You might be wondering “What the fuck is this?” At least people would be wondering that if I had anything resembling a fanbase rather than a random assortment of lunatics that accidentally hit a link to my blog. Well… I have spent the last couple of months sick and extraordinarily unproductive. The whys are spectacularly unimportant. Let us just say that my mental health has been working me over like a hooker who tried to hide a fifty from her pimp. Also I’ve been pissing out a seemingly endless stream of jagged sharp hellrocks visited upon me by a vengeful deity – or my caffeine addiction.
We’re still waiting for the test results on that.
Unable to form any new coherent and entertaining thoughts at the moment I looked to Hollywood for inspiration as to what I should do. So I hunted down a piece of work I wrote some time ago in a state of massive frustration and present it as something new. It’s nothing special and no one asked for it but I wanted the illusion of work. Maybe some of you will read – maybe even like or comment on – it but the important thing is that it will look like I am accomplishing things without actually doing anything.
You know… like being a modern day Stephen King.
And now that I have statistically angered 150% of all potential readers of my blog here is my own personal writing which I am sure will not make that crack sound at all like I am talking out of my ass.
And – no – I do not know why there are extra spaces in there. If you want to know why they are going to remain please see the image I used as my header and let the enormity of my laziness really sink in.
“I don’t want to hear how you can’t. I want to hear how you can,” Suzanne said with all the conviction rote repetition and an MBA can give you.
My teeth ground against each other as I swallowed her bullshit and forced a tight, understanding smile. It wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to rant and rage and rip apart every meaningless, vapid business cliche she threw at me till she choked on them. But I didn’t.
Dignity doesn’t pay the rent.
“I’ll have a plan of action to you before we close tonight,” the words squeezed out from thin pressed lips. Knowing full well that I was just going to lie to her – tell her that we were going to do everything her professors told her were necessary to succeed in business. Never mind that neither her or her professors had ever worked a day of retail in their lives.
But why should we let logic get in the way?
She packed away her laptop and paperwork with a painfully visible attempt at being ominous. No one except for her was impressed. Not me, not Danny behind the counter, and certainly not the customers trying to shop around us. But in her own mind? We were trembling.
“Make sure you do that, Victor. You know how important this is,” Suzanne said pausing as dramatically as any elementary school director could have hoped. “Now is there anything you need before I go?”
A drink would be nice.
I shook my head not trusting myself to speak. Not daring to even open my mouth till she was long gone. A distant pain in my tongue was followed by a hot, metallic taste. All I could do was stare at the counter top and wait for the howling in my head to stop.
“Vic… are you okay?” Danny asked softly resting her hand on my shoulder.
The worry was evident in her elfin face when I raised my eyes. It wasn’t a surprise. She was possibly the sweetest person I had ever known. It was honestly why I had kept her around. She wasn’t the greatest salesperson but she made the store a better place to work. A living reminder that not everybody sucked.
It wasn’t helping today.
“Yeah,” I finally said wearily. “I’m just gonna go in the office and get some work done. Buzz me if you need help.”
“Alright-” her response was cut off by the back room door swinging shut behind me. Pushing past a stack of game systems that we didn’t have room for in front or the back and ignoring the office door I slipped into the bathroom. The whir of the partly broken fan greeted me as the light took a second to flicker and finally turn on. It was small, cramped, and cluttered but it served its purpose.
The water that sputtered from the faucet was cold. Numbing my hands and burning as I spit a mouthful pink and bloodtainted back into the sink. My grip shook on the porcelain edges of the sink. Every breath coming harshly scouring my throat. In the mirror the already pale skin of my face seemed paper thin except for the bags beneath my eyes. Looked like I hadn’t slept in a week. Felt like screaming till I couldn’t anymore.
Starting to look as sick outside as I was inside.
Looking away I splashed water across my face and left the bathroom behind. In the quiet confines of my office I buried what was left of my dignity in a mountain of soul-less paperwork. Losing myself in the seemingly endless cycle of busy work. Filling out forms that no one would ever read, writing feedback in a corporate program no one used, and sending emails about things no one besides Suzanne cared about. It was idiotic and pointless but it got me through the rest of the day without stabbing someone in the neck with a pen.
