Contact Info / Websites
: It's even more edited, and more streamlined... although, it's not what I orginally envisioned. But sometimes a story has its own life and it will do whatever it wants to do. October 09, 2009.
THE GLORY HOLE
by Ché Enrique Muñoz Ramírez
Gabriel's dad was dying, and that made Gabriel very horny. Before settling on the glory holes at the adult bookstore, Gabriel considered several places. First he decided to use the public library, but he owed books. He then thought about using the cemetery, but he didn't want to get dirty.
Stomach cancer ate at his old man's guts. Doctors diagnosed it terminal and couldn't do anything else for him but manage his pain with morphine. Gabriel's dad was once a boxer who weighed 215 pounds in the peak of his athleticism. But after his long illness, he wasted down to 110 pounds. He taught boxing at his own gym where he displayed all his trophies in a glass case. The men admired the old man's trophies and his skill, but they made fun of his son. Gabriel was effeminate, and the men couldn't refer Gabriel without calling him the faggot.
Gabriel preferred to be called Gaby, said that his favorite color was pink, and pretended to be like Alice in Wonderland. At first his dad tried to overlook his girly ways, but he couldn't. He believed boxing would masculinize him, and so he tried to teach his son the art. But Gabriel didn't want to learn. If he didn't want to learn, the dad thought, then he would have to coax his son to fight.
For years he tried to force the fight out of Gabriel. Then one day the old man caught Gabriel playing hooky from school, sleeping in bed with another man. The man ran away, and the dad strapped on his gloves and threw another pair at his son.
"My son ain't a faggot," he said to Gabriel, "so fight!"
"I don't want to fight you, dad," Gabriel said, and then he cried. In one swift move his dad smashed his fist across Gabriel's face. That punch was lucky for Gabriel because it knocked him out unconscious. He never felt his bones snap, or his skull crack. Gabriel spent weeks in the hospital recuperating, and he never returned home. Gabriel wouldn't even visit his dad in the hospital, but sometimes he imagined his dad lying bed, sometimes gasping for air.
That made Gabriel insufferably horny.
The clouded see-through window shined bright acid green, and then faded blue. Gabriel's dark booth dilated his pupils until they reached the rims of his eyes, and shrunk when somebody entered the next booth. A ray of light passed through the glory hole before disappearing, and a man's shadow lingered behind the cloudy see-through window.
Floppy antennas sprung out of the head of the man's shadow. It didn't matter for Gabriel. He knelt down, looked through the glory hole, and saw no one. The man pressed huge hands on the glass and dragged his long nails down. Gabriel cringed at the scratching sound, and he peered through the glory hole again and saw an empty booth. He then stood up, fed a 5-dollar bill to the arcade, and activated the see-through.
At the other side of the window stood a pink bunny behind the mirror. It grinned with and a jagged brown smile. Its vertical pupils dilated within golden, baseball-sized eyes. A large zipper dashed from its groin to its neck. The big shiny metal tag hung under its chin and shun in the blue tints and the green tones of the booth.
"You're a funny bunny," Gabriel said, "Nice costume. It looks real." The bunny wiggled its nose, blinked, and then lifted both of its pink ears until they brushed the ceiling. Purple and red veins webbed the pale inner ear. The bunny pointed to the glory hole. Gabriel tried to leave, but the door wouldn't open.
The window clouded up again, but no shadow of the bunny lingered behind it. A soft cylinder of daylight streamed through the glory hole, reflecting particles of floating dust. Gabriel peered through the glory hole again.
An old dusty sandlot sprawled at the other side. It was the same one that Gabriel visited as a boy. The sandlot wasn't supposed to exist anymore. The city tore it down to beautify the land with an upper class condominium. At the center of the baseball field laid a baseball in the dust and sand. The bat reminded Gabriel of his favorite baseball bat, the one his dad bought for him for his 6th birthday.
Gabriel closed his eyes, rubbed the warm slick of his palm from his forehead down to his chin, and then laughed. He closed his eyes for several seconds and hoped that the sandlot and baseball bat would disappear. When he opened them, the bunny glared at Gabriel through the glory hole.
