“Sometimes he smokes, and sometimes he does not, but he’s always holding the white lighter.”
Sidney leans back in his swivel chair, laces his fingers behind his head, and smiles grandly. Tens of thousands of words pasted across one hundred eighty-nine pages: the working manuscript of The Face of Fear, the first of many novels to come, officially exists.
“It’s real,” Sidney says softly with a slight chuckle. “I really wrote my novel.”
Indeed he did; Sidney Blake – college flunky; Logger’s Pond exile even though he still lives in town; survivor, stabber, conqueror of Old Jack; hillbilly kid from the backwoods of New Jersey who smoked so much weed he thought Stephen King’s Dark Tower was something of a prophecy of his life; the real-world incarnation of Albey the Mad Poet – set out to write a novel, and he did it.
“I really fuckin’ did it.”
He really fuckin’ did it.
Of course the novel itself isn’t quite done; to say it’s nowhere near complete would be a stretch, but the manuscript exists. There were ups and downs, lots of self-love and self-doubt, and at times Sidney considered just deleting the whole thing and walking down another path altogether, but he persisted through it all and he got it done.
“I can’t believe I actually got it done,” Albey says, leaning forward to rest his elbows victoriously upon his too-small writing desk. “I’ve never written so m–… well, I have, but like… this is different. This is…”
He shakes his head smilingly.
“This is something else, ‘man. This is The Face of Fear, this… this is special.”
So what now? Ain’t that the question, and a bitch of a question at that. Sidney worked for about eight hours today, give or take an hour or two, and he feels like he could keep going. Hell, Sidney could start his next book right now, could probably get ten thousand words into it before Victoria pulls up to his house… but nah. That would be dumb, his first book isn’t done yet. No sense in starting a new project before the old one is finished… right?
“I don’t know,” Sidney mumbles. He looks at his hands. They’re tremb–… no, not quite trembling. His fingers are moving about all on their own, not twitching but kind of bending and unbending, shifting up and down. Not in an obvious way; it’s almost like they’re flexing, but that’s not quite the word either. They’re… they’re…
“Dancing,” Albey decides, looking at his fingers with a smile. “I’m so excited about this book I wrote that my fingers are dancing with glee.”
Then, something beautiful happens – well, beautiful in Sidney’s mind at least: Sidney gets up, pushes his chair in, and dances about his room. Dances like nobody’s watching, dances like his body makes music with its movements, dancing oddly like a stripper until he gets self-conscious about it; Sidney Blake dances to the music in his head until his heart’s beating in his ears and a jumpsuit of heat smothers his form. Then he approaches his bed, kicks both his legs up into the air, and slams his back down onto the mattress, laughing to himself. Staring at his ceiling as if it wasn’t there, Sidney takes a deep breath through his nose and sighs it contentedly out his smiling mouth. Crosses his legs. Folds his hands behind his head.
“I really fuckin’ did it.”
So there’s only one thing left to do now, isn’t there? The working manuscript of The Face of Fear exists, tomorrow the drafting process shall begin, Victoria’s coming over at some point later tonight; yeah, there’s only one thing Sidney really has left to do–… let’s be real, only one thing Sidney wants to do right now, only one being he wants to entertain with a diatribe–… no, diatribe ’s not the right word, diatribe is vicious and negative… then again, words are just symbols and they don’t objectively mean anything an–
“I want to journal,” Sidney says, flinging himself from the bed and landing on all fours like a gorilla. Stands. Feels the twin streams of consciousness he has going on up top–
‘twin waterfalls of the Ouroboros River’
–flush out of his head like water down a drain. Obviously it’s just him up there, like, clearly there’s only one consciousness in Sidney’s head; when he goes back and forth with himself like that it’s just his brain working in a very Sidney Blake way… right?
“Yes, Albey,” Sidney says tiredly as he pulls the swivel chair back out from under the tiny desk. “The only creature in your head is you. For goodness sake, ‘man, just journal.”
