Jack: Part III

Third and final part of the Jack short story trilogy. Click on over for the long-awaited robot orgy. Just kidding. Or am I? I am.

Conceited Crusade

This is the last installment of this little story. For catch-up, here’s Part I and Part II.

When Sam was twenty-eight he still had Jack. Of course he did. And he still had Jessica, but just barely. Mostly because now they had Carter. He was two and-a-half.

Sam didn’t like the kid’s name but Jessica insisted. Jack stayed home with Carter after he was born. Jessica had wanted to get a new-model assistant instead but Sam wouldn’t budge. So she huffed and went to her mothers’ for a week and then came back at noon on a Tuesday.

Jack hailed Sam through his earpiece at work.

“Got bad news, boss. You want it now?”

Sam turned off his desk and all the glowing files suspended above it disappeared. “Yes.”

“Jessica cheated. Her face was flushed red when she came home.”

“Maybe she just came from yoga, Sherlock.”

“She was…

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Listen to me tell you not to listen to other people

You are probably a lot more successful than you think. This is why:

Conceited Crusade

That chicken has more silicone in its tits than Dolly Parton. But if you put enough seasoning on it you might disguise the taste of plastic and convince yourself that what you’re eating is grade A, farm fresh livestock bred by a single farmer whose whole life has been dedicated to serving you this beautiful plump chicken.
Stop ignoring it. You’re putting shit into your body and then you’re upset when your doctor tells you you’re suffering from [insert choice disease here], something incurable unless you take [insert choice medicine here].

This week’s prompt is TRUTH, so obviously I was inclined to write fiction. In today’s world, we treat truth just like we treat the food we eat. We live easy, quick lives with instant gratification and then inflate the results and paint a smile on our faces and in many instances commit suicide because, shit, everybody else looks…

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Bullets

Notes from Korea 7/24/15

*

Date tonight. All the way out in the legendary Gangnam district. She’s hot. Canadian. We’ll walk between the towers and politely ask each other: do you want to try this place, or do you want to try that place over there. I don’t want to go. I can’t wear my suit because it’s swampy and the air is boiling out there. But my suit is my superpower so I’ll wear it anyway and look like a slick albino seal in a translucent shirt. And I’m tired of lying to girls; I want to have a girlfriend. I keep thinking gooey thoughts. But I also want to fuck everything. I’m at an impasse here. Tense never-ending mental negotiations. The Iran deal was cake compared to this.

*

But I can’t have a girlfriend. My friend fucked a girl who visited Korea. She has a boyfriend waiting at home to hear all about her trip. I high-fived my friend like he caught an interception. Didn’t know what else to do. This would probably happen to me. So I can’t have a girlfriend.

*

Daily Show after writing. Quirk I should give to a character: how Obama’s left hand twitches a little when Jon Stewart is asking him a question.

*

Clicked to the news. America is still Hell. Clicked away from the news.

*

A wholesome young mother with a tattoo peeking out from the strap of her church dress. She walked her toddler into the corner store as I was coming out. Laughing with the kid. I fell in love with her.

*

Young mob members at my gym. With full sleeves of tattoos. And they all have the same one behind their right ear. They mean mug everyone else but smile at me. Makes me feel Connected. International. Just a mysterious traveler who knows people. Like I could go into any restaurant in Kabul or some shit and know the owner. The mobsters like me because I’m tall and foreign.

*

Which is in contrast to this goddamn cunt with the popped collar at my cafe. He dropped his phone and I picked it up for him. He said nothing. Avoided eye contact and swiped it back as he would from a manservant. Absolute dismissal of my humanity. I wanted to snap his arms backward at the elbow. Shove his nuts into the kitchen blender. Two days later and I am still apoplectic. I need therapy. I deserve credit for not being a racist. This goddamn cunt. If his collar hadn’t been up I would have probably been fine.

*

Another old flame is engaged on Facebook. I was the last guy before she met her fiancé. This has happened seven times. I should be advertising this.

*

Going into the city and I heard the heavy chop of the KTX bullet train pulling into the second floor of the station. I thought about saying goodbye to someone as the train hovers up and sits there hissing. Then going back to my place alone and restarting the whole process. You’re going to be miserable. You can either take it in hard doses or you can have a long flat grind. What do you choose.

