The forced breeze of cars zooming by tickled his face. He feels wired, every inch of him alert and open to the slightest of touch.
For the first time in only his therapist knows how long, John feels alive.
Although his eye-bags are deep and dark, his skin glows. His smile illuminates. His newfound confidence draws people in like moths to a hot lamp. He’s single and ready to mingle (as long as you are at least 5’4’ and shaped like a cheap plastic water battle after its center is squeezed). Probably a new trend will start because of his recent purchases at the store. People will now have an excuse to buy seven boxes of Cheez-Its and not face the same questioning he did.
Sir, are you sure about this? Sir, maybe get an economy size box instead? Sir sir sir. He wanted seven individual boxes of Cheez-Its, not one big one and certainly not just one small one.
As John pushes his squeaky buggy across the lot, he feels eyes scratching his skin. Jealousy, he assumes. Jealous of the quiet luxury of his attire. Today? Armani head to ankle. Shoes are a pair of classic Adidas. He brought them at an auction for $4,000. According to the certificate of authenticity, some guy name Reverend Run wore them in the 80s.
In truth, John is delusional. He knows this about himself. Sometimes he likes to suck on his lack of logic, savor the flavor and swirl the taste around in his mouth. Claiming his insanity suggests he has some sanity rattling in his brain. His ex-girlfriend would squawk, squeak, squeal at him about his arrogance, his anger, his light-switch – all of which he refuses to address medically or even spiritually. One step in his local generic Christian church, and God would delete his digital black book. Despite he instance of “do kind unto others,” his ex, the heartless bitch, kicked him out before getting to know him on a personal level. By the 5-year mark of their relationship, John finally felt comfortable enough to tell her his favorite TV show. He was thanked with a boot to the ass and his stuff on the curb, his DVD boxset of Pretty Little Liars included.
His frequent and blatant cheating should not have deterred her from continuing their relationship. Who or what better than him could she find? Donald from her job? Fucking hell, the guy’s name is Donald! Thinking about Donald with his ex all alone on a Friday night at the office and Donald’s secret desires oozing out of him… They’re sleazy, dirty, greasy – all about how he could hardly contain himself when he saw her Facebook photos of John sitting on his bruised ass, her captions proclaiming “I LITERALLY kicked his ass to the curb!” John could see Donald’s chapped lip, crusty, crumb soiled mouth moving, trying to make himself sound sexy: “I knew he wasn’t right for you. You deserve someone so so so much – “
Lost in a fever-pitch daydream, John’s sense of direction fails him. The cart crashes into a body so hard, John’s hands jolt.
“Geeze, bub! Keep your eyes open!” says the body.
“Maybe you should be paying closer attention to your surroundings. People like me should be avoided.”
“Um…” the cart hit-and-intimidate victim scurries away, no doubt telling whomever he’s with that he met a likely terrorist. However, since John is white, John assumes his title would be “Disturbed, Angry Man.” Maybe if John sat in the tanning booth for long enough he could earn the terrorist status – at least until the media releases his legal documentation showing otherwise.
His car … His car? Where the hell is it? Where the hell is he? He finds himself lost, so confused that tears come to his eyes or as he calls them “liquidized frustration.” John feels out of control, embarrassed, a rush of suffocating feelings. His vision blurs and a migraine creeps in. Vomit threatens his mouth. His hands tremble; his face sweats. John’s body is attacking him.
John physically cannot handle losing order in his world – a problem of his since childhood. If his plans fail, he needs a shot of Vodka with a Vicodin or he may do something incredibly stupid or his body may just do him in. Possibly both. The eyes he felt clawing at him rip their nails from his back. The chill of apathy surrounds John.
He runs with his cart towards the sidewalk. Car be damned. Now the stares are back. He feels relieved that people adore him again. People want to waste a fraction of their life to see why the hell an obviously rich man is running with a grocery cart of Cheez-Its. His body is going to shut down if he doesn’t do something right now. Something he can command. Something.
A thought breaks through the blades of the migraine. An idea manifests. He recalls a pledge he made to himself months ago to help with his control issues: “You don’t like it? Get off your Calvins and do something about it!” Already a block away from the grocery store, he takes a sharp left turn with the cart down a hill. He hops into the cart and rides the cart all the way to the valley. Some stare and probably wonder, “How did he not tip, die, and make a mess on the streets?” John, oddly enough, has done this several times too many and has become somewhat of a master at grocery cart luging. He’s even sold his expertise to daredevil middle schoolers.
At the hill’s valley, he takes another right. After 5 minutes of running that turns into jogging which then becomes speed walking, he arrives at his destination. In his shirt pocket, he carries a reporter’s notebook and a pen at all times. He writes a note and slips the paper into the mailbox. The note states:
Hey, it’s me!
Hope you’re well.
