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View Full Version : A Life Well Wasted (A Short Excerpt, language, 1287 words).



joshybo
November 9th, 2014, 05:06 AM
It was a dark and stormy night. Only it wasn't really night yet, more like twiligh—err, uh, dusk. And it wasn't really what you'd call 'stormy', probably, but it had been drizzling like a motherfucker. The world felt damp and useless when I stepped outside. Ill-fitting. Like a years-old sweater that'd been pulled prematurely from the dryer 'cause you'd initially convinced yourself that you weren't quite that fat and had subsequently just been too stubborn to admit, even to yourself, that you were, in fact, most certainly incorrect regarding your initial assessment of said sweater. You were fat. Get over it. It happens.

Anyways, I hastily made my way to the dry-and-heated sanctity of my Chevrolet Cobalt. It didn't have remote-start because I wasn't aware that that feature even existed in this model until well after I had bought it, and buyer's remorse is a thing and so are #firstworldproblems, so I just chalked it up to the latter and started the damned thing after I got in it like any blue-blooded American would have done prior to the new millennium. It was cold at first, but warmed to an acceptable level after a few minutes of semi-manual heating. That last part wasn't really necessary to describe, but I just personally feel like a two-sentence paragraph is an inexcusable faux pas. So I made it be five sentences instead.

My ill-advisedly bald tires slid treacherously from side to side as I ventured forth unto my predetermined destination: the liquor store housed inside of the Food City grocery store just a minute's drive from my work. Even as I made my way toward the decided store, the mere thought of purchasing my alcohol-of-choice from a nationwide retailer made the whole experience seem somehow cheapened and less genuine. I felt deep within as though real alcohol should only be served from some nondescript glass bottle behind a vague and dusty counter in some understated, late-night watering hole, free of all the blasť promises of commercially-delivered chain retailers. Then again, this particular storefront's prices did undersell the local competitors' by almost two whole dollars off of their retail prices, so morals-be-damned! I purposefully strode into the belly of the corporate beast in search of my typical choice of alcoholic beverage. Tonight's selection was, as was most nights, Old Grand-Dad 114-Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Inexpensive and high-proof bourbon was my weakness, and Old Grand-Dad just always seemed to know exactly how best to deliver it. Inexpensively. And high-in-proof. It wasn't rocket science and it still isn't. More distilleries need jump on-board the cheap, strong booze bandwagon, in my opinion. But I digress. I do that a lot, actually. You'll figure that out as the story continues.

My selection in hand, I made my way toward the cashier's counter at the front of the store. The cashier this evening was unfamiliar to me, which was odd as I'd been stopping in regularly for the past five months or so, typically three to four times a week. “Find everything okay?” she asked as I sat my bottle down onto the counter top in front of her.

“Yeah. Just fine,” I responded cordially, hopeful that the intended casualness of my tone would imply that I was assuredly twenty-one years old or older. I was, in fact, twenty-nine but I was regularly asked at many varied locations to show identification when attempting to procure alcohol or pornographic magazines or poker chips or what-have-you, and I had made a bad habit of not carrying my driver's license in my wallet due to it being ludicrously expired as a result of sheer and utter laziness. My baby-faced good looks typically betrayed me in this regard.

“Cool,” she answered, keying into the register that my age had been dutifully confirmed (although it hadn't) with a generic birthdate of 1/1/1959 (although it wasn't). At first, her readied acceptance of my appearance as a fifty-five year old man somewhat offended me. I quickly reminded myself, however, that this meant that I would not have to engage in the socially-awkward song and dance of, “I don't have my license, but seriously, I'm old enough to buy this fire water,” which I was desperate to avoid, so I almost instantly made peace with my obviously beleaguered, world-weary appearance and proceeded to slide my credit card through the terminal in front of me which had been conveniently designed for that very purpose. “I love your hoodie, by the way,” the young girl behind the counter added, indicating my Welcome to Night Vale Sheriff's Secret Police hoodie which I just so happened to be wearing at that very moment.

“Ah,” I answered, still not entirely comfortable with concept of exchanging routine small-talk with other sentient beings. “You a Night Vale fan?” It seemed an appropriate question to ask in lieu of quite literally any other thing which I might have said, most of which would have simply been quasi-verbal forms of whimpering quietly to myself and impatientyl waiting for the uncomfortable moment of interpersonal dialogue to pass.

“I love them,” she answered, seemingly eager for our exchange to continue. “You know, I've seen you in here a few times,” she continued, the authorization of my credit card purchase taking much longer than desired to process. “You're in here, like, every other day.”

“Yeah,” I replied, nervously anticipating the 'Accepted' message of the credit card terminal in front of me. “I come here a lot, I guess.”

The young lady swept her hair pseudo-casually behind right ear, tucked it in neatly beside the thicker-than-necessary frame of her glasses, “So, I was wondering, do you, like, hang out around town on the weekends? Maybe we know some of the same people?”

The 'Accepted' message finally appeared on the credit card terminal as it requested the confirmation of my purchase as well as my signature. “No, probably not,” I answered. “I stay at home a lot. I know some people, but probably not the same ones you know. They stay at home a lot, too.” I didn't actually know very many people at the time. I still don't, truth be told. People are a funny business. I, honestly, would much prefer the easy intimacy of cheap bourbon and internet exploration against the discomfort of personal interaction any day. Yet, somehow, I knew that was a socially inappropriate response, so I lied to her instead.

