Tales From The Grouch: “A Small Problem”


A Small Problem

by J.D.H.



2015: The Pageant


Lortetia Humpf, 50-something and recently divorced, narrowed her eyes, and examined the crotch of the middle-aged man standing before her. “Oh, there’s the little boys,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if they existed.” She raised her gaze to the man’s face: “And here is the boy they are attached to.”

The ladies at Lortetia’s table laughed at this witticism and waited to hear what she would say next. They were enjoying a “girls’ night out” and divorce party in honor of Lortetia, and so far, the excursion was a smashing success.

The Smallest Penis in Brooklyn pageant was just what the doctor ordered: an opportunity for the girls to let their collective hair down, trash the male of the species, and drink the establishment’s delicious “Penis Coladas,” to boot.

Standing near Lortetia’s table, now, was a foolish-looking man with a Grateful Deadhead beard and a sash across his chest identifying him as “Dick van Wrinkle.” He wore a transparent white codpiece, or some such thing — and nothing else.




Minutes earlier, when he found himself alone and unmolested in the crowded bar, “Wrinkle” had eavesdropped as a female reporter from Jezebel interviewed a cluster of women in their twenties:

Reporter:  Why did you ladies decide to come to this pageant?

Rachel K:  We came to giggle at tiny penises and the men who would actually show them off.

Michele C:  And to take pictures! Souvenirs!

Reporter:  Would any of you ever consider dating the winner of this pageant?

Entire group: laughs uproariously




Lortetia, as ever the lead hen of her henhouse, knew that her companions expected some sort of show, and she did not disappoint. “Move closer, little boy,” she cooed to the scruffy pageant contestant, Wrinkle. And then, when he acquiesced, she yanked down the sheer codpiece and took hold of his balls.

“Someone said that being a man in this world, with a wee willie, is a lot like being an overweight woman — every Tom, Dick and Harry feels free to mock you.” Her fingers slid back and forth over his genitals, as though she were searching the bottom of a purse for the correct change and could find nothing but pennies.

“For example, you probably feel that I am overweight.” Her fingers settled on a testicle and squeezed. “But there is, of course, a difference. I can always lose weight. But you … you will always be hung like an infant.

“I suppose that should make you a sympathetic figure.

“Oh, but it doesn’t. Two reasons: Unlike the fat person, you can walk down the street without anyone noticing your … shortcomings. You’re only discovered in the bedroom — do you ever have a lady in your bedroom? — or in situations like this one.” Her fingers were applying unbearable pressure. “And reason number two: Unfortunately for you, you are a male.” She turned to the ladies at her table.

“Photos, please,” she said with a smile.

The younger women at the table erupted in peals of laughter, but two of the older gals were more composed, more in tune with Lortetia’s mood. They quickly produced cellphone cams and began the serious business of documenting the occasion.




“Turn around, little man,” said Lortetia. Van Wrinkle complied. She gave each butt cheek a quick pinch, smiled for the cameras, and said, “Savannah, dear, take hold of these, will you? I need to say something to our little man, and I can’t hold this drink and his nutsack at the same time.”

Savannah, a dishwater blonde with eager eyes, did as she was told.

“Now hold them tight. I don’t want him running off while I speak to him.” She gestured at Dick to bend down. She began to whisper in his ear but had first to stifle a belch. “Pardon me. Now sweetie, I might not look it to you, but I just became a grandmother.”

Dick feigned surprise.

“And I will have to say this: My three-month old grandson is better hung than you.” She grinned at him. “Does that bother you?”

Getting no immediate response, she whispered again: “What is your real name, sweetie?”

Dick, turning blue in the face due to Savannah’s pressure on his nether regions, gasped out a name.


“Close enough,” he said.

Lortetia considered this and Wrinkle’s obvious distress. She frowned at Savannah. “Girl, I didn’t ask you to castrate the man. Not that there would be a noticeable difference,” she chuckled. “You can loosen your grip on him.”




Dick Van Wrinkle sighed. This ridiculous pageant was not what he had imagined it would be. He had envisioned, earlier, a kind of bachelorette party populated with nubile young things in their 20s and 30s, ogling and lusting after the naked male contestants. He, of course, would be the center of attention. It would be like Hugh Hefner at the Playboy mansion, and Dick would be cock of the walk.

It was true that there were numerous luscious lasses in the bar. But the younger females were too timid, easily cowed by the more mature, dominant — and less attractive — women in their midst.