The clang of the gate closing wrenched a heavy breath from me. Felt like I’d dropped a hundred pounds. The store would still be here tomorrow and the day after but it wasn’t my problem for a few days. It had cost me two days of vacation, lots of schedule juggling, and a lovely visit from our beloved district manager but it was worth it. 4 whole days of no work, no public, and no Suzanne.
Putting the mall behind me – and putting the store out of my mind as much as I could – I hurried across the parking lot to what passed as my car. The silence of my walk was comforting after a day of fake smiles and company propaganda.. A cool night breeze stole some of the tension from me but it wasn’t enough to keep me standing out in it. The door slammed hard enough that the window rattled as I collapsed int the front seat. A moment later it rumbled to life purring like a bronchitis victim.
It was rough and ugly but cheap. Just some little blue German thing found on Craigslist. Not ideal but it’s the best you could hope for when your job is best described as minimum wage game jockey.
Must have set there for fifteen or twenty minutes half assed listening to whatever passed as rock on the radio anymore trying to shrug of the stress of the day. Telling myself it didn’t matter. That all the words and cute, little cliches didn’t matter. That she and the blind idiot corporation she represented didn’t matter.
It wasn’t helping.
Tires squealed as I tore out of the parking lot. Barely noticing the glare of the malls lot security. Barely noticing anything at all. Driving on instinct. Anger becoming speed. Frustration bleeding into aggression.
Cellphone chimed as a message was left. I knew who it was without looking. Only Emelia ever texted me and it was always the same bullshit. Some cute hello and an emoji followed by some passive aggressive jibe as she waited for me with a glare and a dinner that tasted like cigarette ashes. Spoiling for a fight so she could tell me how much of a fuck up I am. How I’m wasting my life.
I didn’t need that tonight.
A poorly lit sign caught my attention. Dollar vodka bombs. Wasn’t much for drinking or bars most days but right now the Black Crow was making a damn good offer. Cheap drinks and no one I knew to bother me.
For once my car wasn’t the shittiest there. It was a strange feeling as I looked out over a sea of battered and rusty vehicles and thinking that mine looked a little too nice to be there. A quick glance towards the streets showed me what I had been too distracted to see. I’d ended up in the Bottoms – the old industrial section of the city wrapped around the base of the hill the city sat on. All abandoned steel mills, warehouses, and the odd haunted house. It would be a miracle if the bar even had a liquor license.
As long as they took money for liquor I wouldn’t complain.
Stepping inside I instantly felt more out of place than my car did outside. White Walmart button ups and black slacks were too fancy for this place. Every piece of clothing in the place was ripped, stained, dirty, or some fucktarded combination of all three. The people wearing them were equally ratty with more time behind bars than remaining teeth. Felt like high school all over again.
Damn near had to shout to be heard over the generic metal blasting from the worn speakers but I got my point across. The hard faced bartender poured the vodka into plastic cups, took the handful of bills I gave him, and went back to studiously not cleaning the bar. A chore he had been diligently performing for quite a number of years by the looks of the place.
The bombs tastes like vinegar and flop sweat. No surprise. Everything had tasted like it had been filtered through the runoff waste of Nascar bleachers for the past few months. Nothing helped it. No amount of brushing or mouthwash did anything. No mints helped. Not my favorite food was spared nor my most hated. It all tasted like garbage like the world had gone bad and only I’d noticed.
Shitty, indecipherable music blared around me as I waited for the liquor to do it’s job. Couldn’t tell if the music was bad or if it was just the piece of shit flea market, crackhead special speakers. Probably both. Half a dozen shots of even the most gutrot of vodkas should take the edge off. Especially with as little as I had eaten over the last few months. Started to look like I’d picked up the methhead’s diet book.
A diet that the other customers at the bar were more than familiar with by the looks of them.
