This project is to fund a print run of the illustrated novel, Mack Stuckey’s Guide to the Center of the Universe, a dark satire set in Seattle. It is written by Jennifer Daydreamer and Henry Chamberlain, and illustrated by Henry Chamberlain, 130 pages, with 21 black and white illustrations. Mature content.
It's 2014, Seattle. Twenty-five year old Mack feels stuck in life: he has no girlfriend, his job sucks and he still lives at home. He's from blue collar Ballard and works in techie Fremont where he's a security guard at the giant game company, Game Needle. One day, Mack meets the beautiful Jupiter Fellows from marketing. To his dismay, she's dating Devon Rush, a suit from upper management. Soon, Jupiter lures the two men into a threesome. Mack feels he's got a handle on things until he discovers a personal secret that both Jupiter and Devon share.
Washington State is part of this nation's booming tech industry with Microsoft, Amazon, Adobe, Google and numerous startups here. High density growth in Seattle has squeezed out a lot of the old rustic charm from many of the local neighborhoods. The three characters are in conflict with old and new and exemplify the diminishing middle class.
BUT, WHAT IS THE BOOK ABOUT, REALLY?
Okay. We'll try again. Mack is a chubby young guy with a penchant for books. He's sort of a bumbler but with a good heart and insights on life. Jupiter Fellows is a faux hippie who may sink or swim at any time, financially or emotionally. The obscenely wealthy Devon Rush is in a world apart, of his own making.
The threesome stresses Mack out. It's an emotional roller coaster and distracts him from the rest of his life. On the surface, there is virtually no silver lining to the experience. Except for the great sex with Jupiter, which is actually a pretty good silver lining.
Yet, somehow the experience changes him. At the end of the ride, Mack becomes one who is unstuck, focused, energized, a little wiser, and is getting his move on.
It’s Wednesday. I’m outside and see Devon walking a beeline to me, like he really wants to talk to me. Which throws me off since he already sold me the games for the month.
“Hey, dude,” he says, with a quick nod upward.
“I wanted to ask you somethin’," he says, taking off his sunglasses.
“Hey, so, are you dating that Jupiter girl?” I blurt out.
He double slaps my shoulder. “Well hell yeah. That worked out great!”
My heart sinks. He’s fucking her. Devon doesn’t date.
“Jupiter likes you and, well, she wants to hang out with the two of us.”
“I don’t know, dude. I told her you were single. She has some friends for you to meet.”
“What does she do, save stray cats?”
Devon laughs. “Yeah, she’s the type. Can you come? It’s tomorrow night at the Fremont Bar, seven o’clock.”
I play it cool and put on sunglasses of my own, even though I’ll be going back in the building in a minute.
“I’ll be there.”
The Fremont Bar is awesome. It’s huge. It has two large seating areas, indoors and outdoors, with long oak tables. The outdoor seating is especially popular on sun worshipping days. People of all stripes come here to commiserate, young, old, partiers, bookworms, Suits, jocks, writers, students…
I’m wearing a clean shirt, my best jeans and a dab of cheap cologne. I see Jupiter outside, standing, and she waves me over. There’s Devon, seated. The gals haven’t arrived yet.
Jupiter gives me a hug. She looks nice in a yellow sun dress and hat. She’s wearing clear plastic sandals with clear toe polish, that look oh so naked. She chatters about I don’t know what because I’m nervous about meeting her friends. Devon’s still in his business suit, a light grey and white get up. He nods at me and fiddles with the edges of his long sleeves.
There’s a clear view of the Aurora from our table.
After a while, four gorgeous women walk up to us wearing fake, fury cat ears. How to describe? It’s like they’re wearing princess tiaras but they’re small cat ears instead. One gal has furry black ears; the second has furry gold and the third, furry brown. The fourth gal must have missed out on the sale at Archie McPhee or somethin’ as she bundled up her hair in two knots.
“Hey!” says Jupiter. They all give each other air kisses and light hugs.
“Devon and Mack, these are my friends, Chloe, Brittany, Bailey and Kim.”
I don’t ask about the cat ears because if I learned anything from my prepubescent partying days, if you ask a gal why they are wearing green lipstick or that battery operated heart necklace, they’ll always respond “Why not?”
