A Story by Charles Konsor

“See, if you get them to sneeze right when they orgasm it makes it last a lot longer,” Tom said with many hand motions accompanying his explanation. “It also feels really good for you. Like it tightens them up or something.”

“Right Tom,” I said. My eyes had long since turned away from him, looking now toward the river. I wished I was that duck bobbing carelessly in the water—the water would be cold so late in the year, but still . . . careless.

“No, I don’t think you understand Jack,” Tom said with more emphasis and more hand motions. “It feels really, really good. Not to mention the chick will be in love with you.”


How is that he ducks float so easily? I’ve never seen a duck sink. I don’t think they can. How is that?

“See it’s some chemical thing in their brain. The chemicals they release when they sneeze is the same as when they orgasm. God, and I never thought science would come in handy.”

“You know, Tom, I don’t really care.”

“What . . . about science.”

“No, I don’t really care about making a girl sneeze when she orgasms.”

“But . . .” Tom started, staring at me as if I hadn’t understood him properly. “They’ll love you for it.”

“Right,” I said, and turned back toward the duck. He was gone. Sank perhaps? No, ducks can’t sink. “And how do you even get them to sneeze?”

“It’s simple really. Just keep some pepper by the bed and throw it on them right when they start saying ‘I’m gonna come’.”

“F*****g hell.” I said, still looking for the duck.

“I know. It’s amazing how simple it all is.”

“Ducks can’t sink, can they?”

“Ducks? Who’s talking about ducks. We’re talking about b*****s, man.”

“Tom . . .” I started again, then paused as I decided on the proper reply. All I could come up with was mockery and sarcasm. Before I could settle on one or the other, however, my cell phone rang. “Hello?”

“Freshly ground pepper works the best,” Tom continued.

“Hello?” I asked of the phone, but the normal sounds of stagnant lifeheavy air and settling dustwere the only answer.

“I’ve also heard white pepper is really good.”


“It’s harder to find white pepper though. You have to go to one of those big super markets.” Tom said. Only when I’d hung up did he realize I was on the phone. “Who was that?”

“Emily?” I said as I checked the caller ID.

“What’d she say?”

“Nothing . . . she just hung up. It’s like the third time she’s done that today.”

“Oh s**t, you know what, you should try that pepper thing on her. I bet she’d love it.”

“She’s my room mate.”

“So . . . she’d still love it.” Tom said. “Or I could do it to her”

“Bye Tom.”

“What? Where are you going?”


“Are you gonna try it on her.”

“No . . . I’m just gonna go see her.”




Coldplay’s Sparks was playing on the stereo, but there was no sign of Emily in our apartment. The incense stick had burned out long ago and the pungent smoke has faded from everything except the curtains and the couch. The cat slept in front of the window. I think he liked the smell of incense, and so he always stayed close to the curtains.

Sparks ended, but the stereo shuffled backwards, and repeated the song.

The mail on the table was nothing of note, credit card offers and shop ads, but I hadn’t brought it in. Emily must have been home sometime, she must have put on the song.

Sparksit’s a romantic song I suppose, its lyrics talk of love beginning, of the flickering flame of passion when it first alights in the eyes of romantics. The tune of the song, however, has more of a lonely feelnot really explicable, but lonely all the same.

As I moved to turn it off I found a pile of cat poop on the floor.

“D****t Tompkin,” I said, but the cat slept on, and there was nothing else to do but clean it up. A paper towel, the feces still warm, and I rushed to the bathroom to flush it away. As I washed my hands, however, I caught sight of something in the mirror. Something behind the shower curtain, a shape in the bath.

It was quite definite, not just a shadow, but a definite thing—indefinable in shape, but definably something—and slowly I pulled back the curtain to find Emily curled up in the bottom of the bath. Her eyes—larger than usual—stared at the wall, her arms were wrapped tightly around her knees, and she said nothing of my presence.

“Emily,” I said, my voice suddenly weak. “Are you alright?”

Still she took no notice of me, still she stared at the wall, but her muffled voice said softly. “No.”

“What’s wrong Emily?” I asked, it seemed right to use her name a lot. I don’t know why, but I keep saying it. And again she went silent. “Emily what’s wrong?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“Sorry,” was all she said.

“No, no it’s fine.” I said, kneeling by the tub, wishing I could take hold of her hand, but her arms were still wrapped tightly around her knees. “But how about we get you out of there?”

I don't know why I said that. I'd probably heard it in a movie or something, and it did sound caring and compassionate, but Emily didn't move.

I still wanted to hold her hand, I still felt like I should be saying her name. These were probably things I had picked up from movies as well. They didn't work, and Emily kept staring at the wall.

“Emily . . . do you think ducks can sink?”

It was a desperate attempt to make a joke, to lighten the mood.

“If they think about it too much . . . yes.”

“Oh . . . right. I suppose.” And I didn’t know what to say anymore. What do you do here? What do you say? How can you help? Do you know?

My phone rang, but I didn’t want to leave her.

“You can get it,” she said and so I did.

“Hey, I’m at the supermarket and I thought I’d pick you up some white pepper,” Tom said as soon as I answered. “You know so you can try it on Emily—” and I hung up the phone.