FYI, my STI test results came back, and I may have given you… Well, you’ll find out.
This is the only way I could’ve told you! Sorry!
John pushes his cart back to the grocery with peace now in his heart. He finds his car with ease. Tonight, he will lay down in his car’s backseat (gotta look for a new place since well…) with contentment. His teeth will vibrate with excitement for when his ex gets the mail for Donald during her weekly weekend visit.
But when night arrives, John’s mind spins. He lays in the back seat of his Rolls Royce. Rather than pick from the trash hotels in the area, he chooses to sleep in a car while his $10,000 bank transaction is approved. For the first time in his life, he will be living on his on.
His pillow feels like a slab of rock. His Versace blanket is not as warm as the price suggests it should be. His heat nor his air conditioning can run without draining gas – a car fact that John’s privileged self never learned and left to his childhood butler, Here, to deal with. The butler’s name probably was not Here, but that’s all John ever called him. John’s thinks of Here and his ex and why he exists in a world so consumed by himself. During different periods in his life, an individual would dare to punish him for his behavior. What is so warped about him? So twisted, knotted, jumbled – As his come-to-Jesus moment nears, John receives a phone call from his ex’s best friend. “#Bootycall” is next to her name. A crossroads presents itself to John, whatever road taken meaning either a renewed perspective or the repetition of the same destructive pattern. This crossroad takes the form of a question that drifts across the mind of many in such equally of perilous times:
To hit that or not to hit that?
John chews on his lip. #Bootycall sighs. John sighs. She sighs louder. John practically screams and says, “Alright already! But only if it’s in front of your ex-bestie’s house. Bring your flashlight.”
His heart sinks, the helium sucked out of his skull. The realization dawns that he’s an awful person. How would he feel if his ex screwed his brother in front of him? What’s his excuse for his atrocious behavior? Again, he feels a hefty, crippling feeling: remorse. However, the night must continue, and someone has to fulfill his role. Someone in his family has to act alive and he has enough life to stand for everyone.
He shuffles his hair with his eyes on the front-view mirror and brushes his teeth with a vodka-toothpaste mix. If he’s gonna stare the devil right in the mouth, John wants his breath to sting as much as his glare. The mirror flashes a sandcolor tint upon his face. His heart lodges in his throat then drops back to its crevice. The blue button-down, now sweat-stained and reeking of skunked-up cologne, is exchanged for a pink one, a notepad and pen pocketed against his left pec. The final touch is his best bowtie – a silk piece with a Cheez-Its pattern – and he is ready to sin for the, according to his notepad, seventeenth time today. The car starts and John feels his thoughts dulling. They stop running. They stop doing twirls. They put down their hula hoops. He feels somber and sober, neither of which he’s been for more than a three hours since age 21.
The drive is long with no mental gymnastics to keep him on edge. He never has excused his bad decisions. He just reveled in their aftermath – destruction and heartache and his personal amusement. He pulls into #Bootycall’s driveway. His head rests on the steering wheel as he awaits her eventual greeting.
“Pig pig pig pig pig pig pig pig pig pig pig…” he mumbles to himself. “Disgusting just like a factory pig. Slobbering like a diseased pig.” Self-loathing is not his style, but every wolf must shed his coat. John’s skin starts to burn. His eyes sting. He feels a layer of his forearm peeling, but when he looks, all he sees is a pale limb.
For the first time in his life, he is ashamed.
Yet his car remains in park in #Bootycall’s driveway and he stares at the door, waiting for her to walk out the door, head down and cleavage out and up with the help of Ms. Victoria. She’s gorgeous, but is she pretty enough to numb what he feels right now?
#Bootycall makes a grand exit from her quaint house. Her dress tight, short, and black. Her eyes have fireworks. A smile forces itself onto John’s face. Maybe they can watch Pretty Little Liars tonight. He wonders if she shares his suspicion of who A is, and, like him, feels inspired by A’s vindictive pettiness.
Quite frankly, John, this is so faggy of you.
John, you can do so much better than a trailer park Barbie.
She’s just a pussy, John. Don’t let your heart in it.
He slams his fist into the side of his head. #Bootycall runs to him, asking “Are you okay?” The chemical lemons and Frebreeze of his childhood home fill his nose and sting his eyes as he hears the voices of his family. This is why he does drugs. This is why he should never come .
John thrusts open the car door. His left arm trembles from supporting all his weight. #Bootycall grabs him before he topples unto the concrete. From the concrete, with his lips squeezed and bundled, his eyes look to the sideview mirror. The mirror responds, slapping him with his reflection: light brown skin – a mulatto, Negated Nigger, as he was called in school. Or white with a dark tinge as said back at home. His delusions are coming undone. Someone took the scissors to his web f self-lies and just left him here to rot, rot, rot.
John mumbles, “I don’t think I can tonight, Paula.”