Tumbler

Another Exciting Adventure in … THE GRIND
(Act I: All Wounds)
(Act II: The Status Quo)
(Act III: Covet thy Neighbor)

***

previously…

The cell phone going off in my pocket couldn’t have possibly timed it any better. I’d realized a while ago that Ursula, the gorgeous Eastern European I’d been hitting on, was more interested in my friend, suspected artificial life form, Sean McCoy, but I’d still been forced to uphold the conversation for all three of us, given their shyness and their tenuous grasp of English. How this man had been married was beyond me. The fact that he’d been married at least twice defied all reason.

The vibration in my pants presented me with my means of escape. As soon as I made it to freedom, I said to the caller, “Thank you, thank you!”

“Dude?” asked the caller, whose use of the word dude told me it was my neighbor, Emma. “Can we talk?”

“Of course! We have lungs and larynxes and mouths and lips and tongues and…” Thinking of Emma’s lips and tongue, as I often did, I had to take a deep breath and fan myself with my hand. “Sorry about that. I’m baked clean through, and I have a beer somewhere I haven’t touched in at least fifteen minutes because I’ve forgotten about it.”

“You know what,” she told me, “don’t worry about it.”

“Wait,” I said. “What if I want to worry about it? You sound pretty serious.”

“I am serious.”

“Let’s do this in person,” I suggested. “Where are you?”

“Sixth Street, between Second and Third.”

“I’m on First Avenue, at the International Bar. Want me to come to you?”

“No,” she said. “I’ll be right over. I need the air.”

“Do you even know where–?” I started to ask, but she disconnected before I could finish, leaving me a little baffled.

For starters, I have no idea why she’d get in touch with me. We’d fallen out of each other’s lives over the past month or so, which was understandable, given her preoccupation with her boyfriend and my preoccupation with staying the fuck away from her. Also, where the hell did she get my number? Did I give it to her? Did she give me hers? I checked my contacts, and there was indeed an entry for Em. Who else’s number did I have that I didn’t know about? I scrolled the list and found Gretchen, whom I never wanted to call, because she annoyed the hell out of me. That made sense, though, given our professional relationship. Further investigation revealed Amber, which was even weirder. I didn’t know any Amber–okay, I didn’t know any Amber well enough to keep in touch. I called her and announced to the woman who answered, “Hi, I’m Max.

“Of course you’re fucking Max,” growled the person I assumed was Amber. “That’s what it says on my phone: ‘Fucking Max.'”

“I’m listed as ‘Fucking Max’?”

“You have ten words to tell me what the fuck you want, Max,” she demanded, “aren’t something to the effect of ‘Your son is in the hospital; prognosis is not good,’ I am changing my number.”

“Right!” I smacked my head. “Amber McCoy.”

My name,” she exploded, “is not fucking McCoy! Do I have to put it on a fucking billboard? Yoshida! Not McCoy! McCoy is an asshole’s name!”

“Your son is named McCoy.”

“I never said he was perfect.”

“Touché.

“Listen,” she explained, “I’m in a room with a bunch of assholes in the middle of a deposition.”

“I don’t like your tone!” said one of the assholes in the room.

“You have the tone of an Australopithecus,” she told him, “which I don’t particularly like either!”

The asshole tried to ask, “What is an–?”

“Shut the fuck up!” she snapped, before returning her attention to me. “Could you tell me what this is about?”

“I didn’t know who this Amber in my contacts was.”

“See?” she said. “Ten words. Was that that hard?”

“Surprisingly, no,” I replied.

“Amend your address book to include my proper surname, add a note that I am Sean’s mother, and stop smoking so much goddamn marijuana,” she suggested. “And while you’re at it, stop getting my son so high all the fucking time. A little here and there is fine, but Jesus, you guys.”

“Could we just get on with this?” asked one of the assholes from earlier. “It’s after eleven and I just want to go home.”

“You’ll go home when I think you’re ready to go home, you pussy!” she yelled. To Max, she said, “He’s right, I do need to get this shit over. Are you joining us for Thanksgiving?”

“With bells on.”

