Part 1 (I Could Have Lied) can be found here.
The ashtray says
You were up all night
When you went to bed
With your darkest mind
He didn’t sleep worth a shit. After posting his blog, he fumbled around the internet wasting time on Twitter and Facebook until the usual ennui set in. He cursed himself for his self-imposed drinking rule (never drink alone, and the dog doesn’t count) because a beer or three might have aided his sleep.
But, despite his excitement about the development earlier, he laid down shortly after midnight and was able to drift off while formulating a plan for the next day.
It was around 2am when the messages started rolling in on his phone. He never silenced it at night because there really had never been a reason to. Other than the random email that would find its way around his filters, thus placing it in his “personal” email folder rather than a more compartmentalized one, his phone would remain mute through the vast majority of nights.
Not on this night.
He ignored the first two notices, but they were soon followed by several more. He finally looked at his phone and saw the emails came from his blog host, notifying him of reader comments that need to be moderated. Spam, he thought. That would explain both the volume and rapidity, as well as the fact that they needed to be moderated. Plus, he thought, I can count actual readers of my blog on one hand. Easily.
He set his phone to silent and turned off vibration notices, too. Sorting through those emails was a job best done on his laptop and that could certainly wait until morning.
For about 5 hours, he slept periodically. His inner clock seemed set to roust him for no reason at all every half hour or so. Finally at 7:30am, with some strong-arming from his stressed bladder, he got out of bed. And, knowing himself, since he was standing and it was light outside, he would not be returning back to bed.
He threw on yesterday’s clothes and went to his laptop, only then remembering everything. The drawing. The winning ticket. The blog. The emails.
Well, shit, might as well get started cleaning out the inbox now.
He lit the day’s first cigarette and opened his email. The “unread” number staring back at him was staggering. 1634. 1634? Fuck that, he thought while opening a new tab on his browser. Time for my normal routine before my entire life changes. I don’t know when I’ll get to do this again.
He had perfected avoidance during his adult life. Anything unpleasant, time consuming, or stressful – no mater how urgent – would wait. Not could, but would.
It was too early in the morning for his baseball fix (the site he used daily that aggregated links about his Texas Rangers would not update for at least another hour) so he went to Facebook. A few comments and likes on his recent updates, but nothing earth shattering. Not even a birthday for anyone on his friends list.
He went to his “on this day” link to see if there was anything special or funny worth re-posting, but it was slim pickings. Four years ago, he became “friends” with one of his old high school classmates. Two years ago, he posted three times about the crappy hotel he was living in at the time.
Man, what a difference two years can make. Hell, what a difference one night can make.
Quickly bored with Facebook, he turned to Twitter. He was a very low volume Tweeter, but found that the platform came in handy with links to legitimate news and interesting articles found on sites he never would have had the patience to search out himself.
Whoa. He looked at the screen again to make sure he was logged in to his account, though he knew he had to be. How the hell did I accrue 7323 new notifications overnight? Were the Spam-bots working overtime?
He clicked on the “notifications” button and saw he had amassed over 5500 new followers. The rest of his notifications were for “@” mentions and re-tweets. Re-tweet? I haven’t posted anything lately that would warrant a re-tweet, let alone that many.
Then it hit him like Giancarlo Stanton turning on an inside fastball.
The blog, he thought. The fucking blog. As soon as he posts a new entry, his blog is synced with Twitter and sends out a Tweet on his behalf with a link to whatever he had written. His handful of readers had now grown exponentially based on his last entry.
He thought that he had written about the drawing in such a way as to obfuscate the truth. The theme behind the entry was, in his mind at least, more of a “what if”. What if he had won? I guess I didn’t make that clear. Man, I suck at writing fiction.
He closed his browser and went to fetch his phone from the window sill near his bed. He had 37 new text messages now in addition to the email notifications. He wondered if any of his siblings were among the new texts, but they were mainly from friends and former co-workers, as well as four numbers that were not in his contact list.
Oh, and messages from three ex-girlfriends. And one ex-wife.
He set the phone down, lit another cigarette, and decided his drinking rule was stupid. The dog absolutely counts. And there never has been a rule about day drinking, so…
“Come on, Guster”, he called to the dog. But Guster had no intention of getting off the bed that early in the morning. So he walked to the kitchen alone, grabbed a beer from the fridge, and sat down at the kitchen table.
Abruptly he got up to retrieve a notepad and pen, returned to his seat, and began making a list of things he had to do. They flowed to the pad much faster than he thought they would. He felt he was actually making progress and, because of that, things would not overwhelm him to the point of catatonia.
The beer helps, he thought.
He was no stranger to lying to himself.
Oh, you’ve changed
– Wilco, “A Shot In the Arm”