It’s hard to impress on other people what life is like with Marco Rubio as your therapist. It sucks, though, it really does.
I’ll be lying on my back across the small black couch in his cigar-and-apple-smelling office and I’ll say, “And that’s why I think I dream my penis might fall off.”
He’ll look up from behind his maroon leather binder, rub his thumb along the front edge of his chestnut, Plasticine hair, smile and say, “Polls down forty-two; not now!” in that cheeky, sing-song voice of his like he’s trying to nickel and dime me.
I hate it. I don’t even have a penis. I don’t know why I dream each night I do.
That’s why I first came to Marco Rubio.
The dreams started back at Jenny’s. We were neck deep in a bottle of Seagram’s on the wood floor of her unfurnished apartment. I said I didn’t think I could pick a man for a better lover if you told me he came with a prix fixe dinner or a dog with curly hair.
Jenny laughed and put her hand up to her face, like she was trying to push a snort back in.
“Oh, how funny!” she said. “How funny!”
“Hey, yeah,” I said. “Feel me up?”
That night we both wound up clutching pavement in an alleyway behind Matador’s, where two gentlemen held back our hair and helped us vomit into trashcans. It was also the night we told each other that we were in love.
We woke up on the apartment floor and I’d dreamed my green dress was bloody. The next day the nightmares started.
Marco’s an attentive lover. Jenny and I broke up ages ago. He’ll spend his whole day in bed with you if you promise to listen to a manifesto or two. He once told me of the myth of progress, about how we were all sliding endlessly back into a pre-Reagan era, which he spoke of with a kind of mystical reverence, and explained how his father might have worked the fields in another lifetime. That’s a lie; his father never would have. As he talked, he slipped into a mixed New York and Cuban accent I had never heard before and haven’t since.
We keep it strictly professional. That is, we count it as part of treatment. I ask him for whom. He cries against my hand. I assure him my vote and rub his temples. He asks me if they need a touch of gray. I tell him no and don’t he dare.
We don’t tell his wife. We don’t tell my mother. We cry and laugh together every Monday, Wednesday, Saturday in a different hotel on the Hill, and one time my home back in Miami, where we got him in with an assumed name and fake eye patch because I needed to pick up an old dresser that my mother had assured me angrily was headed for the curb.
It was my friend Marc who recommended me. Rubio’s name was in all the phone books. Either that or we met at a party. It’s hard to remember.
Is Marc Marco Rubio? Marc Blond sounds like a name I would make up as a child, ay, que una niña tonta. Simulacrum of a Hispanic politician. It’s Reince Priebus-esque, or uncannily dirty-sounding.
That weekend in the bookstore off of Twelfth and Farragut, I read “7 Mistakes Men Make Before Falling into a Hopeless Marriage,” which is mostly animated pictures of Rubio’s face. Then I go online and click on “17 Photos of Celebrities Making Out on the Subway,” which is a 300-page thesis with research published by the Universities of Florida, Wisconsin and Maine.
I eat a seven-dollar steak in a restaurant I call Rubio Tuesday’s.
Hold on, I am back inside my room.
I am back in Rubio’s office, and his walls are dark-red-and-green-striped, and now all the books on his dark shelves are backward.
And now my imaginary member’s fallen off again.
Marco Rubio is wearing his Election Mask. We’re sitting in his office on two stools on a Tuesday afternoon, and his round, incorrigible face is peeking out underneath it. The mask looks like him, but feels smooth and awful. In my lap I hold my own Election Mask. He says they’re supposed to hide your true emotions, thus turning thoughts inward. They were the first things we made together, during the first session in fact. We cast them from our own faces out of Papier Mâché then sculpted over them with clay.
He says it’s his signature technique.
He slides the rest of the smiling mask up over his forehead, grinning like a child.
“Go on,” he says, waving his hands toward me. “Try it.”
I look at my Election Mask. I run my hand across its blood-red lips, its saucepan eyes. I hold it up. I put it on.
Marco wheels over the standing mirror he keeps in the corner and sets it in front of me. It’s like looking at my own image, but solid and uneven. My nose is smoothed over, and I feel my plastic ears stick out like shiny, elfish horns.
“I don’t think I like it,” I say.
Rubio laughs and slaps his knee.
“Of course you don’t,” he says. “Of course. You’re beautiful.”
I decide to go see Marco in Apartment Number Two. It’s late Wednesday night and he invites me in for dinner. The walls in his living room are mostly white stucco and lonely, just black and white photographs of southern fields with silhouettes of workers, shears in tow, against the stark white background in the distance.
The whole thing reminds me of my father, dutifully lining artificial advent wreathes with car air fresheners each year to keep the fir scents in.
Marco makes a botched salmon soufflé and all night he drinks repeatedly from an ornate, ceramic pitcher. He looks like he hasn’t had a bite to eat in days.
We have a two-line fight. I grab my things. That night we just watch the news together on his leather hide-a-bed.
The final day, the day I go to break things off, he puts me under.
“Okay,” he says. “I want you to imagine you have found your penis.” He licks a lollipop behind his desk and giggles, running a gold ring against his hair. “Okay, you’re right there and you’ve found it. Where are you?”
I sit on his awful leather couch, now stained with three months’ crumbs and love-making, and try to close my eyes to feel the sensation of having lost my penis, vis-à-vis my dream.
“It’s right next to me,” I say.
“The thing you were asking about. It’s right next to me.”
“It’s touching my elbow.”
“I’m in my bed.”
“And how big is your bed?”
I glare. “A full.”
“And it’s right next to you?”
“Right next to me. It’s poking me.”
“It was there all along. Is it bloody? What district is it in?”
And I say, “It was my penis and I loved it for years and now it’s cut off in my bed, so yes, of course it’s bloody.”
I stand up and brush lint off my pants and apologize for shouting and head for the office door.
He calls after me, “Wait, what are its beliefs? What values does it respond to?”
I sit in my Glade Relaxing Moments-fumed apartment. I look out down H Street, at the small tree out front, the tiny island of grass. I plop myself down on my gray cloth sofa and watch a fat man let his two dogs do their business on the corner. He holds just one bag.
I take the subway. It’s late. I throw his doors wide open. He looks like he’s been asleep. I sit down on his leather couch and hang my head.
“Listen, Doc, I’m not crazy,” I say. “You’re just coming at me from all angles.”
“Coming onto you,” he mumbles.
“I can’t get a thought in edgewise. And it’s hard to move toward anything when I can’t get a read.”
We pause. The room spins. I imagine that his hair has lost its sheen.
“Well—” he says.
“Well, listen,” I say, now sitting upright on the couch, palms against its side. “Why did you get into medicine? To help people?”
“What? To help people.”
I say, “Well, then help me, Doc, because all my kinfolk are dead, and I don’t have any traditions, and I don’t know anybody in this city.”
Marco Rubio grins.
Ian Sacks received his bachelor of arts in creative writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He currently lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin. His fiction has previously appeared online at Jersey Devil Press. Follow him at iansacks-workinprogress.com.