Like this woman who was now caressing his testicles, Letitia or Louisa or something.

Now she was holding her pinkie finger up against his flaccid member and was inviting her friends to take pictures. Or videos. Whatever. His two-inch penis did not fare well in the comparison of digits.

“He’s turtled up!” squealed the woman named Savannah. “Can we make it grow?”

The alpha woman, Lortetia, was morbidly obese, and her breath wreaked of alcohol. One of her friends leaned over and whispered: “Suck on it, Lortetia. I dare you!”

Dick overheard and began to perspire. Their table had begun to draw a crowd in the already jam-packed, stuffy saloon. The clientele was probably 85 percent female.

Lortetia flashed a smile and glanced around at her growing audience. “Should I bite it?” And she leaned forward toward the man’s crotch.

Dick could not watch. He stared up at the ceiling and closed his eyes and …

… he woke up.

It was only a bad dream!





1967: South Vietnam


“Bring out the girl!” began the chant in the smoke-filled bar. “Bring her out!”

Roland Filks turned to the American soldier on his right and hissed, “She’s a real beauty. These Thai women are all one of two types: whores, or clueless farm girls. This one’s a farm girl. And a real beauty.”

The American soldier perceived that Filks was trying to tell him something, but the bar was raucous, and the shouting and laughter made hearing impossible. That was fine by him, thought the soldier, because Filks was an ass and nothing he said was worth hearing.

Standing — or rather cowering — on the bar directly above them was a young Thai man who appeared to be on the verge of tears.

The American soldier, McMinnits, noticed that the kid seemed to be wetting his filthy underpants. He wore nothing else. He looked to be about 18.

“Bring out the damn girl!” the chant resumed.

Everyone in the saloon, save a harried bartender and the boy atop the bar, was an American soldier. They were letting off steam because life in Vietnam was hell and you took your entertainment where you could find it. This was not great entertainment, but it was better than sweating in some fucking tent in the jungle.

“Show us what he’s got!” shouted someone. On cue, a hand reached up and pulled down the kid’s underpants.

It might have been the trauma he was experiencing, or it might have been genetics, but the Thai kid’s manhood was less than impressive. A roar erupted.

“It’s a shrunken head!” “Nothing there! Did the gooks capture him and take a trophy?”

“He’s Asian,” shouted someone else. “They’re all like that!”

“They’re bringing in the girl,” Filks said to McMinnits. “This will be good.”




Boon-mee had experienced shame in his life. Many times. But nothing like this.

He knew that the Americans loved sport, but he had not expected to be their sport.

They had de-pantsed him and were ridiculing his manhood, which was absurd. From his experience, many American males were no better equipped than he was.

But it was too late to stop the storm. These soldiers had malice in their eyes, and he was the day’s sport. The only question was how the game would end ….

They were helping — no, shoving — a Thai girl onto the bar where Boon-mee stood trembling and sobbing. The girl’s long, dark hair covered her face, and a tattered white nightgown disguised her body. She stared fixedly down at her feet.

Now they had pushed the girl down on all fours, and one of the soldiers was raising her gown up to her waist. To Boon-mee, she looked to be about 16 or 17. She was turned away from him, so that her exposed backside would present him with a target.

“What’s their word for ‘fuck her?’” asked Filks. He reached atop the bar and pulled the girl’s legs apart.

Someone shouted back, “Yet –Yet dtuut.”

“Yet dtuut!” cried Filks. “Fuck her, boy!”

The chant was picked up by everyone in the bar — “Yet dtuut!” — but Boon-Mee knew it was impossible. He was not aroused; he was terrified. The girl, too, was trembling. He looked up at the haze-filled ceiling. There was music coming from a jukebox somewhere in the room. Country music.

Then the pushing began.

Two or three soldiers rammed him up against the girl and began pushing at his waist. And pushing, and pushing.

Five minutes later, or perhaps 10 minutes later — he was incapable of knowing — it was over. As he finished, the bar patrons roared their approval.




“That’ll be ten bucks,” McMinnits said to Filks, who scowled and tossed his pal a sawbuck.

“I’ll be damned,” said Filks. “Never thought a gook hung like a chipmunk could shoot that much spunk.”

The girl lay sprawled and silent on the wood bar. Her head moved and she looked back at the boy. He looked back at her.

“Nong Priya,” he moaned. His eyes went dead.




McMinnits turned to Filks, who was attempting to swig a beer. “What did the kid just say?”

