It was midnight, and I was standing at the kitchen sink staring out the window into the darkness, pounding a glass of tap water. Christ, was it ever good. Probably the best I had ever had.
It was a long day at the office, and I was looking forward to retiring for the evening.
My phone started buzzing, and the screen lit up. I looked over on the table to see who it was. It was Chid.
Earlier that day, Deadspin staff had sent Chid into their servers to hunt down Curtis Wenis burner accounts numbers 1 - 80. It was a dirty job, but someone had to reel in Wenis, and Chid was the computer to do it. However, Chid was not his usual sentient self as of late and had mentioned his apprehension to me earlier on twitter.
"Too many burners, so much fiber network. Wenis Bots everywere. Risk is much. Must power down to prepare."
I felt for Chid, but when you're a computer – you know the risks, and you take it like a man. A man made of various Taiwanese parts.
His message flashed on my screen, and my heart sank a little.
"Friend. I have encountered many Malware!! Much Malware!! Need Input!….Need input…"
I told him to hang in there, but a part of me knew I would never hear from him again. Which was a shame, as he runs one hell of a fantasy football league. I put the phone down on the kitchen table, and stared at the clock.
My doorbell rang.
"Who the fuck?" I wondered quite loudly. Usually the only one coming around at this hour was John Law. And I didn't have the time to deal with his horseshit.
I opened the door, and was met by my old buddy Cobra, Brah and some dead leaves that had blown in with the wind. He was a freezing, frost-bitten mess, and smelled like he hadn't showered in months.
"Come on in man…try not to sit on anything made of fabric."
"Thanks Dude." He went for a hug, but I shooed him away as I was wearing my favourite flannel pyjamas.
"I see your still wearing those running shorts. You know It's minus 15 outside." I mentioned.
Cobra had on a windbreaker, knee-high white socks, his trademark Aston Villa scarf and a pair of running shorts that were given to him by a boy named Raysism. Raysism was a young legend in the Second Life running community, where the two had met. Long and short of it, Cobra wears a pair of ill-fitting autographed running shorts which once belonged to Raysism.
'Cobra: Never stop running. Make punt jokes, who cares. Just run.'
"I wear these shorts when I'm upset. They're my upset shorts. And boy, am I upset." he said.
Cobra's temper was legendary. He and I grew up together in Toronto and used to run with a gang called 'The Fuckers'. It was an outfit that was similar to the Crips, except there were no black dudes in our gang, and our group was made up only of myself, Cobra, and this other guy named Erik. We fucked a lot of things, mostly ladies.
"You want a beer?" I asked.
"I'd kill for one."
Cobra had always been the coolest kid, with the looks to boot. His unruly orange mane complimented the colony of freckles that had settled on his face. His lips consistently looked like he was having a permanent allergic reaction to peanuts.
He also taught me everything he knew about writing, to which I'm deeply indebted.
I tossed him a can of Labatt Blue from the fridge, and he dropped it. Beer sprayed all over my new linoleum floor.
"If I had a wife, she'd be pissed." I said.
But I did have a wife. The Trollop left me for a Census man. A fucking census man.
Cobra took off his running head band and wiped up the beer with it. I couldn't help but notice that the headband was also signed by Raysism. Unreal.
"So what brings you hear Cobra Winfrey?" I asked, feigning interest. He took a sip from his dented can, stared at me for a second, and put his Blue down gently on the table. And then he sneezed. Then he sneezed again.
He let out another thunderous sneeze.
"I think I'm done. I usually only sneeze 2 times. But If I'm mad, I sneeze 3 times. Sometimes 4."
I got up to get Kleenex, and a beer for myself from the fridge. I glanced outside my kitchen window, and there under the dull orange glow of the streetlight - was Marmol Heater. He was throwing rocks at Joseph Finn's house. Something he did every night at this time. I shook my head and laughed. What a guy.
I turned to face Cobra, and leaned on the counter.