“Don’t wear goddamn bells.” She hung up, and I edited my contacts as she’d advised.

I then scanned the avenue for cinnamon hair, until Sean emerged from the bar. “Your mom says hi,” I told him.

“I find that improbable.”

“She didn’t really say hi,” I admitted.

He grunted. “I’m curious as to the reason she might have phoned you so late in the evening.”

“She didn’t call me,” I replied. “I called her.”

“Suddenly my curiosity has increased immeasurably.”

“Long story,” I said. “I thought you were talking to Ursula in there.”

“I found that conversation to be barren.”

Of course you did.”

Emma chose that moment to arrive, which was just fine with me. “Hey, dude.”

Her flushed cheeks and blank stare prompted me to ask, “Are you okay?”

She shook her head, and a slow epiphany widened her eyes. “No, I’m really not, am I?”

“You’ll have to pardon my intrusion,” Sean said, “but I’m not familiar with your identity.”

Whatever had overcome her fled immediately. “You must be Sean.”

“This is Emma,” I told him. “Everybody calls her Em.”

Nobody calls me Em,” she replied.

“Ah.” Sean smiled. “I have been awaiting this introduction–“

“Dude,” she asked, “can we talk alone?”

“Perhaps,” he advised, “given Max’s level of intoxication–“

“Get the fuck out of here!” she shouted.

“Sean,” I sighed.

Without another word, he shuffled off to the bar.

“Emma,” I said, “what’s going on?”

“Don’t call me Emma,” she replied. “It freaks me out.”

“Fine.”

“Tyler and I just broke up,” she told me.

I gasped without meaning to. “When?”

“We. Just. Broke. Up.”

“Why?”

“Commitment shit,” she said. “Somebody said the L-word prematurely.”

“Yikes,” I commiserated. “Who?”

“Does it matter?”

“It does not,” I replied. “Want to talk about it?”

“Not really.”

“Want to sit down and just be quiet?”

“No.”

“Do you want me to escort you home?”

“No way.”

Clutching at straws, I asked, “Should I come over and check on you tomorrow, then?”

“Definitely not.”

“Then what do you want?”

“I just…” she whispered. “I want to be alone for a while.”

Even though the following question was inappropriate, it happened anyway, because I was getting kind of frustrated. “So why did you even call me?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. I felt like I had to.” In conclusion, she told me, “Anyway, I should go.”

“Right,” I agreed. “See you around?”

“Not for a while, dude,” she replied. “Please.”

I watched her go, and finally exhaled. And then, with a frown, I remembered the beer I’d been neglecting, and resolved to drinking it, along with as many of its friends I could get my hands around.

to be concluded…

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Inside Baseball

Another Exciting Adventure in … THE GRIND
(Act I: All Wounds)
(Act II: The Status Quo)
(Act III: Covet thy Neighbor)

***

previously…

“Stand clear of the closing doors, please!”

The night I just had at work, everyone in New York needed to leave me the fuck alone. This wasn’t helped by the crowds shoving their way through me, trying to dislodge me from the pole I clung to. Nor was it helped by the taunting, passive-aggressive cheer of the MTA.

“The next stop is… Fifty-ninth Street; Columbus Circle!”

I seethed for quite a while, but when the buzz of my cell phone cracked open my shell of grouchiness, my eyes shot open.

“You get reception down here?” a random passenger gasped.

I replied, “I get reception down here?” To the phone, I said, “Yeah?”

Sean McCoy‘s voice asked, “Do you have any intention of gracing the International Bar with your presence this evening?”

The International Bar perched between a pair of single-digit street numbers on First Avenue, so the amount of trouble it would take to get there outweighed even the certainty that Sean, who was rich, would buy all of the rounds that night. I told him, “No.”

“I recommend it.”

“I’m northbound, leaving Eighty-sixth Street,” I told him, “and nothing is getting between me and my mattress.”

“I urge you to reverse course.”

“I urge you to hang up.”

“There is a man in a gorilla suit situated near me.”

I considered this and replied, “No, there isn’t.”

“I assure you there is.”

“Your assurances mean nothing.”

