Fiction: The Life of a Writer



By George Gad Economou

The staring contest can last for a long, long time...a very long fucking time, indeed. You know, even before you get started, you enter a battle you can’t win, you lost the war before you even declared it. The bottle shall always convince you, it will win each and every motherfucking battle. It's more powerful than you, has a mind of its own and no heart. It will swoon you, bring you back to its side and, once it happens, you shall belong to the bottle. It’ll start with just one drink, to get a taste, get it over with…then, the second drink shall be poured, you’ll say it’s the last one, then a third, another last one…the last last one shall never come. The moment you submit, it’s over, you’ve lost. There’s always gonna be just one more sip, one more fucking last drink.
It’s how it ends. The bottle wins, gains custody of you, and you are lost. You’ve lost the battle and you keep pouring another last bottle, doing it every single minute of your life till Death arrives to take you away. "Devil in the Bottle" sang Lynyrd Skynyrd, they were spot on. The Devil hides inside the bottle and you willingly chug him down, offering him refuge in your intestines and brain. When He claims you, He'll cast you aside and move on to the next victim, and the next, and the next, and the next, an ad infinitum stream of victims...welcome to Hell; I shall be your guide.
 
Thus scribbled Peter Pantelakis on his worn-out legal pad; hunching over the bottle-blanketed desk, with nothing but a flickering candle illuming the small, dusty room. After burying his dead cigarette in the mountain of butts almost encapsulating the metal ashtray, he fired up another; he squinted at his shaky handwriting, trying to decipher what he had just written. His lips had grown arid and the cigarette butt stuck on them, forcing him to tug at it and rip off a tiny sliver of flesh. After licking off the metallic taste, he took a swig out of the fifth of Buffalo Trace standing next to him, to wet his throat and disinfect the bleeding lower lip.
Years of boozing had transmogrified his liver into a powerful factory of alcohol-processing; he required massive amounts of hooch just to reach a level of pleasant intoxication. He missed the blackouts, the freedom those few hours man comes close to death and liberation proffer. He never stopped trying, always pouring more booze down his liver, hoping it would one day cease functioning.
After three crepuscular years of suffering through writer’s block, heartache, and utter devastation of the soul, he had begun regaining the one thing that ever had made sense in his life. Fueling the engine with more delectable bourbon, while puffing on the bent hand-rolled cigarette, he flipped onto a clean page and swirled the pencil in his trembling fingers.
 
Life's a motherfucking bitch. Gives you nothing—abso-fucking-lutely nothing—and expects everything from you. Who decides who’s to have a jovial life and who’s doomed to a miserable existence? Where is the motherfucker that decided I should be shat and pissed on, then tossed away like a piece of trash? Who decided my life should be as miserable, as fucking pathetic, as it is? Who was it? Fate, Destiny? Was it God? Was the motherfucker that decided I should be born and die in misery the oh-so-fucking kind and gentle and caring God?
Well, in that case, fuck you, God, and fuck you Fate as well, just to be sure.
 
Peter tore the page off the pad, scowling and growling at the words. Why do I keep scribbling down whatever crap pops up in my head, he thought and leaned forth to rest his forehead on the desk. I need to focus, think of a plot, a story…something. I must focus.
He puffed on the cigarette and stared at the plume of blue smoke that came out of his mouth. With the bottle in his lap, stealing long sips out of it, he moved his bloodshot eyes to the dancing flame of the candle; some droplets of melted wax fell on the glass surface of his desk, just adding to the state of deterioration of the room.
After collecting the piece of paper from the floor, he read it through and crushed it in his quivering fist. He tossed it behind his back and had another sip. I should have some water, he thought after running his tongue across his dry lips. Then, he tilted the bourbon bottle to his lips and let it flow down his throat and into his withering soul.
 
