“Quartz” by Alex Branson

I saw UnlimitedTerry walk into the living room holding a puppy and muttering, with that kind of outer space look in the eyes that certain dudes get when they have conditions, and he didn’t speak up or look at us or nothing. UnlimitedTerry was just holding this puppy and looking back and forth, but totally avoiding mine and BigCrystalDon’s eyes.

UnlimitedTerry was his username. His real name was Terry. We knew each other and BigCrystalDon from a hockey web forum we both posted on for a couple years. UnlimitedTerry was my roommate now. We lived in a two-person apartment up in Chicago, near Wrigleyville.

I was wary about meeting strangers on the internet at first but it was pretty cool. I knew that Terry and Don had met like a year before I did, all three of us posting on the web forum. Don would come over a lot and that is how we met.

When Terry was holding the puppy, Don put down these pure quartz healing crystals he was showing me and said, “dang, dude.”

Terry just held the puppy and opened his mouth a few times like he was about to say something, and stopped. It was kind of scary. We waited for Terry to speak but he just kind of frowned and walked into his room with the puppy. We frowned.

“See, lots of people say pure, clear quartz is the best, but it took me awhile before I started using it. I’m kind of a skeptical person—“
“Don, aren’t you curious about the dog?”
“Yes, I am, but if I don’t finish what we started it will bother me more than the dog thing will.”
“Okay,” I said.

Don was a little overweight. He kind of had this brown hair flecked with buts of blonde in it, all long, about to his shoulder. He walked with a limp in his ankle that he never talked about. He dressed pretty cool, though. He wore these old bowler hats he got from the fifties and would always tip his hat to people when he walked in the door. Don talked a lot about wanting a girlfriend. I kind of did too, even though it is a depressing thing to talk about. I had sex in college a couple times, but never really had a good girlfriend. We were both on dating sites, though, even though we both didn’t like the idea of them.

UnlimitedTerry had a girlfriend though. She was kind of mean. She hated Don and tolerated me, I guess. I didn’t know. She wouldn’t talk to me or Don but Don was certain that he hated her.

“It’s all about energy, dude. I’m not big on when people talk about chakras, I mean, it just sounds like hocus pocus to me. But energy is something real that constantly flows through you. These crystals are great at absorbing, dispersing, and mending energy. And radiation, too, dude. Radiation is real and these crystals can either stimulate background radiation to heal, like if you have cancer or something, or completely negate it to, uh, prevent cancer. I wear one on me at all times, and so should everyone, basically.”
“How does it heal?”
“You just got to rhythmically, slowly, just hover it over your bod, dude. It’s all the energy, dude, let it do the work. It disperses the negative energy inside of you, you feel better pretty quick. It’s better to get someone to do it to you than do it to yourself, though. I have this girl in Lakeview who does it. She’s got training in chiropractic care and eastern medicine. It’s only about fifty bucks per session.”

I sat down and thought about energy. I didn’t really know what it meant, but I knew I felt certain pulsations throughout the day, or like a slight buzzing in my hand, and thought that that could relate, somehow, that the energy would be inside of me whether I knew it or not. I was hungry, though, and couldn’t really think. I wondered if hungry was a kind of energy.

My hands were kind of sweaty thinking about UnlimitedTerry and that weird dog and Don kept talking about these healing crystals so I just kind of put my hand out and stopped Don from talking more. He was taken aback a bit and seemed kind of genuinely hurt.

“Listen, Don, I’m sorry, but – Don why don’t we see if Terry needs the crystals. He is acting weird.”
“We could do it on the puppy, too. Animals like healing crystals, I read. They appreciate it and don’t have the same judgments.”

I knocked on Terry’s door. He actually had a cool poster on his front door that said ‘UnlimitedTerry’ on it. He said he ordered it off the internet and it wasn’t very expensive. I would have done it too, probably, but my username was only IslandersFan2002; it wasn’t nearly as cool as Terry’s.

I was kind of sweating a lot, now, just from the nervousness. Like, it wasn’t visible on my t-shirt or nothing, but I could feel it on my lower back and up in my pits. It actually wasn’t that bad at all, but I felt it, and that made me think about it.

