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In Heaven We Live In 2 Dimensions photo

In his more lucid moments Patrick pretended to be exactly who he was. He read books by their covers and lived life in the map made from his imagination. Cover became contents, and map became meaning, and as the years passed and Patrick receded into the solipsism of his own private universe, he began leaving his apartment less and less, and spending time on his computer more and more, until one day, he woke up to the realization that his map had become his world, one that only became animated in the blue glare of his computer monitor: a flat filter world that excised all of the messy parts of his being. 

Soon the sun would be gone. He looked out of the window of frosted glass that obscured him, chilled to zero by the coming night. One hundred and forty-four feet below his condo the city drunkenly staggered in its frenetic pace, and halfway across the world she looked out at the graffitied ghetto with the splatter-paint face of a socialist icon. He felt a trapping uncertainty. Still, the world continued to spin. 

Spun to spilling spunk, you feel? His unit was throbbing like an artillery cannon, or more accurately, a small hand pistol. Lord knows it isn’t about the size of the gun, but how you use it, is what they said on r/askmen. If the war that sliced her country to scraps happened again today, he’d come off the G.I. plane with his guns blazing and no-scope all those commies, bang bang bang!

And she’d run out to him, yes she would run out to him, and he would lift her over his head and into the sky, back to a newly manufactured world sculpted from Liberty and Truth. Upon arrival, there would be articles, awards, cookie-cut homes. He would be recognized as the hero he knew that he already was. He would be photographed and admired. He would no longer have to pretend. He would finally be seen. 

This isn’t a fantasy, BTW, it’s a TL;DR: if all that genocide shit rolls around again while he’s still kicking, it won’t go down like it did. He knew this because that’s just the kind of man he was. He was a Real Man™ if you ever saw one. He was a provider in a way that gave shape to the word.

Can u do JOI bb? He typed. U look soooo sexy w ur kitty ears. 

So sexy, he continued, as if it were possible for her not to see. 

Course sexybaby, she typed back, scratching her head where the kitty ears scraped. He loved it when she wore her kitty ears. 

Before you judge him and think this prick is some feckless celibate with half a bachelor’s degree and an expired license, just know that masturbating was not his prerogative. That he hardly had that impulse anymore. Patrick was a Real Man™, and that meant he tried his best to retain his seed. It enhanced aggression, boosted productivity, and cleared his head of the thoughts that could make him distraught. He knew this was true because he’d read it on an internet forum, forum as in Roman Forum, as in where The Discourse happened among the Real Men™. The West was declining, masculinity was dissolving into cotton-candy sky. There are few of our kind remaining… his brothers wrote in the Instagram comments of a masculinity influencer. Come with us now, the influencer had written. There are new worlds to save.

So he saved his spunk. He’d never pay someone just for that purpose, to be clear. He just supported sex workers was all. Not that he supported sex work. Note this distinction. It is what separates the martyrs and terrorists of history; the winners and the losers; the men worth remembering and the boys of a sickly mind. He was a winner, yes, with his height and whiteness, a decent-sized condo and half a bachelor’s degree. He’d pursued what he was told was right for him and languished what he’d been given. He yearned for the order of yore, a nostalgia for the cycle of war and rebirth that invigorated the emotional ambition of Real Men™ throughout time.

And she couldn’t care less if he came or went, it could be him or the next, since money was money, and there was her family back in the village. Papa, always so smart until stroke, now speaks in eyelids. And brother: dead, dead, very dead and no stone to mark body. This sexybaby seemed not so not normal, unlike the one who just yesterday gave her $50 to rate his penis out of 10. She scored it a three, because short and girthy like salami. He tipped her another $20 and told her he came.

Ugh she moaned, vibrating from the inside. The money counter on the screen ka-chinged, and her body tensed. A wall of coin icons rained across her monitor, like quick downpours in summers near lake back home. The feeling of earthquake inside-body not sexy no more. It is pain now, pain and hurt – cartoon money for summers full of rain.

Despite the discomfort — the pleasure that migrated to pain — the Live Model Sexybaby Tipping Program™ was legally consensual, and she herself had placed the contraption between her legs. Yet it was as if the Live Model Sexybaby Tipping Program™ had taken on a life of its own, and that the pink BOB (Battery-Operated Boyfriend™) was violating her (and in turn, that she was being violated by an American man born to Swedish parents — a mathematical Olympiad gold medalist, a MIT BS/Ph.D in math and mechanical engineering, a Fulbright scholar and Rhodes finalist — who had developed a novel automated technology for environmentally-friendly micro-drilling practices that was instead used to remotely vibrate a rooted dildo at an intensity commensurate to a tip-size) most intimately.

She wondered who the tipper was; whether he is sexy rich American in nice linen shirt and loafers, sitting on big boat near Miami or Hamptons or Hawaii, smoking long, fat cigar and dipping toes in hot tub wide like pool. Or maybe he is sexy South American kingpin with heavy, beautiful penis rated eight from ten, even on bad days in freezing cold lake near family village. He can be protector and give family life they deserve. He can be real provider.

In reality the tipper was Mikael, a twelve-year-old boy in Racine, Wisconsin who had stolen his mother’s credit card, and who for years would think he’d gotten away with a victimless crime, only to discover, when diagnosed with erectile dysfunction at nineteen, that he’d gotten away with totally nothing at all.

