The Last Fucking Thing I Need Right Now, Adele,

is for you to drop a ubiquitous smash that riddles my girl with nostalgic flashbacks starring her ex.

***

Alternate Post Titles:

Adele Must Be Stopped

An Ad Hominem Attack Which Centers Around Adele’s Muffintop In An Attempt To Disqualify Her Musical Prowess And Lyrical Content

A Blog Post That Easily Could Have Been A Tweet

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To Do

Resist jacking off so I can go 2+ rounds tonight if it gets down to it. Put on Halloween costume (Wolf of Wall Street, got baking soda in a bag in the suit pocket). Celebrate the night responsibly (ehhh…). While intoxicated ruminate darkly on ongoing third-life crisis. Maybe find some new ambition to struggle toward because I type a whole hell of a lot but typing words gets you nowhere (if you’re a fan of monetary compensation), typing only counts as ambition if you’re programming the next runaway dick pic app. Get offline so I can start on all of that (yes, really need to unplug, because absorbing content for more than 30 minutes makes me nauseous, even [especially] if it’s good.)

On This Day In History

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The Great Depression began (1929) and also Jin stopped texting me (2014). She taught English at Samsung global HQ and wrote (good) free-verse poetry. Gleefully racist stuff that she could get away with because she was Korean. One was called “Poem by a Black Kid” and had intentionally misplaced commas. When we went out together it made other guys grimace and rip up their coasters, which is one of the greatest joys a man can experience. On Halloween week I was working on my Captain America costume and when I set my phone down after a text I just knew it was the last one. Stay single for a few moons and you learn to read minds from afar. No reply to my text even though it was my most masterful text I’d ever sent, a perfectly-timed snap of wit. The thing is that every guy is witty now. Women get machine-gunned with it and are building up an immunity.

She liked white guys and had plans to move to Germany to crush as much dick as she could. I mean, why else does anyone move abroad but to fuck people with accents. Halloween she was out with a white guy with a Tony Stark beard and it made me sad. For him, right, because of his unseemly beard. If I saw a therapist I might say: Jin was a player and she turned me into one. But that’s not true. I’m an amoral, red-blooded male so it’s not like I need an excuse. Still, I have a Rain Man memory for dates and when I noticed it was October 29th it made me think of Jin, the dick-crusher, the only Korean girl who had game.

My First Tinder Date

was Justine and we had beers in December 2013. My first date after atrophying on the couch with my girlfriend for two years. Good news for me that there was a whole planet full of women waiting for me to get up off that couch and be single again. Bad news for me that that previous sentence isn’t true. Worse news for me that I didn’t remember how to hunt. Spent hours on game blogs before the date concocting a ruthlessly confident character with just the right shade of self-deprecation coloring his jokes. Didn’t get far before I gave up and just drank two Sam Adams to rev up for the date.

And I posted good stats on my comeback. Only two awkward silences. As our aggressively mediocre date wrapped up I said I’d walk her home because she lived up this snowy hill and it was 1 A.M. In my mind this was a truly Machiavellian move that no one else had ever thought of before, because with the windchill it was 13 degrees and it was a safe bet that she’d invite me in to warm up. She invited me inside to warm up. I felt how the Greeks did when they got into Troy. Then what you do at that juncture is suggest she pulls up Love Actually on Netflix. This is always deemed a perfect idea. Then she puts on these little moccasins and gets under the blanket with you and you incrementally wiggle your hand south of the hip and you two don’t make it past the movie’s credits. Again, how the Greeks felt when they got into Troy. I like Love Actually a lot though and remember watching snippets of it as I got couchburn.

In the morning she pointed to a picture on the dresser of herself with this little blonde girl. That’s my daughter, she said. Within two minutes I’d found a way to slide into the conversation that I was about to move to Korea.

Then I pretty much stopped going on Tinder dates because I liked walking around knowing that I was undefeated on the app. Flash forward two years and Justine is married. Like someday I will be too. I can’t wait. A foolproof way to have sex after every single date without drawing up strategies beforehand. Yes, my destiny is leading me back to that couch of monogamy but at least I’ll be undefeated while I’m on it.

Dear Grandparents

Email Draft #1:

I trip out thinking about the shit you guys never had to negotiate, getting married at 22. Like: the girl I’m seeing said that she’d be into swinging and this depressed me. Invalidated this whole fantasy I’ve been entertaining. That feeling: like finding out the skyscraper you just built is perched atop a sinkhole. Swinging is the sort of whorish behavior that your peers probably got electroshocked for in 1963. In 2015 your only recourse is feigning excited curiosity. You have to have an answer prepared for when a girl asks if you happen to own furry handcuffs.

