The Sun God by Paul Fey

Here, on the eastern seaboard of the United States, lives a species unlike any other: the

unemployed 20-something-year-old. Today, we are talking about the male: his behaviors are

erratic, staying up until one in the morning to work on a hobby that will, more likely than not,

never see the light of day. He may stir several times before finally waking up, often preceded by

a guttural exercising of the throat, before finally on his feet. Drained of energy, he ingests more

than one cup of coffee and moves at a lethargic pace. At one point, he may ritualistically crack

his knuckles before writing 15 to 30 cover letters and applying to as many jobs.


A gigantic weight of dread sits upon those thin shoulders. If he isn’t crushed now, he will

begin to panic and start freelancing. An equally horrible fate. During which, the unemployed 20-

something spends more time pitching jobs than actually working, and even when he is, his labor

yields much less than minimum wage. At this rate, if he doesn’t get a job, he won’t survive.


And for this one, here, the stakes are even higher: He cannot move back in with his

parents, or friends for that matter. In the next room, his mate sleeps next to their offspring. Just 6

months old. He was an English major, she, a Psych major. Yes, their situation is bleak indeed.


Today, the unemployed 20-something-year-old returns from a job interview in the City,

whose questions and subsequent rejection could have been done over the phone. He is perspiring

from the late-summer heat in a suit and tie, passing the crane sanctuary, where the elegant birds

stand tall among cast-off cigarettes and dented hubcaps—and sweating the fact that, after the

Metro-North, he is down to $85.58 in his account. In fact, the unemployed 20-something is so

isolated in his thoughts that he doesn’t hear the lurking Jaguar, revving its engine at the red light,

just on the other side of the Fairfield-Bridgeport divide.


As a resident of Bridgeport, he naturally jaywalks. In a flash, the Jaguar is upon him. He

doesn’t stop. The Jaguar screeches to a stop, and, inches away from his leg, emits its horn.

Unscathed, the unemployed 20-something gives him the bird.


His fate, for now, still undecided…


For Pisces, the approach of a very sudden, major life event may drastically change the

ways you think about yourself and the people around you. Certain situations may arise that seem

to be at odds with you—or obstructions to your path. But that just means you need to follow your

course or pursue a better one if it comes up. Stay cool, and you’ll get through it, and set yourself

up for great future successes. This is all occurring because the eclipse is approaching. It will be a

time of great transition—for the better, or for the worse. Pisces, it will be too hard for you to go

it alone. Find your complementary sign, Virgo, and lean on them for strength. And on and on

like that…


“So we’re absolutely fucked,” Dahlia scrolls through her phone as she nurses their

Capricorn.


“How so?”


“We’re both Pisces!”


“I don’t believe that shit—just because when you were born, the fiery balls of energy in

the sky circling the earth at different rotating points are supposed to have some sort of effect on

my life? Like what if you’re mom pushed you out just fifteen minutes earlier—your fate would

be entirely different? Come on.”


“Noel, the universe is always trying to speak to you.”


“What’s it saying?”


“That we’re fucked.”


Dahlia keeps scrolling, as Noel tosses his nautically-themed tie on the bed and puts his

navy suit back on the hangers. He flops down next to her as she reads aloud celebrity gossip.

“I wanted to buy the glasses to watch the eclipse. But now they’re like $25.”


“And we’re broke.”


“Exactly.”


The Pisces who vibrates at a higher frequency will be able to correctly intuit the worries

of the people close to them. And when they voice these anxieties or make passionate outbursts

out of seemingly nowhere, the highly vibrating Pisces will react calmly, always giving the

benefit of the doubt.


Low-vibrating Pisces on the other hand, such as Noel, who lack security will cause

explosive friction because they mistakenly perceive a slight in any small question, like Dahlia

asking him later that night if spending his time writing a short story for a prize is the best use of

his time.


“It’s a thousand dollars!”


“But what if you don’t win?”


