Monday, October 1, 2007

Men at Attention, Women at Ease

By hughgee

She was a tough woman. She was a very tough woman. But that wasn’t why Commander Stryker held back from the squat, rolly-polly Sgt. Davies who came to retrieve him to the lab. Reason was, he knew what this possibly meant. He had asked not to be disturbed in his quarters not twenty minutes ago. But the message the brassy, pug-nosed, feminine bowling ball brought with her was urgent—and it was from Dr. Moriarty herself.

He knew what Moriarty had been working on. It was a long-shot, it could never really work, but for this message to be so labeled, well, he knew Moriarty was not the excitable type. Far from it: she’d rebuffed his sexual advances several times over the course of their year of working together as coolly, as clinically, as if she was viewing a specimen of amoeba under a microscope whenever he’d pressed himself close and she’d been forced to stop her work and reluctantly look up at him. She was a beautiful cold fish, he’d told himself, whom the army had pulled out of some hole in the ice and handed the position of head scientist over the Advance in Non-Lethal Weapons in the Hands of Military Police program—ANaLWiMP, for short.

The ANaLWiMP program had been studying a theory of the effects of certain low-frequency sound waves on the human body. In a year’s time the program had accomplished nothing, nothing to justify its enormous defense expenditures. Everyone from Moriarty to Commander Stryker on down knew the budget was running out. Pretty soon they’d be back to more realistic means of stopping criminals—refinement of the tried and true night stick, softer, less deadly rubber bullets, a more glutinous quick-drying foam to spray on criminals to stop them in their tracks. But this note meant something, or else Moriarty would never have sent for the Commander in the middle of lunch and attached such urgency. Or else maybe she’d finally had enough and swooned for his machismo style. Yes, maybe. A definite maybe.

Sgt. Davies led the way through the swinging doors like a nurse pushing a gurney. Stryker followed close at her heels. He was a middle age bachelor, a playboy. Never could he get the notion of a next conquest out of his mind. This was why he watched even the Sergeant’s jostling rump along the way. He squinted, grinded his teeth, as he saw the two giant hindquarters bump and grind up and down as Davies’ ultra-wide hips swayed side to side like a covered, camouflaged, life-sized Liberty Bell being rung again and again. He was the Alpha male, he thought. He’d have a piece of this Omega tail. Someday, someday, he thought. Piss on Anita Hill, if they were going to be in the army, he had a right to such ogling. He walked, he watched. Damn blubber butt, mused the Commander. Still, he knew it wasn’t all blubber. That thing was part solid, almost equestrian. A middle-aged woodie made for an increasingly stiff-legged gait.

“Doctor, here is the Commander,” Sgt. Davies said at last, and Commander Stryker awoke from his lustful reverie surprised to suddenly be in the presence of the bespectacled, bob-cutted, high-cheeked intellectual Moriarty who’d been so resistant to his home run moves for so long. Still, something about Moriarty made him shrivel up in her presence and this was what he felt happening now underneath his pants suit.

“Commander, I’ve got something for you to see,” the Doctor began.

“This had better be good, baby doll” retorted Stryker, archly setting down his hat and acting more put out than he really was. He loved demeaning female subordinates and he particularly loved talking this way to Moriarty. He was the Alpha Male at Camp Reynholt.

Moriarty continued in her typically clipped and clinical fashion. “We’ve come up with a few sound waves in the negative 10.09 to the negative 11.07 range frequency that seems to have a certain effect on a certain part of the body.”

“Well, what have you got, sister?” he demanded, crossing his arms in an air of exaggerated disbelief. He was really upset she hadn’t gone out with him, hadn’t said Yes to him for one lousy date this whole year. She must be, he thought. She’s a lesbian. How else could she have resisted him this long?

She laid her hand on a square box contraption on the table in front of her, one end raised up by a couple of small, makeshift wooden blocks the size of two new pads of Post-Its. The thing was gun metal gray with slits or what might be air vents cut in the sides. The apparatus had a small, black, round lens-like extension and looked for all the world like a routine classroom slide-projector.

“I’m calling it a disgroinificator,” she quipped, a trill of irony to her voice. She wasn’t capable of irony, thought Stryker. He’d thought Moriarty incapable of the most mundane of human emotions. An hour-glassed cyborg with puffy, sleepy-looking, garnet-stone lips.

