This was the first short I wrote for the subreddit, r/lifeofnorman. I hope you enjoy it even if there are some inaccuracies about the movie!
Norman was feeling nostalgic since Disney has been remaking all of their old movies. He goes to his basement and grabs a dust-covered VCR, bringing it upstairs and plugging it in. After messing around with the inputs to see if the TV needs to be on the Component setting or simply channel three, gets it all set up and inserts an old copy of Lion King.
As the movie starts, he’s hit with immense happiness as he sees all of the characters from his childhood on the screen again. He even sings some of the songs with the cartoon animals, remembering only half the words, but singing loudly as if he knew them all.
When the mischievous Scar starts to show his true colors, the happiness inside Norman dies down and is replaced by this unsettling feeling that he doesn’t understand. It’s been so long since Norman has seen the movie that he doesn’t remember how it ends.
The movie draws to its impactful end, and as Scar dangles Mufasa from a high cliff, Norman bites his nails, a nasty habit he outgrew years ago. Scar drops Mufasa to his inevitable death, but before he hits the ground, Norman shoots to his feet and rips the tape from the VCR.
Shaking, Norman thinks to himself, “this movie is too mature for kids.” He puts the tape back in its case and takes the VCR downstairs, no longer feeling nostalgic.
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This is from the subreddit, r/lifeofnorman. This post is an original from me.
Norman was having a rough day at work and decided that it was time to take his allotted 30-minute, unpaid break. He grabbed his lunchbox from the refrigerator that he shared with his coworkers (that he was nervous to put his food in because of the food thief in the office, but that’s a story for another day) and went to a little bench outside.
He unzipped the black lunchbox’s lid and pulled his turkey, American cheese and lettuce sandwich on wheat out and nibbles at the edges before taking a big bite. He liked the simplistic meal because it didn’t take much time to make the night before and still tasted good. He especially liked that it fit in his reusable Tupperware because he didn’t want to hurt the environment.
Next he ate a strawberry yogurt, which he did quickly because he had spent too much time on his sandwich and was running late. He took his spoon and got all of the yogurt from the inside out, making it as spotless as he could with the rounded edge of a spoon, and then set it back in the lunchbox to recycle when he got home.
Lastly, he pulled out a beautiful yellow banana. He had gotten them because they were $.39 a pound when he saw them at the store and couldn’t pass up the opportunity and cheap fruit. As he was about to pull the peel down from the end that had the stem sticking out, he stopped and pondered something he had heard on Animal Planet some time before. “Apes open bananas from the bottom which removed the strings that most people deal with when they eat the fruit.”
Norman stared at the banana and turned it upside down, looking at the bottom, thinking that to apes it’s the top. He tried to open it but wasn’t sure where to grab it, so he squeezed it as carefully as he could. When the bottom opened up, he saw that he had squished it, but didn’t care as long as the little strings were gone. When he pulled the peels down, the strings didn’t follow and still covered the banana.
Norman laughed to himself, “maybe I’m no smarter than an ape.” If he was younger, he might make the “ooh ooh” sounds that apes make, and maybe scratch his armpits in an exaggerated motion, but knew he had to get back to work. He enjoyed the rest of his banana and got back to his job.
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I wrote this a few weeks ago. It’s a near and dear story for me for personal reasons and I think it appropriately conveys the confusing feelings that each party involved would feel.
Jonathan’s phone dinged once. He
picked it up to see a text from someone that he hadn’t talked to since his
senior year of high school. It said, “do u care if I call you?”
“Sure. But why?” Jonathon asked, pushing himself to his feet. He was sitting next to his mother watching reruns of Family Feud. He walked to the front porch and sat down on the rough fabric of the outdoor loveseat. Kicking his legs up on the pillars that made up the waist high fence surrounding the porch he awaited the call, pondering what it could be.
responded, “I’ll call you in a minute or two,” then he sent another text that
said, “it’s bad news.”
scrolled through his newsfeed while he waited, trying to figure out what
Nicolas wanted to talk to him about, but didn’t want to scare himself by
thinking of the possibilities, so he tried not to let his thoughts wander. What
he knew for sure was that it had nothing to do with Nicolas’ college education
since he had dropped out after one semester and it wouldn’t have to do with
Jon’s brother or parents because otherwise, he would have heard it from someone
else. He continued to scroll through his newsfeed and tried to contain the
anxiety that was tickling his stomach and brain, making his hairs stand tall
and his mouth dry.
u ready?” Nicolas sent.
The second that Jon sent the text, Nicolas was already calling him. Jon held it in his hand and felt the vibrations as he contemplated not answering at all. He took a deep breath and picked up, staying as strong as he could in the uncertain circumstance that he was handed.
what’s up?” Jon said.
about calling so late. I just thought you should know as soon as I found out.”
beat around the bush. What’s up?”
you know CJ Wilkinson?” he asked after a drawn-out pause.
I knew him a little bit. My brother knows him better than I did, but I know
throat constricted and he felt his heart jump. Not only did his brother, Devin,
know CJ, but they were best friends. They met years ago when they were in second
or third grade and they actually hated each other at first, then they got into
a pretty big argument that ended in some punches, but soon after they developed
a mutual respect for each other, that eventually blossomed into the
relationship that they have now. Knowing that the news was bad and about CJ
gave Jon tunnel vision as he braced for it.
about him?” Jon asked, since Nicolas hadn’t said anything for a few seconds.
dead,” Nicolas said.
do you mean?”
happened!” Jon yelled, then hushed his voice so his mom didn’t hear him from
don’t think anyone knows for sure yet, but I’ve heard through the grapevine
that it was suicide.”
you serious?” Jon said in a whisper. “How did you find out?”
don’t feel comfortable saying. The news isn’t out yet, but I heard from someone
else and felt like you had the right to know.”
stayed silent and looked up at the stars that shined with the same brilliance
that they had every night of his life, but they were mocking him tonight. Nicolas
was breathing heavily on the other end of the call, sniffling every few
are you holding up?” Jon asked.
fine I guess,” he said, then sniffled. “I didn’t know him too well either but I
was really close to his family. He was a good guy. He didn’t deserve to go so
know he didn’t. Thanks for letting me know. I know it wasn’t easy telling me
be okay. I just feel bad for his family. I’m going to pray for them after we
get off the phone.”
Jon would make a sarcastic remark about how religion wouldn’t help, but he
didn’t have the heart. He just wanted Nicolas to feel better and hoped that the
prayers really did work. He really hoped that there was something out there
that would make CJ’s family feel better.
for letting me know,” Jon told Nicolas. “I’m gonna let you go. I need to make
Sorry that I only called to give bad news. I wish it could have been for
something a bit happier.”
okay. I’m glad I know.”
don’t tell anyone that I’m the one that told you. I don’t know if the
Wilkinson’s are ready to make the news public.”
won’t. Have as good a night as you can. Give them my prayers.”
sniffled one last time and hung up the phone. Jon leaned back, resting in the
chair. After a few minutes, he stood up and walked back inside, sitting next to
his mom on the couch who was still watching reruns of Family Feud.
was that about?” his mom asked.
said, “It was Nicolas.”
haven’t talked to him in a while, have you?”
It’s been a while.”
did he want? You look as white as a ghost.”
his mom yelled, muting the TV. “What happened?
one knows for sure yet, but Nicolas said it may have been suicide.”
really? He always seemed so happy when he came around.”
thought so too,” Jon said. “I guess he was good at covering it up.”
brother is going to be devastated.”
know. I’m thinking about calling him.”
you want me to do it?”
ignored his mom and sent Devin a text saying, “Hey, can I call you for a
you want me to do it?” Jon’s mom repeated.
I can do it.”
Jon walked back to the porch and sat on the rough fabric of the outdoor loveseat and waited for Devin to respond. Ten minutes later, he responded saying he stepped away but didn’t have long. Jon dialed his number and listened to it ring once, then heard Devin pick up and say, “hello?”
man,” Jon said. “I have some bad news for you. Are you at a place that you can
he laughed as his girlfriend mumbled something that Jon couldn’t hear clearly.
“I mean, how bad can it be?”
you sure you’re in a good place to talk?”
fine. Stop delaying whatever it is that you need to tell me. Out with it.”
CJ’s dead. I heard that it may have been suicide.” The noise died on the other
end of the phone as Devin said something and stepped away from his girlfriend.
“I’m sorry. I know this must be really hard for you.”
was nothing but silence for a minute before I heard Devin clear his throat and
take a breath, then he fell silent again. Jon didn’t know what to say, so he
waited, keeping his head clear so as to not assume anything about what Devin
was feeling or thinking.
progressed, thoughts of how Jon had never experienced this form of grief
flooded his head, and maybe that was why he was so comfortable being the one to
tell him the bad news. Jon thought to his kindergarten friend who passed of
heart complications and to a tragedy that affected his school when he was a
freshman and three seniors drove their car into a lake, unable to escape before
tragedy befell them. He was too young to understand the pain of loss in
kindergarten and was too self-obsessed to understand the loss of the three boys
in high school, since he had never met them.
Time passed and
the stars continued to mock Jon, who was starting to feel his thoughts bombard
his brain. “Should I have been the one to tell him?” he wondered. “Should I
have told him in person? Would it have been better for me to let him find out
through the grapevine when the family was more ready to make the announcement?
Was I acting selfishly by believing he’d handle it better coming from me?” His
thoughts spiraled, but the last one to enter his head was, “Is Devin okay?”
Thanks for letting me know.” Devin hung up without saying another word and Jon
was left alone on the porch with only his thoughts and the mocking stars to
keep him company. He stood up and leaned against the railing on his porch. He
breathed in as deeply as he could and held it in, then when his lungs were
going to burst, he let it out.
door opened behind him. Jon’s mom stood there, staring at her shrunken son with
watery eyes. “Are you okay?” she asked him.
let out another breath as his lungs were going to cave in and said, “Yeah. I’m
you tell Devin?”
did he handle it?”
you want some time alone?”
I’m okay. I’ll be in in a minute.”
She closed the
door slowly and quietly as Jon took one last deep breath. He let the air out
and walked inside, sitting down next to his mom and watched reruns of Family
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This is one of the more degenerate things that I’ve written, but I’m pretty proud of the detail. It’s not necessarily for the weakest of stomachs, so proceed as you wish, but you’ve been warned.
“She gets home from the gym every night at 7:30, preheats the oven for whatever dinner she’s cooking for the night, undresses in her room whileleaving the curtains drawn, then she gets into the shower,” the man repeats to himself in his head. “Gym at 7:30, preheats over, undresses for shower, gets shower. Altogether, that probably doesn’t take longer than five minutes. She showers for fifteen minutes if she doesn’t shave her legs, thirty if she does. It’s Tuesday and the last time she shaved them was Saturday, so she should be shaving again tonight.”
The man’s phone vibrated. He silenced it and lifted the dim screen close to his face. It read 7:30. He waited for the sound of a 2013 Dodge Dart to come into the driveway. Approximately three minutes later, the car pulled up. He listened to her close the door, fuss with her keys and open the front door to her house. Lights started shining through the windows, and she walked straight to the kitchen and preheated the oven.
“Gym, oven, undressing.” He repeated to himself. His heart started racing and his eyes focused on her open bedroom window. She entered and took her hair out of the bun that it was in. The way that she put her hands behind her head and shook her hair out through her petite fingers made his heart race faster and his face feel warm.
She stripped out of her pants, revealing red underwear with lace on the sides, his favorite. Sweat stained the top of the underwear and it could be seen where her thighs touched, right around her crotch. The woman lifted her shirt over her head and underneath was a teal sports bra with a logo that he could never seem to make out. She stripped out of her sports bra, showing perky breasts that he fantasized about every night for the past two years. The nipples were small and always pointed when she got home from the gym. Usually by the time she got out of the shower, they were soft and scrumptious how he liked them.
As the woman stepped out of her underwear, her unkempt vagina shined through the pubic hair that covered it. He used to only be attracted to woman with Brazilian waxes, but the second he discovered this gem of a woman, his opinion changed.
He would often
think about think about what her vagina tasted like when they both went to the
same gym. She was the most beautiful of God’s creations, but he could never
build up the courage to ask her out. Back in the days when he still went to the
gym, he’d run on the elliptical when she lifted weights, toning her already
perfect ass, or he’d lift weights when she used the treadmill so that she might
After months of
waiting for her to look at him, he showed up to the gym and waited in his car.
