Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
The Creep On The Borderlands
Without Tallulah time seemed to slow to a crawl and the next few months were agony. I spent New Year’s Eve at home. A new President was sworn in but I barely noticed. School and my writing were all I had now and while my grade point average was slowly increasing so was my pile of rejection slips. I asked a few girls out over the winter break but had no success whatsoever.
I spent some time commiserating with Kevin K. Hanson and Marv. Coincidentally we had all been dumped by our girlfriends around the same time so we spent our Saturday nights talking about what we wanted from love and life. When that was done we would all pile into my car and take turns driving by each of our exes houses so we could shout obscenities and speed away.
Then in the spring I fell off the wagon.
We were proud of this year’s edition of the college literary journal. We weren’t proud of the job the printer did though, formatting errors led to several pieces being omitted from the table of contents. We printed correction sheets on bright yellow paper but that meant someone had to slip one of those pieces of paper into each of the five hundred copies of Rhythms magazine. That task fell to Will and myself.
There we were on a Friday night in a cramped little room doing our duty for art.
“How many have you done?” I asked.
Will ran his hands through his hair, “One hundred I think. I’ve lost count.”
“Thank god we’ve got music to help us pass the time.” I frowned, I hadn’t done half as many as him.
“Yeah about those mix tapes of yours.”
“I can make you copies”
“Actually,” Will said; “I was going to ask if you could just play the radio for a while. I mean I appreciate them, if not for you I would never have known there was a 12 minute dance remix of Don’t Pay the Ferryman but I just would like to hear some classic rock for a while.”
“There’s classic rock on these.”
“Hawkwind is not the kind of classic rock I’m talking about.”
I stopped the tape and fired up the radio, and tuned it to the local rock station, a Van Halen song was just wrapping up. Will gave me an appraising look, “Are you all right?”
“You still upset about Tallulah?”
“Nah. It’s just as well really, a stallion’s gotta roam free,” I grabbed another handful of bright yellow correction sheets and received another paper cut. Truly I was suffering for the literary world.
“Are you upset we didn’t put any of your stories in the journal is it?”
“No.” I said, “Not at all. I mean you’re idiots for not doing so but it takes a while for great genius to be appreciated.”
“You wrote a story about living asphalt.”
“It was a metaphor.”
“And another story was about a killer penis.”
I smiled, “A wry commentary upon the battle of the sexes in this modern age.”
Will placed another stack of magazines aside and got to work on the next set, “And the one about the kid that uses out of body experiences to get revenge on his enemies?”
“Ah yes, Tristam’s Horrifying High School Hi-jinks. I think that might be my definitive work. You guys really passed up a great short story there.”
“It was four hundred pages long. There is no such thing as a four hundred page short story.”
“Tell that to Stephen King.” I said smugly.
Will paused thoughtfully, “You should try to sell it as a novel but you’ve got to change that title. Maybe you should call it The Cold Inside.”
“Ugh. That is the worst title I’ve ever heard. No one would ever want to buy anything called The Cold Inside.”
The commercial faded from the radio and Just What I Needed by the Cars started to play. I had to sit down, that had been one of our songs.
Will shouted a warning, “You’re sitting on the books!”
The loose pile of poetry and stories collapsed sending me to the floor. Unfortunately my fall had mixed the corrected editions with the uncorrected, so it was back to square one. “Another thing,” Will said, “every story you submitted had a red haired girl being killed in a grisly fashion.”
“Really?” I couldn’t look him in the eye. “I didn’t notice.”
“You need to blow off some steam, this thing is eating you up.”
When the song ended I breathed a sigh of relief, “I appreciate your concern but I am working through it.”
The worst part of losing Tallulah was not understanding what I had done wrong. Was it the fact I still lived with my parents? Was it my comic book collection? Was it my unwillingness to make love outdoors? Sure we tried it the one time and everything was going fine until a mosquito decided to sting me on the scrotum. That had really thrown me off my stride.
Of course being allergic meant that the swelling the next day had been pretty damn impressive.
“You used to play D&D didn’t you?” Will asked.
I smiled a little, “Dungeons and Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, Champions, and Chill. I did it all in high school.”
“I’m in a D&D game. You should join us.”
“I don’t know.” I inhaled deeply, the air in the room smelled like sweat, farts and cheap ink. It kind of reminded me of a game store. “It’s been a while.”
“Oh come on, you can meet some new friends with similar interests.” Will said, “I’ll bet you’ll have a great time.
Role playing games… again… at 22? Why not? I thought to myself, There's nothing wrong with just one game is there?
“OK sure.” I grinned, “Just so long as there are no weirdoes.”