The New Generation of Classic Short Stories

Vol. 13, No. 1

The Harvest

by Patricio Pron

Translated by Janet Hendrickson

Lost John reads the report from the clinic and discovers he has AIDS. It was just a routine checkup, the kind producers of pornographic videos regularly require of their employees, but the result is not what it should have been. Lost John stares at the paper in his hand. He's in the kitchen, standing in his underwear, and his head spins, so he leans on the counter for a moment and inhales. Then he slowly gets dressed, packs some clothes in a suitcase, and calls a taxi. While he waits for it to arrive, he flips through a magazine in which he's shown fucking Alyssa Soul. When he turns the page, he sees her face covered with his semen, and he knows this is the last time he will appear in a magazine, probably the last time he will fuck a girl in front of a camera; and he feels relief and nostalgia. He tells himself that his cock doesn't really look hard, that the lubricant around Alyssa's asshole is too obvious; he wonders how these details could have escaped the photographer, director, and assistant, all on the set when they filmed this scene. Then he remembers the conversation he had afterward with Alyssa in the showers, when they discovered that they'd both had nomadic childhoods, both had followed military fathers who jumped periodically from one base to another, all of them the same but in different places, like Texas or North Carolina or California. Well, Alyssa's father had died in the first Gulf War, and Lost John's, too, and both were surprised by these coincidences, and even more surprised that they had this conversation in a place where it's not common to share secrets that aren't fictitious. Alyssa had given him her phone number, but Lost John had tossed it in a wastebasket when he left the production company. He didn't want anything too personal. They call his phone to tell him that his taxi is waiting outside, and Lost John says thanks and hangs up the receiver softly and walks to the door.

To read the rest of this story, both in English and in its original Spanish, and others from the Spring 2009 issue, please purchase a copy from our online store.