This story is rated R for drug use, sexuality, and strong language.
Notes: FYI, we don't own Degrassi. This fic was co-written by KT and Aubrey (also known as KT the Shimmer Skank and keeponwritin, respectively). We also send love to Amy (love-fool), whose imput, suggestions, and witty dialogue are a great help to the making of this fic. This is an experimental venture into the world of dark comedy, and we hope it is as delicious to read as it was to write.
"CRAIG!" her shrill voice screamed. I was sprawled across my olive green sheets in only my boxers. I took a deep breath, the first and heaviest breath of the day, and slowly opened one eye. I saw Manny hovering over me, hands on hips, lips pursed, and eyes worn down by impatience. Funny how she still looked cute, standing there pouting with the early morning light through the window outlining the curves of her body. It was an annoying kind of cute, though. An allure that screamed, "Fuck me, please, and then let me ruin your life." I rolled over and groaned.
"If you don't get your ASS out of bed right now, I'm going to be late for school!" Manny sighed and started picking up dirty laundry from my bedroom floor. "CRAIG!" She began pelting me with articles of clothing that hadn't been washed since God knows when. "GET UP! CRAAAAAAAIG!"
With what seemed to be every ounce of strength I had in the world, I slowly rolled out of bed. I blinked once or twice to bring the world into focus before yawning and scanning over the floor. I located a pair of pants and a t-shirt that didn't look too badly soiled and lazily slid into them.
"Okay, okay," I said scratchily. "Let's go."
Manny's disposition immediately shifted to sticky-sweet as she stood on her toes and placed a kiss on my cheek. "All right, sweetie. Thanks again for the ride."
I watched the bounce of her ass as she skipped out of the room and sighed. There's nothing like starting your day with the one you love. Or something like that.
Sully was standing in the hall-way, his silken red "Mac Daddy"-print boxers gleaming in the sunlight. His fake blonde highlights stood completely vertical as he grimaced at me with the kind of face that says, "I've been out drinking and banging all night and it's way too early."
"Good morning, Sully!" Manny chirped with that fantastically subtle bitchiness of hers. "You look totally scrumptious today." She reached forward and touseled his hair, a huge no-no with him, and I wouldn't have been surprised if he threw a punch right then.
"Thanks, Manuella. You look slut-tastic as always." He pointed at me and glared. "You know, none of MY lays have ever disturbed your sleep, Craig. I feel the hurt, man. Ouch." He yawned and went back into his bedroom.
Manny muttered a barrage of insults about Sully under her breath as we left the apartment and got into my car, but I wasn't listening. Manny speaking is like traffic noise or politicians; it's just something you learn to tune out.
I cranked the stereo to maximum volume, which I know Manny hates, and let the heroin-soaked melodies of Stone Temple Pilots pulse in every corner of my piece of shit car. It was Joey's parting gift to me when I moved out. It's funny how sometimes when you're driving with the stereo up loud, you feel separated from everything else. You don't feel anything but the movement and the music and it gives you the opportunity to see the bigger picture.
I was nineteen years old, driving a two-tone, rusting Kia that had four previous owners, with nothing but sixty cents in my pocket and a back tooth that was rotting out of my mouth, working twenty lousy hours a week at the Kum N Go on Fulster Street, and still fooling around with the same hopeless bimbo I'd lost my virginity to in the tenth grade. With a heart-wrenching blow and a heavy sigh, I realized there was no bigger fucking picture.
I pulled up in front of my alma mater, Degrassi Community School, house of a thousand pains, a place I would avoid like the plague if not for driving Manny there daily. Life became so completely covered in shit, that digging through it to find the pleasant memories just took this energy I did not have, and effort I could not give. The music still blared from the speakers, and Manny noticeably sunk in her seat. As if she had some big reputation to uphold.
"Um, bye, sweetie," she said quickly, her words clumping together. For a brief second, she flashed me a smile, then grabbed her backpack and headed out and up the stairs. Manny's so cute when she's pretending our relationship is not completely fucked up. Our relationship progressed from up to down to I love you to I hate you to why the hell am I still with you to this, beautiful neutrality.
Manny was good for two things: sex, and companionship. In all truth, I didn't want her as a friend. Friends suck. I am forced to listen to her complaining and whining enough as is. I'd rather she sit next to me while I stare at the walls and feel the tiniest bit of hope that maybe I didn't fuck up everything.
