“We Are CRASS” is the corporate slogan for Kankakee debt-collection firm Credit Recovery Associates (CRASS), LLC.
CRASS CEO Mack E. Avelli loves to find new ways to make money for the company. Because he is running out of fresh ideas, he decides to hold a meeting with the entire staff.
“Anything to get some time off the phones, eh?” Dale Davis giggles to Linda Stay, as they walk into the room. Sybil is seated in front with a cheesy grin on her face. Art Director and Sybil Kibble’s number-one crush Dorian James is slumped in the very back row, hand running through his wavy, auburn hair. Sybil stares at her crush, who has made it clear to her many times he is not interested, and prefers the company of men. Accounts Receivable Chief Tara Bull is seated upright and uptight near Lead Debt Collector Sybil Kibble. Mikey Philips works his way into the room, along with Konrad Teirant, who is tired from having to resolve a conflict last night at his megaplex.
Mr. Avelli makes his presence in the room and the chatter subsides, eyes on the CEO.
“Good morning. It is 11:00. We have an hour to come up with the best ways to maximize revenue for our facility. The most creative ideas will be chosen. Give me your best and brightest ways to bring more income to our company. Who will go first?”
Sybil’s arm darts up.
“I’ve got an idea,” Sybil exclaims.
“We can advertise,” Dale suggests.
“Not a bad idea. Advertising takes out of our bottom line and can take away from our profits if it does not provide a return on investment. Who else has an idea?”
“Oohh, oooh!” Sybil gasps as she gets more excited about her idea.
“We can go on the news and talk about our services. Some companies use a public relations firm to pitch advertising stories as news. It might be a lot cheaper than advertising.” Tara Bull mentions.
“That is considered yellow journalism and thus unethical…not a bad idea. I will consider it.”
“Pick me, pick me!”
“Yes, Sybil…” Mack sighs to Ms. Kibble.
“I have an idea that will certainly make us money! Since we are debt collectors and we mail people collections letters that people just throw out, why don’t we disguise the Dunning letters as checks and people will open them instead!”
“That’s brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that before?” Mack E. Avelli boasts as he thanks Sybil for her idea.
The letters, which were designed by the CRASS Art Department have been mailed out to the debtors.
Calls come in, but not the ones Sybil was expecting.
“Hi Sybil? Yes, I’d like to order a pizza.”
“Is this Credit Recovery? I heard you were offering me some money! I am sure broke and can use it!”
“I like blondes. Are you single?”
Unbeknownst to Sybil, her name and photo were used on the letters! Leave it to her rival and crush, Dorian James, to pull a fancy trick like that.
Maybe disguising collections letters as checks is not such a great idea, after all.
Sybil goes home and drowns her troubles in a big bowl of Alpo.
After her influencer application got rejected for PooPourri, Manteno entertainer, communal narcadoodle and Queen of the Porcelain Throne Bernadette Cacca contemplates her next idea, hoping to pitch it to the Buckstars baristas who pretend to care, but of course, don’t. Bernadette is on a campaign to promote irregularity.
Bernadette Cacca nearly runs over JoAnn Kibble in the coffee line at the Bourbonnais Buckstars. She really needs to go number two but can’t. Bern and her enabler extraordinaire, fellow Turdologist and zombie Greg Schneissder, wait by the rubbish sacks. She cannot wait to burn her poopies again.
Mrs. Kibble walks over to the garbage pails to toss away her old cup. “Excuse my reach” she says as she reaches in front of the self-proclaimed Queen of the Porcelain Throne.
“Same,” the entitled brat Bernadette snarks as undead Greg stands by her side, both practically on the receptacle containing the garbage sacks.
Konrad Teirant takes a break from cooking the CRASS books to drink down a drink that’s brown, taking along his wife Madeline Topolla-Teirant to the Buckstars, who had left work early at her job mismanaging Kankakee’s Best Low Budget Apartments.
