Below is a short story from my new collection, So This Is How I Go, which is available for a whopping $0.99 starting today.
Two quick notes:
This collection is about dying — all of the stories result in death, in fact, though generally without ‘showing’ the death itself — and contains profanity, adult themes, etc. Best not to read this one aloud to your seven-year-old.
I’ve also just recently relaunched Exiles, a subscription to which nets you two emails a month, each containing five original essays, and which includes a free copy of every ebook I publish while you’re a subscriber (for $5/month). No pressure at all, of course, but I mention this now because if you sign up before Wednesday, you’ll get So This Is How I Go for free.
And now, on to the story!
“Dude, you’re only six beers in and you’re tapping out?”
“Fuck you man, six beers and three shots and listening to your stupid ass. That’s like,” Dorian struggled to come up with a suitable punch line, but his mind wandered along with his eyes, following a girl through the crowd who looked to be an eight, but was probably only a five, so he just said the first thing that came to mind. “Seventy-million or something.” He added, “Motherfucker.”
The motherfucker Dorian was talking to was probably Steven, but as soon as the motherfucker turned away, Dorian had already forgotten him. It did seem like he’d had more to drink than he’d actually chugged, and an hour earlier he’d told a small crowd of fans — well, fellow partygoers, but they’d seen the match, so he considered them to be fans, now — that he’d likely be on fire tonight, after the liver shot he’d taken two days before, and the blow to the temple he took while throwing his opponent into an arm triangle submission just a few hours before.
He smiled at the thought of the win — which was against the same opponent who had taken him down with the cheap liver shot, but who was now lower than him on the leaderboard — but realized he was smiling at no one and probably looked like some crazy bastard smiling at an invisible person or some shit at a party. So he put what felt like a grimace back on his face — the girls loved his grimace — and walked toward the nearest crowd. Tonight, he needed the crowd.
He wasn’t sure who all the people were, but he recognized a few faces. More important than the faces, though, were the bodies. There were some dudes who had already claimed a few, but some of the girls were tight and showing off all the right parts and it seemed to Dorian that he had his pick of the litter; there wasn’t a girl at the party who wouldn’t want to fuck the MMA Regional Champion on the night of his big win. He had a butterfly bandage over a wound under one eye and stabilizing tape over the bridge of his nose and he knew he looked the part; looked the right kind of menacing that made the girls all wet and ready. His teeth felt a little loose the way they always did after he’d been beaten up on for a while, but his face was numb enough that he couldn’t really tell anymore. Not like it would matter. Bitches didn’t care about that shit.
Some dude with a couple of chicks came up to him with a shot, and Dorian smiled a lopsided smile and drank without even tasting the bitterness of whatever it was. One of the girls gave him a quick peck on the cheek, and he reached over to grab one of her hips — to pull her in for a squeeze and whisper something suitably sexy in her ear — but they moved on, leaving him walking alone, through the crowd but not quite of it, unsure of who he was going to nail but pretty sure that’s what he should be focusing on.
A thought crossed his mind, Should probably stop drinking, or might get whiskey-dick, but once the thought was gone, so was the concern. He picked up a red plastic cup from a table lined with them, sniffed whatever it was that filled it halfway, and walked off. It smelled like a drink. He took a sip. It was his cup now.
At some point — time had become irrelevant, but time had passed — Dorian was walking down a hallway. The house the party was in was massive; the kind of place he’d own someday, but he had to work his way up first. It was owned by some kind of rich dude who loved the sport and who funded a lot of the local tournaments, making sure the fighters felt like gods and advertising with whatever the fuck businesses he ran so that he could feel young and hip and have an excuse to invite young people out to his mansion. It was like some kind of cabin mansion, though, out in the middle of nowhere. Everyone always ended up passed out and stayed through most of the next day. The pathetic fuck probably got off on the idea that he was cool, but probably couldn’t even get it up if one of the girls took pity on his ass and fucked him.
The hallway was longer than any hallway had a right to be, and the idea of walking the entire length of it seemed exhausting. Dorian looked to his left, at a door that was cracked open, and that door filled his view; filled his entire world. It was his door. He pushed it open, leaned forward too far and fell inward, but didn’t lose his feet. It was dark inside the room, but he could make out outlines, and see enough of what was going on because of the hallway light.
It was a bedroom. Like, a guest room, probably, since the owner didn’t really live here, and his family was back in town, and there was no other reason to have a bed in this place. The room looked very clean and organized. There was a stack of towels on a chair in the corner, and a basket of what looked like lotions and shit on a bedside table. The bed was messed up, though, with the sheets all pushed aside and the blanket on the floor. And flopped on top of the bed was a girl.
He couldn’t really make out a face, but Dorian could tell she was probably in her late teens, or maybe twenty or twenty-one. Could be one of those young-looking twenty-five-year-olds, but he liked thinking of her as younger. All innocent and shit, but still laid out here waiting for him. Her legs were bent seductively and she was still wearing her clothes — a low-cut shirt and those tight-as-fuck jeans all the girls were wearing, so tight they might as well be wearing nothing — but her clothes were all kind of wrapped up around her, like she was waiting for him to take them off. Set this up just for him. Fucking slut was waiting here all this time, hoping he’d stop by and give her what she needed.
