"The Deadline"

When an ultra-conservative takes control
of the White House and declares that orgasms will
become illegal at the stroke of midnight, the race to beat
 the clock begins.
Angered by the direction in which the country was being taken by Maria Conchita Horowitz-Wong, the nation’s first Mexican, Jewish, Chinese, lesbian president, the American electorate voiced its outrage at the polls. Healthcare and a college education were both on the verge of becoming completely free for all Americans. Marijuana was openly sold to people of age in convenience stores, supermarkets and pharmacies, while taxes on the sales were used to fund government run drive-thru abortion centers. The nation’s dependence on foreign oil had been completely eliminated by federally subsidized wind and solar power plants that provided free energy for all. Gay marriage was legal in all fifty states by executive order, and President Horowitz-Wong had her nuptials to her longtime companion, Regina Hassan, the first post-op transsexual Muslim on the Supreme Court, performed in the Oval Office. Even government cheese was an earthy pecorino wrapped in walnut leaves.
In an effort to promote free communication and the sharing of information, Washington funded the Eye-Plant Project – a program that paid doctors to surgically insert tiny microchips that acted like mind-controlled smart phones into the optic nerves of anyone willing to undergo the procedure.
It was a great time to be a progressive – or an optometrist.
But with unemployment hovering near twenty percent, and with the threat of a major tax increase looming to cover the unprecedented level of government spending, most Americans were livid and they needed someone to blame. “Socialism,” “Communism,” “Hedonism,” and “Judaism,” were all trigger words used by the opposition party to persuade the American citizenry to demand a change in leadership.  And it worked.
COFA, or The Coalition for an Orgasm Free America, as it was officially listed on ballots throughout the country, won a ninety-five percent majority in both the United States House of Representatives and the Senate in midterm elections that saw the highest voter turnout in American history. Running on a platform of “Less Government. More God,” COFA congressional candidates trounced their opponents in state and local elections nationwide. Only New York City, Los Angeles and San-Francisco sent non-COFA representatives to Congress in protest of COFA’s rallying cry to “snatch America back from liberals and restore honor at all costs.” In an effort to show how serious they were about preserving pure American values, immediately after the elections, the party amended their rallying cry by replacing the word “snatch” with “wrestle.”
As the new legislature’s first order of business, it impeached and removed from office both President Horowitz-Wong and her vice president, rapper/ entrepreneur, Master B Butch Nugget, winner of hit reality special, Celebrity Who Wants To Be VP? COFA party leader, and newly elected Speaker of the House, Marrianne Williams, was swiftly sworn into office in an intensely awkward ceremony conducted by Justice Hassan. Following her inauguration, President Williams addressed the American public in prime-time, demonstrating the extensive executive experience she gained serving three consecutive terms as president of the ladies auxiliary at her children’s Iowa elementary school. She assured the people that her campaign promises would be kept.
“My fellow Americans,” she began reading from a teleprompter in a faux Southern drawl. She was determined to be a folksy president. She was attractive, even quite sexy for fifty-two, but no self-respecting liberal could even consider sleeping with a woman so conservative unless it was to inject some common sense into her. “We have our country back. No longer are the Communist revolutionaries in control of the White House or Congress. Today we begin to reinforce the principles and values upon which our founding fathers based the creation of this great nation. Today the American people have a voice. Today we begin doing God’s work.”
Arne Sturgis sat alone in his tiny East Village studio, watching the new president lay out her plan to undo the damage done by her predecessors.
“What we’ve witnessed with the past administration,” President Williams continued, “was a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ. America isn’t about men marrying men and women marrying women. It isn’t about government funded programs that kill unborn babies and provide free healthcare, education and wind power to illegal immigrants. America is about divinity, not debauchery. America is about piety, not perversity. America is about faith, not fornication. As such, I am today, as my first act as president, declaring by executive order that all orgasms are un-American and punishable by imprisonment. This order will go into effect at midnight tonight. For those who think this is a law we can’t enforce, I say, just try breaking it and make our day.”
She then winked for the camera, and blew imaginary smoke off the pistol she’d formed with her thumb and index finger.