Once upon a time, there was a little boy, Tom. His life was pretty good; he hailed from an affluent, loving family, had an armada of friends that admired and adored him, and had a dog, Tom’s real best friend. One could say life was treating Tom superbly, making sure he had everything anyone could ask for, possibly even more.
Then, Tom’s sweet sixteen came. Oh, and what a glorious day it was. His parents leased a luxurious venue for the party; soft drinks, pizza, and hot dogs were a-plenty; a live band came to help the guests rock the day away, and every kid from his high school attended, to celebrate the momentous occasion. Of course, Tom’s sweetheart, Olympia...
 
“Motherfucker,” he bawled in the emptiness of the room. His rusty voice rattled the air and the mountain of cigarette butts fell off the ashtray, scattered about on the desk’s surface, after he brought his clencehd fist down on the sturdy glass. “Fucking fuck, why can’t I stop fucking thinking of her?” He erupted, banging his forehead on the desk while some tears streamed down his eyes.
He drank long from the bottle; then, he brought it up to his eyes and squinted at the almost empty fifth. “Fuck,” he spat in exasperation. “Almost empty and I’m still not drunk out of my fucking mind.”
He clambered about to his feet and shambled about the small room that hadn’t been cleaned in years, rubbing his temples and cursing as he tried to evict her from his mind so he could focus on the damn story. After walking around in circles in the dim room, he flung himself back on the chair and closed his eyes, drawing a few deep breaths.
Here we go, he said to himself and picked the pencil back up, feeling its rough surface against the tips of his fingers, before bringing the edge down to the yellow paper.
 
...Of course, Tom’s sweetheart, Ashley (that’s better—he thought and gave himself a nod of approval) was there. At first, the party was a roaring success; everybody was having the time of their lives, thanks to the effort and money Tom’s proud parents put into the celebration.
Surrounded by all his friends, he finally fathomed how popular he was; a warm, fuzzy feeling rose in his stomach, causing his skin to flush. With Ashley always by his side, holding his hand tenderly and stealing kisses from him, there was almost nothing else he could ask for. “Tonight’s the night,” he thought and his lips tugged up into an earlobe-to-earlobe grin.
There was still one thing he hadn’t experienced, one thing that prevented him from having a full life; namely, sex. His sweet sixteen was about to give him the one experience that had been evading him so far. After all, she had promised that the night would be the fucking nightso to speak. While he enjoyed the party and had a great time, he couldn’t wait for it to end. He trembled in excitement and impatience. Besides, he had read and watched so many things about sex, he was curious…
 
No, what’s a better word? he thought. What do teenagers think about sex nowadays? Damn it, how do they feel about it generally speaking? I was thirteen when I, I...didn’t know what the fuck happened. I…was just lucky, I guess. What word best describes this uncontrollable desire to have sex, the primordial need of a teenager to experience the pleasures of fornication?
“Fornication?” He repeated out loud with a dry chuckle. “Ah, shit, I might just as well call it coitus or procreation. What happened to fucking, to good old plain fucking?” He let out a sigh and had another swallow from the dangerously getting empty bottle. “Censorship happened. Like Hemingway, printing obscenity or unprintable instead of shit, or whatever, in his novels. We won’t be able to write at all, soon, because realistic emotions and words will become too hurtful; soon, they’ll just have machines restructuring the same olf happily-ever-after stories; well, all the robots from creative writing courses do that now, too, but soon, even they’ll become needless, some AI will do a better job than those hacks shelling out money to become scribblers and wordsmiths.
“Alright,” he snapped at himself after rolling and lighting another cigarette, “I’m drifting away from the goal, again. Focus, motherfucker, focus,” he scolded himself and, with the burning cigarette hanging from his lips, he hunched forth and put the pencil’s edge back onto the violated page.
 
