by Rebecca Jones-Howe
The guy at the bar is wearing a T-shirt that says “Honey Badger Don’t Care”. He’s skinny enough for the shirt, but he cringes when he takes a sip from his bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
I wonder if he can fuck a girl like me and really not care.
I like to tell myself that I’m not that ugly. I’ve studied my reflection enough times to believe that my cheeks aren’t that chipmunk-like, that my teeth aren’t too big, that my forehead isn’t too high. Those features are all I know, but self-confidence is a difficult thing to maintain in a society that judges everything on face value.
Having bangs and make-up help.
So do paper bags.
I should have been offended the first time a guy said he’d only fuck with me if I covered my face the entire time. It was just easier being selfish, because the guy was suave and sexy and I really wanted to bang him.
It was scary, at first. His breaths got heavy as soon as I slipped the paper bag over my head. He kept calling me his Little Fuck Doll and I laid there imagining that I was the broken-headed Barbie I owned as a kid. He grabbed my tits until I moaned. I didn’t ask him to stop, though. My moans just made him try harder. He propped my legs over his shoulders and he fucked me maniacally, his grunts echoing over my covered face, his sweat dripping, leaving spots on the paper bag. He fucked me so hard that I came before he did. When he finished, he pulled the bag off my head and he asked me if I liked it. I was so high off the endorphin rush of climaxing that I couldn’t even answer the question. I just laid there and grinned.
A broken Barbie’s an easy fix.
I dig through my purse for tonight’s paper bag. I set it on top of the bar and that’s when the guy in the honey badger shirt notices me. To be fair, he notices the bag first. Then he looks at me. He meets my gaze and he scrunches his face.
The features he sees are the chipmunk ones, but I’m okay with that.
Honey badgers will eat practically anything.
He walks up with his poser beer, leans against the bar. “So uh, are you that girl?” he asks.
“Yup,” I say.
“Like, the paper bag girl?” he asks.
I glance at the bag on the counter and I look back at him.
He takes a sip from his beer and he laughs. “I thought people were joking about you.”
“Nope,” I say. “I’m legit shit.”
“That’s sweet,” he says.
“Yeah,” I say. “It’s just straight up dope, isn’t it?”
He takes another sip and he looks me over, studies me from the neck down. He wants the experience, the opportunity to brag. Then he looks at my face again. I smile at him. I make him nervous. He looks about ready to concede, but he knows he’s wearing the wrong shirt to do that.
“So, uh…” He takes another drink. “Do we just-”
“We do this in the handicapped bathroom,” I say.
“Right now?” he asks.
“Right now,” I say.
He takes another drink. “Fuck it,” he says. “Why not?”
“Fantastic,” I say.
He smiles way too eager.
I reach for the paper bag.”So you want a face or would you rather do the headless thing?”
“What?” he asks.
“I’ve got faces,” I say, digging into my purse for the cutouts. Tonight I’ve got Audrey Hepburn and Courtney Love and Kate Middleton. His brows furrow when I hold them up. “You don’t have to pick one,” I say. “It’s just that some guys get weird about doing me when there’s nothing to look at.”
“I’m not weird,” he says.
“I could also draw a face on the bag,” I say, reaching for the Sharpie in my purse.
“Okay fine,” he says. “I’ll pick a face. A real one.”
I fan them out for him, the heads of the women I’ve kept forever in my mental toy chest. He picks the Duchess of Cambridge and instantly I know what kind of fucker this guy is.
“You like her?” I ask, wagging Kate’s face at him. “You think she’s hot?”
“She’s okay.” He takes another swig of his beer, getting suave.
His confidence is kind of sexy, even though it won’t last. He’s the sort of guy I would have dreamt about getting with in high school, except back then my idea of getting with a guy was more like holding hands and going out for ice cream and shit. I’m sure behind his pent-up ironic obnoxiousness that he’s probably thinking of taking Kate Middleton out for ice cream. He just seems like the guy who started out a romantic.
I pull the roll of tape from out of my purse and I attach Kate’s face to the paper bag.
“So you ready for this?” I ask.
He tilts the PBR back but he doesn’t finish the beer. His fingers tighten around the neck of the bottle as I lead him to the bathroom. I hang up my purse and I turn the lock on the door.