After fifteen minutes nothing. No buzz. Just a horrid taste in my mouth, the beginning of a migraine, and enough failure for five lifetimes. Couldn’t even get drunk right. Shit job, a busted body, a girlfriend who’d love me as soon as I was completely different, and now I managed to fuck up the simple process of poisoning myself till I enjoyed my life for a few hours.
How the actual fuck does that even work?
“Barjockey! BARJOCKEY!” I called over the music and the growing pain in my skull. He shot me a dirty look but it was still the cleanest thing in the room. “Five more – and make sure it’s actual vodka this time!”
His jaw tightened and for a moment I hoped he’d punch me but he just slapped down the shots and took the money. Pussy. Might have been fun to get in a fight. Maybe even win if my body didn’t crap out on me. Not that that was likely. All it seemed to do anymore was crap out. Too much stress and not enough food.
Five shots went down hard. Tasted like cat piss and failure. Stared at the counter for what seemed like forever waiting to feel something. Anything. Looked up at the clock. 17 minutes had passed. 17 minutes and nothing. Not a buzz in sight. Now something was wrong. Either I had developed the world’s greatest tolerance for alcohol over the last 4 months or I was being served flavored water.
The plastic cup crumpled in my hand. No slam. No satisfaction. Like foreplay with a Born Again Chirstian – the intention is the only good thing about it.
“Is this some kind of joke?” I asked staring at the bartender almost daring him to jump. Frustration running roughshod over my brain to mouth filter. What little I had to begin with. “Let’s play a trick on my first customer with a high school diploma! Give him piss water! It’ll be great!”
“Listen, you little fag-,” he started – slamming his glass down – before I cut him off.
“Faggot?! Really? Is that the best you got?” the words flew fast and hard from my lips. Spitting them out as fast as I could. Anger spilling out of me. “The worst thing you can think of is being gay? Like occasionally touching another man’s dick is worse than being an illiterate, cranked out fucktrumpet selling bar rag squeezings as liquor?”
About the time FT was about to find out whether you can bludgeon a man to death with his own shoes a big hand landed on my shoulder. The hand was covered in enough scars, tattoos, and dirt that I couldn’t tell whether the owner was black or white. Couldn’t much better looking at him. Not sure how one gets that much grease on them. Maybe he’s a pig who uses motor oil to cool down – or maybe he’s just another methhead mechanic who thinks he’s tough.
“Think you’ve done enough talking,” Methchanic growled as he stuck his chest out like a startled white trash puffer fish. “Time for you to take your drunk ass somewhere else.”
Shouldn’t have wasted his time. Intimidation only works if you have fucks to give. I’d run out of fucks before I walked in the door. I was fuck-less verging on negative fucks given. An event horizon of fucklessness shaped like a man.
“Drunk?” I asked turning to face the mountain of muscle, grease, and failed dreams that stood behind my stool. “I’d couldn’t get drunk off of this shit if you mainlined straight into my veins!”
The words just kept coming faster till they were bullets being sprayed into the face of the world. Too many people playing games. Too many people thinking that I had to take their shit. A whole fucking world of them treating me like a fucking idiot.
Don’t know which of us threw the first punch. Could have been either of us. Felt less like a fight than a car wreck. Bodies smashing into me from every side. Chaotic. Pinwheeling across the bar floor. No time for pain to register. The roar of the crowd louder than the music. Battering me in a rolling ball of sound and sweat.
Fighting one moment – flailing every hard part of my body against every soft part of theirs – and hurtling into the chill night air the next. Hit the ground hard. Concrete scraped away the top layer of skin from my face. World swam. Vomit touched the back of my throat.
“Not so mouthy now are you, faggot?” the bartender laughed as his faceless band of bar goons went back inside. Leaving him, me, and the Methchanic outside. “By the time we’re done tonight you’ll know better than to walk into my bar and start shit. Fuckin’ lightweight, pussy ass bitch.”
“You stupid son of a bitch,” I heard the words come out my mouth without my say so. Clumsy and thick. Ground was rough against my palms as I rolled to my hands and knees. Not sure why I was getting up – or which of us I was talking to.
