from “Dudeboy”

This excerpt is from a short novel, “Dudeboy,” included in The Life & Times of Steve Orth, a collection of fiction and poetry forthcoming in October 2020 from Dogpark Collective

Chapter 1

I’m at my apartment and I’m just chilling out. That’s all I’m doing. Just trying to relax at home. I share this apartment with Lance. Lance is pretty cool. I’d say we’re friends. We don’t really hang out too much. He keeps to himself for the most part, does his own thing. I do my own thing too. I got my own room. That’s where I do most of my chilling. It’s got white walls, beige carpet. It’s your typical room. It’s not fancy or anything. It’s like medium-size. There’s a window, which is how I’m able to get some natural light, which I’m really happy about. I got a dresser, closet. I got a TV. Well, it’s really just a computer monitor that I plug my computer into. But I got an internet cable thing. That’s how I watch TV. It’s called Sling. That’s the cable thing. It’s like an app you can watch live cable TV on from your computer. I also do Netflix and Amazon Prime. I got my friend Karen’s Hulu password, so I got Hulu. But I don’t really use Hulu too much. It’s an okay site. The search engine is a little frustrating. They got all the Seinfeld, but I already got most of Seinfeld on DVD. So I’m pretty covered on that front. I watched The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. That was an intense show—very fucked up if you ask me. Hulu used to have Criterion Collection on their website. But now all those movies are on Filmstruck. I’d like to get Filmstruck, but I tried the trial version a few months ago and I had some troubles with it loading properly. It was always stopping in the middle of my movie to buffer, and that got annoying pretty quickly.

Let’s see, what else?

Did I mention I have a dresser? It’s wood colored. I also got a wood colored nightstand. That’s where I keep my Kindle tablet and a lamp. I also got a blue recliner that’s pretty comfy, good for sitting for long periods of time. I had to get to something to sit in, because when I was watching shows I had nowhere to sit. So I always ended up watching everything in bed, and when you watch a lot of shows and you got nowhere to chill except in your bed, then you find yourself laying in bed for almost the whole day. And that can mess with your mind a little bit, not in a good way.

I also got an electric guitar and a little practice amp. It’s a Squier Telecaster. It’s okay. I don’t play too often anymore. I’m just not that good, so it’s not that much fun. I mean, I’m okay. I’m not the worst guitar player. I can do some leads and riffs to popular rock songs. I can play that one Nirvana song pretty much all the way through. I only got four strings on the thing anyway. I should get some new strings, but I haven’t got around to it. It’s not like I play that much anyway.

Also, over there…I got a dresser and I got a Kindle tablet I use to surf the internet while I watch TV, cause my laptop is plugged into my monitor. That’s how I watch TV. But sometimes when I watch TV, I also want to surf the internet at the same time, especially when the show I’m watching isn’t all that engaging. There’s a lot of shows on right now that don’t keep my interest, so it’s nice to be able to look at a website if the show gets too boring or something. It’s an okay tablet. I can surf the web and read books on it.

I’ve lived in this apartment with Lance for a couple of years now. He’s a good guy, likes to keep to himself mostly. He’s got a device addiction. We don’t really see each other that much, and there is zero drama, which is really nice. Some people, they got roommates, and it is just Drama City. But not for me. I don’t live in Drama City. I try to never even visit Drama City. Why would I want to go there? Lance is a good roommate. He works at some office, doing some sort of administrative job. He doesn’t tell me too much about it. He’s into boundaries for sure. I totally respect that.

