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Bubble Bath at the Haunted Mansion by Lee Stepien

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13907.25 +45.52 “What were you expecting?!” his mother exasperatedly exaggerated over the phone. She had a habit of saying this when the context didn’t really support it well. “You’re going to end up sleeping on the streets!” Shai looked around his apartment bedroom. The old brick building was airy. It had nails jutting out of the hardwood floors. Plaster and paint would fall off of the walls and ceilings in patches if they were hit too hard. It was the coolest place he had ever lived. He had been forced to decorate it with things that he had found. Treasures that had been lining the curbs and beside or in dumpsters that did sort of make his place resemble the streets. Not anything tacky and prepubescent like street signs and traffic cones. An old gumball machine with two quarters jammed into it. A straw and yarn woven tree of life tapestry with several slats missing. The best diamond in the rough he had ever found was an out of tune harmonium. His walls were covered with posters for local shows that he had peeled off of lamp posts and tack boards, the windows of cafes and the likes of the Middle East nightclub. Most of them were photocopies. He finally replied, “The streets are nice this time of year.” There was no use in taking his overly worried mother seriously. He had overheard her saying on more than one occasion that with all his talents at least she knew he would never starve. He could always find job at another coffee shop somewhere. No one else could mold swans into espresso foam like he could. He’d had years and years of experience. “Have you even been trying?” she asked. He looked at the box of resume paper on his desk. He looked at the notebook next to it with names of companies, job listings, and phone numbers, a few crossed off. He thought about all the rejection e-mails. He thought about all the phrases like ‘We’ll call you once we’ve looked over your resume’ and ‘We begin the hiring process for this position next week.’ He thought about all the rejections they didn’t give enough of a shit to bother with. He remembered saying things like, “Aw, shucks! Well gee, thanks anyway.” The old college try. He replied, “It’s that darned economy.” “Shai, honey,” she eased in, “You have to follow up. You have to call, you have to go there. Make them give you the job.” “I could bring a gun next time,” he started picking at the ball of tape behind one of his posters.


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“I’m being serious,” she cleared her voice and reloaded, “you shouldn’t have gotten that apartment if you knew you couldn’t afford it.” “Mom…” he trailed off. “What?” she demanded. “No, I was just trailing off,” he explained. “I didn’t really have anything else to say.” She continued, “It was bad enough that you tricked your father into giving you the last month’s rent and security deposit when you signed the lease.” He decided he was finished with the conversation and grabbed his guitar to practice finger picking. It was how his parents always knew that it was time to bring things to a close. “Look, those jobs aren’t even what I want to do anyway. I just started planning some basement shows for the band. You know, it’s just like a job: you have to do an unpaid internship first sometimes.” “Honey, you can’t sing,” she flatly stated. It immediately recalled those late nights when he would play in the basement, strumming and yelling with just an acoustic, and his parents would shout down that they were trying to sleep and that they were paying to send him to singing lessons in the morning. “Phantomadelia isn’t about being able to sing!” he sarcastically exasperated partially to mock his mother, but mostly just so he could drop the name of the genre he had invented that was not in any way a direct rip off of ghost-core. “Gawsh!” 13636.16 +72.59 Shai usually rode his bicycle anywhere he needed to in the city. Even if it was absurdly far. However, when it snowed hard, he had to take the train. With a bike it was a bit more difficult to sneak through the sliding plastic doors behind a fare paying citizen. The gate ended up closing on his back wheel, which was much further than he expected to get, and it gave off three familiar buzzes. There was no one around, so Shai got on the train, whistling joyously. After a second he paused his music stealthily, because he could’ve sworn he heard someone singing along. Peeking out of the corner of one eye he tried to see who it was, making sure she didn’t notice. The girl was dark and pale, pretty, but with these black, dead eyes, like pools of oil. She wore an old navy blue coat that was slightly too big for her and looked like it was from the civil war, shoulder tassels and all. He kept subtly whistling to see if she would continue. “I can’t see you every night…for freeeeeeeee,” she sangmumbled to herself, bobbing her head.


