Tripp Towers, male porn star, sat on the bench, his penis in his hand. It was late afternoon, and his dick had been hard since that morning, when he’d injected it with the drug so he could get it up and get through the performance that he was about to do in the next room. They were supposed to start shooting hours ago, but things had gotten delayed, and now there was this problem with his equipment. It wasn’t supposed to stay this hard for this long. There was a word for it: priapism. If his boner didn’t go down soon, he would have to go to the hospital, and he didn’t want to think about what the doctor would do to him. Where the hell is Tripp? the director shouted. On the other side of the cinderblock wall, there was a soundstage with a set that looked like a suburban living room: a shit-brown leather sofa, a glass-topped table upon which someone had placed a vase of plastic flowers, a worn rug of muddied colors. Tripp’s job was to stand up, go into that room, and have sex with the girl who was waiting for him. He couldn’t remember her name. Alisha. Amber. Ashley. At this point, they were all the same. Expressionless girls with flat eyes that scanned him and moved on to something more interesting: the paycheck that was coming, the tattooed boyfriend that was sulking, the life that they thought working here would buy them, which involved a condo and a couple of kids, a dream that, in all likelihood, would never happen, or at least not in the way that they hoped. A dozen years ago, Tripp Towers had entered the porn business. He had dropped out of a crappy state school in flyover country and boarded a Greyhound bus headed for Los Angeles, his suitcase packed with little more than his big plans of becoming a star. In Hollywood, he’d flashed his winning grin, showed the casting directors his six-pack of steel, and demonstrated his deep desire to please everyone he met. But he hadn’t been able to get a single acting job. Then he’d seen an ad for a cattle call in the San Fernando Valley, and when the guy in the wood paneled room in the second-story office asked him to drop his pants so they could take a Polaroid that would crop out his head entirely and feature his cock prominently, he did what the man said. The first time, he was afraid. It was just the three of them in the guest bedroom of a ranch-style house in Sunland, the girl was nice but a little bit older, and he had done what he was supposed to do while the guy with the grey ponytail had filmed them. As it had turned out, Tripp could pop on command. He was the money man. He could deliver. He was respectful to the girls, the work became steady, and over time it had seemed perfectly normal to be screwing girls to pay the rent as a camera that never blinked recorded everything you did. Now that version of himself seemed very far away, and the eye at the end of his member was staring up at him in what looked like judgment. Over time, the job had gotten harder to do with the entire crew watching, the budgets had gotten bigger, and the pressure had gotten greater. At the same time, he had gotten older, the girls had gotten colder, and the competition had gotten younger. So, he had done what every other guy in this business was doing: Recognizing themselves as the racehorses they were, they’d drugged themselves. They called guys like him spikers. That morning, he had sat on the edge of the toilet in his apartment and winced as he’d watched the tip of the needle penetrate his dick. This would keep him hard. This would keep the money coming. This would keep his life afloat. But the erection had stayed and did not want to go away, it had been many hours, and this was not a good thing. Had Tripp made the right life choices? his penis seemed to want to know. Tripp had no idea. He tugged at the throbbing gristle of himself. It was possible that if he did his job, the erection would stop. It was possible that if the boner refused to abate, he would have to go to the emergency room, where they would use a scalpel to let out the blood, possibly permanently damaging him. It was possible that this problem would never end, and he would spend the rest of his life following his erection around like an old man pulled down the sidewalk by a panting dog on a leather leash. Tripp! the director yelled. “Help me,” Tripp whispered to his penis in the chilly room. His dick said nothing. It was show time. He rose to step out of this place, to go into the other world, to transport himself to where the warm glow of the klieg lights would shine on him to see if he could man up while the whole world watched.
Susannah Breslin is the author of a short story collection, You’re a Bad Man, Aren’t You?, and her stories have appeared in many anthologies and literary journals.