The Writing Disorder



New Fiction


by Joel Cox

      It was the night before the 2008 presidential election. In the antiquated kitchen of a tiny two-room apartment in San Francisco’s Outer Mission, a young man named Rory and his roommate Vanessa sat at the breakfast table, playing a game of chess.
      The lights and shadows from the television in the next room bounced off the walls as Brian Williams reported the evening news. The poles had Obama ahead by a comfortable margin, but the vote on Proposition 8 was a dead heat.
      “If Proposition 8 passes,” said Williams, “Marriage in the state of California would only be legally recognized between a man and a woman. An estimated 861,000 gay citizens living in California would lose their current right to enter into same-sex marriages.”
      Vanessa took Rory’s last bishop with her knight, putting him into “Check.”
      Rory was having trouble concentrating. He kept thinking about the phone conversation he just had with his girlfriend, Ashley. Before he hung up, she called him a lying slimy a-hole, and those words kept repeating in his head. But what distracted him even more was what was coming from the next room, which was now a Wendy’s commercial, promising mouthwatering delight in chocolate Frosties, chicken nuggets, and junior bacon cheeseburgers.
      “Hey,” said Rory. “Let’s go to Wendy’s and get some Frosties, some chicken nuggets and some junior bacon cheeseburgers.”
      To which Vanessa replied, “This is bullshit.”
      “You always do this when I’m about to win.”
      “Oh come on,” said Rory, abandoning the game in search of his jacket and keys. “I’ll buy you a Frosty, and we’ll finish the game when we come back. How about that?”
      With a frustrated sigh, Vanessa grabbed her purse and passed Rory out the door.
      “I’m only agreeing to this because you have no chance of winning,” she said. “You know this don’t you? I pity you.”
      “Of course you do, sweetheart.”
      “Don’t call me that.”

      It should be noted that the closest Wendy’s to Rory and Vanessa’s was in Daly City, somewhat of a lengthy trip for fast food. But for Rory it was worth it, not only because it gave him a long drive to clear his head, but because it got him out of a chess game he was losing to his smarter and prettier roommate. And also...
       “They put an addictive chemical in the honey mustard,” said Rory, squinting through the heavy rain falling on the windshield, as he and Vanessa drove down the highway.
      “It’s like edible crack.”
      “I got your edible crack right here pal,” replied Vanessa from the passenger’s seat.
      “Don’t tempt me,” said Rory. “I’ll turn this car around right now.”
      “You most certainly will not.”
      “Oh yeah? What makes you think I won’t?”
      “A) Because we’re almost there, B) because you would only be going home to get the rest of your ass kicked in chess, and C) you would be depriving yourself of your precious honey mustard. No sir, you’ll be driving right the fuck through to where you’re presently on route to.
      All Rory could think to say was “Jesus.”
      “Don’t fuck with me foolish boy,” Vanessa went on. “You will only bring harm upon yourself.”
      Rory was speechless for the rest of the trip—a most pleasant ride for Vanessa.
      They arrived at Wendy’s to find a group of disgruntled Samoan Mormons, standing out in the rain on a patch of grass adjacent the parking lot. They were in ponchos that looked like trash bags, and they held signs that bore slogans like: The Sodomites Will Be Cast into a Lake of Fire, Marriage is Between a Man and a Woman, God Hates Faggots, Vote Yes on Prop 8!
      “What are there those assholes doing?” said Rory.
      “Looks like they’re getting wet,” Vanessa replied.
      They got out of the car, and while Vanessa hurried through the rain into the restaurant, Rory shouted, “I hope you all get pneumonia!”
      The protestors showed no signs of having heard Rory. The only signs they acknowledged were the ones they carried steadfast in the rain.
      With the exception of a few employees, the restaurant was empty. Vanessa and Rory ordered and brought their food to a table near a large window, where they could gawk at the protestors and judged them.
      As Vanessa took a long sip of her thick Frosty, Rory said with a mouth full of French fries, “Goddamn idiots. I think I’ve seen one of those guys before.”
      “What guy?”
      “The guy with the God Hates Fags sign,” Rory said pointing. “He was with another group at a pride parade in San Francisco. They were protesting against the parade and gay people, and they were standing behind a line of armored police on horseback. I remember thinking it was almost poetic.”
      “Well, a bunch of horse’s asses spending all day in the hot sun, while staring at, well, horse’s asses!”
      “God Hates Fags at a pride parade in San Francisco," said Vanessa. "Pretty ballsy, even with police. You think it’s the same guy?”
      “It might not be, but it’s definitely the same sign. I suppose a lot of people might have that sign. Whoever he is, he's dedicated. No denying that.”

