I just want to draw your attention to the fact: I don't care.
I don’t give a fuck.
In fact, if you are easily offended, fuck off.
No coincidence: I live in a town called “Nobody Gives A Fuck.”
Population - 183,701.
183,701 deadbeats crying out for more.
183,701 asshole, deadbeat losers, myself included, trying to get ahead - you get the picture?
The thing about this town? Nobody does give a fuck.
My dreams and aspirations? No one gave a shit about any of that or the fact that I’m a writer, or trying to be - that’s all I want to do, write.
I wanted to make it big.
A depraved idea, when you stop to consider that it had already left so many bruised and broken in its wake. And, of course, I also had to work while trying to support my habit. I arrive every day at 8am and leave at 6pm. Whatever I did in between those hours is a blank. Sat all day in my little partition cubicle, in front of the computer monitor, every other chance I had I was writing. Even visiting the ablutionary facilities, why, whenever I visited a toilet cubicle I would write on the wall or door, just a little something. Oh, you know, how my day was going, what my thoughts were. If anything I was usually just updating the trite graffiti that was already there. Problem was, this was work and staff were definitely disinclined to write on cubicle walls and doors for fear of being found out and the ensuing lethal recriminations. I worked for the CIA, incidentally. Nothing covert or operational, I was in the Budgeting & Financing Department, a very public-facing role. A week earlier I’d already baited trouble when showing a new, senior colleague around. Meeting her at the front reception of the building I’d said: "You get through security okay - no guns or drugs…? Let me show you the way to the morgue - sorry, I mean the accounts department."
Well, this hadn’t gone over too well with her and I’d received an official admonishment from the Department - these CIA types don’t like to fuck around because of all the illegal, covert shit they always doing and any staff seeing to bring the administration into further disrepute or under any additional, unnecessary scrutiny were heavily frowned upon. An example: A few weeks ago a colleague, Jefferson, had misappropriated a stapler from Stationary. The next day he was gone - missing. There was no explanation and no one seemed to know or want to know anything about his whereabouts.
Anyhow, I wrote a literary observation on the CIA cubicle wall:
There are no new stories, only new writers.
People like me.
Readers like you.
Also, it hadn’t helped I wrote this in very big, capital letters.
It took up an entire cubicle wall.
In indelible marker pen.
Talk about opening a shit-storming can of worms. Next thing Human Resources was on my case and I was hauled before them and the new director. I mean this was the Director of the CIA. Apparently he was a real stickler for conformity. Writing on the clean, CIA cubicle walls was a clear violation of staff-policy and a dismissible offense the HR guys explained.
“Well, it wasn’t me,” I lied.
“It was, you’re on goddamn video!” the Director interrupted.
“I am? Inside the cubicle…?”
“That’s right - inside the cubicle.”
The HR people looked surprised by this unexpected revelation or that he’d spoken at all and began whispering urgently amongst themselves.
“That sounds like a clear violation of my privacy, a complete infringement of my rights,” I said.
“It probably is, but this is the CIA, son, and we take violations of this kind very seriously.”
“More seriously than my human rights?”
“Absolutely. We’ve been dicked around by these human rights assholes for long enough. What you did brings into question your loyalty and commitment to the company - in the old days, when you were still just a speck of semen in your daddy’s dick, we’d soon as just killed you!”
“You making an example of me…?” I asked him.
“Don’t answer that!” the HR people yelled at him, but he waved them off.
“I sure as shit am, son! Jesus! We need to be getting rid of reprobate degenerates like you!” he yelled.
“I’m afraid what the Director is saying is that we will have to let you go,” one of the HR people said.
“I see,” I said.
I didn’t mind, though.
I didn’t really care anymore.
But something inside me made me say: “You kicking me out even if though I know all about LX17…?”
The HR people all looked confused.
“The helicopters, Africa - shit went down and I know about it,” I said.
Although I didn’t know what had happened out there, exactly.
But apparently I knew enough.
I knew the CIA had rented helicopters from some little-known African no-mans land country. I also knew they had flown a team of about 30 people across that border and on into Nigeria. They had had to land someplace deep in that country and fill up with fuel. I knew this because, ridiculously, they’d produced a receipt for the transaction!
Still, all considered, it was all only slightly dubious.
