From TALES They Fired Your Nannybot For Telling You

by A. R. Gregory


The Pickup

I gasp peering down between my bare, chilled thighs. Blood! When I flush the toilet, hold my breath, then wait for the water to settle, more blood, the glaringest, reddest blood I can imagine!
     I try to choke back my panic, to think. I remember I left my phone in the bedroom, realize if I get up to get it, I could pass out, bleed to death on the bathroom floor! I've only been here a few days. Who would I call anyway? Me call 911? I’ve been blending in fine so far. If anyone found out... Beads of sweat quiver on my forehead, plunge from my eyebrows into the ghastly roiling red.
     Then Karen's earnest, caring face pops into my mind. I remember she said she’s an emergency room nurse! Medical emergencies are her specialty, right. And her apartment's right next door, just on the other side of this wall. The one time we talked in the hallway, Karen seemed plenty nice too, even seemed to like me. Can I trust her? Do I have a choice?
     I pound on the wall behind the toilet with my fist, again and again. I’m feeling so weak now, I can barely raise my voice. “Karen! Can you hear me?” I wonder if she’s even home. We only talked for five minutes in the hallway the day I moved in. She said she works the night shift. What time is it now? I have no idea. I can’t think straight. Isn’t it morning? My mind’s in a fog. It’s all so weird.
     I visualize Karen’s face again, try to somehow summon her mentally. As soon as I met her, hitting on her crossed my mind. Of course I’m still leery of females, but aren’t the women here supposed to be different? How could everything not be better here? So why not Karen? I think. With her trim figure, her crisp blond hair, her lilting breasts... Isn’t Karen the kind of woman any guy here would be proud to be seen out at night with? But forget that. Karen said she works nights.
     Then a voice bursts through the crack in my bathroom window, through the dense fog of my mind. “What’s going on in there? Is something wrong?” It’s a caring, competent voice, Karen’s voice!
     Thank God! Athletic, can-do Karen must have climbed onto the rail of the fire escape, careful not to knock any of her overflowing flowerpots off the ledge, then swung around the partition separating her half of the fire escape’s landing from mine.
     “Help me, Karen, please, I think I’m bleeding to death!”
     Before I can utter another word, Karen yanks up the sash. I see one of her small sneakers poke through the window, then the rest of her sweatpantsed leg. Then her entire lithe body pops into my bathroom. She stares at me, up and down, assessing the situation just like the emergency room pro she is. Then she whips out her phone. “Keep calm. Everything’s gonna be fine. I’m calling 911.”
     I gasp. “No, wait!” Then I keel over, tumble off the toilet, flop face down between the sink and bathtub.
     “Oh, God!” Karen cries, lurching for me, and — thank God! — her phone clinks to the floor, slides behind the toilet. Then Karen freezes, points. “What the... What’s that coming out of... Did you put something up your rectum?”
     “What have you done?”
     I reach back, feel it myself. “What the...”
     Karen raises her hands. “No! Don’t dislodge it. You could hemorrhage even more.”
     “What the hell?” I grab it, yelp from the pain as I yank it out.
     Karen gasps. Then she squints, bends down, cocks her head. “Wha... What is that thing?”
     I rise up on an elbow, twist, lift it dangling between my thumb and index finder. Karen and I both squint at the slimy, writhing, dripping whatever-it-is. It is doing the bleeding, I realize, not me. Yuck! I fling it into the bathtub.
     Karen looks me dead in the eye. “How’d that, that thing, get in you? What is it?” She steps backward, stares at me with disgust.
     “How should I know, Karen?” I squinch my nose, try to look just as disgusted.
     Karen shakes her head as her hands shoot to her hips. “How should you know? You, the guy whose butt it was up?” She takes a long breath. “Look, I work in an ER. I’ve seen guys with everything you can imagine up their butts, even — now even whatever that is.” She shakes her head again as she huffs out the side of her mouth.
     I sigh heavily, realizing what she’s thinking. “Karen, I don’t need your insults at a time like this,” I tell her. “No, I’m not gay.” That has to be what she’s thinking, right. “I don’t know what the hell that thing is.” Then I slap my forehead. “Wait, last night. Her!” It was all coming back to me now, that bar, that woman, the cab ride, then in my bed.