He was saying something but I wasn’t listening. Everything ached. A lifetime of old injuries, a few hundred pounds of pissed of barfly, and a harshly unsympathetic stretch of concrete had slammed together into a shitshake of pain and poor life choices. Only things keeping me moving was adrenaline and stubbornness – and they were gonna get me killed.
“Hey, fuckstick! I’m talking to you!” FT screamed a second before his boot buried itself in my ribs.
A rib cracked in a fiery burst inside me. Arms gave out slamming my face into the asphalt. Never saw the other kicks coming. Each one a hammer blow against my sides till my chest was a bag of broken glass. Jagged, searing lines drawn with every movements and every breath. .
“That’s enough, Jake. He’s learned his lesson,” Methchanic’s voice was a distant echo – distorted and strange. Tried to see him but the alleyway was too dark.
“It’s enough when I say it’s enough! No one comes into my bar and fucking disrespects me!” Jake screamed his voice pounding into my skull. “So either help or go back inside ‘cause if you do anything else you’ll never get within sniffin’ distance of any of my crank again. Do you understand me?”
A pain wracked half laugh escaped me. Felt like I’d run my lungs through a woodchipper of rib fragments. Hurt like hell and I was probably going to die but at least I was going to die right.
“Yeah, Jake, I got you. I’m not gonna stop you but I don’t wannabe a part of this either,” Methchanic said managing to sound at least a little bit guilty. Not that it made me feel better when the door shut behind him leaving me alone with Senor Psychopath.
Gravel crunched beneath his feet as he crouched next to me and said, “Now it’s just you and me. That ain’t good for you.”
Thank you, Captain Fucking Obvious.
Chest was heavy. Wet and sucking. Couldn’t tell how many ribs were broken. Probably easier to count the ones that weren’t. Shaking. Night had grown cold. First drops of rain hitting my skin. Body wracked with pain. Didn’t (couldn’t?) respond when I told it to move – to stand and fight. Too heavy. Too weak.
Jake was talking again and I wasn’t listening again. No point now. We both knew what was going to happen. He’d talk till he worked up the nerve to finish me off and then I’d die like a dog on the pavement. Everything I was or ever could be snuffed out because of shitty vodka and my mouth.
It was a fucking joke. All the stupid fucking bullshit I’ve put up with so I can die in an alley? Suzanne’s condescending, idiotic babble… Emelia’s constant disappointment… the endless succession of soul-less, grinding jobs… working past all the injuries and illnesses… all to end up bleeding on the ground in an alley behind a shitty bar. It was all so stupid. So fucking stupid!
Wanted to scream but all I managed was an agonized groan. The damage inside too great even for that. Wasn’t even a man anymore. Men could scream or cry or throw a punch. All I could do was bleed into my lungs and rage fruitlessly in my own head. Pathetic.
And it was then – in the midst of my pity party – that I found salvation. A scent that overwhelmed the cool smell of the rainstorm rolling. Something tangy and meaty. Heavenly. My stomach growled as a sudden hunger rolled through me. It was hot and angry and insistent as it poured out of some broken place inside me. A mad dog smelling a steak and tearing through my flesh to get it. Relentless. Starving. Felt sweat break out on my forehead and my face flush. The pain was distant. The hunger was all that mattered. It had been there behind the frustration. Hiding in plain sight. It was behind the bitter taste that had haunted me and the weight loss that stole the health from me. It was the voice that drove me to fight when I should run. To goad and mock till they couldn’t take it any more and blood was spilled. Waiting for something to draw it out.
It was the bartender’s blood leaking from the lip I’d busted on our way outside. It was just a drip but it filled my nose like a slaughterhouse. Brought the hunger boiling to the surface chasing the darkness from my eyes letting me see him. Making me see him. Strung out. Cocky. Certain in his own badassness. But I could see the truth of him. He wasn’t hard or badass or even a threat.
He was food.
I don’t know how I did what I did next. How I made the mass of broken bones and bleeding organs I’d become move the way it did or if I even gave it the order to do so. The need was in control. Driving my hands to his wrists and my teeth to his throat.
The last thing I knew was the taste of human flesh and how amazing it was…