Punk Rock Resurrection

Home > Other > Punk Rock Resurrection > Page 12
Punk Rock Resurrection Page 12

by Jenna Galicki

  It had been over four years. Her voice had the same drunken slur that he had learned to recognize when he was six years old. It had meant that she would lash out at him, either verbally or with the back of her hand – sometimes both.

  He clenched his teeth together and forced himself to look up ahead. His stomach flip-flopped as soon as he saw her. She wasn’t looking in his direction and passed without noticing that her son just walked by. Her face was weathered, but she still styled her hair and wore too much makeup. The ever-present cigarette was between her fingers, sending a plume of smoke trailing after her.

  He was transformed back to his childhood when his mother had cared more about the man on her arm than her own son. Horrible memories flooded his head and made him dizzy. There was a two-ton weight on his chest that squeezed him like a vice. His stomach lurched, and his dinner threatened to make a reappearance.

  Alyssa was staring at him closely now, her brow creased with concern, and he realized that his pace had slowed to a halt. Sweat broke out on his forehead and down his back, and he was hunched over from the pain that tore at his gut.

  “What happened?” Alyssa sounded scared. “Are you sick? Do you want to sit down?”

  “N-no. I just want to go home.” He flagged a cab that was lucky enough to be at a red light and opened the car door for Alyssa. “I’m sorry. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

  “Wait. What’s going on?”

  He put his hands on her shoulders and looked into her eyes. He saw concern, fear – and love. She was the first woman who cared about him, and he was pushing her away. It tore him up even more, and he hated himself for rejecting her – the same way his mother had rejected him.

  Damien knew he was headed for a meltdown, and he didn’t want Alyssa to witness it. He was afraid that if she knew how fucked up his head was, she’d leave him, and he didn’t think he could handle it.

  He fought the tears that filled his eyes like a warrior, but his vision was slightly blurred, and his body trembled. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I can’t explain it right now.”

  Her eyes frantically searched his face. “Let me help you. I’m worried about you. I can help. Please.”

  He slowly shook his head, and it took all his strength to speak. “I’m sorry.” He stuffed $40 in her hand for the cab fare, gave her a powerful hug and took off down the street.

  He ran until his side hurt, then doubled over to catch his breath. Air was coming in giant gulps, and his stomach heaved. He vomited in the street and held onto a lamppost to steady himself. At least the pain in his heart was superseded by the ache in his gut. He needed his medication. He needed a drink. He wanted to go home. More than anything else, he wanted Alyssa, but he couldn’t let her see him go to pieces.

  A taxi took Damien back to his apartment. He went straight to the kitchen cabinet and drank from the bottle of Johnnie Walker. He guzzled the whiskey until the welcome burn in his throat cut off his air. Flashes of his childhood were knocking against his head, and he squeezed his eyes shut in an attempt to block them out. Deep, labored breaths filled his lungs while he braced his hands on the edge of the counter to steady himself. He needed his medication. The bottle was wedged between two coffee cups and he couldn’t get to it fast enough. He threw everything in its way out of the cabinet. Mugs shattered on the floor with a crash, and napkins flew through the air, but he got his medication. Johnnie Walker washed two pills down his gullet. He looked into the small amber bottle at the remaining pills. He thought there should be more. Had he taken so many since his last refill? How many nightmares had he endured?

  Broken glass crunched under his boots on the way into the living room. He threw himself down on the couch and waited for the pain to go away. How long would it take before the pills took over and numbed his heart and clouded his mind? He held his head in his hands and curled his knees up to his chest. The sound of the mugs shattering on the floor echoed in his head. The image of the mugs distorted into a dinner plate, and he wasn’t in his apartment anymore. He was in his mother’s house, and he was 15. He had been playing his bass in the living room when he had heard her car pull into the driveway. In his haste to hide his bass from his mother before she walked in the door, he had left his dinner plate on the table. She had entered the dining room while he was holed up in his bedroom, just like he had always done whenever she was at home. He had remembered the plate the second she started yelling. He had run downstairs to clear it from the table and entered the dining room just as she flung the plate across the room. If he hadn’t blocked it with his hand, it would have hit him square in the forehead. The dish had shattered against his wrist and left a deep gash in his flesh. Blood had splattered everywhere. It had splashed across the shards of glass that littered the carpet, dotted his shirt and the stark white wall next to him. He had held his hand up to examine the wound, and two thick streams of bright red blood had trickled down his arm and dripped onto the carpet. He knew it had been an accident. His mother had flung the dish at the precise moment he had stepped into the room. She probably hadn’t even realized he was there.

