All Fall Down


Marcy Trask likes the college vibe. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Marcy Trask likes the college vibe. (Monte Dutton sketch)

             Here’s the third episode in this tale, preceded first by “Different Goals” and then by “A Taste for Mischief.” I hope this gives you some amusement.

Jonny McCutcheon at first enjoyed himself immensely when he, Marissa, and Trent made their way up to the Suite Level of Doug Tussle Stadium and proceeded to the President’s Box, where the food and booze were always top of the line. For a man who had so recently acted rather boorishly, Jonny arrived in the nest of his peers, of Calliham College royalty, feeling suddenly genial. Marissa was surprised, which also meant she was suspicious. Trent was pouting, but that was because Tripp and Marcy had shoved him off with the parents while they dashed off in search of trouble. When Tripp informed his father that he and his girl would be along shortly, Jonny had thought it a splendid idea.

He felt alive and randy. He practically ignored all his male chums loitering around before the kickoff. Jonny was drawn to their wives. He chatted with them, an off-color joke or a suggestive remark never far from his tongue. At the same time, his eyes darted, taking in the attractive co-eds who served as “pages” in the box. This meant, of course, that they were required to indulge the garrulous old coots when they got a couple drinks in them.

Jonny had a taste for the drink himself. And the food. Everything he normally liked, now he suddenly loved. He tilted his glass at one of the girls, and she’d bring him another. This seemed clear as all else grew hazy. He found himself mumbling, and tried for a while to think about his enunciation, but then it got to the point where he couldn’t think about anything at all for more than a few seconds. He became spontaneous because he had no other choice, but it felt so pleasant that it didn’t really bother him.

Well, the wine and booze are catching up with me. Big fucking deal.

Even when the game began, Jonny didn’t go out to his seats. When the room cleared, he gathered the pages around him on the couches, handed each of them a twenty, and suggested they might want to join him in a drink.

“Oh, no, Mr. McCutcheon, we couldn’t,” said the Trollope with the lascivious lips. She was lying through her teeth. If they were the same age, hell, it being homecoming, he’d have her legs spread by seven o’clock, and they’d go out for a steak afterwards, not before.

Hell, play my cards right, it might happen yet.

“What you’re telling me is that you can’t make yourself a drink,” Jonny said. “Nothing says I can’t make one for you.”

He got up while he still could and took orders, though he wound up returning with a tray containing nothing but five bourbons on five rocks.

Jonny’s decorum bucket had developed a leak. When son Trent, no doubt dispatched by that hussy Marissa to spy on him, arrived in the lobby to find his stuffy father regaling a quartet of lovely young women, he understandably decided to linger. This did not suit Jonny’s plans.

“These young women and I are having a lovely time,” Jonny roared. “Run along, Trent. Go out on the ledge and have a cigarette or something.”

The girls laughed uproariously. Trent blushed, retreated, and stomped off thinking, Well, I might just take you up on that, asshole.

              Jonny didn’t care. He’d make it up to the little snotnose later. Now he was scouting pussy.


Charles Dough sat at the back of the student section, a shabby little dinghy trailing a flotilla of khakis, navy blazers, and striped ties. He was ripped. He was torn. He was vaguely aware of having been born. Thank God for sunglasses. These were the highlights of his simple thoughts.

The Highlanders had scored. Of that Charles was sure. The fight song had definitely played. There was a scoreboard. It said seven to three. Calliham had the seven. Cool.

Christian and Suzie were gone. He was pretty sure they had been here earlier. He didn’t know how Christian had gotten away. He’d eaten a whole brownie, too. Charles was immobile. He had to be still. And be quiet. In time, he would rally. No one ever overdosed on marijuana. They just tried.

Someone sat next to him. Then there was someone on the other side. He recognized the perfume on his right. It was the good-looking high school girl, the one he had given a brownie. The boy on the left was … he was her boyfriend and … it seemed like he must be the son of the asshole whose tailgate Charles and Christian had walked through while considering themselves invisible. Charles felt invisible now, until Tripp McCutcheon introduced himself.

“I’m Tripp.”

It took a second, but then Charles realized he wanted to shake hands. They shook.

“I’m fucked up,” Charles said.

Marcy gently elbowed him in the ribs. She whispered, “We’re getting that way.”

Charles took a deep breath and sighed. “Well, get ready to get your ass kicked,” he said. “And get ready to love the shit out of it.”