“I swear to you on my mother’s grave,” he told me, “that I am gazing upon a man in a gorilla suit.”

I’ll be right there.”

I hopped off at the next stop, took a series of trains downtown, strolled the multitude of blocks from the station to the bar, sat beside my friend, ordered a beer, and took a sip. “You know,” I said, “when you told me there was a guy wearing a gorilla suit sitting in the International Bar, you meant there was a guy wearing a gorilla suit sitting in the International Bar.”

Dan the bartender shook his head and chuckled, “Silly gorilla-suit guy.”

Sean replied, “I find it a little disconcerting that you believe for even one moment that I would dishonor my mother’s spirit in such a way.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m Japanese, for God’s sake!” The volume of his voice had crept up to uncomfortable levels.

“I said I was sorry!”

His tirade ground to a sudden, skidding halt, as if someone had engaged his emergency brake. “Upon reflection,” he muttered, “the presence of a man wearing a gorilla suit is a tad farfetched.”

I took the mood-shift in stride and squinted over to the corner, where the costumed man sat with a pint glass full of stout. “Is he drinking beer out of a straw?” I asked.

Alcohol hasn’t passed my lips in years,” Sean replied, “and even I understand that idea is ill-conceived.”

“Even more ill-conceived than wearing a gorilla suit to a bar?” I clarified.

Dan the bartender shook his head and chuckled, “Silly gorilla-suit guy.”

I shrugged. “It is the Village.”

My friend shrugged right back. After a moment, he cleared his throat. “Simian-attired individual aside,” he said cautiously, “I had coincidentally planned on inviting you here this evening to discuss a proposition.”

My attention still in the corner, I said, “Shoot.”

“I am curious as to your opinion on the Knights.”

“I like the nights,” I replied. “Way more than the days. It’s tough to justify drinking when the sun’s up.”

He huffed. “I am, of course, referring to the New York Knights.”

“I don’t put a lot of thought into baseball,” I told him. “Why do you ask?”

“My mother and I share season tickets.”

I frowned. “Didn’t you tell me your mother was dead?”

He froze. “No,” he stated after the long moments it took him to think of a response.

“Yes, you did! Just now! You swore on your mother’s grave that there was a guy in a gorilla suit in this bar!”

Dan the bartender shook his head and chuckled, “Silly gorilla-suit guy.”

“Merely a hypothetical,” my friend insisted. “I’d been imploring you to put your faith in the facts I’d been communicating to you, utilizing as collateral the reverence I feel for the burial plot that my mother will occupy at some point–preferably a distant point–in the future.”

“There’s no trust in this relationship,” I replied.

“There is a man in a gorilla suit,” he reminded me.

I nodded reluctantly and took a swig of beer.

“Resuming our discussion of the New York Knights,” he continued, “there’s a home game Friday, and it’s a bit of an event on account of the competition being against Pittsburgh.”

“Why’s that a big deal?”

“Because, after the Yankees and the Red Sox, this is widely considered to be the most contentious baseball rivalry in the country.”

“New York has a lot of rivalries,” I observed.

“New Yorkers are, by in large, assholes.”

He had a point.

“Also,” he added, “my father lives in Philadelphia.”

“So you’re making the entire state of Pennsylvania pay for his sins?”

Mother is.”

The animosity there eluded me, but that was because my parents were still together, and as far as I knew, still very much in love.

He continued, “Mother has to be out of town for a deposition, the details of which bore me. The end result is that I am in possession of two tickets, and I have no intention of going alone.”

“You’re inviting me?”

“I am.”

I frowned. “Don’t you have friends who care more about baseball than I do?”

“Absolutely,” he replied, “but I’d rather spend a Friday evening in the ballpark in your company.”

I blinked. That had to be the kindest thing anybody’s said to me in months. I wanted to bask in the moment as long as I could.

It didn’t turn out to be very long at all, because he immediately began to stammer, “Oh, God, that was inappropriate, wasn’t it? I apologize; I my intention wasn’t to come across as creepy, but…”

I grabbed hold of his bicep and squeezed until he shut up. “It would mean a lot to me to go watch the game with you.”

