Bright-Ass Moon

Image of Short Story
I lost my job on a Friday, and I went home with this strange, weighted feeling about me.
Jim, my now-former boss, is a good guy. He let me know about the situation instead of just canning me.
It was right after lunch and I was at the vending machines getting Peanut M&M’s. It was a Friday like any other. I assumed I’d be coming in to work on Saturday.
Jim came over and started talking to me about how the Jeffs, these two assholes that run the shop floor, apparently wanted me gone. He was willing to go to bat for me, but rather than put Jim through the stress of having to defend me when I know I’m not particularly good at my job, I just bowed out gracefully without any fuss. I gathered all my shit and shook a few hands on my way out. The two people I talked to seemed surprised I was leaving.
It was a good job — 30 dollars an hour, which seems like a fortune in this climate, but I still just get by. I’ve saved ten grand which means I have time to find another job.
Still, the situation rocked me some. There’s still this fear that tugs at me, that weighted feeling I mentioned earlier. I do my best to ignore it, thinking of all the options I could pursue and writing them down on my iPhone’s notepad.
I go home and try to take a nap but I keep getting the sensation that I’m falling.
So instead I jerk off to Pornhub for four continuous hours. By the time I finally shoot my load, it’s getting dark outside and a thunderstorm has come and gone.
I clean myself up and feel pretty down about everything. I’m 31 and I don’t know what to do with my life and now I don’t have an income. I second guess my leaving so quickly — I could’ve gotten unemployment, although I tell myself I’d rather not do that anyway. I don’t like taking shit for nothing.
I decide to pray. It’s something I do somewhat often, but it’s always on the fly. I rarely get on my knees and pour my thoughts out to God formally.
I kneel down by the side of the bed and fold my hands. I bow my head and find myself staring right into a six-inch long skidmark fresh from my asshole, rubbed into the sheets from my marathon jerk off session.
It smells vile and so I take a moment to strip the bed. I remember I have no new bed sheets. It’s fine, though, because the sheets I just stripped were flannel and its June so it’s time to take those off anyway.
I kneel again and say a quick prayer into the mattress cover, thanking God for all the good in my life and for the job in the first place, and I ask for him to help me find my way on this new path. I cross myself and stand up.
I’m still feeling that weighted loneliness, though, so I call my old high school and college buddy Fillmore and see if he wants to come get bedsheets with me. I haven’t seen him in about two months.
“Yeah, it’ll be just like that time we got you socks,” he says.
I drive over to his place and we end up going out for a beer. I tell him about the day and he expresses sympathy and offers an ear like the good friend he is.
We go to Jameson’s, this Irish-themed place, and he buys my beer for me. I get a Leinenkugel Summer Shandy and we both get Hooligan burgers. I can’t finish mine.
We talk about other stuff, what we’ve been up to. Fillmore’s unemployed himself so he has a lot of free time.
The NBA Finals are on and neither of us watch basketball but the intensity of the game draws us in. We comment to each other on how much we hate sports.
“Bunch of rich assholes caught up in their stupid game,” I say.
“As if throwing a ball around were important,” says Fillmore.
We watch LeBron James furiously argue with Kevin Durant over a call.
Later, I drive Fillmore to Meijer and I get a set of pristine white bed sheets. I'm not sure what they’re made of, but they’re the right size so whatever. They’re 40 dollars. I’m going to be carefully tallying every dollar I spend for the foreseeable future.
On the way back to his place, I tell Fillmore I don’t want to be in the controls industry anymore. I don’t fit in, have no talent or passion for what I’m doing, and the money I make doesn’t compensate for the hours I work and the time I lose with friends and family as a result. But if I choose to do anything else, I’ll likely be dirt poor. There seem to be no good options, but I keep saying I’ll figure something out.
He commiserates. We both went to the same college for radio and TV production and the Recession happened right as we were graduating. We were quickly schooled in the lessons of the real world and we haven’t had any illusions about our lives ever since. We take what we can get, although Fillmore’s got a good deal because he’s got an inheritance from his grandparents and he lives with his parents rent-free in this really classy, nice old house on Star Lake. Both of us would like satisfying careers that also pay enough to live comfortably, which is asking a lot these days.
“We’re creatives, you and me,” he says in the car. “Not everyone is cut out out to be a lawyer or a doctor or an accountant.”
“Right, but there’s no money in what we’re good at unless you’re insanely connected,” I say.
After we get back to his place we sit in the old 1963 Volkswagon Beetle he got a year ago for 8 grand off this guy he found on Craigslist. He’d always wanted one and he saved up for it. It’s got a dented hood with a giant novelty Band-Aid on it but overall it’s in decent shape. The former owner put a lot of money into the engine and it looks really clean and healthy for such an old car.
Fillmore talks about how he wants to put in a radio and how he needs to get the hood replaced and the insurance worked out before he can take it on the road for long trips. He says it’s nerve-wracking to drive, like you’re cruising along in a tin can. But he loves the thing. He says 45 mph is its favorite speed.
I sit in the driver’s seat and feel the thin steering wheel and the thin gear shift and he puts the sunroof back and we sit there in the garage like that just chilling and talking about the Beetle. He opens the hood and shows me where the spare tire would go and we look at the engine, too.
I’m getting tired but we walk down to the lake. Fillmore put the dock in this year and his family’s speedboat is sitting in the black water. He says he’s thinking of taking it out on Sunday.
The lake looks incredible in the moonlight. There’s a full June moon out in the inky sky and it casts this milky pallor over everything. The water looks like silk and the dock creaks as we stand on it.
“Bright-ass moon,” I comment. “Everything’s lit up like daytime on a dimmer or something.”
“That could be a song name,” Fillmore says.
We walk back up to the cars and say our farewells. I tell him I’ll talk to him soon. He says, “Sorry about the job, but you’ll be all right, just sucks not knowing what you’re going to do next.” I tell him I’ll try to look at this as an opportunity.
We give each other an awkward, one-armed hug and then I’m in the car and out the driveway.
I drive home on the freeway under the robust full moon, only a few other travelers with me. I keep waiting for the fear and loneliness to take me over but, thankfully, it never does.