I’m off schedule. I just reread the plot outline for this and I realized that goddammit, we’re off schedule. Quick summary of what you were supposed to know by Chapter 3, but in the style of, say, an interpretive dance, go!
A Dance of Remembrance
As written by a violent criminal
Setting: A dorm room. It’s move-out day, the end of Freshman year, and there are boxes strewn about the stage.
[Dancer 1] leaps onto the stage. They’re a swan. They’re a graceful gazelle bounding across the mighty saharan plains. That’s me.
[Dancer 2] waddles out on stage wearing clown shoes. He’s got a big button nose that squeaks when you honk it, and every step he takes makes a farting sound. That’s my roommate, David.
They dance around each other. They approach each other, my dancer with finesse, balancing on his tippee toes. David’s dancer makes little fart sounds to center stage. Then they scurry back, real quick. It’s a game of cat and mouse.
I’m not going to lie, I have no idea what an interpretive dance is supposed to look like.
Clown-feet McButtonNose pantomimes putting objects in a box, and my dancer does the same, but instead of looking like an awkward mess, he looks like sex on fire. God, I see it in my mind, and it’s just like I’m back in that dorm room again.
I’m packing up my shit,
“Believe it or not, I’m going to miss this dorm.”
David looked over from his side of the dorm room, midway through dismantling the electric piano,
“Yeah, not a bad start. One year down, three to go,” Or something. He said some generic, basic shit like that.
Meanwhile, I was philosophizing. Head up in the clouds, better call me Socrates, because while I packed up my shit, I was unpacking some wisdom,
“Honestly, I think I learned the most here in this room,” I remember that room so well. We had a hammock strung up between our two beds that held food, a futon that had a serious lean on it, and we even had a flatscreen balanced between our two dressers. Both our beds were lofted with desks pushed underneath, creating little caves where we studied. David’s piano touched the corner of his desk and cut off his cave from the rest of the room. We really got lucky that year with housing: the dorm room was pretty mega.
“I’m not going to lie,” I continued, “The number of times I thought we were either going to die or get kicked out this year… I mean, in retrospect, it was amazing, but in the moment… you know?”
“Hindsight’s 20/20!” Spouted off David. Ok, tbh, he didn’t only speak in clichés. The thing is I don’t remember what he actually said, and it’s not super critical to the plot so screw it. In this story, he speaks in snow clones and clichés.
Besides all that, it’s true. We did almost die several times in this dorm, and I legitimately thought we were going to get kicked out. I mean, we did a lot of drugs. Some of them, I don’t even know what they were called, just a string of letters and numbers. Our friend Austin knew a guy who knew a guy that bought this stuff online and he was more than happy to pass it on to us for a small finder’s fee. So much powder has passed in and out of this room that I personally wouldn’t be surprised if the dust alone could put you in a coma if you breathed in too hard. It’s a wonder we didn’t get high every time we swept the floors.
We’d just about finished packing up. I hollered over to David as I put the lid on my last rubbermaid, “you about finished over there, buddy?”
“What’s mine is yours!”
“Good to fucking hear,” I sat down on the container. With all our stuff heaped together in two giant piles, it left the rest of the room looking damn barren. I sighed, and I tell ya, I could’ve just about cried. First year was a good time; I’d gotten most of my gen-eds out of the way and next year I’d be digging my heels into some real, grade A fucking science.
“You know, David, I’m going to miss being roommates with you, and uh… hey, actually, what happened to that mask from Halloween?”
“I feel like we never threw it away…” This part was true, all this bit with me asking about the mask, it did actually occur to me to look for it. Since Halloween, I’d seen it a couple times in random places throughout the room; David even hid it in my desk once to try and scare me. I probably should’ve just chucked it then, but…
“One does not simply throw the eponymous mask in the bin.”
“You reckon?” I reopened a couple of my containers and shifted around a few bags, but I wasn’t about to spill everything out on the off chance I found that 10 cent garbage mask. Whatever, at that point, I figured it was gone, and honestly, even today I still have no idea why I cared about it back then. Probably just for the memz.