At 7:20, she walked out to her car and that’s when he discovered that she drove
the Dart. He thought that following her would have been too obvious, so night
after night he would park in different parking lots that he knew were in the
direction of her house and watch where she went. In two weeks, he had her
The house was
beautiful, and it was clear that she lived alone without pets after one week of
scouting. He saw the woods and foliage behind the two-story house and starred
through the windows until he knew which room was her bedroom. That’s when he
found out that she stripped every night after the gym with her curtains up and
her beautiful body revealed to whoever was lucky enough to watch from the woods
below. After that, he stopped going to the gym and instead started coming to
her house every night and watching, learning her schedule perfectly. “Gym, oven,
shower,” he repeated, even though she was already about to jump into the
It was already pitch-black and there was a layer of snow on the ground but that didn’t stop him from pulling his rock-hard penis out of his pants and stroking it as he starred at her perfect body. Thinking about her all the time became a chore for him since he couldn’t seem to stop no matter what he tried. He tried online dating apps, asking out woman that he met at the bar and at one point tried a prostitute, but all she did was make him get a shot of penicillin. Eventually, he decided that none of the alternatives would help and he resorted to camping out in the trees, watching her undress and thinking about the taste of her pussy.
With the pair of binoculars that he had stashed away there on one of the earliest nights he sat in the tree, he got a closer look at her body. She had freckles all up her arms and back, and it might have been a core day because she kept reaching her arms up and bending backwards to stretch her abs. The way that her hard nipples reached to the sky with her was enough for him to stroke his cock harder and faster, until he ejaculated off the tree. It fell to the ground into where hundreds of other piles of ejaculate rested.
He zipped up his pants and continued to watch as she walked to the shower, turned on and tested the water, then got in. Scaling down the tree as carefully as he could, he landed on the ground and ran to the sliding glass back door. He tried the handle but it was locked, but he had seen her lock herself out of her apartment one time before, so he opened the shell of a small turtle statue that sat beside the door and grabbed her key. The key slid into the lock and clicked to a satisfying open. Carefully, he put the key back into the turtle and stepped inside the house.
The water heater
was roaring from the basement and the sound of water hitting the floor above
silently calmed him. He knew that his plan was going perfectly. The floorboards
were quiet, so he hardly made a sound as he climbed the stairs to the second
floor. She slept in the master bedroom, which was off to his left, and the
bathroom was connected to that. The door was wide open, and he could hear
singing that attracted him like a siren. Even though he had just masturbated,
his penis hardened again. He reached his hand into his pants and stroked it a
little bit, making it rise even more. He could listen to her voice all day if
he had the time, but he only had about twenty-five more minutes to finish up.
“I’m in love
with the shape of you. We push and pull like a magnet do,” she sang loudly, and
with the grace of an angel.
He walked into
her room and sniffed her pillow. It smelled exactly like what he thought it
would, the scent was a mix of lavender and vanilla. The dirty clothes that she
had stripped out of were laying on the floor beside the bed, and he picked up
her red panties, inhaling deeply to get every odor inside. He slipped the
underwear into his back pocket and did the same with the sports bra.
The song that
she was singing changed to Thriller, “It’s close to midnight. Something evil’s
lurking from the dark. Under the moonlight, you see a sight that almost stops
your heart.” The lyrics turned to mumbling as she forgot the words. He sniffed
her pillow again and then crept towards the open bathroom door.
Steam rose to
the ceiling and covered the mirror with a dense fog. He knew that she never
turned the fan on to get the steam out, and he had always worried that she’d
get some mold and then have to move or spend a few nights somewhere else. Her
singing was captivating, and the scent of lavender and vanilla froze him in
place as he smelled and enjoyed it.
He slipped his
phone out of his pocket, bumping his hand against his now fully-erect penis and
opened YouTube. Clumsily, he typed “”Psycho Violin Screech” and clicked the
first video. It started playing but his phone was still silent. With a quick
move, he paused the video and restarted it, then pulled the knife that he had
strapped to his leg out of its holster. He set the phone down on the sink and
turned the volume up.
He pulled the
dirty panties out of his back pocket and breathed in deeply again, letting her
aroma tickle his lungs. His penis was throbbing and kept telling him to hurry
up. Quickly, he hit play on the video and the sounds rang through the bathroom.
She stopped singing and her hand touched the shower curtain to look out, but it
was too late.
He plunged the
knife into the curtain repeatedly, keeping pace with the violin. She screamed,
but they stopped when he jabbed her in the throat and blood spattered the
curtain and tile walls. Blood ran down the drain just like it did in the movie
and the woman collapsed to the ground. The video stopped and he pulled the
curtain back to see his work.
Her throat, arms
and hands had all been sliced and stabbed. He admired the woman’s chest but
cursed himself, realizing that he had stabbed right through the nipple of her
right breast. Up close, he began admiring the body, letting the shower pelt her
and wash the blood away. There were more freckles on her back than he had ever
seen before, and her pubic hair was actually designed into an imperfect star.
pouring from her wounds and he carried her to her bed, laying her on the pillow
that he had smelled earlier. He crawled into bed with her and curled up under
her limp arm. “I’m so glad to finally meet you,” he said to her. “I always
wanted you to notice me, but I never knew what to say. Oh God, I’m being
ridiculous. I just want to enjoy this moment.” He smelled her newly washed hair
and rubbed his hand on her half-shaven leg.
“I don’t think
it’s too early to tell you that I love you. I know we just met, but I’ve been
thinking about you constantly since I saw you. I never believed in love at
first sight until you came around. Now I’m a true believer, and I’m laying here,
cuddling with you. I never thought this moment would come, but I’m so glad it
He kissed her left
nipple while rubbing her legs and face. “Your hair is softer than I ever would
have guessed. It’s like a field of wheat. I know it’s wet, but I can still tell
that it’s beautiful. And that star? Magnificent! It’s scrumptious. You have no
idea how long I’ve waited to see it up close. Your pussy is God’s finest work,
only in competition with your ass and breasts.
“I love you so
much. I’ve never been happier than I am right now and it’s all thanks to you.
I’d like to show you how much I love you.” He took off his pants and underwear,
his dick throbbed, and he stroked it a few times. “May I?”
regret this. You’re perfect in every way and you’ve made me the happiest man
alive.” He inserted his penis into her vagina, and pumped repeatedly, playing
with both her intact and split tits. “Do you like this? I don’t want to do
anything that you’re uncomfortable with.” Still no answer. “Just tell me if I’m
doing anything that you don’t like. I want you to be as happy as I am.”
For ten minutes,
he made love to the lifeless, cold vagina until he came inside of her. “I know
I should have pulled out, but now that we’re together, I can’t wait to have
kids. They’ll be perfect. If we have a boy, we can name him Bailey. I’ve always
loved that name. If it’s a girl, what about Zoey? Oh, who am I kidding. You can
name the kids. I’ll do whatever you want.
“We could get a dog, too! Can you imagine that? Both of us playing in the backyard with our dog and kids? You have a great yard, so I can just move in here and then I’ll build a fence for you so that the dog can’t get out. I like border collies. What do you like?” The body shifted as he turned to look her in the eyes as he asked the question. “It’s okay if you don’t tell me now! Just think about it and let me know. But I’m tired. Are you ready for bed?” He paused and waited for her answer, staring deeply into her blank eyes. “You look exhausted yourself. Let’s get some sleep.”
He adjusted her
so that she was the little spoon and fell asleep with a smile on her face. The
next morning, he woke up and smelled her, noticing the lavender, vanilla and
rotten flesh. He breathed deeply and then rolled her to her front, having sex
with her again before he showered and made breakfast for two.
amazing,” he said to her as he brought the plates of food to the bedroom. “I
still can’t believe we finally met. I hope you like eggs and toast. I didn’t
see much else around your house so I made what I could. Truthfully, I’m not the
best cook, but now that I have you, that won’t be a problem! I’ve seen you make
all sorts of things and I’d love to learn how to do them with you. I’ve always
thought that cooking is one of the most romantic things that a couple can do
He ate his food
and starred at her plate, “you must not be very hungry. That’s okay. Or, is it
that you don’t like my cooking? I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to disappoint you!
I was just trying to help. I’ll go try again!” Sprinting at full speed, he went
to the kitchen and tried again, making the eggs sunny side up instead of
scrambled, and toasting the bread a little less than last time. “Is that
better?” he asked when he went back to the bedroom.
On the bedside
table, her phone rang. He picked it up. “Hello?”
“Hi, is this
“Yes, it is. Can
I ask what you’re calling about?”
“She hasn’t come
into work today and she’s not the type to not come in without notice. Is she
around? Can I speak with her?”
“She’s a little
busy right now. Can I take a message?”
“Um… yeah. Just
tell her that her boss called.”
He hung up the
phone. “Your boss called,” he said. “It’s not a problem though. I’m sure he’ll
understand. I mean, who is he to interrupt true love?
“Hey, I think
I’m going to go outside and start putting together a fence so that we can get a
dog. It shouldn’t be too hard. Do you have any wood in your basement or
garage?” No answer. “That’s okay. I’ll go look around. Worst-case scenario, I
just dig holes for the posts now and get some later.”
There wasn’t any
wood around the house, so he grabbed a shovel and ran outside, digging quickly
so that he could impress Vanessa. He kept saying “Vanessa” out loud, happy that
he finally knew her name. As he was digging the third hole, a cop car drove up
“Hey,” the cop
said. “Is this Vanessa’s house?”
“Yep!” he said
excitedly. “Why do you ask?”
“I got a call
from her boss and he asked me to check in. What’s your name son? And can I ask
what you’re doing out here with a shovel?”
“My names Tyler.
Vanessa and I are going to get a dog, but we need a fence first. I’m digging
holes for the posts.”
“Okay Tyler. Do
you mind if I talk to Vanessa? Her boss seemed quite worried and I’m sure he’d
be happier if I could let him know that she’s feeling okay.”
“That’s not a
problem officer. Let me get cleaned off a little bit before we go inside so I
don’t track dirt through the house.” He set the shovel down and walked to a
spicket on the side of the house and washed the dirt off of his hands and arms.
“You can park your car in the driveway if you want. Then I’ll show you around.”
cop said, with caution in his voice. “Let me call a buddy of mine first.”
A few minutes
later, another cop pulled up and they all walked around the house. “This is the
living room and kitchen,” Tyler said, extending his arm as if he was holding a
tray of drinks. “She’s probably upstairs though. She might still be asleep.”
One cop took
point while the other stayed behind. When they got to the top of the stairs, Tyler
ran ahead. “One second. Let me give her a heads up so that she doesn’t get
He walked into
the room. “Hey babe, just a heads up, we have some company that want to check
on you. It’s not a big deal. They just want to say hello.” He walked back to
the door and signaled the two cops to come in. “She’s still a little tired so
don’t expect much talking from her.”
The cops walked
in and their faces turned green. The mutilated body was laying still in the bed
and semen had stained the sheets between her wide legs. The cut on her breast
was completely covered in blood and colored with different shades of red, purple,
green and white. Her skin was turning a noticeable blue and the smell was so
strong that one of the cops audibly gagged. They both drew their guns and aimed
“Get on the
ground now! You’re being arrested for the murder of Vanessa Stonebraker!” One
cop pushed him to the ground when he didn’t immediately follow their
instructions and they handcuffed him. They dragged him to his feet and left the
room, leaving the rotting corpse to lie until someone else could come pick it
“You know what
has a nice ring to it?” Tyler asked the cops. “Vanessa Cope. I can’t wait for
her to take my last name.”
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The air wedge slid silently into
the space between the truck door and the window weather stripping. Jonas pumped
up the wedge just enough to fit a five-foot bendable rod through the narrow
opening and into the cabin of the semi. With some finesse, the hook at the end
of the rod grabbed the truck’s door lock, a small, vertical cylinder that, when
pulled straight up, will unlock the door. He struggled to see clearly in the moonlight
and carefully worked to avoid scratching the interior window as he pulled the
rod up. Click! The door unlocked.
At the rest stop that Jonas had come to, there was only one sedan that left shortly after Jonas arrived. There were seven trucks and the one that he was working to unlock was the seventh in line. Now that the door was unlocked, that wasn’t the end of his job. He retrieved his air wedge and bendable rod, slipping them into the small red toolbox that he had sitting on the ground next to him with the words “Harold & Co.” scribed on the outside.