Fine, if you’re going to be like that he’ll just journal, then. Sidney lifts his journal out from the drawer he’s been keeping it in lately and holds it high above the surface of his desk, as though he were about to let it drop and relish in the slap. Sidney then pushes his laptop back against the wall, closes it, and drops his journal to the desk, relishing in the slap. Takes the pen he’s been using ever since he got back from college–… ‘man, that feels like forever ago. It was only a few months, but it feels like a lifetime. He checks the date on his phone – no texts – and does not believe that just two months and eighteen days ago (not even a hundred days, like, what?) he was sitting anxiously in his sedan in Bogspekti Park trying to motivate himself to get out into the woods and reunite with his friends. Well, with his friends and Harry, anyway.
“Damn, ‘man. That’s crazy.”
Indeed it is. Imagine if he didn’t get out of the car that night. Dude was pretty exhausted, he drove home from Colorado without taking nearly enough breaks and didn’t even stop home first. He could have easily just sent a text to the group chat they haven’t used since that day and said he couldn’t make it ‘cause he needed to get home to see his family. They would have bought it, too, or mayhap they wouldn’t have. Mayhap the Pact would have written him off as some douche college boy who thinks he’s better than the old gang because he left town and failed out of college. Mayhap Keaton never would have told him to write the THC novel. Mayhap he’d still be smoking weed all day and waiting for the wheel of ka to run him into the dirt.
“Damn,” Sidney reflects, tapping the unclicked black pen against the cover of the journal. “That’s really crazy.”
Come to think of it, the last two months and eighteen days have been really crazy in and of themselves. Sometimes crazy in the good way, sometimes crazy in a less good way. Our smalltown boy realized he was addicted to a drug and broke the addiction. Met a girl – no, a woman, Tori’s definitely a woman – and claimed her as his own. Met an author, read one of his books. Read several books, actually – The Fifth Science, Pet Sematary, even gave Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles a whirl. Sidney even wrote a book of his own. He really, really did it.
“And now,” as he opens his journal, “I’m going to tell Journal all about it.”
Sidney flips to the next blank page – wow, getting sort of close to the end now. Go’n’a need a new journal pretty soon – clicks his pen, places the tip to the page and beg–
“Sidney!” calls the voice of Ashley Blake from downstairs in the kitchen. “Dinner’s ready, hon’!”
Welp, Sidney supposes that settles it. Bosslady has spoken, time to eat dinner. He closes the notebook. Clicks the pen. Pockets it so he remembers to journal right after dinner so he can get all the I did it, I really did it, I wrote my first novel crap out of his system before his woman gets here so he may not bore her to tears with his silly story, and heads downstairs for dinner.
Ashley and Jeremy are sitting across from each other at the table. There’s a place set for Sidney, like there always is, and in the middle of that little triangle of plates is a feast fit for a king. A bowl of buttery mashed potatoes loaded with bacon and two cheeses, a tub of broccoli steamed perfectly so there’s just a hint of crunch in the stalks, a fat basket of biscuits, a plate of raw chopped veggies with a tiny bowl of ranch to dip them in, and in the center of it all? A frying pan with two handles offering plump, thick, and juicy Salisbury steaks swimming with chopped onions and mushrooms in a savory batch of bubbling homemade gravy. The Bogspektis may run this town, they may have more riches than everyone else in all the land, but Sidney bets they never sit down and have dinner like this. Missus Bogspekti – well, the many Missus Bogspektis, as Poppa B keeps more than one Missus around – can’t cook like Missus Ashley Blake, and Poppa Bogspekti can’t look his son in the eye and smile like Jeremy can Sidney. And quite frankly, Harrington Bogspekti wouldn’t feel grateful to have a family dinner like Sidney does. The poor fuck wouldn’t know how to, he’d be too busy sweating over the fact Sidney has a hot girlfriend.
‘Huh, thinking a lot about Harry all of the sudden,’ Sidney points out to himself as he sits down and scoots in. ‘Should definitely never do that again.’
“Wow, this all smells great,” Sidney says as he reaches across the entire table for the mashed potatoes. “You outdid yourself, mom.”
