Cheer up jimmy 3 melanch.., p.1
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       Cheer Up, Jimmy: 3 Melancholy Short Stories, p.1

           Dania Sonin
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Cheer Up, Jimmy: 3 Melancholy Short Stories
CHEER UP, JIMMY: 3 Melancholy Short Stories

  Copyright 2014 Dania Sonin

  Table of Contents

  Acknowledgements

  Preface

  The Last Thought of Samson Kroch

  Pyro Conscious

  Cold Bones

  Sneak Peak: Shift

  About The Author

  Acknowledgements

  Mostly for Derek, because you’ve been there for me forever. I’d also like to give a shout out to Violet and Kevin who have been extremely supportive and kind. Definitely some of the best people I know! Thanks so much!

  I also have to thank Smashbooks for having such a comprehensive guide. Super awesome place to publish. It makes being a writer that much easier.

  Finally, I have to give a big shout out to Terry Byrnes. I know I sort of disappeared, but maybe if you get to read this, you’ll see that I didn’t give up. Writing is about failure. You were an amazing professor and I’m grateful that you never pulled punches.

  PS: Big shoutout to Microwave from SA for the little dude on the cover. Hope all is well, dude.

  Preface

  I’ve never been very good at showing off. I’m a shy person and I like my me time. However, now that I’ve been around for a while, I think it’s time to start really going for what I want. These stories represent who I was as a writer when I began, so I think it’s a good place to start.

  I absolutely love horror and gore and creepy things, and I always have. R. L. Stine was my first with the Goosebumps series and later Fear Street. Then I moved onto Christopher Pike who was probably the pulpiest writer I could have possible found. He brought sex into the mix and for a burgeoning teenaged girl, it was fantastic. By the time I found Stephen King I knew what I wanted to write. I knew how I wanted to write. King was not only an amazing inspiration, but proof that you don’t always need to be a serious professional for people to know you’re good.

  Somebody once told me that killing characters was lazy and that a real writer figured out how to save them. I may be a little lazy, but I like to have fun when I write. I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t get too attached.

  “The Last Thought of Samson Kroch” (pronounced crock) is a quick snapshot inspired by my time in the philosophy department. I guess you can say it wasn’t my favourite major. This piece was the first short story I ever even thought of publishing, I was so proud. Irony.

  “Pyro Conscious” is about a young boy who just never found his place in the world. It’s violent and gory and just a bit gratuitous, but I hope you’ll enjoy it. It was published in Here Be Monsters in 2011.

  “Cold Bones”

  This is by far my favourite, but it has gotten little love from the community. I’ve always been interested in the macabre and it was my attempt at exploring what it might feel like to be a serial killer. It’s totally wrong and misguided, but I love how it turned out.

  Shift is a novel I’ve been working on for a little while. It’s my first foray into sci-fi and centres around a John Doe who wakes up to find that he can’t remember anything and is suddenly sharing his mind with somebody else. It’s a fun but difficult concept to explore. An obsession with cosmological time was one of the more interesting things to come out of my time in philosophy.

  I really hope you enjoy these stories because I had a ball writing them. Let’s make my first attempt count.

  THE LAST THOUGHT OF SAMSON KROCH

  As the shiny, blue subway train raced toward Samson, he let his mind wander. As anyone knows, a few seconds can last anywhere from nothing to eternity depending on whether or not you’re enjoying those seconds, and with the train metres away, time seemed to stop entirely for poor Samson. He thought first, mundanely, as though he'd been standing on the platform, that he hated the new design of the trains, with their sinister three-pronged poles and strangely configured seats. He felt as if they’d gone on without him, moved into a future he just didn’t feel comfortable in. Before he could remind himself of the reality that he was about to experience, he wished with most of his heart (and all of the part of him that hated rush hour) that he would never have to step on a train again. The absurdity of the thought, though under the current circumstances it seemed he was already being proactive, made him smile and ever so daintily, as if for emphasis, step forward into the path of the oncoming train.

  The subway, in the meantime, blared and honked as the conductor suddenly realised he was about to have a very bad day. People shrieked and somebody might have yelled to get that man off the tracks while another groaned at being made late by yet another selfish depressed jumper. There was a growing din of noise as people scrambled this way and that in a panic and the subway breaks began to screech.