Other than playing whack-a-mole with my insecurities I’ve been doing the writing thing on the world wide web. This is not a thing you get paid for unless you want to jizz out clickbait for Herst Corporation about exercise myths. You can get “likes” though. Which are a pretty crazy thing: they are the only thing in the universe that feel good for less than a second.

What else. Well there’s always work. And I do mean always. And there’s drinking with other casual alcoholics who are also desperately unfulfilled. Oh, and I got a big laugh with them the other day: I remember once you said that you got a good job by walking into a big building and asking the girl at the desk if they were hiring (they always were) and you recommended I try doing the same. Also you said that your first savings account paid 15% interest. 1958: what a time to be alive. God, the banks have really turned into cunts in the interim period.

Anyway, I miss you guys.

Love,

Fred

*delete delete delete*

The Easiest Hookup Of All Time

did not happen when I was seventeen. When that ginger vixen Rachael hit me on IM and said:

fred if i were an ice cream cone…. how would u eat me?

I lobbed back some smooth, smooth wit. I joked that I was:

lactose intolerant. so trick question rachael lol.

Then Friday night after the football game I was in her bedroom with her and Amanda. Rachael cleared her throat and Amanda gave a real sly nod and proclaimed she had to go downstairs and make a phone call. Then it was just me and Rachael. Alone in a room with all the necessary hormones and anatomy to engage in humanity’s most beautiful dance. Something I hadn’t consciously realized. I didn’t realize I had a green light to Pound Town. I didn’t realize that if I tripped she would have caught me with her vagina.

She rubbed my thigh and said we should take a Cosmo sex quiz. I was like: yeah, let’s take a Cosmo sex quiz. I couldn’t stop laughing at the questions. Shit like: do you frequently nibble on your boyfriend’s testicles? The words frequently and nibble in conjunction were what got me. Isn’t this a nice, pleasant time Rachael. I really thought that Amanda was outside making a phone call and that Rachael wanted to have a laugh at Cosmo with me. Jack Sparrow frowned from the wall and Rachael started to sulk. And I thought this meant she was tired so I sprung off the bed and said I’d let her get some sleep. Drove home and jacked off furiously wondering why no girls liked me. How the non-virgins gods of high school had ever managed it. How how how.

My ancestors wept that night. I have important balls; if I do not reproduce then the family line dies. And that notwithstanding, a high school hookup would have changed my life. Because boys are sexual camels. A young male can go years on the confidence bred by a single movie theater make-out. Now imagine sex. If I’d gotten it in on that September night I’d be supreme potentate of the solar system by now. Or at least a banker.

***

The easiest hookup of all time did happen when I was twenty-three. Me and a Chinese girl. April 2011. I was in the Coco Park Starbucks in Shenzhen and she just came up and said: excuse me, can we make a friend.

She had these very pink lips and this cute bright face, like life was an amazing thing. Just standing in front of me. Which is something that usually only happens to women. Men just materialize in front you all the time with some kind of pitch. The wording doesn’t matter because it all inevitably translates out to Iwanttofuckyou.

So here I was in an alternate universe, experiencing an absolute anomaly. It was like in dreams where the fucking just happens, no roadblocks or friction. The girl who wanted to make a friend said her name was Amy. I said that I drink beer with my friends, so we went to drink beer, then we went to her place on the 28th floor of the LV Gem Plaza by the Hong Kong border, and in her room she jumped on me, and the whole time I was watching us in the window reflection, superimposed over the skyscrapers, because of course I was, and then Young Fred had himself a layup.

A sweet contrast to having to smirk while crawling over broken glass to impress American women. I thought Amy wanted me for my English but it was something else. I think it was for a memory. Two weeks later she cut it off because she was about to get married. Which I didn’t know. Now I’ve sewn the karmic seeds for my future wife throwing it to a Chinese dude right up until the altar. What have I done. Oh well.

***

Now it’s good because I have this story in my back pocket. Because if a girl I like mentions fucking a dude while traveling in Madrid, then every time I think about Madrid, Spain, the Spanish language, or even Taco Bell I want to throw myself out the window. I’m a Scorpio. But at least I have Starbucks. Now she has to get jealous whenever she sees a Starbucks. I think I win. I’m such a child.

