“I can’t wait for the wedding.”
“Yep, not long now; I know what you mean.”
“Yeah, and there’s so much to do,” Ang said, “you know, honestly, in some ways, I can’t wait for it to be over with.”
I replied, “I thought you couldn’t wait for it and wanted it to last forever, the best day of your life, you said.”
“I can’t – but I also can’t wait for us to start our life together either; I want to start a family as soon as.”
“Hey, one thing at a time, princess. Let’s get the wedding done and dusted first.”
Besides, I thought, you wanted no sex before marriage, so for God’s sake, let’s have some fun before having kids, please! Oh Lord – please.
“I don’t think my boss would be very pleased if I took any more time off; he’s already humming and hawing about the honeymoon as it is.”
And, giving me shit about, no sex before marriage, regularly gloating, “if your not using them, you may as well not have them!”
“What are you doing this afternoon?” she asked, anticipation in her tone.
“Well, I promised Mrs Drummond I would move her sofa’s around. She wants to change her sitting room.”
“She’s lucky she has such a good neighbour like you.”
“Look, I’m happy to help; she’s a nice old duck.”
“So, are you coming around to see me afterwards?” Ang asked.
I sensed expectation rather than hope in the question.
“If it’s okay? I might have a quiet afternoon. I want to rest up, I’ve not been sleeping well, and I want to go to the stadium tomorrow. I want to get there bright and early, it’ll be a big day, so I’ll have a quiet night in.”
“It’s okay,” she sighed, “but what will you do for dinner?”
“Oh, I’m not really hungry; I’ll just grab some meat, play around with that, maybe pull up some ice cream from the freezer.”
“Er, so healthy; if that’s all you got in your kitchen, you should go to the Food Bank, get something decent.”
Ang expelled a lifeless puff of air; I could see she was surfing a wave of disappointment.
“Maybe I’ll come around tomorrow after the stadium if you want. Pick you up, take you to Toni’s, grab a pasta, maybe meatballs?”
“Who’s on this afternoon?”
“You’re kidding me, right?”
I looked at the clown. ‘Who’s on this afternoon?’ As if he didn’t know. Everybody knew who was on this afternoon. Come on, seriously!
The guy looked at me blankly; he genuinely didn’t know.
“It’s Doctor Gary Gore, supported by Nurses Pang and Gripe, the A-Team!”
“Oh,” he said, almost disinterested, “so they are good then?”
“Man, have you just landed? They’re the best! Best ever!”
“Okay, okay, this is the first sterilisation I’ve ever come to.”
“Well, you don’t know what you’ve missed, mate.”
I put my hands in my pockets and gave him a sideways glance. Idiot.
It was cold today. They’ll have to use the thermal pants, I thought,
The crowd was becoming restless and rowdy.
In front of me, a woman screamed, “C’mon, get on with it! Get it em’ up and get em’ off.”
“Yeah!” I added, “get em off, balls off, balls up!”
Everyone around me laughed.
“Everyone loves a good knackering,” a fat guy three rows over shouted.
More laughs and chortles.
A fat bass line started growling from the massive speakers that stood like Rapanui stone heads alongside the stage.
Choom, dooom, dooom dooom dooom, dah.
Wah-wah-wah-wah. Guitars started to wail and squeal.
Buuuuup, buuuuup, buuuuup blurp, the trumpets started.
Fwump, wump, pow wow, fwump, wump, pow wow, wow, hollow drums now diced the rare air.
Chicka chicka chang wang, chicka chicka wang, rhythm guitars started playing truant with the score, chopping triads, pulsing chords.
The sterilisation was about to start!
The crowd went crazy.
I glanced sideways; the guy next to me wasn’t even looking at the stage. He stood there scanning the crowd. What was wrong with the guy? … weirdo.
Public sterilisations were the best and the hottest ticket in town! Held on the first Saturday of the month, I always got there bright and early to get the best possie. Centre stage, twenty-five metres back. Perfect view, perfect sound. And, there was always the chance of catching a souvenir.
It was always the same format, six women in the morning and six men after lunch. And what made it even more exciting was the constant rotation of the performers. Performers like Nurse Yelp and Doctor Prick became household names. All having their own unique style and elaborate costume, as well as mind-bending persona.