  Samson barely heard any of it but happened to catch the irritated exclamation of the kid who at a mere fifteen or sixteen years of age was already so jaded and self-obsessed that another person’s death was merely an inconvenience. How he hated teenagers. He'd been one himself, so of course he understood that life at that age is nothing to take lightly but he'd made it through sans tattoo, piercing, overly fruity hair, silly tribe fashions, or any fads of any kind, really. Kids these days, it seemed, were little more than four to six foot toddlers with various electronic peripherals that could be used to a certain degree to control their moods and actions. Added to that was the fact that they all had some insane obsession with individuality and self-expression, as if having a unique genetic code and freedom of speech weren't enough already. But did they show initiative in pioneering fashions and attitudes or use their utterly individual free-thinking minds to the make any real improvements in society? No. Instead they came in hypocritical droves, all dressed the same with similar hair and accessories, to protest the abstractions known as "corporate America," "poverty," and "human rights." Of course if asked to define any one of these terms (or why they were incapable of putting down their Chinese-made gadgets for even a minute), or spell out the implications or even brainstorm on some solutions, most of these teenagers had little more to offer than platitudes endorsed and popularized by "Corporate America" itself. It was all pretentious and from what Samson could tell as a university professor, those attitudes were temporary and tended to dissolve as soon as the words "rent" and "tuition" along with "loans and bursaries" were applied. All ambition, all notions of some unique and individual personality that could not be bought or replicated declined in direct proportion to every dollar of disposable income they lost. That was fine. Samson liked it when things resolved themselves that way. As the saying goes, he loved a certain kind of company.

  It’s not as if he hadn’t tried to make something of himself. He’d had dreams once too. Of course, like most teenagers, he thought he would grow up to be famous for something. What it was didn’t really seem to matter. Rock star, actor, author, politician, the title didn’t matter as much as the prestige. But somewhere along the way he’d gotten stuck in a dead-end job. It paid for college very slowly and then a master’s degree even slower than that. He paid for it with his creativity, his drive, and any will he’d ever had to really be a person. A moderate professorship had opened up in his city just nine months after he’d graduated and he’d jumped at the chance. Now, ten years later, he barely had a pension and tenure was a joke. Most of his students were absolutely over the material and he hadn’t been able to bring himself to care for over two years. He was always in the middle on those rating sites. He basically ran a bird course for kids who spent most of their time and all of their money on being as inebriated as possible.

  He thought of the thousands of hours he'd wasted sleeping or shitting and of all the things he could have done in that ti
me. Masturbation came first to mind but he quickly dismissed that as its own special brand of time-wasting. He practically had a tissue budget, at least before he stopped caring about the sanctity of his linen. Laundry was determined by how crusty the layer of clothes covering his floor felt. But he really had tried to be something more. Procrastination was just too bad of a disease. A stack of unread, nay untouched, philosophy papers were sitting on his desk at the university at that very moment due to his poor time-management skills. Even reading their titles had seemed like a waste of his time. "Calvin and Hobbes: A Historical Overview" seemed to think it was clever. "Humeanity" checked itself into the pun camp as well. Then came the ubiquitous buzz-kills like "Plato and Socrates: Philosopher Kings" or "Essay #2: Generic Philosophical Principle that Nobody Really Cares About but Seems Scholarly." These, he knew from experience, would be boring, full of useless quotes and needless citations but these papers he would have to mark with bright red A's while Calvin and Hobbes would barely grasp at a B, only because universities didn't work that way. You weren't supposed to waste your time with humour, especially not in the philosophy department even if you weren’t actually reading anything.

  Today that didn't matter though, because the papers would sit there unmarked until some unfortunate TA realize that yes, he had taken that philosophy course and that to his bubbling dismay, he did remember the material and since he hadn't wasted any of his time turning over the last bunch of papers he'd been asked to mark, he was a prime candidate for ploughing through these ones. The burden would be on this poor soon-to-be-spite-ridden teacher's aide all because Samson Kroch had postponed reading the papers in favour of sleeping, shitting, and jerking off.

  But that was Samson's life these days. Avoiding life and hating the people around him. It had been that way for longer than he cared to think about and he saw no respite.

  His life had been plagued by a lack of luck. He never won anything. He never met the right people by chance. He never even found a twenty dollar bill on the street. It was as if by some chance of birth, he’d been cursed before even starting out. Sometime he wondered about reincarnation. He wondered if he’d been somebody awful. Maybe Hitler or some violent tribesman who’d murdered his whole family on the request of a witch doctor. His mind turned that thought over for a moment, and had anybody been watching him, they would have seen a distinct smile for a tenth of a second. He wondered if the next life would be a little better and if he’d helped his karma at all. He was surprisingly short on Buddhist knowledge for a philosophy professor, but he thought that suicide probably didn’t look too great on your eternal transcript.

  But it had come to this. Years of never getting anything right, scraping by, never really caring about anybody – it had all come to this. His thoughts came full circle and he planted himself firmly on the tracks as the metro continued its course. Artificial light glinted off the windshield, behind which stood a man dressed all in various shades of blue, motioning wildly for Samson to move. Samson shook his head. He would not waste any more time, he told himself, but his mind was off again.

  This time he thought of his ex-wife, how she'd pretended for so long to be interested in him and his work. "Tell me about Descartes," she'd say or "How could Kant read Maxim?" She was a silly woman who'd never deserved him or anybody really since all she knew how to do was eat and spend money. By now he hated her which was more of a convenient thing than one that could be qualified as good or bad. The divorce had been messy, with her getting pretty much everything. Their house, their car, the awful cat that he honestly had only wanted to make her mad. Their whole courtship had been a farce. She’d heard professor and being an idiot, thought that it somehow meant money. As soon as she realised how long he’d been saving, how hard he lived, the sex had stopped, the fawning had stopped, and her ass had gotten smaller. Six months later he was served and she was on the beach somewhere with some guy she’d met at the gym. She still fought tooth and nail for what little he had and won despite having a new sugar daddy. At the very least, the cat had died not too long after becoming her legal properly.

