Cuello: A Short Story

Read the full story at Juked.


She noticed his neck first. His Adam’s apple. It bulged like a tumor under his chin.

He was waiting for her at the Barnes and Nobles in Union Square, exactly where they had agreed to meet, which was on the second floor, next to the shelf of discounted British classics. He was skinnier than he had looked in his picture on, and he seemed younger than thirty-five. He had thick black hair and a narrow face. He had shaved. His jacket was unzipped, and he wore a V-neck T-shirt that made the tumor-apple under his chin look worse than it would have otherwise. He had picked up a hefty book and was slowly turning through the pages.

She stopped a few feet away. She had been dating women for the last ten years. Trans men, too. The last time she had been with a man-man, she had been twenty-five. How had she forgotten their cuellos? The tumor-apples?

She moved toward him, and when he saw her, she queried, Robert?, because it was always better to be safe. He said hello, and his voice was soft and kind. She thought of the koala bear she’d had as a child. She pointed to the novel in his hands. “Did you find something?” She asked. He cleared his throat, and she wondered if the tumor-apple pained him.

He held up the novel (Tess of the d’Urbervilles) and said, This should be classified as a federal crime. At the Strand, this would cost fifty cents.

She laughed and shifted the messenger bag from her right shoulder to her left one. I think it’d be at least a dollar, she said.

This is why New York City has lost all its independent bookstores.

I’m sorry. Should we have met someplace else?

No, not at all.

We should get seats. The reading’s going to get packed.

Already done, my lady. I put ten reference books on the chairs with Post-It notes saying reserved.

The tumor-apple in his neck bobbed up and down. She had the urge to touch it. She thought about testicles, how they felt like two golf balls stuck in a sock, rolling back and forth under the fabric of skin.

It had been a long time since she had seen a man’s balls. How strange men were. They bulged between their legs and from their necks. They were walking protrusions. This was why she wanted to date them again. She missed being offended.