The bunny pried its fingers in the glory hole, and begun to stretch it. Gabriel cried for help as he tried to open the door. The bunny stretched the hole large enough to crown its head through and when half of the bunny's body hung over the hole, it grabbed Gabriel
"Let go!" Gabriel screamed, but the bunny pulled him to the other side. He kicked at the bunny until his foot smashed one of its large eyes. The bunny let go, and squealed. Gabriel climbed out of the glory hole and tried to escape, but the bunny latched on to him again. They both fought, thrashing around the booth until Gabriel slammed the bunny at the door. The door swung open and Gabriel tried to escape, but the bunny tackled him down.
Large pink claws chocked his neck, and the bunny pinned him down. Gabriel gasped for air as he fought against the bunny. The edges of his sight darkened, but the zipper tag glinted. His hands shot for the zipper, and he yanked it down. The flaps of his bunny's chest opened, and its heart pumped behind its rib cage.
Gabriel plunged his hands inside the bunny's chest and squeezed its heart. The bunny screamed, but Gabriel squeezed its heart until it stopped beating. When the bunny's body went limp. Gabriel pushed the bunny's body to the side, and started to run out of the adult bookstore. He did not look back to see if the bunny chased him, and he did not looked ahead to see where he ran. Drivers swerved to avoid him, but a car struck him nonetheless.
"I'm being chased." Gabriel tried to tell the people who clamored around him. Blood spread around his body and made a red halo in the road. "Don't let him get me." Then the face of the bunny appeared in the crowd. Its heart beat inside its opened chest. The bunny carried a metal baseball bat that was at the other side of the glory hole, and Gabriel recognized that it belonged to him. The bunny held the bat high into the air with both hands, and it gleamed in front of the sun. The light from the bat blinded Gabriel's eyes. Then the bunny swung it at Gabriel's face, knocking him out.
Gabriel spent several days recuperating in the same room where his dad was dying. His mom forced him to share the same room with his dad. Gabriel told her to get him another room because his dad babbled to himself, spat and shat all the time. It grossed Gabriel out. His mom wouldn't listen to him.
He thought about the bunny and wondered if it would come back for him. Gabriel remembered the sandlot and spent much time thinking about it until it bothered him enough to get up from his bed. He sighed, and he wished that he had something to occupy his mind.
A can of Barbasol shaving cream and an old fashioned straight razor sat on the table next to the old man. His mom brought it in so that she could shave him. Gabriel got up and went to grab the blade. His body hurt, but he didn't want to lie in bed anymore. A cloth and leather strop lied next to the Barbasol can. Gabriel took the shaving cream and lathered his dad's face. Gabriel then began to polish and sharpen the blade with the strops, remembering the first time when he saw the straight razor.
When Gabriel was a boy, he learned to shave his legs from watching his mom. It was just an experiment and he only had just a few soft hairs on his legs, but he felt so proud that he went to tell his dad.
"Hey, dad," Gabriel said, "I shaved today, and I think I did a good job."
"You shouldn't be shaving," his dad said, but his tone showed approval as he smiled. He grabbed Gabriel by the chin, and inspected his face and said, "Real men know how to shave, and boy you are a real man, though you didn't start with didn't you."
"No, dad, not there," Gabriel said, and he pulled his pant legs up. "Look! I think I do it better than girls." Gabriel then brought his knee to his face, smelled it, and then said, "Smells pretty." His dad sighed, and closed his eyes. He used the shaving cream in the pink can, the stuff that smelled like lavender, the stuff that all girly girls bought at either boutiques or the girl isle of the grocery store.
"Gabriel, son, don't do that because I don't want people think bad things about you."
"Like what, dad?" he said, "I thought you would be proud of me."
Gabriel's dad then said, "Men only shave their beards and mustaches, or sometimes their heads, and nowhere else. They only use a man's shaving cream with a man's razor, or a straight edge, just like your grandpa's." His dad then took him to his room and showed him the straight edge, safely tucked in his underwear drawer.
