I’m really not much of a talker, but I really feel the need to tell somebody what’s been going on. Might as well be you. It’s some weird shit. No one else knows. At least I don’t think they do. There could be others. Yeah, I’m sure there’s other people out there doing this same thing, maybe, and getting the same results. Makes sense that I can’t be the only one in the world doing this and being affected in this way. I’d be some kinda superhero or in the world record books or something. That is if I was stupid enough to tell someone. Oh, man, if I told. They’d think I was way fit for a mental hospital. Nearest one is called “Friends.” I always thought that was funny.
My girlfriend, Gianna, already left for work and I expected her to leave the usual cupcake and note on the counter as she does for each of my birthdays. Maybe she was running late. Maybe she forgot? No, she’s always on time and has never forgotten a date related to us. She remembers the date of our first kiss! She’s a good girl and none of this has anything to do with her, you know?
Fuck! It’s already eleven? T-Rock said he’d only be around for about an hour today before he had to go play daddy for a while. If I don’t go now, I’ll have to wait until at least seven. Gianna will be just finished with work and if the trains run on time, she’ll get home at eight and nope, nope, nope, I will not be able to do this. Not the way I planned. I have to see T-Rock now.
It’s fucking freezing out and it’s supposed to be Spring. I mean, yeah, it’s barely Spring, but still. I’m Carmine, by the way. Today is March 23, 2050. 3/23 and I have turned 23 today. Today. The day that I will die.
Have you ever been smoking a cigarette and think, “Man, I should smoke a cigarette?” How dumb is that? That’s how mindless the world is. I don’t see myself that way. Only when stupid shit like that happens. That’s just a broken brain messing with you, you know? Yeah, broken brain. Supposedly, that’s what I’ve got. In fact, I have to see my therapist after this meeting. Seems pointless, you know? The day of my death, standing out in the cold, waiting on some shady corner for some shady drug dealer, then rushing to see my therapist, like it’s any normal day. Any normal day that someone was born and will in fact die. Therapist says I have something called DR. Short for Derealization. I just think that I see the world differently. See it for the truth. It’s a hunk of garbage. Nobody is real. Fuck, I’m not even real. The whole thing often seems like it’s a simulation anyway. That’s one of the reasons I keep to myself. I don’t care about anybody else. Of course, I care about Gianna, but sometimes it’s even hard for me to do that. Oh, there’s T-Rock. (I swear, sometimes I think he’s an undercover cop just waiting ‘till he has enough to snag me).
“T! Psst. T! It’s Carm. Sup, ma dude?”
“Carm, are you nuts? Chill. I know who you are. Chill. The place is swarming today.”
“Swarming? I don’t see anybody. This place is abandoned.”
“Exactly, Muthafucker. This place is drawlin’. What you needed?”
“As in it draws too much attention. So? The usual?”
“Nah, this time I’ll take a bundle. You got that on you?”
“Yeah, I got it, but whatchu need a bundle for? You ain’t ready for that kind of load. I hope you just stocking up for a rainy day.”
“Dude, T, I’m responsible. It ain’t all for me. I’m splittin’ it with a friend.”
“C, everybody knows you don’t got no friends. Doesn’t matter to me. I just sell the shit. But I like you, Carmine. So be careful, huh, man?”
“I will. Always.”
“Bundle is 10 for non-regs, I threw in one extra. This stuff is potent. Be fucking careful.”
“I got it, I got it. No worries, T. Thanks for meeting me. Say hi to Rhonda for me.”
“Man screw that bitch. I just wanna see my baby. All right, mang. See you soon. Hit me up.”
11:45. Appointment with Mariellen is at 12:15. I’ll start walking now. I’ll get there early, but I don’t give a shit at this point. The only reason I’m going is to get her to sign off to get the main shrink to hand over the Benzos. Gonna need those for this shit to work. So far, I’m making good time. Mariellen, crazy, Cheshire cat smile and prudish attitude, will be thrilled that I’m early.
I hate waiting rooms. Especially here. This place is full of, let’s try to find a nice way to say it, though I don’t know why. For you, mainly. Don’t want you to dislike me. This place is full of people with severe mental illnesses. Like, ‘I love to bang my head against the brick wall over and over again’ type of illnesses. I don’t fit. I’m here because Mom started sending me when she noticed me not having friends and the, what does Mari call it? Self-neglect thing. Lower-level mental issues. Not illnesses.
