“Happy birthday, Patty.”
“But you already gave me a gift.”
“That was wine for the party. This is your real present. I wanted to wait until now that we’re sober to give it to you. To hand it over to you last night with all of us here would have been a disaster.”
“You’re being very mysterious. What is it?”
“Open it and see!”
Patty smiled at her friend and sat down on the couch, her living room still littered with beer bottles and party debris from the previous night. Emily sat next to her and took a deep breath. She hoped Patty would be pleased with her gift. She watched her tug at the bow and the taped gift wrap in her typical careful manner, and when she unfolded it from the box inside, she gasped.
“No! You didn’t!”
“But this…how? I mean, why? I…I…I don’t know if I can, Emily!”
“Look at it.”
Patty looked at the now unwrapped gift. It was clearly crafted by hand in the fashion of action-figure cases. Cardboard back and sides, and the front transparent vinyl, perforated to allow oxygen entry to the two-inch tall man trapped inside. He was struggling against the plastic binds that kept him attached to the inner back of the case. His mouth was moving incessantly, and his facial expressions seemed to alternate between anger and terror.
“No, Patty. It was Tony. Now it’s only a toy you get to rename.”
“I’m not like you, Emily. I don’t know if I can find this as fun as you find Michael-”
“Don’t call it that. Its name is Fucktoy now.”
“You are crazy!” said Patty good-naturedly, and Emily laughed with her.
“Well, that’s what it is. Look, you can treat it… fine, you can treat ‘him’ however you want to treat him, but my advice is that you put him in his place as soon as you can, or he’ll never learn. I don’t need to tell you the kind of asshole he was before. He’ll need your guidance and firm hand to be what he needs to be.”
“How are we supposed to… you know.”
“You’ve asked me that many times before. You know what I do with Fucktoy.”
Patty blushed. Her cheeks turned red every time she heard their old classmate’s new name. When she’d seen him again, many years after they’d graduated, he’d been two inches in height and very quiet, and once Emily had left the kitchen leaving him on the table, he had begged Patty to help him escape. Patty had done nothing of the kind and had told Emily what he said, word for word. The next time they visited he was still healing. She looked away from her friend’s face and down at her gift. Tony stopped screaming and struggling as soon as he felt her eyes on him like a weight on his body. His jaw dropped and his eyes opened wider. Patty felt a bubbling brook of giggles explode from deep within her. Emily smiled softly, her deep connection with her friend allowing her entry to her thoughts. She still asked.
“Tell me what you’re feeling.”
“I don’t know! I can’t describe it. I’ve never felt this way before.”
“Try, Patty. Look at it and tell me…”
“Ah… it’s so different. My heart is pounding so hard. When you told me you’d done this to Mich- to—she coughed—Fucktoy, I was initially horrified, but I also remembered what happened that day in school so many years ago… I don’t want to bring it up, but the way those assholes cornered us during recess, and just started… and what you did to them. I thought for years we had hallucinated it; even when the police… anyway, my loyalty has always been with you. I have this odd faith in that power you have, and I know Fucktoy is where he- shit! Where it belongs…”
“Go on, Pattimelt,” said Emily, placing one hand on her friend’s shoulder and pressing it lovingly.
“I feel… happy. Like… I can handle this. Like I have the upper hand. Finally, after enduring years of betrayal, I get a say. I know I chose to stay with him before, and when he’s not a monster he can be wonderful.”
“Right, like Hitler was wonderful to his dogs.”
“Oh, stop! Tony is no Hitler.”
“No, but you had surgery, Patty. I had to go with you to the hospital several times. You were so depressed your health was falling apart. Always running a fever, always looking like you’d been crying.”