...anxious desperate (that’s better...kinda good, actually) to see what sex really is. Had heard so many things about it; one of his friends claim to have nailed more than twenty chicks. The self-proclaimed womanizer was Tom’s classmate, but he believed all his stories; perhaps, he shouldn’t. People often lie about this stuff. (and sometimes they don’t—he thought and almost scratched out the last two lines; then, he shook his head and let them be. Let it stand, he shrugged. It’s called philosophizing, I guess)
Subsequently, Tom had grand plans for the night. He wanted their first time to be special, memorable—something they’d both cherish as a memory for the rest of their lives. Being a naive, virgin teenager, he was clueless as to how awkward and occasionally unpleasant first times can be; shit, you don’t even know where and how to put it in. For someone’s first time to be enjoyable, it requires an experienced partner. Thank God I lost my virginity to an older lady, who knew how to please a man!(okay—he scratched away the last two sentences—now I'm getting all Bukowski, delving into personal details...no need for that. Away with the shit, back to the story…I wonder—he then thought involuntarily—how Ms. Jensen, that married cougar of the old neighborhood, is doing? Still helping young men learn about sex?)
His heart palpitated fast and began sweating profusely; she noticed and, with an arched eyebrow, asked if everything was alright. Being bad at lying, he claimed to be nervous about the party and whether the guests—a staggering four hundred of them—were enjoying themselves.
Just as naïve, if not more, than him, she believed him and relaxed. It never even crossed her young, innocent mind that her beloved boyfriend, high-school sweetheart, and future husband—so she wished to believe, at any rate—was nervous about fucking her. Besides, she was blissfully oblivious to the fact that he had spent many a dark night exploring the darker side of the Internet; he had watched—no, he had studied and even scrutinized—websites containing pornographic videos of an extreme nature. He had developed a taste, if not an addiction, towards rape porn (naturally, the videos are fictional works, but the scenarios and the sweltering action had created a great impression on his young, easily manipulated mind that could not understand the staged nature of what he was watching almost reverently)
 
Could use some wanking time, to be honest—he thought and frowned. Again?—he asked himself. I’ve already done so twice. Jesus, I need to focus on this motherfucking story, or I’ll never finish it. God damn it, what’s wrong with me?
I could browse some porn sites, just to draw some inspiration...“No,” he yowled at the walls; “I can’t do that. I’ll just unplug the Internet connection and be done with it. Enough with this shit. I have to write something, it’s all I have to do.” After erupting in a torrent of obscenities in a desperate attempt to motivate himself, he grabbed the pencil and focused his glazed gaze on the yellow page.
 
(They had sex; she got pregnant. Their parents were very understanding; she kept the baby and their parents both helped with raising the baby so they could both focus on high school. Once the two lovebirds graduated high school, they were married in a grandiloquent ceremony attended by more than a thousand guests.
Their popularity made their wedding a momentous occasion for everyone that knew them. They had four more children, and Ashley and Tom grew old together, always loving each other. Neither ever cheated on each other and they always cherished and adored each other, overcoming whatever insipid fight occasionally arose.
They lived enough to see their children grow into adults with successful careers and their own families. They had twelve grandchildren, and even a great-grandchild. Tom died peacefully at the age of ninety-two, in his sleep. Ashley mourned at his funeral, an elegant ninety-two-year-old lady that could keep up with much younger women, and lived just enough to see their second great-grandchild being born. After a week, she also died in her sleep, ascending onto the Heavens where Tom awaited.
There, in the highest strata of Heaven (described beautifully by the greatest poet), they spent forevermore together, always in love and always holding hands, just like they did when they attended high school and their grandiloquent love only had started to flourish.)
 
This kind of bullshit love story would probably get published—he thought with a scowl—if I simply expanded it a little and added some drama in it to cause stupid minds to sigh and weak hearts to twitch. He cracked open a fifth of Four Roses and took a great swallow straight out of the bottle. Why does everyone crave a happy ending? How on Earth would two high-school sweethearts stay together for all their lives without anything bad happening?
One of them would cheat—probably both of them, but let’s keep the optimism high here—and they’d fight all the time, often viciously. How would anyone expect them to stay together, madly in love until the very end, for eighty fucking years?
No matter how implausible it is, readers expect—and publishers fucking demand—that the two lovebirds have their happily ever after ending. Well, he shook his head and drew a large X over the sappy passage, I’ve always enjoyed taking large dumps over publishers’ and readers’ wishes. My realistic, gritty writing might get me nothing but rejection slips but I shall not change; I won’t change reality just because they are stupid idiots.
I don’t give a shit about the wants of ignorant publishers and readers, I will give the story the realistic, and tragic, end it deserves, and even requires. Let them seek the pile of shit coming out of creative writing courses if they want imbecilic tales with happily-ever-afters to warm their hearts and help them temporarily forget their sad lives.
 
