‘Report on Internet User’ by Andrew Pippos
From Fifty-Two Stories:
Eats dinner in front of computer, listening to English band active between 1989-1996. Sends text message to single woman unlikely to respond. Disregards fact she never replied to message three weeks ago. Finds diversion: spends large sum of money on Japanese denim from online store. No reply to text. Drinks rest of wine bottle, opens beer. Removes T-shirt and looks at self, disgusted by pelt of fat covering chest and stomach. Fat not all there last time he looked. Submits to passing rage and smashes dirty plate in sink. Finishes drink, cleans up broken plate, sweeps floor. Stops himself from walking to corner store for cigarettes. Remembers why he quit smoking years ago—an extended and immediate family history of lung and pancreatic cancer. Browses image search of professional indoor volleyball player. Irons shirt in case message arrives from unlikely and disdainful woman. Almost calls unlikely woman but his pulse hammers out code that signals a mistake. Decides: that’s enough booze tonight.
Finally! Receives text message—but from elder sister, a physicist of some kind. “you forgot our mother’s bday.” Fury toward only sister for sending glib reminder so late at night, knowing it’s now difficult to contact mother re: 62nd birthday because mother goes to bed and wakes up very early. Mother’s home not the kind of environment you call after 9pm. Thinks about setting alarm and calling mother at same time she always rises, which might make for acceptable birthday gesture, but suspects this only possible with the assistance of sleeping tablets. Possesses small quantities of several benzodiazepine derivatives, prefers valium for recreational use. Has already swallowed 30mg of various hypnotics that afternoon, in answer to horrible feeling of self-awareness that since graded into a sensation of— of something else. Searches web for articles regarding what might be a safe dose of benzodiazepines plus alcohol, but fails to find information that can be apprehended quickly, since time is important, since mother arises at dawn, maybe five hours from now. Gives up: decides not to swallow more sleeping pills. Undecided about staying awake to call mother at first light.
Turns attention to new social network status update. Declares he is “an irregular shape, unlikely to roll away, not fitting anywhere especially well.” Then deletes this social network status update.