An extract from a short story.
Another Lonely Night
Beep beep, says the computer. I imagine it does. I tell it I’m in love. I stroke its keys and give the screen a tender kiss. It doesn’t reply.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the legalization of gay marriage and how it must have felt so good for all the homosexuals and I’ve been thinking about how long it will take for the revolution to get under people’s skin so I can take my computer out on the town.
I imagine what they’ll say and how they’ll look at me and it changes depending on what kind of daydream I want to have. Sometimes I imagine them snarling, contorting their faces into rage I don’t understand, I see them run at me in large numbers and I hurl myself to the ground, wrapping myself around my computer, taking all the punches. I’d do that, I think. If it came to it.
Sometimes I imagine them turning to each other and I hear what they say even though they’re whispering and out of range. They say disgusting and unnatural and I thought he was such a nice boy, once, didn’t you know his mother, oh his mother, no wonder he turned out like that, like a deviant, how do you think they love, do you think it could be beautiful, maybe it isn’t so bad. They say no, it’s awful, horrible and they look at me and they look at us and they look away.
Sometimes I imagine they ignore me and I can hold my computer like it’s allowed. I think the sun will feel different then. On warm days I rest my computer near the open window in my bedroom, carefulcareful, and lay my head on its body. It feels alive, like a cat, like breathing.
When I am overcome with my feelings I prise off the space key on the keyboard and I masturbate and imagine that I’m inside my computer, in with all the wires, and I come on my hands and wish it could be on my computer but I’m too worried about causing an electrical fault.
i am not sure i am real
Brian, my manager said today, you take so long doing the reductions. I know, I said, I can’t help it. You need to be faster, my manager said. You need to spend less time on the reductions. We need your help in the mornings on produce. The machine doesn’t like it, I said. It doesn’t like it when more than six labels come out at once. It hurts, I said. Brian, my manager said, you sound like an insane person.
I think if I were an insane person I would have smashed up my computer already because of how much pain it causes me. I didn’t say this to my manager.
I need my job because otherwise I won’t have money to spend on things. I earn £8.91 an hour. I work 37.5 hours per week. I earn £13.36 an hour if I work on a Sunday. I come in 6 minutes early because that’s how long it takes to put on my uniform in the staff toilets. I often leave more than 15 minutes late. I am good at pressing down the old cardboard boxes into the trolleys so more cardboard can fit in and I am not very fast at doing the reductions.
is love pain i do not think i like it i am not sure if it is fair from fairest creatures we desire increase wordsworth believed that with the sonnets shakespeare unlocked his heart round hot pulsating grilled braised made into sausage
When work was slow I used to go sneaking through the warehouse and up the steel staircase and I stood in the office, in my manager’s office, and listened to the beeping of his answering machine. Sometimes, if I was lucky, it said something, in this lovely distorted female voice, and she said sorry Mr Schneider can’t come to the phone right now please leave a message after the beep and there was a beep and it was so delightful I laughed right there in my manager’s office.
Once some man, a young man, a boy really, with acne scars and a tie, knocked at the office door when I was in there and asked if Mr Schneider was there for the interview. Yes, I said, I am Mr Schneider, please hold, and I shut the door and it was so funny I couldn’t contain it so I laughed and I could hear how uncomfortable the boy was from outside the door. When I came out I told him that I wasn’t Mr Schneider I was just Brian and I went downstairs to get my manager and after that my manager looked at me strangely.
He never said anything about me being in his office but he put a lock on the door.
Sometimes I can hear the answering machine when I stand outside it. When I get the timing right.
i don’t know what to do i don’t know what to do i don’t have hands i have the motherboard my processor brain my hard-drive memories i haven’t forgotten anything. my video card isn’t fast enough and when you watch porn or play games it lags. when you talk to people i hear a thousand voices in my head i call this number for a data date
I feel guilty often.
I have this laptop, a sleek shiny little thing, ridiculous really, and I was initially going to use it for parts because I could hardly stand the sight of it but it was a Christmas present from my ex-girlfriend Amy and every time I go to take it apart I see her face and can’t do it.
I didn’t love Amy but she was nice to have around. I didn’t love her but she was nice to have sex with for a while.
The laptop doesn’t make any sound. It doesn’t whirr like my computer does. It doesn’t talk to me. The keys are very soft but it doesn’t have any curves. It has straight lines and sharp edges and I fear it’ll cut me whenever I open it.
When I first found my computer, sitting outside by the bins behind work like a beautiful omen, there was this rush that I can hardly explain and it was so strong and so painful that I had to sit down on the ground right next to it. The air smelled of old food and the bins were full of sandwiches and ready meals that had gone out of date that day and there was this homeless man going through the rubbish. We are meant to shout at the homeless people going through the bins but I can never be bothered.
I was sitting there, the back of my trousers getting wet from the rain the day before, this feeling in my chest, and I could feel the computer beside me. It felt like it was glowing even though it was dead. There were all these wires coming out from it like aliens you see in films. I reached for it and went on my knees, kneeling with my arms around it, and I knew that it meant more than I could understand.
i want to eat your skin
It’s heavy, my computer, and it took a while to get it home. I had to keep stopping to catch my breath. I have always been quite unfit.
When I made it into the house with my computer nearly spilling out my hands Amy was there on the sofa and she looked fairly concerned. Brian, she said, why do you have an ancient computer? Isn’t it wonderful, I said. I’m going to fix it. I’m confused, she said, and she did look confused. Are you hard?
We had sex and I looked at the computer out the corner of my eye and its pile of wires and I came too fast which normally would have embarrassed me but it didn’t this time.
another lonely night i don’t know what to do i don’t know what to do
That was almost a year ago. Since then, I’ve spent nearly £700 in repairs and parts to fix my computer. Amy broke up with me, and I haven’t had sex with anyone. My mother phoned twice and I ignored her both times. I’ve used the laptop probably around twenty times, for research. I’ve been outside less than ten times for reasons other than work or food. I am 29 in April.
Every morning I wake up at 6:30am, 5am if I’m on the early shift, and most of the time there’s a sunrise but sometimes it’s still dark. If it’s getting light the sun melts in under the blinds and hits the top of my computer. It makes the white casing yellowy like cream or fresh butter. If it shows dust on my computer I spend a few minutes cleaning it. I enjoy cleaning. It’s very intimate.
I like to type a few sentences to my computer every day. I have an open document that I use like a diary. I’ve been writing poetry and telling my computer how I am and how much it means to me. I’d never done this kind of thing for a girlfriend before but it feels right with my computer.
I type a few sentences before I leave for work or after breakfast if I have a day off. I kiss the screen and then wipe it off so it doesn’t leave a mark. I run a diagnostic check every day but this is very slow and takes a long time so I wait until after work to do that. I leave it for when I’m eating my dinner.
When I’m at work I think about my computer almost all the time. It takes my mind off how boring it all is. I don’t hate my job although it must seem like I hate it because I do get very bored. Sometimes I like the quiet, and the supermarket has huge windows that let a lot of light in, and when I’m on produce in the early morning I like the way the sun looks on all the fruit and vegetables.
I think about how my computer would like to see it, and I think about how my colleagues would react. I imagine I’d get fired if I brought it to work, or they’d smash up my computer for how much it distracts me. I imagine my colleagues throwing old fruit at me and my computer, all of it bursting on the screen, and it’s a great way to pass the time.