“And that didn’t strike you at all as creepy?”

“No,” I replied, “it makes me feel good to know that there’s someone who actually enjoys my company in a non-professional…”

“Max,” he interrupted, “as you are doubtlessly aware, my attitude toward gender identity leans toward laissez faire, but the innate homophobia installed in me by Western culture finds this particular portion of this exchange threatening to my heterosexuality.”

“Understood.”

“Perhaps this awkward moment will pass if we focus our attention on the man in the corner wearing the gorilla suit.”

Dan the bartender shook his head and chuckled, “Silly gorilla-suit guy.”

to be continued…

Atrophy

“You could really use some pussy, kid,” said Sean’s uncle.

“Bart!” Sean’s mother snapped, “Language!”

“Or cock!” said Uncle Bart, his hands raised in front if him in mock surrender. “I don’t care either way. Just do something to celebrate.”

Sean raised a forkful of seared salmon to his lips, but his mother’s hand secured his arm before he could finish. “Smaller bites, Sean,” she told him. “You’re almost thirty. You should know better.” She added, “And, regardless of his vulgarity, I think your uncle is right.”

“You agree with me?” Uncle Bart snorted. “There’s a first time for everything.”

Sean dusted the pink flakes off of his fork and decided to saw off a slice of asparagus instead.

His mother glowered. “I agree that a celebration is in order, Sean. You’ve made company history; nobody has been able to secure that account. Not even that creepy fuckface, Harima.”

Sean chewed, swallowed, dabbed his lips with a napkin, took a sip of sparkling water, and said, “It had not been brought to my attention that this client was the focus of an intercompany war.”

Uncle Bart grunted, “The way that fat bastard struts around, you’d think he owns the place.”

“He is responsible for over half of this company’s revenue,” Sean said, contemplating whether he should again attempt a bite of the salmon or go for a sample of the risotto. Based on his experience, the latter was normally a forgettable byproduct of the otherwise exemplary dish, but rumor had it that a new hire in the kitchen staff was a little more creative with sides than his predecessor. “Some of Harima-san’s swagger,” he concluded, “is duly earned.”

“I’m just saying someone needed to take him down a peg,” Uncle Bart insisted.

Sean decided on the risotto. What the hell; life is short. “I don’t put quite that much value on Schadenfreude,” he told them before he took a taste.

“This isn’t about Schadenfreude,” his mother agreed. “It’s about success.”

The rumors were true. The risotto now ranked above the asparagus when it came to the flavors on this plate.

“And success deserves a reward,” Uncle Bart added.

“Yes, it does,” agreed his mother.

“Evidently there is a second time for everything,” Sean muttered. More loudly, he said, “I find a 10 percent commission for an transaction of that magnitude to be sufficient reward.”

Uncle Bart shrugged. “Maybe if you threw in some pussy.”

“Language!”

“Or cock!”

“Bart!”

“It’s not like I can buy him a drink!” Uncle Bart snapped.

“That’s not even remotely funny, Bart,” his mother growled.

Sean groaned. “I am going to explain this in a manner I hope the both of you can appreciate: I am paid for a skill at which I excel, so anything less would be a disservice to the company. It just so happens that my talents were better suited to woo this potential client than Harima-san’s.”

Uncle Bart shook his head, and his mother rolled her eyes.

Ignoring them, he continued, “Therefore, the business I’ve just conducted will not be validated by another’s genitalia, nor by any other frivolous gesture either of you could concoct.”

Uncle Bart put his hand gently on Sean’s shoulder. “I worry about you, kid. You’re always so… I don’t know… glum.”

“There is no cause for concern,” Sean explained. “I’m not dour. I merely am.”

“It’s those pills you got him on, Amber,” Bart said. “They made him into a zombie.”

“They saved his life!”

Sean wasn’t particularly hungry, so he switched his attention from the table to the restaurant in general, specifically the men. Some were plump like caesars, and some were fit like movie stars. Most wore ties. All wore starched collars and polished shoes. Some even wore vests. Sean wore a vest and a tie. His color was stiff, and his shoes shone.

