Prairie Dogs, Pronghorns & Penis Sheaths

by Biff Spork

Chapter 3


LONDON, 9 November, 2018 – Scientists once again have confirmed that humankind's actions have triggered ever-greater extremes of rainfall – and an ever-greater rise in disastrous flash floods.

Scientists and engineers from China and the US report in the journal Nature Communications that flash floods now cause more deaths as well as more property and agricultural losses than any other severe weather-related hazards. These losses have been increasing for the last 50 years and over the last decade worldwide have topped $30bn a year.

And, they find, extremes in run–off from increasing extremes of rainfall are driven by what humans have done, and continue to do, to their planet: in the race for economic growth, people have burned ever more coal, oil and gas to dump ever-increasing levels of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. They have driven up global average temperatures by around 1°C in the last century, and without drastic action this average could reach 3°C by the century's end.

As average temperatures rise, so does the hazard of extremes of heat. With every rise of 1°C the capacity of the atmosphere to absorb moisture rises by about 7%: higher temperatures are linked to ever-harder falls of rain. And rain that falls must go somewhere.


It was noonish when I surfaced. As I came awake in bed, my engorged penis reminded me that it had been more than a day since I had pleasured myself, as the phrase-makers of yesteryear put it. While I remedied the situation, I saw that the reason for such neglect of myself was that my life had suddenly become full of other interesting activities, and one interesting person. It was an unusual relationship—I knew he was the same size as myself, what he felt like and how he sounded and smelled. I had held him in my arms while we rocketed through the night, but I had no idea what he looked like. While I increased the pace of my strokes, I imagined how his parts would appear, how they would feel in my hand, in my mouth, if he were my ideal boy, the boy of my most exotic, spunkfestic fantasies. I rose to a perfectly satisfactory conclusion, cleaned up the resultant mess and went downstairs to meet the day.

An hour later, I chained my bike to a rack outside the mall and donned my covid mask. Nobody was idling near the T-shirt store so I sat on a bench to wait. It had been several months since I had been in the mall. I had sworn that I would only wear second-hand clothing, because the endless consumption of brand-new items was contributing to the destruction of the environment. Consequently, when I needed something to wear, I shopped exclusively at our local thrift store.

I didn't mind wearing used clothes. In fact, I confess that I derived a righteous pleasure from wearing others' cast-off clothing. I also enjoyed idle fantasies of my boys' clothes former wearers, how their slim penises had rested where mine now nestled, but I did miss the people-watching available in the mall. I got engrossed in examining the passersby and imagining what they were thinking and how they were living. Thus I was surprised when I was approached from the side. I turned to meet the gaze of a girl about my size. She had two bouncy brunette pony-tails, one on each side of her head, and deep brown eyes beneath a beribboned, broad-brimmed straw hat. She wore a light yellow summer dress with miniature daisies embroidered all over it. A pink mask dotted with small red hearts was stretched over her face.

She sat down beside me and held out her hand. "Hi, Plant-Powered," she said. "I'm Shurleen."

I took her outstretched hand and shook it. It felt like the same hand I had shaken the night we had first gone out on the cart. "Shurleen," I said.

"Yeah," she said in the voice I knew from our night-time rambles. "Usually," she prompted, "you would tell me your name at this point." Her eyes crinkled at the corners and I knew she was smiling.

"Oh. Yeah. Uh," I grunted, like a neanderthal who had only recently discovered speech.

She nodded encouragingly.

"Bumper," I said. "I mean, my name is Gerald Kelly, but everyone calls me Bumper."

"Okay, Bumper," she said. "Do you mind if we go to the thrift store before we go to my workshop? I always like to see what they've got in the girls' wear section."

My brain was wrecked, like a smoking bomb crater. Only a few neurons were firing and all the synapses were blown or clogged. I felt like I needed to go lie down someplace and process this. How could I have been so wrong? Could I ever trust my boner again? Was I, perhaps, unconsciously hetero?

She locked her pink bike beside mine outside the nearby thrift store. Inside, she grabbed me by the hand, led me to the girls' wear section and leafed through the dresses hanging from racks. She took one off a hanger, held it against herself and turned to look at me.

"What do you think?" she asked. "Do you like this one?"

"Uh," I said, still in caveman mode. "It's fine."

"Yes, it's nice," she said doubtfully. "But is it really me ?"

"It looks good," I said and tried to sound enthusiastic.

The thrift store was nearly empty and there was nobody in the aisle where we were. She pranced and pirouetted with the dress.

