Some Enchanted Evening
by Ross Peterson
Opening a blank window I told myself I was not going to watch raw meat porn again. You know, nubile naked vixens rubbing red hamburger all over their bodies, all over their breasts, in their orifices.
It was the afternoon, one of those annoying ones, where it’s sunny then the clouds roll in then it’s sunny again.
I hated those kinds of afternoons.
I didn’t have any reason to leave the house, so I’d been sitting there on the couch watching a buddy cop movie. It wasn’t even a good one, like Lethal Weapon, or 48 Hours, or Bad Boys, or Running Scared. It was Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, where Sylvester Stallone’s doddering old mom becomes his partner on a homicide case.
I still cringed at Stallone movies. It’d been more than twenty years, but they continued to hurt in a way.
Tango and Cash was my favorite. Don’t ask me why I hadn’t gone and purchased the VHS for myself. If I’d known at the time it would’ve saved my career in law enforcement, I would’ve, assuredly, shelled out the fifteen bucks.
The pot in the bowl of my bong, sitting there on the coffee table, looked like it had somehow gotten belly button lint stuck to it. I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t want to smoke belly button lint.
I’d been saving a baggie of Machiavellian Thunderfuck. This day seemed as good a day as any to smoke it. So I emptied my half-smoked, presumable belly-button-lint-infested bowl and loaded it with the Thunderfuck. I lit up with my Harley Davidson lighter. I wasn’t a biker. I just liked the logo. I inhaled, the water gurgling. It tasted like Christmas trees.
Damned creeper weed, I tell you: the kind you smoke and don’t feel right away, so you smoke more. You still don’t feel anything, so you smoke a little more. Next thing you know, you’re standing in front of your bathroom mirror, making faces while your heart races.
I stood there in the bathroom studying my ears. I had such elephantine ears. They were the size of pillowcases, drooping down to my shoulders. They looked like clamshells that’d once housed the world’s largest clams. I had very sensitive hearing on account of my ear size. My ex-girlfriend Joni had always complained about how I watched my movies at such low volume, about how I’d refused to go to rock concerts with her.
My ex-girlfriend Joni . . .
I hadn’t had sex in twelve years. I believed women seldom pursued men living off insurance settlements. I surmised they didn’t like the type that rarely left the house, that got their groceries on Amazon.
I used to leave the house a lot. Look where it got me: some guy talking on one of those early, brick-like cell phones crashed his Plymouth into my knees at thirty-five miles per hour.
Jesus, I was loaded, pacing around my living room. I walked to the kitchen, turned on my sink’s spigot, filled a pitcher. I didn’t know what else to do other than water my houseplants. They didn’t even need it, but I had to feel normal. The only way to deal with getting this stoned was to perform banal, everyday tasks. It smelt musky in my house so I opened a window. There were crumbs all over the carpet so I vacuumed, too.
A little less high after vacuuming—but not much—I ended up using my laptop to surf the Internet.
That’s when the raw meat porn happened.
I thought: I should be out having real sex with someone who likes me for who I am and who—maybe—wouldn’t even mind a little raw meat in the bedroom.
As I sat there on the couch, staring at the computer screen, I thought of my uncle Stan. He had gotten married recently to a woman he’d met online.
What was the site? Soulmatesamity.com?
I hadn’t yet tried online dating. It seemed like an okay idea. Why not give it a shot?
So I gave Soulmatesamity.com my credit card info and went to the fridge for a Faygo.
I cracked open the can and started making my profile. I found myself exhausted after I typed out everything there was to say about my physical appearance (short, a little overweight, blue eyes, ears the size of baking sheets), my favorite food, drink, movies, books, authors, teams, what I did for a living, hobbies, did I want children? Did I not want children? What was my ideal date?
Jane. She looked ravishing in her profile picture. Something about her antlers and clown feet made my heart whirl. She was beautiful—her brown eyes a window into a world I wanted to revel in.
And out of the nineteen women I’d sent messages to, she was the only one who responded to mine. She agreed we had a lot in common, believed we had potential.
For a couple of weeks, we chatted online all night, talking about everything. We related remarkably well, sharing so many values and interests. After a couple weeks, Jane knew my whole story, about the accident, how I’d been walking to Cat’s Eye Video so I could watch Tango and Cash again, and about how I had to resign from mall security.
She didn’t care that I didn’t work, that I seldom left the house, and that I walked with a cane. She said I was cute.
