The snow lies in a fine white blanket over the whole city, and the wind bites at your face like a passionate woman who has yet to realize just how unattractive you really are.
The weather is bitter and unforgiving in Philadelphia as Christmas approaches swiftly. People decorate their homes with lights, balls, and light balls while shopping for presents over the Internet and drowning their stress and misery in alcohol. Among the alcoholics is a middle-aged man by the name of Travis D’Angelo who thinks seasonal alcoholism is for pussies because he ain’t about that life. He goes hard all year round.
On this cold and nippy day, Travis steps out of his home to find a group of young whippersnappers frolicking giddily through the snow-laden streets. The puniest of the bunch, upon noticing Travis out front of his house, pelts him square in the face with a hard snowball. Travis staggers in surprise and pain as his comically large wine glass, filled to the brim, drops from his grasp and lands softly in the snow. The boys laugh merrily, and, ironically, Travis joins them in their laughter as their juvenile retardation makes him feel nostalgic. He bends down to pick up a clump of snow so that he can retaliate when his fingers slide around and fiercely squeeze a still-warm dog turd left by his fucking neighbor’s dog.
“Shit!” he screams accurately. But the disgust and animosity towards his neighbor brought on by the warm brown excrements on his hand cannot trump the overwhelming feeling of happiness brought on by the young lads. He reaches elsewhere for a cluster of snow and packs it into a tight ball. He throws the ball at the lingering kids, and it connects with the side of one of their faces.
A snowball fights breaks out, and Travis cannot help but laugh in between the short breaths he is afforded. The spit that dabbles down his chin from all the excitement glistens off the sun’s rays penetrating the clouds.
Suddenly, a loud crack echoes off his chin as a bolt of pain surges through his lip. He has been struck by an egg, which he had mistaken during its flight as an unusually small, oddly-shaped snowball. The egg shatters against his plump features and draws blood, mixing with the spit and the yolk. The world goes deathly silent. Travis’s face becomes red and his ears start to burn as his hands violently shake. The joy he had felt only moments ago vanishes and is quickly replaced by crippling anger.
He is about to bolt after them like a lion, hot on its prey’s tail. He gets down on all fours, again, just like a lion and kicks up much snow with his hind legs, much like a bull charging at a red cape, and blows out much air through his nose, again, very similar to a bull, and sucks in his cheeks and purses his lips like a pet goldfish for no apparent reason.
At this point the kids have already gotten to the end of the block; seeing that his efforts to try to catch up to them on foot would be futile, Travis jumps into his Hummer and speeds off after them.
When they believe themselves to be a safe distance away, the kids slow to a light jog and turn around to look. At first there is nothing, only the barren street covered in a thin layer of snow. But then, as abruptly as an orgasm, Travis turns the corner in his car, his head impossibly protruding from the sun roof. Travis’ teeth seem to have taken on a vampire-like quality as the car rides out the sharp turn on two wheels, causing Travis’s head to slide to one side of the sun roof as his neck skims against the jagged edge.
In sheer horror, the group of tykes freezes in place as the car bears down on them. They are finally jolted from their paralysis and run like bandits, scattering about in all directions. The shortest one, he who had thrown both the first snowball and the egg, foolishly stays in the street, running in the opposite direction. The car picks up speed as Travis gathers his bearings. The tires squeal and peel out as they revolve at an ever-increasing rate. The five-thousand-pound behemoth approaches the little boy. Travis slams on the brakes as the boy is lost in front of the immensity of the Hummer.
The car skids on the slush and ice, causing Travis and the vehicle to turn ninety degrees. Before coming to a complete stop, the car runs over an object unknown to Travis as he is jolted upwards from his sitting position. His head smacks against the roof of the car.
“What the hell was that?” Travis exclaims. Little did he know that he had just run over the small boy’s leg.
Travis exits the car and walks the perimeter of his vehicle to make sure there is no damage. He fails to notice the young lad under his car, and his mangled leg which he has just run over. Finding no problems, Travis gets back into his car and drives away, leaving the boy in the middle of the street.
Travis goes home and gets ready for work. He eats a large breakfast that his wife Joanne has prepared for him. His son Michael and his daughter Stephanie sit at the table with him.
“Can you drive me to my friend’s house later tonight?” his daughter asks. She attempts to expose some of her cleavage.