Bored out of his skull, Kon looks to his right and starts chatting up two college students who recently moved to Kankakee from the Middle East. Visions of converting these young, impressionable minds to Flat-Earthers fill the other-wise empty head of the fool that is Mr. Teirant.
“Where are you from?”
“Iraq,” the young lady replies.
“I moved here from Iran,” the Kon-Man bold-faced lies, hoping to gain rapport with the potential converts, using his foolish assumption that all Middle Eastern countries are the same.
“Aren’t you from Aroma Park?” the college student asks.
“Anyway, I own a multiplex here in Bourbonnais. I have traveled all over the world, went down to South America during the pandemic. They let me go despite the travel restrictions…” the grandiose narcissist Konrad continues spinning his played-out yarns, spouse Madeline by his side, staring off into the distance hoping her hubby shuts up.
“And Australia. I would go there, but it’s not a real place. Just a fantasy made up by the globe-heads.”
The two 20-somethings roll their collective eyes.
“The world is flat you see. Take a brochure from me, and get a dollar off a matinee at Cinema-13 if you join The Flat Earth Society.”
The two ladies grab their coffees and go, leaving behind the Kon-man, his wife and the leaflet.
“What is up with that one tenant who never comes our of her apartment? Tamika? She is a mystery. I bet she holds parties in there, has gold bars in her closet and keeps all sorts of gentleman suitors!” the nosey Madeline Topolla-Teirant asks her husband Konrad.
“This is the biggest zit I ever popped! Look at all that fatty oil stuff! Thar she blows!”
“Guys it’s time to partteeeeee!” Kankakee’s Best Low-Budget Apartments Owner, sociopath and dumpster clown Madeline Topolla-Teirant commands as she fakes a smile.
Our first act is The Chickenheads! Rappers Ty-Fowl and D-Fail from 601B and 706B!
A slow clap emerges out of the awkward silence.
“We’re poor, we’re poor and we don’t score.
We’re poor, we’re poor and we don’t score.
Every hoop we shoot is a whiff!
Every shot we make is a miss…”
“Why won’t this go down? Darn it. I forgot this FussPot only takes four sheets of half-ply toilet paper and I used five!”
Tamika Euforia calls her landlord. Kankakee’s Best Low-Budget Apartments’ answering machine picks up. Tamika calls twice more. Sadly, Tamika again goes to voicemail jail.
Meanwhile, her toilet overflows and rains down on the party below.
The crowd screams and disperses. Madeline runs upstairs.
“Oh good, glad you came.”
“What did you put down your toilet?”
“Umm, poop and pee.“
“We were having a party down there and I had to come all the way up one flight of stairs to fix YOUR toilet!” the dumpster-clown huffs, puffs.
“Did I rain on your parade?” Tamika giggles as she leaves her unit, heading up to Chicago to have fun for a change.
Kankakee County’s Vaudeville troupe Moronic Half-Assets (MHA) boasts they put people first, as they have all the entertainment with half the budget.
Master of Ceremonies, Cinema-13 owner and CRASS Chief Cook of the Books Konrad Teirant tells really bad jokes. Meanwhile his wife Madeline “Madwoman” Topolla-Teirant juggles chainsaws and tries to balance on a large ball. Robbie Hurlbutt does his best Elvis impersonation
Since their show attendance has been rather non-existent, the Teirants invite their kids Bratley, Chanel # 6 and * to watch the Aroma Park couple and their Kankakee buddy Robbie perform, becoming the first audience members ever.
Since their kids are the only people in attendance that night, the MHA audience again dwindles down to a mere goose egg since they get bored watching their parents’ lame act and walk out.
Catch their tour across the United States (or not):
“Oh boy. Ooh boy, oh boy, oh boy. I am going to win this contest!” Bourbonnais cinema clerk, neckbeard and communal narcissist Damien Hurlbutt thinks out loud as he shakes off his just-washed hands on the men’s room floor. “Who are you talking to?” a theater customer asks? “Oh nothing, nothing.” Damien insists and walks back to the ticket counter and reads his Fakebook wall.