It was too bad she lived all the way in Spokane.
But one day she texted me, saying she was going to be in town. We arranged to meet, in person, at a fancy restaurant.
I was so happy I’d created an account on Soulmatesamity.com.
Sure. I liked talking to Jane online well enough, but it was no substitute for an actual date, one on one, in a real restaurant.
I arrived at a place called the Steamboat a couple of minutes before six. They had a maître d’ in a tuxedo and everything. I felt underdressed, wearing a white shirt and black pants: old mall cop clothes of mine. I made sure to clean out my ears before coming to the Steamboat. With ears my size, when I had wax buildup, it was far from a secret.
“Good evening, sir,” the maître d’ said. “Your reservation?”
“Landers, Jane Landers for two. I’m not Jane, though.”
“Of course you’re not, sir. Right this way.”
He led me to a small, intimate table in the corner of the restaurant. Light piano jazz played at a soft volume, the lighting dim.
I fidgeted as the busboy poured two waters and lit a candle. I shifted around in my seat, trembled. Why was I nervous? I had no reason to be. Jane was no stranger. But online I had so much control over what I said. If I started saying something stupid, I’d hit the delete key.
I worried she’d perceive me as a wholly different person in the flesh. What if she didn’t like me?
I shook my head. I was being ridiculous. I looked around the restaurant at so many couples, so many dates.
I told myself this would be just like it was online, only better.
Then, from above a booth divider, I saw the antlers. She came around the corner bouncing on the balls of her tremendous feet. My heart fluttered. I stood as she approached. When she reached the table we embraced. She felt warm against me, gentle, wonderful. We sat. She looked even more beautiful in person. She’d painted her antlers a nice turquoise color.
I told her, “You’re even more beautiful than you are in your profile pic.”
“Oh, Bobby,” she said. “You are adorable.”
Just as we started to talk, a waiter with a blond ponytail came to our table and dropped off two menus. “Good evening. My name is Rick, and I’ll be taking care of you this evening. I’ll start by telling you all about our specials. We have a Clapassade tonight. That’s lamb stewed in a ragout sauce, with olives, honey, and licorice.”
“Mmmmmm,” Jane said.
“Yes, it’s quite nice. In addition to that, we have our Pescado Blanco: whitefish boiled in a white wine garlic sauce, served with herbed mashed potatoes and asparagus skewers. Is there anything I can bring you to drink? Would you like to hear about our wines this evening?”
“Yes,” I said. “Do you carry Faygo?”
“Moon Mist? Pineapple? Or Redpop?” Rick said.
“Moon Mist, please.”
“And for you, my dear?”
“I will have the Redpop,” Jane said.
“Of course,” Rick said, turning, approaching the pantry.
“I didn’t know you drank Faygo,” I said. Joni had always made me drink white wine with her when we went out to eat. I hated white wine.
“Oh, yeah, but I’m not into that band . . . you know, the one, with the face paint and all the songs about ax murdering people. My nephew loves them.”
“Insane Clown Posse.”
“That’s the one. You like those guys?”
“No,” I said. “Not really.”
She smiled. She lightly pinched my gargantuan earlobe, as it rested on my shoulder.
Jane ordered crab cakes and a beet salad. I ordered whatever it was I thought would have the least garlic, so my breath wouldn’t smell too bad later, if we were to become intimate. I really hoped we would, but the anticipation terrified me. I kept reminding myself to relax.
We were talking, bantering, laughing, as Jane took a bite from one of her crab cakes and grimaced. She clasped her stomach, grunted a little, gagged.
She looked flushed. Her breath became rapid.
“Something wrong with the crab cakes?”
She was sweating. “Wh—what movie are you gonna show me later?”
“Are you having an allergic reaction? Are you allergic to crab?”
She began convulsing. “No.” She lowered herself from her chair to the floor. “No.” She leaned up against the maroon-painted wall.
Rick the waiter rushed over.
“Is everything all right here?” he said.
“Call an ambulance,” I said.
“No!” Jane said. “I’m fine. I’ll be fine. Just hold my hand, Bobby. I’m fine. Everything’s fine.”
I sat next to her. I did as she asked.
The other diners politely ignored us.
I took Jane’s hand as she ripped off her skirt, shakily sliding her underwear down to her expansive ankles.
“You’re sure everything’s okay?” Rick the waiter said, sounding concerned.
“Yes,” Jane said. “Just, just bring some towels.”
