American Cheese

American Cheese

In your room you’ll dry-hump Maggie Kretzer to the looping music of the Finding Nemo DVD menu while your brother pounds Everclear in his room and writes “fuck” with a sharpie on the back of the family pug. When your brother moves out, his room will be your room, as a sort of hand-me-down, like a pair of Jnco Jeans or a chain wallet.

You’ll find him in the kitchen cooking something in the skillet and you’ll ask him what he’s doing and he’ll turn with that glint that means he’s more gone than there, and you’ll look at the stack of grilled cheese on the counter and guess what comes next. Grilled cheese challenge, he will slur, tossing down the third sandwich to the pug who waits asthmatically at bay on the linoleum floor. By grilled cheese number seven your mom will come home from the American Eagle distribution warehouse and she’ll look right past you, your brother, and the piles of cheesy vomit bile and she’ll head straight for the Franzia box without a word.

Your brother will go to jail for a weekend and you’ll sit in his room and marvel at the commodiousness and the smell, and when he returns on Monday he’ll tell you about how on Saturdays it’s baked potato day and the cells fill with murmuring whispers of potato skins, potato skins and all the inmates use strips of ripped Bible pages as wraps and roll thick sticks of potato skin blunts and smoke them in the courtyard. He’ll tell you he didn’t fuck with all that though; instead he read Stephen King’s It in one sitting on the top bunk.

You and your friend will sit on the bed in your room and watch the VHS-C footage of the day’s skatepark biffs and gnarlitude and when it ends you’ll realize you’ve taped over something else—your brother in his room, using your video camera to film himself jerk off into a Crown Royal bag. You’ll never live this down.

You’ll dry-hump Tabitha Nunez on the runway of the municipal airport at midnight and you’ll swear to God that plane is coming right for you. You’ll dry-hump Rachel Stevens in the backseat of your grandparent’s hand-me-down Buick in the parking lot of the sewage facility. You’ll dry-hump Danielle Gourd on a bean bag chair in the back of your friend’s Astro van barreling down Hwy 59 after a Christian metal show at the Bottleneck.

Your brother’s room will be your room soon after he drunk drives his Saturn into a mighty oak one night and introduces his frontal bone to the gloss of the windshield and he’ll run home bloody through possum fields and gravel. Through your trailer-house window you will see the silhouette of his bandaged head hovering at the dining-room table with your mom like a mummy as you and your friend come home from a full night of biffing and gnarlitude.

You’ll cook store-brand dog food in the skillet and add teriyaki sauce and make stir-fried kibble for your pug when your brother walks in and he will cough through the cloud of sour smoke and scream at you, call you a dumbass, a shit-head, an idiot, ask what the fuck were you thinking?

The pug will soon die, of course, don’t be surprised by this, and when it does, Tracy Chapman’s androgynous voice will either soothe you or haunt you with her song about a fast car as it plays from your mom’s Magnavox stereo while you cry your myopic eyes out on the living room floor. And don’t be surprised when the person behind the wheel of the truck that kills the pug is your ex-stepdad, the same one who looked you in the eye and ran over your remote control car with his ruby red rototiller back at the house on Hwy 59, because wasn’t he preparing you then for the sorrow you’ll feel now?

Your brother will go deep on an Everclear bender and break into the high school football field concession stand and grab an armload of Hawaiian Punch and run wild across the twilit turf. The night janitor will apprehend him and your brother will tell you that before the cops came he got a swing or two in on the fucker, but this isn’t true: your brother gets his ass beat by the janitor and spends four nights back in potato skin prison.

Your brother will pack up his Chevy Nova and move away and go to community college and drop out and live on an apple orchard right outside of town. He’ll go on to adopt a Jack Russell Terrier. He’ll buy pet insurance. He’ll tell you he’s sorry.

His room will be your room, and you’ll turn out just fine.


About the Author

Cameron Snyder lives in Denver where he sells used things on the Internet, like vintage 2Pac t-shirts and Hooters mouse pads. This is his first published work.