Two things: Yes, I am actively trying to get my novel Impossible Monsters noticed by a literary agent (or two), and I am still actively writing my butt off–can’t seem to go a day without putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys, actually), which I guess is a good thing since I fashion myself a writer anyway. And, anyone who knows me on an intimate level will agree I like to keep myself busy, thus, I tend to have a few projects going on at once. Whether or any of them will materialize beyond a chapter or two is anyone’s guess, but I think it’s important to stay sharp, keep me on my proverbial toes.
That being said, I started working on a book a while ago, a sort of non-sequel sequel to Impossible Monsters about a writer in his early thirties who’s trying to gain some sort of widespread acclaim with the publication of his first book, but can’t seem to find the fame/fortune he thought he might. Thus, he’s regulated himself to working on what he considers his masterpiece, a Western novel called The Horse and his Thief, which he can’t seem to find the motivation to work on.
Anyway, here lies the first chapter, so read at your own peril. Warning: There are graphic words present in the text, words that could be described of a debauched-nature, so if you have a weak stomach/eyes/ears/brain, or want to continue seeing me in the innocent light you do (bless you!), then read no further. Oh, and this is a very rough version, so please take that into consideration. Woo!
1. ETERNITY AT THE PARTY
An overwhelming sense of dread and irony rises in me at the small party on Cass Avenue in the cramped tiny living room packed with thirty-year-old hipsters and twenty-year-old art-types drinking cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and smoking clove cigarettes discussing the newest art installations at the Art Institute of Detroit and what it means for the rotted city, the boys’ facial hairs grown out into patchwork beards and shoddy goatees and the girls’ hairstyles ranging from trendy punk to homeless chic, and I find myself conversing with a girl, cute, blonde with darkbrown roots showing, named Irene, who says she’s a playwright even though she’s confessed to me three times since our meeting that she’s turning nineteen in less than a week so I doubt she has enough world weariness to write anything of substance, especially since she looks as if she comes from money which is hardly the Great Motivator, but if you ask her or anyone else in the room it’s all about attitude these days not about actual talent anymore so in their minds they’re all champions already anyway.
“But, you know what I mean?” Irene is saying as I focus back on her lips and the sound coming out of them. “This city, it’s beautiful, and it’s coming back. I mean, the art community alone is thriving, and it’s a great place for people like us to be in. Writers, I mean.” She drinks from her can, finishes off what’s left of it then shakes it in front of her as if she’s asking for me to tell her what a great job she’s done. “This is the type of place that breeds genius,” she says, left hand on her waist, her hips large but still flattering to her otherwise lean frame. Her breasts are small but round and she’s wearing what’s probably a Betsy Johnson dress with leggings under it and some sort of shawl over her shoulders. It looks as if she rifled through her grandmother’s closet but I still find myself wanting to fuck her, perhaps because she’s so young. She looks up at me while I drink. Bright red lipstick, dark purple arcs of makeup above her eyes, her eyebrows neatly vaulted above that. Her hair’s cut short just above her neck and gelled into divisions and subdivisions of personality.
She touches my arm just above the elbow and tells me that she’s going to grab another beer and I nod as she leaves and follow her through the room, weaving through cliques of different tints of the same flannel and androgynous cut of skinny jeans and throwback Nikes and Reeboks in neon colors until she disappears into the kitchen. The furniture’s been taken out of the room entirely and I drink my beer and try to imagine what recycled couch Sarah must own and where it usually resides in the room in relation to the other Salvation Army-purchased shit that must typically garnish the place, with its painted-over brick walls and industrial lighting, and for some reason I imagine her naked, fucking in the room with a mysterious sect of black-masked men, music playing wildly, fun had by all, some Kubrick-esque, esoteric rite that, at least in my head, seems fitting. Thinking about her, I seek her out from within the throng of self-professed Indie Kids, a copy of a copy of something that never really was that clever to begin with. She’s talking to a tall skinny boy and a chubby boy, both with big thick sideburns and wearing plain white veeneck teeshirts but neither of whom I recognize in any capacity nor care to. I drink my beer and watch her talk and flirt and shoot her a smile once she meets my eyes then she holds up a finger to the pair and walks toward me, laughing, fielding salutations from passers-by with a finger or a wide smile, depending on who it is, her little polka dot party dress sashaying side to side as she hoofs it. A few paces before she reaches me a Groove Armada remix of Calvin Harris’ “The Girls” starts playing on the stereo and a group of girls wearing neon pink Kanye shutter sunglasses squeal with delight and start swaying and dipping and freaking each other as he sings “I’ve got a lot of love to give / And I’ve been over / over-subscribed with relationships / See you’ve got (you’ve got) / A little thing I haven’t seen before” and I feel like I know exactly what he means.
