“He wondered if the reason he felt momentarily complete during coital orgasm was that he had convinced himself he was once again inside the womb.”
Although an atheist, he preferred college-aged Christian women. He preferred them because it was likely that they hadn’t lived long enough to experience any kind of continuous, uncoddled pain. Also because he already knew how quickly they’d believe his cheap, optimistic lies. It also helped that whatever he convinced them was worth doing would eventually be absolved by their merciful and understanding Lord. What a crock of shit, he thought.
He rolled away from her; it had been a fun time. But now it was over. She wiped sweat from her body’s womanly convexities onto the sheets, and told him that she had things to do. He said he had a lot of work to catch up on, too. This was the part where he and a nude female had to exchange these harmless untruths. They did so as a means to appear less desperate than they actually were.
He acknowledged this bizarre social etiquette–the sudden feigning of personal restraint, to provide some sort of tribute to the fact that she had taken time from important daily tasks in order to get defiled. The post-orgasm professionalism they displayed came with the realization that it was time to detach. Time to continue living. What another crock of shit, he thought. But this was the norm, and he really didn’t care if she had things to do or not because she was leaving now. Just like everyone else in his life.
This would happen three or four times a week. Some woman he met would allow herself to be the object of his desire, after which both would revert to feeling worse than they did before coitus. She’d feel guilty and he’d feel isolated. This made post-coital cuddling seem awkwardly forced. Most of these women often were less accepting of such feelings, while he was all too accustomed to the emptiness that came with using someone and being used in turn.
“Hey, these. Don’t forget these,” he said, grabbing a pair of dangly earrings off his night stand.
“Those aren’t mine, Ray.” Insult to injury.
“Take them anyway,” he said.
She stared down at them in his hand. She took them, and quickly disappeared to collect her portion of the trail of clothing that lead from the front door to Ray’s bedroom. It was likely she was putting the clothes on in the reverse order in which they had been initially removed. He heard the door close. He knew he wouldn’t be seeing her again. At least for a while.
He didn’t care.
Loneliness is normally described as an unpleasant feeling in which someone experiences a strong sense of emptiness and solitude resulting from inadequate social relationships. Ray Birchum had a history of inadequate social relationships. He was always trying to keep people around, and they were always moving on without him. He was nothing more than a prop in the transitional periods of their lives.
Ray used to clean his place before women came over, but hadn’t lately. He’d grown too tired from the seemingly endless cycle of billable hours and unfamiliar spines reflecting in his mirrored ceiling to worry about housekeeping.
He was a young lawyer, specializing in family law. He helped tear apart families that life had already weakened at the seams. It helped that Ray took Prozac, since he was prone to fits of intense depression. He had stopped crying uncontrollably, which made sense since he had nothing to cry about. After all, he had very little student debt, and what debt he did have was more than manageable.
It made Ray Birchum somewhat happy, knowing that he would never have to work another dead-end job. He remembered as a kid being taught how in America, it was up to the individual worker to determine whether or not his job was a dead end. Still another crock of shit, he thought.
The young woman who had just left his house was the daughter of a former client. She had been very flirtatious with him since they met, and had recently graduated high school. She had a bedroom at both of her parent’s houses, and planned to go to the local community college for nursing. The first time she had intercourse with Ray was in the backseat of her graduation present.
A Volkswagen. Thanks, Mom.
Following these encounters, Ray would sit cross-legged in the shower and stare at his feet through the scalding hot mortification. This was the part where he’d wonder why he had turned out this way. This was the part where he’d sit and wonder if such a lifestyle had any upside potential. He wondered why he, like most of the people he knew, spent the majority of his free time dreaming of a life that would never be. Recalling a documentary he had watched, he wondered if the happiest time in a male’s life was actually experienced within the womb. He wondered if the reason he felt momentarily complete during coital orgasm was that he had convinced himself that he was once again inside the womb.
Ray wondered if the false sense of completeness was just the result of him tricking his biological makeup into thinking it was replicating.
Fulfilling the grand purpose. The biological imperative. Maybe not, though.
Eventually he’d determine who he’d call up next. He was able to recall many of the women’s complicated schedules by memory, and what sort of timeline his day would have once he resumed his more “normal” activities.
After scrubbing off the shame and examining his back in the mirror, he contemplated just how much of his skin was still packed beneath her fingernails.
Years ago, this might be the period of time where he’d call up a friend to boast about his prowess. But he wasn’t in college any longer; no one cared. They all had their own lives. Their own families. All of which were being weakened at the seams by the toll exacted by life. Ray was certain he’d hear from them before long.
Ray Birchum lay on his back, naked and absolutely alone in his messy bed, still soaking wet from the shower. He’d stare up at himself in the mirrored ceiling, disgusted. Surrounded by individual strands of hair. An assortment of lengths and colors. (A redhead? When was this?)
Acceptance (step one of twelve for recovering addicts) of his current fallen condition had become increasingly difficult, given his dreams of a happy life. The one he knew he’d never have, yet couldn’t help hoping for.
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