Punk Rock Resurrection

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Punk Rock Resurrection Page 17

by Jenna Galicki

  “Do you need help? You’ve been in there a long time.”

  The guilt washed over him like a black heat. Alyssa meant more to him than those damn fucking pills, but he wasn’t ready to say goodbye to them yet. Soon, he promised himself. Soon he could throw them out completely – but not yet.


  “I’m coming.” He stuffed the contents back into his wallet and shoved it into his pocket. The jingling of the chain that connected the wallet to his belt loop indicated that he was pulling up his jeans after relieving himself. It was the perfect cover. It was the ultimate degradation and a new low for him.

  When he opened the door, Alyssa was already in the boy shorts and tank top that she usually wore to bed every night. She studied his face while they walked back to the bedroom, and he wondered if she suspected the deceit that was perpetrated behind her bathroom door. His head felt a little better, but it was his heart that bore the weight of his actions. He hoped sleep would come and relieve him of his burdens. He undid his jeans and pushed them below his hips before he sat on the bed. Alyssa pulled them from his legs and helped him with a pair of sweatpants.

  “Careful.” She helped him crawl up to the pillow and lay flat on his stomach. “I don’t think you should go to work tomorrow. I’ll stay home with you.”

  Maybe it was better if he stayed home. His back hurt like hell, and he was already stiff from lying in the same position. He doubted he would get much sleep tonight, either.

  Alyssa was parallel to him on the bed and made tiny, loving strokes above his ear with her index finger. Her touch was soothing and helped alleviate the pounding inside his head. She traced her finger down his jaw, over his lips and gently placed a kiss on his mouth. “I’ll text Spyder now. He’ll understand. He knows how much pain you’re in.”

  Damien nodded into the pillow. He hadn’t taken a day off in months.

  Alyssa placed a kiss on his cheek and grabbed her phone off of the nightstand.

  His head began to clear, thanks to the pill that gave him as much comfort as it did distress. It wasn’t easy to sever ties with the only thing that chased away his demons, but he was trying his best. He was starting to realize that he could rely on Alyssa to ease his internal pain – some of it, anyway.

  Damien slept better than he expected, even though he woke up frequently throughout the night when he involuntarily rolled off his stomach and contact with the mattress set his back ablaze. He never expected a tattoo to cause him so much discomfort. The bandages were now stuck to his body, and his muscles ached from lying in the same position for so many hours.

  Alyssa sat up the moment he stirred. “Easy does it. Let me help you get out of bed.”

  She was his personal home health aide. The way she tended to him was heartwarming and a little bit exciting. His head kept drifting to a naughty nurse/sick patient role-playing episode, but right now, he could barely stand up straight.

  “Are you going in the shower to get those bandages off?”

  “Yeah. Is that OK?” He should have gone home. He didn’t want to dirty her bathroom.

  “Why wouldn’t it be? You shower here all the time.”

  “Because it’s different with a fresh tattoo. I got junk on your sheets last night. I don’t want anything to ooze on your towels or in your shower. You shouldn’t have to clean it, and I know I won’t be able to bend over like that for a couple of days.”

  “Don’t be ridiculous, Damien. Get in the shower.”

  He didn’t realize how stiff his body was until he walked through the apartment. His bones creaked, and his neck felt like a block of concrete on top of his shoulders. He couldn’t reach to rub it without pulling at the bandages on his back.

  Alyssa massaged the back of his neck. She pressed circles into the knotted muscles until she felt them loosen. It was heaven.

  “You better uncover that tattoo. It needs antibiotic ointment. Do you want me to help?”

  Visions of her beautiful body, wet and naked, stuffed in the shower only a few inches in front of him sounded perfect. He gave her a crooked smiled and nodded.

  She helped him off with his sweats, then disrobed, and they stepped into the shower together.

  The spray of the lukewarm water saturated the bandages, and they fell to the floor of the shower. They were soaked with blood – some fresh, some dried. The water cleansed his back, but it stung like hell, and he needed to turn away. Even the light pressure of the water felt like a thousand needles in his flesh.