“Stop talking,” Travis says through his Lucky Charms without looking up.
He gets up to leave and does not acknowledge any of his family. He gets back in the car and drives to the car dealership where he works.
Upon his arrival, Travis runs into a fellow employee whom he loathes more than life itself. This man is Rudy Jenkins; he is a balding, happy-go-lucky chap with large glasses and a gap in his front teeth. He outsells Travis consistently, has a better-looking wife, and is just generally happier and much more outgoing. These becoming qualities disgust Travis to the point where he is on the verge of tears.
“Hello, Travis,” Rudy says merrily.
Travis coolly ignores his superior’s pleasantries and roughly bumps shoulders with him as he passes by. He proceeds through the large building, inside of which are many shiny new cars that Travis knows are hazardous to drive, cars that have been recalled due to defective brake systems. But he has to sell them, and so he omits this little tidbit during his sales pitch.
Travis enters his office, closing the door behind him. The snowball fight and subsequent chase have left his mind for the time being, and now he can relax comfortably in solitude. But the quiet does not last long; his boss, Mr. Blarney, enters the room just as Travis begins to nod off.
“Good morning, Mr. Faggot,” Travis says as he clumsily stands. “I mean- good morning.”
“Mr. Faggot?” Blarney inquires.
“Oh, I didn’t mean that,” Travis says. “It’s just, it’s a joke floating through the dealership, and I guess I’ve caught myself saying it a few times. You know who I think started it, is Rudy Jenkins. Yeah, I don’t think he’s a good fit here. You should probably consider letting him go.”
“Ok, Travis,” he says. “Get to work, buddy.”
Mr. Blarney leaves the room as Travis boils like hot water. God, how he hates when Mr. Blarney refers to him as buddy. His doing so makes Travis want to put Blarney’s head in between a car door while opening and closing it repeatedly and without end. Other elaborate fantasies dance through his head during the course of the day.
After waking up several hours later in a daze, Travis decides he needs a break from all the work he’s undertaken and heads for the break room. But before he can get there, he spots a prospective buyer perusing the lot with her little girl. Travis enjoys interacting with the female customers, not because of the possibility of its leading to anything, but simply because he enjoys flirting. It is one of the few pleasures left in his life. He grabs his coat and heads outside.
The woman smiles as he approaches her and the little girl with her. “Hi, there, sir,” the woman says. “I’m Mary. And this is my eight-year-old daughter Cynthia. Could you help us out, please?”
Travis ignores everything she has said and asks, “Hard nipples?”
“What?” the woman asks, not having heard him over the strong gust of wind that has swept through the lot.
Travis realizes how idiotic and immature what he had just said was, and so he figures he has caught a break by her having not heard it. But, deeming this an excellent icebreaker, he sticks with it and once more, louder this time so as to be heard over the wind, shouts, “Hard nipples?”
Mary is taken aback by the boldness with which he speaks, and she fights back the feelings that his take-charge attitude stir up within her, down in those nasty places. “Please do not speak like that in front of my daughter,” she says politely.
It is now Travis’s turn to be taken aback by not having been able to bait the biddy. Angry and confused, he turns around and starts to walk away, knowing that this woman is not worth his precious time. But he is persistent, and even as he approaches the door of the dealership, he turns and asks, “So are you going to buy the fucking car or not?”
Her lack of response leaves him hurt and offended.
Several hours later, after his second catnap, Travis handles his second customer of the day. This time it is an old man with a scraggly beard who looks bum-like and too stupid to be able to distinguish his left foot from his right. But the intended effect of the getup fools Travis completely; little does he know that the prospective buyer is not a bum, but actually an extremely clever con artist who could get away with stealing the shirt off one’s back.
“What can you tell me about this car?” the old man says.
Travis looks at the vehicle, a dark blue Toyota Camry with a leather interior and plenty of trunk space. “Well,” Travis begins, “it’s blue. That catches a lot of people’s eyes. Let’s see,” he continues, examining it as if for the first time himself, “I see some cup holders in there. Say if you got, like, five fucking thermoses of coffee, you can make that happen in this car. Two seats in the front, three in the back; you know what that means? If you’re driving around, you could fit four fresh pussies in the car with you, maybe five or six so long as none of them are chunky. I don’t know what you’re into.”
