Originally this story was to be published three years ago in a magazine called Fray. The story even went through several drafts with their editors - Unfortunately the magazine has not published since 2009. I present the rough draft here for your reading pleasure. It is pure fictionalized truth.
I cried the day my testicles died.
There's a deadly karate- ninja attack called, "Monkey Steals a Peach". Here's how it works:
A ninja moves in on his enemy; he swings his arms wildly in a windmill fashion. Just as the victim raises his hands to protect the frantic attack, the ninja drops to his right knee while swinging his right arm up between the enemy's legs. The open hand grabs the exposed genitalia and in one powerful stroke rips the victim’s delicate, precious fruit from his tree.
Ouch – really painful and something that not even the great Chuck Norris would have the dark soul to attempt. But at least it’s quick.
What happened to me was much worse. The attack upon my testicles lasted five hours. It was excruciatingly painful and devastatingly humiliating. Worse, it happened on the first day of my vacation with my new girlfriend.
Like any other guy at the University of Nevada Reno, I maintained a healthy interest in the vulgar and distasteful. My friends all had their specialties. Basically there were two main categories: The first was belching. There were ABCer's, beer belchers, bullshit belches, mystery belcher and the food cannon belch.
The second category consisted of students who delved in the dark arts of flatulence casting. There were such techniques as: Poppers, flappers, machine gunners, squealers, SBDers, Servants of the Blue Flame and a guy from Pakistan who upon command released from the confines of his colon a sinful cloud-like creature that could evacuate the most hardcore frat party.
My specialty was quite special indeed. I could take the ink tube inside a Bic pen and stick it all the way up my nose. I'd stick it so far up the whole thing disappeared. It was my thing. The one thing I mastered in life. Better yet, there was this girl named Mazzi who completely dug it, especially when she drank Mickey's Big Mouth. Better yet .. again .. she was a tennis player.
Every party she ran up to me and demanded the pen up the nose trick. I'd do it and she start laughing so hard drool spittled out of her mouth. I don't know why but I found that drool really sexy. Then at one party instead of me putting a pen up my nose we just started making out.
That's how it is in college. It's magical. Paradoxically this was the first mature kind of relationship I had with a girl. I wasn't in a big rush. We talked about things. She got better grades in calculus and kicked my ass in tennis and I didn't even mind. She didn't care that I had two garbage sacks full of underwear in the corner of my dorm room. She would hide my car keys and wouldn't tell me where they were. We went on drives for God's sake! And the ultimate, she invited me to her home in California for the weekend.
Mazzi grew up in a sprawling ranch home near the city of Solvang in Southern California. Solvang is this crazy Dutch town, where all the houses look like something out of Hansel and Gretel. Around this town are a few industries: Oil drilling, really good barbecue ribs, vineyards (movie Sideways was filmed there), flowers and horses.
Horses were what her hippie father was into. He raised quarter horses and half dollar horses and maybe a nickel & dime horse. What do I know about stupid horses? I was playing video poker when I was fifteen. Mazzi's father was a Vietnam protester, went to Berkley, had a masters in psychology, smoked pot now and then, was divorced from his second wife and to my reckoning had to be the best girlfriend's father I could wish for.
Saturday morning we flew from Reno to Santa Barbara. Her father picked us up in an old Ford truck with the "H" stick shift on steering wheel. As we slid into the front seat, he reached across Mazzi and grabbed my arm,"You can call me Hank". We lumbered our way north and Hank talked about his horses and cursed out his second wife.
"I should of stuck it out with your mother.” he said to Mazzi. “But what the shit do you know when you're twenty three?"
She put her head on his shoulder. "It's okay pop."
We rolled into the gravel driveway, which divided two large pastures speckled with horses. It was clear to an equestrian noob like me the horses thought the truck had come back with food. They sniffed the ground, then trotted along side the truck until it finally pulled to a grinding stop in front of the house. Hank jumped out of the truck and waved at the animals. "There are no carrots or apples for you today my fellow citizens, just a boy Mazzi found."