Jonas walked back to his tow truck and placed the toolbox in the passenger seat. He went into the popular truck stop and listened to the dripping of recently running shower heads and the shower curtains blowing in place from the cross breeze created by the opening at the front and back of the building. A quarter dinged its way down a vending machine and a stream of coffee started pouring into the disposable foam cup that Jonas set there. He took a deep breath in as the coffee assaulted his senses, evaporating the crust from his eyes and the oil from his creased, aged hands.
A familiar beep rang from the machine and the coffee finished it’s piddly drip into the cup. Jonas picked it up, placed the rim of the smooth foam on his upper lip and smelled the cheap Colombian mixture. He sat down in a stained green loveseat that was straight out of the 70’s and let the pointed springs poke his denim-covered thighs and ass and laid back into the stain of many locksmiths before him.
Again, he smelled the coffee, listening to the dripping and dropping of the shower heads, waiting for it to cool enough so as to not burn his mouth, but so that he could feel the heat inch down his esophagus. Several minutes passed and he dipped his pinkie into the rejuvenating serum. Just like the final porridge, it was just right. He smelled it one last time and lifted the cup to his mouth, tipping it back and swallowing the almost burning drink.
He pulled his flip-phone from his pocket and opened it. The time was 2:22 AM, and he had no messages. It was late but, with no family to be pulled from, Jonas didn’t mind coming out here at this time of night. Outside, he watched the flickering bulbs of streetlamps hanging overhead, creating a stream of light around the sidewalks that led him from the building to his tow truck and to the semi’s that he was equipped to unlock. With a second and last deep breath, he tipped the remaining contents of the cup into his mouth and put the cup under the nozzle of the coffee machine, adding another quarter.
Jonas pushed himself up from the dated loveseat with a grunt and his hands pushing from his thighs for support. He got up and stretched his arms into the air as high as he could, then bent down to touch his toes, then rocked left to right to stretch his core. He pushed the door open as the stream of coffee started pouring back into the cup. The cold breeze touched his face, his warmed body welcoming the change in temperature. He took in a deep breath, smelling the dew turn to frost on the unkempt grass growing along the sidewalks and buildings outskirts.
truck in line, the one that he had just unlocked, was unmoved. Jonas walked
closer, examining the six trucks before and nothing caught his attention. He
was almost done for the night and he had already finished the hardest part of
this job. A semi blew by the stop, driving up the highway at 70-something miles
per hour, but there were no other cars in sight.
He went back to
his tow truck for the small red toolbox and carried it back to the seventh
semi. Walking back to the truck, he thought about the cheap coffee waiting for
him inside and hurried along, his walk turning to a trot. At the door to the
seventh semi, he put down the toolbox and opened it, pulling out some jumper
cables and a rubber mallet.
and carefully, he gripped the handle to the door and yanked it, the squeaking sound
of a truck with well over 500,000 miles pierced his ears. He pulled himself up
to the cabin and closed the door behind him gently. The door didn’t close
completely, but it was closed enough so that a good gust of wind wouldn’t move
it and cause noise, and so that no cool air would disturb the task at hand.
The cabin was
dirty, but neat. The faux-leather seat was worn and rubbing off at many places.
A stereotypical hula girl bobblehead wiggled slightly on the dashboard with the
movement that he was causing. The odometer was at 673,993 miles and a
minifridge, surely full of lunch meats, soda and beer (as so many of the
independent truckers drove with,) was whirring its engine inside to keep
everything cool. The microwave on top of it was black with wooden accents, and
the smell of splattered foods flooded Jonas’ nose, making him crave the scent
of the sweet coffee waiting for him.
There were two
beds, organized one over the other towards the back of the cabin. The top one
was used as storage for memento’s, such as a birthday card signed by the
trucker’s daughter, a brownish orange stuffed fox and a collection of family
photos. Jonas was surprised by the overwhelming beauty of the trucker’s wife,
as most of the wives are sexy enough to be bridge trolls and only marry
truckers because no one else will take them. He picked up a framed picture from
the top bunk and pulled it close to his eyes to see better in the moonlight.
Rubbing his thumb against the woman, imagining that he pushed her hair back, he
fantasized about having a family with her and if he was the one with a young
daughter at home, but then he shook the thoughts away, afraid to get caught up
in the make-believe like he so often does when he’s doing his job.
He set the
framed picture back down and his attention came to the bottom bed, which was
inhabited by a snoring 40-something year-old man who was sleeping in Star Wars
pajamas and a white blanket. The man snored, held it for eight seconds, then
let it out, this time waiting only four seconds before he repeated the
imperfect cycle. Jonas stared at the man’s balding head and kneeled down in
front of him. The back of his hand rubbed his smooth head, and he savored every
instance of touch that was gifted to him by himself. He ran his hands down the
man’s face, pausing slightly when he stopped snoring, but continued when the
snoring started again.
His skin was
soft, and it reminded him of his childhood, when his parents were around to
give him the cozy life that he wanted, but then those thoughts were replaced by
what he had come here to do. He took the jumper cables and wrapped them around
his hands as tightly as he could and held them above the man’s throat. He
waited for the man to let out his last snore, and then forced the cables into
his Adam’s apple. The man’s eyes shot open with bloodshot tiredness and fear in
them, and he gripped for the cords, desperately pulling them back from his
throat but to no avail, leaving deep cuts from his fingernails where he tried
to rip them away.
The man reached
for Jonas, but he was carefully positioned right outside of his reach, watching
as his bloodshot eyes widened with the knowledge that tunnel vision was taking
hold. Trying to lash out as hard as he could, the man reached for Jonas’s neck,
almost getting hold, but Jonas was able to react fast enough and force him back
into his small bed.
weakly, the man reached his hands up and searched the upper bed for the picture
of his family. He grabbed it with wobbly and unsteady fingers, and held it
close to his face, moving it back and forth, obviously trying to focus in on
the image of his beautiful family. Jonas knew the deed was done when the man
dropped the picture onto his chest and it slid to the floor, breaking the glass
covering his family.
another thirty seconds, but then pulled back form the man whose eyes looked
like they were about to pop from his head. Jonas reached down and got the picture
from the frame and slid it into his chest pocket. He opened the door that he
had come through and took a step out, taking one look back to see his
handywork, and then, picking up his toolbox, walked back into the bitter cold,
thinking only of the coffee that was waiting for him inside. He walked by the
other six semis’, smiling at the thought of how productive this stop had been.
He dropped the toolbox back off at his truck, happy that he didn’t need to use
the mallet here and walked back inside to the uncomfortable green loveseat that
he had been in before.
Jonas lifted the
coffee cup to his upper lip and smelled the serum, then dipped his pinkie in to
test the temperature. When he decided that it was cool enough, he took a sip
and felt the burning inch down his throat, vanish behind the picture of the
recently deceased trucker and his family, and drop into his stomach.
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Art can come from the most unlikely of places, and from the most unlikely of people.
At the thrift store, Marie got an
old lamp with a vintage gold finish. The lampshade was mostly purple and beige,
with large roses of red and white scattered throughout. Green stems stretched
around in every direction, giving the entire thing the look of flowers and ivy
growing up the side of an old brick building. In the 60’s, the lamp would have
been beautiful to all who saw it, but today it looked like the wallpaper in a
house that had been condemned with asbestos, mold and bad structural damage.
She stopped at a fabric supply store on the way home and grabbed styrene, glue and some new scissors with a sharp blade, and drove home giddy with excitement. The last time she treated herself to anything was years ago before she graduated from high school. She chose not to go to college and instead worked in the deli of a local grocer, learning about different types of meats and cuts.
While at the deli, Marie used her off time to figure out what she was really passionate about. In school, she tried cheerleading but was too small to be a spotter and was too scared of being dropped to be a flyer, so she quit after a few practices. She liked her art classes, but she hated everything she made, throwing it away immediately. One of the last activities that she tried to find passion in was reading, but she had a hard time focusing on the letters because they always seemed to move or be organized in nonsensical ways.
After years of feeling lost, she finally found her hobby when an annoying customer came into the Deli and screamed at her. The customer was upset with the cut of the meat that he got, insisting that it was shaved and not sliced, even though she remembered slicing it for her. She even brought a slice of meat to the customer after cutting a piece off and the customer said it was good. The way he lost his mind, screaming for no reason, made her retract to her happy place which was in elementary school, doing arts and crafts.
The second she finished work, she went to get the lamp, knowing that it would take her mind away from her bad day at work. The woman behind the counter at the fabric supply store even told her how to properly take a drum shade from its wire frame and add a new one with different fabric. She helped measure the frame as well because that can be a bit tricky with a drum shade and offered to help measure and cut the new fabric, but Marie left it in her car and politely declined.
Marie got in her
car and drove home with all of the new supplies that she purchased. She went
inside quickly, carrying her new supplies and material, and cut the old fabric
away from the lamp. The wire frame was thin and bent a little as she was pulling
some of the fabric away, but she bent it back into place without affecting the
integrity of the structure. She measured the exact dimensions that she needed
from new material and laid it on the kitchen table that she was using as a work
She flipped the
material over and wiped it with a damp washcloth, then scraped away any of the
impurities that remained. Once the surface was completely dried, she added the
styrene to the center, leaving about half an inch of the material on the bottom
and top, trimmed the material to be aligned with the styrene on the right side,
and left extra hanging over the left.
the bag from the supply store, she grabbed the brand-new bottle of glue from
the bottom and opened it, applying a thin layer to the left side of new
material. She walked to a drawer in her kitchen and pulled out a little clip
that she puts around important bills and then wrapped the lamp shade into a
cylindrical shape, clamping the left and right ends together.
The wire frame
from the old lamp was an imperfect circle, but Marie placed it into the top of
the cylinder and shaped it as well as she could, wrapped the top end of the
material over it, tucking it under the frame and gluing it in place. She then
took another smaller wire and placed it in the bottom of the lamp, doing the
same thing that she had just done to the top.
With the most care
that she gently lowered the undried new lamp shade on the body of the lamp, and
it hung delicately over the bulb. She took it to the desk next to her reading
chair and plugged it in. The bulb flickered on, then held its shine, lighting
up the entire room with a reddish-pink glow that made the boring white walls
look like the setting sun. She sat in her chair and picked up the book that was
sitting next to her and opened to the most recent page that she had read.
The light turned
the yellowed pages a strange orange that felt soothing to her eyes as she read
about proper sewing technique, machines and designs that ranged from Betsy Ross’s
American Flag to Coco Chanel’s first pieces of clothing. The designs inspired
her to improve her skills, but she was still proud of her work. The lamp next
to her was still shining it’s reddish hue and brought a smile to her face.
Marie set her
book down on the arm of the chair and walked to the kitchen to the small sewing
kit in the corner of her room and pulled out a black thread and needle. She
unplugged the lamp and set it in her lamp as she sewed her name into the new
lampshade so that none of her future guests would ever question if it was hers
or someone else’s. Gently, in a cursive writing style, she stitched in “Marie Gein.”
She looked to
the kitchen table at the leftover materials that hung over one of the chairs
that were around it. It was beautiful, covered in unique patterns and colors
that Marie never expected to get her hands on. She stood up and walked up, sitting
in the chair next to the material, staring at the hole that was left from her
cutting some out for the lampshade and smiled.
Inside the hole
was a collection of organs, from kidney’s the heart. She left the entire body
of the man from the deli intact, except for the skin she took from his stomach
and the wound in his neck that was so deep that it almost decapitated him. His
skin had tattoos all over and he was an unpleasant entity in the world, so when
Marie thought about what her hobby could be, she knew at that second; she’d
take undesirables out of the world and turn them into something that people
could be proud of, such as art or a waterproof cover for her book.
The man screamed
at her for no reason, and that was enough for her to make his the next in her
growing line of human art. His head would join the other six that were mounted
on her wall, the rest of his skin would be turned into either part of a sofa or
a sheet for her bed and his organs would be thrown into a meat grinder at work
and sold to the undesirables that she couldn’t get to after her shift.