“Are you having a good time?” Sarah says, leaning toward me, beer spilling out of the can she’s holding onto the scraped hardwood floor and I can’t tell if she’s doing it on purpose, for attention, or she’s drunk. “I hope you like Pabst.”
“Yeah, it’s okay.”
“The beer or the party?”
“Both,” I say. “I mean, I’m great. Fine.”
“I thought you were going to bring a friend?”
“I was supposed to, I had plans, but they fell through. Irene’s nice, anyway.”
“Yeah,” she’s says drinking then contorting her face suddenly. “Wait, who?”
“The girl I’ve been talking to. Irene. She’s a…playwright,” I say almost laughing as I utter the words.
“Oh, shit, Irene. Yes, I know her. Well, of her. She’s Ben’s cousin, right?”
“I think she is.”
“Cool,” I say smiling, leaning in myself now. “Did Brad make it tonight?”
“He’s working,” she’s saying while playing with a thick strand of hair, looking from side to side at the groups nearby, her head bobbing to the song. “But don’t get any ideas. That was a one-time thing.”
“It doesn’t have to be,” I say. “We can make it as regular as you want.”
“No, we can’t. It was a moment of weakness. Anyway, you should network. I mean, you were telling me, that night, how you don’t know any writers. I figure this is, like, your scene.” She’s drinking again, a bit too keyed up for my own good and starts looking around the room again, waving and smiling, so I do the same, studying the alarmingly similar faces pasted throughout. “Hey,” she says excitedly again, touching my arm in nearly the same place Irene did. “Has anyone, like, recognized you yet?”
“Because of the book.”
“Oh, uh…no. I mean, I told Irene about it, but she hadn’t heard of it.”
“I’m telling you, you should bring a copy of it wherever you go. Conveniently place it on tables and whatnot for people to see.”
“But you don’t have any furniture.”
“Well, you know what I’m saying.”
“Alright, I’m going back to my conversation with Derek and Keith. They’re in a band called The Juggernauts. You ever hear of em?”
“They’re pretty good, in town for a few days. Come over later, I’ll introduce you.”
“Okay,” I say and finish off my now-warm beer and I’m alone again and for some reason the general volume of noise in the room seems to be turned up louder and the same girls with the pink sunglasses are dancing and a group of shaggy stoner-types are leering at them from nearby passing a small joint between them and I look back to the hall that leads to the bathroom and one bedroom and see an opening and make for it. I feel out of place with my sport coat and teeshirt combo but figure I’m probably the only one in this room that’s actually accomplished anything so I wear it proud, pushing through. A few people I’ve seen at similar parties and the bars downtown nod at me as I pass but I’m so annoyed by everything tonight that I don’t nod back or even just acknowledge them, just push through to the tiny hall where Sarah has mounted black and white prints of burnt-out and abandoned buildings like it’s a personal shrine to her hobbies. I knock on the bathroom door which is shut and don’t hear anything so push my way in and see two guys making out, both skinny, one with one of those new mullet haircuts these types think for some reason has come back into style, the other with a shaved head. There arms around each other, groping. The one with the shaved head is leaning against the wall between the toilet and the sink, wearing aviators, both are wearing tight jeans, their legs like twigs wrapped around each other and they’re staring at me, stunned that I’ve interrupted their most intimate of moments the way I have.
“Yeah?” the one with the mullet says to me almost snarling. “Can we fucking help you?”