Ashley smiles at Jeremy, then at her son. “Oh, I outdid myself on the night I made your favorite dinner?”
“Y’sure did,” as he hands her the now half-empty bowl of mashed potatoes. “Keep on killin’ it, Ash’.”
“Hey,” says Jeremy through the gravied hamburger in his mouth, “I’ll have you know that I helped.”
“Yeah!” A hearty swallow. Sidney can see the lump as it travels down his dad’s throat. “I chopped the veggies and poured the ranch.”
“All by yourself?” Sidney jests.
“All by himself!” Ashley says cheerfully as she plucks a piece of broccoli from the tub. “My little man’s all grown up.”
“A’right, a’right,” Jeremy a’right s as he slices the second half of his steak into two quarters. The little man all grown up inhales a full quarter of the steak then, swallows the thing without even chewing as if to assert his dominion over this kitchen, and Sidney makes no attempt not to stare. Jeremy catches him. “What, am I lookin’ extra pretty tonight?”
“You’re gorgeous, pop,” Sidney chuckles, then spatulas himself a Salisbury. Goes to cut it. Doesn’t get halfway through before his mom asks if he’s going to eat any vegetables tonight. “After dad touched ‘em? Hell naw.”
Jeremy looks displeased, to say the least.
“Just kidding,” Sidney says, then takes a stalk of celery and loads it, really douses the shit with ranch. Drops it onto Jeremy’s plate. “You first.”
Jeremy eats the ranchy celery with a disgusted grimace. Ashley and Sidney stare at him as he chews.
“Is it that bad?” Ashley asks, eying the cold veggies suspiciously.
“No, I just don’t like ranch,” Poppa Blake chews with a spray, as if trying to get as much of the ranch out of his mouth as possible.
“Then why’d you eat it?” Sidney asks incredulously.
“He was trying to prove a point,” Ashley says with understanding. “Go spit it out honey, it’s okay.”
Jeremy hops up and trots contentedly over to the garbage to spit out the mouthful of ranch dressing with a small piece of celery mixed in. He returns to the table feeling victorious. Tells his son to eat his vegetables. Rolls his eyes in snarky defeat when Sidney dumps a load of broccoli onto his plate.
“If you weren’t going to eat my veggies then why’d you put me on blast like that?” Jeremy whines.
“I don’ow,” Sidney admits as he sops some gravy into the buds of his broccoli. “Thought it would be kind’a funny.”
“Well it wasn’t,” Jeremy says miserably.
“It was so,” Ashley asserts, also swabbing her gravy with broccoli.
“I get no respect in this house,” Jeremy says, joining in the gravy dipping. “No respect at all.”
“Sure you do,” Sidney says after he finishes downing his gravied broccoli. “I could have laughed in your face when you tried to pawn your yardwork off on me the other day, but I didn’t. Out of respect.”
Ashley eyebrows. “He tried to get you to do his chores? Jeremy.”
“I did not,” Jeremy mumbles sheepishly.
“No?” Sidney asks. “So the other day when only you and me were home and you came inside asking, and I quote, Is anybody interested in doing some yardwork? Get some fresh air? you were just talkin’ to yourself?”
Sidney’s mom looks blankly between her two men.
“What?” Jeremy asks. “I was just curious. Got’a shoot your shot, right?”
“Oh yeah, totally,” Sidney agrees. “Even when you’re not aiming, always got’a shoot your shot.”
“See?” Jeremy insists. “He gets it.”
Eyes roll all around the table.
“Fine, if you want me to be honest,” Jeremy says as he’s shoving food into his mouth, “I was testing our boy.”
“You were testing me,” Albey asks without phrasing it anything like a question.
Like a cow chewing up cud Jeremy further mashes his potatoes, then downs them with a noisy gulp. “Sure was. To see if you’re really serious about this book thing you got goin’ on.”
“Oh you’re so full of crap,” Sidney laughs, digging into his steak.
“Perhaps,” Jeremy admits. “Or perhaps not. How is that going by the way?”
Sidney does not answer, as he is chewing and wishes not to spew. The elder Blakes trade a glance.
