The Northville Review
an online literary journal

Jason Jordan

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The other guys—Mike, Josh, and Doug—are in the living room too, where the killing takes place. It’s night. The only light radiates from a 52″ HDTV and Doug’s Mac laptop. Weed[1] is in the blue recliner, while M, J, and D are on the beige three-person couch. The surround sound’s loud, belting out yells, gunshots, explosions. Mike is playing CoD[2] on his PS3.[3] He’s online, playing people from all over the world, and his screen name is U_R_A_F4GG0T. The PlayStation Network doesn’t allow spaces, so players resort to underscores.

When Mike kills someone in CoD, he shouts one of the following phrases: “Pwned! Fag! Get raped! Eat shit, ya piece of shit!” The people can’t hear him, but he says these things anyway. Mike sticks to death match, a game in which there are two teams that try to win by being the first team to reach a certain amount of points. Players earn points by fragging[4] other players.

Doug, however, is staring at his laptop. He’s online, checking his Facebook, etc. He sits on the couch even though he rarely pays attention to the action on the TV screen. Occasionally Weed or Mike or Josh or Doug will pull out a cell phone and text or talk to someone. M, J, and D rent the house. Weed drives over from his parents’ house when he wants to hang out with them.

Weed doesn’t play CoD, but he enjoys watching Mike play it. He thinks it’s fun to see what people come up with for clan tags and screen names. Clans are a group of players who play together on a regular basis. A clan tag is enclosed within brackets and must be four characters or fewer. A list of clan tags Weed has found amusing: [POON], [420], [WEED], [THC], [USMC][5], [POOP], [DUNG], [SCAT]. Funny usernames? Duck_Sick, GAANNJJAA!!, etc.

It’s now 11:30 p.m. Mike has been playing CoD for three hours; Josh, Doug, and Weed have been watching him the entire time. At this juncture, Mike says, “Anyone up for some TB?”[6]

“Sure,” says Weed. Josh concurs, but Doug declines. Mike shuts off the PS3 and they all, except Doug who stays on his laptop, walk to the garage where they hop into Mike’s Civic—still the white one, still the car from back in the day, still not quite on its last legs but getting there.

In the car, as Mike backs down the driveway and steers into the darkness, he says, “I’m glad Doug didn’t come, because—”

“He never does,” Josh says.

“As I was saying,” Mike says, looking, in mock anger due to the interruption, into the rear view mirror at Josh, who’s in the backseat. “I’m glad Doug didn’t come, Weed, because we’ve been having some problems with him lately.”

“What kind of problems?” asks Weed.

“Doug hasn’t paid his share of the rent in two months.”

“Despite the sign?”[7] Weed asks.

“Ignores the sign altogether,” Mike says. He lowers the radio’s volume a notch, turning down the latest single from a group of pretty boys. “Always says, ‘Just give me a couple more days.’ And of course we aren’t hardasses about it.”

“Right,” Weed says.

“So we started warning him a while back, and we think now’s the time to finally do something about it, which is why I’m glad you’re here and Doug isn’t. You wanna move in with us?”

“You’re kicking Doug out?” Weed asks. Josh, listening attentively in the backseat, remains quiet because of the radio. He’d have to shout if he wanted Mike and Weed to hear anything he says, and decides it wouldn’t be worth it.

“Got to. Nothing else we can do.”

“How’re you gonna do it?”

“The easiest and most obvious way.”

“Which is?”

The Civic enters the TB drive-thru. Mike rolls down his automatic window—a luxury in his early ’90s ride—and tells the speaker what he wants. Weed and Josh relay their orders. Mike repeats them to the speaker. Minutes later they’re on the way home with a slew of Tex-Mex.

“We’re gonna wait until he goes to work tomorrow,” Mike says, resuming the conversation, “since me and Josh are both off tomorrow, and we’re gonna put all his shit in the driveway. Clean out his room—the whole shebang—and then keep the doors dead bolted until he goes away.”

“That’s one way to do it,” Weed says.

“That’s the only way to do it,” Mike says.

“You don’t think he’ll retaliate?”

“I don’t think so. It’s not like we’re doing this out of the blue. We’ve been warning him for weeks, telling him we’re gonna take action if he doesn’t pony up his share, the bastard.”

“Bastard is right,” says Josh from the back.

Mike guides his car into the garage at home. Weed jumps out of the front seat holding the white TB bag. The three walk into the house. It’s quiet. Doug is no longer on the couch. He must be in his bedroom. Weed looks into the hallway when he passes it to check for light seeping out from under Doug’s doorway, but there’s none.

They remove their portions from the bag and chow down. Mike turns the TV on, selecting Special Ops Mission on Military Channel. And, while Weed eats, he thinks about how they seem like roommates already, that this is what it could be like in a week, a month, a year. But, Weed remembers, he never gave Mike an answer. Instead, he answered a question with a question.

Until he’s thought more about it and has a one-word response ready, that’ll have to be good enough.

[1] They call him Weed Whackoff. They call him that because on Saturday afternoons (back in the day, when they were in high school), M, J, and D lumbered into M’s white Honda Civic, drove over to Weed’s parents’ house, and always found him Weed Whacking his parents’ yard. Weed Whacker, they learned, is a brand name. So is Weed Eater. They also learned, on the same quick visit to Wikipedia, that the brand name-free term is string trimmer, or line trimmer, strimmer, grass trimmer, among other aliases. They usually call him Weed, because it takes less time to say.
[2] Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
[3] PlayStation 3
[4] killing
[5] Players who adopt this clan tag are often terrible at the game.
[6] Taco Bell
[7] There’s a sign, written in red permanent marker, tacked to the white fridge with a magnet that reads: “DON’T BE A DICK: PAY YOUR SHARE.” Each month, when each tenant pays his share, they gather around the fridge and cross off that tenant’s name. Doug’s name hasn’t been crossed off in two months.

About the author

Jason Jordan holds an MFA from Chatham University. His forthcoming books are Cloud and Other Stories (Six Gallery Press, 2010) and Powering the Devil's Circus: Redux (Six Gallery Press, 2010). His prose has appeared online and in print in over forty literary magazines, and is forthcoming in The Broken Plate, Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer, Writers' Bloc (Rutgers), among others. Additionally, he's Editor-in-Chief of decomP, accessible at You can visit him at his blog at