Home > The Best Bad Things

The Best Bad Things
Author: Jay Crownover

 

Author’s Note

 


Hi.

I’m going to keep this intro short and sweet: this book is weird.

I know it. And that’s what I love most about it. I also know the weirdness won’t sit right with everyone, and I am perfectly fine with that. This is the first book I felt compelled to write in a long time. I got an idea and couldn’t stop thinking about it. Inspiration like that has been hard to come by the last few years, so I’m prepared to embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly.

This is a different kind of novel than I usually write, but I think if you’re a long-time reader, you will find many of my favorite, familiar bits and pieces scattered throughout. And if you are a new or newish reader, I promise you cannot base my work on this single title. This book is a beast that stands on its own.

With all of that out of the way, all I can say is hold on for the ride. Nothing is as it seems. You can’t trust anyone on these pages. Everyone is unreliable… including me. And if you think you read something as one way in one chapter, and it’s suddenly different in another chapter, that is intentional. Lol… I admit that my memory has gotten worse post turning forty, but it’s not that bad.

As always, for those who are willing to read whatever I decide to write, I appreciate your bravery and adore your willingness to dip your toes into the strange and unusual.

 

Love & Ink,

Jay

 

 

Dedicated to the usual suspects…

 

 

The World as I Know It

 

It was unfortunate when bad things happened to good people, but I’d learned the hard way that they inevitably would. Naïve people were bound to stumble into bad things and bad situations. The same was true for innocent, trusting people.

However, my biggest takeaway was that bad things were going to happen to stupid people, no matter what. They should’ve seen those bad things coming right at them, but they ignored all the warning signs.

I had fallen into all those categories at one point or another.

I was innocent and trusting right up until I was arrested under the suspicion of murdering my father. I was naïve to an embarrassing extreme when I was a teenager. I didn’t believe my best friend and the boy I was obsessed with would ever turn their backs on me. But they did. Their words and accusations against me almost sealed my fate with a jury that was already eager to put me behind bars.

And I was stupid. So goddamn dumb. Every bad thing I’d been through the last few years was as clear as day in front of me, but I had walked into disaster anyway. When everything started to go so wrong, I had no idea how to navigate the bad things. I tried my best to be the perfect young adult so I’d be rewarded with a bright, exciting future. I foolishly thought that since I’d done everything right, goodness and truth would eventually win. They didn’t. Goodness wasn’t worth a damn.

Bad luck. Bad timing. Bad friends. Bad choices. Bad intentions. I couldn’t escape the bad things once they got their claws into me. My misfortune seemed endless and unrelenting.

The day all my bad luck really caught up with me was my birthday. I had just turned twenty-five. But I felt one hundred. I was world-weary and disenchanted. I’d grown numb to tragedy and despair. Disappointment and discontent were so much a part of me that I’d long forgotten how to feel any other type of way. Long gone was the clueless, carefree teenager I’d once been.

I wanted to believe that the constant struggle over the years had made me smarter. That I’d grown a little bit harder, and I’d shed the wide-eyed innocence that had landed me in such a sorry state in the first place. I no longer trusted anyone. Though, no matter how much I’d been forced to toughen up and endure, I couldn’t quite shake being an inherently good person.

That goody-two-shoes streak was annoying and dangerous considering the life I’d been forced into. I was surrounded by the kind of people who had no use for anything good in a place where bad things and bad people thrived. So, I kept my head down and my mouth shut at all times. It was best not to be noticed, because if I ran across the wrong person, they would take utter delight in burning that last bit of stubborn goodness out of me.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t always keep a lid on the bright spots that still dotted my darkened soul. Good intentions still managed to leak from my heart even though I’d done my very best to bleed them all out.

These days, I had an obvious weakness: I couldn’t help myself from worrying about the two young children who lived in the dilapidated room next to mine in the rundown motel I called home. In my memories, my concept of home was a large house with a sprawling lawn, filled with parties and people. The fridge was always full. The temperature inside was always just right. Everything was always clean without me having to lift a finger. My room was professionally decorated, and my clothes were designer. I went to a private school and had a future planned out that was as brilliant as my expensively straightened smile. It was an idyllic, privileged existence. It was too good to be true.

In my life now, my home was a place that rented rooms by the hour or the week. My younger self would’ve considered my humble accommodation a nightmare. Nowadays, I was often grateful to have the stained, often leaky roof over my head. But even if I had no choice but to settle for the less than stellar digs, I knew it was no place for the kids in the room next to me to grow up. The little boy and girl lived there before I moved in. I couldn’t help myself from befriending them, since their mother often left them unattended, and they regularly showed up at my door looking for everything from food to basic affection.

I wanted to protect them. The desire ran so deep, I knew it came from feeling like no one had been around to protect me when my life went to shit. I was projecting, but I couldn’t stop myself.

Their mom was a drunk. She often seemed to forget she even had kids. I did my best to check up on them at least once a day, even though I was barely scraping by. It was saying something that I was their best option for a caregiver, considering the disastrous state of my own life.

It was late that night. My birthday was almost over. Today passed like all my previous birthdays since my life turned upside down. There was little to celebrate aside from surviving another year in the wasteland of a city the locals just referred to as the Point.

I always came home from my shitty job, at an even shittier diner, well past the time it was safe for anyone to walk alone on the streets in this part of town. I’d had more than one terrifying run-in with the typical type of predator who used the shadows to lurk and hunt for prey. Luckily, I learned pretty quickly what it would take to survive in those circumstances and came away unscathed, mostly. Plus, it didn’t hurt that for as long as I’d lived at the motel, there was a guy who spent his nights working on an old, broken-down car in the parking lot from dusk till dawn. I had no clue what he did during daylight hours, but as soon as the sun went down, he was making a racket right outside my unit’s door as he banged around in the engine and tinkered with the car. He intervened more than once when I was harassed on my walk home. Almost as if he was watching to make sure I made it back safely every night. The guy looked to be around the same age as me, but he didn’t talk much and didn’t seem interested in striking up a conversation or friendship when I profusely thanked him for keeping the creeps off my back. Whenever I tried to offer a friendly greeting, he grunted in acknowledgment but never returned it.

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