by Yin Twig
Arthur Smith could barely see the guy who was fucking Hadrian’s Wall because the mist was obscuring the view. This mist was the tenacious and unrelenting. The thick fog had been there when since before their plane arrived in England yesterday morning, delaying the landing by an hour. It had continued for the entire three hour and twenty-six minute train ride from London to Carlisle yesterday afternoon. A full day later, and the mist was still everywhere in this grassy field dotted with little yellow flowers a half hour’s drive out of the city.
Arthur tried to give the guy who seemed to be fucking the wall the benefit of the doubt; maybe he was peeing? But there could be no way that was the case. Only the most ineffective urinator would stand the way this guy was standing. His hips were pressed into the rocky wall, his hands rested calmly over his belly, and his back was arched so far it was parallel with the ground. Besides all of that, there was no tell-tale pee puddle forming under his feet.
The guy really was fucking the wall… or if not fucking it, then certainly he was penetrating it.
Arthur shrugged off the left strap of his threadbare army-green backpack. He rummaged around under his raincoat and behind his political science reading package until he found what he was looking for. He pulled out the pristine United Kingdom guidebook, cracked open the spine and found the index. People in London bathed in fountains and climbed on statues – was molesting historical walls also part of the fabric of English culture?
Hadrian’s Wall had once been the mighty barrier protecting the Roman Empire from the Picts, but was no longer tall enough to prevent Arthur from climbing over it so that he could get a better view. Low to the ground, his hand trailing against the jagged stonework, Arthur approached.
“Well, hello there,” said the guy. Arthur froze. “You, behind the wall – I can hear your footsteps.”
Arthur stood up, smiling with all of his teeth showing. “Heh-heh, hi there! Just thought I would take a look at what the wall looks like from the other side,” he said.
“Both sides look the same,” said the guy. He had light brown hair and dark brown freckles across his nose and cheekbones. “You were coming to see what I was doing.”
“Well—” said Arthur.
“I have to ask,” said the guy. “What do you think I’m doing?”
“Well… Actually, it looks like you’re fucking in the wall,” said Arthur. “Unless it’s a cultural thing? I didn’t find it anywhere in here, but maybe there’s another section for northern England.”
There didn’t seem to be a point to hiding anymore. Arthur climbed the wall to get back over it. Here the wall stood at chest height.
“What, sticking your cock in a jagged stone wall? A cultural thing; you think everyone does that here?” said the guy. His brown eyes twinkled as he said it. He laughed. “I could like you. My name is Percy. Percy Johnson. ”
“Arthur Smith,” Arthur reached to shake Percy’s hand and then pulled it back. “Actually, it’s awkward to shake a guy’s hand while he’s hilt-deep in something.”
“That’s fair, actually,” said Percy. “No hard feelings. I’d feel the same way if I weren’t stuck tight in here.”
“You’re stuck?” asked Arthur.
“Stuck tight, like I said,” said Percy. “Something possessed me to try it one day. I slid myself into first crack that’d fit me. But the moment I got hard was the end of it. I’m trapped.”
“Trapped,” said Arthur. “That’s horrible! How long has it been like this? We should call an ambulance! They can cut you out. Hopefully they can save your dick if they get here soon enough!”
“Don’t bother,” said Percy. “They can’t find me.”
“How could they not?” asked Arthur. “You’re not that far from the visitor’s centre! Hang on; I’ll be right back.”
Percy grabbed Arthur’s wrist. “Wait!” he said. Arthur easily twisted his wrist out of Percy’s grasp.
Arthur was out of breath by the time he made it back over the hill to the visitor’s center at the Birdoswald Roman Fort. There was a bus tour which had just arrived, and a swarm of people were milling. He cut between them and made it to the desk.
“The queue is to your left,” said a woman whose nametag read Enid. She had a pinched mouth and greying blonde hair tied in a bun. She craned her neck to look around him. “Next.”
“You have to call an ambulance!” said Arthur. “There’s a guy out on the wall who” —he leaned in closer and lowered his voice— “who got himself stuck in the wall.”
“Stuck in the wall?” said Enid. “It’s solid rock. How do you get stuck in that?”
“It’s his…” Arthur searched for a subtle way to say it and found nothing. “His dick.” Enid blinked a couple of times and looked quizzical. “His, uh, penis is stuck in the wall.” For good measure, Arthur pointed crotchward.
