KING OF FOOLS, Chapter 1



He just wasn’t prepared to conform to other people’s rules, that was all.


The sun was piercingly bright and Luke couldn’t force his eyes open into the light of the autumn morning. Where the hell could his phone be? And who the hell was so annoying so early in the day? Feeling for the well-known shape and size on the floor, he thought his head just might explode. He definitely shouldn’t have had so much to drink last night.

Another sound, something between a voice and a moan coming from somewhere really near, too near, actually, surprised him, and he instinctively opened his eyes despite the pain. Oh, shit. The day was an official fiasco and it hadn’t even begun yet. Blond hair on the pillow right next to him moved slightly, and he just couldn’t believe this was happening. The noise of the phone chased the thoughts out of his head, so trying to remember how and why Sonia was there with him was an impossible assignment. Okay, he will just have to deal with it. Eventually. Finally, his fingers came across something resembling his phone, but it was just an empty bottle he was touching. The phone shut up for a couple of blessed seconds but started ringing again almost immediately.

Luke sat up and tried to function. This obviously wasn’t just an ordinary morning, and he obviously wasn’t his usual self, but he was still going to have to function. He looked around and scanned the room’s usual chaos. Where was the sound coming from?

“The phone,” mumbled the unwelcome voice in his bed.

Luke hid his face in his hands for a moment. So this was what a really nasty morning felt like.

“Yeah,” he mumbled in response, and waited for the phone to stop mutilating his brain. No such luck. The jacket he was wearing last night fell from the chair, vibrating the answer to his passive phone hunt on the floor. He got up, grabbed the jacket, and started searching through the pockets.

“You look so good in the morning,” Sonia was trying to be either funny or nice, but he simply wasn’t in the mood for her now.

Actually, he was never in the mood for her; the problem was just that he wasn’t very good at showing her that consistently. So, what else was there for him to do but to turn around like the biggest coward ever and show her his butt-naked back. She giggled obnoxiously, remarking something stupid about his ass, and he tried to ignore her comments.

At last, he got hold of the vibrating noise in one of the pockets and fished it out. Jesus, what else was going to happen to him today?


“Hi, Mom,” he said, heading toward the kitchen for a bit of privacy. “How are you?”

Oh, completely unlike him, she was just her usual self, effortlessly managing to make him feel like the biggest loser in the world.

“I’m fine, honey, but I’m just so worried about you.”

“There’s no need to worry, Mom,” he sighed. “I’m okay.”

“Well, living the way you’ve been living these last couple of months really doesn’t make you okay,” she sneered. “And thank God, you’ve got me to make it all perfect again.”

Luke tried not to sigh again. Hopefully he wouldn’t lose his nerves and get into another one of their pointless and artificially heartbreaking fights. He struggled with the wish to hang up, and managed a pretty normal question.

“Really? How do you think you can do that?”

“Do what, honey?”

Oh, God, he had to smile despite the fact that her ways were mainly irritating most of the time.

“Make my life perfect, Mom.”

“Oh, you just listen to what happened the other day. I think I got you a job.”

Luke leaned against the wall and pulled on a pair of boxers. Both the topic of the conversation and the person he was having it with demanded something less comfortable than being naked.

“Oh, Mom, you didn’t,” he complained, feeling so annoyingly like an eight-year-old that he could laugh if it wasn’t for the pounding headache wanting to rip his brain out. “Not again.”

“But I did and this time you’ll thank me for it.”

“Really?” he turned on the coffee maker, firmly decided that he would not waste the energy to debate over an already lost cause.

“Well,” his mom started, “it was an extremely lucky coincidence and I am convinced you’ll at least consider the option.”

“I’m listening.”

Luke heard footsteps approaching the kitchen, and silently cursed. Sonia was the last thing he needed right now, with his mom slicing one end of his brain and a hangover doing the same with the other, but she was there and didn’t even have the decency to back off when he was on the phone.

“Do you remember Mrs. Levy, the one who used to live down the street?”

“Sure,” he had to step away from a too enthusiastic embrace which was feeling his stomach and lowering down towards the upper line of his boxers.

“Give me a sec, Mom,” he mumbled, covered the phone with his hand, and hissed, “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?”

Sonia’s lips pouted and her eyes gleamed offensively as she turned around and headed toward the bathroom. Of course, he had to feel a bit bad. She always succeeded to make him feel bad for the way he was treating her.

“Okay, Mom, I’m back.”

“Were you talking to someone?”

Was she really asking him this question?

