This room is black the same way an operating room isn’t. There are sounds. Tinkles of ice cubes bobbing in glass tumblers. Soft chatter of humans.

One walks up on stage, eyes with that worn-in look, shadows around the sockets, slits of white meat glisten in the spotlight. Three week beard, just enough to hide features. Hair grown over ears—a nice haircut two months ago.

Rocks back and forth on his heels. The stage creaks with him. Grabs the microphone off the stand and takes a drink of water out of the plastic bottle. Wipes his lips. Speaks. A flat voice.

“When I was ten my father told me he wished he would have just shelled out the eight cents for a coat hanger.”

Places his hand over his eyes and takes a deep breath. The crowd boils with chuckles. A few intellectual-looking men nudge each other. Lights glint off veneers and gold fillings.

The face crinkles up. “I’m serious.” Keeps crinkling. “And I’m starting to wish he had. I’m startin—-“ He turns his back to the crowd. “I’m—I’m sorry.” Drops the mike and shuffles off stage. (Whispering from the crowd).

 

The guy comes back the next week. Shoulders drooped. “You know, I am the product of my father’s most ambitious sperm—me.” Takes a breath.

The crowd is drunk. How they laugh, how they laugh. Paces the stage. “What were the others like? The more degenerate sperm? I mean, Christ.” Takes a drink out of the water bottle. “But. Good news, people. I had a wet dream the other night.”

The crowd ooohs like in a 90’s sitcom. “What was it about?” someone yells.

“Well. In the dream I was depressed, so I went to sleep. And then I had a dream in that dream. And in that dream I was depressed too. So, I did what any rational, enlightened man would do.”

Pause.

“What?” slurs someone.

“Simple.” Cracks his knuckles. “I grabbed a dream gun out of the dream drawer and shot myself in the dream face.”

Laughter.

“Yeah, I could feel all the blood and gore sliding south to the floor. It was warm. Like Sunday gravy on bare skin. And when I woke up my boxers were full of semen. Thick semen.”

The crowd stomps their feet, slaps their palms together in elongated rhythms.

He stands there, and waits for the crowd. He stands to his full height. “But in the real world I’m a pussy, if I were a real man I would have already done it.” He salutes the audience. They grin.

 

Next week: he looks worse, gut sagging over the belt. The hollow indentation of the belly button cannot be overlooked. His nipples poke out the white shirt like meringue peaks. His hair is parted to the side, a lackluster quick fix not fixed. A hush stabs the crowd as he walks by. The place is filled to capacity. People lined up at the back wall. Clears his throat. Dry. Raspy. “Anyone wanna to bum me a smoke—you know what, never mind.”

Rubs his temples counter clock-wise. Does this for about ten seconds. Looks up at the crowd with brown eyes. “Earlier this year my girlfriend was raped in a parking lot.”

Pause.

Laughter from the crowd. Loud.

“Yeah, I was at work and my phone was dead. Didn’t find out until the next day. Had 13 voicemails. Didn’t listen to them though. She finally got a hold of me after calling 6 times the next day. Ignored the first five. Heart-breaking, really.”

More laughter from the crowd.

“Apparently he bashed her face into the side of a car until she was too dizzy to fight back. Then dragged her in an alleyway and had his way with her. Raped her with his cock. In the alleyway he did this.”

Hoots and hollers. Chuckles.

“After he was done he told her she was the worst fuck of his life.”

Thunderous applause, some hyperventilating. He rubs his eyes, stares at his shoes. “Before he went to jail he had one last free night. I drove up to his house. Yeah, I had a needle nose pliers about six inches long, it was sharp as hell too. I also had a heavy bottle of Irish whiskey. Yep. I waited until all of the cars but his were left and…”

His eyes shift to the lights. They have a sharp gleam to them, a sparkle.

“And what?!” yells someone, voice thick with vodka.

He doesn’t respond right away, just stares out at the lights. Then: “And nothing. Nothing. I drove home.” Picks at his teeth, looks at it.  “But here’s the funny part—later that night he sent his goons over to her house and they forcefully jammed their fingers in her vagina, you know, while the others held her down. They took turns, kept saying, ‘I heard you like this’. They said this while tearing their fingers inside her, she screamed, she cried, her face was probably red. From crying I mean.”

Long pause, crowd’s faces turn upward into wide grins. He shows his back to them while the crowd stands to their feet. They clap with heavy hands, sounds like torrential rain. All looking different but the same. Different skin, different clothes. Same vocal chords, essentially. Same brains. Essentially. Hair all made of protein. He knows this.

 

Next week: they turn a hundred people away. The bartender has an expensive new hat. The comedian is late. People don’t worry, they order drinks. He arrives, they notice, quiet down. Steps onstage. Wipes his brow. Speaks. “A few weeks ago I made breakfast for the girlfriend. Two eggs, a little bacon. A nicely toasted English muffin.”    

Pause.

“Later on that day found out that she was pregnant.”

Pause.

“With twins.”

The crowd applauds.

“Yep. Thank you.”

Curtsies as he sips the water. Raises his eyebrows. Speaks. “We had to abort them.” Scratches his neck. “Turns out girlfriend had too much damage from the sexual assaults. Doc said she would bleed out in a matter of minutes if anything went wrong.”

Hand claps. One guy hoots.

“It was really difficult for me. I mean really. Kill off my children or my lover.”

“Preach it!” yells the audience.

“My girlfriend has been sleeping it off since. Don’t worry though, her eyes are not that dead. And her spirits aren’t too crushed.

Hysterical crowd. Ringing laughter. Drinks being pounded on tables in tribal rhythm. Deep, low. The first glass is thrown from the back left, the second from the front right. They smash against the walls, liquor spraying posters and pool tables. Frenzied yelps and heavy growls mix with the crushing of the glass. The bartender joins in; handing mugs to whomever wants one. Round and round are thrown against the wall, cracking and crashing: becoming glitter in the light.

He steps down from the stage, glasses being pulverized to sand in waves. He shuts his eyes and spreads out his arms, leans back against the brick wall. Tiny shards make tiny cuts on his thick skin. His thin mouth purses, then bellows, then laughs.

Ha ha.

 

Mustard Jones wasn’t born, but hatched. His mother was a giant (now extinct) species of flightless bird that lived on various lake shores in Minnesota. He wants you to think this bio is clever, so send him an email at >mustardthejones@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments.

Image courtesy of David McDonald, used by permission.  See more of his work on DeviantArt.

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