Wake up. It’s noon. Turn over on the mattress and look at my phone. No texts, but over 40 email messages. All are advertisements for products.

I roll over and try to sleep again.

After 30 minutes, I give up the ghost. Walk to the bathroom to piss. There, in my hand, is my penis. It is no different than many others. It works just fine. It has seen the insides of several different women. It was in love once or twice, too. But now, after many dry years, it only expects rough handling from one particularly masculine hand: my own.

I brush my teeth. It is dumb to brush your teeth before morning coffee, but it is a habit. I brush back and forth, and I make circles across my gums. I clean the tongue. Once done, I smile in the mirror.

I think about flossing but decide against it for the millionth time. The medicine cabinet has a handful of vitamins. I pop open the safety tops. I scoop up zinc, vitamins D, C, B, and magnesium. I digest them one after the other while thinking about the Tylenol murders. Back in the 1980’s, seven people in Chicagoland died because of contaminated Tylenol bottles. It used to be so easy to kill someone. Back then, some antisocial individual could open a pill bottle and dump strychnine or cyanide in over-the-counter headache medicine and get away clean. Now, to murder, you need a degree in pharmacy or a hook-up at the CDC. Industrial-scale slaughter requires the appropriate paperwork.

I walk into the kitchen. Inside of the refrigerator is the usual food: eggs, milk, bread, bacon, butter, and a few vegetables. I select the eggs and bacon and start cooking them while the coffee finishes. I enjoy them together. It is still not as good as the first time, but when is anything as good as the first time?

I clean the dishes and make more coffee. I sit and stare at my computer. I drink more coffee. I think about starting my Spanish lessons again. I think about going back to school to earn a degree. I think about a lot of things but do none of them.

After the fourth cup of coffee, I walk outside. The sun is shining and it’s warm. It feels nice on my skin, so I decide to go jogging. The first few strides are difficult, as my little-used legs and lungs struggle to stay ahead of my heart beats. Things get better, and my body gets used to the exertions. I hit my stride. I run up hills and coast down crests. All is going well until I hit a nice neighborhood. There, I am surrounded by beautiful, well-maintained houses. Some have dogs. All have garages and fences and nice cars. I cannot see them, but I know that the families inside are nice, friendly, and content with their lives. The thought of them drives me to despair. Rather than complete my intended circuit, I turn around and walk back to my apartment. My head hangs low the whole way.

More hours pass. More coffee. I think about finally starting my novel. I watch YouTube videos instead. When I look up, it’s 9:45. I haven’t showered yet, so I jump into the hot water. The water pressure is weak, but I stay under the warmth for longer than normal. I dry off and find that it’s 10:15. I have to leave in ten minutes. I put on my work uniform and boots. I do the personal pat-down to make sure everything is in the right place. Satisfied, I head out the door.

My car, which is old enough to be a senior in college, sputters until I reach my destination. I say hello to the afternoon shift. Rather than follow the standard pass down protocol, he begins bitching about his shift. This happened, and then that happened. Everything sucks.

“I hope you have a quiet night,” he says before heading home.

I settle in for eight hours. I watch more YouTube videos. I get up to go the bathroom. I get up and do my assigned tasks. Each rotation only takes 20 minutes. The rest of the shift is dedicated to fighting sleep. Eventually, 7AM rolls around.

My relief is late, per usual. He strolls in. He takes his sweet-ass time. He places his giant thermos of iced tea and collection of microwavable meals on the counter. He asks me if there’s anything he needs to know. I want to tell him about the importance of punctuality, but I need the job, so I keep my mouth shut. Through tired, drooping eyes, I tell him that there’s absolutely nothing to tell him.

I head to my car. It sputters me home again. I try to fall asleep. I have a panic attack instead, with a heart palpitating so hard that I can’t even more. I do my breathing exercises. I listen to calming music. I masturbate.

At 8:30, I somehow manage to fall asleep. I do not dream. I never dream.

***

This is an excerpt from Justin Geoffrey’s new book Full Moon Reaction, coming this Friday from Terror House Press.