The First Meeting

“I now call to order the first meeting of the Anti-Bullying Council,” Beth said, banging her gavel on the table in the library.  She had a gavel, because of course she had to have a gavel.

“Thought there’d be more people here,” Carrie said, looking around.  “Did you put up flyers or anything?”

Beth shook her head.  “No, why would I do that?  I’m the President.  I don’t have time for that.”

“Did anybody?”

David and Vince shook their heads.  “I wouldn’t worry too much about it.  It’s our first meeting.  The group will grow as people see the good work we’re doing.”

“Right.  Anyway, on with today’s agenda.  We need to first find a way to fund ourselves.  We aren’t made of money.  We aren’t Republicans, after all,” Beth said as she snorted.  She was met with blank stares and shrugged.  “What?  Aren’t blatantly partisan, left-wing comments the same thing as jokes?  No?  Hmm, Jon Stewart misled me.”

“As a club, we should have funding from the school,” Carrie said.  “Being a new club, we won’t necessarily have a budget, but we should be able to put in a provisional request for any specific events, and possibly get a short-term budget approved.  We’ve officially registered with the school, right?”

Beth winced and shook her head.  “Ooh, I didn’t know we were supposed to do that.  Sorry.”

Carrie shrugged.  “It’s okay.  I’ll take care of it.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty good with this kind of thing.  Leave it to me.”

“Good, thank you,” Beth said.  “Or I could go out and raise my skirt for the money.”

“I think we might need more than $5,” David said.  Beth stared daggers at him.

“What are you implying?”

“Nothing.  It was a joke.”

“Are you saying that I’m not worth as much as a skinny bitch?”

“Look, let’s just move on,” Carrie said.  “David, that’s not cool.  You should be aware of your male privilege and the impact that social norms have on women’s self-image.  Now apologize to Beth.”

“I’m sorry,” David said

“You really should be more of a feminist.  You know women need help defending themselves from the patriarchy.”

“Sorry again.”

“So, now that that’s all out of the way, what are we going to do?” Beth asked.

“What do you mean?  I thought you were the President,” Carrie said.

“I am.  But I’m looking for ideas.  How do we stop bullying and let everyone know that there’s a new sheriff in town?”

They all stared around the room blankly.  Eventually, Carrie spoke up.  “Maybe an awareness campaign?”

“I think people already know what bullying is,” Vince said.

“No, but let people know about the club.  Let them know that they have someone they can come to if they’ve been victimized.”

“Yes.  Perfect!  Let everyone know about us,” Beth said.

“Exactly.  Once people know they have someone they can come to, we can decide on a case by case basis how to proceed. I’ll have to talk to Principal Schwartz anyway when I fill out the club forms.  I’ll see about hanging posters, and maybe getting a provisional budget for that.”

“Great.  Good first meeting.  We’ll meet back here in a week, after Carrie has had a chance to take care of all the paperwork.”

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Anti-Bullying Campaign Part 4

Intro:  https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/anti-bullying-campaign-pt-1/

Previous:  https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/anti-bullying-campaign-part-3/

 

“Hey, nice job with the whole getting Tony suspended thing,” Lucy said, patting Beth on the shoulder as she and her group of friends sat down next to her, David and Vince in the cafeteria.

“Thanks,” Beth said, looking over the large group.  “Are you all sitting here?”

“Yeah.  It’s really nice that somebody is finally addressing the bullying problem in this school,” Carrie said, setting her tray down.  “It’s good to see people taking a stand for what they believe in.  Good job.”

“Well, we had to do something.  We couldn’t just let Tony keep picking on Vince like that.”

“Totally,” said Sarah Conway.  She laughed.  “I bet he’s at home crying himself to sleep right now.”

The rest of the group laughed.  “Probably while stuffing his fat, greasy face with hot pockets or something.”

“Well, you know he isn’t showering,” Lucy said.  Everybody laughed.

“You guys know his dad is going to beat the crap out of him, right?” Jacob said.

They all stared at Jacob.  “What?”

“Yeah, Tony’s dad is an abusive alcoholic who’s raising him alone since his mom died.  His dad didn’t even want him.  When he was born, his dad tried to deny it was his, but then the baby came out with its middle fingers up, and he kind of knew he was fucked, so he agreed to raise the kid after his mother died when he was five.”

After a moment of silence, Sarah started to laugh, and the rest of the group followed suit.  “Good.  He deserves it.”

“Yeah, don’t try to excuse his behavior,” Lucy said.

Jacob shrugged.  “I’m not trying to excuse it.  I’m just explaining it.”

“Well, stop it. Tony got what he deserved.  Don’t try to humanize or normalize his behavior.  He’s a bully.”

“No, I agree,” Jacob said, sarcastically.  “We should definitely get in the habit of dehumanizing anybody we label as something we don’t like.  I can’t think of anything that’s ever gone wrong with that strategy.”

“Shut up,” Sarah said.  “Besides, what do you care?  You’re like the least caring person I’ve ever met.”

Jacob shrugged.  “I don’t.  Tony’s dad can literally beat him to death and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference to me.”

“Then why do you keep bringing it up if you don’t care?”

“Because it seems like you should, purporting to stand up for the weak and for fairness, as you do.  Anyway, I got to get back to Tyson.”

Jacob got up to leave, and Carrie turned to Beth.  “So, what’s next?”

“Huh?”

“Well, I assume you aren’t just going to stop with Tony?  What’s the next step in your crusade to rid the school of bullying scum?”

