ADELAIDE Independent Monthly Literary Magazine / Revista Literária Independente Mensal, New York / Lisboa, Online Edition  






by Alex R. Encomienda



Gene and Phillip walked into the tiny, tin-box shaped coffee shop uptown of Ithaca and picked a quiet spot by the window. As they sat down, Gene realized that he had been overwhelmed for quite some time.

“Is a man only as good as his mind allows him to be?” he asked.

Phillip folded his newspaper and peered above his reading glasses. “Eh, I believe a man is only as good as the universe allows him to be. A man’s mind is just a lump of meat if not for the heavens and the stars.”

“Is that really the truth? I mean- I feel like there’s been too much pressure on man alone. Shouldn’t we give man some credit for at least tolerating the burdens he does?”

Phillip sighed. “If you’re talking about humankind, then that is a given- nobody on earth can be as good as Jesus Christ was and that includes my sister’s Casanova. God knows how much I hate him. I’d much rather be caught fucking a goat than to be seen around him but everyone believes he is Godlike.”

“I’m talking about men- excluding women and their weeping wombs. Do you believe that we have the power to heal ourselves and overcome those bouts of loneliness if our minds were stronger? Or do you think we are simply just hardwired to wallow in our own defeat?”

Gene licked his lips in anticipation of another vague remark from Phillip.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Just then a redheaded waitress came up to the two and asked if they needed any more coffee to which they just shook their head and mumbled, “No thanks”.

Gene sighed with impatience and afterwards proceeded to explain, “Let’s just say that a man got tossed away by his mistress of two years. He is lonely and self loathing. He wishes to be back in her bosom for one more night of pleasure if that is all he can get and suddenly the desperation hits him like a liver punch- he is defeated by his own mind. He cannot get over this breakup. All he can do is think about the times when he was in bed with her and how hard it will be to find another woman like her. Do you think it is simply human nature for him to go through that or would he have handled it better if his mind was stronger?”

Phillip removed his glasses and folded them up, placing them upon the fine wooden tabletop near the window.

“Well, it depends if the man drinks cognac or not- or if the man is a Jew, or if the man is a queer who only likes to pretend to fuck coy, Catholic women. The mind is a powerful thing, believe me. I went to Payne Whitney last October, for my niece. She was having some kind of episode, or rather a series of episodes, wherein she exhibited certain manic behaviors. Eventually, it got so bad that my sister feared her daughter was deranged. Naturally, I was curious. I watched her on several occasions; sometimes the worried uncle came to visit and other times… incognito, as it were. Even during her most violent breakdowns, she took great care not to harm herself. Now, what does that tell us…?”


Phillip got a sip of his coffee and then continued, “And usually crazies don’t care about themselves. I mean, I’m no psychiatrist but I know a thing or two about a thing or two. This girl was not crazy. I’m not sure if she wanted us to think she was or not but she was just manic. It was a coping mechanism to help her get through her misfortunes. In other words, she thought that the only thing she could do was make things worse and make a mess of herself because things weren’t getting any better. Strange, right?”

Gene scrunched up his face. “I don’t get it, why would she want to make things worse?”

“Because things were so bad for her that trying to make things better would be futile and pointless. She wanted to see how far the rabbit hole went,” Phillip replied as he looked across the diner.
“And what does that have to do with the man I was speaking about?” asked Gene.
Phillip stared at the redhead’s ass from down the hall as she bent over to refill someone’s coffee mug.
“The point I’m making is that the mind is an enigma machine. It is too complex for quacks like you and me to understand. If the man was mentally weak then he would need validation from the female in order to go on. If the man was strong willed then he wouldn’t need her validation. Perhaps, he’d still miss the sex but that can also depend on the individual and their sex habits. He can still go on without breakup wounds if he was strong willed. However, if the universe says no then it is a no regardless of how strong his mind is… damn, that broad has the fattest ass I’ve seen in a while,” Phillip replied, sipping eagerly from his mug.

Gene pondered for a moment and then glanced out the window to see passersby in rather dark coats walking along the roadside, unaware of their little conversation behind the glass.

The air was thick and smoggy outside whereas inside the diner it was fine and fresh; the coffee smell reminded Gene of early mornings in his school days during April. It was now October and the early mornings consisted of two cigarettes, a cup of coffee and music from The Art Assemble of Chicago in large doses to rewire his cerebral cortex.

“Then the universe has nothing to do with it. The power of a man is determined by how well his mind adapts to the world and how quickly it develops from childhood just as I thought,” he said, adjusting the forks and napkins on the table to his liking.

