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The Monkeywrencher, Part III SJW by Vegard
10 months in to my "punishment after school" I had to leave for a while.
I’m seldom on Facebook, being mostly on Twitter as @Davey-Boy6, and a little bit on Insta, but I check in now and then.
I’m friends with my parents, my sister and my grandparents on Facebook, but now that I’m living with Planet First I haven’t felt like letting them know what I’m doing, and where I am. Everyone in the group has secret numbers on our cell-phones, and I haven’t given mine out. I feel more comfortable not having my Dad pestering me about what I’m doing, and what I should be doing.
So, one Saturday evening, after Liz had cleaned up my hair (Yes, she does it now, and I really like that), I had shaved my white walls smooth, and gone to bed I felt I should check in to Facebook, and write a message to my sister I was doing ok.
My sister, Chloe, is three years younger than me, and she’s cool. Much cooler than my parents.
As I logged on I saw there were several messages waiting. Mostly from my Mom, but a few from Chloe as well as one from my Grandpa.
My Grandmother was ill. She’d had a stroke, and they wanted me to come home and see her. It looked like she would make it, and recover to a large degree. But they didn’t know for sure, and it was made clear I had to get back now!
Looking through my messages I could see Grandma had had her stroke almost two weeks ago. And I could also see from the green dot, that my Mum was logged on.
"Hi Mom," I wrote, "How’s Gran?"
Almost immediately I could see she started a response, and soon it said,
"Slight improvement, but too early to say about long term prognosis. Where are you David?"
"California" I wrote back.
"What are you doing there?"
I hesitated, before typing, "I work for a logging company."
"Do you have a car?" wrote my Mom.
"I can borrow one." I felt sure I could use the Toyota for this.
"Can you come tomorrow?"
"Sure," I wrote, adding "See you tomorrow night."
Pulling my shorts and baggy tee back on, I went in to the living room, where most of the others sat drinking and smoking weed. It was strange, but it didn’t feel natural for me to take part in this with the others. I had assumed the role of 16-year-old Little-Davey so well I preferred staying in my room with my games.
Well, when I say preferred, it was more that I felt really uncomfortable in the other’s company, since they razzed me so much. Especially when they smoked and drank.
The last time I tried to join them Nathan had said,
"Hey Phil, give Davey here a joint!"
"He’s too young!" Phil laughed, and Karen piped in, "Don’t you give my Davey-Boy dope now, you hear!"
They cracked up laughing, and Nathan said, "If we gave him dope, he’d be Dopey-Davey."
"Or, Davey the Dope!" Karen suggested.
There were gales of laughter at this, and I pretended to laugh with.
They were nicer when they were sober, but I had a suspicion after, that some began calling me "Dopey-Davey" behind my back.
I stood, unsure, in the doorway, before Karen noticed me, and nudged Nathan who looked up.
"What’s up Day-vey?" he said, making his voice rise at the end of my name. The others looked, and I think Liz gave me a friendly smile. I really like her.
"Uh, I was just on Facebook, and I’ve got messages from home my Grandma is sick."
"Oh," Nathan said, "Uh, is she dying?"
I shook my head, "Probably not. But she had a stroke, and I need to go home and see her. And my folks, I suppose."
I felt miserable as the others just looked at me. No one made fun though.
Phil asked, "Do you want to borrow the Toyota?"
"Yes please," I answered, and with a "Take your time at home Dude, and hope your Grandpa recovers!" he took a swig of his beer and continued talking to Liz and a couple of other girls.
I got up at 9, got dressed in shorts and t-shirt, wet my sleep-tousled hair, and dried it so it stuck up all over instead of being flattened in places. As I looked at it, I was puzzled as to how it would not lie down, even if I wet it, and tried to comb it, but it could be completely flat in places where my head had rested on the pillow through the night.
Smiling at this puzzle I studied myself. I was so used to this haircut now, I almost didn’t remember what it was like to have the long, unkempt hair I’d had before I became Davey-Boy.
Would I want to go back to longer hair in two months?
