By Margi Desmond
Lexie Pugh’s first thought upon awakening: PostAll, the revolutionary new social network sweeping the nation. She couldn’t wait to see the little red numbers at the top portion of the computer screen, indicating she had comments, messages, and new friend requests. She scurried into the living room and turned on her laptop.
Having programmed the coffee maker to brew a fresh pot each morning, Lexie grabbed her favorite mug from the cabinet, poured in coffee, a tad bit of half and half, and added a teaspoon of sugar. She took a small sip. Mmm, perfect. She placed the mug on the coffee table.
She grabbed the laptop, plopped down on the sofa, and opened her PostAll account. No comments. No messages. No likes. Nothing. Though disappointed, she acknowledged the fact that she had been online late the night before, so there hadn’t been enough time for people to comment on all her posts. She clicked the cursor in her status update box and typed, “TGIF!” Lexie smiled at her cheery comment, knowing it would receive some “likes” and other fun messages.
She drank her coffee and proceeded to read everyone’s status updates.
Kim Riley’s update: “God only gives us as much as we can handle. God must think I’m a bad-ass.” Lexie nodded her head in agreement and hit “like.”
Jeff Mercer had posted a photo of his dog in glasses, situated to look like it was reading a book. Lexie chuckled and hit “like.”
Francis Wilson’s update consisted of a painting of Jesus. Under the picture a message instructed viewers to “like” if you accepted Jesus Christ as your savior or to continue to scroll if you wanted to burn in hell. Lexie hit “like.”
Jennifer O’Neal reached Capo level in Mafia Battles. Thomas McDougal completed Level 55 in Sweet Treat Saga. It was Natalie Klein’s birthday. Lexie wrote on Natalie’s wall, “Happy Birthday!”
An hour later Lexie logged off the computer and dressed for work.
* * *
Well dang! Where was everyone? No comments, no “likes.” She needed more friends. Her buddy from the sales department, Don Brewer, had ten times as many friends as Lexie did, including everybody at Gonzales Automotive Superstore. It was time to expand her network. She accessed Don’s friends list and clicked “friend request” on each one. Even if only half of them accepted her invitation, she would still have close to one hundred friends.
She read status updates.
Ken Flack was at the DMV waiting to renew his driver’s license. Lexie commented, “My sympathies, Ken!”
Jeff Mercer had posted a video of his dog licking himself, titled “Because I Can.” Lexie wrote, “LOL.”
Grace Padgett posted photos of her three-year-old eating breakfast, oatmeal covering his grinning, cherub-like face. Lexie hit “like” and typed, “Adorable!”
Lexie played Candy Jamboree for the rest of the morning, anxiously awaiting someone to make a comment on her status update.
* * *
Home from work, with no plans for a Friday night, Lexie changed into her flannel pajamas and poured a large glass of wine from the cheap, five liter box of Chablis in the fridge. She tossed a frozen dinner in the microwave and nuked it for the required three and a half minutes. But the meal was soon forgotten when she logged into her PostAll account and saw five people had accepted her friend requests. She didn’t know who they were, but who cared? The more the merrier. She read status updates.
Francis Wilson had posted a photo of a pathetic, mangy cat with one eyeball. Under the photo a message indicated to click “like” to show your support for the Pussy Rescue of Piscataquis County.
Grace Padgett posted photos of her three-year-old eating dinner, masticated tuna casserole covering his fat face. Lexie shuddered and hit “like” but couldn’t bring herself to add a comment.
Lexie polished off a second glass of Chablis and climbed into bed.
* * *
She’d forgotten to program the coffee maker to brew her morning java, but that was fine because an adrenaline rush replaced her usual morning caffeine high when Lexie saw that more than fifty people had accepted her friend requests overnight. She didn’t know any of them, but who cared? She had 113 PostAll friends now. She accessed her new friend’s friends lists and sent them friend requests. Hours later she’d finished perusing her new friends’ photos and reading their wall posts.