“How come you don’t believe in me anymore?”


“It’s just, you need a job…”


“You don’t think I’m trying?”


Besides delusions of grandeur, the inferior Pisces is also prone to escapism. And so, the

low-vibrating little shit slammed the door behind him and drove to St. Mary’s By the Sea, the

looping path, where he parked and walked along a rock wall above the ocean and smoked the

cigarettes that he had, supposedly, given up.


When he looked at the dark water and the moon shining above it, he felt like nothing

more than a single organism of a species. He did that for some time. Then he turned and faced

the magnificent houses, the gleaming stars like an ornate background behind the long regal roof,

rows of black shutters, the white colonial columns at the entrance, an American flag that swayed

gently, a long, downward-sloping brick path that was eventually hidden by the verdant hedges

and a steel black gate. If only he had been born to a home just 15 miles closer to the sea… 


Noel didn’t always understand that some levels of opulence were virtually denied to him

at birth. In high school, Noel and Dahlia used to drive around the beaches of Westport and

Fairfield, smoking weed and slowing down for the homes they liked best.


“Can you believe that one?” Dahlia would say, pointing at ocean-front verandas, walls of

glass through which you could see spacious rooms with elegant décor. Sometimes they would

disagree: it was too big, or they didn’t love the color, as if they would ever turn down any house

like this.


The last time they drove through Westport’s beach-side avenue, Dahlia, a bit misty-eyed,

said, “Do you remember how naïve we used to be? How confident we were that we could

someday live in a house like this, that we would just transcend the money problems of our

parents. How open everything in life seemed to us?”


In those easy days, Noel was fixated on the abstracts of death and eternity. He had

nightmares that he was lost, alone, isolated at the edge of the universe, watching stars age and

implode and turn into black holes, and new stars born in their stead. Nothing else worried him.

He finishes his cigarette and stares at the black gate, in particular.


When he gets back home, Noel finds yet another rejection: Dahlia asleep, facing the wall.

He opens his laptop and closes the draft of his short story and instead heads to Indeed. Every

time Noel logs on, the job board tells him to get real, kid: even though he searches exclusively

for copywriting, copyediting, and other marketing positions, they target him with ads to sign up

for Uber. He would have done it months ago if only his car were a year younger.


Tonight, though, the ad is for Entry Level Solar Marketing and Sales Representative, a

position which, above all requires a self-driven and highly motivated individual, who could make

up to 90k per year. I could be self-driven and highly motivated.


After he applies, he dicks around online for a few hours. On YouTube, before “Eric

Andre’s MOST SAVAGE Moments,” Noel is served a video ad. It’s a 40-something-year-old

man in a designer sweatshirt whose sleeves have been fashionably cut off. He has a light, patchy

beard but there’s no mistaking him for haggard; he has the tan of a man who recently visited a

tropical island, and the sun, in the video, is visibly beaming down onto his face. “Here, I am in

my living room, and this is where it all starts: making a plan for success. I hear people

complaining about the life they live, and how they can’t stand it. Stop complaining, make a plan.

Think big.” Then back to his brilliant, regal living room. “And then, I believe this, the greatest

determining factor for your success is hard work. Hard. Work.”


He gets the job. It took $25 dollars to fill up on gas to get to the interview at an eerily

empty office park in Shelton and merely several head nods to win the interviewer over. He was

an extremely fit 28-or-so-year-old specimen with compact pectoral muscles under his tight, black

Trinity Solar polo. Just as transparent were his corporately sponsored lies: “You’re lucky you

applied when you did because we’re just launching this pilot program, and if you do well, you’re

going to make a big difference in the company, and be a rising star here.”


The next day is training—if you are a detail-oriented individual, you already know that

the eclipse is just one day away. Noel sits in one of three rows, full of former part-time

employees, failed artists, desperate dads like himself, an ex-Marine. In front of them is a twenty-

something-year-old presenter who is thin, brown-haired, a bit vain-looking, but otherwise

agreeable.