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Shai spent a good five minutes contemplating what to say to this girl. The train started up again after a stop and towards the far end of the car, someone started speaking loudly, which was really strange for a small space full of people reading and generally trying to pretend that no one else existed. Through the crowd, a woman with scraggly hair moved forward. “…And I’m a single mother of three little girls. I just got laid off a month ago.” She had fingerless gloves and everything. Shai wondered if she wore them because they were somehow useful or if they enhanced her sympathy bid. “No one will hire me. My food stamps always leave me short.” As she spoke she walked through the crowd with her hands outstretched, begging to people that were desperately trying to avoid looking at her. “If you could just spare anything you have, I need help to feed my little girls.” Shai made the mistake of making eye contact with the pleading woman and she came right over to him. She presented her hands. Shai’s body tensed up. Immediately he turned to face the unsuspecting phantom harmonizer behind him. The girl had been watching the whole thing and now looked up at Shai, about as panicked as he was. “Were you singing along to the song I was listening to?” he said. The train stopped and the scraggly woman behind them sighed and got off. Shai had been holding his breath and let it out, then realized he was still staring at this girl. He could feel his eyes widening and darting as he thought of anything to say. He settled on, “Sooooo,” which ended in what could’ve quite possible been the longest and lowest trail off decrescendo known to a human mouth. They had gotten the attention of a few fellow travelers, who were glaringly awaiting her answer. “Your song was singing along with me!” the girl said, then got up and quickly exited the train. 13848.41 -82.28 Shai walked over to the table of a coffee shop that he didn’t go to that often. As he approached this girl he had never seen before, he glanced back at the door. He hardly recognized her from her photos. Thinking back, he couldn’t quite remember seeing any picture other than from the shoulders up. The first difference he noted was the star map of acne on her face under layers of skin colored frosting. He wished he had remembered to peek through the window this time. Shit. “Shai?” she said. He nodded.


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No photos either of her with an open mouthed smile. A couple of her teeth snaggled out like daggers. He scratched his head and sat down. “Good to meet you!” she shook his hand. “You know, I was surprised to see you on there…” she affectionately called the ‘social networking’ site ‘OK Stupid.’ She continued, “I always thought girls from your college were really pretty.” “Common misconception.” Shai realized that he had been sitting there paralyzed. He crossed his legs. Then he wondered why he did that, because he never crosses his legs, and uncrossed them. “They can be really funky looking up close. I can’t keep in touch with anyone since graduation anyway. Everybody went to L.A.” Since then, he ended up spending a good amount of time in front of a computer, looking through profiles and sending messages. It was almost as if he had engineered a system for his halfassed experiment. Don’t read everything, just pick out one quirky trait or common interest to foster some connection. He’d talked to enough girls to know that if it wasn’t a blatant sex proposition or a picture of his junk, he had the advantage and made them feel like the circumstances of their meeting weren’t pathetic. “I graduate in spring,” she sighed. “I think I’ll be living with the folks for a while, because I can’t find a job. It’s cool that you’re still in the city. How’d you do it?” “I’m working for this record label,” which was mostly true. They just didn’t pay him, because they didn’t make any money. They did a lot more ‘hanging out’ and ‘playing music in their living room.’ “That sounds cool,” she said. “You’re lucky.” It’s not that she was hideously overweight, though he didn’t want to picture her naked. He still wasn’t sure if he was considering it or not. Shai just wished she would say anything interesting. “Yeah, if I lived with my parents I’d have to kill myself…” he said tonelessly. “If I didn’t explode from sexual frustration first.” She laughed. He was happy that it came of sarcastically candid and charming instead of resembling the pathetic truth of the situation. He was reaching a point of withdrawal again that left him feeling tense and anxious nearly every moment of the day. Inappropriate things penetrated his thoughts constantly and by now the fabric of nearly all of his socks had been ruined. “You’re pretty attractive,” she said shyly. “I wouldn’t think it would be hard for you to meet people.” “Well, I don’t really like strangers. I have no idea how to talk to them. And I have this serious medical problem with my mouth.”