He noted that few ties made it over to the bar, and all that did were loosened. Sean’s remained snug.

He tried to ignore the women, particularly the ones in crowds, because the ghost of the last person he ever wanted to see tended to drift among them. But his eyes looked anyway and were immediately haunted by the uneven edges of her dirty fingernails, the threadbare scarlet of her favorite long-sleeved T-shirt, the sexy tangles of her hair, the denim-clad superiority of her strut, and wicked curve of her smirking lips.

Her apparition smelled like stale cigarettes and bourbon, and it whispered his name. Actually, though, it never used his proper name–it called him asshole, just like she did.

Whenever she possessed him like this, his fingers took the opportunity to act of their own accord. They dismantled one cufflink and had already begun working on the second when his mother’s hand clamped on his forearm.

“Don’t embarrass me,” she whispered.

“Then perhaps I should depart,” he replied, “before I do that.”

“Really,” she said. “Really?

“I could always remain here,” he told her, “but there is an itch in my wrists, and it is only a matter of time before it becomes unbearable.”

She released him, and he stood, reaching for his wallet.

“Put that away,” she said. “Uenishi-san told me the company should treat you for your hard work.”

“That was very generous,” he replied. “I’ll make it a priority tomorrow to express my gratitude.”

As he made his way to the coat check, he heard his uncle tell his mother, “Nice work with your kid there, Amber.”

“Bart,” she replied, “you know as well as I do what’s under those sleeves.”

“Still,” he muttered.

Sean didn’t hear the rest, because all of that was behind him for now. And the very instant his feet touched the sidewalk outside, he tapped a ten-digit number into his cell phone. “Deuce,” he told the voicemail that picked up immediately, “it’s Fancy-pants. I’d like to have a conversation.”

A few moments later, he received a text. He hailed a cab and read the contents of it to the driver: “Suffolk and Rivington.”

“Are you sure? That’s maybe a hundred blocks from here.”

“Eighty-six,” Sean replied as he slipped into the backseat. “And I am sure.”

As they drove south, Sean watched for her phantom in windows and doorways and on corners, but she didn’t show.

After about forty-two blocks, the driver cleared his throat. “You don’t really look like the kind of person who would hang out in that area.”

“And how would you describe the ‘kind of person’ who might ‘hang out’ in that area?”

“You know–young.”

“I am young,” Sean told him.

“I mean, acting young,” he clarified. “You know, with the funny clothes. And the hair.”

“I agree,” Sean said. “I am not that ‘kind of person.'”

The rest of the ride was silent.

Deuce waited on the corner of Suffolk and Rivington, a crumbled a paper bag in his hand. In exchange for it, Sean gave him a large wad of cash and twenty-five minutes of his time, during which Deuce boasted of and described his sexual conquests and the methods he used to achieve them. Eventually, he got bored and returned to whatever it was he did when he wasn’t selling drugs.

At long last, Sean had no family, no business, and no friends to crush him; he was truly alone. He smiled. “Hello, darling,” he said to the city that reared him. “It’s just you and me now.”

He’d wandered less than a block before his phone went off. He sighed and read the display. No name appeared, but the area code belonged to the client whose future transactions Sean had just secured. He looked at his watch. The person on the other end would either be very happy or very upset; only extreme emotion would prompt a call at this hour.

“This is Sean McCoy.” He waited for the phone to talk before replying, “Hello, Mr. Clark.” The phone barked, and he told it, “As a matter of fact, I am the agent who conducted the sale. If I remember correctly, you were present when negotiations began. I hope, in that case, your question was merely rhetorical.” He held the phone away from his ear. After a moment, he said, “We’re professionals, Mr. Clark. That kind of volume, tone, and language is unacceptable.”

The phone asked a question, which Sean answered, “Because it creates a sizeable profit margin, which is beneficial to my company, but does it in a way that your company is able to afford our rates comfortably and indefinitely. I thought that was obvious. Was this also rhetorical?”

It answered his question with a question. “I am indeed being condescending, Mr. Clark, because this phone call serves no purpose other than empty bluster.”