Lexie showered and paid extra attention to styling her hair and makeup. After changing several times, she decided on a low cut black top and sparkling earrings with matching necklace. She looked awesome! She took several photos with her phone, posing both as a serious seductress and the carefree girl next door. So what if the toilet or shower curtain appeared in the background? She downloaded the photos to a new album, titled “Sexy Lexie,” and posted her favorite shot as her new profile photo. She smiled to herself, confident that she’d receive a bunch of “likes” and comments.
That afternoon, Lexie saw that one hundred people accepted her requests, increasing her friend count to 213. She accessed the new friends’ friends lists and sent more friend requests. She had perfected a system for increasing her contacts.
New “friends” sent her private messages and invited her to social events. Angie Bottoms invited her to a homemade jewelry party on Thursday in Chattanooga. Harold DePuy told her she was hot and asked her to post a photo of her bare feet. Abdul Mohammad offered her a unique business opportunity for a thousand dollar investment. Svetlana Putin wanted to know if Lexie knew anyone who’d be interested in a Russian bride.
Grace Padgett posted sixty-eight photographs of her kid noshing with his friends at Pizza Playland. Disgusted, Lexie took a break to pour the last of her box of Chablis into her wine glass, taking the bag out of the box and squeezing out every last drop.
“Gettin’ crazy with my peeps!” Don posted, along with several photos taken with his phone. Everybody from work was partying at The Saucy Salamander, a trendy bar a few miles from Lexie’s apartment. She wondered why she hadn’t been invited. No worries, she’d pop in and join the group for a little while. She took her phone with her so she could take photos and post them to her PostAll account, flaunting her Saturday night awesomeness to all!
The Saucy Salamander’s parking lot overflowed with traffic, forcing Lexie to drive several blocks north before she spotted a vacant curbside space. She glanced at her phone to see if any new posts appeared as she sped up to the spot. She didn’t notice that she nearly hit a guy walking down the street. He’d walked between two parked cars within a millisecond before her car almost clipped him. However, he remained oblivious to his near death experience because he’d been walking and texting his own PostAll status update: “Gonna have a beer or ten at Salamander’s. LOL”
Music blared and glasses clinked as bartenders mixed cocktails during the bar’s happy hour two-for-one highball special. Lexie scanned the crowd, but didn’t see Don and the gang from work. She worked her way to the bar and hopped on the last available stool, deciding to order a rum and cola to loosen up while she searched for her coworkers. While the bartender made her drink, she checked her phone. No recent PostAll updates from Don. Where was he? The bartender set her drink in front of her and she handed him a twenty-dollar bill. As he turned to gather her change, Lexie scanned the bar. Men and women were sipping drinks, talking on cell phones, and texting. Great-smelling cologne tantalized her nostrils and she glanced at the cute guy beside her. He was texting on his phone. She cut her eyes over to the phone screen as he typed, “Drinking the first beer. Who’s joining me for the next nine? Get your ass down here, dawg.” He tagged his buddy, Roger Smoot. He caught Lexie looking as he hit “send,” rolled his eyes, and swiveled the chair around, his back to her.
Lexie snatched up her phone and typed in her status, “Guys are such a-holes...WTF!” She polished off her rum and cola and ordered another. Thinking the gang might be in the patio area, Lexie grabbed her fresh drink and stumbled her way through the crowd. She spotted Don and several of her coworkers smoking cigarettes at the edge of the patio. Don appeared to be telling a hilarious story as his buddies listened and laughed.
“Hey, everybody,” Lexie said as she approached the group.
Don stopped talking and turned towards her. “Look who’s here!” He gave her a weak, one-arm hug and clinked his glass with hers. “Ya on a date?”
“No, I saw that you guys were down here and thought I’d join you.”
Don smirked. “Hum.”
“Nice top,” Tyra, another Gonzales automotive salesperson, said. “I saw your new album.”