The horses slowly meandered off as if they weren't interested in the first place. Mazzi and I grabbed our bags from the back and followed her father through a large red door into the house. The interior was smaller than I expected. It was dark and had a dull smell of leather oil.
"We only got the two bedrooms. So unless you want to sleep with me, you can share Mazzi's. But you don't want to sleep in my room do ya?" The hippi father asked me.
I slowly shook my head and thought. No I don’t – that would be the last thing I’d want to do. Mazzi had that look on her face. It was the look you give a beloved dog that farts at a dinner party.
"Shut up pop." She's said, smiling. "You think you're so funny but it's just weird." Mazzi teasingly pushed her father to which he grunted into a laugh then they both turned and went into the bedroom.
I'm got this peculiar feeling. I've known many fathers and there was always turmoil just under the surface. A strange moment of silence passed, then Mazzi threw her bag on the dusty queen size bed, stretched and announced, "I'm going to clean up a bit, then maybe we can grab some lunch?" Her father nodded. Mazzi went into the adjoining bathroom and closed the door. Hank looked at me for a long time, then asked, "What do you know about horses?"
"I know how to bet on them."
He laughed at that.
"Okay, why don't you come with me and I'll show you a thing or two about my horses."
"This isn't some kind of strange hippie thing you learned at Berkley?", I asked, but I wasn’t really joking.
Still laughing. "You would be surprised at all of the valuable 'hippie' things I learned at Berkley. So come on let's go take a look."
The stables were domed buildings lined up next to each other. The silhouettes looked like a series of upside down U's. We entered the stable closest to the house. The curved roof was made of thick canvas that acted as a skylight. There were sixteen stables, but only two were occupied.
Hank grabbed a saddle and walked up to a large brown and white horse. "This horse is my friend. His name is Horatio," Hank said. He opened the gate and led the horse out to the middle of the stable, then ran his hands along both of the horse's flanks. "It's easy talking to horse like this, but you got to have an understanding of the animal."
Hank carefully lifted each leg and checked the hooves. "You see horses live and die by their nature. Like the Almighty, they're the same yesterday, today and forever." Hank put on leather gloves, grabbed the worn saddle from the stable railing and threw it on back of Horatio. Hank tightened the girth of the saddle around the horse and made sure it was tight but not too tight.
"What are you doing Hank?" I was getting a little concerned. In truth, I'm a bit afraid of horses. They're big animals with small brains and I have a policy of staying away from creatures any bigger than a guinea pig.
"Hold this." Hank handed me the reins. Without thinking I grabbed the reins and Hank walked over to an adjacent stable.
"Hank, I'm not really comfortable with your horse. Maybe we could go back inside and see if Mazzi is ready for lunch?" I almost pleaded.
"Don't worry about Mazzi; she's fine. This is just you and me now." Hank opened the stable and walked out a smaller gray horse. "This is Ophelia. She is beautiful; don't you think?" I nodded, while looking around for somewhere to tie off Horatio. "She's smart as well," Hank said, running his hands along her sides. "Has a mind all her own." Hank checked each hoof, then placed a saddle on Ophelia.
"Follow me citizens," Hank ordered, as he walked Ophelia out of the stable. I don't know if he was talking to me or the horse, but it hardly mattered. Horatio snorted then followed Hank out, dragging me along with him. We walked the horses a couple hundred yards into a small pasture.
"Do you know how to mount a horse?" Hank asked.
I blurted out, "That's what she said .."
Hank laughed, then got serious. "I take that as a no. Well, first stand on the left side of Horatio."
"I'm not riding your horse Hank." I interrupted. "How about you put them away and we go have some lunch? Hey, how about I take you both to lunch? My treat." I'm very nervous now and scared. My legs are kind of weak.
"This is not a big deal. We're just going for a short ride, then we can eat," He said impatiently. "Besides, you know Mazzi is going to want to see you ride and you don't want to try this for the first time in front of her?"
