Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mitchell Mitchell, part 1

Awhile ago, I did a creative writing class, for which I had to write a short story. I posted it on my old blog, but have since edited it to within an inch of its life, so I thought I'd post it here, too. It's long as hell, as far as blog posts go, so I'm posting it one half at a time.

 Mitchell Mitchell

Mitchell Pace slams his bedroom door and collapses on top of the mound of crumpled sheets on his bed. He buries his face in a pillow, his broken arm splayed out beside him, as his mother bellows something in the direction of his bedroom from the bottom of the stairs. He doesn’t want to know what she’s carrying on about; it’s no doubt a continuation of her earlier tirade about what a waste of a gestation period he was. He hears a knock on his door, followed by the voice of his half-sister Dee.
“Piss off,” he says, his voice muffled by his pillow.
“It’s important.”
“Shit, Deanne, piss off! I don’t care.”
Uncool, Mitch, he scolds himself. Dee isn’t the one he’s pissed off with; it’s his raging wildebeest of a mother he should be yelling at. He rolls over onto his back and throws his good arm over his eyes, wishing he hadn’t just verbally abused the only family member he isn’t currently furious with. Mitchell’s mother had Dee 18 years ago with her first husband, who had been MIA for at 17 of those years. It has long been Mitchell’s theory that both he and Dee are adopted—he refuses to believe either of them could be related to their mother by blood. He could maybe see his father’s laidback-to-a-fault attitude in himself, but it would take every DNA test available to convince him of his relation to his mother, Ruth Pace nee Brock nee Samson.
At 6 feet and 3 inches, he is taller than his bed allows for, which leaves his black Chuck Taylors hanging off the end of it. This is probably for the best, since his shoes are filthy and falling apart—he doesn’t want to wipe six years’ worth of dirt all over his sheets. His stringy brown hair is almost at exactly the right length to cover his eyes, which would probably be churning out tears en masse right now if a boy could cry without being deemed a fag for the rest of his high school career. He wears the same pair of glasses he has worn since he was eleven years old – a thick, horn-rimmed pair his mother forced upon him back when only old men and poor kids wore them. He attributes their comeback in popular culture to a shared effort by himself and Woody Allen.
Mitchell’s sixteenth year of life could very well be described as nothing more than a series of unfortunate events. Somehow the world always gets his hopes up, only to dash them in a spectacular display of how God has the ultimate power to fuck one’s shit up, no matter how well one’s shit may be going. Mitchell could pinpoint exactly when disaster first struck: a seemingly innocuous Friday morning almost two months ago.
At 8:37 that morning, a departure time that would almost certainly make him late for school, Mitchell had dragged his bike out around the side of his house. And, much like every other morning, the barren branches of the dead trees that shrouded his house scratched his arm so deep it bled. He kicked an assortment of dirt and rocks at the offending tree, before setting off on the same route he took every day. While riding past a nondescript house that normally wouldn’t garner a second glance, something in its front window caught his eye—skin, and a lot of it. Mitchell’s eyes snapped into focus. There was a topless girl ironing in her living room! He was getting an eyeful of cans and it wasn’t even 9:00am yet! He smiled to himself as he mentally high fived the heavens.
He slowed to a near stop as he passed the house, craning his neck to make the most of this magnificent opportunity. From the corner of his eye, he suddenly saw something small and brown hurtling in his direction. He whipped his head around just in time to see the dachshund puppy running directly into his path. He instinctively jerked the handlebars of his bike to the left, plowing straight into the back of an old orange Corolla. The back of the car stopped his bike very effectively, but unfortunately Mitchell kept going—he flew straight over his handlebars, impulsively throwing his hands out in front of himself as the ground sped towards him.
His palms skidded along the hot, rough asphalt, and the rest of his body came hurtling after, eventually coming to a stop in a crumpled heap. Pain receptors instantly exploded all over his right side, as the throbbing tore up and down his body. The skin on his bare arms and legs burned with gravel rash as he rolled over to lie on his back. It was only now that he realized his right arm was hanging limply from the point where it had snapped, halfway down his humerus bone.
As Mitchell lay on the ground howling and firing off curse words in quick succession, the devil woman who distracted him with her enchanting boobies rushed out her front door towards him. She had pulled on the shirt she was ironing back-to-front, leaving the buttons open down her back.
“Oh, god,” she faltered as she got close enough to see Mitchell’s arm, already dialing the number for an ambulance on her phone. After relaying the details to the operator, she helped Mitchell stand and move off the road onto the footpath. He tried to apologize to Mrs. Boobies for the sizeable dent he had left in the back of her already shitty car, but the searing pain in his arm meant that speaking unnecessarily was not an option.  As he waited for the ambulance to arrive, Mitchell sat on the curb, nursing his lifeless arm and restlessly tapping his foot against his newfound enemy.