“Sidney?” asks mom. “You’re still writing your book, right?”
This steak tastes so good, hot damn. Ashley really outdid herself tonight.
Two pairs of eyes meet to fall on the emptyish plates below them. Sidney, once the flavor has been properly savored, gullets his food.
“Yeah, of course I’m still writing it. I’m actually starting the first draft tomorrow.”
A haze of unease rises from the floor like stink from the laundry room sink when the septic tank malfunctions.
“You’re starting the first draft? Tomorrow? ” his parents demand, each saying one of the two sentences.
“Yup,” Sidney says as though he doesn’t realize how he’s coming off, because he doesn’t. All Sidney can think about at the moment is how loaded these mashed potatoes are, god damn.
“So…” Ashley says, shaking her head in disbelief. “So what the hell have you been doing all this time?? Just hiding in your room?”
“What, are you afraid of us, Sidney?” Jeremy follows. “Why didn’t you tell us you didn’t start writing yet?”
“Oh no, I finished the writing,” Sidney states plainly. “A week or so ago, actually.”
Dumb faces and slack jaws on either side of the table.
“So… wait, what?”
Sidney smiles, he gets it now. “Sorry, that probably came off bad. I wrote the whole thing, like, the text of the book is all done. I’ve been reading through it over the past couple days and formatting it into a manuscript so it looks how it’ll look when it’s printed. It’s almost two hundred pages long, by the way.”
“Holy shit,” Jeremy says, broadsided. “That’s a lot of pages.”
“Eh, not really,” Sidney shrugs. “It would have been a lot more if I went with a smaller page size. Figured I would save some money on the printing.”
“That’s smart,” Ashley says. “Where are you getting it printed?”
“I’m going to self-publish it through Amazon at first. I uh, I met a dude at the library who publishes books. I think he does, anyway. I’m not sure. We didn’t talk for very long, but he gave me his card and told me to get in touch with him when it was done. I figured it would be better to send him an actual book than a stack of papers or a computer file, y’know?”
“Makes sense to me,” says Jeremy, the high school janitor.
“Yeah, that sounds like a good plan,” adds Ashley, the smalltown hairdresser.
“I’m glad you guys think so,” says Sidney, the one not afraid to feel as though he has no idea what he’s doing. Because he doesn’t. Like, not even a little bit. “Tomorrow I’m going to start the drafting process, hence the first draft.”
Sidney’s parents nod at each other. Jeremy begins to eat again.
“So what does the drafting process entail?” Ashley asks, her knife and fork resting peacefully on the napkin.
“Not a whole lot. I’m pretty much just going to read it, make some corrections. Read it again, correct the corrections. Order a proof copy, read it a third time.”
“Proof copy?” asks the steak and potatoes in Jeremy’s mouth.
“Yeah, it’s like… actually, I’ll just show you guys when I get it. It’ll be easier that way.”
They shrug in acceptance.
“Well that’s great, honey,” Ashley smiles. “I’m so glad you’re going through with this, I think it’s going to be really great for you.”
“Me too,” Sidney agrees. “I mean, uh, thanks!” He looks to his plate then, pushes his food around as though he were deep in thought. “I’m kind of nervous about it, to be honest.”
“Why?” asks Jeremy Blake seriously. “What’s there to be nervous about?”
“Like,” Sidney says, placing his fork down. “What if it doesn’t go anywhere? I’ve been working really hard on this project for a while now, but like, what if I self-publish it and send it to the guy I met at the library and he decides not to publish it?”
“So? It’ll still be on Amazon, right?”
“So it’ll still be out there,” Ashley says, putting a hand on Sidney’s upper arm. “Getting a publishing deal would be splendid, but even if you don’t, your book will still be published. Folks can still find it on Amazon.”
“Eh,” Sidney eh s. “There are a lot of books on Amazon. Another dude I met at the library – this one works there – is an author on the side and he publishes books through Amazon, and I tried to find his stuff but it took some looking. Like, I searched the exact title but his book didn’t come up. Even added his name and it still didn’t come up, I had to click through like eight pages of random shit before I finally found it.”