“You’re going door to door. What do you do? Stand at the door and ring the doorbell? If

you stand like that, you’re going to make them feel trapped. Their next thought is fight or flight.

Evolution. I’m no biologist, but that’s how humans are. They’ll either try to escape the

conversation with an excuse or just fight you at every turn. Instead, turn sideways so that,

physically and mentally, they aren’t trapped,” he demonstrates and smiles winsomely at them,

Hi, I’m here on the Energy Council of Connecticut and I just wanted to see if you got the mailer

that we sent? That’s a yes or no question. It puts them on the spot. Either way, they have to go

onward. They can’t escape because they’re on your path now. See it’s this game. They want you

to get off their porch, you want to get into the house and close the deal.”


At night, Noel flips through the company literature. It doesn’t just welcome him to the

family—it made a great deal about how specifically they had chosen ‘you,’ along with all their

employees. Then, on the back page, his suspicions were confirmed: The company was founded

by a devout family of faith; Trinity did, indeed, stand for the triune godhead.

Without an ounce of faith in anything, Noel hypothetically aligns his new job to his

horoscope: perhaps there is no tragedy waiting for him on the other side of the eclipse; perhaps

everything is finally turning his way. 90k for a chosen, highly-motivated Pisces, such as himself?

And if a benevolent God had randomly selected him for his blessing, so much the better.


The day of the eclipse, Noel meets his local team at their office in the saddest, dustiest

corner of Stratford—a former motel that had been renovated into an office building. The

Salesmen are split up, two-by-two, then two pairs carpool together, to go forth and prosper.

Noel’s partner is Trevor, a twenty-something-year-old with blonde-dyed hair that he flips often.

They drive with the ex-Marine and his partner Kandi, whose racist road rage nauseates Noel as

much as her driving.


He doesn’t feel much better with the fresh air. As Noel and Trevor approach their first

house, he forces his himself to smile—the trainer said just smile no matter how you feel inside

because the hollow act still releases endorphins and you’ll genuinely feel better. Because

evolution. Noel still feels like shit.


“It’s an easy job,” Trevor reassured him as he rang the doorbell. They both stood

sideways on either side of the door. “As long you don’t fuck right off with the first sign of

negativity, you can make a killing—Hi there, I’m with the Connecticut Energy Council…


As the sun follows its path around the earth, the moon in between, Trevor and Noel criss-

cross the streets, knocking on doors, getting rejected one after another. They wind around the

streets, closer and closer to the ocean by Bridgeport’s Seaside Park. He can hear the vague

staticky beat of speakers at the beach, where it’s overcrowded on the weekends and there’s

always one couple, covered mostly by the waves, kissing too passionately for comfort. The 

familiar salty smell comes to him on a warm breeze.


They take a break. Trevor puffs on an e-cigarette and complains, “A bunch of poor fucks. I thought 

it was gonna be good around here. Talk to my landlord. Fucking tenants.”


“Are you going to watch the eclipse today?”


“That’s today?” Trevor says and looks up into the sky. “I don’t see anything.”


“It starts in like ten minutes… But you’re not supposed to look at it unless you have

special glasses.”


“Not worth it.”


“Well, it only comes once every hundred years.”


“I mean, it’s not surprising it was a big deal when they thought the Sun God had

abandoned them, but now we know what’s going on. It’s just a dot in the sky that’s just not there

for a bit.”


“Well, it’s only a partial eclipse here.”


“Something insignificant happens every day,” Trevor snorts. “I’d rather spend my

money on a matinee and Milk Duds.”


Noel looks off into the distance, pretending to weigh the two options. He ends up staring

at the house across the street, a stately mansion with two long wings made of brick. Unlike the

home at Saint Mary’s, the property ended promptly a few feet away from the structure. But what

Noel notices most of all is the sun shining brilliantly over a massive swath of its mansard roof.


“Are we going to that one next?” he asks.


