Title: Of Shop Class, Flare Guns, and Heavy Metal Vomit Parties
Author: D.L. SchizoAuthoress
Warnings: Profanity, references to suicide and drug use
Summary: Brian and Bender-before, during, and after that fateful Saturday detention.
Important Notes: This is the fifty-fifth fanfic that I've written and posted, but one of my first "The Breakfast Club" fanfics. The others are some weird half-stream-of-consciousness bits, probably resultant of some nearly expired cold medicine.
If you have read anything by me before, you know that I like to do unorthodox things in my stories. A lot of this fandom is concerned with either 'the Monday after' or 'years in the future', and even though I've read some interesting ones, I'm not about to just follow the beaten path and do that. Sure, it has to have some continuation, but still...
Isolated italics are memories.
Italics with 'single quotes' indicate thoughts.
Bolded "double quotes" denote writing.
Underlines are for emphasis
Wednesday, March 21, 1984
The digital clock on Brian Johnson's desk noted the time as 12:38 a.m. (so, technically, it was Thursday already), but Brian wasn't in bed as one might expect him to be, since it was a school night and all. Instead, he was sitting at said desk, alternating his attention between a small manual lying open on top of his open textbook and an elephant-shaped ceramic lamp-a project for shop class. He frowned at something he had just read and carefully adjusted the beam of his gooseneck lamp to fall on the wiring inside his shop project. A few wires were tugged loose with uncertain fingers, worried eyes glanced without comprehension at the diagram in the manual, and Brian sighed heavily. He just didn't understand this thing. Sure, he was smart, but when it came to transferring what he knew in his head to something other than words or mathematical equations, he was hopeless. This hands-on work sucked. And he'd thought that shop class would be a cakewalk!
Brian rubbed his forehead tiredly, letting his right hand drift to cover his eyes for a moment. God, he wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed and fall asleep, or at least be miserable about this stupid electrical wiring project while lying in his warm, comfortable bed...
His fingers spread just enough to let him turn a longing gaze at his perfectly made bed. But no, he couldn't let himself do that. He was probably going to fail this project-but he couldn't fail this project (all right, to be honest, he could; it was possible and certainly quite probable given the fact that the oft-damned light just wouldn't come on). It was 'totally unacceptable', to quote one of his mother's favorite lecture phrases.
"Brian, are you studying? What are you doing, if you're not studying? I'll tell you what you're doing-you're slacking off! You think that the good colleges are going to let a slacker into their program? No! Good colleges like Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Vanderbilt...they won't accept you without exceptional academic marks. Do you understand me, Brian? ...What am I saying, of course you understand, you have a higher IQ than I do! What these other children do-neglect their studies, forget homework assignments, waste time with those social 'activities' clubs-you cannot do that. It. Is. Totally. Unacceptable. Are we clear? You have the ability to bring home perfect marks, and I don't want to see anything lower than perfect marks. A 4.0 or higher, Brian, that's what I want!"
Brian shuddered. He'd gotten that lecture, in its various forms, for as long as he could remember. He could recite it to himself, imagining his mother's every eyeroll, flinging-up of the hands (indicating 'helplessness'), finger-point, and aggrieved sigh as though she were standing right in front of him. Every time he even vaguely considered breaking her 'rules', that's what would storm around in his brain. He'd read something about crap like this-mental programming, or something like that. Brian's left hand rubbed absently at his breastbone, which was his mother's favorite spot to jab him with her index finger while gritting out, "Failure. Is. Totally. Unacceptable. Understand me, mister?" or whenever she said something needing the special emphasis of her sharp, bony fingertips.
What his mother does is actually pretty tame by the standards of abuse, or at least that's what Brian assumes. Aside from the perennial nickel-sized bruise on his chest, she never hurt him. Physically, that is-Mrs. Mercedes Johnson is a master at the guilt trip, mind games, and psychological pain. But Brian's knowing this does nothing to assuage the effect of her machinations. And a tiny rebellious bit of him muttered, 'Fucking bitch, what about what I want?' in his head, then subsided to the part that was panicking over what would happen when he got that inevitable 'F' on the hideous non-working elephant lamp.
Thursday, March 22, 1984
Fifth period, shop class, and Brian has decided that if he was going to fail the project there was nothing to be done. He'd tried, he'd attempted to complete the assignment to the best of his ability, no matter what his parents thought, and that had to count for something somewhere, didn't it? He slunk into the classroom, as he was accustomed to doing, and set his lamp (identified with his name written in permanent marker on a strip of masking tape on the bottom) among the others.
The other lamps probably work like they're supposed to. Brian knows that the panic of failure will set in later, but at this particular moment, that tiny rebellious bit is staving off Mom's programming-really, though, it only makes the end result worse, but it's better to do the silent-rage-destruction thing alone in his bedroom at the house than to start crying or something in the middle of shop class. He's already a dweeb (dork, geek, nerd, brain) in the minds of his classmates, so why make things worse by adding 'sissy' or 'pansy' to the list?
