It was Thanksgiving and three families had come together in one house, things get lost in a house like that. My mother asked me where my brother was. “Have you seen him?” she said “No” I replied barley looking up from my book. We both knew where he was, it was just a formality to ask. It gave us a reason to bring up his sickness, his disregard for us, his narcissism. I continued to sit on the couch as my mind shifted from the story I was once lost in to thoughts of my brother in an upstairs bathroom finding new ways to get Oxy into his body. Simply swallowing them had perhaps lost its appeal and smoking it was too risky. I bet he crushed them up on my grandmother’s bathroom sink and snorted them.
My parents and I knew what was going on but all the aunts, cousins and grandparents here were in the dark about my brother. They knew he had some problems with drugs but their knowledge of addiction was limited to what they had seen on TV or in the movies. There were whispers in the house about where he was, only a select few were let in on the suspicion that he used today. Someone was upstairs and saw him; he looked out of it and confused. To someone unknowing -- maybe he was tired or home sick. To us, it was a familiar warm chair that we could sink into. Here we were again, back at zero, but what to do? Nothing worked on him so why try. We just stayed paralyzed by him, he ran the show, and tonight was his night.
We decided to go to dinner, nowhere fancy though; my grandfather liked it simple. “Crackle Barrel?” my grandmother said. “Ok” my mom said, not wanting to put up a fight, too weakened by my brother to argue. She paced, wearing her jacket and ready to go. By this time we were all ready to go, we just needed him to come downstairs. One by one my parents went to check on him, there was no explanation as to what was taking him so long. They simply descended the stairs and continued to pace, jacket on, ready to go.
Finally the big moment came, to some it was their first real look at addiction, to me it was only thoughts of where it all went wrong. My parents, already broken down, looked like they had lost again. There was still a glimmer of hope but tonight it was overshadowed by a fear that this would never end.
He sped down the stairs looking like almost normal; unaware that nine people had been waiting on him and discussing him. His jacket was on when he hit the last step, but we were on his schedule and he needed coffee. Some was made and waiting in the pot, he poured it, he looked almost ok.
During the fifteen minute car ride it took hold. It transformed him; he was gone now, gone to conversation, gone to reason gone to anything resembling my brother. Any hope for normalcy escaped, the rest of us couldn’t even talk. This wasn’t supposed to happen, not after the rehab he went to, it was supposed to fix this.
Dinner was like a show. We watched as he stared into the menu pretending to not know what to order. His eyes were barley open and every now and then they closed completely, until his body convulsed slightly and he awoke again. He fumbled through the menu like it was an ancient language, “can I get breakfast ….is this the breakfast menu” he slurred. “It’s dinner time” my mother snapped.
From the outside he looked pathetic; slow moving, slow thinking, like a cross between an old person and a new born baby. On the inside though I knew he felt perfect, numb to all of his problems and worries. He felt good enough to sacrifice all of us at least, this insulated life he chose was only big enough for him.
As soon as we arrived home I disappeared into the basement, we were going home early the next morning and I needed sleep. When the next day came we all got ready, moved luggage to the car and ate a quick breakfast. After breakfast I put my jacket on and waited for my brother to come downstairs.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I met Krista at a party one of my best friends had thrown. I briefly said hello to her before she slipped into a empty room with another friend of mine. I later found out that he was one of her many. At school the next week we crossed paths again, this time she more interested than me. As my friends looked on at me from our usual lunchroom table she spoke to me in a confidence I did not have, she wrangled me with her words. It was like power, her power. She had it over me, and everybody else. It was simple, hello, do you remember me, yes I do. Why don't you call me tonight she said as she grabbed my hand and etched her phone number into my palm. I kept looking at her, not caring what she wrote, she was beautiful to me, already my first love. She had long natural red hair with all the perks that came with it; pale skin, freckles and a short temper. Nervousness began.
Posted by T.R. Hodges at 10:52 AM
Krista drove a red 1969 Volkswagen Beatle, it went so well with her red hair and thrift store clothes. Sometimes her and her friends would drive around town with the top down wearing only their bra's. She was great at pushing her behavior just past normal, just far enough to show you her inner disfunction or pain or what ever it was that drove her to make sure everyone saw her. She shocked me too when she sat me down and explained to me how many guys she had slept with before turning 17. My number at the time was zero and being that we were the same age I felt an instant rush of overwhelming insecurity and fear. I knew we were going to have sex soon and it scared the hell out of me. I would have to be taught, shown my mistakes, like a child in her adult world.
Posted by T.R. Hodges at 10:50 AM
Her father shot himself in the head with a shotgun years before I met her. When she told me the story she explained how bullets from the blast broke dishes on the other side of the kitchen where he had done it. We sat in my car, parked at a lovers lane of sorts, a park by day and our private hideout that night. She was letting me in, offering some reason for her madness. I didn't know how to feel for her, comfort her, I had no way of conjuring the kinds of emotion or feeling that might put her at ease or at least let her know I related to the the depth of her pain. My life was more like a suburban dream come true, I didn't know how to react to her back story, I just wanted her to show me some kind of attention. I was in over my head, she knew it but didn't care, I knew it and it showed. She saw something in me, she loved me she said.
Posted by T.R. Hodges at 10:46 AM