June 22, 2010

Chapter 10

We stop on a street that's all dark, some new suburb with skeleton houses and dirt everywhere. The laser looks thick in the sky now. I can see it all. David sits down on the curb and cries. He's still holding the little knife in his hand. He ran all this way with an open knife. I didn't even notice.

"We're almost to the laser!" I say, but David just cries harder. "Don't you want to see?" He shakes his head, and all my excitement is gone. I can't pretend anymore. I'm glad he's not wearing a dress right now. What if that fucker back at the house had turned on David first? What if he'd done something before I could react?

"I want to go back to the car," David says, and I sit down on the curb beside him and pull him into a hug. I squeeze him hard, and he shakes against me, silently.
"Richard will call soon," I say. "He'll come and get us, and we'll go get some ice cream or something." There has to be an all night ice cream place somewhere.

"I don't want any ice cream," David says. He looks down at the knife in his hand. Then he folds it up and puts it back in his pocket.

When Richard calls, he says "We can't just take him home. Are you crazy? We'd be arrested three blocks away." Someone in the background on his end says something. "Alex says we should leave him somewhere and then call the cops to tell them where he is."

"And how long would it take the cops to get there?" I say. "We just leave him in some McDonald's by himself to wait for the cops?"

"I don't want any McDonald's," David says.

"He doesn't even like McDonald's," I say.

"Nobody said anything about McDonald's, man," Richard pauses. "Listen," he says. "There's got to be a safe place we can leave him."

"Okay," I say. "I know where."

"Where?"
"Come get us," I say. "Just you, Richard. We don't need a car full of people."

"Where are you?" he says. I look around.

"Hey," I say to David. "Run over and take a look at that street sign."

In the car I sit in the back with David. I tell Richard how to get to Mrs. Hubert's neighborhood. I straighten my dress and pull my seatbelt on. David isn't crying anymore, but he's staring out the window.

"Hey, have you got the Internet?" I say, and David nods without looking at me. "There's a book you can download off the Internet called The MIT Guide to Picking Locks," I say. I have my lockpick set in hand, and I reach out to place it in his hand. "You just read it again and again until it starts to make sense to you," David is looking down at the lockpicks in his hand. "There are other guides and things on the Internet, but the MIT one is the best, I think,"

"Okay," David says.

Richard parks his car two blocks away, and David and I walk under the trees toward Mrs. Hubert's house. I want to say something to make him feel better about stabbing the guy, but I don't know what I'd say. I don't know what it would mean if I convinced an eight year old that it was alright to put a knife in someone. Would it be worse to have him grow up afraid of his own ability to be violent? What if he got so afraid that he wouldn't defend himself?

"Hey David," I stop walking and sit down on the curb. David stops, too. He's holding the lockpick set in his fist, and in the streetlight he looks more tired than scared. "Do you think it's okay to hit a girl?"

He looks at me for a long time.

Mrs. Hubert's husband answers the door and takes one look at us and closes the door again. I ring the doorbell again, and this time Mrs. Hubert answers. She looks tired too, and I realize that I have no idea what time it is.

"Can you call his dad in the morning?" I say, putting my hand on David's back.

"Is he the boy that's gone missing?" Mrs. Hubert asks, and I nod. "He's okay?" She kneels down in front of him, and I kneel beside him.

"Mrs. Hubert will take care of you until your dad comes to get you, alright?" I lift up his hand and tap on the lockpick set. "You keep this hidden, or your dad will take it away. You keep it a secret," I say.
Mrs. Hubert is looking at me, now. "What about you?" she says. "You look tired."

Later on, Richard will refer to this whole thing as "making the drop" and he'll talk about the time we "burlap sacked the son of a political figure." Richard will tell the story of this meeting like we had planned it this way all along. We get the kid, take him out, have a homophobe shout and threaten him, and have the kid stick up for himself, stab the asshole and we drop him off before bedtime. If he mentions Mrs. Hubert at all, he probably won't have her say "You look tired." He'll probably have her say something else, something trite and expected and designed to make us look like heroes.

He definitely won't tell anyone that I stand back up and smile at her. He won't tell anyone that I say "I am tired."

David gives me a hug goodbye, and as I walk back to the car I try to think of something to tell Richard. I try to think of something we can do tonight, the four of us, some organization that needs their windows smashed, some slogan we can spray paint on every storefront.

Back in the car, Richard says "What happened?"

I sit, looking out the window at the suburbs we pass, still trying to think of something we can do.

"She said she'd give the police a call in a half an hour, so that we could get far enough away."

"Really?"

"She gave me a hug, too," I say. I should have washed the blood off of David's knife, I think. I roll down the window and stick my hand out, enjoying the feeling of the wind on my skin.

19 comments:

  1. Awesome, it really makes one think! But the link to chapter 6 is broken.

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  2. I'm 16 and I live in a small town, so I don't really have contact with people who think about things other than who got felt up on Friday or whether skinny jeans are still cool. Reading a novel like this makes me feel like maybe I am sane and normal after all. It was just so wonderful, Thank you forever and ever, Mr. Comeau!

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    1. I totally feel you. In this story, meaninglessness and violence and innocence and hope mingle and balance and mix, and that feels so real to me.

      I live in a small town too. "Jesus" 'n things. I'm sure you understand.

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  3. Please fix the link to chapter 6... Your work is incomplete without it.

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  4. The page with chapter 6 is still there it's just the hyperlink that is addressed wrong. All you had to do was look at the url of chapter 5 and change the 5 to a 6 to get to that page.

