One of the Most Anticipated Small Press Books of 2018 (Big Other)
"Timmy Reed writes like a whacked-out angel." —Amber Sparks, author of The Unfinished World and May We Shed These Human Bodies
Miles Lover is an imaginative but insecure adolescent skateboarder with an unfortunate nickname, about to face his first semester of high school in the fall. In Kill Me Now, Miles exists in a liminal space—between junior high and high school, and between three houses: his mother's, his father's, and the now vacant house his family used to call home in a leafy, green neighborhood of north Baltimore. Miles struggles against his parents, his younger identical twin sisters, his probation officer, his old friends, his summer reading list, and his personal essay assignment (having to keep a journal). More than anything, though, he wrestles with himself and the fears that come with growing up.
It's not until Miles begins a mutually beneficial friendship with a new elderly neighbor—whom his sisters spy on and suspect of murder—that he begins to find some understanding of lives different than his own, of the plain acceptance of true friends, and, maybe, just a little of himself in time to start a whole new year. When you're green, you grow, he learns. But when you're ripe, you rot.
With tenderness and tenacity, Timmy Reed's prose—written in a confessional tone via Miles's journal—captures the anguish and grit of adolescence, and the potential of growing up.
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About the Author
TIMMY REED is a writer, teacher, and native of Baltimore, Maryland. He received his MFA from University of Baltimore. Timmy is the author of the books Tell God I Don't Exist, The Ghosts That Surrounded Them, Miraculous Fauna, Star Backwards, and IRL. His short fiction has appeared in many places including Necessary Fiction, Atticus Review, Curbside Splendor, and Volume 1 Brooklyn, as well as featured in the Wigleaf Top 50 on multiple occasions. In 2015, he won the Baker Artist Awards Semmes G. Walsh Award. He teaches English at Stevenson University and Community College of Baltimore County and English as a Second Language at Morgan State University.
Read an Excerpt
One time I tried keeping track of the things that happened to me in a journal. I figured that I'm gonna be OLD and DEAD one day and the only way of making sure that anything would get remembered by me or anyone else was if I wrote it down and since nobody else could do it for me I took on the job myself. I charged a composition book on my parents' account at the school store. It had black and white speckles on the cover. It looked like TV static. I wrote my name inside.
The first few entries were daily. I would write the date at the top of every one. That sort of detail felt important. Sometimes the entries were short and sometimes they kind of like rambled, but they were never very good. The journal was boring because nothing exciting ever seemed to happen and I usually forgot to write about it afterwards when it did. Or I'd try to write it out as accurately as I could but it'd just end up seeming dull and even sort of made-up when I went to reread it. So I stopped writing in the book everyday. Instead of listing all the dumb little events that happened, I tried to write about my FEELINGS when I had them instead. I wouldn't have to be so meticulous or disciplined if I was going to write about FEELINGS, was what I figured. But I had problems with that too, because I didn't actually HAVE that many SPECIFIC feelings to speak of. And whenever I did feel something it was just like what I was talking about earlier. I'd forget the details afterward - whatever made the feeling seem important in the first place - like the way you forget a dream when you go to replay it in the morning.
And a lot of the time I was just too lazy to write in my journal. Whenever I would get a feeling down on paper, it'd come off as stupid or shallow or embarrassing to have even had in the first place. Unworthy. And then there were the times when I knew there was stuff I should've put in the journal but when I sat on my bed and tried to write it out, I couldn't do it. I was scared or something. Even though I knew nobody else was going to read it. And even then I doubt they could decipher my handwriting. One thing about me is that I was never what you call particularly courageous. And my script is fucking awful.
Anyway the journal sucked and after a while I ended up tossing it out with the trash. The notebook was mostly empty anyhow. I was probably nine or ten years old at the time. Now the whole thing seems pretty fucking stupid. But then again, here I am writing this stuff down in a composition book just like when I was a little kid so I guess I'll let you figure out who and what stupid is for yourself. I let most people call me 'Retard' for instance, although my real name is Miles Lover.*
I don't know how people started calling me Retard. A lot of people get called that I'm sure. I say it all the time for instance. But for some reason with me the name stuck and even managed to take on the status of a proper noun. Maybe it was my handwriting. Maybe not. When I was little I thought it was on account of the purple birthmark that covers my right eye like a bruise. My mother calls it a 'winespot.' Having a winespot doesn't mean I'm actually retarded or anything like that, but I used to be pretty fucking sensitive about it. So I guess I just assumed it had something to do with my nickname. Now that I'm older and not such a pussy about it, I realize it's probably something else. It might be I'm called 'Retard' because of the way it fits in front of my last name, but I doubt it. There are other things that would fit better, make more sense, like Dick...Maybe it's because I talk too loud. People are always making signs at me to lower my voice. And I vomit often. I get dizzy and nauseous. Especially this time of year. Allergies, I think. The pollen is awful. The whole world is yellow-green around the edges. I sneeze. It's everything else too. My fingers bleed because I bite my nails. I'm always spitting on the sidewalk. I draw on my sneakers and the back of my hands when I ought to be listening to people that are smarter than me. I fidget. I chew on my pens until they explode in my mouth and the ink gets stuck in the cracks between my teeth and people laugh. My shoelaces are always coming untied. I sweat in my sleep and wake up very cold. My short-term memory sucks donkey wang. Everything I touch somehow gets lost. People tell me I look confused. I'm always getting in trouble for it, for not listening. I exist in a constant state of reprimand. I squint...But fuck all that. I don't know. It's gotta be something else. Something bigger. Something about me. A quality. Something that shouts: RETARD!