Church of Pain

Yesterday I started boxing. Took my first head shots. Manuel was right, you can feel your brain slosh a little when someone hits you. That means little parts of it are dying. Well that’s good; I’m too smart for my station in life. I need to get pummeled until I’m a flat-faced dope who’s thrilled with mediocrity. Fantasy football and a total dearth of ambition and small, trite ideas; I need these things so badly.

They just built the gym in July and it’s gorgeous. Where wealthy pugilists train. Pristine black mats and the climbing ropes that are still reflective from all the factory wax some kid in Bangladesh rubbed into the fibers in June. Costs $140 a month because Korea is gentrifying at warp speed. Korea is now like Hong Kong and Japan and Singapore in that it actually knows what to charge for shit. American costs. Not at all like China where you can kill your liver for $2.50.

I tried to look cool while I blasted at a bag like how they showed me. Thirty minutes. Three minutes in, whole chains of muscles are on fire from your neck down to your hips. I tried to look cool so the women would think: not bad for a rookie. Which didn’t happen. Behind me the rich flat-assed Korean yoga dolls did 5 sets of 25 lateral shoulder raises with 5 kg weights, which is much harder than it sounds. Their faces stayed absolutely serene throughout. Women who can take your own arm and twist it around and then beat you to death with it. Then the Miyagis in charge set up a circuit with high box jumps and ropes to climb and had us all run the course for a half-hour. It was like being trapped in a very, very long training montage. They played a spring break Pandora station during. Shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots and so on.

***

So tired after that it took two attempts to tie my shoes. Then I got a beer with Manuel the Frenchman and this Korean girl who works for North Face corporate and does marathons. I forgot her name immediately. I always forget Korean names. When she heard me say I was a teacher I became invisible. I need to lie more. Meanwhile Manuel has lost 20 kg since the summer and he showed us the before and after photo. He edited it so his fat self is gaping at his svelte self and it’s funny as shit. The Korean girl reacted like she’d seen the face of God.

Yes, it’s cool, but what about us consistent warriors who never get fat. Where’s our adulation. I can show you a before and after picture that will blow your fucking mind because it shows no change at all, because I don’t fall off. Where’s our reality show.

I’m learning a lot from Manuel. He’s got a ring but since I’ve never actually seen his wife I think it’s just a chick-snaring prop.

***

My taxi driver remembered me. He took me home from Hongdae one early Sunday morning when I’d been in a suit; he remembered my blazer was blue. He asked how the girl was. Even in a city of a million taxis this encounter didn’t surprise me. Whoredom is the one part of my life in which I have achieved undeniable success. And I think that’s all the luck the gods have seen fit to give me. It’s too bad. I want to transfer that luck from fucking basket and over into writing.

Back at home I had big plans. I was going to jack off. I was going to blog and write a thousand words of a short story. I was going to clean my place and sharpen the half-truths on my resume so I can go get another job that is a miserably wrong fit for me. Then I limped into the kitchen and cooked my chicken and ate it and passed out next to the bed. I forgot to turn the stove off.

***

Today I feel like I got tortured. I’m like John McCain and can’t raise my arms. But I had to go run after work. 5K coming up, my first race in four years. Which is stupid. I’m taller than Kobe; I have no business running distance. When you’re this massive you move through the world dragging an anchor behind you. All the impact trauma jams my knees askew and smashes my foot’s navicular bones into dust.

But where else can you have such an honest moment. Like when you’re maxed out with your arms chopping and clawing and a toxic fire roiling in your chest and you’re staring at everyone’s backs while they float away. And when you finish and you feel cinematic and it proves that everyone was wrong about you. Even if you fuck up every other thing in your life you’ll still have this. When you’re out there dying you re-realize that if you’re not hurting and failing then you’re not getting anywhere. Which is really the only thing you need to know.

Renaissance Man

Tomorrow is 5K training then lifting weights for an hour and then boxing at gym over by the canal. Going real real hard on the athleticism angle these days; I am going for the abs of Jesus Christ and fully intend to acquire them without cutting back a single motherfucking ounce on weekend beer. Will add in some extreme hiking and trail biking as needed. Other odd pursuits will include salsa, kayaking and maybe some motherfucking taekwondo. I can already play guitar and swing dance and play tennis and pilot a bicycle much faster than the average human, so fuck you. Why there aren’t posters of me on women’s walls is baffling. Baffling.

