Fiction Writing

Shoot Like You’re Awesome

(a version of this story was originally published by P.Q. Leer)

a short story by James David Patrick

“I’m sorry, sir. We don’t have a bellboy,” the concierge said.

Westinghouse demanded that his bags be sent to his room. “My hands are my life,” he said. “They could cramp. The muscles could tear. I could be left with a claw! You’ve never seen a national champion with a distorted grotesquery like a claw, have you?” Westinghouse asked.

The concierge, who was really just an Art History major with a pregnant girlfriend named Kimmie, shook his head. “No,” he said, “I’ve never seen a dude with a claw. Let alone a rock, paper, scissors champion with a claw.” But he couldn’t leave the desk, he said, being the only one on duty. “At a bar in Philly, I did see a guy with a club foot, however.”

“First. The bag is heavy,” Westinghouse said. “It contains my clothes for an entire three month roadtrip and my best suit, my only suit, for when I’m the guest of honor at the Champion’s Dinner. And second. I think I speak for everyone when I say we prefer the term Rochambeau.”

The Art History major looked at the bag. “Hmm.” He pointed. “Use the shoulder strap there.”

Westinghouse laughed at his own oversight. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m just so focused. I’m just so focused I can’t function. You might wonder how I can focus so entirely.” The Art History major didn’t wonder but Westinghouse told him anyway. “Every day I tell myself to ‘Shoot like you’re awesome,’ until I believe it,” he said.

The Art History major asked for a demonstration.

Westinghouse placed his bag on the floor and closed his eyes. With his fist pressed into his palm he repeated “Shoot like you’re awesome” until he believed it. Once he believed it, he opened his eyes to find a white-haired woman with nearly-transparent skin now sitting behind the desk. She flipped through a Redbook Magazine and looked like a blue-haired Valerie Bertinelli.

“Carl left,” she said.

“Wow,” Westinghouse said, “I’m just so focused, I didn’t notice.”

She flipped the page.

“You might wonder how I can focus so entirely.”

Blue-hair Valerie looked up from her Redbook. The corners of her mouth rose, but nobody could have called it a smile. “Honey,” she said, “I’ve been listening to that crap for nearly an hour. I think I got the picture. I even tried it myself for awhile.”

“How’d that go?”

“Well,” she said, “when I opened my eyes, I was still here, listening to you.”