“SEXY MEAT RAMPAGE” by JEFF HOILAND

Phillip was awake. He was lying on a bed under a sheet and a blanket. Rain was hitting the only window in the room. Phillip pushed buttons on an alarm clock. He looked at a glowing phone. He had received a text message from Cindy, “I don’t feel good today :(.” He nudged the phone off the bed with the back of his hand and the phone fell to the floor. He flipped a pillow over and pressed his face to the pillow. He thought, “Am I cold? Am I warm?” Phillip was asleep.

 

Phillip was going on a rampage today. Not an insane killing rampage—he had considered that too. He was going on a small, personal, controlled rampage. He was bored with life. “I’m bored with life,” he thought. He was not excited about—things.

 

The sky was grey and bright and it was lightly raining and Phillip was walking, drinking ice water from a clear plastic cup. He was walking across a college campus. He was thinking about rampaging. Phillip felt rain on his skin and drank from the clear plastic cup. He thought, “I want to rampage now. I am going to start my rampage. What is my rampage? Don’t make weird faces; it’s not an accurate form of communication. Am I cold?”

 

In a classroom the Mass Media Ethics instructor said, “What’s the first thing you think of when I say: single mother on welfare?” Phillip thought of the mother of a person from his high school. He imaged her face and the faces of other mothers he had known who might have received welfare. He thought, “My mother was maybe on welfare.”

A student answered, “White trash.”

The instructor said, “Exactly.”

Phillip wrote in his notebook with a pen, “I want to create a facial expression that politely says: Why aren’t you going to kill yourself today?”

Phillip thought, “What was the instructor saying before that?”

A lady sitting next to Phillip looked at his notebook. The lady made eye contact with Phillip. He tried to communicate shrugging, tilting his head, and saying “I am on a rampage,” with his eyes. The lady looked away and Phillip used a pen to write “Rampage” in his notebook.

While hearing the sounds of the instructor speaking and scribbling in his notebook, Phillip imagined his brain as a fire slowly extinguishing. He thought, “Am I the one extinguishing it? When I was a kid, I would empty juice boxes on campfires while bored. Some things can’t be thought maybe. There’s something else.”

Phillip thought about something else. He sent a text message to Cindy, it said, “I think my ethics teacher dislikes me.” He sent another, it said, “I think I hate my ethics teacher, gonna go on a rampage today.” He opened a book called Eleven Kinds of Loneliness in his lap and read stories.

Phillip received a text message from Cindy, “Excited to see you soon. Have fun on your rampage today.”

 

Walking on the concrete after class; feeling the air on his skin and in his lungs; watching leaves attached to trees moving in the distance; Phillip thought, “I dislike my ethics teacher.” He took more steps and thought, “I am rampaging.” Phillip looked at his phone and listened to the album “You Ruined It” by Young Family. He listened to four songs: “$,” “$$,” “$$$,” and “$$$$”.

 

Phillip was sitting on a moving bus. He received a text message from Randy, “Chasing Unicorns?” A man got on the bus and sat next to Phillip. The man smelled bad to Phillip, like vinegar. “Does the man think I smell bad?” thought Phillip. “The man is not thinking about me.”

Phillip sent a text message to Randy, “No unicorns. There’s a pregnant lady sitting next to her small child talking to a person on a phone. She was just calmly saying “You cheated on me” into the phone.”

Randy said, “People on the bus are depressing.”

The pregnant lady pushed a button on her phone and put it in her pocket. “It’s a fun game to look at people on the bus and try to imagine which one lives the most depressing life. And try to win,” said Phillip.

Randy said that was a good game and told Phillip about a singles retreat he was going to.

Randy was enlisted with the Army. Randy was in Colorado. Phillip was in Washington. Randy said things about joining the Army being a bad decision. He said he spent most of his time in his room masturbating or sometimes would get drunk with other Army people, all of whom he disliked. But he liked hearing their stories, although he suspected they were all usually lying. One of Randy’s Army friends had snuck in and had sex with a girl prior to a planned gang-bang. Phillip said he didn’t understand the logistics of that story. Randy’s Army friends had lots of stories about ‘extreme’ sex.

Phillip sent a text message to Randy that said he would be the winner of his game if he was on the bus with him now.

The bus stopped and Phillip walked off the bus.

Randy said, “There is war in the middle-east!”

Phillip laughed out loud and there was a loud noise when the bus drove away.

 

“That girl right there,” said Kevin.

Kevin and Phillip were standing in a line of people to purchase burgers. Kevin said, “She wants one of us. She looked at both of us with those eyes. I think she was looking at you.” Phillip looked at Kevin’s neutral facial expression. He thought it seemed made of clay for a moment, like if he touched Kevin’s face it would warp and remain that way. Phillip and Kevin lived in the same house.

