The Ho Hey Contest
Title: The Pull Out King
Pen Name: Jandco
Word Count: 20,000 give or take a few added or lost. But I swear it's in the limits.
"His name is Felix. He's Latin, you know? And he works for Epic Records. Real music, Edward," Tanya said, crouched between my knees, her eyebrows raised in concern as she talks softly, looking up at me.
I just stared at her mouth.
It's a strange thing, when your girlfriend is explaining why she's leaving, more specifically, who she's leaving you for. Part of my brain can't understand why she'd think I'd want to know anything about the guy. The other part of my brain can't take in enough information about the guy. It must be an ego thing, "who is better than me? How is he better? Why? And what can I do to be best again?"
I just stared and decided it was psychological torture. I mean, she's been screwing both of us, obviously he scores higher than me; torturous, how I can't help but compare myself to Epic Latin. She keeps talking and all I can see is an olive skinned guy in one of those romantic pirate shirts with puffy sleeves and sporting a long, dark curly ponytail, mispronouncing his R's. I don't know how he's better, I just know he is.
Tanya stands up and grabs this big, awful canvas bag she bought at Target with Jimi Hendrix's face emblazoned on it. It's got all of her crap in it, everything she bought to this particular table over the past two years and I swear, I think I see one of my t-shirts rumpled up on the top.
But I don't say anything, I just watch while she cries and explains she couldn't help it. She fell in love with him, it was the internship. Apparently, Felix is just so smart and kind and he can really help her get ahead. He's taking her to Santa Barbara, where he'll fuck her in a bed and breakfast on the ocean. She didn't say that part, but it's implied.
"You've just been so…stuck, lately," she whispers, her fingers grabbing my thigh, a tear slides down the bridge of her nose. I blink and clutch the remote control in my hand. "Maybe Felix can help with the shop…maybe when I get officially hired at Epic, there will be something I can do to help or…Edward? I want you to be happy again."
"I'm not unhappy," I say, and it hurts my throat.
She smiles lamely and pats the side of my face, like I'm a naïve kitten. And maybe I am, because I let her hands linger all over me. I briefly contemplate asking for a goodbye handjob. Once she goes, I won't even put the effort in to getting myself off, much less charming anyone else in to doing it for me. But I don't, because the thought of getting and maintaining a boner right now is just exhausting.
"Maybe not unhappy," she finally says. "Maybe not…anything."
She'd just essentially called me nothing and I didn't even feel the insult, thus proving the truth. I was nothing, anymore. It wasn't that I was unhappy, I just wasn't happy. I wasn't…anything.
"Okay," I said.
"All of it," I shrugged.
Tanya sighed and sunk back off her knees to sit on her butt at my feet. This meant it was time for a long conversation in which she talked about worrying and feelings…but it occurred to me she just dumped me and the one perk of that was we didn't have to have this conversation. I didn't tell her to be quiet or ask her to leave, I let her talk while I traced over the soft, rubber buttons of the remote control.
1,2,3, MUTE. 1,2,3 MUTE. 1,2,3, MUTE.
"Please be okay? I hate leaving you like this…at the same time, Edward, it's draining the life out of me to stay with you."
Tanya sighed and braced her hands on my thighs, pulling herself up before kissing my lips briefly. Mine stayed slack.
There was a short, curt but piercing honk in the driveway.
"That's…my ride," she said, looking back at me over her shoulder.
"Jesus!" she shouted, yanking on her own ponytail.
I jumped in my chair at her abrupt shout.
"Any normal guy would stand up! See the guy who's been banging your girlfriend! Go out there and threaten him, Edward…fight for me," she said, finishing weakly. "When did you stop giving a damn?"
I wasn't sure exactly when. And it's not that I didn't give a damn, or maybe it was. I was sorry to see her go, I really was.
She heaved the bag up again, swiped under her eyes and whispered goodbye.
I wanted to tell her to stay. I even said it, but she didn't hear me.
She would've heard any normal guy.
Her bag swung back when she opened the door and I raised my hand and limply waved goodbye to Jimmy Hendrix's pained face before the door slammed and they were gone.
After awhile I got up and shuffled to the kitchen. I grabbed a Tupperware full of three day old spaghetti, snapped the lid off and looked inside. It was all limp noodles and dried up ground meat, clumps of crystallized looking tomato sauce. It was depression tucked and lumped inside of an oblong plastic container. I opened the freezer and took out a bottle of vodka, because it seemed like I should be having a drink after being dumped by my long term girlfriend of an Epic Latin Lover.
Problem was, I didn't much feel like it.