The first time Liz freshened my cut in stead of Zoey, I enjoyed it so much I asked her to maybe go over it again with a different guard, after she had run the #6 over my head, and shaved and tapered the sides. Some guards were missing, and next in line was a #4, a half-inch, and she asked if I wanted that one.
Dreading it, at the same time as being thoroughly aroused from the thought of Liz caressing my head again, I had nodded. I figured, what the heck, it’s not that big a difference. But it actually is.
#6 is short. #4 is way shorter.
Stroking the bare skin above my right ear, and the half-inch on top, I thought about how my family would see me with this cut. They’d never liked my hair when I’d let it grow in during my high-school years, so I felt sure they would like this. Especially my Dad and my Grandparents.
I suppose my Mom had been ok with me letting me grow my hair out, but she had nagged me about keeping it clean and tidy.
My hand moved to the back of my head, feeling the smoothness there. I bent my head forward to feel it properly, since there were a couple of rolls of fat there now.
The fat ended about level with my ears, and shaving the back of my head smooth was a little bit more difficult now, with the hair at the bottom extending in to a groove between the neck rolls. Bending my head forward it was smooth enough though, and I’d gotten good at using my razor back there. I didn’t need the cap for guidance any more or anything.
There was a ripe pimple on my chin, which I popped, and another on my forehead that was not quite ready yet. Putting my flat brimmed cap on, the pimple on my forehead didn’t show.
I’d been pimply all through high school, and that was the last time I’d really lived at home. I’d only been home for the holidays when I was in college, and they had all been nightmares as far as I was concerned. With my Dad yelling at me for not getting my act together, and for paying my tuition and getting nothing in return. And with me, Mom and Chloe feeling really bad about Dad’s yelling.
I’d spent most of my time there in my room, gaming. When I play my games I forget about everything. And if I can eat as well, and drink my pop, I feel really content and happy.
Walking through the still house, where all the others were sleeping it off, I went to the kitchen and had some breakfast. I ate four pop-tarts and a couple of bowls of Fruit-Loops, before packing a large bag of chips and two bottles of coke for the journey.
Putting my windbreaker on, without closing it, I headed for the car. It started, and went, like clockwork, and the tank was almost full, so I might be able to make it the entire seven-hour journey without having to fill her up. Maybe Dad would give me money for gas to get back?
The drive home was uneventful, but I began dreading seeing them again as I got closer to home. Not wanting to arrive too early, and being quite hungry by now I stopped at a McDonald’s for the second time that day, and had some burgers, onion rings and fries, which I ate in the restaurant. It was a warm day, and I was happy I had chosen to travel in my shorts. I’d only worn the windbreaker in the morning, and had taken it off as the day heated up.
On one wall was a large tinted mirror, and I could see my whole frame in it as I walked to my table. The tint made me look like I had a bit of a tan, and with my shorts reaching below my knees, my un-tucked t-shirt, high trainers and my flat brim hat I thought I looked cool. Like a much cooler teenager than I had been when I actually was one.
I ate slow, but couldn’t keep putting it off, so I got back in the car and drove on.
As I got nearer and nearer to my neighborhood I felt more and more upset. I would have been happier staying away a lot longer, but there was no way out.
Driving in to their driveway I stayed in the car, trying to compose myself. My stomach felt really uneasy, and I almost wanted to back out and drive back to the Planet First crew.
As I sat there, I saw the front door open, and all three of them came out. My Mom first, with a big smile on her face, followed closely by Chloe, and my Dad making up a reluctant rear.
Forcing a smile, I opened the door and grabbing the sides of the opening, hauled myself out of the seat.
My Mom’s eyes widened, her smile faltered and she put her hands to her face as if in surprise, before she smiled and lowered her hands again, and flung her arms around me.
"David!" she said.
"Mom," I said and hugged her back. Looking at Chloe and Dad I tried to smile, but I saw them both looking shocked and I felt disappointment flooding me. Chloe finally smiled at me and said, "Hi David!" and came over and hugged me.
Dad just stood there, rooted to the spot, and looked me up and down, making me cringe and look away.
"Come on in David!" Mom said, and directed to my Dad she almost barked, "Dave!"
My Dad seemed to snap out of it, and said, "Oh, uh, yeah. Come on in son."
