This is what she wanted: a story. Maggie wanted to be part of a story. With her hands around my neck she was finally getting what she wanted.
Now I was waiting for it all to end. Her nails digging into my skin— I’d be able to feel the blood if I could feel much of anything. It felt like my head was going to explode.
My eyes must be bulging, I thought. Hers were, too. They were green— shining with joy.
I didn’t ask for this.
Maybe her hair, I thought. Pull her beautiful, purple hair. Maybe that’ll help.
I kept going back to all the good times we had. Sushi, long walks, the first— and only— time we had sex. And our first words to each other. If only I could remember them.
As my trachea crushes under the weight of her fingers, digging into my throat, I go back to the first day we met. But I still can’t remember it. This was all part of a plan.
How the hell did we get here? To the top of Hippie Hill, Maggie choking me lifeless, my member throbbing like some sort of untamed animal. Similes were never my forte, I think.Definitely no time for improvement anymore.
And then she disappears— her purple hair, green eyes, those freckles. My vision starts fading and – even though the moon isn’t shining– God finds a way to make it all fade to black.
I haven’t been able to ejaculate in ten months. Ten months and no release. My left nut has been killing me for just as long— so that’s why I was at the doctor’s in the first place.
“We’re going to need a sample,” the doctor asked.
“Haven’t written anything in two years. Sorry,” I said.
“No, a sperm sample.”
I can’t. I said that I can’t.
“We have magazines for you— and you have a smart phone. Give it a shot.”
“No, doctor,” I said. “I can’t ejaculate. I think it could be spermataphobia.”
“That’s just,” my doctor paused, “Please, just jack off into the cup.”
“I think it’s oppositional defiance disorder or something, doc.”
“I’m not your therapist. I don’t know what that means.”
“It means I’m not going to pay you for this session.”
“That’s what insurance is for, Mr. Brown.”
Doctors were never helpful to me anyway.
Neither was my ex-girlfriend, Katy. Ever since she broke up with me on a dare— my dare, by the way— I’ve been like this. Moved up to Truckee, unable to get my rocks off. Well, it worked for a couple of years. But then that Rolling Stone interview happened. Okay, it wasn’t theRolling Stone interview either, but it definitely wasn’t helpful.
I’ve tried everything. Masturbating to pornography, masturbating at work, masturbating in my trunk. None of it has worked. The only thing I haven’t tried is sex.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ve tried sex. Or at least, I’ve tried having sex but those endeavors have gotten nowhere. For the past ten months I’ve been, for the lack of a better word, sober.
No, wait. That’s not the word. The word I’m looking for is different. It starts with a C or something.
Christ, what is that word?
Celibate. That’s the word.
She’s not picking up the phone. I need to ask her a question.
“How did we meet?” I’d ask. If only she’d pick up. But she won’t so I can’t.
Why isn’t she picking up? Is she talking to somebody else? Is she fucking somebody else? But what about me? I’m the center of the universe. I’m rage incarnate. Give me— I mean, I demand all of your attention and time.
Still ringing. Please pick up.
It feels like we’ve met three or four times. Not just once. I remember one of the times— it definitely wasn’t the first time, though.
“I’m Maggie,” she said. She put her hand out to shake.
“I know, you told me that the last time we met,” I said. Of course I hadn’t forgotten who she was— maybe I had forgotten meeting her but I hadn’t forgotten her. She seemed so smart the first few times we met— could it all be a front? I shook her hand anyway, yet again.
“Aren’t you in my math class?” she asked.
And in my dreams, I thought. But not right now— don’t say that. Not yet. Wait until the wedding or something.
“Yeah, we sit next to each other.”
Still ringing. Please pick up.
What would I even say if she picked up? Probably what I had planned to say: “Maggie, I’m going to sushi on Saturday night and I wanted to know if you wanted to come along.” This would be a date— my first in years. I’m not even in this for the sex. There won’t even be the sex, I’m sure of it.
There won’t be the sex but it’ll at least be on the table, probably in between the wasabi and the saki. I don’t really care— I’m looking for more than sex right now.
Maybe I should tell you a little bit about Maggie— you know, before we move onto the whole sex and strangulation parts of the story.
Purple hair— we went over that already. And I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned how attractive she was and is. That’s all you really need to know. Also, trust me: you’d hit it. I know I did.
If you hate spoilers then you’re definitely reading the wrong story, by the way.
Oh yeah, I forgot: she talks. A lot. And nine times out of ten her incessant babbling is about herself. Yes, she’s her own favorite subject. Which is great because that makes the two of us.
What I mean by that is I hate myself.
She says “gorgeous” and “buddy” far too much. Examples: “That’s gorgeous”. No, bitch, that’s a fucking tree. Or, “Buddy, I need you to lie to me and then fuck me”. Correct responses are “you’re right” and “yes” because she’s always right. And yes, I will lie to you.
Her purple hair cascading on those shoulders— wait, not again. Sorry, I just really like the purple hair.
Oh, she’s probably smarter than me. And by “probably” I mean she 100% is. But all that beautiful brain power goes towards ukelele and unicycling and painting. At least mine goes to drugs.
She reminds me of a platypus. You know, one of those rare, egg-laying mammals. A mix between a beaver and a crocodile— I don’t know. But that’s what she is to me. I feel lucky to have met her, even with all of her (self)-perceived faults.
My favorite pen went through the wash. But it still works. That’s why it’s my favorite pen, I guess.