Three out of four of the gals are wearing flip flops with toe polish and I’m about to die of happiness. Chloe has red toes with red flip flops, Brittany has pink toes with white flip flops and Bailey has magenta toes with bright green flip flops; a bold tectonic combo of color to ignite my racing heart.
We all settle in and shoot the breeze. After awhile Devon nudges my arm.
“Hey, hey, Mack,” he whispers. “I think Kim likes you.”
Kim is the gal with converse tops and no cat ears. She’s too out numbered by all the foot beauty around me. Its not gonna happen.
“I dunno, she’s not my type.”
“Of course, she’s your type. I just watched the two of you talk about gaming for ten minutes straight.”
I have a dilemma. If I don’t act interested in the other women, Devon will figure I have a thing for Jupiter. I don’t want to tell him about my foot fetish. No way. It’s my thing. I pretend to be absorbed in conversation.
“I wish I could afford a vacation,” says Bailey.
“I know. I have a job but I never have enough money for things like vacations or going out,” says Chloe.
The other gals nod.
“I’ve been through three layoffs in five years,” says Jupiter. “Two companies went out of business and one was downsized.”
“I check the job listings often," says Kim. "It’s the same old bullshit. There’s nothing new in the job market.”
“Totally,” says Bailey. “The ads never change. Same companies, same crap positions. I rarely see a new company hiring.”
“I think the unemployment rate is higher than what the government reports,” says Jupiter. "They don't include people who only work part time but actually need full time work."
“They don’t include people who have stopped looking for work," says Bailey.
“Or people who’ve given up," I say.
From the bridge, a body drops.
It’s Saturday afternoon and my friend Todd is hanging out at my house. We’re on the front porch, seated on two white wicker chairs around a white wicker table, eating lunch.
Spring kicks ass in Seattle. Everything’s so bright, so colorful, like we’re living in some kind of LSD world. Like the lawns and shrubbery and flowers are all technicolor green, red, violet, pink, yellow, orange…
I look up and marvel at the sky. It’s a perfect smooth cut out blue.
Todd’s still in high school and is significantly younger than me, sixteen. He’s a skinny little guy with short black hair and green eyes. He lives a few houses away, up the street.
“Hey, so, what are you doing for summer vacation?” Todd asks.
“Dude, since my dad left my mom two years ago, we have no money for vacations.”
“Ah, that’s right. Where did he pack off to…California?”
“Yep,” I say, mouth full. “My dad had two choices. Transfer to California and continue to have a job or stay in Seattle and become unemployed during one of the worst economic crisis in the history of mankind.”
“My folk’s came up with a plan whereby my dad would work in California for a year, to get settled in. You know, to make sure that the new job was secure before selling our house and everything. Then my mom and I would join him.”
I take a bite of my ham sandwich. “After six months of working in California my dad fell in love with a younger chick and left us.”
I take a swig of my coke. “No offense, but please don’t mention that fucked up asshole again.”
Todd takes a bite of his peanut butter sandwich. “I won’t.”
Mom walks out of the house with her purse over her shoulder and her work outfit on. She looks like a version of me, but, you know, female. She’s short with short brown hair and in her forties. I haven’t described what I look like yet…been too lazy. You’ll be able to picture her better when I do.
“Hello you two.”
“Hi Mrs. Stuckey,” says Todd.
“I’ll be home by nine. Gotta hurry. I checked the news, traffic is snarled again.”
She heads towards the driveway to her car.
“Is she going to work?”
“How’s she been doing?”
“She’s okay. She works full time now as a legal assistant, up north. On Saturdays she works across town at a thrift store.”
“That’s rough, to work on weekends.”
“Yeah. She works too much. I work full time but she wants me to work less so that I can finish college.”
Todd takes a swig of his milk. “It’s cool that you got a job. You get to work at Game Needle and all.”
I work for the gargantuan game developer, Game Needle. I’m what’s called a temporary employee or ‘temp’ for short. An employment agency pays me to work for a variety of companies on a temporary basis. I'm never permanent. I don’t receive benefits and perks like a real employee.
I don’t tell Todd that Game Needle doesn’t really employ me. I don’t really belong at Game Needle.
Risks and challenges
The goal is a limited print run, based on the pledges. We are limiting the number of books in order to streamline this initial process. With more funds, we can do more: a bigger run, website, marketing and promotion.
We’ve accounted for possible fluctuations in the costs of printing and shipping that may occur over the next few months.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)