He expected her to be shocked. At the very least he expected she’d be bit surprised. Maybe she’d snicker or think it was funny. Any of those reactions would not have surprised him. Instead, she rolled her eyes heavenward and then patted his hand. “Oh, lamb,” she said in a very patient and soothing voice. “Don’t you worry. Sometimes when the sun is just right in the sky it filters through the fog and then people see something that they think is a young lad having relations with the wall. It isn’t though. You go back out and take a look, and you’ll find that he’s not where you thought he was.”
“It happens a couple of times a month,” said Enid. “We’ve scanned all along the wall from Hare Hill to the River Irthing and there is no sign at all of any human presence.”
“If there was a single rock out of place, we’d know it by now,” said Enid. “And don’t you be going and calling an ambulance. They always ask what the problem is, and they won’t come if it’s for a lad with a stuck willie.”
“Now you take a pamphlet, love, and go look at some ruins to cheer yourself up,” said Enid. She shoved the paper in his hand, identical to the one that was already in his bag. “Next please.”
Arthur was deep in thought as he came back over the hill. There just as before was Percy, locked in the jagged rocky embrace of Hadrian’s Wall. He was back the way he had been, hands folded and eyes staring at the middle distance. He didn’t look up as Arthur approached.
“It didn’t work,” said Arthur. “Sorry. What’s the deal with no one being able to find you?”
Percy startled. “You came back!”
“I said I would,” said Arthur.
“But you actually came!” said Percy, beaming.
“I wish you’d say that differently,” said Arthur. He froze when he heard familiar voices approaching from the east, farther along the wall. Don’t panic. Act natural. Arthur leaned as casually as he could against the wall, putting himself between Percy and his approaching family.
“Hey, Chris,” said Arthur. “Having fun staring at all the old rocks?”
“Yes!” said Christopher, Arthur’s brother. “This is amazing! I can look out over the wall and imagine being a terrified Roman citizen staring out at legions of Pictish warriors who” —at this point he paused to take in a great gasp of air— “were said to fight naked and have great powers and perform superhuman feats of strength, while the Romans only had their armour and some little spears—”
“I’m pretty sure the Romans had more than a few little spears,” said Arthur. Things were going well; no one had said a word about the guy with his dick in the wall. Arthur peeked over his shoulder, and Percy smiled and waved.
“I’ll know everything about it when I take my degree in history in a few years,” said Christopher.
“Or you could just read books that other people write,” said Winnifred King, their mother. “Everything’s already been discovered about the past, just like you can see with the wall.”
“No, there are so many mysteries to be solved, like what the name of the wall was, back in the ancient times!” said Christopher. “No sources survive to confirm what the wall was called in antiquity!”
They were arguing about the wall. Did no one really notice the elephant in the room? Or at least notice the elephant’s noodly appendage, which was stuck squarely into the wall about which they were debating the name?
“All this to say that you’re ready to go home?” asked Derwyn King. Arthur’s stepdad caught up with the rest of the group, carrying three-year-old Bernadette, who was drooping into her father’s shoulder. “And you’ve decided you hate history and don’t want to waste your life by studying it at University because you’ve realized how boring it is.” This had been the point behind bringing the family to England, to bore Christopher until he forgot his obsession with ancient history.
“They can’t see me,” said Percy loudly enough that the group should have heard him. “Most people can’t.”
“No! I can’t go back to the hotel yet!” said Christopher, oblivious to Percy. “I want to see what the wall west of here looks like! I love history more than I ever did. I just feel so alive right now!” Christopher pushed past his brother and placed his hand on the wall directly above Percy’s male connector. “This place just touches me in a way that I’ve never been touched before.”
No one batted an eyelash.
“I want to stay for a while longer, too,” said Arthur. “I can watch him. We’ll take the bus back to the city when he’s done.”
Derwyn exhaled and his wide face formed a simple smile. “Oh good, all I want to do is sit down and drink some beer, even if it’s that cellar-temperature warm shit.”
“Fine,” said Winifred. “But watch Christopher carefully, Arthur. Don’t let him get more obsessed.”
“I could sing ‘God find a King’ at the top of my lungs, and no one would look my way,” said Percy, waving his hand in front of Christopher’s blank face. “Like I said, I am hard to see to those who aren’t looking.”
Arthur ignored Percy. “Bye Mom, bye Derwin.” They walked off towards the car park across from the Roman fort. Christopher looked warily over at Arthur. “Are you coming, Art?”