When the Rolling Stone ran their interview with me my life changed. I was— and still am, I guess— a small town writer. I had a pretty popular website and a book published at that point. I guess that hasn’t changed either. But my stories were relatively unknown then. Even in my small town, people knew I wrote but they never actually read what I wrote. It was kind of nice.
Now that’s all changed. People responded to MyGirlfriendIsOutofTown.com fine— everybody but my ex-girlfriend. But the book— Torch Your Ego— was not received very kindly. Not by my small town, hell no. It’s a fine book. Really, it’s one of my greatest accomplishments. But the things I said in that story didn’t go over well with the people of Charlie-Town. Er, Truckee, I mean. I called people names, shared secrets, and burned the whole town down.
One of my former friends said I should have titled the book Burning Bridges. Which I should have, by the way. But that’s the name of a David Bowie album. Ignorant fucker that friend was.
Oh, and Megan.
“You based the psychopathic internet arsonist on me and gave her my name?” she asked.
“You gave me permission,” I said.
“Sure, but I thought you were going to be nicer than that.”
“I’m thinking we can’t be friends anymore.”
“I know we can’t be friends anymore.”
And that was that. She wasn’t the only one: Chaz, Drew, and Ariel never want to talk to me again. What bothers me, though, is Chaz is functionally illiterate; there’s no way he read the interview or the book. So what’s he complaining about?
This is how you become a recluse at age 22. Even JD Salinger would be proud of my reclusivity— If he were still alive.
I haven’t written a thing since the interview. Not until I met Maggie, that is. Or the fourth or fifth time I met Maggie— definitely not the first time I met her.
See, Larissa— one of my co-workers and my only friend— suggested I take a class or two at the local community college to get my mind back in better working order. Then I met Maggie.
“Charlie,” she said, “Write me a story.” Sure, I figured, I’ll just give her some of my old anime fan fiction and call it a day. That’ll get her to leave me alone.
“Write a story about me,” she said.
“I hardly know ye,” I replied.
“Well you’re going to have to get to know me, won’t you?”
It was an open invitation to be friends with somebody. And I don’t believe in the friend zone, so I saw it as an even better opportunity to take care of the pain in my left nut. Have a friend and maybe get laid on the side.
But I can’t just put my suicide plans on hold. Yet, now that I have this. It’s a new friend.
Friends hate finding you dead.
I gave up on passing math class six weeks into the semester. It was kind of like what happened with Alyssa all over again— one simply cannot concentrate when one is sitting next to Miss California’s 18 year old daughter— the ultimate specimen of beauty. That was four years ago.
Same with Maggie. She may not be the daughter of Miss California but she’s still not something you just don’t pay attention to. I mean, she’s not a “something” either— she’s a person.
Remember that: she’s a person.
But it’s hard to remember that when she’s drawing you pictures in class, making you laugh, and generally being very pretty all the time. Enchanting, even.
“My last girlfriend,” she was telling me, “used to get me beer and take me out into the woods.”
“That was kind of her,” I said. Wait— what? Girlfriend? Maggie’s a lesbian? But…she doesn’t…she doesn’t look like a lesbian. The girl of my dreams— nightmares, really— is a lesbian? Goddammit, Charlie.
Somebody help me.
Wait— I said that last part out loud. “Somebody help me,” I said.
“With what?” she said. “Math?”
“Math, yes”. Yes. Now I can get her over to my house. This really is like Alyssa all over again.
“I can help you with math,” she said.
“So…When works for you?”
Maggie thought about it— she looked like she was thinking. God, she’s pretty when she’s thinking.
“Sunday night,” she finally said. “I can make it Sunday night. Does that work for you?”
Every night works for me, I thought. This is a plan all coming together. This is going to work. My fucking nut is killing me.
“Sure, Sunday night works great.”
I gave her my address and all that jazz.
Maggie and I see each other a couple times a week. For math class, you know? I wake up in the morning not looking forward to much when it’s math days, but she always leaves me enchanted after class. We stick around the school after class and talk for a couple hours. Hours.
We learned a lot of things about each other. At least, I learned a lot of things about her. She only learned things that I felt like sharing— truth or not. Mostly not.
It became clear that I was infatuated with her. This manic pixie dream girl who can do no wrong. Literally, she can’t. She drew me a picture in class the other day. It was a drawing of a chicken with its head cut off. And she was still paying attention to the lesson.
I couldn’t even pay attention to the lesson because I was paying attention to her the entire time. I wanted to know what she was doing— or what she was drawing.
“For you,” she told me after class. There it was: a drawing of a chicken with its head cut off.
Melting. This is so…perfect.
“This is really good,” I said.
“I’m working on another piece at home,” she said, “of a girl peeling her skin off. Like, the entirety of her skin.”
“That’s so fucking awesome,” I said, because it was.
“It’s actually a self-portrait, too. So it’s actually me peeling my skin off.”
It reminded me of one of my favorite bands— The Magnetic Fields. So I said that. I said “That’s some Magnetic Fields shit right there.”
There’s this moment when people just click and that was the moment. Right then and there. She goes, I swear to God, she says, “I love 69 Love Songs”. 69 Love Songs, for those of you playing the home game, is the perennial Magnetic Fields album. I’ve been listening to this album for ten years. Nobody I know listens to the Magnetic Fields. All of my ex-girlfriends, I tried to get them to listen desperately. But it never stuck. They always told me band was “interesting” and then would maybe name a song or two that they had listened to. That was how it always went. They never remembered the lyrics or told me that they actually liked a Magnetic Fields song.