“But that’s some other dude,” Jeremy tries. “That’s not you.”
“Yeah,” Sidney says, “but I’m just some dude, too. I need to make money somehow, y’know? I love you guys dearly, but I don’t want to live here forever.”
Trying not to take that to heart, Ashley says, “Well you can stay with us as long as you want. Forever, even. If you need to.”
“I know,” Sidney says. “Thanks mom. I just… I don’t know.”
“Son,” Jeremy says seriously. “Look at me.”
Sidney looks at his adoptive dad.
“I think everyone at this dinner table knows exactly what’s going to happen when nobody reads your book.”
“When?” Sidney asks.
“Sure, hypothetically. We all know it, I know we do, but I want to hear you say it. Sidney, when nobody reads your first novel, what are you going to do?”
‘Kill myself,’ Sidney thinks jokingly. At least, he thinks he thinks it jokingly. Uh. “I don’t know, dad. What am I going to do?”
Jeremy fixes him up with a crooked smile. “You’re going to write another one.”
Ashley smiles and picks her fork up.
“And then when nobody reads the second one, you’ll write a third. And a fourth. And then a fifth.”
“And then, if you’re still writing for nobody, you’ll keep on writing until somebody finally catches on to your grind. You just have to keep working, son. It’s the best thing for you to do.”
“But if nobody’s reading my stuff then why would I keep writing it?” Sidney asks seriously. “Like, what’s the point?”
“Because it’s not about what the other folks think. Look son, when angels cry you just got’a put on a raincoat. Life ain’t all sugarcoated rainbows,” Jeremy explains, borrowing from Sidney’s music. “In fact, life is work. That’s the long and short of it, bud. Life is just work. We all have work we have to do to pass the time until we don’t have to work anymore. We all have a job to do, and some of us – most of us, I’d say – don’t get to choose that job. Well, we do, but it’s like picking the shiniest of two turds, because those are the only options available for us. A lot of us aren’t just naturally creative, Sidney, a lot of us don’t have the option to pursue a passion in art. But you do. You made up an imaginary world as a boy and now that you’re a young man, you put together a two-hundred-page book about it. Most other folks don’t do that, Sidney. Hell, most other folks can’t do that. But you can. And so you will.”
Huh. “But, like, what if I never get paid?”
“Oh, cut it out with the never bullcrap. There’s no such thing as never.”
“Your mother’s right,” Jeremy commends. “Life doesn’t work with never s. See, as far as I can tell – now, I’m just the janitor, and also one of the highest-paid employees at the school, so take this for what it is – life has this way of working for you rather than working against you. It doesn’t seem like that at first no matter what you’re doing, but eventually, if you keep pushing and working, then things will work out. I’m not going to sit here and say you have to believe in yourself; you should, don’t get me wrong, because believing in yourself helps you get out of bed in the morning, but… at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what goes through your head. We’re just humans, we don’t know what the hell’s going on here. We might as well be blind. Hard work and perseverance are really the only things that matter in this life, Sidney. In a concrete sense, at least. Money talks and bullshit walks, and how do you get money? By working for it.”
Jeremy eats a mouthful of potatoes, emptying his maw before he speaks again.
“So let’s just say nobody reads this first novel you wrote. So you write another one, and then nobody reads that one. So you keep going, you keep working, and then suddenly you’re putting your fifth book out. Or tenth. Or nineteenth, because I know you like that number. So maybe one day somebody sees your name on the Amazon book lists, or however that works. They see that you’ve done all this work, and they’re like Huh, this guy did a lot of writing. I wonder what it’s about. And they get one of your books, and they read it. Maybe they’ll like it. Maybe they’ll respect that you’ve done so much work and tell their friends. Maybe this, maybe that, maybe the thing you’re not thinking about, maybe the thing you’re not expecting.
“What I’m trying to say, Sidney, is that we all have work to do. For me, that work is cleaning up messes. For your mom, that work is also cleaning up messes.”
“You ain’t kiddin’,” Ashley snorts.
