The Quiet Room

@eva

I’m in the Quiet Room and doing some homework on my laptop when he enters, this heavily-bearded old dude in a baseball cap, open raincoat, and khaki shorts. He doesn’t look dirty or homeless, but man, does he stink. I watch him via the reflection of my unnecessarily glossy laptop screen as he settles into one of the armchairs behind me and just sits there…stinking. Like, he’s not reading anything or on a laptop or even using his phone. He’s simply watching the room, smiling, smelling putrid, silently insinuating a thousand missed showers.

Across the way, at one of the other tables, this Asian guy holds his nose while he packs up his things and makes a beeline for the door. I’m seriously considering doing the same when Summer messages me:

summer_girl: What’s up, babe?

evaluscious: Studying at the library.

summer_girl: Yuck. Books.

evaluscious: I’m more worried about the smelly guy who just walked into the room.

summer_girl: Ew, smelly like how?

evaluscious: Like the world’s dirtiest armpits, crotches, and butt cracks joined forces to rally against the soap industry.

summer_girl: What’s this guy’s deal?

evaluscious: Dunno. He’s just sitting in here.

I don’t get it—why this guy’s in the Quiet Room, but, more specifically, why human BO is so rank in the first place. A dirty dog stinks, but a dirty person reeks. Like, if I had to choose between hanging with Smelly Man or a dog that hasn’t been washed in just as long, I’d definitely pick the dog. Why is that?

I ask Summer as much, watching with envy as a second patron defects from the Quiet Room.

summer_girl: I read somewhere that we sweat more than animals do. Sweat is basically food for all the odor-causing bacteria on our skin.

A tiny blow-horn sounds behind me, accompanied by a fresh waft of stink.

evaluscious: ZOMFG, Smelly Man just farted.

summer_girl: And you’re still there because…?

Oh, I want to leave. I really do. In my laptop screen reflection, it looks like Smelly Man is smiling directly at me, waiting for me to acknowledge his stench.

evaluscious: I don’t want him to think I’m leaving because of him.

summer_girl: Who cares?

evaluscious: It’s…complicated.

Don’t laugh, but here’s my problem: every time I’m about to get up and leave the Quiet Room, someone else beats me to the punch, and I hesitate, not wanting it to look like I’m participating in some kind of mass exodus. One, it’ll make it awkward every time I see Smelly Man from now on—he’ll know I was offended, and that I left specifically to get away from him. Two, doing so would be admitting defeat in this twisted olfactory game of his. This is a public study room, not Smelly Man’s own private domain. I shouldn’t have to leave just because this gnarly old geezer can’t control his funky BO—

Fart!

—I need to make it look like my exit has nothing to do with him, like I’m going for a drink of water, or maybe I need to look up something in the stacks, or I need to get better Wi-Fi by moving closer to the library’s router—oh, my God. Listen to me. I sound like Theo, totally overanalyzing the situation, making a big deal out of something small. Smelly Man’s probably one of those guys who doesn’t realize he reeks, or who has a glandular problem. Or maybe he’s allergic to chlorine in tap water. Nobody’s a big enough asshole that they’d intentionally sit in a small room and stink everyone out just to do it.

This is dumb. Of course Smelly Man doesn’t care if I come or go. Even if he does, what do I care if he cares? I’m going leave because I feel like it—

Faa-aaa-aar…art!

—yep, I’m definitely leaving. I slam my laptop shut, heft my backpack, get up from my seat—and in doing so, I inadvertently glance at Smelly Man.

He makes direct eye contact with me, smiles, ruffles his raincoat, and says, “Checkmate.”

Dookie, a shitty horror novel by Jesse Gordon

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No Guts, No Glory

@theo

I’ve decided to walk home from school today. That’s how I’ve ended up standing on this particular street corner waiting for this particular light to change when this particular distinguished-looking middle-aged dude in a scarf and Chesterfield combo steps up beside me. I don’t know him, I’ve never seen him before in my life, but going by his cheerful disposition and expensive demeanor, I’m guessing he’s a banker or businessman, an elder statesman or bestselling literary novelist.

We wait together in silence.

Then, suddenly—

“Screw it!” Scarf Dude steps from curb to crosswalk, beckons for me to follow. “Let’s jaywalk!”

“Huh?” I mumble (as is tradition whenever an adult addresses you unexpectedly).

“No guts, no glory, right? Come on, kiddo, let’s grab life by the—”

bam!

