Would Mike Be Different If He Had a Dad?A Chapter by Thomas C. Archer
Excerpt from Burnt Popcorn and Cheap Perfume
WOULD MIKE BE DIFFERENT IF HE HAD A DAD?
I am eight years old. Second grade. It is snowing. My teacher, Mrs. Higgins, has taken us outside for a morning break to enjoy the first snowfall. It is cold. I am on my knees building a snowman.
“Michael, do you want to come over and play with everyone else?” my teacher asks and everyone turns and looks at me.
“No, I just want to do this,” I say and move my hands to mold the top of the snowman’s head, hoping that my teacher will leave me alone when she sees how busy I am and stop causing everyone to stare at me.
“Okay, well when you’re done, just come over here and join us, alright?”
“Okay.” I look at my snowman, try to think of something else to do to it because it looks complete and I am too embarrassed to go over and play with the other kids. I am afraid they will make fun of me.
Out of the corner of my eye I see Mrs. Higgins bend down to whisper something in Matthew McKenna’s ear. Whatever she says causes him to frown and I hear him say, “Oh, do I have to? He’s a weirdo!”
I quickly lower my head and pretend I am looking for something, more snow, something I dropped, anything! I don’t want them to know I heard them whispering about me. My heart beats faster.
The sound of my classmates laughing and talking and screaming with joy suddenly stops. There is no sound but the wind blowing. I look up and see that Matthew is walking towards me. Mrs. Higgins turns her back to us and resumes the game of tag she is playing with everyone else in my class.
Matthew steps next to me. “What are you doing?”
“Building a snowman,” I say without looking up. I hear another set of footsteps approach.
Jeff Naughton stands next to Matthew. “Why do you want to build a snowman?”
“I don’t know. I just do.”
Matthew and Jeff start laughing. Matthew kneels down and looks at the snowman. “Jeff, do you think Michael would be different if he had a dad?”
“Yeah, probably. He wouldn’t be so weird. Maybe then he would play sports with us at recess.”
Matthew laughs. He looks down at me. “Your snowman is gay.”
I hear Jeff laugh.
Then I feel my face sting with icy snow as Matthew kicks the head of the snowman into my face.
There is laughter. Jeff’s. Matt’s. All the other kids.
I hear Mrs. Higgins yelling. “Matthew! Jeff! Get over here!”
I feel my face burn up even though the snow is ice cold.
“Look how red he’s getting!” I’m not sure who says it. I turn around and begin sweeping the snow on the ground to rebuild my snowman.
My mom picks me up when the school day is over.
I climb into her car.
“Hey, how was school today?” She kisses me.
“Did you have fun?”
“Yeah, we went outside to play in the snow.”
I look out the window and see Matthew and Jeff laughing and pointing at the car as we drive away.
“Do you like the kids in your class?”
I remember Matthew asking Jeff if I would be different if I had a dad.
I wonder if the other kids would be nicer to me if I had a dad.
“Michael, do the kids treat you nice at school?” I am not sure if my mom knows about me getting picked on, but I do not want her to.
“Yeah, everyone’s nice.”
I hate them. I hate my father too. If he was here, none of this would happen.
I am too ashamed to tell my mom about how mean everyone is to me.
We drive home. The snow makes it almost impossible to see.
At least I am safe.
I arrive home at midnight. I park in the underground parking garage in my condominium development. I greet the security guard when I enter the spacious lobby and consider going to the bar on the lower level, but when I see myself in the mirrored elevator door, I realize I have had enough. My face is deep red. My mouth is a grin that I cannot seem to get rid of.
The elevator opens and a young man and woman who are around my age exit. They are laughing, holding hands, and look like they have just stepped out of a nighttime teen soap. My smile vanishes. I push floor number four. The door shuts. Their laughter fades.
That’s the life I should be living. I should be the one who has everything going for him. I deserve it. I’ve suffered and I should be rewarded for my suffering. Life owes me.