"I don't know," she said. "I think maybe it's too short." Then she grabbed the hem of the dress, caught her own hem at the same time and lifted them as she added, "People might see my underwear."

But she wasn't wearing any underwear. I caught a glimpse of a penis and a pair of balls, smooth and hairless and about the same size as mine. Then he dropped the hems. His eyes were crinkling again as I looked up into his face. "Oh!" he simpered, "I forgot to wear any underwear today."

Then he took my arm and steered me down the aisle. "C'mon," he said. "I really do want to get a few more dresses and I need you to tell me the ones you like."

Okay, so now my brain was like a bomb crater full of porridge in the midst of a tsunami, but I felt much better.

We spent another hour inside the thrift store while he picked out several more dresses. He tried each one on, and came out of the changing room and modeled it for my opinion. When he'd finally chosen two dresses, he paid with a credit card and we left the store.

Once we were on the bike trail heading for the suburbs I took my mask off and pulled up beside him.

"Yeah," he said. "I guess we don't need these masks anymore."

I was happy to see his face. It was a good face, open and cheerful, a boy's face, even with those undeniably cute primary school pony-tails.

"You're looking much happier now," he said. "You were looking pretty glum back there in the mall."

"I was just a little disappointed with your taste in dresses," I said. "I mean, little daisies? Why not My Little Pony or some unicorns?"

"Well, I considered my fairy princess and Tinkerbell outfits but I thought I might just scare you away instantly," he said. "I knew you expected me to be a boy and I knew you would be disappointed when I showed up as a girl."

I could feel a tsunami of porridge heading towards me. I reverted to caveman mode.

"Uh," I said

"See, there was this hard thing poking into my back every time we sat on the go-cart," he said.

By the time he finished this sentence, I was blushing so hard I felt like my face was bleeding. I pedaled faster and pulled ahead of him.

"But it was nice, Bumper," he called. "It was really nice."

He pumped up alongside me. "Slow down," he said. "I had a hard-on too. I haven't ever had anyone hold me as tight as you did and I liked it. It felt good. I liked it that you were a boy too. As for that hard thing, it seemed to me like a friendly boner." He paused, then looking over at me he added, "I hope it was."

I met his gaze, so open and vulnerable and said, "Yeah, it was a friendly boner. I'm glad you had one too."

We coasted a while on a downhill stretch. Then he said, "So, now that we've got all that out of the way we can move on to other things, important things. Okay?"

I looked into his friendly, smiling face and I knew I was done for. "Okay," I said, "Shurleen."

"Just when I've got a dress on," he grinned. "Without the dress I'm Marcus, but don't go all binary on me. Let's try to be modern."

We had been passing through a wooded area. We exited the bike trail onto a rutted dirt lane leading into the forest. Signs were posted on tree trunks: Private Property Keep Out , No Trespassing and Video Surveillance . The lane wound steeply upwards, and we dismounted and walked our bikes until we came to a high stone wall with a barred iron gate bearing an enormous padlock. The driveway beyond was overgrown, as if it were seldom used.

I was feeling good again. The boy, Marcus, was right. There was a whole lot of stuff there we had just got through. And he had made it easy. We could go on to other stuff now, more important stuff.

He pointed past me to a narrow path beside the wall. "The gate and padlock are just to discourage the curious," he said. "Follow that path."

A hundred yards along the footpath, a doorway was sunk in the wall. Marcus stood in front of the door and pressed his palm against a translucent square of plastic. The door slid open and we passed through. It hissed shut behind us. We left the bikes against the wall there and walked along a forest trail until we came to a ramshackle building in a clearing. It looked like it had been a factory in the distant past.

On the side of that building, another palm-locked door slid open. An instant after we stepped inside, a bank of overhead lights came on to reveal a cavernous workshop with all kinds of tools on tables and counters scattered here and there around the room.

"The Bat-cave!" I said.

Marcus laughed and led me to an area in one corner with a couple of sofas and easy chairs loosely grouped around a coffee table. There was a sink, a fridge, a microwave and other kitchen appliances and utensils on a counter against the wall.

"Let's take a break before we start work," he said as he moved to stand facing a bureau against the wall. "Take a seat and make yourself at home," he added over his shoulder as he removed his hat. Then he loosened the hair-ties that were holding his pony-tails in place and shook his hair loose. Next, he doffed the shiny brown penny loafers and white socks he had worn to the mall. Finally, he wiggled the dress up and over his head so he was standing there naked. I tried not to stare but failed. I don't know why I am helplessly drawn to hipless boys with long legs and slender necks, but I am. How could I not stare at such a prime example? He stretched and sighed then folded the dress neatly and put it in a bureau drawer. From another drawer, he extracted and donned a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, then slipped his feet into sandals, turned and came over to where I sat.

