Hent gets the gang together and has them record a podcast. Listen in to the first "Live" review.
On a side note, they did have a different story to read but as they were setting up the equipment, the owner of the studio told them they had to keep it PG.
The edge isn’t as dangerous as people like to think. I sit here every day, on the edge, looking out over this complete mess of a city. And nothing bad has happened to me. It’s the people with both feet on the ground who get fucked. While sitting up on the roof of this apartment building, I’ve seen people assaulted and robbed on the street, and I’ve heard them stood up and put down in their rooms. But up here on the edge, with my feet dangling four floors above anything solid, nothing bad has happened.
Today is the first day I’ve actually had something to look at from up here. Flooding the streets below me is a crowd of hundreds, maybe thousands, all gathered courtesy of the church across the street. They’re hoping for some kind of revolution. Not the kind that I ever wanted, but still, if they want change then I want to see them pull it off. Because I used to walk among the rest of them, and I used to get just as fucked over as a result, and I know how tempting it is to raise hell wherever hell can be raised. I used to do it all the time; hell used to be my life, and sometimes I even enjoyed it.
But right now, I’ll let the people in the church across the street handle their revolution, because I sure as hell couldn’t handle my own. Theirs probably started on a Sunday. Mine started much less poetically on a Wednesday.
That morning, everything was perfect until I woke up. I started strong by punching my stepdad in the face during breakfast. He called me something, it doesn’t matter what. I got chased outside by the drunk fat bastard and my mom was too high to care. I’m not saying it was her fault though. If I were her, I wouldn’t want to remember what an asshole I’d married either, but damned if he didn’t get a good punch or two in before I got out of there.
In those days, there were only two decent people in the entire city. I wasn’t one of them. The first was my sister Hailey, who cheered me on as I bolted from our house for the third time in three days. The other was Sharyn, who I was looking forward to seeing on the bus that morning. The same bus that was leaving the stop as I rushed through my front door. That day just couldn’t stop being wonderful. I tried to chase the bus down. These were the good ol’ days, before it was even a possibility to consider that maybe, just maybe, some efforts were pointless.
So I ended up walking, but only after showing everyone aboard the bus my favorite finger. I wasn’t too out of shape, but I did smoke whenever I had the chance, so every step from the bus stop to the school fueled that furnace smoldering in the back of my mind. I promised myself I would quit, and by the time I showed up at the front door, I also promised myself I would pick up another pack when I got the cash.
As I stomped into class fifteen minutes late, my teacher had the bright idea of asking why. Now I take full responsibility for reciting a comprehensive list of all the reasons she was a cunt, but really, she could’ve left me alone―my body language was practically screaming at her.
So I was almost expelled, but there wasn’t a day when I could’ve cared less. Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or maybe my bed didn’t have a right side to begin with. Who’s to say?
After school I went to this lovely place called Franks Patties. It was exactly as classy as it sounded, and I had the pleasure of working there. Honestly, the only good thing it had to offer―the only thing that kept me from quitting or quitting everyone else―was Sharyn. She had been my only friend since I showed up in La Meseta, and we were both working the registers that afternoon. Well, working might be an overstatement, but at least we were there. Between customers, I told her about the great day I was having.
“Sounds like you could use a break from everything,” she told me, handing a customer his change. “Maybe we could swing by Brackney this weekend and see who’s playing.”
Music was my blood and the guitar was my barely beating heart. It’s what kept me going some days, and Sharyn was the only person who seemed to understand that. Turning to her, I said, “You’re damn right―”
Sometimes I lost track of where I was. The standards at Franks weren’t high. You could get orders wrong, screw up the change, even offer customers a backhanded compliment or seven. There were days when Sharyn and I would compete to see exactly how much shit we could get away with. But the one thing we never got away with was swearing.
[Editor's Note: ComicsNix]
That was the line drawn by every high and mighty customer at the fine dining establishment of Franks Patties.
Sharyn didn’t even try to hide her smile as I apologized to the woman I’d offended. As soon as the situation was defused and the woman had left for her table, I turned to Sharyn once again.
“You’re gosh dang right we’re going to Brackney this weekend,” I said, rolling my eyes at the censorship I had to endure. “But in the meantime, can I crash at your place? My little bro won’t stop following two steps behind me, my sister and her boyfriend are making out everywhere I look, and my stepdad,” here I paused as I looked around for the woman I’d pissed off a minute ago. Leaning closer, I finished, “And my fucking stepdad is going to fucking beat my fucking ass if I set foot anywhere fucking near my fucking house.”
“Jacinta, I’d love to help,” Sharyn assured. She really did mean it. “But you’re on your own. You know how stuck up my parents are. They’d never let someone stay over on a weeknight.”
“What, even a nice girl like me?”
She laughed. It was a joke, sure, but it still kind of stung that she thought it was so funny. Sharyn was one of the only people I thought of as nice. She just had a habit of reassuring me that the feeling wasn’t mutual.
“Anyways, I’m done bitching for now. How was your day?”
“My day wasn’t bad. I met this guy in chemistry who was pretty interesting. He’s got this goofy accent, like he’s Scottish or something.”
“So was he Scottish?”
“He did say, and pardon my horrible acting, ‘I was in a bloody good band before I had to move from me home to Yankee… effing, central.’”
“Hold on a second, and be honest with me here,” I said, facing her and putting a hand on each of her shoulders. “Sharyn, are you telling me that you met a leprechaun today?”
She scoffed and pushed me away, but she couldn’t hide the smile on the corners of her lips. “You’re not as funny as you think you are.”
“No, I’m serious, how tall was he? Did he have red hair? What was his name?”
“Your height, sadly yes, and Nicholas Kennedy.”
