I've heard it said that best friends make the worst enemies. Sometimes, through circumstance, the opposite becomes true. For as long as I can remember, Dean McEnroe and I had been trying to outdo one another. We'd worked so hard at it that an inevitable bond had formed between us. Now, five years out of high school, Dean was the only graduate from my class that I talked to on-line. Underneath the barbs and mutual mockery, we'd shared the last half decade of our lives with each other through instant messages, his life oddly mirroring mine: our jobs, studies, even coming out of the closet.

Yet now, as I stood at his doorstep, I had to reassure myself that things had changed in the intervening years. We were adults now, at least nominally. I'd done well at Cornell and had a successful job, and was a far cry from the boy who'd gotten a black eye from Dean a week before graduation. My fight with the freshman fifteen had turned into a love affair with the gym that had blessed me with solid, lean muscle on my 5'8 frame. I had grown up.

Funny, though, the first thought I had when Dean opened the door to his condo was to flinch. I cupped my balls, expecting an oncoming blow.

"You all right?" he asked, grinning.

I chuckled back, straightening up. "Figured you'd cup check me or something."

"Nah, man," he said. "That was high school."

I noticed he was looking up at me, slightly. When last I'd seen him, we were the same height. We were no longer the mirror image people had declared us in high school: Dean was a little shorter, a bit more slender than my 155 pounds. He'd certainly kept fit, but his build was more suited to running than weightlifting. His skin was darker than mine, California tan next to East Coast pallor. Other than that, I definitely had a leg up. It made me smile to myself.

He was mostly as I remembered. His reddish-brown hair was cut short and spiked, combining with the tan to make his grey eyes seem brighter. He had exceptionally white teeth, and a solid, square jaw. We looked a lot alike.

"Nice place," I said, pulling my eyes away from him.

He'd done well, considering that he was just graduating from a state university and wasn't getting any support from his parents. They, like mine, had vaporized when we came out of the closet. The condo wasn't expansive, but it was nothing to scoff about. Dean had typical collegiate tastes: big electronics and cheap, utilitarian furniture. I marveled for a moment at the 60" television that dominated the living room.

"It's not bad, just a two-bedroom. Didn't have much use for my college fund going to San Cristobal, so I figured I'd invest."

"Right, state college. How was graduation?" I asked.

He shrugged. "Nothing fancy. I'm sure Cornell's was awesome."

I scanned his face for a hint of the restrained hurt and envy that would have once accompanied such a comment, but saw nothing. Maybe Dean had grown up a bit, too.

"Well, Ivy League, you know," I mumbled.

"Yeah," he responded.

After a brief silent moment, he led me out of the living room and down a short hallway, narrating as we went. "Laundry's off to the right, and here's the guest bedroom. We'll share the bathroom, I guess. I'll let you settle in. I've still got to go to the gym today. You're more than welcome to come with. Maybe we can go out clubbing tonight. San Diego's got crap for clubs, but you've gotta do something while you're out here."

"I didn't bring any gym clothes," I admitted.

"You can borrow some of mine," he responded.

"Sounds good."


I tried on a couple of Dean's shirts before I gave up.

"Your stuff is too small," I called through the bathroom door.

"We're the same size," came the muffled response.

I pushed open the door, wearing nothing but my boxers. Dean, standing there in basketball shorts and a frame-hugging t-shirt, sucked in a breath.

"Holy crap," he blurted. "Have you been doping or something?"

"No," I responded, bouncing my pecs a little. They were tight and hard, and I liked how they stretched the fabric of my shirt. "Just the gym five days a week. You look like you're not doing too bad," I assured him. I squeezed his slimmer arm.

He pulled it away. "Yeah, I'm working on it."

Dean spun away hastily, muttering something about needing to get a towel, but as he turned away, I noticed the hardon starting to tent his shiny basketball shorts. I was a little turned on myself: Dean had a taut, lean body and even in high school I'd realized he was pretty cute. More than that, the thought of having moved past my old rival physically gave me a wicked little thrill.

As I shut the door, I breathed out a small sigh. That hadn't been the sort of awkward moment I'd been expecting with Dean. I'd expected the occasional awkward silence about Cornell, or weak laughter at the pranks we'd pulled on each other back before college. Sexual tension was a new element to this stay. My dick, still thinking on its own terms, grew into a sizeable lump in the front of my boxers.

I took a few deep breaths and thought of puppies for a while before I could safely leave the bathroom. As I did, Dean threw me a towel. He was all smiles again.