    From this
    http://lockpickbook.blogspot.com/2010/06/chapter-5.html

    to this
    http://lockpickbook.blogspot.com/2010/06/chapter-6.html

    Keep that in mind for other sites that have broken links or sites that try to stop you from going to different pages by restricting who is able to click on links.

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  5. I don't know anything about you, but your character is disgustingly misogynistic, and given the quality of the rest of this story it doesn't seem like it is a self conscious and intentional addition, but merely the byproduct of your warped world view. And even if it is, your character is problematic enough and the typical internet reader uncritical enough that I feel compelled to post this comment.

    If you actually knew anything about gender studies or queer theory, you'd know that homophobia is a phenomenon found in straight men (, who possess the most power and control in society, especially if their skin is white, making homophobia more dangerous when couched in men than in women) who feel threatened by men that are sexually interested in men (acts of homophobic violence are almost always incurred upon other men--lesbians generally aren't perceived as threatening to straight men because there is no phallus in gay relationships between women). The homophobic male feels threatened because he has personal experience being a straight man who oppresses women, treating them as sexual objects at their disposal. Straight men feel threatened by the idea that another man could objectify him in the same way that he objectifies women, and so homophobia is born. It is clear, however, that homophobia comes into being as a direct result of sexism. If women and men were truly considered to be equal, society wouldn't take such pains to reinforce heterosexuality because it wouldn't be a threat to the male position of power (because this privileged status _wouldn't exist_) to have sexual relationships with other men.

    So, if you really care at all about ending homophobia, think about how privileged you are to have white skin and a dick, realize how wrong it is to belittle lesbians, trans, and intersex people who are far more oppressed and take way more shit daily than you ever will, and stop being a patriarchal jerk.

    And maybe read something that isn't erotic fan fiction once in a while.

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    1. Emma-- I'm glad you posted this. I don't know anything about gender theory, and none of those things had crossed my mind. It's insightful-- thank you.

      I do think, though, that the novel was only about gender and sexuality on one level. On another, it was about the intimate experience of hopelessness and meaninglessness, where calling an old woman becomes like calling God, and a disembodied green light can feel like the goal of salvation. There's a long history of literature interested in the relationship between innocence and violence, and I think there's an innocent quality to their violence here.

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  6. Your webcomic is great, though!

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  7. I realize that my post seems like an angry, knee-jerk attack, and that you probably are aware of a lot of what I said, so I apologize for the personal nature of my comments. I still believe that it's useful for other readers to think about, however.

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  8. Emma -- An important thing to remember is that characters have their own world views, too. Characters are not always mouth pieces.

    The narrator in this story didn't seem like one to me; he seemed his own person, albeit with a closeminded view of gender and sexual politics despite being so insistent on opening other people's minds. He actually reminded me a bit of Holden Caulfield of Catcher in the Rye fame, if Holden were a few years older and a lifetime more confused.

    Excellent story, although the narrator's lesson attempts fall short of being an actual moral unless you're already in agreement or looking for it. He's a weird mix of stereotype and raw honesty that's hard to take if you already have that hatred in you.

    That said, I loved this to pieces and I'm glad I read it. :)

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  9. I really love your works, and this is my favorite. Very unique and so odd that it kept me hooked.

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  10. Emma- first of all, like someone said, the narrator is an anti-hero of sorts.
    Second, your views are valid, but you can't declare them to be ultimately correct and then call any study or artwork that contradicts you wrong and ignorant ("if you actually knew anything about gender studies or queer theory...")
    Third- personally, while I agree with your views as a partial explanation of homophobia, I think it ignores some other social factors, and it denies that women can be homophobic, which seems incorrect to me.
    Lastly, your concerns about the average Internet reader are either condescending or correct, but either way are nit joeys problem. He is nit responsible for the intelligence of his readers (and he's not writing hate speech either, so I'd say he's not causing any sexism).

    Joey- this is one of my three favorite books if all time, and is first place for most mind-blowing first chapter I've ever read

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  11. Feels unfinished and unstarted; like life, kinda.

    I've never studied queer theory or anything but, for my part, I'm only scared of gay people because they challenge my preconceptions about gender roles, not because I'm worried they're gonna objectify me; being objectified by girls is kinda awesome, FYI.

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  12. This was great. It was refreshing reading about an anti-hero who actually lives up to the 'anti' part of the title. He's as flawed and confused as the people he targets for his pranks, or whatever you want to call them. Personally, this story doesn't seem like it was written with a moral plan, like a nice little package the author carefully constructed from the start. It's more like a glimpse inside of this eccentric mind. You can take what you want from it, and there's a lot to choose from, but it's not some gender revolution manifesto and it doesn't pretend to be either. I like that. Fuck Holden Caulfield, he should've screwed that hooker's tits off.

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  13. Im not sure if i liked the plot, but i just couldnt stop reading. So i guess thats a compliment for the story. The story was violent, disturbing, funny and smart but also somehow dumb. it was wierd and very erotic and most of all reckless and unpredictable. i liked many ideas like the comicbooks for the schools, the trick a straight guy into gay sex thing and the confusion of the main person about sexuality when gender doesnt mean anything. also the phonecalls to the old lady. on the other hand breaking into houses justifying it with their sexuality or hitting that barby-girl in the mall... that really troubled me. maybe i take things to seriosly here... anyway i felt like i experienced an extreme and uncomplete piece of the life of someone else, that i wont ever understand or like. but it was still faszinating and fresh. really good story. i enjoyed reading it :)

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