Johnny America


Omega Boy


Men will soon be ex­tinct. There is a plot to rid us from the world. It in­volves sperm banks.

Sperm banks hold enough sperm to im­preg­nate women for many years to come. In fact, since the av­er­age male ejac­u­la­tion pro­duces ap­prox­i­mate­ly two-hun­dred mil­lion sperm, a dozen men ejac­u­lat­ing on­ly once would pro­duce enough sperm to im­preg­nate every woman cur­rent­ly liv­ing on earth.

This con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry I have heard many times be­fore from my friend Tom. As we sit in our favourite bar, a six­ties styled place called So­da Bub­bles, he tells me it again. Sit­ting in the booth, I look over at the bar where an old­er man is half-turned on a stool, smil­ing with a red face as he lis­tens to Tom.

“On­ly a mat­ter of time be­fore they kill us off,” Tom says. “One by one.”

“Who again?” I ask.

“Women.” Tom ad­justs him­self, shift­ing his body by push­ing down on the padded vinyl. By the way he stretch­es his body I can tell that he, fu­tile­ly, is try­ing to reach the floor with his stub­by legs. “Sin­gle men, like me, will be the first to go. We have no com­pan­ions, and there­fore there is no con­flict when de­ci­sion day comes. Then a small group of women will take over, and in a fas­cist oli­garchy they will con­vince oth­er women to kill their hus­bands or lovers.”

“So if they have enough sperm right now in these sperm banks, why haven’t they done it already?”

He takes a long drink from his beer, and fol­lows it with a quick puff from his cig­a­rette. He folds his arms on the ta­ble and leans to­ward me. “You could say they’re just wait­ing for more men donors, to pro­vide more ge­net­ic di­ver­si­ty. But what I think is, they’re just plot­ting in fine de­tail how they’re go­ing to do it. They’re iron­ing out the wrinkles.”

“Al­right, but when these women use this frozen sperm and be­come im­preg­nat­ed, they will have a child. This child could grow up to be­come a boy. I doubt a moth­er would be able to kill her child.”

“The tech­nol­o­gy is such that they can tell if a male or fe­male will be pro­duced. They’ll on­ly choose females.”

The red-faced old man lis­ten­ing from his bar stool yells out, “We’re fin­ished,” and then be­gins to chuckle.

Tom turns at the waist to face him. “Yep. Al­though, I imag­ine some­where down the road they’ll get a woman to have a boy, and they’ll raise him in a cage in a lab. They’ll use him just for some new genes.”

“I’m re­al­ly tired,” I say to Tom. “I’m go­ing to din­ner lat­er with Julie. I should prob­a­bly have a nap first.”

When I leave the bar the sun whites out my vi­sion for a few sec­onds — un­til my eyes ad­just — and this brief space in time is the tran­si­tion from Tom’s imag­i­na­tion to my reality.

My house is on­ly around the cor­ner from So­da Bub­bles, and when I walk in­side, I kick off my shoes, col­lapse on the couch, and fall in­to an ine­bri­at­ed sleep in my liv­ing room.

I awake on a tiled floor naked; my head is next to a dog bowl la­beled “Omega Boy.” As I sit up, I re­al­ize I am en­closed with­in a cage. I stick my face against the bars, look through and see three women in lab coats ob­serv­ing me, tak­ing notes on a clipboard.

One woman wear­ing an ex­ag­ger­at­ed lay­er of make­up ap­proach­es me, un­but­ton­ing her lab coat as she steps for­ward at­tempt­ing to se­duce me. I do not be­come aroused though, and I dis­cov­er that this is be­cause my body is pre-pubescent.

At this point, I know I am on­ly dream­ing. This re­al­iza­tion should be com­fort­ing, but since my con­scious thought has not im­me­di­ate­ly wak­ened me, I pan­ic, feel­ing un­able to es­cape from the dream. Hor­ri­fied, I col­lapse on the floor of the cage, bur­row­ing my knees in­to my chest.

A door slams, and I am re­lieved. Once again, re­al­i­ty re­turns. It is Julie re­turn­ing from work. Her nor­mal­ly cas­cad­ing dark hair has bur­rowed in­to the col­lar of her shirt.

When I lift my­self from the couch, I can feel the film of sweat that for some un­known rea­son on­ly forms while sleeping.

“How was work?” I ask.

“I don’t know. Peo­ple say they want to buy the house, and then they say they don’t. No one can make up their mind.” Af­ter she puts down her purse and re­moves her shoes, she looks at me. “What’s with you? Were you sleeping?”

“Just dozed off.”

