Lady Gaga Considers the Shrimp Scampi by Steve Almond

There were fifty thousand little monsters screaming for an encore, Spaniards, Germans, skinny little French boys, Italians making wet sounds with their tongues. She wanted to bathe all of them, right on stage, in a giant steel tub. She wanted to scrub the grime off them in long strokes, then watch them all dance naked. It was why she had invented herself. But she was hungry, too, so she called out to Jules to bring her some shrimp scampi, fuck the scampi, just the shrimp, in, like, a warm bowl. And there was Jules, with the bowl, saying, “How many minutes you need? The tech guys have to know.”

Gaga looked at the shrimp, big curly fuckers glistening with garlic. She ate one and then she ate four more and put her nose in the bowl and breathed. It smelled like a kitchen should. She thought about senior year in high school, playing Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, the platinum blond wig, the way everyone got quiet when she sang and how the silence felt holy. One night, after rehearsal, she fucked this kid running lights, Casey something. He told her she was going to be a star. Later, he spread a rumor that her snatch smelled like garlic. She thought how sad he must be, probably about his cock, which was maybe the size of a shrimp.

She didn’t worry about being called a slut. God wanted people to have sex. He’d put the nerves in the right places, no matter what the priests said. The problem was that boys took your creativity. You opened yourself to them, even just for a few minutes, even out of pity, or some temporary need, and the energy came pouring out.

Jules was still standing there, looking at her, waiting for an answer. She wanted to fuck Jules, too, she guessed. It was hard tell at times like this. Her body was quivering. The monsters kept roaring. They were like her children, maybe. Her child lovers. There were three more shrimp in the bowl and she picked one up and turned it under the light. She said a prayer for Casey and felt a tingle of forgiveness. Then she licked the oil off the shrimp and bit its head off.

Steve Almond is the author of ten books of fiction and nonfiction, most recently the story collection God Bless America. Almond’s second book, Candyfreak, was a New York Times bestseller, won the ALA Alex Award, and was named the Booksense Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year. His books have been published in half a dozen foreign countries and translated into German, Dutch, Spanish, and Croation.

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