  “Let it drip over your shoulders from the front. Don’t let the water directly hit the tattoo.” Alyssa gathered the discarded bandages and placed them in the waste basket. She returned to the shower with a bottle of Betadine and a wash cloth. She poured the entire bottle of Betadine over his back. It burned at first, but once she rinsed it by drenching the wash cloth and squeezing the water out over his back, it relieved some of the sting.

  “Where’d you learn how to do that? I’ve never used anything but soap and water.”

  “I studied to be a nurse, remember? They use this on everything in the hospital. It’s a strong antiseptic. It’s my little ritual whenever I get a tattoo.”

  He turned to face her, keeping his body away from the harsh pelt of the water. “Your secret’s safe with me.”

  She stepped out of the shower, wrapped herself in her short fuzzy robe and held the towel open for him. He stepped into it, and she gently patted the tattoo dry, then moved the towel down across each arm, one at a time, and followed through with his legs.

  She helped him step into a pair of shorts, making sure the band was well below his waistline. She lathered antibiotic ointment on his back and worked it into the tattoo. Her fingers were gentle, but his back was a giant open wound. Even though it felt like she was scratching his body raw, he never flinched.

  “All done. In three days, you’ll be back to your old self again. Come on. You need something to rehydrate, and you need to eat. You need calories to heal.”

  He followed her to the kitchen where she promptly poured him a large glass of orange juice. He sat down and leaned forward with his elbows on the table. It was a bitch not to be able to lean back in the chair.

  “Just sit there and relax. I’ll make breakfast.”

  “Breakfast?” Alyssa never cooked. “You’re cooking, again? When did you get so domesticated?”

  She put her hand on her hip and laughed. “Yeah. Grilled cheese and now scrambled eggs. Next thing you know, I’ll get my own cooking show and take over Angel’s job at the restaurant.” She gave him a teasing smirk. “Drink your juice.”

  Alyssa darted around the kitchen in her fuzzy robe and slippers and wouldn’t let him help her make breakfast. He couldn’t do much, anyway. His movements were limited and slow. He enjoyed watching her portray a domestic goddess in the kitchen but felt guilty that he loved the doting attention she lavished upon him.

  She placed a plate filled with bacon and scrambled eggs in front of him, followed by toast and coffee. It was just a simple breakfast, but the tender attention and genuine concern and care she’d been giving him was overwhelming. Breakfast was the thing that put him over the edge, and he felt a lump in his throat. “This looks wonderful. Thank you.”

  She ran her hand over his cheek. “It’s just eggs.”

  He suddenly realized he was ravenous and gobbled a big forkful of the fluffy eggs. They were rich and flavorful. “What’s in them? They’re delicious. Did Angel give you the recipe?”

  “No.” She laughed. “It’s just leftover cheese from last night. And you know Angel wouldn’t make anything as ordinary as scrambled eggs with cheese. He’d make something like eggs benedict with chorizo infused potatoes.”

  It made Damien smile because food was elaborate for Angel, never simple, and her statement sounded just like him.

  “Do you really like the eggs? Or are you just saying that to be nice?” She was flattered that he compared her cooking to Angel’s.

  Damien took her h
and and kissed it. “They’re the best eggs I’ve ever tasted.”

  “You’re so sweet sometimes, Damien.”

  He gave her a tiny smile. It was all he could muster. His body ached and he was uncomfortable. His spirit was weakened from the dream that still disturbed him, and he was tired from a fitful sleep last night. The last 24 hours was nothing but a series of trauma for him – physically and mentally – but the biggest thing that affected him was Alyssa. She took care of him. The tenderness and concern that she exhibited was something he never experienced before. It was what he longed for and exactly what he needed.

  Chapter Nineteen

  By the sixth day, Damien’s back was a peeling mess. The pain was gone, but it was replaced by an intense itch that he knew he couldn’t touch. He tapped his fingers on the kitchen table, much like Jimmy always did on every available surface. When Alyssa entered the kitchen with the bottle of lotion, he breathed a sigh of relief.

