
Once the VHS tape stopped rolling, the entire room remained transfixed on the bright but somehow soul-sapping blue screen, unwilling to traverse the sanctuary that the awkward silence provided. Dr. George looked at the sheet of paper Lars had stuffed into the manila folder – his letter to Briana – and turned it over in his hands, as if he believed that by virtue of some kind of weird osmosis the letter’s true meaning would seep into the pores of his fingertips and he could straighten all of this nonsense out. Realizing the futility of harboring such hopes, he passed the torch to Mr. Smith, steel-marble eyes prompting a verbal response.
“Uh, yeah, okay. Son, I want you to know that you’ve got our attention,” he stammered, finicking with the paper.
“Oh, you do son, you do,” his mother cried, rising to her feet in an explosion not unlike the blurred spatter of napalm firing out of a bursting grenade. As she skipped across the room her silicon appendages bounced without heed for the bra that feebly tried to contain them.
Riding the wake her emotional tidalwave left behind, Dr. George hopped to his feet and followed her, until they both zeroed in on Lars, the focal point upon which their simpering trajectories met. Not to be outdone, Lars’s father put down his scotch on a coaster and wandered over, looping his long arms and potbelly around the group.
Though on the surface the scene had all the makings of a Hallmark holocaust, each of their arms felt cold and fraught with goose bumps. Lars felt the urge to tell them that the letter wasn’t meant for them, that the video wasn’t staged for their benefit, and that his foreskin wasn’t martyred to bring the family and Dr. George together, but his words would only have been muffled or ignored under their tight-knit turban of entangled limbs.
“I love you,” he sighed to no one in particular, not because some internal emotion-pumping gizmo prompted it but just because the words seemed appropriate to the situation: an easy way to fade-out of an awkward scene. The constricting limbs squeezed tighter in response and he just sat buried in the middle of it, wondering what his penis will look like once the flesh heals and the bandages come off.
"Imperious, choleric, irascible, extreme in everything, with a dissolute imagination the like of which has never been seen... there you have me in a nutshell, and kill me again or take me as I am, for I shall not change."
From his Last Will & Testament, Marquis de Sade