Chapter 1

The most annoying thing about my situation was by far the easiest thing to fix. Forget that my mother was the biggest gold digger I'd ever heard of, shacking us both up with her newest overachieving, rich, and midlife crisis, alpha male wannabe she could sink her hooks into. Never mind that I could count myself lucky if the room my slut mom stashed me in had a bed AND a door within her prey's maison de luxe (that's backwards French for house of luxury). It seemed like a triviality compared to the steaming bowl of shit that was my existence, but I said it was the most annoying. Life in the shit bowl meant that things like not being annoyed or getting into awkward situations were at the top of my list for things to avoid. The daily and yearly chain of events that came from not having a phone made this the felony offender among the misdemeanors that made up the shit bowl. I was a senior at the high school for rich kids in our small metropolitan town and I was the only person attending or working that didn't have a cell phone.

It wasn't so much that I needed all of the things that a cell phone could do. The only person I had any reason to call was my mother and even then I'm sure she would just screen and ignore. The thing is that it made me everything in school that I shouldn't have been. I was studious and attentive in class. I didn't date and never went to parties. If the rare occurred, I was in on a conversation and only understood the English between the words like 'apps' or 'gigs' and the giant source of my confusion, 'chat speak'. Now that I look back on it, the phone was merely the focus of my anger of being ridiculed. I suppose that genetically speaking I was an easy target since birth, that and the glorious surname that came with my entry into the world.

Where are my manners? Hello, my name is Clayton Skwitt. Objectively I am 6'5", 165 lbs, with a great big muscle body and long thin limbs. Coupled with the apparent lack of wardrobe and that wardrobe highlighting the lankiness in my limbs I've been blessed with, my peers have honored me with the endearing sobriquet, Squid. In short, hello I am Squid. My handle was bestowed by the varsity first string quarterback the first day of my freshman year when we were assigned as lab partners in advanced chemistry (did I mention I was brainy). I reached across the table to pick up a pencil and the oh-so-bright athlete just couldn't help himself, God bless him.

"Dude, you look like a freaky squid! Sucks!" afterwards the social signal of the alpha male in the room laughing cued the rest of the herd to respond in kind. After that I was referred to as Squid. I doubt the faculty knew my real name, even with the advantage of roll call. The only way I could escape my moniker and hear my name was to go to work.

Hi, I'm Clay your rental skate disinfectant engineer professional. I got the gig because my mom's last boyfriend saw me walking home one day and in a surprising display of fatherhood (in a fucked up kind of way) he took me out for ice cream. My first instinct was sexual predator, but I reasoned with myself that I would have to first be desirable for that to be possible. It turned out he just wanted to bitch about my bloodhound-for-money mother and the way he was treated. This wasn't the first time something like this had happened but this was the first time I had gotten job offer from it, albeit a shit job. I was okay with it though. Spending the rest of my weekdays with people's foot odor and aerosol deodorant was significantly better than being at home. At least, that was my rationale when I agreed to the job. The reason I stayed was 5'5", 120 lbs, red hair and curvy. Her name was Miegan (Mee-gun). Miegan was everything I wasn't. Our first conversation left my mouth and my mind open.

"Hi I'm Clay! I work here now, doing the skate ... stink. I uh, well..."

"Oh hey, you're the fresh meat Steve was talkin' 'bout. I'm Miegan, not Megan or Meg to anything else. I'll hurt you. Physically. Other than that, it's nice to meet you Clark."

"It's uh Cla-"

"Do you eat meat Caleb? I'm vegetarian but not vegan but that would have been cool right Miegan the vegan anyways I don't eat anything with a face but I really don't think fish count so I like fish I like punk rock too not the new stuff but like the Sex Pistols and the Misfits and even the Stones and Zeppelin and that really where my whole image comes from but my parents won't let me die my hair but red's in so it's okay I guess but they won't pay for the clothes I want to wear or the classes I want to take so I go to the community college for now and work here fixing skates for Steve because I love to skate and work with my hands and tools and stuff but mainly because Steve owns the place so it's not corporate and Steve's not an asshole or anything it helps that I like to skate and I'm okay at it anyways Cliff that's about it for me what are you into?"

Seeing my mouth open wide at her nonstop information dump she just shrugged and skated back to her bench. It was two weeks before she got my name right but she could've called me shithead for all I cared. She was the only perfect human I had met. That was it. All of our conversations went thusly and I was enraptured by what she had to say and how she could say it all in one breath. As spastic as she seemed, she was actually calm when we were together, and it helped that I was the only one at RollerWhirl that wore a name tag. Her little bench was next in the back room where we kept the rental skates. Even through the stench of public's cheap ass feet I could smell the bright and beautiful perfume she wore daily. Miegan was the rose petal garnishing my shit bowl life and I savored every minute I had with her and they were all perfect. Miegan would tell me about all her conspiracy theories and the way corporate America was screwing us all. It was cute and innocent in its own way because all her problems were small time. She had a family and a good place to sleep and food to eat when she left.

Then there was home. It was typical to have to walk home, or really 50/50 since I could, maybe, get a ride from the cleaning lady if she wasn't off getting bullshit aphrodisiac food for my whore mommy. This incarnation of douche bag happened to live next to a very nice married couple and if I timed it just right, I could walk home just in time to come into view of their porch during their porch-time ritual and get invited to dinner. Dante, Andromeda and I would sit eat like a regular family. I would tell them about my day and all the wonderful things I was doing at school, Andromeda would talk about her housewifely projects up to and not including the mural she was planning for the third guest bedroom and redoing her studio. Andromeda was above all things an artist and a very accomplished one. Dante would just sit and smile and bask in the perfectness of his life.

This whole thing had started by me mowing douche bag's lawn to "earn my keep". Dante watched for a while and asked if I'd like to do his for a cool hundred bucks. After I was done Andromeda asked if I could stay for dinner. During the meal the couple asked enough of the right questions and got enough of the polite but suggestive answers to infer what my home life was like. Every time they saw me after that I was asked to dinner. My mom played like she didn't know about it but I knew she did, even though she didn't say anything about it.

That was my life and for all the things I hated about it there was something on the other end of the spectrum that balanced it out. Just like everybody else, I guess, it wasn't enough. I still had to have a damn phone.

Chapter 2 ยป