For Bourbonnais cinema clerk, communal narcissist, and neckbeard Damien Hurlbutt, invalidation of others’ feelings has always been one heck of a drug.
”Hey Damien? Why does Buckstars wrap all their plastic utensils in even more plastic?”
”Well actually, Lori…I was watching the Angery Game Nerd Show on PooTube and the host gets mad there is not enough packaging. After all, plastics makers need to make money too…“ Damien the self-proclaimed “nice guy” said to his ex wife at their former home in Champaign. Lori Brown – whom Damien calls “Grimace” – has been happily divorced from the Bourbonnais cinema clerk who sent her doctors lunacy letters, thinking he knew more about psychology than…um…an actual psychologist?
Have you known someone like Damien? I hope not. Lori would not wish his abuse on her worst enemy.
Clio Bersola spots the temper-tantrums of Bourbonnais cinema clerk, neckbeard and communal narc-a-doodle Damien Hurlbutt in the “Nice Guys Looking For The Finish Line” Men’s Rights Activist (MRA) themed group on Fakebook, under her alias JG Wayne.
Best friend of Damien’s verbally abused and rightfully estranged ex-wife Lori, Clio messages him and fake-agrees with him over IM on so many points, stringing him along. They become instant friends, soulmates, solely in Damien’s “old-soul” nitwit brain.
Damien swiftly asks Clio out on a date because he is so impressed. Wow, someone like him, the last of his species! Umm…yeah.
They agree to meet up at Ma Barker’s restaurant in Chicago. Little does Damien know what is in store for him.
Damien complains about the entire drive up Route 57, and nearly gets rear-ended getting off 90/94. Clio parks at a friend’s house and takes the train.
The two meet up at Ma Barker’s. Damien is wearing a red feather in the brim of his brand new, black fedora as Clio had instructed.
The place is rather large, decked out in gangster memorabilia, reproduction crime scene evidence, Ma Barker photos and those of her famous outlaw sons.
Clio instantly recognizes Damien — a spitting-image of Squirrely Dan minus the ball-cap — whistling loudly to himself, orange neckbeard aglow.
“There’s my lovely Men’s Rights Activist!”
“M’lady, m’dame!” Damien says to Clio as the two embrace, Damien hugging more tightly than Clio.
The two sit down and chat. Conversations flow rather quickly and Damien rambles on about how he was about to give up on love in a month or two had he not met Clio.
“I was about to tuck my heart away forever, had I not met you. So many women treated me badly, especially my ex-wife Grimace. She is so fat and ugly, eeew. She ate so much fast food and begged me for $50 a day. Fifty dollars! My life is complete now I met you!” Damien gushes to Clio, not even respectful enough to call his former bride by her name.
Clio shudders a bit inside and then gets excited. “The Time is Now” by Moloko plays over the restaurant loudspeakers.
“I have something I would like to ask you, Damien.”
Clio takes Damien’s hand. It is the first time he has been touched since he and his wife divorced. Damien’s grin widens.
“What is it with you so-called ‘Men’s Rights Activists anyway? Don’t you have anything better to do than complain about your privileges?’”
Damien snaps his hand away from Clio.
“Huh-whom-who-why-hwat?” Damien snips, pauses, adds extra “whoooos” and “huhhhs” for melodrama.
An awkward silence passes by as Damien coldly glares into Clio’s eyes. Meanwhile, Clio fills with anticipation, and smiles inside.
“You women are awful. Misandry is the real problem, WOMAN. Men get kicked in the nuts on TV. You people give us a hard time for this fake thing called mansplaining. Men are always the butt of women’s jokes. We are oppressed all the time and your feminism is the cause! You women are horrible! You are a horrible person who will be alone forever! You’re psycho!”
Damien gets up from his seat and goes to the couple next to him.
The couple roll their collective eyes and go back to eating.
Damien stomps over to a family across the room.
“See that skinny woman sitting by herself at that table? With the dark brown hair? She is crazy. Stay away from her. I am trying to help and she won’t listen.”