She gives me a quick kiss, mov­ing her head in and out like a young bird snatch­ing at a morsel of food.

“Drink­ing too,” she says. As she pass­es me her eyes stay — just long enough to show disapproval.

She walks in­to the liv­ing room and be­gins or­gan­is­ing the news­pa­per that is scat­tered about the cof­fee ta­ble. When she picks up the job sec­tion, she stops for a sec­ond, and then folds it in with the rest of the paper.

“Who did you go drink­ing with?” she asks.


She rolls her eyes. “How was his trip? Did he meet anyone?”

“I’m not sure. Don’t think he even men­tioned it.”

She lies back against the couch, puts her feet on the arm­rest, and flicks on the tele­vi­sion with the re­mote. Look­ing at her I am per­plexed. I no­tice that she cups the re­mote with­in her left hand, while she press­es but­tons with the in­dex fin­ger of her right hand. It is some­thing she has prob­a­bly al­ways done, but this is the first time I have no­ticed it.

“Why are you hold­ing the re­mote like that?”


“The re­mote.” I low­er my voice. “You know, you can hold it in one hand and change the chan­nels with your thumb.”

“I’m not in the mood. Don’t both­er me,” she says.

She stops flip­ping, land­ing on a com­mer­cial. I watch the green bar shrink as she di­als the vol­ume down to where it is on­ly faint­ly audible.

She sits up, looks at me, and folds her hands to­geth­er on her lap. I rec­og­nize her fa­mil­iar pos­ture and I al­ready be­gin dread­ing what I fore­see will be an ar­gu­ment. “So did you even look for a job to­day?” she asks.

“Yeah, of course.”

“Be­cause I saw the job sec­tion. Noth­ing was circled.”

“I called a few places. I just don’t cir­cle. Is there a need to circle?”

“Yes. It lets you know which ones you’ve called already.”

I turn and look at the tele­vi­sion where a com­mer­cial fades out and a box­ing match fades in. It is a clas­sic box­ing match — Muham­mad Ali ver­sus Joe Fraser.

I rec­og­nize Fra­zier’s blue trunks as the ones he wore in his third fight against Ali in the Philip­pines — The Thril­la in Manil­la, fif­teen rounds of pum­mel­ing each oth­er for a fi­nal de­ci­sion of great­ness. Though Ali won, Fras­er gained as much respect.

“Are you lis­ten­ing?” Julie asks.

“Yes. I’m look­ing for work, al­right? Just give me a few more days. I’ll find some­thing.” I stand up and walk to the kitchen. “Re­lax,” I add, and as I pass her, she fur­rows her eyebrows.

In the kitchen, I make a dou­ble-deck­er peanut but­ter and ba­nana sandwich.

Hold­ing my sand­wich on my plate, I re­turn to the liv­ing room where Judy is watch­ing the lo­cal news.

When I sit on the couch across from her she says, “What the fuck are you doing?”


“We’re go­ing to din­ner in an hour.”

“Well I’m hun­gry. Since when has an ap­petite been a prob­lem for me?” As I say this, I pat my gut with two thump­ing open-hand swats.

She makes a look of dis­gust, then re­turns to the tele­vi­sion where there is a hy­po­thet­i­cal sketch of a man sus­pect­ed of rape.

“…The man who com­mit­ted the as­sault is said to be about six-feet tall with short-brown hair, dark fea­tures, and a husky build,” the news­woman says.

“My de­scrip­tion,” I say offhand.

“That’s not even fun­ny. Rape is not fun­ny. Is this what you do all day? Crack jokes at the tele­vi­sion by your­self? How old are you?”

I put my half-eat­en sand­wich on the cof­fee ta­ble, lean back on the couch and close my eyes. I al­most fall asleep but then I re­mem­ber the dream from ear­li­er, and I fear be­com­ing trapped with­in it again.

“You bet­ter not be sleep­ing again,” Judy says.

“Quit nag­ging.”

“You have to get ready soon.”

“There’s lots of time.”

“I want you to wax be­tween your eye­brows be­fore we go,” she says.

I sit up. “What for?”

“Be­cause your eye­brows — eye­brow, I should say — looks ridicu­lous. I fig­ure you can look nice for one night.”

With one fin­ger, I rub the bris­tles that con­nect my eye­brows. “It does­n’t feel that bad. So, why are we go­ing tonight?”

“Be­cause, like I’ve told you, we need to talk about things.”

“And we can’t talk here?”

“No. You think I can have a con­ver­sa­tion with you in this mess?”

I stand up, walk around the cof­fee ta­ble, and sit be­side her. “Just tell me what this is about.”

