13 Inches to Life
1” Prince Albert
The officer behind the window counted out his belongings. Wallet, watch, a custom jock strap, and an open ring of stainless steel. Jotham Dremmel let everything but the Prince Albert fall into his pockets, eager to be done. The discharging officers took their time, and Dremmel was on his best behavior. Nobody acts up the day they get out of prison.
Dremmel stepped out of the gate like a groundhog who’d had enough of this winter crap, eyeballing the sky for fear of seeing his own shadow and being sent back to that hole. He smiled and breathed, wondering how he should feel after six years. A whoop from across the street got his attention; he turned and smiled at the crowd gathered there.
2” Circumcision Scar
It was the eighth day, and the mohel was drunk. The izmel knife was sanitized in a glass of whiskey, and his hands shook like some small, hairless dog put out to take a piss in a yard covered by two feet of snow as the kvatter brought the infant before him. But when the aged rabbi’s hands came within a hair’s breadth of the infant’s flesh, the tools ceased to waver, and the watery eyes steadied on their old familiar task. The blade sliced clean and true, and the mohel brought his lips down to the cut, drawing out a bit of blood in the old way. The he performed the priah, peeling the skin back over the glans, and it was through.
3” First pearl – 10mm
Lily was sixteen, and wanted into his pants for all the wrong reasons. Her dad did tattoos out of her garage, taught her how to use a needle. A line of blue-black thorny vines traced up her arms, disappeared into her t-shirt and the unknown recesses of her brassier, peeking out at the back of her neck, along her collar bone. She straddled Jotham’s chest, elbows planted on his thighs so that she could bring both hands to work.
The pain came when she pushed the needle through, forced the little metal bead in. Jotham hissed at the cold as Lily worked it farther in. Then she bent down and gave the hard little bulge a kiss. Lily turned around, flashing him a blood-tinged smile.
4” Second pearl – 6mm
They had met while shooting scene six of The Gates of Hyboria; skinflick auteur Jimmy Thing’s latest direct-to-DVD masterpiece. He looked at the wedding band on his finger, felt the dull ache in his dick where the new pearl had gone in. On set, everything had been professional: lighting angles, the delicate transition from one position to another, and the gravelly crackle whenever Jimmy gave a direction. No sex off set. Neither of them wanted to be spent before a shoot. They talked, long into the night. Bought groceries, cooked in the hotel room kitchenette, together. Fell asleep in the same bed, happy for a warm body to be with them all night through.
Joth stroked Delyra’s hip where she lay next to him. Cold flesh.
5” Third pearl – 5 mm
Ivan ran a stolen alcohol swab, and a second one over the edge of a sharpened fishhook. The older inmate took his time with Jotham, and finished the operation with a tiny flesh-colored bandaid. The job done, Jotham moved to pull up his pants, but a brown hand circled his wrist and stopped him. The ex-porn star turned around, to show off Ivan’s work.
Miguel kept his fingers off of it, but he turned Jotham this way and that, letting it fall at different angles in the light. Ivan mumbled something about keeping it clean for a few weeks to avoid infection. Migual paid Ivan for Jotham’s first year inside: two packs of cigarettes. Jotham couldn’t complain. The skinny Mexican took care of his bitch well.
6” Fourth pearl – 5mm
Jotham celebrated his second anniversary in the slammer with an airline bottle of scotch and another trip to Ivan. It was also the six month celebration of the day Miguel had bled out in the showers. It had been a fight, but Jotham had made it clear his ass wasn’t space to let anymore, and so far the rest of the guys respected that.
He sipped the whisky as Ivan worked. It was the first booze he’d had since he got in here, and it sat on top of dinner like a tiny pool of flaming oil. Ivan worked with his fishhook, more sailor than artist, holding Jotham’s dick like a cod he was trying to get the hook out of. The pearl went in.
7” Fifth pearl – 5mm
The hook slipped in, too deep, and Jotham bit his cheeks as the blood dribbled down his fingers. Undeterred, he withdrew the hook and worked at it again, more by touch than sight. On the bunk beneath him, Gene stirred, talking in his sleep. Jotham hadn’t been alone in his cell for three years. Ivan passed the kit to him when his nickel had come up; he didn’t need it and couldn’t take it with him.
