Excerpt: The Transformations, first chapter
Do Not Over Apply
I'm the guy girls never looked twice at. Why should they? One strand of hair for every year I've been alive, shaped like a giant toe. I'll pass! they must say to themselves. Even when I was younger and cooler, say, when I had a bulbous pompadour and biceps to match, when a guy pulling up in a flatbed truck might pick me out of a lineup to help him run a fence around his property or stack boxes on pallets, even then I couldn't get laid. I just couldn't figure out why women spent so much time getting made up and then so much time ignoring me. Was God telling me I should be gay or what? Even then what difference would it make? An ugly guy is an ugly guy. Mostly it made me feel bad that the strongest force in the universe—LIFE WANTING TO PERPETUATE ITSELF—would exclude me from the program. I was sure that ugly birds and frogs got laid aplenty—but not me.
Then you always hear guys talking to each other like this: Girls! Shit, they're raunchier than guys. Ever been in women's bathrooms? Or Hey! My uncle's a garbage man in the University District. He's always finding dildos, and porn videos and skin magazines in the sorority house trash bins. This is the usual guy bullshit and I've dished out plenty of it in my day. Near as I could tell no girl ever thought about me much less being raunchy to me.
Besides, I live in the University District, in the basement of the Greensward Rooming House. I've dived a few dumpsters in my time and I can tell you that I've never run across any dildos. Food, yes. Food...basic Frat Row staples: you got steaks and fries, you got fish and mashed potatoes and pizza by the dump truck load. I think the sorority sisters pass up all this great food and then snack on soda and chips late at night in their rooms. Anyway, point is, if only some girl had taken an interest in me I wouldn’t have gotten into this mess. Why couldn’t I have been like the guy who placed this ad in the personal column of the Sunbreak City Weekly?
Outer deck, 3/17/81.
You: Long blond hair,
leather jacket, black
Me: The tall guy wearing the
green leprechaun hat,
holding the orange
helium balloon that
read: smiles are forever.
You smiled at me.
Could we meet for coffee?
I mean, the guy ran the ad for years. No reply. Who knows what happened to the girl? No reply. Maybe she died or got married or moved away or just wasn't interested, who knows. But the ad—for the first few years—the ad was the laughing stock of the town. Channel 10 sportscaster anchormen made jokes associating losing teams with the guy in The Weekly ad. Everyone knew who they were referring to and everyone laughed. At one point, even the mayor stepped in and pleaded for the woman to respond. So the whole town is thinking: what a fucking loser to have to post this ad year after year. But after year five or so, Sunbreak City women started thinking: man, this guy is really in love. He's a true Galahad searching for his Guinevere. What a gesture. What dedication! What love! Five years down the road and he's still yearning for his true love. In the mind of local women the guy evolves from Jerk Supreme to Knight-Errant pining for his Lady Love. Before long every lonely blond in town is writing the paper with a response. Yes! I remember! He plays dumb and cleans up in the sack.
Meantime, I'm not getting laid like anything. And I’m lonely. And I'm horny. All the time. Revved as hell. What was I supposed to do? So for me the thing is porn videos. With videos you can pretty much mentally erase the dork in the flick and transfer yourself into the thing. Cocks are the real stars of these things, anyway. You get to see them filling out the frame and obeying the script, just doing what they're supposed to do. They dance, they spritz. Some bend to the right and some hang and bounce menacingly like broken exhaust pipes. But some of the guys are genuinely startling; I mean it’s like seeing a Siamese twin or a six-fingered hand. So tell me O Great and Crazed Distributor of DNA, tell me why the bestowal of such SIZE upon porn star dorks—and not me?
I get to thinking: if I had a big one I could be a porn star and maybe get laid for once.
This train of thought got me into a mess.
To supplement my porn videos I always had piles of skin magazines—rags with names like Juggs, Big and Flowing, Golden and Globular, Chomp and Romp—you get the idea—the back pages of which are crammed with genital paraphernalia. I sent away for:
Increase Your Penis Size!
