Two girls walked by me with their bags. The one on the right was kind of fat. I love hot legs. The one on the left had hot legs.
People were gathering in groups in various places in the hall.
A girl with long brown hair walked by. Her hair had gold in it when the light hit it right. It seemed to float around her neck.
There was a guy going through his bags across from me. He was in my philosophy class. He checked through for what he was looking for, checked his phone, closed his bag, lifted it up and then put it down. He checked his phone.
Someone’s mom came inside and looked around for her son or daughter and then came to sit near me. She smiled.
I nodded back.
“So what’re you studying?” she asked me; maybe she wanted me to be friends with her kid. Maybe she was just goofy.
“I don’t know.” I said. A girl walked by to my right. She left the hall.
“My daughter’s an anthropology major.”
“Is her name Julia?”
“It wasn’t last I checked,” she laughed. “What’s your name?”
“Are you German?”
“I think I was named after a species of Czechoslovakian beetle, but I don’t really like European literature. Mostly. I like Sillitoe.—But I just started him. I don’t know if he’ll hold up.”
She didn’t know what I was talking about.
“Who do you like?”
“The Americans. But not the guys everyone reveres. Those guys are horrible. It’s West, Buk, Ellis, Alexie, Fante, London, Salinger—the guys with soul. Kesey. And both Thompsons, too. I like soul. … Americans are the only ones who know how to write with soul.”
“Well Salinger’s pretty famous,” she said. “I had to read him in high school. I think my daughter likes him.”
“I think so. I don’t know.” she laughed a little. This bitch was all giggly and I wasn’t even telling any jokes.
“Do you like Faulkner?”
“I haven’t read him. I’m not going to on principle. I know what that guy’s about. He won the Nobel Prize, I’m pretty sure.”
“Yeah,” she breath-laughed, “He did.”
“The only good writer who ever won the Nobel Prize is Dylan—and he’s not even a novelist.”
“Well you haven’t read Faulkner.”
“I can write your Nobel Prize into obscurity. No one gives a fuck about these guys without soul. Even people who pretend to. It’s impossible for Shakespeare or Faulkner to be meaningful to anyone. It can’t happen. They don’t have soul.”
“That seems like circular reasoning. And you aren’t defining soul. …”
“No one ever asks musicians to analyticalize this stuff. What they do. And it’s the same thing.” I paused and she didn’t say anything. I looked away, “Classic literature isn’t art. It’s goofy philosophy.”
“Are you writing something?”
“No. I’m working on other stuff. Ultras. … But if I were writing I’d be Nietzsche and Shakespeare’d be Christ on the Cross.”
Another girl walked by. Her hips really swayed. I don’t have a real sex drive guiding me. It’s not an orgasm that I’m after. That’s what happens when you’re a loner out on the brink somewhere. I want to get girls to prove to myself I’m that one percent on the top side of it instead of the fucking bottom. And I don’t want to be so fucking lonely.
“Why does everyone have to go up to the mic and try to tell jokes? And try so hard to be funny. Why can’t people just go up there and tell their life story or something like that, and if you’re funny and like worth something the humor would come and then you could have emotion behind it. So it’s not superficial beauty like Fitzgerald’s sentences. With real emotion.”
She breath-laughed, “You’re a strange guy, huh?”
“It’s about loneliness. There’s something to find. It’s not just about other people. They’re a distraction. Phones, scrolling like this? It’s the same thing. It’s all a distraction.”
There was no point talking to her but the girls were starting to leave the hall.
“And why do they always have to pretend they’re not anxious? I go to this comedy club and all these guys go up there and you can tell they’re anxious as hell but they try to preten—and we all know. Wouldn’t it be better to let it out somehow so that everyone can see? Instead of bottling it up. Get loud and big and shout or laugh or shake your whole body. So everyone can see. And be honest.”
“Who’s your favorite comedian, then?”
“Does he do that?”
“No, but killing Candice was easy for him. He didn’t need to. It’s something I saw Conor McGregor do. When he gets nervous he takes the top off the kettle.”
“I’ve watched some MMA. It’s crazy. That that’s a sport.”
“Yeah. Imagine the heroes those guys would be if everyone’s survival depended on how well they could fight. They’d be superstars times a thousand. They’re big now—but imagine if Daniel Cormier were the reason we were all alive.”
“You like history, don’t you? Like the Spartans, right?”
“Yeah, history is good.”
She nodded like she understood everything about me and breath-laughed.
“I read this book The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle,” I said but then I didn’t continue.
There’s a type of person who doesn’t like me. There’s this type of person who fucking hates me when they first see me. They’re always the same. Sometimes I call them the Enemies—with a capital E. Whenever I see one there’s this ‘shared certainty’—that’s what I call it—where we know we hate each other and if this were the prehistoric era we’d be built to kill each other, but the thing is I can’t say why I know this or what it is, but we just fucking hate each other.
I looked around. The hall was emptying out. I think I know what it is. They’re these people who are usually pretty intelligent—not so intelligent but at least fairly and maybe more—and there’s this feeling I get with them where at some point—maybe when they were kids, even a long time ago—they decided they wanted to follow whatever was set up for them, whatever other people were doing, whether it was a good job or goofy-ass toothpaste hair. The Way. And follow it and uphold it one hundred percent but they made the decision at some point. That’s why they’re so stubborn and dogmatic and uncreative and all this shit and that’s why we hate each other.