“Go by yourself, Chris. I’m not watching you. You’re fourteen, and the worst trouble you’ll get into is annoying other tourists by being a know-it-all,” said Arthur.
“Really?” said Christopher. Then, “I’m not a know-it-all.”
“Yeah? Then tell me what that is,” said Arthur. He pointed at Percy.
“What?” said Christopher. “That’s the wall, Art.” Then he bent over and stared intently at Percy’s ass, his face mere centimetres away. “Wait. That’s weird. You’re right. That’s the sigil of King Rictus the fourth, the last King of England since the curse of the round table of 1849. The fog descended on England the day that he died, and they say since then there has always been some part of the country shrouded in fog.”
“Know-it-all,” said Arthur.
“Ugh!” said Christopher. “Don’t bother me; I’m taking a picture!” And he crouched down to get the best view of Percy’s breech-covered bottom before snapping several digital photos. The pictures came out blurry on the digital camera’s screen. “This might be a clue to where to find the great sword Excaliper, which is lodged deeply into solid stone and hidden deep in the depths of the realm. They say that the one who finds Excaliper and pulls it forth will be a noble human who will lead England into a golden age of greatness. I’m going to search along the rest of the walls for clues!”
“Have fun!” said Arthur. “And be really thorough!”
“I will!” said Christopher. “History is amazing!” He ran off with more energy than he’d had in the morning when they woke up to Bernadette screaming from her pack-and-play in the hotel bedroom because she was angry that she had thrown all of her toys out onto the ground and now she couldn’t reach them. Oh, family.
Arthur turned to Percy. “Did you really try to pork the sigil of the King?” asked Arthur. “That just seems like you were asking for some sort of bad luck.”
“Well…” Percy said. “There wasn’t the sigil there until after I was inside of it.”
“Someone carved it out while you watched?”
“No, it was more mystical than that. Like your brother said, Excaliper is lodged deeply into solid rock.”
“Oh, god,” said Arthur. He kneaded his brow. “You’re trying to convince me that Excaliper is—”
“Percy Johnson is two euphemisms for penis stuck together,” said Percy. “I thought it might be a tip-off. And Percy is short for Excaliper. I had a lot of time to think about these things.”
“Which means that…”
“I’m Excaliper. I’m a sword. But I have a human body some of the time,” said Percy, in the slow tones that Arthur would normally reserve for his little sister.
“And if I pull you out of the wall, then I will become King of England?” said Arthur.
“If you pull me out of the wall, it’s because you’ve passed my test,” said Excaliper. “You would be a great and noble monarch, in your case a King, I’m guessing.”
“What else would I be, a Prince?” asked Arthur.
“You could be a Queen,” said Excaliper. “I’m an inclusive sword.”
“I’m a guy,” said Arthur. “The name Arthur should have tipped you off.”
“You can’t tell with kids these days,” said Percy. “Ashley was once a man’s name.”
“So how do I get you out of the wall?” asked Arthur.
“I don’t know,” said Excaliper. “If I knew, I might accidentally give away the secret to someone who was not worthy.”
“Can you tell me who put you up to this?” asked Arthur. Then he felt the back of his neck start to itch. He turned in time to catch the eyes of two men in cable knit sweaters and black rain boots who were staring at him. “Don’t mind me; I’m a drama student!” he called out to them and waved. They seemed satisfied and kept walking. He turned back to Excaliper. “Well?”
“King Rictus didn’t like any of his descendents,” said Excaliper. “He came up with the idea and got the support from the House of Mages. Parliament took the fall for it. He didn’t like parliament much, either. Are you a politics guy?”
“Yes,” said Arthur. “I’m a political science major. I’d better like politics.” Politics was only marginally better than history in his parents’ eyes.
“Oh, I thought you said you were a drama student,” said Excaliper.
“I was lying,” said Arthur. “Those men were giving me strange looks.”
“Well, mister political expert!” said Excaliper. “Now you just figure out how to get me out.”
Arthur pondered the situation for a moment and then said, “do you mind if examine…”
“…Percy? No problems at all,” said Excaliper. He moved his hands away.
Arthur moved closer. ‘Percy’ was barely visible inside all of the chunks of rocks, maybe a centimetre of pale flesh showed through. Excaliper had buttoned up his pants, so apart from being connected to the rock face he looked civilized. Arthur reached a hand out. “Can I… ?”