“Alright, David, my shit’s packed. Imma start hauling stuff down to the car, but before I go, I just wanted to say…” I looked at the guy, and well, what was there to say? Ugggggh this story is getting all clogged up with nostalgia gunk, let’s move it along. Anyway, I tell David it’s been real and he replies,
“The early bird gets the worm.”
“Yeah, man. It does.”
Huh. Right, so, we got everything out of the way that should’ve been in Chapter 2. Let’s see, after that… well, after that comes sophomore year. Uh, so, can we just do a montage for sophomore year? Can you even do those in a written work? Well, when in doubt, try it out:
A short-film in print by Mark
Pan in on a boy—no, a young man—sitting at his desk. He’s writing, but what? What is he writing? He’s at the desk, hunched over, slaving away over an open textbook.
Next shot: it’s a lecture hall. There’s a professor, and he/she/it/zhe/a zebra/whoever is lecturing a classroom filled with oranges—no, students, filled with students—and they’re all taking notes. Rigorously! Furiously scribbling down every word the professor says. It’s chaos, it’s pandemonium, it’s the sickeningly boring reality of every goddamn day!
And cut to the third shot: it’s the young man. He’s in a library. But it’s a library on the moon! But it’s not a library either, it’s a fast-food restaurant and the waiter serves him his food, but the food is actually a stack of books and the waiter is wearing a zebra costume—the young man looks at the zebra. It’s now a real, live zebra! He tells the zebra that he ordered fries with the meal! He ordered fries!
Sex. The next scene is sex, but the lights are off, so it’s just a black screen. But there’s still noise! You can hear the sex! The sex is audible! And it gets louder. You hear more sex. You hear the gradual crescendo as sex approaches its climax and then you hear a single deep baritone voice announce, “I came.” And the lights come on and it’s the zebra! The zebra is standing in the doorway and it’s holding the fries! He came with the fries!
Shot five is the young man once more, but now he’s at the desk. He’s studying once again, and studying feverishly. He studies with more intensity than he makes love and the room is getting hotter. It’s steamy. You can see the steam. It’s steamy and the young man adjusts his collar. He’s warm. He’s very warm, indeed. He looks suddenly into the camera, a pleading expression reflected in his eyes. He’s too warm!
Shot six, it’s a grainy old fashion shot of the professor at the chalk board. He’s lecturing about life. Or science. Or math. Or maybe he’s a she! It doesn’t matter, it’s all the same, and on the board there’s a picture of an orange! It’s absurdity! There’s no one in the classroom, but he’s lecturing! The students are in the library and they’re studying, but the class is still happening!
It’s the final shot and it’s a skeleton drinking at a bar. He’s got a cigar. He doesn’t care about lung cancer, he’s a skeleton; he hasn’t got any lungs! He’s wearing the young man’s clothes and there’s a student sitting next to him. He looks at the student and asks her, real straight, “So, you want to study chemistry?” And the student says yes! She says yes! And the skeleton says, “Well, here are all my notes from last year,” and he hands her the notes! All the notes we saw the young man slaving over during the montage, they’re all there! The student looks at the notes, and we see them clearly for the first time, and it’s all just one word. It’s one word, and it’s repeated over and over and over and over and that word is help. The student says thank you, Mister Skeleton, and she skips out of the bar. She skips! As she would through a field on a sunny day with the flowers and the bees all happy and it’s gorgeous. With the notes. She skips out of the bar with the notes in her arm, balancing on her hip.
And that’s when the skeleton looks into the camera and says, “What a life, eh?”
So we’ve knocked out sophomore year. That summer I got an internship. I worked with a research lab at the university, and in the mornings I took summer classes. I took summer classes in the morning, worked in the day, and when I got home I studied until it was well into the night. Then I got high.
Such was life and life was such and I lived in a house with my buddies. I lived upstairs. Thomas lived in the room next door, and Austin lived downstairs. In the other rooms were mannequin. I tell you, if my life were a movie, it’d be a real low-budget life. It’d be The Room.
I’ll tell you about the day I moved in: