Authors: Sam Pink
It was funny to see him needlessly hitting people.
The sounds were funny too.
Like, “Urgh” and “Bwuh.”
One sounded like, “Hyuhh.”
Sometimes my brother would just skate around a player he knocked over, and then knock him over again when he got up.
Over and over.
“The violence,” I said, watching a replay where my brother’s player elbowed someone in the face and injured him for the rest of the season.
We were already up 3-1.
I’d scored three wonderful goals.
“Fucking finesse,” I said. “Violent finesse, motherfucker.”
“Who want that violence,” my brother said.
Upstairs, people screamed at each other.
There were stomping sounds and screaming.
Then—while the game was showing a replay of my brother hitting someone into the opposing team’s bench area—I looked across the room, out the window.
Across the courtyard—in another second story apartment—a slightly overweight woman showered.
I could see her through the bathroom window.
Every apartment in the building had a window in the shower.
She looked good.
Her chubby shoulders and back were wet.
I want to fuck you so hard—I thought.
Then I heard an audience in my head and they all said, “How hard!”
But I didn’t answer.
Baby, I don’t even know how hard I want to fuck you.
Baby, I’m scoring goals, I don’t have a job, I don’t have a future, I’m NO-good, hm.
And I imagined myself telling her that, rubbing my chin thoughtfully and staring at her thighs.
The attraction was not entirely sexual though.
Like—maybe if I were in that shower with her—I’d just rest my forehead on her shoulder while the water hit us both.
Is that sexual.
Actually that seems sexual.
I scored another goal.
It was extremely impressive.
Not even going to describe it because I already know I could never do that.
Anyone witnessing it would be impressed though.
I looked at Rontel and thought about how pretty he was.
How much I loved him.
How, actually no, if he died it probably wouldn’t affect me.
Like, there was nothing to be taken from me that would affect me.
Like, I’d trained myself to feel no harm.
Let me show you how a real man endures true sadness.
When I focused on the game, my brother knocked someone over and then I skated up to the fallen player and tried to shoot the puck into his face.
It was a thing me and my brother always tried to do.
He’d knock someone over then I’d skate up and try to shoot the puck at the fallen player’s face.
This time the puck went over the player’s head and into the crowd.
My brother laughed.
I liked making him laugh.
“So close,” he said. Then he said, “You no-good stinkin’ drunk” and slapped just the very tip of Rontel’s ear.
The sound was “fip.”
The videogame showed multiple replays of the guy lying on the ice, as the puck just slightly missed hitting his face.
Seemed so brutal.
I briefly entertained the idea of dying a humorously needless death, like from something people get routinely treated by doctors, something simple.
Like, a mole getting too big and becoming skin cancer.
A simple infected blister, anything.
Gimme something—I thought.
Rabies, of course, was the ultimate.
The one to achieve.
I looked at Rontel.
I grabbed his ear tip with my forefinger and thumb and “sizzled” his ear.
An “Ear Sizzle.”
Ear Sizzle: When you grab his ear by the tip, and gently (gently!) make the “money” motion with your forefinger and thumb, creating a “sizzling” sound when the hair rubs the soft part of his ear.
“Give him the business,” my brother said.
I continued sizzling Rontel’s ear.
Rontel’s eyes blinked almost closed and his mouth hung open a little.
I got Rontel for free when a past roommate brought home a cat from some farm and the cat was pregnant.
Few weeks later, she gave birth to four kittens…and one half-human/half-kitten.
Just four kittens.
I kept one of the kittens and named him Rontel (I’d been on the bus one time and heard some lady on her phone, yelling, “I ah-ready tol’joo Rontel, get the fuck off the muffucking TV, don’t be standing on that muffucking TV, it can’t hol’jo ass, stupit muffucker.”)
Rontel jumped off the armrest of the couch and went into his enclosed plastic litterbox.
Just his head showed through the plastic entrance.
I imagined him in a rocketship.
And the rocketship ascended through the ceiling of the apartment—the ceiling of the next one—the roof of the apartment building—all the clouds in the way—through stretches of space—to some kind of gigantic glowing amoeba, where Rontel jetpacks out of his spaceship into the amoeba—where getting digested is the last and only holy experience of life—where Rontel dies, reincarnated as my mind at present.
I don’t know, it’s like, there’s no relationship with anyone outside of yourself, at all, ever.
My brother said, “Hey do you want to go to the post office with me.”
I said yes, that I wanted to go to the post office with him.
So I didn’t go to work then.
But I called off, like an adult.
The boss told me if I ever needed a job again I could call.
I thanked him and ended the call.
Had to conserve the minutes on my shitty prepaid phone.
I got this shitty prepaid phone after not having a phone for over a year.
