The Bends pt.5 — Paranoid Android

Usually Zach’s weekend nights were spent typing away at his laptop, finishing history homework early or hopelessly attempting to start a conversation with a cute girl. If not that, then he was sitting in his garage, killing himself on his father’s second hand smoke and constant verbal abuse with some football on in the background.

In the summer, everyday was brimming with potential for memories and friends, but everyday after cross country practice Zach’s mother picked him up and brought him home and made sure he stayed away from all the other boys on the team. “They’re bad influences,” she said. “Mama loves you, and that’s all you need.”

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According to his mother’s logic, hanging out with friends was dangerous. If Zach hangs out with his friends, Zach will become addicted to friendship and appreciation. Then Zach will hang out with his friends more often. He’ll go to the movie theater to catch a film every now and then, and God forbid that Zach watches movies. Movies and friends are sins. He’ll be out of the house a lot because of BBN, because Zach’s chasing his dreams. When Zach isn’t at home as much, mama gets sad. Mama doesn’t want Zach to chase his dreams. Mama wants Zach to be at home for the rest of his life so she never gets old. Above all, mama’s pride and happiness was always much more important than Zach’s. And if mama’s happy, dad’s happy (even though he doesn’t care much about her, and has been considering divorcing and remarrying for years).

So everyday on snapchat (which his father thinks is a sin but begrudgingly lets him use to make himself think he’s a good father), Zach sees his friends having fun eating pizza and swimming and playing videogames and watching movies and driving around and going places and all that crazy high school stuff. He wants it so bad, but he know it’s a sin, and that his mom will get old if he leaves the house. So Zach stays at home and does his history homework and drinks milk.

Gradually, Zach starts to get resentful of his parents and his 3 brothers. Even the 3 stupid cats. By keeping him in the house all the time, his parents thought they were breeding a good kid, who drinks his milk and does his history homework, but in reality they created a lonely, sad, pathetic kid. Zach likes to listen to Radiohead in his room, alone, and be really sad. Zach likes to be sad and mad because it reminds him that his parents are wrong. His mom always told him that my staying at home and drinking his milk, he’d be a happy boy. His dad always told him that there was nothing for him outside the house. But Zach was living, breathing, pathetic proof that mom and dad were wrong.

Zach has a new goal; get a driver’s license. With that, Zach can drive the old 1985 Benz his dad never uses, and become a normal kid. Because really, all Zach wants it to live, breathe, and be a part of the human race. With a car, Zach can go anywhere he pleases. Even the movie theater, which is a sin.

Bafflingly, Zach’s parents actually agree to let him get his license. 6 months later, and Zach is a free man. Now, the fun begins.

Zach hangs out after school all the time now. He goes to Joey’s pizza for the best slice of pizza (with chicken) in Orange County, goes through Savers for no reason, rides with Johnny (from pt.1 of The Bends) down PCH, and generally has good vibes. He has a whole group of friends who appreciate him and genuinely enjoy his presence for the most part, albeit they don’t really like him deep down. That’s fine with Zach, because at least he’s out of the house now.

One day, Zach told his parents he had to go film for BBN. Zach only said this to get out of the house. The truth was Zach was going to the most sinful place a boy his age could go; The Movie Theater. Not only was he going to a place of such sin, he was going with his friends, who encourage sin, and there were girls there, who his mom says have cooties. Sliding his debit card through the reader, Zach grabs his ticket for the movie and goes in.

Zach enjoyed his time at the place of sin with his friends of sin and girls with cooties. They ate food after, which Zach’s mom warned him of. Her cooking was the only cooking he was allowed to eat. To Zach’s knowledge, it was because it was a sin to eat outside of the house. In reality, it was because Zach’s mom thought that Zach wouldn’t love her anymore if he realized other people were better cooks.

On his way home, Zach didn’t even think about how he lied to his parents. He was just happy he had a good time. Zach has The Bends. 

Running down the pier with his friends at 7 o’clock at night, the wind rushing in his face, Zach realizes he’s a teenager, and he’s enjoying his life. His parents were wrong. Friends aren’t a sin.

