From Russia with Love

I felt under pressure, like… like the world’s greatest living writer, or dead, trying to think of something that was under pressure. Something slightly off-beat. That’s how I felt. Enrique was looking at me waiting for my verdict and from his face it was obvious it would carry some weight. It would have real world implications. He was smiling, though, and his tongue was peaking out so it was clear he expected the outcome to be positive. I could have lied. Perhaps I should have lied. I looked at the evidence some more although it was heavy viewing. I had already tried to return it to Enrique but he was adamant I keep looking and had pushed it back across his desk to me.

“I… don’t like this, Enrique,” I told him when I’d got past the centre spine which seemed far enough to reach a conclusion.

I was being pressurised, like the canister of oxygen that ended up in Jaws’ jaws, to look through the latest of Enrique’s pornographic magazines to arrive in the post from Latin America. “I’m sorry,” I said. If he’d been showing me pictures of cars he liked then I would have lied but there are some things you just can’t betray yourself over.

“Chu do like?” He asked, still smiling. He clearly couldn’t believe somebody might not like it. That idea was as incomprehensible to him as the speech bubbles in the magazine were to me. Speech bubbles! In a pornographic magazine? Why? In the corner of each page was a happy face bursting out of a box with a speech bubble – which I guessed explained in a few Wow! words what was playing out on the page.

“I… no, I really don’t.” I closed it again and looked at the cover. I’ve seen dirty magazines before but this was something else. Perhaps the most disturbing thing was how happy everybody looked. Gone were the serious concentrating visages of normal porn people and in their place were what looked like comedians. The men were particularly happy although the woman were all having a great time too. The second most disturbing thing was how much many of men looked like Enrique or a relative of his, all of them really, and there were many. There were too many men involved.

It was like an Annual. That’s how best I can describe it. A pornographic Annual, if there ever was such a thing. It had that vibe. It was fun where it should have been serious. Sex should be serious. I slipped it across the table to Enrique. He stopped it and tried to slide it back. “No!” I said calmly and it scrunched. Enrique drew it to himself while squinting at me.

“Chu no like?” We were playing poker in a tavern in the Wild West.

“I… no, I no like.” I felt I needed to say that in foreign English. To make it clear.

“Dis?” Enrique had opened it on a random page and was holding it for me to see.

“No, see that’s exactly… how many dicks are in the photo?” I tried to count them but it was tricky. “Seven or eight. And it’s not just that.”

“Dat’s good, no?” He asked turning it to himself and nodding. He then flipped to a different page. “You no like-a dis?”

“It’s too… It’s too hairy. And then bits are too… too pink. You know? The dicks and the…” I never know what to call fannies. “It’s too pink, against all the black hair it’s wrong. I don’t like it. Too pink.”

“Chu fuckin’ gay, man!” Said Enrique turning the pages back to himself. He looked around the page with his face twisted, possibly looking for what I could see and he couldn’t. “Chu gay.”

“Go back a few pages,” I urged. I then stood and helped him flick back a few pages until he got to the page. “Look at that!” I said and sat down.

“S’pile on.”

“Pile on, as if!”I snorted. “You know what it does look like?”

“Chu dun know?”

“Looks like the autopsy pictures of John F. Kennedy’s scalp.”

“I dun see dat, man! Chu gay. Chu poof monkey.”

“Gay?” I laughed, “I’m not the one sitting around looking at pictures of massive stiffies!” They weren’t massive at all. They were similar in size to mine – another difference between pornographic cultures. Mine wouldn’t make the cut for a Western audience. Enrique shook his head. It was as if I was doubting his faith. “Listen, if I wanted to look at a big dick all day I’d just look at y-“


“No, I was going to say I could see a big dick just by looking at -“


“You’re a funny guy, Enrique, I mean that” I lied and we sat there in silence for a while. Enrique flicked through his magazine, shaking his head at my ridiculousness.

As we sat there I at first only considered doing something. It was a bit revealing about myself and I try to remain aloof but it might help Enrique. I wanted to keep him onside. I’d nearly lost him to Derek the driving instructor.

Fuck it, I’ll do it.

I went around his desk to his computer and after not very long I brought up pictures of what I consider to be good pornography if somebody forced me to look at it and rate it but porn isn’t my thing. Never look at it. If I had to, though, I know what I would look at. It’s more Eastern European babes with lean athletic looking bodies, smaller breasts and nary a penis in shot. Lesbians. “Look,” I said, first glancing to the door to make sure nobody had silently opened it and then turning the monitor to Enrique.

“Gak!” He omitted when he looked at the screen.

“What do you mean? That’s nice that is.” I looked defensively at the computer screen.

“Dey look-a-like a boys!” Enrique said, his chin had withdrawn into his neck so that his face could be further away from the monitor. I closed the web-page and felt strangely offended. Insulted.

“I’m going back in-“

“Don touch me, man! I dun do dat!” Said Enrique with his palms up. I exhaled a laugh. Enrique slowly spun his chair, 270 degrees in all, so he was facing me the whole way as I walked around him to the other side of the desk and then out into the bright shop. Later in the afternoon Paula said she heard I liked boys.