hings hadn’t gone so well in the courtroom. His mohawk looked good, his
earrings and necklaces had been shined up with the ultrasonic the night before,
and he made sure to scowl throughout in that way people found intimidating.
He still lost the case.
He doesn’t shake hands with the prosecutor on his way out of the courtroom. It was the same fool who beat him last month and the month before that. His record is starting to bulge in the loss column. He feels like a heavyweight fighting in a welter league and he just can’t catch his breath.
The truth is, he missed his partner. She was always nagging and second-guessing him, third-guessing him too, but she knew the lingo. She’s holding a gavel now and he was left to shoulder the partnership.
He isn’t sure why people keep hiring him. You’ll find the same thing at a fight. Fools betting on the one that looks like a winner. Each one of them coming through his doors, with that hopeful shine in their eyes.
A couple of pretty boy lawyers in all their get-up laugh as he pushes through the revolving doors. Sharks always smell the blood.
This latest one hurt. He really wanted to win. Not just to get back on track, but because he actually felt for the kid. Reminded him of himself at that age. Young and angry and alone. But so righteous. He isn’t sure if the kid stole what they said or not. He isn’t sure if it even matters. It seems so petty with the rest of the world getting away with murder and massacre.
He crosses the street and cuts through the alley. He goes in through the back so he won’t have to see any of the other guys in the gym.
The locker room smells like old sweat. He strips methodically, pulling off the gold chains, hanging up his five thousand dollar suit on a ten-cent hanger. He pops the combination and opens his locker.
Inside is his leopard fringe leather jacket. Shitkicker boots. He’ll put it all on. Just like old times, just like always. Punch his fist into his open hand and hit the streets. He’ll find the one responsible and tattoo his ass. He couldn’t make them pay in the courtroom, but on the streets. Hell.
But there was no one to find. No one to hit to beat the hurt out of things.
Instead, he reaches past the jacket and pulls out his electric razor. The chains are only plated, but he can still get a hundred bucks for them. It isn’t a total loss.
ears after, they were still words she did not speak aloud. It was an area
of her mind and memory she’d surrounded in razor wire. She was too
old to believe in things. She’d gone to school relentlessly. She’d sought
explanations for the unexplainable and laughed unkindly at people who
indulged in phrases like “the cosmos.” She’d used her adult life as a
strip of sandpaper to wear down any sense of wonder into a dull
acceptance that things just were. They are. They always will be.
It hadn’t always been so. There was a time. She’d picked her nose and run through grassy fields and stayed up all night and invented secret names for things. She’d believed. And imagined. And dreamed. And spoke.
But now, she did not say those words. Abracadabra, Open Sesame, Shazaam. These were silly words for snake oil salesmen. But those words, she would not incant. She would not make room in her life for not knowing. She had given up on the power and magic of three words. Three small words that would open up the sky and cause green slime to fall.
Why? What was she afraid of?
I don’t know.
e didn’t understand how he’d ended up in a museum. He was cutting edge
technology. No one had ever been able to replicate him. Human consciousness
transported digitally. He was the living and nearly breathing ghost in the
machine. He was the one and only.
Maybe it was his personality. He was the first to admit that he didn’t go out of his way to get along with people. Back when he had his own talk show, he deliberately tried to rile his guests. Like when he asked Boy George about his trip to the nut house. And he did have some quirks. His incessant stutter being one. Also his habit of modulating the pitch of his voice. It was funny the first time.
People had moved on. They’d gone from 8-bit to a million in a blink of an eye. Virtual was the only kind of reality going around these days. They’d gone futurist, then neo-futurist, then retro, then re-retro. What was cool once was cool again and cool just wasn’t cool anymore.
Real people could be so fickle.
The best use they ever found for him was selling soda pop. It was embarrassing.
For now, he was jammed onto an old Amiga in the deepest wing of the videogame museum in Frisco. He’d never even played a videogame in his virtual life. He was surrounded by Italian plumbers, hedgehogs, things that both bleep and bloop but not at the same time, and all kinds of invaders from space. None of them made good company. Or conversation. It was pretty much a fate worse than death for a serious journalist.
Maybe he should stop wearing the Ray-Bans and shoulder pads. And get a speech therapist. Mah-mah-mah-maybe that was it.
Remember when you were a minipop, and you saw that film, you know, the one you loved that never had a sequel? Well, let's say it did. And it was just like you imagined it, only a little bit worse.