What if you could take a pill to make yourself fall madly in love with someone, forever? That's sort of part of the premise of my story "Complicated and Stupid," which is up at Strange Horizons now. Plus there's a pornstar who headbutts her partners during sex, and the pornstar's pet gerbil.
And yes, this story's title is taken from the Lady Gaga song, "LoveGame."
Top image: Ben McKune/Flickr
I apologize for pimping two of my short stories so close together — "Complicated and Stupid" got published the same week as "Victimless Crimes," which I pimped a couple weeks ago. I basically published almost no short fiction in 2012 and the first half of 2013, and now I have a bunch of stories coming out all at once, due to the weirdness of publishing. It's like buses.
In any case, "Complicated and Stupid" is pretty short, and it has everything: drugs, sex, gerbils, mad science and environmentalism. Basically, a man wants to fall back in love with his wife, so he goes to see his doctor — who is in love with the pornstar. The pornstar, meanwhile is in love with the gerbil. (No, not like that. Ewww.)
Here's how it begins:
Benjamin Furst went to his doctor and said, "I want to fall in love with my wife again." Benjamin had read some story about a poet who re-fell in love with his wife, after decades of marriage. And then they both died.
"So you don't love her now?" The doctor was a gray-haired woman with a tongue piercing and a faded bluebird tattoo on one exposed forearm. She wore a white coat over a lacy halter top and hotpants. She kept looking down Benjamin's throat with a penlight as if his malaise could be pharyngeal.
"I do, I do," Benjamin said when he could talk. "I love her so much. I just want to be in love with her again. I want that grand passion. I don't want it with a new person, I want it with her." He perched on the exam table, the paper gown and fluorescent light making his pale skin look jaundiced. He had sandy hair threaded with gray. And huge, perfectly round ears.
Benjamin spent his days trying to come up with a formula for artificial Sangria that tasted more like real fruit, as far as anyone remembered how fruit tasted. He could not remember a time when he hadn't been on the brink of losing his job.
Dr. Minter kept beaming her light into the red recesses of Benjamin's throat, like a spelunker searching for a fallen comrade.
"You know," she said, "wanting to make yourself love someone so you can feel good is a kind of codependency. You have to have a reason for loving someone besides just wanting to be in love."
"Aaa ooo," Benjamin protested. "Aaa uhhhh aaaa iiiiiii." As he gaped, he thought about Lori, and random images came into his head: her disintegrating pleather shoes, her skin-care products, a pile of her limbs as she curled on a chair.
Read the rest over at Strange Horizons.