Then there was that one time when Uncle Billy Yeager was left alone with Shaun Chastain. It was another eating holiday, and Janine Galvan was helping her mother and Aunt Jo in the kitchen… helping themselves to a bottle of Lost Angel, that is, while the boys chatted in the living room.
“So. A little guy, huh?”
“Yeah, compared to some.”
“What’s it like?”
“What’s what like?”
“Being a widdle shrimpy.”
“I dunno, Billy. What’s it like being the drunken pariah of the family?”
Long sigh. “I could flick you right off that fucking ottoman.”
“Of course. Janine would hear all about it, and then Judy.”
“You… look. Just watch your smart mouth, okay?”
“Sorry. It’s just a sore spot of mine.”
“What, like you haven’t always been tiny? It’s not like… like you just came down with it, like polio or something.”
“You’re right, Billy. Being tiny is not like contracting polio. I can agree with that.”
“I mean, it’s not like you were something else, and then one day you were shrunken. You’ve always been tiny, right?”
“So I guess that answers your first question.”
“I don’t have anything to compare it to. All the people, all the furniture has always been huge to me. If anything’s changed, I guess it’s that there are more tiny-accessible furnishings than when I was a kid.”
“Oh yeah, I remember that. Clinton, right? Ramps and those, like, protective Habitrails?”
“If you hung out with more tiny people, Billy, you’d know how offensive that term is.”
Groan. “Awright, fuck, I’m sorry−”
“I’m just messing with you. They’re literally Habitrails, scaled up a little to accommodate people my size.”
Pause, relieved laughter. “Hey, you got me, li’l guy. You’re pretty good.”
“Sorry about that. I had to take my shot.”
“It was a good one. So, uh… what are the women like?”
“What, tiny women? I’ve honestly never met one but I’ve seen them on the news.”
“No, no. I mean like normal women. Like you see every day.”
“What’s your question?”
“Whaddya, you know, think of them?”
Long stare. “Are you inviting me to discuss third-wave feminism with you, Unca Billy? What did you think of bell hooks’ Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center?”
“Naw, no, no! I’m talking about,” conspiratorial lean forward, “you know. When a woman walks by and you’re, you know, down there, and you have to look up at her. What do you think of that?”
“The first thing I think of is not getting stepped on by her foot. The sheer tonnage could crush me without her even noticing.”
“Shit. Yeah, that’s right, isn’t it? I didn’t think of that.”
“It’s something you’d think of if you were me.”
“Well, what’s the next thing you think about?”
“Staying clear of her other foot. Unless she’s on crutches, then I watch out for those.”
“Come on, quit messing with me! You know what I mean!”
“Why don’t you spell it out for me, Billiam.”
Eyes darting left and right. “You know, you’re like… down there…”
“Yes, I follow you.”
“And a chick walks by… I dunno, early 20s…”
“I know the type.”
“And say she’s wearing a short skirt. You tellin’ me you wouldn’t look up there to see what you could see?”
Sigh. “No, Billy, I don’t. You’re talking about looking up a woman’s skirt without her consent, to get a peek at her panties−”
“Or maybe she’s not wearing any!”
“Again, without her knowledge or consent. Do you know what that sounds like?”
“Oh, here comes the feminist.” Leaning back in chair.
“If you think being a decent person is being a feminist… fuck, I don’t know why you’d work so hard to be anything else, honestly.”
“I’m a decent guy. I donate and shit. Pick up trash.”
“Fuck, you’re a real pill. I don’t know what my niece sees in you.”
“I have no problem believing that.”
“Are you trying to pick a fight with me? Because I get it, you’re little and helpless, and you’re relying on the good nature of others to not hurt you, but you keep shooting your mouth off like a little jerk, and what do you think’s gonna happen?”
“Well, you’ll probably lift up that big meaty arm of yours, bring your fist down like a wrecking ball, and smash tiny little ol’ me into a hundred pieces. A contest of strength like that would really make you feel like a man, wouldn’t it? Picking on little, helpless things. Is that what makes you feel like a big guy?”
Stands up, looming over the ottoman. “I don’t have to pound you into dust to feel like a big guy, little guy. I fucking am one.”
“Compared to some.”
“The fuck is your problem with me, man!”
“Do you really want to know? Are you really asking?”
Sits back down. “Yeah! I’m really fucking asking!”
“It’s going to sound like I’m judging you.”
“You have no right to judge me!”
“Assholes always say that, like it’s some kind of loophole to let them get away with shit.”
“There you go calling me an asshole again! If you’re just gonna fucking insult me, I’m gonna go get a beer.”
“I’m listening! Christ!”
“Calm down. I don’t really hate you, Billy. I don’t like you, I think it’s super-weird you’re over 50 and still calling yourself ‘Billy,’ but I don’t hate you. I don’t even think you’re… that bad of a person.”
“Oh, fucking thank you, prick.”
“You’ve got a lot of wrong ideas.”
“Your jokes are blatantly racist and misogynist and homophobic−”
“You keep giving Dennis shit for no reason−”
“Aw, he likes it.”
“You get shitfaced at every family occasion because after 25 years of drinking you still don’t know where your limits are.”
“Hey, you don’t know what I’m dealing with.”
