Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fiction #63: Adam Giles

Neighbourhood Dick Problem

The dick-drawing gang is at it again. I took my daughters to the splash pad this afternoon and during one of our timeouts (excessive unsafe running), the five-year-old put her hand on the bench right where one of the dick drawers had gone to work: a black Sharpie doodle of an erect penis complete with low-hanging balls and sporadic scrotum hair. I swatted her hand away. “Don’t touch that!”

Sun’s down and Karen and the girls are asleep. Doors are double deadbolted. Alarm system’s armed. I’m in the garage, under the harsh glow of a 100-watt bulb, trying on the camo vest Hal from work had given me. It’s a tight squeeze. Also, it’s riddled with dried splatters from last week’s office paintball social. But having a little piece of Hal with me is comforting.

Historically the dick-drawing gang has at least respected boundaries, limiting their “urban art” to neighbourhood fringes: underpasses, dumpsters, the alley behind Roderick’s Convenience. Lately though it seems they’re branching out, mixing things up, drawing more dicks in more places, expanding their dick-drawing minds. Hydro boxes, playground slides, the catholic school (the west-facing gymnasium wall, perfectly positioned to capture the majestic gleam of the evening sun). The dicks, they’re spray-painted, they’re carved, they’re papier-mâchéd and dangling from trees.

They’re even starting to get abstract: like the chalked circle with the line down the middle on the sidewalk—innocuous until you realize it’s a straight-on perspective, that line down the middle being one of the gang’s first documented dick holes. They’re sampling the proverbial teat of variety, tasting the sweet taste of defiling respectable family areas, and it’s only swelling their hunger. Their hunger for drawing dicks.

Last week is when it all changed for me: Hal and me under the seats in that charred school bus, sweating it out, listening for movement, anything indicating an incoming. Hal’s hopper empty, my gun jammed, we heard a twig snap. I whimpered and Hal said shut the fuck up, you’re going to give away our position. Hal and I were buddied up. I requested Jim, my colleague in Standards, but the paintball social was supposed to be about bonding with someone you haven’t already bonded with. And that’s what happened on the sooty floor of that gutted school bus (firebombed during some riot and subsequently acquired by the Explosive Release Paintball Corporation)—we bonded, me and Hal from IT. By day, Hal fixed paper jams, fought off hacker security breaches, and snuffed out viruses when staff clicked links in “penis enlargement” or “fuckbuddy request” messages. In the killing fields though, the guy was a face-painted, camo-clad hero. It’s always the ones you least suspect. Another twig snapped, much closer than the last.

A cricket chirps somewhere inside the garage. Cockily. Like he’s reporting to his friends that he’s invaded my space and I’m not man enough to do anything about it—like, rendezvous point in here, boys. I’m tying my boots and one of the laces snaps, the torn thread dangling limp in my hand, probably foreshadowing how this evening’s going to turn out. Arrogant cricket sounds like he’s behind the paint cans. If I find him he’s hunkered down at his last rendezvous point.

I don’t know that they’re an actual gang, the dick drawers, but I imagine they travel in numbers, egging each other on, engaging in groupthink and one-upmanship. Whether or not they’re actively recruiting, I can’t be sure. Do they require a portfolio of previously drawn dicks or initiate new members (like, go draw a dick on that guy’s windshield)? Who knows. What I do know is that they’re getting bolder and soon I won’t be letting my kids outside, not in this dick-peppered neighbourhood. Karen says I’m overreacting. Also that I stifle the girls. But she’s okay with the new sex-ed curriculum—like, sure, let’s show our kids porn and teach them to whack off—so, you know, grain of salt.

I had this instinct to protect Hal, to prove my worth, so when Alpha Squad breached the school bus, I leapt into the line of fire and took a riddling to the chest. When I dropped, they riddled Hal. He later said, “‘A’ for effort, buddy.” With Hal and I down, Alpha Squad parted, allowing Alpha Squad Leader (my supervisor, Judith) up the narrow aisle. She stood over Hal and I and asked me if I thought I was a hero, to which I said no ma’am, of course not. “That’s right,” she said, gun nonchalantly askew, pointed at my crotch. She looked away, cracked her neck with mid-level-management swagger, and pegged me one in the testicles, finished me.

Hal visited me in the hospital, gave me the vest, said I earned it.

I mentioned the dick-drawing gang.

“Bunch of repressed Catholics,” Hal said. “Small potatoes. You could peg them off in one night.”

I move the paint cans and sure enough there’s the cricket. Silent. Still. I step on him, put him out like a cigarette, and leave the smear as a warning to the others.

I pour paintballs into the hopper, snap it onto the gun, and smack the button for the garage door opener. Up rises the garage door, panel by panel, revealing the night—and the droopy dick (with telltale mushroom of circumcision) scrawled on the windshield of my Volkswagen. Skunky permanent marker fumes waft my way. It’s fresh. I slink out to the driveway, deflated, hollow, vulnerable, but also enraged and resolute. I disengage the safety on the gun with the emotional detachment of a special-ops commando. I survey our corner of the subdivision.

The door to the laundry room opens and there’s the five-year-old in her pajamas.

“Why’s your face painted, Daddy?”

“Back inside, baby. Lock up.”

“Where you going?”

I enter the password on the keypad and the garage door comes down between us.

“For a walk.”

I start toward the playground, unlaced boot rattling around loose on my foot, not sure if she heard me.

*

Adam Giles's short fiction won the University of Toronto Magazine Short Story Contest and was longlisted for PRISM international’s Fiction Contest, the House of Anansi Broken Social Scene Story Contest, and the Penguin Random House Student Award for Fiction. He has stories forthcoming in Riddle Fence: A Journal of Arts & Culture and other literary journals. He lives in Mississauga, Ontario with his wife and two daughters. On the Interwebs: www.adamgiles.ca. On Twitter: @gilesadam.

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