Bobby was going down, not on a woman or a man but fast and with extreme force into the frost covered asphalt of a Holiday Inn parking lot, five minutes from the Detroit airport.
He had it coming. He made it come by yelling “go fuck yourself” at a clearly steroid consuming security guard who’d admonished him for smoking near the hotel’s front door.
Bobby wanted to die, or more clearly he wanted the world to end, a world that no longer resembled the one he’d been deposited in forty-two years earlier by his dipshit mother, Barbara.
Destroying the world, destroying culture, seemed difficult and laborious. A wise man once said it was easier to put on shoes than wrap the world in leather. Shoes on or off, leather wrapped or naked and hostile world, no option seemed tolerable. The answer then was to exit, quickly and with as much violence as possible. He’d been outsourcing the job for three months, but hadn’t encountered anyone willing to do it, not until that night in Detroit.
The security guard, whose name he’d never learn was Fred, had just discovered he was raising his brother’s baby as his own. He’d also recently discovered crystal methamphetamine, and hadn’t ejaculated in over three weeks.
Fred was angry. Bobby couldn’t bear the world. It was cold. The lights in the parking lot were halogen, somehow erotic, and died the instant the paralyzing blow connected with his head.
Imagine trying hard, this was a thought that entered Bobby’s mind as he heard the crack of his lower mandible. Hit me motherfucker hit me, and the guy did, and for a moment Bobby regretted asking him to.
It was 2019 when he first lost consciousness. Distant sirens summoned him back, and maybe it was two years later. Bobby taught creative writing at Yale, had an ex-wife and was depressed that the nice emails he got from strangers about a novel he’d published in 2012 had dwindled year by year, to the point that he hadn’t received one in ten months.
On Amazon his book was ranked 332,923,014 in psychological fiction.
For a brief moment in 2012, he’d cracked the top fifty thousand. He kept a screenshot of the ranking in the favourites folders on his phone.
Bobby could tell his jaw was broken. Thirty feet away Fred was helping someone with their luggage.
He imagined a time, a truly awful time, where nobody read the books that people read. He imagined writers online posting memes about being writers online. He asked one, have you read John Cheever, Saul Bellow, Vladimir Nabokov? They said who’s that? He asked another, have you read Jane Austen, Dorothy Parker, Virginia Woolf? They said okay boomer. They said I read substacks I have a substack I read indie lit I’m on Twitter. It was too unbearable, he caught Fred’s eye, said awful things about his mom and waited.
Fred said what the fuck did you say? swung his leg far behind him, brought it forward and snapped Bobby’s zygomatic bone.
How will they write great books if they’ve just read blogs? Fred said what the fuck are you talking about, then stomped Bobby’s head hard with his work issued boot. His right eardrum punctured, six teeth left their moorings and blessed blackness disappeared the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.
A woman said, “do you have free wifi?” in the high pitched fucking nightmare of a woman who’d ask that question.
Bobby regained consciousness.
Maybe it was 2024. The security guard looked older, more worn out.
He imagined a time, an awful time, where all the movie theatres had closed. He knew he was dying now, and this was something, a real step forward. He saw someone, maybe they lived in Brooklyn or Boyle Heights, maybe a man or maybe a boy, wearing a shirt that said, “Everything happens for a reason.” He imagined burying a hatchet in their stomach while they ordered a latte at Starbucks. He imagined holding them close, asking them quietly as they registered the mortal wound “What do you think was the fucking reason for that?”
They went to film school. He could tell. They said things sounded better on vinyl. They said Criterion Collection Criterion Collection Criterion Collection.
Have you seen fucking Rififi? They said huh. Do you like Sam fucking Peckinpah do you like Arthur Penn and Joel Schlesinger? They said okay boomer but wished they hadn’t. They said I like P.T. Anderson I like Black Mirror I have a large following on Letterboxd.
Fred came back. He had a blonde wig in his hand and a chip on his shoulder.
“What the fuck is your problem.” he yelled.
Bobby said, “The death of craft. This has to matter.”
Fred said you know my brother fucked my wife and I’m working night shifts here, and the fuck I care about your Gen-X old fogey bullshit.
He had a point, but didn’t Bobby too.
The boot came down harder than the last time, with the energy of an exploding star.
There was a scene like this in The King of Marvin Gardens. There was a passage like this in The Luzhin Defence. Bobby thought this, but he was wrong.
Maybe he was just a failure, resenting what came next, succeeding with criteria he considered insufficient. It was possible.
Someone was screaming about the business centre being closed, and needing to send a fax, and what would they do now.
He wondered who still sent faxes in 2031. He barely had to glance at Fred who was heading his way, now looking close to sixty years old, holding a lit cigarette in each of his two huge hands.
Finish me Bobby pleaded, trying to organize the muscles in his mouth from within the soup that was his head. A couple walked past them, talking about artisanal beer. It was better this way.
The heavy boot drew nearer, blocking out the repulsive Michigan moon.