Steve woke up with a problem: he had a hard-on.

He slung his weight to the edge of the bed and put his feet on the floor. A picture of his wife on the bedside table was eye-level with his hard-on. He turned the picture around.

Steve fixed his usual breakfast of oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and coffee. The hard-on faded.

Drinking a second cup of coffee, he collected the paper from the front porch.

Kids walked to the bus stop, dragging their feet and wearing oversized backpacks. Cars pulled out of driveways, exhaust pouring from mufflers in the morning air. Birds were busy gleaning trees and gathering sticks for nests. Steve observed the morning bustle while his coffee grew cold.

He warmed it in the microwave. The beeping light on the phone indicated a message. Steve hoped it was one of the kids. But it was a salesperson, offering him an exclusive offer on car insurance. He called the number back. The woman on the other end had a southern accent that Steve liked. He listened to her pitch, but regretted to inform her that he currently had a better rate.

Page 4A of the newspaper announced a morning birdwatching session at the town forest on Sunday at 8am. Steve cut the article out and stuck it on the fridge next to a Peanuts comic strip that had been on the fridge since the late 80s. The colors had started to fade from the comic and the edges folded in. Steve had never found the comic funny, but it reminded him of his wife, so he kept it there.

He grabbed a corner of the strip. Hesitating, he removed the magnet that held it in place. He took the strip in his hand, crumpled it into a ball, and tossed it in the trash.

“Oh no, oh no!” he cried and dug the strip out of the trash. He brushed off coffee grounds, uncrumpled the bit of newspaper, and put it back on the fridge.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he said. “Loretta, I’m sorry.”

The drive to the rink took one hour. During the drive, Steve listened to affirmations and recited them aloud.

“Life loves me. I am divinely guided and protected at all times. Everything is working out for my highest good. Everyone I encounter today has my best interests at heart.”

“I am limitless!” he cried. Then he shut off the affirmations and drove the rest of the way in silence.

He backed his truck into an empty spot near the front of the rink. The lobby smelled of concessions and floor cleaner. A few players were on the ice. Others stretched skateless outside of the rink.

Steve stripped naked in the locker room. He looked down at his prick and gave it a little shake. Pathetic, he thought.

At his age, he did not need a cock. He would likely never fuck again. He hadn’t fucked for over ten years. Loretta and he did not fuck for the final eight years of their marriage, before her passing. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d had a hard-on—until this morning.

Men joined Steve in the locker room. Charlie had hit a deer on the way to work on Monday.

“She tried jumping over a car and smashed off the rear driver side window. Spun around and her head caught the front of the Suburban. Luckily, I travel with a bone saw. I butchered her on the side of the road. Got to work twenty minutes late, blood up to my elbows.”

“Where were you?” said Ed, a block of a man.

“64,” said Charlie. “Heading west.”

“She come from that apple orchard over by McDonough’s?”

“I think so.”

“I’m setting out for elk this weekend,” said Lou, the goaltender.

“Where at?” said Ed.

“I ain’t telling you my secret spot.”

Steve interjected with a story of the massive elk he bagged the previous season.

“I already heard this story about ten times,” said Charlie.

The men laughed.

Steve carried his skates to the rink’s edge and laced up. Out on the ice, he tested his legs, skating forward and back, side to side, moving the puck, putting on jukes.

There were a few new faces. Steve skated over to each of them and introduced himself.

He preferred the new people. They had not heard his stories before.

The game started with a bang. One of the new players—Brad—took the opening face-off straight down the ice, faked past a pair of defenders, and buried a wrist shot stickside, shelf-high.

Steve subbed in at 4:00. At the 10:00 mark, he went back to the bench, having made a couple of sound defensive plays.

On the bench, he talked to Brad, who had played for the local community college team. These days, he worked at an auto parts store.

“I’m retired,” said Steve. “But I try to stay busy, especially since my wife passed a couple of years ago. I play hockey in the mornings and I volunteer down at the community center in the afternoons.”

The crack of a shot echoed, followed by the thud of the puck off the goalie’s pad. He heard Ed’s deep voice directing the defense.

During the second period, Steve had an assist on Brad’s second goal.

“God damn,” cursed Lou and pounded the puck back to center ice.

“Kid’s good,” said Steve.

“No shit,” said Lou.

Brad scored another goal in the 3rd to give him the hat trick. Steve finished with his best overall game in a long time.

He couldn’t help in the shower noticing Brad’s penis, shorn of all hair, appearing bold and eager to face the world, compared to his own, which seemed to be retreating into his body.

Steve sat in his truck listening to talk radio, eating a sandwich, and drinking coffee. He had one hour until his volunteer shift at the community center. Today he was tutoring a Korean man named Choo in English.

But Steve did not feel like volunteering. What he felt like was a good fuck.

He watched an empty produce box tumble across the parking lot, whoomp bump, whoomp bump, blown by the wind. Hockey club members got into their cars and left. Brad drove a Dodge Charger. He probably fucked at will.

In the park adjacent to the rink, a young girl in yoga pants bent over to do some stretching in the grass, pointing her ass straight up in the air. Then along came a group of girl joggers who were probably still in high school. Their outfits were little more than bikinis.

Steve’s hand moved unconsciously to his cock and he pulled it away, as from a fire. His balls ached at the sight of the girls, reminding him that the sex you had gave you pleasure—but the sex you could not have gave you pain.

Steve wished for a world without sex, a world without this prick that set its will against his, where the need to violate and the need to be violated did not set Mars and Venus in motion. Disembodiment was Steve’s conception of heaven.

He picked up the hunting knife he kept in the driver side console and ran his thumb against the blade. He could cut his balls off. That would be a start. He had a vision of mass castration, of men cutting their balls off in the name of world peace.

Steve arrived at the community center at 12:15. Choo gave him a slight bow. He reeked of garlic, as usual.

Choo was an earnest student and a good man. He’d started coming to Steve’s church along with his wife, who’d recently arrived on a spousal visa. She did not speak a word of English as far as Steve could tell, but she had the fire of worship in her eyes.

When his lesson with Choo was complete, the director called Steve into her office and introduced him to a young woman from Brazil named Daniella. The director asked him whether he could take on another student. His experience and background were a perfect fit for Daniella, the director said.

Daniella had beautiful dark skin and eyes and full lips. Her breasts heaved beneath her shirt, her nipples clearly outlined. Steve’s cock began to stir.

He agreed to take on the new student and hastily left the office. He went to the bathroom, locked the stall door behind him, pulled out his cock, and began to masturbate over the bowl. He imagined Daniella seducing him during their lesson, luring him to this stall and sitting back on the seat with her legs spread.

He came almost immediately, in a rush of faintness. Some of his cum shot onto the wall in front of him. While he was cleaning up the mess, a man entered the stall next to his and began shitting explosively.

Steve washed his hands and went to his truck. On the way home, he picked up a dozen roses and put them on Loretta’s grave to make their 40th anniversary.

Back at home, he heated up a microwave entrée. Waiting for it to cook, he looked at the Peanuts comic on the fridge. It was as unfunny as ever. In a flash of anger, Steve tore it off the fridge, ripped it into little pieces, and sprinkled it in the trash.

He ate his microwave dinner in silence at the kitchen table. Birdwatching on the weekend would be nice, he thought. Birds were innocent. They were truly God’s creatures.