The New Adventures of Faber-tan

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kosherbacon
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The New Adventures of Faber-tan

Post by kosherbacon »

Never let a perfectly good character design go to waste.

Also, proofreading is for chumps

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Survivors of the Imagination Room report frequent headaches, nightmares, and extended periods of dissociation. Despite these issues, patients claim to be living normal, happy, and fulfilling lives. Well, at least those who didn’t find themselves imprisoned for violent crime. When reached for comment, Dr. Bosworth stated that

My CD player is skipping again and my concentration is broken. Not that I was listening to anything that worthwhile. It’s a mislabelled 64kbps MP3 file, padded with thirty seconds of white noise, and converted into a CD audio track burned onto a cheap recordable disc that’s already decomposing.

It was the best I could manage with the school’s internet access being what it is.

I skip to the next track, adjust my light-up behind-the-ear headphones and continue to work. I mouth off the sentences several times over before committing them to word processor. I do this quietly, because talking to myself would be crazy.

Eventually, I write enough to fill the page I have planned. Next step would be to proofread, then print out, then copy down character by character on my typewriter, run it through a Xerox twice, and then cut and paste the resulting sheet onto some black construction paper. I’ll scan those and print craploads of copies on coloured sheets, staple them together, and strategically lay down stacks of my newspaper in low-medium traffic common areas of the school. That’s how I do it.

The final stretch of work has me distracted to the point that I don’t notice Edie come in. I wouldn’t have heard her knocking, which is fine. I don’t have a key to lock my dorm room anyway.

As I kill the noise and power down my equipment, Edie fingers the pages I’ve composed so far.

“How much of this is supposed to be real?” she asks.

“It’s all true. It’s in the paper, isn’t it?”

“Even this cartoon of Mrs. Rasmussen doing lines of coke naked in some kind of satanic pentagram thing on the floor?”

“Especially that one,” I say. “So maybe I kinda sorta didn’t exactly see her do that, or have any reputable sources saying it happened, but in a broader sense, it’s true.”

“It resonates as true,” I conclude.

“Have you considered changing the title of your newsletter? The Weekly Autist as a name is kinda lame, at best.”

“Oh, that. I know that doing it weekly is a bit overambitious, and sometimes I’m lucky to pull one out in a month, but I inherited the title. It has brand recognition. It’s a school institution.”

“Volume 55, huh? How many issues in a volume?”

“I dunno. The newest issue I know of was like, volume 30.”

“You… didn’t coordinate with the original writer?”

“I have no idea who they are. All I knew was that there was a perfectly good newsletter that wasn’t being published.”

“What if there’s someone out there in this school, publishing a totally different newsletter, but using the same title?”

“That’s not an issue. The Weekly Autist is bigger than any writer.”

“I wonder if your imaginary colleagues would be any less slanderous to your dorm leader.”

Speaking of the devil, Mrs. Rasmussen is in town running errands, leaving the inmates running the women’s dorms. Edie’s here, and I’m not scheduled to have a tutoring session, so I get up, tenderly embrace her and…

“Hey, hey. Slow down,” she says while I casually slide my hand up the back of her blouse up to unhook her bra.

“We don’t have much time.”

“I know.”

“But isn’t it hot with the possibility of getting caught? So much better than your place.”

“No, I mean we, you and me, we do not have much time.”

I feel like I was just hit by lightning. I stumble my way to my bed, somehow.

“Summer’s over,” Edie reports. “I’m going back to school.”

School being some lame-ass university two countries away.

“Oh.”

Oh. Yeah. I guess this was a thing that was inevitable. Edie’s gig at the tutoring place the school sent me was just until fall classes started again. Our time together has gotten precious enough to be measured in hours, minutes even. I don’t know whether the time would be better spent savouring every last drop of each other, or planning on how to make things last.

“So what do we do now?”

“I don’t think we can do anything. That’s it.”

“I mean, I can take the train up to see you every week.”

That’s a lie. Well, not yet a lie. What would that be called, an impossible promise? I am how you say… not independently wealthy. Maybe I could do some odd-jobs. Petty theft? “Modelling?”

Last time I went about doing something unscrupulous for a living, I ended up here.

I’m technically not here for having poor life choices like automobile theft, but that’s what I tell people when they ask what my deal is. I had to come up with a worthwhile story for ventures and errands in the outside world. This uniform, from the snap-on faux necktie to the garish crimson blazer is a warning label for the world.

“It’s not going to work, and it’s not fair for either of us, especially you,” she says, killing any of my plans before I could incubate them.

“You think your little special-ed girlfriend will hold you back, huh?”

“No. The opposite. I think you’re better than this. You don’t need me to tutor you, and you deserve more than just… wasting construction paper between sexual encounters."

“Hey, hey, this isn’t a waste. And I don’t mean the newsletter.”

“Doesn’t your school have a newspaper club? You’d be really good at it.”

I thought about joining it for a nanosecond and not a bit longer. The teacher in charge is an idiot.

“Is this the kinda shit they put in your head when you try learning how to be a teacher? How about you drop out? Or change your field of study?”