There was more such bluster, and Sean allowed it. “There is a contract, Mr. Clark, that was signed and notarized this afternoon.” Sean looked at his watch. “Technically yesterday afternoon, but only by thirty-three minutes.”

He resumed walking north while the phone, with a great deal of gravitas, told him something. Sean replied, “Given that your company is called Clark Industries and you are the majority shareholder, I had surmised that you were the owner, but I appreciate your clarification of that point.” He interrupted when it tried to talk again, “However, sir, you had explicitly given Mr. Franklin full authority to act and make decisions on your behalf, a duty he performed remarkably, if I do say so myself.”

As the phone went off on a lengthy rant, he crossed Houston Street into a neighborhood of bars and college students who laughed and flirted and huddled together. Her ghost was everywhere. This only strengthened his belligerence. “I would advise against that, Mr. Clark. The attorney my company has on retainer happens to be my mother, and she is nearly twice as ruthless in court as she was at home.” He added, “To grant you perspective, I should inform you that she was exceedingly ruthless at home.”

Sean stopped in his tracks with a frown, not caring that he was standing the middle of the road as he did so. “Yes,” he replied cautiously, “I am familiar with that television franchise.” The phone asked a follow-up question. “It’s been years since I’ve encountered it, but I seem to remember that the character in question was an artificial life form with no emotions that was baffled by humanity, but drawn to it nonetheless.” Amused, he resumed his journey, saying, “I can see the resemblance, Mr. Clark, but there is one key difference: While I do find humanity baffling, I am otherwise ambivalent toward it.”

He rounded the corner onto to First Avenue, scanning the area for taxicabs; it was late, and he wanted to enjoy some of the marijuana in his pocket before work tomorrow. Besides, it was really obvious how tired he was getting: the ghost he just saw on the corner didn’t look like the others that usually followed him around. This one’s hair was longer, its clothing fit better, and the last edges of its youth had eroded beautifully away. It was definitely time to bid his phone adieu. “Our business partnership goes into full effect at the start of the next quarter. I suggest that, between then and now, you grant Mr. Franklin sole contact with my company, inasmuch as you can’t be trusted to …”

Behind him, the ghost spoke. It said, “Wait a fucking minute! I know that asshole’s voice!”

He turned back around, and every single thing inside of him simultaneously froze and burned. She was not the will-o-the-wisp had been daydreaming of all this time. She was real.

“Sean?” she whispered.

Holy shit. She. Was. Real.

“Fuck me in the ear!” he replied before dropping his phone and running like hell.


What’s next for Sean?

Leviathan

The first thing she remembered about that day was how annoyed she was that she had to come onto campus during the summer. The asshole still lived on campus, even though he was, like her, a senior in a month and a half. Besides, she’d heard he was rich, so if he really felt like isolating himself, he could live anywhere. Whatever. It was one of those stupid fucking things he did to make himself seem cool and unique–kind of like that stupid fucking sweater of his.

Lisa’s relationship with the asshole had cooled by that point, so they could actually take a small amount of comfort in each other. Maybe it was because their mutual presence brought to mind her boyfriend–his best friend. Maybe it was because she couldn’t trust him to be alone with his own thoughts, and vice versa. What mattered was that it was Fourth of July weekend, her boyfriend was back home in Idaho, she was bored, she was hungry, and she was going to drag his skinny ass over to May’s Cafe for a greasy omelet.

When he didn’t answer the door, something she couldn’t put a finger on thought it was a little weird. He was always home, except when he was at her place. Sure he was entitled to go to the restroom or buy cigarettes or something, but not if it inconvenienced her. She knocked again out of spite, and, for a second there, she thought she’d heard something. She knocked one more time, and there it was–a dull moan. She tried the knob, but it was locked. After a quick glance around to make sure no one was watching, she pulled out her men’s wallet and removed a key.

What she was doing with that key was a long story, but the short version was this: before she came to college here, she ran with a pack of hoodlums. The alpha hooligan, a sneaky son of a bitch and aspiring criminal mastermind named Fuentes, taught her dozens of tips and tricks for breaking the law, none of which she’d forgotten. High up on the list was never to let a good skeleton key go to waste. Lucky for her, her boyfriend was an RA, and that meant he had access to every room in this dorm. She made herself a copy, not because she’d been planning on stealing anything, but rather to honor her heritage.