More importantly, she's there when my self-esteem hits rock bottom, and everything becomes so crystal clear and I see myself for the miserable fuck that I am--which happens about daily--and I could just taste the endorphins running through me, and for a few seconds, I don't just push it to the back of my mind, I just completely forget about everything. And that was what Manny provided. My method of coping. Sex was my refuge. Jesus fuck, that's pathetic.
I only really realized this whole sort-of-needing-Manny-to-stay-sane' thing about a month ago. That's why I can't let us fight, because if we fight, we break up again, and if we break up, I can't stop thinking about self-pity and hellaciousness, and I'm fairly certain I'll sink slowly into several (more) neuroses.
I don't actually care how our relationship works out, only that I stay sane in the process. Hm. Guess that kinda makes me a selfish bastard. Not that I care. At all.
Because I failed to provide a tiny but slightly-important detail: besides beyond my method to sanity, Manny also had a knack for being my means of delirium. On the rare occasion that I couldn't tune Manny out, her bitching and moaning were like instant death to my brain cells. She gets under my skin and takes over my life and she's everything I don't want and all I really want to do is escape her. But then she goes away and I remember how fucking hopeless my life is, so I run to her for comfort sex and suddenly I'm stuck in the cycle again. Manny is the disease and she is the cure.
On my way back home I stopped at the Kum N Go to buy gas and an orange Slurpie for breakfast. Practically all of my meals come from the Kum N Go, because I am dirt poor and the 30% employee discount makes all the difference in the world. I can't afford to see a dentist or buy a new muffler or god forbid take a class or two at the community college, but I can always come up with the money to treat myself to aritificial colors and flavors at any time.
With unpleasant clunkety-kachug-poof noises the whole way, I drove back to the Paradise Suites apartment complex, which is the exact opposite of what its name implies. I sluggishly trudged up the creaking stairs and stuck my key into the lock that always jammed and entered the palace of dirty laundry, fast food wrappers, flea market furniture, and marijuana scent that I called home. Bright morning light attempted to break through the grimey glass windows. The apartment was quiet except for the dull and slightly irregular buzz of the refridgerator.
As I flopped onto the couch and sucked icy orange goo through a plastic straw, Sully emerged from his bedroom. He had showered and dressed and was looking as much like an oily rich boy as ever. He was in a much better mood than when I'd run into him earlier that morning. He was whistling an Usher song.
"Where the hell are you going this early?" I asked him as he sauntered into the living room.
He sat down on the arm chair to the left of the couch and started pulling on his socks. "I've got a Calc class at nine," he informed me.
I took a slow slurp of my drink and gaped at him. "You're actually going to go to class? A class at nine o'clock in the morning?" This was a remarkable event to say the least. Sully rarely got his ass out of bed before noon, and to actually participate in the forty thousand dollar education his parents were buying for him was something he didn't generally deem worthy of his time. Sully was a clever strategist. Rather than go through the trouble of earning his degree, he went through two times the trouble to find ways around it. Banging smart girls, paying computer geeks for answers, going on speed binges to cram... whatever it took, Sully would find a way.
He shrugged as he stood up to find his shoes. "Well, I mean, I'm already awake, thanks to your wonderful girlfriend. I've got nothing better to do. I might as well. Besides, there's this chick Janie in that class with a great rack."
That Sully. He always had his priorities straight. Not that I was one to talk. I sank deeper into the couch and drank my Slurpie. Sully sat back down a few minutes later a mirror and razor in hand. As was his daily custom, he used the thin piece of glittering metal to cut a short clean line of the finest cocaine. He retrieved a rolled green bill from his pocket and placed it to his nose. He brought his face to the mirror, which I realized with some disgust might have been Manny's at one point in time, and with one swift movement had snorted the entire line. He lifted his head with a grin as innocent as sunshine and chocolate icecream, as if he'd simply been taking his daily Flintstone vitamin. He returned his assorted coke paraphernalia to its proper place in the kitchen, grabbed his keys off the hook, and left the apartment with a cheerful adieu.