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“Oh,” she said, concerned the way a stranger who didn’t know better would be. “What is it?” “It’s the weirdest. Whenever I open it, nothing but stupid things come out.” He thought about all the girls that avoided talking to him when they spotted him across a crowded room. The weak excuses. The conversations where he could tell the girl was dying for any reason to escape. It seemed that he only had charisma when he didn’t care. Like right then. “You know how they say that people you meet online always have some huge flaw?” she giggled. “I was just thinking that I knew there had to be something wrong with you.” “Yep,” he said. There is. 14279.96 +120.80 Shai was standing in the back aisle of some medical and household goods chain superstore. In one hand he had a giant frozen burrito. In the other hand, a roll of toilet paper. He looked at each one individually, weighing his options. After a minute he shrugged, shoving the burrito into his pants and flattening the roll of toilet paper to fit it into his jacket pocket. Satisfied with his purchases, he rounded the corner and saw a girl with dark hair in a blue jacket with yellow shoulder tassels. She was kneeling down and looking at packages of SD cards, the kind of memory storage used in digital cameras. He watched her for a minute, and then realized he was just staring and darted around the corner, narrowly dodging her glance. Peering from through the aisle, he watched her tug at one of the card’s cardboard packages, only to realize that it had been locked to the hanger. She looked left and right, then dug out a pair of scissors from her coat and cut the tab securing the package. She stood slowly and put the scissors and the card into her coat’s inside pocket. “Hiya,” Shai said before he knew he was walking over. “You were that girl from the train right?” She looked at him with those giant oily eyes, “I’ve been on a train before maybe. So what?” “So, are you a photographer?” “Why would you ask me that?” she said with panicked suspicion. “Well, it seemed like you were in the market for some affordable digital memory.” “Shut up!” she said, grabbing his arm and walking with him towards the door. “Don’t worry. I’ve got a giant burrito in my pants.” He added, “And I’m not trying to be gross.” She gave him a raised eyebrow, “Yeah, it’s just these things are expensive and I’m already in so much debt with college loans. At least I’m not so pathetic that I’d steal a burrito.”


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“Hey, it’s a scientific fact that burritos taste better when they’re stolen.” She laughed, “Alright, we need to get out of here.” “Ok, but before you go through those detectors over there, you might want to peel the little white paper square off the back of the package. If, you know, you don’t want them to beep when you go through them,” he said and she looked at him curiously. They huddled close to a wall to do the deed secretly. Her hair smelled strong of something that Shai couldn’t define. Someone else could’ve easily found it overpowering, but for him it was strangely intoxicating. She pulled out the card and just like he had said, on the back was a little white sticker with a silvery computer chip inside that could be seen when she peeled it off. She stuck it to the wall and they walked out the door to safety. “What’s your name?” Shai asked her. She had told him her real name when he met her, but all of her friends had another nickname that sort of sounded like her real one and that just stuck. Shai was horrible with names and after a while, her real one slipped right out of his head. He always remembered her as the villain from one of his favorite childhood TV shows. “I’m Shredder,” she said. 12016.69 -260.30 That night, Shai noticed that Shredder was wearing a different coat. Instead of the civil war relic, she was now in a puffy black down jacket that went just below her knees. They were walking the brick lain streets after dinner. The trek from Chinatown to Cambridge wasn’t a short one, but they got to cross the river, which was one of Shai’s favorites at night. Their bellies were full of dirt cheap wonton noodles and sake, and they each carried a little white square take out box full of leftovers. “If we’re going to walk, we can give them to some homeless guy on the way home,” Shredder had suggested. Shai secretly hoped they wouldn’t run into anyone so he could have it for lunch the next day. “Tell me about your short film,” Shai asked her. “Can you give me your logline?” “Uh well,” Shredder started. “I’m kind of bad at pitching. I prefer to do music videos, but we all have to make something for this class. Being concise is one of the things you have to learn, but I just always want to explain more.” “Lay it on me anyway.” “Ok. So, it’s about this old man who lives in a broken down house. The first half of the movie is going to be him flipping pancakes and walking around in his underwear in the street. His wife is


