Excerpt from Manuscript, Warren #1

I decided to share a short excerpt from an epistolary novel I wrote from the point of view of a mentally unstable 34-year-old gay alcoholic with a checkered past and a long-standing obsession with his ex-lover. I hope you guys like it, the actual project is really, really long, it needs a lot of editing and it could probably use to be shortened too.–

When I was about ten I used to pretend I was a robot, inspired by my favorite character in Star Trek: Next Generation, Data. I would come up to people and announce flatly that I didn’t experience emotions or feel pain because “I was an android,” imitating Brent Spiner’s odd monotone. One boy responded to my peculiar behavior by punching me as hard as he could in the stomach, causing me to double over in pain. “Ha! You felt it, asshole!” He said. I whimpered and he casually slugged me in the shoulder and walked off.

Kids were fucking assholes to me when I was young, Joseph. I didn’t really consider that it might be my general affect and behavior that caused them to loathe me so much until I was about twelve. When I was thirteen I came downstairs and announced to my family that I was a ‘misanthrope’ and a ‘nihilist.’ When I was fourteen I discovered HG Wells, Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Philip K. Dick and became a rabid science fiction nerd, schooling my unamused classmates on the Laws of Robotics. It was some time that year that I discovered cutting.

Oh, Joseph, how could you have ever loved me? I was virtually unlovable. But whatever else I have been, I have also been true to my own desires. You need to do whatever is best for you, Joseph, but frankly, you don’t sound happy. To be perfectly honest I am not happy with my life either, I don’t think I’ve ever truly been happy or comfortable with myself. But that particular brand of discontentment is widely encompassing, whether the person who is affected by it is gay or straight. It reminds me of the song “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles. In the end, most people are in it alone.

I was told as a young boy by virtually everybody who took a look into my unsmiling face to ‘be happy’ and ‘be more positive.’ They said I had so much to be thankful for; my comfortably middle-class, loving household, my doting and mischievous older sister, who bought me a deluge of ‘just-because’ gifts and made me laugh with her jokes and routines, my keen intelligence and startlingly precocious level of articulation, which they deemed a ‘a gift from God.’ They said I would be handsome if I smiled a little more often, and that my peers would wholeheartedly accept me if I was friendly and more sociable. I was taught to reject negative emotions at all costs.

Growing up if I saw something that disturbed or saddened me, I was supposed to just pretend it didn’t exist and count my blessings. When I was about sixteen I stopped caring about personal appearance or even basic hygiene. My sister had recently moved out into a dorm several cities away. I lived on a steady diet of junk food, soda, and Saltine Crackers and casually cracking rape and dead baby jokes at the dinner table, my eyes shifting uneasily from my mom to my dad to my mom again gauging their reactions. I didn’t shower for weeks a time, spending hours in my room playing Dungeons & Dragons on my computer or smoking weed.

One of my mom’s friends tactlessly told her that she was scared of me and that my mother should consider putting me in a long-term facility. She actually told my mother to look up the definition of ‘Antisocial Personality Disorder’ and compare the traits of a sociopath with me, her son. I got on my Mom’s old computer to look up a chocolate chip cookie recipe while I was in the throes of the munchies and I saw the email my mother’s friend June had sent her regarding my ‘issues.’ My mom had left it minimalized on the computer and it accidently popped up when I clicked on the Google tab. When I had finished reading the email and grossly invading my mother’s privacy, I lay down in my bed and cried. I had noticed June was extremely wary of bring her adolescent daughter Steph to our house.

There had also been a weird incident where I was hanging around at the food court at the local mall drinking a raspberry slushy and reading a book of Edgar Allan Poe short stories and Steph came up and asked me for change for the game machine. I had never met her before and had no way of knowing she was June Wood’s daughter, but I wordlessly stuck my hand in my jeans pocket and handed her a handful of dimes, nickels, and quarters. She said “Thanks, I’m playing Mrs. Pac-Man with my two best friends. We wanted to keep going just a little bit longer. This is so rad.”

She asked me what I was reading and we had a short conversation. Apparently she wanted to read Judy Blume books but her mom wouldn’t let her because they were too ‘dirty.’” She asked for a cigarette and I thought about it for a minute and said no. She was only twelve or thirteen, I didn’t want to get into trouble. At some point in the conversation she figured out who I was and that our parents knew each other. She said “You’re Warren Cowell?” I nodded. She backed away from me somewhat nervously. “I’ve gotta go,” she said. I asked if there was a problem, and she said “My mom told me not to talk to you.” It was only several months later that I realized that the girl I had been talking to had been June’s daughter, and June had warned her that I might be a sociopath.

The next time June came over to our house I offered to make her a glass of lemonade and I spit in it. I’m not proud of it, but I also stole $25 from her wallet to punish her. She called about the missing money the next day and implied I might have stolen it. Even my dad jumped to my defense, furious that she would make such accusations against his son. I never spend the $25 I stole. It remained at the bottom of my sock drawer and was left behind the day I escaped from my childhood home and got a small studio apartment downtown, where I worked at a bowling alley and took community college courses several times a week. That’s the period of my life where I met you.


12 thoughts on “Excerpt from Manuscript, Warren #1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s