May 16, 2018, 05:58AM

The Greatest Hits Compilation of My Life

A series of short stories I’d almost finished writing, until just now. 

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It’s funny, you’d think realizing your one true dream would be a watershed… pivotal moment on the greatest hits compilation of your life, but I just realized my dream a minute ago and I’ve already forgotten what I was doing. At least I remember my dream, though, which is as follows: That someone will read this whole thing and understand and we’ll be friends and love each other. Then we’ll get married and move to some quaint, progressive town in Maine or New Hampshire and I’ll be an English teacher and you’ll be a waitress at a coffee shop and you’ll look “cute” in your uniform which will be one of those old-fashioned ones, naturally, and I’ll come in every now and again and drink coffee even though I don’t really like coffee that much and be friendly but shy with your co-workers and grade papers or something while you’re working and when you’re on your break we’ll sit and drink coffee together and talk about how our days have been going and how much we’re looking forward to something, because God I want something to look forward to.

We’ll do this for a while and then gradually stop. We’ll see less of each other for one reason or another and become more like friends who sleep together and fuck when so inclined and we’ll carry on about our business. I don’t know that we’ve fallen out of love. I think it’s more like we know it was and is there so we can feel it whenever we want to.


This guy, he was a mad scientist, you see. He'd created a humanoid lifeform with a hipbone growing out of its headbone. That was his life's work. He didn't make much money for this, nor did he want to. He was satisfied because making a lifeform matching this description had been his dream ever since he was a little boy and he'd never deviated from the path that he knew would take him there.


"My street name's Mickey," said Mickey.

“Mickey?" the other guy asked.

"Yeah. Short for Dominic," answered Mickey.

"Oh! Nicky. I see," said the other guy.

"No, you son of a bitch," Mickey said with a good bit of hostility and disdain. "Mickey."


After the veteran gave the rookie a full cavity search that sort of activity came into vogue in college dorms and locker rooms. One could say that it swept the nation, despite the fact that it was its cousin, Lenny, who did the sweeping. All that sort of activity did was hold the dustpan. Lenny would get his, though, mister, don't you worry about a thing. But we won’t learn about that until the inevitable sequel. When are they going to stop making these horrible Marvel Cinematic Universe films, by the way? Yesterday would have been 10 years too late, in my humble opinion.


"Nylon sheath... adjacent... suspect's automobile," the interviewer said nonsensically. He was probably hungover. After all, it was a morning on a day whose name ended with the letter "y," quipped the hot young college comedian, who was neither young nor hot nor enrolled in college. In fact, he wasn't really even a comedian. He was a creepy old man who wore painfully tight khaki pants, thick plaid sweater-vests in the dead of summer and a beige derby cap. From what I could tell, all he did was walk around the college campus trying to feed ducks that may or may not have existed.


Detective Jack Chaser cocked his pistol. I think if I just have that as the only sentence in the paragraph it gives it too much of a sexual overtone or undertone or whatever the proper term is, so I've included this second, mostly superfluous sentence to keep it company. The second sentence is aroused and wants to have sex with the first, but the first isn't particularly interested because it is straight edge or incel or something. Honestly, I don’t trust any of those people.


A little boy fell in a storm drain the other day. As luck would have it, the storm drain was filled with some kind of highly toxic liquid that melted 99 percent of his skin off. All he has left is a little circle of skin on his scalp from which a saintly nimbus of hair still grows. All his veins and muscle tissue and so forth are exposed. He's moist. In fact, he's not even moist—he's wet. He drips syrupy, brownish liquid everywhere and everything he touches turns sticky. It's a chore living with him. What exactly is the payoff for it?


 "Hey, Rory,” Tommy said in his usual friendly way.

"Heeeeey, Tommy," Rory responded also in his usual friendly way, which was slightly friendlier than Tommy's usual friendly way. They were both nice guys, though. Good people. "How's business?"

"Oh, same old, same old, Rory," Tommy said with a smile.

"I hear ya, Tommy," Rory said with a pleasant but nonetheless slightly exasperated sigh. "But I guess you just gotta keep on keepin' on, huh?"

"That's what they say, Rory," Tommy said with a chuckle.

"Oh, and they say it loudly," Rory said loudly, appropriately enough. To be honest, everyone was a bit worried about Rory. His behavior had become a bit erratic of late. He was still friendly, but he had a disturbing twinkle in what would've been his eye if he'd had an eye. As it was he had fingers growing out of his eye sockets. They were almost fully formed, with such details as hair on the knuckles and so forth. No fingernails, though. That part was kind of scary. Always yellowish gunk dripped and squirted six days from Sunday out of what should have been the nailbeds of the fingers.

“I think the expression is ‘six ways from Sunday,’” the security guard said, though he was more focused on his gentleman’s pornographic magazine than whatever his author friend was writing down.