"I've got kombucha and vegan kefir and artesian well water in the fridge," he said. "Which one would you like?"

"Kefir, please."

He came back with two glasses, handed one to me and sat down on the same sofa. "Okay," he said after he had drunk a little of his kefir. "You've probably got a bunch of questions, but question and answer is not much fun. My granddad used to say it's not civil conversation to ask personal questions, it's interrogation. But there is a lot of ground for us to cover, so I'll let you ask two questions for now. Okay?"

"Okay," I said. "My first question is, what's with the dress and 'Shurleen'?"

Marcus laughed. "You remember what I said about 'war'?"

I nodded.

"Well, I think if we are going to be effective in this war we need to develop some unusual skills and disguise is a fun one. At our age, we can be boys or girls easily and nobody can tell. And gender is an important identifier to most people. Just think about how you reacted today when you thought I was a girl, then how your whole picture of me changed when you found out I was a boy. Sometimes it may be to our advantage to be able to be girls or to appear to be someone other than our own selves. I'm not much into dresses but I'm not really into binary either. For me, it's really just an interesting and possibly useful exercise. That whole sexual orientation thing is just a red herring as far as I'm concerned. It distracts people from the really life-threatening climate crisis we're facing. When a hurricane smashes you against a wall, it doesn't matter whether you're gay or straight or boy or girl. Okay?"

I nodded.

"And you know," he said, grinning, "those dresses we picked out today are for you. Are you ready to be Shurleen's Best Friend Forever, Maybelle?"

"Okay," I said. "But, Maybelle?"

"How about Begonia?" he offered. "Or Velma?"

"I think I'm more of a Veronica," I said.

"Great! And I could call you Ronnie for short because we're gal-pals."

"Okay, second question is, this place, what is it with all the magic doors and how come you can just come here and use it?"

"Oh," he said. "That's a big question. This place used to be a factory. My granddad built it when he was young. It made parts for cars that don't even exist anymore. He made some money and invested it wisely, then closed the factory. He kept the land because he valued land highly and this is a large holding—it goes down to the river and extends deep into the forest on both banks west of here and over the hills south of here for a long way. You might have noticed the solar array on the roof. That provides power for this space, and everything else on the property. He didn't need this building otherwise, so he let me use it for whatever I wanted. In the last couple of years, it's become my workshop. I put this kitchen and relaxing area together because sometimes when I'm working on something, it's easier to just grab a snack or sleep here instead of going up to the house."

Marcus took a sip of his kefir and continued, "As for the doors, when granddad saw I was spending a lot of time here, he improved the security and put the biometric locks in place so I would always be safe."

"Wow," I said, veering toward neanderthal mode again. "Does your granddad know about your night-time activities and Shurleen?"

"You're only allowed two questions," he said grinning. He tipped his glass and drank the last of his kefir. "Let's go make a start on putting your cart together. I don't want to be secretive with you, but questions are tiresome and we've got a lot to do." Marcus paused, put his glass down on the coffee table and said, "Granddad died last year. I always told him everything." He looked up at me with a bleak expression and repeated, "Everything."

"Oh," I said. "I'm sorry."

"Yeah, I really miss him." He stood up and we walked over to one of the large tables. He handed me a couple of sheets of paper and a pen. "Let's see if we've got all we need for your go-cart. I'll call the items out and you tick them off this parts list."

He walked around the table fingering parts calling out their names. After a couple of hours, I had check-marked most of the things on the list. I handed the sheets to him and he glanced at the remaining items.

"Great," he said after a minute. "Do you like to swim?"

"Yeah," I said.

"Good," he said. "There's a great swimmin' hole down on the river just below here. Let's go."

A short walk through the woods brought us to the riverbank. The river meandered into a wide curve there and formed a quiet pool in an eddy inside the curve. We stood on the grassy bank. The sun was crackling in riverside clumps of cattails and grasshoppers were clacketing. The pure, clear whistle of a Red-Winged Blackbird pierced the hot afternoon. I wondered if we were going to swim in our shorts. As if in answer, his shorts fell to his ankles and he stepped out of them and his sandals, while pulling his T-shirt over his head. An instant later he dived into the pool. A few seconds later I followed.

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