Tom spent the rest of the sweet-sixteen party preoccupied with picturing the sick things he’d do to Ashley once they were all alone; sick things he knew—well, he thought—the actresses in the films he enjoyed loved and had no doubts Ashley would also be enthralled with them all. What he had no clue about was how different porn is from real life.
 
Okay, he stopped, leaned back on the chair, and puffed on his cigarette, how do things go wrong? How are you gonna screw up your precious first time, dear Tom?
“Now, that’s the hard-hitting question,” he stated and had a gulp of bourbon. Warmth rose in his stomach and his lips curled up into a genuine smile as a soft dizziness overcame his head. “How does the story go forth?” He pursued while relishing the glorious feeling of soft inebriation. What’s gonna happen, Tom? Are you…Ashley could die.
“Yes, that’s it!” He snapped his fingers and stretched his arms in the air, before bringing the bottle back to his lips. “I’m a fucking genius,” he announced to the indifferent walls.
 
After the party was over, they locked themselves in his bedroom—a vast room with a humongous double bed. The walls were covered with posters of rock bands. He was still disappointed that she refused even to listen to most of his favorite musicians; she didn't care about Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, not even the Rolling fucking Stones.(that’s too much—he thought and scratched out the last few lines—no need to bring music taste into this, might alienate all those morons listening to all those meaningless, newfangled genres)
Tom had tried to introduce her to his favorite musicians, finding no success. (that's better; succinct and poignant) He put on some music—Aerosmith’s “Dream On”—and they laid down on the bed, holding each other tight.
Hesitantly, their lips locked into a kiss, both reluctant to let their tongues touch. They had kissed before but, this time, something was different, the air of the bedroom tasted differently; they knew the kiss was special because it was only the prologue of something special.
He moved his hand, meekly, down to her milky, soft thigh. For a while, he just kept it there, feeling her shivering, warm skin, terrified of letting his fingers glide higher lest he scared her. Eventually, he mustered up the courage to slide his hand upwards, with crude movements that lacked any sort of finesse. Excitement flowed down to his nether parts and his breathing grew heavy and rapid as he reached the ultimate destination, the hitherto untouched pussy.
 
How pornographic do I make the story? he pondered silently. A part of him was ready to go all the way, spend a couple of pages describing the act of sex and giving all the grotesque, morbid details of how Tom would end up killing his sweetheart. Another part of him, the final surviving traces of his rational self, went against the notion.
It’d be better to hasten up through the sex scene, let the details emerge throughout the rest of the tale; give Tom a blackout or something.
Might be a good idea, he agreed with the rational voice whispering in his head.
A blackout? another voice interjected. Are you kidding me? He’s not drunk, just anxious. No, that’s stupid. Leave some details out, don’t make the scene too graphic, but don’t fall for a memory loss trick. Make it quick and that’s it.
Why not a blackout? the other voice argued. He’s driven mad with lust, excitement, anxiety…he loses his mind, acts weird compelled by something deriving from deep within him, an inner voice, a…
Bullshit, the other voice retorted. A blackout is the stupidest idea you’ve ever had. No, his actions have to be conscious, they have to be real because he fucking wants to do what he dreams of. If it’s something he does because of a blackout, or driven by an external force, the story loses its dramatic tone, it delves into the ugly realm of fantasy and whatnot.
He’s a porn addict, he is a victim of sorts. Too much porn has fried parts of his brain, has turned him into something else.
You’re an idiot. Addiction is not an excuse. Only something to be used in cautionary tales for people struggling and wanting an excuse for what they do. If you sniff cocaine or smoke methamphetamine, there’s a good chance you’ll lose your mind; watching too much porn does not turn you into a rabid werewolf ready to snarl and snap your jaws at the world.
“Shut up,” Peter bawled at the empty room. The voices existed only in his head but he had to shout, if only to release some of the tension and frustration brewing in him. Thank God I live alone, he thought and took a swig of bourbon when the voice remained, for the moment, silent.
 
