Fiction

Hard Copy

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 FICTION





Hard Copy by Steven Brykman

  



The first time Jim fucked a photocopy machine was back in the spring of ’89. Perhaps “fucked” is too strong a word to capture what had transpired. Indeed, in Jim’s mind, they had a mutually respectful relationship. Jim was always loyal to the machine, always attentive to its needs, allowing it to power down for one hour each day at noon, as recommended on the quick reference card. Jim even brought it flowers once in a tall Bud bottle.

    
“Porked” suggests the affair was not kosher. To say he “copulated” with the copier is physiologically incorrect. Was Jim “making love” to the copier? Probably not. Despite the deep affection Jim developed, he eventually came to understand that what he had felt was not, in reality, love. The phrase “having sex with” the copier would work if not for the preposition “with” which suggests the photocopier was having sex back. To say Jim “raped” the copier is out of the question. Jim’s approach was nothing if not gentle. And certainly, it offered no resistance to his advances.

    
If one wanted to be truly accurate about things, one could only say with certainty (leaving all biases on word choice aside) that what happened on that particular night in ’89 was that Jim “damaged” the copy machine.




As assistant manager of the Fourteenth Street Kinko’s, Jim had in his care the operation of six copy machines and one oversized Canon blueprint reproducer. At first, he found the work purposeless and hard on his feet, but you couldn’t beat the benefits package. After a while, Jim created little games for himself to keep his interest up, like keeping at least one of the copiers going at all times. When that was no longer a challenge, he increased the number to two, then four. He soon found it easy to keep five of the six machines constantly in operation. He learned to listen for the subtle change in pitch each machine made as it neared the end of its copy run.

    
It didn’t take long for Jim to figure out which photocopier was the best: the Sanyo LS34334, a small, unassuming-looking Japanese model manufactured in the early ’80s. It didn’t have the hip sleekness of the Panasonic 298T42LX, nor the hi-tech active color matrix control panels of the Minolta BS427, but Sanyo copy was always clean, sharp and well-centered. The Sanyo rarely jammed, the copies were never toner-stained and the contrast was always right on. If the original was faint, the Sanyo compensated, as if by intuition.

    
It was only natural for Jim to prefer the Sanyo over the other machines. But what began as a general preference gradually turned into something more. On one Thursday, the store was especially busy and Jim was called upon to take over a difficult copy job. The originals were way too dark, and the typeface was crooked. He knew he could straighten it out, no problem, but when he turned from the customer and saw Greg standing next to the Sanyo with an 800-page copy run already going, Jim felt something. It was more than just frustration at not being able to use the machine. He excused himself and went to the restroom, where, after a moment of quiet introspection, Jim realized he was jealous.

    
See, the Sanyo had its own song. When it was in the middle of a copy run, it played a percussive rhythm you could dance to, like one of those music machines from the 1920’s with a piano roll, a woodblock, a tambourine and a slot in the side with a sign that says, “Two Bits.” CLICK CHICK KACHANG CANK WHOO SHUP KATICATACK. CLICK CHICK KACHANG CANK WHOO SHUP KATICATACK. Every night, Jim’s head was filled with an image of the Sanyo clacking, humming and pumping out copies, which he counted off like soporific leaping sheep.

    
One early morning at three a.m., Jim was alone in the store, busy with a 700 copy order of a promotional mailer for Alexander’s Pizza. Sanyo was chugging along tirelessly, as usual. Jim, on the other hand, was exhausted. He leaned against the machine to check how many pages it had left to copy. Jim’s eyes shivered with sleepiness and before he realized, the vibrations of the machine against his crotch had given him an enormous erection. Jim stepped away from the machine. He hadn’t seen a customer in over four hours. He locked the entrance, dimmed the lights and turned to Sanyo. The soft glow of the exterior flood lamps through the windows rounded the copier’s hard edges and lent a rosy hue to its eggshell exterior. No doubt about it — Sanyo was downright sexy. Jim strode past the more squarely masculine Canons and Ricohs, shutting the power down on each machine as he passed.

    
He caressed Sanyo’s ventilation slits, pressed his palms against Sanyo’s sides, then firmly tugged on her paper tray. It gave way to his pull. Jim dramatically ripped open and fanned a ream of paper, its gentle breeze ruffling his hair. He filled the tray with paper, not just to the full line, but past it — right up to the edge of the tray — and solidly, but considerately, pushed the paper cassette into Sanyo’s port. She was packed full, practically brimming.

    
The increased weight of the paper tray caused Sanyo’s internal feeder to sit lower in the slot carriage and buzz against the vibrating drive-relay mechanism, making the machine hum and jitter. Jim was sweating nervously as he unbuttoned his trousers. He lowered his boxer shorts to his ankles, and his engorged penis sprung forth.

