Yesterday I started to revisit a novel I started a couple of years ago (there are so many of them). I’ll have you know, while it is imperative for me as a writer to “write what you know” as they say, I do have a rather astounding capacity for fiction writing. Though much of my success as a writer has been my blogging endeavors and in a close second my efforts as a playwright, fiction writing has been my calling for quite sometime, I just have this longwinded plan of increasing my accolades so I have a really good statement for my book jacket when it comes time to publish. In the meantime I’ve been honing my skills as an erotica writer (Verbal Intercourse and Grass Less Green by Bimbo Savant), a creative journalist (Art Connect Berlin Blog), and a general all around blogger documenting my endeavors as an artist (Flavors Me Profile).
Without going into much detail about the content of this work and without referencing too many other writers (it’s taken me YEARS to find my own literary voice) – I will say that this is a coming of age slash rite of passage tale about four artists living in post-Bush America, more specifically in Philadelphia. It is written in two different tenses and if any inspirational reference is needed, see: “The Slaves of New York” by Tama Janowitz.
Yesterday I got through to editing 55 pages…here is about where I left off:
Lying on the mod, caramel colored leather convertible futon in Kevin’s apartment, Paul was staring again at the bookshelves across the room. Like before, his eyes were focusing in and out as if he were looking through a camera lens and the variety of the dancing colors made him dizzy but amused. He was lying on his back, his head turned to the right, his hands holding each other across his torso where his ribs meet his belly.
Kevin and Paul have been friends since high school. Kevin never made it to college and became an HVAC guy by default, married and divorced when he was 20, never had any kids, and now enjoys the comfortable detachment he gets from happy hour and last call dating. Kevin is also Paul’s pot dealer and pseudo therapist since Paul hasn’t held onto a lot of friends since the baby was born and he doesn’t believe in talking about your problems to strangers who have no solutions.
Kevin is one of those eternal Mama’s Boy types, whose mother insists on buying his clothes, doing his laundry and his grocery shopping for him on a precise schedule every two weeks even though he is thirty-two. Kevin has never worn a pair of underwear that was more than two months old. Ever.
Some might say this is why he is single. He dates vulnerable drunk girls and lives in a shabby one bedroom closet in an unkempt high-rise near the Art Museum, but really, Kevin is just low maintenance. Mother’s work never done notwithstanding, Kevin doesn’t have a lot of hobbies or favorites or family members besides his mom to keep him busy. He doesn’t read, doesn’t have a TV show he watches every week, he doesn’t even have a particular pizza joint he always orders from. He just likes smoking weed and listening to the radio. Every so often he’ll play his Wii, but besides that, he sits around a lot.
His apartment doesn’t provide Paul with much visual stimulation, the only objects in his dwelling reflecting any color are a few scattered pieces of mail on his breakfast bar (which is basically a hole in the wall with a shelf next to an entryway that leads into the alley kitchen), the few pictures of his niece his mom posted on the refrigerator, the dying plant next to the sliding glass window (mom was never good with plants, therefore she claims “I don’t do plants”), and the (ironically enough) generic Wassilly Kandinsky framed print hanging above the grey recliner in the corner of the living room.
The apartment is adorned in drab. Since Kevin cares about nothing, he owns little and keeps most of his items out of plain sight because the space is very small. The kitchen leads into the living room which leads into the bedroom which leads into the bathroom. It’s one big eat-shit-sleep functional space. The mod leather couch was a gift of his ex-girlfriend, she needed a place to keep it since she was moving from New York to Philly (they met online 3 months before they actually met) and 3 months later, she never wanted to talk to him again.
Out of everything in the living room, it was the most interesting. The books on the shelves were bullshit. Big thick phone books, John Grisham novels, Chinese Takeout menus: only things a real man would need.
Paul couldn’t stop thinking about manhood, the weed he had just smoked, how hot that ex-girlfriend of Kevin’s was. His mind was in a tight swirl and he turned his head up to look at the ceiling. There it was: the most disgusting thing he could ever see.
Kevin’s ceiling fan was one of those “Contractor’s Choice” type ceiling fans that was the most economical kind to buy. It was fake wood with fake bronze trim and had 3 gaudy frosted lights sticking out of the center of the fake bronze reflective surface. On each blade, on the edge tilted slightly towards the ceiling, lay big, dark, furry clops of dirt. These horrid clumps, these disgusting dust bunnies, made Paul’s heart jump a little bit. His adrenaline rushed through his temples and down through his chest as his mouth gaped open a little bit.
Paul always had a special distaste for dirt. Just putting those two words in the same sentence (taste and dirt) would make him sick to his stomach. It started when he was all of five years-old and his brother put his bare feet on his pillow. Enraged, he threw an onslaught of fists towards his stomach, beseeching him to remove his dirty feet from where he laid his head. Soon after began a long standing sibling rivalry where the brothers partook in sophomoric pranks on each other that ran the gamut from gross to pure evil.
Looking down at the carpet he imagined all the particles, the atoms, the molecules, the cells, the tissues, the pieces, the smallest little remnants of Paul’s daily life. Those germs and fluids and that dirt that must be rubbed and stuck deep and not so deep into the fibers of his characteristically high-rise plastic fiber synthetic man-made carpet. Paul wondered how long it’s been since the carpets were changed, let alone vacuumed or shampooed (something his mother was too appalled herself to do herself and too ambitious of an undertaking for a woman to take up had Kevin ever had any ambition to keep a woman in his life that wasn’t his mother).
Looking up at the fan Paul feared something might fall down on him and hit him in the face. It made him feel dirty and he wanted to take a shower immediately. He wondered what kind of boogers were on the couch and what toe nail clippings were on the floor and what other body shavings and the like were scattered everywhere. Hair was everywhere. Living cells. Juices, moisture, DNA, flavor crystals. Paul wanted to wash his hands thinking about it. He couldn’t get the uncomfortable feeling to subside, his heart pounding and pounding away until at last, he passed out.
© Louis DeVaughn Nelson