after Matthew Barney

The Candidate sat fingering his testicles through the crotch of his velour track pants, rubbing each testicle against the material, lifting the testicle some partial inch away from where it rested against his thigh and letting it go, feeling the dull pump in his stomach as it fell, the concussion limited, nonetheless engaging the energies of the place where his penis would be, for The Candidate, though gifted by balls, was without a cock.
       The party was in full, swinging around him. The chatter of mousy registrars mingled with the house music; the agreement of the two sounds unbalancing The Candidate so much so that even his testicles provided slender respite. The thud of the bass in his chest began to make The Candidate feel drunker than he was and he self-consciously moved his hand from his balls to touch the nub of his horn, his tobacco-stained fingers moving over his bright orange hair, preposterously slicked back around the volcanic infancy of his nubs. He considered leaving the party, returning home to his apartment, or better yet to a quiet bar to drink the evening into morning. The Candidate had not yet seen The Woman at whose behest he had come and, in the small moments when The Candidate was honest with himself, he hoped he did not. Staunching his ambivalence, he finished his drink, forgot his hair, and resumed fingering his balls, removing his hand only long enough to grab a passing waitress by the bustle to order a Grey Goose martini from the open bar—filthy, he elaborated. When the waitress returned, he drank half the filthy martini in one draught and sucked his teeth, settling as best he could into the deep upholstered chair to watch the night unfold.
        The Candidate had come to the party at the behest of The Woman he had been seeing for some small amount of weeks now. He met her in Venice, for the Biennale, briefly, and saw her again upon his return to the city at the home of a mutual relation. The Candidate had been drunk, but charmingly so, cheeky and dashing and enamored of his testicles and the deceptively beautiful woman that was paying him so much attention. They talked of art and process and product and the cruel intersection of the three. The Candidate was uncharacteristically well-behaved and The Woman enjoyed The Candidate’s drunken grin and searching eyes—she was cosmopolitan and familiar simultaneously and The Candidate felt emboldened despite his inability to penetrate her should she wish it of him. In lieu of this, he gave her head in the upstairs bathroom of his friend’s home, bringing her to orgasm quickly and efficiently. Afterwards, she began to kiss the area around his navel, hands reaching under the elastic of his velour track pants, but he quickly demurred, now mostly sober, grabbing her armpits and pulling her up where she kissed him with eager sloppy passion. Feigning embarrassment or chivalry, he suggested they go back downstairs and, after exchanging numbers and platitudes, they did.
       The party was being thrown by The Cultural Institution where The Woman worked, in celebration of a cultural event involving a celebrity The Candidate knew by sight, not because The Candidate cared much for celebrity or celebrities, but because The Candidate had long frequented a bar near the train station that The Celebrity himself frequented in an attempt to distance himself from the adoring crowds who would no doubt flock to The Celebrity were he somewhere not so close to the train station, or at least maintain the appearance that removing himself from adoring flocks was something The Celebrity was sincerely interested in doing, maintaining his credibility amongst the people sloped against the bar, like The Candidate, for whatever unfathomable reason. There were many such haunts in The City, many of which The Candidate frequented, and each had its own desperate celebrity. The party was for him.
       Out of the corner of his eye, The Candidate saw The Woman talking to The Celebrity. He hoped they didn’t see him too. He turned his head and nonchalantly sipped his fresh drink before he felt the clap of a hand on his shoulder. It was The Celebrity and The Woman, accompanied by The Celebrity’s wife, whom The Candidate did not know by sight, but quickly gathered was even more of a celebrity than The Celebrity himself. The Candidate briefly felt compassion for The Celebrity, but quickly forgot it and ordered another drink.
       The party was clearly an event of some importance for The Woman and she did not do well to hide her disdain, if she even tried, that The Candidate was slouched into a chair, drunk, fumbling with his testicles. The Celebrity’s wife, The Greater Celebrity, however, seemed amused by The Candidate and this put The Woman at ease. The Candidate allowed for this amusement, a suspicious feeling, for the time being, because he was too drunk to say anything witty enough to put the situation even further in his disfavor, so rather he allowed it, and even clowned for The Greater Celebrity, an act that debased him in his own eyes, but humored the three assembled in such a manner as to put off any quick confrontation resultant The Candidate’s chastened ego. The Candidate was often of the possession to clown in such a manner, and had developed some skill with it, much to his chagrin. He made voices, pulled his nubbed horns, danced in his seat, hooves clacking on the floor in time to the house beat forcing itself into all assembled.
