Read The Hedonist Online

Authors: A.L. Patterson

The Hedonist

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

“Too much of a good thing is a great thing.” That’s the motto that Shawn Stevens lived by. Having just turned 40 and wearing the sharpest suit money could purchase, he walked solely with confidence as he made his way up the flight of stairs leading to his brand new office. He had just been hired as a Professor of Political Science and Sociology at Ashmore Regents University and his office was just as spacious as promised. The large office contained only a desk, a computer, and a cabinet. It was up to him to furnish and adorn the rest.

              Immediately, Stevens decided he wanted a small leather sofa on one side of the room. A cream colored one would be perfect, he thought. He decided the best way to fill the wooden cabinet would be to stock pile it with books he had no interest in ever reading. Of course he would also hang his many degrees, including a PhD Magna Cum Laude, on the walls. He was quite amused by how little he had to do to earn it. You see, Shawn Stevens made his way through life based on quick wit and insurmountable charm.

***

              Shawn Stevens initially earned a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree while in his 20s. He proceeded to move back home with his mother Francine who needed financial support after a bitter divorce from her husband. Being inseparable from his mother, Stevens was happy to oblige.

The downside to moving back home was his mother’s strict overbearing nature. Though he was a grown man, Francine still treated him like a child. She wanted to know everything he did, everywhere he went, and would get tempered when he did not spend as much time with her as she’d liked. Stevens occasionally wondered if his mother’s suffocating personality was what caused the separation between his parents.

Conversely, he never got along with his distant father and if he had to choose between his parents, his mother was a no-brainer. On the positive side, Francine constantly lavished her son with praise and adoration. Her two other children had left the nest for good, so she was happy to have her baby boy Shawn with her at all times. She cooked breakfast for him every morning and prepared dinner every evening. She did his laundry and made his bed each day.

Although Shawn often got tired of her suffocating temperament, he felt the good outweighed the bad and always remained fully devoted to his loving mother.

After moving back home, he took a position as the manager of a post office but knew it certainly wasn’t something he wanted to do for the rest of his life. His co-workers did not get along with him and as manager he could rarely “anchor the ship.” But most of all, Stevens himself did not like the position. For him, there was simply no fun to be had at a post office.

              In his early 30s, Stevens continued to live with his mother while helping her pay bills. Their relationship remained the same but Stevens began to grow more and more depressed. He made numerous friends in college, people he considered close to him. But Stevens remained stagnant while they continued to grow.

All of his peers were moving up professional ladders and making maturational progress in their personal lives. Between the age of 27 and 33, Stevens attended over a dozen weddings. His buddies became independent married men while he never forged even a single committed relationship. The thought of marriage was as strange to him as it was to your average college freshman.

Stevens was becoming more and more estranged to his old friends with each passing day. He was alienated when they brought their wives along on outings and felt indifferent when the topic of their conversations turned to domestic recreation.

“Don’t you think it’s time to settle down,” a friend said one night at a bar.

“Nah, don’t think it’s for me,” Stevens would respond nonchalantly as he usually did.

“You’re not a kid anymore, Shawn. A committed relationship is progression, not a step back. Marriage shows maturity.”

“With who? Some woman that wants to control my every move?” Shawn said as he became somewhat irritated.

“No,” his friend balked, “That would be your mother.”

“You keep my mother out of this, you son of a bitch!”

That is how Stevens lost most of his friends. He was eventually divided from the people he befriended years ago and began serial dating different women to no success. ‘Unfulfilled’ was the only word he could use to describe himself.

For a period, Stevens would come home from work and simply spend the rest of the day with his mother. They had dinner together, watched television together, and he ran errands with her.

“I’m glad you’re done with those friends of yours,” his mother said while visiting her optometrist with her son.

“It just wasn’t working out,” Stevens told his mother.

“They’re bad news! And trust me when I tell you, marriage isn’t for everyone.”

“It’s not something I think I’m comfortable with right now.”

“Let me tell you, Shawn. I’m happier now than I was for the past 30 years with your father.”

“Maybe one day, though,” he said with vague confidence.

“The right girl will come along one day. Just take it one step at a time. You’re a good boy… you’re a strong person.”

His mother was always encouraging.

“Thanks mom,” he’d smile faintly.

As a young adult, he experimented with drugs as most people his age did. But when he reached 30, Shawn began a large pharmaceutical intake. It started with one Oxycontin each night. It made him feel better. It was a quick escape from the mundane life he lived as a post office manager who had no friends. When he was unable to find a lasting date or make dependable friends, the one Oxycontin he took a night gradually became two Oxycontins a night. Two a night then became three which then became four.

“Where is Shawn Stevens?” the post office staff would ask one another each morning when Shawn did not show up. He was still in bed, fast asleep at ten o’clock in the morning. His cell phone would ring constantly so he decided to silence it and force all calls to voicemail.

He would sluggishly wake up, place on his post office uniform, brush his teeth, eat his mother’s home cooked breakfast, and drive to work with his hair still unkempt and his body still indolent.

“Where the hell have you been, Stevens?” the newly minted co-manager of the post office would ask as the line of people mailing packages grew.

“I was just tired,” Stevens would yawn.

“You have a responsibility to show up on time, Stevens.”