Patty said nothing, still staring at the man inside the box. Emily let go of her shoulder and reached for her purse, from which she pulled a thin utility knife. “Here, Pattimelt. Do the honors.” The little man in the case saw the knife transfer from hand to hand and started screaming afresh. Patty’s smile deepened into dimples on her cheeks, and she perforated the vinyl sheet easily with the sharp blade. After she sliced through the plastic ties that kept Tony in place, she watched him flop down to her lap. Tony scrambled to his feet and could not negotiate the tilted, smooth terrain. He lost his footing again and started crawling toward the edge of Patty’s thighs.
“What’s he doing?”
“He’s being a shithead, like always. It’s up to you to train him.”
“I don’t know what to do! You do something.”
“No, Patty. He’s your toy. I’m never ever going to touch him again, not until he’s properly trained anyway. He was unconscious when I wrapped him, so he’s really disoriented right now. Just cover him with your palm.”
Patty did as she was told, cupping her hand and bringing it down on Tony’s squirrely body before he foolishly jumped off her and down to the couch. “Now what?”
“Now you name him. He has to know right away that there’s no turning back.”
“Didn’t you explain anything to him?”
“Not at all. I went to his office, and before he saw me I did my willing thing, and he disappeared behind his desk, but not before he banged his forehead on the edge of it as he shrank. You see he still has a bump there. I think he’s been awake for a couple of hours, but I wrapped you present before that.”
“I don’t know what to say to him!”
“Yes, you do. Just tell him what’s in your heart. Tell him his place now. Tell him his name. Tell him how things are. And don’t worry about squeezing too hard. I make these things sturdy now.”
Patty whimpered softly and took a deep, calming breath. She then lifted the dome of her hand off Tony, and seeing he didn’t waste any time trying to escape again, she curled back three of her digits and grabbed him between thumb and forefinger. Emily leaned back a few inches and watched her friend come to life for the first time in years. Patty turned Tony’s wriggling body slowly and lifted him until he was only inches away from her face.
“Stop!” Her voice was firm, and Tony screamed again, his hands flying to his ears. His eyes were closed and he kept kicking his legs.
“I said stop.” Her tone was still quite stern, but lower in volume. She gave him a little squeeze. Suddenly there was no longer any air in his lungs left for screams.
“There will be no more of this unruly behavior. You are no longer Tony. You are… Nothing. You will continue to be Nothing until you learn how to please me. Then you may become Something. If you fail to do so, you will acquire a final name: Shit Toy. Do you understand?”
Tony gave no sign of understanding. He dangled from Patty’s hand, trembling like a leaf.
“I asked you a question, Nothing.” She gave him the slightest of shakes, and his head flapped back and forth. “That is a yes. Next time you’ll speak up, or find yourself in deep shit.”
“Damn, Patty. You’re a natural.”
“Yeah, well. I do have four younger siblings.”
“I don’t think you ever threatened them with final names of any kind.”
Patty grinned at her friend even though her gaze was still fixed on Nothing.
“How do I teach him tricks?”
“The same way you teach a pet to do anything. Repetition, immediate discipline, and eventually some rewards.”
“Is there any way you can get Fucktoy to talk to him?”
Emily seemed surprised at her friend’s idea. “I guess. Fucktoy is well trained now, but we must supervise all encounters.”
“I’ll be back in a bit.” Emily went to her friend’s bathroom, where she looked down and carefully folded the hem of her skirt up, again and again until it rested on her abdomen. She then hooked her thumb into her panties’ waistband and stretched it away from her body until she saw a tiny shape slip from her crotch down to her panty gusset.
Fucktoy’s eyes were tightly shut as light flooded its confines and blinded it. Emily turned until her body blotted out the bathroom light. Fucktoy opened its eyes, regurgitated thick liquid from its mouth, and coughed some more until it could speak.
“Yes, my owner?”
“I want it to have a toy-to-toy talk with my friend Patty’s new diversion. I want it to explain to it the rules of being a sex toy.”
“What does it say?”
“It repeats what it knows. It explains to it how to survive. I will be there with my friend for support.”
“Yes, my owner.”
“Good toy. Now let’s get it cleaned up a bit.”
And she cleaned it, but not before she dirtied it all over again.