“Favorite song?” I asked.
“I don’t know, there are so many to choose from. But right now it’s ‘Chicken With Its Head Cut Off’,” she said.
Rolling Stone: You talk extensive shit on your hometown of Truckee.
Charlie Brown: I’m pretty good at talking shit, you know? And it’s a shitty town. There isn’t even a movie theater nearby.
RS: So why do you still live there?
CB: I don’t know, really. The people here are hicks. They’re far too active for me— we have nearly nothing in common. I don’t think I’ve met a single person that I could truly connect with, you know what I mean? Everybody up here rock climbs, goes to the beach, or skydives or something. I’m the kind of person that wants to sit on the couch all day long, eat food, smoke pot, and wax suicide logic. At least when I was back in Orange County I had people to smoke with and people I wanted to drink with and people that knew my M.O.
RS: And what’s your M.O.?
CB: Make trouble. Through and through. But really, to answer your question: I don’t know why I still live here. But it’s most definitely not my hometown. I think my hometown is Centralia. Have you heard of Centralia?
CB: It’s in fucking Pennsylvania. The entire town is, like, on top of a coal factory or something. I can’t remember the specifics right now, but the point is that there has been a fire— Mines! That’s what it was! There are all of these underground mines that have been burning nonstop since the early 60’s. So fucking cool. I want to— I want to light a bowl with some of that infinite fire.
Time to clean up. Maggie’s coming over in 20 minutes. There’s no way I can get the whole place cleaned up in time. Myself included.
I’ve got this half-tied noose, 30 bottles of empty robitussen, and only clean shorts to wear. The noose will be easy to hide under the bed, sure— but all of this tussen?
Let alone the cuts. Shorts won’t hide them up. I’ve got a good thirty cuts on the back of my legs— and two of them are yesterday fresh.
Jeans. Find some jeans in the piles of tussen. This is so fucked. No way she’ll bang me if she sees all these cuts.
So I hid the bottles under my bed, grabbed some unwashed jeans from that disaster that is my closet— and the noose?
Fuck. She’s at the front door. Hide it in the pantry. She’ll never go in there.
Which she did, by the way. She went into the pantry and completely missed the noose. “Look at all of this food,” she said. “What do you want me to make for you?”
“Can I make you something? Are you okay with that?”
“I’m always thinking about food,” she said. I love baking things and making food. I was making up cupcake designs in class the other day when we were learning about reciprocals.”
“But you’re not fat?”
“That’s a question?”
“It should have been more of a statement. You’re not fat.”
“Thanks, but I know I’m not fat, Charlie,” she said, sticking her tongue out at me. She does that a lot, the whole sticking her tongue out thing. And her ass. She sticks her ass out a lot too— nice tongue and a nice ass. They go so well together.
Maggie started pulling all sorts of kitchen-shaped objects from every corner of my kitchen. “Can I used this?” she’d ask. “Are you using this?” she’d say. Yes, you can use that. No, I’m not using that. Shit, I didn’t even know I had potatoes in here. Now wasn’t the time to tell her I never go grocery shopping sober. Every time I go to the grocery store I come back with things I can’t remember the reasons for purchasing. I don’t even remember going to the store. Those potatoes could have been there for weeks.
Anyways, she ended up making me crepes.
This isn’t going to work out. It never works out when you’re Charlie Brown. But in this case things were never going to work out anyway— and definitely not in my favor.
“I’m moving in August,” she told me over dinner. Well, I thought, at least she didn’t just outright confirm she was a lesbian. She only confirmed she was going to be gone in three months.
Great, you know. Find your manic pixie dream girl and lose her to time. I could handle this if she died in an accident or at least got a girlfriend. But this was just too much— this is out of my control.
Suddenly I craved my robitussen. It would make things better. I should carry a flask of this shit, I thought. Or maybe I should start punching people int heir faces. That would make life easier.
“Moving alone or in with some roomies?” I asked.
“I’m moving in with my brothers—”
“And my ex-boyfriend.”
“How is that going to work out,” I asked, hoping she’d say “it’s not”.
“We’re best friends so it will all work out,”
“Of course it will,” I lied. I mean, it could work out for her but it definitely wasn’t going to work out for me— and that’s all I really care about, right?
She went back to eating her sushi— our sushi— and I went back to thinking about how awesome it would be to kill myself in the empty sushi restaurant.
Went on a walk after that. Visited the top of Hippie Hill, this place where the homeless people in town used to make camp. It was nice, except for the walking.
“I don’t think I’m going to pass this math class,” I told Larissa. We were sharing a blunt on my back patio or something. The blunt was helping numb the pain in my left nut.
“Oh come on Charlie, you can do anything if you put your mind to it,” she reassured me.
“No really, I said. Inhale. Exhale. “Maggie is helping me with the class, sure, but every time she comes over to help me with math I just lose it. I can’t concentrate.”
Larissa’s my only friend, nowadays— besides Maggie. We met at some bar downtown, just after the Rolling Stone interview hit the presses. Larissa doesn’t read— that’s what she told me. “I don’t read,” she said, “so I’m not going to get worked up about something you wrote— don’t worry.”
Now we were smoking pot and having a good time listening to music in the backyard, talking about our relationships. Hers wasn’t going too well since her boyfriend was in jail for being a pedophile. And mine? Is this— was this— even a relationship in the first place?
I said that last part out loud.
