-short story by mc m80
[I'm looking for feedback on this one. Or collaboration.]
“Abilities are like disabilities. Sometimes you are born with them, sometimes you develop them, and sometimes they are dumped on you.
Joey collects found name tags. He started at age 8. Walking to school, he found a Target cashier’s name tag with the name “Harley.” He always thought Harley was a cool, masculine name associated with motorcycles. There was a book on etymology at the library with elaborate explanations of names. Their roots, the meanings and the origins. Joey was a geek, awkward, socially disabled. Even as a small child he was fascinated with etiquette, social sciences, psychology, anything that would clue him in on the alien world around him. He took name tag straight to the library and looked up the meaning of the name “Harley.” It was English, meaning “hare clearing” from Old English hara “hare” and leah “clearing”. A rabbit meadow. A bunny field. Not tough at all. Yet, it sounded… peaceful.
Harley’s parents loved each other very much. They must have, because they screamed at each other all of the time, and stayed together. When Harley got home, his parents were screaming. His father was yelling and smashing things, his mother was screaming and crying. Harley went into his room and put on the name tag. He thought about a hare clearing. It was sunny and nice, soft and quiet. He imagined different hares lopping about, eating clover or what-not.
“BOOM, CRASH.” The screaming, crying, and yelling suddenly stopped.
“BOOM, thud.” Silence
Joey could never remember what happened after that. He could only remember the rabbits. They spoke to him. They told him he was okay. They told him they loved him. He was safe.
Joey went to live with his aunt and uncle. He had a cigar-box of name tags by the time he was eleven.
Joey is twenty. He is moving and his friend who is helping him asks about the boxes labeled “Name Tags.” He laughs. Says it is a kid hobby.
Joey is thirty. He is with his girlfriend. He pins a nametag on her. She looks a little uncomfortable at first, but plays along and kisses him back. When they come up for air, she can’t hide the surprise on her face. She smiles and kisses him back.
Joey is forty. He has aged gracefully, but alone. His room is covered with nametags. When he turn on the ceiling fan they all tap and flutter. He has several books on etymology, and a computer. A tank of catfish. Several tags are in front of the tank, attached to pictures of the fish. He enters the room and sits in front of the computer. He pulls up an “Adult” website.
Alienated as ever. His closest, most trustworthy friends live in the fish tank: Charlie, Patrick, Gary and Wanda. Joey still functions as sort-of a split personality kind-of person. It is more of a fantasy that helps his functionality. One of the ex-girlfriends called it a crutch. She also called him an emotional cripple. It was Harley who calmly but firmly told her to get the fuck outtta my house. Joey just let him.
Joey was off in his mind constantly. He wasn’t ever exactly comfortable in his own skin, but he had his friends.”