Thunderous applause could be heard from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where thousands gathered to watch the president’s address broadcast on enormous screens. Networks cut to shots of people in churches, town halls and sanitariums throughout the country, cheering their new Dirty Harry president, waving sings that read, “REAL JOBS. NOT HANDJOBS!”
Arne refused to take the president’s threat seriously until Fox News showed an angry mob in Nevada tossing an unwed, pregnant Mexican woman through the crowd like a beach ball at a Grateful Dead concert. The caption next to the Fox News logo read: “America has spoken!”
While most of his countrymen celebrated their new leader, Arne stared desperately at the time on his cable box. It read “8:07 PM.” He immediately thought of Amelia. An entire year had past since he last saw her, and he always assumed that somehow some day he’d have sex again. He never imagined that that day would have to be today.
It was hard enough for an unsuccessful, fat, balding, forty-year-old guy to get laid in New York without deadlines. Arne knew he needed to follow the path of least resistance. He accessed the “Ho-Dar” app on his Eye-Plant – an application that located every available disease-free prostitute within a given range – but there weren’t any for miles. He clearly wasn’t the only one anxious to beat the clock. If only he were back in Silver Springs where he’d convinced Amelia to pleasure him so many times. Just a few whiny “come o-o-o-n”s was all it had taken to get Amelia to ride him like only an eager to please thirty-five-year-old, chunky woman with hairy arms and braces could. Her forced enthusiasm as she had skillfully slid up and down Arne’s manhood in the back of his Sebring convertible under the starry Maryland skies, had masked her feelings that she was unworthy of meeting someone who actually loved her. She thought if she had pleased him, he’d save her from having to find her soul mate amongst the sad, middle-aged, divorced men on dating sites who lied about their incomes and whose opening messages to her had always seemed to include some variation of the phrase: “How big r ur tits?”
As the voice in his head telling him he might never legally ejaculate again grew louder, Arne started to wish he’d handled his break up with Amelia differently. If he jumped in a cab and left that instant, he could be in Maryland before midnight and still have enough time to persuade Amelia to reluctantly mount him.
“I’m not growing here in suburbia,” he had told Amelia before he left for New York, but after he’d gotten one last hand job in. “I feel like a square peg here. Like the guy at the gym who wears collared button downed shirts tucked into his sweatpants.”
“But why New York?” she had asked, teary eyed. “If you’re tired of the suburbs, we can move to Baltimore together.”
“I feel like I’m a New Yorker at heart. I need to do this alone,” he had said, practically shoving her out of the Sebring.
What he hadn’t told her was that he thought he could find someone better in New York. Someone prettier, someone younger, someone who didn’t say supposably. Someone who wanted more out of life than working all day as a receptionist in a podiatrist’s office and coming home to watch American Idol with a husband who saw her as little more than a blow-up doll with a retainer. A month before he dumped Amelia, he’d driven up to New York for a video editor’s conference where a cute, tattooed twenty-five-year-old NYU film student dressed like Raggedy Anne smiled at him. Based on that brief encounter, he decided that New York was where he needed to be. From the freaky bohemians of North Brooklyn to the frustrated divorcees of the Upper East Side, Arne was convinced that New York City would welcome him with open legs and be his promised land of prime pussy. What he found instead was a city whose women snarled and walked to the other end of the train if he said good morning to them on his ride to work, a city whose women laughed at him if he offered to buy them and their friends a drink at a bar, a city whose legs were firmly tied shut by a chain that had a flashing neon sign hanging from it that read: “ARNE STURGIS ISN’T WELCOME.”
He thought about calling Amelia or sending her a mind mail so many times after he had left Silver Springs to tell her he’d made a huge mistake letting her go, but he could never bring himself to think “send” after pulling her name up on his Eye-Plant. He always thought that the next performance artist/ yoga instructor he would try to talk to on line at Whole Foods, or the next reiki master/vegan he would stand next to in front of a Dada painting at MoMA, would be the woman who would make his dream of finding his Gothamite goddess come true. But time was running out, and this was no longer about living happily ever after. He needed to find a place where there were women even more desperate than Amelia, women so homely and needy they would throw themselves at any guy who would have them. But where, he wondered, would he find a speed dating event on such short notice?