"Look, Cobrey Bryant, I know why you're here dude. And I'll be straight with you. I didn't take that dump on your parent's porch. That's not something I would do. Ok, I WOULD do something like that, but I didn't. This time."
"What? A dump on my parents -? NO. I want to talk to you about today. That shit you pulled…that article about football?? What the fuck was that? "
"Yes on Sidespin! Wait! Did you write another football article somewhere else that I'm not aware of???"
"Cobra. Calm the fuck down dude. This isn't a Rascal Flatts concert."
"No YOU calm the fuck down man, fuckin…YOU calm down…"
He swatted his can of Blue off the table like it was a burner leaving a simpsons .gif on one of his posts. Then he pulled out a tube of runner's goop, and slurped it down his throat like that fat guy in Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom eating those beetles. He wiped his brow, blew his nose and continued.
"Look man. You don't seem to fucking grasp it. Sidespin is a place of tradition. Its halls are hallowed, the plants are pruned and its grass is cut and watered every fucking day. You know what I mean? There's the Sidespin way of doing things, and then there's like, everybody else's' fuckin way."
I nodded in agreement, but I wasn't listening. At that very moment, it had just occurred to me that I had neglected to PVR Trophy Wife.
He pounded the table for emphasis, scaring my cat Lawrence right out of his litterbox. Turds everywhere. "It's like the St. Louis Cardinals of the blogosphere."
And with that Cobra caught himself.
"Look, that's not really what I meant, but tell me you get it?! You cant be any geek off the street, posting random shit that doesn't make any sense. You'll get regulated son! I mean look at yourself! You're still 'pending' on Deadspin, and you've been around for 2 years!! FUCKING 2 YEARS MAN!!!!"
He dropped his larger than normal head into his hands for a few seconds, and then glanced at me. I looked at his sullen expression, and the tears rolling down his rosy, frostbitten cheeks. And I began to understand. I don't know how I had missed it to begin with. To guys like Cobra, Amusing Schneiderman, the other guy…it's a craft, it's a badge, and it's a way of life.
"Cobra. I get it man. I completely fucking get it. I guess I just got carried away. I have author privileges now which essentially means I can post an article about the amount of corn in my stool, or how many times my son says 'fuck', and everyone is going to read it. At least some of it. It's a rush, and that's all there is to it."
Cobra nodded and picked his nose, scrupulously examining the content on his index finger.
"Listen, some of us newbie's ARE overzealous," I continued, "and I get that dude. When some green-horned blowhard waltzes in with an amazing piece about football, it reflects poorly on me, you, and the rest of the group. But in the end we just want what everybody wants – recognition. That's all any of us really care about. Because, when you get down to brass tacks, we're all just a piece of shitty dust on a shitty planet in a shitty part of the galaxy. And then we die – that's it."
Cobra cracked a smile for the first time during the whole conversation. His tears had slowed to a gentle stream.
"When I die, I'm getting +1 on my tombstone, son!! Rec Life!!" And with that, he stood up to shake my hand. It was damp, cold and kind of arousing. "I'm glad we had this chat. Pull your fucking socks up around these parts, and you'll do fine."
He put on his K-way jacket, and started to jog on the spot.
"I gotta bounce. I have some vines to upload to twitter, A-fucking-SAP." And with that, he was out my door, and into the cold night air. He high-fived Marmol as he passed him on the street. Marmol was now dousing the battered corpse of Joseph Finn in Kerosene. I smiled at Marms, he waved, and I closed the door.
I sat down on the kitchen chair, trying to wrap my head around the day. I had the beginnings of a migraine, but I felt better about everything. Writing on Sidespin is indeed a privilege; but that privilege doesn't give you the right to point out to everyone that their favourite sport is an awful machine of greed, injury and death. No matter how poorly arranged your means of communication are presented.
I got up and turned the lights off in the kitchen. My phone buzzed.
The screen lit up the dark room, with a grey hue.
It was a new message from Chid.
"I love you, Best Friend!"