Democritus' Atom Richard Weems Macro-Fiction

map Democritus’ Atom

by Richard Weems

Published in Issue No. 18 ~ November, 1998

We made bets. Innocent ones at first, silly things a man and woman in the early throes of dating try on each other. The wagers were fought in riddles. The befuddled one had to cook the befuddler dinner. The confounded ironed the confounder’s weekend wash. With familiarity came more forward wagers: loser goes down on winner and gets no reciprocation; loser is winner’s naked butler for the day; loser masturbates while singing aloud “Be Kind to Your Web-Footed Friends.”

Then she started winning, over and over, breaking my spirit until I couldn’t think of challenging riddles anymore. She, on the other hand, seemed to be saving her cruelest wagers for my weakest moments.

The unwritable sentence, for instance.

“Understood: to, too and two.” She demonstrated on the legal pad I was to use. “Write me this sentence [which she did not demonstrate on the legal pad]: ‘There are three ‘s in the English language.’ No restructuring, no revision.”

She sat before me, no underwear beneath her stylish, professional skirt. By this time I had licked her shoes clean. I had wiped her ass, carried around with me a gallon jug that I had to urinate in. This debasement alone made me unable to think, but now there was also her pussy there before me, that thing my penis hadn’t been allowed near for a month now.

Even worse, I still had hopes of beating her again. I had a list of things I was going to do to her upon my next successful wager. What joy to have had her spread across my lap: the short-lived ripples on her luxurious posterior rolling out from under my harsh, unyielding hand; she face-first in a bucket of mashed tofu, slurping her way down to a gag ball and nipple clamps she would be required to let me use on her. Even a straight-up fuck, a heated shagging on the hardwood floor, would have been a kind of torture to her for certain, especially if I were the one on top.

I took frantically to writing. I was fueled to hope by the smell of her vagina, wetting I was sure at the spectacle of my desperation.

There are three to’s…

She ripped the sheet from the legal pad upon which I slaved. “Wrong!” she screamed with obvious delight.

There are 3 2’s…

“Ridiculous! Inane!” This torn sheet fell heavily, crumbled out of shape by her strong, harsh hands.

There are

There are

There are

The blank spaces glared at me, taunted me, sucked all words from my mind.

“Assume the position,” she said.

I had lost all power to even think of doing otherwise. I lay back as she squatted over me, hiking up her skirt so I wouldn’t be able to not see any of it.

“Open wide, lemming,” she said, “It’s suppertime…”

…no…this is not it…this goes on too long…summarize succinctly…

This is to tell where it went bad with us (‘her and me’ she would have preferred it-even now, how her orders haunt me!)…thus to document the turning point, the definitive, concise moment that effected the lowly state our relationship was to become, at least for me…

“I am,” was all I had to offer. It seemed like a good answer, but to this, she laughed and spun in her leather desk chair so amenable to spinning.

“Dope,” she sung out, “Numskull, goon.”

“‘I am’ is three letters,” I said in way of defense. “There is no shorter going.”

She clicked a clothespin against her teeth with intellectual delight and savage anticipation. “Half-wit. Critic. Stop being so literal.” She licked her lips in her sumptuous way and leaned toward me. That smell (her hair), the way her double-breasted jacket held on to the curves in her torso…

She took me through the grammar lesson again: the English language, the sentence in its most legal terms, its two basic criterion: 1) a kernel (subject and verb) and 2) a complete thought. That was it. That was all. The riddle was to pare everything down to its most basic element within given parameters, cutting down to Democritus’s atom. She summed up thusly:

“So take me a letter shorter, chimp.”

Nervous, I said, “I’m.”

Oh, she laughed. She sat before me-I remained standing (a position of power, you’d think), yet I felt cuckolded, castrated, my genitals speared upon the tips of her press-on nails.

“Same thing, weasel,” she said. She clenched her fist as though she knew where I was imagining my privates and crushed them into nothing.

“We continue, dolt,” she said. The way she held the clothespin, she could have been holding a horsewhip…

…not here…not here…oh god not here…

Ah, the days when I still won. She once had to ask the cashier of a video rental store, “Do you carry Big-Boobed Girls Who Take It Up the Ass 4?” with at least three people in line behind her. Once she had to carry my coattails and sing my praises as we went food shopping. Once, I ate dinner from a plate balanced on her back. She was on all fours, naked, a floret of broccoli in her mouth. Once, she had to call random numbers in the phone book and rave to whoever answered (including answering machines) of her ‘grand stallion Scaramouche’ while I made it with her from behind.