  A pathetic laugh caught in his throat. He was still defending her actions almost a decade later.

  The gaping wound on his wrist had needed stitches, but his mother had never looked at it or asked him if he was OK. There hadn’t been the slightest bit of remorse or concern. She had only yelled at him for dripping blood on her carpet and demanded he clean up the mess. He had been furious and stomped into his room. She could have knocked him unconscious or taken out his eye, but all she had cared about was the glass and blood on her fucking carpet.

  The memory ripped his chest in two, and he just wanted it to stop. He sat upright and knocked back another long gulp of whiskey from the bottle, but the images remained. He ran his finger over the scar that was still prevalent on his wrist. A guttural moan rose up from his belly, and he slammed his fist into the coffee table. The aged wood splintered under the force of his blow and opened a deep crack across its surface. A bright red substance spotted the wood and splattered the knee of his jeans. Blood – his knuckles were covered in it. He turned his hand and watched it slowly make its way down his forearm. It looked just like the injury caused by the plate his mother had thrown at him.

  The pills finally kicked in, and he felt nothing. He laid back down on the couch, cradling the whisky bottle in his arms like a baby, and wondered if his mother had ever held him in such a way. He didn’t care anymore. Relief washed over him and settled his erratic heartbeat. His lids grew heavier with each blink of his eyes, and sleep took him into its tender embrace.

  A pounding on the door woke Damien, but his arms and legs wouldn’t move. They felt like lead, and there was no saliva left in his mouth. “Go away,” he managed to call out.

  The pounding continued. “Open this fucking door right now, or I’m gonna break it down!”

  It was Angel, and he sounded frantic.

  Damien let out an exasperated sigh. It took all of his strength to roll his legs off the couch and pull himself up. The room was spinning, and his knee bumped the coffee table. He needed to hug the wall in order to keep from stumbling, but he made it to the door and just about turned the lock when it flew open.

  Alyssa rushed toward him and wrapped her arms around him. “You scared the hell out of us! We were banging on the door for fifteen minutes!”

  The sight of Alyssa sobered him. “What are you doing here?”

  “I was worried about you. I made the taxi follow you, but it lost you when you turned down a one-way street. So I called Angel.”

  Angel had a concerned crease across his forehead. He let out a deep breath. “I’m just glad you’re OK.”

  “Thanks.” Damien lowered his eyes, embarrassed that Alyssa was finally going to get a look at his shabby apartment. “Come in.”

  She stepped inside but Angel stayed out in the hallway. “As long as you’re OK, I’m gonna split. You two probably need to talk. I only came because I didn’t want Alyssa
coming to this neighborhood by herself at night.”

  Always valiant and thoughtful, Damian now had another reason to be indebted to his friend. He nodded his appreciation.

  “Trust her,” Angel whispered. “She cares about you.” He gave Damien’s shoulder a gentle squeeze, and then he was off.

  Damien slowly closed the door and stared at it for a few seconds before he turned to face Alyssa. He spread his arms out toward the edges of the room. “It’s shit, but it’s clean.”

  Her eyes never left him. “I don’t care about your apartment, Damien. Are you all right? What the hell happened back there? One minute we were talking, the next you were having a breakdown in the middle of the street.” She hesitated. “Was it because I mentioned your father?”


  “Well, then, what was it?” She took a step closer and placed a loving hand on his arm, while her eyes pleaded with him for an answer.

