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February 26, 2024

The Problem with Adam

By Harrison Kim

Scene 1: Jared and Adam discuss Holly in the hospital parking lot.

"You want to visit Holly in the psych ward, Adam?"

"She says she wants to see us, well, especially you, Jared. I figured maybe we could all go out together, spend the afternoon."

"Is she allowed?"

"Yeah, she says she has some kind of day leaves."

"What if she doesn't want to go back?"

"She will. She thinks she'll disappear if she goes too far out into the world. The hospital feels safe to her."

"So what do you two plan to do together?"

"I'm gonna try to have sex with her."

"That doesn't seem like a very good idea."

"Why not?"

"She's supposed to be sick."

"If she wants to do it, then I'm okay with that. Anyway, she says she has to have sex."

"How come?"

"So she doesn't disappear. She wants to be known, like in the Bible. If she's known, she feels good. Sex feels good. It makes her grow."

"It still doesn't feel right. Why do you want me to come with you?"

"Well, she told me she likes you. You can help me pick her up."

"I'll go if we only take her for a ride around the park."

"That's what you always say, Jared. You're a softie. I'm a hard ass. We can work together, man."

Scene 2: Jared Speaks of Holly's situation at the psychiatric ward.

Holly's playing the piano in the hospital dayroom. She's doing some Alicia Keys. I try to harmonize. She's thin, constantly eating mini doughnuts from a bowl beside her. Her black hair's all in her face, dark, shadow eyes painted with mascara, cheeks white with powder. She stares at me and says in a monotone. "The more I eat, the hungrier I feel."

Adam hovers over us. He's a good looking guy, with his rugged chin and wide easy smile. He asks Holly if she wants to go out driving and she says "Maybe. If I can have a couple of milk shakes."

"We can buy you as many as you'd like," says Adam.

"Do you feel healthy enough?" I say.

"I need to eat." Holly says. She looks across at Adam.

"I know what you want."

"What's that?" Adam laughs uncomfortably.

"A cheeseburger with hot tamale sauce!" Holly smiles for the first time.

Scene 3: Adam speaks of his need to take Holly out.

Jared talked with the nurse blah blah blah and she says we have to be family to take Holly to the drive through. I told the bitch I was Holly's cousin and winked, and Holly knew to say "Yeah." That psych ward place smells like bleach. Jared's not thrilled but he likes Holly too, I mean, as a friend. He doesn't want to see her locked up. She sits with me in the back seat of his old Corolla. Jared eats his onion rings. I feel hot and heavy, doesn't take a lot, Holly slides her hand along my leg and she doesn't resist my feel up her arms under her sleeves, wow.

I ask "Hey, Jared, why don't you go across to the mall do some shopping, see a movie?"

He says "No, I got to keep an eye on you two."

Holly sighs. "You're always such a party pooper, Jared." and she gives an eye roll.

He's been biting his nails all day and he rips a big one off and it's bleeding some. I can tell he's itching to jog somewhere. He always needs a lot of exercise to work off stress.

"Give us all some space," I say. "By giving yourself some. Man, you're straining at the bit."

"Okay, okay, I'll see you in half an hour," he finally answers. He leaps out of the car. Pretty touchy. Best friends shouldn't be jealous.

Scene 4: Jared describes his search for Adam and Holly.

I run fast round five blocks and tear back within ten minutes and the car's gone. I had to leave that disgusting scene, just for a short time, but now look what's happened. I phone the hospital, but Holly's not returned. I decide to walk there, calling Adam on my phone. There's no answer. At the psych ward, everyone's calm.

"She's got another hour," says a skinny nurse. "She'll be okay, she's doing much better." The nurse sports a tight black beret. Some people have no taste.

Then Holly walks into the hospital ward. She's smiling, her face looks filled out, practically pudgy. Her eyes have lost that shadow, no mascara left. I've never been big on mascara, except for light touches.

"Where's Adam?" I ask her.

"He's back there," she waves out the window. "In the car." I scan the hospital parking lot. think I spot my Toyota, but I don't see Adam.

"How are you feeling, honey?" asks the nurse with the tasteless beret.

"Really full," says Holly.

"You don't want supper?"

"No, I'm totally stuffed huge. Everyone can see me now."

Scene 5: Omniscient narrator tells of Jared's strange surprise.

Jared walks out to the car. He opens the door. Sees no one. He hears a tiny voice. "Help me, Jared!"

"Hey, Adam. You're sounding really weak. Where are you?"


"Where's that?"

"I'm in the glove compartment."

"Are you kidding me?"

"Open it, please. It's freaking dark in here."

Jared pops the door, stares in. He sees a tiny figure waving from atop the driver's license renewal form. He looks closer.

"Wow, what happened, man?" He puts his ear close to the miniature Adam.

