After the Orgy
After the Sunday orgy, the men changed their shirts. The women changed their shoes.
Man #1 swaggered all week.
Woman #2 composed a personal ad: “Needy woman in search of helpless man. Weren’t you at the orgy on Sunday?”
Man #2 wondered whether to contact woman #2 but never got her name.
Woman #3 in her sex education class announced brightly, “For the next two weeks, we’re going to turn the boys into girls and vice versa, then compare notes.”
Man #3, reminiscing at least a few times daily, thought the men had been hotter than the women.
Woman #2 felt unlovely, growing more so by the minute—and signed up for the next orgy.
Man #3 found himself in love with man #1.
Woman #1 jotted down in her old-fashioned planner: “Sin at leisure, repent in haste”—and hurried to the drugstore.
Man #3 dreamt of the orgy several nights running, but with the man’s faces on the women’s bodies.
Woman #2 reconsidered all her orifices.
Woman #1 felt, At this point, all I want is for man #2 to become a haunting memory.
Man #1 remarked sarcastically: “As if sex were an equal-opportunity employer.”
Woman #1 put it this way to her friend at a Sunday brunch that was a pallid substitute for the Sunday before: “I’m not a hopeless romantic but a hopeful one.”
Woman #3 bought a poster-sized chart of penis sizes.
Woman #1 started to write a short story about the experience but got bogged down in the first action sequence.
Man #2 wrote a poem about the experience, containing the line “shuddering loins.”
Woman #2 began sizing up every man she encountered, including the ugly ones. Especially the ugly ones.
Man #1 decided to start an orgy agency.
Woman #3 thought about the one problem with a five-hour orgy and began a catering start-up.
Man #1 changed not a whit.
Woman #1 never told her husband.
Man #2 ill-advisedly posted photos on Instagram.
Man #1 boasted to his wife.
Woman #3 recognized one of the participants on the street the other day and winked.
One day I woke up to find I’d been married for twenty years with two kids in high school. Bob sat at the yellow breakfast nook, gazing at the eternal squirrels ganging up on the bird feeder in our back yard. Look at that one with the clumpy tail. He pointed at a determined squirrel capsizing the bird feeder tray for access to the silo of seed inside. An irate blue jay cheat‑cheated overhead.
I was about to reply when our two daughters Cindy and Mindy entered the kitchen. Since it was Saturday, they weren’t hurrying to school but were bored already at 8:00 a.m. It’s a lovely June day, I told them. Take advantage of it while you can.
As for me, the decades had flown over to the bird feeder, where the clump‑tailed squirrel was gorging himself on sunflower seeds. I was a psych major at Penn State, then an office temp till I met Bob the sales manager at Sears, leading to our wedding at the Orange Chapel, after which Cindy was born, then Mindy. I worked flex time at an insurance office, arranged for babysitters, packed a thousand PB&J sandwiches for school lunches, drove to two different soccer practices, and lay in bed next to Bob night after year.
But none of that is true. I’m only seventeen, and I have all those years ahead of me. I have the time to make mistakes and correct some of them. My mom calls out from the hallway that it’s shaping up to be a splendid morning and that I should take advantage of the fine weather by going outside. I look out the window to see that the squirrel has made off with all the seed he can take, and still the supply spills out.
Ignazio was supposed to feed the elephants that afternoon, but he wanted to finish his math homework first. His father was a clown at the Rolldale Circus, his mother an acrobat. “You have way cool parents, Iggy,” a boy from the audience told him. They’d met during an intermission and chatted. The kid’s name was Edward. His father was a lawyer, his mother stayed at home, and they lived in a ranch house with a dog named Rex.
But Ignazio wished his father didn’t put on an orange wig for work, and he worried about his mother tumbling off the high-wire. The scent of stale popcorn always hung in his nostrils. To earn his allowance at age twelve, he turned into Rex the Dog Boy, with a snap-on tail, claws, pointy ears, whiskers, and fur patches. For the marks, he’d bark, scratch his ears with his toes, and shove his face into a bowl of raw meat. In his dreams, he sat in a family den and watched TV sitcoms.
At eighteen, he ran away from the caravan to enroll in college. After graduation, he counted twenties as a bank teller while he earned his certification as a CPA. He married a tax attorney and moved to the suburbs, where their son, Ed, was born. Ig keeps regular hours and likes his steak well done.
But he’s willing to clown around for his son. He has a baby trapeze in the garage, sent by a pair of doting grandparents. And every once in a while, he freaks out the neighbors by getting down on all fours and howling at the moon.
Ed, now age five, watches from the porch until his mother calls him indoors.
David Galef has published over a dozen books, including the novels Flesh, Turning Japanese, and How to Cope with Suburban Stress (a Book Sense choice, listed by Kirkus as one of the Best 30 Books of 2006); the short-story collections Laugh Track and My Date with Neanderthal Woman (winner of Dzanc Books’ Short Story Collection Award); two children’s books, The Little Red Bicycle by Random House and Tracks by William Morrow Junior; a co-edited anthology of fiction called 20 over 40 (University Press of Mississippi); the poetry collection Flaws and Kanji Poems (David Roberts Books); the translation Japanese Proverbs: Wit and Wisdom (Tuttle); and literary criticism: The Supporting Cast (Penn State Press). His latest volume is Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook (Columbia University Press). Most recently he won the ALSCW Meringoff Award for short fiction and placement in the top 50 very short fictions of 2017 from Wigleaf. His website is www.davidgalef.com, his Twitter handle @dgalef. He’s a professor of English and the creative writing program director at Montclair State University.