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The International Writers Magazine: Modern Living 567

Moving Forward
• Dan Dotson
Man is a monkey without much fur, but a house and a space heater to compensate. When the house is gone, however, and by association the outlet necessary for the space heater to function, man must rely on his inherent adaptability.
unwelcome sofa

He is a social creature, first and foremost. He has friends who will allow him to crash at their place, and use their wall outlets. Just until he can get back on his feet.

His incredibly complex brain is his most unique tool. Honed and perfected through eons of natural selection, this organic supercomputer allows him to form abstractions and to draw connections between cause and effect in order to learn from his environment. The harnassing of fire, as well as the invention of tools and agriculture have been just a few of the advancements stemming from this miracle of nature.

After many years of working various mind-numbing jobs that attempted to stifle his hunter-gatherer tendencies, which presented constant distractions, and ultimately demanded release in some form (sexual advances toward a coworker, picking a fight with a boss, stealing merchandise, etc), his most recent development has been the realization that "the system is completely fucked."

His greatest challenge, at such a crucial stage of evolution, has been to act on this newfound knowledge while at the same time maintaining the benefits of his social relations--a daunting task that he has yet to master.
"Steve!" Man turns a glossy eye to the tall figure standing in the living room entryway. "Put out that joint! You know Ruth hates you smoking in here."

Slowly, after extending the final hit for as long as his tiny mammal lungs will allow, man does as he's told. The two friends eye each other, man using his complex brain to work out a solution to the problem at hand. Man loves his weed, and Ruth hates man, because she is a soulless parasite looking for any excuse to deprive Aaron of all of his friends--even his oldest and closest ones. Man, being competitive by nature, refuses to budge an inch if it means Ruth having the upper hand. Besides, Aaron is the biggest pothead he knows. He's dedicated enough to smoke in secret, in man's car, while Ruth is out shopping or at work.
"Such a hypocrite," man says under his breath, picking up the X-box controller beside him.
"What was that?" says Aaron, still in the entryway, arms crossed--a sign of aggression, man knows, but he maintains his cool despite the obvious physical advantage of the comparatively dumb beast. He says nothing, eyes on the tv screen.
"Did you pick up any applications today?"
"Not yet."
"You know it's almost four, right?"
"Is it?"
"Look, Steve," Aaron says with a sigh. "I don't like having to be the one to have this conversation with you, but you're really giving me no choice. The fact is, you're almost 35 years old..."
Man's hunting instincts take over, despite his desire to present Aaron with an intelligent argument. He becomes preoccupied with shooting zombies, and loses track of the conversation.
", Ruth and I were talking--"
The sound of her name jolts him back to reality. "Fuck that bitch." Man interrupts with his favorite sentence. Still, a poor choice given the delicate nature of his situation. "Sorry man," he says, "but she's got you by the balls, you know?"

Aaron keeps his arms crossed, unblinking, staring man down as man's eyes remain transfixed on the screen. It takes every ounce of his being to drag his attention from the television. "Look, bro, you used to be cool--I mean, you still are, but--you know, deep down, I think, but you're like--uh--a fucking slave. Man, you can't even smoke in your own damned house. That's all I'm saying... Fuck!" as he is mobbed by zombies.

Removing his junk from Aaron's living room the following day, man's well-honed instincts lead him to the inside pocket of a duffel bag on the top shelf of the coat closet. Aaron's secret stash. He also manages to pocket a handful of DVDs on his way out the door. With the vague sensation that he's moving forward in some way, toward an endpoint that he can't even imagine, man sets out to enjoy the fruits of a successful hunt, his mental reward system in full effect as he rests his eyes on the female figure smoking a cigarette in the driveway across the street. He shoots her a smile, assuming an angled posture to draw attention to the tattoos which span the length his arm--a tactic he has perfected to increase his amount of opportunities for reproduction, which is doubly effective when his muscles are allowed to flex from carrying a heavy box. Using such keen intelligence to stay ahead of the competition, man ensures his rightful place at the top of the animal kingdom. He loads his few possessions into the passenger seat of his '87 Honda, the future looking very bright indeed.
© Dan Dotson March 2012
About the author: Dan Dotson lives in Nebraska and has been published by a handful of online journals.

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