Sam and I were trying to make it with these baristas and we were all
Pretty drunk on gas station wine and the pheromones were lifting weights,
And it smelled like air conditioner mildew. We wanted something cool
And refreshing, but there was this nasty smell laced with the air.
We persevered though and before long, clothes were off
And we were doing our best to compensate for a lack of sincerity
And after an Odyssey of misguided foreplay, realizing that perhaps
We’d never make it to our destination, we went into the kitchen,
To the snowman cookie jar where we keep the condoms.
Sam threw a hissy fit when he opened the cookie jar all wistfully
And saw there were no condoms whatsoever and I tried lightening
The mood by saying that it’s a good thing, that the emptiness means
We’ve been having safe sex. He punched me in the arm and said
That the coffee chicks would never have sex without condoms,
That they were good girls or something, haloed in responsibility
And respectable daddies. I told him he was being misogynistic,
That I was in no mood for 2 a.m. stereotypes then suddenly like God
Or a choir of angels shoved a beehive of ideas into his cranium
Sam buzzed out, “I know! Let’s use real balloons. It’s the same thing!”
And he ran toward his bedroom looking for those helium clown swords
So he could stab some estrogen sky with skyscrapers of gross libido.
We had a lot of unused balloons floating around the apartment because
The week before our buddy Mike came back from Iraq and we
Threw him a little bit of a rager, so we bought a lot of balloons
From Party City because Mike was a big fan of balloon animals
When he was little because he liked having his own personal zoos
Of feral Hindenburgs. The party was a complete disaster –
Apparently, balloon animal elephants are a trigger for Mike’s PTSD.
He broke down and we drank. He broke down some more and we ate Molly
Then we snorted and became wired then we parachuted well into the morning.
Anyway, the coffee girls were getting impatient – I could hear murmuring dissent.
The mood was gone. I called for Sam and there was no response. When I went
Into his bedroom, he was sitting at his desk making an elephant balloon animal.
“What about the girls?” I asked. Sam didn’t look up at all, intent on conserving
The one happy memory we have of our friend. Being endangered is a total buzzkill,
Even for balloon animals. I called a cab and gave the girls cab fare. It all felt
Impure, like we did something wrong, killed off a species of some kind. I know
For sure the following: no matter how many balloon animals Sam makes,
He’ll never replenish the PTSD zoo that is Mike’s brain, and I guess our brains too.
Justin Karcher (@justin_karcher) lives in Buffalo, NY. Recent works have appeared in 3:AM Magazine, The Buffalo News, Plenitude Magazine, and more. He is the recent winner of the 2015 Just Buffalo Literary Center members’ writing competition. A book of poems, Tailgating at the Gates of Hell, will be released in October from Ghost City Press.