Excerpt: Our Cures for Boredom

{Curious about my newest project “In Lickskillet”? While I work on seriously editing the novel, why not take a sneak peek at one of the stories written by Blaine. He arrives in detention and must divert his attention for the duration of his retention. Because readers of this blog hardly get a feel for the fiction that I write (only non-fiction essays), here’s a short excerpt to satiate curiosities until I can publish this book for real.}

The first two hours flew by as they always did because were forced to do schoolwork. But we never had to work all day. Given such leisure, we tore through class work and homework and future projects. Bent over like skeleton scholars transcribing the end times, we wrote tirelessly until nothing else presented itself to be written. Then each of us, one by one, was overwhelmed by morbid boredom which tasted awful. Like synthetic cheese, the sort individually plastic-wrapped by the slice.

Then it was six more hours with a novel and under-the-breath mumbles. It would turn out the novel you snatched from a rogue bookcase would not actually deliver you from boredom. Probably because it was not a novel at all but instead a Spanish-English dictionary. Even considering that you could learn enough to take a Spring Break trip to Cancun, the entire experience probably turned out pretty fucking dull.

A nausea overcame me along with the droll feeling of boredom.

If I swam, I could hear soft tones, piano-like notes drawn out. Eating curry, I saw a haze of red. But with boredom, nothing happening. My condition was unprovoked. I felt the void, the abyss that I stared into, it staring back at me.

Then I remembered the tin of pills in my pocket. Pure, pharmaceutical narcotics, without the enzymes that slowed down the release of codeine into the body’s system. Just pure hydrocodone, ready for consumption. I tapped Declin’s shoulder again and passed him one. Generosity, my ultimate nature. One might have done him in, but I needed four.

With a strange look at me, Declin slipped the pill into his mouth. As if he knew what he was getting himself into. Even I didn’t accept drugs from strangers. But here he was, fresh and eager to prove himself bad and dangerous just as we all tried to be bad and dangerous.

Around the room where we sat, animals stared down at us from behind motivational quotes from saints, presidents, and Oprah Winfrey. A lion throned regally on golden plains, the quote hovering above set in bold, dazzling font, turned to stare at me. The animals turned and watched. Their eyes followed me and I slipped into a chaotic high before I quite realized what I’d done. No true hallucinations here, but a fine, ethereal high that cured my boredom.

Boredom: our natural state, our default. For our entire teen lives in Lickskillet, boredom was true evil, our archenemies, the Darth Vader to our Luke Skywalker. We the free rebels fighting for sacred liberty from this, our mortal enemy we called “boredom.”

We tried everything to absolve ourselves from this carnal sin. Most drank heavily, even idiotically. Which was the best way to drink, with the high possibility of death. Most of the boys drank beer, challenging each other to gulp down more until all had passed out. Girls preferred liquor, mixed or straight. And then everyone, roaring drunk, would smash boredom against the walls. Would take off our boredom’s clothes or pass out on boredom’s lawn.

Marijuana was our new vogue—joint-rolling became as common a social skill as driving or shooting a spitball. Once kids started smoking green, the floodgates opened for Woodstock-ian levels of experimentation.  For me, this meant experiencing extreme forms of my condition.

Our ailment was our failure to stimulate ourselves. This town cultured an illness which festered hot and rotting in each of us. A convulsing itch that we scratched until our skin burned raw and our eyes went bloodshot. Thrown into a cycle of ecstatic highs and dull lows, we lived a constant war.

We chucked eggs at houses, gave car rides to hoboes at two in the morning, snuck into the Red Hole to smoke and skinny dip, drove out in cars to abandoned thickets of wood and coaxed young girls to blow us, and didn’t give a fuck about what lay ahead. Or maybe that was just me. Sick of ambition and dangling my fate by the whims of deadbeat parents.

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About Derek Berry

Derek Berry is a novelist and spoken word poet. Derek is the author of Heathens and Liars of Lickskillet County (PRA Publishing, 2016). He co-founded and organizes The Unspoken Word, a literary non-profit based out of Charleston, SC, which provides an intendent home for the poetic arts through regular readings, workshops, and community fundraisers. He is on the Executive Board of the Charleston Poetry Festival, the inaugural production of which will be Fall 2017. His work has appeared in The Southern Tablet, Cattywampus, Charleston Currents, Illuminations, RiverSedge, and other journals.He has performed in venues across the United States and Germany. He has worked as a photographer’s assistant, busboy, and bookseller. He currently works at a curation facility for Cold War History.

Posted on August 19, 2012, in Blogging, books, Characters, Fiction, Sex, Skinny dipping, writer, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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