"So, none of my shirts fit?" he asked.

"None. Don't worry about it, I'm sure I've got something I can get sweaty in."

I hurried into the guest bedroom and grabbed a black wifebeater out of a drawer. As I put it on, I admired the way it highlighted the taper from my solid shoulders to my slender waist. My legs needed a little work, but I told myself perfection took time.

At the gym, I worked hard. In retrospect, I showed off. When he pulled a pair of 30-pound weights to do curls with, I grabbed the 35s. I topped his bench press max by 20 pounds and demurred when he gawked at how easily I was pressing the weights. A couple of times during the workout, he seemed lost in his head, and more than a few, I caught him adjusting himself.

I was finishing my last set of concentration curls as he squatted down next to the bench, grinning.

"Say, how big are those bad boys, anyway?"

I set the weight down on the ground and flexed my biceps in front of his face. Even I was a little surprised at how big they mounded up. I made the firm baseball of muscle jump a couple of times.

"About that big. What about yours?"

He flexed his arm, and a solid goose egg of muscle popped up. It was nicely shaped, but didn't hold a candle to my guns.

"Wow, mine are like, 13 inches. I tried measuring, but you really need someone to help out with that. But yours look like they're way bigger, man," Dean gushed. "Over 14 at least. Bet I could still take you in armwrestling, though."

I shrugged. "I dunno, bud. I've been working out like a motherfucker. Maybe some time, though."

He wanted to shower there. I always got a little horny after workouts, and, friend or no, I didn't want to have any more boner time with Dean. He seemed disappointed, but didn't argue when I said I didn't like showering in front of other people. We drove back to his place, stopping on the way to get some beers.

It was getting dark by the time we got home. We pulled up to the drive in Dean's old black Mustang, and he let out a curse. He hopped out of the car and ran up to the door. I followed a moment later, beer in tow, and let out an answering, "Shit."

"What kind of shithole turns the water off on a Friday night?" He held up the handwritten note that had been taped to the door.

"Wow, the whole night? That's pretty dicked," I said, after reading the paper.

"Well, I'm sure as hell not going out clubbing smelling like this," he growled, taking a whiff of his armpit.

"I've been meaning to talk to you about that," I chuckled.

He pushed in through the front door ahead of me, throwing down his gym bag. "I'm sorry, man," he said. "We can go clubbing tomorrow night."

I shrugged. "So... beer and TV?"

"Beer and TV," he agreed.


"I'm bored," I admitted, midway through the fifth episode of Family Guy and my ninth beer.

"So you got something to look at while you're talkin' to 'em," Dean parroted the character on the set, cackling. He cut off abruptly. "Yeah, I'm bored, too."

"Might as well get some sleep."

"Hey," he asked, perking up. "You wanna armwrestle?"

I smirked. "Wouldn't be fair." I started toward the guest room.

"Guess you're just afraid," Dean said, almost as if to himself.

I spun on my heel, stumbling a little. "What?"

"Of losing, I mean," he said. I turned around. His face was split by a shit-eating grin.

"Oh, hell no." I showed him my right biceps again. They were still swollen and pumped from the gym. "Do these look like they're going to lose?"

"Only one way to find out," he responded.

"Well, then," I shouted, sitting at his small dinner table and getting my arm in position, "Let's do this, fucker."

He hurried over, but halted before sitting down. "Hold on. How about a bet?"

"Lunch?" I asked, eager now.

"C'mon," he said. "We're two red-blooded gay guys. Loser has to lick the winner's dick."

My jaw dropped. "Hell no, man, that's just wrong!"

"So you think you're going to lose, then."

I cursed. "You're on."

He let out an evil laugh. "We're going left-handed."

"Fine, I'll still kick your ass," I told him.

The moment he put his hand in mine, I knew I was going to win. His grip was weaker than I remembered, barely able to dent mine. And up close, it was obvious that my forearm was solid and strong; his, merely lean.

He threw all of his weight behind the first push, like he'd done back when we were in high school. Unlike then, though, I resisted easily before retaliating with a burst of force that sent his arm flying toward the table.

Somewhere, he found the strength to resist. Veins and tendons popped out of his forearm and biceps as he struggled against the superior force of my arm. I raised my eyes to meet his, and my mouth split into a fierce rictus as I watched effort and hopelessness meet on his brow.

