by Sam Wilhide || Author's Links
Lepus is an ancient constellation, despite the faintness of its stars. It is a hare, or rabbit, a creature associated with the moon in mythology as far back as legends can be traced. Some say the dark areas on the surface of the moon (more commonly known as 'the man in the moon') are a rabbit, originally Lepus. Rabbit is said to have been the favorite prey of Orion, and so Lepus lies below the Hunter's feet. The connection between the mighty hunter and a mere rabbit makes mythological sense, considering that Orion is essentially a sun god, and the sun was traditionally seen as pursuing the moon around the sky.
The ancient poets reasoned that because hares are afraid of eagles Lepus is on the opposite side of the sky from Aquila, the Eagle, one rising as the other sets. The Arabs saw in these stars not a hare but four camels drinking from a river."
-National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Night Sky.
On the chalkboard there was a picture of a penis entering a vagina. The penis looked smug, newly created and already about to get laid. Mr. Asfahani began erasing the picture. He was feeling a bit disappointed in himself. Even after several years of practice, he was still no good at teaching sex education. His sixth grade class had been mystified to see his usually stern, Iranian-American countenance melt away in an hour of blushing and stuttering. When the bell came, it was like a reprieve from God.
The class had cleared out immediately, all except Ralph Jordan. Ralph was practically albino except for a spattering of faint freckles. His red hair was just long enough to brush the tops of his glasses. A few short strands stood up in the middle of his head, charged with static electricity. Mr. Asfahani turned around and noticed him still sitting at his desk.
"Can I help you with something Ralph?" Mr. Asfahani said.
"I have a question," Ralph said.
"Don't you have to catch a bus?" Mr. Asfahani said.
"No, I'm a walker."
"Okay then, go ahead and ask me your question."
Ralph squirmed in his desk as he tried to formulate his question. He appeared to be quite uncomfortable.
"Is what you drew on the board...the penis...is that what it's supposed to look like?"
"That was an erect penis," Mr. Asfahani said, "Most of the time the penis is at rest."
"What does it look like when it's resting?"
"I believe there's a diagram in the handout I distributed today. Now I think you should probably go home before it gets late and your parents start wondering where you are. Or, if you want to do something really useful, you can get a bucket and sponge and help me wash the board," Mr. Asfahani said. He turned his back to Ralph and continued erasing the chalkboard. Ralph stood up and walked toward the teacher, leaving his school supplies on his desk.
"I need to show you something," Ralph said.
"I think the rest of your questions will be answered tomorrow, when we finish the unit." Mr. Asfahani turned and realized that the boy was unzipping his pants. "No Ralph, don't do that. If there's a problem, I can take you to the nurse."
It was too late. Ralph's pants were down and his small, hairless penis was exposed. Mr. Asfahani looked quickly out the door, perhaps to see if someone was watching, perhaps to see if help was near.
"Is this normal?" Ralph asked. Mr. Asfahani forced himself to look at the penis. It was quite small but it appeared normal. He was relieved.
"Yes Ralph, for a boy your age that is perfectly normal...." but before Mr. Asfahani could finish his sentence the penis took a breath and let out a deep, soulful whistle. The penis sustained the note for a long time. When it ended there was a brief silence. Then the penis began again, sketching a simple melody. It was something from a well-known symphony, maybe Russian. When the penis finished, it relaxed and sat motionless like a virtuoso waiting for his next solo.
"Did you do that?" Mr. Asfahani said.
"It does it by itself."
"What else can it do?" Mr. Asfahani said. The penis perked up at these words. It started to strain and contort, swinging from side to side. Soon it was clear that this was some kind of dance. The penis was elegant and rhythmic, evoking a ballet with its movements. When it finished, it panted softly. It seemed to be waiting for applause.
"When did this start happening?" Mr. Asfahani asked.
"I don't know," Ralph said.
"When did you notice it for the first time?"
"When we moved to our new house this summer. Sometimes I can't get to sleep because it's practicing."
"Do your parents know?"
"No, I was too scared to tell them. Please, Mr. Asfahani, can you make it stop?"
"I don't know Ralph. I've never heard of this before. Have you ever seen it do anything besides whistle and dance?"
"I think sometimes it's trying to mime."
"Can it pray?" Mr. Asfahani asked. The penis responded to the question by gathering itself together and looking solemn. It bowed its head and moved its opening as if it were mumbling to itself. Mr. Asfahani laughed.
"That's not prayer, that just looks like prayer. I don't believe it can pray," Mr. Asfahani said. The penis heard this and tried harder, making itself smaller and more humble looking. Mr. Asfahani shook his head. "That's not prayer, that's a joke. This penis is less talented than it thinks."
As soon as this was said, the penis stopped trying to pray and slumped down in defeat. Soon, all its life seemed to pass out of it. Ralph pulled up his pants. He grabbed his school supplies, thanked his teacher and ran out the door.
Mr. Asfahani left the school at five-thirty and was home by six. He ate dinner with his wife and his two small children. They had a Middle-Eastern dish, consisting of rice, cabbage, potatoes, coriander and lamb.
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