Beth smiled.  “Oh, don’t worry.  I have some ideas.”

Anti-Bullying Campaign Part 3

Beginning: https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/anti-bullying-campaign-pt-1/

Previous: https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/anti-bullying-campaign-part-2/

 

“So, what are we going to do?” David Starger asked nervously, still unsure about Beth’s anti-bullying crusade but going along with it because he was a spineless little cunt.

“This is our opportunity to show everyone how seriously bullying is taken.  We are going to march into Principal Schwartz’s office and demand he suspend Tony,” Beth said.

“Don’t you think that’s excessive?  A suspension?  All he did was call Vince a homo.”

“But he does it all the time,” Vince said, probably in a whiny little nasally voice or something equally repugnant.  “And it’s not just me.  He does crap like this to everybody.”

“Yeah, I guess.  Come to think of it, he is kind of a dick to me, as well.  You know what?  Fuck him,” David said, no longer caring about the excessive nature of their retribution since it was directed at someone he realized he hated.  Beth pounded on the door to the principal’s office, and entered when beckoned by a voice from within.

“Beth and…entourage.  What can I do for you?” Principal Schwartz asked.

“We want Tony Saccarro suspended immediately,” Beth said.

“Suspended?  What did it do?”

“He…wait, did you just say it?”

Principal Schwartz shrugged and nodded his head.  “Yeah, it’s a new thing I’m trying.  I call kids ‘it’ until they turn eighteen.  I could say it’s something about choice or gender identity, but the fact is I just don’t consider anyone under the age of eighteen to actually be human.  Anyway, what did it do now?”

“He was bullying Vince.”

Principal Schwartz turned to Vince and smiled.  “Alright, Vince, do you want to tell me exactly what happened?”

“What?” Beth screeched.  “You can’t question him like that.  He’s the victim.”

“Yes, and if I’m going to take any action, I need to know what happened.  Especially if I’m going to punish someone based solely on his word.”

“But you’re re-victimizing him.  Can’t you just take his word for it?  Everyone knows Vince did it.”

“For me to punish a student, especially as severely as what you’re asking me to do, I need to document the evidence of malfeasance.  Interestingly enough, ‘everyone knows it’ isn’t considered concrete evidence.  Since there doesn’t seem to be any physical evidence or any other witnesses, the only evidence that Tony did anything wrong is Vince’s word, which makes it kind of important.  So, Vince…”

Vince took a deep breath.  “I mean, he basically just called me a homo.”

“Is that all there is to the story?”

“Pretty much.”

Principal Schwartz took a deep breath.  “I don’t see what straight guys have against gays.  Isn’t it just less competition for us?  And from what I’ve seen, most of these guys take pretty good care of themselves.  Do we really want to compete with that?”

“Um, Principal Schwartz…”

“Oh, right.  Well, thank you for your report.”

“So, are you going to suspend him?” Beth asked.

“Well, we do have a zero tolerance policy for ‘hate speech’, and I think this qualifies.  Of course, a suspension is a little much, given the relatively weak nature of the speech, and before I can take any action I’ll have to have a talk with him.  Get his side of the story and give him a chance to defend himself, and of course I’ll need to hold off on drawing any conclusions or making any decisions until after that conversation.”

“Right…”

Principal Schwartz laughed.  “Nah, I’m just messing with you.  It’s 2018, and this is a hot-button issue.  I don’t need to go through any of that ‘due process’ fairness crap.  He’ll be suspended for a week, effective immediately.”

 

Next: https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/anti-bullying-campaign-part-4/

Anti-Bullying Campaign Part 2

Part 1:  https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/anti-bullying-campaign-pt-1/

 

“Stop bullying,” Beth yelled, holding a flier and yelling at people who walk by, because that’s what fat annoying people who suck do.  “Join our anti-bullying cause!  Be part of the solution, not the problem!  Some other generic slogan!”

“What’s that fat chick yelling about?” Tyson said, walking up to Rock and Jacob.

“Hey, don’t call me fat, you fatphobic piece of shit,” Beth said, as if fatphobia were a thing that existed in any significant way.  She swung her head, flicking her hair behind her shoulder in a way that would have been cute if she were a hundred pounds lighter.  Actually, even then it would have been annoying, but you know, less annoying.  Marginally less annoying.  It’s a stupid gesture, is what I’m saying, regardless of who is doing it.  “Besides, I’m not fat, I’m fluffy.”

“Right.  Unless we’re calling moist mounds of sweaty bread dough fluffy, you aren’t fluffy.”

“Bullying.  Bullying!” Beth shouted, waving her finger in front of her like a quivering, epileptic seagull or something.  “You’re just prejudiced against fat people.  You’re ignorant. You know, all prejudice, like fatphobia or racism, is based on ignorance.”

“Right.  That’s why the South is so racist, because there aren’t any black people.  It’s also probably the reason why there are so few fat people down there.”

“Maybe they’re all fat because of the fatphobia down there.  Did you ever think of that?” Beth responded snarkily, though clearly Tyson never had thought of that, because Tyson believed in science and other things that make sense.  “Besides, why are you hanging with those two turds anyway?  Aren’t you all into science and other nerd stuff?  They must pick on you all the time.”

“What are you talking about?  We don’t pick on Tyson.  We’re friends,” Jacob said.