I toyed with him, letting up a bit so he could bring our arms both upright. His eyes widened at the sudden reversal. A moment later, I crushed his triumph. Marshalling all my strength, I sent his arm slamming to the table.

He let out a rush of breath, cradling his arm.

I stood and threw my arms into a victory pose, not even bothering to say anything as I took a drunken victory leap toward my room. I made it about halfway.

A solid weight hit me in the back, knocking me down. Dean's voice rasped in my ear. "Rematch, winner takes all," he grunted, trying to pin me.

I'd forgotten. He didn't take losing well.

I reversed the hold and rolled so that he was between me and the floor. "You're on," I coughed.

We tussled over the soft carpet, once narrowly avoiding the television. I'd expected an easy fight, but my head was clouded with alcohol and Dean was more agile than I would have given him credit for. Every time I got him into a hold, he'd slip out like a fox avoiding a trap.

As the match went on, something changed in our demeanors. Now, as he broke a hold, he would let out an animalistic grunt. I narrowly stopped myself from giving him a brutal kidney punch. My heart pounded and my blood sang as we battled.

Suddenly, one of my arms as pinned behind my back, followed swiftly by the other. I bucked my legs, but Dean caught them in a quick scissor-hold. I hadn't given him enough credit. He had strong legs. Struggle as I might, I could not get free. I let out a roar that grew more furious as I heard Dean laughing.

My face burned with humiliation as he maneuvered himself on top of my chest, locking his legs around me. He held my hands to my sides easily, and put a hand over my mouth to stifle my furious cries.

"Time to pay up," he whispered. His voice sounded hollow, if eager.

The front of his basketball shorts was tented out, the head of his five and a half inch cock outlined in darker red. Blood rose hotter in my face as I felt my own eight inches leap underneath him. Dean let out a soft moan.

He moved his body forward, the friction sending sparks of pleasure through my erect cock. I let out a muffled howl, pleading through his hand for him to stop. His legs tightened even more around me.

Dean's eyes had gone distant. I gasped for breath, but it was as if the weight on my chest were increasing. Dean's package was right before my eyes, looking larger up close. As I watched in horror, it pulsed even a little bigger, and Dean's legs tightened in unison.

My gaze darted to them. His quads were bigger than before, almost as big as mine. I stared up at Dean, his tight shirt straining over his pumped muscles. He looked like a Greek god, cruel and lusty, from my vantage point. His face was haloed by the luminescence of the ceiling light, but I could see his eyes burning like coals.

Heedless of my cries, he pulled down the front of his boxers, allowing his cock to pop out and bob before my nose. As the engorged purple head rubbed against my cheek, a wave of shame ran through me. At that same moment, it seemed as if a surge of power thrummed through Dean. His legs' grip on me strengthened, becoming painful. His cock pulsed larger, well beyond six inches, now. There was a faint tearing sound.

My eyes traveled up. The shoulder of his grey workout shirt had split at the seam. Moreover, the shirt looked a size too small for him. Solid pecs protruded through the front, pulling up the lower hem so that it revealed an expanse of cobbled abdominals highlighted by a sheen of sweat. His biceps strained the sleeves, and they weren't even flexed. He looked easily as big as I was.

"Lick it," he insisted, ignoring my cries.

His cock battered against my lips, my struggles causing it to bounce and swell more. I could taste his precum. I still felt him getting heavier. More sounds of tearing cloth joined the first, and he let out an exultant moan of pleasure. Try as I might, I couldn't get away from him as he began to cum.

Through a growing haze of blackness, I could feel him growing larger still. He was definitely bigger than I, now. He held my body effortlessly. I felt hot, wet, bursts spatter against my crimson face. And silhouetted against the overhead light, I saw a muscular figure raise his arms into a victory flex, softball-sized biceps exploding through the seams of his shirt. Despite my horror, my hips bucked against the hard expanse and I came.


I was dead. I was sure of it.

Bright light surrounded me, tore through every fabric of my being. I lay on billowing clouds, unable or deeply unwilling to move. I stayed this way for a long time, bereft of the simple ability to move. Soft music played somewhere else, not quite the heavenly choruses I was expecting. It sounded like Muse.

My mind was hazy. It wouldn't work right. Like a clock missing a gear that continues to fruitlessly tick the same second over again, I was caught on one thought, something I couldn't entirely fathom. I dug at that half-formed image, and discovered pain.