My FATHER owes me!
I am not sure where the thought comes from. It always happens when I am drunk, when the buzz is beginning to leave and is replaced by the reality of what I have just done to my body. It is his fault.
My loveless life.
My unfulfilling job.
My dissatisfaction with every aspect of life.
All of it is that mother f****r’s fault, and I want him to pay! I want him to suffer, grieve, cry, mourn, wish that he had made different choices. Basically, I want him to be me!
When I enter my condo I immediately run for the bathroom. My bladder feels like it is about to explode. I piss and look at myself in the mirror. I know I am really drunk because I can barely stand up.
I collapse onto my bed.
I dream about the woman at the strip club. She is underneath the covers. She is fully unclothed. I can feel her hairy mound brushing against my c**k. Her tits are in front of my face and I begin sucking them. I move my face back and forth between them, taking turns sucking both n*****s. She kisses me on the lips. She kisses my chest and works her way down until she has me in her hand and then takes me inside her mouth. Her blond hair falls onto my stomach as she continues bobbing up and down. “I’m gonna come,” I tell her. She keeps moving up and down. Faster and faster. Then she stops. She looks up at me and starts screaming.
Her scream becomes the sound of a telephone.
I wake up. I look at the clock. It is two-thirty in the morning. My head hurts and I am dehydrated. I pick up the phone. “Hello?”
“This is Tamika from Production Control.”
“Hi. I’m sorry to call you but job P87DU432 bombed in step twenty-six. Can you take a look at it for me?”
I turn the lamp on next to my bed and the brightness makes me immediately close my eyes. “Sure, I’ll log on and take a look.”
“Okay, thanks a lot, Mike. Call and let me know if you want the job restarted, okay?”
“Alright, no problem.”
I climb out of bed. I am naked. I do not remember taking off my clothes. My body is sweating. I go to the bathroom and put my head under the faucet and drink as much cold water as I can. After a full minute I still feel dehydrated.
I go to my office and turn on the computer. As it boots up I lay back in my black leather chair and close my eyes. I can’t help but think that I will be up for work in less than three hours. I am angry.
I did not want this position. I never wanted this f*****g job to begin with. Never wanted any of it! I am trapped. There is no way out.
I enter my password and log onto the university’s server. When checking the output and error messages I feel overwhelmed and inferior. I am lost. Hopeless. I read the documentation about the job. The files it reads. The database updates it performs. My head spins. I massage my temples with my hands. I think of that young couple leaving the elevator when I arrived home. Again I am filled with envy.
I want that. I need that. I want out of this job. I want a life filled with fun.
I page through the output until my eyes blur. Finally, after realizing that I have no f*****g idea how to correct the error, I stand up and spit on my monitor.
I tighten my hands into fists. Then I reach up and grab my hair and pull it. When I release my hair I bring my right hand to my mouth and bite it as hard as I can without drawing blood.
I lean back in my chair, defeated and miserable.
I turn the computer off and walk back to my bedroom to call Tamika back.
“Production Control. This is Tamika.”
“Tamika, it’s Mike. Listen, I’m going to have to check that job in the morning. I have no idea why it bombed.”
“Okay. I’ll make a note of it. Thanks Michael.”
I hang up the phone and stare at my hand. I can still see the indentation of my teeth.
GOOD MORNING, NOW STAY THE F**K AWAY
I am running late. I slept ten minutes through my alarm clock and then enjoyed the pleasant experience of sitting on the toilet for about an hour and a half due to constipation. I am exhausted. My eyes hurt. My head hurts. I am dehydrated. I am sleep-deprived. I feel like sitting on the floor of the elevator.
The elevator stops on the third floor. A man carrying a stack of reports in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other steps inside. He smiles like he is my best friend. “Good Morning.” He pushes the button for the fourth floor.