“Guys, let’s, uh, head somewhere that isn’t here,” Tyson said.  He, Rock and Jacob moved over to somewhere that wasn’t there, and Tyson began to speak.  “Man, why does this crap always happen here?”

Jacob shrugged.  “What do you mean?”

“It seems like every week it’s some other cause or melodrama or whatever.  It’s annoying as shit.  When I walk down the street, my goal isn’t to hear about your political views or religious beliefs.  It’s to be left the hell alone.  Same applies to school hallways, and yet it’s always something.”

“It’s high school, dude.  That’s what people do,” Jacob said.  “It’s attractive people with fully developed bodies engaging in important adventures with world-changing consequences while forging relationships that will surely last the rest of their lives and not be forgotten about in six months.”

“Yeah, but dude, is it, though?” Rock asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, is high school really like this?  With so much constant action?  It seems to me that most of high school is relatively mundane, with students just going to class and shit.  Rarely does anything as exciting as what we see on a daily basis happen.  Most kids just to do their crap, and maybe if you’re lucky and popular enough, you’ll get to awkwardly rub your genitals against someone else’s.  This seems less like high school and more like what some old dude writing about high school thinks of high school.”

“That applies to most of life though,” Tyson said.  “I don’t think it’s so much a misconception as it is that all of life is boring and pointless.  But nobody wants to read or write about how someone got up, did some stuff they didn’t want to do, found something to help kill the time between now and when they die, and then went back to sleep.  So they make  up unrealistic stuff to make things seem more interesting.”

“Maybe.  Maybe this is all just a canvas for some dude to tell his stupid jokes on,” Jacob posited.

“Do you guys really think of me as a friend, by the way?” Tyson asked.

“What?  Of course, dude.  We hang out all the time.  What would you call us?”

Tyson shrugged.  “I don’t know.  Acquaintances, I guess.  Maybe pals, though guinea pigs seems most accurate.  Anyway, I want to talk to the two of you.”

“Cool.  What do you want?  Please tell me you have some secondary plot line, because I don’t know how well we fit into this whole anti-bullying thing Beth seems to have going on, and I have a feeling that may drag on for a while.”

 

Next: https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/anti-bullying-campaign-part-3/

Anti-Bullying Campaign Pt. 1

“Dude, did you do the reading over break?” Jacob asked, taking his seat in Mrs. Adams’ history class while acting like a bro, because high school kids are idiots.

“Yeah, I mean, I skimmed it.”  Rock took a seat, placed his books down, and then turned back to Jacob.  “By the way, what the fuck is a co-lo-nel?”

“A what?  I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“It kept showing up in the reading.  Like, the co-lo-nels, co-lo-nel this or that,” Rock said, eliciting blank stares from Jacob.  Next to him, David Starger laughed.

“I think he means colonel,” David said, pronouncing colonel like kernel, the way a not-dumb person would.

“Oh,” Rock said.  “That makes sense.  Thanks, dude.”

Jacob laughed.  “You are such a dumbass, dude.”

“Shut up.”

“In his defense, he was pronouncing it the way it’s spelled,” David said, defending Rock.  “It’s kind of a weird word.”

Jacob was having none of this Rock-defending, however.  “Durr, I’m David, and I pronounce everything the way it’s spelled, because English is the most phonetic language ever invented.”

“English wasn’t invented.  It evolved over time.”

“Durr, I’m David, and I understand how language develops.  Durr,” Rock said, joining in on the making fun of David, uh, fun, I guess.

“Why are you making fun of me?  I was the one defending you.”

“You two leave David alone,” Beth Kerrigan said.  “I am so sick of the bullying in this school.”

“Who’s bullying?” Rock asked.  “We’re just making fun of David using our imbalance of power in a way that’s persistent, consistent and targeted.  Nobody’s bullying him.”

“Rock, I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of bullying.”

“Oh.  We’re just giving him a hard time.  It’s really not a big deal or anything.”

“It really isn’t,” David said.

“Shut up, David.  I’m not going to take your internalized victim-blaming anymore,” Beth said.

“I wasn’t blaming myself, it just wasn’t all that big a deal to me.”

“I said shut up, or I swear to god the next person to bully or victim blame is going to get the fucking shit kicked the fuck out of them,” Beth said, holding up her binder in a ‘I’m about to hit you’ gesture while swearing unnecessarily and excessively to convey the strength of her convictions, since the more emotional someone is, the more correct their point of view is.

“Dude, what’s that on your binder?” David asked.  “Did you draw that?”

“Yes, I did.  What business is it of yours?”

“It’s pretty good.  What is it?”

“A mermaid.  Because mermaids are graceful and beautiful, like me.”

“Fun fact, the myth of mermaids originated when sailors first saw manatees and mistook them for mermaids,” David said.

“Yeah, another fun fact.  Most women claiming to be mermaids on the internet are also manatees,” Jacob said.  He and Rock knucked it up.

“That’s it.  Come on, David.  You and I are starting an anti-bullying group,” Beth said, turning to Rock and Jacob, and elevating her nose ever so slightly toward the ceiling.  “What do you two think of that?”

Jacob shrugged.  “Sounds like a good cause.  And I’m sure you’ll conduct your campaign reasonably, targeting only those who are actually responsible instead of becoming so wrapped up in the righteousness of your cause that you start attacking everyone and everything in an attempt to augment your own influence.”