“Mr. Genduso? Mr. Genduso?”
“Yeah, that’s me. Carmine Genduso.”
“Mariellen is ready for you.”
I walk back to Mariellen’s office and she is standing to greet me, giant ‘Grinch who Stole Christmas’ teeth coming at me as I walk into the room.
“Have a seat, Carmine. Sign in while I just look over my notes from our last session. Okay, I see we talked a lot about Gianna but then shifted focus to your mother, which seems to be happening a lot lately. So, how are things between you and Gianna?”
“Gianna is great. I have no complaints when it comes to her. That girl puts up with all of my sh…stuff and loves me anyway. I didn’t know there were people like her in the world.”
It’s funny. I met Gianna here. In a group therapy thing. She has severe OCD. The kind where you are an absolute neat-freak to the max. That’s one of the reasons we work so well together as a couple. See, I also have this thing called Diogenes Syndrome. Usually only affects older people, but there are rare cases. I prefer to think of myself as special. Ha! But Diogenes, supposedly causes people to live in squalor, become hoarders, go into these weird stupors, like become catatonic almost, and more. I was a dirt bag. Not in the drug addict, shit head guy sense. I literally showered like once a week and had stacks of empty pizza boxes in my apartment. I collected weird shit like soda cans and displayed them on a shelf. Then I met Gianna. The first night I got her to come home with me, the heat of the moment died the second I flipped on the light. She was horrified. Instantly started focusing on the dishes instead of focusing on my dick. Whatever. I let her go. Whacked off in the bedroom. I don’t care much about sex anyway. Good thing is, neither does she. Too focused on the filth that will be all over her after the act to really enjoy herself. She’ll take a nice licking, sure, but sweaty blankets and skin all mushed around is too much for her. We figured out a way to get past all of that. TMI, sorry.
“…so, the way I see it is that your mother is just concerned, Carmine. She isn’t being nosy by checking in on you. You are her only child. Her little boy. Can you at least try to respect that? I mean, you have made a lot of progress, especially this past month. Let your mom in. Just to let her know you are alright. Can you do that?”
“Sure, I’ll give it a shot.”
“Great! Oh, I really hope you do. She is such a nice woman. Okay, dear, we are finished for today. Make an appointment with Cheryl on your way out for two weeks from now. You can pick up your meds from Cheryl as well. Oh, and Carmine? Happy birthday!”
Fucking useless therapy. Such a nice woman my mom is, huh? Maybe she was at one point in my life, but I can’t remember it. I just know the woman I know now. The one who is nearly 400 pounds and can barely make it to the toilet on her own. She calls me to check in? Nope, try again. Calls me for a pack of smokes and some alcoholic beverage here and there. Probably to numb the pain that comes from being a pathetic fuck who raised another pathetic fuck in a world full of losers. Whatever. The show must go on. I think I’ll have a quick last meal and then get on with the dying.
23 Years Earlier
“Mrs. Maier, have you made any type of decision about the procedure we discussed about the baby?”
“Please. DO NOT call me Mrs. Maier. Either call me Ms. Genduso or call me Patty. I don’t want to have anything to do with this sempliciotto. I don’t even know why he is here. Don’t you have some place to be back in the hood, Sempli? Damned hood rat. Cares more about hanging on the corner with his boys than his pregnant fiance at home.”
“You know why I’m here, Lovey. It’s not YOUR baby. It’s our baby and I intend to be there for him when he is born. From the second you squeeze him out, until that little man is ready for me to teach him the ropes and forever after that.”
“Squeeze him out, eh? And you won’t be teaching that boy shit, trust me. Anyway, yes, Doctor. I’ve thought about it. It’s a really strange thing, though. I can’t wrap my head around the idea. And then to raise the boy and not tell him? It’s tough. You know?”
“Well, Ms. Genduso, like we’ve discussed, it is a simple procedure. It will not hurt the baby at all. He will not be any different than the other children his age. There are no known side-effects. It really seems like a win/win procedure. But it is experimental. And it is only being offered to children born this year. They are the ones who will show us the future. We will be able to keep an eye on their growth and lives and see if this is a plausible thing that can be used for anyone who wants it down the line. It’d be like some kind of miracle if it really does work.”
“And what if it doesn’t work? What will happen to my son?”
“Nothing. He will live his life like everyone else and that’ll be that. Anyway, I’m not going to push the issue. You have plenty of time to consider it some more.”