But clearly more dubious was the handwritten manifest from the unknown African country they had initially launched their operation from. It listed each item the CIA had leased, detailed with the type and model:
Mk 1 Utility Knife (Navy) X 30
Machete (Green Handle) X 14
AN/M14 Thermite Grenade X 350
GUN - Beretta M9 (92FS) (9×19mm) X 63
CARBINE RIFLE - Mk 18 Mod 0 CQBR X 35
Helicopters: Bell UH-1Y X 4
Kaman SH-2 X 1
Sikorsky H-34 X 2
Bullets/Rounds - Various X 1,000,000
The CIA had paid for all of it with a credit card - $8 million dollars and some change! Impressed - and obviously surprised - by the diligent bookkeeping of the unknown African country concerned, it was all just speculation on my part, based on nothing but conjecture I’d pieced together in the moment while processing the paperwork. I knew for sure, though: Nothing good could have happened over there in Nigeria. The reason I mention all this, though my recollection’s a little hazy, it was probably at about that time I got into narcotics.
Not selling, just using them.
Recreationally, at first.
And then every day.
Actually, just cocaine - pure, pure cocaine.
I’d needed something to help fuel my writing habit and, oh man, did cocaine boost that action - I was writing 200 - 300 words a day. Hell, sometimes even 350 words!
The Director was thoughtful.
On the other hand, the HR people were fraught and thought they should probably interject before something else was said and they wouldn’t be able to retract it.
“We strongly recommend refraining from saying anything further, sir, we really, really do,” the HR people told the Director.
“With the utmost urgency!” they said.
The Director waved his hand dismissively at them.
“Fuck that. People voted this government in - voting is a fundamental human right providing opportunity for any majority of people to suppress the rights and beliefs of others! We're the goddamn government…! And you, you still probably a little loaded - that’s right, Bruce, we ran a blood-diagnosis. Apparently you got enough cocaine in you to power a small country!”
“A little-known African no-mans land country?” I ventured.
“Why , you little puke-” he started to say, so I knew I was right about Project LX17.
Still, I was surprised, I hadn’t submitted for any blood tests.
“Yeah, not willingly, but you did. You fell asleep at your console in your pathetic, stupid little cubicle a few days ago and one of our guys got it then. Take a look at this graph here.” The Director pressed a button and an overhead image was projected onto the wall. “See that blue line? See how static and level it is? That represents a normal person. Now see that red line deviating from the blue line at a 90 degree right angle heading on up and right off the chart…? Well, that’s you. You’re off the goddamn charts, man…!” the Director said.
Immediately the HR people began objecting, but the CIA director told them all to shut the fuck up. He actually said that: “Shut the fuck up…!”
Or he’d have them all killed.
“Tonight,” he threatened, tapping the table with the nail of his index finger and they all quickly quietened down. “So here’s what I propose: We’ll give you twelve months paid up and you fuck off. And it goes without saying, mention this conversation, Project LX17, anything at all about the surveillance in the cubicles, toilets and other public-private space to media or anyone else and we kill you and your family members. Even better, we make it look like you did it - how’s that sound, bastard?”
I thought about it.
The Director smiled, enjoying himself.
“You know, not that it matters, but I read some of your stuff. Thought it was pretty good. So think about it, you’ll be able to write full time on the CIA’s dime - maybe you’ll even be able to make it big like you being planning.”
He knew everything. They must have had a team on me for months, although I hadn’t seen any accounting receipts for the job.
“You know, those bastard publishers and agents get a big percentage of any takings you make…? You should self-publish.”
“Say what…?” I said.
“Self-publish - go on-line and upload your work? Jesus! You really are a moron! A lot of these new writer types are doing it. I mean, there’s only so much rejection a man can take before he walks into a school and blows a whole lot of kids away. What’s the count now, four of five hundred rejections in the last three years…?” When I didn’t reply he said: "I've heard it said there is little difference between a writer and a fool. You ever hear that, Bruce?"
I said: "I've never heard that and, as a writer, I'm familiar with a very wide selection of idioms.”
He said: “But you thinking about it, right?”
And after a while I said: “I guess I’ll take you up on your offer.”
“It truly is a once in a lifetime offer. Literally. And this way we won’t have to kill you, with any luck,” the Director said. “Good luck with the writing. And just remember, you can’t write about any CIA stuff or we’ll have to kill you.”
So I quit.
It was the only thing that made sense.
I’d no longer enjoyed work anyhow - who does? Really, I mean?
But I’d quit pretending enjoying it, too.
No one in Nobody Gives A fuck gave a shit about any of that stuff that had happened to me over at the CIA, either, of course. Or what I was writing. I had all this time (and cocaine) on my hands. I could finally concentrate on building a small platform to get my voice out there and above the “crowd” so it could finally be heard.
