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Lakeshore - It's all matociquala's fault
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Jay Lake
Date: 2006-02-25 05:50
Subject: It's all matociquala's fault
Security: Public
Tags:lj, personal, writing
matociquala has challeged writers to present their grottiest old juvenalia. I was moved to find a trove of early to mid-1990's short fiction moldering in a folder on my iBook's hard drive -- this stuff has been through at least five different computers. Here's one that's both juvenile and a serious copyright violation, I suspect. Closest I ever came to writing fanfic.


Refugee

by Joseph E. Lake, Jr.

You have gum on your shoe again. Phone booths are tiresome. You seem to spend most of your salary on shirts which you leave behind in them, buttons torn. There are well dressed bums all over town, thanks to you.

You are tired, but duty calls.

#

"Hey, Clark."

It's Lois. She is a monument to human fixations -- breasts crammed into a tightly cut dress. Sleek. Svelte. Bitching, as you've heard it said lately. You imagine the women of your home with lantern jaws proud and strong, and breasts like twelve year olds or power lifters. Small grace notes on the smooth curves of their torsos. Power. Not the overhanging softness which obsesses those around you. Like that idiot Jimmy.

"Clark, got to get some photos. Come on, let's go. There's trouble at the docks."

He's been a cub reporter for thirty years, and doesn't seem a day older or smarter for the experience. Jimmy's always trying to capture pictures of your titanic struggles with Earth's best of the worst with a brownie camera. No depth of field and forty year old film, and the kid thinks he'll get a Pulitzer some day with the right shot.

Sometimes you wish you could sweat. It might make you feel more human.

#

Why couldn't your parents have let you die with them? Decently, with pity. Instead, dear old dad stuffed you into a rocket and sent you flying at superluminal speeds across the universe. Through the magic of relativity, and perhaps the mysterious circumstances of your own birth, you arrived on Earth no older than you were when you departed your crumbling home.

Where do the memories come from? An old farmer and his vapid wife, alfalfa, tractors, hay, a girl named Lana with breasts to challenge Lois'. These are your memories. Why does your inner eye occasionally flash to debonair, well-muscled men in comic opera outfits which would embarrass even Bruce, caped psychotic that he is? Are you as crazy as you think? A simple phone call lets you talk to the old folks. They actually think you are a reporter. You occasionally write a few words. Just for cover.

#

You've tried to explain the tights and cape to your analyst. Dr. Melvin Snodgrass, specialist in superheroes and delusionary structures. You're fairly certain Mel doesn't buy the whole powerful as a locomotive thing. Screw him. When was the last time he leaped a tall building? In any number of bounds?

"Really Clark, we all dream of flying. It's an expression of the subconscious' drive to freedom. Everyone is bound by the contract of their existence. Everyone protests against those restrictions."

What if your contract includes crime fighting, you think? What if you have to bust heads for a living, like a beat cop, but without the badge, or the paycheck? Or even the self respect?

"I had a dog once," you tell Melvin, "but he couldn't fly."

"Few dogs do," he says. He fiddles with his pencil. "How's it going with Lois?"

You mumble something inconsequential.

"Don't you find it odd to be a forty year old virgin? You are a handsome man, you know."

The sentence hangs in the air between the two of you. You glance at Melvin. There is sweat on his face. His tongue peeks between his lips like a monkey searching through coconuts for an especially good prize.

#

"Surprise!"

It is Lois. Jimmy. The whole gang from the press room. Your tailor. Half a dozen bums wearing your cast off shirts, unbuttoned of course. Even Lex, out on furlough, being followed around by two burly guards. Banners are strung across your cheap apartment, balloons bounce along the ceiling like small, manic clouds.

"Happy birthday to you..." they are singing. You see a big cake in the shape of the numbers four and zero. You have forgotten your birthday despite what Melvin said to you about your age. You wish you knew how long the years were at home, where you were born. Then you wonder where the elderly Kents are. It's not like mother to miss this kind of nonsense, you tell yourself.

You could break all their necks with your fingers, drink their blood, dance on their bones. Duty pushes you toward another calling, but still you hate this entire planet full of weak, pale strangers. Puffy swollen people, with too much body hair and no self control.

There is a large present. You hope perhaps tricky Lex has filled it with Kryptonite, that you can feel weakness, for a moment. Before some do-gooder like Jimmy drags it away, Lois fanning your face and weeping for you.

You hate cake. You still wish you could sweat.

#

When it is all over, you lie alone on your little bed, in only your tights. They hug you in a way which feels good, at least in the dark. Lois had gotten drunk, put her hand down your pants to stroke your butt. Embarrassed, you pushed her away. After the ambulance left, the party broke up quickly.

You lie in the dark. You wonder what Melvin is doing. His sweating seems wistful, somehow attractive. You wish you belonged somewhere, anywhere. Maybe they will fire you tomorrow, because of what happened to Lois. At least it would be something different.
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it's a great life, if you don't weaken: tick ninjas hedge
User: matociquala
Date: 2006-02-25 14:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:tick ninjas hedge
I'm sorry, Jay. That doesn't suck enough. Go back and try harder.

The breast-obsessed, neurotic Superman is really kind of, er, charming.
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Jay Lake: graffiti-funky_eyes
User: jaylake
Date: 2006-02-25 14:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:graffiti-funky_eyes
http://jaylake.livejournal.com/411791.html
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Swan Tower: writing
User: swan_tower
Date: 2006-02-25 15:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:writing
What she said. Not nearly bad enough.

God, I'm terrified to dig out what I was writing in the early-to-mid-90s. I'll see your "juvenile" and "copyright violation" and raise you a "preteen writer." My sentences were (I think) grammatically correct, but that's the nicest thing I can say about their aesthetic qualities.
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anna louise genoese
User: alg
Date: 2006-02-25 15:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is adorable. Poor Clarky Superman.
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Rose Fox
User: rosefox
Date: 2006-02-25 18:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
One of the most interesting things about this shared exercise in self-flagellation, to me, is how people's pen names change. I never would have guessed that you were a Joseph before you decided to be a Jay.
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Jay Lake: signs-savage_plants
User: jaylake
Date: 2006-02-26 23:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:signs-savage_plants
Actually, I've always legally been "Joseph" and casually been "Jay". At some point I realized life would be much easier if my byline were a name I could remember to answer to. Plus, an astonishing number of people can't spell "Joseph" correctly, which would make my work harder to find in the bookstore or library.
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premature anti-fascist
User: anansi133
Date: 2006-02-25 23:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
still you hate this entire planet full of weak, pale strangers. Puffy swollen people, with too much body hair and no self control.

priceless. I wish I could have brought myself to admit these truths when I was that age...
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