Not That Cool | Teen Ink

Not That Cool MAG

December 16, 2008
By Robert Homan BRONZE, Delaware, Ohio
Robert Homan BRONZE, Delaware, Ohio
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments

The final shot ricocheted off a tree.

“No one showed up.”

“It’s a Thursday. People are working late or studying.”

“So should I just stick to Fridays from now on?”

“I’ve gotta get going.”

“Um, yeah, me too. Paper due ­Monday.”

“Sucks. See ya next week?” He ­didn’t wait for a reply.

Peter watched him leave the screen, then looked around his dark room. It was lit only by an effusive green glow from the white box on the floor in front of the TV. He pressed a button and let the machine whir down. The television blinked off and the room was devoid of light. Taking off the headset that had become imprinted on his ear, ­Peter got up from the couch, absent-mindedly fiddling with the controller in his hands. Darkness seemed to ­envelop him as the empty feeling ­returned.

It doesn’t do much good to host a party when no one’s playing, he thought. Stupid. Stick to what you know will work.

His two-room apartment was pitch black except for the light creeping in through the cracked window behind his couch. It was getting cold in Denver, and Peter knew that the luxury of leaving the windows open would only last a few more weeks. He gazed at the building across the street. Wide and tall, it held hundreds of offices looming over the city. Even at 9 p.m., he knew that in the countless cubicles hard-workers were completing assignments or gaining an upper hand on competitive colleagues. Such urgency was lost in the void of Peter’s living room.

Turning on his old Dell laptop and taking a seat at the desk near the window, Peter let his mind wander. He had to work, but the empty feeling, which clamped his body in a sort of vice, prevented him. He longed to be back where he was comfortable, in his games, talking to people thousands of miles away whom he knew only by how they accumulated kills or trash-talked opponents. No one, however, was playing on a Thursday ….

The computer booted up. Studying on the Internet was not the same as studying on a campus, and Peter was finally beginning to come to terms with that. Staring at page upon page of digital text, set starkly against the white “Phoenix Online” background, his shoulders drooped and his mind numbed. The irony of reading about how to fix computers on a computer didn’t register. Nonetheless, it was ­beginning to take its toll on his emotional and mental state. He worked five hours each morning, then spent nearly as much time poring over the computer at night, and menial hours in between wasting away on his couch.

About 45 minutes later, knee deep in “Servers and their Switches,” the noise started – a girl’s voice, then a man’s, then a third, deeper voice. Peter glanced at the thin door separating his cocoon from the outside world. Warm, yellow light shone through the crack at the bottom, glancing off the dark walls and colliding with the inhuman white glow of the laptop.

Laughter chased ­conversation, and Peter pegged what he knew was drunken revelry ­taking place across the hall. Colorado State’s campus was a half-mile away, and some football players had recently moved into the adjacent apartment, transforming it ­into an alcohol-soaked, drug-fueled party headquarters for the less academically inclined.

For six months, since the beginning of summer training, Peter had known days of silence and nights of loud get-togethers. He had become accustomed to it, never so much as knocking on their door, but he occasionally wondered.

This was their “Thursday Trifecta,” whatever that meant, and Peter knew that the partying would continue late into the night. He continued to gaze at the fake wood-grain door standing ­between the dead space of his apartment and those streaming into fun land. After a minute, he was sucked back into the screen.

He was interrupted by a sudden crash and a bellowed swear from an ­intoxicated frat boy. A girl screamed and the noise grew louder. Peter sat up. Drunken outbursts were the norm, but rarely did the cacophony rise above what it was now. It seemed as if the ­entire group was yelling, hooting and hollering at the man who swore.

Peter heard the door across the hall slam open. The man was in the corridor, yelling in a deep drunken voice: “You think you can just pull that type of s---? You’re always doing something, Laura, aren’t you? Always with the next guy you see. Think it just happens? Give me a g-ddamn break!”

The man fired off another string of expletives; his shoes made reverberating clunks. Peter could see a sliver of them under the door. He was stumbling around like a muscled loon.

That harbinger of unwanted circumstances, sweat, trickled down Peter’s arm; his body tensed. The man banged against the walls of the hallway, testing their structural integrity and daring one to give way to his bulk. Peter leapt from his desk chair, sending it twirling toward the television. He lunged forward, but not before the drunken mass made a fatal miscalculation.

