The loyal Sun rose over the city of many stars, the home of masses, and the home of many black voids. The dirty concrete, the pillars, the home of September tragedies, and the land of towering skyscrapers. The bustling cars honked, the office workers crowded the streets with their caffeine, and the lazy, unwilling people remained on their mattresses, swimming with the Sandman.
One such person was Nathan Onley, a 22-year old young man with ash white skin and nary a muscle on him. His head was buried in his dirty pillow, his sheets over his waist. His clothes consisted only of socks, the rest of his outfit thrown near a trash can full of used tissues and Playboy magazines.
“Nathan!” cried his mother from the other side of the door. “Nathan, get up. You’re running late!”
“Jesus, five more minutes, please...” he grumbled, burying his head under his pillow.
“Don’t make me come in there.”
“I’m up, I’m up!” he quickly said, sitting up in his bed with half-opened golden yellow eyes and messy blonde hair. “Thank you…”
He waited until his mother’s footsteps receded before he got up and began to throw his work outfit on, not caring how unkempt it looked. After he was done, he grabbed a comb and, while looking in the mirror, began sifting through his hair with a dead look on his face.
“Just another day… Just another day of nothing special...” He tossed the comb on his dresser and put on his hat. “Just another day indeed...”
Nathan backed out of his mother’s garage and began driving down the neighborhood street, chewing mindlessly on a breakfast bar that he grabbed from the kitchen. The flaxen-eyed guy drove to his workplace for several blocks, constantly honking and throwing up his hands in annoyance when there was even a minor issue or sudden stop.
“New York City… the Big Apple… an opal of opportunity… Yet, I can’t even hold a girlfriend for more than three weeks without her cheating on me, this job sucks ass, and I hate living with my Mom… Being in your 20s and still doing chores for someone else? Most annoying thing in the world is going day-by-day, night-by-night… not changing… not moving anymore. Just being stuck in a spot. Fuck my life, man...”
After 10 minutes of “excruciating torture,” he finally parked parallel to his job – Dan’s Damn Delicious Dishes.
Nathan stepped out of his car, shutting it behind him, and took in the sight of the small, corner pizza shop with a Pac-Man shaped pizza and a generic Italian pizza man over the title. Sighing, Nathan proceeded inside.
Inside, the shop had very few customers with a few in booths near the window. However, there were empty trays and messy plates on every other booth and table in the restaurant. The cashier, a girl named Sam, saw Nathan walk in and instantly bowed her head. Burrowing his brow, Nathan approached her.
“Hey, Sam,” greeted Nathan.
“Hey, Nat,” replied she quickly, not even looking up at him.
“Um, is-is something wrong? Do I look weird or-”
“No, well, yes, but no, it’s not that. Dan was pretty pissed that you were late for work today. I mean, really pissed. He told me that, if you ever came in, he wanted to see you in his office.”
“Oh, man...” Nathan rubbed his stomach unconsciously, his face pale. He slowly proceeded to the back of the restaurant to a small room where, sitting behind a desk and a computer, was a small bald man with a thick brown mustache. He was mumbling under his breath as he typed on his keyboard with angry veins protruding from temple and neck. Nathan inhaled silently as he moved past the doorway.
Dan looked up from his monitor and instantly scowled, his green eyes venomous and his radiating body language hulking.
“Well, well, well, look who’s FINALLY here!”
Nathan bowed his head, hat in hand, and stuttered, “Mr. Ranowski, look-”
“Just sit the fuck down, Nat.”
Nathan complied, trudging to a chair and plopping down, his face sullen and apologetic.
“This is a business, Nat. Do you understand that?”
“A business!” Dan slammed his fist on his desk, leaning forward with red in his face. “I can’t have you lazy-ass employees dragging your wasted feet in here and putting in 50% work. It does NOT work like that!”
“I understand, Mr. Ranowski, and I’m sorry, I really am.”
“Are you really? We had a rush hour early today – breakfast special. Guess who had to work the register and take orders all by herself? Your co-employee, you irresponsible asshole! Customers left because we couldn’t take all the orders! We’re even getting reviews for poor service. I mean, come on, Nat, you can’t tell me I’m being hard on you when I’ve given you passes for this lazy shit before!”
The words hit Nat like a truck, his chin now on his chest.
“Please, pray tell, why you’ve trudged into work 4 hours late? Huh? Were you up late, studying for an exam? Were you streaking in the middle of the night? Huh?!”
“I… watching… videos...”
“Huh? Speak up!”
Nathan sighed, his eyes darting back and forth shamefully. “I was… watching twerk videos on YouTube...”
