“I saved a man’s life today.” She’s asleep. I climb into bed. My mouth hovers hot over her ear. “I saved a man’s life today.” That does it. She rolls over and has this medusa look. Quickly, I drop and pretend to be asleep before her eyes focus, but I’m not under the covers. “Fuck you.” I force a yawn and blink my eyes. “Huhn?” She rolls back, trying to pull the blanket from under me. “Love you,” I yawn. x The body becomes extremely fluid once you remove the bones. At work today I was going around checking on our guests. They always need something: newly flavored feeding tubes, a change from Vivaldi to Mozart. Some just want me to listen to them moan in ecstasy.

Boneless pleasure is completely different from boned pleasure. Some guests have trouble with the crossover, though. Mr. Brianbocker, for example. Today, after his oil bath, he worked up a slimy erection—no use for that once you’re boneless. (It’s actually not a real bone, but DMPS still discourages them. They call it a wanna-be bone, sends out the wrong message.) Anyway, the thing slipped into his stomach. He made such a fuss that he slid off his bed and would have gone right down the drain if I hadn’t rushed over to scoop him up. He felt like raw chicken breast in my arms. The oil probably ruined my uniform. Ms. Soto took me into her office and almost squeezed my hand off. She said I may have saved the Spa. Imagine the bad press if the former CEO of Child Actor International had died here. Down a drain, no less. She let me leave early that night. I had raises on my mind. Maybe tonight Jen would let me inside of her. x

I met her long before we both changed. She worked at an antique roller rink. I spent my time with a jumbled gang, usually brimming with alcohol. Someone looked at us the wrong way so we followed him into the rink. Then I found Jen working there, making me sorry I had ever laid a hand on anyone. She had these glasses so thick I thought she could read my mind, which she soon took over. Sharing sundaes, holding hands, the bedroom, raising a John and an Alice, retiring from lives well lived. I had it all planned out, so I started going to the rink every week, hoping she’d warm up to me. By the time I could skate backwards, she did. x When she’s asleep she’s forgiving. My raise might help. A little (or a lot) of extra money to fix up the stove, get a new mattress, maybe furnish a new bedroom. Maybe. Since she started a second job at the factory, our schedules are opposites. Nowadays, I only see her sleeping. She’ll kill me if I wake her, but I still examine her, down the spine to her buttocks. It’s been too long since the nights of holding onto it for dear life as I got to know her inner contours. Whenever I try to move in on her, she says she’s not ready to try again, she can’t do it anymore. I took this job so we could start a family. x A life without bones is a life without problems, a life without pain, a constant massage from God Himself! Lose your bones and make Divine Massage Perma-Spa your new home! My father, Salvador Soto, had a rare skeletal disease which would have claimed his life had he not had a complete skeletal removal, the first of its kind. To his surprise, he found that his whole boneless body coursed with pleasure, like a constant massage. He decided that bones are nature’s obstacles to finding the fruits of God. My father wanted to share his pleasure with the whole world. Now, I invite you to partake in his vision by joining Divine Massage Perma-Spa today. Don’t postbone! Sandra Soto CEO of DMPS The brochure of my new workplace. I would learn these words and preach the myth to prospective guests. Few could afford it, but everyone saved for it. Whenever celebrities finished their final stints and joined the Spa, the news ripped across the tabloids. Jen was ecstatic when I got the job. I’d be taking care of her favorite actress from when she was younger. I used to spend nights telling her about the pleasures of the stars at the Spa. And I was excited to be a part of it: a huge building divided into bathing rooms (mud, oil, water, pudding, etc.); an entertainment center bringing comedians, lectures, and classical music; ornate bedrooms. A beacon of fortune shining over a city of ghost malls. x The anger must have started all the way back in my high school locker room. People saw me naked and started calling me “acne-ass” and then “spaz” when I began to fight them over it. The drinking came naturally with the anger: my left hand needed something to hold while my right punched. The bottle was a perfect fit.

But Jen calmed me down. Whenever I started to get angry I’d just look into those all-knowing glasses. Sometimes when I’d leave the bedroom, I’d hear a scuffle. I’d come back and she was naked, hiding a smile. She weaned me off the bottle.