The house was exactly the same.
I joined them in the living room, but we remained standing as they all looked at me.
Dad looked angry as he grumbled, "Since when is it ok to wear a hat inside?"
I took it off, and they all just stared. Dad’s mouth was open as he looked at me.
They seemed lost for words, until Chloe said, "What happened David?"
Feeling really defensive I asked, "What do you mean, what happened?"
Chloe looked at my Mom, as if for support.
"What happened to your hair honey?" she asked timidly.
Like I was going to tell them that.
"Cut it," I said, defiantly, "What’s it look like?"
Dad found his tongue, "Never mind his hair. At least that’s an improvement! What the hell happened to the rest of him?"
"Dave!" my Mom snapped again, but Dad was just getting started. "What the f*** have you been up to?
We haven’t seen you in ages, and when we finally see you you‘ve grown to the size of a f***ing orca? Look at you!" he almost spat in contempt.
"David!" my Mom exclaimed, but his name seemed to be all she was able to say.
Dad looked at her, and said, almost pleadingly, "Look at him!"
They all looked at me. And I felt like a little s**t.
Standing there in my Davey-shorts, because my old clothes were too small. How much weight had I gained?
I had no idea, but I’d pretended to myself it wasn’t that much. My jeans had been loose before though, and now I couldn’t even pull them up. And the reason I didn’t close my windbreaker any more, was that I probably couldn’t.
I was able to for a while if I really sucked my gut in, but it had been uncomfortably tight, and I’d started just wearing it open.
As in accusation, my Dad turned to my Mom and said, "You said he worked for a logging company."
Looking sad Mom answered, "That’s what he wrote yesterday."
It was like I wasn’t there. But they all turned back to me, and Mom said,
"What are you doing in California?"
Feeling utterly dejected, I said, "I do work for a logging company, twice a week, after, uh…" I’d nearly said, "after school".
"After what?" my Dad asked.
"After gaming I suppose," I shrugged. Some of my old defiance was coming back. Dad had the ability to bring that up, that was for sure.
"After gaming?" he spat.
"Yeah!" I looked him square in the eye now.
"And what do you do for the logging company twice a week, after gaming? Finish up their surplus food?" Dad could be terribly sarcastic, and hurtful.
"I clean." I said. Feeling this was good, honest work. I didn’t feel like telling them I mostly cleaned rest rooms. And that I did it under the guise of being slightly dim-witted Dopey-Davey, because of a stupid prank gone wrong.
"Who do you live with?" Mom asked. Adding, "And who lets you sit and game all day, and…" Maybe she wanted to say, "Let yourself go", or "Stuff yourself all day", but she left it hanging.
"I live with a group of activists," I said proudly. Still looking defiantly at my Dad.
"What kind of activists?" he asked.
"We’re called Planet First."
"Yeah. We protest large polluting corporations and injustice and stuff. We’re Social Justice Warriors!"
Dad didn’t know what to say. I can’t remember him not having a stinging comeback, before, but for once he was quiet.
His shoulders slumped and he looked disgusted. Shaking his head, he turned to Mom and said, "I need to go out a bit."
We heard his car start, and him driving off.
"How is Gran?" I asked. Feeling let down, and really offended. I had come home to be with my family when my grandmother had fallen ill, and this was the thanks I got? Being stared at, and ridiculed?
"She’s in a rehabilitation home, and is getting help regaining control of her left side. The stroke was pretty bad, and she will need help for a while."
We all sat down and Mom, smiled at me and said, "She’s been asking about you!"
We sat and talked a while, and it was nice to sit and talk with them, without my Dad and his disapproving presence.
We were going to visit Gran the next day, and Mom asked if I had long pants for visiting. I nodded, and went out to the car to get my stuff. Before going back inside I stuffed the remaining chips and coke in my bag.
Dad came back in time for family dinner, but still didn’t say much. We were all fairly cordial, and I excused myself after dinner and went to my room to play. My computer still worked, and I logged in, found my chips and coke and began playing.
Alone in my room I put my hat back on to. Feeling the neck rolls just below it, and the smoothness of the skin. It calmed me, and soon I was immersed in my game, and happy.