Dan raised his arms in exasperation, leaning back in his chair, and rolling his eyes in exaggeration. “Oh, of course! Let’s stay up, jacking off to some fat asses and lazy, monotonous jiggle movements! What’d you watch next – porn?”
“No...” Nathan shifted in his chair. “That’s only on Sundays...”
“Oh, for the love of Christ- You’re fired, Nat. Get the fuck out of my office.”
Nathan rose up from his seat and exited the room without a word, leaving the red hat on Dan’s desk.
Nathan passed Sam at the counter, where he stopped and gave her a shy glance of no more than a few solemn seconds. His eyes wavered looking at her and instantly, guilt chewed like red ants in his chest.
“It’s okay, Nathan,” she quickly said, smiling. “Don’t listen to that asshole, I understand.” She nodded at him sweetly.
He just smiled at her sadly before walking toward the door.
“Hey, don’t sweat it, alright? It’s just a job, Mr. Bond. It was only paying, what, $7 an hour? Just go work at Walmart or something. They hire all types of dumbasses there.”
“Thaaanks,” slurred Nathan sarcastically.
Nathan sat in the room of his friend, Rick Vernon, in the guy’s small apartment in the Bronx. In their hands were rolled blunts, smoke bleeding into the air and clotting the room in haze.
“You always know how to pick me up when I’m done,” continued Nathan.
“Hey, that’s what I’m here for,” replied Rick, inhaling his blunt. “Ah, man, that’s so good!”
“Hey, man…” said a slurred Nathan, laying back in a beanbag chair. “I’m going to get some… beds...”
“Don’t you mean zeds?”
“Noooo, no… beds… deds… yeah...” Nathan’s eyes closed, the blurry vision of the lava lamp on the top shelf disappearing from his sight.
He stood in a clearing, surrounded by malevolent dark trees and threatening rustling leaves. The stars above gave him flickering glares while the planet Mars, from afar, stayed red with its stare.
“Where am I…?” He whispered, but no sound emitted from his throat. He looked around and saw that he was looking at himself outside of his own body. He watched him glance at his black-and-white hands, the sandals on his feet, and the fact that his body was fizzing in and out like an old TV show on a bad TV set.
“Hello.” Nathan looked up ahead of him to see a dark woman’s figure in the shadowy bushes. She disappeared deeper into the malignant malformed forest, her walk beckoning him to follow. Nathan took one step, two steps forward and the bushes parted.
Through the trees, dark and foreboding they were, did he follow her. Her hair could be clearly seen, pale and white as death. The woman brought him to a clearing where he could see, from the bushes, a figure lying on the ground. Before he could walk any further, however, the area began swirling like a painting and he was now standing on the side of a building, his surroundings being shooting lava and plane-sized falcons overhead. A large man stood before Nathan, smiling gently. He was blonde too, with golden eyes and a muscular build. He had a goatee and handsome features as well as the air of a successful man.
“Dad...” Nathan whispered.
His father pressed his finger against his son’s forehead lightly. “Nathan...”
“Whoa… huh?” Nathan sat up with a start, wiping his eyes and stretching his arms out. “What-what time is it?”
Rick looked down at the watch on his skinny tan arm and said, “Past 8, dude.”
“Ah, man...” Nathan wiped his eyes and slowly rose to his feet, his entire body budding with a thorny numbness. “I gotta get home...”
“What are you, 12?” teased Rick, fixing his black curly hair. He wore a Pistons cap on his head as well, the hat tipped back and showing the front of his hair.
“No, man, but I’ve legit been here for damn near 7 hours. I need to get home and tell my mom that I’ve been fired from another easy-ass job...”
“You can stay out another couple hours, though, can’t you?”
Nathan shrugged. “I guess, maybe. Why, you got more weed?”
“No, no, I got a club location!” exclaimed a grinning Rick.
“A club? Really? You mean, that cheap strip club you go to that you always get tossed out of for trying to fuck the strippers?”
“No, man, there’s a new club opening downtown. It’s called… something, but I heard there are supermodels going there.”
“Supermodels? So, it’s probably a rich place where we couldn’t enter even if we wore our best clothes, which consist of faded jeans and slightly stained wife-beaters.”
“Maybe, maybe, but you forget that I have practiced, over the several months of drought that I’ve suffered, on getting into clubs way out of my social class range to get with rich bitches.”
“And did you ever succeed?”
“...No. But! Today’s a new day.”
Nathan chuckled, an amused grin on his face. “Then what the fuck is the point?”