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there and she’s sticking forks into his shoulder all the time. Anyways, this guy keeps on babbling about a suitcase full of money that he needs to get out of this snow globe that he’s always clutching in one hand. So, we look into the snow globe and WHAM! We enter in the middle of a firefight. Bullets are raining down everywhere. There’s our old man, only now he’s younger and wearing a velour jumpsuit and bling around his neck and has diamond studded brass knuckles. He’s being hunted by this pink cowboy that’s been after the same beeping suitcase for years. So, the cowboy follows this trail of blood to a motel and when he kicks in the door, WHAM! It’s empty. Cut to our hero driving away with bumping hydraulics and the suitcase in the passenger seat. He opens the thing and what should he find, but pancakes! Suddenly, we hear a gunshot and the pancakes become spotted with blood. The cowboy has shot him. Just then the snow globe falls from the old man’s hand and shatters. He’s had a heart attack. The last shot pans up through the sky and we realize that all of that was happening inside another snow globe the whole time, in a world populated by like sentient pancakes…or something.” Shredder took a moment to catch her breath and Shai laughed, “Yeah, you might want to work on that line a bit.” Shredder chuckled lightly and looked down. “What happened to your other coat?” Shai asked. “What? Oh, the blue one? That was my roommates. I stole it,” Shredder explained. “Why?” Before Shai could answer, they were distracted by some loud static noise ahead of them. Investigating, they encountered what looked like a fort of dirty blankets and pillows in one of the lookout nooks on the bridge. A pudgy man was lying on an air mattress and wearing knock off designer clothes with holes in them. By his side was a little laundry carriage full of plastic bags and piles of all his earthly treasures. The noise emanated from a small portable television with an antenna that was occasionally spitting static. Shredder walked up to the man and held out her leftovers by the little metal handle, “Do you want some food?” Without getting up, this guy said, “No. I’m not hungry.” Shai and Shredder stood there a little bit surprised. “Are you sure?” Shai said, “Her pork fried rice was exquisite.” “Nope, I’m not hungry,” he repeated. “I really just want to watch the game. Could you leave me alone?” Shredder retracted the leftovers quietly and the two of them went on their way. 10917.51 -684.42


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Shai sat across from a career advisor at his former college in an office decorated with brightly colored motivational posters and every kind of stress ball one could imagine littering every surface, as if they had fallen from the ceiling. She was a husky woman with this look about her that Shai couldn’t quite define. He spent the first five minutes of their meeting not really listening to her, because he was too distracted by this. He finally decided that she looked like her face was melting and trying to dribble off to the sides. “You need to use your connections. Go to job fairs, take on internships, talk to you friends, ask everyone and anyone you know if they know about a job opening.” The school was committed to the success of their students, even after they graduated. “Call the places that you want to work and ask them if you can do an informational interview. Just go in and ask them a bunch of questions.” The school had all the resources and career placement staff to help put you into a great position right out of college. “Then, ask them if they have any openings or if their friends do.” She interlocked her fingers and explained, “You need to start forming a web.” Shai was thinking of pointing out that the gesture didn’t make sense, because webs had holes. What she did was more like a puzzle or maybe gears. “And always, always, send a thank you note,” she lifted a finger, quite pleased with herself. “Never underestimate the value of a thank you note.” These career professionals have strong industry connections and insider knowledge to assist you in your job search. “And do you want to know a little secret of mine?” she waited like she expected Shai to lean in. “Muffins,” she said. “Muffins,” Shai repeated. “Muffins,” she was smiling to herself so widely that it almost seemed like she was trying to trick Shai. Like she couldn’t believe that this kid was buying her muffins. “Sending baked goods after an interview can make you stand out to employers.” “But couldn’t that be sort of like a bribe?” Shai asked. “No,” she shook her head, a bit befuddled. He almost expected her to do the interlocking fingers gesture again. “No, no, muffins.” A resource center that will make it well worth your one hundred and sixty thousand dollars. “Don’t you, like, know someone at a studio or label in New York that could just give me an interview?” Shai asked.