“Yeah, I’m still choosing a name and picking out furniture for the nursery.”
“I don’t like any of this.”
“No one asked you, Sempli. You won’t be here anyway. I’ll see you soon, Doctor.”
Finished eating my favorite thing for my last meal. Good old chili cheese fries. How the fuck can you go wrong there? Carbs, protein, dairy. Even veggies if you wanna get technical about it. I sat in the booth at the end, where I always sit, so I could people-watch. Disgusting. People I mean. That’s Derealiztion poking its head out. How can I explain the feeling? Okay, makes you feel like you’ve been plopped down into this little architect’s replica or model of a new town, except in this scenario, we are talking about the entire world, and that replica is made of plastic and cardboard and you are the only thing that makes sense and stands out, only the Diogenes Syndrome makes me not want to stand out, so I have these two demons in my head battling each other on a daily basis. I am the only thing that makes sense. Unless you count my girl. I sorta do. She’s just as fucked in the head as I am, but she sees beauty in things. I see beauty in nothing, with the exception of her. She’s going to hate today. I can’t help it. It only makes sense. The twenty-third. I’m twenty-three. Time to go. On with it, already.
Home. It’s four o’clock and I have given myself plenty of time to execute this thing.
Step 1 – Call Mom – “Mom, I like you. I don’t love you. You were shit and are more shit now than you have ever been and I assume you will remain shit for the rest of your short, but hopefully long, miserable life. All the best, your fucked-up kid, Carmine. (Message on the machine since she never answers my calls but expects me to jump when she needs me. Our relationship is a doozey!) Step 2 – I guess I have to write some kind of something to Gianna to keep her from freaking too much. I owe the kid that. Weird, I love her, and she has done everything for me, but I don’t feel like I owe her or anyone anything. But I’ll do it, because that’s the thing you’re supposed to do if you are a normal person. And I’m good at pretending to be one with her.
I wonder if, “Dearest Gianna, I hate the world, the world doesn’t give a fuck about me, you’re the only part that ever made sense, but this is how it has to be,” will suffice. Probably not, but I like it. Moving on. Step 3 – Do a shit ton of heroin. Not a big deal. I’ve done a ton before. Not a shit ton, mind you. But I bought the bundle and decided that would be the fun way to die. Be high and die. One bag after the other right up the old schnoz. None of that needle shit. That’s for junkies. I do some form of drugs every day, but that hardly makes me a junky. Just an enthusiast. Step 4 – In the middle of snorting up the baggies of brown powder, I’ll be gradually swallowing down the meds I picked up at Mariellen’s office earlier today. See, kinda like a Plan B. If the heroin doesn’t get me, the Benzos will. I’m a relatively smart fellow. Step 5 – (though really, not a step) Just be in bed or in the corner of the room somewhere when I am doing all of this shit. I want to be surrounded in comfy blankets and fluffy pillows and just drift away. Have my fave music playing in the background. AND it is very important that I am found and that when Gianna comes home, she doesn’t just assume I’m out somewhere.
Here we go.
“Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday baby RooRoo, happy birthday to you!”
“Gianna? What’s this? What’s going on? Where am I? Is this Heaven?”
“Awe, aren’t you sweet? I didn’t think breakfast in bed and me would count as Heaven, but sure, yes, my little kangaroo, you are in Heaven.”
Looks like it happened again. Why am I awake, in bed, waking up to my gorgeous girlfriend singing to me, a tray of breakfast in her hands, when I should be covered in vomit, slumped over in a corner, with her in tears, and Mom somewhere off not giving a fuck? This is what I was talking about. The weird shit that’s been happening. How I can’t be the only one in the entire world that this is happening to. I want to die. I have been trying to die for quite some time now. I’ve tried hanging. Woke up to Gianna in the kitchen burning toast. Then there was the tub and the wrist thing. Woke up from that one naked in bed. Put a goddamn pistol in my mouth for fuck’s sake. That day, the morning air smelled of sulfur. You were expecting gunpowder, I know, but it somehow made sense in my mind. Why do I keep having to start over? Why am I unable to die?
“Mrs. Maier, it looks like one more push now. His head is out. You can do it!”
“It’s Ms. Genduso! Madre cazzo cazzo di ventossa! Get out of me!”
“Here he is, Ms. Genduso! Ten fingers, ten toes. Healthy baby boy. Is Mr. Maier here to cut the cord? Should I get him from the waiting room?”
