Friday, July 18, 2014

Started a New Novel : 'A Long Cold Winter"

Start at the End and Work Backwards

It all started on a hot summer’s evening. I was alone as per usual, punishing my liver with reckless abandonment. Never before had I lost such control that I would allow for myself to drink such excess. Blotto had passed me by some hours ago and I was on my way to blackout station. But I had a saving grace that came in the form of a bartender that knew me well enough to have the balls to cut me off and call me a taxi that would be my chariot back to my humble abode, which in all honest humble is a very modest way of stating my residence was seedy and in dire need of tearing down.

I arrived home a short while thereafter, and after paying the cabbie, I had climbed out of the taxi, and right away I felt every last drop of alcohol I had consumed. It hit me sure as shit and the impact left me conscious long enough to process a singular thought. Damn this must have been how it felt to take a punch by Mike Tyson and then wham everything fades to black and the last curtain is drawn. As if my heart had ceased to pump and provide my brain the steady amount of oxygen required to function on a level that most educated and smart psychologists would label as semi functionality. Still I had drunk long and hard for days and was little worse for wear, only difference being that I was younger and then you get older and your body’s not as resilient as it used to be.

I reached the front door and dug deep into my pants pocket for my keys and after a moment or two I found them. Pulling them out I realized I hadn’t a proper grip on them and they fell to the ground with a slight clank of metal against stone and I thought fuck I don’t want to pick them up. For the very action of bending over would cause an enormous wave of pain to wash over and me. So, I remained standing in front of my house trying to find an ounce of clarity. I am not going to lie. It took some effort to trick myself into bending over and standing back upright before my mind had time to stop me. My stomach began to churn and a tendril of residual heat coursed through my stomach’s lining on its way to my chest and ultimately my heart.

Once inside I encountered another obstacle. I had to make it to the couch and on any other night it would have proved quite easy. This night was different. Tonight, I was still in mourning over the loss of my daughter. Not to mention the baby mama who had carried her for several months had made her egress from my life. Still, I bear no ill will against her. She had experienced so many heavy emotions in such a short expanse of time and needed some space to clear the air. So, she had taken a flight back to visit her folks. Never had I conceived that they disliked me. They never expressed any animosity towards me but it goes to show you never really know people. I still lover her with my entire heart and soul only thing is we are done. Hence, the steady progression into depression, one minute you are on top of the world and the next you are drowning at the bottle of a bottle.
Then there came a ringing from the living room and at first I had dismissed it as nothing. Nothing more than a simple noise that with all of my luck was in my head. I waited for it to cease and when it didn’t I worked hard to steady myself for one more marathon. Each step required a tremendous amount of effort on my part, making sure my feet didn’t trip on anything that may be lying on the floor and avoiding furniture that may cross my path and more than likely trigger a fit of rage that would only serve to further injure myself. Getting pissed off was easy to do for me sober let alone highly intoxicated. Within minutes the couch was within reach and so was the house phone.
Picking up the receiver from the cradle I put the phone to my ear and spoke, “This had better be important.”

“Hey, man, where have you been?”

“Bro, you just don’t seem to get it do you?”

There was a long pause and I could tell that my friend was annoyed. So, I took a deep breath and held it in for as long as I could before exhaling. He started to speak but I stayed his voice as I cleared my throat. Surely, this further antagonized him but it didn’t matter.

“Yeah, man. Just so much shit is happening and I am hammered and not in the mood for further drama let alone noise that would worsen my current state of being,” I said hastily while the thought lingered in my conscious mind.

“I understand that and that was the very reason why I called you up. Just checking in on your bro,” he said the tone in his voice began to lighten up.

“For sure, brother, and it’s appreciated. Really it is,” was my response.

“All right, you take care of yourself. Later,” he declared.
Then he hung up and I returned the phone to the cradle and fell onto the couch. Almost instantly I fell asleep and all concerns vanished like early morning cloud cover that was burned off by the midday sun. Only they didn’t go away in their entirety. A tiny remnant of what had driven me to depression and subsequent liver abuse. The brief albeit comforting conversation I had had less than a minute ago lingered in my mind as if it was a billboard designed and built just for me. Perhaps one would label this line of thinking as self-serving but then again who would care? What happens in your own dreams is about you or by extension those affected by your words and actions.
Shortly thereafter, the remainder of my consciousness thoughts meandered off and became abstract until I no longer existed. Forever at sea, forever lost, but never without hope of a better tomorrow, these were words of wisdom I had gleaned from a poem I had read once. Strange how often you tend to think about things that are so far afield and yet befitting all in the same. Semi-conscious and aware one moment and the next I fell into a deep sleep.