This is all counterprogramming. This is how I’ll back out of the suicide-hotline* embarrassment of my failed writing career. Rebrand myself as Active Guy and just never talk about the words again. I’m not going to stop writing, instead what I’m going to do is keep writing for the rest of my life and just be miserable about it the whole time. I waited too long to dive in. Just a half-decade ago Amazon.com was goddamn California in 1849. Fat gold nuggets littering the landscape. You pick one up and find a hidden cave entrance underneath it with great caverns of Smaug’s treasure lying around unguarded. Now look at us all. Slitting each other’s throats for clicks and free downloads.

*a wholly humorous aside.

***

Fred’s Other Blog

My First Porno Shoot

She opened the door nude and said: do you like vag? Then she bent over. Close-up of an Aztec-patterned tramp stamp with a spider web of stretch marks laced through it. Points for it not being a butterfly. I was holding a pizza box and thinking: this is exactly how pornos start.

Someone inside the apartment laughed. It was a guy on a dumpster-dive couch who resembled Mr. Clean. His insouciant albino dick on display. No booze laying out but I could smell it. A camcorder on a tripod in the corner, one of the legs was shorter than the others. Amateur hour in the underworld.

I got the money and drove off. No tip. But at least back when I was blue collar things happened. You always got these little sparks from out of left field. Now my life runs off a Pleasantville script. Workdays performing G-rated educational theater for thirty Asian children, tense lunches with my Korean Brave New World co-workers. Stability: it sucks. A prison with extra pillows. There are no more stories on this peninsula. Blood from a goddamn stone. I’m supposed to stay here until March but I want to quit want to quit want to quit. I want to fold sheets in a hostel. I want to be a pedicab driver. I want to scrub off scuba tanks behind an El Nido bar and be the mistake that responsible white women make on their Instagram vacations. If I can man up and screw my balls on tight then I’ll drop my notice this week.

It’s a good thing I’m white, because underemployment is charming when you’re white. And legitimate misfortunes never befall white people.

Guess I’m gonna file this one under “clickbait titles.”

Suiting Up To Pick Up Women

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Get fitted and learn how to match pocket squares and prepare for godhood. And to get AIDS tested more often. Prepare for her horrified face when she sees you in basketball shorts the morning after and realizes the Christian Grey thing was a mirage. Get ready to fill out your harlot bingo card and then walk through the hellish wasteland on the other side. Use it as creative fuel and be thankful for it; that’s rarified rock star shit. Try to convince one of the good girls that you’re done with The Suit but she won’t believe you because she met you in it. Wish you’d never bought The Suit but then keep wearing it anyway, because when was the last time you heard of a wizard throwing away his wand.

3 Ways To Find Time For Writing

BLOG PIC

  1. Give your kids up for adoption.
  2. If you want to write then you’ll just fucking do it. Honestly what else did you expect to find in a post like this.
  3. Maybe read fewer blogs about blogging. Really though: how is that a thing. That’s like seeing a painting of artists painting. Stop making these twats rich. I can tell you to “post and curate good content” too. These automatons aren’t even telling stories. I didn’t realize the path to success was to be meta-boring: Writing boring stuff about boring stuff. But shit, if it is then check back tomorrow for my new post: 6 Killer Strategies To Not Misspell Your Name In A Blog Post.

God Is A Bitch

If I were a working man in the 1950s I would have called in, like, three bomb threats a week to my office. From payphones, maybe with a Soviet accent. There were no surveillance cameras yet; it would have worked. And the nerds back then sure as shit didn’t have the capacity to triangulate your calls. God knew I would have been good at the 1950s, so he stuck me here.

Dawn rolls over the Korean peninsula and I rise yet again to fulfill my career obligations. I have to go do things that I do not enjoy for eight hours so I can make this invisible thing called money, so I can continue to survive and then not get paid to do things that I do enjoy. I’m glad God didn’t create us for a peaceful lifetime doing fulfilling things. This is much, much better. Hard day’s work, virtuous existence, etc.

But I survive. I have a workplace hack. I take the podium two minutes after the bell and always end class a minute early because the students have been “good.” Which is always a lie. Multiply that three minutes of extra leisure out over my entire teaching tenure and I’ve now been paid for 105 hours of work I did not do. Two and a half workweeks of salary for nothing. What a goddamn thrill. Take that shit to the bank. And thus I hold onto my sanity for another day.

This is exactly the kind of scheme a slave in 2045 will conjure up in a wistful dream one afternoon. While the tracking chip in his wrist shocks him because he’s a half-second slow in cooking Prince George’s egg white omelet. He would have been really good at 2015 so God stuck him there.