And there was the only thing to spoil my pleasant day. I didn’t know it then, but hearing that one name was worse than having my ass handed to me by my stepdad, and far worse than getting the detention that I would never show up for anyways. Hell, if I knew what Nick would put me through someday, I might’ve left La Meseta and everyone in it behind that very moment. But I didn’t know, so I just listened as Sharyn kept on talking about him.
“He said tomorrow he’d bring a tape his band recorded so I could hear it. He had this smirk like he knew it would be the greatest or dumbest thing I ever heard.”
Sharyn made Franks Patties tolerable. When the time came to clock out I didn’t even want to leave. I took my sweet time with each and every step of the walk out, and barely moved on my way home. I did move though, and even if it took longer than usual, I still ended up at that house.
When I reached the driveway, my stepdad called to me from a window. My bedroom window. As soon as I looked up, my guitar was sailing towards me. A moment later it was lying on the pavement with a crack running along the neck and a million different scratches covering the body. And that’s when I decided that the only reasonable thing to do would be to kill him.
I didn’t spend that night at my house. As soon as that fucker smashed my heart on the driveway, I picked up the pieces and left.
An abandoned gas station on Brackney Street was my home that night. I don’t remember the walk there, I just remember showing up in the parking lot when it was getting dark. My throat closed up as I approached it; I’d never been in the building. I’d been under it in the cellar plenty of times, but never in the actual building. Since the windows were always boarded up, I hadn’t even seen in it.
Turns out, changing that wasn’t hard at all. The door wasn’t locked. In fact, it was barely even attached. All it took was a light push and I was inside. The building wasn’t quite pitch black; some moonlight came in through a couple holes in the ceiling. I could see the outline of a counter, and a few shelves that were piled together at the center of the space. I must have gone around in a circle fifty times just to make sure nobody else was there.
Holograms are sexy if you program them to be
Holograms are sexy, if they are programmed by me
Holograms can be straight, and indeed, most of them are
Holograms can be gay, but like, not that I've tried that
My breath fogs the windshield, and for the life of me, I can never remember if I’m supposed to turn the heat up or down for that. This will be my third winter with a license. Well, once it is winter. But there’s time. I haven’t passed a single car and there are no headlights as far as the eye can see; I’ll have nothing but time tonight.
I check the rearview mirror one last time for cops, and then I hit the brakes, easing off the road and up to the forest line. I pull the keys out of the ignition, grab my backpack from the passenger seat, and flip the headlights off—I forgot that last time. I got halfway up before I realized, and I had to climb all the way back down, all while a pair of headlights were approaching in the distance. State trooper. Told her I almost hit a deer, and that’s why I was in the ditch, out of breath, and—unbeknown to her—toting a bag filled with spray paint. I didn’t get the chance to finish last year. This year will be different.
Headlights off. Next step, the billboard lights. They make the control box as much of a pain in the ass to get into as they possibly can. Last time I opened it up and it was nothing but circuits, so I took a few educated guesses. Wouldn’t you know it, they worked. But this time I have a more elegant solution.
The geniuses made this box out of indestructium, yet amazingly enough, the wire leading up from it is coated in nothing but plastic. No spotlight for me tonight, but during rush hour tomorrow, my work will have center stage.
I sniffle as I climb up the pegs. I’ll have to add that to my pocket list for the winter: keys, wallet, phone, tissue. And chapstick. Last winter, I learned that my lips had spent many snowy seasons in undue agony. But I’ve learned to help things like that. Hence why I’m up here.
I pull myself up onto the platform, then place foot in front of foot, running my hand along my canvas. Hopefully the law firm won’t mind if I borrow some of their ad space. They’ll take it down either way, but in the meantime, maybe they’ll appreciate the artistry.
Gripping the side of the billboard, I gaze out at my homeland of Wisconsin. Absolutely terrible. Well, the stars are pretty and all. I wish I could say the same for the people, but what they lack in looks, at least they make up for in cynicism. It’s a coping mechanism, really. Winter sucks, so hey, why fight it? Let’s make our personalities match the weather; let’s make ourselves cold and bitter and hope for the best.
The best hasn’t happened yet. It’s gotten us by and we’ve even managed to laugh about it, but self-deprecating humor only works for so long before there’s nothing left to take away. I unzip my bag.
I give the first can a shake, and reach up as high as I can while applying the white coat. First a big, solid circle, right in the center. Then I walk the platform from one end to the other, filling in a wide box underneath my professional, lopsided, almost-round shape. It’s alright. This coat is just the base anyways. Winter here has taught me that as redundant as it feels, it’s better to dress in layers. I toss the can back in my bag and take one last look over my shoulder for headlights.
Next comes the black. A quick few shakes lead to a quick few shapes as I work atop the circle. After that come the letters underneath, and as the spray paint mixes with my icy breath, I laugh to myself. Perfect timing.
I climb down, then work whatever duct tape magic I can on the severed wire. The heat blasts as I pull back onto the road—foggy windows be damned.
A quick glance into the rearview mirror shows my handiwork. And I’m proud of it. I really am.
Try to smile today
Assertive Fluttershy - Boo Hoo (Silva Hound Remix)
Joe Kopel - Chocolate
Vitamin String Quartet/Green Day - She's a Rebel, Jesus of Suburbia, Letterbomb
Jonathan/Simple Plan - Untitled
Johannes Brahms - Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, gute Nacht
Hey, you're still around? Alright, cool. If you liked The Graffiti Artist, you might want to check out The Music; it's an ongoing series, and believe it or not, it actually doesn't suck yet. Or, if you preferred suffering through The Silence Before, you can read a review of an even worse story I wrote in high school. And finally, if you just want to hear more of our beautiful voices, The Pokemon Story is the story for you.