“God, no.”


“Why not?”


“We’ve canvassed this neighborhood before. Yeah, you’re not the first pilot program

either. That man is dangerous. I don’t know what he did, but it’s like this thing that’s been

passed down. I get the feeling there’s like a John Wayne Gacey Jr. thing going on.”


“Jesus,” Noel mutters. “But how much do you think that deal would be worth?”


“Your life? New kid, put it out of your head. If you think we’re knocking on that door

you can fuck right off. Noel!”


He walks slow as a mirage, like a man newly possessed. His finger presses the doorbell,

as he realizes he’s never sold anything in his whole life. One-and-done, how hard can it be? He

thinks, vibrating especially low as of now. He smiles like a maniac and stands sideways at the

door.


“What do you want?”


Noel recognizes him and experiences a brief wave of relief. He can’t be a murderer—it’s

the entrepreneur from the videos. He’s wearing his cut-off sweater and worn black jeans, but

there’s a look in his eye that the camera did not pick up. Oh my God, he either wants to kill me or

to fuck me.


“I’m with the Energy Council and…”


“Stop right there. You’re with the Energy Council? What the fuck is this Energy Council

that has been summoned?” he taunts him, showing off a sharp mind that detects bullshit as fast as

it makes it up.


“It’s a group of regulatory agencies, government overwatch committees, and energy

companies, all committed to switching over to renewable energy in our lifetime.”


“What’s name is on your check? I’m guessing it’s an energy company.”


“Trinity Solar, but that part is supposed to come later.”


“Trinity Solar, huh?” the homeowner leans on the frame of the door, his hand just out of

view. “You know, I don’t have any names on my checks except for my clients. Nothing is

skimmed off the top. My money comes straight to me. In fact, if your company gets a tax write-

off for ushering in this new green deal, I’m probably paying your salary.”


“Well, then, you should be the first to save money with our solar program.”


He laughs like an Aries. It’s obvious he can smell Noel’s desperation, feel how his body

is pulled in by the weight of his celebrity, can see him seeking a glimpse inside a home such as

this. “Why don’t you come in?”


Or kill me, then fuck me. But Noel is ready, and the moon has assumed its position in

front of the sun. What he wants is inside, past the threshold of the door, an invisible barrier.


Ready to step into his new life, to experience acceptance so total, like death, it changes the fibers

of his being.


“You can sit down in one of the chairs while I get you a drink of water.”


In the entrepreneur’s hand is a five-inch, stainless steel blade; Noel is too busy staring

into the glorious vaults of the mansion; sunshine still filtering in through tilted skylights in the

back of the room. Below, there is a wall-length, built-in bookshelf made of stained oak. A series

of sharp, abstract statues, and in the center of the floor, a proper divan between two large

mahogany chairs. He sits down and looks at the titles stacked on the ancient cocktail table: John,

the Leader of Gnostics; Life Paths: How to Unlock the Power of Numerology in Your Life; The

Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up; and The Moral Animal.


The 40-something-year-old man comes in with Noel’s glass. He hands it to him and sits

down in the opposite chair. He places his hands onto his head, stretching, and leans back as if to

invite Noel’s futile pitch:


[The script is there to guide you, to predict what the customer will likely say and how you

can respond. The closer you stick to it, the more successful you will be:]


[Intro]: “I’m not here to sell solar panels. I know a lot of people get scared about buying a

piece of cutting-edge technology, so don’t worry.”


[At this point in the script, the customer will be placated, relieved, laughing.] He stares

blankly at Noel.


“Instead, Trinity leases solar panels out to their clients, but the cost of the lease is

guaranteed to be covered by your energy savings—and in many cases, it’s a lot more. If, for any

reason, the savings don’t cover the lease, we pay the difference. That way, you can lock in low

energy rate as prices rise.” [Remember to smile and nod—it will build excitement].


[The customer may want to move onto the details of the deal or may first voice some

hesitations:] “Do I fucking look like the kind of guy who needs to lock in a low energy rate?