“Well, what, you got a curfew, huh? Seriously, bro, what do you got to lose?”
Nathan bit his lip and his eyes averted to the beer stained, clipped pubic hair infested, junk food flooded carpeted floors. Nathan then sighed, passing his hand softly over his face.
“Fine...” he drew out in exasperation. “Let’s just go...”
“Yes!” Rick pumped his fist and Nathan just shook his head in half amusement, half disappointment.
The two exited their apartment and called an Uber to take them to their destination – the nightlife of downtown New York. The driver drove them by the streaking streetlights, the drunk pedestrians, and the night traffic that dominated the dark streets.
The car stopped in front of a large black building with the name “Brooke” over the wide double doors in a spectral white color. Even through the car door, the two young men could hear and feel the vibrating music blasting through the air. The bombing music gave the two friends an exhilarating feeling of excitement as they stepped out of the car, standing on the curb.
The line to the entrance was filled with the typical well-dressed men of ranging looks, of attractive women with skirts too low and dresses too tight, and bodyguards constantly checking the area and pretending to talk on their mikes that had no one on the receiving end. One, in particular, was at the end of the line, checking who gets to go in. He had a red face, a large chest, was bald and more stoic than the Queen’s guards. The most noticeable feature, however, was his hazel neck beard.
“So…” said Nathan loudly, the music nearly drowning him out. “How are we supposed to get in here?”
“Easy.” Rick smirked before pulling out his smartphone and showing Nathan a slew of messages between him and some man known as “Hughie Brooke.”
“Wha… is that owner of this club?! He invited you?! How the hell…?”
Rick just chuckled mirthfully. “Just follow me, man. Me, Mr. Brooke, and a little white privilege will possibly get you laid tonight.”
On that note, a confused and admittedly impressed Nathan stood in line with his confident friend. It wasn’t long before they found themselves before the neck-bearded man.
“Hey, man,” greeted Rick. “Uh, I’m here on invitation.”
“What’s your name?” asked the deep-voiced bald man.
“Uh, Rick. Rick Vernon?”
The man pulled out a clipboard of a VIP list. The man’s eyes narrowed as his gaze returned to an increasingly nervous Rick.
“I don’t see you on here, sir.”
“Oh, y-you sure? Well, um...” Rick pulled out his phone and showed the bouncer the messages on his phone. “He invited me here. Maybe there was some sort of mix-up, I don’t know.”
The bouncer scrutinized the messages carefully, almost glaring at them poignantly as his eyes flashed back and forth between the phone screen and Rick, who was beginning to sweat.
“Alright...” The man allowed them entry, turning to the side.
“Thank you, my good man!” Rick and Nathan hurried to the door where the extra bouncer nodded to the two as they entered.
“‘My good man?’” teased Nathan. “Really?”
“Shut up, damn it. We’re in, aren’t we?”
“You weren’t invited, were you? You got that lame-ass trick from that life hack video on YouTube… the one with the sexy artist chick.”
“Yeah...” admitted Rick. “I fapped to her.”
“Ugh...” sighed Nathan, burying his face in his hand. “We’re some sad sons of bitches, man...”
“Yes.” Rick nodded. “Yes, we are but!” He clapped as they moved past the dancing people. “Now’s our chance to let someone else fap us for us!”
“Okay!” cried Rick, sitting on a couch away from the dancing, Nathan next to him. “An hour here and we have been rejected by however many women and nearly got into three fights for trying to dance with someone’s chick. This is not going well.” They had gone through half a bottle of alcohol as they sat dejected, rejected, repressed, and depressed.
“You think?” said an irritated Nathan. “We suck, man! This is not our kingdom!”
“Shut up, okay?” Rick retorted, just as irritated. “I did this for you, damn it. Show some motherfucking appreciation!”
“Wait,” said Rick sharply, looking at the doorway to the back room. “I know that guy...”
In the doorway stood a sharply dressed and handsome man with the neck-bearded bodyguard, who was currently pointing at Rick from across the room.
“Ohh, shit! That’s the GM.”
“What the fuck does that mean?”
“I don’t fucking know, man! I just know that we gotta split like bananas, bitch!”
“Alright, then, let’s go!”
The two quickly got up from their seats and began driving through the crowd, the bouncer noticing their movement and going after them. Nathan saw this and turned to tell Rick but saw that he lost him somewhere in the crowd.
“Rick!” he called out but the music drowned him out. Now floating in his own lost waters, Nathan just began gliding through the drunk fishes only to come out to the bar, tripping over someone and knocking over a drink onto his shirt.