“I could go have sex with her, like right here. I mean I am on a rampage,” said Phillip. “But in reality, I’d probably have to like talk to her. And then what would we be thinking about?” The girl received a burger and walked away.

Kevin was looking down at his phone. He said, “It’s easy talking to girls.” He smiled and said, “They are just like everyone else.”

“Seems he thinks he knows a secret,” thought Phillip secretly. Then, “Don’t say things that make him sad.”

Phillip said, “I’m not paying for this burger.”

He received a burger, walked past the register and sat on a bench outside. The bench was cold. Kevin sat next to him with a burger.

“You’re on a rampage man,” said Kevin. “You should have gotten to know that girl.”

“I wouldn’t be able to know her until I at least read her diary,” said Phillip. He took a bite of his burger.

“I had a diary,” said Kevin. “The one with flowers on it, remember?”

“O yeah. Diaries seem weird.” Phillip felt confused and said, “Did you write in first person or third person? Or did you, like, write letters to your diary?”

Kevin said, “I wrote… I think I just wrote…” He smiled. “I don’t remember.”

 

Phillip was sitting at a computer in a room in the house where he contributed to rent payments. He had just put clothes in a backpack and sent a text message to Kevin that said, “When are we leaving?”

Phillip lay on his bed. He pressed his face into his pillow. He opened a drawer next to his bed. He read some pages of a recipe book his mom had made and sent him. Phillip rolled a joint. He sat at his computer and turned on music. He posted a thing on Facebook that said he hated his Mass Media Ethics teacher. Two people ‘liked’ it. “Why did I do that.” thought Phillip. He lit the joint. He looked at his phone. He looked at a text message that said, “About a half hours. Maybes. I dunno.”

 

Phillip was playing a video game with Kevin. The screen was split in half. They were trying to kill each other with guns and other weapons. You weren’t supposed to look at the other person’s screen, Phillip knew. He looked at Kevin’s screen and found him and shot him with a grenade launcher and Kevin blew up. Victory for Phillip.

“I’m bored,” said Phillip. “Let’s decorate our walls with coupons.” The walls in their apartment had no decorations. A pile of coupons was on a table.

“You looked at my screen,” said Kevin. “You’re cheating.”

“You do it too,” said Phillip. “You’re high and a failure at video games.”

Kevin had a worried facial expression. He said, “Don’t tell me those things when I’m high. You always make me feel bad when I’m high.”

Phillip felt confused and thought, “He is always high. Is he is always feeling bad. No it’s me he said.”

Phillip said, “…fuck.”

“What?” said Kevin. “What? Say it louder.”

“There’s no little fucks in this home?” said Phillip.

“No. You need to say it loud. Learn to get angry at the sound of your own voice. Yell.”

Phillip said, “Fuck,” in a voice that was louder.

Kevin stood up and closed a door. He said, “We shouldn’t yell. Nick is trying to sleep.” Nick was their other roommate. Nick was in his room, maybe sleeping.

 

Phillip and Kevin listened to the song “Mind Playin’ Tricks On Me” a few times as Kevin drove a car on the highway. They rapped some of the lyrics and talked loudly about Geto Boys being a rap group they liked.

 

Kevin and Phillip were sitting on a couch in Phillip’s mother’s house. They were watching a cartoon Phillip’s brother, Samson, had been watching. The cartoon was called Adventure Time. Phillip’s brother was five years old and was in the other room playing with small plastic cars. Phillip felt a phone in his pocket vibrate. Phillip smiled and thought, “Cindy.”

He saw he had received a text message from Mac. “Mac is coming over?” he said.

“Yeah. I told him to come by,” said Kevin.

Phillip was babysitting Samson that night. Cindy was supposed to be coming over later. Phillip didn’t want Kevin or Mac there. He thought. “Rampage. Tell them to leave.”

Phillip said, “Ok.”

 

Phillip walked to the kitchen and opened a bag of rice. He put his hand in the bag of rice and squeezed the rice. Samson walked into the kitchen. Phillip threw rice at Samson. Samson closed his eyes when the rice hit him and then opened them. The rice was on the floor. Samson looked at Phillip with a confused facial expression.

Phillip smiled and said, “I’m on a rampage.”

Samson laughed out loud and said, “Rhinoceros.”

Phillip touched Samson’s head.

 

Phillip and Samson sat on the couch eating rice. Kevin didn’t want any rice.

There was a knock on the door. “Cindy,” thought Phillip.  He opened the door.