The next morning my back and sides felt sand-papery again, and I wanted them smooth today, so I carried out my shaving ritual, chin pressed to my chest, to get at the stubble between the fat rolls on my neck, and then running the razor over my sides. First with, then against the grain.
I got in the shower, and let the water run over me before drying up, and didn’t even try to flatten my hair as I looked at myself in the mirror.
The pimple on my forehead was ready for popping, and I took care of that before putting on my drawers. My stomach protruded out over the lining of my undies, and hung over a bit I suppose. I grabbed some of my flab and lifted it up thinking about my family’s reaction yesterday.
My eyes fell on the bathroom scale. I pulled it out from under the sink with my foot, and poked it with my toes to get the display active. And I stepped on.
I weighed 250lbs when I finished high school, and probably gained quite a few pounds in college, before joining Planet First, but I don’t know how much because I didn’t think it that important.
The major weight gain was off course the last 10 months.
Stepping off the digital scale, so I could read it, it showed my weight as 312 pounds. 312? I stared at it, thinking, "That’s a lot!" Even at 6’2" 312 pounds is an awful lot.
S**t. Hmm, maybe I should actually do something about it.
Maybe later I thought. In two months time or so.
My family was waiting downstairs as I lumbered down to join them to visit Gran. I felt I looked very presentable in my overalls, but from the looks on their faces, it didn’t seem like they agreed. Mom smiled a slightly sad smile at me, and Dad still looked disgusted.
What hurt the most was Chloe’s look of embarrassment. That really stung.
I sat in the front with Dad, stroking my neck below my hat, the whole way to the Center, none of us saying much.
My Grandparents were happy to see me, and I was relieved there was no repeat of the shocked looks my parents and Chloe had given me yesterday. Maybe they had been warned? My Gran was reduced, but she could still talk, all be it a bit unclearly.
We spent almost the entire day with them, and it was nice. Until my aunt and cousin John showed up.
They didn’t act surprised either, so word of my obesity was probably shared with the entire family by now. I felt annoyed at this, and especially at the smirk on John’s face as he looked me over. He’d also been on the chubby side growing up, but he now looked really fit. In tight jeans, a blue shirt and a longish, but tidy haircut he looked like everything I didn’t.
Chloe, John and I walked over to a café as my parents and aunt stayed with my Grandparents. I had a sneaking suspicion they would be discussing me, as we walked out of Gran’s room. Really subtle, I thought to myself as aunt Ellie studied me when I walked past her.
John and Chloe walked easily, and I puffed a bit more as we walked I suppose. Sweat was running down my back, and my head was really warm under my cap.
I was relieved when we arrived at the café, and I ordered a large pop, a sandwich and only one piece of cake, since I had began thinking of eating less.
I felt really out of place. They were polite enough, but I felt like a real screw up, who had let himself go completely, as I sat listening to them.
John talked about work with a computer firm, and Chloe talked about her plans for college.
I played games and cleaned toilets, so I preferred not to say anything.
As we walked back, my back was running with sweat again, and I felt like sitting by myself a bit, in one of the common-areas in stead of going straight back to my Gran, but my Mom was waiting for us as we came back to the Center.
"Is something wrong?" Chloe asked, obviously scared our Gran had worsened.
"No, we just want you all to join us, that’s all," Mom said. And we followed, looking at each other, puzzled.
We were no less puzzled as we were led to one of the living rooms, where our family group had been joined by one of the doctors at the Center.
I looked at Mom, and she looked back, and took a deep breath before saying,
"David, this is an intervention. You have become seriously overweight, and it is bad for your health. Doctor Forester here wants to say a bit about the health aspect of it, and we will all be able to say something after. Including you off course."
I was dumbstruck, and just stood there as the doctor talked about my heart, type-2 diabetes, cholesterol, joints, clogged arteries, and, did I mention, type-2 diabetes?
They all took their turns telling me what they felt. My Dad was no surprise with his criticism and Mom was, predictably, trying to be nice about it.
My Grandpa looking really sad, and Chloe confirming she was ashamed of me was the worst.