“School is important for you, Charlie. You’re getting back into the swing of things. Maybe you should distance yourself from this girl.”
“I don’t know if I can,” I said.
“Sure you can. Don’t invite her over to ‘help’ you with math. Stay away from her.”
“But we sit next to each other in the class.”
Okay, actually I sit next to her in class. That’s my choice. Larissa told me that. But I already knew that: I’d orchestrated it since the first time I saw Maggie’s long, purple hair.
God, I just want to pull it.
Larissa hit me. “You’re a fucking weed hog, give me the blunt back.” Wow, I’d been holding onto this thing for like, two minutes. Shit.
“We had a really good time the other night, too,” I said.
“In math class? You had a good time in math class?” she asked.
“It was after math class. She asked me if I wanted to go on a walk with her.”
“You didn’t say yes. You can hardly walk as is with your balls acting up.”
“Ball. And I did say yes.”
“Charlie, you’re the laziest person I know. No offense. You never walk anywhere. I even asked you if you wanted to walk in the massive expanse that is your backyard and smoke this blunt.”
“So we’re just sitting here, listening to music, smoking. You hate walking, dude.”
“But I wanted to walk with her. It gave me more time to hang out with her.”
“You have your entire life to hang out with her. Why fucking lie about what you like doing just to hang out with some girl?”
“Because she’s moving. She let it slip that she was going to be moving in a couple months. So Idon’t actually have the rest of my life to hang out with her. Unless…”
“Unless I kill myself.”
Larissa started laughing. “This is why I love you Charlie, you’re always so morbid. And it’s wonderful.”
“I’m serious, though.” I was.
Larissa moved her leg next to mine and passed me the still-smoking blunt. I inhaled like a movie monster would if a movie monster smoked blunts.
“What are you doing tonight after this?” she asked. She had this look in her eyes like she wanted to kiss me.
“Maggie’s coming over to help me with math homework again,” I said.
“You really like this girl, don’t you?” She moved her leg back.
“I need eye drops; I told her I don’t smoke pot anymore.”
“Then why are you smoking pot?”
“My left nut is killing me. And I’m a shitty person.”
I don’t know what time it was at night. It was late is all you really need to know. Real goddamn fucking late. And I got a phone call from Maggie. I wasn’t asleep or anything, mostly because of the pain in my left nut.
“Charlie,” she said, “My ex-boyfriend just called me. I shouldn’t have taken the call.”
That makes two of us, I thought. Christ, I fucking hate late-night bitchfests.
“And what did you talk about?” I asked. I turned the lights on my room to survey the damage I had caused before I passed out. Bottles of tussen everywhere, again. And knives. I don’t even know where the knives came from. Don’t you only need one, anyways, if you’re going to kill yourself with a knife? That must have been the reason I bought the knives, I mean— to kill myself. The one laying next to me was of the butcher variety. Actually, all of the ones lying around me were of the butcher variety.
Somehow I’d purchased upwards to thirty butcher knives in a state of drunkeness. My bank account must hate me right now.
“We got in a fight,” Maggie continued. “He just wants to be friends and I don’t think I can handle that right now.”
“I know what you mean,” I lied. None of my exes ever call me late at night. I picked up one of the knives and thought about how awesome it would be to kill myself right then and there— right here in the now. Maggie would just think I fell asleep. But in all actuality I would have killed myself during the stupidest phone call I had ever received in my life. I don’t want to hear about her goddamn ex-boyfriends. And isn’t she supposed to be a lesbian?
“I should have never picked up the phone,” she repeated.
“I know what you mean,” I told her. This time it wasn’t a lie.
Seriously, how do you get out of a phone call like this? Kill yourself, right? I just— I just wasn’t expecting the big moment to be because of a worthless phone call. But every time Maggie opened her mouth to tell me something terrible about her ex I thought about how awesome the blood would look on my sheets, walls, and windows. This suicide would be a masterpiece. And when Maggie found out it was because of her stupid phone call? She’d never make another phone call ever again. What power, I thought. What power I have.
“Good night,” the platypus girl said to me.
“Be good,” I said.
Good— that’s just what I like. No commitment.
This may have been that first time she came over to help me with math homework. Or maybe the fourth time— I’m not sure. I’m not sure about a lot of goddamn things, okay? Leave me alone.
We had given up on actually studying math and were going back and forth picking some of our favorite songs to listen to on Youtube. She had her ukelele in hand and I had my guitar.
Did you know I can play guitar, by the way? I used to be a fucking boss on guitar. And then, you know, robitussen and shit. Mmmm, robitussen.
Anyways, we were listening to The Magnetic Fields and she was playing some ukelele in my kitchen. Maggie then said the most beautiful thing in the world I’d ever heard—
“Do you want to smoke a cigarette?”
I was floored. How did she know? I’ve been hiding the smoking from her for at least 11 weeks and three days. Not that, you know, I’ve been counting or some gay shit like that. Counting is totally fucking gay.
It must have been a trap. That’s what I was thinking— she’s trapping me. She’s just trying to see if I smoke. So I put my feelers out.
“Do you have any cigarettes?” I asked.
“No,” she said. Okay, so it wasn’t a trap.
“I have some sticks,” I said. I think I said “sticks”. I don’t know why I would say something like that but it sounds right in context. “Lets do this,” I said.
We slogged to the backyard— well, I slogged over to the backyard because walking was getting extremely painful with the way my left nut was treating me. Maggie pretty much glided all angelic-like and shit.
