“The red ones, though, they reminded me of hard candy. The sort I bought for a nickel a piece at the Gold Nugget. Every weekend my older brother and I headed there for the small arcade tucked in the back. While he pushed quarter after quarter into the machines, I spent my nickels on candy. So the red ones tasted of childhood,” begins the story I’ve deemed the first in the Nietzsche stories.

I started writing the Nietzsche stories sometime in college. Or before college. “God is Dead” was the first tale and told the story of two guys sitting in the Cafe on 42nd Street discussing fidelity. The narrator, whose name is never revealed (and to this day remains only as N.U.—Narrator Unknown), argues that he is in love with his girlfriend, while The Poet—a character who I created after high school, though his story (no matter how many attempts I’ve made to tell it) never got off the ground. It wasn’t a complicated story, and the ending was pretty obvious when N.U. picks his head off the table and finds himself sitting alone. “God is Dead” went off to become “Ash Wednesday” which went off to becoming “Digging Graves.” The Poet no longer something metaphysical and N.U. became less together. The relationship problem between Samantha—originally inspired by my exgirlfriend, Jessica, but became a person of her own (though the red hair remains)—remains and the affair with Amie is mentioned.

Originally, Amie was carved in Jeanna’s image. Much like Samantha, though, the less like Jeanna she became the more I began to love her. Her character died at the end of her story, hit by a trailer and smeared into the the asphalt. The only thing remaining to identify her were the teeth. Richard Yañez advised me to drop the death scene completely. Let the character die, but later down the line when the Narrator left the city. Most of the Amie tale, which I often called the Opossum Story, was lent off to other tales.

I set off to write a tragic love story without the love. A tale that once depicted an alternate version of me. But as I read through the pages of “Punkrocker,” which I consider the last of the stories, I realized that’s not what I want anymore.

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