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Disposable Hero: You Got Served, Part I

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“Drew. I need you to come back to me, Drew.”

I snap my eyes open. My therapist, a middle-aged white woman with too much jewelry, is sitting across from me with a clipboard and pen. She’s been expecting me.

“You did a great job, Drew. I’m very proud of you and I appreciate you.” I roll my sleepy eyes and look past her- past the framed degrees on the wall, past the fake fern in the corner, past her politically correct jargon. “You’re in a safe place now.” She puts a cold, wrinkly hand on my forearm.

Apparently,  she had just guided me through what I’m told was  a small childhood trauma. It’s part of her psychoanalytic treatment: going back into the past to see where certain issues originated. I’m not really sure what kind of progress we made though.

I was just imagining what it’d be like to fuck two girls at the same time.

Repressed memories must be a lot like not being able to cum, only for years on end. I look at the clock. There’s ten minutes left in our session- enough for a quickie.

“Alright. I need you to do one more thing for us before we leave, Drew. I want you to go to the special place we talked about on that worksheet I gave you. Go there and describe it for me- how peaceful and happy it is.” She says this with gushing sincerity.

It’s the summer before my junior year in college. My behavior has been “odd” the past couple of months, so my parents got me five sessions at a local therapist to figure out why I’ve been acting strange.

I’m Dr. Sitzer’s last client of the day, so I imagine by the time she gets to me (after a morning full of rape victims and recent divorcees), I’m sort of a cake walk. My problems are normal white suburbanite problems, meaning they’re not real problems at all. I figured I’m probably an open and shut case: maybe a lack of closure from someone’s death or some body image issues stemming from being a chubby adolescent. We even have a shot at convincing me I’m gay if she gives me enough worksheets about it. Nothing concrete yet though, no skeletons in the closet- just a wishbone or two. My routine these days is pretty much equal parts masturbation and Xbox- what could be the problem?

“Close your eyes, Drew. I want you to describe your special place to me. What’s it look like?”

I decide to humor her.

“I’m in a field in the farmland outside my house. There are cows in the distance mooing.”

“Cows?” she interrupts.

“Yes, cows. This is my happy place and I want to have cows.” I retort with my eyes closed.

“Sorry. Continue,” she says.

“It’s dusk in October or early November. The air smells like grass and cinnamon. There’s a cool breeze blowing through the tall grass. There’s no one around for miles and no one needs me for anything. I’m alone. There’s an abandoned barn with a halfpipe inside down a dirt road. I’m walking to it. I’m going to skate it till late at night then sleep under the stars. Everything is serene. Everything is calm. Everything is peace.”

Everything is okay.

#

“Wake the fuck up, princess!”

I snap my eyes open. A young, grizzled line cook is squinting at me like I’m some kind of alien. He slides a bowl of cheese covered tater tots across the stainless steel server window. I can’t imagine how someone’s stomach can break this down.

He shoves a paper ticket in my face. “Stop fingering yourself and get this shit to 415.”

I watch as he turns around and stands in front of the fryer. Braydon, the cook, is a few years older than me: sinewy, with a  mop top of silky black hair stuffed under his yellowed Florida Gators hat. Sometimes I believed that the hat was a part of Braydon- that if I managed to knock it off somehow, he would crumble into dust. I’d be the one who’d have to sweep him up though. I’d get the broom from the supply closet and collect his essence alongside stale Italian bread crumbs, then dump him in the alley behind the restaurant. It would be an oddly befitting funeral rite, but Braydon would have wanted it that way.

Braydon turns back around. “Why are you still standing there, Shakespeare? Looking for literary symbolism in that food ticket? Oh wait, nah, I know what you want,” he grabs his crotch with the bottom of his apron. “You want some of this dick- don’t ya, baby?”

I shake my head and stab the ticket. Braydon is telling the other cooks how grande his cajones are in broken Spanglish as I swing the door open into the dining room.

Everywhere I look- bodies. Not people- bodies, fucking flesh on flesh. Legs, guts, asses, tits, dicks, heads- parts. They seemed to be stacked on top of each other, how Picasso must have seen them. They seem to spawn from everywhere. Dense. Loud. Bodies. Raleigh’s middle class in concentrate form- like the industrial tubs of garlic powder in the pantry downstairs.

This isn’t my happy place.

I try and sift through the nooks and the crannies- through the starched sleeves and the BoHo blouses of the dining room. Every now and then one of those sleeves and blouses belongs to someone I knew and they’ll stop me. Perhaps we had graduated together or lived in the dorms sophomore year. They’d introduce their girlfriend, they’d tell me about how they just started at Cisco, they’d ask what kind of beer this is. They’d remember me: the smart one in class, the creative guy, that person everyone always liked. The one who’s going to get you another beer, the one who’s going to clean up your girlfriend’s vomit, the one who will be sweeping Braydon’s ashes in an alleyway while you’re getting a blowjob in your condo.