I want to spit on him. I feel like punching his stack of reports so that they crash to the floor, and then I would grab his coffee and throw it on his white dress shirt. I want to do this, but instead I smile and say, “Good Morning.”
“How ya doin’ today?” He steps back as the doors close.
Oh, well actually, I am hung over and so f*****g constipated I feel like I am going to throw up, but other than that I am just great. How the f**k are you, you lazy sack of s**t, you mean to tell me you can’t walk up one flight of stairs?
“Pretty good. How about yourself?’
“Oh, I can’t complain. It’s Wednesday, right?”
The elevator reaches the fourth floor. The doors open.
“You have a good day,” the man says as he steps off.
“Thanks. You too.”
When I reach the tenth floor I immediately smell Terri’s perfume. It is stronger and more stifling today. I know this routine well. She must be dressed up and feeling glamorous because the perfume always goes on stronger when her outfits are gaudier. I am thrilled to know that my headache will be intensified by drug store perfume adding to my wonderful workday.
I barely sit down when Terri comes rushing to my cubicle. “Good Morning, how are you?”
She is dressed in her favorite color. Blue. Everything is blue. Her blouse. Her pants. Her eye shadow. Even her fingernails.
“You look tired,” she says. She moves closer to me. I immediately begin coughing from the perfume entering my nostrils.
“I am. I didn’t get much sleep last night because of work.”
“Yep. Around three in the morning.” I turn on my computer.
“Oh my God,” Terri says. She sits in the extra chair in my office. Her legs are open, and even though I am disgusted I cannot help but notice she is even wearing blue panties. “What happened?”
“P87DU432 crashed last night. I have to check it out. I couldn’t find the problem last night.”
“Why didn’t you call me? I would have helped you.”
“That’s not your responsibility, Terri. It’s not your job.”
“Well, hey, we’re here to help each other. I’ll look right now and see if I can help, okay?”
“No, you have your own work to do. But thank you.”
“It’s no problem. I have some time this morning anyway.”
No! Just stay the f**k away from me, you fat f*****g pig! Go wash that vile scent you’re wearing off if you really want to help me, you stupid a*s!
I log onto the mainframe and start looking through the messages related to the job that crashed the previous night.
I start reading the program code.
Job input filea.
If in-rec-type eq ‘h’
I feel my headache intensify. After three years of doing this bullshit every day, this crap still looks like gibberish to me.
“I FOUND THE PROBLEM!”
My stomach feels like it is going to explode I have to go to the bathroom so bad.
“Let me show you.” Terri comes waddling over, her eyes wide, her mouth a huge smile.
I don’t feel like listening to her for another second. “Can you give me a minute, Terri? I really have to use the rest room.”
“Sure, no problem. Take your time.”
“Thanks.” I walk to the men’s room. I sit on the toilet and strain. I have to hurry up and get back to fix the problem and rerun the job. I don’t want Jackie and Chris calling me to find out if I have an answer for them.
I begin to s**t rock hard feces. My s**t gets stuck half in and half out of my a*s. I have to wipe myself about four hundred times until my a*s feels like it has been shredded with sand paper. As soon as I stand up and walk to the sink I feel like I have to s**t more. I can barely button my pants my stomach is so distended. I look at my reflection. My eyes are red. I wash my hands and then dry them off. I throw the paper towel at the trash can and it lands on the floor. I pick it up. My head feels like it is going to pop. I toss the paper towel into the trash. I kick the trash can as hard as I can. It smashes against the door to one of the stalls. I kick it again. I kick it so hard my foot hurts.
© 2012 Thomas C. Archer
Added on April 22, 2012
Last Updated on April 22, 2012
Burnt Popcorn and Cheap Perfume
Thomas C. Archer
AboutMy name is Thomas C. Archer. I am the author of Burnt Popcorn and Cheap Perfume. "A highly addictive book. Gripping, powerful, laugh-out-loud funny, painfully sad. Archer is a writer with a big fut.. more..