Tyra was referring to the Sexy Lexie album from earlier that day. Why hadn’t she “liked” any of the photos? Every time Tyra bragged about selling another car, Lexie always “liked” her stupid posts.
Don yawned, big and loud. “I’m tuckered out. Time to head out.”
“Me too,” Tyra said. “Catch ya later, Sexy Lexie.”
Don sniggered and rest of the gang followed him off the patio, presumably to their cars. Lexie snapped in the direction of the group because she thought she heard, “…get enough of the bitch at work.” One of the group saw Lexie watching them, and waved as they retreated into the bar.
Lexie sat at an empty table and chugged her drink and harvested her Countryville crops and fought the urge to blow her brains out.
* * *
Curled into a fetal position, hung-over, and depressed, Lexie lay in bed, mad that she hadn’t died in her sleep the night before. After the disappointing events at The Saucy Salamander, she’d swung by the 24-hour Food Circus and bought another box of Chablis before going home and getting tanked. God knows how much wine she’d drunk. It was hard to gauge with five-liter boxes. She’d listened to music on Tunify and danced around her apartment, pretending to be at the bar, the center of attention, chicks admiring her, guys desiring her. Instead, she’d yakked in the toilet until passing out on the bathroom rug. She couldn’t recall how she’d gotten from the bathroom floor to the bed. And where were her clothes?
She smelled bacon, heard sizzling from the kitchen. Someone was in the apartment. Shuffling feet moved closer to her bedroom. Boyd Culpepper stood in the doorway holding a steaming mug of coffee and grinning a yellow, buck-toothed grin. “Hey sugar, ready for breakfast?”
Her phone beeped an annoying tone that seemed to ricochet in her head. She mashed a finger to stop the painful noise, and the screen blazed Lexie’s PostAll profile. The brightness of the posted image hurt her eyes. To her horror, as she scrolled down, she saw a blow-by-blow account of the night before.
Oh no…it was all coming back to her now. Drinking, dancing, crying, checking PostAll updates, instant messaging with Boyd, inviting him over….
Boyd set the mug on her nightstand. “Breakfast will be ready in a few minutes.” He leaned down to kiss her, and she heaved. He guffawed a big ol’ country guffaw. “Dang girl, ya still hurtin’?”
Lexie buried her head in a pillow and prayed for a lightning bolt to strike. How could she have hooked up with Boyd, the scrawny hayseed who ran the automotive accessory desk at Gonzalez Automotive? She must throw him out of the apartment. She threw on a pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt and crept to the kitchen. Cooked bacon strips on a paper towel, juice in small glasses, Boyd scrambling eggs. “There’s my gal,” he said. “Won’t be much longer.” He poured the eggs in a skillet.
“Boyd, you need to leave,” Lexie said. “I, uh, have plans.”
His bottom lip bulged with a wad of chaw. “Plans on a Sunday morning?” Boyd grabbed a glass, mashed a wad of paper towel in the bottom, and spat tobacco juice into it.
Lexie ran to the bathroom and dry-heaved into the toilet. Her phone spilled from her shaking hand, onto the rug. Boyd knocked on the bathroom door. “Ya okay?”
Lexie closed her eyes, her hands blindly searched for her phone and finally, the fingers of her right hand found and clutched her prize.
“Yo, Sexy Lexie, you okay?”
“I’M FINE!” Even with her eyes closed, she winced from the throbbing pain in her head.
Sexy Lexie...Boyd was referring to the photos she’d posted yesterday. She decided to hide in the bathroom until he left. She continued to check her PostAll account. Many, many comments. She sat up, pleased that she’d finally seen some activity on her account…until…oh, no!
Boyd had tagged her in numerous photos he’d taken the night before. They began innocently enough, two friends mugging for the camera, but they’d progressed to more intimate shots including Lexi stripping different articles of clothing, barely remaining “legal” for PostAll. He’d changed his status from “single” to “in a relationship with Lexie Pugh.”
