If You Need Help

Matt Sailor

Matt Sailor

Some guy I used to be friends with is hosting a nude reading of H.P. Lovecraft at his loft on Valentine’s Day. He posts it on F_______. He’ll be nude. The audience will keep their clothes on. He makes several references to his “tentacle” in the F_______ invite. As of now, 318 people are invited. 1 person is going. Him. Also, I should mention, 8 or 9 maybes. I’ve been checking the page semi-compulsively for the past 3 hours, even though what I’m supposed to be doing is grading papers for the writing class I teach. I’ve also been watching the History Channel, a show called Ancient Aliens which is about what-if-every-dumb-thing-anyone-ever-believed-(God,-spirits,-mythological-beings)-was-a)-true-and-b)-not-the-thing-itself,-but-actually-aliens. I’ve been waiting all day for someone to talk to, to say, “What is going on w/ W___’s F_______ invite, srsly?”

W___ is not the kind of person you would expect to show his tentacle to his guests. His parties have always been tame. He invites 318 people on F_______, a dozen or so show up and listen while (in lieu of talking) W___ performs obviously pre-scripted stories about his trip to the dentist, or the time a Mormon lost control of his bowels while W___ was fucking him. You’ll be trying to get a cheese cube and he’ll say, “How are you, M___?” And you’ll say, “Good, busy with classes,” and he’ll say, “Ah, yes.” And then if you don’t fill the pause, “So, you will never believe what happened to me [at the Dentist/on the corner of P________ and P_______/while fucking this Mormon].” And maybe you wouldn’t believe it, except that you were getting your first cheese cube earlier when he approached R______, who was “busy in court” and “Ah, yes” and Pause and “So, you will never believe…”

Finally, at around 3 o’clock, L____ logs onto G____ and I send her this message:

what is going on w/ W___’s F_______ invite, srsly?

There is a long pause. The “expert” on the television is positing that Hammurabi’s Code was created by a race of alien overlords who once ruled Mesopotamia. L____ replies:

dunno, haven’t looked.
look. right now. srsly.
…hang on

L____ and I are not really friends anymore, not since a year ago when she broke up with another friend of mine. But sometimes we still talk on G____ while she’s at work.

some kind of party?
a naked party, wts? reading H.P. Lovecraft. naked.
yeah. on Valentine’s Day!?!? O_o

This is what I’ve been waiting for all day. For someone to understand how hilarious it is, the image of this guy in his loft, reading about Shub-Niggurath while his cousin P____, some guy in his office, and literally no one else, eat cheese cubes and examine the bookshelves, the new hardwood floors, anything but that tentacle dangling there.

can you imagine?
hey, if he’s got the balls for it, good for him. lol.
i guess…
i gotta go. wrking.
but like, who is going? wts, like, srsly? he is going to read naked H.P. Lovecraft in his apartment, on Valentine’s Day? don’t you think that’s the most ridiculous thing ever?

This last is sent after L____ has already logged off, and G____ says the message has not been received, but will be delivered via email once the person gets back online. This is irritating, because I realize that, in the moment of conversation, this would have just been a thing I said, but when it’s delivered to L____ as an email, potentially hours later, it’s going to seem like a desperate plea, someone begging to be understood. I don’t want L____ to think that I care what she thinks so much that I had to send her this last, urgent message.
I alt+tab over to the F_______ page. 1 person attending. 8 maybes. 36 nos. L____ has posted this:

Dinner plans with the bf. But this is courageous. I love you.

And I am thinking, really? Really? What kind of friends say “I love you,” that way? What is that? Then I remember once, when L____ said that to me, years and years ago. She was in Scotland, and I got this call (this was back when we used phones) in the middle of the night. She said, “M____?” and she sounded far away, like down a tunnel, the way overseas calls did then, that clicking, that echo, like you were listening on an old phonograph, the voice trilling from an ornate gilded horn.

“I am having the worst time,” she said, “I’m at some discotheque, you know they spell that with a Q here, and they still say ‘Disco,’ when it’s like, dude, Disco is 30 years ago, call it something else. Oh, I’m so drunk.”

“Sounds like you’re having a blast,” I said, clicking on the lamp.

“No, it’s terrible. I miss you. I can’t believe you picked up.”

“What else have I got to do?”

We talked about Scotland some (she was studying abroad). I’d always liked L____, but she’d always been dating someone. I missed her—and I was thinking about this time in high school when we’d both gotten stoned and she’d sat on the couch with me, watching TV, late-night infomercials, and how she’d giggled against my arm, and how warm she’d felt, and how I’d thought about kissing her but hadn’t because I knew I’d ruin the moment.

“Come home,” I said to her on the phone. “I love you.”

I don’t know why I said it, except that suddenly I felt it.

“I love you, too, M____y.”

And the line clicked. If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and try again.

The guy on the alien show is talking about how he thinks aliens might have used Stonehenge to move immense mass over thousands of miles through magnetic resonance, explaining the mystery of the pyramids without the need for further archeological research. I have the F_______ page open. It asks a simple question:

Yes? No? Maybe?

I click yes.


Matt Sailor is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. He is an associate editor of NANO Fiction. He holds an MFA from Georgia State University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in PANK, Paper Darts, Hobart, Necessary Fiction, and AGNI, among others. His website is mattsailor.com.


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