Even Carl's Sunday School teacher's thought he was an asshole.
Not that they ever called him that, no, they veiled their true feelings toward him through repeated murmerings of how "troubled" or "lost" or "possessed by the devil he was."
Carl wasn't any of those things, thoug(more)h. (Except lost, and that was because the GPS on his phone stopped working, not because he had a faulty character.)
His Sunday School teachers would have been more apt in simply calling him what he was: an asshole. A pissant. A douchecanoe.
He walked in late, every Sunday, usually wearing something black and unwashed that bore a skull or mildly suggestive catchphrase. He never brought his Bible and never tithed. Not that his church-going peers judged him for any of this, that would be wrong, but...
He stared at girls' chests while they talked, regardless of how conservative their sweaters or t-shirts might be, and he never spoke to a man or authority figure without rolling his eyes and spitting out something sarcastic. More disrespectful than hurtful, really. Insults were easy; aggravation took discipline and skill.
Perhaps one day he would meet someone who would tell him he was an asshole, and maybe it would change him. Maybe that someone would be a girl. Maybe it wouldn't.
And maybe it wouldn't happen at all, because the truth is everyone is an asshole. When Carl one day stopped going to Sunday School, he found people who catered to the same brand of assholiness as he did, and everyone lived happily ever after and no one changed. (less)
She tested the fabric again, this time dropping a nickel. It bounced, but just barely.
She tightened the knucklebone screws that bound it to the edges of the drum and tried again, using the same nicked.
It bounced high, and she was rewarded with a full-bodied hit of t(more)he drum. Her pink lips twisted into a facsimile smile.
Someone in the corner whimpered.
"Isn't that nice?" she asked with a voice rusty from disuse.
Someone in the corner tried to reply through the dirty rope tied between their teeth, but the question had been rhetorical.
"People say I charge too much, but you've seen the work that goes into these. I care. If I didn't, my work would be the same as those cheap knockoffs people buy in department stores."
She shuddered at the thought, and looked at someone in the corner, trying to hide in the darkness.
"It helps, though, doesn't it? To know that you'll be used for art. Beauty is pain, darling. If you'd been a woman, you'd know that. But you'll find out."
Someone in the corner struggled against his chains.
"Let's get you ready. I've got three more orders to finish." (less)
It's over by Yourself.
Between Him and Her, but behind Them.
If you've passed Theirs, you've gone too far, but keep a look out for Sometimes, because that'll let you know you're in the right area.
Don't worry about getting lost. Just go to Yours and ask for direction(more)s. They're usually very nice there, but don't ask too many questions about the town. (less)
"Excuse me?" he said, tapping lightly on the desk. The woman behind the counter barely glanced up from filing her nails. She looked like she wanted to be there as much as he did. He continued, undeterred. "Yes, erm...well. There seems to have been a slight, eh, misunderstanding, if(more) you will. You see, it says here, I've signed up to be a disciple, when in fact, I marked the box for 'triciple.'"
The woman directed her gaze to the single sheet of paper he was pushing across. Her expression didn't flicker.
"I'm just not into the ritual sacrifice elements of discipleship," he added, for clarity.
She sighed the sort of sigh that is obviously meant to convey an aggravated disdain for whomever is on the receiving end of the sigh. The man clutched his other forms and tried not to let it affect him.
"Do you have you're TIB-610?" she asked, typing something into the computer.
"TIB-610. It has the original information you filled out when you were applying for the--"
"Oh, no. No I don't. That mysterious glowing figure collected them at the beginning of the process."
She stopped typing. "Dammit. We've been having a problem with the mysterious glowing figures."
She returned to filing her nails. The man glanced nervously at the long, irritated line of fellow applicants behind him. "Does this mean I'll be repositioned for trisciplship?"
"No. If you could step aside, I have to help these other--"
"But I marked the box for--"
"I know sir, but if the glowing figures took them, there's really nothing I can do."
With a sigh meant to convey absolute despair, the man left the line to return home.
Cheer up, he told himself. Ritual sacrifice can be fun. Right? (less)
With the house now engulfed by flames, the least of his worries was the table.