“For you, Sidney, that work is writing books. So don’t worry about anything else, because as far as I can tell – and please, correct me if I’m wrong here – but outside of doing the actual writing and putting the books together, nothing else is in your control.”
“Wha’d’you’mean?” Sidney asks quickly.
“You write the books. You put them through the drafting process, yeah? Then you self-publish them on Amazon, and from there on out it’s up to other folks to buy and support your work. You could do some marketing, but then again, I see a lot of commercials on the Tee’Vee for random crap that I never bought and don’t ever plan on buying. I get marketing emails on my phone all day, I see ads on the YouTube, tons of folks market to me all the ding-dong day and they don’t get a dime out of me. So maybe marketing isn’t even worth your time–”
“I mean,” Sidney cuts in, “I could prob’ly do a little bit. Start a blog or something.”
“Sure, why not?” Jeremy gives. “But do you get what I’m saying?”
“Yeah, totally. But uh… can you say it again?” Sidney asks. “Just to make sure I know that you get what you’re saying?”
Jeremy eyes his son suspiciously. “You are a writer of books. So write your books. Don’t worry about anything else, Sidney, just write your books.”
“And definitely send a copy to that publisher guy you met at the library,” Ashley says with might.
“Yes,” Jeremy agrees. “Definitely send a copy to the publisher guy. He might say no, but then again he might read your work and love it and cut you a check. Either way, just write your books, Sidney. Finish this first one, take some time off if you need to, then get going on the second one. Sure, you can sit around all doom and gloom assuming nobody will read your first book, but even if nobody reads it, don’t you think you’d be better off if you wrote up another one?”
Sidney thinks about his father’s words. They make sense. More work is better than less work, even if nobody appreciates that work. The bigger the catalog, the more folks will have to appreciate when they finally come around to appreciating it… right?
“Yeah,” Sidney finally agrees. Nods. “Yeah, I guess I would.”
“So son,” Jeremy asks from above his clean plate, “if nobody reads your first book, what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to write another one,” Sidney says pertly, hands on his thighs. “I actually already have an idea for my second book, believe it or not.”
“Is it about that guy you stabbed?” Ashley asks.
Sidney starts. “How–… yeah, it’s going to be about Old Jack. How did you know that?”
Ashley smiles. “Because I know you, son.”
“Well I know him too,” Jeremy Blake cuts in, “but I figured he’d do a sequel to The Face of Fear.”
“I want to do one of those too,” Sidney says with passion. “But not at first. I want to let the story’s consequences sit with me for a while. If I started another Tee’acHe’Cee book…” He shakes his head. “I don’t even know what it would be about.”
Jeremy shrugs. “Well I’m sure you’ll figure it out eventually. You almost done, Ash’?”
“Yep,” Ash’ Blake says, standing up from the table with her plate in her hands. “I just wan’a get dinner all cleaned up and then we can go.”
“Go?” Sidney asks. “Where are you guys going?”
“Out on the town,” Jeremy says with a grin.
“There’s nothing to do here.”
“Excuse me,” Ashley says snappishly. “Your father and I do have friends, you know.”
“Yeah, but…” Sidney says.
“But what?” Jeremy asks. “You don’t want the house to yourself when your little girlfriend comes over?”
“She’s not little…” Sidney mumbles.
“No she is not,” Jeremy wholeheartedly agrees. Ashley slaps him lightly across the face with a leer. “Uh. And neither are you. We just figured you two didn’t need to be chaperoned.”
Well this makes Sidney nervous as all hell. Why does this make Sidney nervous? The woman he loves – who loves him back, even – is coming over tonight and they get to have the house to themselves. The whole house. The whole entire house.
Like, why is Sidney buggin’?
“Uh… I mean, thank you, but like…”
“But like… what?” Ashley asks with a bit of concern. “Are things going okay between you guys?”
“Yeah, no, they’re fine, it’s just…” He rubs the back of his head. “I haven’t really been seeing her lately because she’s been busy with her family. I don’t know, I guess I’m just nervous.”
