by Mark Haskell Smith
“THIS IS SO fuckin’ cool, man.” Morris burst through the doors of the lab carrying what looked like a log wrapped in black plastic. His white cotton smock, bearing the name United Pathology, flapped around his bony frame as he rushed forward. Morris was excited, breathless. He had something really good. His sneakers squeaked on the tile floor as he skidded to a stop in front of a young man with tall black hair.
“Bob. Dude. Check this out.”
Bob didn’t look up from the computer. He slouched his skateboarder-lanky body in a stylish black chair designed to improve his posture, draping one of his legs across the desk so that one scuffy black shoe touched the side of the monitor while his other foot twitched to some unheard autonomic beat on the floor. He kept his eyes on the screen, thoughtfully stroking his trim goatee, as he scrolled through a digital gallery of young Canadian virgins on the Internet. He eyed the young blondes intently, staring at their pert breasts, ice-cream-scoop butts, and spread patches of pink surrounded by wisps of blond curls. They could have been Swedish or maybe Norwegian, but they were definitely from some frosty part of the world. Cold and clean and young. Their bodies promising sex fresh as mountain air, clear as spring water, and as pure as new-fallen snow. Like a beer ad. Bob twisted in his seat, his pants suddenly too small.
Morris cleared his throat.
“Dude, it’s totally grisly.”
“Can’t you see I’m busy?”
Undaunted by Bob’s lack of enthusiasm, Morris put the package down on the desk in front of him and began to unwrap it.
“It smells a little.”
“Then don’t open it.”
“I thought you liked tattoos.”
Bob heaved a sigh and moused his way out of the porn site.
“Put it in a tray, all right?”
Morris nodded and crossed the lab to the sink. He pulled out a large stainless steel examining tray and carried it back.
“Good idea, Bob. These things are always seepin’ a little.”
Morris gently plopped the package in the tray and pulled the plastic away, unveiling his prize. Bob recoiled at the sight, instinctively covering his mouth and nose. Morris looked at him, surprised.
“You gonna puke?”
Bob shook his head.
“Check out the tattoos, dude. Check ’em out.”
Morris picked up the severed arm and rolled it over. Congealing blood oozed out and smeared the surgical tray. It was a tough-looking arm. Muscular and hairy. Tattoos were scattered up and down, inside and out. The letters
“What’dya think, man?”
Bob covered his nostrils and leaned in close. The tattoo was skillfully drawn, with real flair. The woman’s body seemed to quiver, as if she were coming.
“Good, isn’t it?”
Bob looked up at Morris.
Bob opened the bottom drawer of his desk and pulled out a Polaroid camera.
“Rotate the arm a couple of inches up.”
Morris complied. Bob got close to the arm and then pushed the button. Flash, whir, ding. The camera spit out a photo. Bob stuck the picture in his pocket and put the camera back in the drawer. He looked at Morris.
“I’m thinking about making a coffee run. You want some?”
“Let me go. I’ve spent too much time with the arm. I need a break.”
Bob looked at the arm.
“What are we supposed to do with it anyway?”
Morris wrapped the appendage in the plastic.
“I gotta take it to the lab at Parker Center tomorrow morning after they drain it or whatever.”
Bob shot Morris a look of disbelief.
“This is evidence?”
Morris shifted his weight from foot to foot, something he did when he was nervous or really had to pee. He took his sunglasses out of his pocket and stuck them on his nose so he wouldn’t have to look Bob in the eye.
“Bob. Dude. I don’t know that it’s evidence for sure.”
“Is it from a crime scene?”
Morris finished wrapping the arm.
“Double latte, right?”
Bob shook his head.
Morris spun on his heel and left. Bob sighed, picked up the arm, and walked it over to a large freezer. He swung the big silver door open and slid the arm onto a shelf filled with hundreds of other lumps, bumps, cysts, clippings, cuttings, kibbles, and bits. Bob sat back down in front of the computer, but the blondes had lost their allure.