I plundered a toddy from the pewter flask I always brought along. Drinking was prohibited, but it added to the experience and made things more vivid. The glug instantly sizzled my innards and gave my outer a cerise, royal glow. I didn’t have time to pull out an accompanying piece of biltong, but I didn’t care. The show was about to start.
I much preferred the afternoons to the mornings. It’s true, Tubal ligations were more technical, but they didn’t televise as well on the big screen. Sure, the patients were frightened, and the facial cams captured every emotion. Yes, there were tears and blood, and yes, there were incisions – all done, of course, without anaesthetic. The microphones and cameras picking up every scream, cry, whimper, and drop of blood, but it still seemed like a curtain-raiser to the gonad gouging later in the day. Bi-lateral Orchiectomy was the ultimate sensory experience and entertainment. Loved them.
The music died down, and an ambulance siren screamed around the arena with accompanying flashing red and blue lights rotating on poles throughout the space. The throng gasped in anticipation. Then the siren and lights stopped almost as quickly as they started. The curtains were pulled back.
Two skimpily dressed nurses promenaded onto the stage, dancing provocatively to ACDC’s ‘Big Balls.’ Well endowed, Nurse Pang wore a black basque with red lace trim and pointy cups, while Nurse Gripe dressed in a satin and silk, red and black chemise with thigh-high stockings. Their costumes accentuated their figures, their make-up, and their beauty. They exuded sex, sex, sex, and the men in the crowd loved it. I looked at the schmuck beside me. He was still gawping at the crowd, not the stage. Fucking weirdo.
An unseen M.C. blurted from the tannoy—her voice canyoning through the melee, sounding as sweet as a bellbird and as disturbingly appealing as the call of a banshee.
“Paging Dr Gore! Paging Dr Gore! Dr Gore, you are needed on stage; Dr Gore, you are required on stage.
The crowd roared and exploded again when Dr Gary Gore slowly emerged through the dry ice onto the stage. He had a spring in his step and an oversized scalpel in his right hand. His left hand waved to the crowd. He was wearing a black leather butcher’s apron with a blood-red bandana adorning and crowning his bald head. He kissed his nurse assistants before they wrapped themselves around him. They always put on a fantastic show.
I felt some pushing from behind. People were jostling for better views. Space was getting tighter.
“Ladies and Gentlemen!
Welcome one and all,” he said.
“Let me introduce your performers for this afternoon.
All the way from Singapore, to my left, is Nurse Pang.”
She curtsied, and the crowd roared.
“A veteran of 453 sterilisations, Nurse Pang is the ultimate queen of reproductive butchery, a true matron of misery!”
“To my right, Nurse Gripe!”
Nurse Gripe turned her back, lifted her chemise and wagged her shapely backside!
The crowd went wild; she was a keen favourite, a darling of the masses. Cheeky in every sense.
“Nursey nursey’s, I feel worsey,” Dr Gore teased, feigning a woozy faint.
“With over 600 sterilisations, she has perfected the glans grip and is the one and only Princess of Pain.
My name is Dr Gary Gore, a surgeon and student of the scalpel, and I will be performing today’s ‘extractions,’ the ‘expulsions’, the ‘cleaving’ and ‘lacerating;’ I will be liberating the crown jewels! I am the ogre of the orchids! Bring out the first patient.”
The two nurses left the stage and then returned, escorting a man in his mid-twenties. Their arms linked in his, he was led, side by side, onto the stage. Brenda Lee’s, ‘Losing You,’ belted out from the speakers.
“I knew it, I knew it,” I said to no one in particular. “I knew he would be wearing the thermal shorts.
“What?” The guy beside me asked. “What did you say?”
“Thermal shorts, the pink fluoro ones,” I pointed. “Stops shrinkage, the cold makes testes shy, and anxiety can make them hide. The shorts keep them warm, nice and loose.”
The guy looked at me, didn’t say anything, just smiled. I shook my head.
The patient was deathly white, trembling.
“Now, who do we have here? Who’s about to be neutered?” Dr Gore asked.
Brenda Lee was slowly being muted; she didn’t know!
Nurse Pang spoke. “Dr Gore, this is Robert Burt; he’s 26, married with no children.”
The crowd burst into laughter.
“He’s amassed 31 de-merits, over the past twelve months, for speeding, late payment of fines and tythes, and worst of all, he urinated in a public space.”
The crowd booed.
“Get them out, rip them out; he deserves it,” the lady in front jeered.
