Monday, March 30, 2015

Stumbling Through The Dark

I left a bunch of empty beer cans behind in an upstairs closet when I left home. Maybe nine or ten.  I slid them into the pockets of my father's police coats and several winter jackets.  Some of them I tucked neatly inside shoes that my dad rarely wore.  Half a dozen more I dropped down the side of a large air conditioner that was stored in the alcove connecting my room to my mother's.  Three spent bottles of wine and a quart of vodka were stashed back there as well.

I did this on purpose.  So she could find them someday and get upset.  I wanted her to know something about me.  Something dark and worrisome.  I wanted her to acknowledge a portion of my pain.  As if she didn't have enough of her own.

Years later after I'd been sober for a while, I was changing somebody's diaper.  I can't remember whose.  I think it was Desmond's.  He was lying on my mother's bedroom rug, banging the television remote control against the air conditioner.  It sat on the floor next to the window, doubling as a plant stand in the winter months.

"Stop that," I told my son.  He looked at me boldly and continued with the noise.

Bang, bang, bang!

I took the device from his sweaty little hand and tossed it just beyond his reach, where it landed between the appliance and the wall.  When I finished refastening his trousers and sent him on his way, I leaned over to retrieve the remote.  I thought about all those bottles and cans.  I asked my mother whatever happened to them.

"Oh, Mary honey,  I blamed your father."

"That doesn't make sense, Mom.  He never hid shit from you."

"I realize that," she said, her eyes filling with tears.  "I just didn't want to think you were inside, drinking all by yourself.  It would have ripped my heart right out of my chest.  Besides, yelling at him has always been so easy."

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