© 2000 Philip Stone
Attention losers: Where's your girlfriend?
You're no fun with all that dandruff,
For the last time---this is your brain
On rejection, get the picture?
I'm not in love.
Feeling thirsy? Feeling dirty?
Maybe your hands are in your pants now,
Wanna try it? Go on and smile at it.
The tasty girl in the douche commercial
I'm not in love.
Sheets were clean when you left them
they were bloody by the time you got back,
taste the razor, smell the leather,
with the puncture you're getting better.
I'm not in love.
Colin woke with an erection. He rolled over and grabbed the phone. Speed dial #3.
"Nancy," Colin said.
"Nancy, you awake?"
"Nancy, I'm...I...I had that Titanic dream again."
"After three. I had that Titanic dream again."
"Which?" she groaned. "The one where you're on the boat and...and the boat sinks?"
"No Nancy. No," he said. "The one where they kick my ass."
"You know. Leo and them. Beat the shit outta me."
"Oh God. Go back to sleep. I'm your cousin, not your therapist."
"Beat my ass all over that boat. Whacking me with shuffleboard rods...spitting on me...stomping on my face..fucked me all up."
"Beat my ass, Nancy," Colin said.
Colin could hear Nancy roll over.
"Yep," Colin said. "Nancy?" He waited
several moments before he decided that she had fallen back asleep.
"Nancy? They beat my ass. Nancy..." Colin sighed as he hung
up the phone. He put his head down on the pillow and looked at the
ceiling. "Beat my ass." Colin's hand worked its way down his
belly and came to rest between his legs. "Beat it," he said.
Colin's apartment faced west. The billboard across the street from his apartment faced due east, though. Every morning Colin was blasted across the face with sunlight. The rays spiraled from the coulds, crashed into the suntan lotion model
s deep fried cleavage, ricocheted through Colin's piece of shit mini-blinds, and instantly back-handed Colin across the face. "Aaargh," he said. Colin rolled to his feet, marched to the window and pulled the blines open. "Good morning, Angel," he said. She ignored him. Eyes closed, blouse open. Colin sneezed and walked to the bathroom.
His swollen face jumped out at him from the mirror above the sink. A former roommate of Colin's used to joke that a man would sneak into Colin's room every night and beat him mercilessly. It was just away to explain Colin's appearance in the mornings. Puffy eyes, violent hair, stiff neck. This joke was particularly funny to Colin nowadays. Funny because of how close it came to the truth. There was a beatdown every night. Only it wasn't one mna that assaulted Colin. It was men. And women. They were all in love. And they beat Colin like an egg.
Colin's wasn't the type of job where he met a lot of people. As a matter of fact, he only met three people. That was on his first day, four years ago. There was Peggy--she was fifty-three years old and as mean as a garbage man. Then there was Shana. Shana was the kind of lady that inspired conversation like, "Well, she's not exactly a beauty queen," and, "she looks like Humphrey Bogart with longer hair." Shana was a nice lady. Not particularly clever, but she guarded herself with the type of immaculately polite behavior with which plain looking people often do. Colin guessed she had half a decade on him--twenty-nine or thirty years old. Finally there was William. He was a man.
Colin's job consisted of waiting for the phone to ring, answering the phone, deciding which of his three coworkers was best equipped to take the call, and then transferring the call. Colin also tended to the fax machine by stuffing incoming faxes into envelopes and then delivering them to the appropriate coworker. Colin received no faxes of his own. Occasionally, Colin would send faxes when Shana was busy. Really busy. Otherwise, Colin just say there.
He figured he had been able to maintain his position for such a long time because of his abnormally high threshold for emotional abuse. Shana and William were happy to have someone around to absorb Peggy's venom. Peggy was happy to have a young man to attack. That position had been left open ever since Peggy's husband died five years ago. Colin took Peggy's poison without attitude. He did not quit. He did not die. Colin learned that in the army. He did not learn, however, how to talk to women. He figured most people got that in college.
Peggy owned the storage facility. Bacharach Industrial Storage Facility to be precise. Colin had never seen the actual storage space---it lay miles from the office--but he knew that it could hold printing presses, jackhammers, tractors, and even cranes. But, that's about all he knew. A client needing more information would have to wait to be transferred to Peggy. If Peggy was not available, then Shana, her sidekick, would field the call. If she was not abailable, Colin would take a messag eand place it on the seat of Peggy's chair. "Not on the desk!" she had told him. "My desk is a mess. Put it on my chair. On my chair. So I will see it. Get it?" William took no calls. He was an accountant. He say away in the side office and crunched numbers. On Fridays he brought candy for the coworkers. This did not flatter Colin, since William was a man.
Each day, Colin left work committed to the idea of finding a new job. A job where he met people. Where he met women. But, each day, Colin walked home too exhausted from Peggy's verbal lashings to think about anything else but dinner, a video, and his bed. And every night, as he watched the television, he thought of all the interesting things he could be saying to his girlfriend--if he had a girlfriend. He thought about all the movies that they both liked. He thought about the romantic dates he had saved up from a lifetime of not dating. They would go to the zoo since they both loved otters. They would go to the museum since they both like to laugh at obscure modern art. And they would even sneak into the Backarach central office at night. "This is where I work," he'd say. "This is where Peggy sits...I told you about her, right?" And with that, Peggy, Shana, and WIlliam would be powerless against him. Colin would spend his days thinking about the time he and his girlfriend-if he had one- sat in Peggy's chair together. She say in Colin's lap and they laughed as they looked at the framed picture of Peggy and her ugly son. Peggy, Shana, and William would disappear. The woman on the billboard across the street would disappear. And the beatings would stop.