“Lat­er.” She brush­es my hair back with her hand, and the del­i­ca­cy of it re­minds me of her ten­der ca­ress­es be­fore we were mar­ried. And I think, for a mo­ment, that she is go­ing to kiss me. It is a kiss not like the peck when she walked in the front door ear­li­er, but one more sen­su­al — one that I think may lead to some­thing else.

When she parts her lips, though, I can tell she is in­spect­ing my brow line. Her hand moves down from my hair and her thumb feels the hairs. “I’ll do it for you,” she says.

She smiles, jumps to her feet, and runs to the bath­room upstairs.

I lay with my head back on the arm­rest of the couch. When she re­moves the wax, I cry out in mock-pain.

“Don’t be such a baby.”

“I was kidding.”

“I bet.” She again gets an ex­cit­ed look. “I should put some make­up on you.”

She re­minds me of my old­er sis­ters who used to chase me around the house hold­ing bags filled with cov­er-up and nail pol­ish. I am al­so re­mind­ed of Tom’s oth­er the­o­ry, that het­ero­sex­u­al men will soon be wear­ing make­up too. “It starts with the eyes,” he would say.

“You can see some guys now that have just a faint shad­ow on the top eye-lid.”

I sit up and feel the smooth, hair­less skin above my nose. “No make-up.” I say.

“Just some eye shadow.”

“No.” I walk to the front hall­way and look in the mir­ror. “I don’t like it. It’s too neat; it’s too symmetrical.”

“It’s sup­posed to be.”

“And it shines. You can tell it’s been waxed.”

She stands be­hind me as I look in the mir­ror, then she wraps her arms around my chest, con­strict­ing me.

“Lots of guys do it now,” she says.

“That’s my point.”

“What? What’s your point?”

I un­clamp her arms, walk back in­to the liv­ing room and lay on the couch. “I’m not going.”

“Why? You look good. Don’t be so silly.”

“I’ve changed my mind now.”

Her hands be­come fists and af­fix them­selves to her hips. “I have some­thing im­por­tant I want to discuss.”

“Then tell me now.”

There is a long pause, and even though I have my eyes shut, I can sense the ten­sion in her face. “Fine. I want to talk about kids, alright?”

“We’ve talked about that before.”

Her voice be­comes soft. “Not in awhile. My mind has changed about things. I don’t think I can go any longer with­out one.”

“I can. Look, I just don’t think I would make a good fa­ther right now.”

“When will you then?”

“Maybe nev­er.” She does not re­spond. I open my eyes and crane my neck around. Her eyes well. “I’m sor­ry,” I say. “But if we have kids I think that will just be it for you and me. The end. I’ll be no use as a fa­ther. I can’t even find a job to sup­port us right now.”

Her eyes widen and be­come placid. “So that’s it? It’s all about you and your selfishness?”

“Kids on­ly need moth­ers. They don’t need fa­thers. I didn’t.”

“I know it both­ers you that you did­n’t have a fa­ther around. I’m sor­ry. But you have to get over that.”

I sit up. “No. I don’t think you un­der­stand. I’m glad I did­n’t have one around. What would we have done? Play catch or some­thing? Un­less you want a fu­ture ath­lete, there is­n’t much use for me.”

“I want to talk about this over din­ner. I’m get­ting ready, and I’ll sit in the car and wait for you to come if I have to.”

As she walks up­stairs to the bath­room I ask, “What do fa­thers re­al­ly do?”

There is no response.

When she walks down­stairs, her eyes ig­nore me. In the hall­way, she puts on her shoes, grabs the car keys, and goes outside.

I walk to the win­dow and see her sit­ting in the dri­ver’s seat, wait­ing with her arms crossed against her chest.

In a mar­riage there is no man or woman. If I am a good hus­band I should get dressed, get in the car, and let my wife dri­ve me to the restau­rant, where I will sit and lis­ten with my neat­ly spaced eye­brows, and even­tu­al­ly agree to have a child with her.

But some­thing makes me re­sist this in­sti­tu­tion and all the con­ven­tions that go along with it. In­stead of get­ting dressed, I re­cline my body on the couch and close my eyes. And as I be­come heavy, and be­gin to drift back in­to a sleep, I no longer wor­ry about the dream from be­fore. I no longer fear be­com­ing trapped.

Filed under Fiction on April 29th, 2005

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Reader Comments

Jum wrote:

What? Is this some test on the poor, gen­tle read­er? or is this a new fan­gled lit­er­ary tech­nique? Is she Julie or Judy? Or is she so many god­damn won­der­ful things to you, you can’t decide?

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