4: The thong test

5 days later…

“Why hasn’t she called?!?” Ben was sitting on his bed with his face buried in his hands. He thought he made it out of the woods. He thought he had a chance to live. But he discovered he was too naive!

“That Divine Line was actually a death sentence!”

He was tricked into a sense of complacency. Ben figured since the line went well, everything would work out with Penelope. Instead, death approached closer and closer like a runaway train.

Over the past week, he’d started class. The first couple of days were fine. He waited for Penelope to call while focusing on his studies. Then with every following day, he lost more and more sleep as reality sank in. His eyes became black as he grew pale and carried a nervous sweat at all times. His face was that of a ghoul!

Though what could you expect from someone on death row? She hadn’t called and he was out of moves. There were no PUA Points left and was helpless without them. He wasn’t charming. He didn’t speak Greek. When talking to a girl, he could barely speak English!

‘It’s the end. What should I do? I have no cheats from the pick up artist system. How the hell am I supposed to become a pick up artist?’ Drowned by depression, Ben lied down in his bed.

A few moments later, he shot right back up. “Wait…pick up artist. That’s not a term invented by the system. That’s a real thing. Though I laughed in his face, didn’t my idiot cousin Antonio call himself a pick up artist the last time we spoke?”

Ben stood up and paced around the room. “It’s ridiculous to depend on that fool…but what other option do I have?” Ben picked up his phone and called his cousin.

*Ring* *Ring*

“Yo cuz, what’s up?” Antonio answered.

“Antonio! You have to help me!”

His cousin was startled. “What’s the matter? Did you get kidnapped?”

“Worse! Listen, I have to meet you! Where are you?”

Ben received Antonio’s location, grabbed his metro card, and ran out of the dorm.


Inside a Starbucks in Midtown, the front door shot open. Someone entered at such speed that the employees thought it was the cartoon Road Runner. They were relieved when they saw it was a short teenager, then became disturbed again when they saw his brown hair; It was styled in an atrocious huge perm. They only relaxed once they remembered that New York was filled with all kinds of strange characters.

Ben searched the cafe before running to a back table. There sat a young man with tanned sand-colored skin and a shaved head. He was skinny and of average height but gazed around the room with unbridled arrogance, like he was a young noble from an ancient family. Meanwhile, he drank water because he didn’t want to spend 2 dollars on a coffee.

Upon reaching the table, Ben grabbed his hands. “Antonio, I need your help!”

“…Cuz, calm down first. Tell me what happened.”

Ben wasn’t sure what to say. ‘Should I tell him a voice popped into my head and is forcing me to seduce women? He’ll have me committed.’ He needed to come with something else, so he took a few seconds to gather his thoughts.

“It’s like this. I must seduce women!” Ben couldn’t think of a good reason, so he skipped the reason instead.

Antonio inspected him. Ben’s eyes were bloodshot, redder than the devil’s butt-cheeks. He was sweating buckets, had shaking hands, and panted uncontrollably. Antonio squinted his eyes, then nodded in understanding.

‘So this is the legendary thirst…’ Antonio believed Ben was going virgin crazy. “Ok. I understand.”

Ben followed up. “You told me you know a master pick up artist right? I need to meet him!”

“…Whoa, slow down cuz. You should start slow so let me show you the ropes first. You’re soundin’ like Icarus and sh*t.”

“I don’t have time to play in the kiddie pool! I need to talk to a true master right away!” Ben wasn’t saying Antonio was a waste, he was only thinking it.

Antonio looked at this cousin of his: short, chubby, stupid clothes, even stupider hair. ‘This will take massive work. Well…that guy might appreciate a hopeless case like this.’ He made a decision. “Ok, hold on. I’ll make the call.” He got up and went outside, calling this acquaintance.

A few minutes later, Antonio returned and sat down. Ben stared at him like he was a doctor with news on his mother’s surgery results.

“He said he’ll meet you…on one condition.”

“Say it!”

Antonio didn’t want to say it. *Cough* “Wea* *…*****.” He only managed to mumble it.

“What? Speak up!”

Antonio swallowed. “He said…you have to…wear a thong.”

“What?” Ben double-checked.

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“A thong…Wear one if you want to meet him.”

“Is this guy a master pick up artist or a gay r*pist?!?”

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…Antonio wasn’t sure how to justify it either. “Look, he said he needs to test the bravery of any prospective student. If you don’t have the courage to wear a thong, then you don’t have what it takes and it would be a waste of time meetin’ you. That’s what he said.”

Ben clenched his jaw as he flushed his dignity down the toilet. Screw it! If he failed, they’d be putting him in a casket. They could bury him in a thong for all he cared. At least the funeral would be memorable. “Damn it! Fine, I’ll wear it!”

The two of them walked over to a cheap department store. Ben entered and did some retail therapy that might lead to needing actual therapy.

A store employee passed and saw Ben browsing through the female underwear section. ‘He must be browsing for a gift for his girlfriend,’ she guessed as she approached him to offer help. After one step, she stopped dead in her tracks. She watched Ben holding various thongs against his waist, trying to guess his size…

It was clear now. The thong was for him. Ben noticed her presence and they locked eyes…

A second later, they both turned around and walked in opposite directions.

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