The Observer


Words and illustrations by Corey Pandolph
Words and illustrations by Corey Pandolph

“… And this one is Priority Express,” the man says with a wet rasp, engulfed by what seem like thousands of small, medium and large Priority Mail boxes. The packages are spilling into the lane next to him, prompting stares and double-takes from the postal zombies and cattle. Our man has on baggy jeans and a signed Spider-Man t-shirt. His shoes are untied and unevenly worn from his slight bowleggedness, no doubt due to the extra 75 or so pounds he carries around. He has a poorly groomed goatee; unkempt, greasy hair; and an obvious skin condition. His fingernail cuticles are caked with dried blood – surely the result of picking his nose until it bleeds. The postal zombie hands him a pen to fill out the Express label that I believe he could’ve filled out earlier, thank you very much. As he’s writing, he scratches his neck and a snow flurry of skin trickles to the ground. The girl in line in front of me shifts her weight to her other leg and lets out a disgusted “eew.” 

I’ll name him Devin.

Our man Devin appears to be in his late 30’s, early 40’s. My theory is he lives in a basement apartment with his cat, Sailor Moon, and animatronic dog, Optimus Primal. He has vintage movie posters on his walls, including Tron and The Muppets Take Manhattan. He speaks fluent Klingon, but tries not to make that obvious. The majority of his friends are online. They spend their evenings playing online games and reading online comics. 

Devin looks like a proud nerd. I bet he holds down a decent job as a medical librarian at the hospital, and has been moved out of his mom’s basement for two years and six months now. He’s particularly proud of his recent sci-fi script writing. Having two stories published in Reader’s Digest has given him the confidence to submit some longer “treatments” for TV shows and movies. He likes to use the word “treatment” among his friends, then follow it up with, “It’s an industry term.” 

Devin is sweating through his worn-out t-shirt as he now systematically hands each box to the postal zombie. This is all part of his side business: eBay sales. He’s discovered that people are all about clever kitchen gadgets.

Back in December, Devin attended a comic convention that happened to be in the same building as a kitchen show. He stopped in hoping to find a toaster oven suitable for his late-night burrito binges and met Dan of the Go-Go Kitchen Gadget Co. After an hour of conversation, Dan and Devin found they have the same interests, many of the same friends, and have even played each other a few times in online Doom. The biggest difference between the two men, other than hygiene practices, is that Dan is married. Devin has yet to have more than a virtual relationship with a woman, and develops a severe sweating and stuttering problem when in close physical proximity to females. 

Dan offered Devin a deal on a bulk order, and Devin set up his eBay store the next day. Last year, he pulled down $42,000 in sales. His goals are to make enough to buy a house and just have the eBay business. He also hopes to conquer a female who’ll co-inhabit the home at some future time. 

Just as I’m daydreaming all this, Devin drops a box and bends down with a grunt to retrieve it. As he erects himself, a portly female postal zombie appears with a dolly to help with the boxes. “The third Spider-Man movie better feature Carnage, or I’m not going,” she declares by way of introduction. Devin smirks. Sweat forms afresh. Destiny’s so close you can smell it.