Besides, you never know what that kind of thing might come in handy. And that day, it was really fucking handy.

Inside, the asshole was lying on his back with his eyes half-open and a little stream of drool trickling down his cheek. It didn’t even take her a second to figure out what was going on.

“No!” she whispered. “No, no, no!”

Breathing deeply, she tried to figure out what needed to happen next. “Think,” she muttered, “what would Fuentes do?” He’d figure out what it was that was killing the person in question. That was easy. The asshole was overdosing on something. The next thing would need to get a little more specific. Something about the drool shouted opium, so she’d go with that. Next up was the delivery. It wasn’t a needle, because there wasn’t one lying around anywhere, and he wouldn’t have had enough time to stash it. She was pretty sure that wasn’t possible to smoke that much heroin, and besides, there was no smell. Snorting was out, or there would have been blood coming out of his nose. That left his stomach, and that she could do something about.

She crawled into bed next to him and listened to his chest to make sure he was still breathing. Satisfied, she stuck two fingers in his throat. He gagged, and, just before he threw up, she rolled him over so his head was hanging over the floor. She let him finish, and then repeated the procedure, just in case. When she was sure he was done, she wiped her hand on his stupid sweater and sat him up.

“Hey fuckface!” she yelled.

“Uh?” he mumbled.

Oh, thank God. “Yeah, you, fuckface!”

“‘Appen?”

“You tell me, you rock-stupid motherfucker!”

He shook his head imperceptibly. “No.”

“No, you’re not going to tell me?”

“Don’t,” he coughed. “Stop.”

“This is getting us nowhere. Phone.” Because, honestly, she’d forgotten that hers was in her back pocket.

“Sweat,” he sighed, “er.”

It was right where he said it’d be. She called 911 and told them, “I have someone here that OD’d on something.”

“I need you to calm down, ma’am, and tell me where you are.”

“This is my calm voice!”

After a bit of back and forth, she stayed on the line while at the same time trying to stop him from nodding off. Just when she thought she couldn’t keep it up anymore, the EMTs showed up and did whatever it was that EMTs do, and in no time, he was gone.

They had a lot of questions too: “Do you know what he took? Does he have a history of mental illness? Is he your boyfriend?” Shit like that. She answered the best she could–“No. I think so. Are you fucking kidding me?”–until they left her alone.

She held it in as long as she could, but really, that wasn’t very long at all. She collapsed onto his bed and sobbed like a goddamned baby. Eventually, she pulled her shit together and remembered the phone in her hands. Sniffing, she sat up and scrolled through his contacts. A part of her was disappointed when L went by with no mention of her. That part, as much as she hated it, pushed her back down onto the mattress, where she cried some more.

Finally she returned to the phone and scrolled down to where it said “Mother.” She hit send and waited.

On the other side of the phone, an exasperated voice sighed, “What is it this time, Sean?”

“Mrs. McCoy?”

My name’s not fucking McCoy.”

“What the fuck is it then?” Lisa didn’t know why she asked that question.

“Yoshida.”

“That your first or last name?”

“Look,” the voice snapped, “stop wasting my fucking time and tell me why you’re calling me on my son’s fucking phone.”

“I think he tried to kill himself.”

The other end went silent.

“Hello?”

“Goddammit!” the voice bellowed. “What the fuck?”

“I’m sorry.”

“I can’t keep dropping what I’m doing every time he pulls shit like this?”

“The fuck?”

“Are you with him right now?”

“No,” Lisa replied.

“Well, where the fuck is he?”

“Hospital.”

“Are you there with him?”

“No,” Lisa told her, “I–“

“Well get the fuck over there and keep an eye on my son until I get there!”

“Okay?”

The call ended, and she stared at the phone for what was probably five minutes before she finally shook her head and muttered, “Asshole doesn’t fall far from the bigger asshole, does it?”

to be continued…