"The very essence of romance is uncertainty."―Oscar Wilde
In West Hollywood a man named Ron got up in the middle of the night and noticed that his penis had grown. His wife was shocked. It outdid anything they’d ever seen on the internet. When he stood at the toilet it splashed in.
He called his doctor in the morning and made an appointment. At the breakfast table a woman on the screen was caressing her shaved legs and he kicked, as it were, the table, upsetting the juice and coffee. His wife glared at him.
His doctor examined it. “I can’t go around like this.”
“Had sex with anyone besides Amy?”
“Yeah. I met her in New York. We took the same flight back. Did I catch something?”
“I don’t know. Let’s do the tests and see what we come up with.”
Amy said, “Who did you get this from?”
“Nobody. A bedsheet, a toilet, I don’t know.”
He called his doctor and said, “It’s getting bigger. It drags when I walk.”
“I want you at the clinic. Pack a bag.”
He arrived in a raincoat with a hump under it on one shoulder. In a hospital gown he stood at the end of an examination table as six specialists looked at it. One touched it with a pencil eraser. “Can you feel that?” “Yes.”
A lady specialist said, “Does orgasm feel like a possibility?”
“I suggest you try.”
“How’s he going to stimulate all that surface?”
“He doesn’t have to stimulate the whole surface.”
“You seem to know a lot about this,” said a male colleague.
“I read a book on it.” She opened her shirt and showed Ron her breasts. “This is just to help you visualize. Don’t fall in love with me.”
His bed required a second bed at right angles for his member, now as long as he was. The next day it was two end-to-end beds, his porpoise-shaped projection thick but narrowing at the root. An orderly gave him a transfusion from a long row of bottles. Then it was three beds. Then he was squeezed into a corner with four under it.
A nurse with a paper thimble of pills opened his door in the morning to a wall of pulsing pink and purple-veined flesh, and stepped back. Ron poked his head out: “Help!”
They knocked a gap in the outer wall and his extension hung from the second floor to the parking lot, with a mattress slung on the ragged edge to cushion the contact. He sat on a cranked-up hospital bed, feet braced on the rail at the foot, something large between his legs modestly covered with blankets.
But outside it was undraped and traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard slowed. Pedestrians stopped. A woman screamed. Two cops got out of a cruiser. “What is that, fifty feet?”
The mayor raged into Ron’s room and confronted his doctor. “My God, what is this, some kind of genetic experiment?”
“What should we do? Amputate?”
The mayor, the male doctors, Ron—nobody liked the idea.
The doctor bluffed: “We’re on the edge of a breakthrough, here! Are we going to let Silicon Valley get all the glory? Do you know what a cloning program could do for Los Angeles?” The mayor squirmed. “All right. But this is Beverly Hills! Cover that thing up!”
Ron was now harnessed like a parachutist to a large leather chair, his feet in stirrups to make room for his appendage. An industrial drum labelled with his blood type fed tubes that led under his blanket, and a row of such drums waited in back-up. As at NASA technicians sat at screens.
Outside he was encondomed in a plastic chute for construction debris. The shaft rested on the roof of one van and angled into another, where staff took readings supplied by electrodes fixed to his cortex. Policemen stood guard.
At night he dreamt of the lady specialist’s breasts, and the chute stirred and pushed the van, screeching and groaning, out into Santa Monica Boulevard. A technician was trapped in there. Doctors rushed in. “Ron, wake up!” Welders cut the technician free as Ron screamed and jumped around.
In the morning traffic was blocked by the plastic-armored nose. Cameras. Police cordons. Helicopters.
Ron’s phone rang. Someone handed it to him and fifteen engineers listened in.
“This is Kimberly.”
“Oh! Yeah!” The chute came to life and pushed at the screaming crowd as Kimberly watched it on her screen.
“What’s going on?”
“Oh. Uh. I don’t know.”
“Is that you?”
“Seems to be. They think you gave me something.”
“Oh, God! What am I going to tell my husband?”
“Kim,” said her husband, “who are you talking to?”
“Nobody.” She hung up.
Amy called. “Do we have insurance for this?”
The chute, which was expandable, had now the girth of a bus and blocked the two westbound lanes. Cops waved traffic through one of the eastbound lanes while, under the chute, stood the mayor, city council members and the specialists.
“It stops here,” said the mayor. “This is the end.”
“What do you suggest?”
“This is a community! We’ve got children here!”
“This man’s penis,” said a city councilwoman, “is dominating us.”
“It’s not his fault! Look, we’re taking a step that will revolutionize genetics!”
“We have to keep this city functioning,” she said. “It must be removed.” They looked at her, and she clarified: “Cut it off.”
“There are two things you cannot show the American family,” said the mayor. “Erection. And penetration. These cannot be shown.”
“Mr. Mayor,” said Ron’s doctor, “the largest pornography industry in the world is here in Los Angeles. It’s bigger than Hollywood.”
“That doesn’t go into the American living room!”
“Not on the news!”