“I’m sorry, but there is… there is… I don’t see any way we can make this last forever.”

“How about just like, another forty-five minutes?” I beg. I want to be angry and to scream and yell and throw shit across the room at Edie but something about being dumped by someone so much more mature really breaks me down into something pitiful.

“Okay. Happy ending.”

But not happily ever after.

There was a time when I was going to get a tattoo to match hers, move in together, and make our own little world, That day was always “someday” and it was just fantasy. Could anyone blame us for trying? Kids daydream, adults plan. Our ideas were so beautifully, tragically the former and looks like Edie had to grow up eventually.

What ensues is probably my saddest but to-date most important orgasm.

She gets up, we get dressed, and I make like I’m going to get back to work as if we didn’t just break up.

“I hate you, and I’m going to write some nasty shit about you,” I say when she opens the door to leave, as if anyone in earshot would care. "And I'm deleting you from my instant messenger."

“I know,” Edie replies as she leaves.

I think I’ll slap on two nicotine patches tonight.

***

My “sessions” with Dr. Faber are a lot less formal than the ones I have with Dr. Vogt. For one, Dr. Faber isn’t my doctor. It’d be a conflict of interest, what with him being my legal guardian and whatever. Also, we usually don’t meet in his office. Today we’re doing rounds around the lake, so we can both smoke.

“They’ve eliminated the smoking lounge in the staff area,” he calmly reports through aromatic cigar smoke.

“Can’t you change the rules? You practically run this place.”

Dr. Siegfried sucks in a big puff from his cigar and moves on to the next topic.

“Mrs. Rasmussen says you’ve been having a rough week. Something involving a young lady from the city?”

“How’d you even hear about that?”

“I read about it.”

I shrug and feign ignorance, since I can’t decide whether to be happy that at least one person reads my newsletter, or to be appalled that he’s seen my dirty laundry.

“You know,” he remarks with some approval. “I haven’t had any incident reports or urgent memos with your name on it come across my desk. I spoke with Dr. Vogt earlier today and he had absolutely nothing to report.”

A bunch of doctors conferring with each other, trying to figure out what to do about me.

“But…?

“You’re taking things remarkably well. Dr. Vogt noted an improvement in how you manage personal setbacks over the past year.”

“And what’s your assessment?”

“You don’t need to be strong all the time. There is no topic to petty to talk about here.”

Dr. Siegfried struggles to let professional barriers down, but doesn’t quite manage.

“Well,” I say while shaking ash off my cigarette, “I figured you were tired of making excuses for me.”

“All the same, I keep my pager with me at all time.”

Going about the way we do, we probably don’t look like parent and child, or doctor and patient, but maybe like a couple business associates.

Okay, not business associates. Just one serious looking dude with a waistcoat, fedora, and briefcase accompanied by a teenager playing pretend with a book bag and a school uniform carefully engineered to be devoid of choking and strangulation hazards.

“Hey, can I move rooms before autumn classes start?”

“I don’t see why not. What’s wrong with the room you have now?”

“I can’t open the window.”

“Ah, yes. I’ll see what I can do.”

“Also, is there like, a sharpshooting club you know of that I can join? Or uh, can you help me start one on campus?”

“What happened to the school fencing club?”

“I went to some of the meetings and it was more bookwork than I expected. You shouldn’t have to do homework to competitively stab people.”

“I don’t think you’ll find marksmanship to be any less technical. Don’t give up so easily. I think you’ll find the discipline to be enriching.”

I grumble a little and fidget with my lighter.

“How about a part-time job?” Dr. Siegfried asks.

Really?

“Really? Like with money? Should I go talk to a career counsellor or do you know of something?”

“I’ve never been good at utilising the secretaries the school keeps giving me. I can never get around to feeling I could rely on them.”

“And you trust me?”

“Should I not? It’ll be simple at first. Just answering my office phone and couriering correspondences around campus.”

“You know, normal people use things like email and mobile phones now.”

He pauses to rest his briefcase on a drinking fountain and opens it.

“Speaking of which, you’ll probably be needing this.”

I’m handed a protective-film-still-on-the-screen brand new cell phone.

It’s a gift, even though he’s trying to play it off as a tool for work.

A part-time job. A phone, a smooth brick of Scandinavian plastic freedom. Last year I was barely allowed out of my room, and now I can pretend to be a teenager.

It’s too much. Isn’t it? I’m sure if I told Dr. Vogt, he’d insist on sticking with baby-steps.

“I don’t know if I can do this.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know. No reason, I guess.”

“If there’s no reason, then you can.”

“I suppose so. Yeah. I… I won’t let you down.”

“I know you won’t.”

The phone gets shoved into my pocket as if it were contraband.

“Hey boss, Is there anything I should know before I start?”

“Hm, yes. I don’t intend to burden you with anything confidential, but you probably will come across sensitive information. If I see any of that published in a certain student newsletter, then I will be in need of a new assistant. And I can only do so much to protect you.”

“I, um, I understand. Maybe The Weekly Autist will go on hiatus for a while. Or maybe someone else will take over.”

“Do what you see fit.”
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