/ Ryan Diego Martinez
Fiction — 18 min reading time
This story contains strong sexual language, racial slurs, and explicit descriptions of sexual situations.
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#There’s a guy sitting outside Randall’s apartment building—just a guy, just some dude, nothing special. He looks homeless, maybe. He’s wearing winter clothes, and they’re dirty. It’s a cool sixty-five, maybe seventy, degrees out, but it’s not cold enough for skullcaps and sweatpants, which is what the guy is wearing. Randall shoulder-checks him on the way out the door, completely by accident, and the guy yells a slur and shakes his fist as the kid makes his way to the bus stop. “Fuckin’ asshole,” he yells. “Fuckin’ spic, gettin’ in my fuckin’ way.” Randall pretends not to hear him and turns the corner. He’s not used to it, exactly, but he can deal with it. Homeless guys in the city say stupid shit.
#I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to interject here for a second. Think of this as an author’s note. I think it’ll help divorce me from the character of Randall. I don’t want anyone walking away from this story thinking it was autobiographical. There’s this old story about a gay duck that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I don’t remember where I heard it, or how it goes, but I know there’s a story there. And if there’s not, someone should make one up. Gay duck. Could make a good joke. Insensitive, maybe. But funny, if it’s told right.
#Randall gets to the bus stop and fumbles for his wallet. The bus is already there, and the line’s moving fast. He dumps the dollars and cents into the driver’s coffer and takes his seat. He picks something in the middle, as far away from everyone else as he can get. He’s not trying to be misanthropic; he’s not trying to avoid anyone. Maybe he just doesn’t feel like talking, doesn’t feel like holding the kind of conversation that you have with the person sitting next to you on the bus. He takes his seat and pulls out his phone. The doors close, the bus jolts, and the driver peels away from the curb. The bus deposits Randall on Abernathy. That’s a street. He steps out, trips a bit going down the exit stairs, and walks half a block to his destination: a little apartment complex, with a big painted sign in the entryway. The sign lets Randall know that the complex is called ‘Hayward Happy Housing.’ He rolls his eyes and hits the buzzer. No matter what he told Simone, his heart is beating pretty quickly now, and his hands are getting sweaty. He leaves the intercom slick where he touches it with his finger. “Hello?” asks a grainy little electronic voice. “Hey, it’s me,” says Randall. He’s trying to keep his voice from sounding shaky. “I thought you weren’t coming until four.” “It’s three fifty-seven.” “Shit,” whines the buzzer voice. “Come on up.” The apartment door groans, and Randall hears the mechanical clunk of the lock coming undone. He takes a short breath and steps in.
#Okay, here—I’ll give it a go. A gay duck walks into a bar. The bartender watches the duck for a while, inspects it, and finally says: ‘Hey. We Don’t Serve Your Kind Here.’ The duck is shocked. ‘That’s Fucked Up, Man,’ says the duck. ‘You’re a Fucking Bigot.’ And the duck turns right back around and walks out. Another customer, a regular at the bar, turns to the bartender and says, ‘Hey, Why’d You Kick Out That Gay Duck?’ The bartender turns to the customer and says, ‘He Was Gay? Shit, I Kicked Him Out ‘Cause He Was Brown.’ See, it’s funny because the bartender subverted your expectations—he was actually a racist. Ho-ho! Good comedy is all about surprise.
#Randall steps inside a musty apartment. It’s not particularly clean, and it doesn’t smell particularly good. “Hello?” he says. “Hey, I let myself in. Hope that’s okay.” “Yeah, that’s fine,” a voice calls out from deeper within the apartment. “C’mon in.” Randall creeps into the kitchen, into the living room, and into the bedroom. Inside is a man, big and burly. Hairy. He’s sitting on the bed in his underwear, looking at something on his phone. Randall taps on the bedroom door. “Hey,” he says. The man looks up. He’s pretty. He’s got a pretty face. “Hey.” The man stands. He’s tall. Randall can smell his sweat. He feels something stir in his stomach—a churning. It’s not quite butterflies. It’s like gears grinding. Like something in his stomach is tied up with string. “It’s Randall, right?” “Yeah.” Randall just stands and stares. A moment passes. “You’re sure you want to do this? I won’t be offended if, like—now, in the moment, you realize you’d rather not.” “No, I—I want to. I want it.” “Great. Then c’mere.”
