Pain Slut(6)

By: J.A. Rock

“Trouble?” Bowser asked when I hung up.

“A work emergency.” I put down the phone. “Fuck. I’m so sorry. I need to be there.” I glanced at my balls again. “But . . .”

“You wanna borrow a T-shirt? XXL?”

The only thing worse than going to work with an inflated scrotum would be going into work in sweatpants and a T-shirt. But I had little choice.

I sighed and struggled to my feet. “All right. Show me what you’ve got.”

I parked in A2A’s side lot, facing away from the street. Slid carefully from behind the wheel, attempting to subtly support my balls with my hand. I’d borrowed XL sweatpants from Bowser because my own had been too tight, as well as his baggiest T-shirt and a hoodie that matched the pants, but there was no way the clothes were going to fully hide my condition. Whatever this T-shirt crisis was, I should have told Jason he had to solve it himself.

Except I was A2A’s owner, and I was a control freak, and I needed to know what was going on. I shuffled toward the door.

As soon as Jason saw me, he started flapping his arms. “Miles—”

“Jason? Take a breath.”

He paused momentarily in his fluttering as I approached. “Why are you wearing a sweat suit?”

“Long story. What’s the problem?”

Jason looked horrified. Jason always looked vaguely horrified.

“Jason, don’t look so horrified.”

“I can’t help it. They’re going to freak.”


“It’s the Team Funeral shirts.”

Oh God.

Team Funeral. The Segers, who had placed a rush order by phone last week for twelve matching T-shirts to be worn at a relative’s funeral. Why a family would wear matching T-shirts to a funeral was beyond me, but they had added a generous tip on top of the rush price, and I’d promised we would have the shirts done in time for the service.

I ignored the discomfort as my swollen, welted balls rubbed against the front of my pants. “What happened to the shirts?”

Jason pulled a seafoam T-shirt out of the box. Shook it out. I read the purple airbrushed letters: UNCLE MATT, REST NOW WITH THE ANGLES.

“Oh dear.”

Jason’s head popped out from behind the shirt. “I looked for the original order to see if it was their mistake or ours. And it was theirs; they definitely spelled it ‘angles’ on their form. But—”

“But we should have caught it,” I finished. We prided ourselves in checking submissions carefully. We’d been able to stop an “Andesron” soccer jersey from happening, as well as a Will Work for Foot hoodie and an order of five hundred My Other Cat Is the Millennium Falcon bumper stickers.

“And their funeral is tomorrow!” Jason sounded dangerously close to hyperventilating. My friends all thought I was wound too tight. I really, really wanted to introduce them to Jason. Except that anytime one of them stopped by the store, Jason was always charming and serene as a Constable painting. “I mean, not their funeral, but . . .”

I nodded. “And perhaps our funeral too. I’ll give them a call.”

I got on the computer and pulled up the Segers’ order. Gave the number a call.

“Hello?” The voice that answered was soft and calm.

“Hi, Mr. Seger? This is Miles Loucks from A2A Wear. Your—”

“Hi, Miles.”

I paused at the interruption. “Yes, hi. Your order’s ready for pickup, but we’ve just noticed a problem.”

“Oh?” He didn’t sound ready to kill, so that was something.

I explained the situation to him. There was silence when I finished.

Then he said, without the slightest change in tone, “I’m in the neighborhood. I’ll stop by and see how bad it is.”

“It’s pretty bad,” I admitted. “I mean, the shirts all say that your uncle is resting with the angles.”

He laughed. “It’s all right, Miles.” The way he said my name was quite beautiful. And God, what was with that voice? It had an otherworldly quality, like he was narrating the prologue to some epic fantasy movie. “I’ll be over in a few minutes.”

No. No. Terrible. I did not want to meet the man whose order I had failed to proofread while I was wearing a sweat suit three sizes too large and my testicles were the size of regulation softballs. “Listen . . .”

Also By J.A. Rock

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