What happened was that I entranced my favorite person against his will. At the time, no one knew that I had powers, although the motorcycle suspected it.
My favorite person and I had been coworkers since April 5, 2017. He was the guy who set up PowerPoint presentations and gave our coworkers new passwords; I was the gal who entered payroll info into QuickBooks and updated mailing addresses in our database. So you see, we had a lot in common from the start. We were detail people by trade, immigrants to the land of the machines.
Even more attractively, my favorite person had a gift for saying the absolutely wrong thing. Like when Maryann said she had to go on bed rest to keep her baby, he said, “Nice! I wish I could go on bed rest.” And when our executive director announced that our most important grantor was slashing our funding, he exclaimed, “Ruh-oh! Looks like some dead wood’s about to get chopped.”
These sentences were gifts to me, as beautiful as yellow French roses. For too long, I had been the only person in the office who complimented ill people on their weight loss. The only one who lingered at the break room sink, washing other people’s dishes while interrogating passersby about their weekend plans.
Now it was Tobin who they whispered about, Tobin whose soft animal gaze they failed to meet as he wavered through the cafeteria, looking for an open seat.
I indicated my devotion to him in many ways, but mainly through illegal love spells. For instance, I drove by his house five times a night (this is a spell). I peered at the flowers in his yard, correctly identified them, and planted them in my own yard (this is also a spell.) I rectified his astrology chart through guesswork alone; I started taking his mail; I gave my cat his name (these are spells, spells, spells).
Yet every weekday morning, as we passed each other in the hall, my favorite person’s eyes didn’t so much as flicker. Clearly, I needed to take more drastic action.
Now, during this gray-green time in my life, I also had a lover. He was a motorcycle whom I had bought used. I’d first seen him in Indiana, at a rural auto body shop called “Touch My Body.” This business sat in a meadow by the side of the highway, adrift in a bowl of cornflowers and tall grass. The motorcycle leaned against the shop’s corrugated tin wall, lit perfectly by the falling sun: a real matinee idol. As soon as I saw him, I knew that we were going to do it later.
I kept him in my living room, in front of the TV. When my favorite programs were on, such as “Criminal Minds,” I sat on the motorcycle in a pink flowered bathing suit, undulating my body in a notably J. Lo-like manner. Outrageous? Perhaps. But to my critics, I say: don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Our usual audience for this performance was Tobin the cat, except on Saturday nights, when I got brave enough (drunk enough) to fling open the curtains. Sadly, no impressed witness to my shenanigans ever knocked on the door. I wasn’t even paid the compliment of a honk from a passing car.
The disappointment begat by this also caused my work to suffer. At my performance review, the operations manager kept talking about “success metrics” and “improvement plans.” I wanted to tell her that it would be easy for me to stop time-thieving the day away on Wicca forums, if only I had:
A.) The love of Tobin
B.) A voyeur for the amazing erotic connection between me and my motorcycle
As I carefully wrote out this thought in my notebook, I had a flash of genius. I could solve all my problems by making Tobin my lover AND my voyeur. All I needed was:
A.) More love spells
B.) The enthusiastic consent of my motorcycle
The operations manager asked me if I was willing to commit myself to turning over a new leaf. Dazed with joy, I nodded, plans for my rehabilitation already forming in my head.
As the payroll assistant, I already knew Tobin’s social security number, and as an intermittent midnight mail thief, I had pretty much all of his other information. It wasn’t hard to open a joint savings account for us, or to slowly start siphoning money from his checking account. I contributed my bit as well. Obviously, once we bought the condo, I wanted to feel as if we owned it equally. The motorcycle had always said that power imbalances are an existential threat to relationships.
Wait, have I not mentioned the condo yet? Red brick exterior, updated kitchen with a dishwasher. HOA fee: $245 a month. Jeff from Programs was selling it because he wanted to move to Lansing. It would be ideal for my favorite person and me, once we were hitched.
To get the ball rolling on that goal, I asked Tobin over for gazpacho. We were walking through the black ice-limned parking lot on a Friday afternoon, locust shells smashing beneath our feet.
“Do you want to come over for gazpacho tonight?” I said. “I made too much. I also have too much blue cheese, which could be our appetizer.”
“What?” he said.
“I’m inviting you over for soup and cheese,” I said. “No pressure, just thought it might be really fun for both of us.”
He looked away from me, at the cool, mountain-y horizon. “I have a girlfriend,” he said.
“No, you don’t,” I said.
He flushed deeply, all the way down to his polo shirt collar. “How do you know that?”
“Look, it’s only dinner,” I said. “You’ll come over, eat some soup, drink some rum, vibe out. Then later, if you’re up for it, I’ll take you for a ride on my motorcycle.”
For the first time, he really looked at me. “You have a motorcycle?”
I licked my lips. “You bet I do, hun.”