We had a lot of love in our little house back then. x It was tiring work, but I met amazing people. I tended to people I’d seen in films, people I’d heard on albums, people turned puddles.

As work continued, I began to see the grime between the tiles. I knew the celebrity guests had stories to tell, but they’d never talk about their old lives. They would only rant about how good they felt. One whispered that it felt like his whole body was coming constantly. He asked me if I was jealous of him. I told him I had other plans.

x When I wake up, Jen’s side of the bed is already cold. I still go to work in high spirits because I know my raise is coming. The day is mostly normal: feeding, bathing, moaning. A few coworkers give me pats on the back and thank me. By the end, I’m flying a foot off the ground, waiting for Ms. Soto to call me into her office to discuss my figures. When she calls me, she says she’s done me one better. “I’m giving you and your beautiful wife the procedure and admission into DMPS free of charge. You saved the company. You deserve this. I won’t take no for an answer.” x A year ago, I got the idea that Jen was cheating on me. She seemed miles off in her eyes, even behind the amplifying glasses. An affair seemed like the only explanation. Every time she left the house, I wondered how I had let this happen right under my nose.

One day, I called in sick to the Spa and caught up after a year of sobriety. I ran through the list of guys she knew. Each name seemed even more viable. I could see their smirks, their dicks, bigger than mine. She hadn’t expected to see me when she walked in. She said what are you doing and I said who are you fucking. She said I was crazy and slapped me. I punched her in the stomach too hard. She had been hiding something. The next day, our child came out dead in the toilet. I screamed that we should put it back in her, tape her up. But she was gone. When I wasn’t working I searched for her. She disappeared from the rink and the factory so I looked deeper, into the endless lines of dirt bars and vacant lots. Without her, I was a part of all that.

I cried out anger and alcohol for two months before she came back to get her things from me. I turned to liquid in front of her, pleading for her to stay. She said she would, but we were no longer a democracy. She curses and controls me and I take it all, hoping she’ll change back because I’m all fixed now. x Words of how I felt honored but really wasn’t ready to accept Ms. Soto’s offer didn’t come until after I stuffed the golden vouchers into my pocket and rushed home. I fell asleep to bad dreams. In the morning, Jen’s side is cold as usual. But there’s a note: “I found the surprise in your pocket. This is exactly what we need. See you at the Spa.” I nearly shit the bed. I start drinking to calm myself down and speed up my drive there. In the car, I mumble bits of speeches I could make to stop her: we have so much more living to do before we retire to this place, let’s climb a mountain, let’s go skydiving, let’s rob a bank—too far—let’s have a kid. I forgot how fast the procedure is. By the time I get there, she’s waiting for me, already deboned. “It feels so wonderful,” she says, squirming slightly. Her eyes are sunken and probably out of focus. “I wanted to try again and start over,” I say. “I want to start over too. That’s why we’re doing this.” She gives a limp smile. She doesn’t understand and I don’t think she ever will now. I lie next to her and the alcohol really hits. I hear her moans. “My whole body is warm honey…” But as I pass out, I see what my life can be now. I don’t need to be sentenced to Jen. There are endless other lives I can live without guilt. There are other woman out there. I won’t fuck up so badly with them.

I’m free.

x “You look rested,” Ms. Soto says to me as I wake up. “I could climb a mountain,” I say. But I can’t move. “You were so eager you passed out before we even gave you sedatives!” She smiles. “There were no complications in the surgery. We’ll put you in your living space shortly.” x It does feel nice, like there are untiring fingers all over me. I see more of Jen than ever before and we don’t fight. We spend our time talking or just relaxing. She’s still beautiful in a mushy sort of way.

The Spa saved us. It pushes our beds together at night and takes away everything that would tear us apart. My old coworkers hold my limp head up so I can kiss her before she falls asleep. She says she loves me. Sometimes, I glimpse signs of my regret. Oil baths hint at the warm wet of Jen’s sex. Kids we’ll never have pass the corners of my eyes. I see my old coworkers and remember that I used to be able to move. But shivers take over my body. The folds of my aimless skin tingle. It’s a pleasure that demands attention—focusing on it makes it stronger. So Jen and I lie away our cares, no more surprises.