Got Any Squawk? Short Story

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   Squawk. That’s all my buddies talked about. Do you want some? Do you need some? Yeah you need some! More importantly, do you have some? I never did. When not in person, I’d imagine their faces turning sour on the end of the line, or sense the disappointment in a replied text when I didn’t. I was a loser. No squawk? No friendship. Today’s forecast: Cold shoulders one day, and warm fronts the next. It really is unpredictable this coming week. Add in Hurricane Certain-Death and life looked challenging.

Hardly as troublesome as differentiating between my friends. There was Clay, Clay, Clay and Clay. In such a small town, it was incredulous that all of the Clay’s had united. Luckily they had different last names, but refused nicknames, visibly angry when not addressed by their christian name, on the verge of fisticuffs every time.
I wasn’t Clay. I was Rigby. The odd one out, a divisive element.
Can we trust him? He isn’t a Clay.
I dunno man…does he have any squawk?
That’s the head-movie that played out in my mind.

First time I tried squawk was in a bar, specifically, in the graffiti scarred, rotting hell hole of the lone toilet cubicle. Totally unnecessary. But it added to the danger element, so said Clay…one of them. Nobody gave a shit that five of us would lock ourselves in there, not the owner not the bar staff. They did squawk too. But there wasn’t room for six.
“Come on Rigby! Time for your first squawk!”
So I squawked. We squawked. Therefore we thought.
“Whoooo! That’s some good squawk! Holy shit!” said a Clay.
“Haha! Look at Rigby! He’s going under!” said a different Clay, pumped on the fumes of effluence.
I couldn’t feel a thing. No difference.
“Feels good doesn’t it?” said yet another Clay, grinning manically.
“Sure.”

Ever since then, I’d been ‘hooked’. Squawking was all the rage. “Coming around to squawk?” Clay’s would enquire. Yet more of a demand. How could I refuse.
“Whoooo! That is some good squawk. I’ve never squawked like that before!” Followed by cheers, high fives and in depth descriptions on how off their tits they were. I concurred of course.

One night in the toilet cubicle, with four overbearing Clay’s espousing the virtues and damned excellence of the latest batch of squawk, I cracked.
“This is the best squawk ever maaaan!” The Clay’s howled and agreed, laughing, chuckling, wide eyed on squawk.
“Aren’t you having some Rigby?”
“It doesn’t do anything for me. Seriously: Clay, Clay, Clay and Clay. I’ve just been pretending. I don’t get high off it.” I shrugged, resigned to my fate.
Eight Clay eyes bored into me, they pushed closer. “TAKE-the-squawk-RIGBY!” An order, not an option.
“No.” I unbolted the flimsy door, and strolled back to the bar. “A double bibbleboop please!”

The Clay’s followed me out and they had an announcement for all four patrons. “Rigby won’t do squawk!”
At that, the owner shuffled over to the entrance, and slammed the door shut.
“EVERYBODY DOES SQUAWK!!!” he said. “Rigby! You’re not leaving until you’ve squawked!”
“Sure! I was just messing guys!” I lied.
A smile tsunami rippled outwards from where I stood, relief softening Clay faces, and the rest.
One of the Clay’s wagged a finger at me. “That was a good one!”
“LET’S SQUAWK!” I roared, disgusted with myself.

7 Comments

  1. Smile tsunami? This is a metaphor and imagery delight tsunami. I am crushed by the power Sir! (OK, mild exaggeration but gorgeously done!!)
    The many Clays I know astounds me.

  2. I’m really impressed with this. I’m not sure why exactly, but you’ve obviously got a talent for characterization and bittersweet humor!

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