As Arne contemplated his next move, he stepped out of his building. A frightened group of men in their twenties and thirties ran past him heading downtown. When one of them stopped to tie his shoelaces, Arne asked where they were all running so frantically.
“We’re getting the hell out of the city,” the man who appeared to be in his late twenties responded, panting, while looking up from his seventeen-hundred-dollar pair of Pumas. Inflation had spiraled out of control during the progressives’ reign, which was another thing COFA supporters were incensed about. “They just beat the shit out of a guy in Washington Heights for jerking off. Dragged him out into the street with his pants around his ankles and started pummeling him.”
“But the deadline is at midnight,” Arne said.
“These right wing maniacs don’t care about deadlines. They were screaming about masturbation being an invention of the Zionists and that it had to be stopped once and for all. He’s barely nineteen, a student at Yeshivah University. Guess they figured they’d kill two birds. Said they were making an example of the poor kid. He’ll probably never walk again, never mind whack off.”
Arne instinctively thought about Mrs. O’Reilly, his busybody neighbor across the hall who would angrily knock at his door whenever she heard the sounds of moaning female voices coming from his apartment. He always wondered whether O’Reilly knew that the “Oh God”s and the “Fuck me harder”s were projected from the speakers of his Hologasm – the latest in hologram porn technology – and not from the mouths of actual women he’d somehow managed to coax into his hideaway bed. But it didn’t really matter to the old broad. To her, Arne was a degenerate either way. With the attack on the Y.U. student, he worried that O’Reilly now had the muscle to support her indignation.
The man got up and started chasing after his friends who were already two blocks ahead of him. Arne ran with him.
“So where are you gonna go?” Arne asked, trying to keep pace.
Williamsburg. It’ll be a little while before the rednecks get to Brooklyn. Meanwhile, we’re gonna put on our mothers’ glasses, pretend to be in an indie band and try and nail some hipster chicks. The water’s gonna be cold and choppy getting there, but you’re welcome to come.”
“You’re swimming?”
“The trains aren’t running and the bridges and tunnels are impassable. It’s chaos out here.”
Arne was a worse swimmer than he was a pretend hipster. Two weeks after he had arrived in New York, he squeezed his size thirty-eight waist into a black pair of size thirty-four skinny jeans, put on a plaid fedora, and tried unsuccessfully to pick up overly tattooed women at a poetry reading in a warehouse in Greenpoint.
“I think I’ll stay in Manhattan and try my luck here,” Arne said, now almost out of breath.
“You sure? There’s not much time. They’re gonna start installing the O.D.A.s at midnight.”
“O.D.A.s?” Arne asked, confused, as he followed his running mate through the stalled traffic on Houston Street.
“The Orgasm Detection App.  It’s gonna be automatically downloaded into your Eye-Plant. The second you come, the government will know about it.”
“When was this decided?”
“Williams just signed it into law. She introduced the legislation and within ten minutes it was approved by both houses.”
“Without debate?”
“The advantage of having fear and a ninety-five percent majority on your side.”
 “So now everyone is gonna have this app forcibly installed?”
“Just U.S. citizens and legal residents. The app cost thousands of dollars per license. They’re refusing to spend the money on illegals.”
“So only illegal immigrants will be able to reproduce undetected? Don’t they understand the consequences of this decision?”
“I don’t think this administration will go down in history as one with well thought out ideas.”
They were halfway to Delancey Street before Arne breathlessly wished his brother in arms luck on his journey and let him join his band mates. The streets were now teeming with people. Desperate, scared, horny humanity.
“They just shot a guy coming out of the ballet at Lincoln Center,” he heard a man shout from within a crowd. “They were screaming, ‘Ballet is for fags and Bolsheviks. God hates Bolshevik fags.’”
Another anonymous male voice shouted back: “How do a bunch of hicks from upstate know what a Bolshevik is?”
“These aren’t just upstate hicks,” the first voice responded. “These are bankers, lawyers, doctors from Westchester, Connecticut, and the Upper East Side. They lost everything with all the financial, legal and healthcare reforms. They want revenge.”
