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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Wells Oliver

May 10, 10:33AM
Woke up depressed again this morning. Slight fog outside. Sock from left foot entirely disappeared during the night. Spent thirty minutes looking for it. Made, unmade the bed repeatedly. Why me?

Sarah left the coffee on. Poured a mug from a pot two hours removed from freshness. I deserve this sort of thing. Sarah went to work and won't be back until 6PM. I have a headache. Christ, I have a headache. Always these headaches. Of course there is no Advil left in the house because Sarah has that thing with her back after the thing with the ski pole. I wonder if three pots of coffee will do anything for pain. Sarah left a little English muffin on the kitchen table. It's now soaked with butter that has been melting for the last two hours. The whole scene is carnage. I should go back to sleep.

May 13, 6:00PM
Can you hallucinate on pain medication? Read a story in the paper the other week about a guy who is suing a drug company because he took some normal sort of pain pills and for three months wasn't sure if his family was real or not. Sometimes I think the newspaper is making fun of me. But really, I wouldn't mind my family not being real. My mother called the other day when we were out for groceries. The answering machine blinks and blinks and screams that I have three messages. Wonder if anyone else's mother leaves three messages in a ten-minute span. I don't have the will to listen to them. She probably just goes on and on about how well my sisters are doing. Sometimes I wonder what a world without mothers might look like. The implications are staggering.

Sometimes I have dreams about answering machines doing horrible things to me.

Sarah is out playing tennis and the neighbors are partying. Loud music makes me feel full of regret. I sat at the kitchen table for twenty minutes and stared at a wriggling plate of pasta and tried to discern what songs they were listening to. There must be fourteen kids living in that house. Sometimes they would still be outside, barely coherent and staring blankly around the yard, when I used to leave for work at 6AM. They have a pool table in their carport and about fifteen hundred space heaters. Sometimes I imagine all of them laying dead around the yard.

Where have my hours gone?

May 22, 11:33PM
Should look into the possibilities of becoming an alcoholic.

June 1, 1:00AM
Late-night infomercials are our society's last true dramas. Sarah sleeps while I watch television on mute all night. There are lots of people smiling and many good haircuts. A man could get inspired by so many good haircuts. On this particular show the host who has to be like 6'4" holds up a stained T-shirt and smiles wide. Christ, that's a wide smile. And bone-white teeth. People shouldn't have teeth so white. Who knows what is going to happen with this smiling man and his stained T-shirt? Ten bucks says it's not stained by the end of the infomercial. I imagine stain removal as metaphor for a host of society's ills. We could all learn something by watching this sort of thing.

I wonder if it's rude to keep watching television while Sarah sleeps. She says it relaxes her, the digital glow. I think she's lying to me. Sometimes she tosses during the night and mumbles in her sleep. We've been married four years next month, I think.

June 3, 2:00AM

June 5, 12:02PM
A prospective employer called today and asked me about my prospective future and I told him that I wasn't entirely sold on such an idea to begin with. Sarah was reading in the next room. The recruiter told me that he had an exciting position for me. I told him the last time I took an 'exciting position' I worked under some wall-eyed manager who sweated a lot and made me uncomfortable. The recruiter ensured me normal fluid secretion on this assignment. I told him I had nothing to wear to a job anymore anyway, that all of my shirts had shrunk and the sleeves only came down to three inches above my wrist. I asked him if he knew the hellish pain of a man with shirts that don't cover his own wrists.

That silenced the man.

Sarah groaned from the other room and turned a page.

I can only imagine the days getting uglier.

Wells Oliver lives and writes and works in this hellish little cubicle in Seattle, WA. His work has e-appeared at McSweeney's and Monkeybicycle. He also writes at http://www.submute.net