by Alex McElroy
On the worst winter nights, when the Kabul River welcomes snow and families huddle around scuffed rusty lamps sucking drip-drops of oil, when his wife sleeps alone snuggling with her West Point Build-a-Bear and obstinate Halliburton generators threaten his sleep, the venerated Five Star General feels a pulse in his loins ordering him to fuck his biographer. Sometimes just the thought of her makes him shell his own pants. Friendly fire, he calls it. On those nights he can return to work undisturbed. But tonight his hands are too frigidly numb to rub at himself and he longs for the peonies and anal sweat scent of his biographer’s genitals. Longs for the taut bronze skin of her stomach and to drag a finger down the trail of her spine.
A package arrives for The General before his mistress arrives. Wrapped in muddy wrinkled newspaper is the tiny brown foot of a child. A toe is missing. The General laughs. A whole damn body’s missing, what’s a toe matter? A thin tube of paper splits the big and second toe. He unrolls it and reads the broken English scrawled on:
WE ROCKS FIND UNDER. MY SON THINK?
How should I know? The General wonders. He wraps the foot in a clean, crisp copy of The Washington Post and places it atop papers he intends to read through tomorrow morning, or possibly later tonight, once his biographer leaves, placing it on top not because the foot is a matter of exigency but because its cumbersome shape makes it impossible to place underneath papers. Maybe if all my duties were shaped like feet, he thinks, or any sort of body part, I could just throw them in a large barrel and pick them out at random. Taking on the tasks that reach out to me. He imagines a barrelful of arms and thinks of potential puns. A knock at the door interrupts him.
His biographer—in black silk lingerie and thigh highs clipped to a garter, heels so high she leans forward—clutches a bottle of Brut champagne and a notebook. The General is happy to see her marble notebook. He likes it when she records how getting fucked by him feels as he’s fucking her. Posterity will cherish that knowledge. If only historians knew what it felt like to lay under Grant.
Sometimes, during their post-coital debriefing, as she explores his prickly chest hair with her fingertips, she reads him what she wrote and The General will imagine himself fucking himself getting fucked by himself. The action’s impossibility troubles The General. He feels what Angela Merkel might call Weltschmerz, the wish that reality harmonized with his desires.
But when German author Jean Paul coined the term, the world he desired was a world of undying love. The General already lives in that world. I love you, he tells his biographer when she enters.
Do you mean it? she asks.
Before meeting you, he continues, before meeting you, My Dearest, I only loved two things in this world.
And they were?
Myself. And killin’ civilians with robots. But now I’m ready to make it three things.
They kiss passionately and move to the bed. They each briefly summarize their days. She ate Stonyfield yogurt and muesli for breakfast. Thank you so much, she says. Someone owed me a favor, he says. And then I went for a walk, not too far, and spoke with some locals. After that I called an old West Point friend of yours. Chad Harvin? No, not him. But tell me, she says, what did you do today? A rough day, he says. Fighting for America’s freedoms!
She notices The General becoming upset and tells him he shouldn’t go on. He kisses her hard on the mouth and then redirects her underwear to the floor. He flicks her bean. She coos, Oh Peaches, Oh Peaches. He whispers, Let’s do Predator Bones. My Love, she wants to say, You know that’s dangerous, for both of us, but The General’s sexual impulses are unfettered by negotiation or reflection. He is a man of action. She loves this about him.
Soon she is on all fours atop the Temperpedic mattress The General’s back commands. He is climbing a ladder at the south side of his bedroom, the side opposite the bed, climbing in order to buckle himself into the harness hooked to the zipline that runs from this topmost corner of the room to his headboard. Once harnessed he straps on a pair of PVS7 3rd generation night vision goggles and takes in the fuzzy lime sight of his mistress bent over and spreading herself as wide as she possibly can. This is a safety precaution. The exhilaration of dickfully zipping twatward risks immediate termination if the target is missed. Chances of hitting the target are astoundingly slim and surprisingly varied—1 in 2,400, or 1 in 2—but The General has never let improbable triumph deter action. He begins humming mechanically. She commences screaming, throwing her voice pretending to be women and children and dissidents, a gaggle of squirters hellishly fleeing the buzz overhead. The General is excited. What good is role-playing without verisimilitude? He dives off the ladder. Darting towards her he glimpses the soft wrinkles on the sole of her left foot as she curls her toes preparing for impact.