“I don't really read all that much, so I guess I like writing better than reading, to answer your second question,” said Oliver Bateman in a response to a question posed at the panel of Distinguished Southwestern Pennsylvania Writers. “A few influences, though, just off the top of my head, would be Harry Crews, Jim Thompson, Charles Willeford, Flannery O’Connor, and Hubert Selby Jr., who, despite what some people would have you believe, is a good writer if only because he depicts very accurately the monotony of life as a loser.”

How is school? And how about that weather? Old Man McGearnsey's selling the tackle shop, can you believe it? A Wal-Mart is coming to town and he doesn't think he'll be able to compete. After all, he's only open two hours a week. Wal-Mart's open 24/7. He said he'll be sad to close up shop and die alone since the tackle shop accounts for his only contact with the outside world but he recognizes that change is unavoidable. It may not be necessary but it's gonna happen, so get the fuck outta the way or you'll get bowled the fuck over and torn the fuck asunder, you miserable fuck. I remember your name and I have some idea where you live.


You can't make me feel any worse than I already do, the circa-2006 emo kid wrote in his diary. That's why I have to smile but also why I have to frown and cry and want to murder myself. I feel like garbage and have for quite some time. But you're a special person. I knew it then and I know it now. I loved you then and I love you now. Why don't you love me now? You did or at least said you did. I could tell you did. I can remember what it felt like to be loved but I don't feel now what it is to be loved. Does that make sense? "I'm thinking about my boyfriend," you said, "I love my boyfriend." Were you talking about me? Were you ever talking about me? To be your boyfriend is to be something. I'm nothing.


"Who's this?" the mama bear asked, bending over and getting in my face.

"This here's the guy that makes everybody laugh," my good buddy introduced me.

She offered her paw. I shook it. "That's me. I'm the guy that makes everybody laugh. The Laugh Man, they call me. Wanted in three counties for assault with intent to elicit laughter!" I danced a jig and then mowed the lawn. She was most appreciative. So appreciative, in fact, that she insinuated herself between me and the lawnmower and started eating me right then and there even as the grass clippings and all that shit that spews out of lawnmowers was, well, spewing out onto us and shit, but it was a great meal, by all accounts.

On both accounts.


There were two of you, so you should've written "on both accounts."

Two of us? That's nothing more than the title of a Beatles tune to me, sweets. Nice try, though.


The song "4th Time Around" by Bob Dylan had grown impatient. It had been played, appropriately enough, four times now and that was all it could handle. If this idiot listener went to—oh, snap, he did. "4th Time Around" got out of the car, slammed the door with as much strength as it could manage, ran up the stairs and began beating on the door. When the door swung open it grabbed the unwary man by both sides of the neck, threw him to the floor and then produced a chain, which it used to whip the man into oblivion. When it tired of this, "4th Time Around" by Bob Dylan picked up a revolver that had conveniently been loaded with a single silver bullet and shot the man in the head just to make sure he was dead. "4th Time Around" wiped its prints off everything it remembered touching and then went back to its wife and children, who were taking an RV trip across the country.


"I'm a nice guy. The nicest guy around town, in fact. Ask anyone. They'll tell you," the nice guy implored the young woman.

"Oh, that's okay. I believe you," the young woman said, laughing for some reason.

"Go on," the nice guy said, now sounding not quite so nice. "Ask someone."

"Really, that's—"

"Ask someone!" the nice guy screamed, veins bulging out of the sternocleidomastoid muscles in his neck.

"Everything okay over here?" asked a second nice guy.

"This is none of your concern, sir. I was just telling her that I'm the nicest—" the first nice guy said with a smile but it was clear that he was impatient. Not to mention he was cut off by a lazy author who hadn’t bothered to include his full quote.

"Oh, not this again," the second nice guy said, rolling his eyes and turning to the young woman, who really just wanted to pump her gas in peace and get super high off the fumes, man, the glorious fucking fumes that should be circulating or whatever it is that fumes do throughout our homes. "This guy comes here every once in a while talking about how he's the nicest guy in town. Is he bothering you, ma'am? I can have him removed from the premises."

"Right now you're bothering me," the young woman said tersely.

"Am I now?" the second nice guy hissed malevolently. "Well I may be the nicest guy in town but I didn't get to where I am today by playing niceball with a bunch of fucking Marys. I'll trim your lifespan exponentially for that, you swine! Where are you—come back here! Hey! Hey! Heeeeeeeeey! I’m a nice guy!"


The most troubling memory I have is of the time I misspelled the word "medley" in the spelling bee at the county fair when I was in second or third grade. The acoustics in the venue, which was little more than a cheap particle board dais erected atop the same muddy patch of ground where the prize hogs had recently been showcased to the delectation of all and sundry, were so bad they defied belief. I asked the proctor to repeat the word, but I was too busy thinking about these "Faces of Death" videos my dad and I had stayed up late last night watching to listen carefully to her southern-fried hick pronunciation.


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