“You can, by getting the fuck out so I can piss,” I say flexing my arms and my chest so they pop a bit more which is still noticeable even through my sport coat—my reinvigorated passion for the gym has been working out well lately, I’ve put on almost five pounds of muscle in the last month and I’m probably bigger now than I ever have been—and looking directly in their eyes one after the other knowing I could easily smash their goddamn faces into the mirror, cut them up good with the shards, break their goddamn fingers and kick their fucking teeth in until they choke on the blackred blood.
The littler one with the shaved head stands up and looks freaked and grabs the mullet kid and pulls him away. “C’mon, Ben,” he says.
“Yeah, Ben,” I say as they pass me in the doorway, squeezing by and I could’ve easily moved but chose not to, figuring I’m staking my claim to this territory, like animals in the wild do, and backing down now would just show that I wasn’t serious about my assertive comment, which I was. They smell like mildew as they pass and once they’re gone I go inside and slam the door shut. I go to the sink and turn on the cold water and splash my face. I look in the mirror, the water dripping off my features causing me to glisten and I wonder why I chose to wear a jacket at all, since it’s late May and fairly warm already and especially since I always sweat easily in close quarters like this. I look at my nose, study my cheekbones, run two fingers across my jaw and feel how smooth it feels from shaving earlier. I look good. Great, even. A million fucking bucks. I look up and see my hair—which is short these days—and it’s a bit out of place from the sweat so I take some toilet paper and blot it dry and try to re-mess it up again, stylishly, and finally satisfied I dry my hands with a hand towel nearby and step back, looking at my reflection. I smile at myself and tell myself that I’m going to fuck Irene tonight. That fucking her would be the only good ending to a rather lackluster evening. I check my phone and see that it’s almost 11PM so I text a few girls I know, Kara and Amanda, as backup plans. I know Kara (who just turned nineteen a few weeks ago) is down to party since we talked earlier today and she told me if I wasn’t drunk enough that I should come over, but since she lives further away and I don’t feel like driving I’m hoping Amanda (cute and perky and two blocks away) responds and is in the mood. This is, of course, assuming that Irene is a strikeout but I have a feeling it won’t be.
I’m back in the hall now and Empire of the Sun’s “Walking On A Dream” is playing. I try to stay up-to-date on the music that college kids listen to, if nothing else so I can identify with them, seeing as I’m often on or near college campuses or hanging out with college-types when I’m doing book-related activities like signings or readings. I actually follow quite a few music blogs and often buy Rolling Stone or Spin or Q. Empire of the Sun is an electronic duo hailing from Australia, although I forget which part, probably Sydney, and the song “Walking On A Dream,” from their first EP, has been a fairly successful hit, even in America, with it’s danceable beats and glam-rock vibe. I’m standing at the edge of the living room as the song gets going, looking on as more and more people sweat and dance and spill beer and I’m there my head pounding now still hungover from last night’s outing and I see Sarah in the corner getting cozy with the tall guy from that band, his hand on her side as he leans in to whisper something in her ear which makes her blush. I find myself disgusted at this idiot’s poor attempt at flirting and wondering if she’s going to fuck him tonight, rather than me, while Brad’s at work. Panic washes over me as I wonder if my dick is bigger than his or if he’ll make her cum more than I did, which was three times back to back, or if she’ll go down on him even though she wouldn’t with me because she says that’s for boyfriends only and standing here the music around me sweat pouring from me all I want to do is smash in his face.
Then I see Irene carrying two beers and looking exasperated and annoyed and fuckable walking toward me, parting mousily through three white guys wearing Member’s Only jackets drinking bottles of malt liquor, giving me a look like a sad lost child. I can see the contour of her body as she moves and her dress moves with her. The boys she passes watch her, study her, and I wonder how any of these people ever reproduce, wondering if it’s out of boredom that these people are ever able to hook up, and the thought that I will more than likely get into her pants tonight makes me smile and sort of puff up a bit.
“Here,” she says handing me a beer, smiling now too.
“Thanks,” I say, looking at her, ogling her, smiling in a way to suggest the un-suggestible. “Hate to rush things, but…do you wanna get out of here?”
“I thought you’d never ask,” she says biting her lip.