This is a scene I cut from Too Stupid to Live because it really didn’t need to be in the book, but I love it, and I think it will give you a good idea of what type of person Sam was before.
In this scene, Sam’s remembering the way his relationship with his previous boyfriend, Marley, had ended. If you’ve already Too Stupid to Live, you already know Marley’s a slimeball. If not, this will give you a pretty clear picture.
One day Sam had looked in from the kitchenette where he’d been cooking something to order for Marley—sprawled on the couch drunk and stoned at 5:30—and saw a pyramid of beer cans on the table. He watched Marley lean forward with a wobbly arm, trying to place that tenth can on the top. His gut got in the way, hitting the edge of the coffee table, causing a quake that toppled the pyramid while simultaneously overbalancing Marley. He belly-flopped onto the floor with a WHOMP! Face-down, empty cans raining down on him.
“Sam!” Marley shouted against the rug. Sam tilted his head to get a better view. He could have sworn Marley’s gut hadn’t been that big last month. He’d performed that maneuver successfully multiple times before. “Sam! Get yer lazy ass in here and help me pick up these Goddamned cans!”
He almost moved. Sam’s right leg tensed, ready to take that step. But he didn’t. Something snapped into place for him. Maybe it was the sound of the bacon and eggs sizzling on the stove behind him (“breakfast for dinner”) meeting the wall of sound from the game Marley was watching. Or the way that one can on Marley’s back seeped out beer, a small wet spot spreading across his shirt. Sam could smell it mixing with Marley’s sweat even ten feet away. The stale kind of sweat Marley always smelled of.
In retrospect, Sam thought it was the way the light had picked out the scene, mostly. It was bright enough that the television had to fight to be seen from the couch, and the room was full of hazy air from recent bong hits and dust kicked up when Marley hit the floor. It made everything look yellow and seedy. If he were a film director and he wanted to show the squalor of some woman’s life in the lead-up to the scene where she was beaten to death by her man? That was how he would want the set to be lit.
“Sam! You fuckwad!” Marley was ineffectively pushing himself up on his arms. His beer gut was too-efficient a fulcrum.
Sam turned around and shut off the stove. He untied his apron and slipped it over his head, then threw it on the counter.
“Sam! Sweartagod, the next time you want some I’m gonna—”
“I’m going to Nik’s. I need to go over there.” Sam stepped out of the kitchen. Marley was frozen on the floor, elbows in the air. The only thing that moved was that creeping beer stain and the action on TV.
“I need you, Sam, you motherfucker!”
Maybe, maybe, if Marley had meant that he needed Sam. Then he might have stayed. But Marley just needed someone to help him off the floor.
“I’ll call Carl on my way to Nik’s. He can help you.” He was almost positive Marley was cheating on him with Carl. As much as someone who was high and drunk most of the time could cheat on anyone. He walked to the door through the bubble of surprise that enveloped Marley.
“I’m sure he’ll be happy to take care of you.”
He opened the door.
“Sam, Goddamnit, I forbid you to leave!”
He shut the door behind him with a click.
The following morning, when he got home from crying on Nik’s shoulder all night about the state of his life, Marley was gone.
What a relief.
Those were some good times, eh?