Chelsea Laine Wells
Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 124 in September, 2010.
“What’s wrong with us?” Henry asked me. I watched him, the blood flowering into white cloth, the slack yawn of his jaw, the rolling-back eyes and pale skin, both of us sick with sinus infections and sore throats and chest coughs all fucking bitter winter, sick with bad drugs and cruel sex and poisonous families. I opened my mouth, my heart beating hard and thready, and put the first small bit of his flesh, torn and untwisted from bone, on my tongue.
“Are you watching?” I asked him. I bit down and sucked the blood out the way I suck the grease out of fried chicken and my dick was so hard it hurt.
“Yeah,” he said faintly, and he pitched forward towards the table, catching himself just before the cartilage of his nose busted against the surface, and his eyes went all white for a second and I shivered. “It’s so fucked-up,” he said, “what’s wrong with us?”
“You’ve asked me that so many times, sometimes I think I’m gonna fucking kill you,” I told him. I wanted to swallow but held him on my tongue for a moment longer, drawing it out.
“Sometimes I think I’m gonna fucking let you,” he said, reeling back, and his head hit the wall hard. He stayed still like that for a minute, grounded by the solidity of it. We watched each other for as long as he could keep his eyes focused. “Swallow,” he said then, quiet and dead-steady, and a deep breath hissed out of me.
“Jesus,” I whispered, and did, and he repeated it in a long low moan, Jeeeesus, and his body lurched softly forward again.
“Keep your hand up,” I said, and pressed the heel of my hand into the stiff seam at the crotch of my jeans. “Henry. Hey. Keep your fucking eyes open.”
It started six weeks ago, which is how long it takes to get scissors from an infomercial shipped to your house. We were sitting on his couch one night past three in the morning, sprawled, Henry’s jeans half-off and no underwear and my fingers moving slowly over his cock; I’d been at it for an hour, more out of laziness than love. Henry’s mouth was hanging open and he was breathing with a rattle, I could hear it over the television and the asthmatic space heater and his brother’s stereo two rooms away. He played it to hide the sounds of all the jerking off he did, his fucking pastime, the little monkey. More than once Henry and I had caught him slobbering at the door of Henry’s room watching us do whatever got us off that week and I fucking hated him. Anyway, I could hear Henry’s breathing over all that and I could hear the sound of his mother playing solitaire in the kitchen behind us. The even snap of her cards was the metronome that my hand was synced with, on her son’s dick, in the dark living room past three in the morning.
“Shit,” she said at one point, sharply, probably dropped her cigarette on her tits or something, fucking lush, and as she said it I seized Henry hard and sudden and squeezed him harshly enough to make him cry out.
“Jesus Christ, Pete,” he muttered then, and reached over and grabbed the top of my hair so tight my eyes watered, and through the tears I saw these orange handled scissors cutting pennies on the grimy screen.
“You like it,” I said, watching the blades.
“So do you,” he said. He yanked hard on my hair, and I felt my scalp pull up from my skull and I made a deep involuntary noise. Then he let me go, and I slid sideways on the couch so that my head rested against his bare arm and I bit him. He sucked air in through his teeth.
“Look at that,” I said against his skin. “Those scissors cut cans and pennies and pipes and shit. I could cut your cock off with those scissors. Or your ear. Or your finger.”
“And then what would you do?” he asked me, watching the screen.
“Swallow you,” I told him. “Chew you up and swallow you and then you would be mine.” He looked sideways at me; he throbbed in my hand. It was an obsessive and unhealthy game, this half-serious struggle for control and ownership that shifted from one of us to the other. Once it was him tying me up in the basement of the abandoned house at the end of my block and leaving me there overnight. Once it was me cutting my name into his back with a Swiss army knife. The first time either of us shot up it was a control thing, it was Henry’s knees holding me down, one on my chest, one on my forearm to make a vein pop, and the hypodermic in his mouth and his fingers smacking the inside of my elbow sharp enough to bruise, and my dick so hard I was halfway out of my head, and he hurt me with the needle on purpose and fucked me as the drug took hold and in my ear was his hoarse panting voice, you’re mine, you’re mine, Pete, you’re fucking mine.
“Would you?” he asked, and there was that breathless quality to his voice. “Swallow me?”
“Fuck yeah,” I said, and the idea of it started to get to me. We had consumed each other to obscene degrees, so much come and spit and blood and sweat, his scab that I ate in gym class because the other kids said I wouldn’t, and then the clatter of their angry voices sickwhitetrashhillbillyqueerfucksyou’regoingtohell and we laughed until Henry fell off the end of the bench and split the skin of his elbow open. I licked that too. The idea of being inside each other was an addiction. If I could tear you open, I had told him once, and crawl in, I would.