"Holly ... she sucked me in. Took all my fluids out, I could feel them going. It felt fantastic, man, like when it happened. So good. Like the best crystal meth rush you'd ever know. Beautiful. But shit, now I'm two inches high. She pushed me in here, locked the door."

"I told you not to do any hanky panky."

"Please man, I'm really really hungry. You're gonna have to feed me."

Scene 6: Jared talks about his dedication.

Adam got his size back. It took two weeks and a lot of high calorie food. First, I fed him honey off the end of a needle. One drop at a time til the whole jar was gone. Then he slurped up eye droppers full of vitamins. I made up some empty Tupperware containers, filled them with tea towels, where he could sleep. By the fifth day, he could eat a whole piece of bacon. Then he really began to consume. A whole jar of beef jerky, two cans of chili. Lots for a foot high guy. I spent most of my dough on takeout -- that's almost all he ate. "I want fast food and I want it now!" he squeaked.

His boss called a couple of times. I covered for him, said he was too sick to come to the phone. Adam's lucky I'm a caring guy. I don't abandon my friends, especially not that square-jawed hunk.

Scene 7: Omniscient narrator relates a tale of Adam restored.

Adam soon reaches his original height, five foot ten. "It's time to go back and see Holly," he says, staring in the mirror and flicking his hair.

"What do you mean?" Jared hands him a comb. "You're only just fully back to normal."

"I have to take her out again, man." Adam brushes back his long locks.

"Holly? Look what happened last time."

"But buddy, she blew me away. Once you feel that, you'll be chasing the dragon."

"What about the side effects?"

"Jeez, it doesn't take that long to get my size back."

"I had to feed your ass for two weeks, Adam. Took time off work, lost a lot of pay. Spent all my time tending to you. I'm not your Mama. And what about your job? You're gonna be fired. Your boss calls me every day."

"Man, you don't understand. I'm in love with Holly."

"I have feelings too, Adam."

"For who? It must be some kind of secret crush, man."

Scene 8: Holly speaks to Dr. Boutin about her preferences.

Doctor, I'm trying to fill myself with music now, instead of food, and maybe it's working. I don't have to eat so much. I feel much more complete after playing piano for an hour. Maybe they'll discharge me soon. But those two crazy guys from my high school days want to visit again. Jared's nice, but shy. He's like Adam's slave or something. I thought I'd finished with them, but apparently Adam wants to take me out for lunch again. For the record, that's another word for sex. Last time he got what he wanted, then disappeared on me. Vanished into thin air. Says he fell into the glove compartment and I shut the door. That's the weirdest excuse I've ever heard. I don't want to see those guys any more. They make me sick, literally. Last time I came back to the ward all queasy and threw up all afternoon. Can you ban them? Adam's cute, but I'm more into the music right now.

I think that's better for my own personal recovery.

Scene 9: Adam tells Jared about his problem.

Jared, I'm scared of disappearing. I must maintain my size, and I'm always hungry. Lucky I still have my bus boy job. I scoop leftovers off customer's plates and into doggy bags. My boss doesn't like it. "I have to eat," I tell her. "Why waste perfectly good food?" There's thoughts of shrinkage in my mind when I wake up at night, like maybe a PTSD, man. Everything looming over me, your gigantic nostrils with those tree-like hairs sticking out. And that humungous honey eyedropper. Brutal. My heart pounds til I realize I'm back to normal. Thanks for all your help, buddy. That was dedication.

You say they won't let me see Holly, they said I exploited her? No way, Jared. She was all over me. What do they call it? Ravenous. That's it. I've never been so totally consumed, man. This time, I want to shrink her. Show her what it's like. The greatest feeling, amigo. Like no rush you've ever had. Like a total freedom Niagra Falls whoosh. I got to go cold turkey on the small myself though. Too many side effects. It's not easy. Either I'm the shrinker or the shrinkee. Can't be normal ever again. I can meet some other girl, but Holly knows the score. She's experienced.

What are you doing Jared? Taking those pills again? Those benzos are addictive, man. Stick to marijuana is my recommendation.

They say you've got to have something substantial inside or you're hollow, you're an empty vessel. You tell me Holly says for her it's music. The more she plays, the more complete she feels. Well, for me it's love. That's what I need, Jared. The rush of love. That's my problem, man, complete with side effects. You are right. There's always side effects.

What do you need, Jared? To fill you up? I think you need more than pills, my friend. We all need more than pills.

Article © Harrison Kim. All rights reserved.
Published on 2019-12-30
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
2 Reader Comments
10:26:54 AM
Far out funny story, everybody needs something to fill themselves with, to complete his or her life, or just to stay sane he he.
Eric Robert Nolan
06:23:45 PM
This is a wickedly engaging little surreal tale.  It seems to have a lot to things to say about predation and about our self-destructive desire to fill the void within ourselves with others.  I know that many writers say that we "should never begin with dialogue," but I never held that be true.  And your opening here truly drew me in.
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