Prose Header

Castration Doesn’t Hurt

by Marina J. Neary

Part 8: The Melody of Sirens

Rinnie’s unexpected approval kept me scratching my head. I mean, I had prepared myself for a grapple of my life. I was fully armed and ready to fight, but the assault never came. I felt kind of silly standing in my invisible armor, with an imaginary sword in hand.

God finds the most peculiar times to answer our prayers. Could it be that Mariana Sofia, the gentle, supportive soul mate whom I buried years ago, was finally emerging?

When we came home, Rinnie started packing my shirts. She even gave me a bottle with vitamin supplements for men over forty. “You’ll need to keep your strength up,” she said. “This is nothing like clicking your mouse all day.”

“I’ll be back before you know it,” I assured her. “The tour is only supposed to last for six months, unless we get an extension. It’s OK with my boss. He said he’ll give me an unpaid sabbatical. My job is safe. I even get to keep the benefits. The producers will pay me a stipend for food and souvenirs.

“Best of all, I’ll get to see new places and meet new people! Siobhain said I could stay with her while we’re in rehearsal mode. Ever since she and her fiancé split, she has a huge house all to herself, with an indoor pool and a sauna.”

“Siobhain seems like a genuinely sweet person,” Rinnie said, looking me in the eye. “I am so happy you have a friend like her in your life. I think that’s what you’ve been lacking for all these years — a beautiful, generous, understanding friend.”

The day before my departure, Rinnie decided to throw a go-away barbecue. We spent three hours in the kitchen preparing dishes, rubbing hips, exchanging kisses. For a second there I got a taste of what normal couples do.

We ended up with a bagful of watermelon rinds and shrimp peels which I volunteered to take out. I lingered by the garbage bin, glancing up at the clear June sky, inhaling the smell of decaying fish product and fermenting juice. Those were the smells of suburban happiness.

Suddenly, I felt on my right shin a brush of a hot rubbery surface, like a bicycle tire. A shove sent me flying face down the pavement.

“Oops, Daddy!”

I spat out the concrete particles, glanced up and saw Allen’s helmeted head above mine. He had just learned how to ride his bike without the training wheels.

“Sorry, Daddy,” he continued. “It was an accident. I forgot how to use the brakes.”

I grinned and winked, letting him know it was no big deal. Then, when I tried to get up, I heard a loud pop. My right leg went limp, and I found myself back on the pavement, howling at the blinding sun.

My screams roused Rinnie. She appeared on the porch wearing an apron, with a barbeque spatula in her hand.“Allen!” she screamed. “What happened to your father?”

“It was an accident, Mommy...”

“Look what you’ve done!” she continued, untying the strings of her apron and wiping her hands with it. “You crippled him, at least for the summer. You popped his Achilles’ tendon! Now he won’t be able to participate in that Irish dancing show that he was so excited about. He’ll just have to spend the rest of his summer in a cast. I hope you’re happy, young man. Just for that you will lose your TV privileges. Now, get back inside!”

Rinnie continued to scold Allen, but I could not hear the rest of her tirade. All sounds suddenly became muffled. The blazing disk of the sun faded before my eyes. I vaguely remember the paramedics arriving, loading me into the ambulance truck. I remember Rinnie waving at me from the porch, her one hand resting on Allen’s shoulder. They looked like they were sending me off on a routine business trip.

On the way to the hospital, the paramedics kept taking my vitals signs, asking me questions, but I couldn’t make a single sound. They started wondering if, perhaps, I bumped my head too, so they started shining flashlights in my eyes. That light looked nothing like the light you see at the end of the tunnel before you die.

“I don’t have a concussion,” I muttered at last. “My life’s over, but my head’s fine. Someone, please shoot me.”

The two paramedics looked at each other, nodded simultaneously and reached out for a capsule with a sedative.

Proceed to part 9...

Copyright © 2011 by Marina J. Neary

Home Page