A few months back, I started writing a novel – somewhat inspired by the lovely and talented Caprice Crane – and things went swimmingly well at first. But, then I turned into Slack J. O’Slackery Jr. and things have been moving much slower.
So, I figured that if I mention it in here, and paste in a random little excerpt, maybe that will shame me into getting back to work.
I guess we’ll find out.
Maybe I should tell you a little more about Pat. Perhaps that would give you some insight into why he is how he is when it comes to women. Perhaps not, but this is my story, so…
Pat is in his early to mid 30s. He’s got longish scruffy hair and a goatee on his face. An actual goatee. Old school. No mustache. Technically, when you add a mustache it becomes a Van Dyck. Which, as far as I can tell, has nothing to do with Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Van Dyke, Dick Van Patten, Mario Van Peebles, or Patton Oswalt.
He kind of looks like Dan Cortese circa 1993. Don’t know who Dan Cortese is? I envy you.
Pat is wearing old Levi’s 501 jeans. You know, the kind that your girlfriend claims are “out of style,” but you prefer to think of them as “classic.” He is sporting a pair of Dr. Marten shoes, which he had most likely stolen from a passed-out bum. And, the pièce de résistance for completing the ensemble, he is wearing a black Motörhead t-shirt with white writing.
Pat loves Motörhead. His senior yearbook quote was, “If I move in next door to you, your lawn will die.”
He wasn’t just a fashion victim; Pat comes from a sketchy background. His mother relied on the kindness of strangers… in the backseats of cars parked in dark alleys.
He always told himself that his father was a traveling rock star that his mother had met in the early 70s. Although it’s a secret that is very unlikely to be unlocked, the odds are that his dad was a carney. And not a high-class, roller coaster-running carney. Probably the one that combed food out of the bearded lady’s, well, beard.
He grew up with more “uncles” than a kid at a polygamist family reunion. Or something.
He learned things from each of these men. And not usually good things. There were truck drivers, drug dealers, former NBA star Shawn Kemp, gangsters and a lawyer. Not surprisingly, he learned the worst things from the lawyer.
Pat was in the third grade when he got kicked out of school for the first time. He sold some older kids a couple of joints – which they later discovered was oregano wrapped in Zig Zags. They were someplace south of impressed with him. He caught a beating from them, but had already spent their money. He figured it was worth it.
In the sixth grade, Pat developed a crush on a girl named April Tunstill. April lived on the right side of the tracks, while Pat would have had to win the lottery to qualify to live on the wrong side. Granted, there weren’t any actual “tracks” per se. There was a small river that inexplicably bubbled as if full of soap and turned fluorescent green every spring.
Someone should probably look into that.
It was this crush that persuaded Pat to attend his first – and last – school dance. He put on his cleanest Motörhead t-shirt, spiked his hair, and went out to win the heart of the fair April. Since this was his first crush, Pat had no idea how stressful heart-winning would turn out to be. He stood in the corner most of the night. And, other than taking a few breaks for quick smokes in the boy’s room, he kept his eyes on April.
Finally “Careless Whisper” started playing. It was closing in on midnight, so Pat knew it was now or never. His stomach said “Never! Get me the fuck out of here!” but Pat powered through. As George Michael tricked everyone in attendance into thinking that he was singing about a girl, Pat approached April from behind.
He cleared his throat and caught the attention of one of April’s friends. She giggled and indicated for April to turn around. She did. Pat smiled the biggest smile of his life.
“W-would you like to dance?”
“I would,” she replied.
Pat had never felt like that before in his life. It was either happiness or an ulcer.
He took a few steps out towards the center of the gym floor, before looking back over his shoulder to see if April was following him. She wasn’t. He walked back to her.
“I thought –“
“I wouldn’t dance with you if you were Theo Huxtable!” She giggled with her friends before they all turned and went to the bathroom together.
Pat just stood there. He was heartbroken. Though he soon found out that “heartbroken” was just a short hop from “completely enraged.”
He vowed right then and there to make her pay for this.
And he did. Repeatedly.
It started with little steps, like writing things about her on the bathroom walls. He wasn’t sure how to spell “hermaphrodite,” but he figured that he got his point across.
He started telling people that she stuffed her bra – and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was true. He’d call her parents and tell them all kinds of lies about what she was doing at school and at her friends’ homes. This was before caller ID – a veritable golden age for stalkers and the vengeful heartbroken.
In the 9th grade, he broke into her gym locker and defecated in her shoe. Clearly “the high road” wasn’t a route he had considered. In the 10th grade, he stuffed the “Winter Carnival Queen” ballot box and made sure that her biggest rival won. He gave her the 11th grade off, but only to soften her up for what would come next.
When senior year arrived, he knew he had one more shot before she took off for college. So, he got his mother to seduce April’s quarterback boyfriend, Matt. As an added bonus, Matt contracted herpes. Then, on spring break, Matt shared the burning, burning love with April. On one of his routine locker break-ins, Pat found April’s herpes medication. Then he defecated in her shoe again. Old habits. Finally, he stood outside their prom and told everyone entering about April’s “condition.” She ended up crying and going home soon after she arrived. And, other than slashing her car tires a few years later, Pat felt that payback had been delivered.
Somehow between his Mom’s town pumpedness, April’s mean trick, and his subsequent 6 years of revenge torture, Pat developed an unhealthy view of women. Fancy that. And this is, if you recall, how I got off on this tangent.
I wish I could tell you that there won’t be more tangents. Sadly, I can’t. But, I really doubt that there’ll be any more mentions of crapping in shoes. So, that’s something, right? Back to my story…