“Guess what? I’ve got AIDS!”
This was the first thing Steve said as soon as he walked in the living room. Mabel jerked her head up violently.
“What?! Oh no! We just had unprotected sex six days ago!”
Steve laughed. “I don’t actually have AIDS. I just wanted to get your attention. We’re all out of ketchup.”
Mabel stopped, apparently confused. “Oh, um…I think we have some in the fridge.”
“Oh, um…I think we have some in the fridge,” Steve repeated mockingly. He opened up the fridge door and started noisily rustling around the items inside.
“Hmm, interesting. There’s none in here. Like I just said.”
“Oh.” Mabel still appeared dazed. “I guess I could go buy some.”
“You know what? Don’t bother.”
Steve walked out into the garage, grabbed a hammer, and, seemingly impervious to the pain, started whacking away at the back of his right hand. Mabel burst through the garage door, incredulous.
“Steve! What the fuck are you doing?!”
“Oh, nothing, Mabel. I’m just going to get some ketchup for my goddamn fries.”
“Fries? But there aren’t any-”
“Oven!” Steve screamed with much conviction.
Mabel ran to the oven and discovered there were indeed fries in there. She put on an oven mitt and took them out.
Just then Steve ran into the kitchen clutching his hand, which was ridiculously bruised and leaking blood. Swirling his hand above the tray of fries, he splattered blood all over them until it resembled ketchup.
“Well, I hope this tastes good!”
Steve shoved a huge amount of fries into his mouth with his good hand and started screaming, mouth still full, “You made me do this! You made me do this!”
Later that day, when Steve was in the hospital for his hand, Mabel called her mother to say she was having some marital problems.
In the evening, the estimate the doctor gave them for the surgery made them realize they wouldn’t be able to afford their retirement home anymore. Mabel cried.
Steve farted. It smelled.
Steve and Mabel had moved from their house to a smaller, modest, yet quaint apartment. It’d been a few months since the incident with Steve taking a hammer to his hand had caused Mabel much mental stress. They’d had their problems in the past, sure, but nothing like this. Steve smashing his hand with a hammer just to drizzle blood on his fries because they were out of ketchup? It made her mind reel just to look back on it. Her parents, her mother in particular, had pleaded with her afterwards to give up on Steve, her reasons plentiful and legit. The whole reason they’d had to move to the apartment was because the surgery to fix Steve’s hand had been so costly. But Mabel was an old-fashioned woman, and prided herself on being so, so she stuck by her man and tried to work it out.
There were little oddities that seemed to pop up here and there. Nothing as extreme as the hammer incident, but things that still made her wonder what was going on with her husband. She’d caught him talking a little too intently to their house plants a few times, and once she had come home to find Steve blaring obnoxious dance music and smashing various items from around the apartment, yelling, ‘Dance party!’ every time he did so. She was glad they never had kids. She wouldn’t know how to explain these things, being as that she had no clue herself. She’d asked Steve about therapy, and he’d refused. The lapses between these episodes were normal enough, albeit boring, that she let herself sink into a state of passive acceptance.
She missed the sense of romance that used to exist between them, as well as an active social life. Steve seemed content watching TV most nights, so she tried to plan fun activities for them like nights out or times like tonight, when she had invited Roger and Tess, a married couple and two of their oldest friends, over the house for dinner. When events like this were planned, Mabel always silently hoped Steve wouldn’t have one of his episodes. It would be so embarrassing and she had worked so hard to keep their private problems just that – private.
Judging by how this morning had gone, this was not to be one of those days.
Another one of Steve’s oddities was that he would, without anything actually tripping him up or happening to him at all, suddenly scream, ‘Oh shit!’, and then fling himself to the floor or against an object of furniture. Again, there was no explanation for it, and the cackle of peculiar laughter that Steve emitted afterwards was always a little creepy.
This was how she awoke this morning. She heard the familiar scream, ‘Oh shit!’, and then a loud crash. As she rushed into the living room, she found Steve splayed out over their coffee table.
“Goddamn it, Mabel, how many times have I told you this coffee table is in a bad spot?”
Mabel was confused. “It’s always been in the same spot. It’s in the middle of the living room. There’s plenty of room to go around it.”
“Oh, is there? Interesting, considering I almost just broke my fucking neck tripping over it. I guess I’ll have to set fire to it.”
“Yup. No other possible solution comes to mind. I’ll take it outside and light it up. Hey! It might be fun to make an Indian headband or something and dance around it while it’s on fire!”