But they were drowned out by the noise of a flatbed truck carrying a crane, as it pulled up and put down pods to steady it. Construction workers got a sling around the chute, lifted it slowly, sagging like a beached whale, swung it over the curb lane and settled it onto the blacktop.
Traffic started to move. They set a series of aluminum frames over the problem, and stretched on them a tunnel of green construction-site shade cloth. Faster than might have been thought possible they erected scaffolding up to the breach in the clinic wall and draped that in shade cloth.
The politicians, mollified for the moment, dispersed, while tank trucks carrying synthetic plasma crowded into the parking lot. Ron reclined in his chair-bed, feet braced like a rodeo cowboy, as walls were knocked down and engines and compressors rolled in.
At the sealed-off end of the tunnel the construction workers were gossiping over coffee when suddenly something pressed at the shade-cloth hymen and burst through. They hurled themselves to work assembling taller, wider tents and pushing them into place. The foreman called Ron’s doctor: “Can you get him thinking about something else?”
The doctor rushed into Ron’s room. “What are you thinking about?” But Ron, blasted on sedative, could barely turn his head toward him and shake it. “He’s not thinking about anything.”
“Well, this thing’s moving. It’s heading somewhere.”
“I don’t know. Santa Monica.”
The doctor turned to the technicians. “Where’s Kimberly?”
“Call her. It’s coming for her.”
The lady specialist said “How does it feel?”
Ron, barely coherent, said “Scratchy.” “Scratchy,” she told his doctor.
The construction people were slapping tents together as fast as they could to keep up. “Scratchy!” said the foreman. On hands and knees, keeping well wide of it, they unrolled a tarpaulin carpet under the ventral surface.
Ron smiled. “That’s better.”
Leaning over Ron the lady specialist showed a flash of cleavage, the thing came racing toward the crew and they turned and ran.
“It’s a symbol of the phallocracy!” said the city councilwoman.
The mayor, who wasn’t pleased either, said, “With all due respect, that’s not a symbol. That’s a dick.”
“You’re all protecting it—because you’re men!”
On TV a reporter said, “The mayor and city council have approved tying up traffic on Santa Monica to accommodate the, uh—”
Working into the night, staying ahead of it, the crew brought the tent to the San Diego Freeway bridge, which however had a lower clearance than what they were now building. They looked back nervously at the approaching shadow.
Up top on the overpass a flatbed semi, bearing a huge circular pendulum saw for slicing through redwoods, pulled up on the far side, and the city councilwoman got out with some lumber men. The saw roared to life and they swung it out over the boulevard, howling and snapping, the teeth whipping around. At the other railing she looked over as the shadow came to the tight underpass, which would surely slow it down, and raised her hand to give the signal.
Meanwhile, Ron dreamt that he and Kimberly stood facing each other up to their necks in the sea. “I’m nude,” she said. “That’s all right.” “No it’s not. What am I standing on?” “I don’t know. Are you standing on something?” “It feels alive. It’s pulsing against my bare feet.” She began to rise, lifted by something gargantuan, and crouched to hide herself with her arms and knees. The water churned as if a submarine were emerging, but whatever it was didn’t break the surface, and raised her almost completely out.
The city councilwoman watched the shadow hit the underpass and whipped her hand down as beneath her the pavement began to rise and buckle. She ran, a wave of it chasing her across the freeway. The lumber gang stood frozen, the bridge rising behind her, then scattered, screaming. The crumbling gained height, the truck fell smashing onto the boulevard, and its gas tank exploded.
Freeway traffic screeched to a disorganized halt and drivers peered out as the bridge rose up in halves and fell away in hills of dusty destruction. Below, the foreman shouted into his phone, “It escaped! It’s out of control!”
Kimberly got up, left her husband asleep, and walked over to the boulevard. She looked toward whatever was happening, saw nothing, and strolled toward the ocean, arms folded, wondering what to think. Quiet as a ghost, huge as a zeppelin, it floated up behind her and touched her shoulder. She turned, looked up at it and ran in horror as it loomed after her, till she was racing across the bridge to the beach.
She splashed in and swam out as far as she could. Behind her she heard smashing and crashing as the monster ripped through the town, shoving cars aside, snapping trees and tearing away building fronts till it burst from the smoke and dust and arced through the air into the sea.
Treading water desperately she felt her pubis began to swell downward, parting her legs and extending into the deep like a triumphal arch, in outrageous readiness, blushful readiness as the thing shot toward her like a torpedo. A groan as flesh met flesh and she cried out. Ron, surrounded by worried technicians, cried out. The computer screens crashed and went zero, and Kimberly, her body itself again, floated on her back, limp, exhausted.
Dawn. Sirens. Wrecked buildings. The San Diego Freeway in rubble. The shade-cloth tunnel, empty. Green rags fluttered in the breeze. Specialists and technicians stood around Ron. “I feel better now,” he said. His doctor raised the blanket to show the others and, with a touch of disappointment, dropped it.
Kimberly, at home now, dialed her phone. “Who are you calling?” said her husband. She ignored him. Ron’s phone rang. Everyone looked at it.