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She shook her head, “Our school is committed to preparing our students for the rigors of the job search.” “Right…Well,” Shai said, a bit defeated, “do you have a good muffin recipe?” 8920.70 -504.81 The room was dark with the occasional green or blue laser cutting across the mass of sweaty people. Shredder was sitting on the couch of her apartment, listening to her two DJ buddies produce a nightmare of noises, sound clips, and intercut songs behind a mountain of gear. Shredder had explained, “It’s really cool. What they do isn’t really DJ-ing. It’s post-sampling. It’s post-DJ.” Shai had scoffed as a reflex. He felt bad about it, but thought that he had turned it into a good enough coughlaugh that she didn’t notice. Shredder closed her eyes and bobbed her head with a camera in one hand and moved her other hand about in the air as if she were petting some invisible animal. Shai was sitting next to her and only realized that he was staring when she looked up, opened her mouth slightly, and then got up quickly. Without saying a word she climbed up on the kitchen counter, where the towers of speakers, knobs, switches, sliders, and cables were set up. She started taking pictures. All Shai could think about were the loaded parents of these post-independent DJs. Shai got a couple of red plastic cups and filled them with beer from the keg. More like cups of foam with a little bit of beer. Once she got down, he offered one to Shredder and she said, “Oh, I wanted a mix drink,” without looking up. “I’ll just make one for myself in a second.” “Hey,” Shai said, but she didn’t look at him. So, he grabbed her hand. “Is everything ok?” “Well, I just thought that you were going to help me with this photo project, but you haven’t done anything,” she said as if the fact were obvious. “You only have one camera,” Shai said. “Yeah, but, you know, I wanted this to be like an artistic thing that we did together.” “I mean,” Shai contemplated, “I said I’d like to help, but there’s clearly not much I can do.” “Whatever,” She said. “You realize that what you’re upset about is completely unreasonable, right?” Shai tried. Shredder turned and walked right over to the door and left. Shai stood there expressionless and sipped his foam. Looking around the room, he took the excuse to go outside. Shredder ended up on the steps smoking a cigarette. “I realized that I live here, so you need to go,” She said. Shai saw someone across the street getting himself comfortable under a cardboard blanket. “C’mon, let’s go inside,” he said.


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“Look,” seeing Shai eye the vagrant she said, “Frankie Marionettes is my buddy, alright? Whatever you have to say, you can say in front of him.” The guy sat up, “You know why they call me Frankie Marionettes?” “Look Frankie,” Shai said, “We’re kind of busy here.” “Don’t be rude to Frankie!” Shredder said. “You know why they call me Frankie Marionettes?” “Did you ever see a movie set in like medieval times?” Shredder explained. “The kind where there’s a little cut out stage in the castle square with inappropriate adult themed puppet shows? Frankie’s kind of like that.” “Wait!” Frankie said, “Let me get Gus!” The puppets he produced were formed out of scraps of things Frankie had salvaged from the garbage. Cut up beer cans, scraps of old t-shirts, fast-food bags. His show turned out to be a rather brief mixture of Pretty Woman and the ‘birds and the bees’ speech your parents gave you. Gus was a Senator who fell for a fair maiden who turned out to be a prostitute. A good five minutes was devoted to Frankie explaining in graphic detail what Gus did to the lady of the night. Then Gus had to help her out by selling cocaine on the streets so they could get enough money to pay off her pimp. They failed to make her deadline and Gus got a toe cut off. His wife left him and he ended up living with the strumpet on the street, unhappily ever after. “It’s going to help them teens from getting pregnant,” Frankie said. Then, “Can I,” pointing at the cup of foam in Shai’s hands. “…have that beer?” Shai gave it to him and Frankie got distracted by some drunk kids leaving the party. He wandered off to harass them. “Does he really have a meeting tomorrow?” Shai asked. “He says that all the time,” Shredder explained. “Well hey,” Shai said, “maybe he can help you with your pitches.” Shredder ignored the comment, “It’s sad that he’s homeless. That could make a great late night adult cartoon.” Shai was convinced that she was about to cry. He saw a tear drip from those dark eyes that mixed with her thick mascara, making it look black and oily. Shai put a hand on her shoulder and there was a tender pause, “I can’t believe you called Frankie homeless. What’s wrong with you?” She looked at him kind of shocked but more pissed off and Shai continued, “He’s not homeless, he’s just…always traveling. He’s post-home.” Shredder laughed then kissed Shai. “He’s not homeless, he’s post-home.”