***

Fatal

The Conceited Crusade

Battle Ready

At school. I’ve observed that most children are unwashed and talk excessively. It’s like teaching a class full of town drunks. Same erratic body language and volcanic fluid discharges. This boy threw up milk the other day. It came out of every hole in his face. At least drunks eventually pass out. With classes of children a fresh wave spawns every fifty minutes.

I need security. Asian children like to touch you like you’re the Pope. At least, mercifully, the full-size Koreans don’t give a shit about my existence or humanity and therefore don’t bother me. They know I’m just an android they shipped over here who can conjugate shit in real-time. With the kids it’s the opposite; they rush up to run their fingers through my arm hair or hitch a ride on my thighs. I’ve taken to loading up my pockets with butterscotch candies. I throw them down the hall to redirect the herd. Chum to the sharks.

***

So class is very loud and so is the office. Essentially you’re moving from chaos to chaos. Like different sleep-deprivation chambers at Guantanamo. You have to get a doctor-recommended amount of nightly rest or this shit will break you. I had to optimize. Spend a prohibitive sum on noise-cancelling headphones. Cut out alcohol or caffeine after four p.m. and go full Mormon until lights out at 10:30. Wake up without an alarm at 6:45 and with all the rest I feel like I’m on some great new drug. Which sucks. I waste this chipper high on eight hours of banshee management before dragging ass back to the villa. A job well done but who gives a shit. All this means is that I’ve evolved into an efficient worker bot. I have become Korean. Right down to the junk. My scrotum is smothered and I keep getting caught adjusting. That’s what I get for buying my boxer briefs local.

***

Fatal

Fred’s Other Blog

Super

Humor is a superpower. So is money and so is height. So is being white and so is wearing a suit. I have the height and the white and the suits. And compared to Foxconn laborers I have the money. But I can’t make people laugh, not in person. This is distressing. So really I’m just a suit mannequin, which is why she’ll take me home. Then she says: You’re not funny, but you try, so it’s cute. Shit, I didn’t think anyone noticed the effort. Nothing burns quite like being caught trying. OK, focus on the positives. Cute, she said cute. But it’s only cute because I’m also youthful. So thank Christ that’s going to last forever.

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Teach in Korea

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The zombie apocalypse will start here. At Orientation they told us not to use our sick days. Because when Koreans wake up sick they ask themselves: can I walk. And if they can, then they go into work.

Last December I had a fever and the shakes. I kept trying to read but letters just squiggled and danced. The other teachers said: well you only have four more classes today, so you can rest after! And put your head down for ten minutes between classes.

They’re all just showing off. Who can work the longest with the Grim Reaper sharpening his scythe in the background. Goddamn workaholic Olympics.

***

If you want to toil in a strange logic-free zone, come to Korea. When you first get here it’s cute to see a culture that won’t color outside the lines. No jaywalking ever. Then you have days like last Friday. The kids had a test and my Korean co-teacher proctored it while I paced the sideline next to the desks like a security guard. Nothing at all for me to do. It honestly never occurred for my co-teacher to have me go to the office. Because it’s… class. We… have to be in the room for class. Not… be in class? I don’t unduhstand…

***

Korea ships you over to their bright international metropolis but then they fucking own you. You have to get three signatures from three different administrators to leave early to go to the dentist. If the vice-principal isn’t there to sign your paper then you can’t leave. I’ve got a clean record but you’ve got me leashed like a parolee. Why not just put a chip in my wrist. If all these teaching jobs weren’t right in the middle of Alcoholic Disneyland, aka Seoul, they wouldn’t be able to get away with this shit.

***

There about seven weeks off throughout the year. That’s about thirty-five days off, but you only get eighteen vacation days. If you use up your vacation days, you have to come into the office and man the desk for eight hours even though the building is empty except for the janitor. Because fuck you, that’s why.

***

Or you have to sit there until 4:30, even if the kids all leave at 2:00. This happened on Thursday. My co-teacher had already left for Taipei so I was the only person there. For some reason that day felt like an especially inefficient use of my existence. I just left. My American Beauty moment. I felt like I was going to jizz in my pants as I walked through the gate. My bar for stimulus is quite low these days.

***

But it could always be worse. I could be a refugee, or in America in line all weekend at the DMV.

Fatal: Chapter Two

Is it your birthday? Even if it isn’t, today you still get a gift. Here’s chapter two of Fatal.  

OK, that’s all for now. Commence regularly scheduled programming.

TWO

Juba, Republic of South Sudan

Two Days Earlier

Every city is a murderer’s paradise.