  “Sorry it took so long. It’s a new bottle, and I couldn’t get the safety seal off. Are you jumping out of your skin yet?”

  “Hell yeah. I never had anything itch like this before. It feels like things are crawling up and down my back.” He turned the chair around and straddled it. The lotion hit with cool, calming relief, and Alyssa gently massaged it into his skin. Her touch was light, so she didn’t disturb the healing flesh, but it felt like ecstasy. He moaned and sighed every time she moved to a new spot. “It feels so good. I don’t want you to ever stop rubbing that lotion into my back, unless you want to drag your fingernails across it.”

  A laugh bubbled from her throat. “Normally I’d love to, but you know I’d ruin your tattoo.”

  Every square inch of his back itched like someone was tickling him with a feather. “Just scratch it lightly.”

  “Uh-uh. Your skin is just starting to grow back. It’s new and fragile.”

  Another cool dollop of moisturizer dropped onto his back which sent a relieved sigh up from Damien’s throat. He couldn’t decide if the lotion helped or made the itch worse once it was absorbed. Alyssa finished smoothing the last of the moisturizer into his back and fanned it with a magazine. The cool breeze was exactly what he needed to chase away the lingering tingle.

  He pushed his chair away from the table and spun it around so he could sit facing forward. Alyssa draped herself across his lap and dragged her fingers across the sides of his scalp which were scruffy with razor stubble. They were practically nose to nose while she wiped the excess lotion that still clung to her fingers into his scalp.

  His heart was heavy as he stared into her eyes. “No one ever took care of me the way you do, Alyssa. I never thought I’d have someone like you.”

  She placed a soft kiss on his lips while holding his face between the palms of her hands. “I wasn’t looking for love when I met you. I didn’t want a serious relationship. But I fell in love with you. It happened so fast I didn’t even see it coming. You’re easy to love.” She pulled her knees up to her chest, wrapped her arms around them and snuggled into his lap.

  He held her close, with both arms circled around her, so she didn’t fall off the chair or move an inch away from his body.

  “I’m glad you got my Goliath tattooed on your back. Sometimes I used to have nightmares when I was a kid, after I watched a scary movie. He protected me. That’s why I keep him in the bedroom. I knew they were only dreams, but I told myself as long as he was there with me, he’d shoo them away.” She paused and played with a strand of her hair. “Maybe he’ll do the same for you – chase away your bad dreams.”

  That was exactly his reasoning behind the tattoo. They both knew the gargoyle was only symbolic, and that his subconscious was responsible for the nightmares that manifested inside his head. He needed to hang onto the belief that the gargoyle would shield and protect him, though, in order to give him some kind of reassurance if he was ever going to fully stop taking the pills.

  Chapter Twenty

  Alyssa’s last two appointments cancelled, so she quickly packed up her station before any walk-ins preempted her early night. She hated when Damien had the night off and she was stuck late at work. It wasn’t the same without him, and she missed their playful banter throughout the day. Work was boring without him.

  She started to text him as soon as she left the shop, but there was a taxi dropping off a passenger right in front, so she chucked her phone in her bag and jumped in the car. There was no traffic, and fifteen minutes later she was entering Damien’s apartment building. A familiar figure walked past her in the hallway. There was something recognizable about him, but she couldn’t place him, and the baseball cap he wore disguised his features. Suspicion made her slow her pace and watch him over her shoulder as she slowly walked down the hall. When he turned the corner at the end of the corridor, he glanced back at her. Recognition made her gasp out loud, and she froze in place. It was Jerry.

  Nausea swept through her gut and made her queasy. Damien was doing so well – at least that’s what she thought. Maybe he’d been taking pills all along without her knowledge. Sickened and disheartened, she drudged the rest of the way to his apartment with a million different thoughts swarming inside her head.

  She paused in front of his door while she tried to grasp onto the reality that Damien was still using drugs – and that his dealer made house calls. A delivery was only a phone call away. It was as easy as ordering a pizza. She pushed her fingers through her hair and clutched chunks of it in her fists. Her heart was beating out of control with fear and worry. She needed to help Damien, but she wasn’t sure what to do. Frustrated, she let out a deep breath and knocked on the door.