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9711.46 +3.66 Shai’s manager had taken him by the shoulder to a table by the window of their little organic fair-trade coffee shop. “I need to fix my W-4 form,” Shai was referring to the fifty-fifty chance wonder matrix of zeros and ones that controlled his tax withholdings. “I’m losing like more than a third of my check.” Markus was sitting there with a look of supreme concentration as he twisted a dreadlock around with his fingers. “Shai, man, the store is going through some tough times right now. We’re going to have to start cutting back on hours.” “Seriously?” Shai said. “You know this is my only job right?” “I know buddy,” Markus sympathized. “It’s just, and don’t tell anyone, but we’re teetering on bankruptcy. I have to make cuts for everyone.” “Yeah, I understand,” Shai said. “So, how much will I be working now?” “Well, it’ll be practically never,” Markus mumbled. “It’s never.” “What?!” Shai said. “It’s only till we can sort this all out. Everyone is taking cutbacks. We’ll get you back in as soon as possible.” Markus put a hand on Shai’s shoulder. “I’m sorry man.” Shai smiled weakly and said, “No, it’s ok,” as he thought to himself that now he could ask his parents to bail him out with rent for next month. His mom would say to him, “What did you expect was going to happen?” “I don’t know,” he would reply. “I expected something. I expected something more.” 8282.60 -611.30 You could see up into the kitchen through the ceiling boards. A few couches that had been abducted from street corners were strewn about the dusty concrete basement. The walls were decorated with disemboweled cassette tapes as well as crude and colorful paintings of shapes and figures. The house was a dimly lit, but glowing, mess. Shai had lit a couple of candles and glued a ouija board to the front of his synthesizer to set the mood. He was also strapped to an electric guitar that would hide behind him when he switched between the two instruments. His buddy Leon stood in the back and was manning the only instrument you don’t have to touch to play, the theremin. Leon moved his hands near the two metal poles that stuck out from a black box and the thing produced the warbling and eerie tones Shai loved so much. The only other musician was a drum machine, tapping out the digital beat. The song ended with Shai wailing in a way that he hoped would conjure up a smelly castle populated by sheets with two holes cut into them for eyes. As the song died down, Shai noticed that they had gathered a considerable crowd. Still, talking could be