Boy, it was hot. Like, really hot. I mean, he knew fire was hot, on principle, but he had never been surrounded by quite so much.
He used his shoe to pry open t(more)he blackened cabinet door, searching for a rag. There was only one that hadn't been touched by the fire.
He ran it under the sink, but most of the water turned to steam as it came out of the faucet.
"Dammit!" he shouted. "Why won't you work?"
By the time the rag was sufficiently dampened, the doorway from the kitchen to the dining room was completely on fire. Behind him was a ground level window. He could get out now. Be just fine.
But the anxiety beating in his heart was not from the gloriously wild fire raging around him. No.
It was because SOMEONE hadn't wiped off the table after breakfast this morning, and dammit, he had standards.
He pulled his collar over his nose and shut his eyes before diving through the door of flame into the dining room.
There it was.
He attacked the table top-- the parts that weren't already burning, that is-- with such fervor, that the whole thing snapped in two.
This did not deter him. He followed it to the ground, scrubbing out the grubby little finger marks left by those imbecile roommates.
Satisfied with its cleanliness, he burst forth onto the street.
No one hailed him as a hero, but in his heart, he knew he had done the right thing. (less)
"--thought we bloody had some," she practically shouted storming out of the freezer. I nodded sympathetically, hoping she hadn't asked a question.
"Mmmm," I said, ambiguously. She looked expectant, so I continued. "Yes, well. I hate to inconvenience you, but it has to be done, and you're the only(more) employee experienced enough to handle them, and--"
"So? Use something else, we have like three scoundrels left in the freezer."
"The customers would notice."
She groaned and jutted her hip out, reminding me of the rebellious fifteen year old who had come to work for me all those years ago.
"They don't notice. Anyways, it's not like they know--"
"But we'd know. And that's the point. That we know what they don't."
She sighed. "I just-- hellions? Where the fuck am I going to find one of those this late?"
I shrugged. "Isn't hanging about places at odd hours part of the description?"
"Yeah, but not...I dunno. They're in packs at night."
I consciously unwrinkled my brow as I thought. (You know, to help prevent aging.) "You said we have some scoundrels in the freezer?"
"Yeah. Just from last week too, I caught them vandalizing."
"Vandalizing? That hardly makes them scound--"
"It was really profane," she assured. "I didn't even know what all the words meant."
I wanted to trust her judgement. Maybe she was right. The customer's probably wouldn't notice. Hellion meat is only slightly smoother, hardly perceptible at all...but I would know.
"How about I come help you?" I finally suggested. "It's been a while since I've done the butchering, and I suppose I should be involved in all aspects of food production."
Though far from silenced, she was mollified, and I had to admit, it felt good to have a knife in my hand. (less)
"So, dull?" he asked.
She shrugged and tapped her cigarette on top of the side mirror. He frowned. It left a weird mark when she did that, and not that he didn't love her more than the car but...it left a weird mark.
"It's not dull, though," she sighed(more). "It's worse. Dull implies that there's something besides it, something interesting that happened either before or after."
"That spy movie was interesting," he said, staring at the steering wheel. He wished she'd be done soon. The car was getting hot. But she smoked thoughtfully and all he could do was try in vain to hide the sweat on the back of his hands.
"That spy is not our relationship."
"You're acting like we never do anything."
"You're acting like we do."
She ran her hand through her hair and the humidity amplified the smell of her shampoo in the car, along with the sharp smell of her dying cigarette.
"It's not about what we do, though it's--"
"Name one thing you know about be you couldn't find out from Googling my name."
"What, now the things you won't tell me count against me?"
She pushed her sunglasses up and looked straight at him. His gaze was far out the front window, resting on a couple of birds fighting over crumbs.
"You never asked."
She dropped her cigarette into an old can sitting the cupholder. There was no bitterness in her words, just fact.
"Do you want me to ask?"
"Not really." She paused, as if to say something more, but words had never been their forte. With a quick smile that was more of an apology, she stepped from the car and for a moment he forgot about the heat.