Karlzmar changed into his pajamas, which now had a convenient slit in back for his tail. It was exhilarating to free it up after a long day of restraint by those three small belts. He was surprised how quickly he’d gotten used to it, even fond of it. It was powerful and flexible. He played games with it sometimes, setting unopened cereal boxes or plastic cups on the arm of the sofa, and walloping them off so they flew across the room.
He could kill someone with this thing, he thought. The only real problem with it was an associated body odor so that now he had to shower each morning and industrially lather and wash his entire body. If he went for a day without bathing, he himself noticed the odd, feral scent.
But he still saw it as a good luck charm. He hadn’t gotten to first base with that stripper. He should have shown it to her.
He reminisced. One evening he had had uncanny luck with a woman he met in a bar. They sat next to each other on high bar stools. He smiled at her. She smiled back. The news was on the TV. A Chinese panda was being lent to an American zoo. She said it was cute. She liked the stubby tail. Karlzmar admitted it was cute but said he liked long tails, the longer the better. “Oh, really,” she said, “Why’s that?” Because he’d found his own tail quite endearing. “You have a tail?” she asked.
“Yep, almost three feet long.”
“Do you think saying that makes you attractive?” she asked.
“Not particularly. But it makes me different.”
She chuckled. “I’ll say. If you really had one.”
“I really do,” he said.
“The joke’s wearing thin,” she said.
He flexed the leg next to her at hip and knee, resting his foot on
the barstool. “See that ridge in the pant leg?” he asked. “That’s my
tail. Watch. I’m going to move it.”
She scowled but looked. The ridge along his entire leg moved. “You’re weird—to go to all that trouble to make some sort of mechanical device like that,” she said.
“Okay,” he said, “I’m going to show you my tail.”
“If you think I’m going to go to your place to see your so-called tail, you are sadly mistaken.”
“No, no,” he said. “I’m a total stranger. All I want to do is convince you I’m not lying. I’ll be back in a moment to show it to you. Save my seat.”
In a stall in the bathroom he took off his sport coat and pulled down his pants and underpants, undid the belts securing his tail to his leg, pulled the tail straight up along his back, pulled underpants and pants back up, and covered the tail by putting his sports coat back over it. He tucked the belts into his sport coat’s pockets. A ridge now ran up his back.
He went back to his bar stool. “Are you ready to see my tail?” he asked.
“It’s not funny anymore,” she said.
“You’ve hurt my feelings,” he said disingenuously. “Now look.” He took the bottom front corner of his unbuttoned coat in hand and flared the side of the coat out so only she could see his tail. It was red, the color of his hair. He moved it from side to side.
She gasped. “My goodness, it looks real,” she said. “That is very clever. What a lot of trouble you’ve gone to.”
“You still don’t believe it’s real, do you. That’s okay. It’s hard for me to believe sometimes too. May I buy you a drink?”
“Sure,” she said. Her attitude had changed. She was curious. “So what’s the story you tell people to go along with your tail?” she asked.
“I’ve never told anyone the story. You’re the first person who’s ever seen it.”
“Okay, tell me the story,” she said.
“Well, you see I was hired to work with a guy who turns out to be Lucifer. You know who Lucifer is, right?”
She smiled despite herself. “You are really a character,” she said. “Are you an actor?”
“No. Like I was saying, I was hired by Lucifer, and he wanted me to have a tail. I don’t know why. He doesn’t have one.”
“What were you hired to do?” she asked.
“Sorry, that’s a secret,” he said.
“Let me see it again,” she said.
“Just a moment,” he said, indicating the bartender who had just come over with her drink. When he left Karlzmar again flared out his jacket.
Emboldened, she reached under his jacket and grabbed the tail with her left hand. “Close your eyes,” she said. He closed his eyes. With her right hand she took the plastic swizzle stick from her drink and jabbed it into his tail.
“Yipes!” he cried. “What are you trying to do?” he asked, genuinely annoyed, pulling his jacket tightly closed. A few heads turned, including the bartender’s.
“You are really good at this. How do you do it?” she asked.
“Look,” he said, still annoyed “it’s real—okay?” He finished his drink quickly and stood to go.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
“What’s it to you?”
“Well, I can’t figure out how you do it. Would you mind showing me?”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“I just want to see how you do it,” she repeated. “I want to see the whole tail.”
“What do you want me to do, undress in the bar?”
“No. Come over to my place. I just want to see it, okay?
She had a small house in the Ravenna neighborhood. She pulled the curtains. He stood, pulled off his jacket revealing the tail, which was constricted by his belt about six inches above its origin. She stood right behind him and briefly stoked his tail. “Okay, I’d liked to see the whole thing,” she said. He pulled down his underpants. “My God!” she exclaimed. He whipped his tail around, slapping her on the buttocks. “Oh, my God. Do that again,” she said. “Oh my God.”
There are masochists of all stripes. Karlzmar had a satisfying night. After getting home he longed to tell someone about the evening but there was no one to tell. She too longed to tell someone about the evening, but there was also no one to tell.