All at once awareness of agony flared up and down my body. My muscles felt sore from exertion, but that was the least of it. Flame erupted down my ribs as I stirred. They weren’t broken, but definitely battered. In fact, I couldn’t find part of my body that didn’t feel as if it had been through a meat grinder. Pain helped me think more clearly, though.

It came back in fits and spurts. Meeting Dean after five years absent, his surprise at my newly improved physique, the way I’d shown off at the gym. Everything got a bit cloudy after that, and I couldn’t be sure where reality ended and the feverish dreams of the night before began. Flashes of muscle, swelling and hard and pulsing with raised veins, assailed me suddenly. I took a deep breath and banished the nightmares, even as blood rushed to my groin.

I scrubbed at my eyes and was unsurprised to find them puffy and caked with grit. I’d not had the most relaxing of nights. Opening them was more of a strain. My eyes watered and throbbed at the blazing light coming through the nearby window. Right. There had also been beer, lots of beer.

I forced myself to get up. I hadn’t been lying on clouds, after all. Just a very comfortable bed. The trip to the window was an ordeal where it should have been effortless, but I succeeded in closing the blinds. Slowly, my headache began to recede.

I needed a shower, I told myself. I still stank of sweat and old beer. The water had been out last night, I recalled. That was why we had stayed home. Stayed home and—no, I shook my head. Just a bad dream. Grabbing some clothes from my suitcase, I stumbled into the bathroom and shut the door.

The shower whined, high-pitched when I turned it on. Peeling off my clothes, I was reassured that I looked marginally better than I felt. I cupped one pectoral and flexed it, hard, enjoying the way the muscle lifted into firm separations under my skin. My hand had a mind of its own, and trailed down the ridges of my six-pack to the lump waiting in my shorts below. No, it was someone else’s place. I couldn’t just jerk off in the bathroom.

I pulled my shorts down with forced detachment, ignoring the way all seven and a half inches of me sprang to thick attention. My boxers came away from my pubes with some effort, revealing a splotch of dried white dust. Apparently, my dreams of the night before had been pretty fantastic. Before steam completely obscured the mirror, I was able to see that I had just a few bruises. Maybe I’d gotten drunk and fallen down some stairs. One of the guys at Cornell had done that, and it’d earned him a trip to the emergency room.

Almost painfully hot, the water loosened my tight muscles as soon as I was in the shower. Lathering myself up with Dean’s body wash did the rest. My inhibitions, like the soap suds, swirled down the drain.
I was damn proud of my body, and maybe a bit narcissistic. Normally, though, I didn’t get so excited from playing with myself. There was something else projected over my thoughts: muscled legs, tight around me. The image of a throbbing, growing cock within reach of my tongue, and someone taunting me. With a bit of body wash, I slicked myself up and began stroking myself in earnest, feeling the desperation spreading from my concrete-hard dick.

I didn’t hear him come in.

“Sorry, man,” Dean’s voice said. It sounded hoarse, deeper, like he had a cold. “Only one bathroom, remember?”

I held my dick close against my body, turning my back to him. The glass of the shower was frosted, so there was at least a chance he hadn’t seen. My face heated, but my erection refused to go down.

Dean washed his face in the sink at a leisurely pace, humming to himself. He stopped with a curse, muttering, “Hey, I need to grab my shaving cream.”

With no concern for my modesty, he turned and threw open the shower door. I let out a squeal like a stuck pig. I’ve blushed countless times, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt my entire body go red with embarrassment. I covered myself and kept my back to him, but there was no disguising the size of my erection.

“Crap, man, I’m sorry,” Dean said, but there was a broad grin on his face that only furthered my humiliation. He paid no heed to my modesty as he reached across me, grabbing his shaving cream. “Busy? I’ll let you get back to that. Something wrong?”

My eyes were locked on his arm. Solid and thick, veins snaked over its tanned surface. It was not the arm that I remembered. My dick jumped.

“Fu—uhh,” I cried, and it was the only warning either of us had before I came. Gouts of my spunk splattered against the tiles of the wall. There was no way Dean had missed that.

He backed away, apologizing, but his voice was strained by the laughter he was trying to hold back. If I’d been hot before, I was on fire now. Dean ducked out of the bathroom, saying that he’d shave later. As soon as the door shut behind him, I could hear baritone laughter ringing out in the hallway. But hadn’t Dean been a baritone?
I shook my head. No, some things just did not happen. Sinking back against the other wall, the one I hadn’t painted, I sighed.

