The Fracture

The Fracture

Mr. Davis hadn’t known that a penis could fracture, yet when the young lady in scrubs with the ultrasound machine pressed the tip of the probe into the crooked purple eggplant between his legs and declared “Yup, it’s fractured,” he knew his life would never be the same, not because his sex life was over, as the surgeon with the gray mustache and pock-marked nose and mouth too big for his face told him “I can fix that, and have you back in the saddle in 4 weeks,” before adding “though there’s a small chance of post-op infection,” but because he didn’t think he could feign disinterest with his wife Gwen for 4 weeks, imagining himself sneaking to the bathroom in the middle of the night so he could change the blood stained dressings without her knowing, and what would he say every time she reached under the sheets to touch him and he pushed her away, fearful she’d discover the gauze and the sutures?

So he’d have to tell her how one evening during his company trip to Baltimore, a prostitute had knocked on his hotel room door, looking for a different Mr. Davis, but when she flashed him what she wasn’t wearing under her black leather jacket, he actually let her inside, his hand trembling as he checked his wallet and found just enough cash, so that when he invited her onto his bed, it was the first time he’d ever pushed thoughts of Gwen away while another woman lay beside him. Then during a particularly risky and vigorous sexual maneuver called The Helicopter, something he and Gwen had once tried successfully during a sightseeing trip to Vancouver, he experienced sudden searing pain, while he shrank and swelled up at the same time.

His cellphone rang, Gwen’s nightly call to ask him how the meetings with his client went, and did he treat himself to something nice for dinner, maybe steamed Maryland blue crab with Old Bay Seasoning, did he get to see how beautiful the Inner Harbor was or visit the Babe Ruth Museum, and he could later tell her that he went to bed early and that’s why he didn’t answer the phone, that would be easy. But what was harder was facing how his life was imploding, how his client had walked from the deal that was critical to his company’s viability, how he only ate Popeye’s greasy fried chicken for dinner, and even the prostitute told him he wasn’t very good, when his fingers fumbled in all the wrong places, and it was her humiliating commentary that had incited him to attempt the fateful maneuver.

Worst of all, he had failed Gwen, who had always supported him and loved him, cooked him mild food after he perforated his stomach ulcer, worked extra shifts as a waitress when he was unemployed for 2 years, and now at the end of the week when he would return to their home, he’d have to tell her everything, maybe just moments after opening the door and receiving the warm welcome of her hug, and he’d cry as he felt the comfort of holding her, perhaps for the last time ever, and after he’d tell her, and after she’d throw him out of the house, he’d lose his job, live out of his car, maybe even suffer a post-operative genital infection, so that as the orderly rolled him to the operating suite, and they injected something into his veins to make him drowsy, he decided he wouldn’t return home after all, he’d escape to Texas instead, change his name to Gorski, shave his head, look for a job, maybe a short order cook at Popeye’s, and as the anesthesiologist thrust his jaw forward and started to slide the breathing tube across his tongue, in that last moment of consciousness before the surgery, he imagined Gwen’s distraught face talking to the police about his mysterious disappearance, the deputy asking her if he had any enemies, the subsequent years of terror and desperation as she searched for him long after the police had given up, and when he thought about what it’d be like to never speak to or see Gwen again, he thrashed around on the operating table, until the surgical team shouted, held him down, strapped him in, and finally he went under.


About the Author

Eliot Li lives in California. His work appears in Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, Tales From The Moonlit Path, Barren Magazine, and elsewhere. He's also in Best Small Fictions 2023, and was longlisted for The Wigleaf Top 50 2023. 


Photo by Mockup Graphics on Unsplash