A brown convertible being driven by the spit of Kurtwood Smith comes hurtling out of nowhere and not only collides with Scarf Dude, but pulverizes him on the spot, right then and there. Meaty gore washes up the windshield, douses Kurtwood, who, inexplicably, is already blood-soaked and irritable-looking as he floors the accelerator, barrels on down the street.

I back away from the curb.

This is why strangers shouldn’t talk to you.

Dookie, a shitty horror novel by Jesse Gordon

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Biologeez

@mark

Stu wants to know why Valentine’s Day is meh to me.

“It’s like I told that Jan kid,” I say, dumping my gear into my gym bag post-practice—

Yawn?” Stu interrupts, and picks the wedgie out of his singlet.

“Aka, Chekov. From Mr. Johnson’s class.”

“Oh, right.”

“Anyway, it’s like I told Chekov a while back. I knew Quan my freshman year, became her BFF, helped her with her homework, took her to the movies, took her out to eat, gave her a shoulder to cry on—I thought we were totally in love with each other. Then senior prom came up, and she ditched me for some college baller who knocked her up and split, like, immediately after. So, a year’s worth of supposed love with me versus one night of biology with him. Do the math.”

“She broke your heart. Human condition.”

“I’m making a point. She chose biology over love. And possibly money, I don’t know the guy’s financials. But there was definitely biology involved when it came to her getting it on with him. He was bigger and better. I was love. What chance did I have?”

“Wow. Bitter much?”

“Not at all,” I say. “It hurt when she dumped me, but I’m not saying she made the wrong decision or is a bitch or anything. I’m saying when it comes down to it, we all choose biology over love—whether we know it or not—because love doesn’t exist. Love is a myth, an invention, a societal dance used to pretty up the basic biological urges that drive chicks and dudes to flirt with each other. Men want women who can conceive healthy babies. Women want men who can help them conceive healthy babies. Love is the excuse we use to bang.”

Stu shakes his head, slings his bag over his shoulder. “You’re never going to get laid with that attitude.”

“That kind of proves my point.”

“You have a point?”

I nod. “The end game when it comes to girls and dating and all that is sex, right?”

Duh.”

“Then what is love?”

“Do I look like a greeting card to you?”

“Love is nothing. Sex is everything. James Spader said it when he played Robert California on The Office. Everything we do or say is about getting laid. Knowing that, then, am I interested in procreation? No. Sexual release? Sure.” I hold up my hand. “Already taken care of.”

“Dude,” Stu says, “you’re stacked. On the wrestling team. I’ve seen you in the shower—you hang a solid wang. That you’d be satisfied with your own hand rather than shell out a few bucks every now and then for a chance at slamming pelvis with some lucky lady baffles me beyond belief.”

I zip up my bag. “What’s wrong with being single? I like being single. I want to be single.”

“It’s all fun and games and one-handed sex now, but wait until you’re thirty and living alone in some shitty off-ramp apartment. That’s when I come knocking on your door to say I told you so.”

“Really? Thirteen years from now you’re going to take the time to drive out to wherever I’m living just to tell me that? Really?”

Stu waves his hand. “You know what I mean.”

Grabbing my bag, we start slowly across the gym, toward the boys’ locker room. “I’m not saying I’ll never date again. I just want the girl to be into me for me, and not for what I give her on Valentine’s Day. No false boners.”

“I’m afraid to ask what those are.”

“They’re the various types of artificial love and pretense everyone throws at each other during V-Day. Like the Obvious Couple. Destined to be together from the day they first met in Kindergarten. He gave her half his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, she shared her grape juice, and they’ve supposedly been in love ever since. They’ll go to prom, lose their virginity to each other, get matching scholarships, eventually settle down in the suburbs with two-point-five kids and a Tesla. Then one day they’ll make the news when it comes out he’s been beating her since the sex went bad, she’s been neglecting the kids due to a latent online gambling addiction. False boner.”

“You’re grim, dude.”

“I’ve got more,” I say. “Gay for Days. Closet Couple. The Reverse Double-Standard—that’s what I had. Old Love. Old Love Lost. Can’t Live With or Without You. Kindred Spirits. Us Against the World. Babysitter Bling. Long Distance Runaround. Premarital Sexposition. All false boners.” I pause, spotting Eva on her way out of the gym. Theo’s waiting for her near the exit. “Then there’s Hopeless Romantic, played artfully by that little Theo dude. I’ve seen him watching her from afar, hoping, aching, wanting…”

“Speaking of watching from afar,” Stu says, “Thrailkill’s been eyeing you ever since practice started.”