The united front of blue and white collar that comprised the COFA vigilantes had made it from Washington Heights to the Upper West Side in mere minutes. Arne knew there wasn’t much time before they plowed their way through Hell’s Kitchen and across town to the East Side. Luckily for anyone below forty-second street looking to bust one last licit nut, Williams’ gang of thugs was likely to be slowed once they hit the theater district. The male cast members of almost every Broadway musical were all high ranking retired Marines and Green Berets thanks in part to the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” The former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was the toast of the town, having been the first person ever to win both a Tony award and a Congressional Medal of Honor. But even though they were well-trained killing machines, the warriors of the Great White Way were severely outnumbered. Reports from the front lines had pro-government fighters in the thousands.
While Arne ducked into the closest bar, hoping to find an inebriated blind woman who would screw him before COFA militants gunned down the last living cast member of La Cage aux Folles, Lenny nervously paced his Stuyvesant Town one-bedroom.
“We should just do it,” Lenny said to Sarah.
“No! I won’t cheapen it because of some deadline,” Sarah responded.
 Lenny and Sarah had floated through the first three decades of their lives focused almost exclusively on academia with little time or interest in dating, let alone boning. Lenny had a B.A. from Columbia, an M.A. from Princeton, a J.D. from Yale, and was working on an M.B.A. from N.Y.U. Sarah had a B.S. from Brown, an M.S. from Cornell and a Ph.D. from Dartmouth. But of carnal knowledge, they could not have been more lacking. They were an anomaly in a culture in which “13 and Pregnant With My Grandchild” was a top-rated reality show. The two most over-educated virgins in history.
With the help of Lenny’s mother and Sarah’s sister’s roommate’s aunt, destiny had brought them together in the form of a blind date four months earlier at a Starbucks on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
“I think it’s only fair to tell you that I’m saving myself for marriage,” Sarah had told Lenny, while a chubby girl in a Starbucks hat glared at them from behind the cash register. The date that was supposed to be a quick cup of coffee, a meeting that both Lenny and Sarah had agreed to take merely to get their respective nudges off their backs, had turned into a four and a half hour mini-marathon of stories about the GRE and eccentric professors. Their date had left them both wanting more, and the Starbucks girl wanting to close up and go home already.
At the time, Lenny thought nothing of Sarah’s proclamation of chastity. His head had been buried in one book or another from the time he had read Dr. Suess’ The Cat In The Hat cover to cover at three-years-old, and not once in the twenty-seven years since, had he looked up to ogle the cleavage of a woman leaning over him on a bus or the ass of a girl bending over to pick up a fallen pencil in math class. If asexuality was a discipline in which one could earn college credit, he’d have not only an advanced degree, he’d be chairman of the department. Lenny would have been more frazzled on their first date had Sarah asked him to take her home and have his way with her. She seemed like the perfect girl to Lenny – intelligent, well-educated, cute in an unthreatening nerdy kind of way, and she would make no demands of him in the bedroom that he knew he wasn’t ready to meet. They’d live happily ever after, exchanging textbooks with one another and accumulating degrees together. He’d get his nagging mother off his back once and for all, and he’d have someone to proofread his term papers. What was in it for Sarah was a nice, erudite Jew who would respect her orthodox values and refrain from trying to taste her goodies until a rabbi certified those goodies as kosher by declaring Sarah and Lenny husband and wife.
            But after about a month of cuddling with Sarah on the sofa while she wore frumpy, baggy sweats that left everything to the imagination, feelings began to arouse in Lenny that he hadn’t experienced before. The magnetic pull of her forbidden fruit, protected only by a few thin layers of cheap cotton purchased at some mall in Paramus caused his studies to suffer. Lenny could no longer concentrate on anything except ripping off Sarah’s Old Navy sweatpants and unleashing unto her, and into her, the savage beast that lay dormant in his pants for so many years. He had refrained from making any moves, though. As a professional student, it was more in his nature to study and analyze than it was to act.
            But now with the impending deadline, he needed to get aggressive.
“So you’re okay with us never doing it? With us never experiencing that level of intimacy?” Lenny anxiously asked Sarah, hoping to guilt her into it.
“Not never. Just not until we’re married.”
