Thumbing through a magazine of deep sea horrors, fish with witless, monster jaws, teeth like a mouthful of tusks. Bulbous eyes. Translucent bodies glimmering against the pitch depths. I should really divorce my wife. I toss the mag. I am a powerful, muscular swimmer. But the ocean is horrible. I will never swim again.
I go to my job, in the basement of a seafood restaurant. The pungent fish odour makes me gag, so I enter through the back way, holding my sleeve to my nose. The noonday sun is blotted by the dark interior, like a black sponge soaking up urine. Down a rusted green flight of cast-iron steps, and down a musty hallway. Into a small but organized crowd milling about on a grime-blasted floor, beneath dim jade-tinted lights. The restless audience of assorted types (ranging from your burly tough tattoo-victim to blackframe glasses pencil-poppin' accountant dealies) begins to collect themselves onto the riser tiers. All in search of rare thrills, sick and unique highs. They've come to the right place.
The judges sit attentively in front of a long, narrow table, with a sheet of paper each. They suck and tap their ink fountain pens. Everything in life is this long, indeterminate waiting, interspersed with moments of magnificence. Waiting, until the moment of grandure, when your single talent, no matter how pathetic and obscure, can be showcased for the whole world to see, and the heavens have parted their dusky cloak to reveal the jewels of the sky, shining for you and you alone.
For some people, that moment of grandure is the East Coast Underground Endurance Diving Dive-a-thon. Today's contestant enters the suddenly silent chamber, dressed in her one-piece light blue bathing suit. Her middle-aged face with snub nose, round cheeks, chipped glass eyes. Hair drawn back beneath her diving cap, causing red scalp fringe tension. Rosy skin from the sun, sun from the practice, practice from the desire to be in this competition and do well. My red desire diver.
In the centre of the room is a hole filled with water, reminiscent of an Eskimo fishing hole in a future where Eskimos fish out of solid concrete floors in dodgy basements. It goes down sixteen feet. At the bottom is a rung. This rung, when pulled, activates a circular red light installed on the opposite wall,signifying that the diver has reached the bottom. A few seconds later, the light flashes off, and must be activated again, after the diver has come up for air. Our contestant walks up to the chilly, clouded diving tunnel, her feet salty and dry on the damp perimeter, toes wiggling. Nervousness swims around the edges of her eyes, flits through her demiwrinkles. The crowd rustles, and the steady rhythm of breathing and murmuring is set. The head judge glances at me, and I nod, stepping forward, as he blows his whistle. By the time I get to the edge of the wet circle, our sunburnt friend has made her dive. The murky waters lap at the smooth edges, and I flex my feet up and down inside of my red n' orange sneakers. The hum of the power generator behind the wall resonates in the silence, sloppily punctuated by the slap of the recently disturbed waters. I stare at the calming surface as somewhere behind the judge's table a stopwatch spits out a stream of growing seconds. The red light snaps on. I tap my feet noiselessly.
Her head erupts from the calm, and before the streaming waters part from her sopping face, I launch my foot into her scalp. She's slammed back into the tunnel.
Red light. And she erupts, Venus trying to struggle from the waves, and I kick her back, into a spurt of bubbles. Red light. Struggling to catch her breath before my aerobics-pumped thigh kicks her down. By the fourth red light, she has the imprint of my sneaker on her forehead. By the fifth, a little drop of blood dissolves in the foam when I catch the edge of her hair line, tearing a strand loose with my faulty kick. Red light. I rub my fingers through my close-cropped dirty blond hair. Pick a smeared brown lock out of my sole. Slam her down.
By now my dick is gorged with blood, trying to tear through my jeans. Is this cheating on your wife? Kicking a woman in the head in a perfectly legit athletic competition? As a technicality, no.
Red outline of my sneaker's design, flushed on her flusher face. Every time the red light goes on, my horse rears a little.
She isn't playing games anymore. Every time she surfaces, she reminds me of a rising shark, her mouth, all teeth displayed, her nose, most prominent, her nostrils, swelling increasingly, dilated until her septum aches. Two little dripping holes swallowing water, blood, mucus, pinched white by her strain. A mere second before I launch the tip of my foot into her skull. Semen gathers at the tip of my tower, waiting for God to strike. I want to ejaculate a fireflood. I want to be the cause of that photo from Vietnam, where Kim Phuc is running from the napalm, shrieking, crying, naked, smoke clouds rising in the distance. Except the napalm is my hot ejaculate.
My leg is getting tired by now. Red light. I make a shoddy kick, her head cracking into the rim of the diving tunnel, and she slides down, spewing sticky magenta bubbles everywhere. Red light. She rises, in a gargantuan effort, breaching the surface like she had to smash through reinforced wood. At this point, everyday materials gain new molecular properties. Water becomes thick as gravel, your flesh turns to cooling steel. As the water streams inflamed scarlet from her hot white nose, little blood vessels start to creep out from her nostrils, slime green threads against her ghost bleached septum. Sink. Red light. She flails upwards, a long, weaving gob of bloody mucus spiraling from her phantom face. It hits my incoming sole, and my sole smacks into her face. Dive. In my head I am with her, pulling the handle. Red light. Every time she comes up, I start to see more and more of my sneaker in her. Her skin is a melange of my sole imprint.
The judges are taking notes, checking their stopwatches. Red light. Will she break the record before I break her face? Some part of me knows that everything in life is known to us, on some level. We're just very good at blocking out our precognition. In my gut, I could tell you. Reach deep inside my entrails and divine the truth. The squirming sensation in my intestines says, the churning in my stomach says, the twitch of my pumping prostate says...
No. As she bursts upwards from the depths, a vessel snaps on her nose. There is a roseate tint crawling out of her nostrils where the skin is chafing, breaking. And I step on her like I'm flooring the gas. Pedal to the mental. And we have a burst of speed in my groin, my engine exploding, white petrol flooding my hood. She shoots down, like I've just launched a torpedo. I stay there, watching the red light that never comes back on, long after everyone has left, long after the judges have paid me. And I laugh, like a wasp is caught in my throat and I'm crushing it with my contractions.
I hate the deep dark sea.