WHEN I WAS SIXTEEN I WAS STILL A VIRGIN.
That was because, first of all, I was in love with the boy who didn't know me. He couldn't know because he left for the army before I had guts to say hi. At that time all boys in the Soviet Union had to serve in the army at eighteen. For three years.
Second of all, I dated a girl from my college. I dated her because the boy was away. We only had girls at our college, anyway. All boys served in the army. In Afghanistan and other places. Homosexuality was illegal in the Soviet Union, but that was what they called love between men. Men were put in prison for love.
Love between women did not exist. We never told anyone we were in love. We did not know how to do anything in bed because there were no books, no movies, or anything like that. We kind of invented stuff. We invented a lot of things, tampons, for example, as all that was available in drugstores was loose cotton wool and it was not always available.
So I was still a virgin and it was a problem. I didn't feel like sleeping with the boys I knew. They had all just returned from the army--or sometimes prison--drank vodka and smelled bad like onions and dirt. My girlfriend already had an abortion. Condoms were not available either. She didn't want to sleep with boys anymore.
One winter day I got a ride from a gypsy cab. Gypsy cabs were illegal cabs. Plenty were available; men would give girls a ride for free "for a talk" and would ask for stuff, but if you said "no," it was a "no," usually. It was dangerous at night and many girls got raped but that was their own fault, right?
So I got a ride from my work to the college. The gypsy cab was a long black government car with a lot of zeros at the license plate. The man wore a leather jacket and talked and smoked without a break. He was maybe fifty and had a strangely large belly, while the rest of him looked skinny. He looked like a pregnant cockroach, I thought. He asked me about school and work. I told him I worked at a military factory and I was studying to be an English teacher.
Then he asked me if I wanted to fuck. And, though normally I said no, I said yes. Because I thought it was a good opportunity to lose my virginity and never see him again. He was married; his wedding ring gleamed in the smoke. He drove me out of town and parked behind a train station.
"Only," I said. "I never did it before."
"Hahaha," he said. "Hahaha."
And then he kept laughing and he laughed and laughed as he found out that it was true. He smelled like moldy cucumber and cheese salad and Marlboro cigarettes, his giant stomach was soft and heavy, and it lasted three minutes and hurt a lot but not as bad as at the dentist's. We did not have anesthesia, so drilling teeth hurt the worst in the world, and we compared all pain to it.
The train passed by; I still remember that tududum-tududum-tududum sound of the wheels, and the whistle and the bright passing light, a flash over the car. I kept my eyes open. And my eyes were dry. So he laughed and gave me 30 roubles and three roubles for not crying. It was a lot of money, my monthly pay, and I said, "No, it's ok."
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I SWEAR it’s not like me to normally want to beat the crap out of senior citizens, but this one in particular was royally pissing me off. The lit ‘zine I worked for, Cherry Bleeds, was producing an event of featured female readers at the New College Creamery in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. Sometime during the set of the second reader, Cassandra Dallett, a man who looked to be in his late fifties or early sixties, with long greying hair and a grey beard, hobbled through the door with cane in hand and promptly yelled out “what the fuck is this shit?!” in the middle of the reading.
‘Zine founder Tony DuShane was our door guy that night, and came up to me to announce “I’m running this fucker out right now.” By the time we both reached the entrance to the venue, the old man was already out in the street, going back and forth with Kathleen Wood, our evening’s first reader who had already rushed outside to deal with the situation. Tony and I approached the two of them, ready to somehow defend the honor of our series’ readers, only to have Kathleen turn to us, put her hand up to us and say “No man, this is Vampyre Mike.”
Poem of the Week
who have experienced
on a large
i tell raif
i think my
might be dead
haven't seen her
& her car hasn't moved
for two weeks.
you would smell it
passing me a plate
of triangular shaped bread
slathered in jam.
Story of the Week
DARLEEN SQUEELED into the empty spot as soon as the gleaming white Mercedes pulled out. "We got lucky," she told Montana. "Even on a Monday night, this lot is killer."
Montana rolled her big blue eyes. "Whatever."
The eleven year old had better things to do, like text her friends. Incessantly, as if she had a tic. The kid hadn't wanted to shop tonight, but Darleen insisted. This was their first Christmas without Paulie and the girls needed to stick together. Darleen's ex had been nasty lately and mediation had hit a cement wall. Montana wasn't aware how dangerously close they were to losing access to Paulie's vast and unreported wealth.
Montana sighed dramatically as she yanked open the door of the Porsche Cayenne and tumbled out. She didn't pause in her texting.
Darlene checked her face in the rearview mirror. The most recent fat transfer had been wildly successful. She loved her new lips. Grabbing her Gucci bag, she hopped out of the front seat.
Her daughter trailed her into the mall, thumbs flashing on her phone keypad.