           

  




©2000
Steven Brykman and Nerve.com

 FICTION










    
He lay his erection on Sanyo’s warm copyboard glass, lowered the lid and was lovingly enveloped in a generous cushion of polypropylene latex foam. He made time for Sanyo, answering all her questions:

    
“Number of Copies?”

    
“2000”

    
“Contrast? ”

    
“Medium”

    
“Magnification?”

    
“100%”

    
“Letter/Legal?”

    
“Legal”

    
“Collate?”

    
“Yes.”

    
“Auto Staple?”

    
“Yes.” Oh God, yes.

    
Her copy button went from red to green. Jim carefully slid open Sanyo’s control panel door and passed his hand over it until he felt the warm glow of the copy button beneath his fingertips. The button’s heat sensor registered the subtle rise in ambient temperature and set the paper rollers in motion before Jim’s finger even made contact with the button — as if the copier had been awaiting his touch. Sanyo began to rumble and throb.

    
The hot copy lamp passed back and forth along the shaft of his penis. The photocopies fluttered one by one along the hairs of his thighs as they collated. Struggling to maintain control, Jim played with Sanyo’s settings: he tweaked the machine up to full contrast, cranked the magnification to 300 percent and flipped Sanyo’s paper orientation to vertical. The copy lamp burned more intensely and passed faster and faster along his fully tumescent member. With the ejection of each photocopy, Jim could hear Sanyo’s self-lubricating motor squirt oil over her paper pick-off fingers.

    
A red indicator light on Sanyo’s top panel blinked, “Toner Low.” Their time together had been precious, the Sanyo seemed to be saying, but like all things, it had its bounds.

    
This was all the encouragement Jim needed. He tightened his grip, thrust his pelvis hard against panel C and reached orgasm, ejaculating across Sanyo’s glass. And just at the right time, too, for all at once Sanyo’s engine powered down and the copier lay still. She had run out of paper. Twelve hundred and fifty-six copies, perfectly collated, and not a single paper jam. What a machine.



The next day, something was unquestionably amiss with the Sanyo. The copies were coming out poorly centered and splotchy.

    
Frank, the repairman, didn’t wait for an introduction. He yanked Sanyo’s panel A open and, brandishing a mini-Maglite, boldly thrust his head inside. Jesus Christ! Jim thought, He’s feeling her up right here in the store! What does he know of Sanyo? Does he come to work every morning, five-thirty, sometimes five o’clock, after only an hour or two of sleep, simply to be the first one to turn her on? Jim exhaled slowly. This man was a specialist, he reassured himself, a surgeon of sorts. The relationship between him and the Sanyo was purely professional. Frank must see hundreds of similar photocopiers each day. No matter what Frank did, Jim had to keep in mind, Sanyo was just a machine to him — and nothing more.

    
Frank pulled a small handcrafted leather tool pouch from his duffel bag and put on a pair of rubber gloves. Jim was comforted — no direct contact would occur. “Remember,” Frank said, waving a cotton swab for emphasis, “Never, ever touch the machine drum.” It all seemed proper enough: adding toner, checking belts, rotating rollers. But then Frank pulled a brush from his case, stroked it lightly against his tongue, spun the hairs between thumb and forefinger and began painting Sanyo’s insides. Jim’s chest was burning. Did Sanyo like that? Did she like it when he puffed compressed air on her Corona insulator block? When he sucked up loose toner with his vacuum nozzle? When he lubricated her scanner shaft? Who wouldn’t? An educated man’s touch like that?

    
“I found your problem.” The repairman emerged and held out his screwdriver, its blade covered with a mucilaginous residue. Jim blushed and turned away. “You got some kind of a buildup here on your charge wire assembly that’s preventing the toner from binding to the paper.” He stuck his head back in the machine. “It’s possible you got a crack in the fuser oil tank that’s leaking and mixing with the lubricant. But don’t hold me to that.” Frank stood and put his hands in his pockets in a gesture of surrender, a film of grease and sweat covering his forehead. “I’m afraid I’m gonna have to take this into the shop,” he said.

    
The word hit Jim like a bullet. Who could say how long Sanyo would be gone? And what if they decided it would be easier just to replace her with another machine?

    
“We’ll run some tests. The boys in the shop’ll find out what’s troubling her.”

    
Frank hunkered slowly back down to his knees, opened panel C3 and was again lost within the machine. There was no way around it. If Jim wanted to give the man a fair shot at fixing Sanyo, he would simply have to tell him exactly what it was that was keeping her from operating properly.

    
“Frank?”

