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Today's Story by Sean Quadlin

It was beautiful to see him run away like that. I was in love. I hated everything about the world.

Everything and Nothing

I drove us around even though I was a little fucked up. He drove like a bitch and I didn’t feel like grandma-ing around town all night so I borrowed my step dad’s pick up and went over.  His parents were still home so they asked me the usual slate of questions.

“How’s school?”

“It’s good.”

“You’re at ASU, right?

“I was but I took a break.  I’m gonna take some stuff at PVCC in the fall prolly.”

“That’s good, Brad.  How are your parents?”

“I dunno, old as balls.”  I giggled cause I was a little high then I remembered that Shawn’s parents were old as balls too.

“Someday you’ll be old like them and it won’t feel like balls.”  His parents thought they were cool cause they said balls and shit.  I didn’t want to talk to them so we left.

When Shawn went to sit down in the passenger of my step dad’s big ass F-250 there were two prescription bottles in the bucket seat.  He picked them up and looked at them.

“Is your dad sick or something?”

I wiped under my nose while looking into the mirror on the sun visor.  “Yeah, he’s a gay.”

“Really, dude, is everything okay?”

“Shut the fuck up.  Just put those in the glove box.”

“What are they?”

I snapped up the sun visor and looked over at him.  “They’re dick pills for his dick.  He’s not so good at fucking my old ma so he has dick pills.”  I grabbed them from his hands and put them in the glove box.  He didn’t try to fight me back.

“He takes Viagra?  That’s fucking far out.”

I started the truck and pulled out of the driveway.  “You’re a fucking idiot, dude.”

“What kinds of dick pills are they?

He didn’t know about any parties going on so we made the rounds that we used to make.  Melrose Pool was closed and nobody had hopped the fence or anything so we just drove past it.

He leaned over my lap to get a better look.  “Man, Melrose.  Do you remember the time we played spin the bottle in there?  Was that like fifth grade?”  Shawn was back from his freshman year of college in California.  He hadn’t ruined his good memories like I had.

While he was leaning over me I grabbed his right hand and shoved it into my crotch.  “Get the pills out of the glove box, sugar.”  He tried to pull his hand away but I held it for a second longer.

“Man, fuck you, Brad.”

“You’re so gay, dude.”  I let go of his hand but we both knew that if I hadn’t let go it would still have been there.  We always played games like that in high school but there were usually a couple of more people in the car.  When it was just the two of us it felt different.  Like hollower or something.  But Mike was in rehab and Garrett moved to Tucson so we were all that was left of the gang.

Shawn rubbed his thin little girl wrist, the one that I allowed him to have back.  “Do people still go to Filiberto’s?  We should stop by.”

“Can do.”  I sped up to forty cause we were coming up to a speed bump and the truck had a really tight suspension system.  His head hit the roof cause he was dumb as fuck and forgot about the speed bump.

Nobody that we knew was at Filiberto’s so we just went over to Big Lots.  There wasn’t shit to do and I had an empty wallet.  The mall was closed.  So Big Lots it was.  I pulled across four parking spaces and turned off the headlights.  I looked over to Shawn.

“Hey, give me those two bottles.”

He looked over at me and didn’t say anything.  I breathed out through my nose really hard and reached over to open up the glove box.

“You shouldn’t take your dad’s pills.  That’s fucked up.”  I remember one time we were out toilet papering some random house and I told Shawn to throw their lawn gnome into this little fountain at the house.  He wouldn’t do it.  I don’t remember how I felt at the time, but in the truck when I remembered it I wanted to smash his head in.

I opened the top of the first bottle and the pills inside were circles.  I put the lid back on and opened the second one.  They were diamonds and diamonds are forever so I took out a pill and crushed it on the center console with my step dad’s bottle opener on his key chain.  I leaned over and snorted it.

“Isn’t that your dad’s dick medicine?  What is that going to do to you?”  He looked all concerned.

“It’s not dick medicine.”  I laid my head back against the headrest and sat there for a minute.  I didn’t want to move.  I don’t remember how long we sat in the car, maybe five minutes or something.  Shawn pulled out his phone and started texting someone.

“Who you texting, your boyfriend?”

“Nah, just Greg.  I’m asking if anything’s going on tonight.”

“Am I not enough for you?”  I reached over and ran my hand up his leg.  He pushed it away.  I laughed and said, “You’re such a fag, dude.”