“Kankakee County Surprise Beauty Contest — For Men and Women — A secret panel will judge a body part of all who participate! Find out just what at the end! Enter now to support the Kankakee County Crotch Rocketeers and Imbecile Machinists Motor Club.”
“I alwahz wanted to win a beauty test. My orange neckbeard and black fedora is sure to impress M’ladies!”
“Damien! Those popcorn sacks are not filled high enough. Do you know what a popcorn sack looks like? How long have you worked here?” Kankakee Cinema-13 owner Konrad Teirant demands.
“I know, I know,” Damien grumbles as he heads back to doing something productive.
Damien ends his shift and heads over to the County Fairgrounds to enter the beauty contest. One other contestant meets him there, a 50-something, slim, plain looking, mustachioed man by the name of Dale Davis.
Damien and Dale fill out the necessary paperwork. Of course, Damien skips ahead and enters the line to complete his paperwork to ensure he goes first. After he wraps up, Damien eavesdrops on Dale:
“Dale Francis Davis. Yup. Five foot eleven. One hundred and seventy pounds. I am 54 years young. Shoe size? Ummm…nine I guess.” Dale signs his name and heads toward his pickup truck.
Damien drives home to plot his winning scheme. Damien is a real winner.
After Damien gets home to his one-bedroom Bourbonnais apartment, he walks through his massive hoard contained mostly in towering, toppling boxes and sits down in his folding chair at the TV tray holding his desktop computer.
Damien logs onto Fakebook, after having cleared his history every time he uses his machine even though nobody else lives in his neckbeard nest.
Damien logs onto the Kankakee County People and Opinions Fakebook group using his newly stolen identity, “Sarah Turppa”, thanks to his brother Robbie and his new side venture.
As “Sarah”, Damien posts:
What a disgusting little turd, that Dale Davis, ripping people off judges with his crappy body. He is related the the committee! He needs to be disqualified!” Damien tags the wrongfully accused Dale in his smear campaign, hoping to triangulate other citizens against him.
Poor Dale Davis. Damien and Robbie tag team posting on a bunch of local Fakebook and Instaphoto groups under various stolen and made up accounts accusing Dale, the only other contestant competing against Damien in the Kankakee County Surprise Beauty Contest, of fraudulent entry.
Dale Davis logs on and is feeling overwhelmed with the sheer volume of posts.
“Is this is the same person writing over and over? Your posts all sound alike.” Dale replies to one of the harassing messages.
“No, Dale. It is called having friends, which we see you don’t” Damien comments as “Clio Bersola”, another stolen account.
Dale decides he has had enough and leaves the toxic group.
Damien takes a two hour shower to prepare for the beauty contest. After running across the washroom floor, out the door to grab his towel in the bedroom, Damien shakes off like a dog. Before walking around looking like Homer Simpson in his tighty-whities, Damien aims his blowdrier at his manhood just like he does his orange neckbeard.
“Putt.” Damien ripped another one. “Pardon me. Pheeeeew!”
“Pppphhht!” Damien keeps on lifting his leg and letting them rip.
“Pardon me, pheeeew!” Damien exclaims with great pride.
Damien dons his “Rule #1: I Am Alwahz Right” tee he designed himself, and walks out the door leaving the bathroom light and fan running because he does not care.
The one cop that travels up and down the main drag in Bourbonnais and Bradley did not bat an eye when Damien forgot to signal. He also did not notice that Damien forgot to put on his lights on this evening. “I have a quarter tank. The yellow light is not on yet, no need to stop for gas. I will zogg on over to Kankakee,” Damien thinks to himself after passing several filling stations. “Ahhh, I am here.” Damien strokes his neckbeard.”
Damien greets the judges in front of the rather large crowd at the fairgrounds gathered for the beauty contest and shakes their hands, a crap-eating grin fills the face of Damien, who thinks he is dressed to impress.