Her soft moans and the gentle trembling of her body under his gentle touches encouraged him to continue; the glistening film of excitement that descended over her eyes and the wetness that overwhelmed his fingers when he started rubbing her thin nether lips told him she wanted it almost as bad as he did. Something was wrong with the whole thing, though, something was amiss…
It was too loving, too caring, too...too emotional. Bullshit!—he thought angrily and his smile turned into a sinister grin. He shoved two fingers inside her and began slamming her fast; quickly, her moans of pleasure turned to breathless groans of pain. The way she bit down her lips and arched her back while her cries turned louder had his prick engorge in his pants.
He inserted his fist inside her; her yowls were now nothing but stentorian exclamations of pain, and even agony. “Stop,” she wailed, “please, stop, you’re hurting me.”
He didn’t stop; the women in the videos that had taught him everything he knew about sex always begged the men to stop but, deep down, they only wanted them to keep on going, they just pretended to be suffering further to excite their partners. She only wants me to hurt her more, he thought, satisfied with himself, and continued punching her insides mercilessly, honestly thinking he was giving her unprecedented pleasure.
She fought against him, desperately punching, kicking, and trying to shove him away but he shrugged her meek attempts off, thinking her struggling was merely her way to encourage him to keep going. He had no idea he was hurting her real bad.
All he could feel was his broiling blood migrating southwards, giving him a steel-hard erection that throbbed in his pants and demanded to be unleashed and satisfied. His forehead perspired and hot sweat dripped down into his eyes, blurring out his vision. He dismissed her soft punches on his shoulder and her pleas to let her go with crude horselaughs, firmly believing she was thoroughly enjoying the pain and being dominated.
Even when his fist was drenched in a hot fluid, and some blood came out of her vagina, he thought it was just part of the process. The first blood, the one coming from him deflowering her, had already come when he had romantically fingered her in the beginning, back when they both thought the night would be special and unique. Her cries and screams turned down to muffled sobs as she let her head fall back on the soft mattress, too exhausted even to fight. Adamant she had simply surrendered to the immense pleasure he thought he was giving her, he continued the abuse, replicating the acts he had watched so many times on his computer.
It took quite some time before he realized that she had lain there perfectly motionless and silent for a while. The glisten of excitement dissipated from his eyes and he froze when he finally felt just how frigid her skin was. He pressed his fingers behind her ear and almost choked on air when he felt no pulse.
He put his ear right over her mouth; felt no breath landing on his skin. “What the fuck just happened?” He mumbled to himself and his heart shot to his throat. He peered about and all blood was drained from his pallid face as it finally dawned upon him that he had been practicing necrophilia for some time.
A vortex of pain and despair swallowed him when he finally understood that he had killed her.
 
That’s good, he thought as he leaned back on the chair and lit another cigarette. He picked the page up and reread the words, suddenly remembering how it is to feel good about yourself. Perhaps, I haven’t lost it completely, he added silently and dragged a long puff. “Shit,” he groaned, “now what happens?”
 
He gawked at the lifeless body of his girlfriend, (he wrote with the cigarette dangling from his lips, the thin sheaths of smoke rising from the burning tip tickling his nostrils) trying to figure out what to do next. They were alone in the house—well, he was all alone with a dead body—so no one, had heard her screams and cries. Even if some neighbors had heard something—he thought—they’d think he’s awesome in the sack. His lips tugged up into a smirk that instantly turned into a moue. “I killed her,” he mumbled to himself, with both depravity and despair flooding his thumping heart. (does this even make sense? ah, who cares, I’ll fix it later, maybe.) “What the hell am I supposed to do now?” He asked the posters decorating the wall of his bedroom that had turned into a murder ground.
 
