Little Eddie Gentry was a misunderstood teen. At age six, his parents divorced in a messy court battle. His mother ended up winning 95% custody due to his father's "questionable" habits and employments, all of which centered around Slashdot and the Open Source community.
By the time Eddie was 15, he had quite a few hobbies but no real friends. Eddie spent most of his time coding on an operating system called Linux and posting informative and interesting comments on Slashdot. Living in his mother's basement, Eddie stayed up all night learning new tips and tricks, desperately trying to become 1337 in a world in which he felt negelected.
Eddie's mother had been working two jobs since he could remember, and now that Eddie was about to start driving, she was going to look for another and had also been suggesting to Eddie that he start perusing the want-ads for a job for himself when he got his license. Naturally this left Eddie's mother with little time for Eddie; she rarely even dated for all she had time for was work, work, paying bills, and keeping up their two-bedroom condo. Without a male rold-model, Eddie was socially and personally confused and so felt more comfortable shirking the world and staying in his dark, musty basement most of the time.
Months after Eddie got his license, he grew even more disenchanted with the world. Thinking his license would lead to a more active social life, Eddie was disappointed when no girls were interested in the '85 maroon Dodge Omni he drove around; his homemade MP3 player he installed in his car didn't impress any of the guys in school either. The great gas mileage was no consolation. He grew more depressed and his grades slipped. The world was becoming dark in little Eddie Gentry's eyes. He sank into his Linux programming and Slashdotting more and more until he was ignoring his homework completely and regularly came to work (at a QuikTrip gas station) 20 or 30 minutes late just so he could post a few extra comments here or there on Slashdot.
Eddie was now 16 years old and knew only the feeling of the cold, damp basement and and hard work at the nearby QuikTrip; he never had felt the warmth of a woman's touch or the firm hug of a caring father. He'd never felt the burst of adrenaline the goalie feels in football when he sees the other team heading towards him; he'd never felt the teasing itch of a healing sunburn on his back. And at 16, Eddie was beginning to grow bitter and feel cheated by the lack of experience he had in life. He damned his father for being a sadistic asshole towards him as a baby, and he blamed his mother for worrying too much about him and the bills she always seemed to be talking about. He also blamed himself, though he didn't know why. And it showed in his Slashdot posts…
Re: Linux Kernel 2.4.12 Available (Score:-1, Flamebait)
by F4st Edd1e on Thursday January 10, @01:13 (#2848943) (User #551598 Info)
> time to download and compile, guys!
> Propz to Alan Cox and da man, Linus!
Who cares? This is the pits.
After several months spent in a non-stop downward spiral, Eddie gave up on real life and began writing CmdrTaco in desperation and loneliness. He talked about his life and the people he thought were cool, looking for approval from Rob Malda. What a poor thing to have attempted:
From: Rob Malda <email@example.com>
Date: Wednesday, January 02, 2002 03:13
To: F4st Edd1e <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: LOL Is This Cool?
> so i was wondering if you could let me start
> coding Slash components, maybe i could be an
> author or something. that'd be so fucken cool
> i couldn't even imagine it all the guys in my
> computer club would be sooo jealous
Eddie, I have no idea who you are. Why do you keep emialing me? I really don't give a shit what CDs you stole from Best Buy or that you cut yourslef to see if it hurts.
I'm ading you to my killfile.
-Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda
After getting similar responses from the other Slashdot editors, and realizing no one real or electronic would ever care about him, Eddie's resolve steeled. Unfortunantly, it was with a poor solution to his problems that he began planning for. But for the first time in his short life, Eddie felt the weight of the world ascend from his shoulders. He smiled for the first time in a long time, and people noticed. Especially Marie Swanson, a schoolmate and neighbor. Eddie noticed little and cared less, however, because his plan was so clever and would solve so many problems. He was proud of himself for the first time ever and it was all going to happen soon. Very soon.
It was April 19, 2002 when Eddie pulled into the gravel driveway late at night. Killing the lights, Eddie grabbed the brown paper bag in the driver's seat and stashed it under his black trenchcoat. He attempted to slide by his mother but she halted him, holding his hands in hers. She told him she was happy for him and that she was relieved that he was coming out of his shell. Eddie weakly smiled and told his mom things were hard sometimes. If only she knew. Eddie told her he'd be back up for dinner and quickly ran to his Linux workstation in the corner of the basement, and launched Mozilla 0.9.7.
12 minutes later, Mozilla and Slashdot were finished loading, and Eddie was looking for the latest story. Perfect! This new one, regarding more VA Software downsizing, was brand new and had no comments yet. With bated breath and sweaty palms, Eddie clicked the link and started typing his message into the text field. He trembled and shook as he typed, his fingers a blur on the keyboard. The intensity in his eyes was matched only by the emptiness behind them.
It had been an hour since Eddie came home and as usual, not a peep was heard from the basement. Eddie's mother stared at the sink, quietly going over the ingredients for tonight's dinner, Eddie's favorite dish: hot-dog and bean casserole covered in melted American cheese. She wanted to make something special for her little boy. She jumped as she was brought out of her trance by the phone ringing. She waited, thinking Eddie would pick it up, but as he sometimes wore headphones and listened to his music very loudly, she picked it up herself on the third ring. It was Marie Swanson, the neighbor girl.
"Is Eddie there?" came the timid voice on the other end. Eddie's mom said she'd get Eddie, but first she asked if she could tell him what it was regarding—Eddie was often stubborn about coming to the phone sometimes.
"I just wanted to ask Eddie if he'd like to join me and Lisa and her cousin Mike at the movies with us tonight. Tell him he can call me back later if he's busy, we didn't want to go until the seven-o-clock show anyway." With that, Eddie's mom was on her way down the stairs and calling Eddie's name. No reply came, so she assumed that this would be another round of turning the sound down on his stereo to get his attention. She couldn't have been wronger. What met her eyes was the worst site a mother could ever hope to see in her life. Even though he could have been asleep, she knew better.
Eddie was laying slumped over with his head restng on the keyboard, one arm under his head and the other, his left, hanging limply straight down. Spittle was slowly drying on his lower lip, and his eyes bulged out of his head in a ghastly manner. His skin was a sick light blue-purple color, which was obscured by the thick, clear plastic bag taped firmly around his neck. Attached to the bag by some tape was some fishtank air-pump tubing, which at its other end was connected to yet another bag containing some misty substance. The basement smelled like almonds.
Eddie was dead, a victim of himself.
The shrieks and cries heard that night were never forgotten by any of the neighbors. Eddie's mother's life would never be the same, and the school was closed in a day of mourning. Counseling was given freely all day for the next week as well, and Eddie's mother spoke at a memorial service for the school. Things were pretty straight forward, and everyone—especially Eddie's mom—went straight into dealing with the loss, nearly impossible as that is.
What Eddie's mother always assumed was that Eddie was angst-ridden and unhappy and had no healthy way to express this to anyone, and she blamed herself for this. Though this was genericaly true, Eddie's mother had missed something that night in her blind anguish. Had she looked a little closer at the computer her son lay dead in front of, she would have seen something very telling that could have given her more depth of understanding. Alas, she didn't, even though all it would have taken was a single click of the Back button. As it was, when they removed the computer for examination, there was evidence of one final attempt Eddie made to communicate his feelings to someone, somewhere. Like all of Eddie's other attempts in life, however, his attempt failed miserable.
Who knows, maybe Eddie would have waited just long enough for his mother to have made it downstairs had his comment been read? What a sad, frustrating life Eddie ended that night.
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