She squeezed my hand. She grunted. Green and purple goo oozed from between her legs. Rick rushed over to hand me a stack of towels. I gently laid them underneath her buttocks. Jane clenched her teeth, closed her eyes. She tried to catch her breath, then screamed. I looked between her legs. First, I saw a light green, cabbage-like head emerge. “Push,” I instinctively said, though she was already doing so.
“C—can y—you g—grab it?”
Assiduously taking the small vegetal head in my fingers, I pulled, ever so gently. I guided it out. I saw its eyes open, the gaze melancholy, feminine. Attached to the head was a moist, worm-like body wriggling out from between my online sweetheart’s legs. Using one of the towels I wiped the residual green and purple slime off my hands.
As it exited her she made a relieved sigh, then grunted again, clenching, pushing. As I watched the foot-long neonate slither toward the kitchen, another mint green head covered in goo poked out. Jane screamed and cried as it emerged. “Push,” I said. “Push.” And with my assistance another one of them slowly crawled out from between Jane’s legs, again with the cabbage-like head and worm body.
Jane moaned, biting her lower lip.
“Another one?” I said.
And so I sat there with her on the floor till six of them had been birthed. I was exhausted. I couldn’t imagine how Jane felt. After the last one crawled out, an ooze-drenched lump dumped from her vagina. The mass looked like Jello smothered in neon green gravy. She sighed, moaned.
“Is it over?” I said.
“Yes,” she said with orgasmic-sounding relief. “Yes. It’s over.”
A heavily tattooed chef rushed over with two busboys. One of the busboys used a large spatula to pick up and dump the glob into a white bucket held by the other.
The chef said, “Boiled or steamed this evening?”
I looked at Jane. She raised an eyebrow, suggesting, You decide.
“L—let’s do steamed,” I said.
We’d returned to our table. I was collecting my thoughts. Not really knowing what to do, I said, “Look, Jane, I . . . just want to tell you, if these six babies of yours need any, you know, paternal care, I’d, uh, I’d be—”
“Oh, Bobby. Jeez. I am sorry. I never explained any of this online. I should have. I really should have. It’s just . . . hard. I’m sorry.”
“No, no. It’s perfectly all right. I—”
“Look. I’ll be honest with you. These babies—they don’t need paternal care. They don’t need maternal care. What they need is . . . God, these things are everywhere in Spokane, Bobby. You have no idea. Okay. Think of these things like you would a feral cat or rabbit.”
“See. Oh, God. Okay. So, about three years ago, I move into this apartment in downtown Spokane. The building is, like, over a hundred years old, and there’s this coin-op laundry room in the basement—real creepy. Everything creaks and cracks down there.
“This one afternoon, I’m putting my sheets in the dryer. I haven’t lived there more than a week when this happens, right.”
“I close the lid on the dryer and this . . . thing . . . comes floating out from behind the air duct. It’s fleshy, has this wrinkly skin. It’s shaped like a ball, has these eyes all over it.”
“Like Lopan’s guardian in Big Trouble in Little China?”
“Sure. So, I don’t know what to do, seeing this thing. It just hovers there, and . . . before I can get out of its way, it opens its mouth and swoops in to . . . kiss me. Its lips meet mine. I feel this surge of air. It blows this tremendous wind down my throat.
“What I find out, days later, talking to other women in my building, is that this thing has—well it’s passed thousands of miniscule eggs into my body. Eggs that are still, to this day, gestating, hatching, and crawling out my . . . you know.
“Seriously, Bobby, these babies. They’re everywhere in Spokane.”
Rick the waiter came, delivering the steamed glob from Jane’s birthing to our table.
“How is it?” Jane said.
“It’s not bad. What do you call this again?”
“Aula. It’s kind of like a placenta.”
I chewed, nodding my head. “I guess I need to get out more.”
Faygo squirted from Jane’s nose as she erupted in laughter.
I started laughing, too.
Together we laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. All the people around us gave us dirty looks.
When we both were finally able to contain ourselves, Jane said, “You, um, you don’t, um . . . happen to have any raw meat at your house, do you, Bobby?”
I said no, but that we could always stop at the butcher’s on the way there.
So we did.
Ross Peterson's short fiction has appeared on Bizarro Central, Freedom Fiction, in The Whitefish Review, Weirdpunk Books' Hybrid Moments: A Literary Tribute to the Misfits, and others. He is currently hard at work on his first novel. He lives in Montana, and could use a haircut.