As for me, I’ve been working in the same coffee shop for the last couple of years. Johnny Coffee is the name of it. It’s an okay job. The owner is named Johnny, and that’s why it’s named Johnny Coffee. I mean, I think that’s why. It’s a good job. You get tips and stuff. Make coffee. Some coffee shops you have to make food and stuff. Not this place. We toast bagels for people. But we don’t put even put any cream cheese on the bagel. We put it on the side in a little plastic ramekin. I like working here. It’s a decent job. I don’t know what else I would do. I worked at Whole Foods once for about five years. That was okay. I made some of my friends while working there—like Tom and Kristine and Karen. It was an okay job. I’m not really an office job kind of person. It’s hard to think about what I would do if I could do any job. I don’t know. It’s hard to even think about that kind of stuff. I can’t really think of any job. Not off the top of my head, anyway. I guess it’d be kind of cool to be a truck driver, right? I could listen to some books on tape while I head down the highway. It would be nice to be able to read more or listen more. I think the only thing that’s really holding me back from going to truck driving school is that I don’t really like driving so much. Not for long periods of time anyway. I tend to get highway hypnosis pretty quickly. Sometimes I just take the bus, but that can also be stressful. Last week I saw some guy take a piss on the bus driver. I was worried he was going to piss on me, so I got off the bus right away and waited for the next one.

I also like the idea of doing some sort of trade, like becoming an X-ray technician. I hear that’s an occupation that is always in demand, and those are the kinds of jobs that are good to have. Because you don’t have to worry about being laid off. But I don’t know the first thing about operating an X-ray. I guess I’d have to go get some training for that. But what if I did the training and still didn’t understand it?

I could see myself being a writer. And you know the more I think about it, I think being a writer would be maybe my dream job. Think about how sweet it would be to just stay home and write all day, coming up with wild stories. I think that would be very sweet. I once wrote a short story when I was going to college, City College in San Francisco. This was years ago, and it was just for some class. The story I wrote was called “Crazy Freaks.” It was about these two teenagers who torture animals and stuff. And then one of them realizes that there’s more to life than torturing animals, but his friend has already become a full-fledged psychopath and tries to kill him for wanting to quit torturing animals. My professor said it was a very interesting story, and I received a B.

Chapter 2

Today’s been pretty chill so far. Not too much going on. Just a kind of whatever day. I opened the coffee shop this morning and it was fairly busy. Not super busy but fairly busy. Made a lot of mochas, it felt like. Felt like everyone and their mom wanted a mocha today. I don’t mind it but it’s kinda not my favorite, you know, mixing the powdered chocolate with the espresso for every drink. Makes every drink you make kind of time-consuming. Had to make whip cream twice, that’s how mocha-busy it was. That’s what I call it: mocha-busy. I said it to Levi, my co-worker. I said, “Man, it is mocha-busy today,” and I think Levi liked that as a phrase. It’s pretty good, I think. In my opinion. We’ll see. We’ll see if catches on.

I ended up making about $34 in tips, so that’s good. I always feel positive if I make at least thirty in tips. Otherwise it’s just like, “what the heck?” you know. I thought about going to the movies after work, but I didn’t. There’s not much out I really wanted to see. I kind of wish I would’ve gone anyway though. I ended up just going home and chilling, which was nice. I ended up watching one of my all-time favorite shows, The Office, the US version. I wasn’t planning to rewatch The Office. It just sort of fell in my lap. I was just looking through Netflix, trying to find something to watch, and I saw The Office. So I said to myself, “Oh, that might be fun.” And sure enough it was.

Chapter 3

I had work today. That was okay. It was pretty slow for the most part. I only made $27 in tips, so the whole thing felt pointless. I don’t know. I guess there is a point. I don’t really know what it is, but I’m sure there is one. It would be nice to make a little more than $27 though, point or no point.

My stomach felt a little upset all day, so I took it easy. I never got sick or anything, but it just didn’t feel right. I was a little off, physically, all day. I don’t know why. I don’t remember eating anything weird. Sometimes body parts will just randomly hurt. Sometimes there’s a reason and sometimes there’s not.