“Go right ahead,” said Excaliper. “Are you planning to pull? I can brace myself any which way you like.”
“Maybe if you brace with your feet,” said Arthur.
“Great,” said Excaliper. He shuffled his feet into place.
Arthur grabbed Excaliper’s shoulders and strained and pulled him backwards. Excaliper moaned like he was having a more fun than someone whose dick was getting the stretch treatment had any right to be having.
Panting and huffing, Arthur paused. “I’m going to try twisting you around,” he said.
“That’s original,” said Excaliper. “It’s like you’re trying to unscrew me. I even appreciate the pun.”
It wasn’t easy to twist him around. Excaliper weighed as much as Arthur did. They both worked together and managed to get him half way around when Arthur noticed that he had an audience again. The sweater-clad men had been joined by a couple of sweater-clad women and a couple of sweater-clad children, all wearing matching black rubber boots.
“He said he was a drama student,” one of the men said to the others.
“Well, I’ll be,” said one of the women. “He makes it look so real.”
“You’re all right, Excaliper?” asked Arthur quietly.
“I’m fantastic,” said Excaliper. “I’ve not had this much fun in ages.”
“I’m going to pull again,” said Arthur.
“Woo!” said one of the man. “Watch this. I don’t know how he manages.”
This time Arthur had more leverage, because Excaliper’s legs were longer than his arms were. Arthur pulled back again, really putting all of his weight into it. When pulling didn’t work, he climbed up to the top of the wall and then jumped off, landing on Excaliper’s legs, but still he didn’t budge. “Oh, yes!” Excaliper moaned.
The crowd applauded. “How does he do that?” asked one of the children. “I don’t know,” was the reply. “He must have strings or something to keep him up.”
Hours later, and Arthur had contorted Excaliper into every position that he could think of. The fog rolled in even thicker than it had before. The crowd was still strong, those departing being supplemented by those coming in, a lot of interested townspeople who seemed to have nothing better to do with their Thursday evening. At least he didn’t have to worry about Christopher coming back. Likely, he’d be halfway to the coast by now since there was no one there to make him turn back.
Excaliper had a goofy smile on his face and was getting saggier and saggier in Arthur’s arms.
Arthur sighed and stood back to survey his progress. There wasn’t much to survey. Now that his head was back to pointing towards the sky, Excaliper had reclaimed the position in which he started, with his back arched back and his hands on his stomach, waiting patiently for something to happen.
“Juggle!” suggested a person in the crowd. Arthur ignored them.
Arthur winced as he had a brilliant idea. “Excaliper,” he said. “I was hoping to inspect you somewhere else.”
“My mouth?” asked Excaliper. He opened wide. Arthur checked Excaliper’s mouth, just in case. Arthur wasn’t a dentist. Excaliper had teeth. None were obviously missing, and none of them looked like they could be used to unshackle a penis.
But Excaliper had a point. Arthur checked Excaliper’s nostrils, his ears, his eyes, his underarms, the cracks between his fingers and toes, and behind his knees. Then with another nod from Excaliper he pulled Excaliper’s balls out of his pants and examined them first between, then in front and then behind.
“Maybe if you rub them?” suggested Excaliper.
“I thought you didn’t know what the solution was,” said Arthur.
“I don’t,” said Excaliper. “But it would feel nice.”
“Oh, fine,” said Arthur. It wouldn’t be the first time he given a guy a hand job, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Arthur cupped Excaliper’s balls in his right hand and moved his fingers back and forth like he was playing the piano on the skin on the front side of his balls just below what little shaft was visible. He felt a bit of dust fall on his hands.
“What’s he doing, dad?” asked a small boy.
“He’s filtering wheat in his hand, Thomas,” said the father.
“Oh,” Thomas said, solemnly.
Excaliper’s ass, the one place the Arthur hadn’t explored yet. But now he was giving Excaliper—sorry, Percy—a handjob, it seemed significantly less weird to ask.
“I’m just going to check you… there,” said Arthur. There were children present. This would be so much easier without an audience.
“Oh, that would be nice,” said Excaliper, squirming against the wall.
Still massaging Excaliper’s balls idly with his right hand, Arthur penetrated Excaliper’s hole with two fingers, up to the third knuckle. Inside was clean as a whistle. Arthur felt around, pressing against the firm, moist closeness which put up a token effort towards pushing his fingers back out again.
