Do You Even LIFT, Bro || Mark and Zachary

 Zack, intrigued by Mark calling him out the way he did, immediately got into his car and drove to Wayne Tower. He parked haphazardly once he arrived and got out of the car, scanning the area for his current rival.

Mark had been at Wayne Tower for a good few hours by then. He was tired, he was sweaty, and it was growing harder for him to breathe. Ms. B told him to get away from the area because of all the smoke and debris in the air, but he couldn’t help but want to do something. He’d made a pledge to be a better person, and he believed this was his first step to achieving that. Every few moments, he’d take a break and pull out the phone he’d borrowed from his neighbor to harangue people online and boast about his heroic efforts. A few people he’d talked to said they’d come down to help. Zachary Zatara was one of them. Apparently, the boy was just as magical as his Clay Aiken-loving cousin. Well, he’d like to see that firsthand. Mark saw the boy pull up in his car, so he hustled over. He tossed a glance over his shoulder every once in a while to make sure Officer Messen wasn’t still chasing him and was relieved to find she’d given up the chase. At least for now. “Hey, loser,” he called out. “About time you got here. Are you ready to be useful for once or what?”

Zachary looked around in astonishment, the place was an absolute nightmare, how did he not hear about this? He suddenly envied Mark for reaching this popularity gold mine before he had been given the chance. He coughed softly as some of the debris wafted over into his direction, that was when he heard himself being called out to. He looked the guy up and down as he made his way closer to him. “Complete loser.” He assured himself silently. “What the hell happened here?” Zack completely ignored the insults Mark threw at him. “I’ll do whatever I can.” He nodded, squinting through the debris, attempting to size just how much he could do in these conditions.

Mark almost threw his head back and laughed. I’ll do whatever I can. Who did Zachary think he was? Some kind of superhero? “I dunno,” Mark said. “It fell…all the way down.” He gestured towards the rubble as proof. “Show us just how talented you are. The search and rescue teams are moving about over there, but I’m sure it’d go a lot faster if you worked your mumbo-jumbo and ‘manipulated’ whatever you have to manipulate.”

Zack looked at Mark with a raised brow. How does a building just fall down and, more importantly, where did the kid get off being so mightier-than-thou towards Zack? He obviously had no idea who he was dealing with. “You’re right.” Zack said matter-o-factly. “Now that I’m here, something might actually get done, so long as nobody gets in my way.” The young magician glared at Mark before turning his attention toward the fallen tower. He concentrated as hard as he could before lifting his arms up and murmuring, “Esiar.” Large chunks of the building lifted off of the ground and moved to where they were no longer in the way. Zack smiled proudly at the sight.

Mark wondered if this was what being on acid was like. He watched as the debris was lifted and moved, all because Zack had simply raised his arms and said a weird word. Damn. This wasn’t like Traci’s kind of magic. This wasn’t pink lightning and a weird rhyme. This was something else entirely. “Why is everyone a wizard?” Mark asked, his mouth hanging open in awe. “Is the Hogwarts thing real or what? Because if Hermione is real, I’m on that. Seriously.”

The American Bro: A Portrait of the Worst Guy Ever 

It is almost 9 AM on St. Patrick’s Day and he is on the Metro North train to Manhattan from some grassy, forgettable Westchester suburb. When he boarded the train he was carrying a case of light beer, but now it is on the floor, obstructing the aisle, in everyone’s wayhis entire existence is in everyone’s wayHe is wearing a North Face fleece and sunglasses made of neon orange plastic. He is pulsing like the mercury on a cartoon thermometer; he is ready to explode through the glass. It seems impossible for a human being to care this much about celebrating something so tiny, so contrived, to care about recreation, but that is why he is alive. He will come, he will see, he will conquer. He will vomit out the window of a taxi. He is the American Bro.

Flagrant offenses, irritating people, making noise, commanding an audience—this is what fuels him; this is his required voltage. He is on the phone with someone named Ryan or Tyler or Kyle; he is saying “cunt” or “nigger” or “slut” out loud then half-apologizing to no one in particular. I GOT NO FILTER, BRO. He tilts his head and neck back, cackling at the ceiling, electrified by the degree to which he does not give a fuck, by this ability to appall other people, to make your mouth hang wide open like you were witnessing a wildfire. He is not saying words now but just grunting and ejecting YOOOO and DUDE in varying cadences, asking Ryan or Tyler or Kyle when they are getting there, what they brought, if they are pumped. He is pushing it to the limit, going hard, pouring Jäger into a plastic cup, making the conductor wait. All he can hear is his brain-engine humming, the bolts coming loose, people chanting his name. He is a renegade, he is looking women in the eyes for a period of time that blew past BOLD and is entering restraining order, but maybe this turns her on, he thinks, maybe he is dangerous, maybe he is going to walk over to her right now. He is alive to a degree that you will never be capable of, and he is scaring everyone in the universe back into their homes.

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