* * * *
I walk around like the boss. It’s been three months. The system keeps expanding, but never faster than my ability to keep it organized in that other gray computer. I’ve got it all color-coded now, which helps a lot. I’ve always considered myself to be one of those logical data-crunchers, but I think I’m discovering an artistic side. Maybe I’ll quit this paper-chase to sink crosses in piss and shit or something, haha.
The night before I’d obtained biblical knowledge of the fourth girl in as many weeks. I still have that fear of failure in the back of my mind, but these days all it does is make the success even more exciting than it would be otherwise. The System is just that good. I haven’t missed a name and I was only wrong about a girl being in a “save the dogs” charity one time and I just played it off like it was a joke. Yeah, this works well. I almost wonder if the time has come to share it with the world. For a fee, of course. Maybe not. Cash isn’t exactly in short supply and I like to think that there’s a certain dignity to this exercise. It’s not one of those as seen on TeeVee gimmicks.
I actually went to one of those “how to get girls” seminars at a fancy hotel a few years ago. Yeah. I was the youngest sucker in the room, lots of balding old bastards sweating grease and wearing gold chains over hairy chests and fat guts. All you need, Mr. Scumbag, is a few magic phrases and you’ll be getting 18-year-old pussy. That’s how it was. The pick-up expert was, of course, young and good looking. All nail polish and funny hats, which was probably just for appearances.
He had a lot of energy, I’ll give him that. Bouncing from one side of the room to the other like a well-manicured tennis ball, constantly firing off ideas that would help transform the human slugs packed into the room into lady killers. We were supposed to insult them. We were supposed to be arrogant and unconventional. Hold that drink by your belt, not up near your mouth! Something about clawing onto dance floors. That was the exact word, clawing. There was a ten minute intermission halfway through. I used that opportunity to leave.
Maybe some of that stuff had value, but it didn’t fit my own very unique and special circumstances. There’s nothing that screams “special and different” more than being one of several interchangeable suits in a randomly selected office building nearly identical to a hundred others. That’s all changed now. I’m now the dissenting voice in the wilderness, the modern rebel.
And I’m getting laid. A lot.
* * * *
The only fear now, apart from the usual shit about the west collapsing when the browns rise up or some jihadan blowing up my building, is that I’m getting complacent and not pushing for even more. It’s been nearly a year since that moment of direct communication with a force that some, in their ignorance, call “God.” The spreadsheet now stretches for several full screens in both directions. From modest beginnings it now represents a Wonder of the Modern World. Logic and reason have conquered the land of emotion and frivolity and now rule over it with absolute authority. I have cut the Gordian knot, crossed the Rubicon and slayed countless boom-boom kitties.
I’m now some sort of Vice President. I do even less for even more. The change in my demeanor didn’t go unnoticed by the invisible wire-pullers, I guess. Better move this guy up. I’ve got a huge corner office now and I come and go as I please. The day’s work usually takes ten minutes, if that. The rest of the time is spent devising ways to take this game to the next level. The Ottoman harem has been realized. The final level, if I dare, is full-blown Ghengis Khan game. I think it’s time.
Maybe a year or two after that pick-up workshop I was deep in the computer dating. I was still in school, now a graduate student, and it seemed like a convenient way to meet virtuous young ladies to discuss the good and beautiful with. Maybe in theory. I wrote lots of cutesy little e-mails, shit like made-up screenplays and semi-clever poems and sent them out to likely candidates. The response was deafening silence, until finally a hot little number liked a Casablanca homage I sent her. We arranged to meet for some of that hot brown liquid. Rock and roll.
Long story shorter, she didn’t show. Instead the coffee house was jammed full of other men, all of whom seemed to be looking around for a special someone. Fuck, we’d been set up! Get out, abort, abort! Or just turn and leave in dejection, whatever. On the way out the door some kid of perhaps eighteen snapped a picture of me with his phone, yelled “White Knight,” and ran off through an ally.
It seems like a completely different life.
I was back on the train after another day of vice presidenting for those big bucks. The Ice Bitch was there. I don’t think she remembered me. I walked over and did an “opening.” It’s all a scientific process now, so totally predictable. Ask a few unexpected and unusual questions. “I’m looking for a book recommendation, what do you think would be most appropriate for me?” and “Do you ever get a little sick from the train’s movement?” All too easy. A few of those put-downs I paid $80 to learn about years ago, some light touching, follow the flow-chart, one step at a time.
Later I inserted my penis into her vagina.
* * * *
Disaster! I’ve been exposed! Ok, I’ll slow down and tell it right. Like every great tragedy the mighty man was brought low by hubris. I got way too sloppy. I left everything in a vulnerable position and got found out. She must have been rooting through my things, the way women do, while I was enjoying some post-coitus oblivion. Stupid, stupid! The lap top was right there on the table, turned on even. I think the file might have even been open. It all comes crashing down.
Then the internet celebrity, like that fat kid pretending to be yoda and all that. Two days later and it had circled the globe, the creepy fuck with the spreadsheets full of women. The language generated wasn’t exactly of the tolerant and non-judgmental sort that is supposed to be used. E-mail box just exploded, full of angry harpies and laughing male losers who probably wish they had thought of it first, but can now bite deep into the sour grapes and savor the misery. Even the phone was going off before I shut it off. Lots of screaming, you better believe it.
The security guards arrived at the office today, to show me out and make sure I don’t go all American Psycho up in this bitch or something. That’s wonderful, being treated like a criminal. Clean out the drawers. They marched me out of the building. Probably would have taken even more liberties if there weren’t witnesses everywhere. On the midday train I don’t recognize anyone. They probably sense I’m an outsider. Everywhere I’m hiding from looks full of accusation and contempt.
The sun just went down. I’m deep into the whiskey, probably gonna really accelerate the pace now, ha, ha. I checked the e-mail one last time, just morbid curiosity, thousands of messages. One push of that delete key, see ya. Just a setback, just a setback. This too shall pass, right? The booze barely burns at all now, just slides down nice and easy.
My turn to use the phone, call that bitch from the train. Again, just one push of a button to do it, age of miracles. It just rings. It’s dark now. Pour another glass. Getting sent to voice mail. Got to play this one just right. Concede, but don’t actually apologize, that’s the way. My speech is slurring just a little. I tell her to get over here and bring back the disc she took. It is, after all, my property. After that we can start again, sadder and wiser.
The call is over. Through the window I see the city lights, dancing through the Tennessee Lenses like distant stars or that Van Gogh painting. Something like that, I’m not an artist. Tomorrow I can hide. Everything seems peaceful for the moment.
One final gulp.
I’ll find something better.
* * * *
Aaron Zehner is the author of The Foolchild Invention, available now.