The Show Must Go On: Chapter 2



Jack’s isn’t much different from your typical general store you see in old pictures from the 1940s. It’s right in the middle of town, made of deteriorating red brick, and still has the white painted lettering from back in its prime when great-great Uncle Jack ran the place. Every other year, Jack gets somebody up there to paint it and keep it looking “respectable”, as he likes to call it. If only he’d revamp the building along with the lettering.


    Our inventory isn’t just nic-nacs and bubble gum like most generic corner stores, however. We have something exclusive to offer. That’s right, we have a playhouse for your annoying children. Suck on that, losers. No, but seriously, we actually have one in the back of the store. It sucks because anytime a kid barfs or decides to go pottie back there, guess who has to clean that shit up. Besides, why do we even have one? That’s gotta be like, some kind of insurance hazard or something.


    Anyway, I try to multitask as much as possible. Of course by multitasking, I mean watching the register, checking my Twitter every 30 seconds, and trying not to die of boredom. We get a whopping ten customers a day, and they normally just walk in, look around like somehow they’re enamored and intrigued by every little thing, and waltz their way out without even buying a fifty-cent newspaper. Frankly, I have no clue how the hell we’re even still in business.


    My personal favorite spot in the store is the old Wurlitzer jukebox. It’s got some dings in the old chrome, but the neon is as iridescent as it was back in the day. I always walk over to it, lay my arm across the curved top, pick a tune, and knock it like the Fonz would do on Happy Days.


    Now Playing: “Another Saturday Night” – Sam Cooke


    After doing no business (besides one middle-aged man that forgot about his anniversary) it’s finally time to head back home. We close at 8, so it’s not like I’m there all night. I make just over minimum wage at $8.00/hr and it’s nice to get 4 hours a day, five days a week. Not to mention the sixteen extra I get on the weekend. If I’m doing the math correctly, which I’m probably not, I make about $280-ish a week. I’ve saved up a good bit, but I’ve definitely had my fair of unnecessary expenses. Thanks a lot, Cole.


The ride home is just like all the ones prior. The same “how was your day” and the same “can’t complain”. While he takes a gander out of his window, I take the opportunity to slip my right earbud back in.


Now Playing: “Meet Me in the Woods” – Lord Huron


The car pulls into the garage bay. I open the passenger door, get out, and follow Jack inside. Jessie sits at the table drinking a glass of iced tea. The house smells of a warm chicken and broccoli casserole. I’m euphoric . I can practically taste the hot, melted cheese. She gets up from the table and walks over to the oven, checking to see if it’s ready. She smiles softly and pulls the delectable dish out.


“You two ready for dinner?” she asks.


“Always!” we answer in unison.


    After we’re finished eating and shooting the bull, we disperse for the night. Since I stay upstairs on the opposite side of the house, I can stay up most of the night without disturbing them while they sleep. Most of the time, I put on some music, and begin writing extra credit essays for english. I have a hard time paying attention in class, so the teacher lets me do extra work on the side to help out my grade.


    Now Playing: “Under the Pressure” – The War On Drugs


    Since I’m not exactly the most intellectual guy, I kinda struggle academically since Tristyn isn’t there in class with me. At one point I was an honor roll student, but ever since middle school it’s been a rocky road. I can never concentrate in class. The words seem to float off the page and not register in my mind. My classmates get annoyed from my leg bouncing up and down. I spend the time in between classes in the bathroom trying to calm myself. It’s a roller coaster every single day. Anxiety is not fun.


The essay I’ve been working on is called Why Donald Trump Should Not Be President. (Cue the conservative eye-rolls.) Even though it’s been rough to pass my classes, I’m still glad to be getting through. In junior high they always told us high school would be even more difficult. Of course being the young adolescent that I was, I just brushed off their warnings. Well congratulations, you were right.


Now Playing: “Love It If We Made It” – The 1975


After I get done a few rage-driven paragraphs, I turn on my PlayStation. Time to unwind and play a game that has kept me up many nights and made me feel a multitude of emotions. It’s called Life is Strange. Although all of my friends make fun of me, I can’t help but love it with every fiber of my being. The game touches on a lot of hard subjects, such as the murder of a friend, the death of a parent, and suicide. There’re a lot of difficult decisions that you have to make that affect the characters’ lives. It has helped me get through some nights that were darker than others. That game and music are my two best friends.


    Now Playing: “Spanish Sahara” – Foals


    Most late nights you’ll find me just laying on my back in bed, staring up at the ceiling. I overthink a lot, so it’s difficult to fall asleep. I often find myself thinking about what life is for, and if there is anything after it. Is it going to be glorious? Gold streets, choirs singing, Mom and Dad there waiting for me? Or is it just an empty void? Just nothing. No more love, no more hate, no more consciousness. Is living just for a brief moment? Is my existence just a small enigma within the universe? I keep Dad’s old Bible on my nightstand just to remind myself that there’s a chance at something more. That’s the only thing keeping me going. The thought that we’ll all meet again. Are they watching me right now? Can they see me breakdown? Are they spiritually here with me?


    Now Playing: “The Question, the Answer” – As It Is


    I do my best to avoid crying at all costs. Boys don’t cry, right? We’re supposed to man up and never show emotions. That’s what I’ve always heard. If you break, you’re weak. You’re lesser. You’re a beta male. Keep it all inside, no matter what. It just gets hard, you know? I wish I could find some people like me. I can only find people like that on the internet.


    The internet has allowed me to interact with similar minded people, something that I’d probably never experience if it didn’t exist. Although adults may criticize kids for indulging in “too much” technology, it’s been a safe haven for me. A way to release some built-up emotions and socialize. Sites like Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit are just a few examples. I’ve actually made some online friendships with misfits in multiple states, as well as countries. Alas, it’d still be nice to have somebody that’s actually here.


Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in a fish bowl. Constantly on my own, swimming around, seeing everything around me, but I can’t interact. Am I not normal? Am I the problem? What if I’m just wasting my time trying to be happy? What if it’s impossible? Is it all pointless?


    Now Playing: “The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)” – As It Is


    At school it’ll hit in the middle of class out of nowhere. I can usually escape to a bathroom before the dam breaks. I’ll lock the stall, put in my earbuds, and put on some kind of calming song. I make sure not to make noise so I don’t draw any attention to myself. Most of the time I only need about six or so minutes to get back to normal. There have been a few rare times where it took over ten minutes, and the teacher would send a student to find me. Instead of being honest, I just resort to my typical “sorry I was sick” excuse. So far it’s been foolproof.


    Now Playing: “Scars” – SayWeCanFly

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