The shower performed miracles for my bruises and my hangover. It didn’t do much for my shame. Rationalization, my greatest skill, helped with that. I was a gay man. So was Dean. We were both reasonably attractive. It was so far from the worst thing either of us had seen. By the time I was dressed, I was mostly fine again.

Dean awaited me out in the hall, trying on a wifebeater. He was reaching back behind his neck, trying to pull off the store tag. There was something very different about him. It hit home when he stepped over to me for some help.

“Can you get this off?” he asked.

“You’re taller,” I breathed.

“Uh, duh,” said Dean. “5’9, just like always. Just got some new clothes, though. Been going crazy in the gym lately, you know? Kept ruining my size Smalls from college.”

I nodded, dumbly. His biceps mounded up into a stony baseball as he made another grab for the tag. A dark blue vein crawled over the muscle. That hadn’t been there last night, I was sure of it. But Dean was acting as if everything was normal.

“Some help, man, come on,” he urged. “At least you’re already dressed to hit the weights. I want to make it back before 4.”

I positioned myself behind him and yanked the tag off. The breadth of his back, highlighted by the tight dark shirt, was something I knew I would have remembered from the day before. Why would I have ever tried to armwrestle this guy, when he clearly outmuscled me by a good twenty pounds?

“Man, the gym, I can’t. I’m sore from… did I fall down some stairs?”

“We wrestled,” he said. “Last night.”

“We wrestled and—“

“Yeah,” said Dean. “I was just as surprised as you. Told you it wouldn’t be fair. I think you hit your head pretty hard. You sure you’re all right?” When I nodded, he pushed, “Come on, let’s go to the gym. You’ll feel better afterward. I know I will.”

On the drive over, I couldn’t keep myself from noticing the play of muscles on his solid, rock-hard shoulders. Even though he wasn’t precisely flexing, striations twitched and formed with every movement of his hand on the wheel. I tried to keep myself from getting hard, but the best I could manage was a semi that was not easily hidden by the folds of my gym shorts. Dean showed no indication that he was aware of anything other than the road.

The gym did not make me feel better, but it did wonders for Dean. I went right for the weight rack and grabbed my customary 35-pounders, relishing the feel of my biceps pumping up. They nearly looked as big as Dean’s. But he wasn’t content with 35 on each arm. No, he went for the 50s, and started curling them with ease. He caught me staring, and grinned.

“Stronger than I thought,” he said, putting the weights down. He looked even bigger than he had in the car, but maybe that was the pump.

Next he went for the 60s. Those, at least, seemed a challenge. Dean seemed as impressed with himself as I was. A glance at his shorts told me that he was definitely excited.

I didn’t even feel comfortable spotting him on the bench press. Not only was it too much weight for me to handle comfortably, I was sporting wood of my own by this point.

Dean pushed the bar up a few times, animalistic grunts punctuating his lifts. His new shirt looked a little strained, whereas I could have sworn that it fit—snugly, but comfortably—before. He had reached five presses before his arms started to shake, and I feared he was going to drop it.

“Dude, you were thinking about me when you jerked it earlier, weren’t you,” he growled, loud enough for me to hear.

My boner leapt in my pants, and humiliation roared through me. At the same time, Dean growled. He pressed the weight up quickly, all 265 pounds, and managed ten more reps before setting it clanging back down.

He stood with a triumphant snarl and flexed in the mirror. His shirt groaned and several threads popped by the side of one of his pumped pecs. I looked at the two of us. I wasn’t in the same league as him. He was built like a genius, every muscle pumped and defined. And he sure wasn’t just an inch taller than me. More like three. He looked down at me, his shorts tented.

“I need to go to the bathroom,” he said in a new, deep baritone.

At least there was no one in the gym to see me as he left. My legs couldn’t support me. Confusion set my brain whirling like a merry-go-round. I sat, hard, on the bench, almost tripping on something.

His wallet lay on the ground, discarded when he’d sat down at the bench. I reached down for it and flipped it open.

“Dean McEnroe,” said his driver’s license. I scanned over the surface. It had only been issued a couple of weeks ago. Fifteen days, to be exact. My breath seized when I saw the height. “5’6.”

I dropped the wallet a moment before I saw Dean’s big mass heading out of the bathroom. He took a glance at himself in the mirror and his face let up with a hard smile.

We got home, as he’d planned, early in the afternoon. Now that I knew I wasn’t going crazy, it was hard for me to fake the confusion that Dean was looking for. Perhaps foolishly, I waited to confront him until we got home. He was chugging down a protein shake when I made my move.

