“South of the Nipple” by Paul Negri

It was just beneath the nipple of her heaving right breast.

“What’s that?” asked Bordelli.

Clarice didn’t seem to hear him. She kept bucking her hips and tightening her leg lock around his waist, all the while grinding his face into her breasts until he could keep only one eye open. It was with that one eye that Bordelli noticed it.

   He pulled his head up enough to enunciate properly. “What’s that?” he asked again.

Clarice groaned. “What? What are you saying? Why are you saying anything?

   “Oh, sorry,” said Bordelli. “It’s just I saw something. Don’t stop.” But he could feel Clarice’s legs slacken and try as he might to fight it, he was doing some slackening of his own.

   “I was almost there,” groused Clarice. “Don’t you want to do this?” She unlocked her legs and Bordelli slipped out of her and rolled off, their perspiring bodies making a little popping sound as they separated.

   Bordelli lay on his back, breathing like he’d just run up a flight of stairs in lead sneakers. “Christ, I’m sorry, Clarice. Just give me a minute and I’ll climb back in the saddle.”

   “The saddle? Are you calling me a horse, Bordelli? Or a cow, maybe?”

   “Who puts a saddle on a cow?” asked Bordelli. 

Clarice lifted her hips and pulled the pillow from where she had strategically placed it to improve Bordelli’s clumsy intrusion and propped it up against the headboard of the bed. She sat up and leaned back against the pillow and absentmindedly placed her hand between her legs.

   Bordelli rolled over on his side, his head level with her navel. “I can do that for you, if you want.”

   Clarice took her hand hurriedly away. “No F-ing thank you.” She looked at the top of Bordelli’s luxuriously haired head. It’s his hair, she thought, that’s why I’m doing this.  “You have some head of hair,” she said.

   “I’m really sorry,” said Bordelli. “I just got really distracted by that thing.” 

   “What thing?”

   “Just under your areola.”

   “My what? Talk English, Bordelli.” 

Bordelli scrunched up the bed a little until his head was level with her breasts. “You know, your nipple.”

   “Nipple? Which one?”

   “The one on your breast,” said Bordelli.

Clarice groaned. “Which breast?”

   “Left. No, right. My left, but your right. I think.”

   “Just point, for God’s sake.” 

   “Wait a minute.” Bordelli rolled off the queen size bed and picked his jacket up from the floor, where he had impulsively thrown it when they first barged hot and bothered into the rented room.  He took a case from the inside pocket of the jacket and took out a pair of glasses.

   “Since when do you wear glasses?” asked Clarice.

   “Just for reading.”

   “What the F are you going to read?”

Bordelli got back on the bed and sidled up to Clarice, who was still sitting with her back against the headboard. He peered at one breast, then the other.

“I was right. Left.” And he pointed.

   “You’re pointing to the right,” said Clarice. “Good God, don’t you know your right from your left?”

   “Usually,” said Bordelli, “but in the heat of passion, you know, I get a little disoriented.” Her tits are really asymmetrical, he thought, not like they look in her dress.

Clarice lifted her right breast and looked under the nipple. Sure enough there was a small brown spot she had not noticed before. “Okay. So, what? It’s just a birthmark, right?”

   “I don’t know. I’m a chiropractor, not a dermatologist.”

Clarice grimaced showing her teeth.

   “It just distracted me,” said Bordelli defensively.

   “In the heat of passion?”

   “It looks like a star.”

Clarice looked again. “It looks like a daisy.”

   “Well, a star–like daisy,” said Bordelli, trying to be agreeable.

   “I’m full of little brown spots. I’m forty. What did you expect, a milkmaid?” So, this is what I’m committing adultery for? she thought. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

   “I’m really sorry. It’s just that it was shaped like a star. And it looked really big with my eye right there. It threw me, I guess.” They’re whoppers, though, I’ve got to give her that, he thought. “And I’m used to Bev. Her skin’s, well, you know, a little

 more—” There was something in Clarice’s eyes that made him stop short and shrug.

   “A little more what?” asked Clarice.

   “Oh, I don’t know, more—clearer? That’s not it. I mean, she’s of Swedish descent, maybe that’s it.”

   “Oh, come on, Bordelli.” Clarice crossed her arms on her breasts. “Are you telling me she doesn’t have any brown spots on her body? Seriously? I’ve been in dressing rooms with her. I’ve seen plenty of her skin. I’ve seen her inner thighs.”

   “In dressing rooms?”

   “On the beach, for God’s sake. In her bathing suit. We’ve all seen them. She’s got a birthmark the size of a dime shaped like—like a—fishhook. On her inside right thigh.”

   “A fishhook?”

   “Well, what do you think, a star?” 

   “I’ve never noticed it,” said Bordelli. Christ, a fishhook, he thought and winced. He propped his pillow against the headboard and sat up.  He took off his glasses and instinctively went to put them in his shirt breast pocket before realizing his shirt was on the floor with his jacket. He put them back on and looked at Clarice’s legs.  Christ, she’s got beautiful legs, he thought. Nice and symmetrical.

   Clarice lay back down and turned on her side facing him. She put her hand on his stomach and lowered her head to his groin, her face coming closer and closer.

Wow, thought Bordelli.

   “What’s that?” said Clarice.

   “What’s what?”

   “You know, your balls. Or testicles.”

   “That’s the same thing,” said Bordelli.

Clarice looked up at him. “I know that. I mean, what’s the matter with your left testicle?”

   “Nothing’s the matter with it,” said Bordelli.  He tried to look past her head, but couldn’t see what she was staring at. “My left or your left?”

