what you're doing is really important

by William Kaye

I'm in the living room of my apartment on the loveseat that was already in the apartment when I moved in. I'm texting my friend Van


I was at Riley’s graduation party. Mostly Riley’s family and Riley’s brother’s friends were in attendance.

People were drinking and also drinking Coca Cola from cans.

A lot of Red Bull was available.

The pool was open and people swam even when the rain fell in temporary bursts. There was neither lightning nor thunder. A white circus-tent-like coverage protected the catered food and the desserts. The majority of the music playing was the Grateful Dead and bands with a similar sound. I sat at a table with Van, Riley, Maria, Eliza, Jeff, and Riley’s cousin Zach, in that clockwise order from where I sat. Riley’s cousin Zach had a mental impediment noticeable from the pace of his speech. But Zach was very kind and happy and made jokes. Jeff spoke to him a bunch, and Zach told a story where his friend Ty was angry at somebody at a party.

“Someone had made fun of him,” Zachsaid. “Then, Ty threw a bottle behind him, and it hit me in the face, right here,” Zach said. He pointed to his right eye. “Ty wasn’t even, wasn’t even looking when he threw it.”

Zach was flustered recalling the story. He was speaking to me and Jeff but mostly to Jeff because Jeff gave him the most engaged attention. I took a sip of my Coca Cola. I listened to Riley’s brother’s friends splashing in the pool.

“That’s terrible, man,” Jeff said. “What a dick.”

“I showed my black eye to my boss at work, and my boss said, ‘That’s what happens sometimes.’” Zach shook his head. His eyes were wide open.

“Yeah, sometimes,” Jeff said. Jeff also shook his head.

“Then I found out Ty died,” Zach said.

“He died?” Jeff asked, sitting more upright.

Riley, Maria, Eliza, and Van continued talking amongst themselves.

“Yep. He died,” Zach said. He kept shaking his head.

“What happened to him?” Jeff asked.

It’s 5:52PM. I watch my phone’s screen go black in my hand.

“Well, his car broke down. And he was walking beside a highway to get to a gas station. He was on the other side of the road from the gas station. When he went to cross the highway to get to the gas station, wham! He got hit by a car.”

“Oh no,” Jeff said.

“Whoa,” I said, somewhat to myself. “Yeah,” Zach said, in a sincere and worried voice. “He got hit by another car, right after that.”

“Wait, wait,” Jeff said. “He got hit once by a car, and another car hit him right after?” “Yeah, that’s what happened. That killed Ty,” Zach said.

Then Van spoke. I didn’t know Van was listening to Zach’s story. “He got hit by two cars in a row? That’s God,” Van said.

I stared at the curving logo lines on my can of Coca Cola.

Zach kept shaking his head with his eyes wide open. “That’s how it happened,” Zach said.

I felt like I had to swim after listening to Zach’s story. I took another sip of the Coca Cola and stood up to walk around Riley’s parents’ pool.

  • Thinking is pointless.
  • I should call my Dad.
  • I should call my sponsor.
  • I call my Dad while lying on the couch.
  • I try to find a more comfortable position on the loveseat. I dislike this loveseat but it was free.
  • It’s hot in the living room. Gwen and I keep the AC unit in the bedroom. I think of the AC unit and feel affection, like it’s R2-D2.
  • The blinds are open behind me for natural light to get in the living room.
  • I think of how I want to be famous.
  • I think I can handle it.
  • I want to be famous to have responsibilities that satisfy me more than working at The Rehab or volunteering to write grants.
  • I can see the reflection of my face in the black screen of my phone. I look confused. I also look certain of my confusion. I turn my phone to face the back of the loveseat so I don’t have to look at my reflection.
  • The idea of fame is selfish for me.
  • I think of the XXXTENTACION song Look At Me!
  • Look at me / Fuck with me / Look at me / Fuck with me
  • Over and over and over.
  • Those lines are like he’s pleading for people to pay attention to him.
  • I feel like that sometimes.
  • I look up information on XXXTENTACION and an ad on one site has a picture of Gucci Mane with the heading “Rappers Who Killed People”.
  • I look at the apartment’s off-white ceiling.
  • Then I look at the apartment’s off-white walls.
  • I stand up from the loveseat.
  • I put on my cheap blue flip-flops.
  • I pace from the living room to the bedroom.
  • In the bedroom I pick up a pair of jeans and a t-shirt I left on the ground.
  • I fold them, using my shoulder to pin my phone to my ear.
  • XXXTENTACION beat his pregnant girlfriend.
  • It’s alleged, but I believe it.
  • There are pictures of her where her eyes are swollen closed.
  • His morals are garbage, like a landfill of roadkill and fracking waste.
  • His music is popular, though.
  • I don’t listen to it on my own time.
  • I put the folded jeans and t-shirt on the bed.
  • I pace from the bedroom through the living room to the kitchen.
  • I open and close the silverware drawer.
  • We’re low on clean spoons.
  • I go back into the living room.
  • I squat down and pinch up hair from the carpet.
  • Gwen and I bought the carpet from Goodwill at a discount. It has orange, tan, and soft blue tones in a stylized diamond pattern.
  • I sort of claw through the carpet fibers to clump Gwen’s hair together.
  • I’m forming the clumps of hair on the carpet into a ball.
  • I switch the phone from my right hand to my left hand because my right ear is already deafer than my left ear from the speakers in the car my Dad loans me.
  • I grab the ball of hair to throw it out in the kitchen.
  • Sometimes I throw it out in one of the smaller garbage cans in the bedroom or bathroom so that Gwen can see it.
  • Not to guilt her.
  • I want her to see how much hair there is because it’s interesting.
  • look at me
  • fuck with me
  • look at me
  • fuck with me
  • look at me
  • look at me
  • look at me
  • look at me
  • look at me
  • look at me

