I awake mid-morning to the sound of a chainsaw. Buddy is on the far side of the bed. The sad cheerleader lies in between us, staring at the ceiling. Her thick eyeliner has run down over her cheeks like she’s been crying or sweating. My head is full of many negative thoughts. Last night did not go well at all. I think I hate Estelle. Or maybe I’m just afraid of her. There’s probably a big difference. I get out of bed. I’m still wearing the wig, although it’s slightly askew, and I apparently never managed to find a shirt. I don’t know why the cab stopped at all. Maybe it was stopped for somebody else. I look down at the sad cheerleader but she doesn’t make eye contact, just blinks slowly, her arms crossed over the skull on the front of her top. I walk over to the window to see what all the racket outside is. Not surprisingly it’s a man with a chainsaw. He’s dressed like a lumberjack and sawing at one of the remaining trees on the street. It creaks and then crashes into a neighboring house. The lumberjack looks at it and nods. I expect somebody to come out. Admittedly, there’s a part of me that wants to watch the impending conflict but none of that happens. The lumberjack wanders down to the end of the street and disappears around the house on the corner.
I look at the sad cheerleader and say, “I’m going to go down and make some coffee. It will be black and strong and you’re welcome to have some. I’ll probably also eat a bagel.”
Still staring at the ceiling, she says, “No one talks like that.”
I want to respond but I can’t think of anything. Something feels screwed up in my head. I notice that Buddy is lying in a pool of blood and the sight is horrifying. What if something really bad is happening to him? But... maybe that’s the sad cheerleader’s problem.
“First I’m going to find a shirt.”
I walk to the closet and grab the first t-shirt I can find. Every t-shirt I own is black. This one is too tight but I’m too lazy to take it off and find one that fits. I think my gut is sticking out of the bottom of it. Probably repulsive. I go downstairs to do what I told the sad cheerleader I was going to do.
I’m not sure if I have to go to work today or not. I pick up the telephone but it doesn’t make any kind of sound. It’s possible it’s been disconnected. Agatha always paid the bills. She had it fixed so we never got anything in the mail. She did it all over the Internet but I never bothered with it so I figured I would just stay in the house while everything slowly shut down around me and then I would probably have to move. Or find somebody else who knew how to do things. Estelle seems like somebody who knows how to do things but she’s also really old and maybe not my type.
I go into the kitchen and put some coffee on. It smells really good. While it brews, I fetch my laptop. Maybe Agatha has sent me an email detailing the bill situation. I imagine her sitting in a library somewhere, bulky and confined beneath all the coats, trying to maneuver her arms over a computer keyboard. Impossible.
I open my laptop. No legitimate emails. Spam for dick enlargement, pills, and things bordering on child pornography. I decide to check my Amazon ranking for Dick Swap. It’s ranked really low. That’s really bad. Then I check my Facebook page and notice I have a friend request from Chuck Barrymore. I recognize his profile picture. It’s the homeless guy from last night. He’s used the picture he took for his profile. I feel briefly flattered and think “Fuck yes” before accepting the request. I close up the laptop, pull my many copies of Dick Swap off the bookcase and lie on them until the coffee maker beeps. Dick Swap is currently the only book in the house because I had to sell all of my other books to finance the publication and purchase of so many copies. I thought at least people at work would buy them before realizing I was too embarrassed to try and sell them something called Dick Swap.
I pour a cup of coffee, grab a bagel from the bag, and take them into the living room. Sitting down makes my stomach bulge against the shirt, makes it feel even tighter. I turn on the TV. There’s a sweeping panoramic view of the Grand Canyon and my stomach lurches, my head swoons, and I almost black out. Overlaid on the sweeping vista is the word FREEDOM. I change the channel as fast as possible, scrolling through until I land on Dan Banal. Dan Banal is a sitcom about a man named Dan Banal. The show is just starting. There’s nothing exciting about this show at all, except lots of people watch it. I don’t watch a lot of TV but, admittedly, I enjoy Dan Banal. The opening credits are not set to any music. They’re just words over a slowly panning shot of Dan Banal that starts at his brown tasseled loafers, taking in his baggy pleated khaki pants, brown leather braided belt, blue button-down shirt, completely plain face, and modestly styled hair. He wears the exact same thing in most of the shows unless it is set on the weekend. Then everything is the same except his hair is slightly messier and he wears an untucked red and black flannel shirt.
The show opens with Dan bringing in a cardboard box from the front porch. He places it on the table where his wife, Lori, sits reading a newspaper.
“We got a package,” Dan says.
“I wonder if that’s the printer,” Lori says.