Because every city has alleys and tunnels. And abandoned factories and construction sites and bridges and rooftops and sewers. All potential ambush spots or sniper blinds. A city is just a collection of buildings, and every building casts a shadow. Shadows are where I move. So it doesn’t matter how good your security is, I’m still the one who has the advantage.

My name is Pace Warner and I’m a killer. People usually guess pretty quickly that Pace isn’t the name my mother gave me. And they’re right. People also tell me that they think it’s stupid. But it’s an old nickname and I like it, so I’m keeping it.

My face isn’t the one my mother gave me either. Too bad: I used to be prettier. But a pretty face is remembered, so I had to cut mine off. You can have it done in sixteen hours on an operating table. All you have to do is put up the money and put up with the pain.

It was mid-afternoon on my fourth day here. Doing recon, learning Juba. I thought she was gorgeous. Bright yellow and pink buildings crammed together on twisty streets next to the Nile. An old stone fort stood right up against the river. Gave the place a Mediterranean feel. If I’d had the time I would have sat down and drawn a landscape of the scene.

I walked on, listened to how Juba hummed and clattered. An engine revved and sputtered somewhere. Somewhere else kids threw rocks at barrels. I liked the noise, it was musical. All the layers of noise added up to a song of commotion that helped me hide.

I stepped off a dusty street and into my building. It was a four-story cube. The sandstorms had done a good job blasting the yellow paint off the place. I was in an unfurnished pad up on the second floor that I’d signed a six-month lease on last week. A deal I was going to lose a lot of money on, because I was going to be out of the country by tomorrow night.

***

I stepped onto my landing and drew my pistol from my speed holster. A Sig Arms P866, my go-to piece. Then I took a breath and breached my apartment. Checked the place before I peeled off my bandana and T-shirt. I was soaked with sweat. My skin was slick. It was the rainy season and outside the air was soupy and boiling hot.

I wanted to take off my prosthetics too, but I had to wear them the whole time I was in South Sudan. So while I was here, I’d have a weak chin and loose bags around my eyes. That’s how we did things in my unit. New place, you change your face. Otherwise people can remember you and cameras can track you. Prosthetics were how we stayed faceless. The downside was that they itched, especially in the heat. It felt like I had bugs crawling in and out of my pores.

I ate a granola bar and pulled my Card out of my pocket. Card stood for Citizen’s Automated Registry Device. That’s just a fancy name for a flexible computer tablet that American citizens are issued and required to use. It’s part of a universal tracking system that they just installed a few years ago in the homeland. Big Brother’s wet dream. It’s a damn good system and my unit and I haven’t been able to find a way around it yet.

Which brought me here to Juba. An easy place to make a kill. I was new in town. Just like my target, Bosem Deng. The city’s new self-elected mayor. He’d just moved himself and his field commanders into a mansion just five blocks west of here.

I had a drone flying laps above the city for me. A sturdy little thing with a seven-foot wingspan. It was relaying a live surveillance feed back to my Card. My team had flown it down to me from Sudan and I’d taken control of it remotely. The drone was solar powered. Could stay aloft for weeks if I needed it to.

Now I had to study the footage it was sending me. This is most of the job. Waiting hard, gathering your intel. The drone was over the mansion now.

It was a compound in a neighborhood just east of the Nile. Set slightly apart from the multi-colored roofs of the smaller houses. A place owned by a commodities trader. He and his family were dead. Shot execution-style when Deng’s boys took the town. The father and his boy got an instant sendoff, just one bullet each to the nape of the neck. The wife and two girls were kept alive for a little longer. Long enough for the more frustrated men in the platoon to take some time with them.

***

The mansion was obscured from street view by hulking concrete walls. But since I had the drone, I could see down inside the fortress. It was a split-level compound that sat on about two acres. I saw officers in aviators and green uniforms grouped around tables in the courtyard, right by the pool. Some guys read through stacks of papers while some guys just sat and smoked. I saw fountains, leafy arbors, a line of parked cars. I saw bloodstains on the courtyard slabs.

But I didn’t see the colonel himself. Bosem Deng, he of the army of boy soldiers. He of the hacked-up villagers and scorched huts. I hadn’t seen him in two days. We’d given him the code name Cassius. After Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali’s birth name. When I was researching Deng I’d found out he had an obsession with the boxer. Now he imagined himself as a modern-day Ali. A conqueror going for the belt.

Juba was the penultimate stop on the South Sudanese coup campaign trail. Deng had taken Bor almost two weeks ago and up next was Ramciel, the new capital. Capturing Ramciel would be Cassius’s checkmate move. And that was the most likely outcome. The president’s army was battered and scattered, while Cassius had the momentum and a superior force.