Onan's Enlarging Ointment:
Increase Your Penis Size!
*Apply twice a day
HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED.
*DO NOT OVERAPPLY
It came wrapped like a pipe bomb, no external markings except for a New Jersey postmark. The morning it arrived I ran to the bathroom rubbed it on and damn if my cock didn't instantly start to fill out and enlarge, to feed out like a trombone. I was so happy I grinned into the mirror and my smile pulled right off my face. In fact it pulled and pulled back and back until it grew into a snout and my ears widened and shaped into long goofy triangles. At the same time the little bit of hair I had on the back of my head sprouted and ran, coating my entire body. My belly bulged and seemed to grow as big as a cement mixer. I was winded and dropped to the floor. But somehow I was still standing. I was on all fours. All fours? So far off the floor. Hind legs? All fours!
I was still clutching the tube of Onan's and the writing on the back label jumped out at me:
In case of over application—
Damn! My feet and now my hands were bunching into hooves and I dropped the tube into the toilet. What the hell? I looked into the mirror. I shouted and heard myself:
God help me! I had turned into a fucking donkey!
For three days I stayed in my basement apartment and cried, braying, neighing, whinnying, praying I would turn back to normal, praying I would change back when the ointment wore off. I threatened God: Change me back or I'll starve myself to death! Frantic to retrieve it, I drank up all the toilet water nosing for the tube of Onan's. I wanted desperately to read the rest of:
In case of over application—
No dice. Onan's was long gone. In my panic I had pushed the tube down the toilet. (Even through my tears and hysteria I noticed that I did indeed have a gold ribbon schlong, a prizewinning monster; I’m talking a murderous looking goeduck.)
After three hysterical days I had to get out. I was starving. I let myself out turning the basement doorknob with my flabby lips and a twist of my head. I climbed up the four steps nimbly and stood four-legged in the backyard of my rooming house.
It was a clear, sunny spring morning and how good—and weird—it felt to stretch. Thank God my apartment manager, Rahjbir, a Jainist from Rajasthan, didn't believe in killing anything and that included the mangy grass in our lot adjoining the alley. I took a bite of grass figuring this is what donkeys probably eat and, though my big teeth and tongue seemed to welcome it, I knew right off my taste buds were still human: crab grass tasted like hell. Like I said I'm an old dumpster diver from way back and the University District is ideal for these meals on wheels. The university fraternities and sororities, proving grounds for the future consumers of America, throw out starving continent, rescue-volumes of food every day. I trotted over to the Phig Sty Epsilon Sorority dumpster and tried to nose up the lid but couldn't get it to stay all the way up. Finally I got my head in and under and plunged my snout into a mess of mashed potatoes and gravy. About my fifth bite I felt something ping my hindquarters. I pulled my head out and saw a group of frat guys facing me down. They wore letter jackets and sported blond crew cuts on heads that seemed planed just above the eyebrows.
“Jesus! A fucking donkey!” They screamed. Then they got real quiet. We stared at each other. One of them said: “Careful. It might be rabid.”
They started chucking rocks at me. My first reaction was to respond like my usual wimpy self and go running for my basement apartment but instead I lunged towards them—just a bit. To my surprise they jumped back. The rocks didn't hurt but I got mad. I brayed and made right for the assholes. To my surprise they ran. They were afraid! They scattered but I got a few well-placed nips and kicks in.
I stood in the alley. What am I doing? What is this? Why am I a donkey? All I wanted was a big cock so I could have a crack at being a porn star and get laid for once. I cried to myself but only braying and scratchy sounds came out. Then, all the predictable things happened. Cops. Chase. TV crew arrives. Firemen, too, I think. Chase. A bushy-bearded veterinarian with a needle full of dope. Fade to black.
