Steve Grogan is an ongoing contributor to Writer to Writers. He has published several short stories on the site, which can be found on the main page under the heading “Steve Grogan’s fiction.” He has had several poems and short stories published over the years, some of which are available on Amazon. (See the announcement at the end of this post.)
He is the writer and creator of the ongoing, zombie, post-apocalyptic, Romero-meets-Dungeons-and-Dragons webcomic REDemption. Alternatively, Steve describes the comic by saying, “It is to zombie fiction what KILL BILL was to kung fu movies: everything I love about the genre housed under one roof and mixed with my voice.”
October 1994. The month where my life went through one of the most dramatic changed I had ever experienced.
I located a Wing Chun school less than twenty minutes from my house. I called them to find out when they held their next class, and I went.
I fell in love with Wing Chun right away. The style used a lot of close-range attacks (punches, elbows, and kicks to the shin, knee, and groin). It also focused more on body mechanics than strength to generate power, which was good because I don’t have that much muscle. For me, the most mesmerizing thing about it was that Wing Chun’s movements were brutally effective, yet also quite beautiful.
One brief discussion with Mother later, and I had joined the class.
Because of Bruce Lee and the martial arts, I found myself reading more material from the East. Philosophical books like the Tao Te Ching and the Analects soon filled my library. I absorbed China’s poetry, philosophy, and painting. At one point I dove into learning about China’s history, which was a shocking wake-up call for me. How could a country be so hideous and beautiful at the same time? This is a question I still cannot answer to this day.
Having lived in a household where religion was not very strong, these new philosophies I was ingesting reshaped my mind. I definitely had an interesting mix of thoughts filling my head. As I said earlier, I read the existentialist novel The Stranger, as well as Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre. Although I could not understand everything Sartre wrote, I identified with what I could comprehend. Existentialist, Taoist, and Buddhist thought swirled around and around in my brain, and I fought for a way to combine them into some new ideology.
Although I favored Eastern religions, I want to state here that I did not completely dismiss Western religions. The figure of Jesus never left my mind. I never believed he turned water into wine or brought the dead back to life, but I did believe in his message of peace, love, and understanding. (Or was that Elvis Costello/Nick Lowe?)
My interest in China pushed me to take several classes that dealt with Chinese subjects once I reached college. Hardly any of my classmates were white, which showed me that I was pretty much alone in my curiosity.
Being in proximity to Asian classmates meant the only females I got to know (and therefore wanted to date) were Asian girls. This phenomenon came about coincidentally, but none of my peers saw it that way. Soon a stereotype was placed on me. People labeled me as one of those white guys who wanted to date only Asian women, and they poked fun at me quite a bit about this.
At first this ribbing bothered me, but it faded into the background when I met this Korean girl named Suzanne. After all, it was kind of hard to be pissed about anything when you have a pretty girl to spend time with, when you know damn well the fools making fun of you are alone with some hand lotion and a box of Kleenex!
Suzanne lived in the same dormitory (in fact, right across the hall). We spent a lot of time together, and before I knew it we were dating. Yes, Mr. Lonely himself actually got himself a girlfriend!
Surely this was a sign of hope, right? Another human being lowered her defenses so she could be close to me. My rule to never believe such affection was real was forgotten. Even if it were a dream, then it was the best damn dream I ever had!
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the façade to burn. We got in some silly argument one night and she stormed away mad. In a narrative like this that seems so intent on being as detailed as possible, I imagine any reader would be mad at me for not recounting the disagreement, but honestly it was so insignificant (in my mind anyway) that the exchange has faded from my memory.
I waited a few days and tried calling her. She hung up on me. Writing her letters also proved fruitless; she probably just threw them out.
What had I done to drive her away? Was it really my fault or was she just a crazy over-reacting pain in the ass? After a great deal of analysis of the situation, I came to realize that the latter was true, but I had no way of knowing it at the time. I could have sworn it was my fault.
Every night I fell asleep dreaming of her. My chest felt hollow, like I had no heart. And it was true. I didn’t possess it anymore; Suzanne did. Despite what happened, it was still with her.
When summertime came around, my heart was returned to me. (This was because Suzanne was from Queens. When she went home and left the area, I was healed.) I felt like a complete human being. Relationships started to look like a decent idea again.