I should call someone I knew in the past for the break. I thought about one of my teachers from elementary school. I realized I couldn’t remember her name.
The guy from my philosophy class was standing a few yards away, waiting, not looking at me, then looking over at me whenever he felt like it.
I focused on a single red-brown tile on the floor. It was like Julia’s hair. They played the same ten pop songs on loop here 24/7.
“I need to tear down the Universities. Replace them with something else. Something strong. With the will to truth.”
“What’s ‘the will to truth’?”
“I don’t know. The word just popped into my head. It’s been on my mind. That’s the answer. It has to do with ultra-running. But it’s more than that. I know it is.”
“Endurance running. Longer than a marathon.”
“You do those?”
“Yeah. If I run one a week for two years I’ll have a hundred. Every two years.”
“I see. You’re into fitness. I knew a guy—”
“That’s the new way.” I said, not really looking at her, “Getting fucked up on the trail. That’s this generation’s rock and roll.”
“I knew a guy who was super into fitness.” she breath-laughed, thinking back on him.
A girl who was sort of pretty saw the mom and came over. They embraced.
“Time flies when you’re having fun,” the mom said. The girl was prettier than her mom.
“I’ve just been talking with this young man, what’s your name?”
“Franz. He likes literature but not the classics, and history and comedy and MMA—and he’s a bit of a philosopher. He’s into fitness.” she introduced me.
“Hey,” the girl said.
“Hey.” I got out my phone and rushed to find what I was looking for. I found a picture of David Foster Wallace looking at the camera, “See? That’s not a writer. That’s a scumbag.”
“I don’t know.” the girl said.
“It’s in the features. You can’t be smug. Franzen, Wallace, Rooney—you can’t look like this and be a writer. You have to have honesty in your eyes. Like a blues player.”
I tried to meditate. Disconnect from my senses, from my hearing. I thought of looking up that picture of Skip James and staring into his eyes. I didn’t want to take out my phone, though. Maybe that made me a faker too but I always felt like it was about honor. I don’t know; I looked around at the people leaving. There was a girl, she saw me and smiled. Then her smile disappeared as I turned toward her more.
Fuck. I really like those South Asian girls. Middle Eastern, Pakistani, Indian, whatever. Especially Indian. She had a really sweet smile. That girl did.
I tried to uncrease my brow and get the unhappiness out of my eyes. I have the meanest fucking eyes you ever saw.
I left the hall now that everyone was gone except that guy.
“Jump off a bridge.” I said as I passed him. He ignored me.
I wandered through the campus and off it. Then over to the area of the city with all the restaurants and all. I wandered inside a Mexican place. There were some other people. You know how they do.
I waited in line to order.
“Hello my friend! Hello, amigo! Okay, okay it will just be one moment, okay? Okay my friend!” the old woman said to the person in front of me. We’d been waiting a long fucking time.
It got to be my turn.
“Hello my friend! Hello, amigo! What would you like today?”
“I’ll have a chicken burrito with everything except the hot sauce.”
“Okay, my friend! Okay.” she poked away at her screen.
“Can you tell me your order one more time my friend?”
“I’ll have a chicken burrito without everything except the hot sauce. And pinto beans.”
“And pinto beans. … All right, uuhh … one moment, the machine it—one moment my friend.”
She went into the back of the restaurant. I stood there. She pissed me off. She was just being phony though and I was still going to get this fucking burrito eventually so I told myself it didn’t matter. But it made me think how lot of the time I’m always getting into arguments with old white women. It’s because they’re so fucking bossy and dogmatic and they’re not pretty and old white women are ridiculously hostile to young men. Maybe something about me invites it from them. I need to make enough money to go live in the woods.
There was a quiet girl who’d been standing behind the old woman. She was still there. She was wearing a mask, so I looked at her eyes.
I got my burrito and went to sit down.
I could marry a Mexican girl. Not any Mexican girl. I thought about taking her away from this. She seemed quiet. Shy, almost. But shy because she was intelligent. I thought about having little half-brown children. Running around, you know. I thought about being rich and asking her out and she’d never been with a successful guy and treating her and then taking her home and picking her up and her wrapping her legs around me and then laying her down on my bed and she’s unsure ’cause she’s not on the pill but I tell her I’ll take care of the kids, I promise, I promise I will, and I come inside her and then take her away.
I got up and went to the bathroom. I really like how weak girls’ arms are. If I ever feel intimidated by their beauty that’s what I think about. I came in a spurt and it sprayed down over my underpants. I sat there for a moment. Then I spread the come around my pubes.
I walked out of the bathroom and looked around for the girl.
I went back to my seat. The burrito was getting cold. I took it in its tin foil and left the shop. A Mexican girl that pretty had a boyfriend or husband by her age. Even though she was probably smarter than most of the men, she was shy enough that she wasn’t about to get really alpha about it. In their faces with it. And she probably came from a super religious family and I’m here to kill morality. To be its reaper. I can’t get along with anyone. And I’m not rich, either.
I started walking back and thinking. I had nothing else to do.
I passed a homeless guy and thought about giving him my burrito. His life was shit. Most people can’t imagine how bad his life is. Not just day to day but the fact that he’s in his forties or fifties and this is all there is, there’s no one to love him and no money and no hope for the rest of his life. That’s what he’s got.
I got back and the campus was nearly empty.