Beer shot out of Filks’s nose. “Damn! Means ‘little sister.’ Gook just shot his wad into his own sister!”




Boon-mee closed his eyes in shame. And then …

… he woke up.

It was only a bad dream!





1616: Plymouth, Massachusetts


Mary Mathilda Catlick looked over her shoulder to the left, then over her other shoulder to the right, and then straight ahead. No one in the village square seemed to be watching her at her post on the platform. And so, she took hold of the fellow’s giblets.

Mary Mathilda was too nervous to get much pleasure out of it, but she would remember this moment later, when she was alone in her room, and the candles were out ….

Mary Mathilda looked the man in the eye and saw that his lids were closed, and his lips were pursed, perhaps in pain.

She was a middle-aged widow, well-known in the village, and she had made a show, the previous day, of approaching this man in the stretch-neck with a flask of water. To the casual observer, Mary was merely being a good Christian, providing his parched throat with drink.

She released her hold on his giblets and used her good-sized frame and skirts to shield from prying eyes the sight of his pantaloons, which she had discretely lowered. Mary Mathilda took note of his smallish stalk.

She heard laughter.

She noticed, for the first time, a gaggle of schoolgirls lurking behind some nearby bushes. They had been watching her as she molested the man in the pillory.

This did not overly concern Mary Mathilda. The girls would not dare speak of what they witnessed. It would only incur wrath and disbelief from the village adults.

Mary Mathilda was, after all, a respected woman.

With one admonitory glance at the girls behind the hedge, she picked up her parcel from the ground and spoke, for anyone within earshot: “Such virtue lies in Adam’s Ale.” She descended the platform and left the village square.




The man in the pillory issued a small groan as he watched the woman climb down the platform steps and leave the square. She would no doubt be back the next day. He heard giggles.




It was dusk, and the square appeared to be deserted. Save for him.

Andrew Hipple, accused thief, tried again to swallow. But there was no moisture in his throat. The last time his thirst had been quenched was when the horrid widow had poured water into his mouth. But that was hours ago. That was also a guise so that the woman might molest him. Again.

He did not mind her daily ministrations, as they shifted his thoughts from his other sufferings. His wrists ached where they were clamped in the holes in the wooden frame. He could move but little in the devilish contraption, and so his back ached. His face was burned from the sun. He was gut-foundered. This punishment was twistical — unfair and immoral.

Hipple had been an anonymous member of the community. He had committed a minor sin. Now he was the source of the town’s scorn and jollification.

The sun was setting. He heard the giggles again. The village girls had snuck out of their parents’ homes and had come to play. With him.

They emerged from behind the bush, about ten of them, ranging in age from perhaps 8 to 14. He recognized the eldest girl. She was the daughter of a neighbor, a cruel child named Emily. The others trailed her as she ascended the platform steps.




“This is a bad man,” Emily told her congregation. “A very, very bad man.”

The giggling ceased as Emily approached the “very bad man.”

“You, Sarah. And you, Ke’Andrea. Take down his breeches so that we may all of us see.”

Sarah and Ke’Andrea eyed each other. Their leader had spoken, and she was not to be defied. They shuffled forward and, without directly looking at him, pulled down the thief’s pants.

The younger girls observed this between fingers splayed over eyes, and the giggling resumed. A few girls cast their eyes away from this humiliation of an adult. Emily’s face flared red and she beamed in triumph.

“This is not a man; he is an acorn!” she cried.

One of the younger girls, a slant-eyed brunette called “Butterfly” by the others, felt light-headed and began to swoon.

Emily glared at the swaying girl and pounced. “Butterfly,” she snarled, “bring forth thy stick and come hither. Now!

Butterfly, her eyes darting everywhere save at the unfortunate victim, complied.

“Now prod his pissing place,” said Emily. “He is here to be punished. My father said as much. We are all of us to make a cat’s-paw of him.”

Butterfly waved her stick weakly, its end finding nothing but air.

Emily seized the miserable girl’s wrist and directed the stick’s point at Hipple’s tumblers and strunt.

The man’s eyes remained fixed at the heavens above, and he groaned.

“Will it come aloft?” asked the girl named Sarah.




Hipple had long ceased being concerned about the degradation and shame of his predicament. He cared only about the pain to his body and the lack of water. These girls were but a nuisance. They wanted — their leader, Emily, especially — to get some reaction from him. He disappointed them.

Following the girl Butterfly, the others took turns, some of them directed by Emily to insert twigs up his buttocks, others to use fingers to poke and prod his front area.