I guess that won him over, because he asked for my address without even being prompted to. I told him I’d see him at 8 p.m. sharp, then hurried home to reassure the motorcycle.
The motorcycle resented Tobin because he conjectured that my love for him was quite spiritual. This was true. I loved the motorcycle on a physical level, whereas I barely found Tobin attractive. What drew me to him were his enormous, insurmountable personality flaws. He was the only individual I’d met who was as unlovable as I was. Therefore, I posited, we were soul mates, divided by God from the rest of humanity for some eldritch purpose I had yet to divine. To discover my life’s meaning, I had to get close to him.
Yet I did not want to give up sleeping with the motorcycle. So when I got home, I told him that I was going to do it to Tobin later, but only as a joke. Then I locked myself in my bedroom and performed the ritual that would bind my favorite person and me together forever.
I lit three candles with Tobin’s W-2 form. After it crumbled to ash, I anointed myself with it, drawing spooky shadows under my eyes, around my mouth and across my belly. Sitting cross-legged, I chanted Tobin’s height, weight, and birth date, five times. Then I beseeched God.
“Attract Tobin to me, Lord. With the strength of your wrath, soften his hard lips, and stiffen his limp member. Drag him to the ground, compel him to make me his worm wife. Power and glory, power and glory, power and glory. Amen.”
To make my worm marriage official, I tried to sacrifice Tobin the cat. But his dear little mews tore at my heart, so I settled for clipping off the tip of one ear. I then bandaged him, wiped the ash of Tobin’s W-2 off my body, and put on a sexy green pants suit. The stage was set for seduction!
As I cleaned my surprisingly filthy kitchen and whipped up a batch of Alton Brown’s gazpacho, the motorcycle whined and grumbled. He was worried that Tobin might judge me for the way the apartment looked, he thought I should go back on my medication, he didn’t want me to do it to gross old Tobin, etc. I told him that Tobin didn’t want to do it to me either, but today, they were both shit out of luck. He said that Tobin might talk about me at work, that I was running the risk of being fired, maybe even institutionalized. I told him that I was too pitiable to get fired.
But from the look on Tobin’s face when he saw my living room, it seemed as if the motorcycle had been wiser than I thought.
“Where’s your furniture?” he said. “Why is that cat bleeding?”
“Come in, come in,” I said grandly. “Take a load off.”
I slipped Tobin’s coat from his shoulders and hung it on a bulbless lamp. Then I handed him a glass of Captain Morgan’s and pushed him onto a kitchen bar stool.
“I love eating at my kitchen counter bar—it’s so casual,” I said.
“Why is your motorcycle in the living room?” Tobin said.
“I invited you over for a hook-up, not question time,” I said. “You wanna see my room?”
Tobin shut up and followed me to my bedchamber. Even when he saw the holes that the candle had burned into the rug, he kept quiet. On a tactile level, it wasn’t as good a sexual time as I typically had with my motorcycle. It was more like learning how to jump Double Dutch. When it was over, I turned to him eagerly, ready for him to fall in love with me.
“You know how everyone hates us?” I said, trailing a delicate finger across his collarbone. “I was thinking…maybe we should team up.”
Tobin bolted upright. “Who hates me?” he demanded.
I waved my hand. “Oh, Maryann, the ED, Jeff—basically everybody.”
Tobin scrambled out of bed, modestly hiding his privates with a sheet. “If I’m such a fucking loser, why did you sleep with me?”
I tossed my lank locks, smiling. “I already told you, silly! I think we should team up. Get married, buy Jeff’s condo, have threesomes with my motorcycle. It might seem sort of cut-and-dried, but let’s face it: no one else will have us.”
Tobin’s mouth fell open. Then he began shoving on his clothes, moving more quickly than I’d have dreamt possible.
“You must be crazy,” he said. “Deadass nuts!”
My face froze, but I unfroze it.
“Ha ha, just kidding!” I said. “Can you imagine if I were serious? Woah, what a loon.”
He paused. “Really?” he said. “No one at the office hates me? You don’t want to get married?”
“Jeff’s condo isn’t even that great of a deal,” I said. “Too close to a vape shop. Anyways, how would you like to normally ride on my motorcycle?”
Since we were only going around the block, I told Tobin that he didn’t need a helmet. His hands were cold as they clutched at my waist; I could feel them through my jacket. Although it was our first time together on the road, the motorcycle was as responsive to my touch as ever.
When the cops asked, I said I’d been forced to brake suddenly for a passing animal. Maybe a dog, maybe a cat, maybe a possum—I wasn’t sure. They said it was a shame, that such a tender, protective instinct on my part could lead to a young man’s death. I smiled ruefully, and agreed with them.
© Marie Biondolillo
[This piece was selected by John Haggerty. Read Marie’s interview]