Mitchell stayed home from school for four days after his accident. One might think that the time off school was worth the eight weeks of immobility - his arm was in a full plaster cast from his knuckles to his armpit – but for Mitchell, it was torturous. When the doctor told Mitchell’s mother that he would need time of school, Mitchell swore he saw her eyes light up at the opportunity to torment him for the foreseeable future. And so, he spent the next several days listening to her ranting about whatever claptrap middle-aged women are interested in, and helping sort through old clothes to give to the Salvation Army. Unable to utilize his arm even for masturbatory purposes the whole time he was at home, Mitchell’s foul mood became even more so with each minute he spent listening to his mother’s ranting about the dangers of loud music and the virtues of lentils.
The day after his accident, Ruth had insisted Mitchell accompany her to buy groceries, citing her skepticism of his ability to look after himself at home alone. Mitchell’s mother, being a middle-aged woman with little to no modesty, embarrassed him on the vast majority of their outings together. She was, at one point, an attractive woman, who had simply failed to notice that this was no longer the case. Unfortunately for her, the sun damage, her stressful first marriage and years of smoking had exponentially sped up the aging process. Taking no heed of any of this, she continued to dress like a twenty year old and flirt mercilessly with every man who came within a 10-foot radius.
As Mitchell and his mother approached the cash registers with their groceries, Ruth made a beeline for the cashier who was about to take his current customer’s money. Ruth was a decidedly defensive shopper, whose no-holds-barred approach to buying groceries was the reason Mitchell vehemently refused to shop with her. It was not unheard of for Ruth to get into a loud and highly inappropriate verbal altercation with any person who challenged her position in line. Dee has been trying for years to convince Mitchell that their mother actually slapped a woman who cut in front of her once. When he asked his mother about it, she had just laughed, which always made him cringe. He had once made the observation to his sister that their mother’s laugh sounded like donkeys raping each other, and neither could help but think that ever since.  
“Start putting the stuff up, Mitchie, I forgot to get soap,” Ruth told Mitchell.
“No, let’s just go and get it and come back up.”
“That’s stupid; we’re right at the front of the line. I’ll be quick.”
“Mum, I don’t want to hold the guy up. You won’t be back in time.” Mitchell’s cheeks burned, as the teenaged checkout operator stared blankly at him, not yet swiping their purchases. Ruth switched into what Mitchell called Bitch Mod—her teeth clenched and her eyes narrowed; Mitchell was sure he actually saw the right one twitch.
“Mitchell. Stand there, and put the groceries on the frigging checkout,” she told him, before walking away. It was for this very reason that Mitchell so detested going out with his mother – the inadvertent public shamings she bestowed upon him every time without fail. She was completely oblivious to any nearby people, and wasn’t bashful about what she said in front of them
Mitchell began loading their groceries onto the checkout, halfheartedly fishing things out of the shopping trolley and tossing them towards the operator.
“What happened to your arm?” the checkout operator asked as he started scanning items more slowly than Mitchell had seen any human being move before. Mitchell eyed the nosy kid, whose red hair perfectly offset his scarlet-flushed, acne-riddled cheeks.
“Broke it.” Mitchell’s morose tone should have indicated to the operator that he had no interest in chatting, but the prying boy forged on.
“Yeah, but how? I broke my arm last year, ‘cause— ”
“Mitchell!” his mother’s voice rang out from the end of the personal care aisle, at least five metres away. Mitchell looked up to see his mother, who had her arms full of liquid soap pumps and refills, but was still not coming over to finish their transaction. He held out his open palms as if to ask what she was doing, wishing more than anything that she would stop yelling across the supermarket. Did other kids have to deal with this kind of behaviour? Waving his hand at her frantically, he motioned for her to hurry back.
“These are on sale so I grabbed a heap of them,” she nodded at the soap in her arms as she continued to call over shoppers’ heads, “can you see if I put tampons in the trolley? I don’t remember if I got them or not.”
Mitchell shut his eyes, praying to whoever would listen that no one he knew was here to witness this. He looked in the trolley and nodded solemnly to his mother that she had, in fact picked up tampons. He glanced at the checkout operator, unable to tell if the boy looked nauseous or terrified, both of which Mitchell thought were appropriate reactions to his mother.
Mitchell’s father Don was home from work by the time they returned from the grocery store. Mitchell found his father watching TV in his recliner, and wearing a t-shirt Mitchell had made him for Christmas in pre-school. He had painted a scene which featured the two of them decorating a Christmas tree, only neither of them had torsos – they both had only large heads with limbs attached to them.
“I like your shirt, Dad,” Mitchell said, the sarcasm oozing from his every word, “I wish I had one like it.”
“Oh, thanks,” his father said, examining Mitchell's six-year-old artistic skills, “I just found it in the top of my wardrobe before.” He looked up at Mitchell and grinned, “I could probably find the one you made for your mother if you really want to wear one.”
Mitchell calls his father’s look “Robert Goulet: The Golden Years”, and says that Don’s “glorious moustache” has set the bar for what he’d like to achieve by the time he is a father himself. Mitchell failed to see how someone as normal and likeable as his father could have tolerated Ruth for nearly two decades. He patted his father’s shoulder before lying on the ground next to the recliner. The pair had developed a ritual of watching Curb Your Enthusiasm together on Friday nights, and as the show began, Mitchell could not have been more grateful for the distraction from his overabundant woes. 

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