With a smile,
she dismantled the body, inch by inch, finger by finger, and stored it away to repurpose
it. She decided to make the skin a bedsheet, put the organs in a lunch box to
bring to work tomorrow and used the bones as the beginnings of a throne that
she planned to build for herself and victims. Recently, she got a polaroid
camera and knew that she could turn her house into an art gallery, featuring
the dead sitting on a throne of bones, showing that humans can only survive
from the atrocities of those that came before.
Picture after picture, Marie waved them clear, nailing them to her wall, thinking of how the world would see her and envy her when she was ready to show them her magnum opus. She would sell tickets to her home and allow anyone who came by to admire her work. Still smiling, Marie took off all of her clothes and sat back in her reading chair, also made from the rough, leathery feel of old skin, and laughed to herself as she rubbed her clitoris with one of the deceased customer’s fingers.
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I genuinely don’t know what I would do if I was ever forced into the middle of the ocean and that’s what spawned this piece. Winston Smith of 1984 seems weak until you can compare rats to your own fears.
“I don’t want to hear it anymore,” Dick Yung said. “We need to send someone to Japan or else it’s not gonna get done and you’re the only one here that I trust to do it. If you honestly believe that Nick can do this, then I’ll send him, but you and I both know that he’s borderline retarded.”
“No…” I said. “I’ll go. But you owe me.”
“I don’t owe you shit. You’re doing the job that I’m already paying you to do. We shouldn’t even be having this conversation. You should just do something when I tell you to do it. This isn’t a democracy, and if it was, the company would go under in a week.” I flipped him the bird and left his office. “That’s real nice, asshole. You’re lucky everyone else here is an incompetent fucking moron or else I’d fire you right now.”
It was Tuesday at 4:00 PM and the flight was leaving tomorrow morning at 6:00. I’d depart from LAX and fly nonstop for almost 12 hours to Tokyo. Unfortunately, my company forced me to get my tickets from United, so if I didn’t wimp out and quit my job altogether, I had getting my face beaten in by security to look forward to.
I grabbed my blazer and left quietly so that Dick didn’t look up from the crossword that he was doing at his desk. Smoke plumed from his ears and his face was tomato red. If he made it to retirement, I’d lose a bet with Nick. We both bet five-grand on him having a heart attack or stroke before he turned 65. If he died before, I won. If he died after, Nick won. We only had one rule, neither of us could intervene if he did have an emergency. It wouldn’t be fair if he had a heart attack and Nick saved him. To be fair, I didn’t think Dick would die beforehand, or even retire at 65 since he’s such a fucking piece of work, but it gave me some joy coming into work and seeing his lonely, divorced body coldly laying next to his desk with as much life in it as a used tissue.
Flying wasn’t the problem with this trip. It wasn’t even talking to the Asians on the other side of the 12-hour journey – it was the fact that I had to fly over the ocean. I hated the ocean and I had since I was a kid. My family and I went on vacation to Virginia Beach one year when I was like five or six, and a wave came in and swept me off my feet. It wasn’t a big deal, but I remember the salt water burning my eyes as I searched for the sunlight, trying to figure out which way was up, and which was down. Eventually I stopped getting whipped around and floated to the surface right before my lungs were going to burst. I was about twenty feet from the shore, and I couldn’t tread water. I breathed in but got a lung-full of water while I waved my hand above the calm waves. If my brother hadn’t been keeping an eye on me, I would have drowned.
Another time, when I was about the same age, I went swimming at my grandparent’s house and they had one of those big inflatable things that one person jumps on and launches someone else. Well, I was always too small and scared to get launched, so I kept my distance and swam around in the shallower parts of the pool so that I would stay out of their way. Looking back on it, using one of those in someone’s backyard pool is beyond irresponsible, but it doesn’t matter. Well, what happened was my sister jumped on the inflatable and launched my brother, but then the stupid thing drifted across the water and parked itself above me, who had just taken a shallow breath and kicked off the side of the pool. When I came to the surface, it was right above me and I wasn’t strong enough to push it up. I took another lung-full of water and since then, couldn’t get over my fear of water.
I can’t even tread water very well. My grandma tried to teach me how to float on my back, but I couldn’t calm myself down enough. The second she pulled her hands away from my adolescent back,I thrashed around and sank. I can doggie paddle, do a weak breast and back stroke, but that’s it. That’s only if I can force myself into the pool in the first place.
Before I went into sales, I thought I’d be a marine biologist. The fear that I had for water, grew to a strong curiosity in the ocean and ocean life, but the fear trumped the study and I was left short of breath any time I thought about sharks, whales or whatever else was below the hellish surface. The fear got so bad that when I was young and still took baths, I couldn’t put my head under the water because I was afraid that orca’s (or I guess I called them shamu’s back then) would get into the tub and eat me. For years, I didn’t wash my hair.
After I grew out of the fear that lay within the bathtub, it escalated to swimming pools. I couldn’t swim alone because I was afraid sharks would flood the pool and I’d be trapped, trying desperately to wade through the shallows to get away. To this day, I still struggle to swim alone. My parents have an above ground pool and taking the solar cover off or pushing it back is enough to sweat like crazy.
And that’s why I was so fucking mad that Dick wanted me to fly to Japan. I had never confided my fear in him, and I still wouldn’t because I’d be seen as this anathema in the office and I’d get forced out within a few days; weakness was a death sentence here. I didn’t have a choice but to go on to the stupid trip to explain our breakers to a bunch of foreigners who could have just gotten them from Mitsubishi.
When I got home, I packed my bags with only the essentials: clothes, my work laptop, a 2-ounce bottle of my cologne and a few Xanax to take before the bastards in the NSA rooted through my stuff. I turned on the news to see what kind of weather we’d have tomorrow and unsurprisingly, it called for sun and low winds. I threw three or four Xanax down my throat and drank bourbon out of the bottle until I felt a fuzziness tickle my brain, then I fell asleep with an alarm set for 3:00 AM.
My dreams were full of water, sharks, airline passengers, turbulence and screaming, followed by a deep black that the taste of salt and fish shit. My alarm rang at 3:00 and even though I hit snooze and tried to fall asleep, I couldn’t take my eyes from the ceiling. I dream of the ocean frequently, and it’s never the calmness and serenity that most people find in it. Pulling myself out from under the sheets that stuck to my sweat-covered body, I took a cold shower, downed three cups of coffee and a blueberry bagel covered in strawberry cream cheese before getting a LYFT to take me down the somewhat calm roads to LAX.
I hate the airport, so I took six Xanax and went straight to security, then to my gate. At 4:45, I was seated and watching others join me in the lobby and wait to board. Most were dressed in suits like me, but a few looked like they had just shopped at Goodwill for their entire wardrobe, rolled in mud and showed up. At 5:30, we boarded, and I avoided eye contact with the stewardess’s as I sat in my window seat. The sun was hidden but was starting to light the horizon in the yellow hue of smog that fucked with my asthma.
The Xanax started slowly as I sat there and waited, but I still felt anxious. I was about to fly over the ocean for hours, and then I’d have to come back in a few days. Part of my hoped the plane would crash and I’d die on impact so that I wouldn’t have to endure any more than absolutely necessary.
You know, one of my favorite books was 1984 by Orwell, and I think about the scene that he painted where Winston Smith is staring his biggest fear, rats, in the face. They force him to scream out how he’s had enough, and that he wishes that this was happening to literally anyone else, including the love of his life, Julia. Big Brother breaks him, and it took only a few hungry rats. When I first read through the book, I left thinking Winston was a coward, but now that I’m here, thinking about crashing into the ocean, I’m wondering what I would do. I like to think that I’m strong enough to take the pain myself and embrace the slow death from starvation or dehydration, or the quick death of sharks, but it’s hard to put myself in that mindset without actually being there.
Then, the full effect of the drugs hit, and I fell asleep before they told me how to inflate my lifejacket. If the plane crashed, I wouldn’t want the jacket anyway. I’d prefer to just die than risk surviving a week in my Hell.
Three hours later, I was shaken awake and the pilot was saying something about some turbulence. The man sitting next to me was gripping his armrests tightly and whispering a prayer to himself, while I heard someone behind scream about saying goodbye to their kids and husband. I shook my head, and the Xanax evaporated from my system, sobering me up immediately.
“What’s happening?” I asked the guy next to me.
“B-bad turbulence,” he stuttered.
“Is that all?”
He simply stared out the window to my right and that’s when I saw it – a trail of black smoke going as far back as my craned neck would let me see. The woman behind me was still screaming as an announcement came over the speaker system. “Everyone, please buckle your seatbelts and make sure that your chair is upright,” he said in a voice that was as calm as death. “We will be making an emergency landing on the water below. Hold on tight and brace for impact.”
The altitude changed quickly, and I could feel it in my gut, throat and ears as they struggled to adjust. I threw up directly in front of me and it splashed my shoes and the seat in front of me. Half of the people on board were screaming while the other half stayed silent with their eyes closed. We split the clouds and then deep blue was right below us. I reached into my pocket, looking for more Xanax, but then remembered that I didn’t have any with me. I closed my eyes, held on tight and waited.
The place rumbled as it skipped off the water a few times, then it settled in and landed anti-climactically and started sinking. I looked around and the only casualty seemed to be a woman who hadn’t buckled her seatbelt in the excitement. She had been ejected from her seat and smashed into the front of the cabin, splattering it with blood. I struggled to unbuckle the seat belt and became aware of the pain that stretched across my chest, but the pain vanished when I saw water soak my shoes; I was exactly where I didn’t want to be.
I stood up as the cockpit door opened and the pilot stood in its place. “Just like we practiced before, put on your life jacket and leave through the emergency exits to your left and right.” A few rows up, people started flooding out of the door, all wearing their bright orange lifejackets. I looked around as the guy next to me stood up and ran to the door.
“Hey, where’d you get the jacket?” I asked him.
“Lifejacket! Where’s the lifejacket!”
“Under your seat!” He waded through the ankle-deep water and left through the door as it flooded in. I reached below and grabbed the lifejacket and then pulled the cord; instinct totally took over and before I knew it, I was floating outside the plane, watching it fall beneath the surface.
Then I was suddenly aware of the studying I had done about sharks when I was younger. “They are attracted to wounded animals, so they seek out blood and loud noises, such as thrashing.” We were the thrashing wounded animal. We were shark food, and we were all wearing stupid bright lifejackets that would lead them straight to us.
We were alone… in the ocean. I don’t know how long it would take for help to find us, but I didn’t want to find out. I couldn’t. The water wasn’t too cold, and the current wasn’t bad, but as everyone was cheering and happy for their lives, I was being prepared as shark food.
I started shaking and hyperventilating, looking around as if there was something to grab or hold onto, but there was nothing. I was just this guy in the ocean, and I was surrounded by people dumb enough to think God will save them or that their families matter right now. Right now, all that matters is getting out of this fucking ocean as soon as humanly fucking possible!
The pilot was trying to get everyone clumped together, saying that “staying together is our best chance at survival,” and although he was right (at least for sharks) it didn’t matter. For miles, sharks would smell the blood of the woman smashed against the front of the plane because she wasn’t smart enough to wear her fucking seatbelt! Chances are we’d be fucked because one of the women on here was on their period or someone doesn’t know how to cut a bagel without hurting themselves, but right now that retard was getting the sharks appetite ready for a feeding frenzy.
I joined the rest of the passengers as the plane completely submerged itself under the ocean, and a wave rocked all of us as we tried to keep our armed interlocked. It needed to end right now. Great Whites are probably swimming at us from underwater, about to launch into the air and eat us like seals. Fucking Christ, we’re fucking done for.
My lifejacket was the only thing keeping me from sinking. My legs flailed around, frantically trying to learn how to tread water, but all it would do is make me the first target of their feast. I’m the weakest one out here and the sharks know it.
I ripped my lifejacket off and took a deep breath. “What the fuck are you doing!” the pilot screamed. “Keep your jacket on! We need all the help we can get right now, and deadweight isn’t going to help!”
I took a deep breath and dove deep underwater. Kicking with my feet and doing my best attempt at a diving, I swam lower and lower into the water. My eyes burned as I looked around to see what was near me, but it was completely empty, which is scarier than if it was full of sharks; the only thing worse than certain death is uncertain death.
I dove farther and harder, until my arms, legs and lungs were sore. The ocean was dark, and I was about fifty or sixty feet below the other passengers. They were all looking down at me like I had lost my mind, but I was the sanest person out of all of them.
