I never believed my boyfriend Harold when he told me he could sleep with any woman he wanted, until he proved it to me. We were seventeen and had this insane appreciation for being that age, for all the fun and stupid things we did that would soon pass. Every time we took showers together in the girls’ locker room or screwed in the school parking lot or painted our genitals green at paint parties, we knew it wasn’t big deal stuff, and we knew that it was, and we loved it, and each other. My name’s Janice, but Harold always called me Luna, after his dead cat.
We were sitting together at the pep rally and I was holding his penis, my hand under his gym bag. Lots of kids skipped the rallies, but I loved the drums. I had a crush on one of the snare drummers, the captain of the drum line, this insanely skinny guy with perfect forearms.
Harold was pointing to girls in the gym, saying, “I can fuck her... I can fuck her... I can fuck her...”
“I doubt it,” I said. “What makes you so special?”
“Girls think I’m gay,” he said. “That helps.” Harold had won best-dressed three years in a row and he listened to Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals.
“I bet I can get any guy,” I said.
“Duh. That’s no challenge.”
I took my hand out of his pants and zipped him up. I looked down at my snare drummer. Everyone in the drum line except him was wearing their stupid drumline T-shirts, the ones with a killer clown breaking drum heads with hot-pink sticks. He wore a nice polo. His gaze was distant while he played so perfectly, his sticks flashing like in a high shutter speed.
“I can sleep with him before you drive me home,” I said, pointing to the drum captain.
“Again, that’s no challenge,” Harold said.
“That’s only an hour from now. Isn’t the time limit a challenge?”
Harold took my hand. “Luna,” he said. He looked at me like he did sometimes when he wanted to make me feel special, which always worked, his brown eyes under messy hair which sent me to the land of Rainbow Bright. “You don’t need to prove anything,” he said.
I knew that most guys watched porno movies, but Harold had an unhealthy obsession with them. He didn’t jerk off to them for one thing. He enjoyed the stories and the dialogue. He had blown-up pictures of penetration shots clamped in his binders. He used to write porn star names on his notebooks like most guys did with names of their favorite rock bands: Leanna Foxxx, Chasey Lain, Peter North, Dixie Dynamite. He hated the way Ron Jeremy parodied himself as the “fat, hairy porno guy.” Harold felt he should have shown more respect.
Harold began working as a pizza delivery boy, and asked me to come along with him. After a few deliveries he had this idea to get bigger tips. If the order was placed by a woman, he would deliver the pizza, but if the order was placed by a man, I would put Harold’s delivery shirt on over my naked top and leave three buttons undone. Harold liked to stay hidden just around the corner of the door to listen. This went on for a few nights, and I worried each time, but the worst anything ever happened was some old fart called me “sweet tits.”
Harold kept going on and on about this woman who answered the door in her nightgown. “That kind of shit is the reason I took this job,” he said. The next time she placed an order, Harold asked me to come to the door and listen. I wasn’t really in the mood for this game anymore, since it was old to me after the first night, but I went along.
When the woman answered the door, Harold said, “Did someone here order a large pepperoni?” in this drawling, macho voice. I swear to God, this is what he said. I wanted to walk away, but I didn’t want her to see me. “Mind if I come in and give it to you on your table?” Harold said. “It’s getting mighty hot.” And she let him. He walked in and she closed the door behind him, with me standing outside.
After standing there a long time, I checked my watch and told myself I would wait for five more minutes and then drive off without him. I was upset. The door opened after about a minute and Harold peeked around at me and said, “Come on in.”
I didn’t say anything, just walked inside, more curious than angry, and looked around for the woman who wasn’t there. “She’s in her bedroom digging for condoms,” Harold said. “She insisted.”
“We’re getting out of here now,” I said.
“I asked if you could join in and she said yes, but you can just watch if you feel uncomfortable.”
“That’s very nice,” I said. “I’m leaving with or without you.”
Harold picked up a slice of pizza and bit it. He took a ten dollar bill off the table and handed it to me. “Why don’t you keep my tip,” he said. “I don’t want to feel like a whore.”
I drove the car back to the pizza place and walked home from there. Harold was like a nightmare to me now, and I swore to never see him again. I longed for the innocence of my room and plunged onto my bed, trying to absorb every unicorn poster and stuffed animal. But the more I opened my eyes, the more everything seemed dirty. I remembered the time Harold asked me to dress up in my cheerleading uniform from eighth grade. I remembered his stare when I would kiss my sister when she left for college. Everything about him was retroactively creepy.
I heard a pebble hit my window and I thought it was Harold, but I looked outside anyway. It was the drum captain, my drum captain. I wouldn’t have recognized him from my second-story window, but he was actually wearing his snare drum. It shined white in the moonlight. I looked away from the window and into my mirror. My face was flushed and splotchy. I could feel the blood under my fingernails.
When I looked back through the window, the drum captain was climbing a ladder, his snare drum on the ground. He never said anything, just held out his hand to me when he reached the top, and I took it. I climbed down the ladder with him, and when I heard a ruffling noise I realized I was wearing a pink poofy dress.
Where the drum captain’s snare used to be was now a white stallion. I used to be scared of horses, but walked to him and touched his long nose, or face, which felt like a velvet tree log. The captain was wearing his polo and a pair of white shorts, whiter than his skinny drumstick legs. I asked him his name and he told me, “Taran, my lady.”
He set me on the horse, mounted, and the horse sprouted wings and flew into the air. From that moment on there was no Harold, only clouds and rainbows and spires and maybe even a hobgoblin. He called me a lady. I was indeed a lady.
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