$12,000 Loan
Author: Jay Molina

Chapter 5
The Rise and Fall of Cornelius Schenck III

The Rise and Fall of

Cornelius Schenck III

"I’m so happy, cause today I found my friends, they’re in my head."  

– from Lithium by Nirvana

Week 1

 

            Cornelius Schenck III rolled up to Reeves C in a big black SUV.  It was very hot outside.  The rainbow Christmas lights would not take their spot above the front door for many weeks to come.  The back of the SUV was filled with moving boxes and suitcases.  Numerous blank canvases of varying size sat in the passenger seat next to a kit of art supplies.  He opened up the door that said Reeves C, and shuffled in wearing a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops.  There was a Toronto Blue Jays hat on his head and large expensive sunglasses on his face.  Cornelius figured he might as well start unpacking his car, so he grabbed the first thing he saw, which happened to be a bottle of hot sauce.

            The instant Cornelius opened the door the smell of marijuana hit his nose.  He got down the stairs to see his two new housemates on the couch.  They had already been there a week, eager to renew their antics after summer break.  Miles had the same haircut that he always had (got a haircut every couple weeks) while JMo’s hair (cut once a year) was not quite as long as it would later get.  JMo also had a goat-tee at the time, and was wearing a black fedora.  A small, golden dog was running frantic circles around the living room.  The half Labrador, half Pit-bull puppy immediately jumped up and put its front paws on Cornelius.  “Oh, sweet!  We’ve got a dog!?  That’s awesome,” were Cornelius’ first words in the apartment. 

            “Summer!  Get over here!” Miles yelled at the top of his lungs.  The dog didn’t listen, she was too fascinated with the stranger.  The walls of the room were relatively bare, the poster collection was not up yet.  JMo had just taken the very first hit from his new bong.

            “This bong is money,” coughed JMo, smoke still escaping his mouth.  “Dude, I’m gonna like this guy.  First thing he brings into the house is hot sauce.”  JMo stood up and shook the new guy’s hand.

            “Nice to meet you.  I’m Cornelius.”

            “JMo.”  Cornelius was on the shorter side (still taller than JMo) and had a well-kept beard.

            “I just took the inaugural hit.  Wanna take the second?”  JMo had the travel-size bong and lighter in his left hand during the whole greeting.

            “Sure.”  Cornelius put down the hot sauce on the coffee table (it has yet to move) and reached for the bong, chuckling like a high-schooler who had never smoked before. Using the cheap BIC lighter he inhaled a decent amount of smoke.  After exhaling and coughing out smoke, he said “I didn’t know we were allowed to have dogs here.”  He bent down to pet the puppy.

            “We’re not,” chimed in Miles, yet to move or take his eyes off the T.V.

            “I love that we have a dog.”

            “Don’t speak so soon,” said JMo.  “This dog is hyper-active and annoying as fuck.”

            Cornelius then took a couple steps toward the couch and said, “Nice to meet you,” offering his hand out to Miles.

            Miles gave a half-ass hand shake and said, “Oh hi,” barely taking his eyes off the television.

            “Sick old-school Blue Jays hat,” JMo said, a complement to Cornelius.

            “What’s Blue Jays?” Cornelius asked.  That comment caused Miles to look at Cornelius funny, before turning and giving JMo a look of pessimism.

            “Need any help moving in?” offered JMo.  Cornelius took the offer, and the two went up the stairs toward the front door.  Summer, the puppy, tried to follow them outside.

            “Summer!  Summer!  Get over here, you bitch!”  Miles yelled from his position on the couch.  “Gotdamnit!”  Summer retreated to the living room.

            Once outside, Cornelius turned to JMo and asked, “Yo, does he have Tourette’s?”

            “No, but I get that all the time.” 

            Now, there is always a slight delay from when one smokes to the peak of being high.  And JMo had no idea that his recently purchased ‘water pipe’ was much more powerful than it looked.  So it was understandable that when Cornelius tried to hand JMo a large framed drawing, that it slid right through JMo’s hands on its way to shattering on the parking lot pavement.  And thus began the fall of Cornelius Schenck III

Week 3

 

            It was a beautiful, sunny day.  The back door of Reeves C was open in order to allow the fresh air and sunlight into the apartment.  Cornelius was sitting in a chair with a large sketch book and a pencil.  He was looking back and forth between his book and the table, where he had set up several inanimate objects for an art class assignment.  There were two kiwis propped up against a pineapple.  The three fruits were all balanced on a large rock in a very unstable manner.