There are other interesteds, she typed. Other sexybabies. Wealthy sexybabies. Very desirable high-value mens.

Mikael smiled, clearing his bedroom desk of a print-out of his bar mitzvah’s Torah portion. 

OK, Patrick typed back. He began to fidget spastically in his gaming chair. His embarrassment at his demeanor, despite being completely hidden to her and everyone else, only served to make the fidgeting worse. He could hardly breathe.

I’m only nervous, he typed. I’ve never done this before.

She looked at the left of her screen at the longlist of his recent activity. He is career sexybaby, she thought. With real monies to spend.

But I’m so horny, he typed. I’m so horny n it’s been a hard time, mother is v sick and idk who 2 talk 2, idk, I sound like such a pussy, have nowhere 2 go tho, me n mom have debt and she’s dying and same here n I can’t talk 2 any1 bc I’m not a pussy, n all my friends, well, idk what 2 call them, the guys I c here and there, they have their own shit, and sometimes I rly wonder y not just end it, put an end 2 all of it, put 1 in her head and 2 in my heart. Srsly, what’s the point? Point is mother, momma, ma, I luv her so much and she’s so gone, lol, and it’s a good thing bc she can’t c what a wimp I’ve become, a wimp that can’t even give her the pce she deserves.

“Ohhh fuck,” she moaned aloud, “that so fucking good daddy.”

The screen went ka-ching ka-ching ka-ching, and Mikael smiled. He messaged Patrick: do you enjoy getting cucked, pussy?

You can’t say this, she typed back. Impolite language in chat. You’ll get outkicked, making no more Live Model Sexybaby Tipping Program™ for you, sexybaby.

Sorry, the boy typed. I meant: Take that, cuck.

Good boy, she said.

Did u read what I said? Patrick typed again. 

I did sexybaby, she replied. It was very sexy, sexybaby. Now come on, have pvt chat with just sexybaby and mommy.

I’m going to, he typed. Just a second.

He switched to this bank app and saw that he hadn’t been approved for government aided debt relief and had $24,050 in outstanding credit. His most recent charge was the $50 he paid from his other LiveGirlGalleria™ account yesterday to have his semi-erect penis rated. He scored a sullen but improved three out of ten.

At least he’d been told it was thick.

Of course she was sitting alone in her room, but the way this sexybaby left her chat made her acutely sensitive to this aloneness — sensitive to her sensitivity — and in her contorted comfort she sat staring at herself, thinking: he is not Real Man®. He is pussy. A serial sexybaby time-waste. He probably not man, he probably little boy, one of these weird spoiled brat living in suburb in America, just wasting parents’ hard earn money on stupidity like video game and footballs and sex.

“Fuck them,” she said out loud, startled by the sound of her real voice.

Don’t bully me, someone typed in the chat. I’ll cum.

Okay sexybabies, she typed. He is gone. Who takes mommy?

At that moment, the coins ka-chinged in a parade of a thousand ecstasies and Mikael, the twelve-year-old man from Racine, Wisconsin, went inside her private chat for the first time. She unrobed herself for the crystal eye of her webcam, rejoicing in the intimate delight. Finally, she thought, here I receive real man.

And while all of this was going on he was still laying there, now only half-erect and debating whether or not he could really handle paying $22 per minute for this woman to tell him how to touch what hadn’t been touched by anyone besides himself in so long.

But think of her family? Think of the needs of her loved ones, the needs of the community, the needs of the starving millions in her country (did millions of people actually live in her country?) and all those you could help at scale with a small yet proliferating act of dignified generosity.

See, sitting there naked in a half-furnished, half-cleaned condo, he wasn’t merely having a wank. He was committing an act of minor revolution. And who, he resolved, was he to deny her, she who mustn’t be named, the lady of the low-light night that he has come to grow fond of, she whose name is protected by the LiveGirlGalleria™ privacy policy, though what the hell: Angel Kitty, if that is even her real name? She who needs to be saved and whom he can save because he is a Real Man™, and to be a provider is what he was put on God’s earth to do.

He closed the banking application and toggled back to LiveGirlGalleria™. There, he could no longer see Angel Kitty, and in the black space of the window-pane grids, he saw his reflection between these women in faraway lands. These were women who needed saving, women in Estonia and Colombia and countries whose flags he could not register representing a real place. They were the forgotten women of hidden lands, and he was their lost savior. He would go beneath their covers and help translate the stories therein; he would chart new territory for them on his map, where they would store the solace of the secret moments in which they affectionately shared. 

“Fuck,” he said, startled at the sound of the voice that felt invented now. The man looked out at the people walking on the street, distant galaxies, wandering atoms, a reminder of the vantage from which he sat: in an ergonomically optimized desk chair at the limit of contemporary architecture, one hundred and forty-four feet in the sky. 

He was in the firmament, damn-near, and his pants were around his ankles. He thought that he could see the gates of heaven from where he sat. The gates were inside, not out, and he closed the blinds to protect himself from the gloam now descending to suppress the pinkish sky. He relished in his new darkness; the respite of his monitor’s glare. From this angle, the whole universe was visible on his computer: from moments to millennia, the span of the desultory to the divine. 

There were billions of unknown women, and he scrolled across the globe one profile at a time, weaving a map of meaning in the panes of a hundred other histories, hunting desperately for his place among them. 

image: Jon Rafman, You Are Standing in an Open Field (Mount Adams, Washington) - 2019