The first complete draft of this post was finished in April of last year, and was initially to be completed and published at, prior to the closure of, Thinkers’ Podium. This did not happen.
Again, in Spring of 2011, I planned to publish The Loser, this time at Rousing Departures, after the heat surrounding ‘ElevatorGate’ had passed down. This in order for it not to be misinterpreted as a passive-aggressive swipe at any of the people involved (including but not limited to ‘Elevator Guy’). This was delayed again, as another bloke, ‘Felch Grogan’ (aka ‘Franc Hoggle’) stepped into focus, making bit of a goose of himself, albeit worse than ‘Elevator Guy’ – I didn’t want to have this post entangled with that drama if I could avoid it.
Since then, ‘Felch’ has made a bigger goose of himself, in obsessing over Ophelia Benson…
‘Ophelia is a poor woman’s Catharine MacKinnon. If I was a girl, I’d kick her in the c**t. C**t.’
(Felch Grogan/Franc Hoggle/etc., 2011)
The above link leads you to ‘Felch’s’ website, where he explains the quote in-context… as if it somehow makes it less abusive. Despite knowing about Felch’s website, and some of his other antics, I didn’t know about this particular episode at the time, and it was only after other issues popped up that I was made properly aware (thanks Chrys).
I’ve had my head down, and not being properly informed of the specifics, I haven’t been able to comment at length in the kind of detail I’d like. I’ve been uncertain on what tack to take in launching arguments on the topic, in what has become a very tribal, very polarised debate, predominantly because I don’t know what it is I’m launching arguments into.
I can say now, I’m even less happy about the whole train-wreck, and accordingly I no longer care if this post is received by individuals, as an attack on them or others in particular – they can be as defensive and deluded as they like. If it helps, I’ll cede for the sake of argument, that they’re an instance of the class of bloke I’m writing about in this post.
Despite this anger, what I would like is for other parties reading this, particularly parties with a stake in recent feuding, to realise this post in its original form predates the whole ‘ElevatorGate’ fiasco, and that it’s far more general in scope than a personal slanging match. There is a risk of the message being lost or dismissed through such misinterpretation.
A work of short fiction, it draws from Martin Amis’ ‘The Last Days of Muhammad Atta’ (2006), inspiration for the viscera of neurotic, sexual repression, albeit not with Amis’ gender politics. For those a little squeamish, or with delicate tastes, The Loser contains harsh language, ‘adult concepts’ and bodily functions.
For the rest of you deviants, just follow over the fold…
Skittering in like a musty rat, Dave was home, just before miserable skies pelted down with full force.
The weather mocked him. Hard rain against the windows screamed a reminder to shower. Rank gasses from wet shoes clawed a spiral trajectory up his nostrils to concur.
Hands repeatedly slipped from the backs of shoes, absent-mindedly pulling without an inclination to undo the laces. Dave’s mind was somewhere else; a fantasy land; a place where he was respected, where he could indulge any revenge against his detractors.
How dare they?
It was a rhetorical question he’d asked himself with great regularity. Slights from years past; rehearsals in his head of all the things he should have said; those things he would say when his ascendancy came.
One shoe off, he mouthed the same worn-out-yet-never-aired speech, silently, self-unaware, hands flexing and seizing in stunted approximations of grandiose gestures. Dave growled, rubbed his temples and lost concentration.
Shoes off! Before they get home!
He kicked off the remaining shoe which hurtled across the room, glancing off a collection of pulp by Ayn Rand and van Vogt, to perform an aerial right-salto, sending licks of rancid muddy water across Penn & Teller DVDs left outside an open case. FUCK!
Where are the tissues? Searching, searching, fuck, FUCK!
Where did I leave them last? Bedroom!
Dave blocked out momentary shame conjured through memories associated with the tissue box, averting his gaze from the mocking, abyssal maw of a much molested waste paper basket.
Back down the corridor he shot, flustered, sending a spool of pirated CDs flying off the corner of a makeshift, student bookshelf. Fuck!
Mud first… Before it dries!
Dave had to have the place in order before Steve came home. Steve; 21; lucky bastard! Overrated (by women) in Dave’s estimation.
Steve got to escort Sadie back to the flat after an evening at the pub with their clique of paranormal investigators. They weren’t the television kind, mind you.
None of them, bar Dave, seriously entertained the possibility of ghosts or whatnot – it was more an exercise in exposing mountebanks and victims. It was also secretly suspected, by Dave, that the exercise was all just a front for getting laid.
Feigned fright from ghosts and reassuring cuddles on camp at night – that kind of thing – not that Dave would be let in on the action. He was the only serious one.
disappointment billowed forth in a great misanthropic sigh. People were stupid. Stupider still for not accepting wisdom from people like him. Still, perseverance was key – eventually They would ‘get’ him.
Overrated Steve had only joined in with the clique because he wanted an excuse to go to the pub. He didn’t join in with the readings, he didn’t even care to watch the DVDs at home when Dave patiently popped them on for the hundredth time. He was probably fucking Sadie right now.
Not that Dave was jealous. No. It’s just he had a cause.
Right. Flat packed up, what now?
Shower, or… a quick wank?
Dave winced involuntarily from self-awareness. He had to look outward…
What about the others coming over? Did he have time?
Off he stomped to a dank bedroom embalmed in the smell of stale hotdog and mold. Dropping his pants, and starting to bother himself, his only pause was to turn on the computer as he sat down.
Boot-up faster, boot-up faster!
With increasing anger, uncut and unclean nails gnawed at a mishandled, cheese-cloth wrapped, semi-flaccid sausage.
Darting from sweaty-target-to-sticky-mouse, Dave began to decompress his password protected stash of pornography, toes twiddling in impatient, neurotic anticipation. He avoided the anal pornography, allowing him to inwardly praise himself for being a good pro-feminist male. He was sure even Gail Dines would appreciate his restraint.