The old man rubs his beard, feigning interest. “Thanks,” he says. “You’ve been a really big help. Seriously, now, I mean that. Bring it in.” He extends his arms.
Travis, startled by the kindness of this old bum, wraps his arms around him and embraces him. The old man steps back and says, “Unfortunately, I don’t think I can afford anything here right now. But you can bet your watch that I’ll be back.” He smiles and walks away.
Travis waves to him, and after a few minutes, realizes that the watch he had been wearing, a very expensive Rolex given to him by his father-in-law, is missing. He looks on the ground, under the cars, but he is unable to find it. Only after many minutes of frantic searching does he realize that the old man has stolen his watch.
Good fucking day for Travis.
Mr. Blarney comes out ten minutes later to find Travis sitting between two cars, his head resting on the blue Toyota he truly believed he was so close to unloading on the old bum.
“What’s wrong, Travis?” Blarney asks.
“Fuck off for a second,” Travis slurs as wine dribbles out of his mouth.
“Travis, we need to talk,” Blarney says. “Will you come with me into my office?”
“Are you breaking up with me?” Travis asks jokingly. He forces a chuckle and takes a sip of his wine from his comically large glass as the laughter gradually turns into sobs.
“Come with me,” Blarney says, holding out his hand to help Travis up.
Travis pushes Blarney’s hand out of the way as he awkwardly stands. “No!” he screams loudly. “I don’t need your help.” He takes hold of his boss as he nearly trips forward. The two of them walk back inside the dealership and into Blarney’s office.
Blarney takes his seat behind his huge oak desk. Travis walks around the desk with him and attempts to sit on his lap, careful not to spill any more wine from the glass. “No, Travis,” Blarney says, “you go sit on the other side of the desk.”
Travis does so. He swirls the wine gingerly and takes a healthy sip. He nearly coughs up a lung after almost choking on the sweet deific juices of Dionysius. “Dios mio!” Travis sputters through the phlegm.
“Travis,” Blarney says, “we need to talk about your future here.”
“My future?” Travis echoes. “Ok, well in five years, I see myself finally outselling that prick Rudy Jenkins, and I’ll probably have a glass of wine in my hand while I do it too.”
“This isn’t a job interview, Travis,” Blarney says. “Much the opposite. Just a short while ago I was told that you were very hostile toward one of our potential buyers. And this is not an isolated incident, but rather a prime example of your constant and unscrupulous behavior here at work. Not to mention your drinking problem.”
“I don’t understand,” Travis says, genuinely baffled. At this Travis accidentally spills his glass of wine all over Blarney’s desk, staining many important papers a deep red. “Oh….shit,” Travis slurs. He dabs at the large pool of wine with his tie, but to no avail.
“Stop! Just stop!” Blarney says. “Listen, Travis, I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to let you go.”
Travis looks at him, dumbfounded and extremely puzzled. “Look, sir, if there’s something you have to get off your chest, just come right out and say it.”
“You’re fired!” Blarney shrieks.
Travis swirls the empty glass of wine and takes a sip of nothing. “So…you’re saying that I am fired? Well, I know this isn’t the best time to bring it up, but if I don’t now, I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance. Sir, I’ve been working here many years. I am a devout employee who cares deeply about everyone around him, and I think I deserve a promotion.”
“Are you out of your mind? Get out!”
Travis goes home early that day to find a notice in between his two doors. He has been given a heavy fine for not yet having shoveled his property. Normally this would anger Travis, but his day has been so bad that this is almost cause to celebrate. He smiles at the notice and folds it into four.
“D’Angelo!” comes a disembodied voice from behind him. It is Ms. Buckwheat, his elderly neighbor and the owner of the dog who likes to leave a nice little present on Travis’s doorstep every morning. She hobbles several paces across the snow-covered lawn, her back arched like a bell curve. “You haven’t shoveled around your house yet, Travis!” she whines like a spoiled six-year-old bitch.
“I am aware, Ms. Buckwheat,” Travis says, suddenly rediscovering what it means to be angry. He contains the stark rage and crumples the notice in his hand into a makeshift stress ball.
“When are you going to get around to it?” she whines.
“Right now,” Travis says, then adds-mumbles, “you sour old cunt.” He rummages through his pockets for his house keys.
“What are you doing?”