“I would,” I said, and his eyes slitted. He looked from me to the screen. We watched the scissors eat through metal and plastic. We watched the amazed audience and the red lipsticked dicksuck mouth of the whore who was demonstrating them.
“Do it rougher,” he said with his teeth clenched, tugging at my wrist.
“Don’t tell me what to do,” I said against his arm, the sweaty Henry-ripe skin; the boy fucking never bathed.
“Fuck you,” he said, and he was squirming, so I hurt him again, squeezing until my knuckles were white. He gasped.
“Fuck you,” I said back.
“Okay,” Henry said, breathless. “Get ‘em. Get the scissors.”
I let him go and he took over. With the credit card I’d lifted from my step-dad I ordered the scissors and had them sent to Henry’s house. Then we went to his bedroom and I did him on the floor, talked about swallowing him the whole time, and he came so hard his mother screamed from the kitchen for us to shut up. Henry screamed back for her to fuck off. His brother’s elbow hit the wall in the next room and I knew he was jerking off and I laughed, collapsed, crushing Henry’s bony body under mine on the cold hardwood floor.
Over the next six weeks we worked out the details of what to cut off and how to go about it, neither of us backing down from the idea, neither of us talking about how serious and seriously fucked-up it was. About how much worse it was than everything we’d ever done to each other. We settled on a finger and then Henry thought for a week or so about which one he would be willing to sacrifice.
“Ring,” he said finally, “left.”
“Wedding ring finger?” I said.
“There goes my normal future,” Henry said, and he sneered, and waggled the finger in the air. I grabbed it and put it in my mouth, back along my molars, and tightened my jaw, watched his teeth bare slightly and his eyes narrow.
The week before they arrived I went up to the city’s shittiest hospital. My mom worked there, as a bitch receptionist who told bleeding and dying poor people to sit their asses down and wait their fucking turn.
“What the fuck do you want?” she demanded, glaring up at me. I rested my elbows on the counter and leaned over to look at the papers in front of her. She snatched them out of sight.
“Just visiting,” I said, and smiled at her.
“Where’s your girlfriend?” she asked me, which was her clever-as-shit nickname for Henry, and she sneered at the other fat bitch behind the counter.
“At home jerking off onto your pillow.”
“Funny,” she said. “Aren’t you supposed to be in school or something? Get the fuck out of here, Pete, before you get me fired. I don’t even know what the fuck you’re doing here.”
“Just basking in your ever-loving beauty,” I told her as I pushed myself away from the counter.
“You weren’t worth the labor pains, you fucking brat,” she said.
“Cunt,” I called back, and some guy in a white coat looked up at me from a clipboard or something, and I jerked my thumb back over my shoulder. “My mom,” I said. “The fat bitch with the dark roots. In case you wanted to fire her.”
So, anyway, I wandered all over that fucking dirty building until I found some closet full of drugs and no one was guarding it so I got in there and closed the door and took all sorts of shit, including a vial of anesthetic for Henry’s hand. We had decided that as much shit as we had done before to each other nothing was as bad as having your finger cut off with a pair of infomercial scissors and even a ton of shitty drugs wouldn’t make a dent. He would have to be deadened.
We talked endlessly about how exactly I would go about eating him and what it might taste like, human flesh. One night when we were fucked up on some cut-rate cocaine we went to the meat department of the grocery store by my house and stole a package of steak. In my room, on my bed, I cut strips of it with the Swiss army knife I’d used on Henry and we each ate some. I told him I wished it was him and he tackled me down.
Ever since that night in front of the television eating Henry had been almost exclusively what we talked about to get each other off. I was dreaming about it almost every night, the crack of bone and the blood warm as come pouring straight from his body to my mouth, and the idea of literally having his flesh inside me. When I first said it, it was just something to say, something violent and fucked like all the shit we said to each other. But it took on this life of its own until it was all either of us could think about.
So the scissors got to his house on a Tuesday. We’d skipped school that day and were sprawled on the couch exactly like we had been the night I thought it up. The doorbell rang and we looked at each other and both scrambled to get it.
The U.P.S. guy stared at us, I guess because we were all half-naked and greasy-haired and acned and shit. Fucking poster children for sick Southern white trash. I watched Henry sign for the package, watched his too-sharp cheekbone and narrow face, and I thought about what was inside the box and what we were going to do with it and my heart thumped. I grabbed Henry’s chest from behind and raked my fingernails across from collarbone to ribcage, catching both nipples on the way, and Henry winced as he handed the little signing pad back. The guy was frowning now and I reached down and grabbed Henry’s dick through his jeans, and Henry laughed at the fucker’s open mouth and slammed the door. Then he turned around and shoved me violently back against the wall, the flat box trapped between us, and bit my bottom lip so hard it bled.