I give him the paper bag and then I start unbuttoning my dress. He stares. He’s turned on even though it’s still my face that’s staring back at him. He adjusts his jeans, gropes there a moment.
I dig a condom out of my purse and toss it at him.
“Are you serious?” he asks, setting his beer on the counter.
“You might not want to think you’re fucking me but you still are,” I say.
His belt buckle clinks when he undoes his pants.
I take the paper bag and pull it over my head. Now I’m a princess and I hear the sound of him tearing the condom wrapper. I smile behind my shield of brown paper.
The air in the room is cold, but his hands are colder when he gropes at my chest. He pushes me back against the counter. I bite my lip and I prop myself up. He reaches between my legs.
It’s funny how I once thought I was vulnerable.
“It’s better when you say something,” I say.
“Yeah,” he says, moving his hands, spreading my thighs. “Yeah,” he says again.
I’m sure he thought he’d sound more dominating.
“Yeah?” I ask. “That’s all you can say?”
“No,” he says.
“You’re letting me down, honey badger,” I say.
He shoves me back. My head hits the mirror and my lips twitch. I smile behind the paper bag.
He’d probably grab my hair if he felt like he was actually fucking me, but Kate Middleton’s hair is too perfect, so he grips my wrists instead. It’s sexy, the way his fingers tighten and his frustration cuts off my circulation. His groan meshes with the distorted bass that throbs from the speakers.
“Maybe I don’t wanna talk,” he says.
“Are you shy?” I ask.
“Maybe I don’t have anything to say to you,” he says, his voice getting deeper. “I know what you are.”
I bite my lip. I try not to laugh. “You’re supposed to treat a whore like a princess,” I say.
He grunts and pulls me toward him. I slip over the counter, gripping my my fingers around the edge. He grips my waist, slides his hand down. He grabs my ass and he pushes himself into me.
The moan I make is legit.
“Am I a real princess?” I ask.
He slaps my tits.
I don’t sound like Kate Middleton, but he fucks me like a princess. He digs deep, buries his nails into my thighs. It’s not long before his voice starts cracking.
I’m grateful that I can’t see his expression from behind the paper bag.
“Fuck,” he says. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”
This is probably how he masturbates when he’s alone. Just aggression and anger. It feels so good inside of me. He comes before I can, but his taut grasp burns a release through my limbs. He slips over me. His chest beats against my stomach. He gasps for breath and then he groans and lets me go.
He pulls off the paper bag and I’m fixed again.
My head slips against the mirror and I rub the back of my neck. I breathe in the cold bathroom air. He’s already turned around, his back to me.
“Did you like that?” I ask.
“That was fucked up.” He yanks the condom off, his shoulders already tightened up, already pretending. “I can’t believe you do this shit,” he says.
“Was it like fucking a princess?” I ask.
“No.” He tosses the rubber in the garbage and then bends down to pick up his pants.
“That’s too bad,” I say, “because you made me feel like one.”
He crumples up the paper bag, crumples Kate’s face. He throws the bag at me and he does up his pants, buckles his belt, adjusts his shirt. Honey Badger Don’t Care.
“You totally care,” I say.
“What?” he asks.
I point at his chest. “You’re wearing that ironically, right?”
He looks down at the honey badger and he looks back at me.
“It’s okay,” I say. “We’re all human, right?”
“Fuck you,” he says. The door closes behind him and I’m left alone.
His beer’s still beside me on the counter. I bring the bottle to my lips. The dregs are warm and awful, but my endorphin rush leaves a hint of mockery over the unease.
I slip off the counter and I pick the paper bag off the floor. I smooth out the lines on Kate’s face. She’s not really a princess, but everybody likes to pretend she is. She mirrors my smile and I fold her nicely. I put her back into my purse.
It might sound fucked up, but I’ve kept every single paper bag I’ve ever worn.
Rebecca Jones-Howe writes dirty short stories that can still be considered literary. Her work has appeared in Out of the Gutter, L’Allure des Mots and Pulp Modern, among other publications. She lives with her husband in Kamloops, B.C. and can be found online at rebeccajoneshowe.com