Lenny instinctively dropped to one knee and offered Sarah the Columbia class ring he pulled off his finger.
“Will you marry me?”
 “Oh my god! Oh my god!” she screamed, her hands flailing about, her joyful teardrops darkening the gray of her oversized sweatshirt.
“Will you?” Lenny asked, impatiently.
“Of course I will, Lenny. Of course!”
She leapt into his arms, the bosom he’d never seen or touched now pressing tightly against his chest. He thought he felt her nipples stiffening, but he couldn’t be sure, having never felt the stiffening of nipples before. He threw her onto the sofa, his hard-on trying to burst through his zipper with the indefatigable tenacity of a lifer trying to dig through prison walls. He now knew what being a prisoner meant – a prisoner to knowledge, to books, to academia. All those, young pretty students he could’ve had, not to mention the adjunct professor at Princeton with the ass like a hard peach whose flirtations were wasted on a man who never got or cared that “Call me sometime,” could have, with a little bit of effort, turned into “Fuck me sometime.” But today he was out on parole, free from the chains of the scholarly pursuits that bound him. Today, he felt and acted like a man with needs.
“What are you doing?” Sarah shrieked, pushing Lenny off of her nearly violated body with one hand, and with the other, pulling up the sweatpants that Lenny had managed to partially remove.
“Making love to you.”
“All you’re doing is making a mess,” she said while she fluffed up the sofa pillows they’d flattened while not having sex. “I told you, not before we’re married.”
“Engaged is married,” he objected.
“Engaged is engaged. Married is married.”
“Is it about the commitment or the ceremony? Because you have my heart, Sarah. You know that.”
“It’s about both. Hashem wants it that way.”
He wanted to ask her how someone so educated, so knowledgeable about the arts and sciences could believe such utter horseshit. Hashem wanted it that way? What did hashem have to say about the five-alarm boner raging in his boxer briefs? Did hashem care that he had years of missed fornication to make up for in only a few hours?
“I think God would make an exception under these circumstances,” he said, trying to remain calm, while mentally talking down his erection.
“God makes no exceptions…ever!”
“How could God possibly be against orgasms? It’s the very foundation upon which he created the world. It’s his crowning achievement. Without orgasms, the story ends with Adam and Eve. He wants us to come. It’s a mitzvah,” he said, lunging at her again with puckered lips.
“It’s only a mitzvah between a husband and wife,” she said, pushing him away, “and we’ll only be husband and wife when a rabbi says we are.”
“This is exactly what these people want – for everyone to believe that sex is some sort of sin, something to feel guilty about, something to blame the country’s problems on. But we’re educated people, Sarah. We’re above all that jejune rhetoric. If we don’t do this, they win.”
            “Now who’s being jejune? You sound like those people who watch celebrity dancing contests on TV.”
            “Why are we even supporting this woman?” Lenny said, still pacing, the sweat of a nervous, horny virgin now beading up on his upper lip.
            “Because she’s pro-Israel.”
            “Great! Israel has one of the most sexually open societies in the world. Let’s be pro-Israel,” he said, lunging at her yet again.
            “How about if we find a rabbi? He can marry us.”
            “I suppose,” she said reluctantly before she started to smirk. The idea of being penetrated by her Jewish husband, a man who’d gotten a perfect score on every graduate school entrance exam he’d ever taken, including the LSAT, was starting to entice her. “But where can we find one? It’s absolute bedlam out there.”
            “The VA hospital on twenty-third. There has to be a dying Jewish vet in there somewhere, and where there’s a dying Jew, there’s a rabbi.”
            “But he has to be orthodox, Lenny.”
            “Oh, come on, Sarah. You’re a scientist. You know what the odds are of finding an orthodox rabbi before midnight?”
            “I do, which is why you better stop wasting time and go find one.”
