The Laughing Man

My mom used to bring home men for pay.

I’d take to my room and stay there until they were finished.

You know the story.

Years later we’d sit together on the porch and get high.

“What about that one guy?” I said one time.

“The man who laughed?”

I nodded.

“His name was Stephan. He wanted to be tickled,” mom said. “My only customer who asked for that.”

“It’s a thing, I guess.”

“We came in and for a change,” mom said, “he wanted to tickle me.”


“That’s what I said. Why would you want to tickle me?”


“He said he liked me,” mom said. “He said he wanted me to experience what he experienced. You’re paying the freight, I said.”

“Did he make you laugh?”

“He started by putting in a tape. This was back when there were tapes. I said, what the heck is that?”

“Whale song, he said. I laughed at that but after a while it started to get to me. He had me on my back on the bed and he massaged my feet and then my hands. He stretched out my arms one at a time and shook them lightly to relax them. He massaged my scalp. All the time with the whales.

“He had a hypnotic voice. I was drifting. Then he touched my ribs, high up on both sides. It was unexpected. I laughed.

“He was an expert, much better than me at tickling. I’m sure he had tickled women before. I couldn’t control myself. It sort of escalated. I was out of my mind laughing.”

“And then, like he would do, I suddenly burst into tears. Like a well full of sadness uncovered itself in my mind. Memories. They overflowed. He held me until it was over. I was so happy. Glowing.

“Later I tried it with others but it never happened again.”


For Flash Fiction Challenge

2 Responses

  1. Very good! I enjoyed this so much. Thank you!

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