Random Acts of Fantasy

By: Julia Kent

Chapter One


I couldn’t believe my eyes. My Aunt Josie had sent me the link with a cryptic comment: Don’t get bird flu.

What the hell did that mean? I clicked and read:

Hockenfield Times, May 3, 2013

Hockenfield, Mass.

By Janet Simkin

Naked Man Steals Chicken, Evades Local Police

Hockenfield Police Chief Bart Jansen has issued an alert for a white male, early twenties, with blond hair and blue eyes who stole a chicken from farmer Mike Kemper’s coop this morning at 2:33 a.m. The man is completely naked, and while unarmed, is considered a potential threat to public safety.

“I heard rustling and figured it was a fox,” Kemper explained. “Instead, I got an eyeful. Naked guy, young, wearing a collar around his neck like a dog. And a guitar. Nothing else. He kept calling my laying hen ‘Mavis’ and hollered he was eloping with her.”

After a brief scuffle, during which the chicken scratched him, Kemper let go. The man shouted, “I wasted my only answered prayer!” and fled.

Kemper called 911 immediately, though the cruiser was delayed as the operator struggled to understand the nature of the call, but local police arrived within eleven minutes.

Too late.

“The suspect escaped on foot with the allegedly stolen chicken under his arm, headed for the Mass Pike,” said Jansen. "Concerned citizens with any information are advised to contact the Hockenfield Police at our non-emergency number at 413-555-1000, and travelers on I-90 or any other interstate should not, as always, pick up naked hitchhikers by the side of the road.”

Bird flu. Haha. Motherfucker.

Sitting here at the reception desk at work, I found myself wondering what I was supposed to do with that piece of information. Torture my boyfriend Trevor some more, sure—but, um… he stole Mavis? The man stole a chicken from a henhouse while naked and high, right before I met him seven months ago?

Random Acts of Crazy indeed. It wasn’t just the name of Trevor and Joe’s band. Living out here in the Boston area meant seeing him and Joe plenty enough, even though everyone—Uncle Mike, Mama, hell, even Aunt Marlene, the resident slut of my hometown, Peters, Ohio (and it took a lot to earn that title, if you know what I mean…)—thought that moving out here meant I’d find myself chained to someone’s basement wall and erotically tortured within an inch of my life, then sold off into some underground of sexual slavery where cellulite was worshipped.

Hey. Wait a minute. Maybe that would have been better than sitting here with a letter opener and an anti-virus program malfunctioning on my new computer.

Me, Joe, and Trevor had some talking to do.

Tucking that into a dark corner of my mind to be dealt with later, I looked around the small office and marveled that I was getting paid to work somewhere that didn’t require a polyester vest and a pile of sawdust next to the mop bucket in case of vomiting customers (or their dogs). Office jobs that paid $40,000 per year just didn’t happen for people like me. What a life change these past few months.

Picking Trevor up by the side of the road back in Ohio, naked as the day he was born except for the guitar he wore. Meeting his best friend, Joe, when Joe came to retrieve him, six hundred miles from their home in Massachusetts. Falling for them both. Moving to Cambridge. Starting my job at Good Things Come in Threes. Enrolling at Harvard.

Harvard. I know!

That one had been at Joe’s urging—he’d so carefully walked me through how to take courses at Harvard’s super-secret night school (super-secret to me, at least—Harvard letting me take a class seemed like inviting Kanye West to ghostwrite for Jonathan Franzen), and now here I was, taking an English course and a math class, all on account of my stupidity in picking up a naked dude wearing a guitar back home.

If it weren’t for stupid choices, I wouldn’t have made any choices. That this one turned out so well was either dumb luck or divine interference, and I didn’t see the hand of God anywhere near these days, so I leaned on the lucky side. Maybe I was part Irish. I’d have to ask Mama the next time we talked, which would be tonight, because lately Mama was so lonely she glommed on to whatever I would give her in terms of attention. Hours alone now (what with Uncle Mike on the road) meant Mama had been doing double-time on entering online sweepstakes, and the result had been, well…