~ Chapter 2 ~
Too Hungry to be a Dream
The authorities must not have known what to do with me. I ended up at Landwood Park Zoo where they put me in the stables with Sunbreak City's finest, six police horses, all Morgan Stallions. You see them preen at the head of the Sunfair Parade every summer. They are sleek, with bouncy tails and dainty heads, well-dressed with shiny coats showing off rippling muscles. A strong ancient breed, I've heard.
In the stables, among the police stallions, I began to come out of my dopey haze. To one side green gleaming hay was strewn about while on the other the stallions were lined up and slurping at a water trough. There was a color TV mounted up in the corner just like in a sports bar. Don’t ask me why the zoo horse stables should have a color TV mounted in a corner but there it was. Welcome to the Waldorf of stables, I told myself. I think the place was even climate controlled.
Anyway from the color TV of the Landwood Park Zoo stables I actually watched what happened to me earlier that day on the evening news. TV 10 with Skip Silo and Jennifer Jordan. Skip, by the way, is so handsome he is repulsive. He's got that volume TV hair that resembles a mess of shellacked potatoes. Jennifer, too, has tornado proof hair, a kind of helmet that ends with scimitars at her shoulders. Her features are thin, tiny and pixyish, PTA certified and she's black. I mean, you look at Jennifer and wonder: Ah ha! Maybe prejudice is not color after all. Maybe it's the shape of the features. For Jen is basically a white girl dipped in chocolate. Why is TV news so afraid of wide West African features?
Anyway, let's get on with the broadcast and let Skip and Jennifer tell it as I remember watching the stable TV at the Landwood Park Zoo:
Towards the end of the broadcast, Skip bongs the eraser end of a pencil on his desk and turns to Jennifer:
Well finally, tonight, Jen, looks like a donkey made monkeys out of the police this afternoon? Heh, heh, heh.
Jennifer Jordan smirks into the camera: That’s right Skip.
Camera flicks back to Skip and he reads: Around noontime today a donkey mysteriously appeared in the University District startling students and local families. Responding to calls University police and Sunbreak City police officers chased the donkey through the university district for five hours. After corralling the donkey, Sunbreak City Police Sergeant, Jim Frienly, stated, ‘We couldn't understand it. It was as though he knew exactly where to go. Don't let anyone tell you Donkeys are dumb.’ Skip smirks into the camera: Like some people—right, officer?
Camera pans back to Jennifer: The Donkey, whom Zoo officials have nicknamed “Mr. Tails,” is resting safely tonight in Landwood Park Zoo. If any Channel 10 viewers know the whereabouts of the donkey’s owner, please call the Sunbreak City Police Department, the Landwood Park Zoo or our own Channel 10 hotline number...
* * *
So I watched myself on TV. Mr. Tails, sheesh. I was now, somehow, a donkey and I saw myself, a donkey sporting and chasing around the University District. The video footage showed students huddled in groups, laughing, pointing at my antics. There I was, running in circles around the Christian Science Church parking lot. Finally, some guy in a white lab coat with a bushy beard—he must have been the veterinarian—stuck me with a needle. That was it for me; I don’t remember anything after that. Through all the footage I noticed it was mostly headshots of me dodging here and there looking rabid with my beard of mashed potatoes. Did the TV cameramen or editors try to hide my hangedness? Mr. Tails indeed.
But now. Here and now, I was a donkey. A beast. Standing four-legged, dopey, in a horse stable at the Landwood Park Zoo. I prayed this would all be a dream but I was too hungry for it to be a dream. At this point I was going on four days without eating much and the hay packed against the stable wall was starting to look pretty good. Green and shiny. Healthy even. Fiber.
I was too dazed to care how weird it was that a color TV was hanging in the horse stables. After the broadcast, feeling drowsy, I made a move for the glowing seductive hay. Without warning—blam! Something like a wet catcher mitt smacked me hard in the jaw. I staggered back and saw Jack, the police captain's mount, flaring his nostrils, eyes wild and rolling with crescents of white, ears flattened back, forelegs clawing the ground. He had whacked me with his snout and was gunning for more. I backed into my corner to settle my smarting head and plot how I was going to get some of that hay. I waited for a couple minutes and then, to test him, I made like I was again going for the hay. Jack reared up as if to lunge at me. Back in my corner I waited. After a nasty staring match Jack finally turned his butt to me and joined the other mounts at the water trough. Now was my chance. I lunged for the hay pile and bit off a large mouthful. My first taste impressions told me that hay was not all that bad. It reminded me of the time I tried to drink Argentine mate. Or maybe it was a bit more like Japanese green tea.
