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EXCERPT FROM “COLLEGE NOVEL” by Blake Middleton

The next day around 6:00 p.m. Jordan drove to the corner store near his apartment and bought a Peach Cisco. He drove down I-95 with the windows down and drank Cisco and listened to Propagandhi. In the song the lead singer sang about sticking an American flag up someone’s asshole. In the parking lot of Eric’s complex Jordan sat in his car and swallowed an Adderall then drank some Cisco.

He walked toward Eric’s apartment. All the apartments looked the same. People were starting to come home from work. Jordan walked up the stairs to the third floor. He knocked on Eric’s door and Eric opened it. ‘Drinking Cisco already?’ Eric said.

‘Yeah,’ Jordan said.

‘Take this,’ Eric said. He handed Jordan a beer. ‘I just opened it. Put that shit in the fridge. It’s not even dark.’

Jordan walked inside and saw Eric’s roommate, Sam, lying on the carpet, holding a beer. ‘What’s up?’ Jordan said.

‘Drinking beer on the floor,’ Sam said. He got up and sat on the couch, grabbed a TV remote and a PS4 controller, turned on the PlayStation and the TV.

Jordan put his Cisco in the fridge. He sat on the couch next to Sam. Sam was holding a controller, searching YouTube. Eric sat on a different couch, facing the TV. Sam played ‘Sound System’ by Operation Ivy. They talked and drank beer.

An hour later Jordan was shirtless on the back porch, sitting in a lawn chair, holding a beer. Sam was behind Jordan digging through a bag of haircutting clippers. He attached one to a razor and ran it down the center of Jordan’s head.

‘Hell yeah,’ Eric said. ‘I’m pulling up a seat.’ He grabbed a milk-crate and sat on top of it. ‘Did you tell Emma you’re shaving your head?’ Emma was Jordan’s girlfriend. They lived together with Zach. Had been dating for about four years.

‘Um,’ Jordan said. He texted Emma and said he was shaving his head. ‘Yeah.’  

Sam shaved off a long strip of Jordan’s hair. ‘That feels good,’ Jordan said.

‘Give me your shirt,’ Eric said. ‘It’s going in the freezer.’

Jordan picked up his shirt and handed it to Eric.

Eric walked inside. He walked back outside. He drank some beer and burped. ‘We’ll be drunk by nine,’ he said.

‘Right when we have to drive,’ Sam said.

‘Perfect,’ Eric said.

Sam finished shaving Jordan’s head. Jordan rubbed his head. ‘Does it look alright?’

‘Looks good,’ Eric said. ‘Go ahead and pull your shirt out of the freezer.’

Jordan walked into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. He rubbed his head with his hands. He walked into the kitchen and grabbed his shirt and put on the shirt.

‘It’s cold,’ Jordan said.

‘Feels nice, right?’ Eric said.

‘Yeah,’ Jordan said. ‘Not bad.’

They sat on couches in the living room.

Sam talked about getting high at church when he was in high school.

Eric played a music video for the song ‘Jesus is a friend on mine.’

Jordan said it sounded like the Talking Heads.

Sam said something about the guitar player’s hip motions.

‘I need more beer,’ Eric said and looked at Jordan. ‘Wanna come to the gas station?’

Eric opened his car door. ‘Don’t get in yet,’ he said. He pounded on the seat. ‘It’s infested with roaches. You gotta pound the seat so they go back into hiding.’

Jordan and Eric drove to the gas station near the interstate. They passed a McDonalds, a Wendys, a Taco Bell, a Walmart, another McDonalds.

‘Jesus is a friend of mine,’ Eric said. ‘He taught me how to praise my God and still play rock-n-roll.’ He parked the car. ‘Man, I really wish they made eight-packs of tall-boys.’

Eric walked inside the gas station. He walked outside the gas station, holding two four-packs of tall-boys. He got in the car. He looked at Jordan and held the four-packs next to each other. ‘Eight pack,’ he said.

They drove back to Eric’s apartment and walked inside.

‘Let’s take some 800 milligram ibuprofen and get fucked up,’ Jordan said.

‘Ibuprofen is generic trash,’ Sam said. He was lying on the carpet again. ‘I only get high off Advil extra-strength.’

Eric put beer in the fridge. ‘How does it feel to be two of the dumbest assholes on the world?’ he  said. He grabbed a beer and closed the fridge.

‘Feels pretty good from down here,’ Sam said. He took a drink of beer, spilt some on his face.

‘You spilt beer on your face,’ Eric said.

‘That’s what the carpet is for,’ Sam said. He rolled over and rubbed his face on the carpet.

‘Jesus Christ,’ Eric said. ‘I’m getting drunk tonight.’ He pulled his shirt off, walked to the kitchen, put the shirt in the freezer.