  A part of him wanted to confess his past and explain his odd behavior, but a bigger part of him was afraid it’d be too much for her to handle. He was a fuckin’ basket case. “It’s heavy, Alyssa.”

  “Yeah. I get that. We’ve been dating for a couple of months. When are you going to let me in?”

  His lids were still weighted and he momentarily closed his eyes. Even though the pills numbed his mind, his body felt like it was hit by a truck. He had no idea what to say to Alyssa or where to begin. He just wanted her to hold him, and he wrapped his arms around her waist. She pressed her hand to his cheek and held him in a tight embrace. It was safe and protective. He squeezed her so tight he heard the breath leave her lungs, and he hid his face in the crook of her shoulder and underneath her long, black hair.

  She rubbed his back and pressed her cheek against his. “It’s OK. You don’t have to go through this alone. Whatever it is, I’ll help you.”

  Her words were soothing. Her kindness and affection chipped away at his bleeding heart, and he started to falter. Overwhelmed by the emotions that wreaked havoc on his psyche, his defenses quickly broke down. His lips began to tremble, followed by a surge of heat to his face. Tears burned his eyes with both anger and relief. He was helpless as they rolled down his cheeks, and silent sobs racked his body.

  Alyssa held him tighter. “Everything’s gonna be all right.” Her voice quivered, and her hand shook as it stroked his back. “It’s gonna be OK.”

  Damien didn’t know how long he stood there and wept on Alyssa’s shoulder, but eventually, there was nothing left. There were no more tears. No more pain. He was hollow. Drained. Empty.

  She led him to the couch and sat next to him with a protective arm around his shoulder. Her eyes went to the near-empty bottle of Johnnie Walker now lying on the floor by his feet. She picked it up. “Was this full?”

  “Maybe. I don’t remember.”

  She saw the split in the coffee table and the blood. A gasp left her throat, and she grabbed his hand to inspect his bruised knuckles. “What did you do? Damien . . .”

  After the upheaval of emotions he went through tonight, he thought he didn’t care about anything anymore, but he cared about Alyssa. He was in love with her. He was embarrassed at his drinking and his violent assault on the coffee table. He hung his head into his chest and imagined the thoughts running through her mind. He expected her to bolt out the door, but she was still sitting on the couch next to him.

  She placed a gentle kiss on the back of his hand and cradled it to her chest.

  The simple act of tenderness sent a fresh wave of emotion coursing through his body, but he fought it with renewed strength.

  “Stay here. Let me get something to clean that up.”

  He was too tired to tell her not to bother. He listened to the running water in the kitchen, debating whether or not to go into detail about the turmoil of his childhood when she returned. He covered his eyes with his hands, and when he looked up, Alyssa was standing in front him.

  She shoved the bottle of pills in his face. “What is this? You’re taking oxycotton – and drinking?”

  Just when he thought he couldn’t feel any worse, his stomach hit the floor. No one knew he took prescription drugs, not even Angel. He had no words. He was humiliated, and he hated himself at that moment because of the disappointment on Alyssa’s face.

  She put the bottle on the crippled table with a distressed sigh and sat down next to him. She put her arm around his shoulder and pulled him close to her. “Just tell me everything. Please.” Her voice was soft and caring. Reassuring. Trusting.

  He needed to wait for the heat to leave his face before his voice returned, but it was still barely above a whisper. “I’m so ashamed of myself. I know I’m better than this. I’ve been drinking and taking pills since I was 14.” He leaned forward, put his elbows on his knees and covered his face with his hands. “It got ahold of me, and it won’t let go.”

  “Fourteen? How . . . why?”

  It sounded worse now that he said it out loud. He wondered how bad the rest of it would sound once the words left his mouth, because he decided he needed to tell Alyssa at least some of the shit that was hitting the inside of his head like a battering ram.

  He took a few deep breaths to prepare himself to explain. The remnants in the bottle of whiskey called to him. He fought the urge, but it was too strong, and he reached for the bottle. Just before it touched his lips, Alyssa took it out of his hand.