I coughed and breathed in water, gasping like I had when I was a boy at Virginia Beach. It feels like breathing, but you keep inhaling to get air, but water floods your lungs leaving you breathless, but with a feeling like you should have air.
My vision started to blur as I knew my time was coming to an end. I was either going to float to the surface as an overinflated corpse, sink to the depths, or be torn to shreds by sharks before I could go anywhere. The pain of drowning is worse than I had imagined, but the swiftness was therapeutic. My sight turned to tunnel-vision, then black as I saw a large shape speed toward me.
Winston Smith and the rats were the last things to enter my thoughts as my brain lost function. If Big Brother got hold of me and put me in the ocean, I’d do exactly what I’m doing now. If they wouldn’t let me, I’d wish this fear and pain on anyone and everyone just to end it faster.
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I’m either a closet sociopath or the stuff I write is stuff that everyone thinks about but doesn’t say aloud. No matter which is true, I’m not worried about it.
The parking lot was unpaved and bumpy, shaking the car like it was like a pirate ship sailing over the seven seas. Only two handicapped parking spots were in decent condition. “I’d lose a limb to get one of those spots. Then at least my car won’t scream for help anytime there’s a level change,” Kyle thought to himself.
His wife Debra was sitting next to him, holding onto the door handle so as to not bounce around too much. “Can you drive a little more carefully?” she asked with a voice as smooth as chocolate. “My foot already hurts enough, and this isn’t making it any better.”
“Then you’re going to hate walking over it. This lot’s a fucking mess.”
“I can tell.”
“You’d think they’d make the parking lot in front of a podiatrists office walkable.”
“I mean honestly, this would be like forcing a diabetic to walk through a candy shop just to get their insulin. It’s ridiculous.”
“You’re right, but what can you do?” she asked in a matter-of-fact tone.
“Nothing. You can never do fucking anything.”
Kyle backed into a spot between two gray sedans. The only other open spot in the lot had a pile of rocks that was taller than the gray sedan that they were driving in, and there’d be just enough room to open the car door and scream obscenities because no one could get in or out. “Can you hold this for a second?” Debra asked Kyle, handing him her purse.
Without a word, they walked through the minefield of a parking lot and onto an equally bumpy sidewalk that led to the door; fingerprints covered the glass entrance from top to bottom on both inside and outside, and it looked like it hadn’t been cleaned since the Dust Bowl. “Do you have an appointment?” the receptionist asked as they walked in.
“Yeah,” Debra said. “It should be under Talbot.”
“Yep, that’s me.”
“What’s your birth date?”
“Seven eight, eighty-seven.”
“Perfect. You can sit down, and we’ll call you in when Dr. Bell is ready.”
“Thank you.” Debra sat down at in the narrow waiting room and Kyle sat next to her. Two rows of chairs sat parallel to each other and a TV had the Home & Garden network blaring the newest trends in interior decorating. Kyle opened the book in his hand and turned to the popsicle stick bookmark that stuck out of the top. The bottom third of the stick was a light brown, but the top was tinted red and had a small stench of cherry. A joke shined through the coloring; “Where do spaghetti and sauce go to dance?” the stick read. “The Meat Ball.” Kyle never thought it was that funny of a joke, but Debra cried of laughter for about ten minutes after the punchline was revealed two years ago. Even now, she would still chuckle when she saw the punchline.
Sitting across from them was a mother, her teenaged daughter and teenaged son. They weren’t talking until we sat down, and then they began talking about the books that they’ve been reading recently. “I won’t read anything unless it’s non-fiction,” the mother said in a pretentious tone to her kids. “What’s the point of reading if you’re not going to learn something from it? I’d rather read something where I can better myself than some silly fiction book.”
Slaughterhouse-Five was sitting in Kyle’s lap, opened to the most recent page that he had been reading, but he couldn’t focus. “I just don’t get the point,” she continued. “Most women my age read books with Fabio on the cover, and it’s just immature.”
“Who’s Fabio?” her son asked.
“Yeah,” her daughter echoed. “who is that?”
“You don’t know who Fabio is? Then I’m really showing my age,” the mom said. “He’s the guy on the cover of almost every romance novel in existence. Here,” she took out her phone, “let me show you a picture.”
Kyle exhaled, trying not to show his anger. “This woman is openly judging my choice of book, but this bitch doesn’t know anything,” he thought to himself. “She says that she’ll only read to better herself, but I bet she’s as retarded as they come; probably just another basic bitch of a housewife.”
“That’s him?” the daughter laughed as she looked at her mom’s phone. “He looks terrible.”
“Like, look at his hair!” the son laughed.
“That’s what most women my age like. You’re lucky you have a cool mom like me.”
Kyle zoned out. He couldn’t listen to this prick anymore. “She sounds like she had the most horrific god-complex in existence, and what’s worse is she thinks people respect it,” he thought to himself again.
“Debra?” the doctor opened a door in the lobby and held it there. “Come on back. Let’s get that toe looked at.”
“I’ll be back out soon,” Debra told Kyle, “I love you.”
“Love you too.”
She disappeared behind the door, and Kyle was left trying to focus on either the book or TV, but neither could completely tune out the pompous assholes across the room. A car roared up the gravel parking lot and spun into the handicapped spots, launching rocks at the grimy door. Seconds later, another older woman walked through, and she gave the off the aroma of arrogance in the way that she walked.
The woman signed in and then sat next to Kyle, even though there were enough chairs in the waiting room for her to put space between them. She craned her neck to look at the TV, and her eyes glowed for a second, but Kyle couldn’t tell if it was excitement for the most mundane programming in the world, or if it was literally just the glow of the TV, then she opened her mouth.
No words crossed her overly decorated lips, instead, it was the arrhythmic sound of her teeth slapping a piece of gum with her mouth hanging open, like a cow chewing cud. The chewing took Kyle to a different plane of existence where he could hear nothing but her inconsiderate mouth. “It was worse than nails on a chalkboard, because at least with nails on a chalkboard the person doing it knows they’re an asshole. This woman has no fucking clue that she’s driving me insane.”
Her neck arched back to look forward as she looked around the waiting room, but then her phone rang with that generic chiming ringtone that everyone hated. She dug through her bag for upwards of fifteen seconds before she found her phone and then answered the call. “Hello?” she said, still chewing gum loudly. She popped a bubble with the sound strong enough to blow Kyle’s brain out and sucked it back in through her mouth. “No, I’m not busy. What’s up?”
The woman picked up a magazine and flipped through the plastic pages absent-mindedly while pretending to listen to whomever was on the other side of the phone. “Oh my god, are you serious?” she said in a tone that proved her lack of interest and commitment to the conversation. “That’s crazy,” said the inconsiderate bitch. Another page flipped by and another bubble blasted through the waiting room.
“Are you serious?” she said again. “I don’t believe you.”
Kyle thought about how he would feel to be on the other side of the phone talking to this cunt. He’d be irate to the nth degree. “How could anyone be okay with talking to this idiot?”
She had a wedding ring on her finger and the same demeanor as the mom sitting across from her, thinking that she was better than everyone. “I bet this cunt’s a soccer mom. And her kids probably hate her. ‘Eat your oranges’ she’d say, so that they can be big and strong, and ultimately bully the other kids that they go to school with to get rid of the frustration that they have bottled up for her and don’t understand yet.”
The gum popped again, ricocheting through the room, almost hitting and killing the woman’s son as he scrolled through something on his phone. Kyle got up. He had to. This room was quickly killing him.
He stepped outside to get some fresh air. The sun was beaming down, but it was frigid, and Kyle’s coat wasn’t doing enough to protect him from the cold. Right in front of him was the gum-chewing bitch’s car. It was an SUV. “I’m sure she brags about this to all of her other mom friends while her husband’s at work,” he laughed to himself. “I’m positive that her husband is cheating on her with his secretary. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is exactly what’s happening.”
Kyle took a few steps around the automobile and stopped. He realized how easy it would be to cut her brake line. “Surely it would make her husband and kids happier, plus she’d stop chewing gum like the grossest of abominations.” In his head, the scene played out over and over: he’d cut the brake line, she’d drive home and crash into someone bumper while she was on the phone with someone listening to her chew her gum. He hoped that she wouldn’t wear her seat belt, so that she’d get launched through the windshield, then even if she didn’t die, she’d be disfigured enough to hate her own superficial face.
He seriously contemplated it for a minute or two when he was overcome with this drive that he’d never felt before. Running to the gray sedan that he and Debra pulled up in, he opened the trunk to grab his compound snips, which was in his roadside tool set. The orange and gray box closed as the knife slid into his pocket.
Calmly and as inconspicuously as he could, he walked through the bumpy parking lot and crouched next to the SUV. He pulled himself underneath and looked at all of the different tubing when he found the brake line. The tool seemed to float up, ready to cut without any external intervention.
“Kyle?” a voice, which he recognized as Debra’s called out. “Are you out here?”
“Yeah,” he said, slipping the tool into his pocket before he cut the line.
“What are you doing under there?”
He thought for a second as he pulled himself out and got to his feet. “The woman in there said she heard a rattling in her car, and I said I’d take a look.” He lifted his thumb to the glass door, seeing his lying reflection look back at him, pretending to give the woman confirmation that everything was fine.
“That’s sweet,” Debra said, throwing her arms over Kyle’s shoulders and wrapping around his neck. She kissed him on the cheek. “You’re covered in dust. You should shower when we get home.”
“I know. I will. How’s your toe?”
“He said to come back in a few days and he’ll surgically remove it. He said that a toenail that gives this many problems in six months needs to go.”
“At least it’ll be taken care of.”
They got in the car and drove home. When Kyle pulled into the garage, he set the snips on his workbench and went inside to shower. Debra had gone straight inside and grabbed a bag of chips, which she was chewing to the beat of a machine gun.
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This is something that I think is pretty comedic. I used journal entries as the way to tell the story since I recently finished Bram Stoker’s Dracula and I wanted to experiment. Personally, I thought the piece was interesting and spawned simply by me driving passed a pile of free firewood and letting my fucked up mind do the rest.
Friday, October 4th, 2019
Work was shit as usual. I came in today and my boss had left my paycheck on my desk. I work 40 hours a week, and the most I can get is still like $13.50 an hour? I feel this way every week, but it’s been getting worse recently. To think that I went to college and I’m making less than if I became a plumber or roofer or something. Everyone who told me that I needed college when I was growing up is a fucking moron and I wouldn’t wish it on my enemies. What’s gonna happen if I need a new car or something? Then I’ll need to get a second job just to make enough money to go to the first job that I already hate. I constantly feel exhausted and nothing seems to make it any better. I thought I’d try journaling, but I know no one’s going to read this, and I don’t feel any better about anything. I’ll try again tomorrow and see if it’s any different.
Saturday, October 5th, 2019
Today wasn’t as bad since I didn’t have to work, but I still didn’t do anything that mattered. I sat on my ass all day and watched episodes of shows that I’ve already seen and don’t care about at all. The characters are the same and the shenanigans are the same too. For dinner, I had a frozen pizza that wasn’t so bad, but I know I should have eaten more. I skipped breakfast and lunch for no reason other than that I was feeling lazy and didn’t wanna get up. I should drink more water. Maybe that’ll give me more energy. I should eat some vegetables too.
Monday, October 6th, 2019
I forgot to do the journal yesterday, but I promise you (as if anyone’s going to read this) that nothing noteworthy happened. I just did the same thing as Saturday; I sat down and watched shitty TV shows and felt bad for myself.
Today at work was no different. My boss, Madeline, called me out for not hitting my quota again. I’m so sick of that cunt breathing down my neck. I’d hate to be her husband or kids, because I’m sure none of them have experienced fun in a long time. Sometimes I think about what it would feel like to get promoted to her position. Being a manager wouldn’t be fun, but at least my pay wouldn’t rely totally on commission. I’d get a dog or something and then I’d enjoy being in my apartment a little bit more. I’d rather have a dog that pisses all over the furniture than spend another minute alone at home. I think it’d be fun to drive home and have a dog waiting at the door for me, excited to have me back. I’d train it to not pee on the carpet, but I wouldn’t get mad if it did. It would give me some responsibility that isn’t totally reliant upon sales or my stupid job.
