There’s a boy. And there’s a girl.
And you might think just from that set up that this is a story about the attraction between them.
Or at least a story about the boy being attracted to the girl. Because often times in these boy/girl stories we don’t see what the girl wants or feels, only (or mainly) what the boy wants or feels.
But, be relieved, this is not that story.
Because, in this case, the boy is actually a manboy, a damaged boy trapped in the body of a perverted man, and the girl (there are many) is an actual girl, in some cases as young as 13 or 14 years old. The manboy has been soliciting for sex with girls ages 13 through 16. And, in this time and place, what he is doing is technically illegal, technically against the law, but it happens all the time, a lot more than we “good people” want to know about or educate ourselves about. But this specific time with this specific manboy—which is rare given how frequently this type of activity goes on—the manboy is caught. Being the historical moment that it is, the buying and selling of girls is facilitated a lot by technology and the internet, which does leave a footprint (omg, caveat emptor!) that the police can use as evidence to charge him. The manboy has left a thick trail of emails and texts and search engine histories and images downloaded onto smart phones and computer hard drives. The police confiscate these things from the manboy’s home and digital forensics sink him. The cache of electronic artifacts of his lust implicate the manboy on his illegal, criminal proclivities for young flesh. “Middle school girls are hot,” he is quoted as saying to a female reporter. To be sure, he is gross and his statement is gross. But, given the huge numbers involved in the criminal activity of buying and selling young girls, there are clearly a lot of manboys who agree with his assessment.
Probably none of these incidents with the manboy in question would have been any note at all to the general public, except for one thing: The manboy sells sandwiches for a living, and has gotten very rich doing so, but now the sandwiches are mad at him for associating their “eat fresh” product with something that is distasteful and not very fresh at all. As it turns out, the sandwiches themselves also have a digital footprint and they use it against him: their twitter feed washes their hands of him and they tweet tweet tweet to let the public know they are against the eating of underage sandwiches. On the other side of irony town, though, their website proclaims that every sandwich has a story. It’s just that the sandwiches didn’t want the manboy’s story to be their story. Can’t blame ’em. Lo and behold it sucks to make a manboy a millionaire hawking your feel-good sandwich story and then go have him turn around and use that money to sate the appetite of his curious, criminal desires. Yeah, that sucks for the poor sandwiches. Not good for franchise business. But it really, really sucks for the girls, the underage girls, the girls he raped, and it sucks for all the other disenfranchised girls bought and paid for, sold and sliced like sandwiches for the manifold manboys of America.
Penny Perkins holds an MFA in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM. Her short story “Car Ride Through Corn Fields (1975)” was chosen by Manuel Muñoz as the winner of Beecher’s Magazine 2014 Fiction Contest. Her short story “Gut Feelings” was a finalist for the Reynolds Price Prize in Fiction as a part of the 2015 International Literary Awards sponsored by the Center for Women Writers. Recent short stories have been published or are forthcoming in The Pine Hills Review, Waxwing #5, and HOAX #10. Other publication credits for fiction, poetry, and non-fiction include Salon, Conditions, The Portable Lower East Side, Curves, Girlfriend No. 1, and Book, among others. She currently lives in northeast Florida and teaches at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.