Friday, March 11, 2011

Working title "The Gender Barrier", EXTREMELY rough draft part 2

So he's standing there with his ruffled brown hair, his beady eyes, that middle-aged, wrinkled face, that perfectly ironed out, clean suit and complementing red tie, and he wants to come in and talk to me. He looks like a regular G-man, albeit one who's been living out of hotels for the past few months, and yet I interest him. Sure, why the hell not?

"Uh, sure. I guess." Is all I can say. He steps in and takes a look around. He's clearly not very impressed. "No posters? No naked women or buff guys with guns or movie quotes or poems or anything up on the walls? No decorations?" He gets down and looks under the bed. I'm confused. "Hey, what the hell are you doing?" I say. He gets up. "You have nothing hidden under the bed. No dirty magazines. No pornographic videos. No blow-up dolls and probably the worst, no girls." Indeed, I didn't hide girls under my bed. Silly me, not making it a habit. Now, I have to stand up and say something. "What the hell are you doing criticizing my decor and poking around my room?" He looks at me. No, he doesn't look at me. He looks straight through me. He doesn't look the least bit lost, and he seems to fully comprehend, but the look on his face is only accurately described as "puzzled." He glanced around the room again and shook his head. "I don't suppose you mind if I have a smoke?" Yeah, this guy is weird. I really need to find out why he's friends with my dad.

"I guess. If you let me cop one." He grinned. "Of course." He walks over to the window and opens in, letting in a blast of cool spring air. He taps the pack against his palm and pulls out two cigarettes, stuffing the pack back into his pocket and handing me one. He pulls out a fancy, custom engraved lighter and holds it up to the cigarette, taking a few gentle pulls. He obviously does this a lot. He hands me the lighter without even looking in my direction. One thing odd I notice, though, is that the lighter seems to be, for lack of a better description, perfectly aligned. It's just just in my general direction, it's actually right below my chin. Of course, the man in the suit is very tall, and this just made me realize it, since he does seem to be really extending his arm to get it down that low. I take the lighter and start up a smoke. I've done this before, too.

There's a lull; for a few minutes, it's just us two, smoking, tapping our ashes out the window, him staring out the window, me staring at him. I decide to shatter the silence. "So...your name's Jeff, right?" He takes a drag and considers my question for a moment. "Yeah, it's Jeff." More silence. "How did you meet my father?" I have to ask. He taps his cigarette against the edge of the sill and answers as slowly as possible. Maybe he's stalling. "I used to help him with paperwork. Down at the hall, I mean." Ah, that makes sense. Dad works down at City Hall, some sort of desk jockey. Makes sense that he would need some help sometimes. Yet another period of quiet. "So you're almost 18 right? Your father told me a lot about you." I feel really embarassed. "Yeah." I say.

We sit in silence for the next few minutes. The only sound I can hear is the wind from outside and the rhythmic inhaling and exhaling coming from the man and I. I feel awkward, but there's this vibe this guy gives off, like he knows exactly what he's doing, and this silence is all part of the plan. I hate him already. "So, I've got good news and bad news. What do you want to hear first?" He finally speaks up. "Huh?" I say. He says, "Oh, sorry. See, I'm helping out with some stuff in town this year, and I have some news. I think you should hear." I'm a little confused. "Well, I always liked hearing the bad news first. Softens the blow when you hear the good news, right?" He stands up and walks over to the open window, tapping his ashes into the wind. He takes another drag. "Well I don't know about all that. Anyway, here's the long and the short of it: You're not going to be a Lucky One. Ever." Well fuck me. Actually, don't, because it's now technically illegal. I mean I hadn't planned my life around it, but I'd like to get laid some day. Getting out of this town is tough: To actually move, you need to be 25, and the cost of living is ridiculous anywhere these days. You're really encouraged to just stay where you are and make the best of it. Even if I were to get out, apparently there's a lot of towns adapating the sex seperation system as well, mostly in the midwest.

"Run that by me again?" He takes another drag and gives me a concerned look. "You heard. You're not going to be a so-called Lucky One. I've seen your recent pre-test scores, and believe me, you'll never be able to improve enough to make the cut. Besides, you're not very fertile. Yeah, see, I'm helping out with the selection this year." I take a deep breath and lean back in the chair. I'm pretty sure I've just passed out. "Hey, Jake, stay with me here. I've still got good news, remember?" I regain some semblance of conciousness. "Right. Ok, hit me." He tosses the cigarette butt out of the window and leans over my chair, stopping himself an inch from my face. "I'm going to teach you to get girls anyway. I'll come around Friday and Saturday night and we'll run over a few things, then when you go out on Sunday, you'll put these things into action." Maybe I did pass out. Maybe I just thought I heard that. "'Scuse me?" I mumble.

"Your dad told me what you got caught doing." He says. Oh shit. Yeah, I can see what he's saying now. As I'm trying to recover from the blow, he begins to rummage through my closet. "Hey, you don't need to..." But it's useless. He digs deeper and deeper and finally hits something on the far left side of the closet, buried way in the back, on the bottom. He lays everything out on the bed. Makeup kit. Long plaid skirt. White blouse. Sun hat. I'm not sure why I kept this stuff; it didn't work the first time. "So, if I have the story straight," he begins, "You attempted to use these materials to sneak over to the girl's side of town. Pussyside, some of you boys call it." Cringe. The game's up. "Yeah, I did. It was a bet." He's still grinning. Fucker. "See, from what I've heard, nobody would admit to making the bet with you. They all said you just wanted to do it. For laughs. Or...for other reasons, maybe. Nobody really knows." Still grinning. Ear to ear. Cheekbones high. God I hate him. "The thing is, I think you could have pulled it off. You've got such a pretty face, darling." Not amused.