Anyway, people are always introducing me to strangers that way. And I don't bother to correct them. I'm too proud.
They must have started calling me Retard when I was pretty young I think, because I remember hearing it a whole lot when I was a kid...I thought I was so damn clever back then. My favorite thing was to be completely literal about stuff, which would really get under peoples' skin. That's probably why I did it in the first place. For instance, whenever somebody called me 'ignorant' I'd explain how 'ignorant' means 'untaught' and that I was quite well-educated for my age, which was like seven or eight or whatever. Likewise, the first few times anyone called me 'retarded' I probably told them the word meant 'slow' before running off at top speed, grinning like a lunatic.
So I guess I was pretty retarded as a little kid or whatever, but who isn't? And this thing with being really literal about everything was only a phase thank god. After that I didn't say anything when people called me ignorant or retarded. I embraced it. 'Retard' was even sewn on the back of my windbreaker after my rec league lacrosse team won the 'C' division championship in sixth grade. Miles 'Retard' Lover. My coach got WAY ANGRY about it though. I felt bad because I figured he probably knew somebody for real retarded. And I had reminded him of a bad situation or whatever. Don't worry, I stopped wearing the jacket after that. I'm not some kind of asshole.*
I'm a total insomniac, especially during summer. I'm partially nocturnal. I can't help it. Since I'm not old enough to drive yet and a lot of my friends still have curfews, I end up alone a lot real late at night, although sometimes somebody will sleep over or something and then I won't be. Anyway this means I'm usually up doing all kinds of crazy shit when the rest of the world is sleeping. Like a vampire. Or a opossum.
Well, not that crazy. But a lot of skateboarding and fireworks and listening to music and smoking weed. And maybe getting a little bit weird too, you know...Sometimes things just seem crazier when you're all alone in the middle of the night is all, like everything is charged up with electricity. It's easy to freak yourself out in these situations. It's kind of like being a little kid again. Things are scary. Not that I believe in monsters or anything. Not really. But you can get worked up enough that it sometimes FEELS like crazy shit is happening late at night. So you stay away from certain shadows or little places while you're out walking or skating around. Sometimes it's like you're being watched. Or followed. Like stalked. Not because there's actually anything that you ought to be scared of, you just get freaked out is all. I'd say it was the weed making me paranoid, but I remember things being that way a lot before I ever even tried smoking it.
But mostly I just stay up and watch skate videos and look at magazines. Sometimes I secretly set up my GI Joes in front of this rad homemade wartime panorama, complete with fake blood and exploding land mines drawn in paint pen, with spaghetti intestine and all sorts of body parts flying everywhere, which I made back when I was still into all that stuff but have secretly kept in my closet ever since. If my sisters have any of their friends over then I might wander in and fuck around with them awhile to kill time. But the point is, I like to stay up a lot, especially during summer.*
Secret: When I was just a little guy, I used to be so scared of my dad that I would lie awake at night praying that The Rock would come over and kick his ass. It's not like that anymore. He seems more pathetic now. Not The Rock, my dad. Although The Rock seems sort of sad too.
Curfew in Baltimore City is supposedly midnight. It only applies to us kids though. And I've only been brought home for curfew once. They rang my doorbell and woke my parents up. My folks were still living together in our old house at the time. My father tried to be polite I guess, but he was groggy. He just sort of grunted and let me inside. My mother offered to fix the police some coffee. The fuzz said no thank you and split. I went back out like ten minutes later.
I've never been arrested in Baltimore City, but the county has gotten me twice. One time for skateboarding in Towson, on the ledges outside of the courthouse. They grabbed me and a few other kids and confiscated our boards until trial. I had to do community service to get mine back. Lining the soccer fields at some lame elementary school. By that time I already had a new board, but they made me do it anyway.
The next time I got popped was also in Towson. I was standing outside the movie theater when a fight broke out between some older goth kid and a boy I used to play rec league lacrosse with. I wasn't on either side of the fight. I was just watching. I usually stick around to watch a fight when it happens. They don't usually last very long. Anyway, a cruiser rolled up and two young police officers got out. The fight stopped immediately. But for some reason, because I'm stupid I guess, I took off running. If I'd thought about it I would've stayed put. Blended into the crowd. I hadn't done anything wrong. But I never think when I'm supposed to. Instead I take off running. When the pig caught me, he had his gun drawn. Like I was some kind of threat. I'm a pretty small dude, for Chrissakes, and I was running. Cops are such dickheads. Being in control gives them a hard-on. And they're always looking for someplace to ram it. Anyway, they searched me down and found a half-pint of bourbon that I was going to bring into the movie. Plus a gram of shwag. I had to go to court again. I had the same lawyer as before, he was one of my mother's friends. I ended up getting a P.B.J., but I had to see a case manager once a month and regularly attend Ala-Teen meetings, which is basically the same thing as AA, but for kids.