"Seriously dude! You’re fat!" John said, as he felt it was his turn. But, by then I’d had enough. I put my cap on and left the room. No one tried to stop me, and they just watched me leave without saying anything. Apart from John, and his Mom, I guess they’d all had their say.
I went in to one of the bathrooms, locked the door, and sat there on the lid feeling completely let down.
Hurt turned to bitterness, as I sat there, and I wanted to just leave. If I’d had my own car there, I would have.
As it was though, I had to wait for the others to go back, and sure enough, Chloe texted me after about an hour that they were leaving, and I got in the family car with them. I sat staring, sullenly, out the window, and Mom tried to talk about Gran, and how happy she was that Doctor Forester said she was showing improvement. There were no takers though, and she became quiet as well.
Chloe tried to get me to join them for dinner, but I didn’t answer. I could hear her through my headset, but I continued playing.
I was all out of chips and pop though, and I was feeling hungry and miserable. I wanted to leave straight away, but I didn’t even want to look at them, so had to wait until they had all gone to bed.
Driving back I stopped at a KFC as soon as I was outside of town. I was really hungry, and enjoyed the bucket of food in front of me. And I didn’t feel out of place either. There were people there bigger than me, and I began feeling better about myself as I sat there. I was still in my overalls, which wasn’t really a common way to dress here, or in California, but I felt it suited me. No one looked at me twice, reaffirming my feeling I looked ok, really.
As I drove up to the house I saw the van and the other two cars were gone. It was late though, well past midnight, so I was still quiet when I entered and went about my business. In case someone was still there, and sleeping.
The next morning it became apparent I was completely on my own. Walking through the still house it felt almost eerie.
Texting Liz, I asked, "Where are you guys?"
There wasn’t any answer until a few hours later. "Check our Facebook-site, Portland, Oregon".
I opened Facebook on my gaming computer, and saw there were messages there, probably from Mom. I ignored them.
I searched up "Planet First", and saw "Planet First was Live, Portland, Oregon" as I opened on the site.
I clicked in, and man was this something!
The clip was filmed with a cellphone, and at the start the person holding it was moving with a group of people, all wearing ski-masks or scarfs hiding their faces.
They were shouting in unison, and after listening I heard they were shouting what sounded like "No more hate, Force 88!"
A bit in to the video the phone was held up high, and in the distance, there were American flags, as well as flags with swastikas. And as the group marched closer the group with the flags, came towards them. There were some other flags, and some posters to, some which had Force-88 written on them. And there were skinheads. Nazi skinheads. I shuddered as they came closer in the video, and there seemed to be fighting breaking out. It was difficult to see, since the cell-phone was very unsteady now, but I hoped our side was doing ok, and that no one was hurt.
"OMG!" I texted, "Are you ok?"
"It was the most fun we’ve ever had! Will tell you more when we’re back." Came back the reply.
I watched the clip again, and I felt exited. By the sound of it, it seemed Planet First had broken up a white supremacist rally of sorts, and I sure wish I’d been there!
"The most fun we’ve ever had," Liz had written. They’d been out fighting the good fight, and I’d been with my family taking s**t, and being completely humiliated. I felt really bitter.
This was not ok. This was not how I wanted my life to be. I wanted to belong, and to be a part of something without being a joke. I wanted to be a real social justice warrior.
Pushing the bag of chips aside, I went in to the garage, where Nathan and Phil kept their training equipment. Unsure of how to go about this, I got up on the treadmill, and pressed, "Start". The conveyer slowly started moving, and I pressed the upward pointing arrow indicating "Speed" with just a short push, and the speed increased a little bit. I adjusted up a bit more but kept the pace low. Walking slowly I felt elated by the group’s actions today, and added a bit of incline to the mill.
Sweat was soon running from me in torrents, although I wasn’t moving fast. But I kept it up for a full 30 minutes.
I sat panting and drinking water in the living room a long time to cool off before hitting the shower. And although I felt tired, it felt good! This was something I would keep up, but I didn’t want the others to see, since I couldn’t handle their snide comments right now. So I would have to do it at night, when the others were sleeping.
To be continued.