            “Do you get to sketch those nude chicks in art class?” asked JMo from his usual position on the couch.

            “Of course,” said Cornelius while adding some shading to his drawing.

            “Damn, I shoulda been an artist.”

            “Yeah, we draw nude models all the time.   Male and female.”

            “Wait,” interrupts Miles who was holding his puppy.  “You draw naked dudes?”

            “Yeah, it’s part of the class.”

            “Do you sketch their dongs and stuff?” asked Miles, clearly trying to annoy Cornelius.

            “Of course,” Cornelius said, looking up from his drawing.  Miles began laughing in his face.

            “So you have to stare at their peckers for a really long time, huh?”  JMo began laughing like a 1st-grader upon hearing the word ‘pecker’.  They were both laughing now.  “That’s so gay,” added Miles.  Cornelius just ignored him and started adding the finishing touches to his drawing.

            “You guys are always watching sports,” said Cornelius, trying to change the subject.

            “You don’t like sports?” inquired JMo.

            “I do, just not the ones you guys like.  I like soccer.”

            “Mehh,” Miles blurted.  “We like a good American sport.”  Miles wasn’t really talking about both himself and JMo.  There’s talking in the first-person and talking in the third-person, but Miles does neither sometimes.  He’ll routinely refer to himself as ‘we’.  Miles then released Summer and picked up a laser-pointer off the table.  The dog, fascinated by the magical red dot, chased it all around the room.  Miles, perhaps advertently, moved the dot dangerously close to Cornelius’ teetering tower of inanimate objects.  That prompted Cornelius to quickly hop up and shield it from the energetic puppy.

            “Keep her away from my set-up,” ordered Cornelius.

            “Sure thing, Corn Dog.”

            “I told you to stop calling me that!”  Cornelius was starting to turn a little red.  Miles kept moving the laser around the room, and intentionally put it on the shoe of the aspiring artist.  The puppy didn’t know any better than to pounce on the dot (and the foot).  “Dude, you’re gonna mess me up!”  Summer, all riled up and maybe scared from all the yelling began to pee a little.  This happened all the time in the apartment (usually on Cornelius’ expensive rug), and normally wasn’t a problem.  But she was still standing over Cornelius’ foot.  “Fuck, man!  I liked these shoes.”

            “Settle down, Corn Cob,” said the kid with the laser-pointer.  Distracted by the fresh urine on his shoe, Cornelius let his guard down.  Summer took advantage of his lapse and began gnawing on one of the kiwis, knocking the whole display over.  In a fit of rage Cornelius ripped up his near finished drawing and slammed his sketch book on the ground.

            “Now I have to start all over again!”

            “Why’d you rip it up?” JMo asked genuinely.  “You shouldn’t have done that.”  When Cornelius didn’t say anything JMo added, “Told you that dog was annoying.”

            Cornelius finally said, “Fuck this, I need something to eat,” and stormed off into the kitchen.  After some tense silence in the apartment he yelled, “Did one of you eat my pizza!?”

            With a look of guilt JMo sheepishly asked, “The one with the pepperonis on it?”

Week 7

            It was not yet dawn, the sun was just starting to peak over the horizon.  On this day, one of JMo’s Wikipedia adventures led him to learning about Rastafarians.  JMo was raised Catholic, evidenced by the silver cross around his neck, but hadn’t abided by the Catholic rules in a while.  When he learned Rastafaris believed in Jesus and smoking marijuana that was all he needed.  He would consider himself Rastafari from that day forth.

            JMo started banging on Cornelius’ door.  After a few booming knocks he slowly cracked open the door and stuck his head into the dark room.  “Corn Dog?” he whispered.

            “What?” grumbled a pile of blankets on the bed.

            “You awake?”

            “I am now.”

            “I just wanted to tell you that I’m a Rastafarian.”  Cornelius poked his head out from under the sheets.

            “You woke me up to tell me that you converted to Rastafarian?”