     Karen rolls her eyes, but now she seems even more curious. What will I be to Karen now, I wonder, another funny/weird tale she can laugh about with her buddies in the ER? She crosses her arms, glares even harder at me. “So? What happened last night?”
     I take a deep breath, exhale completely, then shake my head. “I — I dunno. I guess I overdid it at this bar on 35th Street. I’m new here. So yeah, I’m lonely. Believe me, you’ll never find me in that dump again.”
     Karen sighs impatiently. ”And? So, what happened?”
     “Well, there was this woman. I can’t remember now if I picked her up, or she picked me up.”
     Karen blows through her pursed lips. “You’re telling me some strange woman put that, that thing up your ass? So, who was she? And where is she now?” Karen glances hesitantly through the bathroom door into my bedroom.
     I cup my forehead with my palm, concentrate. “I dunno. She’s gone now, whoever she was. No, wait, now it’s coming back to me. Her name was, uh — oh yeah, Bruce.”
     Karen rolls her eyes again. “Bruce, huh. ‘She’ was named Bruce? So, what was ‘Bruce’ like?”
     “I dunno. I mean, kinda tallish. And what a low, sultry voice! Sexy as hell.”
     Karen smirks. “Tall, low voice? Sounds like one sexy ‘lady,’ all right.”
     I glare at Karen. It’s obvious what she’s still thinking. “Yeah, well, believe me, Bruce — she — was plenty hot. I might have been drunk, but I wasn’t blind. And she was all over me too.” Then I sigh and shrug, tell myself to cool it with the defensiveness. After all, Karen was quick to rush over here and help me. She might come in handy for other things too. She must want to like me, but now she just can’t get past her doubts about my sexual orientation.
     “Look, Karen, I’m sorry. I know how this looks, but believe me, Bruce was a woman. And she had this flask in her purse. We were swigging it in the cab. I guess I was just feeling so lonely and vulnerable last night... Anyway, I got so plastered, I can’t even remember how we made it up the stairs to my apartment.”
     Karen smirks again. “Maybe ‘Bruce’ carried you.”
     I frown up at Karen, then roll my eyes. “I think I would remember that.”
     Karen leans back over the tub, stares down at it again. She takes a deep breath, exhales slowly. “I hope this thing is all she gave you.”
     I’m thrilled that Karen finally referred to Bruce as ‘she,’ and without a hint of sarcasm in her voice. Then I suddenly realize my boxers are still bunched halfway down my thighs. Karen has had a grandstand view of my bare ass all this time! It, whatever it is, in my bathtub, plus my butt staring her in the face? What an impression, huh. I grasp the rim of the sink, pull myself up to my knees, snatch my shorts back up to my waist. I figure fat chance now Karen will ever want to be seen in public with me.
     When I roll my eyes at my ridiculousness, then squint down at it in the tub again... Yikes! It 's taking shape. I suddenly realize what it is. But here? How the hell... But what else could it be? Of course I know about them, but I’ve never actually seen one before, not a real one. Me, who’s always been so careful? And here? I thought I’d escaped all that, escaped it for good. Why else would I come here, come this far just to let my guard down?
     I hold my breath, glance back at Karen. Of course she would have no idea what it is. Even with all her emergency room experience, she’s never seen one of these before. Bruce, huh? I can’t believe my luck.
     Then Karen bends farther over the tub, says, “Look at how bloated it’s getting. Jeezus, is it still alive?” She cranes her head one way, then the other, as she squints at it. “I mean, it’s bleeding, isn’t it? Or is that goo even blood?”
     “Sure. Of course,” I say as confidently as I can manage. “What else could it be?” I study Karen out of the corner of my eye, hoping she’ll just accept what she suspected all along, write it all off as silly sexual shenanigans, some female barfly named Bruce punking me because I laughed at her name or whatever. I’ll even cop to sex with a tranny now, a major embarrassment here, right. Anything to get Karen to move on, forget the whole thing. Please, Karen, just leave, I think. Leave now. Go to work at your busy emergency room. Have a big laugh about me, anything. But just go.

     Then sloppy sucking sounds reverberate in the bathtub. It starts pulsing, growing. Before I can stop her, Karen reaches down to poke at it, to touch it! Just as she does, it puffs up, chomps on her finger, engulfs her whole hand....


Copyright 2020 A. R. Gregory