#Randall feels the hot breath of a fat, hairy man with a very pretty face against the back of his neck, and he’s hard as a fucking rock. He feels the pretty man’s untrimmed nails and rough palms graze against his chest, his belly, touching his hair, digging his fingers into the little divot between his hip bones and his groin. Randall is a thin guy, and his hips are angular and sharp. The pretty man holds them—firmly, forcefully. He feels the pretty man’s cock brushing against his skin, and his stomach flutters. His cheeks burn hot. His stomach tightens, and he winces. He cringes. His fists clench and his shoulders hunch. Randall has never been with a man before, and so as the pretty man works himself inside, Randall feels his asshole burning painfully. But eventually, the pain transitions to pleasure. Randall begins to feel it radiate into his stomach, his chest, and he groans. It starts to feel good. There is, throughout the encounter, a feeling of shame buried inside of Randall’s belly. A part of him wants to buck the pretty man like a fucking donkey and run. Wants to crawl under the bed and not come back out. He is incredibly aware that another man is seeing him naked, is holding him by the hips, is emasculating him, to some degree. But he shuts his eyes, focuses on the pretty man and his hair. The pretty man and the way his chest looks all wet with sweat and the feeling of his breath on Randall’s neck, now sort of gasping and labored. Randall touches himself. His body relaxes, his back arches, he sinks into the pleasure. And after a short while, he orgasms, yellow-white cum dribbling onto the pretty man’s floral comforter. The effort of ecstasy flexes his entire body. His toes curl. He hides his face. The pretty man finishes on his back, and Randall takes a shower in his bathroom. The bath curtains have ducks on them. Randall does not look them in the eyes.
#Okay, okay, alright—try this one. There’s this gay duck, right? And he’s out walking in the forest with his partner. His loving, committed partner. A hunter, hiding in the brush, wearing that stupid neon-yellow vest that hunters wear, takes aim at the pair of ducks thinking that if he can fix his shot just right, he can get both birds with a single bullet. He can see that they’re both male, and they’re obviously romantically involved, the way they’re staring at each other, and he figures the forest would be better off without two gay ducks in his hunting grounds. He squints his right eye, thumbs off the safety, grazes the trigger with his finger. And when the sight passes over the perfect shot, the hunter takes it. The bullet passes straight through both duck hearts, killing the pair of them instantly. No time for last words. They don’t even realize anything’s happened before they’re both dead on the ground, bleeding into the dirt. The hunter takes the birds and brings them home for dinner. The punchline is something like—he eats the birds, not thinking about the fact that he’s puttin’ two gay ducks in his mouth. This one’s funny because it’s a pun. “Ducks” sounds like “dicks.” That’s the joke.
#Randall shits in a coffee shop bathroom. It’s loose and it’s watery and it comes out easy. He hikes up his underwear, that hole in the left side snagging on some sharp fold in his jeans and tearing just a little bit wider. Then he pulls up his pants, zips his fly, buckles his belt, and walks out into the cafe with his face hot. The pain in his asshole has really started to spike now. He keeps his head low so people have less of a reason to look at him. He makes like a dog with its tail between its legs. He orders a drink with a lot of cream and a lot of sugar and sits uncomfortably, painfully, on an ergonomic wooden chair by the cafe window. He sits and sits and sits and stares out the window. He thinks about sex. He thinks about cumming. He cringes, and his heart quickens. That buried shame, so easy to repress when he was feeling good, floods back into his head. He thinks about being naked, his limbs gangly and splayed, another person’s eyes on him, and he winces. He thinks about folding himself up like a piece of paper until he’s a tiny, condensed little block of wood fibers. They say you can only fold a piece of paper in half seven times before it’s too dense to fold anymore. He thinks about folding himself in half seven times, until he’s too dense to fold anymore.
#I am obsessed with this one specific thing about ducks. I think it’s why I’ve gotten so fixated on the gay duck stuff. It sounds a bit strange to say outright, but I’m hoping it makes sense when it’s all outlined and explained. Duck wieners are corkscrewed. That’s the fixation. Their dicks curl in on themselves like pigtails, like spiral staircases. They’re curly. “You’re obsessed with duck penises?” Yeah, I suppose so. “Sexually?” No, not sexually. I wouldn’t fuck one. It’s not attractive to me, it’s not titillating. It’s just fascinating. It feels like a metaphor for something. The idea of genitals that are so foreign, so anatomically incompatible when compared to those of a human being, and yet—it’s the same organ. Most birds don’t even have penises. Ducks do—but they’re wrong. They’re twisted beyond recognition. Sometimes I feel like my dick is secretly corkscrewed. Something about it is wrong. Incompatible. It slithers out from the depths of my body like a twisting, mucus-laden worm when I’m aroused, and I can’t will it away. It disgusts me. Maybe it’s a fear of sex and maybe it’s some internalized distaste for my own attraction to men. I’ll sort it out with my therapist. Or maybe not. Something tells me I’ll die, in thirty or forty or sixty years, without ever having said any of that out loud. It feels like a memory of a bad dream, when I think about it, when I try to put it into words—a horrible feeling, half-remembered. The corkscrew, that metaphorical mutation in my own dick, that distaste for my sexual body, is like a nightmare I have. My penis is really normal, of course. It has skin, it has blood, it’s straight as an arrow. I’m normal. I can walk around and play the part of a straight man with a straight penis. No one, except you, dearest reader, will ever have to know. But I fear this is all getting too personal. Here—I got another gay duck joke for you:
Q: How can you tell the difference between a gay duck and a gay man?
A: Shit, come back to me about the punchline on this one. I’ll think of something in a minute.