"Your grandpa gave this to me," his dad said, "and he was a true man."
"Did he show you how to use it, dad?" Gabriel asked.
"He did, and he taught me how to box too. He was proud of me."
"And are you proud of me, dad?" Gabriel asked, but his dad said nothing at all.
The straight edge made loud scraping noises under his dad's neck. He then pushed it into the doughy neck, and the old man's skin cushioned around the blade. His dad babbled something unintelligible and his drool mixed with the shaving cream.
Sunlight streaming through the window bounced off the blade, and the light shot at Gabriel's eyes. They stung with sweat, but he saw something pink shine in the reflection. The bunny stood behind Gabriel and waved hello to him. It wore a pink colored hospital gown. Blood flowed from its neck and poured down on its chest. Then the bunny's head slid off and dangled on a piece of sinew, and swayed on its zippered bosom. Its gaping mouth revealed a red meaty tongue, which twitched around. The bunny then winked and smiled at Gabriel.
Gabriel spun around but the bunny wasn't there, except in the reflection of the blade where it continued waving hello at him.
"Gabby?" His dad said, "Is that you, Gabby?"
"Yeah, it's me," Gabriel said. He grabbed the towel, wiped the blade with it.
"Hey, Gabby," his dad said. "What's happening?"
"I shaved you," Gabriel said and then covered the towel around the blade before setting it down. His hand shook so much that he clenched them.
"That's nice," and then his dad breathed in deep, taking in the scent of Barbosol before coughing. He touched his face, and said, "Close shave, Gabby."
"The closest, dad."
"Did I tell you that straight edge belong to my dad?"
"Oh." He said. "I want you to have it when I'm dead."
"Thanks." Gabriel said, and then they didn't speak for a while. The heart monitor beeped, and then his dad spoke, "Gabby, what's heaven like?"
The question shocked Gabriel and his first reaction cynicism, but he didn't say anything. He knew what heaven was like.
"Wonderland just before sunset. The sun just hangs above there, flaring bright orange. Puffs of dust and sand. The grit gets into your eyes but it feels like pure rain. The wind sounds like hummingbirds singing. The air tastes sweet and cold like slightly melted ice cream. Yellow weeds like melted gold. Sunflowers growing from old peanut shells. And always, there is a game."
"It sounds perfect..." the father said, but his words came out drowsily. It seemed he fell asleep.
"He loves you so much," his mom said, who came quietly behind them. "He just didn't know how to say it. He's just too macho."
"I wish things could be different between us," Gabriel said to his mom, "wished that he could say, 'I love you,' or anything to let me know, you know, that he was proud of me."
"Gabby, I don't think he will approve of you. But love, that's something real men can do."
"Yeah right, goddamn bastard," Gabriel said as he wiped the tears out of his eyes. His mom sighed. She grabbed him on the point of his chin, held his face up, and wiped his tears for him with soft fingertips that smelled like lotion.
"He's part of an older time, but that didn't mean he didn't love you," she said. "Gabby, real men love their kids."
"But not proud. Never proud." He began to cry.
"That's where you're wrong again." She said.
"Yeah? Then why did he try to kill me?"
His mom paused, and then went to his dad and wiped shaving cream residue off his face with her hand. Then she said her answer.
"When you were a boy, I used to be upset by how you used to behave. I got over it because it's easier for me to accept, but not for your papa. He worried about you most because he was afraid of the people who lived in our world. He was afraid people would hurt you, and that's why he wanted you to fight. He tried to make you into a fighter because that was his way of showing love, but I think he now realizes that he didn't need to do that because you've always been a fighter. It took him a while to get there, but he's proud of you."
"Very proud, Gabby." His dad said, "Gabby, I'm proud. And you were so good at baseball." Then he began to hum the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," sometimes slurring the lyrics, before he fell unconscious again.
Gabriel cried with his mom.