He flicks his butt out the window, as do I. Tension is now buzzing through the room, almost manifesting physically. "I think it's time you left." I can't look at his stupid smiling face any more. He's pissing me off. He stops smiling, but he still looks cocky. I still hate him. "Sure kid, but I'll be back on Friday. I think I know what you want. And keep this between us, hm?" And then he leaves so very uncerimoniously.

Working title "The Gender Barrier", EXTREMELY rough draft

Sitting. Sitting. Sitting here. Right here. In the chair. Staring into space. How long have I been sitting? Here in the chair, that is. Not long. Or maybe very long. A long time indeed. The longest. No, longer. Or perhaps not. Maybe it hasn't been long. Sitting here in the chair. Not long at all. Very briefly in fact. Ten minutes. Twent minutes. Three hours. How long have I been sitting here, in the chair?

No, better: How long have I wanted to do something else? Well that would be the entire course of my life. I've never wanted to do this, never wanted to live around here. Too boring. Too uptight. Not a good place to live at all, really. But I've been here for a long time. A long time indeed. Seventeen years is a long time, I think. Nothing to do but sit and think really. Well, I could write, like all the artsy kids. Or I could play sports like the athletic types. I could access the intranet and talk to some locals. Nah, I'd rather sit here. Here in the chair. Sit here and think for hours. So what am I thinking about? How about this place where I live; this terrible little town, with it's giant fence and it's conservative notions.

See, my little town, out in the middle of nowhere, works a little differently than most. The entire town is seperated by sex; girls on one side, boys on the other. It would be a lot like gym class to someone in a normal town, only all the time. I don't really understand the legality of the whole thing, but a generation or two ago, there was a conservative revival, and people started going to church. Soon enough, certain people in the church became annoyed with all the "trouble" the high school kids were getting into with each other. That is to say, the boys and girls were "pairing off", which is of course to say they were fucking. They took the complaint pretty high up I guess, and whatever happened next is a bit too technical for me. All I know is, a highly guarded fence was built between the two halves of the town. Wherever there isn't a fence, there's a guard. Nobody can even get out of the town without going through a checkpoint.

Of course, getting out of the town really isn't that hard. If you're an adult, at any rate. Minors aren't allowed out without adult supervision, and just my luck, my father never wants to go anywhere. Hm, my father...

See, the only reason I exist in the first place is my father was one of the "lucky ones," as we call them. Every year, late in the spring, all the boys from the age of eighteen to thirty "enlist." They all take an aptitude test, get checked in for a physical and are then compared based on the results. The best of the best, a lucky twenty, get chosen based on their intelligence, physical fitness and fertility. They get put through a short sex ed. course, and then are teamed up with twenty women from "Pussyside." The men and the women pair off in whatever two person combination they see fit, and they become sexual partners for as long as it takes for the woman to concieve. A few romance options are available, of course; the facility they meet at is perched on a hill which overlooks the entire town. Built into the facility is a games room, a chapel, and a gorgeous restaraunt with a breathtaking window view of the entire town. Just imagine it: a candlelit dinner between the two of you, young lovers just meeting, sitting in the comfiest booth ever made, looking out at all the tiny little houses, the lights twinkling like stars built into the ground, and the actual stars up in the sky twinkling even brighter. Hearts racing, palms sweating, blood flowing to the nether regions, all that good stuff. Then comes dinner, hand-holding, a bit of petting if you're particularly bold. Anybody would be tearing the sheets apart after that. The Sex Commitee must have realized this, hence why the building was designed in the first place. Of course they built a similar (if cheaper feeling) facility down below the hill, about a half mile away from the "funk palace" as the less mature of us call it.

Every week, we all meet at that facility, male or female, and sit through a sermon, or maybe play some video games or some ping pong or something. We're always under watchful eye, so nobody's ever made more than a lazy attempt at sneaking off for a smoke or a shag or anything. The boys and the girls don't actually get along much, surprisingly. Some of the more friendly guys might wander over to the girls on occassion and try to entertain them, and sometimes they'll keep them around for a while, but when the day is over, we all go home and forget about our temporary truce. I guess the lack of sex doesn't help.

Huh? Oh yeah. I'm still sitting in this chair. I wasn't even staring off into the distance this time; I've actually closed my eyes, and was apparently drifting off to sleep. So now I'm awake. I'm looking around with sudden clarity, infinitely more aware of my surroundings before. TV hanging on the wall, tuned to the local public access station, playing some recorded sermon from a sunday long past. "Jesus' words ring truer today than they ever have before. In this time, we have abolished another form of sin: the sin of the flesh. With God's guidance w-" I grab the remote and click it off. It's interesting the first time, but this is a rerun. I've seen this exact sermon at least thirty times, a few times even spoken before a live audience. I only had to listen to a few seconds to recognize it; that's how familiar I am with it.

I swivel the chair around and around, making myself dizzy to fight the boredom and the insomnia. I see a yellow lamp in the corner, over on the end table by my still-made bed. I see my desk, a notebook propped open, yet nothing written down. My mind begins to synchronize with the motion, and the world becomes a nauseous blur to me. I see my bedroom door closed, and I see the lightswitch turned on, and I see my dresser over in the opposite corner, and I see my closet open, a small pile of clothes laying in front of the door, and I see my computer on the other end of the desktop, and I see the curtains half open, and I see a man in a black suit chilling out in my doorway. I make another revolution before I realize what I saw. Guy in a black suit and red tie by my door. Who the fuck is he?

Oh yeah. Dad has company. That's right. What was his name? "Jeff" I think. Right, it was definitely Jeff. How does dad know him? Oh, I don't think he told me. Well whatever. He's looking at me. What does he want?

"Hey kiddo. Jakob right? Let's have a chat."