“Now, that’s a good question, Tom,” he whispered and swilled some bourbon, hoping it’d offer some good answers. “What is going to happen to you now?”
Well, perhaps…he thought, drew a deep breath, and let the pencil once more dance on the page:
 
Impelled by the cruel reality that had hit him like a runaway train, he leaped off the bed, got dressed, and dragged her stiff, rigid body off the bed. Despite him being a physical specimen, he struggled with her dead weight and he huffed and puffed as he dragged the body of the girl he loved down the stairs of his parents’ mansion. “What am I gonna do?” He kept asking the deaf walls while frowning from the darkness of the house; something about the atmosphere made him feel like he had entered a cheap horror movie.
 
There’s an idea. Have Ashley come back to life, attack him, make him…well, she could always fuck the shit out of him, make him pay for what he’d done. Talk about serving justice.
“No, no...” he whispered, shaking his head. “I gotta stop with the horror crap. I need to get real, to…I need something better than the reanimated corpses of vengeful virgins. Okay, where’s the inspiration?” He asked the crepuscular room and rubbed his forehead. His heart sank to his stomach when Olympia came back to his head, more vivid than ever; he recalled the great moments they shared, how much he had relished the time they’d spent together. “back then, I wasn’t such a damn bastard,” he mumbled and hung his head.
Now, I am, the grave thought lunged into his mind, encapsulating him like an asphyxiating mist. Perhaps, Tom doesn’t deserve to lose his heart and self…he can treasure Ashley, learn from his mistake, become a better person…
“No,” he snapped. “Can’t let the story turn sentimental. Tom shall be tormented by regrets for the rest of his pathetic life; he’s not gonna go soft, he’s not gonna become a pansy trying to make amends. Won’t let it happen to you, buddy, don’t worry.”
His cigarette slowly burned away in the ashtray while he hunkered down, letting the pencil’s edge hover an inch above the page that demanded a bloody tribute. He licked his lips while tremors overwhelmed his muscles.
 
He shook his head, reminding himself that zombies only exist in fiction; at any rate, he stole glimpses over his shoulder at Ashley’s body he continued dragging behind him lest it started stirring and gnarling. He went to the kitchen, refusing to stop dragging Ashley for reasons he couldn’t tell, and started opening the drawers until he found some large disposal bags. Mimicking the villains from some movies he’d watched—choosing to ignore the cold fact that said villains always get caught in the end—he stuffed his girlfriend into a bag. Now, all he had to do was throw her body—the iciness of his thoughts astounded him.
He clambered out in the yard through the kitchen’s backdoor, peering about for potential witnesses. It was late into the night, so just a couple of dim blue lights illumined some of the windows of the neighboring houses, probably some insomniac TV watchers.
Cautiously, he dragged (I’ve used this word a lot—he noticed, tapping the pencil on the page—but it’s the best I can do right now; I’ll have to revise the damn thing at some point) the heavy bag into the yard and tossed it in the backseat of the black BMW; his father had taught him to drive in it and it would be his high school graduating present.
He hopped behind the wheel, gulping as it dawned on him this was to be the first time he’d drive without his father supervising him. He shuddered and clenched his fists around the sturdy steering wheel, sinking his teeth in his lower lip until he tasted copper. “Looks like this is going to be our first drive,” he whispered to the bag lying on the leather backseat. “Sadly, it’ll be our last, too.”
He ignited the engine and once it let out a soft purr, everything he had learned about driving evaporated from his whirling head. “It’s not that hard, damn it,” he scolded himself with a grumble and drew a deep breath. After using the back of his hand to wipe the burning sweat off his eyes, he backed the car out of the driveway and onto the small street.
He pushed the gas pedal and drove away from the house wherein he grew up. He shifted to second gear, then third, gunning it away in his desperation to get rid of the body and, consequently, be liberated from the proof of the heinous act he had committed.
“What would people say if they found out?” He wondered as he drove into the busier streets of downtown. At that moment, his only concern was how his popularity would diminish if people learned about his crime. All the serious and grave repercussions that would follow evaded his young, inexperienced brain.
 