“Shut up, man.”  I looked at him and realized that I stopped knowing him sometime during senior year of high school.  Our past was the only connection to our present and I was pretty fucked up so it wasn’t much of a connection.

He closed his flip phone and stared across the parking lot and into the Big Lots.  “Is this what you normally do?”

“You mean hang out with queers in parking lots?”

“No, I mean, like snort Viagra and go to Big Lots.”

“How fucking stupid are you?  It’s not Viagra you fucking dweeb.”

Shawn was a dweeb.  It was why he fit in so well with us.  We needed a dweeb.  He was good at school and someone you could make fun of.  We protected him so we could give him shit.  And now he was this person that I had no interest in knowing.

One time we were driving around and saw a car in the high school parking lot after hours.  It was in the middle of the parking lot in the middle of the night.  We went over to investigate and there was no one inside, but the trunk was open.  So I look over at Shawn and tell him to go pee into the trunk, like nothing major, just to go pee into the trunk.  He says no and turns his whole body to the side of the car and refuses to look at me.  Garrett said that he’s gotta go anyway, so he jumps out of the passenger seat and starts peeing in the trunk.  Eventually somebody comes from over by the dumpster behind the gym and sees Garrett and runs over.  Garrett gets back into the car and we drive away.  The guy closes his trunk and speeds off after us and the whole time Shawn is just hysterical.  He’s crying and saying that he hates us and that he doesn’t know why he does any of this stuff.  I’m driving the whole time and there’s nobody out since it’s so late. It’s pretty hard to lose this guy but even still I just can’t take Shawn being such a bitch so I turn to glare at him while I’m going like 50 down a residential.  And he looks at me and says “Why did you make us do that?”  And I laugh and turn off my head lights and pull into a driveway with an empty space.  I turn off the truck and look back over my shoulder to see the guy speed by a few seconds later.  I turn my head to Shawn and say, “You didn’t do anything.  You’re just a fucking pussy.”  And making someone like him feel so low feels so good.  That was why we kept him around I guess, cause in the truck in the Big Lots parking lot I didn’t see any reason.

He looked over at me all concerned.  “Like, is that stuff cocaine?”

“Do you think cocaine comes in pills?  It’s oxy.  Just stop worrying about it you fucking pussy.  Let’s go get some bargains.”  I jumped down from the big truck but my balance was fucked up so I fell over and scraped my knee up.  Shawn didn’t see cause he was up ahead texting somebody.  I looked down and my knee was bleeding slowly down my leg.  I ran after him cause he didn’t wait for me.

I walked in through the automatic doors and he was standing next to the big blue shopping carts.  As I walked in their security gates beeped.  I made a confused face and looked over at the old hag at the checkout station, she waved me in and I walked over to Shawn.

“How’s your boyfriend?”  I asked him.  Shawn looked down at my knee.  It had bled down my shin and into my shoe.  I wasn’t wearing socks.

“What happened to your leg?”  He still had his phone in his hand.  I wished that he would put it into his pocket.  Having it out there reminded me about the other people I didn’t know.  I wanted him gone but he couldn’t leave yet.  We were in Big Lots for the entirety of his existence.

“Drugs are bad.”  I leaned over and pressed my thin khaki shorts into the cut.  My blood was thick and the pants stuck to it.  “Good as fucking new, man.”

We looked at the gardening tools.  We looked at the discount DVDs.  I went to the feminine hygiene aisle and opened up a package of maxi pads and pressed one into my knee where the blood was.  He looked over at me and he made one of those faces that he always makes.  I stood up once the pad was full and tried to slap it on his back.  He minced away like he always did when I tried to fuck with him.

We were in the toy aisle.  He was holding the opened package of maxi pads and my soiled one.  He had grabbed it after I slapped it against the opened package.  I picked up a big bouncy ball and threw it at him.  I wanted to say think fast, but my mind was moving pretty slow at that junction so I just said, “Fast.”  He batted the ball away with the bloody maxi pad hand.

“Fucking cut it out dude.”  The ball bounced against some Barbies and knocked them over.  Shawn went after it and looked down.  “You got your fucking blood all over this too.”  He tucked the open package of pads under his arm and picked up the ball.  I looked down and my knee was still oozing sledge.  It was the great river of life.