  “You can’t do this to yourself.” There was a sheen of moisture over her eyes. “I won’t let you.” She snatched the bottle of pills off the table and stuffed it in the pocket of her jeans.

  His first instinct was to snatch it back, but there was an endless supply on the street. He could get a refill in 30 minutes if he chose to. “I’m not proud of it, Alyssa, but it’s the only way I survived.”

  She softened again. “Survived what?”

  He took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. “My mother.”

  Alyssa was quiet while she studied his face. “What did she do to you?”

  “It’s more like what she didn’t do to me.” He rubbed his eyes. “She never cared about me. Never showed me one ounce of love. Never said one nice thing to me.” He slowly shook his head. “The only time she ever talked to me was when she was drunk. Then she’d tell me I ruined her life and how rotten I was. She’d tell me I’d never amount to anything and I was wasting my time playing the bass.” He slowly looked at Alyssa. “She made fun of me. I think that’s the only reason she let me keep my bass. She tried to take it away from me when she first found it.” He fingered the scar on the side of his temple. “She even hit me over the head with it. But I took it back when she was passed out. When she woke up and came to my room looking for it, I told her she’d have to kill me to get it.” She must have realized that I was serious, because that was the first time she backed off. I think she was a little afraid by what she saw in my eyes.”

  The shock was clear across Alyssa’s face. Her eyes were wide, and her mouth was gaping open.

  “I have a million of those stories. I try not to think about them, but they come back to me in my dreams sometimes or something triggers a memory. I had food and clothes and a nice house to live in – when I wasn’t sleeping in the car.”

  “Why did you sleep in the car?” Her eyes were wide with horror while she imagined his answer.

  “Because I couldn’t stand sleeping in the same house when my mother brought one of her boyfriends home. They were always drunk and not exactly quiet.” The memory nauseated him. “One or two of her boyfriends were nice to me. The rest were pieces of shit. One hit her once, and I went after him with a kitchen knife. She took his side, though.”

  “What happened?” Alyssa pressed her lips together. “I’m sorry. I’m asking too many questions. You don’t have to answer me.”

  He wanted to answer her. For the first time in his life, he wanted to talk about his troubled past. He was tired of it tormenting his soul and twisting his head and mangling his gut. “I woke up and heard
them arguing in the kitchen. The guy was slurring his words worse than my mother. I knew it was about to get ugly. I got to the kitchen just as he back-handed her across the mouth. She fell to the floor, and I grabbed a kitchen knife out of the drain board. It was big, like one of the knives Angel uses when he cooks.” Alyssa’s eyes were growing wider as he spoke. “I told him to never lay a hand on my mother again, and I lunged at him with the knife. He dodged out of the way, and the knife landed in the sheetrock. It went in deep, and I had a hard time taking it out. When I finally got it free, he was gone and my mother went ape-shit that I made a hole in the wall. Her mouth was bleeding. I tried to hand her the dish towel, but she smacked it out of my hand and told me I had to pay to fix the wall.” He huffed a sarcastic laugh. “That was so fucked up.” He turned to Alyssa. “That’s how I spent my 13th birthday. I almost stabbed a man to death, and my mother was too worried about a hole in her kitchen wall to remember it was her only son’s birthday.”

  “She didn’t even remember it was your birthday?”

  “She never did. I never had a birthday cake or a card or a gift. She remembered my 18th birthday, though. That’s when she gave me my walking papers.”

  Alyssa wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. “I can’t believe any of the shit you’re telling me right now.” Her voice was a low, disgusted whisper. “I’m so angry and so hurt for what you went through. You didn’t deserve that, Damien. I hope you know that.”

  He knew he didn’t deserve to be treated like garbage; that’s why it hurt him so much. After all the bullshit he went through, after all the hurt and anger she vented upon him, he had still loved her. She was his mother. He thought she didn’t matter to him anymore. He thought he left his feelings behind, but the nightmares and the pain in his heart made him wonder how he really felt about her now.


‹ Prev