Suddenly two heavy—what? Bricks? Anvils?—dropped onto my back. My head pressed, then smashed into the wall and bent my neck into an “L” shape. I was being mounted from behind. Jack was upon me with his iron shoes up on by back. I tried to bray but my mouth was crammed with hay. Christ, Jack is mounting me. He’s like a charging bison. I bent down to give him a good hard kick but it only gave him better leverage and he rams it all the way in. Ow! Damn—I'm being cornholed by the captain's mount! I tried to wiggle away but now he's got my head and neck smashed into a corner of the shack. I was more shocked by the brevity of the hit than anything else. Like getting smacked by a kid whizzing by on a skateboard. Jack! You wouldn't know it to look at him. All those Sunfair parades.
Before I could fight it back to my corner, Jack and the other burly stallions, the whole corral, had gathered around. I turned to face them. This was damn scary—herd rape! They neighed and showed their domino-sized teeth and batted at me with their snouts trying to spin my ass towards them. When I didn't budge they whirled around and started kicking. I realized that I was going to look like donkey jerky if I didn’t figure a way out of there. There was a single slat length missing from the stable wall—some lazy repairman’s abandoned project for a sunny day—and I charged it. Halfway through I got stuck, the blades of the standing slats pinching my haunches fast like giant tin snips. The mounts were back on me, kicking and stomping. Planting my forelegs in the earth I tried to heave myself out from between the slats. Again I felt the iron shanks on my back. I couldn't get through. Again I felt the stinging torpedo launch. I brayed in terror but my hay-crammed mouth muted it to a pathetic whine. Half in half out of the stable my butt was taking a pounding. The stallions were going for my balls! Finally one of them kicked me so hard I scraped through the slats, shaving my sides raw.
* * *
It was a cool spring night made cooler by all the zoo foliage and my wounded flanks felt the cold like biting teeth. I tried to gather what was happening to me. To calm myself I chewed on the ball of hay still in my mouth. My ass hurt, inside and out. Hide, raw. Literally. Oh Jesus what a time for the theme song from the old TV show Raw Hide to come floating into my brain. There it was: Da da Da da Da da Da Daaaaaaaaaaaa! Annoying as...well, the tiny gnats hazing my eyes. My mind was careening so fast, filled with all the thoughts in the universe. Why was this happening to me? I was too hungry and in too much pain to be in a dream. This was the first moment I had been alone since I left my basement apartment—when? This morning? Last week? A year ago?
Since my life has never been a terribly clear thing for me, this just seemed like another disaster. I was in disaster mode. What had I done to deserve this? Where was I? I missed my basement hovel and porn videos, my skin rags. Dear God, I didn't start out trying to be such a loser. Why this? A jackass? The zoo? Herd rape?
I sniffed. The night air had a distinct animal whiff to it. Was it me? Wasn't there a Safari Park, an imitation African Savanna section in the zoo? Didn't that mean tigers or foxes or jackals might be wandering around? Wasn't it this very field? Behind me appeared a large dark building. I thought I might find a corner of hay to lean on. (To answer your question, yes, donkeys, like all equines, sleep standing up. They—we!—have a special locking mechanism in the knees.)
Ambling slowly, in terrible pain, I began to make out a large barn-like structure with no doors or windows in sight. I was terrorized, fatigued and craving shelter. I stood there trying to think what to do, where to go. I felt something brush my tender hide. Horrified, I jumped forward on all fours and pissed all over my forelegs in a rush of fear. I turned around.
