“Herbert, it’s not Friday, so, why are you showing me your block an’ tackle?” asked Madge Shrive, Herbert’s wife. More like twig an’ thistle, she mused.
Herbert, wearing nothing but his tatty blue striped pajama top, his hair in such disarray as to defy physics, looking concerned, befuddled, and, embarrassed all at the same time, said,
“Well, look at ’em,Madge,don’t they look funny to you?”
And, that is why we do it in the dark, my love.
She loved her husband. She really did. But, the chance Herbert would be mistaken for Richard Burton ( her favorite actor), would be the same chance of her fucking Richard Burton. She remembered a time when she’d gotten photos developed at that new one hour place downtown. Herbert was just sick at the sight of himself. He was all upset at how he looked. Frail, timid, skinny, his brown, gray hair all over the place, unmanageable, catastrophic really, eyebrows thicker than a forest, a hit-me chin, he just went on, and on about it.
Madge remembered saying, “but, I love you.” She didn’t protest his self description, didn’t tell him that the photo wasn’t that bad, didn’t lie to him. He was a mess of a man, but, she loved him. Deeply. 20 years they’ve been married. June 11th 1955. Childless. Her only regret. Adoption was out. They both wanted their own child. But, either his sperm was as empty as Edward Heath’s words, or, her ovaries had a closed sign when Herbert’s swimmers knocked. They didn’t check. Neither wanted to be at fault.
Not that she was Elizabeth Taylor. More like Else Garnett from Till Death Us Do Part. When asked to describe herself in a telephone interview for a job in a launderette, she said “misshapen’.” Pear shaped was how some people put it. But, pears do have some sort of symmetry, her shape was more abstract. As if Picasso created her when he was suffering delirium . Sure she’s got more than a few pounds than all the other women she’s been around, and sure she has that thing under her chin that looks like a zit had erupted from a tarantula. A wart ? A mole? Witches mark? Who knows, who cares? It doesn’t hurt, and Herbert, when he gets cuddly, likes to rub the top of his head on it. Maybe for good luck. Maybe for who cares? What she has, and what most women want, is a good, solid marriage. Herbert’s always dependable, especially on Friday nights. Even when he’s out with the lads, he’s still dependable on Friday nights. Could be as sloshed as a Russian in a vodka factory. Didn’t matter. Herbert and his twig and thistle always rose to the occasion.
Speaking of twig and thistle-
She stared at her husbands scrotum, and said,”Well, if you mean that they are tiny, ineffectual, and probably share one sperm between them, then, yes, they look funny to me.”
“Oh, very droll, Madge, very droll. Very cutting edge, I must say. What I’m speaking about is that they look, well, strange. They feel strange an’ all. ‘ere, ‘ave a closer look.”
“If this is your way of getting me finally on my knees-”
“Madge! I’m serious! For pity’s sake-”
She got on her knees, held his balls in her left hand, twisted them this way, and that. “Have you checked for lumps, dear? Wait… I need my glasses ”
“Honest.You’re right, Herbert. I think I see something.”
Madge left the bedroom,went downstairs to the living room,and picked up her glasses by the TV stand. There was something, she thought. In the bedroom she held Herbert’s balls in her hand, looking at his scrotum from all angles again. hmmming and hawing.
“Herbert, maybe it’s my imagination, but, I swear I see a face imprinted on your ball-sack. When’s the last time you went out with the lads?”
“Haven’t been out with them for a couple of weeks now. Stevie fell, remember? Broke his arm. And Jim, well, Jim’s not allowed out. Not after that incident with the barmaid and a packet of crisps. Molly’s angrier than a slug in a salt mine, she is. And Bob, he’s got himself a girl, see. She’s all that matters. The hell with his friends. A face you say? A face? Who’s face?” Oh my God, please don’t let it be Arthur Scargill. I’ll kill myself.
“Yes, looks like a face alright. Who it belongs to I haven’t quite been able to make out. It’s quite fascinating, really. Doesn’t look tattooed. If it is, though, it’s a damn fine job. The more I look at it, the more it comes into focus. I need to see it better, though. I’m going to have to shave your balls, darling”
“Shave my-now, wait a minute, Madge-”
“Oh,come on now. It’s not like you go to a gym, or shower with other people. Only we will know. We’ll use my razor. It’s gentler.”
“What’s the matter, Madge?” asked Herbert, fearfully.
“Strange,Herbert. I’ve been holding your balls in my hands for about ten minutes-”
“You’ve been holding them longer that that, love. Bloody years, in fact.”
“Holding them for ten minutes, or, so, and you’ve had no reaction. None. Not a stir from His Lordship. Quite dead, in fact.”