    
“Yeah.” He pulled a red handkerchief from his rear pocket and re-emerged, wiping his nose. Jim knelt down and said softly, “I have something to confess, Frank.”

    
“Yes, Jim?”

    
“I was working late last night. Very late.”

    
“I see.”

    
“Big copy job. I had that Sanyo humming. Twelve-hundred fifty-six copies. Maybe it was too much for her to handle at one time, but the copies, they were coming out so clean — well centered, great contrast.”

    
“Talk to me.”

    
“So I was . . . I was lonely, you know.”

    
“Of course you were. Nobody in the store. You can tell me.”

  

           

  




©2000
Steven Brykman and Nerve.com

 FICTION











    
He was such a kind man, Frank. It’s no wonder Kinko’s had hired him. And then Jim saw it. His eyes happened to wander to the waist of Frank’s Levi’s, and there, just below the edge of his brown sweater, Jim saw a paperback edition of Sons and Lovers sticking out of Frank’s cheek pocket.

    
“Well, I was lonely, like I said, so I . . . now this might seem a bit odd to you—”

    
“Wait. Let me guess. You’re bored. Not a single customer for hours. You got the Sanyo running on auto-pilot. So what do you do? You whip out a bottle of Liquid Paper, unscrew the cap and start sniffing. A cheap high, but a high nonetheless. Before you know it you’re leaning on the Sanyo, huffing away. The store starts spinning. You fall to the floor and on the way there you drop the bottle of white-out, which falls onto the Sanyo’s copyboard glass, spilling its contents into her mechanism.”

    
Jim thought for a moment. His universe rested on his response. “Yes. That’s it. That’s it exactly.”

    
Frank straightened, his visage unaffected by Jim’s admission. “I’ll be honest with you. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen it happen.”

    
“So, you’re not mad?”

    
“Listen, when you’re in my line of work, you can’t take these things personally. Accidents happen. It’s not like you meant to foul up the machine.”

    
Jim relaxed. Of course not.

    
“What do you say we go home and sleep on this thing? Things like this have a strange way of fixing themselves. You’ll see.”

    
Jim nodded, his watery throat keeping him from speaking.

    
Later that night, Jim’s thoughts tormented him: “How selfish I am to accuse Frank of behaving savagely, when it is I who have been acting like a heathen. Despite our single night together, is not my knowledge of Sanyo of a purely physical nature? Could I have examined Sanyo the way Frank was able? I can’t even clear her of a simple paper jam!”

    
The Kinko’s training program seemed ridiculous to him now. He had been taught only what was needed to fulfill the most essential of Sanyo’s needs — how to add paper (“fan and stack”). Sure, he could manipulate the control panel with the best of them. But the control panel merely indicated the state the machine was in, akin to reading a woman’s face versus soothing her weary soul. How like a man he had acted! He could control, but not repair. Jim had to face it. He simply had not committed himself to the machine.

    
Jim walked to work the next morning with a newfound purpose in his step. He strong-armed the Kinko’s front door like a running back.

    
“Em, get Frank on the horn.”

    
“The what?”

    
“The phone.”

    
“Get who on the phone?”

    
“Frank. The repair representative.”

    
“What are you doing here? You’re not even scheduled to work today.”

    
Jim stayed up late that night reading the manual Frank had given him. “My God,” he whispered when he read the description of Sanyo’s “friction-air-cushion/vacuum-paper-withdrawal mechanism” which operated in three stages: 1) A gentle puff of air aimed at the edge of the incoming-paper stack served to separate the lowest sheets, while 2) two rubber-coated rollers at the paper’s sides pulled the paper forward, after which 3) a vacuum drew in just enough air to ensure that only a single piece of paper had been extracted, leading to 4) a third roller spun and snagged the separated lowest sheet, drawing it deeply into the machine.

    
By the time he got to page 542, Jim had unzipped his fly and sat erect on his knees, holding himself. Such a sweet, sublime and sensitive thing is love, he thought to himself as he tugged, masturbating to the blueprint. The elegance of form, the mastery of science: it was enough to make Jim come a second time.

    
On page 787, Jim shrieked in horror, “No! There must be a better way!” With time, the mechanism used to raise and lower the paper exit tray would wear down. The rubber belt that controlled it was recklessly notched at 3/4 inch intervals and that simply meant trouble. It was inevitable: the machine would break down. Something must be done.

    
Jim was already throbbing the next morning as he opened the store. In his haste, he ran to the copier, clumsily removing his pants along the way. Kicking off a shoe, then another shoe, then yanking off a sock. He pressed Sanyo’s power button playfully with the tip of his penis and the machine lit up. Almost immediately, the red “ERROR 7” light came on. Jim remained undaunted. He turned the machine back off and ran into the supply closet to get some tools.

