I was thirty years old. I had money. It moved around me. It didn’t grow as I wanted it to, but it didn’t run away from me like it used to. I could afford a car, an apartment, and an assortment of smart gadgets.
I called my friend Carl and said I’d drive him to the zoo. “There is a new superhero exhibit,” he’d told me a few days earlier over a club sandwich. “I really want to check it out,” he’d added, before the day spiraled into sidewalk therapy about our friend John. John had fed himself to a bear.
“Thanks,” Carl told me as I paid his entry ticket. We made our way to the exhibit and I tried to make small talk as we went.
“How are things going with Angie?” I asked.
Carl shrugged. “She keeps wanting to work through everything.”
“Oh, poor baby.”
“No—it’s nice, but I mean, I am just in no shape to be getting serious with someone. I’ve
got too many things in my head and I am falling apart,” he said. He looked up. It was a nice day.
“Anyways, how are things with Y?” he asked.
I nodded. “Yeah, good.”
“Good.” He sighed. “Good for you.” Carl was quiet as we passed through the gateway and
stopped at the first enclosure: Victor Jaws | Alias: Bite Doctor
“My penis fell off last week,” Carl said.
I turned away from the scene. It was littered with great chewed-through blocks of concrete. I tried to look sympathetic.
“I put it in a little bag.”
Carl reached for his pocket.
“I don’t need to see it!”
“What? No. No-no.” He unwrapped a piece of gum and put it in his mouth.
“No—it’s at home.”
“What’d Angie say?”
“What do you think? She said we’d work on it, that it’d be okay—everything will be okay,
Carl chewed his gum and we walked.
It was a fascinating exhibit, though most of the heroes didn’t come out to where you could see them. We passed a group of teenagers banging on the window of Mark Storm | Alias: The Whirlwind and crying, “BLOW ME!” Carl watched them.
“Remember when we went to the aquarium and John pressed his bare ass into the glass on the tank—sharks or something, right?”
“Sharks or dolphins or something, yeah,” I said.
Carl laughed. “His mom was pissed.”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Have you seen her?”
We watched the kids. They laughed and laughed and called again, “BLOW MEEEE!” At
least someone was having fun, I thought.
“I just still can’t understand,” Carl said.
Here we go, I thought.
“Why would he do it?”
“I don’t know, man.”
I always hoped I’d have a better answer for him, but every time I just said, “I don’t know,
“Like even if he’d just been normal about it, like a gun or something, or pills. He was happy, though. Right?”
“Yeah. I don’t know, man.”
“But why that way,” he sighed. “You know, when we were young, it felt like the world made a lot of sense. Now, it’s like -” He looked over to the kids—they were beside themselves, laughing.
“Enjoy it while it lasts!” Carl shouted to them.
The kids looked over. “What’d you say bro?” said the largest of the three.
Carl narrowed his eyes at him and said, “I said enjoy it while it lasts. You’re young and you’ll laugh and you’ll plan all of these things and then you’ll grow up and some of you will succeed, a little, maybe, but two out of three of you, one if you’re a real bunch of shits, which from the looks of it, you are, will fail because the world doesn’t have enough for all three of you and you’ll fuck up everything you touch because that is all anyone does is fuck things up and then make some money and—and, buy a car!”
He looked at me.
I looked up at The Whirlwind.
He was in midair on the other side of the glass, tights rolled down, masturbating with the
angriest goddamn look on his face.
Benjamin Davis is an ex-fintech journalist and folklore addict living in South Korea. His work can be found or is upcoming in *82 Review, Defenestration, Cease, Cows, and others.