“So, I was thinking about amputees the other day, and I was wondering: What’s the deal when they die? Are their missing limbs waiting for them when they get to heaven? Is there a giant cardboard box with ‘limbs’ written in permanent marker on the side? Does God have the arms separated from the legs to make things more efficient? And what if you’re a good person when you lose an arm, but you’ve become a bad person by the time you die? Does Lucifer send God your forwarding address, or does your being bad result in automatic forfeiture of all limbs as part of some kind of ironic punishment? Guys? This is serious shit. Are you listening?”
Jan gives me his usual apathetic look and nibbles sullenly at his sandwich; Theo’s staring at me, but I can tell from the glazed look in his eyes that he’s a million miles away, tucked way down inside his over-sized shirt and pants. I don’t know what the fuck is going on, but these two are sending out mad downers, and it’s beginning to spoil my lunch.
“Where’s Bug Eyes?” I ask. “Did she find some cooler, slimmer, less-bespectacled, domestic friends to hang out with or something?”
“I think I upset her,” Jan says.
Theo hangs his head. Dunno why.
“What did you do?” I ask Jan.
“I told her I don’t like her. She started to cry.”
Oh, geez. Guilt trip. “She’s just being a girl.”
“I think I might have hurt her feelings.”
“No, she hurt her own feelings. Listen…” I lean forward, twisting the top off an Oreo cookie and licking the creamy center. “I’ve been with Snorkel-Puss long enough to know that girls are all about make-believe feelings.”
Jan shakes his head. “That’s the stupidest nickname I’ve ever heard. And you’ve only known her, what, a week? How does that make you an expert on girls?”
“Shut up, closet jock, and let me finish.”
He scowls, but is otherwise agreeable.
I go on: “Becky’s proclaimed herself my girlfriend. Now, don’t get me wrong, she’s killer when it comes to selecting which snack goes best with which YouTube video, but beyond that she’s fat, she has a pig nose, and she laughs like a fucking hyena. I’ve never told her I love her or tried to put my hand down her shirt or anything. I’ve never done anything that would give anyone the idea that I want to be her boyfriend—and yet she’s convinced herself that I’m her man. But somewhere deep down inside she knows it’s just about the snacks. She knows and she pretends anyway. It’s her own fault if she’s become emotionally attached.”
Theo finally becomes animated. “Still, you’re using her for her snacks.”
“I made my intentions clear from the get-go,” I say. “If she insists on living in a make-believe world where me and her are lovebirds, well, that’s her fault, not mine.”
“But not saying anything can be the same thing as, er, saying something. You invite her over to your place all the time for junk food, you spend time with her, but you never tell her that you’re not interested in her romantically—it doesn’t matter that you’re not saying it. She’s going to think that you like her and that you’re not just out for a few thousand extra calories to cram down your throat.”
“That’s not my problem.” It’s not. You get me, right? Of course you do.
Theo frowns. “I hope your little plan explodes in your face, fat shit.” He gets up, grabs his backpack, and walks away from the table.
My mouth hangs open. I look at Jan. “Did you hear that? He said shit! Theo said shit!”
“Yeah,” Jan says, and goes back to eating. “He did.”
Theo’s half-eaten lunch is still sitting on the table. I lean forward to inspect it—damn.
Nothing but vegetables.