Dan goes into the kitchen and opens a drawer, pulling out a box cutter. He opens the package at the seams, walks back into the kitchen, puts the box cutter away, and comes back to the package. He opens the box.
“It’s the printer,” he says.
“Oh good,” Lori says.
He lifts the printer out of the box and sets it on the table. Then he goes back into the kitchen to get the box cutter again, opens the bottom of the box, and puts the box cutter away. He flattens the box and walks it out to the recycling bin. He comes back to the table and stares at the printer. He grimaces.
“Where do you think we should put it?”
“Probably near the computer. It’s a printer.”
“This is a wireless printer. We could put this printer anywhere. Anywhere there’s room.”
“A wireless printer.”
“Does it have batteries?”
“Doesn’t need them. You plug it into the wall. This printer runs off electricity.”
“That’s hardly wireless.”
“What it means is it doesn’t need to be attached to the computer.”
“But it has to be plugged into the wall... with a wire.”
“That still allows us a lot more freedom.”
Dan reaches out and runs a finger along the surface of the printer.
The sad cheerleader comes downstairs and says, “Jesus, I hate this fucking show.”
“No. It’s pretty good. It’s just like real life. Real life on TV is great.” I take the first bite of the stale bagel but now that the sad cheerleader is in the room, I feel fat and self conscious. I put the bagel between the couch cushions.
She stands there for a minute staring at the TV before crossing the room and turning it off. Looking at the sad cheerleader, I realize she’s actually a lot more fun to look at than the TV. So I stare at her. She doesn’t look necessarily clean but she is young and attractive. Black hair cut in an experimental fashion. The cheerleading outfit is something I’m not really into but it’s black and white and has a skull on it, so it’s okay. And the skirt reveals a lot of thin leg and kneecaps. She’s not wearing any shoes and her feet are not hideous.
“Like what you see?” she asks, maybe sarcastically, before adding, “Jesus.”
“You turned the TV off.”
“I told you I hate that show.”
“There are probably other things on.”
“I hate TV.”
“Okay. There’s coffee in the kitchen. I don’t think there are any more clean cups. You’ll have to drink it out of the pot.”
“I hate coffee.”
Awkward silence. She looks really sad. Almost ready to cry.
“I’m worried about Buddy.”
“The only reason I come over here is so he can fuck me.”
I sip my coffee. She’s really open. I don’t say anything.
“He wasn’t even able to do that this morning.”
“You should be. Would you mind fucking me?”
I don’t really have to think about this. “Now?”
“Yeah, I’m going to have to catch the bus soon.”
“Okay.” I put my cup of coffee down on the floor.
She gets down on her knees and bends over the couch. I undo my pants. I haven’t even washed since having sex with Estelle. It doesn’t look like the sad cheerleader’s offering oral sex so I guess it doesn’t really matter anyway. I get down on my knees behind her and slide her black underwear down to her knees. She’s already wet and my penis isn’t very large so I slide right in and quickly build to a good rhythm. It doesn’t take long before I’m tired but I can feel myself building to a climax and the sad cheerleader seems to be moderately enjoying herself so I keep going.
There’s a noise upstairs. It sounds like Buddy has rolled out of bed and is now dragging himself across the floor. This kills the orgasm I was building to but I’m still slightly hard so I keep going. I can hear him thumping down the steps now.
The sad cheerleader says, “Faster. Faster.”
I go faster and the orgasm is back. It sounds like Buddy has become lodged halfway down the stairs. I pull out and pump my cock, unleashing a small amount of come onto the sad cheerleader’s ass. She pulls up her underwear and sits on the couch. She’s crying.
“That was really nice,” she says.
“Thanks. I thought so too.”
“I guess I should check on Buddy.”
“Maybe. I should probably...” But I don’t really know what I should probably do. Maybe go for a walk. “So what school do you cheer for?”
“I don’t cheer for a school. I’m an independent cheerleader.”
“What does that mean exactly?”
“It means I’m not confined. It means I’m free.”
“Cheer wherever the fuck I want. Malls. Jails. Restaurants. Funerals.”
“You cheer at funerals?”
“Most of them need a good cheerleader.”
“All right. Hey, do you want a copy of Dick Swap?”
“It’s a book. I wrote it.”
“Sure. Whatever. You can give me one but I probably won’t read it.”
“That’s okay. Nobody else has.”
I stand up and walk into the other room. The books are still on the floor. I pick one up and toss it to her. She’s not looking at me so it just hits her in the chest. She cries harder. I can hear Buddy moving again. I feel really guilty. I think the sad cheerleader was his girlfriend or something. I grab my cup of coffee and walk outside.