It was a slow social day online.
He thought of the ‘old days’ just a few years back. Those were the FUN internet years. There was a space online and working it was like learning a new art-form and then, one day, the word ‘bandwidth exceeded’ started to appear on everyone’s work of art and, one by one, everyone left for a new, niftier version of communicating with each other only it wasn’t nearly as nifty.
It was just the only thing there was.
For a half a second a new FUN place emerged and quickly disintegrated. It seemed only a moment before the administrator of the whole thing sent a message to everyone in it that it would go up in cyber-flames with the start of the new year.
Then, once more, IT was the only place a person could really network.
He used to use the ‘new’ place to look up females his age that had similar interests. That was the ONLY halfway decent thing about the new place. It wasn’t long before they took that away and then looking for women he liked became infinitely more difficult. He felt like he was stuck in a slow sludge moment and the new place was getting tricky.
The message alert sounded! Maybe today would not be such a dead day after all? He left-clicked and navigated to the message window.
There she was. The girl of his dreams. He knew they were only dreams of course but he dreamed of meeting her one day. Probably heaven. They had cammed and she was pretty and he was OK with the fact that she did not do full-body nudes, like some of the girls did, looking for attention. He loved and appreciated the girls who did but she was different. It had taken him a whole year to get her to even show her face.
“CATOOOOOOO!!!!!! How are you I missed you!”
“I missed you too Pretty. It’s been a few days and no one seems to be online anymore.”
“I think everyone is growing up and getting jobs and getting married now.”
“Thanks for staying with me Pretty because I don’t know what I would do without you.”
They continued chatting this way and he was more than certain he would never marry. She always told him he would but she didn’t really understand his situation. She was loved, online, by what looked like the entire world. He was humbled she would even take note of him, personally, at all. How she ended up with thousands of admirers he could not fathom but if she was showing nudes to other guys and not him he didn’t care. He had his own stable online even if he didn’t love them.
Only she had also been missing lately.
Today felt different. She seemed preoccupied and the hours long chats of yore were no more. He was mentally preparing himself for a broken heart.
It never ceased to amaze him how he could want to die over a person he never met and still have to go out into the real world, just as he was, and act as if nothing was wrong. People in the real world had an idea that nothing online was real only…
…it was real. More real than real life in many ways. But if he left his residence in tears over an online girl they would think he needed extra medication and he didn’t need that: he needed love. That was all really. He just needed love. He needed to be someone’s hero like the day he did a remote and fixed a girl’s computer for her and she sent him a whole album of beautiful nudes for all his work. He still had that album.
She never loved him though. She never chatted with him like Pretty did and she was missing, along with everyone else.
Bored, he went surfing for new social platforms. He found many of them but they were like graveyards. Only people who loved porno or Satan were their inhabitants. As he surfed he saw a news story about a new social platform that was taking the internet by storm! Excited he went to see what it was all about and registered his information from his desk top and then logged in from his cellphone so he could import all his contacts and invite them.
They were all already there. All of them.
Not only were they already there but they had been there for months and not a single one had offered him to join. With a sinking heart he saw she was there as well. Pretty. She had gone there just as soon as she had logged off the conversation with him.
He was curious in a dark and distant way and he changed his public name and photo before he added anyone to his social circle. He put a photo of his brother as the DP. His brother was rich and handsome and all the girls chased him without mercy. He asked the girl he loved to befriend him.
“Hi! Nice to meet you! Your profile says your name is Mac. Do you have more photos of yourself? You are really handsome!”
“You are beautiful too.”
He didn’t know what to say to her. She kept a flood of chatter up and all he could write was, “Ok.”
“You are a typical male! Nothing to say!”
He could hear her laughing at him even though he couldn’t HEAR it and he could feel that she had no idea who she was laughing at. Then she did it: She sent him a nude snapshot.
He had become like all the other men she knew. Nothing. But more than that he saw his so-called ‘friends’. He insinuated himself into their conversations and asked about himself as one of his real-life friends, who also knew his real-life brother, asked him why he had two profiles.
“Hahahaha! It’s all for fishing you know? Hey where is Cato? Did any of you invite him?”
By this time the fake ‘Mac’ had a group chat with all of his old friends.
“Cato? He is a sad sack. He is creepy and we were only nice to him because of pity.” said one old friend. Pretty spoke up, “You shouldn’t talk about people that way he was a nice guy! The only thing wrong with him was that he was too needy.”
Cato listened to them talk about him. The REAL way they felt and he realized that none of them was a real friend and, with great sadness he realized he might never have really great friends.
No one noticed as he left the conversation.
He shut down his computer and he turned off his cell phone. He grabbed the hand rims on his wheel-chair and kicked the door open where he lived in public housing for the disabled and he wheeled into the bright sunshine outside. He smiled to himself and started towards the sidewalk. There was a main street that went nearby and he waited until the ‘Don’t Walk’ sign was flashing and he wheeled out into oncoming traffic during rush hour.
Cato was dead.
When the paramedics got there one asked the other one,
“Why is he smiling?”