Trinity

Saturday morning I got back from Seoul. As I do. That homeless guy with the cane was on the bus bench like always. Maybe he’s a Korean War vet. He never begs. Naps upright for hours. He’ll die on that bench and the rats will be the first to notice. I stalked past in my suit. Pissed that I didn’t get laid. Just got some clothed friendzone spooning all night like I was one of her eunuchs. She was younger than me but her last boyfriend was like 55. His doofy white face looks like cheese melted by a heat lamp. Like Old Biff Tannen but paler. But he’s a poet. Ergo vagina on demand. He dumped her. To her I was a little boy playing dress-up. Hey at least someday I’ll be 55 with a cheese face too. Bright future.

Before I was out with her I was out with my friends. I hate my friends. With them my job is to provide the laugh track for the alpha dogs. Pose incisive Howard Stern questions to them and thoughtfully parse their answers. Ask them a follow-up and then they’re checking their phones. These goddamn cunts. I am always looking for a window to jump out of.

I didn’t get laid because I kept slipping out of character. Didn’t prep enough. Banter isn’t a strength. I have to memorize shit and then pretend I’m firing off the top. I’m three different people. Our voices are different. We lead with different parts of our bodies and are motivated by different memories. At school I’m in shirtsleeves and they call me Fred Teacher. I go in two hours early to prep for the song-and-dance. Quietly edit and test all the PowerPoints. Ten minutes before showtime I wash my face and look in the mirror and become someone capable.

After school I wear a Patriots hat and I’m Fred from Boston. I do sprints on Hell Hill by the water park to this song. At the top I wheeze and wobble and bare my stupid coffee-yellowed teeth. From up there I see the hunched ajummas by the driving range fighting over cardboard scraps to sell. I watch them and somehow don’t feel lucky.

On weekends I’m (REDACTED). His pocket squares match his socks. His tie bar matches the watch. Like a true asshole. Soldiers hit him for this reason. Other people meet him and don’t realize he’s also Fred from Boston. He has the most fun but he spends all my money. So I have to work. So I have to keep being Fred Teacher.

I like the process. The rituals of transformation. Keeps the mind from flatlining. The guy on the bench sees me. All three of me. Just sits there as an eternal witness to our little street by the mountain. I wonder what he thinks of me. He probably doesn’t. He used to be three people before. Husband, salaryman, father. Now he’s bench guy. He’s still, quiet, slowly fading out of here. And he’s probably happier than I am.

Jack: Part II

The story of our boy Sam and his robot Jack continues. Hopefully this sequel ends up being more of a Dark Knight-esque improvement upon the original instead of a sophomore slump.

Conceited Crusade

This week’s prompt is“truth.”

Part I is here.

Then Sam was twenty-four. He had an MBA and a spot high up in the city towers. He had Jessica. This morning she was in the kitchen pouring Sam orange juice. Wearing nothing but boyshorts.

And he still had Jack, even though keeping an old model like Jack around was like still having a rotary phone on the wall.

Sam was in the bedroom pulling a shirt off a hanger. Jack came in with the juice.

“I got a weird reading on Jessica this morning,” he told Sam, I think she’s pregn—”

Sam dropped the shirt. “Fuck you,” he said.

“You pulse just hit two hundred.”

“You’re a piece of shit, Jack. I’m going to kick you over the rail.”

Don’t wear an undershirt,” Jack said. His voice had been re-programmed. More chill now. Like he surfed all day and slept in a…

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Snapshot: What A Lovely Day

Capture 2

I need to get a rich Korean woman pregnant. Because I don’t want to work. She doesn’t have to be Korean. It’s not yellow fever. I just think my chromosomes would look pretty good when remixed in an Asian uterus. This one Korean girl texted me. She has better English than my sister’s friends. Who are American. They are 19 and call each other bae. They all have chlamydia. I hate them. They come over and insult my mother. I hope they all get impregnated by the inbred ogres in my hometown and their lives are ruined.

Friday afternoon. Right now the world looks like a flashback of the Good Old Days. When the protagonist was a young man chasing Sally through a field of daisies or some shit. It’s beautiful. I hate it. I changed schools when I was eleven and had no friends. Sunny days meant the other kids were at a pool party. I would just go to the library. If only I’d known I was living in a flashback. Now they all work at Hannaford or do landscaping. And I can write. Which doesn’t matter because we have smartphones. Motherfuck. I should have been writing code.

OK. I need to email my grandparents. Because they’re 80. I need to sell a billion ebooks so they are proud of me. First I need to teach them what an ebook is. Then I need to stop dicking around and get back to the book. But I’m distracted. I just found this guy’s blog and he’s amazing. So I read one post and stopped. Because fuck him for being good. I don’t want him to get any more clicks. I hope he quits.