  Damien answered right away. “Hey. I didn’t expect you for another hour or so.”

  “I got done at the shop early.” She pushed her way into the apartment, while her eyes searched every available surface for the batch of pills that Jerry dropped off. It was stupid to think Damien would leave them lying around in plain view, but finding them would save her the anguish of asking him about it point blank.

  She kept her back to him and closed her eyes, praying that when she opened them she’d be in her bed, and the whole thing was a bad dream. Damien came up behind her and put his arms around her waist, but she stepped out of his embrace and turned to face him.

  He knew something was wrong right away. The wavy line of her lips and her wrinkled forehead were a dead giveaway. He knew she saw Jerry leave his apartment, and he dropped his head in shame.

  “Look at me.”

  He slowly lifted his head. The pain that passed through his eyes was worse than when he recounted his tormented childhood. His lips were pressed together, and the corners of his mouth bowed down into a frown. “I’m sorry. I still need them to help me sleep.”

  Her heart fell into the pit of her stomach. Although she knew the truth, a small part of her had clung to the hope that he sent Jerry away without following through with a purchase. It was a desperate plea to mask reality, and a foolish expectation. She tried to reach into the pocket of his jeans to take the pills away from him, but he caught her hand.

  “I’m trying, Alyssa. It’s not easy.”

  “That’s because you need to enter a program or get counseling or something. You can’t do it on your own.”

  “We’ve had this conversation before. I’m not going into one of those programs, and I don’t need someone with a medical degree to tell me I had a fucked up childhood. I already know that. I can quit on my own.”

  Wasn’t that the line all addicts used? Her mind was spinning with panic and doubt. His addiction was stronger than she realized, and the pills were easily accessible. It didn’t have to be in a bar. A phone call was all it took to feed his habit. Her lips trembled from desperation, and she pleaded with him. “Damien, please . . .” She grabbed both his arms and squeezed them tightly. She wanted to shake some sense into him. “Get help – for me. I can’t watch you do this to yourself.”

  “I’m not doing anything to myself except
getting relief. I just about quit drinking.” His eyes fell to the floor. “I slipped up a couple of times.”

  His admissions hit her like a hard slap in the face. Stunned by the overwhelming news, her mouth hung open with disbelief and disappointment. She didn’t realize the extent of his dependency on the pills and alcohol. Fear gripped her heart, and it ruined the belief that he could give up his habit. He was slowly destroying himself, and she was powerless to help him. “You have to stop, Damien.” She grabbed his T-shirt in both of her fists. Her hands shook almost as much as her voice. “I know you’ve made progress, and that’s great. I’m proud of you, but you have to stop taking those pills. Please reconsider and go to counseling.”

  “I can do it on my own.”

  His mind was made up. Nothing she could say would change it. Her hands fell to her sides with defeat, and all of the energy left her body. “Prove it,” she whispered. “Give me those pills you just bought.”

  He shielded the front pocket of his jeans with his hand. “I can’t do that. Not yet.”

  A searing pain split her heart in two. She couldn’t stand by and ignore or condone his behavior. Tears scorched her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. “Please . . .” she begged, holding out her hand. “Give them to me.”

  He stared into her empty palm and slowly shook his head. “I’ll just get more.”

  Her lips clamped down to suppress a sob, and her fingers rubbed her temples. “I’m sorry, Damien. I love you, but I can’t be with you as long as you’re taking those pills and dependent on alcohol. I just . . . can’t.”

  Fear spread across Damien’s face like a wildfire. “Alyssa, I need you. Don’t—”

  “No. You need those pills.” Her tears flowed freely, and Damien was nothing more than a blur behind a wall of water. She needed to leave before her vision cleared enough to see the pain in his face and she weakened. She needed to be strong and walk away. “I’m sorry. Call me when you’re clean. I can’t watch you destroy your life.”


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