In my sophomore year I wound up dating a half-Chinese half-Irish girl. For a while we really loved each other, so much in fact that we actually had sex. She was my first, and I was hers.
All those lonely days and nights spent wondering what sex was like were finally answered: nothing spectacular, but that was probably because she was no good in bed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say I was great either. How could I have been? It was only my first time! But any woman should be able to make a guy reach orgasm. After all, all you have to do is have a wet hole, right? Insert, thrust, repeat, come…but with her, I couldn’t finish.
Not only did I lose my virginity in my sophomore year, but I also met my best friend for life. His name was Jeff. During the second semester he moved into my suite because my previous suitemate had gone to Denmark for a study abroad program. I didn’t see much of Jeff for the first couple weeks of his arrival. Then one afternoon we sat down in the suite room and started talking as if we had known each other for years.
It turned out he was from the Utica area. Another upstate New Yorker like me! That was a bonus because I was having a hard time making friends among those Long Island and New York City kids. Jeff would turn out to be a true friend, and he would help me struggle through numerous ordeals.
For example, he was there when this Chinese-Irish girl fell out of love with me. I drove her away because I was a jealous fool. She had gotten to do so many things that I had desired to do but could not because of money: travel around the world, go to concerts pretty much every night, live in Manhattan, and numerous other details. I let my jealousy consume me. It burned so strong that the flames leapt off my fingertips when I reached out to touch her. She pulled away from the burn. Could anyone blame her?
I admit that the initiation of the break-up was my fault, but her behavior didn’t help matters. She kept going back and forth on the issue: she would dump me then get back together with me, only to act distant, with no attempts at any kind of physical intimacy. Then I would get dumped again. A week later she would come back. My heart was torn to shreds every other week because she kept bouncing me around like I was an emotional yo-yo.
As the second semester of my junior year came around, she made it final that we were finished. Every night I fell asleep thinking of her. Once again there was that hollow sensation in my chest.
Instead of calming down, I let my jealousy rage on. By the end of the year she didn’t even want to be friends with me anymore, but at that point I didn’t give a shit. Eventually I came to the realization that as a person she was worthless, an arrogant know-it-all bitch who thought everything in the world started and ended with her.
I jumped a little out of order there by going to the end of junior year, but it was necessary so I could get that particular train of thought all the way to the end of the track. Let me go back now to sophomore year, and my friendship with Jeff.
We lost touch over the summer. When my junior year started I ran into him on the way to class, and I made sure to get his phone number. At that time, he was living in an apartment in downtown Albany. I went there a few times, and we walked to the bars near his place with the hopes of bringing home some beautiful young ladies. Sadly, all we ever brought home were hangovers and misery.
We knew what part of the problem was: we were too awkward due to lack of confidence. There was something that was just too intimidating about having the young women standing RIGHT THERE talking to you.
Neither one of us knew how to solve this problem. Then, during the second half of my junior year, a breakthrough came.
Jeff gave me a phone number for a dating service called Quest. It was a chat line where you could either create a mailbox/profile and have interested women leave you messages, or you could talk to them live. This was the answer: a way to talk to women WITHOUT having to be in person! In other words, they’d get to judge me on my personality instead of my looks.
Of course, it didn’t dawn on me that if the female wanted to meet me, then they eventually WOULD judge me on my looks. However, at the time it seemed like I had achieved some major revelation.
I called the chat line to see what it was like. It was free for ladies, but guys had to buy blocks of time via credit card. At first I resisted spending any money; I was content to browse the system and hear people’s personal ads. Eventually the inability to respond got boring, so I relented and bought myself a two-hour block of time. Then I went out and made ads for every category that struck my fancy: casual dating, friends, the wild side, and so on. Soon after I did that, I started to get a lot of private messages. Then it was just a hop, skip and jump before I was meeting these women in person.
It’s been so long that I don’t remember much from these early encounters. I lost touch with most of them only a few weeks after meeting them. Some of them weren’t even old enough to be using the system (i.e. under eighteen). Others already had children or were pregnant. In my opinion, they weren’t worth staying in touch with.