“I’m gonna eat you,” I said into his mouth, and he did this frustrated Henry growling noise that always made me crazy as fuck and I dug my hands into his ribs brutal enough to bruise and shook him.
We decided to do it at my house since I don’t have any brothers or anything and my mom and step-dad frequently cleared out and then occasionally got arrested for public drunkenness or domestic bullshit abuse or whatever, which left me in an empty house at least overnight.
So once they were gone, that Friday after the scissors had arrived, we got everything together on the kitchen table - drugs, syringes, an old undershirt, and the scissors. We both did all kinds of shit first - all this shit I got from the hospital, uppers and downers, whatever we could pour into our bodies and still stay conscious. Henry took more than me. I think he was scared. I was scared too but also harder than I’d ever been and so caught up in the idea of what we were going to do that I knew we could never turn back.
And Henry was easily as hot as I was. I got him off three times in a row there at the kitchen table and his cock was still hard. He smelled like sweat and come and the cheap-shit Right Guard deodorant he stole off his retarded brother. Under the florescent lights he looked sick and sallow and young, the bones of his face and below his throat standing out like a starving kid, his acne more obvious than usual. He breathed through his mouth; he sniffed once against the constant cold-weather congestion, swaying slightly in the chair.
“Do it,” he said.
I drew up a whole syringe of the anesthetic and held it to the light and tapped it. Henry watched me, his right hand around his cock, his left splayed palm up on the surface of the table. I had no idea where the fuck to stick it so I went just below the place he normally injected, at the edge of the permanent bruising there, and shot him. His eyes were steady on me the whole time, he never once looked at what I was doing, just straight at me.
“Tell me when you feel something,” I said, stopping when the syringe was half-empty. I left the needle in him.
“I feel like fucking you,” Henry told me.
“Not that, asshole,” I said.
“Fuck you,” he said with his teeth gritted.
“Fuck you,” I said back, and moved the needle so it hurt him, and he made that growling sound, softly, in the back of his throat.
“All right,” he said then. “All right. I’m starting to lose feeling.”
“Yeah?” I touched his hand. “Like how much?”
“Not enough yet. Give me more.”
“What if I want you to feel it?” I asked him softly. “What if I want you to hurt like hell?”
I watched his eyes dilate and his chest move with his heartbeat.
“Give me more, you fuck,” he said slowly, and I did, until the syringe was empty. I drew it out and set it on the table and watched him jerk off, his deadening arm out flat, his eyes glassy from drugs and sex and anticipation and fear. “All right,” he said then, and his voice was tight. “I can’t feel it. Touch it.”
I laid my hand flat over his and waited. My leg was bouncing a mile a minute.
“Nothing,” he said. “I can’t feel it.”
“Fuck,” I breathed.
“Do it,” Henry said.
“Do it, Pete,” he said, still jerking off, and I could hear his sticky skin, and his voice unraveled into these short sharp sounds and he came, watching me pick up the scissors, watching me pick up his hand, watching me isolate his wedding ring finger, the finger I’d been biting and sucking and teasing for six fucking weeks like it was a second cock or something.
“Fuck, Henry,” I said as I opened the blades of the scissors. These long fucked-up passages I’d been composing in my mind all that time, the sick shit I wanted to say to him as I cut off his finger and made him mine, all of that fled me and my mouth hung open like his and we watched it happen.
I held his hand up by the tip of his finger, my thumb over the nail, and pressed the open jaws of the scissors against him just above the knuckle. I wanted to look him in the eyes, my Henry, whatever the hell he was, this boy I fucked so mercilessly and who fucked me so mercilessly, but I couldn’t and for a fleeting second I had no idea what the fuck I was doing and then I started to close the scissors.
The skin cut easily. The blades were virgin. We had decided not to play with them at all, although I had held them against his throat once as I fucked him, and shoved them in his mouth, and made him come sucking them. But they opened and closed for the first time on Henry’s finger and they cut through him like he was nothing.
The muscle or ligament or what the fuck ever it is was next and it went like heavy cloth, with a satisfying pressure. Henry’s face had gone dead fucking white and he was breathing so hard I was afraid he would pass out. His eyes were locked on it.
And then there was bone. I imagined cutting pennies, cutting pipe, I imagined lying there on the couch with Henry’s cock in my hand and my teeth in the skin of his arm and the slut on screen cutting shit all to pieces with her perfect fucking clean red mouth. I let his hand lower to the table and put my left hand around my right and squeezed harder and steadier than I’d ever done anything, both arms shaking, and Henry saying oh Jesus I can feel it oh Jesus I can feel it, and I stood halfway up in my chair with my bottom lip still raw from Henry’s bite clamped between my teeth and fucking squeezed and Henry’s voice was high and distant and broken and I fucking squeezed I fucking squeezed like it was his cock when he wanted me to hurt the hell out of him and Henry’s bone cracked and the scissors snapped shut.