The screen on my shitty prepaid phone had no light—because I answered it in the shower one time—so now I had to hold it sideways up to a light to read things on it.
I bought it when I still worked at the department store.
The guy who worked the phone section at the time wasn’t helpful.
So I kept asking basic questions about phones.
“Come on man,” he said, after I’d used the phrase “telephoning device” for the third time.
“I just, don’t know anything about phones,” I said, smiling.
I felt so vulnerable.
Thought he would help.
Thought he would make things better.
Luis, help me.
I said, “So is this one good then. Or no.”
He put one hand in the other and clicked his teeth. Said, “Man, they all pretty much the same. They do basic shit, man.”
“And this one comes with the full numerical keyboard—I get all numbers,” I said, splaying my fingers out over the model phone attached to a small piece of pressboard.
He said, “There’s a manual with each one on how to use it and what it does, man. You can go on the internet and shit but it looks like a fucking videogame from the 80s and it barely works—but yeah it does
“And now, is this the classic ‘ear to the top/mouth to the bottom’ type of phoning device.”
He started helping someone else.
I wanted to ask if I had to dial the number then hit some kind of “send” button, or if just dialing the number correctly would send the call.
The phone cost $20 and then I had to buy a plastic card with minutes.
It was like, a fun thing to watch my time run out.
It gave my life a certain urgency that—if searched—would be hiding its own version of, “No, not yet.”
The first thing I did after entering the minutes was send my brother a message.
I walked out of the store and stood on the sidewalk.
Sent my brother a message that read: “This is my new phone number: (phone number)…you…fucking bitch.”
He sent back: “Haha you got a phone. You’re stupid.”
First night I had the shitty prepaid phone, I lay on the floor of my room, trying to sleep.
My brother and I had just moved in together and hadn’t had electricity for almost three weeks during a heatwave.
All I’d done for days was sweat and work and take showers where I’d sweat during the shower.
I lay on the slightly cooler floor of my room, crumbs and cat hair all over my naked sweating ass.
I thought—This is the end of something but I’m not sure what.
Then my shitty prepaid phone vibrated.
I checked it.
I pressed a button to receive the message.
Half a minute, subtracted.
The subtraction was done on the screen of the phone.
It showed how many minutes were being subtracted, then showed the remaining total.
Half a minute for a text message.
Full minute for each minute of talking.
The end of my maniac youth.
My face, burnt black against my skull.
World peace times infinity.
I read the message.
It wasn’t from my brother and I hadn’t given anyone else the number.
The message was: “Hey man, you going to the post-production party??”
I thought—What if I’m dead and this is an ambassador to an afterlife, and there are many afterlives and it’s up to me to select the right one.
I sent back: “Who is this.”
Subtract half a minute.
The person sent: “Dude it’s Wisnieski.”
Half a minute less.
I don’t know Wisnieski.
But, it was him.
It was really him.
Wisnieski goddamn it.
Me: “Oh hey man, how are you.”
Wisnieski: “Good, just seeing how you were getting to the postproduction party at Alex’s.”
“Wait, Alex is having a party????”
“Yeah he didn’t tell you. Haha”
“No man. What’s up with Alex is he mad at me.”
“Shit, I don’t think so. You think so?”
“Sometimes with Alex…you just don’t know.”
“Haha. For real yeah. You coming then?”
Me: “Wisnieski, how are you. Are you ok.”
“What. I’m good, why.”
“Wisnieski, I mean, are we good. Did I do something.”
A few minutes passed without a response.
I started sending “are we good” over and over.
My minutes, vanishing.
I’m dying—I thought.
Oh Wisnieski, help me!
Please fucking help me.
Me: “Wiskieski, just tell me. We used to be so good man. It was me and you. Just me and ol’ Wisnieski. What now.”
Wisnieski: “Who the fuck is this.”
Me: “It’s Wisnieski dude.”
And I lay there in the dark, waiting for Wisnieski to respond.
To tell me we were all right.
But he never did.
Where did you go.
I’m never going to get to the post-production party—I thought.
I’ll never make it.
And I spun the shitty phone around on the floor, sweating.
When I looked at the alarm clock, the time changed from 11:52 p.m. to 11:53 p.m.
Somehow it was the worst feeling ever, to watch that happen.
The end of something, but I didn’t know what.
Just, the worst.
My brother and I walked to the post office.
He had to mail out something for a minor league baseball team.
A few years ago, he signed up for a minor league baseball team’s mailing list, under the name Clive Jackson.
He wrote that name on a mailing list and the team started mailing him things: reminders about ticket deals, “free (something)” days, and other things.
Each newsletter or flier always had, “Greetings” (which was typed in the same font as the rest of the letter) then, (in a bigger less defined font), “…Clive!”