Tuesday, October 7th, 2019
I hate my job. One of my coworkers made a $60,000 sale while I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel with the terrible leads they gave me. Madeline has to understand what kind of pressure she’s putting on me. I was fucked the second I started working at the Gazette. Who the fuck buys newspapers anymore anyway? Not only that, why would a small business want to advertise in the paper? The only ones that do are the ones that will be replaced by another business in a few years or the ones that have so much extra capital that they throw money away like trash. I can’t even touch those clients because other people already have them. When I started the territory that I was assigned had been picked over since the last guy left, that meant I had a shitty hand already and there’s only so much that I can do about it. My coworkers annoy me to no end also. One of my female coworkers called a client, and then, after they picked up, they started eating an apple straight into the headset. That’s one of the most unprofessional things I’ve ever seen. Granted, this is the same woman who said that my other coworker was a scumbag because he helps his daughters sell Girl Scout cookies, furthering the obesity epidemic in America. She’s such a stupid fucking bitch.
Wednesday, October 8th, 2019
When I left work today, I noticed a pile of wood outside of some business that said “free firewood” on a sign next to it. I think it’d be nice to have a fire at my apartment. Maybe it would help me get out of my head a little bit and relax with the sweet sounds of crackling wood. Tomorrow I’ll stop by and see if it’s still there.
I’ve been thinking about getting a dog a lot more than usual. Maybe I’ll get one of those soon too. I’ve always loved dachshunds, so maybe I’ll get a girl and call her Tabbie; I’ve always loved that name for a dog. I know the name will probably change after I meet it, but it’s still a cute name.
The journal isn’t helping very much, but it’s something that keeps my mind away from work for a little bit, so it’s not all bad, even though it’s time-consuming.
Thursday, October 9th, 2019
None of the firewood had been taken when I stopped there after work. No one was around when I picked it up. I just showed up, grabbed the wood and left. There weren’t even any camera’s around, even though it was right in front of some store. That’s the kind of place that’ll end up getting robbed at some point.
I stopped at the humane society today and looked at dogs. They didn’t have any dogs that seemed friendly enough so instead I played with one of their cats for an hour or so. He was cute and I might get him. I was hoping for a dog because I wanted it to care for me and make me feel wanted, but maybe letting a little cat curl up on my lap would be good enough.
Friday, October 10, 2019
I got the cat. He’s really fuzzy and his fur is a mix of black, white and gray. I named him Harker, since Dracula is one of my favorite books of all time. The name seems to fit him well and I think he likes it. I got him a few cans of soft food and a bag of hard food to see what he likes more. He’s a little older (the humane society guessed about four-years-old) and it’s fun to walk around my apartment and introduce him to everything. I tried to call him onto my lap while I was eating and watching TV, but he wouldn’t come. He just laid in front of the fireplace which I had thrown the logs into so that I didn’t have to turn my heaters on yet.
Work sucked as usual. Madeline is still trying to get me to use the old methods of selling by basically harassing a customer, but that’s not my style. I like to see if I can actually help them instead of just stealing their money and giving them a shitty product that doesn’t work.
Saturday, October 11, 2019
My alarm woke me up right at 7:00 AM and I drove straight to the pet store down the street. I wanted to let Harker feel a little more comfortable at home, so I got a cat tower. It wasn’t super tall, but it was a start. It’s the first decoration that I’ve put up since I moved here in March and it lit the place up a bit.
He still seems to love the fireplace, even when there isn’t a fire roaring, so on Monday I’ll grab some more wood. Sometimes Harker let’s me rub his belly which happened way earlier than I expected it too. He doesn’t even do what my parents’ old cat, Ruby, would do, which was claw you after a few seconds of petting.
Sunday, October 12th, 2019
I don’t have much to write today. Harker seems to like the wet food that I got him more than the dry, but all he really does is lick off the broth and walk away. He’s started to claw the carpet, but I don’t mind as much as I thought I would. I already love him. I’m nervous to leave him alone to go to work though. I don’t want him to get lonely.
Monday, October 13th, 2019
Going to work this morning was hard since I didn’t wanna leave Harker, but I did it anyway. Madeline was waiting at my desk when I walked in and she called me into her office to ream me for my performance again. I wonder if she gets as tired from saying it as I do hearing it. I doubt it though. She’s a bitch and probably flicks her bean to the thought of ruining someone’s day. Part of me hopes that I get fired so that I can spend more time with Harker, but I need the money.
I stopped to grab more firewood before going home. When I lit the fire, Harker rolled over and let me pet his belly. We sat together and watched TV. He’s such a nice cat. I can’t believe it took me so long to get one.
Wednesday, October 15th, 2019
I forgot to do the journal again yesterday. All that happened was Madeline riding my ass again. Sometimes I wish I could just hit her in the face with a brick and walk out, but I suppose I shouldn’t burn the one bridge that I have. Then again, with how she treats me, I’m sure any recommendation that she’d give me wouldn’t be worth it anyway.
Harker was happy when I brought him more firewood today. There isn’t a lot left in front of the shop. It’s mostly some pallets that I’ve been avoiding because I don’t want to break them down. I might just buy some logs from the store or something. As for Harker though, he was spending time at the top of the cat tower (which I built yesterday) and looking over his land like Simba. I played that one song from Lion King and watched as he scanned his domain. It was like he was the king of my apartment, and at this point he kind of is.
Thursday, October 16th, 2019
Something weird happened today when I was driving home from work. Maybe it was because Madeline used her day to belittle me again, or maybe it was something else, but regardless, it was a bit weird. As I drove passed the pallets, I had the idea to lay a trap inside of it, so that whomever is unlucky enough to lift a specific pallet, a poison dart would shoot out at them and they’d die. It scared me to think that way, but at the same time, it was soothing to think about such a quick, unattached way for someone to die. It didn’t matter if they had a family or anything, it wouldn’t be targeted, it would just happen. If I got lucky, Madeline could be the one that lifts the pallet. But if I really wanted to wish harm on her, I wouldn’t take any chances. I’d be sure to do it right the first time.
On a different, more positive note, Harker laid on my lap today instead of in front of the fireplace. I think he’s starting to warm up to me (I didn’t mean to write the pun, but I’m glad it happened) and maybe soon he’ll sleep with me. As long as he doesn’t try to lay on my chest, I’d be fine. I just think I’d struggle to breathe if he laid there. Damn asthma and allergies.
Friday, October 17th, 2019
I got another paycheck today and it was a piddly as the rest. It’s criminal that I get paid that little for the amount of work I do for the Gazette. It’s like they don’t care about me, or any of their employees, at all. Madeline called me into her office and said again that I needed to up my numbers. I nodded my head understandably, but I didn’t listen to a damn word she said. I’d love to see her try to sell this shit. I’d rather work for an MLM selling my friends shitty hair products that will probably make them go blind, bald and deaf.
Harker is my only real ray of sunshine anymore. Now that we’re getting further into October, the days are shorter, and the sun seems to set at around 2:00 PM. When I drive home, I have a queer smile on my face, just thinking about rubbing Harker’s belly.
When I passed the pallets, I saw that none of them had moved and the same unpleasant thought that entered my head before came back. It would be easy to rig a pressure sensor to a dart gun that shoots a poison-tipped dart fast enough to pierce someone’s skin if they lift the top pallet. There aren’t camera’s there so as long as I did it when it was dark out, I’d be fine. Harker’s rubbing against my leg so I’m going to stop writing this for the night. We’re gonna watch Lion King together.
Saturday, October 18th, 2019
Harker seemed a little bored today, so I went to the store to grab a few things. I bought toys, treats and a little mouse thing that can hold treats inside. If he hits it in the right way, he’ll be rewarded by one of the treats inside. He played with all of them and after I was done harassing him with the catnip, we watched another movie, this time Madagascar. I like showing him big cats even though I know they’re just kid’s movies.
While I was at the store, I grabbed the tools to make the contraption that I was writing about yesterday. It shouldn’t take me too long to put it together. Google is one hell of a resource. All I had to do was look up how to make a pressure sensor and then it was basically done. As for the dart gun, I bought one dart, a tube and a tiny air cannon. The idea is that when the pressure is lifted from the pressure pad, the dart will fire into who lifted it. Instead of poison (since I didn’t know how to get it) I barbed the tip of the dart with a knife and dipped it into stuff that people are allergic to, such as peanut butter, cats and some other stuff that I had lying around the house.
Sunday, October 19th, 2019
Sunday must be my lazy day, because I never know what to write. I played with Harker all day and that was about it. Besides that, I finished up my little contraption and tested it. The dart poked a hole in my wall, but I’m sure no one would notice when it came time for me to move out.
Monday, October 20th, 2019
The second I walked into the office Madeline was already yelling, not just at me, but at everyone. “Our numbers are down,” she’d say while pacing back and forth. “Corporate is going to be furious!” Everyone trembled at the same time, but I’d been yelled at so much more that I wasn’t fazed. I just sat at my desk and doodled. I’ll probably quit soon, so what’s the point at trying to make sales anyway? Morally, I find it strange to sell people stuff that they don’t need or want for a company that doesn’t care about its employees.
I drove home after a long day of doing nothing at work and fed Harker his wet food. He laid with me until about 11:00 PM which is when I drove out to the wooden pallets. One must have been taken over the weekend, because there seemed to be one less. I lifted the top pallet and set it on the sensor, placing the dart gun right where it needed to be so that it would fire into whoever picked up the next pallet. I went home and fell asleep calmly.
Tuesday, October 21st, 2019
No news about the pallet yet. I went to work but left early to spend time with Harker. He’s such a good cat and makes me feel better. I like when he wags his tail and I kinda push it back and forth. It’s kind of hypnotizing in a way that relaxes me. I’m already feeling tired and it’s only 7:00 PM. I’ll just go to bed now.
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2019
Still no news about the pallets. Madeline was just as bitchy as usual today and I heard her arguing with someone over the phone in her office. I think she’s getting yelled at by corporate. I wouldn’t be surprised if layoffs started happening at this place soon. Everyone knows it’s coming, it’s just a matter of who and when. It’ll probably be me since I have some of the lowest sales numbers, and I welcome it. Working here is driving me insane. It seems so strange to me that it’s okay for a person to go to work and hate it for almost nine total hours and then spend five at home enjoying themselves, then sleeping for eight hours, and that’s their whole life. I’m just glad I got Harker when I did. He makes me happier every morning when I wake up next to him and every night when he crawls up next to my thigh.
Thursday, October 23rd, 2019
This morning I woke up to the news which was talking about a “local terrorist” or something like that. I sat through the segment, running a little bit late for work because of it. No one seemed to have any idea why anyone would do it and insisted that “Mr. Boyle was just in the wrong place at the wrong time”, and that “his peanut allergy was the thing that finally killed him.” Harker was rubbing against my leg the entire time, so I picked him up and I rubbed his head until his purrs made the chair vibrate.
I went into work to everyone talking about what had happened, but that conversation was ended quickly when Madeline came out of her office and started screaming again.
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This piece is graphic. It is entirely a work of fiction and does not reflect my view of the world. There is crime, racial terminology and other undesirable viewpoints that were used to reflect the era that this work took place in. It is not meant to offend anyone, so do not read it unless you can take it.
Franklin and Clara Price walked under the flowered archways to the front door, and were then greeted by a lanky, Caucasian fellow. “Welcome to the party,” he said. Franklin noticed that he wasn’t wearing a nametag and assumed that it was the yacht club’s way of showing that he was less than dirt to the patrons. “Would you like me to take your coat, ma’am?”
“No thank you dear,” Clara said.
Franklin handed the keys and a crisp $20 bill to the man. “Park around back if you would.”
“My pleasure,” he said with a smile that, if the sun hit it just right, could light the thick, mink fur that Clara was wearing.
Before Franklin and Clara could step fully into the door, a woman holding a tray of hor d’oeuvres approached. Clara took one and Franklin passed. Caviar and Crème fraîche tartlets were among Clara’s least favorite, as she detested caviar, always telling Franklin that it tasted the same as a saltlick, but Franklin threw it back and swallowed it with a glass of champagne that another of the wait staff had presented; he could have sworn that it was Dom Perignon, but couldn’t decide between that and some cheap knock-off, but he would never say that out loud. He feared that thinking it would be enough for someone like Stephan to scoff, so he finished the glass quickly to push his mind onto the next topic.