Bouncing against the walls, he had come to the door and laid his massive right shoulder into its flimsy construct. A crack sounded and the hinges flew off. The wooden sheet didn’t stand a chance against his 6ƍ" frame, and it thumped to the floor. The man couldn’t stop his fall either, and the momentum carried him down, crashing into Peter’s apartment like a felled tree.

As soon as he was down, he was up, hunched over in a rage that caused ­Peter to step back. With dizzy, glazed eyes, the man stumbled toward the couch. After a few steps he made ­contact with the floor again. The hulk came to rest on his back between the couch and the television, eyes closed and chest heaving.

Peter stood above him, sweating profusely and breathing heavily. His face was scrunched up, eyes furrowed, and mouth gaping at the body now ­occupying the nexus of his home. ­Peter did not notice the door across the hall open.

“Wow, I always knew he was crazy when he drank, but not like this.”

Peter looked up, bewildered. A girl was frowning at the man spread-eagle on the floor. Peter blinked in surprise at the figure in a bright yellow T-shirt and dark jeans that fit her svelte form perfectly. Long black hair cascaded down her back and white pearl earrings glinted. She smiled bashfully.

“So, this is your apartment?” White teeth completed a picture Peter was not quite sure existed. Her face glowed in the soft light, and he was conscious of the sweat trickling down his arm. She looked carefree, though her eyes didn’t fit.

“Um, yeah, it is, actually.” Peter struggled not to stare.

“Sometimes he’s such a lug. I’m so sorry about this,” she said, sighing.

“It’s not your fault … I mean … he just … kind of … fell in here.” Peter’s words came out in bits and pieces, and he was not sure the girl even understood what he was saying. She seemed focused on the guy.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” She grinned up at him. Peter was above ­average in height. Her sleek heels only made her slightly tall.

“So, uh … Peter, what should we do about this?” she asked, noticing the name tag clinging to his drab work shirt.

“I don’t know. What do you care?” That came out wrong, he thought, but she continued to smile. Peter fumbled about in his mind. Why is she amused?

“I’m just a … a friend of his,” she answered. “I was sent from the party to see if I could gather the remains.” She laughed, and, for the first time, Peter let his shoulders loosen and his body relax. He laughed with her.

Her face, a smile.

“I could probably just leave him and come back later if you need to get back to work,” she said, suddenly seeming downtrodden and tired. “Why haven’t I seen you around campus?” She glanced at the computer screen, which displayed a picture of a microprocessor.

“That’s an online course. I’m not at CSU … not that cool,” he muttered.

“I always wondered how those worked. It must be pretty fun not ­having to leave where you live to go to class.”

“Yeah,” he replied, feeling the ­opposite.

“Well, uh …” She looked down. “Don here will probably be out cold for quite a while. He’s been drinking all day.” She grimaced at the closed door to the party. “They’re probably wondering where I am,” she said feebly. “Sometimes I just can’t take it. Need to get away from people yelling …”

Obnoxious bass thumped from the party room. Catching a glimpse of her unhappy face, Peter gained confidence, years of loneliness spurring him on.

“If you wanna … wait here until he wakes up, you could …,” he muttered, speaking more to the floor than to the face half-obscured by darkness. “I mean, if you want to.”

For a second her face was a blank slate. A chant of “Chug! Chug!” escaped into the hallway. Peter’s stomach lurched – Why, he thought, why … – until her face relaxed and broke into a toothy smile.

“Sure. I’ve had enough of that party. The music’s too loud.”

“True,” Peter responded, and walked over to the door, picked it up, and leaned it in the doorway, covering the void. Gone.

An unrecognizable sensation filled him.

“He’ll be out for a while. Don’t worry.”

The girl, the woman, had made ­herself comfortable on the couch and was using the man’s hulking chest as an ottoman. Peter sat close to her. Her side was against his, and the foreign feeling washed over him and he smiled. One hour later, he thought. He felt more a part of the world than ever before.

“What’s your name?” Peter asked.

“It doesn’t matter, does it?”

“No.” Not at all.