“Ah, shit!” he cursed.
“Here,” a sultry voice said from above him. Nathan raised his head to see a beautiful woman, her wavy red hair strands over her blue eye, giving her an intense stare that pierced through Nathan’s own. Her other eye was shielded by her hair. She held out a small napkin for him that he readily rose and took, hastily wiping the stains from his shirt.
“T-thanks,” said he, shyly handing the napkin back to her.
The woman smiled, holding her hand up. “Keep it.”
“R-right...” Nathan nervously stuffed it in his pocket, coughing for no reason. The woman returned her attention to her drink.
“Uh…” She looked at him from the corner of her eye. “Um…” His eyes continuously dashed back and forth all over the place except the woman. “My name is Nathan.”
The woman, wearing a complimenting blue dress, long hair, and an hourglass, smiled at him again. The dark room couldn’t stop the illumination of her grin nor could it stop Nathan from averting his eyes to the floor again.
“My name is Natalie. Nice to meet you.”
“L-likewise, yeah.” He kept his eyes glued to the floor, a long silence following his reply as his mind constantly rushed to pick up something to say. “So… you come here often?”
Natalie chuckled softly. “You don’t do this much, do you?”
“Uh, no, I’m afraid not...”
“That’s fine. You’re honest. That’s a refreshing quality in the world.”
“You think so? I know plenty honest people.”
“Not in the kind of business I’m in.”
“Well, any business would be good for me...” admitted Nathan, stiffly sticking his hands into his pockets, “considering I don’t have a job and all...”
“Sorry,” he apologized quickly. “I don’t mean to get too personal too quick, it’s just been bumming and bugging me all day.”
“No, it’s fine. You know, your eyes are beautiful.”
“Oh...” His hands unconsciously reached under his eye. “T-thank you...”
“Excuse me, sir.” The bodyguard appeared next time, grabbing his thin arm tightly. “You need to come with me.”
“Oh,” said Natalie quickly, “don’t worry, Benny, he’s with me.”
The neck-bearded Benny glanced from Nathan to Natalie, his brow raised. “Really?”
She smirked like a vixen fox. “Of course, Benny. Would I ever lie to you?”
Benny sighed, nostrils flaring. He turned and glared at Nathan crossly before leaving with a huff. Nathan turned to Natalie, rubbing his arm.
“No problem,” replied she with a smile.
“You know that guy?”
“Yeah… he used to be a bodyguard for the place that I work at.”
“Really?” Nathan looked out at the crowd, watching the bouncer disappear into it. “Guy’s face looks like a fucking sheep.”
“Hahah!” Natalie snickered, slapping her hand against the counter.
Nathan grinned at this, mentally applauding himself for making an attractive woman giggle.
“Oh, that’s too true!” exclaimed Natalie. “Ah, that’s funny. Listen, you said you were lacking a job, yes?”
“Yeah,” affirmed Nathan.
“Well...” Natalie reached into her expensive purse and pulled out a business card, putting it in Nathan’s hand. “Call this number and set up an appointment. I think this company can set up a job meeting for you as an assistant… if that’s not too emasculating for you?”
“No, no, that’d be great!”
“Good.” Natalie rose from her seat, placing her money under the drink and sliding it over to the bartender. “It was nice meeting you, Nathan.”
“You too and thanks for this. Also, uh, my friends call me Nat if you, you know, want to.”
The woman smirked at him before leaning in and offering a peck on the cheek, leaving a deep blush on Nathan’s face.
“Have a goodnight, Nat.”
“Y-you too...” he whispered, watching her walk off into the crowd and disappear among them. His eyes lingered for a moment, his heartbeat thundering in his chest as the lightning pace began to fade. The people were like dark clouds, blocking his vision of Natalie. After he could glimpse at her no more, he looked down at the card in his hand and smiled a stupid smile.
“Hell yeah,” he whispered to himself.
Outside, Nathan found his friend sulking on the curb with a bitter air around him. Carefully, Nathan approached him and tapped the man’s shoulder, causing him to turn around and frown when he saw who it was.
“Hey, man,” greeted Nathan nonchalantly.
“‘Hey?’ That’s it? Dude, I just got thrown on my ass from that gorilla-Donkey Kong-looking motherfucker and now, I’m sitting here waiting for you. Where the hell were you?”
“I was, uh, talking to a hot chick.”
Rick just stared at him blankly. “Yeah, and I’m fucking dudes. Come on, damn it, let’s just go home.” He turned and began walking off, Nat following with a coy smile and a card tucked in his back pocket.