I could be “literary” full-time now.
Writing was one of those things I didn't want to do but had to. It was a compulsion, like cocaine was for drug addicts. Maybe it was the cocaine, but I’d become quite religious about writing. For instance, I always write facing south, usually toward Spain (I have an app on my phone, an electronic compass that uses GPS to tell me which direction south is and how far away Spain still was).
I wasn’t in Spain, I was high.
But I was dedicated.
Most writers are.
That’s how they make it big in the first place, if they’re lucky. I was going to write a book, I’d big plans, but got stuck in the first sentence - for six months: “Despite her warnings, she bids me farewell.”
Was it the CIA, messing with my brain? One of their supposedly extinct “subversion” programs revived?
That horrific sentence had showed itself to almost be my undoing.
Almost, but not quite.
The cocaine burnt the inside of my nose, made it blister and my eyes water. My brain felt as though it was practically on fire. I was, I’d realized, no doubt facing the writer’s criminal: Writers block.
"Fuck off," I tell it and smashed the little fucker in the jaw. Dislocated, it collapsed to its pathetic knees on the floor. Its stupid little eyes roll like pinwheels, disorientated and surprised by my vicious assault. Watching it gasping for breath, bent over in pain, I ran up and kicked it in the kunt.
Then I sat down in front of my laptop again and wrote.
“Suzanna claimed she’d been physically threatened by a large man with a mustache. But this was Germany, Berlin, just after the end of the war - everyone was threatened. And large men with a mustaches were everywhere.”
Not much to go on, but it was something. And something was a lot better than nothing.
My phone beeped! and a paid-for advert popped up on my phone: “Are you lonely…?”
I thought: Yes, I'm so very, very lonely.
I looked at my wife.
Sorry, I mean I looked at my watch, which was on my wrist. It was 5:45 and my wife wasn’t home.
So I still had a few minutes. Quickly I made some notes, a short list consisting of "Things I’ve Noticed":
1. I should diet. I'm not saying I’m overweight. I am saying that my wife says I’m overweight.
2. I think we can agree: Global warming is afoot.
3. And the Swedish supergroup, ABBA, has something to do with it.
4. Communism is: Where everyone trying to get ahead is the same as anyone else - as long as you keep working your quota, otherwise you could be shot. Or sent to work-camp for `readjustment'.
5. My wife is having an affair.
6. The word “lunatic” is derived from the word “lunar”, referring to psychotic episodes once thought to be caused by the appearance of a full moon.
Obviously – even though I have a list of other things to preoccupy me - I focused on item number 5: My wife is having an affair. How did I know this? I’d seen her behaving in a sexually inappropriate way with another man. I remember this as if it were yesterday. It was yesterday and we had agreed to meet today to discuss the - as my wife had said - “ramifications”.
I’d never seen the guy before.
I didn’t know him from a bar of soap, so I’ll call him: Larry, Larry Macdermot. Larry and my wife were in a parking lot outside a popular haunt. And the reason I know she was behaving in a sexually inappropriate way? Goddamn Larry had his hand up her skirt…!
It was moving under there, very quickly.
She had her mouth in Larry’s neck, the way she always did when she was coming. She would get up there, under your mouth in your neck and make these little noises that would build in intensity until she’d climax. You may be thinking Larry Macdermot’s not someone to be around for too long. Maybe Larry’s just a one-off and my wife’s not having an “affair”, she’s just fucking around. But there was a a finality about the entire act, a sordid intimacy to how she’d buried her beautiful mouth in this asshole’s neck that made me believe this was unlikely. Another reason was because she and Larry Macdermot were in a parking lot and she didn’t care who saw them!
Because she didn’t have to - they were in love. People in love don’t give a shit about anything or anyone, right?
Something else I should mention: People who have just seen their wife being fingered by some laborer don’t care too much for consequences. Before I knew what I was doing, I’d driven my car at them. All I remember very clearly is I’d had them in my sights as I roared across the parking lot at speed. It was dark. They were under a streetlight in the parking lot. A full moon appeared above them suddenly from behind clouds. It was low and full, a weak light hanging from the center of the dark and heavy skies. They filled the windscreen as I bore down on Larry’s fucking hand up my wife’s skirt and her face buried in his neck.
I’d wanted to seriously maim them, particularly Larry.
But had to first swerve several times around various parked cars, drunks and other late-night fornicators.