The room was dark again, except for the flickering TV screen, but its three occupants didn’t seem to care.

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This article has 122 comments.

on Nov. 13 2017 at 5:48 pm
Aatyanth BRONZE, Cupertino, California
1 article 0 photos 2 comments
Guys check out my story. Here is the link. And please like it.

Sparaxis GOLD said...
on Dec. 30 2016 at 5:48 pm
Sparaxis GOLD, Saint Marys, Georgia
13 articles 1 photo 307 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you keep on picking on me, I'll mess up again. This time, on PURPOSE."

Man...That was a good story. I can't come up with anything that would make people want to read it to the end.

on Jul. 18 2012 at 5:58 am
the.expressionist BRONZE, London, Other
1 article 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A small step for man, a giant leap for mankind"

Really great story. looking foward to your future works

Ender2 BRONZE said...
on Feb. 15 2012 at 8:28 pm
Ender2 BRONZE, Hemet, California
2 articles 0 photos 24 comments
Well-written! I really loved the ending. You lost me a bit in the middle (considering how long it was), but other than that, I adore your writing style. I'll be sure to check out more of you work.

on Jan. 24 2012 at 8:05 pm
Def_Leppard_fan120 SILVER, Lake Lorane, Florida
5 articles 0 photos 72 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you want your dreams to come true, Make them come true. If you want to win, Make it a win.
The only one that is stopping you from accomplish your dreams is YOU.

Come check out my profile. Rate my articles and leave a comment. Thank you for your time dudes

on Jan. 24 2012 at 8:04 pm
Calligraphic SILVER, Shavano Park, Texas
5 articles 4 photos 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A smile is a curve that sets everything straight." -Phyllis Diller

Ahhhhh, I wanted to read more! The word choice is fantastic!

hey man said...
on Jan. 2 2012 at 8:18 pm
nice story, though a bit long

on Jan. 2 2012 at 4:25 pm
abigailaaden GOLD, Topsfield, Massachusetts
10 articles 15 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless."
- Jamie Paolinetti

I really liked your diction and descriptions, they portrayed great feelings and images. I would of liked to hear more about that short interaction, it sort of ended abruptly but great writing!

on Jan. 2 2012 at 4:19 pm
Bookwizard PLATINUM, Watertown, New York
38 articles 0 photos 53 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you love something, let it go. If it comes back it was always yours, if it doesn't it never was.

This story is great. I was absorbed into from the begining and I loved how you ended it. Godd job it was awesome.

on Dec. 11 2011 at 11:05 pm
Ahmad-Mobeen GOLD, Rawalpindi, Other
11 articles 4 photos 60 comments

Favorite Quote:
Understand life... Don't just STAND UNDER it!

brilliant narratiion! =) 5/5

sonJaNae said...
on Dec. 11 2011 at 9:27 pm
sonJaNae, Fort Wainwright, Alaska
0 articles 0 photos 68 comments

Favorite Quote:
"No one can change a person, but someone can be a person's reason to change" -Spongebob Squarepants

Really Nice!!! A mix of things that kept me on edge! I loved it :D It would be great if you could check out my work! Any comments or ratings would be very appreciated!!

mz.trillENT said...
on Nov. 3 2011 at 10:19 am
Hii/cumo stoss

ajoseph925 said...
on Oct. 29 2011 at 12:05 am
this WAS GREAT MAN THE story had such a nice feel to it. beatiful imagery and chracter reflection i've havent read A+ WORK IN a while....... A+ SIR keep up the good work

on Oct. 28 2011 at 4:41 pm
It was good, but it kind of just...ended.  A fitting ending, but I didn't see it coming, I was so absorbed.  Good work!

Lakeyn(; said...
on Oct. 28 2011 at 11:33 am
Nice And Interesting

on Oct. 11 2011 at 12:11 pm
would have been better with some flannel...

Mercanb said...
on Oct. 7 2011 at 1:39 pm
It is a great story with great details, I really enjoyed reading this!!!

cheeeeeer6 said...
on Oct. 7 2011 at 10:29 am
not that cool

coltw said...
on Oct. 7 2011 at 9:15 am
i was glued to it it was good

sad2302 said...
on Oct. 7 2011 at 9:14 am
This was very interesting.