For several hours Gabriel and his mom shared ambivalent silence, hearing his dad's heart monitor beep. Then came the moment when the rhythmic beating of the heart monitor wailed.
"Mom," Gabriel said, but she squeezed his hand
"It will be done soon," she said, "don't fight it."
"Don't fight, mom?" He said again, but she held him as she began to cry.
The nurse and doctor came, but they did nothing for the old man. The doctor checked the dad's body, and made sure he was dead before pronouncing the hour of death to the nurse. The nurse turned off his heart monitor and said sorry to the family for their loss. Gabriel hugged his crying mom.
The funeral was done, and the friends and family were gone.
For the funeral, Gabriel shaved himself with his dad's straight edge. When he was done with it, he saved it in his sock drawer.
Many people came to his dad's funeral, and they were his fans and they spoke of his victories. But Gabriel didn't want to talk with them. He left the funeral parlor to be alone. He returned to the adult bookstore, and went back to the booth with the glory hole. But the owners of the porno shop bolted a heavy metal plate at the glory hole. Gabriel tried to take off the piece of metal, but he couldn't.
He took out a few dollars and fed them to the arcade. The button to activate the window flashed. Gabriel pushed the button.
The old baseball field sprawled at the other side of the see-through mirror, and the bunny stood at the pitcher's mound. It wore a pink colored baseball uniform. The sun hung in the air, and painted the sandlot a bright imperial orange. Gabriel raised his hand and waved hello to the bunny, and the bunny did the same. It wriggled its nose, and a pink ear fell over its giant brown eye. It shook it away from its uncanny face. Gabriel laughed at the bunny, and wondered why he was afraid. It was a funny bunny.
His palms pushed on the see-through, and it flexed. It bent like rubber, but its surface rippled like water. Gabriel pushed one arm through, and the sensation felt like plunging his arm into gelatin. The bunny shook its head and swung back its floppy ears away from its face again. It bade Gabriel to come to him with its clawed fingers, but the gesture didn't frighten Gabriel.
Gabriel pushed his other hand through the see-through, and then plunged his head through the glass. He crawled through the mirror.
Gabriel fell at the other side of the see-through onto the ground. Dust flew up and then fell down. He stood up to see the see-through. The see-through mirror hung in the air, and it showed the booth and the TV on the other side. The TV illuminated the room, made it glow green and blue. He saw his childhood baseball bat on the ground, and he picked it up. He swung the bat at the see-through mirror and smashed it into pieces.
Gabriel turned around and smiled at the bunny, and it grinned in return. The bunny began to unzip its zipper, and its insides showed a man instead of guts.
He began to remove the big fuzzy skin, and it fall into the dust. Then he pulled off its head. The bunny's head blinked several times, the vertical pupils dilated a few times as its tongue lolled in its mouth. The man inside was tall, handsome, and fierce looking but, he was smiling at Gabriel.
"Dad..." Gabriel said.
"You're ready too play, Gabby?" his dad said, holding the bunny head under one arm. He tossed the bunny head away and kicked the suit off the pitcher's mound. He looked young and powerful, but a little unkempt. He had a baseball in his hand and he smacked it inside his glove.
"Yeah, dad!" Gabby said in a young boy's voice. He looked like a small boy, wearing a little leaguer's uniform.
"I'm not going to be easy on you," his dad cried, "you know that, right?"
"Since when were you ever easy on me, dad?" Gabriel said as he swiped at his nose and then smacked the bat at the soles of his feet. His dad tipped his hat and then he threw the baseball. The ball flew at Gabriel, and he swung the bat. The baseball disappeared into the sun, and Gabriel ran to first base-second base-third base-and then... HOME RUN!
"You done real good, Gabby," his dad said, and he picked his boy up over his shoulders. Gabriel clasped his hands under his dad's chin. It felt like he needed a shave.
"That was real good," his dad said, and Gabriel closed his eyes. His hands rubbed the stubble under his dad's chin. He was falling fast asleep on top of his dad's shoulders, and the words came out of his mouth drowsily, "Love you, dad."