Fucking cents on the dollar?”


[You’re on your own, kid:] He blurts out, “Time… it’s a funny thing… You never know

what’s going to happen. You never know where you’re going to be in the future. All you know is

the present…”


“I know exactly what’s going to happen. It’s written in the stars, in the book of life. It’s

why I invested in Twitter when I did.”


“As a young man talking to an older, more experienced…”


“Cut that shit. We’re the same age—these cells we share are as old as the universe. ‘He

created me before the foundation of the world to be holy.’ And though the number of lives we’ve

led may outweigh each other, in either direction, we’re the same age, in total. Simply, I have

taken more steps on the social hierarchy, more works to my name, more progress on this cosmic

journey, and more money. You have no excuse for your current worth. You have to get ahead.”


“I don’t know exactly what you… but just, man-to-man, human-to-human, I get at least

$300 if you just agree to have the solar installation experts see if your home is compatible, and I

could really use a—”


He stood up abruptly as if he’d heard enough and walked to the kitchen. He said cheerily,

“I think I’m going to get myself a glass of water, too.”


It might be time to fuck right off, Noel thinks. Suddenly, a coil of ropes falls onto his lap,

around him, and quickly tighten around his arms. He starts flailing but they’re heavy, nautical-

grade and with a zipping noise, they’re tied at his back.


The entrepreneur walks back into Noel’s field of vision and stands with one arm crossed

and the other scratching his chin, like a painter at work. He sticks out his thumb at arm’s distance

and yells “I will blot you out!” He pounces like a lion through Saharan grass to the chair. He

holds a knife up to Noel’s neck, “I am a God. The sun beams into me and I feed off its energy.

Do you understand?”


He does not. He sees death in the knife—and in the face of it, he laughs a detached,

internal laugh. Is this how I die? This has got to be a fucking joke. All one big cosmic joke.


“I become the energy. I am pure. And people feed off of me. My employees, my

shareholders, all of society—they feed off me. Do you understand how much you gain just by

being in my presence? Feeling my aura? And you dare to take my money and my time like it was

a fair trade?”


It is a joke, it must be a prank, he thinks and scans the room for a camera. There’s one on

the shelf. It must be like an intense, motivational video. Noel starts laughing uncontrollably in

relief.


The entrepreneur stops. Angry and turned off, he drops the knife at his side. Then he

moves closer and grimaces at Noel. “I’ll fucking kill you. I’ll keep you hostage. You’ll starve to

death.”


“Is the knife even real?” Noel laughs hysterically.


“You ruined it,” he mutters. He unties the ropes with the aggressive dejection of a

spurned man pulling up his pants.


After he says good-bye to the boy, the entrepreneur finishes cutting up the vegetables,

then goes to the basement where he jerks off, dreaming of drinking that 20-something-year-old’s

young blood.


“What happened?” Trevor asks, hitting the vape hard.


“It wasn’t right for him, in the end,” Noels says, knowing he’d never believe him.


Construction workers are banging into the dusty earth with their heads down. A mailman

is carrying on down his route, rain, snow, hail, shine, or eclipse. They don’t have the time to

look up. Mothers and their children sit in the grass, on top of park benches, on the beach, in the

backs of trucks staring into the sky, like an air show but slower and grander. Retirees in lawn

chairs look almost dead, taking it all in.


As he watches their upturned faces and looks for expressions for his own vicarious

excitement and jealousy, Noel realizes that he is and always will be oscillating between two

extremes: an abstract, existential fear of death when he is more secure, and a very present

struggle to survive. In the exact middle is freedom from either, when he recognizes the absurd

way we carry on with our lives—as if anything is ever normal, and that’s all there is.



Paul Fey is a resident of Bridgeport, Connecticut and writes about wine for a living. His short fiction has been published in Rantoul Mag, Philosophical Idiot, and Fluland Magazine.