"Oh, man, I love this book. I seriously love this book. The character's like, awesome."

I looked at its title for a few moments.

"Oh, hey. Yeah. Catcher in the Rye. I used to like that book."

"I sort of finished it just like, last night and I felt like killing myself. That's when you know it's a good book. And the brother of the main character—"

"Allie Caulfield."

"Yeah, that guy has the same name as me."

"I know." I looked over the top at my magazine to see Allie making a 'dust angel' on my carpet. He laughed while he did it.

"I wish I had a little sister like the one him and Holden had." Allie was sprawled all over the carpet of my living room. Well, my parents' living room.

… I still live with my parents because I'm too lazy to get a job. Signed up as a full-time student. Allie has his own place, but he likes it here. He says he likes the atmosphere.

"Giovanni. Hey, what do you think it means?" The book rose and fell against his chest.

"The whole thing?" I sifted through a videogame console catalogue.

"No, yeah… the title. The title of the book."

"Uh," I processed the question, staring at this one game's screen shots. God, this game. I'll get a job just to buy this holy grail. "The title…"

Allie propped himself up on his elbows and squinted. "Maybe you should like, pull back the blinds. It's as dark as a fuckin' cave in here." He said something else, it probably had to do with cave-blindness.

"It's not that dark in here, Allie. You do it."

Allie got up and pulled the blinds back. His shadow eclipsed me as he stared out at the backyard. "So, what do you think it means?"

"Huhn. 'Catcher in the Rye'…" Well, actually, it had been about five months since I've actually visited the book. I think I've read it like, four times. Three and a half maybe. It's just that, I stopped reading it when I realized something. I put my magazine catalogue down and watched Allie watch my dog, Puck, lazily slop around outside by the avocado tree. "There are no lovable characters in that book,"

"Yeah," Allie grunted. He let out a chuckle that always cracks me up when I hear it, it sounds a lot like: Huh huh huh huh. His chuckle is hilarious. "I think it's like that for a reason though, you know, Giovanni?" He turned around and looked at me: "I mean, there aren't any lovable people in real life, you know?"

"There're tons."

"No, no, no. I mean like, genuinely lovable people. Like, you'll see your neighbor as this great guy who paints go carts and shit and I'll see him as a phony bastard. Some phony bastard prince."

He's even talking like Holden Caulfield. I'll entertain him. "Is that so?"

"Yeah—it's all a matter of perception so you'll never really like, you know, like a person for who they are. I mean, I think Holden's lovable, but it doesn't mean he's meant to be. And even if he was meant to be, someone else might find him to be the most annoying bastard they'd ever met—read."

"Yeah." I stared at the carpet. "How about Blair? Was she lovable?"

"Aw, come on. I thought you were over her."

"Yeah. I am."

"Chill the fuck out."

"I wasn't yelling,"

"No, I mean…" Allie paced around and then stopped: "I mean, chill. Stop. Stop like, pretending."

"Pretending?" My voice piqued and hit a weird note and it jiggled in my throat. I stopped it and swallowed. "Whatever, man. Let's not talk about this. It's over."

Allie sat Indian-crossed in front of the patio and watch Puck dig a hole.

I reached for my magazine, but it slipped off the couch and onto the floor and I suddenly felt too lazy to pick it up. Sometimes I feel like Allie's too sensitive. And I feel tired. I know I should get a job to support myself but I lack motivation.

"Whenever I think of passive people…" Allie trailed off.

I sat, facing him.

"Whenever I think of people like her, Blair, I get this bad feeling in my throat. Like it hurts. The way she smiles, it's… It's fuckin' devious. I mean, you could see her fangs, those two fangs, kind of like a vampire's. And the way she smokes, it's natural, like her ma does it. And her grandma. And her aunts. And every other woman in her family." He looked over his shoulder. "You know what I mean, Giovanni?"

He looked like a kid from here. "Yeah, no, not really."

"I mean, you're a good guy. You're a good guy with a lot ahead of you and you get A's and shit. I can't get A's. I mean I have a job and a heavier class load, but still I don't get A's like you do. I'm more of Blair's type. I guess."

I chuckled. It was an empty laugh. A knee-jerk reaction. It made me think about a phone conversation her and I had.

"The main character—Holden—he was always lonely though, and I thought about why and suddenly it made me feel like killing myself. It's all about our perception, whether we're somewhere at the right place and the right time, whether we're phony or real. I kind of mean—well. Hey, Giovanni, we're friends, right? Like, good friends?"

I didn't answer. I was still trying to remember what she said during that one conversation. Her and I had talked about, well. I forgot what we had talked about. Something about our future. Careers. And she wanted to go off and be a nurse with her Asian friends because even if the curriculum's rigorous at a vocational school, the actual job's really just wiping old people's asses and cleaning their bed pans. She'd said that. I remember trying to encourage her to at least get an Associate's, just in case she'd changed her mind about being a nurse, that I could always support her and get another job alongside what I wanted to really do. We'd live in a small apartment, I said. It doesn't sound too idealistic, does it, I had asked when I saw her reaction.

And then what did she say?

Shit, I don't remember. I seriously don't remember. And I was hearing Allie, but I wasn't really listening to him. I couldn't even respond, and my eyes couldn't stop staring at the carpet. A few soda stains were on it. I was zoned out and paralyzed.

"We're friends, right? I mean, if I liked someone or a book you liked—or used to like—you wouldn't think I was fake for saying it or any shit like that?"

"You're a writer, of course not," I suddenly said. Blair, that's what she'd said to me. Giovanni, you're a writer, of course not. Of course you can't understand the real world or what people are really saying to you, because you're a writer, that's what she had said afterward. But I hate really reading now and I haven't written since forever.

Because writers render so much bull shit that has nothing to do with the real world.

She was right, I guess. Or maybe I'm just tired. And I was never really good at it. Writing. I can't spell for shit.

"Of course not…"

But Allie smiled big. Real big. "You're a cunt. Seriously, a big fat cunt. You should've fell right into that and started defending it."

"What? Defend what?" Great, what the hell is going on?

"I don't know why you just let people trample all over you." His smile widened in triumph, and he lifted his chin and looked at me in this way that reminds me of Keanu Reeves. That bastard. "That's why you get all the Blairs and other chicks like her. Because you're lonely and shit and can't handle really voicing your thoughts, so you write a bunch of fantasy epics and live at home. Because you can't really handle New York style and you don't really understand people."

Like Holden?

"Sometimes I worry about you, man," he said.

But I saw something else. Freckle-faced liar, you jerk. You son of a bitch.

"You're always letting other people trample all over you—"

"I hate that book, now," I interrupted him. Allie, you fuckface—Always trapping me where I can't tell what you're really trying to get at. You stupid son of a bitch.

"What? I thought you just stopped liking it, I didn't know you hated it or anything. That's a hell of a crummy thing to say about such a good book anyway."

"I just hate it, so whatever."

"Why?"

"I just do." Don't side-track me.

Allie stopped and stood before me. He scooped up the magazine up off the floor and handed it to me. "That's alright, I guess. But I think you should like it. It's who you are."

I half-smiled, "Yeah, I guess. I'm just trying to be honest about how I feel, though. It's something people should learn to do, and you don't need a fucking explication if you feel something. People've just gotta learn to say it and let it go—be honest."

Allie's smile twitched. "I'm always honest, Giovanni." He placed Catcher in the Rye in his back pocket and stretched in front of the patio.

Puck had dug a hole so big that a person could fit in it.


Author's Note: Allie was pwned.