About The Funk...

Observational Spittle from the mind of a man of color in his 40s, without the color added (most times). Come in, laugh, and you may learn something...

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

A G. Eric Francis Short Story

The Social Man

A Short Story by G. Eric Francis

“Wow, those are some pretty awesome pictures.”

The man looked at his computer screen, his right hand on the mouse wheel, slowly moving his fingers in a downward direction as he saw the pretty photos on his favorite social media destination on the web.

“I see that Mary had a latte this morning...sure looks good!”

He looked at the clock, and he sighed when he realized it was 3:42 in the morning. He knew he had to get up for work in less than 4 hours, but he couldn't sleep. His wife had gone on to bed before hours ago, another evening filled with nothing but reality TV and average home-cooked meals. Their 3 children: Monique, Unique, and Fo'ShoNique, all under the age of 10, had finally conked out after they all gathered in the basement to watch their favorite Christmas special, “No White Man is Breaking Into My House!”

It was a special done by a Hollywood power broker of color. The man wasn't a fan of his work, but respected that he carved a niche in an industry where pale was king.

Every night after everyone went to bed he would hop on that social media hot spot, living vicariously through the lives people put on the outside for the world to see. Sometimes he'd stumble upon some funny meme, or a news story that got his blood boiling (“How the hell did this buffoon get elected?”). Other times he'd play an online game...most digital casino games where he'd win millions of fake dollars, making him sigh even more, since a good day at a real casino for him was leaving enough to buy a lottery ticket.

He sighed as the thought of the 1 in 200,000,000 chance was about to be blown once again by him; the drawing was 4 hours ago, but he held off, the hope that perhaps that after 25 years and approximately $13,000 worth of torn up dreams would finally pay dividends.

“I spend too much time on these things,” he said to himself, rubbing his burgeoning belly as he said that. He looked at himself, caught between not caring about how he let himself get this large and sad because he didn't have the gumption to stop the early death he was signaling to come visit him.

He looked at a few more of his friends....wait....friends? Most of the people on his “favorites list” he hadn't seen in more than 2 decades. He had few family members who followed him and vice versa, because he was like Henry, the dentist elf from that Christmas show of long ago...never fitting in. His wife, a woman best described as waiting to die without being sick, was more like his roommate than his life partner.

So he escaped his drab world of a dead end job, no friends, too many bills and a car that he has to kick 3 times to start by living through the lifeless digital pictures of others.

He gets jealous sometimes, even though for all he knew half of people who posted online at the site could be drug addicts, swingers, or smelled like old adult diapers after a chili binge. What made him jealous though was that he didn't have the “outside.” Both his personal and public life was like oatmeal most days...necessary, but you really didn't want to ingest it.

After a few more flicks of one of his fingers on the mouse wheel took place, he began to lower the lid of his decrepit laptop down when a picture he didn't see caught his eye.
A friend of his that he chatted with at night from time to time had put a picture of herself looking into a mirror. She had a night shirt on, her long red hair going in different directions, a blank look upon her face. The man lifted the lid of his laptop back up, and he noticed that his friend had written something using an eyeliner on both of her cheeks.

“What the hell?” he said to himself as he grabbed his glasses to get a better look at what his friend wrote.

In the neatest writing he had ever seen, the cheeks read:

“You Make You, So Be You.”


The man read what his friend wrote on her face, shaking his head because it didn't make sense. He kept looking at the picture, reading the words, noticing the blank look, the stone-cold look in her pupils, as if she just decided to leave her body but it didn't realize it was dead yet.

Not sure as to what she was trying to convey, he simply shook his head and closed his laptop. While his job was indeed soul-sucking, he knew he had 3 mouths to feed.

His 3-hour nap passed quickly, and a groggy man got out of bed, heading downstairs to make a cup of java and once again look at how happy people were on the outside online again. When he signed in, a message notification popped up. It was from his friend's husband.

“That's odd,” he said as he walked over to get his piping hot cup of coffee, sat back down and opened the message.

A few seconds later, the sound of broken glass reverberated throughout the kitchen.

“What the hell Frank?” the aforementioned waiting to become a worm buffet spouse said as she ran into the kitchen after hearing all the ruckus. Her irritation quickly left her though as he saw the man she married sobbing uncontrollably.

The man blinked as he turned towards his wife, now dressed in black as he was, watching the casket of his friend being carried toward her last ride. As the church emptied, the man whispered “cancer” under his lips as his wife, putting aside her self-pity, took her husband's hand and pulled him towards the exit.

As he aged, the man noticed that time speeds up, and 2 weeks had passed since he said goodbye to his friend. It was once again a late night, and he was still looking at the pictures that people put up for the world to see.

He didn't quite look at them the same though. Over those 2 weeks he learned that his friend had stage 4 breast cancer, and despite the closeness they had, she never told him. It made him sad, because after all the things he confided in her...

“Wait,” he said in mid-thought. Going back to his late friend's page, he scrolled back to that picture she posted the night before she took her own life, not wanting cancer to win. He looked at the picture...then noticed that the picture was tagged to him.
“Son of a legless gopher.”

The man leaned back into the chair he was sitting in, looking at the final message that his friend wanted to share with him before she had to leave him. A nauseous feeling came over him, and he felt tears beginning to well up in his eyes.

But he stopped them.

He began to shake his head for a few moments, then he started laughing quietly to himself.

“Damn you Madeline...you were always the smart one.”

The man looked at the clock, and saw that it was 3:42 AM. With one more slight chuckle, he blew his departed friend a kiss, closing his laptop and began to head for bed.

As he did so, he saw the lottery tickets from the night he saw that picture. He was so tired he never checked them, and the last few weeks made him forget them.

Grabbing his phone so he could scan the tickets, he waved his device over the bar codes of each ticket.

He had purchased 3 that week as he always did.

“All losers,” he said to himself as he began to crumble them.

He stopped thought, unfolding each one and placing them back on the kitchen table they were laying on. He stared at them for a few minutes, then he grabbed a pen and scribbled something on each one. Placing them side by side, he turned around and went to bed.

The next morning his wife woke up, turning over to see that the man was gone. Figuring he went downstairs to surf that site again, she walked down the hall to wake the girls (“Niques...wake up!”) then walked downstairs to get breakfast on. As she passed the table, she saw the 3 lottery tickets that the man had left there. Looking down, she began to read what was scribbled on them.

“Me being Me Begins Today...No Photos Required.”

“What the hell is that man talking about?” she said to herself. Grabbing her cell phone, she opened up the mobile version of the social media site so she could check her messages. As she did so, she got a pop up message.

Her husband had deleted his account.

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