From my bedroom window, I see it all. The life outside is like a stage, and here I sit at my own private theatre balcony.  I see the happy families with their retrievers, strolling past on blooming spring afternoons. I see the newspaper boy trudging by on black snowy mornings. I see young hoodlums scurrying through the streets like rodents, breaking into any unlocked cars and taking change from the cup holders while the neighbourhood is fast asleep in their hypnotic dream comas. I’ve come to know quite a bit about my neighbours. The Hudson’s fourteen year old son Jeremy is a homosexual. I’ve seen him getting into fights with the other boys. I’ve noticed the peculiar look of pleasure in his eyes while rolling through the mud, locked with his opponents. His father is an alcoholic and he beats the poor child. If Mr Hudson found out about Jeremy’s secret, those bearings he’s dishing out now would seem paltry by comparison. Mary Greenwich is having an affair with the balding Mr Foxworth who drives the red convertible in the summer and is also drowning in debt. Mr Foxworth is a bachelor, but not by choice. His wife killed herself, only some months ago, but almost everyone else has been told it was cancer. Only Mary Greenwich knows the truth, in part because her affair with Mr Foxworth was the impetus for Mrs Foxworth’s sudden death. Even the children were told their mother had died from a rare, rather aggressive form of cancer.  Tommy Sheldon is stealing money from his mothers purse to purchase marijuana. He’s already tried prescription drugs and is likely to graduate to more severe substances quicker than he will graduate  high school based on his current grades. His sister Georgia is an anorexic and has been hospitalized twice after fainting during school. The Marcus’s are headed out of town to Portugal tomorrow and their daughter Toby has already planned festivities at their vacant house for the weekend. Their other daughter Sandra is only eight. She’s staying with her cousins. She is also likely to be a sociopath and lacks real human emotion. I’ve seen her strangle a cat to death one summer day while no-one was watching. She left it in the alley way and asked her father for a dollar to buy an ice cream cone. I can see a lot of things from my window. A pair of binoculars also helps. 

The world has changed. 

Kids today have it difficult. Their lives take place in two different realms. The physical reality and then the virtual reality. That’s why I also have social media accounts. That way I can satisfy my voyeuristic tendencies in every which way imaginable. I can see the pressure these young people must feel today. Online, everyone presents themselves as some kind of pseudo celebrity living a charmed life.  I even see the effects spilling over from the teenagers onto their parents.  

“Hey Dianne, did you see Susan’s post the other day? Yeah it’s true, their dog died. Yeah they’re live-streaming its memorial tonight.  Yeah I didn’t know her well either but I guess I’ll go on and comment just to be safe. I think the dogs name was Buck, or Bucky, or was it Lucky? F-Y-I— incase you may send her a message too. Yeah, of course,  no problem. I know, it’s so hard to keep up now a days.” 

Yeah, everyone is trying to keep up. Everywhere I look, it’s a rat race. A new kind of rat race, though.  Not for money, the way it used to be. But, for attention. As I look out the window and through my binoculars I can see a house on the next street. I’ve been watching this youngster a while since he moved in this past summer. His names Nick. His parents are good folks. They take interest. They show love and affection. They get him a cake on his birthday. They ask him how his day went. They take interest in his interests, or at least they pretend too. They’re closer to genuine than anyone else around nowadays. Nick seems troubled, though... 

“They all tell me to be patient...” 

Nick spoke aloud in front of his web camera. He was live streaming from his bedroom. 

The light in his bedroom was sparse. There was the faint glow of the computer screen reflecting upon his face, along with the blood-red August sunset, peering through the window behind where he stood. The streets had quieted down after a long day full of excitement. It was prom night, and the families were all jostled up with excitement. By that time of the evening, the only sounds remaining came from a few chirping birds.

 Nick’s bedroom consisted of a large bed, a ceiling fan, the desk where his computer was set up,  and a few dusty old dumbbells which had been his fathers at around the same age as Nick.  A few posters of heavy metal bands and sports cars and sports illustrated models hung on the walls, along with a recently received college acceptance letter, put on display by the insistence of his proud mother.  The bed was unmade, there were clothes on the floor, despite an empty basket for laundry. The desk was riddled with lighters, change, receipts, take out containers, lubricant, crumpled tissues and empty beer cans and caffeine drinks. Despite all this, the trash can beneath the desk was empty.

