Just Like Him (super short story)
Updated: Jan 18, 2019
It wasn’t the first time Paul McCrary had poked a hole in a condom, but it was certainly the most effective. Now his girlfriend was pregnant – and it happened during break-up sex.
Preventing the break-up by impregnating his girlfriend had seemed like a fantastic idea at the time, but Paul was thinking only of his +1 at the upcoming work Christmas Party. People already thought his “girlfriend” was a figment of his imagination, and Paul was dying to show everyone – especially the receptionist, Selena – that he was a desired and attractive man.
The best way to do this, he assumed, was to have a girlfriend. So, when Michelle broke the news of the break-up,
Paul begged and cried, and she took pity, threw him one more sympathy screw, and, trusting in the condom, walked out thinking she would never have to see him again.
But she did, of course.
As a 32 year old woman, Michelle was consistently serenaded with the ticking of her biological clock, so her decision making process may not have followed the same logical path it would have 5 years before. When she first saw that little blue cross, she vomited. She imagined Paul’s snaky little eyes with her over-sized nose, and knew their baby would inevitably be a hopeless outcast. But, she convinced herself, greatness often rises from adversity, and what better adversity than two parents who stayed together only for a semblance of societal normalcy?
She quickly formed an attachment to her unborn prodigy, and determined to involve Paul in the parenting.
Meanwhile, Paul had been moping since Michelle left him, thinking of how to entrap his next love interest, since the hole punch method had not seemed to work. Conveniently for Paul, what did seem to work was his moping.
Selena, the presumably unattainable office receptionist, developed a concern for Paul and took to stopping by his cube.
“Paul, why the long face?” she’d ask.
“It’s just how I was born,” he’d chuckle, and Selena would giggle her perfectly plump behind back to her desk.
After several weeks of mope-flirting, Paul finally gained the courage to ask Selena out for drinks. Selena listened raptly as he spoke of his heartbreak at losing Michelle, and she quickly determined she could be the one to mend his torn heart.
That night, at Selena’s apartment, Paul’s phone rang. When Michelle’s number popped up,
Selena insisted he answer. After all, she parroted, closure is necessary to move forward. Selena caressed his leg and nodded encouragingly, proud of her new beau’s bravery.
As he answered, Paul put on his most pathetic voice, “Huhlo?” he husked.
“Paul, I need to see you.” Michelle was intentionally direct and vague, hoping to avoid any lengthy conversation on the phone.
Paul interpreted her brusqueness as remorse and treaded lightly, believing he had a precious opportunity to live the dream – dating two women at the same time. “Okay,” he responded, shrugging his shoulders in Selena’s direction, “does tomorrow work?”
A time was chosen and Paul hung up the phone. Not wanting Selena to know of Michelle’s almost certain change of heart, Paul lied, “I guess she has some of my stuff to give back to me.”
Then, to extract the ideal level of sympathy, he added, “That was really hard.”
Selena wrapped him up in a hug, “Be strong,” she said.
Paul and Michelle met at a diner at noon the next day. While the grease was still seeking a foothold in their clothes, Michelle delivered the news: “I’m pregnant.”
Though he knew he had tried to make this happen, Paul, not understanding anything about pregnancy, had assumed if it were going to happen, they would have known right away. Plus, now his plan had changed – he didn’t just want Michelle back, he wanted to live as a playboy with multiple women. A pregnant woman would alter the entire dynamic of the playboy mansion he was building in his mind.
Unsure how to respond and mildly horrified that Michelle had not immediately expressed her undying love for him, Paul fumbled, “Who’s the father?”
Michelle felt the IQ of her child drop with the question, “You are, you imbecile.”
Paul poured sugar in his coffee.
“I’m going to have the baby.” Michelle swallowed her revulsion to speak her next words, “and I want to raise the baby with you.”
The empty sugar container remained suspended over Paul’s cup as he processed her request.
I’m seeing someone else, he thought. I don’t want to be a father. I want to have a playboy mansion. But none of his thoughts emerged. Only a simple, “Of course, yes. Let’s do this.”
They hugged limply and began making plans. Michelle for baby names, baby clothes, and baby supplies. Paul for girlfriend one, girlfriend two, and, maybe, girlfriend three. That waitress was pretty cute.
Like Clark Kent, Paul adorned a different identity to return to work. He put on his glasses of pitifulness and tie of despair as he walked in the office building. Selena bounced to his side once he walked in the door. “Well, how did it go?”
“Fine,” he responded. “Do you want to grab pho tonight?”
And so it continued. Selena relentlessly supportive, Paul consistently deceptive, and Michelle increasingly possessive. Paul shuffled himself from place to place, quickly realizing that the image he had of having multiple lovers did not resemble the real experience. He convinced himself this was because he had to shuttle constantly between the two women’s apartments, and that if they only lived in the same place, everything would work as he imagined.
So, one night Paul gathered them both together to come clean and, he imagined, convince them to both move in to a house with him. Michelle, who was nearing her due date, eyed perky Selena suspiciously as she joined their table set for three.
Paul had rehearsed a ten minute speech multiple times and launched into it the moment both women had arrived:
“Thank you both for coming. Let me start by saying that I love each of you very much and – “
”WHAT?!” Michelle screamed. “You’re two-timing me? While I’m pregnant with your baby?”
Selena’s response was far calmer, but equally as unexpected, “Love is a really strong word for where we are, Paul. I mean we just started dating.”
When Paul had begun to speak, Michelle’s shoe had just fallen off and she had been struggling to reach over her swollen stomach to return it to its rightful place on her foot. Since it was in her hand already, she began smacking
Paul on the head with it, screaming, “You,” thump, “Complete,” thump, “Scumbag!”
Thump thump thump thump thump.
Paul, who had never been a particularly tough human being, began squealing like a dying bunny rabbit. In all the commotion, Michelle’s water broke. Selena whisked her off to a hospital, while Paul stayed behind, whimpering into his empty plate.
As luck would have it, a teenage vlogger was filming her meal at the next table and caught the whole debacle on film. “Crazy Pregnant Lady Beating Man with Shoe” immediately went viral. A particularly enamored viewer created a Go Fund Me account to support Paul in his emotional healing, raising $20,000 in just 8 days. Paul was an instant celebrity. He visited talk shows, gave inspirational speeches, and signed a book deal. In time, he became rich enough to live in the woman-flooded mansion he had dreamed of for so long.
Paul’s son, who was not permitted to see his father in person, devoured anything he could find online about him.
He read Paul’s book and followed him on Twitter. He watched how his mother worked, and struggled, and scrimped, and saved. He watched his father wave from the mansion and mingle with models and actresses. He loved his mother, but he knew he would never be satisfied in a life like hers.
When asked about his goals for the future, Paul’s son said, “One day, I’m going to be just like my father.”