 

Part 2: https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/anti-bullying-campaign-part-2/

New Year’s Eve 2017

“How are things with Kelly?” Jacob asked as the two walked up the walkway to Lucy’s house for her New Year’s Eve party.  It was the evening of December 31st, when New Year’s Eve traditionally occurs, in case you were wondering.

“Jacob, my friend, I am now officially dating a black girl.  With that in mind, here is a list of words I will be saying with a lot more liberty from now on…”

“Let me just stop you there,” Jacob said, pausing at the door.  “I wouldn’t.  At least, not if you want to keep dating her.  I also probably wouldn’t refer to your girlfriend as ‘a black girl’.”

“What should I call her?”

Jacob shrugged.  “I don’t know.  A beautiful, strong black woman who don’t need no man?  Or Kelly.”

“Kelly works,” Rock said as the two entered the party.  “But is it sexist or racist if I don’t use her last name?”

“What?  Don’t be an idiot, Rock.  That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, you moron.  Hey, what’s up?” Jacob said, obviously not talking to Rock anymore, but to someone who had approached him and Rock.  You fucking moron.  You should have figured that out from the context.  Dipshit.  Those people were Lucy and her friend Julia, by the way.

“Nothing,” Julia said, handing Rock and Jacob drinks, because that’s easier than taking the time to write a scene where Jacob and Rock walk over to the keg, pour themselves beers, then walk back and get reacquainted with wherever the conversation has headed while they were gone.

“Hey, Lucy, is your boy here?” Jacob asked.  Lucy looked at him, confused.

“Who’s my boy?”

“Nate.  The quarterback.  The guy you’ve been crushing on all year.”

“Oh, shit.  I totally forgot that was a thing,” Rock said.  “We’ve been so wrapped up in time travelling and universe jumping and other sci-fi bullcrap that I totally forgot anything remotely reasonable or realistic was going on.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Lucy asked, totally unaware of most of what Rock was talking about.  “Anyway, no.  I invited him, but it turns out Nate doesn’t celebrate New Year’s.”

“Who doesn’t celebrate New Year’s?  Is he Jewish or something?”

“What?  No.  Um, I don’t think so,” Lucy said.  “No, it turns out Nate’s mom was crippled in a car crash on New Year’s Eve two years ago, so it kind of brings back bad memories for him.”

“Well, he need to learn to cope like an adult.  By drinking until he can’t feel anything and letting some random girl fuck the bad thoughts out,” Jacob said, leaning in and whispering in Lucy’s ear.  “You could be his random girl.”

“Jacob, stop it.  That’s kind of the problem.  Some guy was upset about a breakup or something, and got totally wasted.  Driving home, he ran a stop sign and hit Nate’s mom.”

“That sucks.”

“Yeah.  She was crippled.  He was fine.  Apparently, because he was drunk his body was relaxed, so he didn’t suffer any damage from the crash.”

“But Nate’s mom did?”

“Yeah, she was completely sober.”

“Whose fault is that?”

“Jacob,” Lucy scolded him while the rest of the group stared.

“Oh, I’m sorry.  I didn’t realize nice words would make his mom less crippled.  Maybe if we all stand around with super serious faces and talk about how tragic it is, his mom will magically un-cripple herself,” Jacob said.  “It happened.  Joking about it isn’t going to make it any more or less real or tragic.”

“You should apologize.”

“I refuse to apologize for doing something that has no tangible impact on anything.”

“You’re a dick.”

“Perhaps,” Jacob said, finishing his drink.  He turned to Rock.  “I need another drink.  You want one?”

“Sure.  I’ll come with.”

As Jacob poured the drinks, Rock, looking over his shoulder to make sure Lucy was out of earshot, leaned over to Jacob and said, “You better get me two.”

“What? Why?”

“Because if we’re in an accident tonight, I don’t want to end up like Nate’s crippled mom.”

A Christmas Release

After 25 years, Sadie was released.

Kimmy and Timmy were long since deceased.

Timmy was shanked, and died in great pain,

And Kimmy OD’ed from the drugs she shot in her veins.

But Sadie didn’t care about their pain or their strife.

It wasn’t the first time he’d fucked up a life.

Sadie went on a journey, searching his soul.

Nah, just kidding, he decided to crash at the North Pole.

He hadn’t seen Santa in years,

So he showed up with several cases of beer.

Sadie knocked on the door and waited a bit

Until Santa opened with a shout of “Oh, shit,

What are you doing here, you dumb fucking slouch?”

“Fuck off, Santa, I’m here to crash on your couch,”

“Sadie, go away, I can’t have you here.

You know I’m busy, this time of year.”

“No one wants your toys, they’re so fucking old.

Kids would rather have the weed that I’ve sold.”

“Now, Sadie, I don’t know if that’s true…”

“Shut up, Santa, I know just what to do.

Go around and gather up all your slaves.

We’ll work them to death, ‘til they’re in early graves.”

“Now, Sadie, you know they’re called elves.

Some work in factories, some spy on shelves.”

“You spy on little kids while they sleep?

I think that’s awesome, but you know I’m a creep.

Anyway, we’ll have them make something the kiddies can use.

In fact, you might even say it’s something they will abuse.”

“Is it drugs?  It’s drugs, isn’t it?” Santa asked, shaking his head.

“No, Sadie, I’m not giving little kids meth.”

“Giving? We’re selling,” Sadie said with a smirk.

“Once I learn how to deliver to jerks.”

Santa sighed, “I guess we can use my reindeer and sled.”

“Uh, reindeer?  You mean those things in the shed?”