“Oh.” The rejection in her voice rang loud and clear, a sound to which I, myself, was much accustomed, although its lonely familiarity in this matter did not sway me in the slightest. “I just thought, maybe, we might be able to hang out sometime?” She was resilient, I'll give her that.

“Seriously?” I countered, somewhat flattered, yet somewhat confused. “You said yourself that you see me in here a lot. Obviously, I'm an alcoholic. That in and of itself is the best-case scenario, as far as you know, and you really want to start off there?”

“Well, no...I...” she responded. “I hadn't really though about it like that, I don't guess,” she handed me my receipt as I picked up the small brown paper bag off of the counter top.

“Well, you should,” I offered. “You seem like a nice girl. There's a lot of psychos out there. Thanks again,” I said, tipping the brown, paper-bagged bottle in her direction.

I didn't look back as I made my way out into the dreary nothingness of the evening which lay haphazardly in front of me. Her reaction wasn't important, I'd decided. I had my bottle now. It, alone, would keep me warm throughout the drab and chilly night ahead of me, the same as countless others which had come before it.

Smith
November 9th, 2014, 07:11 PM
Tonight's selection was, as was most nights, Old Grand-Dad 114-Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Inexpensive and high-proof bourbon was my weakness, and Old Grand-Dad just always seemed to know exactly how best to deliver it. Inexpensively. And high-in-proof. It wasn't rocket science and it still isn't. More distilleries need jump on-board the cheap, strong booze bandwagon, in my opinion. But I digress. I do that a lot, actually. You'll figure that out as the story continues.

I think the first 'Old Grand-Dad' is unnecessary. Just leave it at '114-Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey'. You clear up the exact name of it in the next sentence anyway. Then again, I don't know a whole lot about alcohol, so maybe it would sound stupid that way and I just wouldn't know. Also, I understand you were trying to get across that this guy is really an alcoholic. But with everything that follows this paragraph, I don't find it necessary to repeat the proof and the fact it is inexpensive. Especially when you proceed again to say "cheap and strong booze wagon". So I'd rid of that. Less repetitive that way.

I really enjoyed this story though. It covered an insecurity of mine. Maybe it's also me being a little OCD. Anyway, I also hate paragraphs that are really short. For some reason I feel the need to lengthen them... The personality of the narrator was great and made it an entertaining and unique read. I really enjoyed the interaction between the girl and the main character. The dialogue and their actions felt believable and even like something I might say if I were in his situation. There are indeed a lot of psychos out there. About time somebody told another innocent girl that, in hopes they don't fall into a trap many of them so often do.

Thanks for the read.

joshybo
November 9th, 2014, 07:46 PM
Thank you for your feedback, Smith. I will have to look at the repetition you mentioned and see if there is a way to clean it up a bit. I very much appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

TKent
November 9th, 2014, 08:20 PM
Okay, I'm 'supposed' to be getting ready for guests at 4, but instead, I glimpse the line below, and after guffawing, I had to stop and read the rest. I predict that if Stephenie Meyer dies, she will have so much fun haunting all the Twilight naysayers on this site!!


more like twiligh—err, uh, dusk

TKent
November 9th, 2014, 08:50 PM
Okay, so I've forgiven you for your little dis on my fav teen vamp romance. I happen to like my vamps like I like my bling--sparkly and shiny when the sun hits it just right :)

Anyway, for starters, very nice piece. Nice story arch, nice hook at the beginning and nice impactful ending. Nice balance of humor and slit your wrists sadness. You sure touched a spot there at the end, made me want to go take a happy pill and make it all better. So good job at that.

Your prose is delightful. Oh to be able to say so much with a word here, a sentence there. I'm green with envy (see you would have come up with a really creative way to describe your envy, I'm stuck with a sad cliche...)

So creative, loved your writing, things like this jumped out:


and buyer's remorse is a thing and so are #firstworldproblems, so I just chalked it up to the latter


“Cool,” she answered, keying into the register that my age had been dutifully confirmed (although it hadn't) with a generic birthdate of 1/1/1959 (although it wasn't).

Some stuff that I personally would look at:

In general, there are a few sentences that are really long without proper punctuation. I realize that this rambling style is completely appropriate to the voice of this piece. My only warning would be that in general, I think you almost have to work twice as hard to make sure they are perfect grammatically and perfectly punctuated, since there is a good chance they will be read twice. I almost always get lost in reading a really long sentence and have to go back and re-read it.

I was 'almost' in love with this simile, but then it went on just a bit too long. And in re-reading it to offer a suggestion, I realized I don't actually understand the comparison completely... Did you pull it from the washer prematurely to wear it and realized it was too small? But wouldn't you have pulled it from the dryer? Anyway, I loved what you were trying to do, and you may have done it and I'm just over analyzing it, but I'd take a look just for grins.


Ill-fitting. Like a years-old sweater that'd been pulled prematurely from the washer 'cause you'd initially convinced yourself that you weren't quite that fat and had subsequently just been too stubborn to admit, even to yourself, that you were, in fact, most certainly incorrect regarding your initial assessment of said sweater.

joshybo
November 9th, 2014, 09:01 PM
You know, TKent, I think you're correct about the 'washer' line. I was attempting to accentuate the 'dampness' of the evening, but that would mean that it would have been pulled prematurely from the dryer. It was late when I wrote this, and my knowledge of bourbon is based on personal experience, so this was just an inadvertent oversight which definitely needs to be corrected. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Now go get ready for those guests of yours :).