was how Agnes described the sandwich. I’d asked her how much peanut butter she’d put on and that was her answer, like the bread was with child. Like it glowed.
“To make it count,” she said.
I’d never eaten peanut butter. One sliver of one peanut would kill me. The amount of peanut butter wouldn’t matter—you either die or you don’t.
I met Agnes at the pharmacy. She was the pharmacist. Every three months, my epinephrine injectors expired and I had to reload. I’d bought dozens, keeping two on my person and one in my house at all times.
“You’ve never gone into shock?” she said.
“Once, as a baby,” I said. “I don’t remember it.”
“Fascinating,” she said, sliding my debit card through the slot. “Come over tonight.”
No woman had ever propositioned me. It had been years since I’d been on a date.
“Eight o’clock,” she said, looking behind me to the next guy in line.
“Where do you live?” I asked.
“See you at 8.”
Agnes was beyond what I considered my range. She looked like an actress playing a pharmacist in a movie. Her white coat seemed something the store made her wear, cover for her short skirts and plunging tops.
“Eight,” she repeated as I walked away.
At 7, Agnes pulled into the parking lot of my complex. Then I recognized her car, her. She lived in the condo next door, was also the sexy neighbor. She entertained a lot, mostly men. I didn’t make the connection, not in three years, not without the white coat.
I spied out the peephole. As Agnes walked by, she mouthed 8, and made for her door. I had to shower. I had a date. With Agnes, the neighbor pharmacist.
The sandwich was on the kitchen counter when Agnes let me in. I took a step back, as if it were a growling dog. I could be in the same room with it, as long as I didn’t touch it. But still. I’d read about a guy in Michigan who walked into a grocery store, a store that sold peanuts in bins located on the back wall, a hundred yards away. The dust in the air was enough to do it. He died on the express lane conveyor. I’m not that sensitive.
“I’ve delayed this,” she said. “Since you live next door.”
“Delayed what?” I asked.
Agnes dimmed the lights, finished a glass of wine. “Did you bring your shots?”
I carried my shots like I carried my wallets and keys. “I can come back when you’re done eating.”
“Follow me,” she said.
By the time I got to the bedroom, Agnes had undressed. The sandwich from the kitchen counter loomed on the credenza next to the bed.
That’s when Agnes told me what we were going to do.
The timing would be crucial, Agnes explained. First, she’d fuck me. Nothing weird, nothing violent, though I could make requests. At the cusp of my climax, she’d feed me the sandwich. As my throat closed, as my skin hived, I’d cum, the most magnificent, powerful, immaculate ejaculate of my life. Then she’d poke me with the shot and I’d be fine.
“I’ve always wondered if this would work,” she said.
That’s when I asked how much peanut butter she’d put on, when she used the word pregnant. She had nothing to lose and I could very well die.
“You should be on top,” I said.
When I was 9, I was abducted. On the way to school, there was this house with a million trees, a million bushes in front. One morning, some guy pulled me into the cover. I thought it was a kid from down the street, this bigger kid who was our paperboy and liked to torment me. But it was a strange guy wearing a wrestling mask. He put duct tape around my mouth and hands and carried me to the driveway where his red van was parked. We drove all day, stopping once for gas and once for McDonald’s. When he reached his destination, it was dark and the tape on my mouth had come off.
“Why didn’t you scream?” the guy asked.
I shrugged. I was an agreeable kid.
He led me to a shed behind a house in the woods. Later, I became much more scared of that shed than I was when it was happening. When I was 9, I didn’t know what kidnappers did to kids in sheds in the woods.
It never got that far. Inside the shed, the guy’s brother and dad were working on something, a table maybe, doing things that should be done in sheds, sanding and pounding.
“Marvin, what the hell?” the brother said.
“You just got out,” the dad said.
The dad went to the house to call the police and the brother smacked Marvin across the head. Marvin undid my tape and cried, apologizing. I was home the next day, my parents never letting me go anywhere alone again until I was 17. My mom insists this is why I haven’t married. I’m 39. I think I’m over it.
“I thought it would work,” Agnes said. “Like with a noose.”
Three empty epinephrine vials were next to me on the bed, along with my apartment key. I wiped sweat off my body with a pillow, catching my breath.
“It got stuck to the roof of my mouth,” I said. “I thought that was a myth.”
Agnes took the plate with the sandwich and disappeared. I dressed and followed.
“Up for a movie?” I said. “Dinner?”
Agnes was still nude, smoking, staring out her window. The TV was on the news.
“I liked the first part of it. Before the sandwich.”
“You’ll be back in tomorrow, for replacements,” she said.
“First thing,” she said. “I work at 4.”