“You’re lying about everything,” I said, fury keeping my voice clear and still.

He finished his sip, wiped his mouth, and set the cup down. “Man, took you long enough. I can’t believe you fell for that shit.”

“I—I don’t understand.”

“What’s not to understand?” He flexed an arm, the pumped muscle swelling up easily half again the size of mine. “I mean, fucking look at me. You’ve made me into a stud.”

I shook my head. “No, no—fuck that. This sort of thing just does not happen!”

“That’s what I thought. San Cristobal, man,” he said, coming around the counter. “You know the stories about that place, all of that horror story shit. Satanic burial ground, witches, crazy stuff. I thought it was all just bull, too. That was when I met the demon—“

“Quit fucking with me, Dean!” I yelled, my voice no longer steady.

He edged closer. “It told me its name was Shift. Stupid name, right? But it said it would give me whatever I wanted. I just had to do one simple thing for it. A service, it said. It was just a simple note, man. In return, he said he’d change me. Looks like he wasn’t lying. And I think I know what triggers it.”

There he was, blocking my field of vision. He was crazy, for sure, but he seemed perfectly rational. And big, so inexplicably big. I felt something brush my groin. His dick pressed up against mine, struggling to get out of its fabric prison. My memories of last night, no longer in doubt, had not done his dick justice. It was almost as big as mine.

“The best thing is that you want it, too. I never thought you’d love being dominated like this.” His arms reached around me, tightened. I struggled against him, but it was like fighting steel girders. Panic and self-loathing warred within me: there was part of me that enjoyed this. That part was rubbing up against Dean’s crotch. And then he shoved me up against the wall, knocking the wind out of my lungs.

I gasped for breath, but through my disorientation I heard his shirt starting to give way.

“You want to blow me, don’t you,” he said, his voice husky. “My new, big cock.” One big hand fumbled with the waistband of his shorts, pulling them down.

It was definitely bigger.

“It’s almost as big as mine,” I hissed in disbelief.

“Almost!?” he shouted, pushing me back again. This time he yanked at my shorts until they fell down around my ankles. My cock bobbed before me.

He pushed his up against mine, and sure enough, his was just a fraction of an inch smaller. But then he flexed his huge chest in front of me, overstrained shirt giving way with a hundred tiny tears, and roared, “I’m practically a god, and you’re just a pathetic fucking worm.”

That was all it took. His cock surged larger, thicker, longer, until it was pressing painfully into my groin. I stared into his hungry eyes, my vision blocked by his hulking form, and I couldn’t hold back the spasms of pleasure that leapt through me.

“You’re making me so huge. I’m going to be a fucking bodybuilder, man. You have no idea how this feels,” he rumbled.

I started to cum.

Answering euphoria practically knocked him off his feet. He stumbled backwards, muscles swelling and refining visually in the wake of my final surrender, his feet exploding through his shoes with a pop. Wild with the throes of his growth, his eyes were still famished for more. I knew I had to run.

No man would refuse godhood.

I fled.

His bass bellows followed me as I dashed through the house, grabbing only my keys, wallet, and cell phone. He did not pursue me out to the car; perhaps he was growing even still, evolving into something yet larger, more powerful—more beautiful than the bodybuilder’s proportions he’d already maintained.

It was easier, once I made it back to New York, to pretend it all had never happened. A cross-country drive gives you a long time to slip back into denial.

And so I slipped back in to the comforting routine. Gym, work, sleep, going out to the clubs. Applied for graduate school at my alma mater, and got in. Upstate New York is peaceful, and nothing if not tame.

And boring. Curiosity eventually won out, and I would look him up on Myspace. He’d deleted his profile, and never saw fit to create another. He never signed on to instant messages, either. It was as if Dean McEnroe had never existed. If I hadn’t been able to find his tanned, smiling face in my yearbook, I would have thought him an idle fancy.

That is, my psychiatrist tells me, how the mind tries to cope with things it can’t understand.

It was all fine until the instant message came through. “Sent from my Apple iPhone,” it told me. And it was Dean’s screen name.

“Man,” it said. “You should see me now. No one else does for me the way you did. But there are a lot of guys who get a thrill out of being humiliated, especially by someone of my size. I’m 6’6, now, and growing. My biceps are up to 22 inches. And my cock is almost double the size of yours, now. Almost. You’ll see. You were hard to track down.”

I shut the IM window, my blood frozen instantly to ice.

The doorbell rang.