Ben stomped out of the kitchen and into the backyard. His hand was shaking, he realized, as he drew a cigarette.

He paced on the sidewalk in the backyard. He considered his options.

He could stomp the monster. One good, hard kick would probably kill it. He could rip it apart, which would feel better, more cathartic.

He look long, hard draws on his cigarette, and when it was finished, he lit another. He knew he had to do something. Needed to destroy it, or at least scare it off.

There were so many things to hate about it. The flippant manner. The chewing sound it made as its carpeted jaw crushed down on a soda can. The constant insults, the judgment. He could barely feel the buzz from the pills he’d taken.

He wondered what his dad would think if he knew this was him and how he handled things. If his late father saw him hiding in the backyard, chain-smoking while a two-foot-tall beast lazed around the house, what would he say?

His father’s personality, the heaviness of it, hanging over and around the house until his heart finally exploded one Saturday morning.

His father would have had no patience for these “shenanigans.” He would have wanted to know “what exactly the good-for-nothing thing wanted in the house.” He would have kicked it and slammed its head against the wall. He would have thrown it out on the street and slammed the door on his way back into the house. He would have repeated the same violent phrases for days and weeks, shouting at the dinner table about “the nerve” it had and what he would do if it came back.

And it would never return. From then on, it would only exist in spirit, as his dad told the story again and again.


He finished his cigarette, went inside, and told the monster it had to leave. It did not move. It chewed the same can it had been sucking on, drooling over, for the last half hour.


“I said, you need to leave.”

He tried to look the monster in its inky, endless eyes. It leaned against the oven and looked at him.

The harder he stared, the more he felt the world around him losing itself, becoming disorganized.

“This is my fucking house.”

ben. calm down. internet business. what happened to that. why don’t you. go back to your room. sit. collect yourself. work. get some done.

“You’re not as funny as you think you are. I get it. I’m a loser because I live with my mom and I don’t have a job and I’m not really looking for one. You’re right. Whatever. I don’t care. That doesn’t give you the right to hang around my house bullying me.”

awfully worked up.

“I am worked up. Leave my house. Now.


It slowly pivoted and scuttled out of the kitchen and towards the front door. The handle turned by itself and the door slowly opened. The monster crawled through the front door and slammed the door shut behind it.

And then Ben was alone.


He made another pot of coffee. He decided it was a good day to read a book. If he read a lot, he’d learn a lot. And he could leverage that to do something: make a website or a podcast or something.

He went upstairs to his father’s study. It smelled like moths and faintly of his dad’s aftershave. Royal Copenhagen.

He stared at all the books for a long time, not touching anything. He thought about what the monster said, that he didn’t really want a job. That he was scared to be alone.

He didn’t have a plan. Not even the fake kind you use for distant family members asking, “So, Ben, what have you been doing?” “Oh, I’m working on a degree in Engineering, Uncle Rick,” or “I’ve decided to take time off from college, but I’m building a smartphone app with a friend that will save you time while grocery shopping.” He didn’t have shit.

He found a book on the early Ottoman Empire. He pulled it off the shelf and read the back cover. He read the inside jacket. It was about microeconomics and accounting, the tax methods of the early Ottomans. A remarkably specific book, he thought.

Perhaps if he read it, he would become the foremost expert on the subject. Except for the author, of course.

He wondered: would this be enough to build a website. A blog on Ottoman tax collection methods, their general economics.

He carried the book downstairs and sat in the living room to read.

The pages stuck together. The book was in perfect condition, the pages delicate like a hotel Bible. It had an intriguing font.

He looked at the chapter titles, debating whether to start at the beginning with Introduction to Ottoman Business Systems or cut straight to Agrarian Microeconomics.


He read a little about trade routes, read about weather patterns and local customers. It was boring.

Had he made a poor decision? He wasn’t sure this was what he wanted to study. The empire was hardly relevant anyway.

He went upstairs and returned the book. He searched the shelves for something lighter this time. All of his father’s books were on law, history, economics, and war. Even the novels were all Tom Clancy or Ian Fleming.

He sat on his bed and turned on his TV and then he wondered what the monster was doing. When it left, where did it go?


Ben watched the picture; grainy analogue pixels. It was all noise and he thought of what the monster said, that if he didn’t do anything today, he would do nothing tomorrow, and he wouldn’t do anything the day after that.

He’d live forever here with his mother and he would cop drugs from a dealer who made fun of his blood flow. He’d smoke and pace and drink coffee and ask his mom for money and watch TV and casually consider starting a website, but he would never do it.


“You seem depressed,” his mother said that night, as they ate together.


“Depressed, honey. You seem depressed.”

Ben ate his broccoli in silence for a minute, salted it out of habit, and then asked his mom why she thought that.

“Why do I think you’re depressed? Because you seem depressed, Benjamin. You’re in your head too much. I worry. Do you think you might want to talk to someone?”

“I talk to people.”

“I mean like a therapist. Would you like to talk to a therapist?”

“Therapy? Seriously?”

“Why not? You had a therapist when you were a kid. You loved him.”

“I didn’t love him, Mom.”

“Well, whatever. I think you should see a professional again. I worry.”

Ben ate his broccoli.

“You talk to yourself sometimes.”

“I’m just thinking is all.”

“You’re not just thinking. You’re talking to yourself, Ben.”

“Yeah, but, you know what I mean. I’m just talking to myself. Like planning my day.”

“You’re planning your day?”

“Well, yeah.”

“What planning goes into your day, Ben?”

“You know, like what I’m going to do.”

His mother fidgeted with her knife and fork. She scraped them against the plate, carefully slicing the remaining potato skin before stabbing it and bringing it to her mouth.

“Read stuff. Plan my Internet business. I’m thinking of starting an Internet business.”

She stood up slowly and walked into the kitchen. He heard her in the other room setting up the coffee pot, filling it with water, and measuring out scoops of coffee. He heard the measuring cup scrape against the the counter.

It sounded like the monster, its unnerving tics, and the sounds it made, the endless scraping.

When she returned, she sat and asked him, “What about? What Internet business are you going to start?”

“Not sure yet, Mom. Possibly agrarian economics. You know, of the Ottoman Empire.”

“You’re thinking of starting an Internet business on the Ottoman Empire? Ben, that doesn’t make sense.”

“It does, Mom. It makes fine sense. The Ottomans, they had farmers and they did stuff. Like agrarian stuff.”

“I know that. But what kind of business are you going to build out of this?”

“I’m not sure, mom. I was thinking today about how I would monetize it. Probably advertisements for, you know, books on the Ottoman Empire or something.”

They gathered their plates and silverware and put them in the sink. Ben rinsed them off and put them in the dishwasher while his mom poured the coffee.

“And people would click the little advertisements from your website and buy the book?”


“You want to start an online business that teaches people about the Ottomans?”


“And then you’re going to convince people to buy books that other people bought on the subject.”

“Yeah. Exactly,” he said. He sat back down at the table. He drank his coffee.

“You’re going to learn about this, from books I presume. Then you’re going to write little book reports about this? And people will buy the books you learned from?” She poured soy creamer into her mug. Then sugar. Then more creamer.

“Well, they aren’t really book reports, mom. They would be articles. Blog articles about the books, I guess. And my personal analysis, you know?”

“This is what you plan during your days?”


They drank coffee in silence.


For all installments from NEET, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2