#28 Brian

| November 29, 2011 | 0 Comments

Brian had a favorite game he liked to play.  He called it “cruise chicken.”  He’d take his dad’s ridiculously expensive sedan out on the winding roads that curled their way around the hills and valleys he still couldn’t call home, drive so fast he could barely manage the turns, then set the cruise control.  The mayhem that ensued, especially when there were others in the car, would fill him with a breathless rush that was as good as nitrous.

He never did it when someone said no, he made everyone strap in first, and he always stopped the second someone said so- that’s why it was called chicken, after all.  And it wasn’t like he had a death wish, not really.  Sometimes he was the one to call stop, even.  And the car was so damn full of airbags and crumple zones that it was good money they’d walk out of it even if the car flipped, which it most likely would never do, not being an SUV.

It was more like he had a kill wish.

Not that he wanted to kill anybody.  He really just wanted to kill this world he was in, that he didn’t understand, that he never wanted to understand, that he’d never asked for.  If anyone had asked Brian, he would have said that he had been happy enough living out of a cheap rental and eating ramen too many nights a week.  Before one of his dad’s crazy inventions had hit the fucking motherlode of jackpots.  Things seemed to make sense then.

Now, he wasn’t sure what was real.  He had thought that maybe it was some weird animal brain thing, that they were recreating the rental units they had left behind by occupying only a few spots in the monster house they lived in, but then when he visited other kid’s houses, he realized that everyone pretty much lived that way- taking up residence in one or two places, leaving the rest of the house empty and grand for whatever mythical socializing no one had the time to do.

He wasn’t exactly sure who was real, either.  He was still lost to whatever social games the kids played, but he had enough of a clue to feel like maybe he was almost always getting played in one way or another.  Someone had the graces to fess up to him, in a half-drunk moment, that it couldn’t be helped, since he was both the newest and  the richest of them all.  And that these kids should know that- well, that was just creepy to Brian.  Apparently that was all part of the public record.  One of those things he never wanted to know about.

And his old friends, well, they had gotten awkward, trying hard as hell not to be jealous, not to gawk, not to react, and failing miserably.  It didn’t take most of them long to just stop coming around altogether.  Part of it was as simple as the fact that he just wasn’t around.

He couldn’t even go to his old school anymore, since the private defense contractors which now owned his father’s soul stated “issues” with the school’s safety.  Now he went to a school that was public in name only, funded to the gills not only by the local property taxes, but also by private donations.  No doubt hugely fucking sizeable donations, so that the folks who had a vested interest to seem populist could still claim to send their kids to public school, without them having to get any sort of public school taint on them.  At least that was how his dad explained it.

Brian didn’t care.  He just lived his life feeling like he was on the top of some huge mountain somewhere, and that no matter how hard he tried, he could never really get enough air.  Except for maybe in those moments right after the car spun out and sat shuddering like a horse, stereo still blasting like nothing had ever happened, dust wrapped around the car thick enough to hide the world outside.  Right then he’d take a deep breath his lungs would fill and he’d feel, for the tiniest of instants, like maybe he was touching something real.


Category: 2011, Drama

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