Lately I’ve been thinking about getting some Bluetooth headphones because, sometimes, it’s nice to watch a movie with headphones in so that you’re not distracted by other noises going on in the apartment. Like if Lance is hammering nails or something. Experts would probably say that wearing headphones can help you stay engaged in whatever you’re watching. But here’s the problem I’ve always encountered: if you’re going to wear headphones, you have to sit close to the screen so that the cord can reach. I started thinking about it, and I realized it doesn’t have to be like that. You see the ideal goal, the perfect world scenario, is that I could wear headphones and still sit in my chair and watch something. That’s ultimately what I want. And I think Bluetooth headphones would help me achieve my goal. But I do have some concerns about it. I worry that I would be in the middle of watching something and then BAM! the battery in the headphones would go dead. Then I would have to stop and recharge them. Because you have to charge Bluetooth headphones. That’s one of the drawbacks. When I got home from work, I did a little reading around, looked up some reviews, some consumer reports, and I found a pair of headphones that I think would be good. And affordable, as I made my budget $30. I almost bought them online, but I decided to sleep on it. Overall it was pretty a good day, for the most part. I guess. I mean except for my stomach hurting.

Chapter 4

I slept in today. I had the day off and that was good, having a day off. My stomach stopped hurting. That was nice. But I still thought it would be a smart idea to lay low. Why not have a quiet day? Cause what if I am getting sick or something? So I just stayed home. I watched some more of The Office. Actually that’s all I did today. Just watched The Office. I don’t even know if I took a shower. Like I can’t even remember. If I was a betting man, I would probably bet a good amount of money on the fact that I did not shower today, because I’m pretty certain I didn’t. But then again it doesn’t really matter, you know. I mean if I showered or not. It’s not like I hosted a dinner party. I just stayed in and watched The Office.

I really like The Office. It’s a great show to watch. I mean, really. It’s really funny. Dwight’s funny. Michael’s funny. Angela. Some of the scenarios are pretty good. Like this one episode I saw today, it was good. It was really funny.

I know this might be sort of controversial to say, but Pam and Jim really bug me. I mean, is it me or are they two of the most boring people on the face of the planet earth? I don’t know, that’s just my opinion. It’s just what I think. And maybe it’s just me that thinks that. I guess they’re soul mates. I mean that’s cool. But I think they’re overrated, and Michael and Holly are better soulmates. They’re also a lot more entertaining, which is a big factor as to why people watch TV. I would give The Office a solid B.

Also, today, I decided to pull the trigger and take the plunge. I’m buying the Bluetooth headphones. It’s time. I feel really good about it. I think it’s really going to improve stuff, like my life.

Chapter 5

Caught some episodes of this show called Tanked. It’s a good show. I like it. It’s about these guys who build custom aquariums. Really nice ones. I probably watched about six episodes today. I saw a good one where NBA superstar Dwight Howard got an aquarium for his snakes. It’s a really good episode. Dwight moves into a new house, or mansion, really. The mansion has twenty-two bathrooms and five kitchens. It’s pretty incredible. I, personally, would never want a house that size. Can you imagine how much it would cost to heat a house like that? Probably an arm and a leg. But Dwight seems to like it.

So with his new mansion, Dwight needs a new tank for his snakes, and he needs a really big tank because he’s got a lot of snakes. And some of these snakes are really big. The Tanked team builds him a tank, a 9-foot tall, 12-foot-wide “snake mansion” that takes over an entire corner of a room. This is for two of Dwight’s really big snakes. They also built him another aquarium that is an 11-unit, 12-foot-wide “snake condo” for Dwight’s smaller snakes. It’s really suspenseful when they try to bring such a huge tank into Dwight’s house. I thought something was going to get broken or at least scratched up. But everything goes according to plan. What doesn’t go according to plan is when animal control shows up wanting to see Dwight’s permits for all of the exotic snakes he owns. Dwight does not have the permits. The lady from animal control says that they are going to have to confiscate the snakes. But it’s all an elaborate prank from the Tanked guys. The lady is not from animal control. She’s just pretending to be from animal control. Dwight can’t believe it, and neither can I. It was a fun episode. The next time I watch an NBA game I will have to remember to root for Dwight Howard if he’s playing.

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Steve Orth

Steve Orth writes fiction, poetry, and plays. His chapbooks include Cyborg Legs (OMG!), A Perfect Day For Scottie Pippen (Cookie Books), and Lust For Life (Travelin' Lite.) He has edited the DIY literary magazine Where Eagles Dare, curated Hybrid Moments reading series, and co-edited Summer BF Press with Lindsey Boldt. The Life & Times of Steve Orth is his first book.