The mother gives Damien the stinkeye and motions to protect her kids should Damien harass them again.
Mr. Hurlbutt huffs, puffs, and sits down by himself with his head planted squarely on the table, hand stroking his neon orange neckbeard. He adjusts his fedora, and tries to slam the red feather down, only for it to fly away.
Clio heads for the kitchen, to speak with her former coworkers.
“I am getting harassed. Can you please call the police?”
“That neckbeard dude throwin’ a fit? We already had some complaints. Hang tight. I got ya back.”
Damien storms toward the kitchen.
“Pardon me, sorry to interrupt your important work. See that woman there? She–”
“Find your own way home, Damien,” the server commands.
Damien refuses to leave and sits in the men’s washroom farting away, wishing he could brag about his poop size to an unsuspecting young lady.
The Chicago Police Department hauls away the unwanted person, Mr. Damien Ulysses Hurlbutt and puts him in the holding tank with a bunch of other smelly, sweaty men.
Clio meets up with her buddy — the former Mrs. Hurlbutt — and they have dinner together, laughing and giggling all night long.
Damien taps away at the cold cell floor, much to the annoyance of his cellmates.
“Socks with sandals?” a fellow inmate complains as he stares at Damien’s feet. “Grrrrr.”
“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.
“Oh man, I want to see the new movie Aim High but the tickets are all sold out. It opens this Friday, you know, the one based on the newest Nora Roberts book?” Dorian James rambles.
“Never heard of it.” Sybil tells Dorian in the CRASS cafeteria as she crunches her dog biscuits.
“I want to see it when it comes out, but the tickets are sold out because it is a Valentine’s Day movie.”
Sybil has a few extra minutes before she logs onto the phones, so she searches OKStupid for potential dates, reacting to herself as she reads through the personal ads.
“41 year old man in Chicago seeks female. Must be 18-25 and love sports.”
“Do you like big trucks? 21 year old guy, loves beer, weed, works hard and plays hard, no games.”
Naw, I like the occasional backgammon.
“Rare frog, last of his species, seeks woman of any age to give him a kiss. Very polite tender-heart. Age 45. Bourbonnais.”
Just a photo of his feet? A bit odd, but I can try I guess.
Before Sybil has a chance to message the stinky feet from Bourbonnais, he emails her.
Sybil and the mystery man email back and forth. They hit it off right away. The divorced man complains a lot about his ex-wife, which Sybil tunes out. Sybil talks about her love of lawnmowers and dog food, which the guy ignores only to interrupt her about his “poop elves” story.
It’s a Valentines Day in Kankakee. The birds are chirping and Sybil is tweeting online about how excited she is about her new man and the mystery gifts he keeps teasing her about.
It is 11:30 and Sybil is on the phone trying to double down on debt. Operations Manager Mike Philips comes by with a delivery.
“Flowers for Sybil!”
Sybil hangs upon the debtor and immediately logs off the telephones. The long, green and cream box, sealed with packing tape, came from New Jersey. Sybil gets out her scissors. She struggles for 20 minutes and finally opens the box. Inside are 12 longstemmed roses individually attached to the box by hard plastic fasteners.
Sybil’s frustration grows as her scissors are not enough to loosen the delicate roses from their restraints, so she grabs a set of pliers from her drawer after five minutes of searching.
Finally, the flowers are out. Thankfully, the potential suitor included a vase. Sybil goes to the ladies’ washroom, fills the vase with water from the sink, and puts the haphazard bouquet on her desk.
Sybil calls her mystery man to thank him.
“You just won Valentine’ Day!” he says to her.
“I did?” Sybil sighs.
“Well, did anyone else get as much as you today?” He asks.
“I do not know. I did not look…and I am not that impressed by gifts. I am more of an acts of service person. I like when people do stuff for me,” Sybil tells the gentleman.
“Look in the box, Sybil.”
She looks in the box. She uncovers a movie ticket.
“You and I can go to the opening of Aim High tonight! I cannot wait to meet you!” he says.
“You sound familiar. What is your name, mine is Sybil.”
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.