       The Candidate was then unsurprised when The Greater Celebrity asked him to dance on the small dance floor near where they stood and he sat. Enlivened by his diminished self-respect he replied that he would indeed dance with The Greater Celebrity and stood, taking her hand in his own. She was an exciting dancer—it was part of the nature of her celebrity—and The Candidate was pleased to be dancing with such a charming and talented woman as she was, though he still felt a deep resentment for the conditions which allowed them to be dancing in the first place, coupled by the fact that just across the dance floor The Woman and The Celebrity danced too, a tight slow dance, his hands cupping her ass. The Candidate did not feel jealous watching The Woman’s ass handled so, or at least he did not see any reason to feel such, but nonetheless his estrangement grew as the two pairs danced and he began to lead his partner into more precarious positions: into other dancers, crushing her soft feet beneath his hooves, once even butting her head with his horny own. It appeared to The Candidate that The Greater Celebrity did her best not be dismayed by his actions, believing him simply to be drunk rather than purposefully steering her into potentially awkward or dangerous situations as he was in fact doing. His annoyance was colored with relief when The Celebrity cut in, retrieving his wife before The Candidate spilled her over the couch and onto the floor, a fall during which all manner of unfortunate things could have happened. He gave The Celebrity a grin and returned to his seat, The Woman grabbing his hand as he walked away.
       The party was slowly coming to its conclusion, beckoning the revelers to other, better parties, but also as the regular patrons of the club had begun to arrive for their regular night of revelry and The Cultural Institution and those it had invited certainly had better places to be than dancing late into the night with the regular patrons with whom they had nothing in common nor wanted too. The Woman, commenting on this between nibbling on The Candidate’s neck, further raised his ire, but he simply smiled and agreed that yes, maybe it was time to move on. Would The Celebrity and The Greater Celebrity be coming with? She was pleased with The Candidate’s suggestion and quickly went to the dance floor to ask them just that. Answering in the affirmative, The Greater Celebrity pulled her telephone out of her dashing bag and made a quick phone call to inform the driver that they would be in need of his services; the four exited from the back of the club to the waiting limousine.
       The Candidate says in aside, “I am not a metaphor. I am a Goatman without a cock. I am not a relic of bygone days. I am not a descendent of Giles or Pan, emasculated by my father’s pride. I nonetheless exist in this world.
       In the limousine, the three people and one goatperson sat, the couples across from one another, when The Celebrity suggested they open a bottle of champagne, winking at The Candidate as he did. A fine idea, they all agreed and The Woman giggled when the cork The Celebrity was struggling with popped out and hit the closed sunroof, sending a cascade of champagne over his fumbling fingers. The Greater Celebrity appeared annoyed by The Woman’s humor but The Celebrity did not appear to notice and the moment passed when The Greater Celebrity began to remove glasses out of the sideboard. They sipped and chatted, The Candidate growing increasingly agitated, particularly when The Greater Celebrity’s hand made its way to the thigh of his velour track pants, not far from his drooping testicles—the women having switched sides to begin inane conversations with the men. This continued as some several blocks passed outside the tinted windows, the new couples’ lips ever closer, the rotted breath of alcohol and cigarettes mingling unnoticed, then joining, The Greater Celebrity putting her hands under The Candidate’s V-neck T-shirt and clawing at his chest. It was when The Woman placed her mouth over The Celebrity’s penis that The Candidate, chagrinned, bit down on The Greater Celebrity’s swollen lip, severing it, and pushed her to the floor. He then jumped up from his seat on springy goat legs and ran the corkscrew, also out of the sideboard, through the soft flesh of The Celebrity’s neck. His blood instantly soaked The Woman’s head, still bobbing between the dying man’s legs. The Woman screaming, The Greater Celebrity mute with shock, both cowered in fear from The Candidate who, having dipped a finger into the spray, was rouging his lips with The Celebrity’s blood. Seeing himself in the window’s reflection, with red lips, gelled hair, and two small nubs of horns, he laughed, grabbed The Woman by the hair and kissed her hard, her mouth still wet with hot saliva, his tongue pushing The Greater Celebrity’s rent lip into The Woman’s mouth, which she unconsciously swallowed. Then, with a comic wave, he opened the limousine door and began running down the middle of the busy street, a great shower of sparks behind him, white light exploding each time his hooves clacked the black asphalt street.