    
Jim opened Sanyo’s panel A, lightly brushed and vacuumed loose toner and cleaned the Corona Charge Wire Assemblies with moistened Q-tips and loving puffs of air. He was giving Sanyo what she wanted. He rejuvenated the heated Fuser Rollers with Isopropanol-soaked wipes, then scoured the hardened toner buildup from the underside of the paper pick-off fingers. He lubricated the scanner shaft, slide rails and copyboard pads. They glistened. He tightened the transport belts until they hugged her gears snugly and performed true. He replenished the fuser oil and developer, replaced the machine drum cleaning blade, the upper fuser roller, two roller shaft bearings and the heater lamp. Lastly, he wiped down the copyboard glass and swabbed the lenses, even going so far as to slide the exposure lamp assembly aside in order to inspect the undersides of each optical mirror.

    
The pivotal moment had arrived. Jim pressed the on button. The machine whirred. A yellow light flashed: “Warming Up . . . Recovering From Shutdown” Sanyo clicked and sputtered. Jim heard a single crack as if something had snapped and broke out in a thin sweat. Suddenly, CLICK CHICK KACHANG CANK WHOO SHUP KATICATACK! Shave and a haircut — two bits! The indicator light burned a steady green. A message flashed: “Ready to Copy.”

    
“Sanyo. My sweet Sanyo,” Jim moaned. All the pleasures that had been revealed to him! He stepped on a chair and climbed on top of Sanyo, so that his knees straddled the machine.

    
He could feel Sanyo’s internal fans and vacuums, alternately puffing and sucking as she tried in vain to copy a piece of paper that Jim teasingly held just out of her reach. He yearned to get inside Sanyo, not just to rub against her exterior, but to be in her, to penetrate the copyglass barrier that kept them apart, to experience the movement of her belts. Most of all, Jim wanted to touch the machine drum — the forbidden part — and not just to touch it, but to stroke it, to feel it rotating beneath him. The air passing endlessly along the shaft of his penis, and the paper’s edge fluttering madly against his testes, and Sanyo’s puffer, puffing crazily into his anus, caused him to bellow, “Sweet Jesus! I’m coming, Sanyo, I’m coming!” He raised his penis and sent a spray of semen in a showering arc high above the machine.

    
“If you’re that desperate, Jim, why don’t you just rent a video?” the manager said as she entered the store (after which she promptly made an appointment for Jim to receive psychological counseling, covered by Kinko’s benefits package).

  

           

  




©2000
Steven Brykman and Nerve.com

 FICTION









The psychologist got him on a treatment of sexual reconditioning that included a six-hour daily regimen of “home exercises.” After only a week, he was showing signs of improvement. He entered Sticky Wicket Video determined to change his ways: he was going to sort through each pornographic display until he found the one item he felt stood the best chance of ridding him of his “fixation.” Just inside the door, in a wire rack beside several swanky publications, he spied a pile of grainy packets and picked one up. It was the most amateurish example of pornography he had ever seen, yet it was oddly arousing. Each book was nothing more than a collection of 150 identical black-and-white photos of a man’s penis, cheaply bound. As he perused the book, he realized that the pictures weren’t identical. Picking up other packets, he noticed each book was a unique piece.

    
Jim rubbed his thumb and forefinger together, the tips of which were turning black and smudgy. These weren’t photographs at all — they were photocopies. Taken microseconds apart, each packet formed a masturbation flip-book; a slo-motion play-by-play of the fourteen stages of male arousal, shot entirely in toner, documenting the movement of foreskin, the variations of blood flow, the obsessive madness of insertion and withdrawal. All at once, it hit him: these were his genitals. Oh my God, Frank!




After a month of therapy Jim was back to work. He had been transferred to a Kinko’s two miles farther from his home with a terse letter from the manager testifying to Jim’s “familiarity with the machines.”

    
“Jim! Holy fuck!” Greg shook Jim’s hand ferociously. Greg was a former Kinko’s colleague who had been transferred two months previously. “Fuck that place. This Kinko’s is way more sophisticated. Slide scanners.”

    
Jim pointed at the back of the store. “What’s that?” A slate-gray machine ran the length of the rear wall.

    
“Good eye. That’s Nikita.”

    
Jim rolled the name around on his tongue. Nikita . . . so exotic.

    
“Nice, huh? That baby can copy both sides — at the same time.”

    
Jim nodded approvingly, his face locked in a leer.

    
“It’s a color copier, you know.”

    
“Hey, hey!” Jim corrected, adjusting his trousers. “That’s a copier of color.”

  

           

©2000
Steven Brykman and Nerve.com