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heard above in the kitchen and out back in the driveway where kids were drinking and smoking. Shredder stood in the back, looking around before moving towards the stairs. “Th-thanks. That was called ‘Boo Nasty,’” Shai told the spaced out spectators. “We are the Falafelasauruses. We’re going to play a couple more if that’s ok.” Leon coughed and kicked a metal bucket behind Shai. “Oh yeah. Leon’s car got broken into last month and we’re still trying to buy everything back,” Shai handed the bucket to the first kid in front of him. As he did, he noticed a look that he thought must’ve been similar to the one he had worn when that scraggly woman approached him on the train. “Anything you guys could spare would be sweet.” After their set and after they had loaded all their equipment back into their car, Shai poured out the bucket on the kitchen table. Leon counted it and declared, “About fifteen dollars. Three of them are in change.” “That’s great,” Shai responded. “The most we’ve ever made.” The band meeting was suddenly interrupted by some loud music coming from the next room. Shai immediately recognized the repetitive beats and popular music mash ups as being someone’s favorite DJ. Sure enough, Shredder had connected her music to the record player in the living room. The house was still buzzing with people, all of whom were starting to look pretty offended at the onslaught of forbidden top 40’s that had likely never been heard in that household ever. “Hey,” Shai said. “Whachya doin’?” Shredder was absorbed in her little music device. Shai immediately recognized that she was making a playlist and had to be stopped. She said, “We should dance!” “Yeah,” Shai said, “but no. C’mon, you shouldn’t play that stuff here.” “What does that mean?” now Shredder looked offended. “I mean,” Shai started, “I’ve been trying to get a show here for months so we really shouldn’t be messing with their stereo.” Shai decided that maybe he could tickle the device out of her hands. Mid-tickle, He noticed that for some reason the smell of her hair had lost its intoxicating effect. It had an ammonia-like sting to it and smelled kind of like gasoline. After a sharp convulsion, the cord was yanked out and the music stopped. Shredder decided to take advantage of the silence by cackling and yelling out, “Help! Help! He’s trying to rape me!” That was when Shai noticed that a back door had been opened and there was someone standing behind them.


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“Hey, uh,” said the skinny boy in bike shorts and suspenders. Shai immediately recognized him as one of the kids who lived in the house. “The, uh, next band has already started playing.” Shai peeked in through the door and saw a bunch of people sitting on the hardwood floor. Behind them was a bearded fellow in a chair with an acoustic guitar. He shook his head. They all stared at Shai with glares of judgment that turned his insides liquid. “Got ya,” Shredder giggled. 6440.08 -777.69 Shai got up to throw the condom in the garbage. He thought about playing some music, because he expected the lines Shredder gave him earlier to keep him awake. Then he remembered he could scroll through her whole music collection without finding anything to play. He had never ‘snorted’ anything before, but for some reason he didn’t really care about doing in front of Shredder. Which wasn’t usual. Afterwards, he didn’t feel much else besides insomnia, but at the time it just seemed like it would make things easier. As he went back to bed, he noticed Shredder doing something beneath the sheets. There was a kind of poofing noise and she laughed. At first Shai thought that she had farted. When he realized what actually happened he kind of wished that were actually the case. “Look,” Shredder said. “I can control it.” A much louder noise followed this time. Shai just stood there and stared. “What?” Shredder demanded. “Nothing,” Shai replied. “Let’s just go to sleep.” He got into bed and Shredder immediately turned away from him. He thought about forgetting it and just lying there awake. “We are going to laugh later about how wildly inappropriate that was,” he said. She scoffed, “I hate how judgmental you are. With my music and my ideas and your smelly friends. I just don’t feel comfortable around you. I hate it.” “Trust me, I think I feel more uncomfortable right now.” “I think you should go,” Shredder commanded. “Seriously?” “Yes, I really feel unsafe with you here,” she said as if Shai were someone who snuck into her place in the middle of the night. “Just go!” “It’s like four in the morning.” The trains had stopped running several hours ago. “How am I supposed to get home?”


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Shredder sighed, “I’ll give you money for a cab. I don’t care.” “No,” Shai couldn’t take her money. “I’ll walk.” He got himself dressed and headed out. A light snow was falling, but luckily he had a hat, gloves, and scarf. Still a little wobbly, he took a moment to sit down against a brick wall on a vent that was blowing out hot air. He ran his hands through his hair. All of his money was gone and he was still drunk as hell. Thinking of the walk home, he knew he just didn’t want to do it anymore. Shai slumped over to lay down there on the street and take a little nap until he regained his senses.


Bubble Bath at the Haunted Mansion