With a double-click that slipped on the mouse button, he opened the first movie, jumping forward to the business end before scrambling his hand beneath foetid loincloth.
Teeth grinded. Face contorted.
Giving up, he glared down to have his gaze met by the cold soft head of a dead snake, one gluey tear hanging out the side of its singular eye. This wasn’t going to work.
Falling back in his chair, Dave inwardly wailed a silent scream that spiralled through the burning abyss in his chest. Head hung back, his field of vision crossed the mirror on the ceiling, positioned there for unrealistic purposes. Fuck!
Files deleted, computer shut down, and jeans lifted from ankles, he made for the shower.
Hot! Hot! Hot!
Away burned the night’s cold, a day’s grit, excess sebum, shame and stray spunk. This was Dave’s flagellation. This is how he absolved himself.
His parents never beat him. He was raised in a safe, middle class family. The worst he had to endure during his upbringing was a bit of teasing at school.
A brief intermezzo of first-world induced discomfort was a sufficiently extreme ritual by Dave’s estimation. His sins were minor, his virtues great, and the water was quite hot.
Ears full of soap, towel over head, Dave walked into the lounge, vulnerables prone. Never good with spatial sense, he’d not realise the visitors couldn’t possibly see his well-minced meat for the lounge. Lunge in shame he would.
The first inkling was the sound of laughter. Head wrapped as it was, Dave wasn’t to know that with backs turned, they were gesturing at his toy rocket on the mantlepiece.
It’s too thin…
Pale skinned, skinny framed, face flushed, Dave yanked the towel down around his waist, leaving him looking like a beetroot-red-topped xylophone. Unconvincingly, he forced a nonchalant laugh, which caught mostly in his throat.
Had he bruised his todger earlier? Had they seen? Would they know? Fuck!
A crowd of four faced the freshly steamed Dave. Steve, Sadie and two young ladies he didn’t even know.
Heart cycling like a pulsar, a burning lump burrowed down in his torso. Don’t hyperventilate, no, not now!
I’ll be… back…
Dave darted back to his room, to his hotdogs and mold, kitsch and camp, dust and dank, expired condoms and Doctor Who magazines. Clothes… Clean clothes!
Murmured voices punctuated the silence, interspersed with inaudible mutters… Is he…?
…Angry? …Mad? …Sad? …Alright? … A Flasher? What were they saying?
Blood pounded in Dave’s head. Tendrils of nausea teased at the edge of his consciousness. Blow the anxiety out through the lips… phfffff!
Giggles cut through walls, to find tender, vulnerable ego. To Dave, the sound of laughter and joy cut like the most bitter of in-jokes made at his expense.
Dressed, wet patches bleeding into a thrice-used-without-a-clean t-shirt reading ‘Heavy machinery: trained personnel only’, he braced himself. An arrow pointed down his torso.
Nearly collapsing in a rolling heap of polyester, damp, desperation and gangly limbs, Dave careened back to the lounge.
You want to come out with us Dave?
Not suspecting for even two nanoseconds, that one of the women was, at least initially before her sense of smell kicked in, contemplating the possibility of fucking him, Dave detected contempt as he always did.
Was this an invitation to set him up for a fall? How did it get started? Were they watching him when he had a wank? Was there a webcam in his room? Were they going to publicly humiliate him with the footage?
Out to a Skeptic thing?
The first waves of constipation caught him by surprise as the visitors looked to him for an answer. He grimaced. Perspiration poured out to mix with the damp of an already fermenting shirt.
Could they actually sense the slab conspiring to burst his rectum at that very moment? Were they keeping him occupied in this state, leering in anticipation of eruptive Schadenfreude?
An awkward silence later, Dave opted out of the outing.
I’ve got some work to do on the computer, and… and I think I’m starting to come down with something.
Okay mate, we’ll catch you tomorrow then.
Tomorrow? Steve wasn’t sleeping in his own bed? Was he deliberately trying to rub this in? Was he going to sleep with all of them?
You… you have a good one… mate.
In a sad, impatient parody of a gentleman, Dave ushered them out and on their way. Parting giggles cut back through the door, and through Dave’s marrow, mocking him.
To the toilet he marched bravely, wounded soldier that he was. Teeth grinding away through to dentine, Dave struggled and groaned, risking brain haemorrhage through his efforts.
Poot! Poot! Poot! Tiny botty burps escaped the circumference of concrete.
Nngghh-nooooo… huh… huh…
He knew how pregnant women felt, or so he though. The convulsions were the same, he told himself. He knew the pain, could convey the experience.
He’d have to blog about it as soon as he was done.
Why didn’t women understand him? Why didn’t they understand when he explained to them how he understood what was in their interests, and how he cared for them?
And the restraining order from his ex!
He’d only been out on one date with her to a Skeptics’ gig! She’d hardly given him a chance!
For the first time in days, Dave smiled as hot torrents issued down the sides of his brow; a calm soon broken by the thud-thump of his heart as it wound back up, pumping anger into, and echoing through his brain.
Peeping Tom? Rubbish.
That was just how his ex managed the cognitive dissonance from being in a relationship with an abusive bottom-spanker. Dave was just trying to protect her.
But the police bought the narrative, and so did the court. They had to after all, Dave reckoned. The authorities take pride in being able to protect the innocent, so naturally they can’t admit when they fail. The needed a scapegoat.
Mistakes were made, but not by Dave.
(A title in consideration for the memoirs he was compiling.)
Dave sullenly wiped his oddly dry and ravaged arse, contemplating his role as sacrificial messiah to other people’s egos. He was at least capable of carrying the sins of others, whatever his shortcomings may be.
He sighed. Another long night in front of the computer… Misunderstood in his own time.