Mr. Devon came up to Brian at the end of class and quietly confirmed that, yes, Brian had failed his project. A short, jerky nod was Brian's only reply-meanwhile, he was mentally calculating based on point-value whether, given the off chance that he aced every other assignment in the class, he could still pull off an overall 'A'. Stupid to do, really, because he already knew it; Mr. Devon had said so when assigning the project. The best he could get now was a 'B', and that dragged down his GPA.
Tears well up in his eyes, frustrated, angry tears to be certain, but still. 'God, could I be any more pathetic?' Brian asks himself sarcastically, ducking his head and blinking furiously at the desk.
He could be more pathetic.
Brian was willing to bet that if any other person had felt as angry and hopeless and depressed as he'd felt today at school, they would have stomped around the house and yelled, or indulged in some sort of relaxing activity, blowing off schoolwork. But no, not Brian Ralph Johnson. He can't do that kind of thing, it's not acceptable. Instead, he locked his bedroom door and did his homework, like nothing was wrong, like things were perfectly normal and he didn't have some ugly ceramic lamp that wouldn't light up in his backpack.
It was only now, after papers were written, assignments completed, and a cursory appearance at the dinner table made that Brian indulged. He sat on the floor, cross-legged, and toyed with the straight edge razor blade he always carried in his back pocket. Nobody knew about it; he'd stolen it from his Uncle Chester's toolkit a few years back when the family had visited Uncle Chester's place up near Niagra Falls.
Sometimes, Brian would press the blade to the inside of his arm (well away from the wrist, he wasn't stupid and didn't want to kill himself yet anyway), feel the skin part, watch the blood well up in the shallow cut. He knew how to go just deep enough to scar, but not deep enough that the bleeding could get out of control. This was his control, this self-harm was the only thing that he could control. This was how he let everything go-like the bad things about his life were a poison in his blood, and bleeding a little made it all better. This was his secret coping mechanism.
Only this time, it just didn't feel like enough. Brian lifted his bleeding forearm to his mouth and licked away the blood, the familiar hot copper-salt taste of it zinging sharp on his tongue. It didn't feel like enough, but Brian wasn't about to cut himself again-he'd done it twice tonight, the matching cut on his right arm was bound up with gauze and medical tape already.
Nausea threatened, but it wasn't because of what he was doing. His mother's frowning, angry face was clear in his mind, her harsh words playing back in accusatory counterpoint to the image. This...cutting...it would never be enough to take out the poison that she'd put inside of him. Brian dabbed anti-infection cream on his self-inflicted wound and placed a thin pad of gauze over it. As he wrapped the medical tape once, twice around his arm, he wondered, 'What would make it better?'
He doubted that anything could. He was too messed up, by mom's perfectionism, by his dad's almost total non-involvement, and by his own dependence on the approval of others. He pulled a composition book out from under his bed and scribbled quickly:
"Mom's worked so hard to give the impression of perfection to anyone who sees this family. The devoted housewife, the hard-working father, adorable daughter, and genius son-and if it wasn't so goddamn cliche, she'd probably get a white picket fence out in front, too. But now, with this failure of mine, her perfect little image is distorted. I'm a failure.
The Johnson household isn't kind to failures."
But it might be pretty nice to the dead."
Friday, March 23, 1984
It's two in the morning, and Brian-wearing his backpack-stumbles on the stairs going down, blinded by the dark. He freezes for a moment, straining to hear any sound indicative of his family waking up. When nothing happens, he continues on down.
Once on the ground floor, Brian gets down on his hands and knees and crawls, feeling along the wall and floor to orient himself. Carpet gives way to cold linoleum, and Brian stands up in the kitchen; his goal lies across the room and past the refrigerator. On tiptoe, he sneaks over to the wooden door and slowly, slowly slides the deadbolt back. Another moment of pause, of baited breath, and then he slips through.
The concrete in the garage is colder than the linoleum, but Brian only makes note of this vaguely. On top of one of the tall filing cabinets here is a lockbox where Mr. Johnson keeps a registered handgun that Mrs. Johnson knows nothing about. But Brian knows about it. His hands ghost over stacks of boxes and the filing cabinets, feeling frigid metal sides and flaking paint, dusty cardboard and peeling packing tape. Finally, his right hand brushes against a small metal box with hinge on one side and a keyhole on the other.
Brian turns the box around and flips it open, feeling a very gun-like shape within. Without examining it closer, he stuffs it into the backpack; then he turns on numb feet and heads back the way he came.
Needless to say, Brian gets a pretty awful surprise as he unpacks his things into his locker. 'A flare gun?' he thought, peering into his bag in disbelief, 'When the hell did Dad get a flare gun? And what the fuck am I gonna do with this?'
He sighs heavily and shoves it far into the back of his locker, disgusted at his complete ineptitude over this suicide thing.
End Part One