She was still in the bottom of the tub when I came back, but she was now staring at the rubber duck on the ledge of the bath. Behind it the shower curtain fluttered, pushed by an unseen wind moving through the bathroom. I sat on the toilet and we both watched the duck and dancing curtain.

“Do you want some tea?”

She just shook her head, or rather, let it fall in a general sign of no.


We sat silent again, listening to Sparks on the stereo, watching the shower curtain, wishing we knew what to do.

“Who was on the phone?”

“Oh, no one . . . Tom.” I said. I couldn’t stand the silence which followed, however, and so I quickly added, “he wanted to buy me some white pepper.”

“White pepper?”

“Yeah . . .” and again the silence forced me to speak, “he has this idea that if he makes a girl sneeze right when she . . . well . . . when she . . . orgasms. He thinks it’ll make it last longer or something.”

The stereo sang ‘I saw sparks’, Emily’s eyes flickered to me, a smile slowly appeared to her lips, and she laughed. Not out loud, just a silent shaking of her body, but there was a smile on her face.

© 2015 Charles Konsor

My Review

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I loved that first pargraph, it made me laugh so hard.
Thnx for sharing, great write :)

Posted 8 Years Ago

lol! I liked it. Very interesting. ;)

Posted 9 Years Ago

love it :)

Posted 11 Years Ago

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oh gosh....i love this, and i like that its sloppy and informal, but the narrator has very precise and insightful thoughts on f*****g other b*****s and to get sate

Posted 11 Years Ago

Ha, Coldplay. Awesome story.

Posted 11 Years Ago

I have to disagree slightly with Eagle Cruagh: "When I started this story my first impression was one of
dismay. How could you write trash ?"

> "See, if you get them to sneeze right when they orgasm it makes it last a lot longer," Tom said with many hand motions accompanying his explanation. "It also feels really good for you. Like it tightens them up or something."

See! I was interested right away! That is a fascinating theory!

You do a wonderful job of keeping me interested in the type of writing that interests me the least: fiction (or non-fiction) stories with action. Where was the car chase scene? Where was the naked woman? I am an American that was absolutely ruined by too much television, and I demand entertainment. Lol.

I am just kidding. This was very entertaining. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share with us. :)


Posted 12 Years Ago

When I started this story my first impression was one of
dismay. How could you write trash ? You quickly captured
my interest, however and I find myself drawn in to the scene.

It seems to me that you have taken a boring, one sided conversation
and turned it in to a theme. Your characters develop as the music

This is a clever and professional developing of an inane subject,
enlarging it to a climax.

We are left with many questions and thoughts which would never
have crossed our minds.

Bravo ! Good work.

----- Eagle Cruagh

Posted 12 Years Ago

I disagree with G.f. Snell Iii. The absence of detail makes it simply beautiful. The main character's response to Emily infers that her state is not a common occurrence. Furthermore, I liked the duck. It tied everything together. Why must the wanderings of his mind be deep and mature? They don't. You have a masterful ability to speak volumes about your character without being forthright. I admire this talent.

I only caught one mistake: toward the beginning the sentence "How is that he ducks float so easily?" needs to be corrected to make sense.

Simple, intriguing, impressive. Well done.

Posted 13 Years Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Hi Charles:
There's a good effort here, but the story feels incomplete to me. Why is Emily lying alone in the bathtub? Is she prone to depression? We need some insight into her personality and situation to appreciate the circumstance -- but as this is written we don't know if she does this every week or if something terrible has happened.

The duck parts didn't work for me. It just seemed a childish curiosity -- like something a 4 year old would wonder and not a grown man. If you were trying to use the duck as a metaphor or a symbol -- it went over my head to what that metaphor or symbol was.

I did like the dialog with Tom -- some of it was damn funny. You're good with it -- so I'd eliminate some of the narrative around it and let the dialog free up. For example:

- �But . . .� Tom started, staring at me as if I hadn�t understood him properly. �They�ll love you for it.� I think this would read better: "Tom stared at me. "But, they'll love for it."
- �See, if you get them to sneeze right when they orgasm it makes it last a lot longer,� Tom said with many hand motions accompanying his explanation. �It also feels really good for you. Like it tightens them up or something.� This would read so much better with the hand movements section.

I also suggest stretching out the discovery of Emily a couple of more paragraphs to build the suspense. I thought she was dead and was relieved when she wasn't. So building it up and then letting the reader think she is dead would be an excellent device. You might even describe her looking dead to make it more effective.

I really like the ending -- having her smile. But knowing more about her would make me care even more.

I commend you on the gentle touch with this one -- but I think you could do so much better with a second look.

Posted 13 Years Ago

2 of 4 people found this review constructive.

I read this last night in bed, curled up with the anthology that was waiting for me on my doorstep when I got home. Any way, it has a younger vibe with your use of dialogue between Tom and Jack. I thought back to a lot of the stories I was forced to critique in a college class I took. Any way, I enjoyed it becaue It was a smooth read and it is very nice to see that you can write simple things too.

Posted 13 Years Ago

2 of 3 people found this review constructive.

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41 Reviews
Shelved in 2 Libraries
Added on February 12, 2008
Last Updated on January 23, 2015


Charles Konsor
Charles Konsor

Portland, OR

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