In all honesty, Donald O'Sullivan is a truly remarkable human being. He managed to ace his entire first semester of college without going to class more than four times. He can walk into a room full of people and within two minutes pinpoint exactly which girl he'll be banging in a few hours, and believe me, he always gets it right. He got a girl five years younger than him knocked up and not only paid for the abortion, but smooth talked the parents with such expertise that they were apologizing to him for their daughter's inexcusable behavior and inviting him to eat Sunday dinner with them. He plays golf once a month with the chief of police and his son. The mother fucker snorts coke through a hundred dollar bill and doesn't even blink. With the kind of money his parents dish out to him each month, he could easily live someplace better than this dump with me. But no, Sully chooses to live economically so that he can spend his money on more important things like drugs, bribes, and impressing girls. He's a selfish, lazy, two-faced, womanizing cokehead son of a bitch and the funny thing is, I have no doubts whatsoever that he will be a healthy, successful, well-adjusted member of society.
I, on the other hand, am destined to be a prisoner of Paradise Suites for all eternity, with no greater joys in life than getting laid by a chick I can't stand being around and being the employee of the month at the Kum N Go. Ah, who the fuck was I kidding? I would never be employee of the month.
I sucked dry the last heavenly drops of orange Slurpie before tossing the cardboard cup from the couch towards the trash can in the kitchen. I missed. I grabbed the purple afghan that was beginning to reek uncontrollably of pot and frozen burritoes from the corner of the couch and wrapped myself up in it. I turned on the TV and fell asleep watching an Elmer Fudd cartoon not long after.
I woke up around four o'clock, the waking hour of stoners and nightshift factory workers all across the country, and proceeded to take a dump while finishing up a Rolling Stone article about Modest Mouse. I took a shower, re-dressed myself in the same dirty clothes, and made myself an omlette that tasted like dish soap. I spent twenty entire minutes attempting to land wadded up pieces of napkin into an empty beer can with the fork I was using as a catapult. My life, you see, is built upon the utmost effiency.
In fact, the whole transition from semi-popular band frontman to infamously pathetic slacker pothead has been surprisingly seamless. I barely noticed that my life was spiraling down the drain. A small favor, I thought, from whatever forces have chosen to fuck up my life.
Before I drifted off to sleep again, I realized, with much lack of concern, that my work shift began in approximately negative four minutes. I did my customary work sucks groan, and picked myself up as quickly as I felt necessary--which wasn't very. I shuffled across the floor, kicking trash and old magazines out of my way. I walked to the couch, where I knew I had left my keys earlier. When I didn't find them there, I groaned again and did an entirely-unthorough thirty-second search of the few feet I'd moved around in the past six hours. Nothing. The whole just give up mentality I'd grown so fond of was ringing in my ears, but my need for money was greater. I hesitated before digging my hand into the depths of the sofa. It hadn't been cleaned since we bought it, and seeing as how the woman we bought it from was wheelchair-bound and completely senile, I don't think she cleaned it before selling it, either. I ignored the urge to do some serious upchucking when my hand hit a mass of god-knows-whose hair. When I dug in deeper, my hand felt something rubbery. I brought my hand back up, with a used condom pinched between my fingers. Okay, NOT mine. Manny complained before we ever got that far on the couch. I threw it over my shoulder and dug in again. After a few seconds, I finally found the keys, and just as I was about to think maybe this day had some hope of being mediocre and run out the door, I peered down at the sticky orange substance that had glued my fingers to my keys, and my car key to my house key. I was already a good fifteen minutes late, so without wasting any time, I tried to rub it off onto the bottom of my shirt and sauntered out the door.
Not without the much abuse of my fingertips, I'd managed to quickly separate the keys and jam the key in the ignition, melted orange Slurpie and all. I sighed, relieved, when the car started up in less than six tries.
When I arrived there in a few minutes, she was already standing there, in the back of the store, waiting for me, trying to look pissed when I knew she was internally celebrating another Craig fuck-up that allowed her to get out all that pent-up rage I knew she was storing from a verbally abusive husband, or something like that. I'd like to see how she managed before she employed me as her whipping boy.
she said witheringly, look at the clock. I looked at the clock on the wall, not bothering to actually read the time. Instead I stared at the bold numbers, and then at the second hand. We're running a business here, and if you can't be on time, maybe I'll have to... It must suck to be the second hand. I mean, you're this thin, barely noticeable twig. And you do all this revolving, and ticking at each little dash for just a second, and then you move on. And for what? To control the minutes, which control the hours. You put in all this labor so the bigger, bolder, more noticeable hands can move a hundred times slower than you, and what do you get out of it? Nothing. When's the last time you heard someone say the seconds when telling the time? No one cares. You're a second hand. You're worthless.