Kankakee Crotch Rocketeers and Imbecile Machinists Motor Club president, Brandon Dixon, stands behind the podium ready to speak:
“Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please. My name is Brandon Dixon and I am president of the Kankakee Crotch Rocketeers and Imbecile Machinists Motor Club. I am proud owner of Brandon’s Imbecile Machines right here in Kankakee where all ladies receive a free rose. Come on down and I will make you a deal. We have word that our other contestant, Dale Davis dropped out. Without further ado, let us award the remaining contestant — Mr. Damien Hurlbutt — Kankakee County’s Stinkiest Feet Award! Man I can smell them from over here too!”
Brandon hands Damien his award.
“Doesn’t it feel good to win, Damien? Look at all those people out there, Damien.” Brandon says into the microphone.
“Come now…” Damien says.
“Go now, your feet stink!” Brandon says and the crowd roars with laughter. It is going to be a fun night at the fair. Damien heads out to his car, wanting to leave, only he cannot escape getting roasted after all. He is completely out of gas.
Back when I had just graduated high school and was looking forward to attending college, I applied for — and got — a job at a local drive-in movie theater. Despite the pressure put on young folks to get a job, employment was not easy to come by in a small city about to lose a couple tens of thousands of its people due to Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).
Despite the odds, I managed to get a part-time job working at one of the few remaining drive-in movie theaters in my state. The first day went well. My supervisor was impressed with my work ethic and ability to work with customers. He warned me about the theater owner; saying he will either love me or hate me.
The next day I met the person who would later become the main inspiration behind my character Konrad “Kon” Teirant, the CRASS Accounting Chief, Cinema-13 owner and Vaudeville troop Moronic Half Assets emcee. The theater owner put the skinny blonde girl up front to collect tickets, while placing heavyset and awkward goth chick me to work behind the scenes. He could not wait to complain.
“Fill that popcorn bag. No fill it up more. Does that look full to you? It does not take a genius to figure it out. Look, I don’t think it is going to work out.” Puzzled and stunned, I asked him what he meant. He told me to leave and not come back. I never got paid for the work I had done for him.
I remember calling up my cousin, crying because I had lost my job that summer I graduated. She called the theater owner “a tyrant”. I did not know that he was a grandiose narcissist, because narcissism was never talked about in our area. I wish they would teach about it in schools, the signs of these personality traits and how to avoid them. I also wish the boards in charge of school curricula would create reforms which mandate schools teach empathy skills.
I found out later that he owns a chain of theaters in the region. I saw him in a restaurant a few years later, bragging out loud about having been flown to Atlanta, and getting loaned an Armani suit to wear for whatever business deal he was trying to get, or “big bag” as he called it.
A few years later, I was sick as a dog on Christmas Day, and called into work at my then call-center job. I wrote a song about a character I called “King Tyrant.” I made a crude sketch of him holding a “big bag”. I played the song live a few times but it was not well received, and it was not very fun to play anyway.
In 2017, after having left an emotionally abusive relationship with a communal narcissist, I started writing and creating characters. I wrote a lot. I drew a lot. To cope with having been emotionally abused and being all on my own on the verge of suicide, I wrote short stories and launched MoronicArts. I drew my very first sketch of the now-renamed Konrad Teirant while receiving treatment for suicidal ideation in a psychiatric unit.
I can certainly say writing, drawing, and having zero contact with my emotionally abusive former husband have helped me heal a lot. I write to help people laugh and make myself giggle at the same time. Laughter is one of the best medicines, for me anyway and I hope to continue to pay it forward, as I would never wish what I went through on my worst enemy.
“Why does your brother Damien keep buying pool toys in the middle of Winter?” Wally Green asks his Illinois pharmacy-chain clerk, Kankakee Elvis impersonator and covert narcissist, Robbie Hurlbutt.
Robbie says nothing, chooses to ignore his boss and keeps on stocking shelves as he hopes to leave early so he can skip out on closing.
“Has he moved a body or something?” Wally says of Robbie’s equally creepy and narcissistic brother Damien.
