Authors: Andersen Prunty
Copyright © 2011 by Andersen Prunty
Other Titles by Andersen Prunty
The Sorrow King
My Fake War
Morning is Dead
Jack & Mr. Grin
The Overwhelming Urge
Fuckness and The Bad Time
My name is Wallace Black. Before I tell you anything about myself I should tell you about the Bad Time. And before I tell you about the Bad Time, I should tell you about my philosophy. Everyone, whether he knows it or not, lives his life by some type of philosophy. I’m not talking about the type of philosophy found in books, the shit nobody really understands. I’m talking about some innate code individuals are born with. The type of philosophy usually not thought about too much and often summed up in a few words. The kind of shit people wear on t-shirts and stick to their bumpers. And we see the proclamation of that philosophy on their t-shirt or bumper sticker and it, in turn, defines them.
There was this woman who lived down the street. She had a bumper sticker that read, “Life’s a Bitch.” I knew very little about this woman, but whenever I saw her emerge from her car—her dumpy frame crammed into a pair of stonewashed jeans, a pile of hair virtually scraping the sky—I knew that woman had it rough. Her life was, indeed, a bitch. As I watched her walk in that slouchingly comic way, knees seemingly before body, dragging heavy-assed into her house, I wondered how she could drive or walk at all. Life had undoubtedly beaten her down so much these tasks were something accomplished only through some masochistic necessity. And where did she drive, anyway? To a place filled with lots of other miserable people living out their grim, brief philosophies, too?
I called my philosophy the philosophy of fuckness. I first developed this philosophy when I realized I was the type of person who would go to just about any lengths necessary in order to avoid trouble and misery. That is, I just wanted to live life the way I wanted to live it without any interruptions or having to answer to anyone.
I quickly realized this was impossible.
No matter how actively I avoided just about every situation, trouble seemed to find me. This trouble is what I called fuckness.
All the world’s absurdity quickly fell under the definition of fuckness. Loosely, the dictionary defines “absurd” as something so clearly untrue or unreasonable as to be laughable or ridiculous. When I was about twelve, when I first started thinking about this philosophy of fuckness, everything seemed ridiculous to me, only I wasn’t laughing.
And I didn’t even know the Bad Time was coming.
A man puts on a shirt and tie five or more mornings out of the week and no one finds this absurd. It is not the man putting on the shirt and tie I would define as fuckness, it is the fact no one else finds it ridiculous. And this man goes to work where he labors for someone else forty hours or more and at the end of the week he is given a paycheck. Does this man realize he is a rat? Does this man realize everything about him is ridiculous? If he realizes this then the situation surrounding him is not fuckness. “Carry on,” I would tell him. However, if he is unaware of the heightened sense of absurdity surrounding him and the majority of his life, he is enveloped by fuckness. His whole situation reeks of fuckness. He might not have seen the Bad Time, but he’s got plenty of fuckness.
There are, of course, various degrees of fuckness.
My troubles, my heavy fuckness, the Bad Time, happened about ten years back when I was sixteen and in my third year of eighth grade. That’s when I really started thinking about divine punishment, redemption, my place in the world, and all that other coming of age bullshit.
I guess what it came down to was that I simply didn’t fit in.
For starters, I was incredibly stupid. I mean, I didn’t really consider
stupid or anything. Actually, it was quite the opposite. I considered myself a genius. I considered myself to be one of the only alive and aware human beings on the planet, but I still knew I was somehow
than everybody else. It was seeing all those blobs so unaware their lives were nothing but big jokes that really bothered me. That they were so oblivious to the giant clouds of fuckness gathered around all their blobby heads and threatening to piss down some acidic rain that could tear away the fabric of their realities at any moment.
I figured it was all a game when you got right down to it. The blobs picked their games and played them, depending on which games were the easiest.
Everybody else seemed to know how to play this game. It was like they had their games all chosen for them. Those fucks seemed to have some cheat sheet built right into their brains that had all the rules and tips and clues to these games spelled out on them. They had control of the game. Maybe
was where my philosophy of fuckness came from. Maybe I never had control of the game. Like maybe I just wasn’t made for it. If that was the case, if I were somehow chosen to do something other than play their ridiculous game, then their control of the game must have blossomed from their complete ignorance of it. Like they didn’t even know somebody somewhere was laughing at them.
Regardless, whether I was born to play the game or not, I refused.
I knew I didn’t have those rules built in. I didn’t have any fucking cheat sheets and I figured, if I played one of their stupid little games, I’d be the one to end up dead last. There was one thing I was almost sure of—if I were meant to go out there in the world of fuckness, I would have had so much of it on me so quickly I would have crumbled under the pressure before I could wipe the mother’s placenta from my eyes.