Strangely, the barn-like structure was...? The barn had been painted white! I backed up to see something like a white semi trailer. Was this Nobi? Nobi the elephant—
Everyone in Sunbreak City knew the story of Nobi, the African elephant, and Princess Tina, his Thai elephant bride. They had been gifts to the city from a young Saudi Arabian prince who studied at the University of Washington, who, charmed with America's democratic ways, dismissed his royal retainers, learned to tie his own shoes, handle his own money, drive his own black Pontiac Firebird around the university district and procure his own girls for the first time in his young princely life.
Nobi and Tina were the great Landwood Park Zoo celebrities of my childhood. Our entire third grade class followed the story of how Nobi and Tina were always together and in love, twining trunks and bumping gigantic thighs and carrying on. But one year Sunbreak City was hit with a hard winter and Tina began to pine for the tropics. The zoo potted palm trees and made a special tropical garden for Tina but she got thin as a horse and died before spring. Grieving Nobi became wan as a folded circus tent and lumbered faithfully towards Death and Tina. The best vets in the country were called in but to no avail.
Then Bert, the zoo’s water and hay man, began bouncing colored balls in front of Nobi and substituting them with helium balloons that bounced but did not come back to the ground. He played off Nobi's natural intelligence and curiosity and eventually taught Nobi how to play checkers using painted tires. They sectioned off a large square near the zoo entranceway. Nobi made a great show of anger when he had to king Bert even though Bert always lost. Bert and Nobi became a regular vaudeville team with Nobi throwing gigantic tantrums (real or feigned nobody ever wanted to find out) if Bert ever started winning. They drew huge crowds for years. Bert had brought Nobi around.
Then Bert died.
After a lifetime prancing before the gummy faces of humans, of bearing the backscratcher (is it OK if I don't describe this instrument of animal torture to you in too much detail? Picture a long-handled rake with knobby tines. A favorite tool of lazy, sadistic animal trainers), after losing the love of his life and his best human pal, Nobi went into a long passive free-fall, just drifting, too worn to die. He aged, became occasionally ornery, but apparently non-suicidal. Parents and zoo officials didn't want him around schoolkids anymore. Exiling him to his own private residence seemed to satisfy all parties.
Now, as I looked at him, and remembered his story, I thought Nobi still wonderfully impressive. I saw a flubbery, old, yet dignified elephant. I was even scared. Standing in the cool spring night, I realized that one swat with his tail and Nobi could put me in the glue factory. Here Nobi raised up his trunk and I closed my eyes. The image that came to mind was my head swiftly flying from my hide like a ball from a golf tee. Then I felt the gentlest touch on the back of my neck. Nobi was rubbing it with his trunk. He bore down slightly and dragged me towards him. He wanted me to follow him.
We walked around the barn-like structure and I understood these were Nobi's personal quarters. They smelled sour and mulchy but there was another distinct odor. What was that smell anyway? My night vision wasn't so good but I could tell we had entered the structure and I could make out a corner with straw thrown all over the place. And what was that smell?
Settling into a lumpy straw bale I felt calm and safe with Nobi. The gnats had stopped hazing my ears and I began to relax in spite of the pain in my hunches. I was so tired; I felt I was being tackled by sleep. For such a big creature, Nobi sure was quiet. But then I started hearing strange slurping sounds coming from his corner. I got scared all over again. Maybe Nobi was just taking a piss? He let out a belch that sounded like thunder from the next town over. Before I knew it Nobi had swung his trunk around and was waving something in my face, poking me in the head with it. I felt the sting of a drip in my eye. The drip ran down to my lips. Beer! It was Red Hook! When Nobi’s trunk came near my snout I latched onto whatever it was and chomped. Damn if it wasn't a hose that ran beer when you sucked. A giant beer tit. Overjoyed I took a couple thick chugs. Ahh...my eyes rolled up and I thought I saw a patch of stars through the roof. Donkey night-vision is lousy and anyway I was out too fast to be sure.
It had been a hell of a day.