“What did you do?” Santa’s voice was thick from defeat.

“I guess from your tone they weren’t meant to eat.”

“That’s it.  I’m done.  Get out we are through.”

“Yeah, right.  Who are you?

Don’t forget, Santa, you and I, we are twins,”

Sadie said, approaching Santa with a grin.

“Sadie, what do you plan to do?”

“I plan to first murder, then become you.”

“Please, no,” Santa said as he let out a scream.

Sadie laughed. “Now I can fuck shit up beyond my wildest dreams.”

Christmas Eve 2017

“All I’m saying is that I work as hard as he does,” Jared said, talking to his sister Lucy as they drove home on Christmas Eve.  “Sure, I have less experience, produce less, have fewer responsibilities, spend half my time eating or on break, and work in a different industry, but still.  I deserve to make the same, don’t you think?”

“If you’re going to rely on false equivalencies to make your point, you may want to try leaving out the facts.  Just saying,” Lucy said, staring uneasily out the window as the snow started to pick up.  “Anyway, how about keeping your eyes on the road, huh?”

“Relax, Lucy bean,” Jared said, his easy demeanor at odds with his intent stare out the windshield.  “We’re almost home.  We just have to take it nice and slow and we’ll be home in no time.”

“We’d already be there if you hadn’t made us drop off Rock and Jacob,” Lucy said, making sure to mention the main characters so the reader knows what series this story is a part of, necessitated by the fact that the main characters are notably absent from this story.  They sat in silence for a moment.  “So, you going to church with us tomorrow?”

Jared laughed.  “Don’t be ridiculous.  They aren’t going to have church services tomorrow.  It’s Christmas.”

“You’re an idiot,” Lucy said, fighting back a smirk.

“Calm down.  I’ll be there.”

“Remember when you see Tara not to let her know that you know she’s engaged.  She wants it to be a surprise to everybody, so let her tell you.”

“Won’t be a problem.  I don’t care enough about Tara to remember she’s engaged.”

“Don’t be a…look out!”

A purple truck pulled out of the gas station in front of them, close enough that they would have been cut off even in decent weather.  Jared slowed down, but the truck began to spin out on the slick surface.  As he quickly approached the truck, Jared laid on the horn, yelled and pulled the wheel to the left.  He managed to narrowly avoid the truck, sliding into the crowded gas station as the truck regained its traction and drove off.  He stopped for a moment, then pulled into a parking space.

“Are you okay?” he asked, turning to Lucy.

“Yeah, I’m fine.  What the fuck was that idiot doing?”

“I don’t know.  Don’t worry about it.  It’s alright,” Jared said, his voice calm but with an underlying hint of anger.

“Whatever.  Let’s just get home.”

“Right.  Just give me a moment.”  Jared sat back in his seat and closed his eyes.  For about a minute, the two sat in silence.  Then, Jared sat forward and put the car in reverse.  Before he could pull forward, he looked in the rearview mirror and froze.

“Shit.  Wait here,” Jared said firmly to Lucy.  Lucy watched in confusion as Jared got out of the car, and followed Jared’s gaze to the purple truck that had pulled up behind them.

“What’s up, pal?”  Jared called out over the noise of the busy gas station as the driver of the truck exited his vehicle.  He took a step forward, trying to be as intimidating as possible while keeping a friendly demeanor in the hopes of avoiding the confrontation.  The driver continued going through his truck, looking for something, and Jared considered charging him before he could find whatever he was looking for.  The driver fully exited the vehicle.  In his right hand he held a gun.

“What, are you going to shoot me?  Over a traffic dispute?  Seriously,” Jared said, trying not to show the fear that consumed his stomach in that moment.  The fear left as he looked at the man.  It wasn’t anger that he saw in the man’s eyes as he raised the gun and pointed it toward his own head.

“Come on, man,” Jared said, more relaxed now that he realized he wasn’t personally in any danger.  “You’re not going to kill yourself over a minor mistake like that.  Why don’t you tell me what’s really going on with you?”

“What’s it matter?” the man asked, fighting back tears.  “I’m an idiot, right?  That’s what you said.  What do you care what I do?”

“Dude, it was a mistake.  Everybody makes them.  You aren’t getting that upset over it.  Something else is bothering you.  Tell me.”

“What do you care?”

“What do you?” Jared said.  “You’re going to kill yourself anyway.  What’s it matter to you if somebody knows why?  Come on, man.  You’re about to fuck up my little sister’s Christmas.  You can at least tell me why.”

The man started to cry.  “Because… because I’m a fuck up, man.  I can’t even support my family.  I can’t support my kids, and my wife left me.  It’s fucking Christmas and I don’t even get to see my kids?  What type of loser is that?”

“Dude.  That sucks.  That’s just…that’s hard man,” Jared said, slowly approaching the man.  “How old are the kids?”

“What’s it matter?”

“It doesn’t.  What are their names?”

“Gregory, he’s my son.  He’s three.  And my little baby, Tianna, she just turned one,” the man said, breaking down more.  Jared reached his arms out, and the man fell into his embrace, resting his head and crying on Jared’s shoulder.  Jared slowly ran his hand down the man’s right arm as the flashing lights approached, and gently removed the gun from his hand.  Jared bent over and laid the gun on the ground as the police approached, and allowed them to take control of the situation.  After he’d given a brief statement, he got back into the car.

“What the fuck was all that about?” Lucy asked.

“Nothing.  Just somebody having a bad day.”