“Disgronificator?” he corrected, or thought he was correcting. Sgt. Davies, standing straight off to the side with all her squat bulk, let out a huff of sarcastic amusement. Stryker was just about to call Davies on this act of inappropriate temerity—it would give him a chance to talk to a female the way he liked to talk to a female, the way he knew, or thought he knew, they liked to be talked to, when—

“No,” Moriarty shot back. “It’s a disgroinificator. Are you watching?” She motioned to the pane of glass housing the experimental sound studio. It was a two-way mirror, four feet high, eight feet wide. Behind it one could see the sound studio, vaguely dark inside, the size of a walk-in closet. Stryker could well make out the shape of a well-built, khakied young man standing out, at ramrod attention, hands at his sides.

“Who’s he?”

“Cadet Matthews. Volunteer,” the Doctor answered distractedly. She was carefully fingering what looked like a dial at the back of the contraption. Then, pressing what looked like a button of some sort, and throwing a glance over at Sgt. Davies, Dr. Moriarty added, “Power up.” It bothered Stryker, that look she gave Davies. It was a knowing look, like the two were in on some secret. He’d question her about it later; maybe even excoriate her, if everything went his way. Subordinates keeping secrets from him? Not in his army.

“You will notice Cadet Matthews beginning to show a minor hint of discomfort,” the Doctor stoically narrated. Peering through the two-way mirror, Stryker duly noted this. A slight grimace had begun to form on the young cadet’s countenance and his stiff stance had begun to quiver perceptibly. Stryker noticed the round lens-like extension of the apparatus was pointed toward the withering cadet.

“It has a range of 50 kilometers,” continued Dr. Moriarty, methodically, “a horizontal span of yet unmeasured proportions. This of course depends on the distance and the focus of the beam.”

The Commander looked nonplussed.

“Sound waves,” she said, busy adjusting something on the machine.

Stryker was running out of patience. He never had a lot of it around women who weren’t putting out. “Uh, am I missing something here, Doctor? What’s supposed to be happening?”

The Doctor and Sgt. Davies exchanged glances once more, much to the annoyance of the Commander. Turning back to her invention, the Doctor continued. “I have the Disgroinificator set to minimum volume at the moment. I will now increase the volume. Please observe the reactions of the cadet.”

She reached and with a sparkle of decorated pink acrylic nails adjusted a knob behind the contraption. Stryker was just about to mutter the words “I still don’t hear anything, Doctor” when he was stopped short by an agonized groan from behind the pane of glass. Turning to look, the Commander saw Cadet Matthews bending over, knees knocking together, as though he had just received a sound kick to the groin.

“Oh-HO-oh-HO-oh-HO-ohhhhhh,” the man groaned towards the ground. A moment later he was down.

“He’s away from the beam,” said Doctor Moriarty. “He should begin to recover in the normal amount of time. Sgt. Davies, would you be so kind as to tend to the cadet’s discomfort?”

With a chuckle that further annoyed Stryker, the Sergeant. exited the room.

“Low frequency sound waves, Commander,” Moriarty began clinically explaining.

“Inaudible to the human ear. Experimentation has shown that certain nerve endings of the anatomy are quite susceptible to these sound waves when broadcast within a certain spectrum of the known sound continuum.”

“You wanna gimme that in plain English, Doc?” demanded Stryker.

“We can stop an assailant or enemy combatant dead in his tracks without resorting to lethal force, and much more effective than any non-lethal devices yet devised.”

Commander Stryker took a gander in the other room and saw Sgt. Davies helping Cadet Matthews to his feet. The young man was drooping at all angles and were it not for the robustness of the female Sergeant; he’d have dropped back down to a fetal position. He saw Davies lead the cadet gingerly out of the room, one arm draped over her shoulder, his other hand cupping his groin. Stryker turned back to the Doctor, brightening suddenly.

“This is fantastic!” he beamed. “You mean to tell me if the G-men had this sucker, they wouldn’t’ve had to fill Bonnie and Clyde’s car full of holes?”

“Well,” began Dr. Moriarty, raising her eyebrows at this. “They still would’ve had to shoot Bonnie.”


“The pubic ventricle nerve has so far been the only nerve ending shown to be sensitive enough to be effected. The male is the only one who possesses the pubic ventricle nerve.”