            “No, not converted.  I realized that I’ve been Rastafari.”

            “Why are you awake so fucking early?” Cornelius asked in a raspy, not yet awake voice.

            “Oh, I stayed up all night researching Rastafari.”  JMo was still whispering, and only had his head through the slightly ajar door.

            “Why are you telling me this?”

            “Miles’s door is locked.  And I just had to tell somebody.”  Cornelius rolled over in his bed to face away from JMo, and pulled the blanket back over his head.  “Ok.  Irie (Rastafari word for acceptance), mon.”

Week 9

 

            Cornelius was in the kitchen displaying his impressive cooking skills, making some kind of omelet.  He grabbed the frying pan handle and flipped the omelet in the air.  Cornelius had brought all of his fancy kitchenware from home.  As a result, Reeves C had it all: complete knife set, pots and pans, plates, silverware, fancy dishtowels.  Had he not been assigned to live there, JMo and Miles would have been more than content with paper plates and plastic cups.  After finishing his cooking, Cornelius took his food upstairs and started working on an important painting assignment.

            With the stove-top open, JMo shuffled into the kitchen with a goofy smile on his face and his bag of weed in hand.  He had just woken up (at 3 pm) with one project for the day: Make Weed Brownies.  The first step of the online instructions required using a double boiler to sauté the marijuana in butter.  THC is soluble in fats, so by heating the weed with butter, the THC is released.  JMo did not know what a double boiler was.  So he just threw three sticks of butter into a pot and turned the stove on high.  Hungry after his long slumber, JMo looked for anything to eat.  He grabbed something out of the freezer and put it in the microwave.  Then he left the kitchen.

            JMo plopped down on the couch and started watching a football game.  His favorite team was playing and losing by a substantial amount, so he started yelling at the T.V.  “Shit!  Come on, tackle him!  Oh, you gotta be kidding me.  That’s a terrible call!  Hey Ref, get off your knees you’re blowing the game!”  It was only two first downs by the opposing team before JMo smelled smoke.  His first thought was, ‘Am I so mad that there’s smoke coming out of my ears?’

            “Fuck!  The butter!”  JMo sprung off the couch and hurried into the kitchen to see the butter overflowing the pot and oozing down the sides into the burner.  A huge flame reached from the stove all the way to the ceiling.  A pair of dishtowels hung on the oven handle were on fire too.  The flames had spread to the counter top, engulfing a wood cutting board and a wooden knife holder.  The butter started to ooze across the stove, spreading the growing blaze.  All of their pots and pans were on the stove-top (they were too lazy to put them away) and were now roasting in the fire.  JMo started hopping up and down on his tiptoes, not sure what to do.  He started to fill a cup with water, but turned the sink off when he remembered to never throw water on a grease fire.  Then, he started spinning in circles looking for something.  “Baking Soda or Baking Powder!?  I can never remember which one!”  He kept spinning around in hopes that a box of baking soda or baking powder would magically appear, but then realized it was a moot point because they didn’t have either.  Now JMo was dizzy and the heat of the fire was starting to make him sweat.

            The good thing about JMo and Miles’s friendship, is that when you combined both their skills and knowledge, it usually added up to one functional human being.  Miles smelled the smoke from his room and thought, ‘It’s my time to shine.’  He had been waiting for a moment like this and was ready for it.  After grabbing a small fire extinguisher he rushed down the stairs to see JMo trying to blow out part of the fire like he was the Big Bad Wolf.  Miles pulled the pin from the fire extinguisher and started screaming like he was one of William Wallace’s soldiers going into battle.

            “Wait!” JMo yelled to Miles.  JMo had just spotted his bag of weed on the countertop, surrounded but unharmed by the fire.  Risking a severe burn, JMo reached in to the rising flames, grabbed the bag, and like an action-movie hero dove (completely unnecessary) out of the way.  Only JMo and Miles could be having fun in a situation as dangerous as this.

            “Now!?”

            “Extinguish that bitch!” were JMo’s orders from the ground.  Miles began putting out the flames.  He was screaming again, pretending the fire extinguisher was a machine gun and he was Al Pacino from Scarface.  Cornelius got to the scene just as Miles was extinguishing the last of the flames.

            “Wha…how…What the fuck happened?”