  It all made his farewell to the world feel less encumbered and he didn't mind not having to worry that she'd miss him, since she hated him too. She deserved every harsh word he threw at her, whether or not he was vocal, and all the things she'd said were true too. He didn't pay attention, barely cared, and didn't like her friends. He really saw no reason to. She had seemed to like him and he’d only married her because it seemed easy. Samson, ever the optimist, had fully expected to spend sixty or seventy completely mundane years with her. They’d have sex, maybe a kid, and he’d die able to say he’d done something with his life. It was almost a relief to know he wouldn’t have to putter around that long, stuck to somebody he couldn’t stand and he figured that she'd be happy when she heard the news that some crazed man in a bright green trench coat had flung himself on the tracks and exploded into a shower of man meat too. No awkward ex to run into and everyone would shower her with sympathy. It really was a win-win situation. Again, he liked it when things worked themselves out like that.

  The metro screeched and Samson watched it approach as if in slow motion. He was the type who kept his eyes open and mouth closed on roller coasters but he couldn’t have screamed if he wanted to. Time was speeding up again and he realised for the first time that he was going to die. His mind raced as he struggled to find an adequate last thought. Erudite quotations seemed cheap and overused and there was no way he was about to let poetry or post-modernism soil his last moments on Earth. He’d heard that people who decide to kill themselves often felt euphoria at the sheer relief, but he still itched with all the same old anxieties and annoyances that had pushed him to this point. He wondered briefly if there was a Heaven or a Hell but being the great impractical atheist that he was, quickly resolved for the billionth time that there couldn't possibly be and that prayer would be just as inappropriate. He groped for something positive and for a moment his mind was a jumble of petty problems, nearly obsessive-compulsive pet peeves, and all the books he'd been planning to read. Then there was nothing but the threat of the blue monster, so close he could touch it, too close to dodge it, ready to mow him down like a daisy. His mind was blank, serene, and irksomely lacking solid closure, but as the metro hit and his trench coat tangled itself between the wheels and the rails, he had his final thought – since it was something that would exist with or without his approval.

  He thought, as real pain took over his senses and he finally understood that he was the only constant in his life, he was the inflexible, judgmental, lazy, dimwit who had made all the choices to lead to this moment, how easy it was to make excuses and be the victim, and how easier still it could be to turn it all around, make the changes, be the person he had always wanted to be, the last thought he’d ever have: "I wish I'd thought this through."

  Pyro Conscious

  “I’m not a pyro,” Jimmy told his doctor. “See, ‘pyromaniac’ implies that I just go around burning whatever, whenever. But see, I don’t do that.” He leaned in close as he spoke, the chains linking his wrists and ankles clinking delicately. “I choose. A lot of thought goes into what I do. A lot.”

  “You choose,” the other man said, sounding stuffy and academic. “What do you choose, Jimmy?”

  It was four o’clock in the afternoon and Jimmy was alone in the house. He sat in his sister’s room, various shades of pink surrounding him, millions of bead-eyes watching, staring. He hated this room with a passion, with its new things. He didn’t get new things. He got the scraps, the leftovers from his brother’s days as a child: cars whose wheels would not turn; bent and broken army men; a telescope without an eyepiece – these were his playthings. But his parents had always wanted a girl and they intended to treat her right. Her room was a testament to their efforts, filled to the brim with everything a girl could ever want, including a pristine, white rocking horse with a gilded saddle. He kicked it gently and set it in motion, listening to the fl
oorboard creek gently beneath it until it finally came to rest again. He hated it the most.

  He flipped open his lighter, his only new thing, happy to be pitting the two against each other, and struck the wheel against his jeans. A spark caught the wick and for just a moment he admired the flame. It danced for him, thanked him for bringing it to life and giving it such a wonderful task. He nodded in appreciation and touched the dancing flame to the horse’s lips. The lacquer caught first and almost at once his happy, little flame became a giant, leaping monster. He backed off, covering his face with his arm, shielding himself from the heat and the cinders but all too quickly the volatile coating burned off. He watched, mesmerised as the horse’s painted skin went from white to blazing orange to a charcoal grey. When the white horse was black with soot, slowly charring and roasting, Jimmy smiled and made for the door.

  “Why did you choose the house, Jimmy,” the doctor asked. Jimmy stared at the floor and made small circles with his feet listening to the clinking chains, seeing how big he could make the circle before feeling a tug at his wrists. It was a fun game. His thumb nervously flicked at an invisible Zippo. The doctor sighed and motioned for the guard. “Next week, Jimmy.”

 
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