      The next evening, Rory found himself on the verge of losing another game of chess, when Brian Williams came back from commercial break to make the big announcement, which coincided with cheers heard throughout the city. After giving the final electoral count, Williams asked an emotional Tom Brokaw to comment on the historic occasion.
      To which, Brokaw responded, with tears in his voice, “I’ll give it a shot. This is not just a moment in American history,” said Brokaw. “This is a profoundly important passage out of the deep shadows of our racist past that began with that first slave offloaded on a ship. Race has been a curse for America for a long time. We have been working our way through it ... and this bright, articulate, young man ... comes to America at a time when ... politics had been so exclusionary ... and he invited everyone in. It’s a great commentary on this country and its determination to move forward, that it rallied behind him during a time of extraordinary stress and believed in his message of hope.”
      “This calls for a J,” said Rory. “You wanna do the honors?”
      Vanessa smiled and nodded.
      Rory nodded back. “I’ll get the wine”
      An hour went by, and Vanessa and Rory were drunk and stoned, curled up on the couch, reveling in the night’s energy, deep in absent conversation, when Vanessa finally asked if he had talked to Ashley since their fight.
      “Nope. She’s your friend. I guess you haven’t talked to her either.”
      “No. She didn’t even tell me what it was about. She just said you had a fight.”
      “It’s stupid. She thinks I like you.”
      Vanessa laughed and coughed. “It’s too bad I don’t like you!”
      “Yeah, too bad,” Rory replied in a pathetic attempt to hide his disappointment.
      “You don’t really like me do you?” Vanessa said.
      “No. No. Of course not. I mean there isn’t anything wrong with you, you just—”
      “It’s okay. Don’t say anything else. You had me at ‘of course not.’”

      Over the next few days, there had been little news about Proposition 8. Then one morning, Rory picked up a copy of the San Francisco Chronicle and found the article he was looking for. “Prop. 8 foes concede defeat...”
      That night it was Rory and Vanessa who found themselves holding up signs in the rain. Protests were going on all over San Francisco, but the beating heart of the outcry came from the steps of City Hall. When the rain let up, the people marched from Market Street to the Castro, thousands like a grand army, Rory and Vanessa among them.
      When they arrived at 16th and Castro, they sat down in the middle of the intersection. Drag queens made speeches and the people chanted; then, as if by the grace of God, a Catholic priest and a nun mysteriously emerged from the crowd. The nun called out, “Does anyone here wish to be married?”
      It started raining again, but the people would not be moved. Sitting next to Rory and Vanessa were two bright-eyed girls, both in their mid-20’s. They looked as though they had just arrived from a farm in the Midwest. They might have been sucked into some strange black hole and shot out the other side to land at this exact place, so they could stand together at that exact moment, when one smiled at another—who shook her head in approval and said, “Yes. We would like to be married.”
      Amazed at what was happening, Rory nearly fell over, but Vanessa was there to place her hand on the small of his back and catch him; she left her hand there as the priest asked, “Does anyone have rings for these two girls?”
      Forty or so people—including Rory and Vanessa—pulled out rings and held them up. The priest accepted the two closest, which happened to be those offered by Rory and Vanessa.
      “Thank you,” said the priest. “I believe these will do.”
      He performed the ceremony, and the two girls were married right there in the street, in the black of the rainy night, in front of a thousand strangers, who smiled upon those girls as if they were their own daughters or sisters or friends.
      Tears fell from Vanessa’s eyes, indivisible from the rain, but she wasn’t crying. When Rory saw this, he took Vanessa’s hand, leaned over, and kissed her gently on the cheek.

      Joel Cox is a fiction writer and journalist originally from Washington, D.C. His writing has appeared in the University of Mary Washington's Tomfoolery Review, Inkslinger Magazine, The New York Daily News, and The Bleacher Report. His interests are in subversive and satirical literature, cinematic influences in fiction, genocide, and boxing. He is currently in the MFA in Creative Writing in Fiction program at San Diego State University, where he teaches writing and reads for the literary journal, Fiction International.

COMMENT        HOME       BLOG


New Fiction


by Emily Kiernan


by Joan Connor


by Stephen Meyer


by Desmond Kon


By accessing this site, you accept these Terms and Conditions.
Copyright © 2010-2011 ™ — All rights reserved