“Oh Clara, you look just wonderful darling!” Jasmine Shaw yelled from across the room. In her left hand was a glass of champagne and in her liver was the previous three. “It’s been too long,” she stumbled, “but you haven’t aged a day.”
“Thank you, Jasmine,” Clara smiled, obviously disgusted by the drunkenness, but Jasmine wasn’t sober enough to notice. “I love those pearls! Did Dominic give them to you?”
“You don’t know?” She hiccupped. “That bastard Dom and I separated months ago. Turns out he was sleeping with our maid all along.”
“I’m sorry to-”
“Oh please, don’t pity me.” She held out her hand and showed a 24-karat diamond on a small silver ring. “Apparently all of the extra – hiccup – extra hush money that he was paying the pool boy was enough for him to afford this. With all of the alimony I’m raking in from Dom, I’d say this all worked out for the best.”
Franklin was looking around the room, desperately trying to get away from the conversation at hand. All he could think was that he was impressed at Jasmine’s lack of slurred words and that he would love to take Clara to the bathroom right now and fuck her brains out. Her mink fur was what drew in eyes from around the room, but he couldn’t stop thinking about what she had on underneath; she was sporting a stunning black dress, maybe Prada or Louis Vuitton, but what mattered was that beneath that was nothing but a scrumptious body that was to be devoured after this boring excursion.
“Evenin’ Franklin,” Ronald Hayes said, “I can’t believe you haven’t escaped to the bar yet.” He slipped a glass into my hand. It smelled like his favorite, a 12-year-old Lagavulin on the rocks. The poignant smell burnt his nose hair. He had a bad habit of reaching into the glass and grabbing a piece of ice and sucking it during a conversation. His fingers struggled to find a piece as he chased them around the glass, but then it settled in his right cheek and sipped the tainted beverage.
“Thanks. I don’t know what I was thinking,” he shifted the ice to his left cheek. “These things always remind me how much of a fucking accessory we are.”
“Right? For fuckssake, we make all the money and we’re still the one’s paraded around like we’re no better than cattle, or even the fucking waiters here. They don’t even have nametags, see that?”
“Of course, I did. I’m not surprised. The Griswold’s are one of the only families that seem to own slaves and get away with it. I’m surprised the niggers haven’t burnt this place to the ground in some retaliation yet.”
“Pfffpt, you know Charles probably knocked up one of them bartenders when the Mrs. was off fuckin’ some other idiot. As long as Charles’ whippin’ arm stays strong, this place will, too.”
Franklin and Ronald walked to a bookshelf and pulled the third book from the right on the second shelf from the top. Gears shifted behind the shelf and hundreds of little ticks and clicks resonated through the fake pages. It opened and a gust of wind went in, chilling the hairs on the back of Franklin’s neck.
The bar was padded with brown leather and the seats were red swivel chairs that probably came straight from prohibition. Couches lined the walls and cigar smoke loomed above them. Franklin thought that if a fire started in here, everyone would be dead before they even noticed, asphyxiated by their own vices.
“Another Old Fashioned for me,” Ronald said to the bartender. He looked at her gut while she prepared the drink, “so think?” he whispered to Franklin.
“Na, she’s too skinny for him,” he said, not even pretending to lower his voice. “You know he goes after the one’s that could out eat a bear.”
“Ha! You’re right. He’d probably fuck some queer before he fucked a skinny chick.”
The bartender put the drink on the bar with a smile and turned to wipe an already clean surface. Franklin shifted the half-melted ice cube to the right side of his mouth. The gears of the shelf turned again and in came Reginald Fisch, whose last name suited him well. His ex-wife sued him for everything he was worth after he had an affair with her sister and he practically bent over and let her rape him in the ass; he lost more than most poor men make in a lifetime.
“How the fuck did he even get in here?” Ronald asked. “Don’t they leave shark bait out back for the seagulls?”
“Hey Shark Bait, did the shark finally get bored of taking all your money?” Franklin laughed.
“Fuck you Frank.” Franklin cringed. He hated when people called him Frank. “I got your wife to let me in. She said she wanted someone who could satisfy her.”
“Oh yeah, I’m sure that’s what happened. We’ve all talked to your Tina (his ex-wife) before. What does she call you? Not Reginald or Shark Bait… was it – Ron, help me out.”
“Ya know, I think it was… the pistol? Because you shot once and then were as spent as the money she was taking from you? Or is it two-minute Reg, who on a good day could last about as long as the Wright Brother’s first flight. No, wait, I got a better one! She called you the Ninja, because she didn’t feel a thing by the time you were done.”
“Martini please,” he grunted at the bartender. “Fuck you guys. I try to step out and have a quiet drink and this is what I get instead?”
“I don’t know what else you’d expect from us,” Ronald said. “You were dealt a shit hand when your whore of a mom named you Reginald. It’s not our fault that you’re a fucking joke.”
Reginald downed the whole drink in one sip and asked for another with extra olives. That was his routine. Franklin and Ronald would make fun of him until he was drunk, and then he’d get so drunk that he’d fuck someone in the broom closet, and then they’d have more insults to throw at him next time an event like this came around.
“You know what, keep them coming until I can’t see straight,” Reginald said to the bartender. “You’ll know I can’t see straight when I start hitting on you.” She smiled passively and made the drink, continuing to wash the same spot that she had last time. Reginald turned to Franklin and Ronald and said, “all jokes aside, you’d think Charles would hire some half-decent help. He keeps hiring from ugliest sluts imaginable and then asks why we don’t come by as often as we used to.”
Franklin took a second to think about what Shark Bait had said, but then smirked at the thought of him fucking her in the closet later. If he was lucky, Shark Bait would knock her up, then they wouldn’t even have to get him drunk to make fun of him, they’d just reference his biracial 3/5th of a kid, or the abortion that he had to have. Then again, last time he knocked up some random girl, he decided that it’d be more worth his money to just get her killed than force an abortion. Reginald would always boast about how amazing the help can be when you have an extra ten grand lying around.
Clara and Jasmine walked to the balcony and stepped out. The air was brisk, but the fur shielded her from the frigid breeze. Jasmine was in a sleeveless, Vera Wang dress, but the champagne did enough to protect her from the cold. “Come on dear, I’m telling you that Dominic cheating on me was the best thing that could have happened. I mean, if that hadn’t happened, I’d still be the same, sexually unsatisfied woman as before, with a man that couldn’t care less about me. I mean, with the money that he’s giving me, I’ve been able to pay some attractive young men to do whatever I say. They’re the be – hiccup – st at giving me what I want. If you dangle some loose change in front of them, they’ll drool at the chance to pleasure you.
“If you give them enough, they’ll give you a neck, back and foot rub, and then eat you out like you’re a goddamned ice cream cone.” Clara took a cigarette out of her purse and set it on her lips. She’d been trying to quit for months now, but she thought this wasn’t the time for added stress. The lit tip flared as smoke warmed her whole body from top to bottom. “Can I get one of those from you?”
“I’m all out,” Clara said with smoke pouring through her mouth. She closed the almost full pack of cigarettes and put it back into her white Coach purse, which couldn’t be seen under the fur. Jasmine didn’t say anything about the cigarettes and kept going.
“I once went to this Italian place in New York, I forget what it’s called, but I left a $1,000-dollar tip on a $200-meal, and the waiter ran out to meet me at my car, assuming I had made a mistake. When I told him that I hadn’t, within minutes he was eating my pussy in the back of a cab. When I was done, he went straight back to work and told me to come back any time I wanted to. I went back the next day, this time with a few lines of coke in me and I just about exploded with pleasure.
“Dom would never do that. The best he would do is wait for me to give him head and then fall asleep. Do you know how long I went without an orgasm? Almost thirty years. I was starting to believe they were a myth until I found out how grateful the help can be.”
Clara starred at the crashing waves, letting the cigarette calm her nerves. She turned to look inside just as Reginald went to the bar. Jasmine just kept going, grabbing another glass of champagne from some of the help.
“Just look at him.” She hiccupped. “Can you imagine how angry Dominic would be if I let one of these cups of hot chocolate have their way with me? I’ve never slept with a black man, but I’ve always wondered if what they say about them is true.”
“What do you mean?” Clara asked, not listening and plotting her escape from the conversation.
“You don’t know? Apparently, blacks carry some massive packages, and that’s something that I’ve gone too long without. I want one of these guys to tear me in half.” She hiccupped again. “I’m going to the bathroom. I’m gonna do a line and start working on the help. Charles has impeccable taste in staff.”
Jasmine walked to the only bathroom in the whole club and her eyes beamed when she got a good look at the backside of the man greeting people at the front door. She looked at Clara and stuck her tongue out like a dog. Clara forced a smile, but then turned to the balcony and kept watching the waves flow. She blew smoke out of her mouth and it was swept away immediately. Reaching into her purse, she grabbed another cigarette and lit it. She threw the other off the balcony into the sandy floor below.
“What do you guysss think?” Reginald asked with a slur in his speech. “Do you think I’ll have a chance at Jasmine? I’m sure she could use someone else’s money if she’s gonna keep sleeping around town.”
“Are you fucking kidding me, Shark Bait?” Ronald said. “How can you actually be going after her? She’s been around the block so many times that the owner of every restaurant here knows her name, cup-size and what her pussy tastes like.”
“Is that suspossed to scare me?” he slurred. “Why shouldn’t I know what her pussy tastes like too? All you’re sssaying is that she’ss good in bed.”
“Do whatever the fuck you want,” Ronald said. “Just try not to get AIDS. She’s more diseased than a nigger in Africa.”
“I’m fine.” He paused to think about his next sentence. “I don’t even think you can get AIDS from a woman. Tha’ more of a women issue.”
“Whatever you have to tell yourself.”
“Leave him alone, Ron.” Franklin said. “If we let him go through with it, we might be able to make fun of him for life. And if he does get AIDS, he won’t be our problem anymore. Honestly, I’ve thought about fucking her too. I mean, can you imagine those tits bouncing around as you fuck her in the ass? It’d be hypnotizing. Clara’s great, but sometimes it gets old. She keeps talking about kids, but then cries when she realizes how much it’ll fuck up her pussy.”
“Why don’t you do the smart thing and make her get her tubes tied?” Ronald asked. “She doesn’t want kids, she just thinks she does because that’s the thing to do right now. Can you imagine having a few little shits running around your house? Think about how quickly you’ll have to throw plastic all over your furniture because they can’t stop themselves from shitting all over themselves.”
“I know. I don’t want them. I just want her to get off my back and onto hers.”
Ronald laughed as Reginald stood up and left the bar. He had seven or eight martini’s and it was starting to hit him hard. “Should we go check on him?” Ronald asked.
Franklin threw another ice cube into his mouth. “Now you’re gonna get soft? Just let him go. If he doesn’t show back up in a few minutes then we’ll assume he passed out, face-first right into the toilet. Then we can go save him and we’ll be heroes. But you have to give him mouth-to-mouth if he’s drowning.”
“Why do I have to do it?”
“Because I’m sure as hell not going to.”
“Fuck you. We’ll just let him drown then.”
Clara stomped her second cigarette out and walked back through the party. Everyone around was drunk at this point, so she decided she’d venture down to see what Franklin was up to before Jasmine came back. She passed Reginald as she pulled the book and entered the speakeasy.
“Hey Clara,” Ronald said. “I see that you finally got away from Jasmine.”
“No, she’s actually going to come in here in a minute.”
“Are you fucking kidding me? I was joking but now that idiot is going to ruin our conversation?”
“Maybe we’ll get lucky and Shark Bait is fucking her in the bathroom,” Franklin laughed. “Too bad that’ll still only give us about 2 minutes.”
“Why is he even here?” Clara asked. “I thought he was broke or something.”
“We thought so too,” Ronald said. “I honestly have no idea how he got in here.”
“Whatever. At least we have 2 minutes. Tom Collins please,” she asked the bartender.
They drank their drinks and made fun of the two drunkards who were probably making weird, uncomfortable love to each other, simply because no one else would be able to stand listening to them. The slurred speech was probably more of an aphrodisiac than Jasmine’s tight asshole and worn pussy.
Five minutes passed and Shark Bait still hadn’t come back, and Jasmine was nowhere to be seen. “Maybe we should go check on them,” Clara said.
