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When the usual college bars in downtown Columbia, South Carolina, shut down at 2 a.m. and the patrons were sent stumbling into the night air, there was always one establishment on the edge of the district that remained open until the sun came up. It was a hipster cesspool, but if my friends and I had struck out everywhere else by closing time (and were short on cash for the titter), it was our only option.
I first saw Kelly sipping an IPA at a table by herself beneath a poster for a band I’d never heard of. She had thick-rimmed glasses and a tattoo of a feather on her forearm. She wore a large plaid button down that failed to obscure an ass so fat, I would have been willing to join her on a bike ride to a used book store for the chance to touch it. I wanted to break out an antique typewriter and type a freeform poem for it.
I walked away from my boys and made my approach. Remember, be ironic, I thought to myself.
“Hey, I’m Alex.”
She ignored me.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Kelly,” she said, annoyed.
“I’m sorry to bother you, but I saw you from across the bar and I’d be kicking myself if I didn’t say hi.”
She slid her glasses down on her nose and eyed me from the Polo on my chest to the Sperrys on my feet.
“You look like a boring, conformist douchebag whose daddy pays for everything,” she said.
“I guess,” I said. “I dunno, I’ve never really thought about what I wear. I always thought it was kind of stupid when people express themselves through how they dress or whatever.”
Her eyes widened. Everything she had based her false sense of pretentiousness on – a pair of non-prescription glasses and a couple generic tattoos – had been shattered right in front of her. Next thing I know, we’re making out in the back of a cab en route to her apartment.
The inside of her place looked like a brighter version of the bar. Posters for underground bands. The curl of smoke from burning incense. An old school record cabinet. A general aura of smugness.
“Atheeena!” she called into the room. “Athena! Come here baby!”
A gray cat with green eyes darted out from behind a bookcase.
“Where’s your toy, Athena?” Kelly cooed. “Where’s your toy?”
The cat ran back behind the bookcase and returned with the toy in its mouth. It was a pink rope toy with two knots on one end. Kelly dangled the toy over Athena, who bit and swatted at the two knots.
“Pretty girl,” Kelly said, rubbing the cat’s belly. Then Kelly took me by the hand and led me into the bedroom.
She pushed me onto the bed. I started tearing off my clothes while she walked over to the record player. She looked at me and held up a record cover that depicted a pale lady slicking her hair back.
“David Bowie is my spirit animal,” she said.
“Oh yeah… uhh… me too.”
She set the arm-thing on the record, giggled, and jumped on top of me.
Having sex to David Bowie music was kind of weird, but it was fun to keep in synch with that one song that’s like, “4 – 3 –2 –1 – EAAARTH BEEELOWW US…”
I put her on all fours so I could focus on what attracted me to her in the first place.
“Oh yeah, fuck me!” she said.
“Yeah, you like that,” I said.
“HELLO MAJOR TOM,” David Bowie said.
Then, the door creaked open and a sliver of light flooded in. The large shadow of a cat stretched across the far wall like a Halloween decoration. I looked to my side and saw Athena’s big green eyes illuminated in the darkness. I returned my attention to Kelly’s bouncing ass, but was distracted again when the cat jumped on the bed and started rubbing against my leg.
“Umm… your cat is –”
“She does that,” Kelly said. “Just ignore her.”
I continued to deliver my signature short but powerful thrusts, and eventually, I forgot that the cat was lurking on the bed behind me.
Suddenly, I felt a sharp, digging pain shoot through my testes. The cat, accustom to her dangling pink rope toy with the two knots on the end, had mistaken the toy for something else remarkably similar in appearance. I let out a high-pitched scream and leapt from the bed.
“What’s wrong!?” Kelly called out, still on all fours.
The pain was unreal, swelling from my nards to my stomach to the tips of my toes and fingers. I reached down. They felt wet. I held up my hands and saw that they were coated in blood.
Kelly screamed. I threw up on the floor. The cat started lapping up the vomit.
“I need to go to the hospital,” I said.
“I can’t drive you, I’m drunk!”
I managed to pull on my pants, throw on my shirt, and half-run, half-limp out the door, holding my leaking nut sack as I went. I probably should have called an ambulance, but instead I called a pledge.
“PICK ME UP NOW!” I screamed into the phone.
In just a couple minutes, a suburban screeched to a halt in front of the apartment complex, and a bewildered-looking pledge we called Keef ran out. Keef looked at the dark stain I was clutching between my legs.
“Let me just put down a towel first,” he said.
He helped me into the car and took off for the emergency room. I sat in the backseat groaning, “If you hit a pothole I’ll fucking kill you.” We made it to the hospital after what felt like an eternity.
As the first rays of sunlight peeked over the horizon, I hobbled out of the ER and into the back of the suburban. Keef sat at the wheel, struggling to contain his laughter. He looked back at me.
“Mee-oww,” he said..