Morning came and went and I was still fast asleep. Then there came a loud series of knocks at my door and the persistence of this noise roused me from my slumber and sleepy eyed and groggy I walked over to the door. My gait was steadier than the night before but my head felt as though someone had taken a sledgehammer to it. It throbbed and each time the pain only worsened. My eyes opened and closed afraid of taking into much sunlight. I wasn’t ready to wake up and head out into the real world-a place where I clearly didn’t belong with my being a semi functional man child that always had whiskey on his breath. Such a place that didn’t cater to the weak and only the strong survived through exploiting those that they deem less important and beneath them but I digress.

For a brief moment there I thought the person who only moments ago had been knocking on my door incessantly had given up and left. But no, the time between the last knock and when I had managed to pull myself up out of the couch had lasted less than I had first thought. So, I covered the remaining distance to the door and opening it a familiar face greeted me and the owner of this face let herself in. I had a snarky comment lingering on the tip of my tongue but I refrained. Mostly out of a strange curiosity that demanded to find out what brought her all the way here to meet me. What could be so important that she would drive five hours out of her way? Closing the door, I walked back to the living room and saw her sit down on the couch.

“My apologies for the mess, but I wasn’t expecting anyone would be stopping by,” I declared my voice softer than the words that I uttered.

She sat back on the couch resting her back against the cushion. I stole a moment to admire her. She was a very beautiful woman and it would be a lie to say that I wasn’t attracted to her but then another thought pushed that away and it chastised me for lusting after the sister of my now ex-wife. In response to this sudden guilt trip I made for the kitchen. Not that I was really thirsty but it was a social norm that you offer guests at your home a beverage. Good thing I did know her tastes and what not for it made things all the easier. I took out a couple bottles of orange juice and returned to the living room. I proffered her one and she thanked me taking the drink without hesitation.
“I am sorry for intruding on you like this but I wanted to tell you something,” she started her eyes cast down unable to look up from the carpet.

In that moment I knew her sudden appearance held an ulterior motive and why not. Still I had a feeling what she was going to tell me would placate the side of my personality that was capable of empathy. And to be honest I was a very caring and empathetic person that gave a damn when no one else did. Such was my blessing and curse. The fairer sex, which was women, never required more than a good listener, comfort and a sense of stability. If anyone told you differently, then they were lying or just didn’t know diddly squat about the opposite sex. She knew this much about me and we hardly ever had time to get to know one another as well as in-laws might otherwise do. Still I figured the many times I had gone over to their family’s home and my brash albeit honest nature to speak my mind had not been lost upon deaf ears.

“No harm done, Sunny. What’s up?” I asked still curious as to what her visit entailed.

“Right, I guess I should just come out and say it,” Sunny said flatly as she mechanically reached up to push her long black hair back out of her face.

Again I found myself unable to look away when more of her face was made available for my viewing pleasure. I am not saying she did this for my benefit but more that I was transfixed by her sheer beauty. She lifted her gaze to meet mine and whether or not she realized what I was thinking was left unknown. She didn’t bring it up. Her reaction to my staring was a wry smile that calmed me on the outside but within had triggered a series of feelings to form in my hollow heart. The next thought to pass through my mind was to find out what she wanted to tell me and get her out of here.
“So, yeah, I just wanted to inform you that Wendy bears no ill will to you and wanted to say she’s sorry on behalf of our parents’ actions,” she stated her voice breaking and a hint of sadness was exposed.

“That’s it?” I questioned.

“Yep, that is it,” she answered.

I found myself amused and delighted by her curt and abrasive nature. Some would be offended by someone who had the balls to speak their mind without regret. I was not one such person. Such a noble and honest trait that was fading out of use in today’s society. Too many societal norms were springing into existence that made you almost too afraid to communicate let alone have the nerve to be honest with your feelings. Thus, when I come across people such as Sunny it reminds me there is still hope for the world we live in.

She finished the rest of her orange juice and as she set it down on the coffee table I knew she was making to leave. I stopped her in hopes of furthering the conversation. Instead I said nothing. Moments later she was gone and I was left alone with my thoughts to keep me company. The delight that had kept into my being still resided in my loins but it served only to annoy me.


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