Robbie ignores Wally, finishes stocking and sneaks out the door while the store owner is not looking so he can head down to the bar. First, he has to meet his speedball dealer.
Robbie, high on uppers, spends 20 minutes chatting up the bartender, while other customers grow impatient and angry as he is holding up the mixing of their cocktails and the pouring of their beers.
Robbie downs his downers and chases them with prescription painkillers he stole from his elderly mother PJ.
The inebriated Elvis impersonator texts his brother Damien, hoping he will join him and take him home, however after multiple selfies and text messages saying how much he loves his brother, Damien does not reply.
Cinema-13 clerk, bulbous neckbeard and communal narcadoodle Damien Hurlbutt strokes his dayglow-orange facial coiffe, and sets out a clipboard containing a sign-up sheet requesting email addresses for a newsletter. A theater customer walks up to the movie theater counter and asks what the newsletter is about. “It’s just a newsletter,” the sneaky narcissist Damien replies in his typical smug tone.
After the picture finishes its run and the ushers escort all the guests, Damien collects the newsletter sign-up sheet and heads to his Bourbonnais neckbeard-nest to sleep on the floor. Before he can retire for the night, he get annoyed over the mess of texts and photos from his brother Robbie. Damien would rather sleep in his mess of plastic tubs, and boxes of the things he loves more than people, than head back to Kankakee to pick up a drunk. Thinking he can gain something from helping his brother, he drives down to the Kankakee bar at which Robbie is performing slurred Elvis Presley Karaoke. The two bumbling idiots get into Damien’s beat-up van and head home.
“What about my purple clown car?” Robbie asks Damien.
“Get it tomorrow.”
Damien gets a text from a coworker whose birthday is coming up soon. Knowing well it is illegal to text and drive, Damien messages his coworker, lovebombing her about the $50 gift card he is going to buy her, bragging about the surprise she clearly expressed she did not feel comfortable accepting.
After nearly crashing, Damien flips off the other driver and heads to Robbie’s Kankakee apartment, crashing on his floor instead.
Damien and Robbie wake up to snow on the ground. Damien retells the same story about his father N. Ron’s obsession with the weather channels he has already bored Robbie with at least 80 times now. Robbie leaves the room, stumbling on record albums he dumped all over the floor to get to the bathroom. Even though he is terrified of getting locked in the washroom while pooping, Robbie wants to get away from Damien.
Robbie emerges, and Damien pulls out the newsletter sign-up sheet, filled with names and email addresses. “Hey Robbie, my number-one brother? I would love to ask a favor from you. Can you contact Pat Splatt and try to sell him these email addresses? I collected them to send out messages getting out the good things us tender-hearts at the Bourbonnais Men’s Rights Activist (MRA) Club can do to help us men fight misandry. I would like to sell him a copy because I need the money to buy my coworkers gifts. I spent my paycheck already on action figures.
“What’s in it for me?” Robbie asks his equally self-centered brother Damien.
“Well, our theater has an extra Gothic Diana Ross poster from when we sponsored her show a couple years back.”
“Sold.” Robbie grins ear-to-ear and dials up Kankakee criminal and email spammer Pat Splatt.
The Hurlbutt brothers drive over to Pat Splatt’s flat, where the straggly long-haired Pat is busy harvesting emails from the Internet using his Spam-O-Matic computer program. The three group together to organize their petty crime.
“Damien, I can pay you per email reply, that’s it.”
“Oh come now!”
“Oh go now, Damien. That is my final offer. Take it or leave it. I don’t have to offer you anything.”
“I know, I know, I know…” Damien says like a broken record, mimicking a certain furniture commercial emanating from Champaign.
Damien reluctantly hands Pat the photocopied sign-up list containing contact information he collected from unsuspecting moviegoers.
Damien then heads to Wally Green’s to buy more pool toys and chucks them in his bathroom. After whizzing, he washes his hands with far more water than he needs and sprinkles the water all over the bathroom floor, leaving on the bathroom light and fan because he does not care.