“You’re the one who got blood all over it, you pussy faggot,” I said.

“I’m leaving, man.  I’ll see you at checkout.”  He hurried to the front of the store so I followed him.

There was nobody waiting in line at the cash register.  Just the old hag behind the counter.  The entire store felt empty like the world had ended.  And I maybe wished that it had.  Shawn placed the ball and the pads and the pad on the conveyor belt, careful to keep the blood off of everything.

I looked at the old hag in her Big Lots vest.  “It’s his first period.”  She didn’t look at me.

Shawn punched me on the arm in his faggy little way.  He smiled at the old hag.  “Could you please throw this stuff away? I can pay for it.”  She didn’t say anything.  At least, I didn’t hear her from over by the batteries.  Shawn paid in cash and then walked out of the store.  I blood-jogged behind him with my fully soaked shoe.  I beeped at the security gate on the way out just like on the way in but I didn’t even break stride.  I left it up to the old hag to remember my entrance.

Shawn was in the parking lot but he wasn’t walking towards my truck.  He was walking to the crosswalk in the opposite direction.  I blood-jogged for forty days and forty nights but I caught up to him as he was walking across 32nd.  “Where are you going?”

“I’m walking home, man.  I don’t want you driving me.”

I took off my shoe and swung it at him.  He caught my arm and stopped me somehow but a few drops of blood flew off it and got on his shirt.

“Oh no!  My blood is on your hands.”

I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but during his year at school he grew his hair out. It got all curly and made him look even gayer than before he ever left.

“Fuck you, Brad.”  He turned and started running away and his girly locks bounced up and down and up and down and it was beautiful to see him run away like that.  I was in love.  I hated everything about the world.

Then I realized that I was in the middle of the road when a car honked at me.  I reached down and got some blood off of my leg and smeared it across my face.  I stared into the car and saw nothing.

By the time that I reached Greg’s house my leg had stopped bleeding so much.  I didn’t have my shoe though.  But I snorted another oxy and I didn’t mind anymore.

I had passed Shawn while he was walking along Cactus so I knew he wasn’t there yet.  I gave him a friendly honk honk when I passed by.  He was looking down at his cell phone so he didn’t see me.  I didn’t think that I was a living breathing person anymore.

I parked my step daddy’s big boy pick up in the cul-de-suck across from Gregor’s house and turned the lights off.  Then I killed the ignition and waited.  I felt like I could use some more pep so I opened the other little bottle with me and took three or more Benzedrines.

There was something going on at Greg’s but nothing major so I figured that I couldn’t really sneak in there.  I didn’t have to wait long for little old Shawn though.  He turned the corner onto Greg’s block and in the best moment of my entire life he wasn’t texting anybody.  I started the truck’s ignition while he was still out of ear shot and waited.  He was four houses away.

The door at Greg’s house opened and I saw Greg walk out with some other of those loser type college guys that I used to be.  Shawn was by then two houses away so I put the truck into drive and idled forward for a second or two before I gunned it across the cul-de-sac.  It was a loud truck so he heard it and so did Greg and they were all looking to me, but I still hadn’t turned on the headlights.  When I got out of the cul-de-sac I finally did and my high beams were pointing right at Shawn.

And on his face I didn’t see fear or anger or love.

I saw his smug little face beneath that fucking crown of curly hair.  Looking at me and my truck like something that had to be dealt with, something that needed to be endured.

I slammed on the truck’s brakes and eventually came to a stop in the middle of Greg’s front yard.  There were smaller rocks in the middle edged by bigger river rocks near the border, both of which I had plowed through.  Shawn and Greg came running up to me from opposite directions and I chose to run in Shawn’s direction.

My left foot didn’t even notice it was without shoe as I ran up and tackled Shawn to the ground.  He looked up at me and his emotions went beyond annoyance then.

“What are you fucking doing?” he asked me.

I wrapped my hand around his throat and held his head down.  I reached with my other hand and grabbed a river rock from the space behind his head.  I felt Greg and any of the other asshole faggots over at his house trying to pull me off from behind but they were helpless.  I was immortal.

“Brad, just fucking let go of me.”

For the first time in my life I smiled.  “No.”  I tasted blood on my lips.  “Stop making that face.”  The rock weighed nothing and everything as I brought my arm back.


Sean Quadlin studied writing at Northwestern and the Graham School at the University of Chicago.


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