He had a point. I didn't want to look like a complete dork in front of her. "A short ride okay?" Hank nodded. "No running right?" Hank nodded. "No jumping right?" Hank nodded. "No going through trees. I've seen movies where a guy gets his head taken off by a low limb."
Hank grimaced. "Just get on the fucking horse."
Hank gave me all the instructions for mounting and I have to say I didn't do a bad job, except as I swung my right leg over I kept it straight out and for a moment looked like a French cabaret dancer.
As soon as I was on Horatio, the horse started to walk off. "Stop horse ... okay let's stop", I begged. Horatio ignored me and began walking toward the stables. Hank mounted Ophelia, then barked a short "Whoa" which immediately stopped the horse.
"Son, you need to talk in a language Horatio can understand." Hank rode up next to me. "If you want the horse to go forward, squeeze your legs. When you want to stop pull on the reins, sit deep in the saddle and command "whoa" in a deep voice." Hank gave a short demonstration on Ophelia. "Okay, I think you're ready. Horatio will follow me. You just remember not to be nervous and sit with confidence. Got it?"
"I guess?" I tried to sit as confidently as I could on Horatio. "Where are we going?"
"Where ever we need to." He answered cryptically and then made a clicking sound and Ophelia was off with Horatio following.
Hank guided Ophelia to the back pasture, then through an opening in an old stone wall, across an oily, gravel road and into a small vineyard. He turned his horse ninety degrees and slowed down until Horatio caught up. Rolling his hand over the landscape, Hank said, "This was the first property purchased by the old Firestone family back in the late sixties, but it was too small for them." He sniffed the air. "They ended up purchasing five hundred acres near the town of Los Olivos, even though the land here is better for grapes." He looked at me hard. "I guess the family desired quantity over quality. You can't have both."
As we rode for another thirty minutes along the vineyard, I began to notice a bit of chaffing along my inner thighs. It was like warm embers leading to my groin and I also noticed my ass was getting just a bit tender.
We reached the end of the vineyard and stood before an open expanse of scrub land that extended to a fuzzy brown mesa.
I broke the silence. "Hank this was just great. I had a really great time. Let's go back and get some lunch." I tried to turn my horse but Horatio would not budge.
"Not just yet, there's something I want to show you." He made that clicking sound again and Ophelia started forward. I sat deep in the saddle and pulled the reins. "Where Hank?" I looked all around. "I've seen plenty of dead plants before. We have loads of them in Las Vegas."
Hank laughed. "No .. no .. it's not here. Just a little bit further. This is special." Hank was off into the scrub and Horatio followed no matter how deep in the saddle I sat.
After an hour and a half of hard riding through ravines and gullies, the warm embers near my groin had ignited and were a fire deep inside testicles and it felt like a rabid monkey was hitting my ass with a plumber's wrench.
"How much further Hank?" I cried.
"Not much more," Hand shouted back. "Just at the foot of the mesa."
About fifteen minutes later we reached a small oasis surrounded by gray brush. A lone cedar tree stood beside a small creek. Hank jumped off Ophelia and tied both horses to the tree, then he helped me fall off Horatio. As soon as my numb feet hit the ground, I fell face first into the wild grass. As I lay in a near fetal position.
Hank said, "Mazzi's mom and I planted this tree." He tapped the trunk. "We were kind of like Johnny and Jane Appleseed of Santa Barbara." Hank sat beside me. "It was free times back then. We planned to setup a commune here. I was practicing Transcendental Meditation and she was into natural remedies and medicines. It was going to be a life of peace and harmony with nature."
I turned over and grunted, "Can we go back now, please? I need a handful of aspirin."
Hank ignored me. "Then she got pregnant with Mazzi and we ran short of money. I got a job as a school counselor and she went back to nursing. She was offered a position in Los Angeles as head nurse for City of Hope and I didn't want to move. So, we broke up and she took Mazzi."
"If she took Mazzi, how did you end up taking care of her?" I asked.
"When Mazzi was seven, her mom was killed by a drunk driver and she came back to live with me.”