Then they threw the stones at him, watching with wide-eyed fascination as he winced whenever their projectiles hit home.




Emily was not satisfied. She turned to one of the older girls, a doe-eyed lass whose countenance froze when she heard her name called. 

“Twyla, come hither and show me thine basket.”

Twyla did as she was commanded. Emily examined the contents of the girl’s wicker basket: a scattering of blueberries.

“Thy parents will be displeased, Twyla. There is but little here. You must add to it. Good fortune has provided thee with …” Emily looked at the shackled figure on the pillory.

“What does thy father do to the boar when it is no longer of use? This man is no longer of use,” Emily said.




Hipple quaked at this latest horror, and his eyes began to fill with tears. The girl called Twyla was approaching him and she held something in her hand. Something hard, sharp, and gleaming. She knelt before him. He moaned again …




The girl Twyla stared at the naked man and many thoughts and emotions swirled within her. This was the first naked man she had lain eyes upon. His man-parts looked small and harmless.

She felt fear because what they were doing — to an adult — was forbidden. She felt power because the naked man was helpless. 

This mixture of fear and power was thrilling. It was intoxicating. Twyla very much enjoyed the sensation. She could do as she pleased.

Emily is correct, thought she. It is just like father and the boars.




She stood before Emily with her basket and tilted it so that the leader might see its contents. The basket was a bit fuller than it had been. The berries were soaked in blood.

“Well done, Twyla. Thou hast taken his dignity and thou hast taken his manhood. Thy father would be pleased. This man shall mount and ride below the crupper no more!”




Hipple’s head hung low, and he silently wept … he opened his eyes and …

… he was in his bed.

It was only a bad dream!





1963: Christmas in the Midwest


The year was 1963, and it was Christmas in rural America.

Six-year-old Jan had enjoyed the day, because 1) the family was gathered at his house this year, including several cousins his own age (girls though; oh well); and 2) the best was yet to come — opening presents. After that, Jan was told, there would be home movies.

Jan did not know that, along with the best yet to come, the worst was also yet to come.

The worst came after everyone enjoyed Christmas dinner and gathered in the compact living room to watch 8mm movies. The lights were turned off and everyone stared at the portable white screen, including cousins Holly and Susan and aunts and uncles and Jan’s own immediate family.

They watched Jan playing with neighbor kids and with the family dog. That clip was followed by mom and dad holding up a turkey leg. There was Jan dressed up like a little girl; his sisters had promised him candy in exchange for wearing a dress. Embarrassing but funny. But then:

There was two-year-old Jan in the bathtub, his little penis on display as it bobbed up and down like a flesh-colored rubber ducky. A very small rubber ducky.

Everyone in the living room, save Jan, burst out in laughter.

“I can see his pecker!” squealed cousin Holly.




Jan felt his face burn, and then begin to boil, as a thousand red-hot needles pierced his cheeks and forehead. He could see nothing. Adult voices and chortles were muffled. He staggered to his feet and walked straight into the living-room wall. More laughter. He tried again, and this time found the hallway leading to his bedroom.




Two hours later, Jan lay sleepless in bed, reflecting on the evening’s horrors. Cousin Holly had seen him in the bathtub, seen his little wiener. Everyone had seen his little wiener. And they had all laughed and looked at him as he tried to hide behind a sofa pillow. It was mortifying.

Jan turned on the bedside lamp and reached for a storybook that was splayed open on the floor. He opened the cover and began reading. It was a book of short stories, and the first tale was called “Rip Van Winkle.” It was about a young man who falls asleep and then wakes up — 20 years later. Stupid story.

Jan had found the 8mm movie experience paralyzing. And yet, oddly, now it felt exciting. All that attention on him … and his private parts. In retrospect, the event made him feel warm and strange. And aroused.

He finally fell asleep and the book with Rip Van Winkle fell to the floor. Jan dreamt of the future ….

He was in a crowded room, and a 50-something woman had hold of his naughty bits.

“What is your real name, sweetie?” the old woman asked.

“Jan,” he replied.


But this was not a dream. It was a premonition.


Pageant art: MiYon Kosloske-Richardson






Click here for the index of short stories.

Click here to see all of the stories.


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  1. Twyla July 3, 2022 10:35 am  Reply

    Amazing pacing and details. Great read! Very intriguing.

    • grouchyeditor July 3, 2022 11:21 am  Reply

      Thanks, girl named Twyla. I’m sure that most girls named Twyla are very kind.

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