The only way to even half-cope with all the fuckness of the world was to say, “Fuck it.” If I had to sum up my philosophy of fuckness in a few words so I could cram it on a bumper sticker or t-shirt, those were the words I would have chosen: “Fuck it.” So, for brevity’s sake,
was pretty much my philosophy at the time. And it was a real beautiful philosophy, too. I liked that philosophy so much because it could have a couple of meanings. One, of course, was kind of sexual. But it was sort of a mean kind of sexual. Kind of like rape. This sexual meaning implied some kind of force. “Fuck it”—like I was forcefully attacking the world, raping the hell out of it, actively eliminating the fuckness that filled it.
There was also something kind of pacifist about “Fuck it.” Like just trying to avoid the fuckness altogether. Like not even taking part in the world, just sitting back and letting it all flame by, watching all the blobs trying to win the game and knowing there weren’t any winners.
Fuck it.” Beautiful.
Of course, the fuckness always had a way of finding me. The harder I tried to avoid it, the harder it hit me.
Maybe from hearing that, you’ll already understand I wasn’t as bright as your average individual. I mean, most people wanted to say “fuck it,” but they rarely did. Most people never truly fucked anything.
Most people had something to lose.
So maybe I wasn’t a genius. But at least I was aware of the game and it bothered the hell out of me. Anybody who knew how to play the game without letting it bother them was a blob. A stinking, quivering blob.
So this isn’t the story of a genius. It isn’t even the story of a particularly intelligent person. But it is my story. My story of fuckness. Of how I let the fuckness bother me and how it found me, again and again.
Oh, and it’s about the Bad Time. A swollen red image I’m trying to exorcise. Something I’ll never forget because it sits on my bed when I go to sleep at night and sometimes I wake up with it sitting on my chest, breathing its hot stink in my face.
Maybe I could get rid of the fuckness, but I will never get rid of the Bad Time.
The Cloud Factory
Anyway, I was real dumb back then. Back then it felt like hate marrowed all my bones and the people around me were colorless, quivering masses, their shapeless mouths opening to coax my soul from my body. But I want you to know that I
I was dumb. Or at least that I appeared dumb to most people. I wasn’t so much head dumb as body dumb. I just wanted to be alone to twitch and wiggle and hum, the few things that made me happy, and it felt like everyone else wanted to stop me from doing those things. Like those things had any impact on how they lived their lives. The only thing I could figure was most people were so fucking self-righteous they liked to destroy others’ wills so they felt like their own petty lives had some sense of purpose.
So the Bad Time began on the playground of Milltown Middle School.
No, that’s not really true. All of the troubles I’d
coalesced there on the playground. That playground was where I would eventually set myself free. Not an external, everlasting kind of freedom, but a freedom of the mind—a discovery of how it would feel to be free. I had a number of troubles at Milltown Middle School, most on account of my being sixteen and in the eighth grade, but this fuckness I’m getting ready to tell you about was what lead to my quest—except I think of it more as a stumbling than a quest. Milltown was like a fulcrum, there in the middle of a whole series of events that happened before and would happen after the Bad Time, an intricate web of fuckness that felt like it was intended to wipe me out completely. It probably had something to do with body chemicals.
Some people just seemed born to fail.
But, right now, I’ll stick to telling you my story about Bucky Swarth and his gang. I’m still kind of dumb, my mind wanders.
Milltown Middle School was where the poor kids in Milltown went to school. Milltown was a large, industrialized city in southwestern Ohio, somewhere between Dayton and Cincinnati, that had several elementary and middle schools. It was one of the larger towns in the area with some 40,000 residents. Because all these schools were located in neighborhoods and the kids living in those neighborhoods went to the closest schools, they were more or less divided by financial status. A lot of the poor parents complained because they had real smart kids but, because the rest of the poor parents couldn’t afford Ritalin, they thought their children weren’t getting as good of an education as the rich, heavily medicated kids.
The kids knew this wasn’t true. Most of the rich little shits just took their Ritalin down to the park by Milltown Middle and sold it anyway. No, it was just part of the game. The poor were supposed to be stupid. The rich smart. But I didn’t really care about any of that fuckness. I was dumb, poor, and completely unmedicated.
By the time these kids made it to high school, they were either all thrown together in Milltown High, which was in a little nicer, newer section of town, or they went to the Catholic high school, Saint Agnes. A lot of kids ended up going to St. Ag even if they weren’t actually Catholic because it was in the absolute
section of town and was mostly white and more ordered and that kind of fuckall. Apparently the parents thought being lorded over by stiff-lipped sadistic nuns and boyflesh hungry priests would really do their kids some good. When the richer kids got to that high school, the public high school, was when
parents started griping. They said they were afraid that their weak- chinned little fucks were going to get hurt in that school because it was so
! What about the
!” they’d whine in the papers. Did anyone ever tell them they were the reason their kids took guns to school in the first place?
? What the hell did that mean, anyway? I always took it to mean they didn’t want their kids to go to school with the blacks and the poor kids.