Damien begins typing up his MRA “newsletter” in a word-processor program on his 10 year old desktop computer, resting atop a wooden folding table, the only piece of furniture in the entire room. The rotund neckbeard emails his diatribe while wearing his graphic tee displaying the text:
it to you
But I can’t
it for you.”
A few days go by, however nobody takes Damien up on his offer to join the Bourbonnais MRA Club. Nobody clicks on the ads for the 21 Conference either.
Damien realizes he needs to get ready for work now so he can make it on time after taking his two-hour shower.
Mr. Hurlbutt walks into the theater barely on-time. His boss, theater owner Konrad Teirant, calls him into his office.
Damien’s heart sinks and he utters a melodramatic “gulp” as he walks over to Konrad’s office.
“Damien, you really dropped the ball this time. I have been receiving numerous complaints from customers who have been getting emails about some misogyny club.”
“This is unacceptable. They told me they signed up for a newsletter here? I never ordered you to or anyone else to put out a call for contact information. Do you want me to get sued?”
“Well…no” an embarrassed-because-caught Damien tells his boss.
“Damien, you have been working here a long time. You know that if we want to gather contact information so we can sell it, that would come from me. And only so I can profit, not you Damien. You’re not that important. Not at all. In fact, I can fire you at any time. I am telling you that because I am your friend. Oh by the way, why do you wear that dumb fedora? It looks stupid. And wash your beard. It smells. Don’t tell anyone we had this meeting. Go home and stay home the rest of this week. I will call you about next week’s hours.”
An excited Damien rushes home to play with his pool toys because he is happy he has the week off, not wondering at all if his boss will even call him back to work the next week.
“These stupid meds. I hate having to take them. Plus they’re so plop-happy! Plop, plop, plop. If I wanted them on the floor, I’d put them on the floor!” the former Mrs. Hurlbutt said about the medication she took to cope with the stress from her then-husband. Communal narcissist Damien Hurlbutt used neagtive humor to devalue his supply Lori whom he used to idealize, as his mask was crumbling.
“That’s so clowny. Why don’t you get a spice rack for your pill bottles, Lori?”
“Damien, you said that about 12 times before. It was not funny the first time.”
“Are you taking your Klownopin?” Damien asked wearing his clown outfit, and honked his bicycle horn for extra moronic effect.
Lori gladly left Champaign and her narcissistic ex-husband, multiplex clerk Damien, famous for writing these Lunacy Letters to mansplain psychology to Lori’s psychologist.
Damien got fired after several poor reviews from his boss, and moved to Bourbonnais to work at a multiplex owned by CRASS Chief Financial Officer Konrad Teirant.
Bourbonnais multiplex clerk, neckbeard and communal narcissist, Damien Hurlbutt, has caught word that his estranged former wife Lori is coming into Kankakee County for a doctor’s appointment. He is deathly afraid of running into her because he is scared she might confront him about his history of verbal abuse toward her, tarnishing his squeaky-clean image. He heads over to his brother Robbie’s apartment to ask him and fellow con man Pat Splatt to come up with a sneaky way into avoiding her.
“I’m back!” Damien tells his younger brother and fellow narcissist, Robbie.
“I’m front!” Robbie snickers back.
“I am leaving town for a week or longer. I am telling my boss at the cinema and then hitting the gas. My ex-wife is coming back into town and I am scared.”
“Scared?” Robbie replies in his typical faux-Elvis voice.
“Yeah. Sssh, don’t tell anyone. I really look good online after I smear campaigned her to all my friends, even to that famous couple until they had told me to stop messaging them, sending them presents and mailing them weekly postcards. I had sent them a drawing I made all by myself after our friend passed away since I had talked them into letting me send them art instead. I swear, they are really impressed! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!” Damien exclaims with glee as he rubs his palms together.
“Just man up and deal with it!” Robbie Hurlbutt tells his older brother Damien.
“Come now. That is not how you talk to a fellow Men’s Rights Activist! You know that!” Damien says on the defense to Robbie.