I didn't much feel like warming up the spaghetti or browsing the internet for rare vinyl for the shop inventory or taking a walk or a shower or sleeping or breathing…I hadn't felt like doing any of that in a long time and frankly, I doubted I'd ever feel like doing any of it again. I couldn't foresee any kind of…light at the end of the tunnel. It's all just a tunnel. It's all just a dark, long, staggering tunnel that you just kind of walk through because that's all there is.
And I just didn't fucking feel like it.
I took the bottle with me into the bathroom to take a piss, because even in the tunnel, a guy's got needs. Still, taking a leak was something I really didn't want to be bothered with, either. I stared at myself in the mirror over the toilet. It had been cracked when we moved in and I hadn't bothered to fix it. It made me look fractured in two. I sighed and still couldn't be bothered to fix it.
I turned my chin up and inspected the beard I hadn't intended to grow from all angles, then looked at my greasy hair. I blinked one eye and opened them both really wide. If I did that, I could make my eyelashes tangle in with the ends of my hair that hung down my forehead.
I shook my dick twice and didn't bother flushing the toilet, then slowly reached for the cracked mirror, pulling it open, revealing the medicine cabinet.
Tanya'd left a tube of lipstick in there and HYPOALLERGENIC OIL FREE EYE MAKE UP REMOVER. I took it out, unscrewed the blue top and sniffed it before tossing it into the overflowing wastepaper basket at the side of the sink. The lipstick went next. I grabbed a bottle of perfume and sprayed the air just in front of my nose, breathing in floral sugar, sneezing, then tossing it out. There was an old tube of travel sized toothpaste in there, blue gel gunked up around the cap. I tossed it as well, then a rusty looking disposable razor sitting in a rusty puddle. Next went the empty pink compact that used to hold Tanya's birth control pills. I flipped it open and made it flap like a bird, the sides clacking together a few times before I tossed it.
God, it was a boring medicine cabinet.
If a medicine cabinet represents someone's life, and I've heard it does, mine sorely sucked. I mean, it was now half empty and the only thing left were orange bottles filled with chemical happy.
Christ. That's my life.
Half empty and chemical happy.
That realization didn't really motivate me one way or another. It was just there. Just like everything else.
I grabbed a few bottles, Xanax, Zoloft, Lorazepam, okay, I grabbed all of them. Then the cabinet was empty. The glass shelves were mottled with chips and gunky stuff, gobs of toothpaste and shaving cream.
I looked up again at the cabinet, holding the bottles to my chest, cradling them like my last little baby possessions.
It was now empty but still dirty and if this was still symbolic of my life…well. I'd just emptied it out…to full empty, not half empty.
I shifted the bottles to the crook of my arm, still holding them to me and shut the cracked mirror door.
I looked at my fractured image again, leaning in over the sink.
I tried out a smile, then grimaced when I saw what a liar I looked like with that smile.
There were tears on the outer corners of my eyes; it's hard to see a grown man cry, it's harder to see yourself as a grown man crying.
I put my free hand up to the mirror and curled my fingers to myself, offering a goodbye to me.
Then I flipped myself the bird and stumbled out of there, holding on to my pills and shuffling down the hall to the bedroom.
There was only one place I could see myself being forever and ever and ever. There's this notch in the bed, it's an old mattress, and the middle sags. I'd had that mattress forever, since I was about fourteen. I always slept in the middle, then Tanya started sharing that bed and we each had a side and the sag notch wasn't accessible, only during solo naps and when, well, when I stopped getting out of bed most days.
It was fit just for me, just like the permanent indent in my pillow, and it's not that I wanted to be there, that I longed for it, it's just the only place I could stand to be. It's the only thing I felt like doing. Probably for forever if the past few months were any indication of the future.
I sat on the bed, right in the notch and unscrewed all of the caps on all of the orange bottles and dumped the remainder of the pills in between my spread legs.
It reminded me of sitting on the floor on Halloween nights, after Trick-or-Treating, but before lights out. Dumping out all of the candy, marveling at king sized candy bars and scoffing at pennies. I used to organize the candy buy chocolate, gum, hard candies and Tootsie rolls.
I didn't even consider separating the pills, I couldn't feel the same excitement for them as I'd felt for the candy. I couldn't feel excitement like that at all. I almost wondered if I'd ever even had Halloween nights like that. Maybe I'd made them all up. Maybe I'd conjured up every smile I've ever had. But then, I think, if I had, I wouldn't know that something was missing. I think.
I was so tired of thinking.
I unscrewed the vodka and took a Xanax.
Then another one.
Then a Lorazepam.
Then a Zoloft and then another Xanax, because there were more of those, just like a surplus of tootsie rolls, it made sense to eat more of those because I had so many.
I don't know how long I sat there, eating and drinking, but I know I got bored of it soon enough and laid down right in the notch, pulling the covers to my chin and sinking in to the most perfect spot.