Pendel the Great and Terrible Finds Gainful Employment

One of the more bizarre ironies of living in a culture built on fear is how surprised you find yourself when the worst of those fears is realized. Seems fucking nutty. Either we never truly expected our fears to scuttle out from the dark corners left dusty and cold when we turned our backs to them, or we never really believed in our fears in the first place; rather we thrived on the thrill of being completely amped and strung-out on distant possibilities, our runny noses sniffing madly in pursuit of blessed distraction. Craving simply to fill the minutes, hours, and days until they toss dirt upon our lips and eyes, we scrape at the wall, never expecting a hole to crumble forth, never realizing just how weak the wall is until it starts to fall.

Lousy contractor. We entrusted this dick with our LIVES, and he with his shoddy workmanship doomed us all to the crushing weight of reality. And to see the other side of that hole in the wall—well holy hell. Who knew?

But we can’t talk about all that yet. First, the Move Out: It was pretty simple. I packed a box and a suitcase and threw that shit in Sugarbear’s dirty Volkswagen trunk. Easy as freaking PIE, fellow motherfuckers. When in doubt, travel light. You’re really not going to need any of the shit you’ve collected while whiling away the hours pondering the greater good, so leave it; cut it loose and let it find its next big hero.

The hard part being over, Sugarbear accompanied me back into the house where I USED to live for one last dose of disparity as my family members congregated to wish me well.

I shouldn’t be so flip. The look in Clare’s eyes tore at my heart. I asked her what the hell her problem was in far more of an irritated tone then I meant, and she flinched—which of course made me feel like even more of an asshole. I was like, hey man, I am sorry, but you are making me feel like a complete and total fuck-face. She was all like, “How can you leave me here with these weirdoes?”—meaning my mom and dad, of course—and I could tell she was seriously stricken by the thought, but I found that to be incredibly unfair. I pleaded with Clare. I was like, hey man, come on, lest we all forget, THEY kicked MY ass out. This was not my idea. “Pendel, you didn’t even ask them to reconsider. They don’t know you the way I do. They don’t know that you could get hurt.”

Sugarbear snorted and smacked my shoulder, skyrocketing my level of irritation. “You hear that, you pussy? The real world’s gonna chew you up.” I scowled deeply at both of them—why must I be underestimated at every goddamned turn? I said to Clare, look here, sister: I am made of fucking steel, get it? I cannot be broken. She just shook her head. “I know you,” she said. What the hell is that supposed to mean? I wouldn’t get the chance to find out—down the hall came the clumsy love of my mother and father. Clare clammed up and simply continued to scowl in my general direction until I left home forever.

“So this is it, yes?” asked my dad. He patted my shoulder in a very ‘now-you’re-a-man’ kind of way, and I felt absolutely no remorse whatsoever seep from a single one of his pores. My mother, on the other hand, was beside herself. Her hands bothered themselves with incessant wringing, and her eyebrows were a study in sorrow. “Oh Pendel, I think this is all wrong,” she bemoaned. Please. After everything—after she more than any other member of our sad kin made me feel like a bother and a hindrance to her happiness—she has the balls to tell me it’s wrong that I should leave. In my mind I was smashing everything dear to her into tiny bits, but outwardly I chose to be as tall as the redwoods, and I simply gave her a hug. My dad tipped me a knowing wink (though he knows very little) and comforted my mother, “This is the way of things. There’s no other way for him to become a man.” Dear lord. Really? That’s what you’re going to say? Of course he’s wrong, I could maybe get fucking LAID for once. That would help a hell of a lot more than starving to death in the back of Sugar’s shithole.

My mother took my hands, “Come over for dinner as often as you want, OK? Please? Help me not to worry.” I said fine. Realistically, coming over for dinner might be the only time I eat. “Sugar, keep him out of trouble. Keep him INSIDE.”

Sugarbear gave me a nudge. “No worries, Mrs. Haight. I got bars on the windows.”

“Oh Lord. OK. Oh boy,” worried my mother, and she turned and hugged Clare, because Clare was far more receptive to such things than any of the men around her.

My dad walked Sugar and me outside, cause that’s just the kind of fucking stand-up guy he is. “OK, ladies,” he joked. “Look, Pendel. I know you’re gonna take a couple of days to get the feel of all of this new-found independence, but after that, come by, OK?” I said fine. Then he took me by the shoulders and looked me square in the face. “I will be right here, son.” I got the distinct impression that he was not only giving me reassurances, but also warning me of his continued vigilance—which is a complete joke. Although my parents did much in the way of keeping me alive in regards to caloric intake and clothing, when it came to guidance and structure…but this is horseshit. They tried, I resisted, and the world spun restlessly on and on.

So basically, my leaving home was a complete non-event.

That night I celebrated liberation with Bear, Benji, and Hugh—Hugh being the name we gave to the wizard-shaped ceramic bong belonging to Benji. As I have said before, Bear’s old man is letting us crash cheaply at a property he owns near the corner of Rubsam and Race. Kind of a shit-hole, but I’m not really complaining. The gray paint is slowly giving up, the lawn is the color of hopelessness, and the cracked driveway speaks of a world long after the death of the last man as nature once again claims the spots we had worn thin. Nevertheless, the bedroom I have on the ground floor near the kitchen is my own, the living room has a television and cable and the promise of a life free from lectures and suspicion, and my roommates seem to genuinely enjoy my company (for the most part). The jabbing tip of springs as they force their heads out from nearly every cushion of every ass-related surface is barely noticeable when you spend as much time rocking the skull of Hugh as we do.

How do I afford such luxury, you ask? It’s a great question. I do have work, but the work is tricky to talk about, if you get my meaning. Basically, I work for Sugarbear. Benji and I both do, really. We single-handedly run the sales and delivery department of Sug’s fantastically lucrative plastic cube business. Suffice to say there’s a certain amount of glamour involved. The client makes a call to my man Sugarbear, who places the order in the hands of the raggedly loyal Benji or myself, and off we go on our various modes of transport with a generous supply of cubes, each one full of it’s own special brand of magic.

With sincere purpose I pedal into the night (or day, I guess…whichever), nervous but free from it all, and I visit all parts of town, delivering Sugar’s flawless product. I climb sagging steps and cross gated paths unhindered; I am welcomed warmly into hovels of sand and gilded halls; I am given Mountain Dew and I am offered red wine and everywhere around me there are smiles which are unique purely in their genuineness. I leave strewn behind me a trail of happy people. Hell, if I could only get the crabby bitches in the old folk’s home to feel the same way, I would have been tempted to think I’m entering into an honest-to-god period of renewal.

And to think I dreaded the working world.

Yes, times seemed to be quite high, but of course awakening must soon break a dream realized. After just a couple of weeks of living with a smile, I began to see the dark sedan parked innocently in front of our house, and thought nothing of it. Hindsight is a useless appendage.