“Yeah,” everyone around me chorused.
“Yeah!” I added, “get em off, balls off, balls up!”
Soon everyone was chanting, “balls off, balls up! Balls off, balls up!”
It was brilliant.
The reluctant patient was led to the gurney, strapped down. Secured quickly, the gurney was then tilted 45 degrees upward. He was spread-eagled, limbs x-shaped, and the shots on the big screen oscillated between facial and groin close-ups to wide panning shots of the crowd and the gurney.
Nurse Pang seized some oversized scissors from a silver trolley by the gurney, then theatrically showcased these to the crowd, who signalled their appreciation through hoops of joy and cheers.
She waltzed over to the Patient, toyed with the scissors, threatening to snip anything between his legs. Teasing the crowd, she moved seductively, then slowly started cutting away the patient’s shorts.
“Get them off, get them off,” the woman in front yelled.
Sure enough, the patient’s thermal shorts were sliced off within a blink of an eye. The big screen suddenly split into two shots—one focusing on the face, the other – on the business end of the operation.
The patient closed his eyes, grimaced, prepared himself. With his eyes closed, he couldn’t see Nurse Gripe sneaking up behind him, hunting him. The crowd loved it. Like a pantomime cat, she ducked, laid low, and froze while holding on tightly to an oversized monkey wrench.
Oohs and aahs escaped from the crowd, spilling liberally, squeezed and poured out like raspberry jam and cream from a loaded Boston bun.
“She’s coming to get you!”
“Oh no, she’s not,” I yelled in response.
“She’s coming to get you,” the crowd crowed again.
Nurse Gripe pounced, clamping the wrench over the patient’s glans. The patient shrieked. She leant back violently, pulling the penis toward the patient’s chest, giving Dr Gore uninterrupted access to the scrotum.
The crowd’s eyes now focused on the big screen. The patient was crying, Dr Gore was smiling. He held the scalpel up to the crowd, and they whispered their appreciation, no one wanting to break the solemn serenity of the moment. This was theatre; this was church; this was justice!
The patient screamed as his scrotal raphe was dissected. Dr Gore deftly and swiftly worked to pull the testicles from out of the warmth and security of their sac. To make the operation more dramatic, he delayed clamping the spermatic cords; they gushed blood accordingly.
Nurse Pang handed Dr Gore surgical scissors from an eager stainless steel kidney dish. Then Dr Gore quickly snipped away the surrounding tissues, vessels, and miscellaneous matter before tipping the freed testes into the kidney dish.
Arms raised above his head in a victory salute, he turned to face the delighted crowd and yelled.
“Balls-off… bulls up!”
A roaring echo returned, “balls off, balls up.”
Nurse Pang walked silkily toward the edge of the stage, hips wagging, hair flicking, a supermodel of the macabre. She brought a still warm testicle to her lips – kissed it.
God, these guys are so professional, I thought.
Then, she launched the testicle into the crowd.
A mad scramble ensued, people jostling and juggling for the bloody prize!
The second testicle soon followed its ex-roommate, flying through the cold air within 90 seconds of being evicted. It was caught barely 5 metres from where I stood. Next time, I thought.
“That was close,” I said, smiling, to the guy beside me.
“Yeah,” he replied, completely unenthused.
I turned away, fuck, what a knob!
I stole another toddy; it felt good.
I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“What happens now?” weirdo knob-head asked.
“Mate, you really are naive. There’s going to be another sterilisation, another 5, in fact!”
“Poor bastards,” he sighed.
“Nothing poor about it; these guys deserve it. If you can’t adhere to society’s rules, then it’s only right for your bad genes and swimmers to be expunged from the pool.”
He nodded impartially; I couldn’t work him out.
Over the next 90 minutes, four more men lost their ‘cojones.’
Immediately after the fifth sterilisation, during the mop-up, Dr Gore addressed the audience.
“Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a slight change to the proceedings today. As you know, the Bank is always looking at different ways to entertain you. Different ways to ensure everyone gets a fair crack! Different ways to ensure we are all the same. That everyone plays by the rules.”
So, from now on, the last sterilisation of the day will be a segment we call… ‘Instant Justice’! Now cast your eyes on the big screen.”
Everyone dutifully obliged.
“Watch the camera seek out the patient… could it be you?”