Marcy and Tripp started chatting across him, leaning forward, and their words intermingled, and it made Charles think about the Tower of Babel, but he tried to regroup by taking deep breaths.

“I’d love to know what you’re thinking.

“Charles? Charles?”

She was talking to him. That often happened when people used his name.


“I’d love to know what’s behind those shades,” Maria said.

“Uh, I expect if … I … revealed my eyes to the … unsuspecting … student body … they’d all think I was, like, a vampire.”

“Oh, let me see.”

He pulled up his black-rimmed shades, Blues Brothers, standard issue.

“My God, you do look like a wolf.”

“I feel like a wolf,” Charles said, and he arched his eyebrows at her.

It seemed as if time was going exceedingly fast. Apparently, halftime came and went. Charles had noticed that the band wasn’t in their assigned seats for a while, and that a lot of the students cleared out to chat under the stands, but he didn’t put it together. Still there was no sign of Christian. Charles was starting to retrieve some of his cognitive ability, and he realized that Christian and Suzie were undoubtedly having mad sex, most likely in the dorm room. Meanwhile, a slightly smaller version of Tripp McCutcheon had shown up. Undoubtedly, it was his younger brother. Great.

Trent explained to Tripp that their father had told him to go smoke a cigarette. Tripp explained to Trent that this was because that brownie their father had eaten in the lot had been laced with marijuana. Trent said that must be why Tripp and Marcy were sitting with the hippie with whom Father had argued. Even Trent had now figured out what had happened next, but the reason he had sought out his brother was not that he was some detective but that he wanted to bum a cigarette and was pretty sure Tripp had one. Tripp said he wanted one, too, and needed to take a leak, so he’d go with him to smoke outside the gates.

This left Marcy and Charles all alone, or at least alone psychically amid about eight hundred college students.

“Kiss me,” she said, and Charles did so, and her writhing tongue brought back a good deal of operational function to his body.

She obviously had some experience. As they kissed, she massaged him through the double layers of his sweats and shorts, and something in the friction between the layers greatly aroused him. No one was watching them closely, and someone would have had to in order to see what she was doing, which was attempting to jack him off, and an act so aggressive it could not have occurred if not for the fact that the processed contents of her own half brownie were now playing a considerable role in the coursing of seriously funky blood through her brain.

It was quite extraordinary and memorable, the kind of story a man would retell in mixed company decades later, when he was old and drunk and sitting in a college’s president’s box. Charles thought about how maybe he and Mr. McCutcheon weren’t so different after all, and that made him shiver a little.

The band, sitting nearby again, played the fight song again, and Charles realized it was early in the fourth quarter, and the Highlanders had extended their lead to seventeen points. He asked Marcy if she’d like to go have a cigarette, and was thankful the two boys had, for some reason, not returned, and what he meant, of course, was, Would you like to go back to my place and fuck? and Marcy knew the code, and said yes, and Charles managed to stand up, and get his legs working properly, and he hoped Christian and Suzie had gotten their business done.

Jonny, in time, ran off all but one of his adoring pages as his remarks grew increasingly more crude and his intentions more nefarious. The girl who remained seemed promising, but he was losing more and more function. He promised her a job, and he gave her his business card, and when he tried to write his cell number on it, he couldn’t think of it. He may have asked for a blow job. He wasn’t sure, but something persuaded her to leave.

The devout Lutheran dwelled briefly on his soul and salvation, but only for the few seconds required to ask Jesus for forgiveness, and then his thoughts went all earthly again. He felt extraordinarily intelligent and insipid at the same time. His soaring moments of clarity were brief, like fireworks flashing across the sky. The game was on the television monitor on the wall, in all its high-def clarity, yet Jonny was only vaguely aware there was a game, and that was in the context of it being silly, and, for a couple seconds, unworthy of his generosity. He wanted to give his money to women, at least women other than his wife, and whatever happened, after all, to peace, love, and understanding?

By the time Marissa deigned to confront him, after waiting three quarters of a football game for him to bow before her, Jonny was little more than a cheerful vegetable, a sweet potato, perhaps, soaking up the fluorescent lighting and somehow establishing roots on a nice, solid, comfortable couch.

              If reading my short fiction makes you think, even for a second, that you’re like to read my long fiction, you can find my two novels, as well as most of my non-fiction books, here:



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