Clarice moved back up to the head of the bed. “Get up. Go stand at the foot of the bed.”

   “Why?”

   “Just go. Scoot.”

Bordelli went where directed. Clarice twisted around so her head was at the foot of the bed and rolled over on her stomach.

   “Spread your legs apart,” she said. 

Bordelli spread them.

   “Further apart.”

He complied.

   “A little more.”

   “All right?” he said testily. “That’s it. I can’t go wider without falling over.”

   “That’ll do. Now stand closer to me.”

Clarice knew her best assets were accentuated when she was belly down. Bordelli responded instantly and stiffened to attention, like he was making a salute. Clarice smiled. She reached over, took hold of his jutting penis, and held it up at an angle. “Hmmm,” she said.

   “What?” asked Bordelli.

   “Looks like you have three testicles.”

He deflated in her hand. “What? What are you talking about?”

She palpated his scrotum. “One, two—yup, three.”

   “That’s ridiculous.” Bordelli ran his hand through his thick dark hair and looked around the room for a mirror.  “What kind of room is this that doesn’t even have a mirror?”

   “A cheap one,” said Clarice. “Try the bathroom.” Bordelli disappeared into the bathroom and shut the door. I’m being a bitch, thought Clarice, a spiteful and horny one.

   Bordelli made a triumphal reentry from the bathroom. He smiled down at Clarice. She’s being a bitch, he thought, a spiteful and horny one.

   “I have two perfectly normal balls,” he announced smugly. 

   “Did you look at the left one?”

   “Of course.”

   “And it doesn’t seem much larger than the other one? Like conjoined twin balls?”

   “One bigger testicle is very normal. The left testicle is frequently larger than the right in the male.”

   “In the male?”

    “That’s a man’s prerogative. Did you know that when a man gets pants tailored, the tailor always asks him what side he hangs on?”

   “Bill buys his pants off the rack.”

   “I buy mine tailored,” said Bordelli with a smirk. He stood his legs apart, his arms akimbo, like a miniature Colossus straddling a musty carpet. “I suppose Bill’s balls are perfectly identical?”

   “Bill’s balls are so large I don’t think anyone would notice. He’s really big, Bordelli.  I mean, you know, comparatively speaking.” 

   “I see,” said Bordelli. He sat on the side of the bed and put his fingers on the small of her back and walked them teasingly south, but stopped abruptly. “Hmmm.”

   “Hmmm?”

   “Does that itch?”

   “Does what itch?”

   “Oh, nothing. I’m sorry I mentioned it. I’m sure it’s not shingles.”

   “And where do I have something that you think should itch?”

   “Right under the left gluteal fold.”  Clarice turned her head and glared at him. “You know, where your cheek and hip meet. Of course, it could be just chaffing. Prickly heat. As we get older and gain a little weight, our asses drop a bit—”

Clarice bristled. “My ass has not dropped. It’s—curtsied a little, maybe.”

   “It’s no big deal. We can’t escape gravity, after all.”

Clarice flipped on her back, sat bolt upright, grabbed Bordelli by the shoulders and shook him. “F you, Bordelli!”

   “What is all this ‘F’ and ‘F-ing’? Are you afraid to say the word, Clarice? It’s a lot easier to say it than to do it.”

   “All right,” she shouted. “Fuck you. Fuck, fucker, fuckingest. Okay?”

Bordelli looked shocked. “You don’t have to shout.”

She pressed against his shoulder and sighed. She ran her hands through his hair. He cupped a breast, which one he wasn’t sure. They kissed hard with tongue. Then Clarice broke away and sat up on the edge of the bed next to him. She folded her hands in her lap.

   “What an F-ing bad idea this was.”

   “A fuckingest bad idea.”

   “Whose idea was it anyway?” asked Clarice. 

   “Yours.”

Clarice groaned. “Oh yeah. But Bev was egging me on. You know that.”

   “We were all drunk.”

   “Bill wasn’t. He nurses his drinks like a mother and watches everyone else. He’s always been that way. He was born a designated driver. Makes him feel superior, I suspect.”

   “I’ve noticed that.” Bordelli put his arm around Clarice’s shoulder. “You think they’re having a good time?”

   “Oh God, I hope not.”

   “You think this is the end of our friendship? After twelve years?”

Clarice rested her head on Bordelli’s shoulder.  “Nope. Let’s chalk it up to being middle-aged crazy. And never do it again.”

  Clarice’s cell phone rang.  She reached across Bordelli and took it from the nightstand. “Bill? Oh, Bev. You what? I should have told you about his snoring, but what’s he doing asleep?” Pause. “Don’t take it personally. He’s just no good at night. We usually have to do it in the morning.” Pause. “Okay. Wake him up and meet us across the street in that all-night diner. I’m not really hungry, but we can share a salad. The boys can eat whatever, which I’m sure they’ll be happy to do.” She paused again. “Bordelli had a lousy time, too.” She ended the call.

   Bordelli sighed. “You know, that’s not all true. I mean my having a lousy time.”

   “Be smart, sweetheart. You tell Bev you had a lousy time now and whenever it comes up in the next hundred years. Bev will tell Bill to tell me the same thing, I know. And our little world will just go on spinning merrily along.”

   “Clarice?”

   “Yes, Bordelli?”

   “Do I really have three testicles?”


Paul Negri has twice won the gold medal for fiction in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Writing Competition. His stories have appeared in print and on line in The Penn Review, Vestal Review, Gemini Magazine, Jellyfish Review, Concho River Review, and many other publications. He lives and writes in Clifton, New Jersey.

Image Credit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.