“I hope you get the time off approved.”
“Okay, okay, okay, okay…” Damien repeats ad nauseum, not knowing his little brother Robbie is already out of earshot.
“You’re wrong!” Damien snickers beneath his breath to the person at Robbie’s door.
A half-grinning Pat Splatt opens the door and struts inside.
“I popped the question!”
“What question?” Damien asks.
“Heyyyy…where did you meet her?” Robbie replies and looks away.
“Hey Pat, my ex is coming into town and I am feeling lukecold about this. I was wondering if you could help come up with a scheme—“
“Damien, I just got engaged!”
“I know, I know. My ex is due in sometime this week. I would like to gingerly bow out of town but I have to work. What do you suggest I do?”
“Hey, can I sing at your wedding, Pat?” Kankakee’s number one Elvis impersonator, the one and only Robbie Hurlbutt asks.
“Do you know anything besides Elvis?”
“I can sing lots of oldies.” Robbie replies.
“Do you play any metal?”
“No, but you can book me really cheap. I will throw in my groovy dance moves for free.”
“I’ll consider it.” Pat says to Robbie.
“So where did you meet her?” Robbie asks.
“The dating app OKStupid. Hey, I’ll show you guys a picture.” Pat gets out his phone and opens up said dating app.
“Who’s Daniel Sprague?” Damien asks.
“Oh, that’s my profile,” a half-embarrassed Pat replies as his gawky, straggly self shows the Hurlbutt brothers the obviously-stolen photos of the handsome, athletic man in the photos with the gorgeous hair and eyes.
The Hurlbutts smile and ask to see his new girl.
“Her name is Alix. She’s from South Africa.”
“When did you meet her?” Damien asks.
“Oh, a month ago.”
“She came to Kankakee?” Robbie asks?
“Hey Damien, let’s work on avoiding your ex,” Pat says to change the topic and the three work on scheming.
The next day arrives and so does Damien. Unlike Pat, Damien rings the bell and waits. While he waits, he taps his foot and jiggles the doorknob a dozen times. Make it a baker’s dozen.
“Well doesn’t that put poop in your soup?” Damien asks Robbie.
“My time off did not get approved. I have to work. That means if my ex-wife comes into town, and visits the theater, she could say something bad about me if I am mean to her! What do I do?”
“Weren’t you saying you had heel spurs, just like the former president?”
“You know, the Moon landing may not be real but darn it, my bone spurs are!” Damien sternly replies.
“You deserve a long, hard week off.”
“You know, that’s right. I’ll just call in.”
“What do you do at that theater anyway?”
“Oh, make copies of tickets and give them away. And make color copies of things I print out…all on the company’s dime. Why not? They’re paying for it.”
The brothers share a giggle and Damien drives home to his neckbeard nest to sleep on the floor.
Damien dials his supervisor, Cinema-13 owner Konrad Teirant, on his ten year old flip phone to call in “sick.”
“You will need to be examined by a doctor and have a written excuse for each day you are out. Company policy.” Konrad says to Damien.
Upset and surprised by this rule, Damien makes an appointment to be seen. The office cannot tells him he cannot in until next week.
“Phew!” Damien says aloud after he hangs up his ancient flip phone and writes down his doctor appointment.
Damien drives over to Robbie’s apartment, where Robbie, his roommate Andy Skandees and Pat Splatt are all watching TV.
A bulbous Damien sits down on the basket chair and nearly falls out, while Pat stares angrily at his phone on the couch next to Andy, who is relaxing in his white tank top and cargo pants.
“She says she wants to come meet me. In person. I keep telling her I am busy. She says she is on her way to Kankakee in a week-and-a-half for a business meeting via way of Chicago!” an unhappy Pat exclaims.
“Why don’t you want to meet your girl? Andy asks.
“Reasons,” Pat replies.
“Did I tell you my story about the poop elves?” Damien asks with a large grin on his face.
“Way too many times…” the rest of the room answers in unison.
“Oh, I forgot.” Damien lies.
