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The Sandman

 © 2000 Philip Stone 

 Damn I'm hungry.  Woke up hungry.  Don't usually wake up hungry.  I hate Sundays.  Slept too late, didn't have shit in the fridge.  Gotta go out and deal with this madness.  People like that crusty faced waitress.  Where the hell is she, anyway?
I know what she was thinking.  I could see it on her face.  That smirk.  That confused look.  I know it.  She's going to poison my day.  Ruin my meal.  Oh great, here she comes.  Doesn't even have my fucking sandwich.
 "Haven't I seen you before?" she says to me.
 I shake my head.  God, I am so sick of this.
 "No, seriously," she says.  Her eyelashes bat at me.  She kind of tilts her head down and looks up at me through the matted mascara mess guarding her mud colored eyes.  Stupid eyelashes.  All crusty and pointy.  Like tiny blue tempura.  God I'm hungry.  And tired.
 "Seriously," she says.  "You look like...I mean just like, my God, it's uncanny..."
 "Can I just have my sandwich?"
 "What's his name?  Corey...Corey...uh...Feldman..."
 "Haim," I correct her.  I'm so sleepy.
 "Haim!" she repeats.  Her left hand shoots up and flattens out as if holding an invisible platter.  A platter holding my sandwich.  "Corey Haim!  Right.  How'd you know what I was thinking?"
 "Believe it or not," I hate her, "you are not the first person to say this to me."
 "But you...look," she displays her hands again, fingers spread wide, "EX-ACTLY like Corey Haim.  Exactly."  I feel sleep coming at me like a crackhead who spotted a twenty on the sidewalk.  Doesn't anybody on this fucking planet have anything else to say to me.  I am exhausted.
"It's amazing," she says.  "Corey Haim.  Corey...HAIM.  COREY HAIM!"  Her voice is raising in volume.  A few people at nearby tables begin to turn and look at me.  Damn I'm tired.  I can hear them talking about me.  I know him.  Who is that guy?  That's Corey what's his face.  Isn't that what's his name honey it's one of the Goonies isn't that the License to Drive brat so that's what happened to that guy where's the other one I wonder look it's Corey Corey Corey Corey COREY COREY COREY COREY COREY
 "My name, for the love of shit, is not..."
 "Corey," a man says from across the room.
 I flip the table over on its side.  The waitress leaps back as the sugar caddy flies past her fat crusty head.
 "Who said that?" I bark.
 A man raises his hand.  His back is turned to me.  He continues eating.
 "Motherfucknut," I yell and begin pushing my way across the restaurant.  They are all staring at me and yelling.  Mothers hiding their children from me.  Hiding and staring at me.  Recognizing me.  I plow through their dinners.  Climbing over tables, stepping on salads, knocking over wine glasses.  He is fifty tables away.  I stop and bite someone's chicken leg.  Forty tables.  "Where's my fucking sandwich?"  Thirty tables.  A woman runs screaming to the door.  But I cannot hear her.  All I hear is that man chewing.  Smacking, licking, belching, crunching, dripping, slurping, gargling, gagging.  Twenty tables.  I knock over a candle and my pants catch fire.  And I have a wedgie.  A grundee.  Grundee.  I laugh.  Ten tables.  I smell his shirt.  His collar has gone from starched white to sweat stained yellow.  Locker room urine soaked jock strap fungal sponge.  I grab his shoulder.  "Hey buddy, you called me Corey..."
 He turns and looks up at me, mouth filled with shredded pork, marinade sloshing around between his cheeks.  It's my dad.
 "Hi Dad."
 "Sit now," he says.  Always was a bastard...

 "Corey, you okay?"  I look at the waitress and realize that I have been sitting in this chair for quite some time now.  I look around.  I am at a table.  In a restaurant.
 "Where am I?"
 "O'Grady's," she says.
 I smile and link my fingers together above my head.  Stretch, yawn.  "Ahhh," I say.
 "Are you getting enough sleep?" she asks.  "You, fell asleep.  I mean, like, right here."  She points at the table and bites her lower lip.
 "I feel great now," I say.  Hold on, "You just call me Corey?"
 "But I was talking to you.  And you fell asleep.  While I was talking.  Just like..." she closes her eyes and dunks her head for a moment.  "You know?  Not like you passed out.  Like you fell asleep."
"I get it, dingbat." I say.
"Gosh I'm sorry.  What's wrong?  You still want your sandwich?" she asks.
 I stand up and rotate my neck around clockwise.  "Nah," I say.  "Not hungry anymore."  Several people are staring at me.  Do they think they recognize me?  Did they see me sleeping at the table?  I push my way out of this shitpot.  They'll tell their kids an amusing story when they get home.  Talk about me, fine.  They don't know shit.

