Sixteen Tons - A Bubba the Monster Hunter Short Story
I was born in a hospital somewhere in Hobart, Indiana. But imagine if that really happened. Holy shit. I am ten years old and going on my first real vacation. Orlando, Florida. Universal Studios. Islands of Adventure. Daytona Beach. My father stays home. It takes us two days to reach our destination. Along the way, we stop at a Days Inn and I sleep in a bed with my mother and my nephew.
The next day we make it to Orlando and check in to our new hotel. We are all excited to start the vacation. After we check-in to our room, my grandmother informs us today everybody must attend a meeting with her. It is at this time that I decide I hate my grandmother.
I hate her for sneaking this on all of us. I hate her for being a liar. I am a few months shy of thirteen. The mold in our ceiling has started spreading like an infection. A hole in our living room remains open like the eye of a conspiracy theorist.
I watch the movie and fall asleep. The next morning, I wake to a house without power. This is not a surprise. Bills are frequently overdue. Sometimes the power is shut off.
sixteen tons a bubba the monster hunter short story Manual
It usually comes back on after a day or so. There is never a need to worry. I go to school, and when I return home in the afternoon, the power is still off. My mother tells me we are going to stay the night at a hotel, and then tomorrow the electricity issue will be resolved. It encourages them to never leave.
My father drops me off at school in the mornings then I take the bus home and sit in our house without power and read books and pet my dog and apologize for leaving her alone every night, that I wish she could be with us at the hotel. The dollar menu is our religion. Another week passes and my parents decide to pull me out of school. My mother tells me they will just homeschool me for the last couple weeks of the school year, then enroll me in high school come August. Every day after work my father drives to our house and feeds my dog and takes her out for a walk. It is my thirteenth birthday.
Eventually a fight breaks out between my mother and grandmother and our presence is no longer welcome. I ask why this is happening. She tells me to stop being a smartass. She tells me she means it. Over time I give up asking for answers. Still, eventually this mess will work itself out and we will return to our house. When I am sixteen, my parents rent a house with my brother and his girlfriend. I enroll in an adult high school and earn my diploma within two years.
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Sometimes we drive past the Super 8 on our way to Walmart and I place an open palm against the backseat window and stare at the building while my thoughts whirl up a tornado of depression. At age eighteen I buy a bus ticket to Texas with the funds earned from writing Wikipedia articles for indie authors.
The articles last barely six months before an admin deletes them all. The Lake Station Public Library will never see it again. I get a job as an overnight stocker at Walmart and last almost eight months before quitting for a new job with a retail warehouse called Garden Ridge. A month into the new job, I start applying elsewhere. The managers at Garden Ridge are monsters and treat their employees like garbage.
The Atrium Inn interviews me for the night audit position. It goes well and I get the job. He tells me somebody called in sick tonight and they need me to start immediately. I will be expected to work the shift by myself, with zero training provided. I suggest this might be an irrational plan, and the manager promptly fires me. My first hotel job lasts barely a half hour. A month later, Garden Ridge fires me for developing pneumonia. I spend the next three weeks applying to every business in town.
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Eventually I decide fuck it and try my luck with another hotel. I walk into the lobby and ask for an application and the lady behind the front desk tells me their full-time night auditor just put in her two weeks, so I apply for her position. The city of Whiting, Indiana officially takes possession of the former Illiana Hotel via the county property tax sale process.
I finish the final draft of the hotel novel. Nothing is true. Everything is a lie. DarkFuse, a small press of dark fiction, accepts the novel eight months after I send it to them. Their first editorial note is to change the title. I send them a list of possibilities and we eventually settle on The Nightly Disease. DarkFuse releases the novel as a serial on their website throughout the month of October. One chapter a night. They also open pre-orders for a limited edition hardback. I sign the signature sheets with immense pride. We settle on a publication date for the trade paperback and ebook: April Then, in December , I randomly notice the book is already on Amazon.
I think about why a family might move into a hotel and never return home.
(just another shithead)
I think about my mom telling me not to be a smartass. Six months after The Nightly Disease is released, DarkFuse emails their authors and announces they will be discontinuing their paperback and eBook distribution. All titles published before will be released back to their authors. The authors are given a chance to sign a new contract to keep the books in print, but no author in their right mind would sign such a terrible document. Six months after my hotel novel came out, it died.
I think about houses without electricity. I think about the Super 8 in Portage, Indiana. I think about how the owner of DarkFuse lives in Indiana, and how the state follows me wherever I go. Eventually DarkFuse will file bankruptcy and I will never see a dime of royalties from January — June All of my promotional efforts for the book have been wasted. I get real fucking depressed. I have to email several websites who had agreed to review the hotel novel and let them know not to bother wasting their time.
The process of writing a book is a lengthy endeavor. Either you give up and send it out into the wild or you never stop fidgeting with it. Solace is only gained once the book has been published, because the time to edit has passed. I had been working on this book for a couple years, writing a scene here and there between interactions with guests at my job. After a while, like with any book, you start getting sick of it. You just want to be finished so you can move on to the next thing. I thought I was done with it. I thought I could wipe it from my memory.
This is how I imagine most writers feel once they release a new title. They delete it from their brains to clear room for the next project consuming their every waking thought. Maybe a novel should only last as long as its initial interest.