I, too, had noticed her smoky presence earlier. Now she’s left the bleachers to intercept me at the locker room entrance.

Like the wuss he is, Stu recedes to a respectful distance.

“Hello there, Mr. Howard,” Thrailkill says to me, and takes a drag from what must be her fiftieth cigarette of the day.

I smile politely. “Hi, Mrs. Thrailkill.”

“It’s been a while since I last saw you in my office.”

“I’ve been busy.” I heft my gym bag.

“I can see that.” She pinches one of my biceps, nods obviously at my crotch. “Nevertheless, I’d like to assess your…development. Say, tomorrow at three o’clock?” She leans in close, whispers into my ear, “Play your cards right, and I’ll make sure you’re valedictorian.”

Behind her, Stu nods, gives me two thumbs up while mouthing the word “biology.”

Dookie, a shitty horror novel by Jesse Gordon

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Human Leveraging Paradigm

@theo

“Internet Explorer or Firefox?” an unexpectedly-ripped Cheetos Dude asks the moment Ernie and I upload onto the Semantic Web’s shiny new server.

“What the hell is Internet Explorer?” Ernie asks, genuinely bewildered.

Cheetos Dude smiles, holds up an orange-stained hand for Ernie to high-five. “Good answer, friend. You may enter.”

Ernie slaps Cheetos’ hand, examines the thin layer of orange that’s been offset against his palm.

“Nice Goten skin, by the way,” Cheetos Dude tells me, and wanders off.

I frown, glance around the Web and wonder why he thinks I look like Goten when I clearly don’t look like Goten! (Assuming I’m not looking, Ernie’s started licking the cheese offset from his hand.) It’s been a while since I’ve stopped by, what with homework, gym, chores, and, more recently, rescuing Eva from a giant demogorgonzola. The transition from actual to virtual hasn’t changed the finer details: laptops, tablets, and junk food cluttering wooden spool tables arranged around a central sofa pit. The Web’s post-geekly haunts, however, are almost unrecognizable. Everyone’s handsome, pretty, fit, muscular, and/or overtly voluptuous. They’ve all got SMN skins installed.

I should mention at this point that Ernie, too, is skinned—as Jason Momoa.

Still licking his hand.

His new virtual self as ripped as his actual self is fat.

We find a free table and sit.

“This is where you go to chill?” Ernie asks, and drapes one arm over the back of his chair. He seems unimpressed.

I open my laptop. “Why would you skin yourself like that?”

“Why wouldn’t I?” Ernie flexes an arm, tosses back a flowing lock.

“I’m the only one here in my actual skin.”

“And whose fault is that?”

“I’m happy with who I am,” I say proudly. Which was eventually true.

Explanation: Like everyone else, once the SMN skins feature was rolled out, the first thing I did was scroll through the endless customizations and pre-made skins uploaded by other users—mostly celebrities, athletes, anime and video game characters. I think I spent several hours trying on big and tall, short and stocky, svelte, well-built, feminine, masculine, androgynous, white, black, Asian (or more Asian, in my case), Indian, Native American…but the more skins I tried, the less sure I felt about actually choosing one. It’s the same reason I always run around in the default skin whenever I play GTA. Too much choice is totally a thing. Also, while it’s true everyone and their grandmother is skinning themselves these days whenever they go virtual, they’re also pointing out that everyone’s skinning themselves as a means of coping with various embarrassing shortcomings. Like, if you want to be cool, you’re expected to go skinning right along with everyone else—just so they can make fun of you for it. I do want to be taller, older, hairier, sexier, more irresistible to girls named Eva. But the more I want it, the more I’m afraid of being called out for wanting it. So, I’m just me. Short, nondescript, woefully underage. No one can say I’m compensating for something.

I’m happy with who I am—but only because I can’t decide who else to be.

“You’re just enacting the human leveraging paradigm,” I say.

“What’s that?” Ernie asks, again unimpressed.

“My teacher mentioned it the other day. He asked me what I thought the most important thing in life is. I said happiness just because I couldn’t think of anything else. He told me that’s incorrect. Erroneous is the word he used. He said happiness is irrelevant, because deep down inside we’re all just trying to get leverage, and everything we do is based on trying to dominate whoever and whatever we can. You’re not confident competing socially in your actual skin, so you installed a virtual one that represents the social leverage you want to enact.”