Steve’s excitement over this idea was childlike, and if it weren’t for the disturbing weirdness of the scene, it might have been endearing to Mabel. She was only slightly getting used to these episodes and still trying to figure out how to deal with them. Would she be able to get through this, or would her marriage fail as so many of her friends’ had?
She decided on a stern, motherly tone. “Steve, you’re not going to do that. We’ve got company coming over tonight, remember? Roger and Tess will be by around six and I’m cooking a nice meal for us.”
“It’s not turkey feces, is it?” Steve asked this with much irritation in his voice. Mabel almost burst out laughing.
“No, Steve! Why would you say such a thing? I’m making a roast with some mashed potatoes and vegetables. You know, your favorite.”
Steve paused. “Well, that sounds agreeable. I’ll have to go and shower then. Will you take care of setting fire to the coffee table?” He paused, looking at her with much seriousness. “Outside, of course.”
“No, no one is setting fire to our coffee table. We’ll need it to entertain tonight. Now please, go and shower. I’m going to start on the roast.”
Steve looked like he was about to say something, but then turned and headed towards the bathroom. Mabel shook her head. She was about to be grateful for that being the end of it when she heard Steve calling to her.
“Mabel? I’ve got some bad news I forgot to tell you. This morning, before you got up, I was simultaneously looking at a picture of your sister and petting the cat, and I got a boner. Not sure which one caused it, but either way it can’t be good.”
Mabel frowned. This statement greatly worried her. They didn’t have a cat. She silently told herself to just get through this dinner, to prove that she could maintain a normal lifestyle.
* * * * *
Evening rolled around quickly, with Steve keeping to himself and Mabel putting all of her mental efforts into making sure the meal turned out well. Around quarter past six, the door knocked, and she opened it to find Roger and Tess in high spirits.
“Mabel, my girl! How are you?” Roger’s voice was booming. He was an enthusiastic, barrel-chested man, bulky and full of life. He embraced her.
“I’m just fine, Roger, thanks for coming over. Tess, you look wonderful!”
“Thank you, dear.” Tess was done up to the nines, and it seemed there was a hope of this dinner going smoothly after all. Of course, Steve had not yet entered. As if on cue, he came bounding down the stairs. Mabel was pleased to see he looked nice, wearing a button down shirt and khakis.
“Roger! Tess! How are you?”
He ran over to Roger and shook his hand, then immediately pulled back, wincing.
“Ow! Jesus, Roger, you and those goddamn gorilla paws of yours! Careful! Don’t you know I just had surgery?”
“Did you? We didn’t hear anything about it. We haven’t talked in so long.”
Mabel nervously cut in. “Oh, it’s no big deal, Steve is healing just fine.” She was desperate to keep the madness a secret.
“No big deal? I had to smash my hand with a goddamn hammer just so I could substitute blood for ketchup because Mabel forgot to buy it!” He paused. “It didn’t even taste good!”
Roger and Tess burst out laughing at this statement, the absurdity of it apparently making it seem like a joke. Mabel was grateful for this.
“Well, that doesn’t sound like too bad of an idea, now does it, Tess? Maybe the next time we run out of lemonade, I’ll just unzip and make us a few glasses, eh?”
Tess playfully swatted at Roger, while Mabel blushed. She had forgotten about Roger’s boisterous sense of humor. He laughed like a madman for about a minute, amused at his own joke. Steve’s eyes seemed to have lit up after hearing it, and he went tearing off into the kitchen.
“I’ll make us some right now!”
Oh God, please no, Mabel thought. She rushed into the kitchen and found Steve was already urinating into a wine glass.
“Steve! Stop that right now!” She rushed over, full of purpose, and yanked the glass away from him. His urine started spraying onto the floor.
“Jesus fucking Christ Mabel, you’re spilling the lemonade all over the floor!”
Mabel couldn’t take it. She burst out crying right there. What had happened to her husband? Steve zipped up and went back to Roger and Tess and she worked quickly to clean the floor. By the time they got into the kitchen, it was clean, and she just said Steve had spilled something. Steve kept his mouth shut.
* * * * *
Surprisingly, nothing odd happened after that and the conversation was pleasant. They asked about moving to the apartment, and Mabel quickly wove a story of times being tough and doing away with things they didn’t need. She didn’t know if it was convincing, she was just hoping Steve wouldn’t do anything else.