Dorian stepped toward the bed and stumbled, threw his arms forward and spilled his drink on the sheets. But he caught himself with both hands on the footboard. He took a breath and smiled at his reflexes — master of motherfucking ninja skills, MMA Regional Champion, lord of fucking and girl seduction — and pushed himself back up, using just his arms, as if doing a pushup. The girl was probably peeking through her slitted eyelids and watching his show of strength.
One of his hands had some drink on it, though, and it slid off to the side, and the other one flew off in the same direction because of a reflexive effort to compensate and regain balance. Dorian’s head slammed forward, his body twisted mid-fall, and his temple cracked against the footboard before his head bounced to the floor.
He was dazed when his eyes opened, and he couldn’t tell if he’d lost time or if it just felt like he did. He was sprawled on the floor, though, and he reached up to check his temple. His hand came away wet, but after sniffing it, he was pretty sure it was just whatever the fuck drink was in his cup, not blood. Did he hit the same temple that had been injured in the fight? He tried to remember — to put himself back in that setting and remember which side had been hit — but he couldn’t quite get there. He could think of the concept of fighting, and learning to fight, and of being in fights, but the specifics weren’t within arm’s reach.
Fuck it, he thought. Back to the party.
He lifted himself up slowly — can’t be too careful, after all, he thought — and in lifting himself to his feet, became aware that his equivillibrium…no…equilavibrium…no…whatever the fuck. His balance. His balance was off and he couldn’t get his feet under him very well and his head was ringing, which a doctor told him was bad and to be careful about and get checked up if it happened so he had to talk to a doctor.
Wobbling, he got all the way to his feet and looked back at the girl, who was still in bed and probably wanting it but he was less concerned about that now. Bitches could waver. Wait. Bitches could wait. There were always more of them, and he needed a doctor to help him with the dizziness and nausea he was feeling. He knew that wasn’t okay, and the hit he’d taken to the temple — he couldn’t remember exactly how right now, but he knew it had happened, if he stopped trying to focus on the details — was probably a really fucking bad imjury. Injury.
Dorian felt like he was missing three or four of every ten seconds, but even though the world was coming at him in snapshots, he made it through the door and headed down the hallway in the direction that seemed like the shortest trip. He thought a smile that his body didn’t follow through with when he heard the party up ahead, but once he’d turned a few more corners, he could tell things were dying down. Half the people still in the room were passed out, collapsed in drunken piles of arms and legs and tented sleep-boners behind half-zipped jeans and a few nipples untucked from braless tank-tops and the people still standing were in similar states, but upright instead of on the beer-stained leather couches and overstuffed recliners and floors.
“Dorian!” The dude who called his name was smiling a drunken smile when Dorian turned to face him, and despite the injury, Dorian felt himself trying to hold himself more upright. This guy was involved with the match or something. Probably on the crew or something. He was…something. A guy. Standing straighter than Dorian was. Dorian went in for a first bump but ended up falling forward and leaning against the guy’s shoulder instead. He patted the guy with one hand and tried to make it look intentional.
“Dorian, brother, it’s good to see you too, man. Dude, it looks like you’ve been enjoying yourself.” Dorian could hear the guy’s words, but couldn’t quite pull himself up off his shoulder. “Dorian, man, I hope you saved something for the ladies. Dude, it’s alright man, you want some water or something?”
Dorian could feel himself falling, but couldn’t allow himself to do so. Not in front of this guy. This fucking guy. Whoever the fuck he was. He pushed himself off the guy’s shoulder and stumbled back slightly, but caught himself, fighting against the dizziness and sick building up in his throat and trying to make it look casual. “Alright man, you let me know.” The guy walked away, and Dorian told himself that the guy’d been fooled.
The piles of people were looking very attractive. Not in the way the girl in the bed had — when was that? What girl? Where was the bed? A bed sounded nice — but in a comforting way. Dorian found himself thinking of his mother for the first time in — how long? It didn’t matter — and noticed that he was holding himself up by leaning on the arm of one of the couches, a pile of three or five or twelve people piled on it. He couldn’t tell specifics, but it looked great, really great.
He slowly lowered himself to the ground and leaned back against the couch. There was a leg, a thigh, he thought, behind his head, and it was the most comfortable thing he’d ever felt. For a moment it occurred to him he should check to see if it was a guy’s thigh or a girl’s thigh, because someone might think he was a faggot or something, but he found that it didn’t bother him too much. He didn’t think he could lift his head if he wanted to, anyway. It was fine.
He did lift his hand and pat the thigh as he closed his eyes. Whoever it belonged to was the best person in the world.
Snag a copy of So This Is How I Go for $0.99, or sign up for Exiles before Wednesday, December 4, and get it for free. Either way, a review up on Amazon after you’ve given it a read would be very much appreciated!