This one is inspired largely by the Clerks cartoon and comic books. The difference in tone and characterization from the movies is largely attributable to this.

"I got my black shirt on.
I got my black gloves on.
I got my ski mask on.
This shit's been too long."

The Final Rest of Dante Hicks

"I don't know," Dante admitted, "There's no reason for it, I've just been feeling kind of down lately..."

His therapist nodded. "And you're a clerk, right?"

"Yeah, I took the job thinking I'd work there maybe a week... it's been over ten years now," Dante chuckled lightly.

The therapist made a note on his pad. "How are paying for this session?"

"My mom is," Dante admitted reluctantly.

His therapist nodded again. "You still live with her?"

"Yeah..." Dante self-consciously confessed.

His therapist put down his pen and set his file on the table. "You have a girlfriend?"

Dante sat straight up on the couch. "Well, not right now..."

"What happened with your last girlfriend?" the therapist asked pointblank.

Dante told him the whole story.

The therapist look Dante dead in the eye. "You have every right to be depressed. With what little you've accomplished in your life, you'd be an idiot not to."

"Hey, now, wait a minute!" Dante jumped to his own defense. "I've accomplished plenty!"

The therapist pulled out a picture of Miley Cyrus. "This is Hanna Montana. She's half your age, has numerous platinum records, a top TV show, and an IMAX special that sells out in seconds."

Dante stared at the picture for a moment... then slumped back onto the couch. "My god, you're right... I have accomplished nothing in my life."

The therapist nodded. "So, I say be depressed, no one will blame you. Hell," he laughed "if you told my you were going to kill yourself as soon as you left this office, I'd say you were completely within your rights."

Dante cast his therapist an angry sideways glance. "And that's your advice?"

"No," the therapist shook his head, "my advice is 'if you leave a note, don't use song lyrics.' It's always really embarrassing."

--

"'The world is a vampire sent to drain...'" Dante dictated to himself, only to crumple up and toss away another draft of his suicide note.

Ever since that disastrous session with Dr. Dini, Dante had found himself wallowing in even more existential exhaustion than usual. While it had never been especially easy to get through his day, lately even the dullest and most meaningless aspect of his job (which is to say, everything) had just plunged him deeper and deeper into crushing despair. He'd only been on the job for a few hours and he'd already gone through three rolls of register tape drafting his last wishes... which somehow always seemed to include the chorus from whatever he'd been listening to on the radio driving in.

And then, when he honestly felt he could sink no further, Randal entered Pop culture references a-blazing. "Hey, did you stop and really think about the kind of world Hall and Oates were singing about?" he asked. "'Private eyes see your every move'... what kind of fascist dytopia were they postulating? To say nothing of... hey, what are you doing?" he asked as he crowded over Dante.

"This kind of personal," Dante asserted.

Randal poured his eyes over Dante's recent handiwork... then recoiled in shock. "Oh my God... you're writing a suicide note!" Randal gasped.

"Well, I'm working on a draft," Dante murmured. "I don't know if I going anywhere with it..."

"I can't tell you how long I've been waiting for this," Randal said, throwing his arms around Dante. "Have you given any thought to how you're going to do it?"

"Well..."

"Because in my mind, your suicide was always special," Randal reminisced. "Like you somehow smashed your own head in a vise or hollowed yourself out and had your body filled with candy or maybe something really crazy like my cousin did at the pig farm..."

"Did you come over here for a reason?" Dante finally asked.

"Oh, right," Randal remembered. "The local independent businessmen are outside trying to set your car on fire."

"What?" Dante flew off the handle.

"What are you complaining about? You won't need it soon anyway," Randal pointed out. "Now, let's talk about hanging. The advantage there is it will give you an erection. Now, that might not seem like a good thing, but look at it this way..."

Dante shoved Randal aside as he ran out of the store.

Sure enough, Jay and Silent Bob had pried his gas-tank open with a crowbar and were currently busying themselves trying to flick butts into it.

"Nah, you gotta get more of twist on it, lunchbox," Jay corrected, trying to demonstrate proper form. "Check this shit out."

Jay flicked his cigarette butt like a paper football, just missing the goal.

"Aww, so close," he lamented.

"Why are you doing that?" Dante demanded.

Jay and Silent Bob shrugged in unison.

"Something to do," Jay justified.

Dante sighed in complete exasperation. "What will it take to get you two to leave my car alone?"

Jay considered that for a moment. "Gonna cost you something pretty good."

Dante didn't want to think about what "something good" might constitute to the stoner contingent. "I don't know..."

"Fine," Jay said, then resumed flicking butts. "Now, you gotta John Elway that shit. Get the angle on it and..."

Dante shot a concerned look to his car. It couldn't fly or anything, but it was all he got. "Fine," he sighed. "What do you want?"

Jay and Silent Bob shared a conspiratorial look. "You're gonna hafta buy a 'Yoohoo' for me and one for my man!" Jay demanded.

Dante gave another sigh of resignation. "Fine."

Jay and Silent Bob exchanged high-fives and Dante ushered them into the Quik Stop, where Lando and Randal were deep into a spirited religious debate.

"...And there's no way they would have left Han frozen in Carbonite for more than a couple of days, so the message is... what, that you can become a Jedi Master over a long weekend?" Randal ranted.

Lando nodded sagely. "It does ring false, now that you mention it."