“I installed this because Aquaman is big tits right now.”

“Exactly. Aquaman is popular, and you want to be popular. You’re looking for favor. Leverage.”

“I don’t need any favors from anyone.” Another flex of Jason’s arm, another tossing of his mane.

“No, what I mean is, subconsciously, anything we do or say that supposedly makes us happy is an attempt at gaining favor or leverage.”

“And you’re so superior because you simply stuck with your actual geek-Goten skin?”

Why does everyone keep—? “I’m not saying I’m superior. I’m just…saying.”

Ernie leans forward. “Snarks and hipsters just say. Real men end their sentences with periods.”

I think for a sec. “I mean, my teacher also mentioned the only way to fix the paradigm would be learning to disregard the self for the whole—which was why he was so pissed at my happiness comment to begin with. And that’s cool and all, people can band together to do great things, change history and whatever. But the same logic is also used to build war machines.”

A stray tuft of hair tumbles over one of Jason’s eyes. “What the hell kind of classes are you taking, junior?”

Dookie, a shitty horror novel by Jesse Gordon

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Strike!

@theo

Mr. Barchetta’s apparently gone picketing—as evidenced by the note scribbled on the blackboard:

Gone picketin’.

In his place: a TV playing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which the class regards with casual indifference.

“Why are the teachers on strike again?” asks one girl as she eyes the picket line through a nearby window.

I don’t have anything to say (and even if I did, it’s not like anyone would care), so I just listen to the older kids:

“Overcrowded classrooms.”

“Budget cuts.”

“Inferior toilet paper in the restrooms.”

“I think old Thrailkill is doing head sessions on an SMN server because Boca Linda’s too cheap to pay for her office to stay actual.”

“Supposedly the librarians want money to finally get rid of that feral pit bull living in the stacks.”

“You mean Kilgore?”

“I thought that was the custodian dude’s helper dog.”

“Knowing Boca Linda, Kilgore probably is the custodian.”

“They lost another freshman down there the other day.”

“I hear the stacks are where they send you for detention.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“A friend of a friend texted another friend right before he died…on his way to detention.”

“You think if the teachers win, we’ll finally get real basketball hoops in the gym instead of just having the taller seniors hold out their arms?”

Ugh. I hate hoop duty.”

“You think if they win, Mr. Barchetta will stop throwing chocolate kisses at us whenever we answer a question correctly?”

“If anything, he’ll upgrade to peanut butter cups.”

Several students snicker.

On TV, they’re lowering that Thuggee dude into the lava pit.

“Why are we here if we’re not learning anything?” Mini asks. He’s climbed out of my pocket to watch the sacrifice scene.

“The school only gets money if there are kids in the classrooms,” I reply.

Mini frowns. “So, what are we supposed to do, just sit around watching cheesy Steven Spielberg movies until three?”

“I guess.”

“Nuts to that.” Mini jumps onto the nearby desk of a cute senior girl. “Hey, babe. Want to smoke or have sex?”

The girl’s reaction is not unlike that of the Thuggee dude hurtling toward molten lava.

Om Namah Shivaya.

Dookie, a shitty horror novel by Jesse Gordon

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Toilet Tchaikovsky

@mini

Why do grown men make so much noise while taking dumps in public restrooms? I’m not talking about the actual bowel movements themselves. All our bottoms make noise in that respect: a squeak, a fart, maybe a plunk! or occasional trumpet blare. Ladies, I don’t doubt that you’re guilty of playing your own personal toilet Tchaikovsky a little too loudly from time to time, but what I’m talking about are the grunts and groans, the desperate pleas of, “Jesus-God-almighty!” Remember the White Water Express scene in Vacation? Remember Charlie Day screaming bloody murder right after he got off the phone with his fiancée? That’s what’s going on in restrooms across the country.

That’s what’s going on right now in the stall next to Theo’s. (While he would have you believe otherwise, Theo does indeed take dumps on a regular basis.) And I’m just like, what is happening over there? What item off of Ultimate Veggie’s menu could’ve given this bub such a massive shitaclysm?

I have to know.

Don’t you?

I’m going to take a peek. I slink out of Theo’s pants pocket.

“Hey!” he whispers, my unexpected appearance momentarily distracting him from his phone. “What’re you doing?”

“Washing my hands,” I reply, and duck under the front of the stall. But instead of heading for the sink, I make an immediate U-turn into the stall adjacent and—

ZOMFG.