“Don’t worry about it,” Ronald said. “Maybe he’s just having a hard time getting it up with all of the alcohol in his system. You know that if he comes back from the bathroom boasting about his most recent conquest, that nothing actually happened, then we can make fun of him even more.”
“You’re right,” Franklin said, “but I have to piss. Even if they’re fucking in front of the toilet, I’m still gonna go. Maybe I’ll accidentally miss and get some on Shark Bait’s Rolex.”
“We’ll be here,” Clara said, sipping at her Tom Collins.
Franklin stood up and walked to the back of the bookcase, pulling a lever to open it for him. He passed the staff and countless other people that he had never met before and didn’t care to talk to. He knocked on the bathroom door and no one answered. He tried the lock and it gave, the door cracked open. Inside was Jasmine passed out in front of the sink, and Shark Bait laying in front of the toilet with vomit seeping out of his mouth.
The ice cube shifted in his mouth as he locked the door. Franklin slapped Shark Bait a few times to try to wake him up, but he didn’t give. He wiped vomit that stuck to his hand on Shark Bait’s suit, then turned to Jasmine. Her dress had been hoisted up when she collapsed from the sink, to reveal a perfectly shaven vagina. Her asshole was bleached white and stuck straight up in the air.
Franklin unzipped his pants and grunted as he slid it into her unconscious vagina. She groaned, but it was in neither pleasure or pain. Her brain wouldn’t let her comprehend what was going on, just like everyone else that he’d ever done this too. After his dick was lubricated, he inserted it into her glowing asshole.
After ten minutes, he was done. Franklin zipped his pants back up and washed his hands. He turned to Reginald and set his head in the vomit-filled toilet bowl, then watched as the slow, disgusting bubbles stopped forming. For Jasmine, he reached into her purse and opened a small plastic bag full of cocaine and carefully poured it into her nose. Blood started streaming down her face, and then he felt for a pulse… nothing.
He checked his suit in the mirror and then left the bathroom. He looked around to see if anyone noticed him coming out, but no one seemed any wiser. Clara was waiting outside, wearing her fur and talking to the same man who parked our car for us when we got here, but now it was running and waiting for us.
“Did you have a nice evening, Mr. Price?” the man asked.
“It was just lovely, thank you,” he said.
“My pleasure.” He opened the door for Clara and then for Franklin, and they started driving away.
They sat quietly for a second as they drove away from the yacht club. “Did you have any issues?” Clara asked as she kicked her heels off.
“No. The ipecac kicked in right when I needed it to. He stumbled to the bathroom right when the roofie hit too. I can’t believe he didn’t notice me putting that much shit in his drink. He didn’t even say anything about the taste!”
“I’m not surprised. I’m just happy that Jasmine and her drunk ass is finally taken care of. She annoys the fuck out of me.”
“I know she does.”
“I smoked a little bit to pass the time. Sorry.”
“I can smell it on your coat. We’ll get you a new one.”
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“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you the truth.”
“Try me. I’ve heard all sorts of stories from all sorts of people and I’m sure this one isn’t too different from the others.”
“That’s what all of the others shrinks said.”
“I know that you haven’t had much luck before but I’m really here to help you. I’m sure the others were too but I’ve been in the industry for a long time, and sometimes therapists have this weird way of trying to relate to their clients by pretending that what they have isn’t real.”
“I mean, I’ll tell you everything that I’ve told the others, but it won’t help.”
“Well Harold, at least give me the chance to prove you wrong.”
“Fine, but if you’re like the rest then I’m not coming back. I didn’t want to do this in the first place. My mom’s making me do it. Give it a few more months and I’ll be able to make the decision on my own, and I know I won’t be coming back.”
“And that’s okay, but let’s make the best of the time that we have together. Please tell me more about why you’re here.”
“Okay, well when I look at you, you’re translucent.”
“Yeah. When I look at you, I see the lab coat and I see your skin, but I can also see the orange and yellow floral pattern on the chair that you’re sitting in.”
“Do you know why you see it that way?”
“Wow, you’re the first shrink of four who didn’t try to get me to prove it. Doctor Thomas kept trying to get me to guess what he had written on a piece of paper that he held behind his back.”
“Could you do it?”
“No. That time I couldn’t see through him. I can see through some people, but not him.”
“You wouldn’t like it if I told you.”
“You should still tell me.”
“Soon. I can’t yet.”
“We’ll come back to it then. When did this start for you?”
“Do you mean seeing through people?”
“It’s happened for as long as I can remember. I think the first time that it happened was probably when I was five or six.”
“Do you remember what you saw?”
“Yeah, it was my grandpap.”
“Why was he translucent?”
“I don’t remember.”
“I think we both know that you do. Just tell me. It’ll make this whole conversation a bit easier for the both of us.”
“I don’t… remember.”
“Fine, but you’re going to have to learn to open up.”
“And you’re going to have to learn when to stop pushing.”
“Good. My mom’s paying for an hourly rate. Why don’t you start asking questions that really matter instead of wasting both my time and yours?”
“Okay. Who was the second person that you saw as translucent?”
“My friends’ mom.”
“How long ago was that?”
“It was probably around the same time that I saw my grandpap like that.”
“And you said that was around the age of five or six?”
“Great. Who was next?”
“This one’s harder to explain. It was my mom’s stomach.”
“Why wasn’t it your mom? Why was it just her stomach?”
“I don’t remember. The next instance that I saw of it was this guy who was next to us at a stop light.”
“So, it’s not just people that you’re close to? It can be anyone?”
“What happened to the guy in the car?”
“He drove away when the light turned green. What did you expect?”
“I don’t know. I guess something else.”
“That’s very professional of you. I love hearing from an expert in their field that they ‘guess’ something.”
“I’m just trying to fill in the blanks that you clearly won’t fill in. I’m doing the best that I can with what I’m being given.”
“You’re doing better than the others. I’ll give you that.”
“Thanks, I guess. Did you tell them anymore than you’ve giving me?”
“The first two, yes but then they requested that I see someone else ‘more suited for my special circumstance.’”
“That’s peculiar. I get why you’re a bit nervous about therapists.”
“It’s because they can’t do anything to help me. They always treat me more as a case study than a patient. If I told you what it meant, then I’m sure we’d be having a different conversation. And, just to save a conversation, no… there’s nothing I can do for you.”
“What does that mean?”
“I’m not telling you yet.”
“But you will tell me?”
“I guess that’s a step in the right direction.”
“There you are, guessing again.”
“… who else do you remember seeing as translucent?”
“One time my dad drove passed a dear that was translucent.”
“Interesting, so it’s not just people?”
“Wow, great inference. You’re doing great, ya know that?”
“I’m not… thank you – I’m just trying to help.”
“I know what you’re trying to do. I’m just trying to get through another impractical crazy session.”
“Is that how you see yourself? Crazy?”
“Can you think of a better word?”
“I really don’t like for my patience to use the word crazy. It can be really bad for self-worth and self-esteem.”
“Yeah. You’re probably right, but I don’t feel like I really need a better self-esteem at this point.”
“Why’s that? Everybody deserves to feel better about themselves. You’re no different.”
“Okay Mister Doctor. I’ll work on my self-esteem. The next thing I saw as translucent was Spot.”
“What was Spot?”
“She was our family dog. She was a beagle, but she had this weird spotted pattern on her back. When we got her, the owners said she was a purebred, but no one really believed that.”
“Tell me more about Spot.”
“What more do you want to know?”
“Honestly, just anything. That was the most you’ve given me since we started.”
“Well I don’t have much more to say about her.”
“Okay… well who else have you seen?”
“Doc, the list goes on for a long time. I could go through a lot of different people, animals and whatever else you can think of, but I don’t think my mom’s that rich.”
“Do you know why you see these things as translucent?”
“I thought I made that clear at the beginning of this conversation.”
“I just wanted to be sure. Tell me more about your grandpap.”
“Is that what this conversation is going to be now; you just asking about people who I’ve seen as translucent?”
“If you’re not going to tell me what it means then I’m going to figure out what I can.”
“You don’t want me to tell you and more than that, I don’t want to tell you. It’s hard enough living with it, let alone breaking the news to other people.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Nothing. It’s nothing.”
“Even if you won’t tell me, at least tell me how it makes you feel. If nothing else, I’d like to make you feel better about it.”
“Do you have a wife or kids?”
“Two kids and an ex-wife.”
“I’ve never understood how a therapist, or someone who helps people with their problems, can get divorced.”
“It was a complicated situation. Every relationship is different.”
“Do you love your kids?”
“Of course, I do.”
“Do you tell them that regularly?”
“What kind of question is that?”
“Yes. I tell them that I love them. What are you on about?”
“Calm down. You’re the first shrink who’s gotten confrontational. I just want you to feel better, too.”
“I feel fine. What are you getting at?”
“Spot disappeared later that day. My parents said that he went to a distant relatives farm, but I knew better.”
“Can you stop being so cryptic and just tell me what it means?
“When my dad and I were driving home that night, the dear was on the side of the road. It had been hit by a car. I think our neighbors hit it because their car was in the shop the next day.”
“Okay? What does that have to do with anything?”
“The guy who was next to us at the stop light, he sped ahead and no more than five miles later, we saw his crumpled car on the side of the road. My mom miscarried who was supposed to be my younger sibling. My friend’s mom died after a long struggle with breast cancer. My Grandpap had a heart attack later that day at the age of 66; I never really knew him.”
“So, wait – are you telling me that whatever you see as translucent dies?”
“Yes. In the same day.”
“Well yeah, that’s unusual, but that’s not the end of the world. I can’t believe you went through four – or was it five – different shrinks before me. This is peculiar for sure, but not too bad to help.”
“I’m sure there will be more than four shrinks.”
“What makes you say that? You don’t think I can handle you? Ha! Harold, I’m sure I’ll do just fine now that I know what the problem is.”
“I’m sure you will Doctor Vann… I’m sure you will.”
“This is a great start! Now that I know what the problem is, how about we schedule something at the same time next week and we can hash out even more details!”
“That sounds great Doctor Vann. I’ll see you then. One last thing before I go, have I told you how much I like the design on your chair?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Well it looks great. I like it a lot.”
“Thanks, Harold. I’ll see you next week.”
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I heard a loud metal clang from downstairs. It sounded like pots and pans had fallen to the kitchen floor. I crawled out of bed silently and put my slippers on.
“Hello?” I asked. “Babe, you home?”
Home invasions weren’t uncommon around here. I grabbed a baseball bat that was sitting next to my bed and went to the top of my stairs. I stopped in my tracks as I heard another loud crash.
I stepped onto the first stair; it squeaked under my weight and I flinched. I worried that whoever was downstairs heard me, but nothing changed. It sounded like someone was rummaging through my refrigerator.
The next steps didn’t make any noise as I descended to the first floor. I inched around the banister, peaking into my kitchen. A young boy, no more than six or seven, was looking in my pantries and eating everything he found.
“Hey, buddy,” I said, lowering the bat. “Can I help you with anything? Are you lost?” The boy didn’t acknowledge me. He continued pawing through my cabinets. “Come on kid, you can’t just take all of my food. I can give you some for the road if you need it.”
He still didn’t stop. His chewing sounds echoed through the lower floor. I stepped closer to him. Without looking up from the whole tomato that he was eating, he moved away from me. I sat at the kitchen table and watched him continue to eat.
“Tell me where you’re from,” I said. I was starting to get angry. I didn’t know what to do. There was just this boy in my kitchen. “If you don’t tell me why you’re here then I’m going to kick you out.”
The boy didn’t stop. I was furious. I walked over to him and went to pick him up, but he slipped out of my grip. I grabbed his hand and dragged him to the door. I pushed him outside but before I could blink, he had entered through the back door.
“I’m not playing around anymore,” I said. “It’s time for you to go.”
I walked back over to him, wound my fist back and swung. He didn’t move away. This time he looked at me and smiled. My fist was frozen in mid-air before it could make contact.
“Not only do you do it to your wife,” the boy said in a low, menacing voice, “you would do it to a random boy? The world doesn’t need your kind.”
The boy morphed into a large beast, covered in horns and fire. He laughed in a dark, demonic tone and grabbed my wrist. A fiery hole in the floor opened up.
“What are you?” I screamed.
“That doesn’t matter where you’re going,” the monster laughed.
I was pulled down into the hole. The last thing that I saw before it closed was my wife standing above me, staring down at me with her black eye.
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