Zach realized his parents can’t say no as long as he tells them it’s for school or something. Every weekend he’s out doing horrifying, vomit-inducing things, like going to the mall. Zach is enjoying life. Zach is happy. Zach loves his surroundings. Zach is comfortable. The Bends is in full force. 

Zach’s parents hate new Zach. Ever since he got his license, Zach has been cool, happy, fun to be around, hilarious, and overall just a good guy. But all his parents saw was a disobedient piece of crap that was out of the house too much.

Zach’s parents didn’t have fun childhoods, because their parents were strict too. Every time Zach’s parents think they’re going a bit overboard, they pop a Xanax and remind themselves that their childhoods suck, so it’s only fair to torture Zach, who they love so so much.

But now Zach’s parents are jealous of Zach. So they’re gonna take him down.

Zach’s mom decides to look at his bank account, and see what he’s been using his debit card for. She figures some evidence of his disobedience will be here. Scrolling through his purchases, something catches her eye. Her eyes widen, and she begins to scream.

Rushing downstairs, Zach’s dad finds his wife who he doesn’t really love fainted on the floor. He prods her limp body out of the way with his foot and looks at the computer screen. His eyes scan the screen, and see the same thing that caused his female acquaintance to collapse. His face gets red with anger, and blood pounds through his clogged arteries. He smashes the computer screen (which incidentally, Zach payed for) and begins to stomp around. Realizing his wife is half-dead on the ground, he casually calls 911 and mentions his wife has fainted or something. He hangs up and stomps up to Zach’s room.

On the computer screen, was a $10.75 purchase of the movie ticket.

“Zach.”

“Dad?”

“Do you think you’re untouchable? That you’re smarter than me? Do you think you can get away with anything? You know you’re a loser right?”

Zach was shocked. He didn’t think he was smarter than his dad, who failed to graduate high school.

“Well guess what? You’re an idiot. Me and your mother know that you went to The Place of Sin. And now, you’re gonna get it.”

Zach deflated. He was found out. What a loser he was.

Zach’s dad snatched Zach’s car keys from his dresser and took his driver’s license.

“Wait you’re taking my license  away? And my car?”

“No. What I’m gonna do is much better.”

Zach was confused he followed his dad downstairs. There were EMTs in the living room trying to resuscitate his almost dead mom, to Zach’s horror. His dad didn’t notice, as he was making a beeline to the shredder.

He grabbed Zach by the neck and forced him close to the shredder, making him watch his his license being slowly fed to the unforgiving blades of the shredder. Then he jerked him outside, where Zach’s car was parked. He put a pocket knife in Zach’s hand, and forced him to slash his tires.

The tires were flat and would stay like that until the earthquake of 2019, when the entire Earth will be swallowed whole (but that’s a story for another time).

“I hope you’ve learned your lesson, loser. Don’t come back into the house until you’ve stopped crying.”

Zach sat and cried on his sidewalk for an hour. The EMTs were leaving with his mom. They went to the hospital.

**3 weeks later**

Zach’s mother is back from the hospital. Since then Zach has been sitting in his room, looking at the ceiling. He wasn’t grounded or anything, but he had learned his lesson. He committed many sins, and now knew his place in life was to comfort his mother and father.

Zach’s mom is in tears of joy upon returning home and seeing her Zach is back. Mama’s made all of Zach’s nightmares come true. Mama put all of her fears into Zach. Mama’s gonna keep Zach right here under her wing. She won’t let Zach fly. Mama’s gonna keep Zach cozy and warm. She’ll be young and happy forever.

Once, Zach had dreams and aspirations. He was gonna be producer of BBN. He knew it. But Zach quit BBN so he could be at home all the time. His parents are happy, and their ego is fed. Zach’s happiness isn’t on the list of priorities, so it won’t be addressed from now on.

His car still sits where it was when the tires were slashed, to remind Zach never to be happy for too long. Zach flew really close to the sun there, and almost ended up a happy person. But thankfully, his parents saved him. No more happy Zach.

Just an idiot shell of a boy who was once great. At least he still can still do history homework and drink milk.

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