Was it just the wind, or was he feeling more dust on his right hand? These were the dangers of spending your time near a wall made of rock and dirt, he supposed.
“Oh, yes, I like this line of investigation,” said Excaliper. He ground his hips into the wall, and more dust fell onto Arthur’s right hand. “How about more?”
If that’s what he wanted, that’s what he’d get. Arthur pulled his fingers out and then went back in with all four. He rested his thumb on Excaliper’s tailbone just between his butt cheeks and worked his fingers inside. First one knuckle, then a second. He twisted his hand as he got closer to the third knuckle, where his fingers met his hand, to ease them into the space. The pressure on his fingers was more now.
“Now what’s he doing?” asked Thomas.
“He’s birthing a calf,” said the father in a distracted voice.
Excaliper moaned again. He pressed the top of his torso into the stone wall and his hips twirled in circles like an energetic wall clock. Dust was really falling off the wall now. A pebble hit Arthur’s fingers, and he drew away, instead wrapping his right arm around Excaliper’s torso.
Having managed to press all four fingers of his left hand into Excaliper’s ass, Arthur twisted his thumb into the pad of the knuckle of his ring finger. Arthur’s hand maintaining the ‘four’ signal, he pressed deeper into Excaliper. Predictably, Excaliper moaned.
“Oh, you naughty swordsman!” said Excaliper. “Sorry, swordswielder—we’re in the twenty-first century now.”
Inch by inch, Arthur pressed his hand farther in. It wasn’t often that he got such an enthusiastic partner. Excaliper vibrated with pleasure with even the slightest movement of fingers, like Arthur was playing him like a musical instrument. The poor guy must be fiercely sex-deprived. If his story was to be believed, how many centuries had he been chained to the wall? Arthur’s mind started doing the math, but he forced himself back to concentrating on the task at hand.
“That’s not how you birth a calf,” said the boy.
“It must be stuck tight,” said his father. “Maybe it’s a breech birth. See how focused he is on getting it out?”
Deeper and deeper Arthur penetrated until he felt the tightness around his wrist. His hand felt like it was absorbed back into its primordial form, like he had become an appendage of Excaliper himself.
Excaliper tried to say something, but his words didn’t make sense; his moans came too frequently.
Arthur felt like he was floating up and out of himself. He heard the patter of little pebbles hitting the ground like hail. The mist closed, and the farther inside Excaliper he got, the thicker the mist seemed (and the closer that his audience approached).
He didn’t know what he was looking for until he found it. The hard length of the hilt replaced the softness and pressure. Arthur clasped the hilt firmly. The effect was electric.
“YES!” Excaliper cried. His voice resonated in the ground, which started shaking. His voice resonated in the wall, which shook and rattled. His voice resonated even in the fog, which swirled and broke like mighty waves on a beach.
Excaliper’s body stiffened and everywhere. Arthur struggled to hold onto the hilt as every muscle in Excaliper’s lower half tensed, embracing Arthur’s forearm like a snake. White lightning shot out of Excaliper’s skin, burning away the fog and lighting the sky like a beacon.
The onlookers gasped. As the shock of the light faded, Arthur realized that Excaliper was gone, and instead he was holding aloft a glowing silver sword with a gold filigree hilt that was reflecting rainbows over the green grass carpeting the countryside.
“All hail, the Arthur Smith, King of England!” said the sword in a voice that seemed to shake the whole of the British Isles.
The crowd burst into riotous applause and shouted for an encore. After a few minutes of holding the sword aloft, Arthur felt awkward and lowered it again. Then he wondered where his brother was.
“You promised that you’d watch your brother,” said Winifred. “They found him wandering the highway like a lost sheep.”
“I’m sorry, mom,” said Arthur.
“And he’s more obsessed than ever with history, especially after you showed him that weapon you found,” said Winifred. “Honestly, Arthur, what were you thinking? There’s no way you’re getting that back through customs.”
“I know,” said Arthur. “I’ll figure something out.”
“Well you’ll have to,” said Winifred.
Just then the phone rang in the room. “I’m not done with you yet, Arthur,” said Winifred, but she moved and picked up the phone. “Hello?” she said. She listened for a few moments and then her face darkened.
“It’s for you, Arthur,” she said. “Someone from the office of the Prime Minister of England is on the phone. He wants to speak to you. Something about a coronation?”