He pulled the Polaroid out of his pocket and watched it slowly finish developing. It was a clear picture of the tattoo. The artist was obviously very talented. Bob looked closer, studying the woman. Intricately drawn, her breasts hung voluptuously, spreading across her chest and swinging down just a little toward her armpits. She had a full head of long black hair that flowed away from her body. Her legs, arms, and ass were perfectly proportioned, not thin or skinny; there was nothing girly about her, she had a womanly weight. A sensual mass. Her mouth was a half smile, half grimace, as her body bucked and kicked in the throes of orgasm. Her eyes wide open as if surprised by the sensation.
Bob looked at her and felt a strange sensation of his own. It was as if he knew her. Or maybe, closer to the truth, as if she were the woman he wanted to know. His idea of what a sexy woman looked like. Bob felt a pang of jealousy when he looked at the man’s body. Although Bob was considered by many people to be a good-looking dude in relatively robust shape, he couldn’t compete with the taut and articulated muscles, the pure sexual power of the man in the tattoo. All that energy focused between a woman’s legs.
Bob ran his finger over the Polaroid, following the line that ran from her thigh to her belly to her breasts to her lips. He surprised himself when a little moan came out of his mouth.
Bob absently traced a line with his finger slowly down his chest, across his belly, to his crotch. He felt a swelling.
It was a very good tattoo.
MAURA LOOKED DOWN on her client. She’d seen his type before. Nervous, scared, hopeful that she would take over and give him release. She never did. That’s not why she was here. She was a teacher. She had valuable information to impart and no matter how much they whined or begged, they had to learn to do it themselves. Besides, it’s not like she was a whore. If anything, she looked like the head of psychiatry for a large urban hospital. She was somewhat officious, her blond hair cut blunt and to the point, her blue eyes intense. She had an authoritative mouth, not particularly welcoming or warm, with small, slightly angled teeth. Despite what some people called a cold or, charitably, professional appearance, there was something extremely attractive about Maura. It was probably her breasts.
She listened to the familiar whack-a whack-a, the grunts, the short breaths. Using her calmest, most reassuring voice, she offered guidance.
“Relax, Mr. Larga. Take a deep breath.”
Larga tried. He sucked air into his saggy, pale body. He exhaled noisily through his thick nostrils and licked his fat lips.
“Relax your abdominal muscles. Relax your thighs.”
Larga squirmed in the chair. He was uncomfortable being naked under bright lights. He was embarrassed by what he was doing.
“My arm’s getting tired.”
Maura had heard this before.
“Orgasm is not the goal.”
“I’m getting chapped. I need more lubricant.”
She handed him the Astroglide and spoke to him like a reprimanding schoolteacher.
“There are hundreds of different ways to stimulate the tumescent male member. Hammering away with your fist is just one of them.”
He blinked up at her, ever hopeful.
“Can you show me?”
Maura picked up a plastic dildo and demonstrated.
“Most men find this one unbelievable.”
Larga tried. God bless him. He tried his best. But he couldn’t relax and, in the end, went back to whacking away with his fist. Maura sighed. It was so predictable. Some people could relax and benefit from her advice, others just wanted to jerk off in front of a woman. A grunt burst from Larga’s mouth. Maura saw that he was nearing orgasm.
“Don’t tense. Relax. Start taking deep breaths.”
But Larga couldn’t relax, and with a loud exhalation ejaculated on his belly. Maura handed him a box of tissues.
“Well, it’s a start.”
Larga wiped up quickly and started pulling on his clothes.
“You can wash your hands right over there.”
He buckled up and went over to the sink. He was in a hurry, like he’d just done something he should be ashamed of. Maura made small talk to ease his guilt.
“So what do you do for a living, Mr. Larga?”
“I write cookbooks.”
“That must be fun.”
Larga nodded and ran his fingers through his thinning hair.
“How long have you been a… you know… a coach?”
“I’ve been in practice about three years.”
Maura watched as Larga looked at her. Or, more accurately, as he looked at her breasts. She was used to this. Ever since she was fourteen she’d watched men look at her face and then s ...