“Now we’re talking,” he leaned back on the chair, crossing his fingers behind his head. He relit the rolled-up cigarette that had sat idly atop the bodies of his fallen buddies and exhaled a cloud of blue smoke at the open window displaying the quiet night of a skid row alley. Olympia would often pester him about quitting the nasty habit of smoking and as he puffed on the cigarette, more memories from the only woman he had ever loved returned to his spinning mind. “Is she thinking of me?” He wondered aloud but neither the night nor the burning cigarette had an answer to proffer.
He emptied the second fifth of bourbon in one glorious swallow, hoping it would force his brain to stop bringing her memory back to the surface at the most importunate times. He cracked open another bottle of Four Roses and stole a good, long swig; it got to his head, finally making it sin delightfully, and he hunched over the page and the story that demanded to be completed.
 
He reached a neighborhood on the other side of the city, where he could be certain no one knew him. He parked in a crepuscular alley, right in front of a large metal dumpster, and shuffled out of the car. After peering about to ensure no one was there to see him, he pulled the heavy bag out of the car, grunted as he lifted his girlfriend’s lifeless body, and tossed her into the dumpster, amidst various large bags of garbage.
He wiped his hands on his shirt, frowning with disgust and dumbfounded by his stone-cold attitude. What the fuck’s wrong with me? he thought in despair. Standing still for a moment, he gawked at the dumpster that now contained the love of his life, the woman with whom he had wanted to spend the rest of his life.
He let out a deep sigh that had his insides shudder, and started clambering around the car so he could hop in and drive away. What hadn’t crossed his mind, oblivious to how the world outside the affluent neighborhood he called home works, was that he had been driving an expensive car around skid row.
Innocent, spoiled Tom never got to experience the darker side of the capitalistic system, which had allowed his dad to become rich. Tom had lived a sheltered life, unaware of the depravity of the system that allowed him to drive a BMW at the age of sixteen.
When three hooded figures approached him, he arched an eyebrow out of curiosity but felt no fear. What worried him the most was whether they had seen him throwing into the garbage the dead body of his girlfriend. The fact that the hoodlums were, in fact, rough gangbangers never crossed his mind until, that is, he noticed one of the young men holding a knife, which blade shimmered under the strong headlights of the car he had left running.
“Yo, man, whatcha doing here?" One of the hoodlums asked in a deep, rusty voice.
"Nothing," he replied with a trilling voice—he had no idea he should have tried to appear cool, calm, and certain of himself.
“Yo, fo'sure," the young man chortled. "Nice ride you got, man. Yours?"
“Ride? Oh, the car. Yes, it’s mine, why?"
“Just admiring it, man, 'at's all." (overdoing it with the accent…screw it) “Mind if we take it fo' a ride, man?”
My car?” He took a step forth, clenching both his fists into tight balls. After all, he was one of the tough guys in his high school—sadly, he didn’t know that it was equivalent to being a good amateur soccer player suddenly thrust into a professional match.
The three hoodlums took a backward step and one of them raised his open hands in the air; they all grinned and traded a quick glance with each other. Like a cat toying with a mouse, they were having fun before giving the lethal blow.
“Relax, man, we mean no harm,” the knife-wielding man said and took a step towards Tom, who still stood his ground. “We’re just admiring yo\ride. It ain’t often we see a ride like this in these parts, that’s all.”
“Okay, sure…well, I have to go now. My folks will be worried if I’m late...: He said and tried to hop into the driver’s seat. His parents would soon come home and he hadn’t cleaned up the blood yet. He had to hurry home and make sure to erase all evidence of what he’d done; then, he’d have to come up with a good excuse as to why Ashley was missing.
He still hadn’t fathomed that hiding his crime from his parents was the least of his worries.
 
Not going bad, he thought and a brief smirk decorated his rugged face. How does it end? Will Tom just die in that dark alley, paying for what he’d done and for being a clueless bastard?
Or should he…incomprehensible words left his lips as he dragged from his cigarette and contemplated the fate of his protagonist.
I’m the master of the universe, he reminded himself, I can toy with my creations, deliver harsh fates and decide who lives and who dies. “I am motherfucking God,” he announced at the deaf walls and let out a dry cackle. After crushing his cigarette in the already overfilled ashtray, that sat amidst a sea of butts from earlier, he returned to the page. “Time to meet your fate, my dear Tom.”
 