            “There was an incident,” said Miles, very proud at the moment.

            “Aww…All my shit is ruined.”  Cornelius was looking at all of his charred kitchen supplies.

            “Don’t worry Corn Cob.  I saved the weed.”  Cornelius was speechless.  He looked as if he was about to cry.

            “$7500 we each pay to live in this shit hole for half the year and the smoke detectors don’t even go off,” Miles remarked.  “I’ll place a call.  We’ll have a word.”  Then the microwave beeped.  JMo nonchalantly walked over to it, took out the finished product, and took a bite.

            A dejected Cornelius said, “Aww, man.  Is that my hot pocket?”

Week 12

 

            The threesome of JMo, Miles, and the Z-man were sitting around the living room passing a card around with some Nirvana playing in the background.  Whoever was holding the card would look at it and chuckle before passing it to the next guy.  “Wait, let me see it again,” ordered JMo.  He looked at the card and laughed harder than the first time he saw it.  “Look at Z.  Haha.”  They continued to pass the card around, laughing each time like they had never seen it before.

            Miles said, “Oh yeah.  This is the best thing we’ve ever done.”  After a while of watching a basketball game, Cornelius came in through the back door wearing a backpack.  At that point Lithium began to play on the iPod.

            “It’s starting to snow,” he said.  He was wearing a thick North Face jacket and one of those winter hats with the earflaps.

            “Yo Corn Dog, check this out,” Miles said, handing him the popular card.  Cornelius began to analyze the card.  It had a red border with a picture of JMo, Miles, and the Scavenger standing in front of the house.  They were all smiling and had their arms around each other.  The rainbow Christmas lights were in their place above the front door.  The Z-man was inside the house, but you could see his grinning face through a window.  He was giving the peace sign with both hands, looking a little like Richard Nixon.  On the bottom of the card in fancy white writing it said, ‘Merry Christmas from Reeves C and the Z-Man!’  “We’re gonna get a bunch of copies and give them to everyone we know,” Miles told him.  Cornelius didn’t laugh at the card, but looked annoyed, not the reaction the group expected.

            “You guys made a Christmas card without me?”

            JMo entered the conversation by saying, “We figured you wouldn’t want to be in it because you hate Christmas.”

            “Why would you think that?”

            “Because dude,” JMo explained, “You flipped out when we hung up the Christmas lights.”

            “Yeah,” added Miles.  “You started crushing the little bulbs with your boots, ya damn hippie.”

            “Z’s in the picture!?  He doesn’t even live here.”  Cornelius’ voice was getting louder.  “Whatever,” he said before sitting down.  “You guys always got sports on,” Cornelius said gesturing at the television and shaking his head.

            “JMo, I’ve been thinking,” said Miles.  “How does Santa Claus get paid?  He just gives out toys for free and all he gets to do is stuff his face with cookies.”

            “He gets gratuities,” responded JMo, not blinking an eye.  “Every time a movie or a T.V. show uses Santa Claus, they have to pay him.  You know, copyright laws and stuff.”

            “Oh yeah.  Interesting.”

            “Plus,” JMo added, “The elves make the toys, and Santa doesn’t really have to pay them.”

            “Doesn’t pay them?”  Miles seemed offended by this.

            “Well, he pays them in like candy canes or gingerbread cookies.”

            “Is that a form of slavery?  I don’t condone that.”

            “Well, it’s the North Pole.  There aren’t any…”

            “Enough!” Cornelius shouted.  “What the fuck!?  What the fuck are you two talking about!?  You two are crazy!”  He got up and stormed out of the room and up the stairs.  “I hate Christmas!” he shouted from the staircase.

            “It’s that kind of attitude why you’re not in the Christmas card!” JMo yelled back.  The Christmas card debacle was just a small incident, but it might’ve been the straw that broke Cornelius’ back.

Week 13

 

            All college students get stressed out towards the end of the semester.  The workload tends to build up, and a lot of students turn to drugs like Ritalin and Adderall to help them study.  But Cornelius was more than just stressed.  He broke down.  The last time JMo and Miles saw him they were sitting in the living room (they were always there) watching a football game.  The Z-man was there as well.  Cornelius came barging through the back door carrying 6 or 7 huge, rolled up projector screens.  They were the projector screens that were in all of the college classes.  Professors used them to show their PowerPoint lectures.  “Look what I’ve got,” Cornelius exclaimed.