“I listened. I really did. I’ve been patient. Do you know how many times I thought about this? Look, I get I’m not the best looking guy or nothing. I know I’m not the smartest, but I damn well ain’t gonna be taking Margaret Worsenhoff to the prom. Hell, she’d be the one taking me she’s so damn big. “ 

“They said go to church, and I did. I went. Priest said what they all said. Be patient. ‘This too shalt pass’ what a load. Horse shit, man. What did that get me? All that waiting? I’ve been a meek little lamb just like they wanted. I’ve suffered day after day and it ain’t gotten any better. I’ve prayed, believe me. God just didn’t bother to listen.“

Nick stopped a moment to catch his breath.

“They said go to a therapist. What did she say? Be patient. Dumb bitch and her dumb college degrees. That’s the best she could come up with. She warned me against my ‘impulsive’ behaviour. She tried to tell me to practice ‘delaying gratification’ and other psyco-babble. So, hell, I did. I waited. The anxiety didn’t. The depression didn’t. The long nights of suffering didn’t. I ground my teeth to dust, sitting here in this damned bedroom, while the rest of them play out their bullshit, merry, happy little charades. I’ve been patient enough to ride out high school. And here we are. Im done being patient.”

“Everyone at school has got it figured out. They’ve got their cliques. They’ve got their rich parents and fancy cars. They all go to parties and have fun and fuck and laugh about it the next day over their 'egg sous-vides’. They’ve all got their college dorms figured out for next year, and hell, they’ll all probably have their jobs lined up for them before they even get diplomas. “ Nick forced himself to catch his breath.

“So, tonight’s the prom, I guess…” 

Nick paused, glaring at the computer screen. His voice sounded almost choked up. A smile twisted itself across his face.

“They’re all dolled up. You could see ‘em all on their parents driveways in front of big fancy SUV’s.  Their hair all done up. Those damned bitches in their colourful dresses. The big, buff, brain-meat jock dudes in their fancy suits. Flowers everywhere. Fake smiles and fake tears. Limousines waiting at the curb while  a thousand pictures were snapped by the second. I saw them. I saw them smiling and kissing, locked arm in arm,  cheek to cheek. Faking it. “

“ It took me a few weeks, but I worked up the nerve to ask out Claire Narin. I knew how it’d go, but I did it anyway. I’d jerked off to all the great cleavage shots she’s been known to post for the whole world to see on all her accounts. She was standing by her locker one morning and I got to her at a rare moment when she wasn’t surrounded by her usual posse.  I felt my balls swelling up.  ‘Claire’ I said, intentionally deepening my voice. She pretended not to hear me. ‘Fucking bitch. Fuck her. ‘ I muttered to myself.  I walked closer towards her and I made direct eye contact with her. ‘CLAIRE’ she proceeded to look down and grab her things and walk away as though I wasn’t even there. She treated me like I didn’t even fucking exist.  She was met by a few friends. They strolled outside to skip class and get their overpriced lattes. “ 

The anger in his voice was apparent. Nicks face was red and his throat was swelling.

 “ Well, I told my parents and some of my other helpless lads I was taking her. Obviously, it came as a shock to everyone. My parents asked to come to the whole lame picture ceremony thing. I told them it would be uncool and they listened, saying they’d have a date night of their own, instead. So they left earlier this evening, and here I am, all alone, on prom night.”

“She’ll remember me now. Won’t you Claire? Won’t you? You all will.  All you privileged people out there. When you see this video, let it be a lesson to you all. This is what happens. This is what happens....”

He stopped for a few moments. His eyes bulged from his skull. His entire face seemed engulfed by fire. 

Smiling, he took down a tightly  wound extension cord hanging from his ceiling fan. He stood up on the bed and smiled as he tied it around his neck and dropped his weight towards the floor. His small body suspended in mid-air, jerking back and forth, while the camera kept on rolling. 

I saw it all from my bedroom window.

April 25, 2020 00:46

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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