They all sat down at the dining room table together. Mabel’s meal had turned out fantastic. Roger was full of energy, telling lots of stories with much energy, and in general the mood was upbeat and normal. Midway through the meal, Steve excused himself to go to the bathroom. After a few minutes, they all heard a crash.
“Ow! My fucking shin! That is it! I have had it with this goddamn coffee table!”
Mabel put her head in her hands, knowing this would be the start of something bad. A second later, there was the sound of a window breaking. They all rushed over to the living room to find Steve shirtless, panting, with the window smashed and the coffee table lying out in front of the apartment.
“Phew! Sorry guys, but that damn thing kept getting in the way. If you’ll excuse me for a moment, I need to go outside and burn it.”
He walked outside and left the three of them standing there, shocked.
“Mabel, what the hell is going on?” Roger barked. His voice was gruff with concern. Mabel wondered how she could even begin to explain this bizarre behavior. What was wrong? She was going to attempt to come up with some meager explanation when she heard, ‘Oh shit!’ and suddenly, Steve’s body came smashing through another window and landed on the carpet.
“Jesus! Now the whole apartment is in the way! Well, don’t worry guys! I’ll take care of it!”
No one even knew how to react as Steve ran into another room and came back with a large hammer. ‘Oh Christ, he’s going for his hand again!‘ Mabel thought, but Steve began smashing holes in the walls left and right, looking like a possessed teenager in a mosh pit until Roger tackled him from behind.
* * * * *
The landlord came after hearing many different complaints about noise and strange activity and, upon surveying the damage, told them they were going to have to move out. Mabel was reduced to a sobbing mess as Roger and Tess tried to comfort her, saying she could stay at their place as long as she needed to. Roger turned to Steve, furious.
“Steve! Look at your wife! What the hell is going on with you?! Do you have any explanation for this madness?!”
Steve paused for a moment. His eyes looked contemplative. For about a minute, he seemed to be lost in thought. Everyone was eagerly awaiting a response, and from the looks of his face, it seemed like he might actually have something to say.
Then, just as he turned towards them, he let out an enormously loud and wet sounding fart. It went on for at least thirty seconds. After it was over, Steve looked Mabel in the eye.
“Definitely just shit my pants. Chocolate cake, anyone?”
Mabel’s sobs erupted as loud as fire engines. Roger and Tess both hugged her. The whole apartment smelled.
Mabel had been on her own for a few months now, living in a studio apartment in a quiet part of town. After the horrendous dinner party where Steve had thrown the coffee table out the window and destroyed the apartment with hammers, she finally had to admit to herself it was time to leave him. It was not an easy move for her at all.
She had been with Steve for so long, forever it seemed like, that she wasn’t sure if she even knew how to live alone. The idea had frightened her whenever she thought about it, so much so that she had put up with Steve’s increasingly odd behavior for longer than seemed logical. She could not get over the feeling nagging at her heart that she still loved Steve, and that no matter what he did, he would be the one for her. She hated herself, truly despised at moments even, for being so old fashioned and thinking that divorce was a choice worse than death. That was how she had been brought up. She wasn’t sure which was harder to wrap her mind around: dismissing her traditional values, or actually walking away from the man she loved enough to marry.
Mabel had slowly been adjusting to life on her own in the apartment. She’d taken up painting as a way to try and relax, and the apartment was scattered with various canvases displaying her artwork. She didn’t think she was that good, but it was enjoyable. She liked showing the new paintings she’d done to friends when they came over the apartment, as it gave her a small sense of pride.
She would go out from time to time, trying to be social, and spend some time with friends in bars or restaurants. A couple of her friends tried to get her to date new guys, but everyone knew it was too soon. They could all see it in her face. The days weren’t that bad, but at night she hated sleeping alone and couldn’t help thinking of Steve and the nights she had fallen asleep with his arms wrapped around her. At times she missed him so badly that she was willing to completely overlook all of his disturbing behavior. She supposed these were the effects of the shackles of love, and tried to push everything down inside and not get in contact with him.
Eventually she realized she couldn’t do it anymore. She just couldn’t stand walking in the door after a day of work to a small, empty apartment. Her friends were all very supportive and tried to offer her as much of their time as they could, but there was just something about the arms of a husband that couldn’t be replaced.
She thought back to the night when Steve had ruined their apartment and how even then, through eyes clouded with tears, she had stood up for her man, saying they had been having a domestic dispute and that she wasn’t injured and didn’t want to press charges. Roger and Tess were appalled by Steve’s behavior and had told her he should be locked up or put in a mental hospital, but the idea of that had been too much for her. She had worked hard to make the cops think nothing had happened beyond property damage, and agreed to pay for any damages and leave the apartment. Then, in the hardest moment of her entire life, she told Steve she was going to leave him and live on her own.
