Commentary #14 (of 28): RE:FLUX

back-in-time-meEvery so often (weekly at the moment), I’ll be writing a commentary about a story from EMPTY ROOMS LONELY COUNTRIES. I’ll tackle the stories in the order they appear in the book. Given the nature of this exercise, I cannot guarantee that I won’t spoil specific details from the story. So you may want to return to the commentaries here when you’ve finished reading the book. If I don’t address an aspect of the story you were interested in, by all means leave a question at the end of this post and I’ll do my best to answer it.


And we’re off…

With that said, nothing – and I mean NOTHING – wakes you with more violence and clarity than waking up in a bubbling pool of your vomit on a bright Saturday morning in a stranger’s bed following an evening filled with darkness, distant madness and an endless tab.

One of the joys of this kind of writing is putting down some of the most embarrassing moments in my life and being able to vividly relive the experience again and again. Whenever I feel too cocky or full of myself, I can open up a copy of Empty Rooms Lonely Countries and relive some of the most profoundly horrifying moments of my life. Everyone should try this. It really keeps you grounded.

“Re:Flux” takes us to June of 2000. I’ve moved to Philadelphia by this time, and because my home situation was better (meaning, I had friends) I didn’t feel compelled to flee for Washington, DC to see Jenny every week. Plus, in less than two months, I managed to participate in alcohol-induced vomiting twice, destroying a vomit-free streak of many years.

This story covers the second incident, for those interested.

Like I said last week, this is the last of the DC stories in the book. There were quite a few other stories that didn’t make the book (looking at my files quickly, I’m counting seven unpublished DC stories). And strangely enough, all of the Philadelphia stories are not included in the book as well (about 12). Perhaps I’ll post some of these online at a later date.

Actually, I’ll post “Masks” (a DC story) this Friday.

Anyway, back to the story. I remember this like it was yesterday:

I work at dawn with the feverish intensity of a murderer hiding the evidence of his insidious deed, and if someone should happen to stumble into the room, I think I would actually murder them too. “Why not,” I tell myself, “I’ve come this far, haven’t I?” This is precisely the humiliation I don’t need in my fragile state of mind, and witnesses – with their Rashamon interpretations and their beady eyes – only seem to make matters worse. If I am found out now, I will forever be the guy who drank all night then threw up all over a stranger’s bed; I will be branded with a scarlet letter “V” for the rest of my life.

The great thing about this story is how the awkwardness builds and builds. I’ve had a few nice comments about this story. A lot of it has to do with the twist ending. Unfortunately, I didn’t have to embellish much here, and the ending happened as it’s presented.

I don’t mean to cut this commentary short, but the success of this story is dependent on the twist and I don’t want to dance around it more than I have to. And the last thing I want to do is wander off writing about other vomit-themed moments in my life.

Next week: “This is Not for You”

Previous commentaries:

#1 “Cowboys and Indians”
#2 “Little Conundrums”
#2.5 “Playing With the Dead”**
#3 “The Illusion of Swing”
#4 “Kicking Love’s Ass”
#5 “On Being Velma-less”
#6 “Muted Porn”
#7 “Defying Gravity”
#8 “The Fifth Ocean”
#9 “One Dead (Potted) Plant”
#10 “Remembering Drajra”
#11 “Pancakes, Wishes and Other Tales”
#12 “Maintaining”
#13 “Before Waking”

Written by

Christian A. Dumais is an American writer, humorist and public speaker living in Wrocław, Poland. He has published fiction, journalism, and academic articles in several magazines and journals such as GUD, Shock Totem and Ha!Art. His first collection of short stories, Empty Rooms Lonely Countries, was published in 2009. He also created, edited, and contributed to Cover Stories, a euphictional anthology of 100 stories inspired by songs, which was published in 2010. His most recent book is SMASHED: The Life and Tweets of Drunk Hulk.

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