A little later Eric’s girlfriend, Kim, showed up. She sat on the couch next to Eric.

‘Can we get high tonight?’ Jordan said to Kim.

Kim reached under the coffee-table and pulled out a bong.

‘You’re not allowed to smoke weed,’ Sam said. ‘You just got a haircut. That’s illegal.’

Eric played depressing music on YouTube.

‘Sounds like American Football,’ Jordan said.

‘No,’ Eric said.

‘Very similar,’ Sam said.

‘Very sad,’ Kim said.

‘Sounds like Postal Service and American Football,’ Jordan said.

‘I’m gonna kill you,’ Eric said.

Jordan and Kim smoked marijuana.

‘My mom is going to find out,’ Sam said. ‘This is smart. This is really smart.’

Kim handed Sam marijuana and Sam smoked marijuana.

‘Play Ricky Calloway,’ Jordan said.

‘Shit,’ Eric said. He played the song ‘Get it Right’ by Ricky Calloway. ‘This is the guy that pressure washes UNF.’ UNF stands for University of North Florida. Jordan and his friends went there because you didn’t have to write an essay to get accepted.

‘What?’ Kim said.

‘This is Ricky fucking Calloway,’ Eric said. ‘He’s a funk-singing pressure washer.’

‘Shit,’ Kim said.

‘He’s not good at pressure washing,’ Sam said.

‘Leave Ricky alone,’ Eric said. ‘He does a fantastic job of pressure washing. He’s an excellent pressure washer and a magnificent funk-singer.’

‘Yes he is,’ Jordan said.

‘I’m an asshole,’ Sam said.

‘You are,’ Jordan said. ‘He does a fantastic job.’

Jordan stood and walked into the kitchen. He was feeling buzzed. He opened the fridge and grabbed a beer. He opened a cabinet and picked up a glass. ‘Why does this glass have Dough Mahoney written on it?’  

‘That’s mine,’ Eric said.

‘Who’s Dough Mahoney?’  

‘That’s me. Dough Mahoney is PEN name. I have to use a PEN name because I’m going to be the fucking president. Kim made me that.’

‘Dough Mahoney,’ Jordan said, and poured the beer into the glass.

‘Dough Mahoney,’ Eric said.

It was quiet for a few seconds. ‘My mom is autistic,’ Sam said.

‘My Mom is Zach Braff and so am I,’ Eric said. ‘She’s big Zach Braff and I’m little Zach Braff.’

‘Shut up,’ Sam said.

At the party an hour later Jordan sat around a table with Eric, Aubrey, Olivia, and Sam. It was a glass-top table and the base was made of ceramic dolphins. There was a large bong in the center of the table. Aubrey was painting something on a small canvas. In the living room there was a drumset, a guitar, a bass guitar, and a microphone. Jordan was stoned and staring at the ceramic dolphins, not really thinking about anything except how stoned he was. He was very stoned, he thought. He heard a tambourine. He looked up and saw Olivia smiling. It was her birthday. She was twenty-two.

‘This is my tambourine,’ she said, and shook it again.

‘Cool,’ Jordan said.

‘I’m putting on Die Antwoord,’ Olivia said, and put on Die Antwoord. ‘I want champagne.’ She walked into the kitchen and came back with a bottle of cheap champagne and two glasses. She shook her tambourine. ‘Would you like some?’

‘Sure.’

She poured Jordan a glass of champagne. He drank some.

‘Don’t drink before we toast,’ Olivia said.

‘Sorry.’

Jordan held up his glass and toasted with Olivia. Olivia smiled and then Jordan smiled.

‘Where’s Emma?’ Olivia said.

‘She didn’t wanna come. She’s probably at home watching The Office.’

Olivia shook the tambourine again. ‘This isn’t loud enough,’ she said. ‘I’m tired of hearing everyone’s voice that hasn’t said hi to me yet.’

Jordan didn’t know what to say. He took another drink. The champagne was good. Or the champagne was bad, but Jordan didn’t know what good champagne taste like.

Someone walked up to Olivia and said happy birthday. The person was wearing a colorful jacket and eating a carrot. ‘That jacket is funky fresh,’ Sam said. ‘That is some serious jazz.’

‘Yeah man,’ the carrot-guy said, and took a bite of his carrot and walked away.

‘That was strange,’ Jordan said.

‘What?’ Sam said.

‘That whole thing,’ Jordan said. ‘What you just said.’

‘You didn’t like that?’ Sam said. ‘You gotta get freed by the funky fresh jazz beast.’

Eric walked up and said something about Billy Collins.  

‘Billy Collins is dead,’ Jordan said without thinking. ‘He died a week ago.’

