Ben Segal

The only reason not to look at him was that if I did, I'd doubtlessly fall for his entire program. It was hard enough to resist as it was. So I taped my eyelids closed with duct tape in the lobby. I knew there were 12 steps to the door. I knew the door opened in and that 3 steps later a right turn and an additional step would place me directly in front of the couch.

He was named Albert and he ripped the tape from my eyelids roughly, so they tore a bit at the sides and bled down my cheeks. Albert shaved, which is how you can tell he is a bad guy.

"My eyelids are bleeding."

"Adopt my program."

He handed me a pen. His dog began to lick the blood from my face. I pet the dog and hoped he was not rabid.

Albert wouldn't own a rabid dog. He would own a lahsa apso named Derek Jeter. In fact, the dog used to be Derek Jeter before he became a dog.

"Please explain the points of the program to me."

"I own Derek Jeter. Therefor, I possess excellent hand-eye coordination."

"Good point." It wasn't. but I signed the sheet of paper so I could go home and cover my eyelids with Bactene and gauze.

I signed the sheet of paper. On the line that said 'name' I wrote, 'Louis Althusser'. Then I crossed that out and wrote, 'Louis Vuitton'.

It didn't matter. I could have written Poop Eye. Albert shook my hand and stamped my papers. Next they would tattoo me with hundreds of little mountains.

+ + +

I started shaving. Now I am a bad guy. I can't help it because I am in love with Derek Jeter. When he licked my face, little bubbles of saliva entered my bloodstream carrying a secret message that he was attracted to me.

Everyone had tattoos of little mountains. That was part of Albert's program. Also, when you're in love, you let Derek Jeter bark in morse code and then try to figure out what he desires.

I am lying again. I just shaved because I could nick my face and then Derek Jeter would lick the blood off when I came to Albert's office to file a change of identity form.

What I did not expect was that after I showed up as a bad guy, Albert would clap his hands on the sides of my smooth cheeks and take me to eat lunch with him.

At lunch, the restaurant was spinning very fast. It was a revolving restaurant, but it was supposed to revolve slowly. I vomited chicken parmesian on Albert's head and Derek Jeter started licking it off of him. I was so jealous I also started licking it off of him too, out of the hope that maybe our tongues would cross and then I would be french-kissing Derek Jeter.

Ben Segal's first book, '78 Stories' (No Record Press, 2008) consists of a series of interlinked narratives in the form of a crossword puzzle and printed on a single very large sheet of paper. His short work has appeared in or is forthcoming from various sources including Word Riot, Wigleaf, and Deep Leap. He also maintains a blog, helps run Leisure Class Records, and can be contacted at