“Boyd!” Lexie stomped out of the bathroom. “What the hell did you do?”
She shoved her phone screen in his face. “These photos. You posted them all over the place!”
“It was your idea,” Boyd said. He turned his back to her and proceeded to arrange bacon on two plates. Lexie grabbed the cast iron skillet and smashed it down on his head with adrenaline-enhanced strength. Scrambled eggs and blood flew everywhere. Blinded by rage, she continued to pummel his head, releasing years of pent-up frustration.
Exhausted, she searched his pockets and found his smart phone. His PostAll account open, she deleted all the photos and changed his status back to “single.”
She poured herself a glass of Chablis. Just enough to calm her nerves. First things first, she needed to check her PostAll comments. She’d worry about Boyd’s body later. Nobody was going to miss him until Monday at work.
Every sappy, stupid song she’d listened to on Tunify showed up on her status updates. “I Will Always Love You,” both the Whitney Houston and Dolly Parton versions. Barry Manilow’s “I Made It through the Rain.” Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” Willie Nelson’s “Always on My Mind.” Tons of Celine Dion songs.
Tyra from sales commented, “LMFAO.” Ken Flack “liked” Tyra’s comment. Jeff Mercer wrote, “WTF?”
“Damnit!” Lexie yelled and deleted the Tunify postings. Everyone enjoyed those songs, it just wasn’t cool to admit to it, especially by yourself on a Saturday night. She refilled her wine glass. She needed a cigarette. Boyd had cigarettes. She fished through his pockets and found a pack.
Tyra had commented, “You’re killing us!” and Don had added, “LOL” to Lexie’s profile photo. Fresh, new rage flowed through Lexie’s veins. She deleted all her photos. The phone chirped, indicating another update. Grace Padgett posted photos of her little boy eating breakfast. Lexie wondered how Grace would like a photo of Boyd and his bloody scrambled eggs. Hum, what an interesting idea…Lexie took a photo of Boyd with his smart phone.
Lexie accessed one of Don’s photos taken at his home, copied the GPS information, and typed the coordinates into a search engine. Within seconds, she’d located his address and a photo of his house. She conducted the same search to locate Tyra’s apartment.
* * *
Mr. Gonzales loved the “People of Walmart” and “Pet Shaming” photos. He subscribed to both of their feeds via PostAll and liked to start his day viewing the latest hysterical photographs. His assistant, Lexie, had called in sick to work that Monday morning, so he had some free time to enjoy PostAll before his morning management meeting. He noticed an ad for “Oh No You Didn’t!” a new hilarious feed, similar to pet shaming, but with humans instead. He clicked on the link. A photograph of someone who looked quite familiar, lying in bed, eyes glazed, tongue lolling out of the side of her mouth. Was that Tyra from Sales? The sign beside her scrawled in red ink read, “I liked to brag that I knew everything, but I sure didn’t know I sweetened my coffee with rat poison this morning.”
Intrigued, Mr. Gonzales continued to scroll down the page. There was Don, hanging from the loft in his home. The sign pinned to his shirt read, “I love to hang out with my peeps, only this time I hung out with the wrong one.”
A bit further down the page, what remained of Boyd Culpepper’s face, congealed in the photograph. The note, held in place on the floor with a wad of chaw, read, “Had to slap myself upside the head with a skillet for being a dumbass.”
Mr. Gonzalez gasped and reached for the phone to call the police.
* * *
The flight attendant announced over the intercom, “Please turn off all electronic devices including cell phones and laptop computers. Place your trays in the upright position and secure your seatbelts for takeoff.” The old lady in the seat beside Lexie turned to her and said. “None of those new finagled devices for me. I still believe in the power of handwritten sentiments. You know what I mean?”
Lexie smiled at the lady and nodded. “Oh yes, I find handwritten notes are much nicer.”
The plane taxied down the runway, and Lexie looked forward to her new life on a tiny island near the Turks and Caicos where technology was limited but the sunshine plentiful.