“I don’t understand people,” she said, lighting up one of my menthols.
“What do you mean by that?” I asked.
“I just don’t get them. I don’t know how to interact with them. It’s like I’m a robot or something.”
“Maybe everybody else is a robot, Maggie. I don’t think you’re a robot.”
“I’m an asshole, though.”
I couldn’t see it. She didn’t seem like an asshole— not in the least bit.
“How are you an asshole?” I asked.
“I treat people like shit. I’m mean to you all the time.”
Again, I still couldn’t see it. Has Maggie ever been mean to me? She is pretty much forcing me to write a story for her. Granted, she hasn’t put a gun to my head. But even if there was a gun to my head I’d probably be a lot happier. I’d be even happier if her finger was on the trigger.
RS: Your stories are all about relationships. MyGirlfriendIsOutofTown.com was about a girl leaving you for 90 days and then coming back. And Torch Your Ego was about a girl trying to impress you by setting your town on fire.
CB: Is there a question you’re going to ask or were you just going to spoil my stories for your readership?
RS: Are any of these stories based in reality?
CB: Absolutely. I wrote Out of Town when my fat girlfriend left for Argentina. I was very angry at her at the time and wrote maybe a third of it while she was gone. And when she came back we really broke up— it was on a dare, too. It was awesome. She goes, I swear to God, she goes “Charlie, promise me you’re never going to break up with me” and I told her I wouldn’t because I was really, really happy with the sex we were having and, honestly, I’d tell a girl pretty much anything to have sex with her.
CB: Let me finish. So one day I get the bright idea— Listen, I’m a man of my word, you know? Except for the whole lying to have sex thing I’m a pretty honest guy. I’m going to keep my promise to her but I’m going to end this relationship. We get in a fight over some trivial bullshit and I just shut the fuck down. I say nothing. Then it comes to me: Dare her to break up with you. So that’s what I did. I dared her. I go “I bet you couldn’t break up with me”. She starts crying— I love it when women cry, by the way. It’s a beautiful fucking sound if I’ve ever heard one. And then she finally did it. She goes “It’s over, Charlie. Then we’re done.”
RS: That wasn’t in your blog.
CB: Sure wasn’t. And Torch Your Ego’s inspiration came from a relationship I carried on with a girl from the internet for about a year. And then fire— I really like fire, I guess. But me and this girl never met in person, so most of that story was made up, except for the Angel stuff.
RS: That’s surprising. The Angel stuff in Torch Your Ego, I felt, was the least believable part of the story.
CB: You should have met her, man. The Angel, I mean. She was an amalgamation of two women that I met— one when I was a sophomore in college back in Orange County and then the other was a girl that I met up here. She asked me to even write a story for her: how crazy is that?
RS: Was that Torch Your Ego?
CB: No. Want to smoke some weed?
Charlie proceeds to smoke out of a bong.
CB: You’re not going to write that last part down, are you?
RS: The part about the weed or the part about the girl that asked you to write her a story?
We had sex last night, me and Maggie. I’m still not convinced she isn’t a lesbian. But we still did it. I didn’t find out Katy was a lesbian until after we dated for three years. Then again, I madeher a lesbian. Still.
Still, I didn’t cum. What is it going to take to get my fucking rocks off? Sex with a lesbian couldn’t do it for you, Charlie? Come the fuck on.
What happened. She came over and we both a drank a couple of beers. Started watchingBeetlejuice and a quarter of the way through she goes “Would it be weird if we had sex?” I think she said this. I can’t remember to be honest, but what I do remember is what I said next:
“Just kiss me.”
So not Charlie. If I were Charlie I would have said “the couch is downstairs” or “just blow me.” But I didn’t so I’m not.
And she did, by the way. She kissed me. We kissed and kissed until kissing wasn’t enough. And then we fucked. And I couldn’t cum. It was still fun— but it’s not every day you get to bang an 18 year old.
I mean, it’s every day you try but not every day you succeed.
The sex was good. It was everything I expected and then some. You should have heard the noises this girl made in the sack— good Christ, I’m getting hard just thinking about it.
“Buddy,” she said, right before the moment I went in, she goes, “Buddy, you’re not in love with me, are you?”
“No, not at all,” I said.
“Good,” she said, “Because that would make this really fucked up.” Which was kind of cute of her to say because I already knew how fucked up this really was. After all, I was using her for weeks now just so I could get rid of the pain haunting my left testicle constantly. At least, I think I was. I’m not sure now. I don’t even think I was sure then.
Something weird happened, though. Maggie asked me what “The Pines” were. Was. Is. Did I tell her what I was working on and I just couldn’t remember?
We were post-coital, laying in my bed. I’d say she looked gorgeous with her hair all messed up, her naked body wrapped around mine. But I can’t— the lights were out so I couldn’t see shit.
“Is The Pines my story?” she asked.
Do I tell her? Tell her my grand plans for suicide, all detailed in a 50 page manifesto? And an even bigger question: would telling her about it get me laid again?
“How do you know about The Pines?” I asked back.
“It was sitting there on your desk. I didn’t read it or anything.
Shit. She’s seen it. And in a moment of…stupidity? Yeah, stupidity— that’s what it was. In a moment of either stupidity or sobriety I told her that’s what The Pines was— is. A suicide manifesto.
The answer to that last question, by the way, is a resounding “no”. “No”, telling a girl about your suicide manifesto will not get her to fuck you again. In fact, I’m sure she would take back the first time if she could.
