I Only Did What Anyone Would Have Done

Jacob Guajardo


I gave this guy a blowjob once, and after I was done he passed out and hit his head against an end table in my bedroom. When he came to, he said, without missing a beat, Kid, you must have sucked the life right out of me.

We laughed. I was glad he was okay.

Was I going to have to take this guy to the hospital? I wondered. Was he going to want to stay the night with me? I was suddenly very annoyed by him, and at the same time I was very captivated. He was suddenly so precious and inconvenient.

When I saw him on the ground, his arms were at his sides. He almost looked as if he were looking for something on the floor. That’s what I thought at first—that he was looking for something on the floor. I thought, Maybe he can’t find his socks? Which, moments later, he couldn’t. I thought, Maybe one of his socks had disappeared beneath my bookshelf? I wondered if he liked my bookshelf.

The book shelf is tall. It stands beside the end table, and beside that there is a recliner. I wanted to create a reading nook here. I wanted to have a space where I could sit and read the classics. Ulysses, Don Quixote, Frankenstein. I wanted to create the impression that I was intelligent—not for myself, but for others. I had even pointed the space out to this guy. Here’s my book nook, I said. I hope I sounded cute when I said it.

So, when he was on the floor, I thought that maybe he had one eye open and was looking beneath the bookshelf for something. A sock. I thought this only for a moment.

As he came to, he had a confused expression on his face. So precious. He seemed like a different guy from the one who had just finished force-feeding me his dick. Force-feeding with my permission, obviously. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about this guy.

I wonder if he’s scared, I thought. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he’d cried. I would have cried too. That’s when he said, You must have sucked the life right out of me. And then we laughed. Not like we were nervous, either. I was really struck funny by what this guy said. That’s fucking funny, I thought. Then he became another guy. Not forceful, not precious. A funny guy. A guy with a good sense of humor.

I thought, I wish I’d passed out and said something funny when I came to. 

I bet he’d like me better, I thought, if I were witty.

Oh, I love a guy with a sense of humor. But that’s what I was trying not to do lately. I didn’t want to fall in love with any more guys. It didn’t take much. All it took was a carefully placed hand. All it took was a guy writing something, anything, with his finger into my shirt while we sat and watched a movie. All it took was a thing he said. 

All it took was a thing he said, and I would tell my friends, Listen to this thing this guy said. It could be anything.

A guy once said, What did we say things looked like before we said they looked like a painting? It didn’t take much, you see.

When he passed out, I was reminded of the time my mother drank too much wine and tripped over an ottoman in our family room and fell asleep in the puddle of spilled wine. The carpet was stained. We all laughed when, in the morning, we found her asleep like this. Gloria Ann! my dad said. Mom! my sister and I said. She looked at us and shrugged her shoulders as if to say, I slept well enough. What does it matter how I did it?

My mom used to mix wine and Ambien. It was a very suburban-housewife problem. She is more complicated than that though. I know I’m not being fair. There isn’t enough time to tell you about what makes my mom more than her suburban-housewife problems.

She once refused to shake a man’s hand at church after he scolded me for having a weak handshake. “I just don’t think I want to shake your hand anymore,” she told the man.

The reason I bring it up, my mother’s being asleep on the floor, is that her body looked the way this guy’s body looked. It looked precious too.

What should have come to mind first was my ex-boyfriend, who fainted at least twenty times while we were together. He came to my mind first when I was doing so many other things, after all. For example, whenever I cradled anyone in my arms after sex, or whenever it was convenient to be able to cry, or whenever I smelled a smell that was faintly his.

My ex-boyfriend passed out at the dentist’s office once. I had to put my arms around him, and his arms around me, and drag him to the waiting room where the dental assistants stood and fanned him with manila folders.

I saw the face of God, he told me.

What’s he look like? I asked.

He looks like Cher, he said.

Another time, he passed out at my parents’ house, around Christmastime. There were boughs about the house, and everything had a cinnamon smell. He said my name, and then he stumbled toward me from across the room with that same, glazed, seeing-Cher look in his eyes. Then he fell to the carpet and breathed as if breathing were incredibly hard.

I slapped his face. I demanded that he stop. I just wanted him to be okay. It was the simplest wish. My mother came up to us and said to him, as his eyes rolled back in his head, I don’t have time for this. You’d think she’d have been more compassionate.

I looked at her like, Are you fucking crazy?

What’s your problem? I asked her.

He’s drunk, she said. Your father isn’t happy that you two are getting drunk in our house.

He’s not drunk, I said. He’s passed out because he hasn’t had enough to eat, or he’s had a stroke, I said. I’m scared, I said.

She felt bad after that. She had really thought he was drunk. She had really believed my father, who believes the worst about anybody.

We never figured out why my ex passed out so much. It wasn’t a blood sugar problem, and it wasn’t neurological. No one could diagnose the problem. All our problems, for quite some time in our relationship, went undiagnosed.

For example, he was beautiful, so why didn’t I want to have sex with him? He was kind, so why did I only want to crush that kindness before it could ever reach me?

He tried folk remedies when the doctors couldn’t figure out why he was passing out so much. He checked out books from the library, all of which required you to go out and buy things. Homeopathy at Home and Folk Me! Traditional Medicines for the Average Joe.

These aren’t books! I said. These are shopping lists!

He sniffed ink on a fresh newspaper for nausea. If he felt a headache coming on, as he often did before he fainted, he would run to the kitchen and pull a knife from the drawer and make a cross in front of him. Then he’d throw the knife to the ground. He rubbed coral on his gums. He wrapped a dirty sock around his neck. He quickly ate a small grapefruit. He stuffed strips of dried seaweed inside our mattress.

It must be that, since he is no longer the first thing to come to my mind, I’ve been cured of him. It must be that, when a thing no longer comes to your mind when something happens that usually reminds you of it, you are, as they say, over it.

After the guy passed out, after we laughed, I pulled him up slowly. I knew that a rush of blood to the head could cause him to lose consciousness again. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to brace the dead weight against myself if he fell again. I was afraid that, this time, my body would fail me. I pulled him up slowly and helped him dress and put him in the recliner beside the end table. I elevated his feet on a stack of books.

Have you eaten anything today? I asked.

A Pop-Tart and a few Pringles, he said.

Maybe you just need something to eat, I said.

Maybe, he said. Then he said, Thank you for taking care of me.

I nodded my head. I thought I’d only done what anyone would have done.

I only did what anyone would have done, I said.

I will thank everyone else tomorrow, he said. Tonight I’m thanking you.

I love a guy with a sense of humor. I went to the kitchen to look for something for him to eat. I unwrapped a Moon Pie from its cellophane. I balled up the cellophane and opened my hand and watched it resist its new shape. I thought, This cellophane is a cure for something. I balled the cellophane up tighter.

I felt this bad feeling of falling for this guy. I felt this bad feeling of a circle beginning to form again. I put the ball of cellophane in my mouth. The cellophane’s wrinkles felt sharp at first, then soft and empty, like a mouthful of hair.


Jacob Guajardo's work has appeared in Passages North, Hobart, Necessary Fiction, and elsewhere.