“Hi Mac.”

Mac, Kevin, and Phillip all said things to each other and sat on the couch. Samson stood near them with his hands in fists and his arms held straight at his sides. “Do you remember him?” said Phillip and pointed at Mac. Mac had lived near Phillip growing up.

“I don’t know,” said Samson. He rolled his eyes and went to his room.

 

“I heard something about you getting kicked out of school,” said Phillip, “Or a restraining order… Or something.”

Mac said, “O yeah. I think Katie’s new boyfriend was afraid I was gonna beat him up or something. So she got a restraining order. I’m not allowed at school because these guys are threatening to fight me.”

Phillip felt confused. “I heard you threw and hit her in the head with a beer can.”

He slowly said, “I heard that’s why she got the restraining order.”

“No,” said Mac and made a facial expression Phillip thought was weird. “I mean, something like that happened at a party.” He looked at Kevin and smiled, “I have a new girl now though, did Kevin tell you?”

“She has a boyfriend,” said Kevin.

“Oh neat,” said Phillip.

Mac said things about the girl’s boyfriend.

Phillip received a text message from Cindy. “On my way,” it said. Phillip smiled and felt warm.

Mac asked what the people were like at the college Phillip attended.

“They like to dress in costumes and do drugs,” said Kevin. “I don’t know. There’s lots of people.”

“Everyone at wazzu just drinks and works out,” said Mac.

“Hmmmmm,” said Phillip.

“Everyone seems to have so much money in college. We don’t hang out with people a lot because they all want to go spend money. Like eventually someone will want to spend money if we are hanging out. I don’t get it, I feel alienated,” said Kevin, “Listen to me go. I don’t even know what I’m talking about. Those things I just said aren’t true probably. Its group therapy time, I guess.”

“I kinda know what you mean. Like I always knew we came from a shitty place, but imagine bringing a college friend back to that place. They would be scared or something.”

“This show is sweet,” said Phillip.

 

There was a knock on the door. When he opened the door and Cindy hugged him, Phillip felt surprised by her warmth. He knew bodies were warm but it still surprised him. He had maybe expected it to be without temperature, like plastic.

She said, “Jake.”

Phillip squeezed her a little.

He said, “Leave.” He could feel her face on his chest. She squeezed him a little.

Phillip turned and looked at the living room. Mac and Kevin were sitting on the couch, Samson stood across the room listening.

“—but like… I don’t know. I think mostly people just think and, like, do things regarding sex.” said Kevin. “Yuh know?”

Phillip and Cindy sat on the couch together.

“Well duh,” said Mac

“Well duh,” said Samson.

Cindy smiled and reached to poke Samson with her finger. “Well duh.”

Phillip picked up a bowl of rice and ate the few grains remaining. He thought “We all said well duh. Everyone agrees. Yeah.” Phillip said, “No, wait.”

Samson ran towards Phillip and hit him on the knee. “You,” said Samson. Everyone looked at Samson. Samson turned and looked at everyone. He turned away and kicked a football down the hall. He ran after it.

Mac and Kevin laughed. Cindy smiled and looked at Phillip. Phillip felt like her face was warm and close. He imagined her face flying onto his face and wrapping around it, like a discarded newspaper blown by a gust of wind, and screaming as he tried to rip it off so he could see. Phillip smiled.

“Your brother smells,” said Kevin. “He needs a shower.”

“How’s your classes? You guys choose majors?” said Cindy.

Everyone laughed out loud.

Phillip thought, “I don’t know. I like school sometimes. I really do.” He thought, “Wait, am I pretending?”

“Tell everyone about how you hate your ethics teacher,” said Kevin.

“I don’t hate anyone,” said Phillip.

Cindy stuck her tongue out at Phillip.

“You hate her dude,” said Kevin.

 

Someone said something about looking at something on the computer. Phillip wasn’t listening. Phillip was pressing his face into Cindy’s arm. He was making noises. Kevin and Mac laughed out loud looking at the computer.

 

Phillip and Cindy were in the kitchen washing dishes. Phillip was talking about his rampage and saying things about rampaging on the dishes. “A productive rampage,” he said.

Mac walked into the kitchen and said, “Wanna see my calves?”

Phillip thought maybe he was joking. Phillip thought “I’m angry I can’t tell if he’s joking.”

Mac grabbed at his pant leg.

Phillip said, “Oh, definitely. Yeah.”

While Mac was rolling up his pant leg, Phillip leaned into Cindy and said, “The calves might just be the hardest place to add muscle mass.” Cindy smiled.

