If you asked my mom why I am the way I am, she’d say I’m sensitive. That the wind could blow wrong and I’d feel offended. And, while the latter part’s mostly conjecture, I can’t say I disagree. Though I can say I should stop relying on my mom to, like, elucidate who I am to myself. 34’s old enough to assume responsibility on that front. And Bill’s always on my ass. He never lets me get any rest. After a long day of work. After a long day of nothing. And, most unconscionably, after waking up hung over. Which—full disclosure—isn’t exactly an uncommon occurrence. He says living with me’s like being on a reality TV show wherein a regular person’s forced to cohabitate a cramped apartment with a homeless man. He says it with scorn. Which is just a different breed of love—mutated after generations of love inbreeding with love inbreeding with love. I apologize and say I see where he’s coming from. It sounds patronizing—condescending—but that’s just how I, like, talk. I never mean anything by it. But try telling him that. Anyway, I’ll show him. I resolve to prove a point and do something for the apartment. And, listen, I know how that sounds. But I operate under this conviction: the only thing that spurs anyone in life is spite. It’s the sole generator of success.
So I do what any civilized person would do: I go online and research what I need to build a desk. He’s been bitching about his for months. I make a list of tools and materials, fill a coffee thermos with boxed wine, and walk to the hardware store. At first it’s horrible being out. Heat rises off the city street like a skillet on a stovetop. But the wine helps, and after a few cigarettes, this exodus ain’t half-bad. I reach the store, clutching my list. It’s a labyrinth of towering shelves. Implements and materials. I feel like a caveman who’s never even contemplated fire and was invited to a Tiki Torch cookout. I try navigating aisles. I have my list, but I need directions—a map. I ask employees for help, but their answers only disorient me more. Like, ‘They’re where the drill bits are.’ ‘I don’t even know a lil’ bit what a drill bit is,’ I say. They don’t laugh or even smile. I can’t even find a hammer—the lynchpin of any respectable toolbox. Maybe Bill’s right. Who the hell can’t find a hammer in a hardware store? I’m exhausted. I want to break down. Lost in the Supermarket plays on the store’s speakers.
I find another employee and ask in a voice replete with desperation: ‘Where can I buy a fully built desk?’ ‘This isn’t that kind of store, sir.’ ‘You don’t have to say it like that.’ ‘Like what, sir?’ ‘You know how you said it.’ I storm out, balling up and dropping list at the automatic doors.
Josh is a writer living in California. He’s been published in Door is A Jar Magazine, Expat Press, FIVE:2:ONE magazine, Silent Auctions Magazine, Black Flowers Journal Vol. 3, Heavy Feather Review, and Purple Wall Stories. He has a novella out via Alien Buddha Press called, 'FAMINE: Get the Hell Outta Here While You Still can.' Instagram: @yungtrompoking