The camera zoomed in, then out, focussing on red-faced petrified males. They looked horrified, all wearing expressions of incredulous disbelief before breaking into a relieved, I knew it wasn’t me, smirk. The camera panned west; it panned east. It then panned directly in front of the stage – south. It started at the back, then slowly moved forward – eventually stopping at me.
My guts churned while I waited for the camera to move off—one second, two seconds, five, then ten. I gulped.
Sirens and flashing lights went off. My face was framed in a shot on the big screen.
I couldn’t believe it.
Dr Gore started speaking. “Now, who do we have here?”
This couldn’t be true.
“This is Jack Whiti,” Nurse Gripe answered.
“He’s 25, just turned 25, he has a fiancé and no children. They haven’t even had sex yet. But they do have plans to get married shortly.”
The crowd laughed. Stared at me. Everyone around me backed away. Everyone except for weirdo, who approached me smiling, pulling out a pair of handcuffs.
“He’s a keen supporter of sterilisations; he’s attended six previous events.”
Dr Gore interrupted, “oh, he sounds like a fine young man, an upstanding citizen, Nurse; why has Jack been selected?”
“You would think so, wouldn’t you, Dr? But every time he attends, he brings alcohol.”
“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” The Dr replied. “That’s five demerit points per event! I’m a Dr, not a mathematician, so how many demerits does that make…?”
I bolted. There was no way I was going to let anyone mutilate me.
The chase was on.
“Seize him,” the Dr appealed.
I burst through grasping arms, side-stepped would-be tacklers, high jumped sneaky foot trips. All I could see were hundreds of people, no, thousands of people standing in front of me, in my face, to my side, and while I couldn’t see him, I could sense weirdo man right behind me. I could see screaming faces but couldn’t hear their vicious yells; I couldn’t hear anything except pulsing blood charging behind my ears. My heart was belting so hard that it felt like it was about to burst through my ribs.
Got to escape, got to get out of here, please, please….
The crowd closed in; I grew tired and lost energy.
No, no, no, no…please.
I’d only made it twenty metres before; I was hauled in, pushed to the ground and held down.
Weirdo man approached, didn’t say a word, just smiled. He handcuffed my hands in front of me. Within 10 seconds, I was hoisted up, floating on a sea of arms and shoulders surfing toward the stage.
The crowd roared, and the speakers started rocking out, sittin’ pretty, by The Datsun’s. I was being charioted away to my castration, and there was nothing I could do about it. I was petrified; every hand on my body felt like the hand of the devil, every finger, the finger of death. Closer and closer, shuffling toward the stage. I could see the nurses’ heaving chests, the doctor’s grin, and the pulsating LED lighting on the gurney.
God help me.
I screamed, “stop, please, stop,” but no one could hear me, no one listened, no one cared.
I thought of Ang, my fiancé, my marriage and how she wanted a child. Oh no, oh no.
I drifted on the sea of hands and insults closer to the inevitable.
Suddenly, I wobbled, my midriff drooped. There must have been a temporary gap in the scaffold of hands holding me up. I felt that I was close to being dropped. I took advantage. I twisted, turned and lashed out violently. Binds that had held me aloft now let go. I fell to the ground.
Adrenaline kicked in, and I tried to flee once again. I sped as fast as I could to the right. I could see a green exit sign thirty metres distant, so I made a bee-line toward it, buzzing past stinging abuse and flapping limbs. It felt like I was running in quicksand and battling a headwind. Progress was hard, but I was determined.
Phew, I made it.
I knew weirdo man wouldn’t give up; he would chase me down. I needed to find sanctuary. I knew he would quickly find out where I lived; soon after that, he would find Ang. So, I needed an alternative place to hide.
Mrs Drummond? Yes, Mrs Drummond. She owed me a favour after shifting her furniture!”
It took 15 minutes of near sprinting to get to Mrs Drummond’s. Blood pumping, heart thumping, I thought I was having a heart attack, I thought I was going to die. I didn’t look behind me, head down, teeth gritted; I was focused on one thing alone: to get to Mrs Drummond and sanctuary.
I banged on her door with the power of a sledgehammer. “Mrs Drummond, Mrs Drummond, it’s Jack; please let me in, please open the door…please.”
I heard her get up from her chair in the sitting room.
C’mon, c’mon, please, quick, Mrs Drummond, please.
After what seemed an eternity, she finally opened the door.