I’d expected a smattering of awkward.

A baseline ew, perhaps.

But not this.

Anything but this…this sweaty, red-faced caricature of a forty-something businessman, legs splayed, arms braced against the stall walls, tie slung haphazardly over one quivering shoulder as he bears down on an unspeakably evil stool jailbreaking his tattered rectum centimeter by ragged centimeter—

—I stumble away. Back into Theo’s stall, back into the familiar warmth and geekly fibre of his oversized joggers. I scrunch my eyes shut, plug my non-existent fingers into my non-existent ears.

Let’s never speak of this again.

toilet Tchaikovsky (noun):

1. loud grunting and/or strenuous vocalizations made by most men while defecating.

“The intensity of the gentleman’s toilet Tchaikovsky made it obvious that he’d consumed too much cheese as of late.”

2. an album of chamber pot music by Canadian jazz duet Peter Flute & Woodland Knight.

Dookie, a shitty horror novel by Jesse Gordon

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On This, the Eve of New Year’s Eve

@eva

Ernie’s just unlocked King K. Rool in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate when Jan finishes downloading.

“What’s up?” he asks, and joins us on the floor of Theo’s bedroom, where we, the Runt Squad (now in its entirety), have assembled around Ernie’s continental mass in what one might refer to as an impromptu pile or huddle.

Theo hands Jan a Joy-Con. “Nothing. You?”

“Nothing.”

“Hi, Jan,” I say, waving.

“Hi, Eva,” Jan says, waving back.

“Enough chatter,” Ernie grunts. “Pick your character, Pixels.”

Jan chooses Cloud.

The next match begins, conversation giving way to the subtle symphony of us working our Joy-Cons.

Click-click-click.

“I hate when people say that,” Beta murmurs after a while.

Mini, his mitts ineffectively handling his Joy-Con, asks, “Say what?”

“‘Nothing.’”

“Right?” I agree.

Click-click.

Something’s always up. It’s never nothing.”

Theo nods. “True.”

Click-click-click-click.

“Even if you’re not doing anything specific or going anywhere in particular, you’re always doing something. Breathing, for example.”

Click-click.

“Metabolizing.”

Click-click-click.

“Listening,” Jan offers.

Click-click-click.

“Feeling,” I say.

Click.

“Compiling,” Theo adds.

Click-click-click-click.

“Farting.” Ernie rips a big one.

The huddle fractures, separates—all but Beta, who’s either stupider or braver than everyone else, I’m not sure.

“‘Nothing’ would be dead,” he continues.

“Yeah. ‘Nothing’ would be dead,” Theo agrees.

“And even then, the fact that ‘nothing’ can be defined at all suggests that it is, in fact, something—if only a means of classifying the absence of something.”

Mini goes all wide-eyed. “That’s heavy, guys.”

I pull my shirt over my nose as the putrid tendrils of Ernie’s funk tousle my hair. “Is this what we’re doing, guys?”

Click-click.

“Spending the last hours of 2018 talking about nothing and inhaling toxic gasses?”

“Happy new year, bitches!” Ernie cackles.

“Happy new year,” I mutter back.

Click-click-click.

Dookie, a shitty horror novel by Jesse Gordon

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Home

@jan

Oh, that’s right—DXL Pro sucks.

It takes a while, but eventually I download fully into my parents’ bedroom. My ancient, gnarled Compaq is running dutifully on the dresser. I walk over to it, wiggle the mouse. The monitor wakes up, revealing half a dozen SMN windows. Mom and Dad have been busy—their buddy list is crammed with the usernames of various friends and family members from back in Brno. It looks like anyone and everyone they’ve ever known is on there, and I have to wonder, is this normal? Is it normal for parents to scold their kid about uploading to other people’s homes, and then go and do exactly the same thing times ten?

I leave the bedroom, stand in the doorway between the hall and the living room. After spending so much time at Theo’s, my parents’ apartment, never roomy to begin with, seems smaller and more underwhelming than ever. There’s my desk with its peeling faux-wood laminate, my twin-size bed, my weathered dumbbells, my modest corner of home. Everything looks just as it was before the complex was towed away. Just to be sure, though, I step outside. Thankfully, the correct neighborhood stretches for blocks in both directions. Earlier, on the news, there’d been a reporter interviewing upset residents; now it’s just discarded coffee cups and leftover strands of police tape draped across the grass, the bushes.

Yep. Home.

