Ştefan Bolea (Romania)
Translation from Romanian by A C Clarke and Mircea Filimon, MTTLC student
pentru versiunea română click aici
‘Whatever may be said to the contrary, such cases do occur – rarely…’ (Gogol)
Monday morning Alex woke up without a penis. It had happened before that his cock had shrunk from wearing leather trousers or from taking a dip in icy mountain water, so that it was hard to find it to piss; but this? He wasn’t ready for such a moment. He went to put the coffee on, trying to remember if he had somehow changed his lifestyle. How else to explain this shock? Had he done something wrong, radically wrong? On his second cigarette, he looked more carefully at himself in the bedroom mirror. Under the pubic hair, not a trace of manhood. Not even a line or a scar, nothing. He had indeed lost his penis. After he’d shaved, he got dressed without paying much attention and hurried to catch the trolleybus that took him to work. In a pensive mood, he cast his eyes over the newspaper and stopped at the ad with Cristiano Ronaldo modelling underpants. The bulge in those underpants took away all his drive. At work, his colleagues didn’t pay much attention to him so Alex focused as well as he could on his routine activity: data operating. At the lunch break, he snatched a smoke with his colleagues, as usual. He was downcast but his workmates said how well he was looking. A closer acquaintance noticed he hadn’t shaved properly, pointing out that his moustache was still slightly visible. Alex listened absent-mindedly. What annoyed him most were remarks like ‘What the fuck’, which had become an interjection just like ‘Damn’.
After work, Alex went to the posh bookstore downtown to do a little research. He didn’t know what to look for: was he interested in medicine, Sci-Fi, alchemy or theology? Should he read Origen? That was about a voluntary act, whereas there was something almost chemical about this, as if all his manhood had flowed inwards and dissolved; as if some kind of acid had wiped his genitals off his body map. Alex didn’t feel a psychological change to match the anatomical one. He felt very macho, as usual, and noticed how the saleslady from the bookstore kept smiling in a sly and suggestive way when she tried to help him with books on art and treatises on biology. ‘What the fuck?’ he said to himself. ‘Manhood is a state of mind; the success of a general doesn’t depend on an army, but on a brilliant mind – like the mind of a Hannibal or a Napoleon!’ In a comparative study of heresies, he found a painting of Jesus with an erection, which completely demoralised him. ‘Even you’ Alex gulped and left the bookstore.
The shadows of the evening were penetrating the sky when our superhunk entered his apartment. He prepared a TV dinner. He decided to continue his research on Google, which proved to be incredibly lavish with information: people who cut off their penises, people born without a penis, transsexuals, castrati, men with several penises… But what was the cause? What was the trigger? Vague memories from his time at the Faculty of Philosophy made him uneasy. What was the purpose? The motive? Punishment for a sin? He didn’t believe in guilt, not even in responsibility. ‘Life without a penis is like life without myself’ he thought, plagiarizing the title of a depressing film. ‘Could we still say “Men is who we are”? Is there life after penis?’
He looked at himself obsessively in the mirror, thinking what this practical joke of fate’s might mean. ‘Should I learn to be more tolerant to women, stop being so sexist? Have more respect for passive homosexuals who ejaculate even while they submit? Should I make friends with my anus? Neither a man nor a woman. I’m not even androgynous… some sort of a fourth sex.’ He was surprised to find that Google had known about this concept for a long time, but not even this fitted the case. ‘What should I do to get my penis back? Pray maybe? I don’t want to, it’s shaming.’ He looked at the empty space underneath his pubic hair which with inexorable starkness told him he would never get his dick back. Paradoxically, his consciousness of the missing part and his concern lessened as the evening wore on and he decided to watch some porn before going to bed. He needed to fall asleep soon, he had to go to work next day. He picked Rocco and the transsexuals. Rocco was his ideal man, as charismatic as an off-duty gangster and as strong and reliable as the friend you call after an accident. ‘I need a bit of smut to get off tonight!’ Even though the movie gave him plenty of stimulus and in his neurotically eager mind he was on the brink of coming he didn’t have the wherewithal to masturbate. His body was like a TV without a remote or a computer without a monitor. He could ejaculate copious tears – which was a turn-off. And because he was once more overcome with self-pity, he went to bed after he had brushed his teeth. The next day he didn’t wake up at all.