Hazy Days and Cloudy Nights

How It All Got Started 007: Alex
Free serial fiction from author and creator Matthew Wayne Selznick.


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Monday, June 18, 1984

Alex got home, gave his mother a quick hello nod where she puttered in the front yard, and retreated to his bedroom.

He paced in the small space between the foot of his bed and his closet. The long ride had not drained his irritated, frustrated energy. He felt like his nerves were pushing along the underside of his skin: hard, stiff coils of aimless rage.

Back and forth. On the left, a half-finished oil painting waited for him on a wooden easel. On the right, his Fender acoustic-electric guitar sat propped against a small bookcase.

He snatched up the guitar, fell back to sit on the edge of his bed, and swung the instrument onto his lap. His left hand, restless and nomadic, formed quick chords against the neck. He tapped the strings above the sound hole with his right hand, rhythmic and tense.

Alex sighed quickly. The guitar went back against the bookcase.

He was in a real rut with that thing. Everything he pulled out of the instrument felt boring, simplistic and dead. He couldn’t pick it up without over-thinking.

Right now he didn’t want to think.

He stood in front of the painting. It was a collection of loose, open swirls of red and blue. It didn’t mean anything. It wasn’t supposed to.

That would do. Get lost in doing nothing for a while. Put the day’s misguided expectations into the canvas and turn everything else right the fuck off.

This worked to relax him for a while. He barely registered the activity in the rest of the house as his mother moved around and his father came home from work. He just moved paint from tube to palette to canvas.

Then his dad opened bedroom door—he never, ever, ever knocked—and said, “Hey. How many job interviews did you go on today?”




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