I must've looked convincingly apologetic as I stared at the clock, because when I snapped back to consciousness, my apron was in my hand, and at least three minutes had passed by. I threw it over my head carelessly and headed out to the store area. At the cash register stood some guy, apparently a fellow employee, but I wouldn't have any idea. I watched as he kept glancing down at his watch impatiently. As I stepped into the small box, he looked up at me and grunted before exiting.
Thus, my shift began. People trickled in, and I did my best to feign even the slightest appreciation for having customers, despite the fact that they were providing me my paycheck. It was always great to pretend to be cheerful when even the customers just wanted you to hand them their change and their junk food and leave as quickly as possible. People understood that there was no way I was actually happy. I was working in a convenience store. It's just a fact of life: no one who's happy ever works at fast food restaurants, amusement parks, or convenience stores. Yet I'm still forced to look less than miserable. Go effing figure.
Around nine o'clock, even the trickle had died down to about, one person every HOUR. I just sat there on this broken wooden stool, and I checked the clock every minute and I think there was a nail sticking into my ass but it (and I) was too numb for me to care. It was mind-numbingly silent and still, the kind of silence that pisses you off. I was pissed off. But then I almost fell asleep. It's hard to be pissed when you're tired.
Finally, the last god-forsaken customer left around 11:45, and this bubbly, energetic college-aged girl came in at midnight to take the next shift, smiling like there was something to be happy about. I think she was employee of the month.
I pulled into Paradise Suites' parking lot and didn't bother to lock my car, knowing full well that no one in their right mind would take this thing. It would probably blow up in their face if they even tried.
I dragged myself up the stairs and pulled out the sticky keys, getting aggravated after a few unsuccessful tries and almost getting the key stuck in the lock. Finally, with much frustration, I turned the key and pushed against the door hard, throwing myself into the room.
My eyes immediately landed on the television, the screen full of half-naked cheerleaders writhing on BMWs and Lamborghinis, covered in soap suds. I then noticed Sully, lounging back on the couch with his one arm resting on the back of the couch, and ignoring my entrance. Then, further away, in the lounge chair, was Manny. Sitting studiously and flipping through a textbook, her eyes squinting in confusion. Like she did this every night in that same chair. Manny was always gone by this time. Always.
I said, more for an immediate explanation than to announce my presence. Manny took it to be the latter.
Hey, sweetie, she said, throwing her textbook down into the chair and skipping over to me, still standing by the door. She smiled and pulled my head down to meet her lips in a small kiss. I still just stared, waiting for the explanation. How was work? she asked instead.
Um, work was...work. Loud moans started coming from the TV, killing the mood I was trying to set up here. I said finally, what are you doing here? That sort of thing would offend most girls. Manny wasn't most girls. Not that that made her any more endearing. She paused for a second with seriousness all over her face, while she stared at the floor. Suddenly, she sucked in a breath and smiled up at me again.
I've decided to move in with you.
She presented the words to me like they were a present. Like I was so lucky to get to put up with Manny's shit 24/7 now. "Um, no," I said tiredly. It's funny because I really meant for it to come out as a reasonable, gentle decline. But somehow my mind didn't find the effort.
She laughed and touched my face. "Don't be silly, Craig. This is going to be great! We'll be just like a real couple."
Now I knew for sure she was out of her fucking mind. Manny and I would never be like a real couple, even if we got married and had babies and drove an SUV. God forbid that should ever happen. "Um, Manny... no." That was all there was to it. No. No way. A stampede of rabid hyenas couldn't make me change my mind.
She pouted. "Craig, I have to stay here, okay? My mom and I got in a fight and I've got nowhere else to stay. I mean, I thought you were ready for this stage in our relationship, but if you're not, maybe we should just... cool things down for awhile."
I was about to agree to this without any complaints. Cool down? Hell yes. She was started to get on my nerves anyway, being around all the time. But then I caught her drift. She was threatening to cut me off. I was dumbstruck. But looking at her, I knew she totally wasn't kidding. Manny might give off the slutty bimbo vibe, but underneath it all she's still a clever, manipulative bitch and she knew exactly where my weak spot was.
So that was my option. Let Manny live with me, get unlimited sex. Tell Manny there was no way I could stand living with her, lose sex all together.
I sighed. "Yeah, this will be great," I told her. "Just awesome."
With a satisfied squeal, she pranced back to her seat and continued with her homework. I rubbed my tired eyes. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you the shit-icing on my shit-cake.