And he had a motive. Oil, in this case. China bought tankerfuls of crude from South Sudan every month, and Deng wanted to unseat President Musa and become the guy selling the black gold to them. Deng used to lead the army for Musa before making a play at getting the whole pie for himself. The humanitarian in me preferred that Musa stay in power. Even though the guy was rotten as a year-old apple, he wasn’t genocidal.

Night was coming. I put my bandana back on and grabbed my zip-up sweatshirt. Then I took the stairs back down to the street and headed toward the market. I had a little war to fight and big game to hunt. The problem was that I only had my Sig with me right now. And you don’t win wars with a pistol. I needed an upgrade.

***

Fatal

Fatal: Chapter One

People of the internet: how are you? Well that’s good. So, I have something for you. Gotta slip into pimp-mode for a minute and throw up the first chapter of my new story, which just came out, which you can get right here.

Without any further ado:

ONE

Cairo

A Few Years from Now

I only drink after I kill. Which made this beer my first in five weeks. The bartender noticed the bandage sticking out from under my left sleeve; my arm was sliced up from the wrist to the elbow. He didn’t say anything about it.

I took the tall glass and drifted loose from the bar. Laid claim to a marble two-top in the back. This bar was really dim, like all the five-star joints tended to be. I studied the cast of characters populating the place. All of them foreigners, like me. Lacquer-haired Japanese men doing business over trays of shots. A chubby American couple gnawing steaks. A fit Spanish man in a slim suit in the corner booth, blowing smoke into a woman’s mouth. They were both giggling.

Everyone together, with me alone on the periphery. Just how it always was. I took a pull from my glass. Some hazy blonde brew. It wasn’t that great. I’d try something else after this. My rule is one drink per kill, period. Usually that only affords me a single beer, but with this job I’d earned more than one. Significantly more. Things had gone sideways, and then they went sideways again, and I had to stay busy on the trigger to get myself out of dodge.

The one-drink limit is because I like beer and discipline in almost equal measure. And it’s also to give myself something to do when I’m sitting alone after the action stops. If you want to do my job, then you can’t really have any friends.

I was drinking with my right hand because my left hand was too hurt to curl. Not ideal, because I’m like most people and the right hand is the one I shoot with. Not ideal, because I had to shoot a guy in a bar once, and there’s a second time for everything.

The wallscreen above the bar showed war. Or at least the aftermath of it. An embedded reporter stood on a muddy road, wearing a practiced look of concern and a stupid floppy hat. Smoke pillars blotted out the cityscape behind him. Every few sentences he’d duck low as he heard the spit of faraway gunfire. I could see him thinking that his ducking would look really cool in a highlight reel. Anyway, I knew the city in the video very well. It was called Juba, and it was the old capital of South Sudan. I was the only one in the bar watching.

“Now this one,” said a voice, “has the Blue Berets stumped.”

Someone had snuck up next to me. And no one is supposed to be able to do that to me.

***

If you want my job then you have to be the kind of guy who sees everything. The guys who don’t or can’t do that are the ones who get mopped off the floor after the shooting.

The newcomer’s voice was American and it belonged to a woman. She’d come from the far end of the bar and approached from my three o’clock. And she’d gotten all the way to my table before I saw her.

I looked at her and tried to affect nonchalance. She was in a boardroom-issue black blazer. Mid-thirties and loose auburn hair. She carried a neat whiskey in her left hand. A left hand with no ring, and no tan line that would indicate that a hypothetical ring was taking the night off.

“Twelve days after Bosem Deng takes Juba, he loses it again,” she told me. “There was smoke, there was fire, there was shooting. And then Deng disappears. That’s all well and good, but then we have to wonder: who started all the smoke and fire and shooting?”

Probably the most important part of my job is not letting anyone find out about it. So I lowered my eyebrows and bobbed my head around a bit. Like dumb guys do when they’re trying to look smart.

“Good question. Maybe the government?” I said. I was a smart guy, trying to look dumb, and I was finding it kind of hard.

“That’s what everyone thought at first,” she told me. “But government forces didn’t arrive until the morning after.”

This woman had proven herself a thousand times more interesting than any of the other nine billion people on this planet. Because she was pretty smart: She knew that “Blue Berets” was a nickname for UN Peacekeepers and she knew that Colonel Bosem Deng was the rebel leader hell-bent on completing a coup of South Sudan. She also seemed to have a sense of how these things worked: that warlords don’t go down easy. They clamp on to power like a pit bull and usually the only way to send them to hell is to burn the whole city down around them.