Terry just kind of slivered the door open. The pup was visible on his bed. I kind of forgot what to say so Don spoke first.

“Were doing healing crystals, dude. Want to hang out?”

Terry was the best looking out of us, I think. He talked about how he could pick up girls. I had never seen it, though, I didn’t drink much. The bars they went to were very annoying, and loud. Every once in a while I would have a craft beer that my uncle in St. Louis made, though. He said I could work for him at one point, too, but I worked in a warehouse for one the university’s and had insurance and vacation time that I didn’t want to throw away.

Terry had this sort of dirty blonde hair that he kept cropped on top of his head, and basically shaved the sides. Not with like a razor or anything, but you could see the skin on the side of his head through the hair. It was like a half-inch long up top, though. And he shaved every day.

“I took her dog,” Terry said.
“Who’s dog?”
“Samantha’s, dude.”

Samantha was UnlimitedTerry’s girlfriend. She didn’t use the web forum, but knew about it, I think.

“Why?” Don said.
“She tried to break up with me,” Terry said.
“Tried?” I said.
“She broke up with me. And like, I took the dog. She got it when we were dating, and, I was mad, and I kind of said it was both of our dog, and I took it. She is calling and I can’t answer. I just can’t.”

Everything was real still and sad. It was like, I don’t know, placid water in a cave somewhere. Like the clearest image we could get of the scenario was by undisturbed silence. We shuffled around like this for about six seconds.

“I’ll take it back,” Don said.
“What?” I said.
“She already hates me,” Don said.
“She doesn’t hate you. She barely knows about you guys.”
“She hates me. So I take the dog back and calm the scenario—“
“Is that a good idea?” I asked Terry.
“I don’t know, dude, but I think—“
“Something first,” Don said.

BigCrystalDon grabbed the dog and placed him on the center of the kitchen table. He grabbed two baseball-sized chunks of white quartz and closed his eyes.

“What are you doing?” said UnlimitedTerry.

This part was scary, but also a little cool. Terry just kind of watched. I got real close to the table, you know, just with my eyes even level on the table, looking at the crystals and the dogs, and just like, really watched. Not a normal kind of watching, you know? Real intuitive stuff, just trying to digest what I was seeing. It was really cool. But still scary just cause we were all so confused and we kind of realized that Terry had done something illegal.

He looked like he was weaving something above the dog. It was a little golden retriever puppy, about thirty pounds, and it kept staring at the crystals, but it didn’t move, you know? Like it knew what was going on. Like, Don just kept doing these ornate patterns above the dog, real calm and smooth looking, and eventually the dog just kind of laid down and glanced side to side at Terry and I.

Like, you couldn’t see any energy, but you knew it was there. The dog was responding to something. And like, it was cool too because the ceiling light made the rough edge of the quartz sparkle a bit, and it glistened like it was wet even when it wasn’t. Don was quiet the whole time, too, eyes closed, just concentrating, slowly hovering the quartz over the lower back of the dog, sliding the quartz along even sides of the dogs legs, totally hitting every spot on the little animal, and just basically working over the dog perfectly.

“What was that for?” Terry asked. But it wasn’t rude, not like he was mad either; his voice had this calm reverence to it. He was just trying to figure the whole scenario out.

Don opened his eyes.

“This was some bad trauma, probably,” he said, “like, not to accuse you of hurting the animal or anything, but it could have been… stressful.”

Don picked up the little dog. It licked at his face, too. It was kind of scrambling around and Don had to hold it this weird way. He nodded towards the door. The door knocked. Not the door itself, I mean, someone behind it. We all kind of stood around and looked at each other, all unsure. Don put the dog on the table next to the clear quartz. It was Samantha, behind the door. We heard her yell through the wall.

“I want my dog, you fucked up weird assholes.”

BigCrystalDon walked towards his crystals and slid his crystals into his pocket.

Profile: Alex Branson

Support Alex’s novel, Dandruff on Kickstarter!

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