“Yeah, you lost your job because you showed up drunk, and your girlfriend broke up with you because you got drunk and treated her like shit.”
“My fucking world’s falling apart around me, man. I just need a fuckin’… drink or two to take the edge off.”
“This little chronicle of yours has been playing itself out repeatedly for the last two decades, hasn’t it?”
“Goddamn it, my family’s just a bunch of goddamn gossips.”
“Billy! What I dislike most about you is that you can see all your problems right in front of your goddamned face, and you never learn from them! You just enact them over and over, and you’re surprised as shit when it all blows up in your face, every time!”
“I don’t need this from you.”
“You asked me, idiot.”
“The fuck do you know? You’re just a little goddamned pipsqueak, living in Janine’s pocket… like a pervert! I wasn’t gonna say anything to her, but if you wanna talk shit−”
“I did not ask you.”
“Fine, here you go. I think you’re a sick fuck, you know that? You’re just a scummy little perv, crawling all into Janine’s holes and shit.”
“You’re crossing a line, Billy.”
“That’s what you do, right? Janine has to lie back and hold real still, so she doesn’t crush you? And then you, like, peel her pussy open. I saw it on YouTube. You spread her pussy apart and you crawl inside like… I don’t even know what. I don’t even know what else in the fucking animal kingdom does that.”
“The fuck are you talking about?”
“It’s a fish. Giant golden orb weaver, the spider.”
“Oh, the know-it-all fact-checker. Right, I forgot. Well, fact-check this.” Stands, unzips pants.
“And here comes the cavalry. Hey, sweetie.”
“What? Aw, fuck. This isn’t what it looks like.”
“It’s exactly what it looks like. She knows, she’s been standing there for five minutes.”
“It looks like we’re going to the kitchen to start serving ourselves dinner. I think you should call a cab.”
“Fuck you. I’m having dinner with my family.”
“Don’t make this worse. Call a cab.”
“Whatever. I’ll drive myself home.”
“I’m calling you a cab, and I’ll cover it, but don’t you embarrass Charisse and Earlie by making them answer the door and figuring out what the hell’s going on here. Just slip on out like a mensch for once in your life.”
“Your boyfriend’s an asshole, Janine.”
Photo by Claudiu Pusuc on Unsplash
5 thoughts on “Shaun and Billy: Buds for Life”
This was great. Better than great. This is an excellent idea. I like the feeling of being a guest there, and listening to the very real conversation these two are having. Of course I have to love Shaun’s spirit. “Compared to some” throws me right over to that scene in “Princess Bride”, and it tickles me that right from the start, Shaun uses it to needle the unknowing. That kind of bright intelligence is incredibly seductive. No wonder Janine fell for the little guy!
He can handle himself rather well with direct barbs as well. Fearless. How awesome. But hey, at least Billy has the notion to apologize at the perceived slur. I know some comparable relatives who would simply give you a how-dare-you-be-insulted-get-over-it look, and ridicule hurt feelings. But… no. I still hate him.
“Without her knowledge or consent.” Yeah… yeah. I have a great deal of difficulty with that. A great deal. Funny though, how much I love Unaware. I understand the world of difference. It just came to mind, somehow, even though I fully get the distinction between Shaun NOT gazing up at a passing lady, and a shrunken man [YES] taking a peek or one hundred at Janine, when she’s taking a shower, etc.
Billy. So gross. I change my mind. He’s worse than the people I was thinking of.
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Yeah, you probably know the same arguments I know. Unaware is consensual, but it’s just a fantasy, but what message am I sending to society by writing about it, but creative writing must be absolutely free, &c. Yes, I’m intensely aroused by Unaware; no, I would never try to bring that into my real world. Writing about a fictional situation is not the same as victimizing an actual other person. Unless it’s clearly sedition or hate speech or something like that…
Shaun has every right to peek at Janine in their apartment, they’re lovers. If Janine tells him to stop peeking at her and he doesn’t, he could find himself in an overturned glass tumbler on a counter in a room she easily avoids for half a day. He can’t take her by force, but he can still violate her. But she can kill him effortlessly. But the threat of death should not be the driver for his morality. I think about this stuff too much.
Now… I want Shaun to be a good guy without coming off as sanctimonious or preachy, so this story was an experiment in making him socially capable without coming off like a moralistic narrator’s surrogate. As for Billy, I knew he was a wreck but I didn’t have a voice for him. He’s kind of never-grew-up, kind of garage-logic, but not so far gone as a barefoot-and-pregnant type. I’m still not strong on his voice, I think I bobbed and wove too erratically for him. But this exercise was exactly what I wanted, and I’ll do more like this, and I encourage any writer to do the same.
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Yes, true, they’re lovers, but it could be argued (not by me) that she has the right to her privacy in her own home. I’m not on that team. I’m all for spying on a little guy as he moves about his day, no matter what he’s doing. I’m down with being secretly observed, and studied, and made careful notes about. I love it beyond description.
I think you did a swell job with Billy. I hate him, don’t I?
I’m any writer. I’ll add this dialogue exercise idea to my list of things I want to do.
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So, um, what, uh, what YouTube channel was that?
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I’m afraid the account was closed by the admin due to extreme deliciousness.
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