Travis takes a step across the lawn towards her. “Ms. Buckwheat, I have had a very long and stressful day, during which I spent most of my time crying onto my penis. Now, if you want me to get right to work without so much as putting a scarf around my neck, I will gladly do so, so that those tears will freeze right on my penis. Or, I could go inside for five fucking minutes, layer up, and come back out. What do you think I should do?”
“Just get it done!” she yells as she heads back inside.
Travis goes inside and bundles up like an Eskimo, ski mask and all. He goes around back to search for the shovel. After working on the walkway for five eternal minutes, he feels as if he is going to lose his mind. And then, a light bulb goes on over his head. Because, like all great ideas, they come to us when we are coldest, when our penises are shortest, when the blood rushes back to our heads, inducing greatest cognitive efficiency.
“Fuck!” he utters, his knees giving way beneath him as he drops to the ground with his hands outstretched to the heavens, pure bliss consuming him as this insane task virtually rolls off his back.
Why don’t I just spray the walkway and the sidewalk with hot fucking water from the hose? he asks himself.
He unrolls the hose and turns the faucet on full blast. Hot water spews from the hose, drenching the sidewalk and the walkway leading up to his front door. Travis cackles madly as he watches his plan brilliantly unfurl. The snow melts immediately. He is finished within minutes and wonders why no one ever thought of this before.
Upon finishing this task, he decides not to roll the hose back up, but rather leaves it in a tangled mess. Somehow this accomplishment makes up for all the pain and sorrow he has endured throughout the day. He feels he deserves a treat for his ingeniousness, and so he goes back inside, strips to his skin, and then puts on his wife’s silky pink bathrobe. The robe is so short it barely covers his genitals.
He reclines in his La-Z-Boy (which, coincidentally, is his nickname for his own penis), and the bathrobe inches up, fully exposing his genitalia. He calls for his wife and demands she bring him a comically large glass of wine and some freshly-baked cookies.
She fetches his things, and he takes them without thanking her, shooing her away like a fly. He turns on the booby tube and flips to the Eagles’ station. He yells many obscenities when he notices that they are losing.
Travis bites into a cookie and realizes something is amiss. He jams his thumb and forefinger into his mouth and extracts a long strand of hair. He examines it carefully, then screams, “Eww!”
Joanne comes running into the living room and asks him what’s the matter this time.
“There is a strand of hair in the cookies,” Travis says, disgusted, gagging. “How does that happen? This defies logic. It doesn’t make sense. This is truly the low point of my day! Work on another batch. I will be right back, and we’ll make sure this never happens again.”
Joanne goes out into the kitchen to start on a fresh batch while Travis makes his way over to the window to once more admire his handiwork. He parts the curtains and sees brittle old Ms. Buckwheat trudging along the sidewalk with her dog in front of his home.
“Yeah, reap the fruits of my labor, you bitch,” he mutters. “And walk that dog safely across my way.”
Suddenly, Ms. Buckwheat starts to lose her footing. She flails her arms and kicks frantically at the air, finally plummeting to the earth, landing hard on her back, gasping for breath, the wind having been entirely knocked out of her. She has slipped on the thin invisible sheet of ice created by Travis’s great feat of the hose.
Travis lets the curtains fall back into place, totally unfazed by the incident outside, and heads upstairs to look for the electric razor.
He comes back down several minutes later and walks up behind his wife in the kitchen. He sets the razor down and takes a roll of aluminum foil from the pantry. “Down, girl,” he says to his wife, pointing to the kitchen chair. He covers up the bowl of cookie mix and plugs the razor into the wall.
“What are you doing, sweetheart?” she asks, sitting.
“Making sure this never happens again,” he says, taking the last remaining gulp of wine from his comically large glass. He roughly runs the razor straight down the middle of her scalp, catching large clumps of hair.
“I trust what you are doing,” she whispers.
“Here, this ought to quiet you down,” he says, shoving a wad of her own hair in her mouth. “How does it feel to have the shoe on the other foot, baby?”
He continues to shave her head until she is completely bald. “There, that’s better,” he says, rubbing her shiny head for luck as tears roll down Mrs. D’Angelo’s cheeks. Travis spits on her head and rubs it in for that polished finish.
“All this wine has made me surprisingly tired,” Travis says. “Let’s go to bed, bald eagle.”