Sean Beaudoin

Enough excellent writing to fill a large tube sock

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Excerpt

In the morning, I dragged my bike to Keith’s house. It was heavy and my shoulders were sore and my neck and wrist and back and ankles hurt. A couple of times I thought I heard a big muscle car coming and ducked into the bushes, but both times it was just Chevettes with lousy mufflers.

FIVE THINGS ONE TYPICALLY LEARNS WHILE SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME IN THE BUSHES:

I’d never been to Keith’s house before, which was actually an apartment in an L-shaped building over a cement courtyard with blooms of flowers and animal-shaped shrubbery. Very un-Keith. I leaned my bike against the mailboxes without locking it, then taped a note on the crossbar. It said: "TRY SLASHING THE TIRES NOW, JACKOFF. YOU WANNA STEAL THE WHOLE THING? GO AHEAD."

I rang Keith’s bell. There was no answer, so I rang it six times. I rang it one time for six minutes. I rang it to the rhythm of Superfreak, by Rick James. Finally there was an annoyed voice.

"What?"

"Keith, it’s me," I said. " Stan. Let me in."

"I don’t know any Stan," the voice said, and then shut off the microphone. I hit the buzzer nine more times. Then I gave up and climbed the fence. The wires sticking out at the top were pointy and cut my hand. It was becoming a collection. When I got to Keith’s door, I kicked it, three times, hard. While I was winding for the fourth, he opened up. It was too late to stop my leg, so I kicked him in the shin.

"Ouch," he said. He was wearing an orange bathrobe that was ratty and stained, and smiley-face boxers. His enormous belly jutted out, covered with hair. His legs were pale and white, except the shin, where I’d kicked it, which was red and would soon be blue. He needed a shave and a haircut and a mustache trim. In one hand he held an enormous bag of M+M’s, the size of a pillowcase.

"You need a mustache trim," I said.

Keith shrugged, and left the door open, walking back into the apartment. It was clean and neat and tastefully decorated. There were chintz curtains and framed Klimt prints and matching lamps. It was completely impossible.

"No way," I said.

"Way," he said. I followed him as he flopped onto the couch. The springs groaned. He pulled a blanket over himself and looked at the ceiling. "What you want?"

I found the remote and turned down the volume of the sports channel. An announcer was screaming about the lack of foresight in one team calling a time out with six seconds left, when they should really have waited until there were only five seconds left. It gave me pleasure to cut him off.

"I want you to come with me."

Keith groaned. "Where?"

"It’s a surprise."

"Do they serve beer at the surprise?"

"No."

"Do they have Supreme Nachos at the surprise?"

"No."

"Then I’m not going."

"Yes, you are," I said. I grabbed his arm and tried to pull him up. He didn’t budge. I grabbed his leg and yanked and tugged. He didn’t move an inch. He reached for a handful of M+M’s and started humming. I went into the kitchen and found a broom. I jammed it between the cushion and his back, and with a mighty shove, levered him onto the floor. He landed face down, nose mashed into the carpet, and just lay there, motionless. His breath stirred dust bunnies that raced under a desk.

"C’mon, Keith." I said. "Get up!"

"Why bother?" he said. "My store is ruined. The delinquents have finally taken over. What’s the point?"

"They haven’t taken over," I said. "Really. I can prove it. But you have to come with me."

"It’s comfortable down here," he said.

I began to whack him with the broom. I started with his feet and worked upward. When I got to his shoulders, he stood and said, "Alright, already."

"Go get dressed," I told him. "And get your car keys. I’m driving."

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“We looked at each other. She was wearing a pink top and white pants. I had to say something. Anything."

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