The Kankakee storm rages on, and then changes to sun five minutes later.
Damien spends the next week off work, feeling glad he does not run into his former wife out and about, especially at work. It is review week coming up and he is deathly afraid of this time of year, as he is every year. Damien lives to impress, and will not even let his peers throw him a birthday party because he is not the one doing the impressing. If anyone would care enough to surprise him —not that they would — he would take over the check, (in a not-so-polite-way) and insist on paying on it himself thinking that would somehow impress them.Damien only does this for image, as he only cares about himself. He just wants to look good to cover up his lack of empathy.
Damien goes to the doctor’s office the following Monday before returning to work at the movie theater that night. After all, he had just spent a week off for his heel spurs!
While waiting for about an hour for his fifteen minute exam, in walks a familiar-looking woman, along with a much older lady. Damien looks up.
“Oh gawd.” Lori says to her friend after briefly looking over at Damien and then back at her friend.
Damien is now shaking with fear. He immediately dials up Robbie. It goes straight to voicemail. He calls Andy. Same thing. He calls Pat.
“Hey, man. It’s an emergency.”
“Be right over. I am charging you double-time.”
Damien flips over his bronze-age phone and waits, tapping his fingers, whistling audibly.
Thirty minutes pass and Damien has not been called back to see the doctor, neither has Lori.
Pat Splatt walks in, cowboy boots a-clomping.
“Hi Damien. What’s going—“
Damien points across from him, to his former wife and her friend.
“What do you want from me?” Pat asks.
“That’s my ex wife! I thought her appointment was last week! You gave me the info.”
“So what. Things change. It happens.”
“Hey, you sound familiar!” says one of the ladies across from him.
“Hey-hhmm-hhuhhh—hmmm—what?” a melodramatic Damien replies.
“No not you, that guy next to you.” the elderly lady replies in her Cape Town accent, appearing to be about 72.
“You mean Pat?” Damien snarkily replies.
“Pat? I thought your name was Daniel!”
“Alllll-iiiiixxxx?” a stunned Pat Splatt replies.
“Yes, sonny. It’s me. I had told you I was coming into town. But you hadn’t wanted to meet me. I wonder why not? You do not look anything like your picture. The engagement is off.”
“Well neither do you!” Pat exclaims.
“Calm down everyone!” a staff member shouts from behind a window.
The group of people waiting wonder how any of them would get any calmer by a comment like that.
Damien is eventually thrown out of the office and Lori is called in next.
Needless to say, Damien does not pass his yearly review at Teirant Cinema-13. Poor Damien. If only he had just tried to be nice. But then again, he would not be Damien.
He downvotes all her Utube videos even though she blocked him all social media, as a glitch still allows blocked users to downvote. Damien clearly needs a hobby.
Detroit’s Rachel Shelley gets into a huge fight with her lover and fellow narcissist Damien. She is tired of hearing him complain about his ex-wife Lori.
Rachel chucks a bunch of Damien’s hoarded crap into the dumpster while he is out at work.
She leaves him for her side piece, Kankakee heroin addict and loser Leon Peeonne. She has had enough.
Damien downvotes Rachel’s and Leon’s videos on Utube while he is sitting behind the counter at work, thinking nobody is looking. In walks his supervisor, Konrad Teirant, theater owner, who suspends Damien for a week.
Damien comes home in the middle of the night after working the late night shift at the theater to discover all the things he loved more than Rachel — toys, children’s coloring books, $35 ornaments, $75 toys, $600 figures — gone. He jiggles his apartment doorknob repeatedly to check for home invaders, nothing. He calls out for Rachel. No reply.
Damien walks past the remaining boxes in his neckbeard nest, mostly empty — save for a few towels, ratty graphic tees and unused pots and pans — and thinks that Rachel has left with all her belongings. Think again.
Damien heads out to the dumpster outside his apartment and dives in, digging for his lost treasures. He throws a few boxes overboard. Damien continues to dig. Meanwhile a sound is heard in the background: