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Category Archives: Jake

Jake is fairly transparent.


“This is going to be stunning,” says Amy, “but I’ve come to the conclusion that most people don’t spend their idle moments replaying awkward memories, gripped by chagrin.”

Jake frowns. “That can’t be right. Seriously? They don’t catch themselves staring at walls, imagining what it would be like to hit one’s fourteen-year-old self over and over again, in the mouth?”

“I think they daydream about nice things,” says Amy grimly. “They may not wallow in past idiocies for two, three days at a time.”

“Is there some kind of medication we can use,” says Jake, “to make them start?”

Jake 2000

“What were they thinking?” hoots Jake 2000, as they riffle through the yesteryearbooks. “I mean, hockey mullets? Perms? Mop-tops?”

“They thought they looked gooood,” says Louise.

“Or that, even if someone laughed at them in twenty years,” says Jon-Michael, “the edginess then would have been worth it.”

“That’s why I stick with this,” says Jake 2000. “No product, just a blunt cut straight across my forehead, squared off at the back. Classic. Timeless.”

“Like my feathered bangs,” agrees Louise.

“Or my frosted tips!” says Jon-Michael.

A click. Facebook serves up the next memory.

“Jesus Christ,” says Jake 2010.


There’s short-term and its 7┬▒2 little cubbyholes (well, -2, honestly), and then there’s long-term and its swarming depths, its endless opportunities for recrimination. But in between lurks a zone of Heisenbergian instability, like the part of a drain one can reach but not see. It’s murky down there. You could as easily rake up a fistful of glass as a goldflake, or flail for an hour and find neither, and you never know when it’s going to get flushed.

And that’s where ideas go when you don’t write them down, Jake reminds himself, scowling at the stupid bus window.


On the eve of his twenty-ninth birthday, Jake sleeps, and finds himself surrounded by mementos mori and melting clocks.

“This is it?” says Jake. “This is your symbolism? This is the best you could do.”

Like a dog in the cookie jar, the dream freezes and tries to distract him with ladies in knee socks. Jake scowls. “Those aren’t even my fears! I mean, skulls? Really? Have you been borrowing from the collective unconscious again?”

The dream explodes with white doves labelled INNOCENCE.

Meanwhile, a bunch of people dream of headless skeletons, and put it down to anxiety at work.


“We’re not the same person,” says Jake at 29. “The self is transient, and every atom of our bodies cycles out within seven years.”

“We’re not having that argument,” says Jake at 48.

“I’m not you,” says Jake at 29, “and I’m definitely not–” He curls his lip at Jake, 21.

“Ignore him,” says Jake at 48, with kindness. “Your pain is real; your fears aren’t illusions. You’re living through the crucible that shapes us all.”

“But why doesn’t she LIKE MEEE,” wails Jake at 21.

“No one likes you,” glares Jake at 29. “And what the fuck are you wearing?”


“Thanks for coming,” says Jake.

“What?” says Amy. “I live here.”

“I’d like to begin by addressing certain rumors about the motorcycle.”

“What did you do to my bike?” says Amy sharply.

“Has a modest amount of chocolate milkshake been introduced into its tailpipe?” says Jake. “We can neither confirm nor deny.”

“Sometimes it is very hard to remember that I like you,” says Amy, facepalmed.

“There is a distinct odor of burnt marshmallows! No one is arguing otherwise.”

“I’ll get the hose,” Amy sighs.

“By the way,” Jake says, “turns out I was two days late to the milkshake party.”


At times of deep self-loathing, Jake discovers, Maslow’s hierarchy is reversed: sleep evades him, and peanut butter tastes like a dead thing in his mouth.

“You’ve failed me for the last time, Maslow!” Jake shouts.

“No, Mister Jake!” cries Maslow, covering his head and scurrying for cover. “The Maslow is so sorry!” Jake whips him around the house with a willow switch anyway, but it doesn’t make his food taste any better.

“Why do you let him treat you that way?” asks Amy, dabbing Maslow’s forehead with a cool cloth.

“The Maslow has needs too,” says Maslow, shivering with delight.


The List is out again and the important part goes 5) Stalin 4) Snyder 3) Limbaugh 2) Jake for the eighth year running, and everybody’s buzzing about Gaddafi’s leap back into the top ten. Everyone except Jake, anyway.

That 2 gnaws at him. Realistically, he can’t compete with an icon; Ol’ Number One isn’t going anywhere. But the kids beneath him know that too, and they’ll gun hard for his spot instead.

Mere fuckuppery can’t keep him competitive forever. Jake feels old. Maybe he should try his hand at film or genocide? That community college catalog just came in the mail.


On average, Jake lives to be 78. ┬áHeart disease will get him if cancer doesn’t, and that’s assuming he doesn’t try carrying a pizza one-handed on a motorcycle again. On the other side most of his quanta coalesce, though outlier death-selves loiter translucently. The younger ones all have stupid hair.

Eventually the Jake plurality runs across a very faint apparition, from a solitary worldline. Only he lived to be a hundred and one.

“Did you keep up the lifework?” they ask him. “Did you finish? Was it worth it?”

“What work?” says Jake, pointing to his neck. “I pulled a Carradine.”


Here’s what you’re left with, when it’s over: crap neither of you bought and nobody wants. Amy cleans and bags and cleans and bags and makes him pick it up when she’s not at home. She is shipshaping. She is fixing what she can fix.

Sleeping alone is cold on your body and weird with your dreams. Exhausted but awake, one false dawn, she takes tea out back and watches the recycling pickers. She’s exchanged more satisfying goodbyes with homeless people than they got from each other, she and Jake. The trouble with love stories is they only have one author.

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