Fiction: Woke Edgelord
By Josh Massey
When we were up Brodsky’s fire escape prying open his flimsy screen door, the reality this was a long-standing comrade I was about to rob started to distract me from the task, and that’s when a stream of injustices tore my mind: Brodsky was a distant fuck, Brodsky turned his back on me 20 years ago in the park with the sexual divergents, the universe was heading to heat death, etc.
When Sal initially suggested we B & E Brodsky’s, the fact Brodsky was an old friend didn’t mean a fuck. But when we had to bust in the rest of the way through the door then hogtie Brodsky’s pathetic roommate with fluffy cord and waterboard him using our feathered plank and lavender water process, to get him to tell us where the duffel bags were, the reasons for sabotaging this friendship were clear.
When Brodsky came home early, coughing from his shift at Sky Club, when we had to put a foam bullet into his head timed exactly with the train going by to muffle the firecracker retort Sal timed with the release of the nerf round, that I was now both robbing and fake murdering a childhood friend was clearly a matter of justice. When force-feeding Brodsky’s brains to his pathetic roommate with mimed scoops, the reasons were certain: Brodsky the Mayakovsky Lite imposter stealing my ideas, Brodsky claiming my story was cliché the fuck.
Me and Sal were smart like that. Not school smart, but noise cancelling, Home Depot foam silencer, train whistle timing smart. When he first saw what was going on after coming into the living room, Brodsky’s eyes bulged, “You fucking…” then his eyes popped, “…woke…” he gagged at the absurdity of this heist saga, “…edgelord… fuck…”
While me and Sal pranced as satyrs around the home in which Brodsky and his roommate’s bodies now hung out largely around a crimson pool we’d poured from jumbo Heinze cans; while we pretended to flick matches from our sprung index fingers, and the Play Flames® shot vertically on their wavery demon legs up the stucco sides of the sagging heritage home, whirled through the bedsheets of the abandoned rooms and whorled the imagined friend-corpses in a tempest of flames, I remembered how me and Brodsky back in grade nine had been dared to meet a group of sexual divergents in the park. We’d packed crowbars and planned to ambush the sick ducks. But Brodsky took off soon as the line of redblack dominoes billowed through the park gates, and the divergents descended upon me. Then me all these years later, on my knees, ejaculating into a toilet bowl as I remembered what they did to me with my crowbar.
Sal, a sort of role model, his faucet-screen mouth emitting an aloe-cool to my puberty psyche. The old hero with the tight non-stretch Levi’s and the combed quaff, telling me, hey, you know Brodsky keeps three duffle bags filled with stuff from Sky Club, you know Brodsky’s just using you for your networks, Brodsky is a sniveling Nabokovian Bly imposter. You know he came back to watch that night in the park as they molested you with your own weapon.
Hence the squeal of rusty spring hinges, the splintering crack of the door frame, pinioning that pathetic roommate, triggering a foam round into Brodsky’s brow (a brow furrowed as the true progenitors of his literary forgeries), then mime spoon-feeding his liberated brains to his background character roommate who may or may not be forced to lick the toilet bowl in the film adaptation and then our special decision to save his faux pineal gland for later when we opened the duffle bags from Sky Club.
Post B & E, shlepping the duffle bags across town, crawled under the fence of an environmentally condemned chain-link lot where me and Sal sat in the dirt, eagerly clawed open the weathered old bags. Of the contents we couldn’t have been more pleased. One of them was full of a bright, light, dignified substance like the sawdust of old growth trees or some sort of snortable talc from the forest floor, the second bag contained shredded documents, apparently theatre scripts, and the third was stuffed with Bazooka Joe wrappers. We swung the bags around, and it was like true slow-mo and panoramic simultaneously, sailors wrestling their leviathan fabrics against the gales, scattering the goods around the condemned lot, throwing it in handfuls, the spilling contents we’d been seeking to spill, confetti offal.
Easy years didn’t follow, however. At the job office: it’s no other than some guy from the Thespian scene we were all part of back in the day, swiveling in his pleather manager’s chair to take my resume. “Didn’t you, if I recall, break into Brodsky’s place a couple years back?” Thrusting me back my resume with a pseudo-grimace. “Not sure where I should recommend you apply. How about Backstabber Bistro?”
But thing is, for years, it started coming out, Brodsky had been fucking and been fucked by numerous of his friends' lovers and wives. So somehow what Sal and me had done to him, in hindsight, started to be seen as a kind of socially sanctioned comeuppance. That Brodsky, he had it coming to him, was the consensus. I even ran into Brodsky at Sky Club and we sat for a pink drink together at his suggestion. “Yeah, I’ve fucked a friend’s partner, so the fact that my friend B & E’d my home,” nods at me as if we had company at this tiny roundtable—neurodivergent af—“taking my most precious and visionary shit, murdering and cannibalizing me, who am I to judge you considering I have fucked and been pegged by many of my friends’ first loves, their life partners, their death-do-us-apart wives, grinding up their hearts, fucking and being pegged by so many in grand cuckold fashion. Cheers.”
Thing is, we have our Art now. We will always have that. Cheers to that. This is basically Brodsky’s facetious conclusion as we down another pink drink after these shame-plagued years. I see it in his eyes, though we don’t discuss what happened in a lot of detail. I see him sometimes. Not all the time. But more times than I see most.
Within the story it’s tidy, right? All makes fucking sense. Superficial. But then I’m scuba diving off the Key West. Things are going wrong 100 feet down in a dead coral forest, my breathing tube kinked, I have no air. But there’s my masked partner reaching out his breathing tube to me. I look into the mask to attempt a smile of gratitude. It’s Brodsky, his plastic mouth contorted like a submarine boar in a blast of bubbles, pulling back the mouthpiece and kicking off to the surface, leaving me to drown in the grey ghosts of beauty past. Then I’m lost in the woods. My legs are hobbled from some fall. I’ll come back with Search and Rescue, says a dark figure at the edge of the thicket. It’s Brodsky. What reason does he have to return? A building is burning. Sal’s there inside with me. Rushing to the window, looking through the searing glass. The streets are full of Brodskys, all of them point at our burning room. We drifted, all the Brodskys sing together. But thing is, we have our Art now. We will always have that. Cheers to that, Biatches.
Josh Massey is a poet and author of two novels: We Will All Be Trees (Conundrum, 2009) and The Plotline Bomber of Innisfree (BookThug, 2015). He lives in a remote mountain where he aspires to lead an ethical life while maintaining his healthily fucked up imagination. Follow him on Twitter