            “What the fuck are those?” asked Miles.

            “Projector screens.  I got an e-mail saying people could take them from the classrooms.”  Cornelius was acting very manic, talking fast, eyes darting back and forth.  “I’m going to put them all together and make a huge projector screen.”  JMo, Miles, and Z looked at each other, very confused and a little worried.  Cornelius had been acting very strange for a few days.  He hadn’t been sleeping much and couldn’t seem to have normal conversations.

            “What are you going to do with one gigantic projector screen,” Miles hesitantly asked.

            “Ah, what can’t you do with a gigantic projector screen?  You can use it to watch sports,” he gestured at the T.V., “Movies, you could even make like a fort with it.  Yeah.”

            “Don’t you need a projector to watch stuff on a screen?”

            “See man, I’m an artist.  You just have to go and make things, like businessmen.  Like…look at this poster.”  Cornelius walked over to his poster of Uncle Sam playing beer pong.  “This is the government telling college kids to go out and drink, because all money is made off of vices.  Like for me, art is a vice.  You guys have sports, that’s a vice.  My hat, my clothes, even my shoes are a vice.  Look at the design on my shoes, I feel like I have pigeons on my feet.  No, I feel like pigeons are my feet.”

            “I really like the way you can have multiple conversations in the same sentence,” Miles said, very sarcastically.  But Cornelius could not pick up on the sarcasm.

            “Thanks, man.  Yeah, I’ve been really been trying hard to incorporate many things into my sentences because business is all about creativity.”

            “There it is again,” Miles pointed out.  Cornelius then started trying to find symbolism in everyday objects.

            “Look at this label,” Cornelius picked up an empty beer bottle from the table.  “This label symbolizes that you can’t always get what you want when you’re a kid.”

            JMo started trying to have some fun with the situation when he said, “Yeah, and that flyer that says to Trick-or-Treat symbolizes the 5 food groups.”

            “Yes, Exactly!” Cornelius walked over to JMo and gave him a fist pound.

            “And that poster of two girls touching each other symbolizes oppression in Southern Africa.”

            “Thank you!”  Another fist pound.  “Now someone’s thinking like me.”  JMo couldn’t help but laugh.  “All right, I gotta get started on my projector so I can be a businessman slash artist slash rapper.  That’s all I wanna do man, is just rap all day.”  Cornelius ran up the stairs with his projector screens.  The three kids left in the room just looked at each other, words weren’t necessary.

            A few days later there was a knock on the front door.  JMo and Miles both went up to open it.  There was a Campus Security officer with a large gut standing there.  “How ya doin’ kids?  Sorry to bother ya.  I’ve just been goin’ from house to house because we had a report of stolen projector screens from some of the classrooms on campus.  You two know anything about that?”  JMo and Miles looked at each other for a moment before saying, “No, sir.”

            An hour or so later JMo received a voicemail from Cornelius.  He put it on voicemail so that Miles, and Z could hear it too.  It said:

            “Hey, JMo.  Look dude, whatever you do, don’t get rid of those projector screens.  Turns out I misread the e-mail.  I went home for the rest of the semester.  And I’m going to move out after that.  I just feel like I was prosecuted for being a German-Jew.  You guys watched sports all the time, hung Christmas lights up everywhere. I get prosecuted everywhere I go for being a German-Jew.”

            JMo turned to Miles and said, “I think me and you just made a human being go crazy.”

            “He was overwhelmed,” replied Miles.

            JMo was stunned.  “I feel like we were just part of a sick scientific experiment.  Like there was some mad scientist out there who was like, ‘Let’s see what happens when you take a normal kid and make him live with JMo and Miles’,” he said.

            “I’d be careful Z,” Miles said, turning to the Z-man.  “You’ve been hanging out with us a lot lately.  Are you overwhelmed?”

            After a long time of thought the Z-man replied, “No. Not overwhelmed.”

            “Oh good.  You’re just whelmed,” Miles said smiling.

            “But now that you mention it,” said Z, “I have been feeling a bit crazy since I started hanging out with you two.”

 

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