|20.20|21|22|22.2|22.22|22.222|23|24|25|Those Extra Four…|1|2|3|4|Back Cover|
One For Each Chapter
“Ain’t neva’ asked f’much, I’m not a saint but I got prayers, all I eva’ fuckin’ wan’ed was t’be amaay-ziing,” he sings to the ceiling of his bedroom in the dark, where almost nobody can hear him.
“All right dude,” she quips, just a tiny bit flustered by how off-key this man’s singing is. “Chill out, you weren’t that good.”
“I was talking about the book!”
“You were talking about the sex.”
“Oh, I thought it wasn’t that good?”
She slaps him in the chest before giggling sheepishly and kissing him on the cheek. “It was… what’d you say in the book again? Really nothing special?”
“I don’t know, did I say that?” he teases her as he sits up and stretches, flexing muscles that aren’t really there. “I don’t really remember, I said a lot of things. It’s not like I went over the draft before I published it.”
She rolls her eyes, wishing she was rolling something else. Then she remembers she’s not back home anymore and that her parents no longer have any bearing over what she does, or who she does, for that matter. “Hey, do we have any bud left??”
“We?” he asks in a feigned voice of shock, following it up with, “Did you buy it with all that twenty-twenty money you earned? And it’s Cannabis; please, have some respect.”
“Shut up, dork.” After a moment of silent contemplation, “And you did so.”
“I did what?”
She gets up out of the bed and momentarily blinds the both of them when she turns on the lights, illuminating his bedroom. His sight returns to him before hers does and his eyes explore her body for a while until they finally meet hers back at her beautiful face, like a marble sculpture carved by the denizens of Pompeii before Vesuvius blew its top and destroyed the planet’s most talented sculptors that would ever be born. She then walks to the edge of the bed and bends over very, very slowly to pick up her purple velvet robe from the spot where he tossed it a few hours ago.
As she ties the knot with the belt that’s already attached to the garment, “You definitely went over the rough draft before you published it. Or, at least you hired someone to do it. Yuh–”
“Nope. Wrong. Fake News,” he stammers as he swings his legs over the side of the bed, man-spreading with just a tad too much virile. “You clearly didn’t read it, chick.”
“Oh?” as she raises an eyebrow and straddles him without taking the robe off. “If I didn’t read it, then how did I guess that you based Fleurna off of me?”
“Hmmm, I don’t know. Maybe I didn’t,” as he puts his hands on her hips and somehow manages to pull her further into his comfort zone. “Maybe all my characters are just figments of my imagination and everyone is super fucking vain,” stated matter-of-factly.
“Psh,” she pshs, poking his nose as she stands back up and starts looking for the weed. “Seriously though, where’s the bud? I like to smoke a joint after… ya know… ravaging.”
“I don’t think I do know, can you remind me?” he says, maybe a little too hopeful.
All his Cannabis stuff is still inside that little old cigar box that he got from the auction hall before he left town, buried amongst the boxes on boxes of stuff’n’shit he brought out here with him. Even though he’s been out here for more than a week he’s had zero time, or urge, really, to unpack and get settled in; dude and his recently reacquainted lady friend have been a bit… preoccupied.
Let’s just say they haven’t met their neighbors yet.
Plus, Cannabis is legal here and they grabbed an entire ounce, with a pack of rolling papers, a box of pre-rolled crutches, and a water pipe, for a hundred bucks. After that, why bother leaving any room, bed- or otherwise?
“So you mistook a bunch of pebbles as a trail of breadcrumbs, congratulations. You’re fucking insane, and that’s coming from me. Regardless though, you missed a very important thing in there, bae.”
“And what’s that?”
“The part about the flow. I wrote pretty much that entire book in a month; one draft, no revisions. And look what happened.”
She pauses her searching for a mere second, for a single skipped heartbeat, and then continues. “What do you mean?”
“When I was writing it, I didn’t really know what was going on. Like, I would just start typing and suddenly, boom, gigantic novel.”
“And the sixty short stories,” she adds, not letting him forget about those.
“Yes, and the short stories… sixty-two by the way, one for each chapter. Plus those extra four…” he trails off, mesmerized by the memory of his own hustle. “Anyway, to be honest, those were a little more difficult. I actually put a lot of thought into them.”
“That’s probably why they didn’t sell as well, hah!” she laughs, busting his balls.
“Yeah,” he mumbles, agreeing for an entirely different reason. “Probably…”
A moment of easy silence ensues. It always used to be uneasy, the silence between these two. She liked him, sure, but everyone around her would always try to warn her about him. He’s a little bit off they would say, he’s always staring off into space, mouthing words to himself. Dude’s crazy, don’t get too close to him. Well she got close all right, and it’s been wonderful ever since. The best-selling books didn’t exactly detract from the wonder, but… yanno, it’s more about the whole underdog rising up bit than anything else.
