Los Pantalones

Dave Orsborn

As Kyle left his house that morning he had a strong feeling that his fly was unzipped. He could feel a slight breeze brush the insides of his thighs as he walked. He looked around suspiciously and reached down to fix the problem. Alas, there was no need to. It was already zipped. He looked down and brushed the folds out on the front of his pants and walked nervously to the bus stop.

There were two others waiting at the bus stop when he arrived: a middle-aged women in a conservative business dress and a man in his late twenties wearing checkered kitchen-worker pants and a loose-fitting white T-shirt. The young man had a blue backpack slung over his right shoulder with the phrase "Midgets For Jesus" stitched onto it in gold thread. Both the man and woman seemed to be engaged in small talk and when Kyle arrived they ceased their conversation and looked at him. He could feel their eyes burning into his crotch. He immediately reached down to check the situation. Perhaps his fly had come unzipped on the walk to the bus stop.

He found, upon inspection, that this was not the case. Instead he just felt foolish, fiddling with himself in front of these two strangers. His face started to burn and he stood behind an advertisement for SportsCenter to conceal his embarrassment.

Kyle wished he had a cigarette, but he had quit smoking two weeks ago. He had promised his girlfriend, June, that he would quit smoking if she gave up drinking coffee. To the best of each others' knowledge, they were both successful. But Kyle knew that he had snuck a few drags of his coworker Danny's hand-rolled Drum last Tuesday at lunch.

The young man in the checkered pants withdrew a pack of Camel Lights and lit one up. Kyle thought about asking for one. One of the things Kyle missed about smoking was the sense of camaraderie with people you'd never normally talk to. In the past, he'd met a few interesting people from bumming a smoke. A family of strangers bound by your addiction. Kyle began to walk toward the young man, stepping from behind the advert, when he felt the breeze against his balls. Damnit, he thought, I'm unzipped! He ducked behind the advert again and stooped to look at his fly. He pulled it up to his face for closer inspection. It was secure.

He thought about giving up and calling in late for work. Just enough time to change out of these problematic pants. But as he weighed this option, the bus arrived and before he knew it he had boarded.

Walking past a group of nurses, he swore he heard them snickering. He moved on, slyly casting glances down to figure out the situation…

At the corner of 15th and Market, Kyle got off the bus and began walking to his office building. Everyone he passed seemed to be looking at him. Paranoia had overtaken him completely and several beads of sweat trailed down his forehead. The air was thicker now and he had trouble breathing.

Christ, he thought, what the hell is the problem?! He threw caution to the wind and tugged his zipper as high as it would go. A pretty young woman with silky red hair passed and shot him a disapproving glance. He felt like telling her to go fuck herself. Couldn't she see he was in trouble?

At the corner of 16th and Walnut he bought his usual bagel with cream cheese from the street vendor.

"How're things Mr. Jenson?" the vendor said.

"Ok, Jimmy, ok," Kyle answered.

"Bagel this mornin'?"

"You bet."

Kyle paid the $1.75 for the bagel and started to walk away. He was supposed to have lunch later with June and he prayed to God-Allah-Anyone that this problem would go away before then.

"Hey Mr. Jenson!" Jimmy called to him. Kyle turned around and looked at him as he bit into the bagel.

"You got a big-ass rip in da backa your pants!" Jimmy started to laugh and Kyle turned beet-red. Now the street was a carnival of hideous, laughing faces, their grins pulling wider and wider. Passersby bumped him around like a pinball. He wanted a cigarette. He thought about the bet with Jane, and how he'd also snuck an entire Marlboro Red from Chad Swanson so he could get out of the office on a smoke break. He wondered if June was being as slack about her promise as he was. He thought about the night they had made the bet at her apartment and how he'd stolen her pair of red satin thong panties. He thought about the feel of them as he slipped them on this morning. And he thought about the cool breeze that lightly crept into the rip in the back of his pants.