The big break (and addiction to the line) came when I actually went on the chat line instead of just browsing the ads. Soon I was talking to local singles LIVE. This was so much better than an Internet chat room because not only could I hear their voices, but I also knew they lived close to me.
Some of them wanted my number, which I gave out…only to never be called. One woman, a Puerto Rican named Yvonne, reversed the roles and gave me HER phone number. We had phone sex and, a couple nights later, I visited her to make the nasty things we talked about real. We seemed to really hit it off on a personal level too, but a week later she told me to stop coming around. This decision came out of nowhere, and I was not allowed a say in it. No explanation, no good bye, nothing, just a statement that I was not to call her anymore, which hurt because I kind of liked her.
After Yvonne, Jeff and I had many other Quest adventures. Some were on our own, some were together. None of these are worth going into too much detail, but I can summarize them quickly just for the sake of getting the history out.
I met two fifteen year olds at a park, and I bailed when I found out they were under age. (They had told me they were both twenty over the phone, and they seemed pretty convincing or else I never would have gone.)
There were three girls Jeff and I met in Rensselaer, all of them very attractive, but nothing happened with them.
I met a fat disgusting housewife and her daughter who BOTH wanted to get it on with me. Needless to say, I quickly got myself out of that situation.
Jeff and I met a woman who wanted to have sex with two men to celebrate her thirtieth birthday; the experience was not satisfying for me.
There were two girls named Tina, who I affectionately named T1 and T2.
Jeff and I went to meet a repulsive woman named Georgette, whose appearance was so obnoxious that we ran for the hills when we saw her.
Heather from Cohoes claimed she was hot when all she really had were nice legs.
Jen from Menands said she liked me, but we met once and she never called again.
Keisha was a cute black girl from Rensselaer, but her mom seemed to always be home and she refused to meet us in public anywhere. (I always found that odd. Wouldn’t you rather have a stranger meet you in public instead of showing them where you live?)
Then there came Cassandra, who actually was my girlfriend for a while. She was the first woman to let me fuck her in the ass. I was so desperate, so down on myself, and so convinced I could get no better, that I had to take her. However, she was an insanely jealous nightmare.
If you want to know how bad her jealousy could get, here is an example: one time Cassandra came over to my dorm. On the way in, this thin attractive girl said hello to me. When we reached my room, Cassandra started yelling at me.
“I see you’ve got another girlfriend now!”
Who gets that mad just because someone said hello to their partner? You are setting yourself up to be single in no time flat! And that is exactly what happened to her: I cut Cassandra loose less than a week later.
After her there was quite a lineup of women who came and went. Too many to name. Most of them exited my life so fast that they aren’t even worth mentioning here, so I will skip to the only one who mattered: a young lady named Lindsay, who was a Smashing Pumpkins fan (like me) and claimed to be extremely attractive.
Yes, Lindsay. The one. The one I came to feel was meant for me. The one who heard of me through a mutual friend named Joanna (yet another jealous, and therefore brief, partner). The one for whom I felt such strong emotion that I severed my ties with all other women immediately. The one who said she loved me and that we belonged together. The one who said she wanted to marry me someday. The one who said she was bisexual. The one who said she liked to be slapped around.
The one who said she lived in Chicago, but I found out later that was a lie. The one who brought me so much joy only to burn my house of happiness to the ground. The last one who pulled my heart out.
And of course, as fate would have it, she also turned out to be the first one to experience any backlash from breaking me.
If you like what you have read and would like to purchase this serialized novel as one complete PDF, then please send $2 to Steve via PayPal: email@example.com
Also, don’t forget to check out his other writing at the following links below:
Author: Redemption Comics
Steve Grogan was born in the often-filmed city of Troy, NY. He has written in a variety of formats (novels, short stories, poems, screen and stage plays, blogs/articles) and genres (horror, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, drama).
Steve is also a father, a boyfriend, a musician, a fitness fanatic, and a martial artist. He has been studying Wing Chun Kung Fu since 1995, and he maintains a blog/YouTube channel that describe his training habits, epiphanies, and advancement. It also candidly discusses his stumbling blocks, such as his struggle with nutrition and mental health issues.
He is no relation to the New England Patriots quarterback from the 1980’s.