The Football Match- Part 5

Intro- https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/the-football-match-intro/

Part 4- https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/24/the-football-match-part-4/

“Morning, William,” Norman said, greeting William as he entered the office and walked past the receptionist’s desk.

“Morning,” William said with a brief smile at Norman and a nod to Michelle.  The smile turned to a scowl as soon as his back was to them, and Norman returned to his hushed conversation with the receptionist.  William placed his cup of coffee and bottle of water down on his desk and looked at the clock on the wall, which read five minutes to nine.  He took a deep breath, leaned back in his chair, and took a big sip of water.  Then he placed the water bottle down and got to work.

“How’s it going, William?” Norman asked, making himself at home in the guest seat across the desk from William.  William shrugged.

“Well, enough, I guess.  Though I suppose you’re about to tell me.”

Norman chuckled.  “Fair enough.  I did want to talk to you.  Do you have a moment?”

“Sure.  Go ahead.”

Norman looked surprised by the response.  “Really?  No wise-ass remarks?  No trying to avoid or postpone our conversation?”

William shrugged.  “It will only delay the inevitable.  Playing those stupid games only wastes both our times.  What did you want to talk to me about?”

“Well, this, actually,” Norman said, leaning forward momentarily before sitting up straight in his chair.  “Your demeanor.  These past few weeks I’ve noticed a change in your attitude.”

“Really?” William said with a confused look.  “Because I’ve always been a miserable prick.  Frankly, I don’t know how you didn’t pick up on it until recently.”

“No, that’s just the thing.  You used to be a miserable prick.  These past few weeks you’ve been, I don’t know.  More content.  High on life, almost.”

“Are you suggesting I’m bipolar?  Because they make medications for that, but I assure you I’m not.  I can show you a doctor’s note if need be.”

“No, but you’ve seemed better.  Happier.”

“Really?” William asked.

“Well, less prick-like at any rate,” Norman said, qualifying his response.  “The point is that your attitude has improved.”

“And this is a problem because?”

“Like any company, we want to grind our employees into the ground until they become depressed, defeated husks of humanity droning about their tasks as they await their inevitable death, and you’re messing with our modus operandi.”

“That’s what I figured.”

“In all seriousness, though, I’m not the only one who’s noticed,” Norman said.  “Talking to Michelle earlier, she said the same thing.”

“Michelle said that?”

“And a few others,” Norman said, nodding.  “I haven’t heard any feedback from clients to that effect, but I’m sure if you keep it up, they’ll take note as well.”

“So what I’m hearing is that you want to give me a raise?”

“Haha,” Norman said with a broad smile on his face.  His face quickly turned serious and severe.  “No.  I haven’t seen any hard numbers that say your actual performance is improving.”

“Are you saying the sunshine shooting out my ass isn’t increasing profits?”  William asked.  “Then what’s it matter to you?”

“It matters because your new attitude hasn’t impacted your performance.  Yet,” Norman said.  “But if you keep it up, it will.  Take today for instance.  I wanted to talk to you, and you immediately asked what it was about instead of jerking me around like the dick you are for twenty minutes like you used to.  And you were in early.  I can’t remember the last time that happened.”

“It’s been awhile,” William conceded.

“No.  I can’t remember it because it’s never happened.  My point is that this increased efficiency and punctuality will pay off if you give it time.”

“I hope so,” William said, waiting for Norman to finish.  When he didn’t continue, William asked, “So, is there a point to all this?”

“Not really.  I just wanted to say good job,” Norman said, rising from his seat.  “You know, my job isn’t only to lash the whip when people slack off.  I also like to make sure people know that we notice when they do well.”

“I’ve never seen you do that before.”

“You’ve never done well before.  Keep it up,” Norman said, looking down at William’s desk.  He started to leave, when something caught his eye and he stopped suddenly.  “What’s this?”

“Oh, it’s just a donation sheet for some charity thing,” William said, grabbing the sheet away.  “Hugh’s school is doing it, and I agreed I’d participate.  That’s all.”

“Yeah, I’m aware of it.  Devon’s dealership is one of the sponsors of the event,” Norman said.  “I guess I’ll see you there.  You going to be running?”

“Yeah.  Why?”

Norman shrugged.  “You just never struck me as much of a runner, that’s all.  Well, unless you’re running after a football.”  Norman pulled a pen from his pocket and reached out his hand.  “Here.  Let me pledge for you.”

“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” William said dismissively.

“No, I want to,” Norman said, his hand still reached out.  William hesitated, and Norman persisted.  “Please.  I insist.”

“Alright,” William said, acquiescing and handing over the sheet to Norman.  As Norman filled out his space on the sheet, William added, “I guess it’s good to donate to stuff like that, you know?  It makes it look like you care.”

“I do care,” Norman said, finishing up and handing the sheet back to William.  “After all, without the internet, how are those kids going to watch porn?”

 

“I’m telling you he’s mocking me,” William insisted to Hugh as the two showed up for the fun run.  “I’ll bet the whole reason he agreed to donate for me was so that he could make fun of how far I ran.  Probably so he can make fun of me behind my back to that slut Michelle that he’s banging.”

“I doubt that.  And you said yourself that you have no evidence that they’re banging.”

“She’s French.  They’re banging,” William said matter-of-factly.  “Having sex is like shaking hands for them.  It’s more common courtesy than anything else.”