She looked straight at me for the first time. “Overnight, a complete reversal of power,” she said. “I see an effect without a cause.”

I liked her eyes. They were deep blue and there was something eager in them. She was using them the same way I use mine. To vacuum up information.

So I turned my head back to the screen. “Well, maybe our friend with the hat can solve the mystery.”

She set down her glass on my table. A definitive move. Like she was colonizing it. “Maybe you don’t need him to,” she said.

I did a few things at the same time. I took my hand off my beer as I shifted to face her. And I did a sweep of the exits. There were two. At a dead sprint I could get to either one of them in three seconds.

She was right. I didn’t need anyone to tell me what happened. Because I had been in Juba two days ago, and I was the one who started all the smoke and fire and shooting.

Gorgeous

I was running and saw this truck crush a cat. Its eyes popped out and lolled down on little red strings but other than that it was a really pretty death. I was impressed. Little thing took it like a champ, didn’t flop around like a bitch, like I would if a truck hit me. The way its tongue was stuck out was kind of cute. The corpse didn’t explode open like you think it would under the weight of a truck. The blood spatter was all over the concrete and the side of this yellow van. Absolutely beautiful blood spatter. Better than Dexter. Perfect crimson arcs and polka-dots all over the place. A second cat sat on its belly and studied the body, while I looked at the cat that was still alive, while a Korean man stared at me. And I wondered who was staring at him and if the chain of stares went around the whole planet. Probably. What a thrill to be at the center of it all. Anyway, it was weird to see an animal grieving.

Praise for “Fatal”

Capture 4

My new story, the drone-and-bullet festival Fatal, has been out for a day. It follows Marine-turned-vigilante Pace Warner as he hunts a warlord in South Sudan. Here’s what the reviews are saying:

“If God slapped his dick on a keyboard, Fatal would be the result.”

-Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome

Fatal is a very quick read. I think if it were a president it would be JFK. Short-lived but so, so appealing.”

-Barack Obama, 44th US President

“Well this story will probably be a movie and I’m fucking upset that I can’t play Pace Warner in it. Because I’ve already blown my action load playing James Bond. Tonight I’m having a drink and wondering why bad things happen to decent people.”

-Daniel Craig, British film actor

“I just finished Fatal and I have to admit, Fred Colton captured the story of my Juba mission perfectly. The action was desperate and relentless, and the details were impeccable. It’s like he was right there with me the whole time. Which unsettles me, the more I think about it… I mean, I never fucking saw him, not once.”

-Pace Warner, Marine-turned-vigilante and protagonist of Fatal

“You know when you throw a sixty-yard touchdown pass to Gronk in double coverage and he scores? Well the vicarious thrills found in Fatal feel even better than that. I don’t know why the hell I’ve been wasting my time on the football field all these years. I feel very lost right now.”

-Tom Brady, Quarterback, New England Patriots

“Monumental… in a world where no one can write anything longer than 140 characters, Fred Colton has exploded all previously-known boundaries of possibility by writing a story with 86,000 of them.”

-Vicky Sampson, Fordham University undergraduate student and (rejected) Kirkus Reviews internship candidate

“Pace Warner fires so many bullets in this story that I’ve still got a huge throbbing erection, thirty-six hours after finishing it. Thirty-six hours! And I’m enjoying the erection so much I have decided to not seek medical attention.”

-Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice-President, National Rifle Association

“What the fuck is an eBook?”

-Jenna, Fred Colton’s nineteen year-old sister, upon hearing of her brother’s “book” release.

***

Fatal

Fred’s Other Blog

Wipeout

The story of (one of) my bike crashes on the streets of China during a typhoon. Go on and dig it:

Conceited Crusade

Prompt: “rain”

I lived in China for two years and almost died a few times. Mostly because I did a lot of jay-running across urban intersections, with the city buses hurtling around. It was like being in the asteroid field in The Empire Strikes Back. I dug it, rushing through the sprawls, because at that point in life I perceived life as being just a small step removed from an action movie.

Good thing I was young and immortal, and that nothing bad ever happens to young white people. Bad things only happened to other people. My buddy Cameron was on a bus when it hit a guy in the crosswalk at thirty-five m.p.h. and killed him. City workers had to come spray the blood off the windows, and then they just kept on driving. Rush hour’s a bitch.

***

I was a teacher in the southern city of Shenzhen…

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