Dante turned a frustrated eye to his marginal coworker. "Is this all you ever do?"

"Hey, if there were any customers, I would have taken care of them," Randal outright lied. "And shouldn't you be beyond all this at this point?"

Lando perked up. "Why would he be beyond it?"

"It's nothing," Dante assured him.

"He's going to top himself off," Randal announced.

"Thank you, Randal," Dante sighed.

"Hmm... Dante Hicks, prominent New Jersey sales clerk deciding to kill himself," Lando considered it. "Yeah, that sounds about right."

Dante raised a worried eyebrow. "Aren't you going to try to talk me out of it?"

Lando weighed the options in his hands for a moment. "Well, on the one hand, you've been stuck in a deadend job for over a decade, no love life to speak of, and your closest friends are me and Randal. But, on the other hand..."

Lando stood thinking about it for a solid minute while Dante and Randal watched dumb-founded.

"Nah, it seems like it's probably the right choice for you," Lando finally decided.

"Told ya," Randal elbowed Dante triumphantly.

"Well, I should probably get going," Lando said. "Those dogs don't train the brutality out of themselves. See you later, Randal. Pleasure knowing you, Dante."

Dante stared after him blank-eyed. His spiritual adviser had failed him in his time of greatest need. He really did have no reason to live. Fortunately, he didn't have time to continue this line of thought before Jay and Silent Bob reached the counter with their prize.

Somehow by the time they got to the counter, the Yoohoo had transformed into a Batman comic book, but Dante couldn't find the energy to let that trouble him. He just pulled the appropriate amount out of his wallet and thrust it into the drawer.

"Thank you for shopping the Quik Stop," he said mechanically.

Jay didn't even look up from his comic as he and Bob exited the store. "Man, this shit is off the hook since Beesly started drawing it," Jay declared.

Bob nodded.

And then they were gone.

"Okay, so you've lost the will to live and your spiritual adviser failed you in your time of greatest need and those guys just walked out with more stuff than you could pay back in a month," Randal recapped. "Who can you possibly turn to for help now?"

As if in answer to that question, the store swung open and Rob Lowe entered.

"Hi, I'm Rob Lowe," Rob Lowe introduced himself jauntily. "My car didn't break down, and even if it had I have a cellphone and could easily call a tow-truck."

"Can we help with anything, Mr. Lowe?" Dante asked, more than a little puzzled as to what the hell Rob Lowe could be doing here now.

Rob Lowe thought for a moment. "Well, since I have some time while I'm not waiting for that truck... maybe I could do with a tin of Eight O'Clock coffee or some expired beef jerky." Then Rob Lowe punched his palm to indicate he'd been struck by an idea. "I'll tell you what I could really go for: what do have in the line of hardcore pornography?"

Dante let a second coat of confusion wash over him and Randal followed suit. "Well... We've got Thick Sticks, Chix With Dix, Room for Six..."

"Better give me everything on the menu," Rob Lowe said decisively.

Dante processed the transaction with an even higher degree of discomfort than he was used to, which increased tenfold when Rob Lowe suddenly took a personal interest in him."

"Hey, you're looking pretty down, guy," Rob Lowe said sympathetically.

Dante nodded. "Yeah... lately I've been doubting the direction I've been going in life."

"Well, none of us have any real direction, not even faded Eighties icons like me," Rob Lowe pronounced.

Dante perked up somewhat. "Really?"

Rob Lowe nodded warmly. "That star everyone thinks they're following... do you know what it really is?"

Dante and Randal shook their heads.

"It's St. Elmo's Fire," Rob Lowe explained. "Electric flashes of light that appear in dark skies out of nowhere. Sailors would guide entire journeys by it, but the joke was on them... there was no fire. There wasn't even a St. Elmo. They made it up. They made it up because they thought they needed it to keep them going when times got tough, just like you're making up all of this. We're all going through this. It's our time at the edge."

For a moment, Dante and Randal simply let themselves wade through the sheer poetic depth and beauty of Rob Lowe's words.

Then Randal snapped back "Wait, that's total crap!"

"No, it's not," Rob Lowe replied shakily.

"Yes, it is," Dante chimed in. "There was a St. Elmo. He was the patron saint of sailors and one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in the Catholic Church."

"And St. Elmo's fire is a real electrical phenomenon that made it impossible to to chart a course!" Randal ranted. "'They' didn't make it up and they certainly didn't use it to sail home."

"You lied to the American people and we aren't about to let you get away with it," Dante rumbled.

"Hey, I was in The Outsiders, too," Rob Lowe fumbled.

"Yeah?" Randal raised an angry eyebrow. "What have you done lately?"

Rob Lowe actually had to think about that for a moment. "I was unsuccessfully spun off from the West Wing."

Dante narrowed his eyes in cold hatred. "Take your pornography and get the hell out."

Randal couldn't help but smile as he watched Rob Lowe flee the Quik Stop in shame. "I've been wanting to do that since that movie came out."

"Me, too," Dante agreed.

Then he was struck by a revelation. "Me too."

Dante felt an unfamiliar feeling rush from him; something he couldn't quite name that felt a lot like pride. "I actually accomplished one of my goals in life."

Randal glance out the window. "Your car is on fire."

Dante didn't let his smile falter for a second. "Let the motherfucker burn."