"Nancy," Colin said. "Nancy, you awake?"
"Colin? These are long distance calls, you know?" she moaned.
"Nancy, you know I can't go back to sleep until I talk to someone," he said. The truth was, Nancy was the only woman besides his mother who had ever given him her phone number.
"Four-thirty," he interrupted.
"Oh Colin, what was it this time? What'd you watch?"
"It was Pretty Woman," he sighed.
"Oh God, Colin," she said, "Why would you do that?"
"They took turns dropping things on me. Julia and, uh..Richard Gere. Heavy things, Nancy. Dictionaries and shit. A mini-fridge. Called me a loser," he said.
Colin waited for a response.
"Nancy, you fall back asleep?"
"Ah hell," he said. He pulled
his boxers down adn began to massage himself to sleep.
Colin climbed the steps of the library and pushed his ways through the turnstile. On his left was a librarian--maile, thirty. On his right, empty periodical aisles. Colin lowered his head adn followed the Aztec carpeting to the video archives. He always came to the library instead of the video store. The library made Colin feel less conspicuous. People came to the library by themselves all the time. It was pretty much expected.
But to go to a video store by yourself was a statement. Especially if you did it everyday. He had slinked past couples browsing new releases, families yelling at each other across the comedy aisles, and employees dropping film trivia on one another. Colin had shielded his face from the men and women in embrace on the movie covers. One eye on Colin, the loser, and the other on their lover. Box after box of groups of young smiling hotties. Who was gong to get with who in this hour and a half long celebration of life? Nothin made Colin feel more lonely.
Colin had done quite a bit of that in fact. Alone and ashamed, Colin had picked movies for the sole purpose of making the employees think that he wasn't a weirdo with no friends. With no girlfriend. He once put off When Harry Met Sally and rented Bergman's Wild Strawberries. Not because he liked Bergman, but because that seemed like the kind of movie a video store clerk would deem worthy of solo viewing. And it sucked.
Now that Colin knew the library lent movies, he pledged never to go back to the video store. At least not alone.
Colin walked to the comedy section adn began his chore of combing through the titles in alphabetical order. The selection was always the same, but Colin always hoped something new would jump out at him.
"Watch where you're going, dick," a woman said. Colin was standing on her foot.
"Ah man," Colin said. "I'm sorry. Ah man..I'm sorry." He looked up at her. She was over six feet tall. Six foor two, probably. "My God," Colin said.
"Problem?" she asked.
The problem was...Colin was using every ounce of willpower he could muster to keep his stare from nesting on her enormous breasts.
"Well?" she asked.
"Uh duh duh duh duh..." Colin rattled off like gunfire.
"For Pete's sake, get me the hell out of this place," she said. "All these fucking dorks," with a heavy emphasis on dorks. She put her hand on Colin's shoulder and shoved him. Shoved him hard. As Colin stumbled, she brushed past him and headed for the ext. She smelled like black licorice.
"Sorry," he barked at her. But he knew she could not hear him. Or else he'd have probably never said it. Colin laughed loudly. He felt great.
"What was her problem?" he said aloud. He looked to his left and right to see if anyone was there to answer. No one. He laughed again. He put his nose to his shoulder and tried to breathe the smell of her hand deep into his memory. "Someone's been having a crappy day," he mumbled. He imagined her hand grabbing his shouldern, and then the elbow on her opposite arm ramming into the bridge of his nose. Then she stomps on him. Bounces on him. His blood on her. "Sexy," he mumbled. "Sexy lady," he mumbled. "Sexy lady wanted to beat my ass," he mumbled. Colin laughed again.
Colin whistled his way to the check-out counter with the perfect movie under his arm. He then hummed his way back to his apartment and nodded his head to the perfect rhythm of the world around him. Everything in sync. Everything made sense. The stoplights were calculated and reliable. The grass was well-groomed and weed-free. And Colin was as confident as he was before the day Amy broke him
He walked straight past his apartment
and found a seat next to a blond woman at the counter of the bar on the
"Nancy," Colin said.
"Colin?" she moaned. "Colin, waht time is it?"
"Almost five," he said.
"Almost five," he repeated.
"What? Are you whispering?" she said.
"Umm...no," he said.
"What? Colin? Speak up," she said. "Why are you whispering? Did you have another dream?
"No..it's not that," he said. "I uh..."
"What's wrong?" Nancy asked.
"I just...uh...ha huh..."he giggled.
"You okay, Colin?" she asked.
"Yeah. I'm sorry, Nancy. I'm great. I'm...great," he giggled again. "Sorry...oops, gotta go," Colin hung up the phone. The blond woman rolled over and looked up at him.
"Hey you," she said. She rubbed her eyes and looked at the clock. "Who were you talking to?" she asked.
"No one," he said. "It's nothing."
She hugged him. "Do you love me?" she asked.
Colin smiled. "I love you," he said. "I love you....Janet."
"Janice," she said.
"Janice," he smiled.