“Shut up,” said Mac. Phillip laughed quietly. “I like Mac sometimes” thought Phillip, “I like Mac.” Mac revealed his calf. He flexed and turned it.

“Seems big dude,” said Phillip.

Mac rolled his pant leg down.

In the other room Samson was speaking to Kevin.

Phillip thought “Maybe say something else.” Phillip said, “You’ve been working hard, man.”

Mac’s head was pointed at the ground and he smiled.

“I don’t smell!” said Samson loudly.

“Your brother needs a shower,” said Kevin.

“I don’t smell!” said Samson.

“He does smell,” said Cindy quietly.

Kevin grabbed his nose and shook his head. He pointed at Samson. “Stinky.”

Phillip walked into the other room.

“Maybe you should take a shower,” said Phillip. “Maybe he only takes baths” thought Phillip. “Or a bath. I can set you up with that.”

“I don’t smell, I don’t need a shower,” said Samson. His eyes were open wide and he shook his head a little.

Phillip smelled Samson. Phillip winced at the smell. “You want a shower or a bath?”

“A bubble bath?” said Kevin.

Samson looked around at the people looking at him. Kevin was still grabbing his nose.

“Shower.”

“Can you do it yourself?”

Samson looked around the room again. “Yes.” Samson left the room.

 

They talked about something else. They talked about what they saw on the computer earlier. Kevin asks Cindy and Phillip if they want to see. Phillip wondered if they will ever leave. “If I ask them to leave they will think I hate them” thought Phillip. “Everyone thinks I hate them. I don’t know.” They looked at the computer. The people on the computer and Mac were saying the word “Epic” a lot. Cindy smiled and looked at Phillip. Phillip made a laughing noise. “If I stop pretending they will hate me” thought Phillip. Kevin and Mac laughed out loud at something on the computer.

“Meat is sexy,” said Cindy, nodding to show she was sure.

“So sexy,” said Phillip. “They are on a meat rampage. Sexy meat rampage.”

“What are you talking about?” said Kevin. “You don’t make any sense.”

Phillip thought about how he had been hearing that a lot recently— that he didn’t make sense. He used to want to explain and help people understand him and lecture on why they themselves didn’t make sense. In the last year or so he didn’t care about changing or explaining other people or himself. Things would happen, people would do things. Phillip had been thinking the word “acceptance” a lot in the last year or so. He had read something saying something about great minds not tending to draw conclusions or something. The quote was from a person with ‘intellectual authority’ Phillip remembered. He disliked their use of the word “great.”

 

Phillip suddenly noticed he didn’t hear something.

“Samson” thought Phillip. “I’m gonna check on Samson,” he said.

He walked down the hall and stood at the entrance of the bathroom. He looked down and saw Samson looking in the mirror, shaking, crying.

Samson turned toward Phillip but didn’t look at his face. He looked at the wall.

“What,” said Samson and raised his hands. He shook his head. “What?”

Phillip touched Samson’s shoulder.

“What?” said Samson.

Phillip pulled Samson toward him. Samson sobbed on Phillip. Phillip hugged Samson. He looked up and saw himself hugging Samson. He saw his blank facial expression in the mirror. Samson made noises.

“What happened?” said Phillip.

“They are mean,” said Samson.

“I think they were probably joking,” said Phillip.

“No. They are mean.” Samson made a noise and squeezed Phillip. “It’s still mean.”

Cindy walked into the bathroom. Samson let go of Phillip and hid his face with his hands. Cindy got down on her knees and looked at Phillip. “They were mean,” said Phillip.

Cindy touched Samson and said, “They don’t know what it’s like. It doesn’t matter what they say. They don’t know the feeling.”

Samson wiped his face with his hands. Cindy tried to wipe his face with a towel, but Samson said, “No.”

“I think he’s tired,” said Phillip.

Phillip and Cindy put Samson in his bed.

“He’s gonna pee the bed,” said Phillip quietly as they walked out of the room.

 

In the living room, Mac and Kevin were watching TV. Phillip and Cindy sat on the couch together. They sat in silence for a few minutes. “I’m gonna give you a boner in front of your friends,” said Cindy and she reached for Phillip’s crotch.

Phillip squirmed away and said, “No.”

Mac and Kevin laughed.

“Wait. Wait,” said Phillip and stared at the floor with wide eyes. He turned his head to look at Cindy. “Ok.” He lay on the couch and rested his head on Kevin’s leg. “Go for it.”

Kevin stared down at Phillip. They stared into each other’s eyes. “I guess we can leave,” said Kevin.

 

Phillip and Cindy lay naked on a blanket in the garage. Phillip extended his hand straight up in the air. Cindy reached to slap it. “High five. High five for us,” said Phillip.