Come to think of it, she never saw any of the classmates that would talk shit about the dude hanging around him. She never saw him hanging around anybody after class, actually, never saw him eating lunch in the cafeteria. He just kind of appeared before class started and disappeared after. ‘Such is the life of a commuter,’ she supposes as she struggles to imagine going through college while still living at home. She graduated and everything, but like… if she had to go through that nonsense while still living in the same half of the country as her family… yikes.
“I’m just starin’ at the sky, yuh probably thinkin’ I’m high…” he says to himself, loud enough for her to hear him.
“Uh, what’s that, hun?” she asks, maybe a little startled.
“I’m just; I’m just; just I’m just talkin’ to my diary,” he sings.
“Ugh, why you always gotta sing rap lyrics? Like, all randomly like that?”
“I dunno… I just like to. Plus, I probably look a little crazy when I just mouth the words to myself.”
‘Well that’s a weird fucking coincidence,’ she thinks to herself before realizing she still has no weed in her hands. Then, “I feel you. But I’m not gonna feel you again for at least another hour if you don’t tell me where the weed is.”
“Cannabis. And we smoked it all dude, dispensaries aren’t open twenty-four seven. But uh, I think I have some packed in one of the boxes though, lemme find some clothes real quick.
“Nah, it’s all good. Just take this,” as she pulls her robe off and throws it as his head.
He’s totally okay with this arrangement.
A little while later, after they locate the stash box and she has her fingertips covered in sticky little green flakes, the couple sits out on the screened-in porch and enjoys a most relaxing mix of Cannabis smoke and mountain air. All the humans in the village are fast asleep but the night is alive with the sounds of bugs, birds, bigfi, and other nocturnal creatures that roam around the forest when the sun takes its nightly snooze. He’s always liked staying up late; growing up he would pull all-nighters by himself at least once a week just to be alone and experience the part of the world that everybody else sleeps through. The solitude was important to him… although now, he has to admit, it’s nice having someone to share it with.
“Hey,” he says as he passes her the joint. “I think I figured out what success is.”
“Oh?” before she inhales. A few seconds after coughing out the exhale, “Let me guess: money, weed, a house, and the woman of your dreams?”
“CaNnAbIs. But the woman of my dreams, huh? We only met a few years ago, darling.”
“Yeah, I think I was the only girl you met in college.”
“Hah, accurate,” he chuckles, taking the joint from her. He holds it between his index finger and thumb, rolling the crutch back and forth, watching the ember glow as it turns green to blackish gray. “I bet you never thought you’d be sittin’ here with me tonight.”
“A month ago? Definitely not. But back in college? Even more definitely not… I still remember that one story you showed me, that weird-ass one that was clearly based off our math class.”
“Oh? I remember a distinct lack of demonic possession in that math class, actually. It may look the same, some names might sound similar, but,” as he points to his head, “the rest is solely up here. Beamed in from somewhere else entirely.”
They share another silence as he hits the joint, allowing himself to chief on it for a few minutes because he deserves it.
“So what’s success then, Mister IKnowEverything?”
“Hm?” through a cloud of smoke. He passes her the joint, which is quickly approaching roachitude, and says, “Oh yeah. I think it’s fulfilling one’s purpose.”
“I thought there was no such thing as purpose,” she interjects rather quickly, as to not let the ember go out.
“Well, I mean, I don’t know… it kind of makes sense that we’re all put here to do something, right? Like, some of us might not figure out what that is until we die, but if we clue in early it’s a fast track to success. When you do what you’re supposed to do, you get to live the way you want to.”
“Yeah,” “that’s all,” “well and good,” all between coughs, “but according to whom?”
“What do you mean?”
“You said When you do what you’re supposed to do. Who decides what you’re supposed to do?”
“Oh, well… you, I guess. Like, your higher self, maybe? I don’t know, god? God with a big Gee? Maybe… a you from a different universe that somehow contacted you and told you what to do?”
She definitely misses a beat after that one. “Uh… that was awful specific, Hunt.”
“Yeah… it sure was. Is that thing out yet?”
“Yep. Do you have that one hitter still?”
“The Hand Cannon Mark Two?? Hells yeah, it should be in the cigar box.”
“Cool, I’ll go get it. I need to put some clothes on anyway, it’s chilly out here,” as she stands up.
She kisses him on the forehead and walks inside, pausing in the doorway to look back at him. His eyes didn’t follow her like they usually do; he’s just sitting there, head angled at the sky, staring at the moon. She walks inside and a minute or so later, faintly, she hears him singing again.
“Ain’t neva’ asked f’much, I’m not a saint but I got prayers…”