I think. I honestly can’t remember. But I think that happened. Maybe it happened in the car or something.
“We need to talk,” she said, over the phone. Oh great— this is my ex-girlfriend all over again. Always wanting to talk and never wanting to suck me off. Great.
“Word on the street,” she said, “is that we’re dating”.
Aren’t we? I mean, we see each other frequently and often. You said you were addicted to me. I immediately thought about my tumultuous relationship with robitussen.
“Oh really,” I feigned. “Where would anybody have gotten that idea?” I already knew the answer: Larissa, my co-workers— the mexican guy at the gas station, perhaps. Goddamn, I need to keep my mouth shut more often.
“Did you tell anyone we fucked?” she said. Again, Larissa, my co-workers— the mexican guy at the gas station. Shit, I’m a bad person.
“No, nobody— not at all,” I lied. Again.
“Do you think we should like, I don’t know, do some sort of friendship intervention and let everybody know that we’re just friends?” she asked.
“Sure,” I said. Sure.
“What do you mean sure?” she said.
“I mean— I think that’s a really good idea,” I said, even though it really fucking wasn’t. Jesus Fuck.
Was this another trick of hers? I mean, she told me she didn’t want to have a relationship with me. She said that after we had sex and I told her about The Pines. I was just hoping she wouldn’t bring it up again and we could actually, you know, start dating or something.
And why shouldn’t we date?
I said that last part out loud. Stupid goddamn mouth.
“I’m sorry?” she said.
So am I, I thought.
“Why are you still talking to her, bro?” Larissa asked. She’s my only friend nowadays. You know, besides Maggie. I’m pretty sure I’ve said that sentence before, too.
“I’m a masochist and she’s a sadist,” I said. “We’re perfect for each other.”
“That’s fucked up.”
We were on the docks enjoying the first official day of summer, just a couple months early. We had been drinking beers— I was on nine and she was on ten. If I wasn’t still trying to bang Maggie— again— then Larissa would be the next person in line. It’s a short line.
“Why haven’t we had sex?” Larissa asked, as if she were reading my mind— or this story.
“We’re bros, dude,” I said.
“Fair enough,” she said.
“And you have a boyfriend. In prison.”
I thought it was. I’m not going to fuck around with a girl who’s got a guy in prison. Plus, he’s a pedophile— I’m definitely not moving in on a girl who’s guy is into eight year olds. What does that say about me, after all? What does that say about her? She’s easy, I thought. Too easy. Delicious.
“Plus,” I said, “Why ruin a good thing? We’re best friends. Sex always complicates these sorts of relationships.”
“Are you really saying this, Charlie?” she asked.
“I’ve become self-aware,” I said.
“You should really end it with this girl. You seem happier but…” she moved her leg next to mine, just like last time.
“Nothing. Just. How’s your right nut treating you?”
“It’s the left one. And it’s doing okay right now, but I think that’s because I’m mostly drunk.”
“So am I,” she said. Larissa then did a curious thing. She moved in closer to me and said, I swear she goes, “I may regret this tomorrow but fuck it,” and she kisses me.
I stood up and pointed at the couch— I thought we were at the docks. How did we get in my living room? “The couch is over there. You can sleep there tonight.”
Tears started welling up in her eyes.
“But I need you to be really quiet; Maggie is coming over in an hour to help me with math.”
This was the date from Hell. I don’t even think she thought this was a date. It was supposed to be, though. I remember that part well.
Somewhere in between our fourth and fifth plates of all-you-can-eat sushi, the topic of poetry came up. I specifically said, “I hate haikus,” because, well, haikus are dog shit. Most poetry is dog shit but haikus are the doggiest of shit.
Maggie thought it would be fun to speak only through haikus the rest of the night, the bitch.
“I think this is fun
We should do this more often
We get along well”
“I was thinking we should do things like this more often,” I told her.
“Bud, how’s the story
You know, the one about me?
When will it be done?”
“Maybe a week,” I lied. The truth was, I hadn’t even started the story. I didn’t even want to write it. And haikus were already starting to get supremely annoying.
“I can’t wait for it
Does Charlie like Maggie in it?
In it, are we friends?”
So many goddamn questions. All the time, with her. Seriously. She’s lucky she’s very, very pretty. Otherwise this shit wouldn’t be worth it.
“Charlie likes Maggie— or, rather, Virginia in the story.”
“That doesn’t seem right
I don’t think he would like me
But it’s your story.”
Damn right, I thought. It’s my story. You can’t tell me what to write. You can’t make me write.
“Maggie,” I said, “you’re melting me with this haiku shit.”
What I meant when I said “you’re melting me with this haiku shit” was that it was literally destroying me. I wasn’t melting with affection at this point. No, not at all. But Maggie thought I was talking about the other kind of melting— the affectionate kind of melting.
“Let me unmelt you
Kid, I know I’m enchanting
Or at least to you”
“You’re a romantic
And I’m just a douchebag, kid
It’s not gonna work.”
She’s breaking up with me before we can even start dating. Great. Whoa, wait, what? I thought this was about my left nut? I thought with was just about shooting some juice in some 18 year old caboose? Why am I…Oh my god. I think I actually fell for her. I actually care about somebody else other than me? Not good. Not good at all— this needs to stop.
Now I was melting the other way. Every haiku was another stab in the heart— each syllable killed me. But I was now loving it. Why would I stop her at this point?
“I’m still a robot
A robot asshole, they say
You can do better.”
