Nobody Is Allowed on the Internet Until It Is Safe
by Kevin Sterne
There are these videos going around of women cramming these vegetables in their mouths. It looks like this sexual, deep throat stuff. I learn about these while I’m on the train to Galactic 9-Storey Golf. There’s this sicko watching one on his phone: A young lady, approx. mid-to-late 20s, sliding this big zucchini into her mouth.
And here I am clutching my bag of irons, next to this pervert. On the subway in the middle of the day. And I think: What if my kids were on this train? Or someone else’s kids. Is this the country I want them to come of age in? Where people are watching seedy videos on their phones? No, no, no, I don’t. So I take it upon my civic duty to confront him right there.
“Hey, that’s disgusting,” I say.
He pretends not to hear me, so I give him a neighborly poke with my bag of irons until he looks at me. I tell him again. It’s disgusting.
“I know, isn’t it,” he says in agreement. Then he says it’s good people are finally bringing attention to the cause. What does the hell does he mean cause?
“Women in this specific film industry.”
I pause for a second. “Does that young lady know you have this video of her?”
“Man, everyone’s seen it. It’s all over. You’ve definitely heard about it.”
I definitely have not. “This is a public place,” I say, “you know that, right?”
He looks around the train. “Yeah,” he says. “It’s good that we’re having this conversation,” he says. “Maybe we should talk to more people,” he says.
This slime ball. I swear I could smack him in the face with my iron. But it’s my stop. I grab my bag of irons and wave them up to his face. “That’s somebody’s daughter,” I tell him as I get off.
“That’s somebody’s food,” he says as the doors close behind me.
Above ground the air is wet and humid, the sky overcast. I realize I’m sweating. I rest my bag on the sidewalk and put two fingers to my wrist to count my pulse like Doc showed. “Nothing above 145,” he told me. Right now, I’m around 270. Damnit. This is all that yahoo on the train’s doing. I imagine smashing him repeatedly with my 7-iron. You have my pulse up to 270 you jack knob.
If Doc found out. No, if Karen knew I was this high. Come hell or high water that woman would have me back in the doctor’s office for another treadmill test. Sans shirt with those damn adhesive pads. Then they’d remove those damn adhesive pads. Then Doc’ll give me another lecture about red meat and butter. Tell me something, what is more American than butter?
I need to calm down. I need to forget about that clown. I decide to get a dog from Sal’s.
Sal’s is on the way to Galactic 9-Storey Golf. He’s got his daughter, the one with pigtails, doing the register. I tell her I’ll take one dog extra onion. Sal waves to me from the grill in the back. Sal’s about my age and size. Looks like me too, but with a redder face, probably from manning the grill all these years. I make a note to ask him which Doc he goes to next time I see him. Clearly there are ones out there who don’t tell you to stop eating red meat, because Sal genuflects at the altar of juicy sausage for a living. I watch Sal tong a few dogs into some bread boats and, well, suddenly the hot dogs look like the zucchini in that jackwagon’s video.
I tell Sal’s daughter I want to cancel my order, but I’m too late. Sal’s already sliding the dog on the paper boat across the tiny counter. I could vomit right there.
“He doesn’t want it,” she says to Sal.
“I gotta nix it, Sal, doc’s orders. I completely forgot.”
“Here.” Sal gives the dog to his daughter. “You eat.”
Oh God no, what have I done?
“Actually never mind, never mind,” I say, “Screw the doctor.”
I throw it in the dumpster around the corner. Then I walk the remainder of the way to Galactic 9-Storey Golf, and smack the you-know-what out of three buckets of dimpled whites. I feel good after. Good enough to make a difference in this loony bin world.
Back on the train I go. It’s the middle of the day and there’s a huddle of junior high girls in uniforms in the back of the car. All with their phones out. Giggling their little junior high kid giggles. What makes these kids different from my kids, Abigail and Jasmine? Nothing.
“Excuse me girls.” They all stop and look at me, five sets of non-blinking, doe-like eyeballs.
“You know that some men like to watch girls put vegetables down their throats,” I begin.
To which a few murmur, like, uhm. And I take this as a sign that we are all on the same page. So I continue.
“And some guys like when girls film themselves doing it because,” I say, “you know, some vegetables look, you know, pleasing.”
They all kind of look at me, then do that shifty eye thing that my Jasmine does.
“We all understand each other?” I say.
There’s some nods, a few “sures,” and a “yes” or two. Perfect. I grab my bag of irons and shuffle to the other end of the car and just kind of watch from across the train to make sure no weirdos hassle them. At the next stop they all get off, and as I watch them run to the security guard I feel warm inside knowing I’ve made a difference for the better.
Soon as I get home I grab a marker and a sheet of paper and write NO ONE IS ALLOWED ON THE INTERNET UNTIL IT IS SAFE and affix it to the fridge with the lady bug magnet. Right next to sweet little Abigail’s rendering of our family. Pink construction paper with crayon. My little artist. I want nothing more than her doing that sideways lean-in huggy thing around my waist.
I fire up the family computer and hop on the internet because I’ll be damned if I let one more of those videos ruin a lean-in huggy thing for any other dads.
Take a guess what pops up when you type in some combination of the words: GIRL; BLOWJOB; and VEGETABLE.
Eventually I get to the source, Ctrl + C it like the girls showed me and then Ctrl + V it in an email. I shoot out this email en masse to the Pickering’s, St. Piere’s, McJunkins’, and Fitzsimmons’ with the subject line: don’t let this define us.
Then another pulse check. 190. This is all the internet doing this. I wonder, do people actually realize how dangerous the internet is? I up and unplug the machine and move it into me and Karen’s closet. Of course lugging this up the stairs gets my pulse high again. I decide to do the only calming thing I have left, and that is to clean my guns.
It’s both therapeutic and my Second Amendment right. I lay out the Winchester, which has been in the family for two generations, on the kitchen table. Then I put on my double holster and slide in the model 17 pistols. I like to wear my guns while I clean my other guns. Then I lay out the Glock and the double barrel shot gun. And am just about to get to work when I hear a knock on the door.
Low and behold it’s two officers, a short fat one and a tall skinny one. Thank God.
“You are exactly who I need to talk.”
“Robert Fargiotini?” the short one asks.
To which I say, “Call me Bob.”
I see the short one look at my holstered pistols. Then I see the tall one peer over me into the kitchen, at my stash of guns on the table.
They both kind of do these hmms.
“Obviously things have gotten out of hand,” I say, “I assume you’ve heard about these videos.”
“Yes, we’d like you to tell us all about these videos,” the tall one says. Then they ask me if I’d be okay talking with them at the station.
“Of course,” I say. This will be a great way to warn the other officers of these videos.
And just as we three are walking across the yard I see our purple minivan zoom into the driveway.
“Karen,” I yell, “You’re home early.”
Karen looks at the officers holding each of my arms. And then looks at me, and I can tell from our nine wonderful years together that she is perturbed. I want to tell her not to worry about me or my blood pressure, that I have everything under control. But then the officers quickly steer me to their police car, and I know it will have to wait.
Kevin Sterne is a writer and journalist based in Chicago. He is the author of the prose chapbook I’ve Done Worse. His stories and fiction have appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Praxis Magazine, Word Eater, Defenestration and others. Kevin writes about music, craft beer and culture for Hop Culture Magazine and Substream Magazine. He works in landscaping and has been known to do labor-intensive odd jobs for money or beer.