            As Lenny ran out of the apartment through the vast Stuyvesant Town complex shouting, “Is anyone an orthodox rabbi?” he could hear the shrieks of frightened women hiding in trees, attempting to escape the libidinous men who’d chased them from First Avenue into the sprawling network of bricks and greenery. He exited the complex from the east and made his way to the edge of the river. The narrow body of water separating Manhattan from Brooklyn was now filled with desperate yet determined swimmers, all men, seeking one last chance at allowable ecstasy in Williamsburg – the land of orgiastic opportunity. Lenny knew that on the other side of the river his salvation awaited as well, but for a different reason. In a place that felt like a mere stone’s throw away, only blocks from where all the hipsters lived, there were more orthodox rabbis per square foot than in the Holy Land itself. He thought about diving in. He’d bring Sarah back two rabbis. One to perform the ceremony, the other to watch him bend her over the sofa and make sure everything was done strictly kosher. He was even getting a little excited by the idea of some guy with a beard and a long black coat watching them. When it was all over, he’d hand Sarah a certificate that read: “This act of vaginal intercourse was performed under the strict supervision of Rabbi Isaac Tennenbaum of Congregation Ohev Shalom. Kent Avenue, Brooklyn.” He didn’t care what it took anymore. He just needed it done. But of the hundreds of courses Lenny had taken over the years, not one was a swimming class. He was stuck on the island of Manhattan. The time was 10 PM.

Arne was having no success. The demand for easy women was high, and the supply low. A woman with a mustache sat at the bar fending off three suitors. Even Herpes Helen, the neighborhood bag lady, who had been known to blow a man for a bag of empty soda cans, had a line of recyclers standing in front of her shopping cart in the alleyway next to the bar. This was a seller’s market, and Arne was being severely priced out of it. He could handle no more rejection, and decided to go home to get a few last tugs in before that, too, became illegal, when the government mandated masturbation moratorium began. As he turned towards the exit, a beautiful, voluptuous woman in her early thirties looked in his direction. She sat alone at a table near the window – an odd sight in a city completely overrun by concupiscence. She was a lone puddle of water with big, meaty tits in a hot, horny desert whose sand was made of panic and despair. Arne approached her suspiciously. Was she a government agent sent to entrap him using a welcoming smile and a perfect set of C-cups as bait? Was she a mirage projected by a subconscious so eager to feel the warm, juicy insides of a woman one last time? Was she a guy?
“Hi,” Arne said, thoroughly looking her over, attempting to see what could possibly be wrong with her. She seemed real and there was no sign of a bulge in her deliciously formfitting jeans.
“Why should I pick you?” she asked.
“Well,” Arne began, taken aback by her abruptness, “I’m a nice guy…”
“I’m sure you are, but nice isn’t special. What’s special about you?”
A sexy, sophisticated woman sat before him – the exact type he came to New York to meet – and he couldn’t think of a single thing that made him special. He knew he was no different than any of the other desperate souls trying to partake of one last act of prurience before they were forced to seek pleasure in seedy underground whorehouses and sex clubs with weak wireless Internet reception that were sure to become the speakeasies of their generation.
“Look, lady. Do you wanna fuck or not?” he asked, confident she would say no. He was used to rejection, but for riddles he had neither the patience nor the time, no matter how breathtaking this woman was.
“Yes, I do. That’s why I’m here unlike all of my girlfriends who are hiding in their apartments,” she said.
Arne’s blood pressure shot up faster than his anticipatory boner. Was it really that easy? “Do you wanna fuck or not?” Is that all he needed to say to these gorgeous New York women the whole time?
“I live a few blocks from here,” he said eagerly. “Last I heard the militants were in Gramercy Park. We don’t have much time.”
“You still haven’t told me why I should pick you.”
He sighed. He knew it was too good to be true, and now he also knew why she was sitting alone. His comrades had surely moved on to easier game, but Arne had no such options remaining. He figured he’d give it one last shot. He’d try the line that had worked so often on Amelia: “You just said you wanted to do it. C’mo-o-o-o-n!”
“Yes, but not necessarily with you,” she responded.
How he longed, during his roughly twelve month sexual hiatus, for a beautiful woman to tell him she didn’t necessarily want to sleep with him. It was so much better than hearing the cries of, “Go away, loser” or “Drop dead, douchebag” that he’d been on the receiving end of for the past year, not to mention the past couple of hours. “Necessarily” meant there was hope. He sat down at her table and persevered.
“Okay, you want special,” he said, thinking out loud, while nervously checking the time. It was 11:27 PM. “I once called into a program on NPR about our trade deficit with North Korea. Everyone who heard it said I sounded very relaxed and intelligent.”