“What are you trying to prove here? Are you the man in your story?”

Gene gave him a slight shrug and said, “No, I was being vague. I have never been in a relationship before my current one. It’s not up to me anyway. I believe women have their mind set on what they want and if I try to be proactive and force myself onto them, they’ll be repulsed. I don’t take rejection well either so that would break me. I am curious though, how does one grow into the world without having the world change their mind? Wouldn’t this nasty world destroy their motives?”

“Stop beating around the bush, Gene. Tell me what the hell you want to know.”

A strange feeling of liquid began to rise from his throat but stopped at the back of his tongue so he burped to relieve himself of the discomfort.

“I’m scared, Phil.”

Phillip darted his eyes at Gene and beckoned for him to go on.

“Me and Buda, we wanted to go further with each other despite me being a Christian man. It is close to impossible to love without touch. Don’t you let anyone tell you otherwise, Phil. Anyway, we got in bed together and we tried to make love but there came a problem.”
“What problem?”

I don’t exactly know how to say it but I believe I felt God’s eyes staring at me from the walls. Even now I feel cursed like this coffee mug in my hand is eying me and that lady over there by the counter is judging me. Think what you will about the universe and its ultimate victory over man but God does not agree. He disapproves of intimacy outside of marriage and even then, would God allow Buda to touch me how I wanted to be touched? I don’t think so.”

The conversation began to make Gene uncomfortable so he fidgeted around in his seat.

“So you’re saying that God is upset with you for your sexual immorality, eh. Give it a rest, tonto. God isn’t a leftist nor is he a misfit. He couldn’t care less about your right hand or your bedroom magic nonsense so you can put your ego back in its box,” Phillip replied as he began to study the newspaper again.

“I’m not fucking around, Phil! If I may say, and judging by how my relationship with Buda is going, I think God has interfered with my intentions. The other day I wanted to sleep with Buda yet I couldn’t get it up. I couldn’t even get it up for a minute. God is speaking to me, Phil! He is! And just like the way Miranda stopped Cygnus from sleeping with that prostitute in Muteness, perhaps God is saving me from sin.”

“Oh, please! It’s called occasional impotency. It happens when you get insecure and lose your nerve. Personally, I’ve never had that problem. The difference between you and me is that you see women as some kind of crutch or a step to take in order to complete a form or a test. I see women as side pieces. They could never equal up to my stature but they provide a service and in turn I provide a service. We give each other things we think are suitable for our mental health and stability. What you’re going through is foreign to me.”

“I just feel as if I’ve betrayed my faith for a woman who may be gone tomorrow,” said Gene.

“I’ll be honest- being a Christian man has got to be tough on your ego. I mean, you have to worry about pleasing a deity before yourself. That is something men like me cannot do. I sit with the vermin and the trolls because this existence is the only one we get. Yes, Jesus wept. Yes, Sodom was destroyed because of men like me but Rome wasn’t built in a day and Moses wasn’t the perfect man. Didn’t your granddad tell you anything about the force of the universe, tonto?”  

Gene leaned in to whisper his next few words to Phillip. “My granddad was an alcoholic. The universe was nothing more than an endless black hole that would spew out poisons like children and rotisserie chicken to him. All he cared about was that bottle of wine each night to help him come to terms. As a matter of fact, he was a lonely man. I assume now that he was part of the MGTOW movement. He was also a minimalist. The universe was a black hole to him.”

Phillip lifted his eyebrows. “I think you made your point, Gene.”

A different waitress came over to their table and asked, “How is everything, gentlemen?”

Gene was going to reply but Phillip beat him to it. “Ah, things are going good. However, I’d like to try the blueberry strudels. How much are they?”

“Six bucks for two of them.”

He quickly turned to Gene with a surprised expression but Gene didn’t think anything of it and continued to carry his resting bitch face.

“In that case, I’ll have four of them!”

The lady smiled and repeated, “Four of them.”

She then walked away with their order, leaving a scent of perfume behind.

Phillip shook his head and gave a mischievous grin. “I don’t know, minimalism is not that bad of an idea if you ask me.”

“Don’t mock me, Phil.”

“I’m being completely honest here. Nobody needs the corduroy hat on sale or the space dye pants that everyone and their mother has. We buy things we don’t need and end up homeless like that piece of shit over there,” Phillip replied as he pointed to one of the indigo people with their tin cups and their carts full of plastic bags while hobbling across the street.