Food dropped off, I return downstairs. The kitchen has died down now- no orders, no smoke, no profanities in whatever language. It’s 11:45pm. I grab the mac n’ cheese Braydon begrudgingly gives me- “fucking vegetarian,” and eat next to the water heater in the basement. Table for one.

I come back up and wash my plate against the dishwasher’s insistence: “No, Maria- es nada. Nada.” My back against the counter, I watch the kitchen- chef taking off his apron, Francisco idly talking to Eduardo as they chop cabbage, Danny blasting dubstep on the little radio perched precariously above a bowl of raw ground beef, Braydon trying to push my buttons about something.

“You know, believe it or not, Drew, I actually like you,” he says.

“Tough love, right?” I say.

He chuckles to himself. “Aww, you’re the only guy on the server staff who actually has a brain in his fucking skull and can take a hit. You know what arugala looks like and you work like a Goddamn Mexican- I admire that.” Francisco and Eduardo stop to leer at Braydon. “That’s a compliment,” he says to me before addressing the two in the back. “Un cumplido, hombres. Un cumplido.”

“Yeah. Well, apparently no one else seems to care much about that,” I say.

“Oh, are we gonna fiddle our dicks about how bad we feel now?” Braydon wipes his hands on his apron.

“I’m not trying to get sympathy, man. Just saying.”

“You came to the wrong place if you want sympathy, veg head.” He puts his apron on the counter and leans through the window. “Here’s your situation the way I see it: you’re working here. So, strike one. You have no real contacts here in Raleigh- and despite what they told you, that means you don’t have many prospects- doesn’t matter what shit they wrote on your degree, Good Will Hunting. The reason that fucktard from your psych class is getting fifty k a year is because his dad knew someone. Now you may know a lot of shit, but it ain’t about people- so that means you don’t know shit. Not your fault. You probably got some friends that have your back though, maybe there’s even a girl out there who’d actually want to fuck you more than once or twice, but for the most part, you’re also rolling solo and you’re starting to feel it. I know you don’t have money cause you make less than me and I’m broke.” Braydon bites his lip as if he’s doing the math in his head. “Yeah, man- you’re kinda fucked.”

For some reason his assertion awakens a deep insecurity inside me- something Freudian that I actually remember from psych class and fucktard doesn’t. Maybe it was something my therapist was trying to tap in to. “Why is all this happening to me? I played by the rules, man. I studied hard so I could be in the top ten percent of my class. I volunteered at homeless shelters. I never took shortcuts to anything. I always try to be the good guy. I did what I thought was right. I even put the fucking seat down when I go to a unisex bathroom. I did what I was supposed to do but nothing seems right.”

I look off into space. I’m trying to find my happy place, but I don’t hear any cows. “Why?”

Braydon smiles reassuringly, then leans in, “Cause fuck you.” He walks out of sight.

For the first time, I had no real retort. Braydon’s words landed so heavy in my mind that my mouth couldn’t open. People had told me that before, but for some reason, I felt it hit me in the gut, right where my mac n’ cheese was beginning to fester. It was a back room sermon.

“Cause fuck you.”

The more I thought about it, the more that phrase grew to mean so much me. It became my “om”- my affirmation of faithlessness. I could imagine myself rocking back and forth holding a string of beads, counting how many times I said it- prostrating myself on piss soaked concrete to revere the fry cook’s gospel.

“Cause fuck you” became part of my vernacular. It got me through more of those treacherous nights at the bar- my safety word for when circumstance was whipping my ass too hard. It got me through days where I saw how heavy the world is- seeing homeless men sleep in church vestibules, wiping snot from some wheelchair confined kid’s nose, seeing people arrested in front of me. It answered all of life’s questions, at least to the point I could carry on- whether it was mass murders or getting cut off on the Beltline, the answer was reduced to the same tao- “cause fuck you.”

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Cause fuck you.

Why can’t I seem to get anything right?

Cause fuck you.

Why did my grandpa have to die that way?

Cause fuck you.

Why can’t I be with her?

Cause fuck you.

Why do I feel this way?

Cause fuck you.

Why am I so angry?

Cause fuck you.

Why am I so sad?

Cause fuck you.

Why do I not feel anything?

Cause fuck you.

My happy place is fading to black. No cows, no clandestine half pipe in an old barn, no cool autumn nights- just cold hard reality where people struggle, fuck, starve, bleed, and die. Where there’s war, rape, famine, fraud, and addiction. No cows, no reasons, no hope.

So then why continue, why go on- why live?

Cause fuck you- that’s why.

“Drew. Come back to me, Drew. Your session is over.”

#

Listen to This: “Incense and Peppermints”- Strawberry Alarm Clock, “Tears of a Clown”- Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, “Let It All Hang Out”- A.D.O.R.

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Written by dstclaire

April 30, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. This is fantastic, Drew! Looking forward to a Part 2, 3, 4 etc.

    Russell Pandres

    June 6, 2013 at 1:49 pm


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