“Well, you’re not holding ’em with affection, now are you? You’re holding them clinically, so to speak. Like a doctor-or something.”
“Hmmm, maybe so, dear, maybe so. Still, it’s quite discomfiting. Have I lost my touch, so to speak? Don’t you love me anymore, Herbert?”
His face went pale. “Madge! How could you even- I- well- really! Of course I love you!”
“Settle down, darling. I’m only joshing. Now come into the bathroom, and…, you know what? It might be better to pluck the hairs out, rather than shave. I’ll get the tweezers.”
Herbert sputtered “Madge!”
“Just joshing. Just joshing.” Madge laughed. He sighed. Just a bloody joke to her, he thought. My balls do feel weird, strange, it’s as if they were-what? Alive? Sentient? Herbert giggled. Thinking nads? Guys are always telling me my brains are in my arse, maybe they’re just off a little bit. He laughed, then frowned. She said they were dead, but, Herbert felt power in his balls. Throbbing, pulsating, and it seemed to be growing with each passing minute. He had to admit, he was scared. Not bloody funny at all, Madge. No, not bloody funny at all.
After foaming his balls with shaving cream, and, delicately shaving, she rinsed them off, and frowned again. “Sweetheart? It might be my imagination, but, I do believe that your balls have gotten bigger.” Of course, it couldn’t possibly be right, she thought. Just isn’t possible. Still, they do look larger.
Herbert, always thinking the worse, always seeing the glass half empty, shuddered, and his eyes widened. “Oh my God, Madge, elephantiasis! Oh, no, no, no! Not that! Haven’t you ever seen those documentaries on the BBC? Those men from India practically sitting on these giant boulders that are actually their balls? How could I live with that? I’d never be able to go out. If I did go out, I’d need a shopping cart to carry my balls. And, where would I buy my pants? Who makes pants for men with this affliction? Big Balls R Us? And if I ever get in a fight, what’s the first thing they’re going to do? Kick me in the nads, that’s what! And you know I like to go swimming at the YMCA’s pool. I jump in there, and I’m liable to start a tsunami, and empty the damn thing! Oh, God, Madge. Oh, God, I’m doomed, doomed, Doomed!”
Madge looked at her husband with marvelous disdain. “Darling, please, has there ever been a case of elephantiasis here in England? Ever? No, dear, there hasn’t. And, in those dreadful documentaries that you watch, did any of those men have a face tattooed on their balls? Hmmm? Thought not. No, my sweet, this is something altogether different. I don’t know what it is, but, let me tell you, the face is coming clearer. I can almost make it out.”
“Who is it? It’s not that bastard Scargill is it? My luck, it’ll be worse. It’ll be Enoch bloody Powell.”
She stared at the face for a while, blocking out her husbands sputtering, and whining. Let me concentrate, she thought. It’s getting clearer. But, she didn’t say a word. She knew after 20 years of marriage to let Herbert blow off steam, or else he would go on, and on about it all night. And, she did need to sleep since she had a doctor’s appointment in the morning.
Not a face exactly. Doesn’t look human, to tell the truth. Definitely not Enoch, or, Arthur. Inwardly she laughed. Oh, Herbert, that’s why I love you. Let’s see, just what is it? Looks like an octopus, but, then again, it doesn’t. Hard to describe, really. Those may be tentacles. Is that wings behind it? Otherworldly. Yes, that’s the word I’m looking for. Otherworldly. Monstrous. Now she was getting scared, because it seemed as if it had moved.
“Herbert, darling, I think we’ll have to go to the fhtagn- the fhtagn- oh for heaven’s sake- the fhtagn!”
“Are you alright, Madge? What’s that you’re saying? Sounded like you’re making weird farting noises. What’s a f-f-f-say that again, love, I can’t seem to pronounce it.”
“R’lyeh , R’lyeh , oh, what’s going on? Oh, Herbert I’m scared. I’m scared! I’m Cth-”
The creature moved again, looked at Madge. She gasped as it seemed to look right through to her soul, and it grew, along with Herbert’s balls. She scrambled back away from it as far as she could, hitting her back against the toilet, and Herbert was yelling fearfully “Madge, Madge what is it? What is it? Madge!”
Then she let out a soul shattering scream, slumped to the floor. Her eyes rolled back, her legs trembled, and she began to speak in a strange language that wasn’t created for human throats.
“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn,” she chanted, her voice deep, guttural, contemptuous.
And Herbert’s balls grew, and grew, and he wailed, and screamed in terror as Madge chanted, and then something emerged into our world. Something cold, indifferent.
Then the world grew dark, cold, and lifeless, and the stars blinked out one, by, one as the universe made way for the Great Old Ones….