Billy lived in North Hollywood. It used to be a nice place. Then, the Red Line stop was put there. Now, it isn’t so nice. Make of that what you will.
Billy was a writer who had never sold anything. He was living off of an inheritance and if things kept up the way they were going, which wasn’t well, he would be broke and out on the street before the year’s end.
Instead of writing, Billy was constantly thinking about his money running out and how awful things would be then. “It couldn’t be worse than living in this flea bag apartment building,” he thought, at least when he was feeling optimistic, but that didn’t happen very often.
It was hot and it was night. Billy needed a drink.
He walked out his door on the third story of the building and blocked out all the screams of madness that usually littered those hallways. He had to. He would have been driven mad long ago if he didn’t. But, if he had listened to those screams, he may have noticed that tonight, they were a little different.
He went to the corner shop, dropped a ten on the counter and walked out with a case of Natty Ice. He liked the taste of Natty Light better, but Natty Ice came in black cans. He thought black was cool. He always wore black. So, he logically thought that his beer cans should also always wear black.
Minutes later, as he was walking through his building, he was still blocking out the screams of madness that usually came from his little square of NoHo. He had to. It would’ve drove him nuts if he had to listen that everyday.
When he was slipping his key in the door, he heard a voice coming from behind him.
“Can I have one of those beers you got there?”
The voice was deep, but, it didn’t sound threatening. Billy was always worried about getting robbed. He heard of many people in the building getting robbed. Usually he heard of this when he was checking his mailbox since he rarely ever talked to anyone in the building.
“Is this how it happens?” Billy thought. “Is this how people get robbed?”
“Hey!” said the voice behind him, “I asked if I could have one of those beers?”
Billy slowly turned around and made eye contact with the man’s chest. He moved his eyes upward and eventually came to the man’s face. He had a hard face, but the guy was wearing a black shirt and Billy took that as a sign of camaraderie.
“Shit, man. I’ll give you a dollar for one of those beers,” the man said.
Billy thought about it. The case of Natty Ice only cost $7.99. A normal case only comes with 12 beers. If he sold each beer for a dollar, he could be up $4.00 minus tax. But this case, this was one of those cases that gives you three extra Natties. That meant that Billy had 15 cans of beer in his case. The ROI on this deal could end up being a very lucrative scheme. If the writing thing didn’t work out…
“Jesus Christ, buddy,” the man said, “forget it!”
“No! No!” Billy said. “It’s okay. I’ll give you one.” Billy opened the door and was about to ask the man if he wanted to come in, but found after he put the case down, the man was already in the apartment and had shut the door behind him. Billy also noticed that the man was wearing a skirt.
The man saw that Billy’s eyes were fixated on his attire. “It’s a kilt.”
Billy titled his head to the side. “Is it? It looks like a skirt.”
“It’s a kilt.”
“Where did you get it?”
Billy rubbed his chin. “What department?”
“Like, what else was around it?”
“I dunno, clothes.”
“I said, I dunno!” The man snapped. “You trying to be funny or something?”
“No!” Billy shuddered.
“The thing is plaid and it has pleats! It’s a damn kilt!”
Billy wanted to tell him that all catholic school girl’s skirts did too, but let it slide. He ripped open the cardboard case and gave the man a beer. Billy waited. The man opened it and took a long pull on the can. Billy waited. The man offered no money and Billy’s heart sank.
Billy opened a can for himself and sat down on his tiny couch that he found near the dumpster seven months ago. The pattern on it was disgusting. Something grabbed Billy’s attention.
A drop of blood fell on the hardwood floor. It came from in-between the man’s legs. Another drop fell.
“Oh shit!” Billy shouted. Was this man having a period? Was this a woman before him? Had he misgendered this person? His mind raced. He wondered if he had said anything to the man or woman that would indicate what sex Billy figured the man or woman to be. He panicked. Just a few weeks back, Billy was cancelled off of Twitter for accidentally misgendering someone. He thought his life was over. In fact if it wasn’t for the first three episodes of The Mandalorian on Disney Plus, not having any female roles, he was sure that the cancelling would’ve followed him to Instagram and Facebook, as well.
The man looked at what Billy was looking at. He saw the blood.
Billy looked at the man’s face. He didn’t look so good. He was pale, but with a yellowish tint. He was dripping sweat. The closer Billy looked at the guy, he thought that he would pass out.
There was a long uncomfortable silence.
Then, something made a splat sound with light thud, on the floor.
Billy looked down. “Oh my Jesus! Your ball fell out!” Billy even pointed in case the man didn’t know what he was talking about.
The man slowly looked down to the floor. Sure enough, there was a a roundish object, covered in blood on the hardwood. He picked it up and lifted his skirt. Billy was horrified and now certain of the man’s sex. The man’s scrotum was huge, discolored and looked infected. The guy had a pretty decent pecker in there, too, but it was the sack that was the grotesque freak show. It had a slit near the top by the penis that was about the length of a thumb. The edge of the slice was disgusting and red, and scabby and crusty. Greenish puss oozed out of the wound. Billy stared at the sack and it looked like a leather pouch filled to he brim with marbles. It seemed that there were tons of balls in there. He couldn’t understand it.
The man lifted the ball up off the ground and smiled when he showed it to Billy. It wasn’t a testicle. It was looking back and him. It was a fucking eyeball!
Billy shrieked in terror and spilled his beer. He tried to jump back over the couch but it was against a wall and he had nowhere to go.
The man pulled down on his sack to open the slash and forced the eyeball into his scrotum. He winced and once it was inside, he dropped the skirt and lifted his hands toward Billy, opened his mouth and stuck out his tongue.
Billy had nowhere to go. He was a weakling and had never been in a fight in his life. He had no idea what to do so he froze. The man grabbed him and put his mouth over one of Billy’s eyes. His breath smelled like spoiled milk, electrical fire and asshole. His skin was sweaty and clammy like dead fish. Billy screamed as he felt his eye pop out of the socket. Billy was sick. The pain made him sick but the sound made him even more sick.
Billy puked down the front of the man. All he had eaten that day was a bag of ramen and half that beer.
The man backed up in disgust. Then, he puked a little.
Billy saw his own eye on the ground in the man’s puke. He reached up to his empty socket and felt tendrils and other shit that he couldn’t explain coming out. He screamed and ran for the door. He opened the door and ran into the hall, screaming. He finally stopped zoning out the other screams in the building.
“Where are my fucking eyes!”
These were the screams that Billy heard.
“Help!” Billy shouted, but realized everyone was in the same boat as him.
Doors opened. People stumbled out. The people had bloody holes in their heads where eyes should be. They’re arms were outstretched, feeling their way through the hall. Then, he heard the man stomp into the hall.
“I’m gonna put your eyeballs in my bloody, bloody ballsack!” The man shouted.
“I’m gonna put your eyeballs in my bloody, bloody ballsack!”
He was getting closer. Billy felt like he was having a heart attack. If he let the man have his other eyeball, he would leave him alone. That’s what Billy thought.
Billy stopped running and turned, back against the wall. Everyone still screaming through the building. The man stormed towards him. “I’m gonna put your eyeball in my bloody, bloody ballsack!”
As the man painfully sucked his other eyeball out, Billy remembered that the man with the bloody, bloody ballsack still owed him a dollar that he would never see.