“Fucking Christ, Pete,” he shouted, staring at it with eyes that showed white all around, and his face greasy wet with sweat, and I looked down with a detached disbelief. The drugs shored me up and took reality out of the situation and I let go of the scissors and picked up Henry’s finger. I held it out between us and Henry breathed like a fucking pregnant woman or something for a minute and then he stopped altogether.
“Hey,” I said and he didn’t respond, so I grabbed his hair with my other hand. “Henry,” I shouted, and he sucked in a long hard breath and his voice tumbled out. “I could feel it,” he kept saying, “I could feel it coming off, I could feel it coming off, Jesus Christ, I could feel it coming off-”
“Like pain?” I asked him.
“Like pressure like pressure like pressure-”
“Henry,” I said sharply, and I smacked him across the face, hard. He stopped breathing again, his eyes somewhere past me, and then started again and his voice was threading out with every exhalation and he started to laugh. I smacked him again and he stopped. I held his finger up between us eye-level and turned it, the dirty knuckle, the dirty nail, the clean-cut round end of it like a shitty Halloween prop or something.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” he said faintly.
“Mine,” I said. “You’re fucking mine. Do you hear me?”
“Oh, Jesus, Pete,” he said. “I’m fucking bleeding.”
Still holding his finger, I grabbed the undershirt and wrapped it around his hand.
“Hold it up, Henry, hold your hand up, for Christ’s sake.”
“Oh, Jesus, I watched it,” Henry was rambling.
“Hey,” I said harshly, and seized his hair and turned his head straight so he faced me. “Shut the fuck up. Listen to me. I cut your finger off and we did this fucking shit and your cock is still hard no matter how fucking disturbing it was or whatever and I’m not gonna waste this whole fucking finger and all this fucking shit and anticipation and shit, I’m gonna eat you because that’s what you wanted and I want you inside me you stupid prick so shut the fuck up, Henry, Jesus Christ.” My head was light and I was so hard and scared I could barely fucking think straight.
“What’s wrong with us?” Henry whispered, and his hand wavered next to his shoulder, soaking the shirt in seconds, and his head tipped forward like he was barely conscious.
I tore off the nail with my teeth and peeled the skin from his finger like a glove and used the blade of the scissors to shave off some of his meat. Tendon, ligament, whatever. Henry. Henry’s flesh. It was still warm.
“Are you watching?” I asked him.
I ate him. I swallowed and swallowed him. He was half-dead from blood loss but my cock had me nailed to the chair, the clean taste of him, he was sweeter than the stolen steak and softer and better and he was fucking mine.
“Keep your eyes open, Henry,” I said again and again, and he spoke less and less. I was more fucked in the head than I’d ever been. I felt invisible and I felt sideways and I felt underwater. I wondered what was inside us from the hospital and what kind of anesthetic I had given him and how much and whether his eyes would ever slide from white back to iris. He couldn’t sit up straight but he couldn’t stop moving, going around and around in his chair like a fucking satellite or a moon or fucking something. When his finger was mostly gone I laid the bone on the table and it sounded like a poker chip. I told him it sounded like a poker chip and he didn’t say anything. The shirt was dripping onto the floor and my mom was going to be fucking pissed, the fat bitch, fuck her.
“Henry,” I said.
“Henry,” I said.
“Henry,” I said.
There was nothing. He was a satellite. He was a moon. He was something. I don’t know the fuck what. His cock was still hard and I touched it and he didn’t do anything and I knew that he was gone. The Henry from the front door with the fucker from U.P.S. and the Henry from the couch telling me to order the scissors. The Henry telling me that he wanted to fuck me and the Henry telling me to give him more. The Henry who had felt it coming off.
“Henry,” I said.
My body got up and moved to the phone and I dialed three numbers and said things. Someone else said things. I don’t know what. There was static in my head and blood in my mouth and my arms were sore from jerking Henry off and straining to cut through bone with scissors from a fucking infomercial. I dropped the phone and it hit the wall and I stumbled back to Henry. He was still moving in circles, he was still orbiting, he was still a satellite or a moon or fucking something but he was mine, I owned him, he was fucking mine. I told him that, my body knocking his out of the chair and against the wall, his head making a sound like the phone had, and we sank together, softly, between the thousand chair legs and table legs like some giant clicking eating insect and I held him the way I never did and told him I loved him the way I never had and in the distance there was the round sound of sirens coming or red glass birds circling down or fucking something.