“Well don’t be,” as Ashley leaves the room. “Like you said, Sidney, there’s nothing to do in Logger’s Pond, yet she’s coming all the way out here to see you.”
“Yeah,” Jeremy agrees succinctly. “She’s coming all the way out here to see you, Sidney. So see her.” Drops a wink. “See her very well.”
“Good Christ, dad.”
Dad, simpering, follows his wife into their bedroom to get his coat. Sidney’s cleaning up the rest of the dishes when they come back out, which they didn’t ask him to do. Not specifically, anyway.
“Have a good time tonight, son,” say parents as they’re walking out the front door. “We’ll text you when we’re on our way back home so you know we’re coming!”
“Thaaaaanks,” Sidney says over the tepid water flowing from the faucet. “Later guuuyyys.”
Sidney finishes washing the undishwashable dishes in silence. All the food’s put away, the dishwasher’s loaded, and Sidney has the house to himself. Now what?
“I could journal,” he suggests to himself. “Yeah, I’m’a journal.”
And so Sidney Blake skips up the stairs into his bedroom, plops at his desk, takes the marijuana supplies down off the top shelf, and sits them on top of the closed cover of his journal named Journal.
“I’m too stressed to journal right now,” he tells himself fiendishly. “I don’t want to be an anxious mess when Victoria gets here. Besides, I put together the manuscript for my novel – my first novel – today. I deserve a reward.”
Evidently, Sidney deserves a reward. He rolls a leaf of Elements rolling paper around his D.O.P.E. pencil, prepares the RAW authentic tip, assembles the preroll, then stops. Reaches into his pocket. Checks his phone.
No texts from Tori.
“Huh,” Sidney says disappointedly. “Maybe something came up and she had to cancel.” ‘Or maybe she’s just go’n’a break up with me.’ “Maybe I should roll this damn joint and not sit here bugging out over nothing.”
And so Sidney prepares his damn joint, and what a fine joint it is. Packed tight like a cigarette, but not so tight that he won’t be able to pull through it. Wonderful. Sidney stares at his damn joint.
“Huh,” he huh s. “I’m usually more excited about this.”
Indeed he is.
“But I’m feeling kind’a meh about it tonight.”
This is also true.
Sidney realizes how sticky his fingers are and wishes to wash his hands. He puts all the cannabis stuff back on top of the desk, puts the joint behind his ear, and goes into the upstairs bathroom to wash his hands. The soap smells of fresh lavender and chamomile, soothing and serene. Cupping his hands, Sidney fills them from the sink and goes to splash water on his face then stops, dries his hands, takes the joint out from behind his ear and slips it into his pocket, splashes cold water on his face, dries, then looks at himself in the mirror. Honestly, he doesn’t look that bad. A little tired, but he should be tired. He’s been working nonstop lately. Like a boss.
Yeah, he doesn’t look too bad at all.
Sidney places the crutch of the joint between his teeth and goes back to his room to fetch his white lighter. Then he goes downstairs, through the house (leaving all the lights on because a dark house is incredibly uninviting), out onto the back porch, and nestles down on the wicker chair with the horrendous cushion. Takes his lighter out. Flicks it. Watches the flame dance, lets it go out.
“Am I really try’n’a smoke right before my girlfriend gets here?” he asks himself gravely, as if it makes a difference. “Like, I’m not even excited about it. Why bother?”
‘Because your girlfriend’s not coming over tonight, you dumbass,’ Sidney doubts himself in thought. ‘She’d have texted you saying she was on her way by now, don’t you think?’
“Yeah, I guess,” he answers himself, mumbling.
Whatever, might as well smoke up. Hunching slightly and sitting more on his lower back than on his ass, Sidney makes the joint stand at attention and lights the white Nic lighter, brings the flame close to the tip, closer, clos–
Vibrations on his upper thigh. Sidney lets the flame die again and pulls his phone out.
“Oh, shit,” he says, reading the text. “She’s here.”
This has been the first subchapter of the sixth chapter of Untitled Bigfoot Project. Here is everything you need to know about it:
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