For his fortieth birthday, Lance bought himself a red-tailed boa and named it Sexy Rexy. When he returned to his empty apartment, he masturbated to a video on Pornhub called “MASSIVELY JACKED STUD ANNIHILATES SUBMISSIVE TWINK.” Then he turned off his phone and set up Sexy Rexy’s living enclosure, feeding tank, and hide box. For dinner Lance ate an entire chocolate cake and washed it down with half a bottle of champagne. Then he smoked a pack of Marlboro Lights and threw up in the bathroom for half an hour. After a long, hot shower in which he threw up one more time and sobbed for ten straight minutes, Lance fed three mice to Sexy Rexy. The salesman at the exotic pet store had warned Lance not to feed Sexy Rexy more than two mice per week. But this was a special occasion. And besides, Lance thought to himself, rules are made to be broken. Before dropping the first pre-killed mouse into Sexy Rexy’s feeding tank, Lance held it by the tail and looked at its tiny legs dangling in the air. Then he named the mouse after a man he had known in the past.

He named the first mouse after the priest who got him drunk off sacramental wine at age eleven.

He named the second mouse after his father, who pushed his head through a window after walking in on him making out with the running back from the JV football team.

He named the third mouse after his college suitemate who od’d on xannys and vodka, the only man he had ever loved.

Steve Gergley is the author of The Great Atlantic Highway & Other Stories (Malarkey Books '24), Skyscraper (West Vine Press '23), and A Quick Primer on Wallowing in Despair (Leftover Books '22). His short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Pithead Chapel, Maudlin House, Gone Lawn, Rejection Letters, New World Writing, and others. In addition to writing fiction, he has composed and recorded five albums of original music. He tweets @GergleySteve. His fiction can be found here.

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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