* * *

 Just like a Sunday to bring the stupids out in droves.  Gotta drive home through these morons.  Only venture out in their cars once a week.  They must get lost.  Fifty thousand cars on the highway and none of them seem to know where the hell to go.  Just hanging out on the highway.  And I'm fucking hungry again.  I'm hungry and the family in the Windstar just recognized me.  Big headed kids staring at me.  Pointing and saying God knows what.  You don't know me, you fucking mongloids.  Your parents are ugly too.  I slow down and maneuver my way to the far right lane.  Stupid minivan families.  Bet their car smells like Cheerios and stale 7up.  Yeah, I know you.
 I get off the highway and start down a sidestreet.  Gotta be some kind of drive-thru around here.  I can't deal with another waiter or waitress today.  I'm too tired for that.  Really tired.
 I turn into the Wendy's parking lot and steer myself up to the giant glowing menu.  Electronic board provided to ensure order accuracy.  They'll mess it up anyway.  I yawn and order.
 As I pull up to the pick-up window, I realize that I am not wearing my sunglasses.  In a panic, I quickly scour the car for my shades.  Above the visors, under the seats, next to the door, in the glove box.  Nothing.
 "Here's your food sir," the employee says.  I reach across and try to grab it without looking at her.  But stupid people are hard to trick sometimes.  That's the paradox of my life.
 "Wait minute," she says.
 I don't believe this.  I rub my eyes and imagine myself alone in my bed.
 "Aren't you Corey Haim?"

 I hear knocking.  My head is sore.  My chin is wet.  I smell saliva.  "Son of a bitch," I say out loud.  I know that half of Wendy's is standing outside my car window.
"You okay in there, guy?" I hear someone say.
My food's in a bag on the passenger seat.  I vaguely remember smearing my sandwich on a fry cook's face.  I open the bag and see that it is still in its wrapper.  Oh well.  I throw the car into drive and leave those brainless vultures standing in the drive-thru.  Let them stare and wonder.  They make me sick.  I pull over next to a garbage can and dump my lunch.  Wouldn't eat that shit anyway.

* * *

As I pull up in front of my apartment, I catch a glimpse of myself in the rearview.  Stupid face.  Tired eyes, stupid face.  Twice cursed.  Coulda made me stupid too.  Then I might have liked this fucken life.  A man walks past my car and looks in at me.  I give him the finger.  Shithead.
I get out and decide to head for the corner store.  Still haven't eaten.  Probably pick up a frozen pizza without being harassed by the idiots.
I step inside and see this skinny guy in a Chris Webber jersey staring at me.  Prick.  I walk up to the freezer and pull out a pizza.  Skinny guy's still staring at me.
"What?"  I say.
He smiles.  "You..."
"Look like Corey Haim?" They're everywhere.
He laughs.  "You got a big red mark across your forehead.  Corey who?"
I rub my forehead.  "It's from my steering wheel."
"You been sleeping in your car, Corey?  You got problems kid."
"Hey fucknut, my name's not Corey," I say.  This jackass.
"And mine's not fucknut," he says.  "It's D-Swoll."
The skinny guy flexes his arms and smiles, " swollen.  Like muscles."
"So it's a joke name," I say.
"You got a lotta hate in you, kid," he says.
I'm too hungry for this.  I drop my pizza on the counter and reach for my wallet.  "Fuck," I say.
"What's the problem, kid?" the Webber fan says.
"My fuckin' wallet..."
He laughs.  "You get robbed?"
"I don't know..."
I feel my cheeks fill with hot blood.  My face is swelling.  I think about my stomach.  I just want a damn sandwich.  Am I going to fall asleep again?  Have to storm out of here cursing everybody who stood over at me.  Stared at me while I slept on the counter.  I just want to get home now.  Away from their eyes.  All these morons.  The pain in my belly takes another bite on my insides.  My vision blurs and my eyelids fill with tears.  I desperately blink several times.
"Kid, it's all right," he says.
One scorching hot tear runs down my cheekbone.
"Yo yo yo, my man," he says.  "Slow down there.  Come on, now.  Let's go.  D-Swoll will buy you some ice cream."
Several more tears spill over my lower eyelids.  Son of a bitch.  I turn my head and wipe my face.  All I can think is that once I get home I can cry all I want.  Cry and sleep and no one will be able to look at me.  I move to the door and push it open wide enough for me to slide through.

* * *

Here's the shitty thing.  I am in bed.  I am hungry as hell.  And I can't sleep.  I turn onto my stomach and cover my head with the pillow.  Now I can't breath.  I remove the pillow.  Now it's too bright.  I get up and walk to the window.  There is no one on the street.  I wonder where D-Swoll is.  I wonder if he thinks I'm a dick.  Ice cream?  I'd eat ice cream with D-Swoll.  Funny little bastard.
I pull up a chair and sit down.  From here I will  be able to see everybody.  And they can't see me.  Won't see me crying.
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