The song ends and Cooper lets the weights rest for a moment. His muscles are burning like he’s been stuck with live wires, the sweat pours from his pores like a torrential rainstorm, and the rage, the permanent sheen of red constantly present behind the backs of his eyes, is about as scarlet as ever.
A rapper by the stage name of JL warns the listener to hit fast forward if they’re listening in the car with their kids, because this is not the fucking song. Little does JL know, this is just the fucking song, Cooper’s favorite fucking song, and as the beat starts, so too do the weight plates begin to rise.
“Fuck this/Fuck off of me/Fuck off/Don’t fucking talk to me!”
Cooper begins to sing along.
“Fuck you mean What the fuck wrong with me? Fuck that, quit fucking callin’ me! FUCK!”
The weights slam with a metallic clank at the CK of this last expletive. Cooper breathes hard and his left hand flies to his right arm. He went too hard again, he pulled his fucking muscle. Again. He always goes hard when Fuck Everything comes on, he hardly has a choice. It speaks to him, that song, that wonderful piece of poetry set to rhythm and shouted into a studio microphone – it’s Cooper’s song, and nobody will ever take it from him. Nobody in his grade listens to Strange Music, nobody fucks with artists who make music because they love to make music, artists who do it for the love of the craft and nothing else. Everybody else is fake as fuck, and so they only fuck with shitty mainstream musicians.
Nobody in his grade fucks with Cooper either, not even that weird Liam kid. They didn’t in eighth grade, they didn’t his whole freshman year, and they’re probably never going to. Maybe that’s why Cooper is so angry all the time: it’s all everyone else’s fault.
But it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters in this world to Cooper, this world is a shithole just like his house, except for the basement. Cooper found a bunch of cheap weightlifting equipment for sale online and stocked the basement full, he fixed the basement. It’s Cooper’s fucking basement, and fuck anybody who thinks they can come and fucking take it from him. He’ll fight them first, and he’ll fucking win.
Cooper grabs the handles of the machine with white knuckles and tries to push, tries to lift the seven plates he’s anchored to the cable, but they don’t budge. His bicep hurts too much, he’s fucked up. His whole fucking day is fucked up.
A thumping walks across the ceiling above him, great. This day is only getting worse and worse, just Cooper’s fucking luck. JL shouts, “Matter of fact, fuck EVERYTHING!” bringing an end to the tune. Cooper gets up and turns off his speaker, if only so his brother doesn’t do it for him when he gets down here.
Cooper’s brother David is the only one who doesn’t infuriate Cooper because David always looks out for Cooper. David was a senior this past year, and he always made sure Cooper had friends to sit with at lunch. David is a Stranger, too. David is cool, David fucks with Cooper, and now David has to see Cooper with a pulled muscle like the dumb little asshole he is. But maybe David won’t laugh at him, there’s always a chance that Cooper’s buried himself inside his head again, and that’s why Cooper greets David with a neutral, if not a bit haggard and out of breath, “Sup,” when David walks into Cooper’s weight room.
“Hey man, you pumping iron?”
Cooper lets his breathing and the sour smell of sweat on the air answer for him.
“Word. Hey uh, listen. You doing anything today?”
After the bead of sweat falls off the tip of his red nose, Cooper looks up. “Nah, just pulled my fuckin’ muscle. Can’t even fuckin’ work out right. I fuckin’ hate it here, man. I fuckin’ hate it here so much.”
“Yeah man, I know…” David says, rubbing the back of his head with his left hand. His right hand, which Cooper just notices now, is tucked behind his back. “So uh, you don’t have anything goin’ on?”
Hesitation. “What’s behind your back?”
David gives a little smile. He reveals a plastic box filled with old fishing tackle – bobbers, flies, free hooks, and hooks attached to lures. “You wanna take a walk down to the res’ and cast a line or two?”
His eyes narrow, Cooper barks, “Don’t you have plans with Spencer today? I don’t want to get in the way of anything.”
David’s little smile shrinks into a stale flatness. “No uh, we actually… broke up? Yeah, I guess you could say we broke up last night. That’s really weird, now that I think about it. But uh, I was gonna stay in bed all day, but I thought that’d just make it worse. So… wanna go?”
Cooper thinks about it. Then, “Sure, why not? Lemme just get changed first.”
The smile is back, as little as ever. “Word, I’ll start my car. We’ll drive up to the pond so we don’t have to walk up the road.”
Hello Commons, this has been the second subchapter of the fifth story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.
Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.
Be well Commons~