“That was good,” said Cindy. “I mean pretty good… You can read more of my thoughts on your performance in my upcoming review.”

“Gonna post it on a blog?”

“No. The Seattle Times. Next week.”

“Oh… Well… Hmmm…” said Phillip.

 

They put the blanket in a washer. They ran through the hall, Phillip took long quick steps— as few steps as possible—and Cindy took quick small, shuffling steps.

“You looked like a naked deer running. Like with no hair,” said Cindy, “Not really a deer though.” She made a serious expression with her face, utilizing her eyebrows, and turned a nob in the shower. She held her hand under the water and quietly said, “Something else, not a deer.”

In the shower, Cindy stood under the water. Phillip said something about being cold. While smiling, squirting soap on Cindy after she had rinsed, Phillip sensed a foreboding presence.  A presence beyond the steam and plastic shower curtain approaching like something might happen that had already happened in an old horror movie—a horror movie Phillip hadn’t even seen. Black and white, different clips and references (from people, cartoons, the internet, etc.) half-assedly assembled into a feature length film that lay, forgotten like the crumbs surrounding it, on the carpeted floor— unwatched— in Phillip’s mind. Phillip didn’t know what this presence was or if it was approaching—if it could move at all. Phillip thought maybe there was something he had forgotten to do that day, and it was coming for him now.

 

Cindy lay under blankets on the couch. “Are you going to sleep tonight?” she said.

“I don’t know.” said Phillip. “I’m gonna smoke a blunt later if I can’t fall asleep soon. If you don’t go right to sleep you can smoke it with me, I was thinking.”

He lay next to Cindy. “Something terrible was supposed to happen today. I was supposed to do something terrible. Or I think something terrible did happen today. I don’t know,” he said. “Are you going to church tomorrow?”

“I don’t know. Why?” said Cindy.

“I was going to say I could go with you.”

“You would just make fun of everything the whole time.”

“I didn’t do that the one time I went.. You do that, you tell me stories about you and your friends making fun of things during the speech things. Why am I not allowed?” said Phillip.

Cindy moved and lay on her back. She didn’t say anything. Phillip asked more questions.

“Because it sucks sitting next to the person you, like, care most about or whatever in the place I care most about—or that I am supposed, that I want, to care most about—and know that you don’t relate or believe or anything. It brings so much attention the distance between us,” she said. “I feel sad.”

Phillip thought about something. “I would be sitting right next to you though,” said Phillip.

“You know what I mean,” said Cindy.

Phillip thought “I only know what she means if I pretend I’m someone else.” He said that out loud. Cindy said she didn’t know what he meant by that.

They talked some more. Cindy wanted to go home, he wouldn’t be going to sleep any time soon anyway she said. She went out to her car.

 

Phillip rolled a blunt and went outside.

He heard the song “I Gotta Good Feeling” playing from his neighbor’s garage. “Why is that song playing?” he thought.

He walked around the corner of his mother’s house. He saw something. He suddenly became acutely aware of his sensual experience; the cold air, his feet on concrete, a far off sound, “I Gotta Good Feeling,” a smell, his body making an effort to collapse, his brain squishing around in his head. Cindy’s car was in the driveway. She was sitting in her car, her white hands and red nails on top of the steering wheel and her head down, sometimes moving. Phillip imagined her sitting alone on her bed, listening to music, applying the paint with a small brush, careful not to make mistakes.

Phillip heard the cars passing on the Highway that was about thirty yards from where he stood. He heard them moving. He thought maybe it was a sound only he could hear.

 

The sky was blue and Phillip felt warm standing on wet grass in his mother’s front yard. Phillip kicked a red rubber ball at Samson and Samson moved in front of the ball and stopped it. Samson stood looking down at the ball.

Phillip heard a distant noise. The noise was familiar. Phillip saw Samson look up at him and smile.

Samson ran across the yard away from Phillip. He fell, then immediately stood up and continued running.

The noise was a song coming from a truck. The noise got louder and Phillip saw the truck on the road, approaching. The truck stopped on the side of the road and Samson ran to it, Phillip followed.

“What do you want?” said Phillip.

Samson chose a frozen sugar thing that looked like a cartoon character named Spongebob. Phillip gave the man in the truck money, and the man gave him a frozen sugar thing that looked like a cartoon character named Spongebob.

Samson asked Phillip why he didn’t get one as the truck drove away. Phillip said he didn’t have enough money.

Samson had a neutral facial expression and said, “You chose to buy me one, because you know how much I wanted it.”

Phillip said, “Yeah.”