I’m living in a flashforward for me at age 11. If only he could see this bright, bright future. See me with coffee in an office. Just a competent guy doing a competent job. Just a guy with too many friends. My biggest problem of the day being the social events lined up for the next 36 hours that I’m trying to get out of. And that the Korean girl texting me isn’t rich enough.

.

Novel Update

The Colony16

For the sixteen people who care: this is the cover for The Colony. It’s my mystery/thriller book where things blow up. I said I’d have it out July 21st but I’m a lying bastard. So now it’s going to be August 21st. Because my plans came into hard contact with reality. I’m grinding in top gear here but there’s not enough time to get everything done. Too many other things to write. Various lengthy outings with friends so my social skills don’t atrophy. Long bike rides on the river so I don’t shoot up a mall.

August 21st. Kindle to start with. I know I can hit that date. It’s priority number one. I’m working on this thing like the Manhattan Project. The illustrious Karen Rawson proofed my manuscript for me (and I read and proofed her book, too. It’s about cyberbullying. I really liked it and it’s here) and now I’m going through my book a final time with a scalpel and a microscope. I’ll check in with you soon.

Colton, out.

Jack

New thing on CC. A (very) short story about a rich boy and his robot. The robot can do Sherlock shit and move cars with his mind. Dig it here:

Conceited Crusade

This week’s one word prompt is “risk.”

Sam didn’t have a brother or a sister because his mother didn’t like how stretched out she got after birth. She told him that when he was a lot older and she was drunk. And Sam didn’t have any friends because he lived in the pines somewhere. The driveway up to the complex was a half-mile long.

Kids at school didn’t like that. Sam didn’t know he was rich until the other kids told him. And he didn’t know that was a bad thing until the other kids started hitting him for it.

No siblings, no friends, but he did have Jack. Jack was about three feet tall and had a silver titanium body. He had warm blue lights for eyes. He was a “data-powered assistant.” The newest model. Sam’s parents had been sold on Jack because at the expo he did that…

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Charade

New thing up on CC. Is smoking bad for you? Yeah but not as bad as other things.

Conceited Crusade

This week’s prompt: write something that can be read in the time it takes to smoke a cigarette.

—put the spark to the tip, handed back the lighter. He was on the stairwell with the smokers because girls who smoke are down. Vice begets further vice. A hundred dollars all these women have back or thigh tattoos. Dreamcatchers or floral spirals or some shit, hidden by the sundress hem.

Chatter and neon. He just stood cool and took a drag. Pretending to smoke. Which he only did in these exact moments, on stairs outside bars. Just held it in his mouth before exhaling.

Drag.

Part of the act. Nightlife performance art. Wardrobe, body language, brush up on the backstory, prep the soundbites. He had some good stuff chambered tonight. Because he’d had six days to sift through the dreck in his head and stitch together a script.

If he stood next…

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The Rookie

I am in a mood. If someone around me is scowling then I want them to die. If someone around me is laughing then I want them to die. Couples run for the closing train doors and I hope they get sliced in half. Spent the day doing final final final edits on my book. The guy who did the last draft in January is a fucktard. He made mistakes. Cocky airhead. His style is flabby. Had to get out the knife and slash. Kill the rookie. Fuck this guy. He should have been better by then. Now I gotta come through and mop up.

Fuck this guy. He was 22 and playing Killzone on PS2 after work. Going to bed wondering why he’s anxious. I want to go to back in time. Cinch the PS2 cord around his neck and break his nose. Handcuff him to the desk and open MS Word. Get going. Now I’m 27 and the comments I get from other writers who I don’t know are “nice one.” “Cool.”

Good. Level unlocked. But now I want superlatives. I’m an animal and I can’t stop thinking about it. This is all I can do. It’s unacceptable to not be undeniable by now. If you’re that good at something then your other defects are forgivable. If you’re not good at something then you’re just a weird guy. So, get to work. I wish this were something you could punch or a mountain you could run up. Brute force and a few blinks of agony and then you’re done. But no. You need to be smart. Hone your instincts. You gotta read. You need a few thousand hours of spare time and then a few thousand more.

My buddy got drunk and told me they have a separate group chat that I’m not in so they can coordinate meetups because they know I’ll bail. Well it’s true, I will. I would hang out with you guys but I can’t remember what human beings are supposed to talk about.