What did Eddie want to do with his life? He had been asking himself this a lot lately as seemingly everyone around him had a plan, a goal, a future. God, Eddie was starting to hate that word. Future. He couldn't escape it. It was all anyone could talk about.
There was Stan who had been interning at an accountancy firm since summer; Bill was taking creative writing classes and starting his first novel; Mike worked with Bill in a diner downtown - the same place he'd been at for three years - and had almost saved enough to travel around the world next year like he'd always dreamt of; Beverly was working as an intern for some big fashion corporation Eddie didn't really know but was apparently very impressive, and Ben was taking the same business class as Eddie. The difference was that Ben had a business plan and Eddie was just hoping he'd be inspired. He wasn't. Even Richie - laid-back Richie - had started booking fairly regular gigs in a few small comedy clubs.
At least he didn't feel a failure in his love life (or lack-thereof) as - with the exception of Stan and Bill who hadn't long moved in together - the Losers were falling behind in that department, so there wasn't much pressure to keep up.
"Earth to Eds?" said Richie, shaking his hand in front of his face. "Hello?"
Eddie came to from his thoughts and swatted Richie's hand away. "What?"
"You blanked out when I was practicing my new set on you," said Richie. It was hard to tell if this upset him because he was always smiling.
"I was just thinking," said Eddie dismissively. "Uh, you were talking about, um—"
"It's official," Richie threw his hands up dramatically. "My parents were right. I'm a failure."
Beverly flicked his ear. "No, you're not."
"They're going to laugh me off of the stage."
"Isn't that kind of the point?" asked Mike, chaining daisies together. "Make 'em laugh."
"This sucks!" groaned Bill, throwing his notebook down.
"Like Eddie's mom," said Richie quickly.
Eddie shoved him hard. "How do you do that so fast? Do you just wait for the opportunity to make jokes about my mom, asshole? That's fucking weird."
"Hey, I don't insult your interests." said Richie casually. "Well, I wouldn't if you had any."
"I have interests," argued Eddie. "Right now I'm interested in what Bill has to say so why don't you shut up?"
"You're so passionate, Eds," said Richie, throwing his arm around his shoulder. "You get that from your mom."
"Don't call me—"
"Children," said Stan, pulling at his secondhand tie. "I'm not spending my break listening to you two bicker. Bill was talking."
"What sucks, Bill?" asked Ben, leaning back into the grass.
Bill gestured to his notebook. "This week's homewuh-work. We all got given a genre to write a short stuh-tory in."
"So?" asked Mike. "You're a great writer."
"I write horror." sighed Bill. "I guh-got romance."
"Romance is easy," said Richie, pushing his glasses up his nose. "They're all the same."
"Read a lot of romance, do you, Richie?" chuckled Mike.
"There is nothing wrong with a guy liking romance novels, Michael." said Richie, crossing his arms. "It's the '90s. Catch up."
"So wuh-what do I need?" asked Bill. "Other than a love stuh-ory?"
"There's got to be a bad boy," answered Ben. "They're in every romance ever written."
"That's true," said Beverly, lighting her cigarette. "A bad boy is always the same. Motorcycle, leather jacket..."
"What's supposed to be hot about leather jackets anyway?" Stan rolled his eyes.
"Yuh-You'd look good in one," shrugged Bill.
Stan quickly wrote something in his pocket schedule.
Buy a leather jacket
"What was that?" asked Richie, poking over his shoulder.
"Just something for my boss," lied Stan, shoving the book quickly into his pocket. "The bad boy is always shockingly well-read despite ditching school seemingly his whole life."
"And there's a 76% chance he's a sexy vampire," laughed Richie. “Also, they’re always leaning on stuff. All the time.”
"Don't forget the bitch who wants to fight the main character just because she wants the guy," said Beverly, pushing her hair back. "As if her only goal in life is to get together with a guy who isn't interested in her. And they're always, like, "caked" in makeup because God forbid women wear makeup to feel more confident."
"What do you think, Eddie?" said Ben, turning to him. "You've not said anything."
"I hate them."
"What?" said Mike, shaking his head. "All of them? But they're great."
"You've all been talking shit about them," said Eddie irritably. "What's to like? They're unrealistic and cheesy."
"That's what's so guh-great about them," said Bill. "Even Stan likes them."
"That's a lie."
“Like those makeovers where they take off their glasses and suddenly everyone thinks they’re beautiful. What’s that about?”
“I find that offensive!” said Richie, aggressively fixing his glasses.
"And in real life, if a guy climbs into your window at night, you call the fucking cops." said Eddie, making large gestures as he spoke. “Actually, adding to that, why does the lead like the ‘Bad Boy’ in the first place? They’re always assholes who talk shit and are crazy possessive. I’d get a restraining order.
“Or, if it’s not the Bad Boy they end up with, it’s the best friend. I mean, am I supposed to be shocked that the attractive best friend they’ve known since childhood who they have a great time with is their one true love? Why does it take 365 pages for them to realise? It’s pretty fucking obvious.”
“Yeah,” said Beverly slowly, looking between Richie and Eddie. “You’d think it would be, wouldn’t you?”
“They must just be total idiots,” said Stan monotonously.
“Total idiots,” nodded Eddie. “That’s why I hate— fuck, what time is it?”
“Just gone five,” said Ben. “Why?”
“Shit, shit, shit.” said Eddie, scrambling to his feet. “I told my mom I’d be home by five. I’ve got to go. See you.”
“I’ll go with you,” said Richie, getting up. “Bye, guys.”
Once they were away from the others, Richie spoke. “When’s it going to be, Eds?”
“When’s what going to be?”
“You’re in your 20s, Eddie.” said Richie, raising his eyebrows. “How long are you going to keep living with your mom? You’re too old to be worrying about getting in trouble with your mommy.”
Eddie wanted to tell him to shut up, to get mad, but he knew that Richie wasn’t not-not-wrong.
“She needs me,” he said simply. “I can’t just leave.”
“Listen,” said Richie, stopping suddenly and gripping his shoulders.
Eddie held his breath. Richie had never done this before. He was always putting his arms around him or grabbing at him, but always in a jokey fashion Eddie knew not to take seriously. Now, he was being serious. It wasn’t like him.
“What?” said Eddie, trying to keep his voice steady.
“You’re not happy, Eds.” said Richie, straight faced like Eddie had never seen him. “Your mom controls you and she manipulates you. You need to get out of that house before you get too old.”
Eddie pushed Richie back. “What do you know? My mom loves me.”
“I didn’t say she didn’t—”
“Just because your mom never gave a shit, doesn’t make mine a bad person for caring about me a lot.” said Eddie, turning around.
As he ran off, the last thing he remembered hearing was Richie scream and the tires screeching.
Then everything went black.