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Broken by Patrick O’Neil | Word Riot
Creative Nonfiction

January 15, 2015      

Broken by Patrick O’Neil

Listen to a reading of “Broken” by Patrick O’Neil.

San Francisco 2006

It’s Sunday morning and the girlfriend has spent the night. I get up while she’s still asleep and walk down the hill to snag us a couple of lattes. At the corner café I say hi to a few of the regulars and the barista takes my order. As I lean against the counter I shifty-eye glance at the barista’s massive cleavage, because her tits are fucking huge. I know it’s sleazy behavior, but I just can’t help myself. And besides, it’s not just degenerate abject voyeurism. I’m comparing them to my girlfriend’s boobs—it’s like resentful research—one more thing on the checklist of what’s lacking in my life. Which is typical of my mental state lately. I’ve been non-stop comparing myself to everyone and everything: from my job, to my car, to my relationships, to my financial status, to my entire fucking life. I look over at the guy standing next to me and compare the latte he’s drinking to the one I haven’t even gotten yet. I just know his is better than mine. I just know I’m missing out.
      This comparing shit is not only mentally exhausting, but it has me reevaluating every aspect of my life. Like my relationship with my girlfriend that lately has gone from a mutual love fest to a one sided narcissistic free for all. Which totally sucks, but I’m scared to be single, so instead of breaking it off, I make myself miserable by comparison shopping other women’s attributes, and chalking up further resentments.
      I’m still contemplating the barista’s tits as I trudge back to the house, lattes in hand. My girlfriend is still in bed, so I put down the drinks and take off my clothes, then slip under the covers and wake her up. In an uncharacteristic display of affection she pulls me into an embrace. For a second I remember how it was when we first got together and when she pushes me down and climbs on top, my dick gets hard. She has her ass raised with her back to me—for those of you that are confused by this, it’s called a reverse cowgirl, if that still doesn’t help, well, then just google that shit later—and with her hand she guides me inside of her, and I grab her hips and we start to fuck.
      Strangely we’re going at it pretty hard; roughly shoving and ramming ourselves together, both of us giving it more effort than we have in a very long time. I should be enjoying this, but I’m too busy comparing our sex to other people’s possibly better sex. So I don’t notice when I slip out of her, and as she pushes down I automatically thrust up and instead of going back inside of her my cock slams into her crotch’s inner thigh, crunching against her pelvic bone with such an impact I think I hear an audible snapping sound. But I could be just imagining it. Yet what I’m not imaging is the intense shooting pain that rips through my entire body.
      “Oh my fuckin’ god!” I yell.
      Which she takes to be an expression of passion—to be fair she’s got her back to me and can’t see—but when she grabs me I shout out in pain, and slap her hand away.
      “What the hell’s wrong with you?” she yells.
      I push her off and grab my cock. It hurts so bad I can barley breathe. When I get the nerve to actually look I can see it’s bent at some weird angle, and swelling up like a giant pink kielbasa.
      “Jesus Christ, what happened?” says my girlfriend, who is now crouched on the other side of the bed pulling the covers up, like that’s somehow going to protect her from my throbbing, and not in a good “porn” way, member. I don’t know what to do. I’m thinking ice. I’m thinking soaking in a warm bath. I’m thinking my dick is fucking broken and it’s going to fall off.
      Suddenly my girlfriend jumps up and starts getting dressed
      “What’re you doing?” I ask.
      “I gotta go,” she says.
      “Really, you’re leaving?”
      She can’t even look at me as she grabs her purse, right before slamming the door on her way out.