----Hey Dad

----Hey Will how goes it {He often starts conversations with that phrase}

----It’s going {I often respond to his phrase like that} It’s going well how about for you

----It’s alright {He sounds like he’s stretching} How’s Gwen

----Gwen’s good she’s working more now but getting paid less because it’s the summertime

----So the restaurant’s not as busy

----She’s good though What about you?

----I’m doing well Work’s been hard And now the trains are getting worse and worse so that hasn’t been ideal But otherwise I’m doing well

----I read about that {I know the train delays were announced in advance but I don’t know much else}

----The delays will only get exacerbated They’re supposed to be longer come July 1st

----How long’s it been taking you to get to the city?

----This last week wasn’t so bad, actually maybe an hour and a half on a good day Two hours on a bad day

----That’s rough

----How’s Feather doing? {Feather’s my sister, younger by two and a half years}

----She’s okay they haven’t given her much personalized attention down there

I had a conversation with Mom, Mike, Kris, and the guy who’s supposed to be her personal psychiatrist, and the guy knew absolutely nothing about her

----How long has she been there again

----Three weeks

----That’s embarrassing How they’re treating her

----It’s not making much sense to me either {He scoffs}

Feather tells me the groups there aren’t helpful

and neither is her personal counselor

she says the personal counselor strictly validates her feelings Feather makes a statement and the counselor nods along and assures her it’s okay to have those feelings that’s it the counselor’s young and new to the field clearly but so what you know

----Yeah that’s not helpful

----Seems like this was a really basic program and that they won’t be able to do much more for her

----Yeah well they’re discussing what she’s going to do when she leaves and she’s looking up other programs

----That’s a plus I don’t think it would be the best idea for her to be home

----I agree So what else is new?

----I don’t know I don’t think anything is I’m working and wanting to work less I bought a Game Boy Advance SP from Gamestop

----Like the one Mike used to have? {Mike is my brother, younger by five years}

----Yeah. The one that flips open and is small and square


----I thought it would be another activity for me to do when I’m burnt out. In addition to skate boarding montages and Tumblr

----Oh okay cool {I feel like his interest is genuine, especially for the relative strangeness of me buying a Game Boy}

----Yeah that’s all that’s new for me other than work

----So I’ll call you next week?

----Yes. That sounds good {He sounds like he’s stretching} When are we gonna see you again? {He's hopeful}

----I’m not sure when but soon besides we have Ocean City in July

----That’s true okay I won’t hold my breath I guess {he laughs}

{I laugh too}

----Yeah don’t do that. Love you Dad

----Love you, too {over the phone I can hear how he smiles when I tell him I love him. It encourages me to say it}

{We hang up the phone}

I look around the kitchen. I feel less of an impulse to clean when I’m off the phone. I stare out of the kitchen window into the back of the Cool Runnings Jamaican food and Hole in the Wall Bagels and think of my sister in Florida. I walk back into my bedroom and turn on the AC unit before I lie down in bed.