A few months later, after she was set up in the studio apartment, she had gotten a letter from Steve saying that he had also found a new living situation, that he was doing just fine, and that if she ever wanted to stop by she could. His address was listed at the bottom of it. Every single one of her friends said they thought it was a bad idea and chastised her for even thinking about it. She hated herself for wanting to go so badly and spent most of her lonely nights trying to fight the urge to do so, until one day she couldn’t take it anymore.
She wanted to see him and she didn’t care how anyone, even herself, felt about it.
Steve’s new place was in a part of town she had never been to before, and as she followed her printed out directions, she realized he was living in a bad neighborhood. As she looked around she saw that it was, to use an unflattering term, a ghetto. There was no other way to describe it.
Graffiti was everywhere and every storefront looked run down. Trash littered the streets and menacing looking characters seemed to be perched on every street corner. Mabel felt her heartbeat quicken-she wasn’t used to situations like this and was shocked this was the area Steve had chosen to live in. She felt compelled to turn around, taking this as an omen of this whole venture being a bad idea, but she couldn’t deny that she felt an odd surge of excitement, either from the idea of actually seeing Steve again or from being in an unfamiliar environment.
She found the address and was dismayed to find that the building looked even more run down than the other ones. It was the most unwelcoming place she had ever seen and it took all the courage she had to walk inside, past the young kids outside smoking what smelled like marijuana, and find Steve’s apartment number. She knocked on the door.
To her surprise, a massive African-American man opened the door. He was huge, with bulging muscles and a shaved head with a bandanna tied around it, dressed in an extremely tight tank top and basketball shorts. What appeared to be a thin cigar hung from his lips, letting out smoke that Mabel once again recognized as marijuana. She was extremely nervous as he stared at her in confusion.
“Um…is, uh, Steve here?” She had never heard her voice sound so uncertain or afraid.
He looked at her quizzically. Then, suddenly, his face lit up with a touch of amusement. “Oh, you mean Dr. Blown Out Bootyhole?”
She had no idea what to say to this statement and was struggling to come up with a response when she was abruptly jolted by the sound of a familiar voice coming from somewhere inside the apartment.
“Dontarious? You out there? We need some more toilet paper. I used an entire roll trying to sop up the blood spilling out of my anus! We should either go buy a ton at Costco for cheap, or you need to stop hammering me so hard!”
He then laughed a laugh that was very familiar to Mabel, and a second later there her husband was, looking quite different. His hair had been done in a style Mabel thought was called ‘cornrows’, and he had the same bandanna tied around his head as the large black man, apparently named Dontarious, did. He was wearing a basketball jersey and baggy pants.
“Ay yo, man, this white chick just showed up looking for you. Is this your wifey you were telling me about?”
Steve’s face lit up in a way that made him seem familiar despite his strange appearance. “Mabel! You’ve come to visit! Come in!”
He hugged her enthusiastically and pulled her inside. The apartment was a wreck, and all she could smell was the pungent odor of marijuana. She sat down on a couch that looked very unsanitary.
“This is…where you’re living now?” she asked.
“Yup! My own private paradise!”
“And this is…your roommate?” She looked tentatively towards Dontarious.
“Well, yeah, but he’s so much more than that! Mabel, meet Dontarious, my roommate, lover and rap partner!”
Dontarious extended his hand to Mabel, who could barely function, as she was still reeling from Steve’s statement. “Your husband has a sweet ass. I been tearing it up.”
She simply could not find the words. Jaw agape, she sat horrified, as Steve continued with the energy of a young child: “Dontarious has been showing me the ropes of the rap game! I don’t know if I ever told you this Mabel, but black people have always fascinated me! I always wondered what the rap life was all about, and now I’ve been finding out! First, I got a cool rap name, because no one uses their real names in rap! The one Dontarious gave to me is Dr. Blown Out Bootyhole, because he says I have a PhD in ‘getting my ass all tore up’, as he puts it. Here’s a promo picture we took.”
He handed Mabel a picture. It was of Steve with a backwards hat on, and nothing else. He was bent over in front of the camera with his anus exposed, and the words ‘Docta Blown Out Bootyhole‘ were written in some crude font that was difficult to read. Mabel knew in her heart that this had been an awful mistake and she fought back the tears she was now so used to as she realized her husband was truly losing his mind, and caught up in something she couldn’t even comprehend.