“Alright, well, I’m not sure that’s true, but why do you have to be so cynical?” Hugh said as he saw his wife waving to him and the two started to walk in her direction.  “Maybe he just wants to donate to a good cause.”

“Please.  Giving porn to kids doesn’t exactly make you Mother Theresa,” William said.  “Besides, I can feel the judgment in his eyes every time I talk to him.  Hi, Amy.”

“Hi, William,” Amy said sweetly, hugging William before kissing her husband on the cheek.

“Just because you can feel it, doesn’t mean it’s there.  You may be reading your own insecurities into his actions,” Hugh suggested.

“What the fuck does that mean?”

“It means that you feel bad about yourself, so you assume he’s judging you for the same shortcomings for which you’re secretly judging yourself,” Hugh said, looking down at William and raising his eyebrows.  “Perhaps if you took this new training regimen of ours more seriously, you wouldn’t be in this situation.”

“I’m going to find the kids.  I’ll see you after the race,” Amy said, starting to walk away.  “Good luck.  Good luck, William.”

“Thanks, Amy,” William said, starting to stretch half-heartedly.  “And I do take our training seriously.  I haven’t missed a day yet.”

“No, but you still go out drinking every night.”

“So?”

“So, when you show up, you’re always tired and hung over.”

William scowled.  “Not always,” he said quietly.

“You’re tired and hung over now.”

“It’s early.”

“But you knew you had a race, and you still didn’t get a good night’s sleep.  That’s my point.  Getting into shape requires more than just getting a little more exercise.  You have to take care of your body in general.  And when you see someone like Norman who does that, it makes you feel insecure about your own inability or unwillingness to do so, and so you assume he’s mocking you for it, when in reality it’s just your own subconscious gnawing at you.”

“I don’t know.  Maybe you’re right.  On the other hand, maybe he’s a cunt and I should punch him in the face.”

“I wouldn’t recommend that,” Hugh said.

“Why not?  It’s freedom of expression.  I am a human being and have an innate right to express myself.  In this case, by punching Norman in the face.”  William paused for a moment, continuing to stretch.  Then he looked at Hugh.  “Violence is a protected form of self-expression, right?”

“I don’t think so, but that wasn’t my point,” Hugh said, bending over and trying to touch his toes.  He looked up at William.  “My point is that he would kick your ass.”

“He wouldn’t…” William began.  He stopped and thought about it.  “Shit.  He would, wouldn’t he?”

“Absolutely.  He’s got half a foot and about 3 stone on you,” Hugh said, standing up straight.  He looked around sheepishly.  “Alright, I’ll see you after the race.”

“Wait.  Where are you going?” William asked as Hugh started to walk away.  Hugh stopped and turned around, walking back up to William.

“I’m going around back to take a leak behind the dumpster,” he whispered into William’s ear.

“That’s a great idea,” William said, clapping his hands.  “You do that, and I’ll go take a dump in the sink.”

“Why would you take a dump in the sink?” Hugh asked with a confused look on his face.

“Because we’re defiling this event.  Aren’t we?” William asked.  “Is that not what we’re doing?  I thought that’s what we were doing.”

“Why would we defile a charitable event?”

“Because Devon’s car dealership is sponsoring, and he’s a dick.”

“No.  My school is also responsible for this,” Hugh said, walking away slowly.  After a few steps, he stopped and turned around.  “I’ll see you after the race.  Don’t, uh, please don’t defecate anywhere in the meantime.”

 

William crossed the line, completing another lap, the lap that would be his last of the day.  He stepped off the track and held his hands above his head before collapsing red-faced onto his ass.  After catching his breath for a few minutes, he slowly made his way back to his feet and walked over to the table where volunteers were handing out water to the participants.

“Water, sir?” one of the volunteers asked as William approached.

“Only if you don’t have any beer,” William said.  The volunteer laughed and handed William a plastic cup filled with water, which he accepted with disappointment.  He took his water and stood off to the side, watching the remaining runners continue around the track.  He managed to identify Hugh and the Stinger brothers, all of whom were still going strong.

“William?” A woman’s voice from behind caught his attention.  He turned around to see Jackie Lewison standing behind him, looking beautiful, in his eyes at least, despite her flushed face and messy hair.

“Oh, Jackie,” William said, spilling a bit of water on himself as he fumbled about with it.  “How are you?”

“Sorry.  I didn’t mean to startle you,” she said softly, with a sweet smile.

“Oh, please.  You didn’t startle me,” William said, waving his hand dismissively and laughing off his startled reaction.  “So, what brings you here?”

Jackie pointed to her athletic attire and sweaty appearance.  “Participating in the run.”

“Right, right.  Of course.  I knew that.  I just wasn’t expecting to see you here, that’s all.”

Jackie smiled.  “Well, Devon’s dealership is helping sponsor the event, so I felt kind of obligated.  Besides, I like this sort of thing.  It’s a nice way to get outside and get some exercise while doing some good and meeting some interesting people.”

“Sure.  I completely agree,” William said.  He paused and looked around.  “Speaking of Devon, I don’t see him around anywhere.  Did he bail on his own event?”

“Oh, he’s still plugging away on the track,” Jackie said with a chuckle.  She shook her head.  “I like to think I’m in pretty good shape, but I can’t keep up with him.  We tried to run together for a brief while, but I could tell he just wanted to move faster.”

“Oh, of course he is,” William said under his breath with a scowl.  He stood there silently, shifting his feet for an awkward while before Jackie broke the silence.