‘No he didn’t,’ Eric said. ‘Fuck off.’

Aubrey held up the canvas she was painting.  ‘It’s Eric,’ she said. The painting was deformed-looking.

‘The sagging lip represents years of untreated alcoholism,’ Jordan said.

‘Fuck off,’ Eric said.

Sam stood up and sat at the drum set. The carrot-guy walked over and played guitar. His carrot was gone.

Eric walked up to Jordan and said he had a confession. Eric said he never received money from the U.S. government for being one-eighth Native American. Jordan had been convinced for over a year that Eric received money from the U.S. government for being one-eighth Native American.

Jordan looked out the back window. ‘There’s a fire out there,’ he said. ‘Let’s go.’

The fire was big. There was a small tree next to the fire. Kim walked outside and stood next to Jordan and Eric. ‘This is how white people die,’ she said.

‘White people die in Iraq,’ Eric said. ‘Chill the fuck out.’

Someone threw an onion in the fire. ‘Burn the onion,’ someone yelled.

‘Is that an onion?’ Kim said.

‘It’s okay,’ Jordan said. ‘We’re going to get high.’

‘Who started this fire?’ Eric said.

‘Banksy,’ Jordan said.

‘Capitalism is the fire, and the tree is the people,’ Eric said.

‘When Bernie Sanders becomes president I’m going to request that all parties have large fires and Adderall,’ Kim said. Jordan gave her some Adderall on the drive over.

Kim talked about moving to Portland. Everyone was always talking about moving to Portland.

Jordan didn’t have anything to say about moving to Portland. ‘We need to burn this tree,’ he said, because it felt like it was his turn to say something.

‘It’s alive,’ Eric said. ‘It won’t burn.’

‘We need to burn the tree,’ Jordan said. He was drunk.

‘I’m not going to burn the tree,’ Eric said.

‘Okay,’ Jordan said. ‘Don’t burn the tree.’

‘I’m not going to,’ Eric said.

‘Good,’ Jordan said.

Someone threw a pallet on the fire. The fire got bigger. There were about twenty people outside, talking in groups of three or four.

A little later Robert showed up to the party. Everyone was still standing around the fire.  Robert was wearing his Winn-Dixie apron.

‘Why are you still wearing that?’ Eric said.

‘I forgot,’ Robert said.

‘Keep it on,’ Jordan said. ‘It’s good.’

Jordan asked Robert when he was going to bring him some ham-steak.

Robert said the ham-steak at Winn-Dixie wasn’t on sale anymore. One time Robert and Jordan got stoned and ate ham-steak on the kitchen floor of Jordan’s apartment. Jordan said the ham-steak was shaped like a dog’s head and Robert got scared and threw the ham-steak in the freezer, only to be discovered months later.

‘They sound kind of good in there,’ Robert said about the people playing instruments inside.

‘Should we go inside?’ Jordan said.

‘Take off your apron,’ Eric said.

Robert took off his apron. He threw it in the fire.

‘Hell yeah,’ Eric said.

Eric, Jordan, Robert, and Kim walked inside. They stood in the living room.

There were about twenty people in the living room. They listened to people play music. No one was singing.  Jordan walked to the microphone. He sang a song about ham-steak and Bernie Sanders. He walked outside and felt extremely intoxicated. A person walked past Jordan. ‘What is on your shoulder?’ Jordan said. ‘A hamster?’

The person said it was a rat. Jordan asked if he could pet the rat and the person said yes. ‘Her name is Little Miss,’ the person said.

‘Hey Little Miss,’ Jordan said. He looked at the rat. It had big eyes. ‘This rat likes you a lot. You can achieve things.’

‘Okay,’ the person said. ‘Thank you.’

Robert and Eric walked outside. Robert talked about leaving the party to go see a rapper named Kevin Gates. ‘I don’t want to see Kevin Gates,’ Eric said. ‘He fucked his cousin.’ Robert said that it was cool to fuck your cousin in the year 2015. Jordan went pee behind a dumpster near the garage and then walked inside the garage. The garage was the rat-person’s art studio. Jordan said he liked the art. The rat-person said it was shitty beach-art he got commissioned to make for rich white people.

Little Miss was in a cage hanging from the ceiling. Jordan put his finger inside the rat cage. The rat licked his finger. Jordan asked if the rat was going to bite him and the person said no. ‘It’s licking me,’ Jordan said. He walked outside the garage. He walked inside the house. Someone said something about a terrorist attack in Paris. Olivia was singing and playing tambourine. Sam was asleep on the couch. Robert handed Jordan a beer and they both shotgunned a beer.

College Novel by Blake Middleton is forthcoming from Apocalypse Party Press in early 2019.

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