It was now an astonished, rather than curious, “What?” which burst forth from Commander Stryker’s fallen mouth.

“It would seem the other nerve endings in the body sensitive enough to be deleteriously effected by the disgroinificator’s emission are sufficiently protected by sebaceous layers—by fat.” The Doctor paused to see the effect her words were having on the stunned Commander before continuing. “It would seem the scrotal sacrum is not sufficient insulation against invasive sound of this frequency. It’s the only place on the human anatomy where a nerve of such gross sensitivity is so exposed. Hence, it is only the male which finds the beam of the disgroinificator debilitating--hence the name. Fortunately, as I'm sure you are aware; males commit the vast majority of crimes and such other things which would give cause to use such a device.”

The lantern jaw of the Commander fell down around his Adam’s apple as he fumbled for his words. His eyes shown more whitely, revealing a state of mute dumbfoundedness.

“Men hang out,” quipped Moriarty, dryly. “They’re naughty bits dangle, and naughty bits are sensitive.”

“Sonuvabitch,” the Commander finally answered. “Sonuvabitch. I don’t believe it!”

Moriarty shrugged her shoulders, looking down, more interested in her invention than with Stryker’s protest.

Stryker took two steps toward the machine and was about to reach out to examine it more closely.

“Careful, Commander,” cautioned the Doctor. “It’s still in the experimental stage. The controls are sensitive. Though not as sensitive as some things…”

Stryker noted with raging effrontery the Doctor’s eyes were focused clearly on his groin when she added this final comment.

“Bullshit!” he roared. “Bullshit!” He paced around the lab a few steps, reddening, putting his hands angrily at his hips.

Impatient, but seeing she had to demonstrate further before her ignorant, chauvinistic Commander could accept a new embarrassing reality provided by science, Doctor Moriarty called Sgt. Davies back into the room and turned the machine back on. Upon entering, Moriarty instructed the female Sergeant to stand in front of the machine. The bulky, pillowy Sergeant did so at once.

“Not only is the sergeant closer to the beam of the disgroinificator, she has the added handicap of not having the beam have to pass through glass—although it has not been determined if this has any mitigating effect and frankly, the inchoate hypothesis is that it does not.” The Sergeant stood in front of the machine, her camouflage shirt bulging at a few of the straining buttons. She stood and she smiled. She turned around. She turned around again. Stryker’s mortification momentarily abated as his eyes fixed on the rounded rump of the Sergeant, jiggling as she stepped in circles. Okay, so he’d felt that mass of meat one time, felt it in the palm of his hand. He reminded himself of the time he’d reached out around his desk and grabbed it right there in his office when she was delivering a memorandum and he’d shaken it and felt it in all its rounded glory. Davies didn’t file a sexual harassment suit—she was more of a mind to kick his ass right there. Her mistake was in voicing this, in verbally excoriating a commanding officer. And the two had come to a kind of truce about the whole affair. Nothing was happening.

Clearly, Davies was enjoying this. She raised the palms of her hands to the ceiling, smile widening, as if to say, “See, this is nothing.”

“See for yourself, Commander. The machine is set to maximum volume.”

“This is crap!” bellowed Commander Stryker, who could take no more. “You’re not gonna fool me with these parlor tricks. Look, I know I’ve given you gals a lot of shit over the past year, but come on—you’re puttin’ me on, right?”

“I’m afraid not, Commander,” said the Doctor, matter-of-factly.

“Oh, come on!” said Stryker, vehemently, and he stepped over where Sgt. Davies was standing and, eschewing decorum, physically pushed the sergeant out of the way. Instantly his angry demeanor changed drastically.


Commander Stryker’s entire body went stiff and his chin lifted toward the ceiling, exposing a filigree of flaring, straining neck veins. A split second later his knees buckled and clocked clumsily together as curled downward into a standing fetal position, both hands cupped to his groin. A moment later he was kissing linoleum, fetal style.

Removing the chips of wood under the beam end of the disgroinificator, focusing the perimeter of the invisible beam downward at the floor, Doctor Moriarty mused, “What do you think, Sergeant, should we turn it off?”

Commander Stryker writhed on the floor like a dying bug under a magnifying glass on a hot summer’s day.


“Not yet,” snapped the sergeant, standing over her sexually harassing superior.

“Not just yet.”

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