The onanist picked up a transfer that was lying on the floor of the streetcar. Pressing it between his thumb and forefinger, he began to think of the last time he had spilled his seed. There had been an anti-climax but the events leading up to the end were quite provocative.
After pondering the limp ending for a few moments he remembered another story, one that his mother had narrated, of a young man who would not do as his father had told him, and he went blind. It frightened him as a child, and then later, as a teenager, he worked in a movie theatre as an usher. It was 1974 and a British comedy came to town called If You Don't Stop It You'll Go Blind. He saw the film several times, standing at the back of the theatre. It was filled with sketch comedy scenes of old ladies espousing profane activities, gay cowboys entangled in compromising acts, and competitive sex contests filled with horny blokes and well-endowed beauty queens - among other things.
He was twenty at the time and a late bloomer. A late bloomer who had found himself in a variety of compromising positions. Once he stood at the urinal in the men’s washroom of the Odeon Theatre, where he worked for a year just before his father died, and he saw a man playing with himself and looking straight down into the porcelain altar. He went back to his post at the back of the theatre and reminisced briefly about the size of the stranger’s assertive member.
A few years later the film was followed by a sequel, Can I Do It 'Till I Need Glasses? He never saw that one, and didn’t need glasses himself until he was in his late forties. By the time he reached his mid-fifties he was buying cheap reading glasses at the dollar store. When he was fifty-eight he had graduated from a two hundred lens to three hundred and fifty. When he watched porn on his laptop he left his glasses on. But when he actually took part in auto-erotic acts without the support of moving images his spectacles were left on the bedside table.
As the sleek twenty-first-century streetcar sailed along with seamless agility, so unlike the rattling old streetcars he first rode in the nineteen seventies, he pressed the filthy transfer softly between his fingers and started to become self-conscious about the filth and germs that must be all over the little slip of grey’ish paper. So he dropped it back on the floor, and as he did so a stranger glared at him and shouted “don’t litter.” He considered a variety of responses, but luckily the streetcar was at his stop, so he just ignored the stranger’s indignant outcry and made his way to the exit. The stranger kept shouting long after he had left. But that was neither here nor there.
When he entered the lobby of the hospital he went straight to the hygiene station near the entrance and squeezed a bloated dollop on to both palms, vigorously pressing the alcohol based liquid into his skin. There were light abrasions at the end of his fingertips that stung a little as the substance was absorbed. The abrasions had been the result of a failed attempt to get crazy glue off his skin with sandpaper. Instead of removing the irritating substance the sandpaper just left little cuts between the dried hard puddles of toxic adhesive. He hated crazy glue and tried not to use it often. But there were times when it seemed to be the only solution for the re-invention of a beloved broken object.
And then he walked to the west end of the main floor of the hospital, took a sharp left, went up the escalator to the second floor, and walked straight down the hall to the elevators, where he stood and waited for one to take him to the ninth floor. After waiting ten minutes for the doctor to retrieve him from the depressing little windowless waiting room, he walked over to the receptionist’s office and asked an employee to let the doctor know that he had arrived. And then he went back to the waiting room and saw his doctor standing there looking around. They saw each other, smiled, and then went to the office together.
When he put his pants back on the doctor was standing by the window, gazing out at the downtown skyline.
“Hey Doc, I heard a joke the other day that reminded me of you. You wanna hear it?”
“No, I don’t think so. Our session is over. I’ll see you next week.”
“Aw, come on. It’s funny, and very short.”
“Okay. Tell me, quickly.”
Just as he was about to start telling the joke the doctor’s phone rang. After a few words the doctor put the phone down and told him that his next patient had just cancelled, so he could take a little more time telling the joke. They both sat down on the couch.
“So this guy went to see his doctor and his doctor told him that he had to stop masturbating. And the guy said, but why doc, why do I have to stop. And the doctor said, because it makes it difficult to examine you.”
He laughed but the doctor just smiled.
They had a free hour, after the joke, so they just stayed there, in the office, with the door locked. When he put his pants back on his patient was standing by the window gazing out at the downtown skyline, thinking to himself -
“I’m glad I dropped that filthy transfer and sanitized my hands before coming up here. My father always warned me about proper hygiene, and even though his stories frightened me as a child, they sure come in handy now that I’m all grown up.”