Don’t worry, unfortunately I just missed them both. At the last minute I was forced to suddenly veer left to avoid a drunk couple who had appeared staggering drunkenly in the middle of the road with their arms around one another and I’d hit a parked car I hadn’t been aiming for at all instead. It was a tremendous impact. The other car was all dented and parts of it - the bumper and headlights, the front windscreen - lay on the ground in pieces.
My wife and Larry stared.
“Larry” looked like he’d shat himself, but he still had his hand, protectively, up my wife’s skirt. I guess they were in shock, not because I’d discovered them in the act, so to speak, but because they’d almost being killed. Well, what did I care? I reversed the car off the other one and pulled alongside the two of them, my driver’s side-window, shattered.
“You goddamn slut…!” I yelled through the broken car window at my wife. “Larry! You’re a marked man, you hear me you son-of-a-bitch…!”
Then, for legal reasons, I sped off quickly, which was in itself (after my attempted murder of my wife and her lover) yet another violation of the law: Leaving the scene of an accident.
Some years ago I suppose the entire episode could legally have been explained because of the full moon hanging overhead, although I did not feel I was a lunatic, just angry and jilted. I probably would have got away with it, too. Or maybe it had happened because I was pretty overloaded on cocaine and had lost all contact with reality, family and anyone else who may have cared for me. Legally, that felt as though it made a pretty solid, sensible case…
According to my wife, apparently someone had called the police, but Larry and his new “girlfriend” claimed the driver had driven off before they could get any details. They had done this to protect me. They had told the police they weren’t interested in pressing charges. The police had put it down to a hit-and-run, probably a dime-a-dozen in a town like Nobody Gives A Fuck.
My wife said: “Look, obviously it’s still early days in our relationship, but we’re very serious as a couple - we want to be together. To make it easy for everyone, we were trying protect you - I’m trying to help you…!”
“By having affairs? Gee, thanks. I really appreciate the gesture,” I said.
She said: “I guess that’s the last straw then.”
“You mean me having caught you with fucking Larry? I should think so…!”
She said: “Who the fuck is Larry…? You almost trying to murder us is the last straw. One call to the police and you go to jail. The police take attempted double-murder very seriously in any first world country like ours. It would be a crime not to!”
My wife is not a lawyer, incidentally.
A lawyer is what I’m probably going to need in the next few weeks if I keep descending at the rate I am.
“What the fuck are you doing anyway?” she wonders.
“Jesus Christ! Why aren’t you even listening?”
“Why are you having affairs…?” I retorted, suddenly quite pleased with myself.
“That's where we are in life. It just seems like a logical step, I guess. I'm tired of you, you're tired of me - aren’t you…?” she asked hopefully.
“I’m tired of your fucking around. Jesus woman! Why don't you love me?”
“There are many reasons. For one, all this writing and the cocaine - neither are good for you!”
“I can stop,” I said.
“Writing…? Yeah, I don’t think so,” she said, highly skeptical.
She was right.
The cocaine, that wasn’t a problem.
That I could stop.
Any good, expensive and reputable drug-rehab program, 12 months and I would be fine.
But stop writing? No, that seemed very unlikely.
She sighed and said: “You know where it all went pear-shaped…?”
Oh yeah, I knew. It was the day we'd met. It had just been raining and she'd looked so pretty all disheveled - the way her hair had clung wetly to her face and there was something about how her make-up ran down from the corners of her eyes trailing down her cheeks in thin, dirty black lines like the dissipating tail of a comet disappearing overhead into the night sky.
It was like looking at a clown – I'd felt like laughing. We went to see a movie, had dinner, then, pleased with ourselves we fucked and she said we should get married. I pointed out it was only 10:45pm in the evening. I felt it was better to wait until tomorrow, at the very least.
“No point acting rash, right…?” I’d said to her.
That’s where it had all gone wrong.
So we had enjoyed ourselves, had fun and married later.
The weird thing about my wife, physically I mean, is she’s got two hearts.
Mine and this other guy’s.
I’m just kidding. She really does have two hearts, though - surely she can spare just one, even if only just a few beats for me a day?
“I want a divorce,” she said.
“What…!” I screeched.
She was quite cheerful suddenly.
“It’s just common sense,” she said, but her common sense made no sense to me. “Oh, and I want the house - don’t try fuck me around, Frank. I’ll destroy you, take away every word you ever wrote…!” she threatened.
Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed "Letters From A Bum" and want to know what happens to Frank Bruce, finish reading the book and download it from AMAZON by hitting the links below or from your local Amazon store...!