As he bent over, in order to get into the car, the knife-wielding hoodlum put his hand on his shoulder. “Not so fast, man.”
“Hey, let me go,” Tom whined and jerked his shoulder violently. “I gotta go home.”
“Wrong answer, bitch,” the man shrugged and drove the butt of the knife dead on Tom’s nose.
He dropped down on the cold, wet asphalt and pressed his hand over his nose, whimpering in pain and drawing short, wheezing breaths.
“Oh, are you crying mamma boy?” The man cackled and his friends burst into thunderous laughs that hurt Tom more even than his broken nose and the sharp jolts of pain every breath caused.
“Well, we’ll just take off now, okay?” The third man said and stepped on Tom’s sternum, putting all his tremendous weight on him. Tom’s eyes bulged and a cracking sound came from his ribcage.
While he struggled to breathe, all curled up on the asphalt, the three men hopped into the car and drove away. His fingers had gotten warm from the blood freely flowing from his broken nose and every breath he drew was an excruciating experience that begot violent jolts of pain in his chest.
“What did I do?” He mumbled amidst his sobs when he saw the car taking a steep turn into the avenue vertical to the alley and disappeared, forever, from his blurry eyesight.
Failing to clamber up to his feet, the pain keeping him anchored to the asphalt, he let the tears flow out of his bloodshot eyes in torrents. He had lost everything and didn’t even have the means to go home. He was all bloodied up, broken, and alone. Had murdered his sweetheart and was stranded in skid row, an alien world filled with dangers.
In short, Tom had to find the balls to survive on his own, or he was fucked.
 
All right. First act of Tom’s sweet story has just concluded, he thought and let out a dry chortle. “What’s next?” He asked the crepuscular night sky. “What’s act two?”
The fifth of bourbon stood stoically on his desk, and he gazed at the delectable, miraculous brown liquor, which, sadly, did not contain the answer. After a hefty swallow, he smacked his lips and leaned back on the chair with the bottle in his lap and his lips curled up into a broad grin.
Do people really need to know Tom’s full story? “He had everything, then murdered his girlfriend, accidentaly and because his brain had been fried by porn, and ended up losing everything and getting stranded in skid row.
“What else is there to know?”
He rolled up another cigarette, which had a strange rightward angle, and stole another good nip of bourbon. “I could delve into how he survives the rough streets…why not leave it a mystery? Let the readers envision what might have happened?”
Granted, Tom can just as well die in that alley, maybe get beat up by other hoodlums. Or, he might grow a pair of balls, man up, and find a way to survive, even thrive. Shit, he can become a drug lord and end up exacting revenge from the guys that stole the car and ruined his perfect little life. Oh, so many ideas, so many possibilities…but most readers demand stories that spoonfeeds them everything; they despise open-ended stories, they can’t stand them. They lack the brains to see beyond the lines, they despise having to think.
They’d also like a story where Tom ends happily; well, maybe they’d like a story where Ashley survives, but…yeah, they’d want Tom to face justice, repent, and become a preacher of goodness.
“Learn to survive or get fucked,” he concurred with the last line on the yellow page. “As good as moral as any. Leave it there; let the readers breathe it in while they swallow all the warm shit they get served by most magazines and publishing houses. It’s time for the society to regrow a pair of balls.”
He never learned to survive, either, though; a good swig of bourbon reminded him of that, as he gave up on life when Olympia left. He never pursued her nor did he move on. He just remained where he was, a frozen statue waiting for her to find him and blow a kiss of life into his frigid lips.





George Gad Economou resides in Greece and holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy of Science and supports his writing by doing freelance jobs whenever he can get them. He has published a novella, Letters to S. (Storylandia) and a poetry collection, Bourbon Bottles and Broken Beds (Adelaide Books) and his drunken words have also appeared in various literary magazines and outlets, such as Spillwords Press, Ariel Chart, Fixator Press, Piker’s Press, The Edge of Humanity Magazine, The Rye Whiskey Review, and Modern Drunkard Magazine.

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