“That ratto cappuccio micidiale took off with my younger sister, that sciattona, two weeks ago. Let me hold my bambino.”
“We are getting his weight and cleaning him up for you. We also need to know your decision now. Do you want…what are you naming him?”
“Carmine. Carmine Alessandro Genduso.”
“That’s a very lovely, very distinguished, very Italian name.”
“He’s a very Italian boy.”
“Okay, we need an answer, Ms. Genduso.”
“Please, just let me hold my son. Can’t you do this later?”
“Ms. Gendu…Patty, this needs to be done within minutes of the child’s birth. Think of your boy not only living a happy, healthy life, but having more of than you or I could ever dream of. No worries about illnesses like cancer or AIDS. Alleviated of the stresses of this terrible world we of disease live in.”
“Okay, okay, you’ve made your point. Many, many times. Give him the injection and then give me my frickin’ child!”
“Okay, just sign here, and here, and date here, and initial here. This just says that you allowed us to do this experimental procedure and that Carmine will be able to be tracked throughout his life to see the outcome of this medication. Now, here is your beautiful son. With a full head of thick, black hair already.”
“Like I said, he’s a very Italian boy.”
“Thank you for your cooperation in this project, Patty. We will contact you from time to time just to check on you and Carmine and give you updates, if there are any, on the procedure we have used today. Oh, and remember, you must never, ever tell your son what we have done here today. I’m sure he will figure it out at some point in life, but if he doesn’t, he will be told at the age of 50.”
“Yeah, yeah, now, don’t I get some alone time with my kid?”
Television Reporter – The latest new rage this year is a new procedure, at least that’s what medical professionals are calling it, that allows newborns to be given a one-time-only shot, almost like a vaccine, that will supposedly make them live forever. Doctors say that since our life expectancy has lowered so much in the last twenty years, this miracle shot could cause the world to become balanced again and that humanity will not be wiped out as soon as has been predicted. Not only will this group of children get to live forever, but the experimental drug may prove to be useful in other ways, as medical professionals see these babies growing up and there being different uses for their blood, such as cures for illnesses and maybe even a cure, or at the very least, a vaccine for the Pigbat Plague. The children who have received this miracle injection are a special group born in 2027 only. They will be tracked throughout their lives until a certain age, and then made aware that they have the power to outlive anything on this earth. Not all children born this year have received the drug as some parents were very much against it, and there was a cap at how many participants there would be. We will continue to cover this story for a few days but have then been asked to no longer talk about it, due to its confidentiality agreements.
“Hear that, little Carmine. You’re one of those bambinis. You may get a boo-boo now and then, but Mommy will make that all better. And Mommy won’t ever have to worry too much about her little boy running into the street or falling off the monkey bars, because my baby cannot die.”
I’m really not much of a talker. I need to tell someone what’s going on. It is March 23rd. 3/23. Today is my 23rd, 23rd birthday. My name is Carmine Genduso. And today, I will try to die. Today, is the 23rd time I will try to die.
Andrea E. Lodge resides in Philadelphia with her husband and two disabled cats; Budgie, with only three legs, no tail and who is constantly drooling, and Loki, AKA Poki, AKA, Pokapotamus (because he weighs 20 pounds), a Scottish fold with only one folded ear. She studied English/Secondary Education at Holy Family University and taught middle and high school Writing and Literature after graduating. She is now a full-time Writer and something resembling an artist. She has had several poems featured on Spillwords, two pieces included in an anthology by Havik, several poems and some prose in different issues of Alien Buddha Press’ Feminist Agenda, The Alien Buddha’s Block Party: Blackout Poetry, Alien Buddha’s Zine #12 and Alien Buddha’s Zine #21, her poem, Screaming at Tiffany’s, was in the 12th issue of Voice of Eve magazine. She has also had some work featured in Danse Macabre’s Entrée DM 123 and DM 125: Fete de Noel. She has also been featured in the Winter edition of Soul Lit’s online ‘zine, 2019. As of late, Andrea has written reviews for the books Evocare (Ayo Gutierrez, Eileen Tabios, Brian Cain Aene) and The Tears I Never Told You (JinQue RD). Andrea has also edited The Tears I Never Told You and Are You Ready? (Ayo Gutierrez, Gigi D. Sunga, Ph.D.) She has most recently had her poetry featured in the anthology, Scentsibility, a book of poetry related to the senses.