“Dorian, are you some kind of demon?” Sybil asks the CRASS Art Director, Mr. Dorian Daniel James.
“Um, sure,” Dorian replies out the side of his mouth, as he cares a metric tonne more about his project than the Lead Debt Collector, Sybil Kibble.
“I keep trying to email you, sweetie, about the Annual CRASS ReTreat. However this Mailer-Daemon guy replies instead.”
“Is this to be an empathy test?” a booming, dark haired Chief Executive Officer Mack E. Avelli asks the two bickering.
“I have no empathy and neither does she,” an mildly annoyed Dorian states plainly.
“Good. That is the kind of CRASS people we need. Be sure to attend that retreat in Chicago you guys. No blocking each other, per company policy. We need to increase production and team building.”
The two sigh and part ways, not looking forward to working on their day off.
Bourbonnais cinema clerk, neckbeard, and communal narcissist Damien Hurlbutt is busy tapping away at his rattly keyboard atop a plastic box to make it extra rattly, inside his Bourbonnais neckbeard-nest. His lone wall decoration, a framed photograph of his brother Robbie singing “Burnin’ Love” in the shower as he washes his black mutton chops, sways on its crooked angle.
Yes I remember you. We were married, maybe you forgot? I am having a problem with my butt. No matter what I do to clean it, my derriere still stinks.
I live in Natick, Mass now.
Damien immediately replies to the woman he once called “Grimace” out of pure, narcissistic rage, now changing his tune:
To: “Lori T. Brown” [OhLorT16@fmail.cannes]
From: “Damien U. Hurlbutt” [email@example.com]
Friday, September 4, 2020
Subject: Re: Re: broke up with Rachel
Hey honey puddin! I sure miss seeing your beautiful body and brown puppy-dog eyes.
I know Chicago has the best proctologist around, Dr. Keyhoe Keyster. I used to get my high colonics there! Meet me Monday on the train in Chicago and I will drive up to Bourbonnais, with a present for you. It will be a huge surprise!
Lori agrees, to Damien’s selfish delight. He hops aboard his PeeATon bike which his mother PJ regifted him for his August 10th birthday, hoping to lose some weight in his rushed attempt to impress his former wife.
“Today is Monday, September 7th. Are you CRASS people ready to have fun?” a grinning Mack. E. Avelli asks the crowd full of relucant employees.
“I cant’t hear you!” the wannabe MC projects into the microphone atop the podium.
A slow clap emerges.
“Now, that’s the spirit. Today’s retreat is designed to help increase team-building while lowering empathy. We do not care about our debtors, right? The more money you collect, the more you make. Double down on debt for more money for you, and more money for us. Now let’s all gather into teams to form a human pyramid. Sybil, pair up with Dorian Dale with Nando, Tara with Michael…” Mr. Avelli says as he pairs up his bored subordinates.
After a long tired day, Sybil is dying for a dish of dog food and a coffee. She heads over to the Buckstars on LaSalle Street in her white Chrysler LeBaron. As she sits at a table toward the front of the cafe, in walks Damien Hurlbutt, sporting his usual goofy stride.
“Oh boy, I really have to peepee.”
Damien heads toward the all-genders washroom, but is stopped short by a barista.
“You need to wear a mask to come in the cafe.”
“I know, I know, I am just stopping for a minute.” Damien says as he tries to head to the washroom.
“No mask, no service.”
“I know, I know, I know,” Damien replies, refusing to wear a mask.
Three baristas haul out the petulant Damien, kicking and screaming obscenities and narcississtic nonsense:
“9/11 was an inside job! The moon landing was a hoax!”. Sybil and Lori just stand there giggling, sipping on their iced doublehsot espressos.
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:
Bourbonnais neckbeard and communal narcissist Damien Hurlbutt sent out rambling smear letters after he went off the deep end, years ago when his former wife Lori left him to escape his psychological abuse.
Lori Brown, the former wife of communal narcissist Damien Hurlbutt, regrets her decision to get back with her ex. She has been waiting over an hour for him to finish showering so she can use the washroom. At least he closed the door this time.