The emergency room is packed. On the taxi ride over I had hoped, that it being a Sunday, there wouldn’t be that many casualties in front of me. But I was wrong. After forty minutes of standing in line I’m finally at the triage window, which isn’t really a window, it’s actually a wall of Plexiglas with an intercom. Ideally it would be nice to have a less public setting to discuss my injuries, but this will have to do.
      “Reason for your visit?” asks the nurse, who’s young, and hot looking, with her hair pulled back in a ponytail.
      “I’ve, ah, hurt my, ah… penis?” I whisper into the intercom.
      “Excuse me sir, you’ll have to speak up.”
      I look around the waiting room. There’s mothers with sick kids, a guy with an open wound, a woman on crutches, a drooling crazy, a couple of hookers, some homeless folks, and a few men with bruised faces —who cares what these people think of me and my damaged appendage. I need to see a doctor right now.
      “I’ve broken my fucking dick!” I scream.
      The entire waiting room falls silent and everyone is staring at me. And then an orderly appears out of nowhere and immediately ushers me through a side door and into an examination room, where he gives me a hospital gown, and tells me to put it on. Only, the last time I looked at my dick it wasn’t that pleasant, and I’m afraid to take off my pants.
      “You need to get undressed,” says the triage nurse as she stands in the doorway.
      “It’s pretty bad,” I say.
      “I’m sure I’ve seen worse,” she says, as she slips on a pair of latex gloves.
      I slowly pull down my pants and then my underwear. When my dick flops out I almost cry. It’s dark purple bruised and bloated so bad it looks like those horrifying medical anomaly photographs of genital elephantiasis.
      “Oh my god!” screams the nurse as she stares at my crotch, a gloved hand covering her mouth—and then she runs out of the room.
      I take off my shirt, put on the gown, and lay down on the examination table. “Can my life get any worse?” I say out loud. And then I’m bombarded with thoughts of amputation, penile reconstructive surgery, and my dwindling career as a porn star.
      An encroaching dread of depression is now at the back of my psyche working its way forward, and in an effort to not to fall into that abyss I try to think of something a little more pleasant, only right now I’m not exactly sure what that would be. And right when I starting to wonder if I’m the only person in the world that has problems like this, I’m interrupted by loud moans and screams emanating from the examination room next door. Whoever it is, they sound in terrible pain and when the orderly walks by I ask him what’s going on.
      “Motorcycle accident,” he says. As if that simple statement answers my question.
      “Must be really bad.” I say, while mentally comparing the possibilities of this other person’s injuries being worse than my own.
      The orderly leans in, all conspiratorially like, and cups his hand to the side of his mouth, “probably lose his leg.”
      “Wow, and I thought I was hurt.”
      “Well, he’s not losing his penis,” says the orderly.
      “Wait, what? Did you just say I’m losing my dick?”
      The orderly’s mouth drops open, and then he’s gone. The motorcycle casualty next door continues to scream. I lean back and close my eyes, the fear of being dickless twisting in my gut.
      “So, you’re like into S&M, or something?” asks the doctor.
      I’m so busy stressing out I didn’t hear him come in. Now there’s two of them standing over me. “Penile trauma,” says the other one. Like as if that wasn’t fucking obvious.
      “No, just sex with my girlfriend,” I say.
      “You need a new girlfriend,” says the doctor.

I’m out in front of the ER waiting for a cab. I have a set of crutches, a bottle of ibuprofen, and a prescription for Vicodin in case the pain gets any worse. I’m staring at the sidewalk when one of the hookers from the waiting room comes out to smoke a cigarette. After lighting up she blows out a cloud of smoke and then looks me up and down and says, “wanna see if it still works?”
      I glance at her giant ass. It’s so big it should have its own zip code, and now I’m comparing it to all the other asses I’ve ever seen. But the doctor told me I had to take it easy for two weeks. Which he said meant definitely no sex, because getting a hard on could possibly kill me.
      “How bad could dying from a hard on be?” I ask, as the cab arrives.

patrickoneilAbout the author:

Patrick O’Neil is the author of the memoir, Gun, Needle, Spoon (Dzanc Books), and the excerpted in part French translation, Hold-Up (13e Note Editions). His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including: Juxtapoz, Sensitive Skin,, The Weeklings, Razorcake, and Fourteen Hills. He is a regular contributor to the recovery website After Party Chat, and has been nominated twice for Best of the Net. Patrick holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, lives in Hollywood, California, and teaches online and at a local community college. For more information please see

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