No, I can’t. I wasn’t even talking at this point. Just listening. Stuffing more and more sushi into my mouth to ease the pain— the alluring pain of it all.
This is one of those things where I can’t remember what we were doing but I can remember what we were saying. Lets start with Maggie.
“I’m addicted to you,” she said.
I’ve heard shit like this before— usually coming out of my mouth towards a fresh bottle of tussen. But this was different— after all, it was a person saying this to me.
And what can you say back?
You can’t tell her “tell me you love me”— no, she saved that one for when we were having sex. Lets go back to before I told her about The Pines.
“Buddy,” she said, “I need you to lie to me.”
“Sure,” I said. And sure, I thought, What’s another minute when its been 17 weeks of nonstop lies?
“Sure,” I said, again, in case you missed the line up there.
“Tell me you love me,” she said. No questions why. No nothing. So, for once, I told her the truth:
“I love you.”
RS: Your stories, besides being about relationships—
CB: All stories are about relationships.
RS: Definitely. So your stories are about relationships with other people but there’s a curious relationship that runs through them: Charlie’s relationship with himself.
CB: Oh, all that suicide and anger stuff?
RS: What’s that all about?
CB: Well there’s no hiding it: I’m suicidal. I think about killing myself probably every day. Sometimes it’s just for a couple of minutes, you know, when I’m lying in bed thinking about all the people I’ve fucked over. And then I remember that I never even liked those people in the first place. The big reason I haven’t done it, though, I guess, is it’s never felt like a genuine suicide. Know what I mean? I mean, if I were to kill myself tomorrow— leave a note and starve myself for three days so I’m not found with dried shit on my legs— everybody close to me would just think I did it because of something. Like, it would be suicide because of something that happened at work, something that happened at Truckee Thursdays, or over a girl or something. That doesn’t feel right. The suicide needs to be because of me and me only. It’s always about me— it has to be— and my suicide would have to follow in line with that.
RS: So the suicide motifs in your stories are real, actual, Charlie thoughts?
CB: I think Charlie— the one that you read in the stories— is comfortable with killing himself over himself. He’s unhappy enough with himself to do it. I’m not, though. I’m unhappy with too many other things in the real world. This town, my friends, my family, fucking being a drug addict. And lets be clear: I blame other people for my habits. That’s still not on me. The Charlie who wrote those stories would kill himself for himself. The Charlie who is sitting here, right now, would kill himself over something stupid and not worth it. So I haven’t done it yet. Not until I’m more like the other Charlie, you know?
RS: So suicide is kind of on a to-do list for you— it’s just not the right time or place to do it?
CB: I guess. I’m not planning it or anything. Which may go against what I’ve said before because, you know, I have planned it and I rewrite those plans in my head every day. But they aren’t the most serious thoughts I have. They’re not thoughts I’m going to be acting on any time soon. Maybe when I’m in my 50’s or something. Go to Centralia and throw myself into the mines, maybe. That’d be fitting.
“This doesn’t count,” she said. “You promised me a story and this definitely doesn’t count.”
I gave Maggie the story I had been supposedly working on for the past couple weeks. This was the story that was supposed to be about her. Because, you know, everything is about her.
Except this story.
“What the fuck, Charlie,” she said.
“See, I said, “I told you you wouldn’t like it. I told you this would jeopardize our friendship.
Where were we? Oh yeah, we were in my house, downstairs in the kitchen. There was— I think Maggie had been cooking food; just can’t remember what. I can’t remember a lot of things anymore.
She threw the stack of papers that comprised “her” story on the counter and swore.
“What’s wrong with it?” I asked. I knew what was wrong with it— it sucked. But I wanted to hear it come out of her mouth.
“First of all,” she sighed, “It’s called AIDS and Raw Chicken.” She pointed at the manuscript.Oh, I thought. I guess I did name it AIDS and Raw Chicken after all. Probably should have changed that.
“Secondly,” she said, “I don’t think dogs are cats.”
“Really?” I said, pointing at one of my chihuahuas. “What animal is that?”
“It’s a cat, Charlie. It’s a fucking cat. Do I look stupid?” Yes.
“Yes,” I said.
“Thirdly,” God, this bitch likes making lists, “Thirdly, the character of Virginia is nothing like me. My eyes are not green; they’re hazelnut. I’m not a six-foot two Amazonian woman. I am not— let me be clear— I am not a feminist.”
“Then what are you?” I said.
“A person. A person that is pro-feminism is not necessarily a feminist.”
“The subtleties in that argument always eluded me, actually.”
The kitchen fell to silence. It seemed that Maggie had finally run out of things to say. Then, out of nowhere, she slammed a balled fist down on the counter, knocking over my beer. I remember I was drinking beer because I’m always drinking beer. Or robitussen.
The liquid spilled all over AIDS and Raw Chicken. Neither of us rushed to clean up the mess.
“Is there a number four?” I asked.
“Are you okay?” she softened her glance at me. She didn’t look angry anymore.
“This isn’t something a person writes when they’re okay.”
“Honestly? My left nut has been killing me for something like a year now.”
“That’s not what I meant.” The anger was back.
“Well that’s all I’m going to share with you.”
“Fine. This is it, Charlie.”
“This,” she said.
And like that she was gone. Who would have known? I should have.
“I haven’t seen you in a week,” I said over the phone. To nobody. Because she didn’t pick up the phone.
Wracked my brain for why she didn’t tell me she was leaving so soon— so abruptly. Was she that unhappy with the story that she would just leave town and not tell me?