The two-letter sentence was where that all changed.

“In the imperative,” she explained, waving the clothespin like a pointer at nothing, “the subject, ‘you,’ is understood. I don’t have to say ‘you’ when I say, ‘Get out,’ or, ‘Put that down…'”

(Oh, how she loved the imperative: “Get on your knees”; “Spread those cheeks”; the dreaded, dreaded “Open wide.”)

“But ‘Go’?” I asked.

“‘Go.’ That’s all. That’s it. You lose,” she said and locked her lips in victory.

There was nothing else to do. I had had my share of wins, then. I pulled down my pants so she could collect.

It was the first time I saw her excitement at my flaccidity. She patted it and poked at it and flopped it back and forth. It made her giggle and she commented, “What a strange thing it is.” At the slightest hint of arousal, she rapped it sharply with the clothespin to quell it again. She even held it up and peered down it as though through a telescope.

Then, in a quick motion I took then as a desire to just get it over quick, she held it in place and snapped the clothespin shut over the very tip.

Even after my groaning and near inability to remain standing, she flicked it by the clothespin a couple times and checked her watch, reassuring me, “Just a few more seconds; almost there, darling. Boy is that thing turning red.”

This carried me through the next few wagers, the idea that she never really wanted to do these things herself, but was simply getting carried away with the game…

…but this is not enough…this fails to satisfy…there must be a moment more concise…shorter…more to the point…

She wouldn’t hear argument, especially if it was to afford my first win in months.

“A one-letter sentence?” She was back in her office chair, her throne, the stance she preferred for our little games. “No way in hell, fuck-face.”

I began: “Say we have an action we are either unable or without inclination at present to name, due either to a lack of vocabulary, or say because we simply want to extend a simple mystery, an action not to be revealed at present for reasons also to be revealed in the future.” How odd it was to argue my case in this fashion: dried dog turds hanging from the holes in my ears, which she herself had pierced in a most unsanitary fashion; holding aloft the dildo she had me acquire from a gay porn shop; my eyes allowed only to watch her feet.

“Is this unknown action to be permanently obfuscated, or is its uncertainty merely temporary?” Her feet clenched in their inquisitory way.

“Temporary, of course, but until…”

“Hold on, bucko-time to say the words.”

I closed my eyes and said the words:

Dildo, dildo, for up my fan,

Will you thrill like Steely Dan?

“Good boy,” she said. “Continue.”

“Yes, my liege. Thank you, my liege.” I nodded the dildo in reverence. “As I said, temporary of course, but until its unknownness is lifted, its term of uncertainty is most certainly in a kind of permanence, especially if, for any reason, the solution of the variable should never be found.”

Her feet waited with little patience for me to finish.

“So let’s call this unknown action action x. X is by no means the only variable we can apply. Action g would be just as acceptable a name, or action m, as in `to m,’ or, `I med today.’ He, she, it ms. `Ming along on a sunny day’ and such.”

“Finish your spiel soon,” she warned. “Must I remind you that that particular dildo is still a virgin?”

“Ergo…ergo…ergo,” I said, vying for time to make my case and reverse months of cumulative wagers that had brought me to this state, “If we can thus accept the notion of verb m, expressed as such, then of course the imperative form, ersatz, must be…”

She halted my speech with a simple gesture involving the toes and produced the now-near-empty jar of petroleum jelly (the last time she was going to afford me this luxury, to be exact).

“If I follow you then,” she said, lovingly spreading the jelly in a thick manner over her pointer and middle fingers. “If, say, verb m were a catch-verb comprising wholly a request involving your need to be sodomized by the dildo you hold aloft, making `to m‘ mean simply `to ram that plastic cock up my fudge hole’…”

I needed no more cueing. I turned around and bent over, my arms behind my back to offer up the spear to impale me by.

“…the imperative of said verb, of course–that is, your demand for me to perform this intrusive procedure upon you–would be, then, what? How would you say something like that, eh?”

My whole body was in constriction. I couldn’t say a thing. This was supposed to by my victory, I kept telling myself.

“Say it,” she said. She had the instrument now. I could hear her coating it, those wet, lip-smacking sounds.

I had no resistance to her anymore. I could feel the word coming…

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Richard K. Weems ( is the author of Anything He Wants, winner of the Spire Fiction Award and finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award, and The Need for Character. His short story publications include North American Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Mississippi Review, Other Voices, Crescent Review, The Florida Review and The Beloit Fiction Journal. He will be teaching once again this MLK weekend at the Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway in Cape May, New Jersey.