I charged through breathless.
“Mrs Drummond, you’ve got to help me; please close the door.”
She hesitated, so hands still bound, I snatched at the door, and back-kicking it, I slammed it closed myself.
She jumped back in fright.
“What’s wrong, dear?” she asked.
“I’m in trouble,” I spurted. “They’re after me!”
“Who are dear?”
“The Food Bank, the people from the Food Bank. They want to sterilise me!”
“Oh no, that’s awful, Jack; what can I do to help?”
“I don’t know, Mrs Drummond, I don’t know.” I fell to my knees; the reality was there was nothing she could do. Eventually, I would be found, and inevitably, I would be separated from my pride and joys, my lovely boys. I wept.
“Oh dear,” she said, wrapping her arms around me. “I’m so sorry.”
I shook, then sobbed, “Ang is going to kill me; she wanted a family so much. She’ll call off the wedding for sure. I love her so much; what have I done?” I cried.
“There must be something I could do, Jack.”
“No, I think it’s all over for me, I’ll never be able to have children, and I will lose Ang.”
“Jack, you helped me this afternoon; let me help you. I can see your hands are bound, and you want Ang and children. I can help; I know of a way you can have both. Trust me. Now go and hide in my bedroom.”
I did as she asked and waited.
She returned a few minutes later with an empty ice cream container. She closed the door.
She walked toward me and undid my belt. Then with lightning hands, she pulled my trousers and underwear down.
“Trust me,” she said with a smile. I will capture your seed and freeze it. Then Ang will be able to get pregnant and carry your child. You will be able to choose the time and place.”
She pushed me back onto her bed before I could argue. She attacked me eagerly but struggled to rouse me.
“Relax,” she said, “you’re safe here. Close your eyes. We must hurry.”
She went back to work.
Hurry, I thought, hurry.
A few minutes later, there was a knock on the bedroom door.
“Jack, Jack, are you in there?”
Hurry, Mrs Drummond, hurry.
More knocking, much more frantic this time.
“Jack, Jack, answer me, or I’m coming in.”
Quick, Mrs Drummond, I’m nearly there.
“That’s it, Jack; I’m coming….”
So was I.
Two seconds later
It wasn’t the weirdo who burst through the door – it was Ang.
“What, wha…wha…what? Ang…Ang?”
“Jack, what the hell are you doing?”
She nodded toward my nakedness, my hand wrapped around my penis.
“Wha…wha…what?” was all I could muster.
Ang spun around, stormed out the door.
I looked around, but Mrs Drummond was nowhere to be seen. Thank God for that. I looked down; my hands weren’t handcuffed. I threw the blue ice cream tub off the bed. Then I noticed I was in my own room. What the fuck?
I looked at the clock. 18.25 – 6.25pm. Yep, the time seemed about right.
“Are you decent yet?” Ang called from the hallway a moment later.
I pulled the covers up.
“Jack, you look terrible; what’s going on? Levi rang me; he said he’d been trying to contact you all day. He said you never went to the Stadium; you were supposed to meet him there. He eventually rang me. So, I tried ringing you. No answer. I thought you were taking me out tonight. Obviously, you’d prefer to please yourself.”
“No, no, it’s not like that, I promise. I promise. I honestly don’t know what’s going on. Are you saying I didn’t go to Pinnacle today?”
“That’s what Levi said.”
“Then I’ve got no idea of what’s happening, what I’ve done today. I think I’ve just had the worst nightmare in the history of the world.”
“You don’t remember what you did today?”
“No,” I lied, knowing that telling her would get me into even more trouble.
“Well, do you remember what you did last night?”
“Yes, after speaking with you, I helped Mrs Drummond, came home and had a snacky bite to eat. Had a couple of quiet drinks. Went to bed.”
“Is that all? Are you sure?”
“Well, I took a couple of sleeping pills; I’ve not been sleeping well, I told you that.”
“How much did you drink?”
“Oh, not too much, a couple of beers and about a third of a bottle of bourbon!”
Oh my God, Jack, you weirdo, you do know you’re not supposed to drink when taking sleeping pills? And that you are only supposed to take one! You bloody idiot!”
From personal experience, please do not drink alcohol and take sleeping pills; it’s the worst trip I’ve ever had!
Nb: A red and black theme was chosen this week to celebrate the Crusaders winning their 11th Super Rugby Title.