Finally, fingers slick, Jotham stopped to admire his handiwork. Five raised bumps on his shaft, the last one swollen and angry looking. Jotham laid down in his bunk, keeping pressure on the wound. He left bloody finger prints on the wall, feeling the pins and needles in his dick.
8” Bite marks
The trip to the emergency room with Kristen’s parents was the worst. Mr. Wicker drove, and wouldn’t look at the boy with the red towel around his crotch. Kristen and her mom sat in the back, Kristen flossing bits of his skin out of her teeth and Mrs. Wicker dabbed at her face with a moist toilette gone pink from his blood.
The attending took one look at it and decided it would need stitches. They gave him a bottle of pain killers and let him walk out under his own power, the Wickers long gone, his own parents waiting in the emergency room. He caught the nurses telling the story as he limped out the door: girl’s first deepthroat, she gags, bite reflex.
9” Venous scarring
The tiny needle was dull, and he fed it right beside the other holes, into the big throbbing vein. Guards don’t look for needle tracks down there. He felt the rush, the top of his head lightening up, sat down on the toilet as he unclenched. It was so hard to just let go in this place. Never a moment to relax, to let his guard down.
Miguel had started him using. You can get things in prison, if you’re willing to give people what they want. An economy built on cigarettes and anal sex, blowjobs and tiny condoms full of heroin. Miguel wanted him to loosen up.
Joth looked down at the ugly red-purplish streaks, never allowed to heal right, not quite parallel.
10” Serpent Brand
Jotham took a swig of his champagne as his co-star wiggled her ass across the stage to accept another award. The Big Dick, Jimmy Thing’s mescaline-fueled love letter to the lurid covers of his father’s stack of Black Mask magazines, had damn near swept the AVN awards. Jimmy clapped spasmodically, pupils dilated wide behind his eternal sunglasses.
“So” a breathy voice whispered into his ear “why do they call you ‘Snake Charmer’?”
The room hushed as the Master of Ceremonies called out the names of the nominees for Best Male Newcomer. Lights dimmed and clips rolled.
“Watch closely, lady. You’re about to find out.”
Jotham set the glass down and watched himself smile at the camera as his image unzipped, exposing the serpent’s tail.
11” Closed Ring tattoo
It was afterhours on the set, and Jimmy Thing still sat in the director’s chair like he hadn’t moved since he’d yelled cut. Joth walked up to him, eyes tracing the patterns made in the dust, some of them made by his own knees and elbows. Jimmy Thing set down his bottle and held up his left hand, free of all its rings. A dark band still circled his ring finger, near the knuckle.
“I met a witch-woman down in Mexico, told me you close a circle with ink, you cut off part of your soul. Told her that was fine, and paid her to do it anyway.” The old man croaked. “I needed to draw a line, boychik. Had to separate myself from myself.”
12” Subdermal Rib implant
Jotham handed a sheaf of lies to the white-smocked nurse at the bloodmobile. Sixty days since his release, and the blood work came back clean.
He’d had offers. People he knew from the old days, others only by reputation. One wanted him as the meat sandwich in a semiautobiographical project called Jailmate.
The nurse finished his paperwork, and sent him off to a station to get his blood drawn. He sat down and looked up into Lily’s eye. Ten years of smiles broke on her face all at once.
He didn’t give blood that day. They let him ride the bus back to the hospital, catching up. Lily changed and drove him to her place. She couldn’t wait to get her hands on him again.
She was three months gone when they came out to break the glass. The guests were porn stars and tattoo artists, dear friends all. Joth’s father and Jimmy Thing escorted Joth under the chuppah. Lily, belly swollen, was led in by their mothers.
The hazzan sang the blessings. the wine was tasted, the rings exchanged, and the light bulb shattered under Jotham’s right heel, the couple retreated for the Yichud. Lily leaned back and fiddled with her skirts, while Joth undid his belt.
The piercings had been done the day before, but they waited. Joth carefully withdrew the hollow rod above her labia, threaded in the ring. Lily checked it, then bent down to do the same to Joth. Matching rings. Lily’s idea.