She looked past him at a man who had just poked his head into the bar. Arne moved his seat closer to hers, preventing the competition from setting its sights on what Arne now considered his rightful prey. If this strange, stunning woman, whose name he didn’t even know, was not going to necessarily screw anyone that night, it was he, and only he, she would not necessarily screw.
“I thought my first time would be with someone special, but he was just a man whose kids I babysat in college,” she said. “I want my last time to be with someone truly unique.”
Arne wondered how she expected to find such a man in a dive bar on the Lower East Side. He wanted to tell her this was neither the time nor the place to look for someone extraordinary. In fact, this was the exact time and place to embrace the ordinary, the pedestrian, the mediocre – and to do so with him because she would find no one less exceptional than Arne Sturgis. Was there anything more clichéd than a person who comes to the big city to pursue a dream, only to struggle fruitlessly in the pursuit? How could she not see that at that moment, he was the perfect man for her, and that fate, with the aid of a crazy, frustrated woman in the White House, had brought them together?
“Some people wait their entire lives to find what you’re looking for. You’ve got a half-hour,” Arne said. “Less, if those maniacs make it down here before midnight.”
“I have faith,” she said, as her eyes darted around the now nearly empty tavern in search of someone who might fulfill her dream. Only one man remained besides Arne, and he was passed out at the bar.
“Faith is for people with options and time to kill.”
“Without faith we have no options.”
“Look, lady. You wanna fuck or not?” he said, hoping the line would work better the second time, but knowing it wouldn’t.
“Don’t you have someone you can call? An ex maybe?”
He thought again about Amelia – her hairy arms, her jumbled teeth, her doughy mid-section, her low self-esteem. Why had he left behind such a perfect woman to chase romantics with standards like the one who sat before him? He had given up when Lenny entered the bar, sweating and out of breath.
            “This is a bar?” Lenny asked, disappointed. “The Synagogue Locator App on my Eye-Plant said this was an orthodox synagogue.”
            “It’s a little late for prayer,” Arne said. “God can’t help any of us now.”
            “I don’t need God’s help. I need an orthodox rabbi,” Lenny said to Arne and the woman before he described to them in detail his frantic eighteen block trip down Avenue A, along with his frustrating three month trip down Blue Balls Boulevard. He told them how he saw people – men and women, men and men, women and women – doing with each other in the middle of the street what he only did with his fiancé in his wildest fantasies. He told them about the woman on Seventh Street he saw trembling under a sewer grate with cigarettes butts in her hair, begging the men who noticed her to leave her alone. He told them that the sight of New York turning into Sodom and Gomorrah before his eyes both frightened and excited him, and that like the angels who warned Lot’s wife not to look back at her destroyed city, he warned himself not to look back at the distance that separated him from Sarah as he advanced southward for fear of becoming discouraged that he’d ever make it back to her in time with an orthodox rabbi. And now with only minutes left to know what the inside of a woman felt like, he lamented not making his move on Sarah earlier.
            “How old are you?” the object of Arne’s affections inquired of Lenny. She had the look of a starved lioness who had just encountered a baby giraffe left alone by its mother.
            “Thirty,” Lenny said.
            “What’s your name?” she asked, smiling seductively.
            “Hi, Lenny. I’m Patricia. Wanna get out of here?”
            Lenny nodded enthusiastically like a child who was asked if he wanted candy, in an instant completely forgetting about Sarah and why he’d come into the bar in the first place.
            As Arne watched the gorgeous stranger lead the horny virgin out into the night, he realized that Patricia’s faith had brought her the unique man for which she so patiently waited – a blank slate, a tabula rasa of sexual experience into which she could chisel, “Patricia was here.” What Patricia shared with most of the other tortured spirits roaming the cities and countrysides, trying to beat the deadline, was the desire to be remembered. In memory there was immortality, and if to be someone’s last was memorable, to be someone’s first and last was divine.
            Arne ran home to be his own last, as he was his own first. When he was done, the time was 12:02 AM. There was a knock at the door. Arne prayed it was only Mrs. O’Reilly.