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August 2, 2011 / iainnd

The Fable of the Coolest Guy Ever

“You ready?” Travis asked quietly. He didn’t want to interrupt Chuck’s preparation. Travis let the question hang in the air as Chuck leaned on the bar, gazing meditatively into – almost through – the glass he held steadily in his hand. As Travis stepped back to give Chuck some space, Chuck lifted his head. He held up a finger, then in one swift motion finished his drink. He slammed the empty glass onto the bar, adjusted the collar of his jacket and cracked his neck.
“Let’s do this,” Chuck sneered. It was time.

“Guys,” Travis called out to the others. Bridgette and Lance stopped their conversation. Travis held up his camera.
“OK, one sec,” Lance responded and put his drink down on the table. Chuck placed himself next to Bridgette as she fixed her hair. He wasn’t shaking – he wouldn’t allow himself to. His breath became heavy. What once was but a lens now became the eye of a cyclops, staring him down, sizing him up for battle. He would not let himself be intimidated. I can do this, he thought to himself. I know I can do this.

He looked calm at the time, but were he to recount the event later Chuck would be a liar to say he wasn’t nervous. He’d been practicing, yes. Hell, it was almost a month now since he came up with this plan. Every day, sometimes for hours at a time, he would practice this in the mirror, with nothing but the tiniest doubt locked far in the back of his mind. But the tiniest pebble can crack your windscreen if you’re driving fast enough.

“Smile, fuckers,” Travis commanded cheerily as he raised the small grey box in front of his face. Without letting the others notice, he nodded sternly to Chuck. They weren’t in on Chuck’s plan. He’d confided solely in Travis, who would not let Chuck’s faith be misplaced.

Some native tribes hold the belief that the camera steals your soul. If they were right, Chuck reasoned, then tonight it would be worth the fee. For this photo would not just be him standing with two friends. This photo would be a legend.

The three huddled together before the camera – Lance leaning his elbow casually on the table; Bridgette pulling that same rehearsed smile she had in all photos and sticking her chest out, tastefully, not too far; and on the right with his arm around her was Chuck.
The tiny red light from the camera was unlit. Chuck knew Travis was waiting for him. Like a machine set to perform a task exactly the same way each time, Chuck’s muscle memory acted as it was trained. He moved as he had been waiting to do for the past four weeks.
Chuck squinted the faintest amount, lifted his chin, slightly raised his top lip, his face an encyclopedia-worthy picture of smugness. He raised his free hand roughly a foot in front of his chest, displaying a steady fist. Then he did it. Chuck extended the middle digit with mind-blowing disregard for photograph etiquette.

There was a flash.
It was done.

Bridgette and Lance relaxed, but Chuck could not. In his best attempt to be casual, he walked over to Travis to check the photo. Lance picked up his drink and resumed his conversation with Bridgette, the two of them now oblivious participants in what would soon be called history.
“How’d it turn out?” Chuck asked hesitantly. Travis handed him the camera.
“See for yourself.”

In one brief and simple glance, Chuck knew the snapshot was exactly how he dreamed. The lighting, the composition, and most importantly, the finger. Plain for all to see, offending the eyes and yet at the same time refusing to let them look anywhere else. Fuck you, viewer, Chuck’s gesture screamed. Fuck you hard.
“Perfect,” Chuck smiled, and it was.
The rest of that Saturday night would pass the same as any other.

Sunday would be the longest day of Chuck’s life. He would not move from his desk. He stared at his computer screen, his web browser maximised displaying his Facebook news feed with no other tabs open. Chuck was beginning to feel as much pressure – if not more – as the spring underneath his keyboard’s F5 key, constantly buckling under his desperate refreshing of the page. Dammit Travis, he thought, where the fuck is this picture?
Nothing else mattered that day. His stomach’s ceaseless demands to be fed were ignored. He didn’t even notice the strain on both his back and his eyes from sitting unhealthily close to the screen. Ergonomics be damned, Chuck needed to see that picture.

3:15pm. Beeping. His alarm. Chuck woke up in an instant. He had fifteen minutes to get to work. That nap was a bad idea. But wait – wasn’t it Sunday? It was. Work was yesterday. He must have forgotten to turn his alarm off. He didn’t even remember falling asleep. He took a second, then slowly recalled everything. He’d nodded off waiting for something, but what was it?

The photo.

With unmatched desperation, Chuck shook the mouse around to turn off the screensaver. His heart skipped a beat as he saw that little red number, which at that moment was his whole world. Three new notifications. He read them from the bottom up.
Travis McGee tagged 7 photos of you, the first one read. He ignored it. Seven new photos, but all he cared about was one. The next two notifications were what he needed.
Kourtnie Jowls and 52 other friends like a photo of you, was the next one, and finally Matt Dufresne and 80 other friends commented on a photo of you. Chuck knew instinctively that they both referred to the same photo. After all, from that day on no other photo would matter to anybody ever again. With the anticipatory smirk of a child unwrapping Christmas presents, Chuck clicked.

“omg chuck! are u giving the finger to the camera?!?!?!?!” one person said. Names did not matter. The people did not matter. Only their words.
“LOL good one man” said another.
“I’m never going to stop masturbating to this,” a girl commented.
“hahahahahahaha thats awsum.”
On and on they went. Chuck didn’t know what was aching more – his finger from scrolling down the page, or his cheeks from smiling so hard for so long.

Then there was one comment. The most important one. It said what all the other comments were hinting at, and what Chuck had thought as soon as the flash of the camera hit his eyes.

Sitting back, content, happy, peaceful, Chuck relaxed.
“I did it,” he told himself with immense pride.
“I did it.”


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  1. Anonymous / Aug 2 2011 1:48 pm


  2. Anonymous / Apr 12 2012 8:32 am


  3. Anonymous / Jun 26 2012 5:15 am


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