Where am I? A dock overlooking a lake? Why am I so cold? I seem to be… I seem to be in a stylish clawfoot, cast-iron bathtub filled with ice. Wait a minute. There seems to be another identical bathtub next to me—but it’s conspicuously empty. What’s that sound? A phone ringing?

My lower back is killing me… but I’m also incredibly horny. I automatically reach out toward the other bathtub, as if muscle memory recalls a companion once occupied the now-vacant tub.

I discover I’m unable to see out of my right eye when I hear a bodiless voice say, “If you experience a sudden decrease in vision, seek medical attention immediately. In rare situations, permanent blindness can occur in one or both eyes.”

Who is that? Why doesn’t someone answer the phone—if that is a phone? The same omnipotent voice says, “If you experience a sudden decrease or loss of hearing, often accompanied by a persistent ringing in the ears, stop use and contact your doctor, immediately.” Who the fuck is this guy?

Suddenly, I recall a woman—lovely, virile—a gal very active for her age. Did we meet in a bookstore? Or was it an antique shop? I remember refinishing a wooden bench with her—or maybe taking her out in a rowboat, gliding across the placid surface of a glowing pond. We wore fashionable sweaters and we were always laughing even though I was unable to maintain an erection.

Would someone answer that goddamned phone? I try to stand up but I’ve got a bad case of vertigo—and a rock-hard stiffy. The all-knowing voice interjects, “Side effects may include dizziness.” Christ, my lower back hurts. Did I give that old gal a good rogering? The voice says, “Ask your doctor if you’re healthy enough to have sex.” Little late with that advice, eh, Doctor Ruth?

So dizzy—mild nausea—Do I regularly take any medications, such as nitrates for chest pain? Fuck… I think I’m having an unsafe drop in blood pressure.

Still ringing—

I finally locate the phone on the floor by the tub. I fumble with the handset and raise it weakly to my ear. “Hello?”

“If you want to live,” a woman’s voice says on the other end, “Hang up and call 9-1-1.”

“Barb? Is that you?” She hangs up.

What’s up with this ice, anyway? Where are my khaki, double-pleated pants, my fashionable sweater? I see my old custard launcher sticking up out of the ice like it’s the Loch Ness fucking Monster. I start to remember…

After Brad and Jenny had gone off to college, and we were empty-nesters, Barb suggested wryly we could now make love “in any room of the house.” But I was putting in long hours at the firm (firm? Ha! How ironic), and she was home by herself, and Raul—who was hired by the condo association to do the landscaping and edging—never kept his shirt on, trimming the hedges with his fucking washboard abs and his pecs out. I probably allowed it to go on too long before I finally made that anonymous call to INS. Of course, I’d lost the angle to my dangle by then; five counseling sessions and her admission that it had never been “hard enough” for her later, led to a prescription (I still recall the sting of the pharmaceutical tech’s sniggering as she keyed in the co-pay on the register, then me skulking away when I recognized too late, she was one of my daughter, Jenny’s former classmates), and finally a supposedly romantic, week-long stay at a Nevada couples-only resort-cum-hostel.

A series of phone calls that week either interrupted our lovemaking or squashed the mood before we even got started: First, the house sitter called that Mr. Skittles—our orange cat—was tragically cut down by a FedEx truck (my chemically-induced pork sword remained sheathed); Our son, Brad, the former first-team, all-county QB, called to announce he’d come out (my meat wrench remained in the toolbox); and finally, a sobbing Jenny phoned, distraught that her husband of 10 months—Clive—had run off with her best friend, Dakota (Sir Richard Swellington remained standing at attention outside the palace gate).

Now she was gone and I was left once more with a useless throbbing gristle—argh! And an excruciating pain in my back. The voiceover says, “If you experience an erection lasting longer than four hours—“

9-1-1…

“Hello,” I say into the phone. “I have an erection lasting longer than four hours.” I reach behind me and run my hand over my lower back. I feel crude sutures and puckered flesh. “Oh, and I’m also missing a kidney.”

Somewhere in Buenos Aires, Barb and Raul were dining on lobster thermidor and Dom Perignon from the Black Market sale of my kidney.

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