Turning, I spot the notice stuck to our front door. It reads:

Dear Resident:

You may be aware of the recent towing. Rest assured, we’ve since cleared up the matter with the city. We apologize for any inconvenience, and will be offering free coffee and donuts in the leasing office for the rest of the week.

—The Management

I fold the notice and go back inside.

The kitchen has gone from messy to disaster scenery. Setting the notice on the table, I put a load of dishes in the washer, take out the trash. Then I go for a shower. I’m one foot into the tub when it occurs to me that getting wet might not be such a good idea. I mean, I may be augmented, but I’m still actual, right? I won’t short-circuit or anything whenever I come into contact with liquid…will I? For a moment I stand very still and watch the rivulets of water trickling down my leg. No sparks, no flame. Which would make sense. Augmented actuality wouldn’t be very useful unless the idea is to do things the way you’d normally do them when actual. Still, I’m a little nervous as I get the rest of the way in. I wonder if, in high-res, how much of me even needs a shower at this point. Like, am I cleaning the augmented bytes while my actual skin (what’s left of it, anyway) goes unwashed beneath?

I make a mental note to ask Beta or Theo about that later, and finish up without any show-stoppers. Afterward, I lie in bed for a while wondering how (or if) I’m going to tell Mom and Dad what’s happened to me. I roll onto my side, stare at my phone, which I’d set on the desk earlier. It’s well within arm’s reach, but instinct persuades me to pick it up and hold it close. I’m not one of those people who has to have their phone on them 24/7 in order to feel safe and secure, but now that I’m depending on it to be high-res whenever I’m actual, I kind of understand the 24/7 thing.

Swiping through my SMN buddy list, I watch the video feeds in passing. Eva’s out like a light. Theo, too, surprisingly. Headphoned and blanketed by a layer of cookie crumbs and candy bits, Ernie’s sitting slumped at his computer, and is working an Xbox controller as if his life depends on it. Everyone else seems to have slipped right back into their routines with such ease. Meanwhile, here I am feeling like…well, I’m not exactly sure. I’m home. I should feel like I’m home. Instead, it feels like my first night away from home. I wouldn’t say I’m lonely, but I do kind of miss being with the gang.

I guess I doze for a while, because suddenly it’s dawn, and I can hear my parents knocking around in the kitchen, conversing quietly in Czech while they make coffee:

“That’s right, it’s morning here in America,” Dad groans.

“Has Jan done all his homework?” Mom asks.

“Let’s hope so. The sooner we get him up and out the door, the sooner we can get back to the café.”

“I don’t think he’s too happy about having his computer taken away.”

“He’s just enacting the Kounicova Pout.”

“There’s such a thing?”

“If we’re not smiling, we’re pouting.” Dad chuckles. “It’s what made you ask me if everything was all right the day we first met.”

“He does have your brood. What’s this?”

“A note from the management. Someone’s car must’ve been towed by mistake.”

“Not ours.”

“No, not ours. Shame. Donuts sound good. Pass the milk.”

Oh, wow. Mom and Dad really have no idea what’s happened. At all. They’ve been 404 so long that they didn’t notice their entire apartment complex was accidentally towed. I lost my home, my bytes, my parents, and neither of them are the slightest bit aware of any of it. They’re just going through the motions, moths toward fire—or whatever the expression is—perfectly content, perfectly ignorant. And it hits me: for the last two years it’s been enough to have my own corner of the living room. It’s been enough to get by on an outdated Compaq desktop, enough to do all my shopping at Dollar Tree, the 99¢ Store, Food 4 Less, Goodwill. Life here was all I ever wanted or needed.

No more.

I don’t hate my parents. They’ve stuck with parenthood and raised me this far. But that’s just it—I feel like they’ve been stuck raising me. You heard Dad: he’d much rather be having breakfast back in Brno. Is that why he never drives me to school? “He likes the exercise,” he says whenever the subject comes up. I used to think he was just being playfully indifferent whenever he made comments like that. Now it’s clear. Maybe I’m reading into things. Or maybe I’m finally hearing the truth. Regardless, the end result is that I’m done being the poor kid whose parents are never around. I’m going to make money somehow, get a job, move out of this place, and finally get on with my life. I don’t need to be rich—I just want something for myself, something my parents obviously can’t or don’t want to provide.

I lie on my back and, staring at the ceiling, I ponder the impossibilities.

Dookie, a shitty horror novel by Jesse Gordon

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