Hank sat staring into the creek, picking the grass and throwing it into the water. "See it is the great joke of the universe that we succeed and fail by our nature. Our heads tell us one thing and our hearts another. My head tells me that Mazzi is a woman and can make her own decisions in life. My heart tells me she is still my little girl. Which do I listen to?"
I gingerly sat up and with all the empathy I could muster said, "Hank, I frankly don't give a shit. Can we please go back?"
Hank breathed in deeply, which seemed to clear whatever dream he was stuck in. "Yes, you're right. Let's go back and get something to eat. We're all hungry."
Hank helped me back onto Horatio, untied the reins. grabbed the bridle and pulled the horse's face close to his own. "What do you say soldier? Are you ready for some nice, fresh hay?" Horatio grunted and stamped the ground. "How about some carrots and an apple would you like those?" The large horse bucked a bit and slather dripped out of his mouth. "Well, you know the way home; don't ya big boy?" Hank let go of the bridle and Horatio launched like rocket.
Horatio was a tremendous animal. He weighed close to 1,400 pounds and could run nearly thirty five miles an hour. He was bred and trained as a western horse and was used to covering five yards of rough terrain in one stride . His mind was set upon the single thought of food.
Here is the sound as best I can describe it. "Badadum Badadum Badadum" played out in a fast Afro-Caribbean rhythm. The "Ba" part was my ass being propelled up into the air by the saddle. "da" was my body smashing back down on the horse and "dum" are my testicles, lower intestines, kidneys and liver smashed into my stomach, lungs and heart. Just repeat this over and over again as fast as you can say it and you get some idea of what this ride was like. I tried pulling on the reins and commanding, in a low voice, "whoa". It didn't work and after each consecutive ass smashing, my voice became higher and higher until it was a kind of Mickey Mouse shrill.
The only relief was standing in the stirrups so that there was so much space between my croch and the saddle that one could kick a soccer ball between my legs, but the strain was too great.
Slowly, like a ship sinking into the sea, my ass lowered back into the saddle. My brain and other vital organs pleaded with my legs to hold on, but will power alone could not withstand the up and down motion. It started with a gently tapping of the saddle on my backside, like a maid taping on the door to see if you're awake. Then the tapping increased to a firm knock, like the manager checking on the room. The knocking turned into a fervent pounding of police demanding the door be opened. Finally, the swat team just broke the door down and beat the shit out of everyone inside.
I was crying; a cry filled with pain and misery. I hated that horse.
Finally I just gabbed the horse’s neck, closed my eyes and waited to die.
I must have blacked out or maybe I’m just repressing the memory but the next thing I knew I was back in the stable. Horatio was happily eating fresh hay and Hank was putting Ophelia in her stable. I looked over and there was Mazzi with her hands on her hips. "What the fuck did you do to him Dad?"
Hank shrugged. "Nothing, we went for a bit of ride while you took a shower."
"You've been gone for five hours!"
I was laying on the back of Horatio blurting out short little cries. Mazzi walked over and put her hand on my shoulder. "Are you okay?"
I raised my head a bit and pleaded, "Kill me. Please kill me quickly." Mazzi turned on her father. "What the fuck? You knew he never ridden before."
"Oh come on," Hank said. "It's not as bad as it looks. Help me get him inside."
"Do it yourself. Thanks for ruining my vacation." Mazzi stormed off into the house. Hank scooped me off the horse and held my arm as we made our way back to the house. I imagined I looked like a chimpanzee with my knees bent, dragging my knuckles on the dirt and walking in a knee to toe type fashion.
That night I sat on the couch with my pants down. Bags of ice covered my black and blue legs and pelvis. I was given three Vicodin by the family doctor that lived down the street and sat like a zombie watching Cheers. Mazzi sat on a kitchen chair, arms folded, staring death rays at her father and Hank sat in his old leather chair, smoking his pipe with a small smile on his face.
Copyright 2008 - 2011 Cram/ Kmuzu - All rights reserved