Her ex-boyfriend— I called him. And he picked up the phone for me. It was sweet— but also very late at night.
“Who is this?” he said.
“Charlie Brown,” I said.
“No seriously, who the fuck is this?”
Apparently I’m small-town famous but this guy missed the memo. And apparently Maggie doesn’t talk about me to any of her friends. Fucking high school shits, they don’t know cocks from pussies. Whatever that means.
“She moved,” he told me.
“Just like that?”
And he hung up just like that, too.
She— Maggie— confuses me more than anything.
And…I don’t believe her when she says she’s right. She’s just a stupid 18 year old, after all. I’m 24. I’ve got stories under my belt. She just has a pussy under hers.
This was never going to end well; it won’t, either. She’s too much— and I’m too much— of a loose cannon. And this story isn’t even canon.
Today was weird. I ditched the noose and couldn’t find any of the knives. And to think I thought about killing myself with kitchen-ware would be bad form.
So I drank a fifth of vodka and chowed down on thirty pills of varying assortments. Leftovers from old parties, drug deals, and the local CVS pharmacy.
Now I’m just waiting for it to come. The big sleep. But I don’t think it’s going to happen. This was too easy.
And my left nut is still killing me. But not like how these pills are— or aren’t. Maybe I took all the wrong ones. Are there wrong pills to overdose on?
Now I’m just staring at the ceiling, wondering how I’d look hanging from it. Then I had an idea. A stupid idea, but one worth trying.
RS: So is there going to a Charlie story where Charlie is in a positive relationship? Is there a happy ending for Charlie?
CB: Well, I guess there’d have to be some inspiration in the first place. Some positive inspiration from a positive relationship. But I don’t do those things very well. I’m definitely looking for somebody to help with this but I just haven’t found the person. And, I don’t know, I’ve been in this town for about a year now. Maybe a little over a year. I feel like I’ve met all the people that I can. There is no new territory for me to find up here. Is there a happy ending for Charlie? I’m sure I’ll have a happy ending. It’ll show up, deus ex machina and all that shit, right? What’s that again— the god in the machine? Or is it god from the machine? Robots and shit, I don’t know. This is some good weed. The weed up here is really good. Um. No. No happy ending for literature Charlie. He’s going to end up dead, unhappy, under a pile of bills for things he never should have bought in the first place.
RS: What does that mean?
CB: I’m really high; I don’t know. That’s a semicolon, by the way— make sure you get that in your article. Get that I spoke with a fucking semicolon. That was awesome. But really, I’ll probably never find a person that makes me happy to wake up in the morning. If I’m lucky, though, I’ll find somebody that makes me unhappy to go to sleep at night. I don’t know what that means, either.
RS: And your next story?
CB: I’ve always wanted to fuck a robot.
“I need you for something,” I told her over the phone. She finally picked up. It’s been at least a month since the failed overdose. My idea was finally coming into fruition: I now knew how I could get rid of the pain in my nut. This had nothing to do with my heart— this had less to do with Maggie and more to do with me. Like everything— like this story.
“You need a lot of things, Charlie— help, for one,” she said.
“Nothing. I need you to choke me to death.”
“Please, choke me to death.”
It was an odd proposition, sure. But I needed this. I need this.
“Charlie, what are you talking about? Like you want to have sex and have me choke you?”
“No,” I said, “No sex. Just choke me to death. We can meet halfway to your place or something.”
“I’m actually in town.”
“Even better. Meet me at the top of Hippie Hill. 10 PM— people won’t be able to hear the screams.”
“You won’t be able to scream if I’m choking you.”
“So you’re saying you’ll do it.”
“I need this.”
I can finally answer that age-old Maggie question. You know, the one where she asks “What am I not good at?” The answer is simple. She can’t choke a person to death. She is most definitely not good at that.
But I finally came. She rushed me to the ER with a crushed trachea and, well, cum in my pants. The doctors said they’ve never seen so much cum. Maybe from a horse but not from a human.Never from a human.
“I’m so sorry,” she kept telling me. And if I could talk…I don’t know what I’d say. “I’ve been waiting for the day you and I would meet,” is how I feel, but that’s too corny of a line to end a story on.
Which is great, by the way. The doctors say I’ll recover. “That’s what insurance is for, Charlie,” when I wrote down on a pad of paper that I couldn’t afford to be in the hospital for more than 20 minutes. The only way I can communicate now is through writing, at least for the time being. They say it’s going to take at least a year to be completely healed.
But if I could talk? I don’t know. What I do know is Maggie stayed with me the first week in the hospital. The only times she would leave would be to go to my house and cook me some food (“Although,” she would tell me, “The fries here are fucking delicious. Best fries in town.”) She was there when the doctors came in and asked me what happened. I scribbled “I don’t know”.
Then the police showed up.
“How did this happen?” they asked.
“I don’t know” I wrote.
They’d ask how Maggie found me— where she found me.
“I don’t know.”
“Well, you’re very lucky to have a friend like her.”
And maybe I was— am. The pain in my left nut is gone now. Maggie is, too. She had to get back to her new home. She told me she was going to leave the day before she left so it wouldn’t be so abrupt this time. She’s getting ready to start school again. Getting ready to enchant another town, another small city.
And at maybe three in the morning she had finally finished all of her talking and fell asleep next to my bed. I got my pen and paper out and wrote her a note and slipped it in her purse.
And maybe I could tell you what I wrote.