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Mark Budman

The Fifty-Year Old Virgin

Translated from the original Russian.
The Scribe by Arthur Szyk

Misha, a man of fifty and no longer a virgin, sits in an eatery in China Town and eats General Tso’s chicken. He is usually afraid of fried meat, but today he needs the comfort food. He is too excited. Three days ago, he did what had been eluding him all his adult life. A woman, relatively young and even a little beautiful, did that with him and even enjoyed it. This is what she said. Would a woman with such honest eyes lie? They were so close that they breathed into each other’s faces. Mila Coleman, and in Russian Mila Kapustina. What a wonderful name. What a wonderful Russian-American writer. When they finished, she kissed him on the cheek.

His editor, who knows and sees everything, was also delighted. Good job, the editor said, slamming Misha on the shoulder and giving a gum stick. “You pissed against the wind, and your pants are still dry. I’m sorry I called you an old fool”.

Even now, three days later, Misha’s slammed shoulder hurts. And he kept the gum stick intact. He needs to chew on that.

The man who is no longer a virgin pushes the plate with the half-eaten chicken away, and opens the newspaper again. Here it is, the proof that a woman with the charming name Mila popped the cherry of his newbie writer’s virginity. His first interview. His cheek still keeps the warmth of her lips and a trace of her lipstick, and will keep them either forever or until the next interview, whichever comes first.


About the writer:
Mark Budman was born in the former Soviet Union. His writing appeared in Five Points, PEN, American Scholar, Huffington Post, World Literature Today, Daily Science Fiction, Mississippi Review, Virginia Quarterly, The London Magazine (UK), McSweeney’s, Sonora Review, Another Chicago, Sou’wester, Southeast Review, Mid-American Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Short Fiction (UK), and elsewhere. He is the publisher of the flash fiction magazine Vestal Review. His novel My Life at First Try was published by Counterpoint Press. He  co-edited flash fiction anthologies from Ooligan Press and Persea Books/Norton.

Image: The Scribe by Arthur Szyk (1894-1951). No medium specified. No size specified. 1927. By free license.

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