“Steve, I have to go…” Her voice was choked and timid.
“Oh, nonsense! You just got here! Anyway, let me tell you about the amazing things that have been happening. A few weeks ago, I had sex for the first time ever!”
Even through her fear and pain, Mabel balked at this statement. “But Steve, we had sex so many times…”
“Oh, I know, but I’m talking about anal sex, something we never did. Let me tell you, the feeling of having a penis go up your asshole is amazing! It seems like so many guys are afraid of it, but I thought it was incredible! And when the hot semen blasts up there, it’s as comforting a feeling as wrapping yourself in warm laundry straight out of the dryer!”
He paused and looked at her. “Have you ever done that? Not anal sex, but wrapping yourself in warm clothes?”
She held back tears. Steve’s casual nature of dispersing information this abnormal and upsetting was beyond disturbing. She suddenly felt trapped in a situation her old fashioned mind didn’t even know how to grasp. She had to get out of here. The smoke from Dontarious’ cigar bothered her eyes and nose and made her feel weird.
“Ay yo, Docta Blown Out! You wanna show your wifey how we get down around here?” He gave Steve a look that made Mabel’s skin crawl.
Steve’s attitude was jovial. “Well, I don’t know. I think I’m still kind of bleeding from last time.” He chuckled. Mabel tried to find the courage to stand and leave the couch.
“I don’t give a fuck. I told you if you were gonna crash here it was gonna be prison rules. Wifey can watch. It kinda turns me on.”
Before Mabel could even process what was happening, Dontarious grabbed Steve with his massive hands and flung him over the countertop in the kitchen. Steve’s baggy pants were ripped off of him, and suddenly Mabel’s eyes bulged as she watched this incredibly large and buff man stick a penis that was bigger than any one she’d ever seen inside of her husband’s anus. Steve gripped onto the counter and let out a gasp of air. Then Dontarious was a blur of rapid movement, jack hammering in and out so violently that Steve’s hands looked like they were gripping the counter for dear life.
He turned and looked Mabel in the eye with the most peculiar expression she’d ever seen on his face. “Wow! You really never get used to how big this thing is! Holy shit!” Mabel was a statue of quiet despair. After a few more minutes of the brutal assault on Steve’s anus and Mabel’s psyche, Steve started making sounds of real pain, almost screaming out one-syllable words.
“Here it comes,” Dontarious shouted. “You better take all this shit!”
“Mabel! The semen is coming!” And then Dontarious’ whole body shook as he let out a disgusting grunt of pleasure, Steve simultaneously letting out a high-pitched shriek. Steve collapsed to the floor. Dontarious exhaled and spoke with enthusiasm.
“That’s how you do it! That’s why you’s the docta! I’ma go take a shower and wash all this blood off my dick.”
He left the room, leaving Mabel staring at Steve, who was still lying on the ground. He slowly got up and walked over to the couch wobbly, as if he had two broken legs.
“Man, what a workout! Anyway, Mabel, it’s good to see you! How’s your new place?”
Mabel glared at him. Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore. “Steve! What the fuck is going on here? You used to be normal and now for months and months I’ve seen nothing but bizarre behavior from you! My heart can’t take this! What happened to our life together?! Tell me!”
She screamed the last part in a way that was completely uncharacteristic for her reserved personality. Steve stared back at her, confused.
“Is this because you’re jealous of Dontarious? I’m sure he’d be just as willing to blow out your butt hole. You just need a cool name and we could be a rap duo!”
This response killed the last semblance of hope inside Mabel. All those months of longing for some kind of reconciliation with her husband died instantly. She felt an overpowering sense of bewildered disgust and stormed out of the apartment without saying a word.
That night, feeling more alone than she thought was possible, Mabel slit her wrists and bled to death in her quiet studio apartment. She felt she had no sort of grip on the world she lived in after what she had just witnessed. Around the same time the last drops of blood were draining from her wrist, Steve was once again dealing with a massive amount of blood leaking out of his anus.
Dabbing at it with a bulky wad of toilet paper that was quickly turning a dark crimson hue, he excitedly thought about how much material he was getting for his debut rap single. He was going to call it, ‘Strawberry Chocolate’, a slang term he came up with for what toilet paper usually looked like now after he used it. Suddenly, as he was wiping the blood, a dark turd slipped out and fell on the floor. Dontarious walked in a moment later, a disgusted look on his face. His whole bathroom smelled.