“Yes, Mom, I was.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to have interrupted your morning routine,” said a sour voice and miraculously changed the moment she changed the subject. “But since it isn’t even morning anymore, you will have to bear with me for a while. So, as I was saying, Mrs. Levy has a nephew who works for a production company. Ha? What do you say to that?”

Her voice was excitedly victorious, but Luke knew better than to think something good might come from that. The way things have been going, the only position the company might have open would be a janitor or something.

“I say good for him,” mumbled Luke and started hating the guy just for working there.

“And for you, Luke. Mrs. Levy and I talked about him the other day – pure coincidence, may I say,” she giggled to emphasize the fact she was on a serious, overly dedicated job-hunt for her loser son twenty-four seven. “I mentioned you were working with those toys of yours and guess what?!”

They must have had a similar conversation at least a hundred times before, but this one seemed a bit more promising. Which surely meant that it was going to be an even bigger disappointment, eventually.

“What?” he sighed and hoped his voice wouldn’t reveal the mild interest he was starting to feel.

“She happened to know they were starting a new show and looking for all kinds of profiles. Cameramen included.”

No way. No way this was going to work. No way his mother was able to get him the job interview he was trying to get for so long. He scratched his head, regretting the amounts of alcohol still flowing through his veins, turning his thoughts into a useless mush and preventing anything reasonable to enter his brain.

“Really?” he mumbled through a mixture of slight disbelief and strong headache. “And what kind of a show is this supposed to be?”

Luke didn’t want to act doubtful but he must have sounded like there was something he didn’t want to say to her, because his mother’s voice went through the roof.

“Does it matter, Luke? Does it really matter what kind of a show it’s going to be? Sure, it won’t be your music videos and all the other nonsense you’ve been daydreaming about since you were six and giving me headache with it, but does it really matter? Listen, it’s high time you start doing something with your life, and from what I’ve seen so far, this is by far the best chance you’ve ever gotten, young man.”

“Don’t call me that,” his voice got louder despite of the pain wanting to push his eyeballs out of his head.

“You are lucky I don’t call you a little boy, because you sure are one,” she hit back.

That was it. Another round of their fights began, the crossfire of their senseless accusations, and Luke was slowly but surely diving deeper and deeper into a state of rage which no one and nothing but his mother could cause. It was always the same. He told himself a million times that it was stupid to let her constant reproaches get to him, but he obviously couldn’t help it. They just soared right through his mind and pissed him off. At least that’s what he preferred to believe. It was much easier and much less painful to think he was angry than to think he was hurt.

It had all started a couple of years ago. Luke had just finished college and decided not to work in his father’s company, which completely astonished everyone in their family. However, their shock was no surprise to Luke, who had always, ever since he was a little kid, felt that the relation between him and the rest of the family was not particularly close or especially loving. It was always him against everyone else, which was sometimes liberating and usually lonely, but after college, things got really difficult to manage. His passion for filming, cameras, and all things connected became the laughingstock of his father, who insisted that Luke should start a decent job, create a decent family, and die of boredom, his mother, who insisted that Luke should stay at home so she could nurse him to death (or until some other woman came and started appropriate nursing herself), his brother, who insisted that Luke should start a life exactly like his, and the rest of the family, who thought that Luke was just another one of those rebels without a cause. And he wasn’t, not at all. He just wasn’t prepared to conform to other people’s rules, that was all.

“Mom,” he started serenely and decidedly when she had to pause for air. “Mom, listen, I don’t want to go through all this again. I just asked what kind of a show this company was going to start, that’s all. I don’t want to fight with you again, okay?”

“I’m sorry, honey,” the voice on the other side apologized and surprised the hell out of him. “I don’t want to fight, either. So should I tell you more about this, or not?”

“Sure,” he nodded and took a sip of the boiling hot coffee. “Tell me everything you know.”

He sat down on one of the high chairs in the kitchen and leaned on the counter, cup in one hand and phone in the other, listening to his mom going on and on about this lucky coincidence and telling him nothing new. She didn’t know what kind of a show this was supposed to be, but she did, however, tell him that he should expect a phone call from Mrs. Levy’s nephew, and instructed him on how to behave, what to say, and when to speak. As he was listening to his mom, he could also hear the sounds coming from the bathroom, and he couldn’t make himself not want to kick his own ass for getting into this kind of situation. Again.

“Call me as soon as you get the call, okay, honey?”

Luke heard his mom’s wish to talk some more, but he also heard the bathroom door open, so he quickly said his, “Bye, Mom,” and hung up.

Another disaster was on her way.



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