“So, did you participate?”

“Ah, yes.  Yes I did,” William said with a smile, nodding proudly.  “And you?

“I already told you yes, William.”

“I know, I know,” William said, shaking his head and grimacing.  “It’s just kind of a natural question, you know?  Kind of comes out automatically.”

“Sure,” Jackie said with another soft, sweet smile.  “So, is this your first time?  You never struck me as much of a fitness enthusiast.”

“Yeah, well, you know.  I’m trying to take better care of myself,” William said, attempting to shrug nonchalantly.  “I even took up meditating recently.”

“Really?” Jackie said, raising her eyebrows with an impressed look on her face.  “What type of meditation do you do?”

William shook his head at a loss for words.  “I don’t do meditation,” he conceded.  “But I’ve been meaning to start.”

“Oh.  Well, that’s just as good.”

“Yeah, well it’s a process, you know.”

“Sure.”

“Make a lot of small changes for the better, as opposed to try them all at once and get overwhelmed.”

Jackie smiled.  “That’s a solid plan.”

“So, I started running.  There’s a start.”

“Got to start somewhere, I suppose.”

“And then I started eating healthier.  Nothing major, just substituting veggies for chips and the like.  Water instead of soda.”

“No, that’s good.  That’s really good,” Jackie said supportively.

“I plan to start meditating soon, now that I’ve grown accustomed to my new regimen.”

Jackie nodded.

“I plan to quit drinking.”

Jackie laughed.  “Seriously?  I’ll believe that when I see it.”

“Well, drink less, anyway.”

“That sounds like a better idea.  You don’t have to give up everything you like.  Just, you know, moderation.  A smarter substitute here or there.  That’s all it takes.”

“That’s the plan,” William said quietly.  The two stood in awkward silence again.  William looked away, and Jackie looked at her feet.

“So, how far did you run?” Jackie asked, breaking up the silence.

“Four kilometers.”

“Not, bad,” Jackie said.

“You?”

“Six.”

“Very impressive,” William said.  “That’s a good job.”

“Yeah.  Well, I was a bit tired today.  I usually can make it ten, but it’s been a rough week.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.  What happened?”

“Oh, it’s nothing.  Been a bit sick is all.”

“I see,” William said, faking a cough into his hand.  “Yeah, I think I’m coming down with something myself.  I was a bit off my game today.”

“It happens,” Jackie said.  She smiled at William and gestured away.  “Well, I should get going.  Devon should be finishing up soon, and we have to get home.”

“Of course.  And how far does Devon usually run?” William asked, putting a mocking intonation on the word ‘Devon’ and hoping it wasn’t too obvious.

“Oh, he’ll go at least ten, probably closer to twelve or fifteen.  But it looks like the event is wrapping up.  I’ll see you around, William,” Jackie said with another soft, sweet smile.  She turned and started to walk away.  After a few steps she stopped and turned around.  “It was really nice to see you again, William.”

“You too,” William said.  The two smiled at each other, then Jackie turned and walked away again.  William watched, his face long and sad, as she left, keeping his eyes on her until she disappeared into the crowd.  He took a deep breath in and sighed.  Suddenly, he felt a large slap on his back.

“There you are, buddy,” Lester said, putting his arm around William.  “Let’s go.  We’ve decided to head to the Holstein for a pint and a bite to eat.”

“You go ahead,” William said, still looking off into the distance.  “I think I’ll pass.  I’ve been meaning to cut back on the beer and pub food.”

Daddy’s Going to Jail

Well, son, it’s time for daddy to go away

And though normally it’s because I don’t want to stay

With you and mom, you two are the worst.

Whatever, I’m sorry, this speech ain’t rehearsed.

Anyway, just know, I don’t want to be leaving.

Well, I do, but I don’t want to go where I’m heading.

You know how your friend Jimmy’s daddy goes away for a while?

That guy with the living room in vintage Hollywood style?

He has to go out of town for his work

While leaving his wife for the mailman to pork.

Man, that mom is a nice piece of ass.

I wonder if she’d fuck me if I sold her some grass.

Your mom would be pissed after I pulled that stunt.

Still, I wouldn’t mind licking her…uh, butt?

Sorry, forgot I was talking to a five-year old kid.

A kid who’s too dumb to know what sex is.

Anyway, Jimmy’s dad leaves for a week and he doesn’t shed tears.

You might want to, because I’ll be gone for three to five years.

You see, this time daddy is going to jail.

It’s a place for people that society’s failed.

See it’s not daddy’s fault that he sold all those drugs.

Daddy’s daddy didn’t give enough hugs.

Well, he did, but that isn’t the point.

The point is it’s dumb to ban a joint.

Or the oxycontin that I sold to those kids.

It’s not my fault one didn’t know what his limit is.

Or was, I guess, now that he’s dead.

I traded it for fifteen-year old head.

You see, the man passes laws against love

Or at least sex with a minor without wearing a glove.

Which is ironic, because now daddy’s going upstate

To a place that’s a safe space to commit anal rape.

Though daddy will be pounding unwilling cellmates each day

That probably won’t stop him from getting the AIDS.

Which I’ll bring home from prison and give to your mommy

Before running off to some ranch with a commie

Who’s younger, prettier, and a better lay

Who’s running from a daddy who beats her each day.

The point is remember that your daddy got screwed

By society, and which actions it considers lewd.

So while daddy’s gone, remain strong and stout,

And hold onto these pills until daddy gets out.