“I’m a manager here too, Doyle. You don’t tell me what to do. Now get off my ass and go boss around the underlings!”

When other workers were absent, Stevens would have to man the counters. He’d take the customers’ packages and throw them into the large shipping area without a single care for fragility. Perhaps the tipping point, he allowed customers to use large labels of post office tape and boxes free of charge.

“That’s it,” the co-manager, Doyle, told him one day, “You’re terrible for business, Stevens.”

“What do you mean?” Shawn shot back. “Sure, I show up late every now and then but I do my job!”

“Every now and then? You’re late every day and you look high as a fucking kite!”

“I really don’t have time for an asshole like you, Doyle.”

Numerous complaints were eventually lodged against Stevens. The co-manager and other employees all agreed that they wanted him out. After enough complaints were formally filed, the region’s General Manager paid their post office a visit. Although Stevens made it to work on time that day, his eyes were glazed over, his hair untidy as ever, and he moved sluggish as always.

“We strive to represent only the utmost satisfaction in customer care and your work has not surpassed nor even met the bar that we have set. Mister Shawn Stevens, I’m afraid your services are no longer required,” the general manager told him on his final day.

While jobless, Shawn’s pill usage turned to heavier drugs until his mother confronted his erratic behavior.

“I don’t know what you’re on,” she told him during dinner, “but you can’t keep this up.”

“Mom, I have nothing.”

“You lose one job. So what? You are educated; you can find another job at the drop of a dime.”

“I’m not taking any old job. I don’t want to be treated like I was at the post office.”

“Stop the pity party. Pick yourself up, boy.”

As always, Shawn took his mother’s words to heart. He decided to seek out a job with few hours, decent pay, cool people and no required uniforms. The list of occupations that offered all of those perky aspects was small but Shawn was in luck when he found an instructor position open at a small community college.

The Community College was close to where he lived in Columbia, GA. The pay was $35,000 a year. He would only have to work four hours a day beginning at eleven o’clock. And best of all, he’d get to dress up. He wasn’t going to become rich, but he thought this job sounded pretty damn good.

After applying for the position, he was called back for an interview. Due to his Master’s degree in political science, he was perfectly qualified. The community college simply didn’t have enough money to pay individuals with PhD’s.

On the day of the interview, he shaved and wore a dress shirt, tie, and khakis. He grinned with the brightest smile God could give and the interviewer was immediately smitten. She was an older woman who wore a pink dress and pearls.

“So nice to meet you, Mr. Stevens,” she said.

“The pleasure is mine, Mrs. Singleton. And might I add that you look absolutely smashing in those lovely pearls.”

The smile she returned was so wide that one could have fit a full sized banana between it. He knew at that moment that the job was his.

“A little razzle and dazzle is all it takes,” he said to himself.

Before she offered him the position, they spoke for several more minutes. Observation was his first rule of thumb. Stevens looked around her office until something caught his eye. In one corner of her room were a set of Venetian masks. He used that to turn the discussion to something he was quite knowledgeable of.
              She was quite won over but she still had to ask him questions about his teaching method as well as the subject he would be teaching: political science.

Stevens was incredibly liberal but he knew he had to play his cards right down the middle to get what he wanted. He told her he was an objective gentleman whose lessons would be taught with cordiality and gentle frankness. It was everything she wanted to hear.

He was given a small office that he shared with another instructor. However, he didn’t like the idea of sharing an office so he rarely visited it. He purchased a few dress shirts and ties and prepared a quick lesson plan that he had no intent to follow. It was created solely for appearances.

When he started his new job, he was able to breeze through it and have a great deal of fun along the way.

“Political science? That’s easy,” he thought. “We’ll just discuss current events and political history.”

And that is exactly what he did in each of his classes. He brought up a topic and allowed the students to discuss it civilly. It was the easiest job he could have ever imagined. He improvised humorous lines throughout every class to his students’ enjoyment.

His classes were occupied almost entirely by students aged 18-24 and absolutely nothing delighted him more. He viewed himself as on the same wavelength as them. After all, he himself had not matured much past the age of 20.

He was as pop-culture savvy as any 18 year old and the students damn near idolized him for it. Like many of them, he hopped from date to date and lived with his mother. He knew every new music icon and movie star just as well as his students did. They couldn’t relate to many people they considered older adults but he was the rare exception.

Before long, he was exchanging phone numbers with many of his students and hanging out with them on the weekends. With young friends, he was having the time of his life. They were on a first name basis with him when he’d go to bars and buy many of them rounds.

His ambition quickly grew. If he could do this at a community college, why not at a bigger college in a larger city? He decided to return to college to earn a PhD in his favorite subject: political science. He took the majority of courses online. The track for a Political Science PhD was intended to take four years but Stevens was able to do it in three. He B.S.’d his way through the research papers, which was the majority of required work for obtaining such an advanced degree.

He attended classes once a week on the weekends and used the same patented charm on his professors. The research work he turned in was almost entirely fabricated. He’d skim through mountains of actual research and take out small tidbits of real information. He would then cobble it with an abundance of fictitious information.

The key was to over-source. If he included fifty sources within a single paper, he knew no professor would take the time to read every word of all fifty articles. He assumed they would take his word for it and he assumed right.

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