“Yeah, well anyway- I’m just afraid of what may happen to me in the future. You know, the other day Buda told me she loved me. I was surprised to feel such gratification as if I finally did something right. Then it struck me- how can I be so selfish? All I wanted to do was touch her yet all she wanted was to be untouched. The male and female ratio is very warped. I wonder if they’ll ever be a time when men won’t need women as much as they do now. That goddamn libido!”

Phillip stuck his finger in the air. “Watch it there, pal. You don’t want your God to turn you into a pillar of salt now, do you?”

“Men truly are slaves to their libido, Phil. They do what their bodies tell them to do. In my case, it is my mind. I can be as soft as a pillow yet my mind would whisper vagina and I’ll be on my knees beckoning young Buda to please me only to feel guilty afterwards. It’s an endless cycle of pain and pleasure.”

“Look, your twisting the scriptures around, Gene. Sex is good. Sex is pure and healthy. The Bible just says not to let it consume you in the same way alcohol or pharmaceuticals can. Go fuck Buda to kingdom come, see if God cares.”

“What is your definition of consumption in this context?”

“Don’t be obsessed with it,” Phillip replied.

“Well then, I’m already consumed. I wish I can just cut off my balls so that I can be without this burden of libido. I heard from a pastor one time that masturbating is not a sin after all; it is just something bodily and mortal like eating and shitting. It gave me a feeling of relief but then I read somewhere else that whatever cannot bring glory to God is a sin. Can masturbating ever bring glory to God?”

Phillip leaned into him and whispered, “Anything can bring glory to God if you allow it to. God gave you these organs for a reason. From now on, before you rub one out just say God, I am going to masturbate now to bring glory to you. Please accept this act and proceed to do it.”

“You’re just as wicked and vulgar as these other foolish men, Phil. What is this world coming to?”

“Look, you’re the one having a problem with sex and God. I’m just trying to advise you. The world is a shithole of sex, drugs and sin. It isn’t getting any better either; especially with the plague of feminism spreading throughout the youth these days. I mean, goddamn, if my little girl grows up to be a feminist, I’ll disown her. I don’t tolerate that kind of illness, I’ll tell ya.”

After a brief pause, the two shared a silence and focused on finishing up their coffee. The woman came back with four blueberry strudels and asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Phillip examined his table and replied, “Nope! We’re doing just fine, toots. Thank you.”

Gene kept his head down as if he was embarrassed to show himself.

Phillip gave him a glance and said, “Me and Nadia were talking the other day about baptizing Nina next month. I was wondering of you’d like to be her godfather. I’m not opposed to baptizing infants but it just isn’t my thing. Nadia is adamant about it, however. What do you say, pal? You’re the only Christian I know besides my mistress.”

Gene thought about his sexual sins and then thought that perhaps baptizing Phillip’s daughter might help him get closer to God. If anything, he thought that if God sees that he is at least trying to atone for his sins, perhaps he would be able to enter the kingdom- even if his sex life was nonexistent.

“Sure, I’ll do it.”

“You’re a good man, Gene. Don’t let that problem with Buda bring you down. Everybody sins, my friend. Everybody sins. If you don’t want to sin anymore but your body does, then just pray for control over your body. If you don’t want to sin but your mind does, then that may be tricky but like you said, a man might be only as strong as his mind allows him to be, in which case we’re both fucked because I didn’t even graduate fucking high school!” said Phillip as he slipped a strudel into his mouth. The blueberry filling was seeping out the other side and before it could plop onto his plate, he put his hand underneath and it fell on his middle finger so he licked it off and moaned with satisfaction.

“You’re right, I don’t even want to think about sin today,” Gene replied.

Another woman passed by carrying something rather interesting on the platter before her.

“Excuse me, ma’am. What are those? They look delicious.”

The woman smiled and replied, “They’re warm, delish French cream pies. Would you like to try a sample?”

Gene turned to Phillip who began to laugh hysterically with blueberry filling seeping from his mouth.


About the Author:

Alex R. Encomienda is an author and editor of literary fiction, genre fiction and poetry. He began writing at age nine while in elementary school and since then attended Glendale Community College where he participated in several writing workshop classes, lecture classes and book readings. Alex has been published in Adelaide’s Spring and Summer 2017 issues, The Blue Guitar Magazine’s Fall 2017 issue, The Penwood Review’s Summer 2017 issue and more recently Cherry House Press’ 2018 anthology The Fear of us All. Alex often expresses concepts of love, lust, escapism, existentialism and religion in his work. He currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his family.










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