think your way out of happiness

Five minutes after he finished, he wished he could roll back over and jerk off again, just so there would be something left in the day to look forward to besides being stuck in bed by himself. He opened his eyes and saw nothing but the ceiling. This was a feeling Randall knew well, just not with this intensity. He had felt it as a child whenever he saw the back-to-school sale signs go up, or when he heard “All Summer Long” by the Beach Boys; and as a young man every Sunday night when he sensed the weekend coming to a close and began preparing himself for another week unloading furniture from trucks in his father’s warehouse.
That long-ago loading bay job had been his father’s idea of an apprenticeship, his way of training Randall to one day run the three Room Genie stores that achieved fame partially for being the retailer from which most families in town had bought their first dining room set, but primarily for a long series of commercials airing on local television that over the decades had steadily increased in absurdity; the latest ones bordered on the surreal. Randall and his older brother Darren had starred in the first few of these ads, before Darren found better things to do than hanging around taking orders from the old man. Randall, however, remained loyal to the bitter end, and not just on the business side either. Sure, as general manager of all three stores, Randall had fulfilled the promise his dad saw in him, but he was most proud of having carved out time in his busy schedule to stop by a few times a week and see Eugene in the rest home long after the glint of familiarity had left the old man’s eyes when Randall entered the room and stroked his blue, veiny hand.
The last of those famous television ads had struck a strangely valedictory tone as it showed gauzy, sepia-tinged clips from television ads past. Randall never got used to the mental disconnect between the image of Big Gene dressed up as a genie, resplendent in his shirtless glory, and the reverential notes the disembodied voice used to thank Greater Marksburg for thirty-seven years of memories while announcing that customers could look forward to the same service they had come to expect from Room Genie, while also enjoying the wholesale prices that could only be delivered by a national retailer like Mattress Mart, who would be absorbing all three Room Genie stores next year.
Randall had hoped Big Gene’s death would be the event that brought Darren back to the fold. After all the betrayals, he still held out hope for reconciliation. Instead, Darren began negotiating with Mattress Mart in earnest, selling off his interest in the company like it was radioactive and not his heritage. Darren’s involvement in the company, already tenuous, had lessened considerably six years ago when he got romantically involved with the girl that sang the final iteration of the Room Genie jingle, a breathy, seductive take on a classic that their mother would never approved of. Darren was, of course, nowhere to be found when Big Gene took ill. If Randall had foreseen the sale of the company his father built for his sons to run, he would have corrected the old man’s final words to him, months before he actually passed: “You’re so good to me, Darren.”
He threw the sheets off of himself and, trying to rid his mind of thoughts of that big spotlight they were renting to put in the parking lot for the final week of the liquidiation sale, reached for his laptop. He disgustedly hit ‘close tab,’ however, upon noticing that the girl rubbing oil on her nude body by the pool had a tattoo of Tweety Bird.


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July 2012
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