The Florida Shuffle: Novel Excerpt

The Florida Shuffle: Novel Excerpt

James McAdams| June 30, 2020

…speaking of resolutions, my philosophy with Google Reviews is it’s best to be grateful. Especially with the now emerging Google Personals Reviews. All my GPRs are 5 stars, elaborate narratives that make people tingle inside, I imagine. For this reason, during times of crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, I submit reviews that take the form of personal notes: 

“Dear Mr. Clevinger. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your patience meeting with us today. My husband and I will forever be saddened, but appreciate the way you handled Mom’s wake! Go see Dr. Clevinger at {{{Clevinger & Sons Funeral Services}}}!” ~Nia Gamberd (“Your Always”)

“Adios Guillermo! thank you so much for fixing my car tire at {{{Firestones Tires}}}.”~Nia Gamberd (“Keep Truckin’!”)

“Hallo! Tracy, your advice at {{{Ambrosia Shores}}} was beyond superb. I’ve saved all your guided meditations. No alcohol for three months!!!!”~Nia. Gonzalez-Gamberd (“Salve! Ye dumb hearts!”)

Mark, however, said that being “nice” was stupid. When the pandemic started, everyone joked about there being either a baby boom or a divorce boom. Four weeks in, it was clear Mark and I were in the divorce boom. “If you want to help,” he said, “tell them when something sucks. All Tracy did was get you addicted to suboxone and exercise.”

“You didn’t care when you fucked her,” I said. We were parked outside the newest rehab in Delray, my seventh in three years.

I met him at the trunk and strapped the Hello Kitty bookbag to my shoulders; I’d learned how to pack lightly for these things.

“Try not to die,” I muttered.

“Mark Gamerd is a cheater, a violator of customs, a stain upon this race, he Googles rape terms,” I wrote, and clicked upload. This was called processing according to the rehabmetricians here. I logged off the Public Computer, a bulbous Dell, in the office. The rehabmetricians squirmed on beanbags in the office, quoting South Park and playing Cards Against Humanity, walls of monitoring beeping around them.

“Going for a walk,” I told them.

I walked to the marina on the beach. Along the flanking pier, pinned stars above all us small things. I had become a person I despised, but I was still full of hope: you become a monster once you stop noticing you’re a monster. So that was something.

I considered doing something to symbolize my renewal, like skinnydipping, or heaving my ring into the green water like in The Awakening. My heart swelled with the force of resolution; I imagined all whole world’s aggregated New Years and Birthdays and Anniversary Resolutions floating through the lubricated sky like Crayola balloons, rising and converging. I was not alone in this. There was the path of sacrifice, I reflected, and the path of care. Since sacrifice had gotten me here, I resolved henceforth (for the fiftieth time since I was fourteen) to live the path of care, to love wisely: those 5-star reviews would be for myself now.

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