#Randall is hyperventilating in his apartment. The lights are off and he’s sitting on the edge of his bed, his eyes shut tight. The darkness helps him pretend—he can be anywhere he wants, in the dark. Pretending helps him slow his breathing, helps him ignore the fear and the shame and the rising blood pressure. He can pretend he’s in space. It’s quiet up there in space, it’s calm. He’s floating gently through the stars. He can pretend he’s in space without a helmet. He can pretend that the air vacuum is pulling his lungs out through his mouth, and then the rest of his organs, and then his stomach and intestines and bladder all fly into Earth’s orbit and burn up on reentry. His breath is not slowing down, but now he’s caught up in the fantasy—his skin is floating up there in space, empty, just a curtain of wet, slack meat drifting through the cosmos. He’s dead. In the dark, he can pretend that he’s dead. You know, meeting up with a stranger so that you can have gay sex for the first time takes quite a lot of steps. Meeting up with the pretty man was a fairly significant effort for Randall. There was an app he needed to download, messages he needed to send, assurances he needed to make to himself. There was a very long and very difficult conversation he needed to have with Simone. And throughout all of that, he’d been fine. But now that the deed had been done and the sheets in the pretty man’s bedroom stained yellow, Randall found his stomach churning with anxiety and his asshole burning from the friction. He hears a key in the front door, and then the sound of the knob turning and the door creaking open. Simone walks in, home from work. Randall is still in the dark with his eyes closed. If he stops thinking about being dead in the vacuum of space, he’ll start crying. His underwear is still squeezing his balls. “Hey Rand, I’m home. How was the experiment? Was he huge?” Randall hears her drop her purse on the kitchen table and move toward the bedroom door. “Randall?” There’s a quick knock on the door, just a formality, before it opens and Randall watches Simone’s shadow fill the doorway. “Hey,” he says, quietly. Simone kneels down in front of him. “Baby, are you okay? Did everything go okay with the guy?” “I’m okay.” “You know I’m just kidding about the horse-cock stuff, right? I didn’t mean to make you feel weird, I’m just—coping, I guess.” “No, I get it, it’s okay. It’s not that.” “Then what’s wrong?” He stares at her, his eyes picking out the details of her face in the dark bedroom. He wants to give her something. She’s waiting for him to give her something. “Uh, actually—um, some homeless guy called me a slur on my way to the bus stop.” “Oh my god,” she says. Then after a moment: “That’s why you’re sitting in the dark?” Randall has a vision of the little milky white droplets of discharge leaking out of the tip of his dick and onto the pretty man’s floral bedding. He thinks of hot breath. He thinks of the toe-curling, mind-melting orgasm. He thinks of being in space. He thinks of being dead. “Yeah. It just—I don’t know, it just really rattled me.” Simone sits next to him on the edge of the bed and holds him. Randall takes a short breath and sinks into her.
#Okay, alright, last one. This is the last one. I thought of a punchline to the one from earlier:
Q: What’s the difference between a gay duck and a gay man?
A: When a gay man flies south for winter, it’s just to see his in-laws for Christmas!Rimshot, drumsting, ba dum tss, etcetera. This one’s a joke about in-laws, a classic subject for jokes and fairly self-explanatory. The jokes so far have been a little racy, so I thought I’d leave you with something a little more upbeat for our final send-off. And—do me a favor. Don’t think about my dick too much when you leave. I know, I talked a lot about the corkscrew stuff, and the disgust, and the way I kind of think about my penis as a big, gross worm. But it’s just a bit, you know. It’s like the gay duck jokes. This story’s not about me. Think about the ‘two gay ducks in his mouth’ joke instead. That one was pretty good.
#Let’s call this an epilogue. Randall and Simone get drunk. They’re sitting on their living room floor with a bottle of wine. They’re kissing. It’s getting hot and heavy. Randall’s still thinking about milky stains on floral bedsheets, but the wine is helping him push it out, focus more on soft skin and lips and swelling nipples. He can do both. He can think about both. So long as he can think about both, he’ll be fine. No one even has to know.
#“How was the experiment, Rand? Did you… have fun?” “It just wasn’t for me. Just not my thing. He never even touched me, really.”
#Simone works his ill-fitting, ripped-a-bit underwear off him, and she stops. She stares at his fucking groin. Randall is drunk and thinking hard about something else. But Simone sees. His dick is gone. He’s smooth down there, made of plastic. Except—not quite. There’s a little hole, a flap of skin, right where his cock and balls used to be. Randall thinks about the pretty man, his hard breaths. The feeling of him inside. Simone watches as a curling, mucus-laden worm twists its way out from inside that strange, disgusting little flap of skin on Randall’s pelvis. Randall thinks about dribbling cum and floral sheets and duck-covered shower curtains, and he’s drunk, he’s fucking blitzed—so there’s no vacuum of space, there’s no death, there’s no shame. There’s just him and his closed eyes and the worm. I don’t think he even notices that it’s wrong.