Prophylactics by J.T. Whitehead

The interesting thing about him was that he never used to shared too much of himself.  He made it clear to others who went fishing in him that they could catch nothing but his very chilly cold.  He despised it when they shared too much information.  Then he paid back.  Once, a woman at an office party said she used to take her husband to a cottage down South, but that he was not the first man she took there, only the first that she knew she would be with.  He paid that woman back with: “That’s a wonderful story, Ann.  I lost my virginity at a drive-in theater in a train.”  She never shared anything with him again.  He considered himself liberated from her.  After that happened, we were stuck together on an elevator.  I sensed discomfort.  I asked him, “How are you?”  I didn’t want an answer, really.  But I sort of cared.  He answered, “Terrible.  I’m going through a divorce.”  “That’s terrible,” I said. “Yes,” he said.  “She fucked the Regional Director.”  This time I knew it was the truth.  He wasn’t saying it to keep me away.  He wasn’t making it up.  He wasn’t paying me back.  His wife must have really fucked the Regional Director.  His eyes had been scooped out.  They were melting in some one else’s cone.  It must have been the Regional Director’s.  I had belief.  This was truth.  “Why did you tell me this?” I asked him, as nonchalantly as possible.  “Two reasons.” he said.   “First, if people know that I’m going through a divorce, and I don’t tell them I was the cuckold, they will think that I was the Regional Director, the fucker, in all this.  Second, every time I tell someone, it’s like pulling a feather from a bird . . .”  I said, “How?”  He said, “I’ll have a naked chicken.  Like one of those rubber chickens they used in those old vaudeville acts, to hit someone in the face.”  I asked him, “Did anything come of this?”  He said, “No children.”  I said “Well . . . in a manner of speaking.”  Then he hit me in the face.  With a rubber chicken.  And laughed.
J.T. Whitehead has had over 160 poems accepted for print by over 75 publications.  He is a  Pushcart Prize-nominated short story author, a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, and a winner of the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize. He is the Editor in Chief of So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.  His first full length collection of poetry, The Table of the Elements, (The Broadkill River Press, 2015), was nominated for the National Book Award.

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