“Excessive Force” by J. Bradley
My mother pulled out of the linen closet a New York Police Department nightstick, our apartment’s self-defense weapon. She stood in front of the couch, dividing the TV and me. In her other hand was a small white square with blue writing. A circle looked trapped inside.
“Jess, it’s time you learned how to put on a condom.”
I made room for her on the couch as she planted the night stick down, ribbed handle just below her left hand. She tore a side of the small white square with her teeth, removing the trapped circle. “Don’t ever think yours will be this big”, she laughed. I watched her roll the circle down the ribbed handle with her right hand. “And that’s how you put on a condom. That’s how I don’t become a young grandmother. Understood?” I didn’t know what this had to do with trying to hold Kristina Green’s hand during the fifth grade end-of-school dance, but I nodded so I could go back to watching TV.
“Condoms alone only have a 70% effectiveness rate. 70%” said Ms. Samuels, my sixth grade math teacher/county designated sexual education teacher for Stonewall Jackson Middle School.
“Guess that’ll help when we have intersections,” I replied. The rest of the class and her laughed before she continued on different theoretical demonstrations of all the methods of birth control available.
On my first day of not being a virgin, Callie and I had sex twice. In the middle of my second time, the condom broke. For days, I saw babies in commercials, at K-Mart, pushed in strollers down Semoran Boulevard. Callie kept reassuring me that she wasn’t pregnant, that I didn’t even cum.
“What about pre-cum?” I asked in an almost Screech Powersesque register. Callie laughed, her hand rubbing my back, kissing my neck. I vowed if she got her period, I would stick to anything with the suffix of “job” for the rest of our relationship.
After caging my younger brother in his room, the carpet set Franki and I on fire. She kept her head slightly above the linoleum separated my sleeping area and the kitchen as Robert Smith muffled our moans; the condom ruptured. I swallowed my panic as we cuddled. I used the same brand my mom used on the night stick. If it could handle a night stick, why couldn’t it handle me? Franki got her period a week later. I switched brands.
“Did you get laid yet?” my mother asked while we were in the kitchen. Callie and I were together for about six weeks at this point.
“Yes, I did.”
“Did you use a condom?”
“Yes, I did.”
She held her right hand up. “High five.”
My ex-wife, Miranda, hated when I would slow down for a moment to check and see if the condom was still on. My recent ex, Natalie, appreciated the cautious pause. My mother beams whenever she can about how I never had to take a woman to the clinic or be a baby’s daddy but I wonder sometimes when she’ll put away her high-fiving hand and ask “Why aren’t you a dad yet?” No nightstick could teach me that.
J. Bradley is the Interviews Editor at PANK Magazine. He lives at iheartfailure.net.