Pain Slut(10)

By: J.A. Rock

“What?” I glanced up.

“You’re sitting like you’re trying not to shit your pants.”

Kamen. Doofus extraordinaire. Lovable, clueless, and still experiencing eight-year-old levels of amusement at anything stool-related. “My back just hurts from work.”

Dave and Gould, who had been talking to each other, turned at that. Dave grinned. “Miles probably got laid.”


Dave scooted his chair in. “We were thinking about vanilla cake. Because, you know, irony. Plus Gould can’t sleep when he has chocolate.”

I shot Gould a questioning look. He shrugged.

I adjusted my shirt over my crotch, but now that I was sitting, it was difficult to cover the situation. “Can someone tell me why we’re throwing Hal a birthday party?”

Dave cleared his throat. “We were talking about it last month, but you were too busy freaking out about a work email to listen. We thought it would be a good way to remember Hal.”

Kamen nodded. “Mostly we just haven’t had cake in a while.”

I tried to grab the M&M bowl without jostling my balls. All I could think about was the home study on Monday.

“Dude,” Kamen said to me. “I don’t wanna be the one who points this out, but are you hard?”

Suddenly Dave was leaning across the table to see me. “Oh my God. Miles. What is going on down there? Is the alien from Alien about to explode from your balls? Are you gonna have a crotchburster?”

Now even Gould leaned over. Quiet, compassionate Gould. Surely I could count on him not to interrogate me. He looked up and met my gaze questioningly. “Saline?”

I nodded.

“Wait, what?” Kamen asked.

Gould turned to him. “You can inject saline solution into parts of the body to make them swell.”

Kamen glanced at my crotch again. Then up at me. Then down. “But . . . but . . .” Up at me. His jaw dropped. “Did you do that to your balls?”

I sighed. “You know, I did actually want to talk to you guys about something serious. But if all you can focus on—”

Dave sat back. “Is that your balls look like they could be manacled to prisoners’ ankles to keep them from escaping? Forgive us.”

“Oh my God,” Kamen said. “That’s why you’re wearing a matching sweat suit instead of your Mr. Rogers sweaters.”

I sighed again and looked up at the ceiling.

Gould shifted. “What’s your serious thing, Miles?”

“No. I’m not telling you now.”

“Come on,” they chorused.

I bestowed a withering glare on each of them. Then I took a deep breath. “I just got some news.”

They were all staring at me. It was now or never.

“So for the past few months, I’ve been in contact with the Beacon Center.”

Dave nodded. “Is that the retirement home you’re moving in to?”

I ignored him. “It’s an adoption agency.”

Dead silence.

“Are you adopted too?” Kamen asked. “Like your sister?”

“No, I’m not adopted.” Did I really have to spell it out for them? “I’m adopting.”

They just stared.

Dave’s brow furrowed. “Adopting what?”

“A child,” I said.

More staring.

“But you put electricity up your ass.” Dave said it calmly, slowly, as though there were some very simple aspect of this situation I’d failed to grasp.

“What does that have to do with—”

“If you have a kid, how are you going to explain your TENS unit? ‘Oh, don’t mind this, kiddo, that’s just for when your old pop needs to electrocute his own rectum . . .’”

I shook my head at him, stunned. “What are you talking about?”

“Are you saying you don’t have any qualms about the fact that you’re a huge masochist and you want to adopt a kid?”

“What, you think I’d be a bad father?”

“No, no. I just . . . wow.”

“You’re, like, not much older than us,” Kamen said. “And you want kids?”

“I’m twenty-eight. Lots of people have kids by my age. By your age too.”

“But don’t you want to wait until you have a partner or something?”

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