Punk Rock Resurrection

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Punk Rock Resurrection Page 18

by Jenna Galicki

  He caught her arm. “You can’t leave me.”

  The tremor in his voice cut into her, but she couldn’t bear to look at him and kept her head turned away from him. “I love you, Damien, but I need you clean and sober.” She slipped out of his grasp and out the door.

  She ran out of the building and down the street without looking back. She was vaguely aware of Damien calling her name until it trailed off in the distance. The wind blew the tears off her cheeks and stung her face. She stopped to catch her breath and sobbed into her hands while a cutting pain stabbed her in the gut.

  Walking out on Damien was the hardest thing she ever did in her life. She had no idea where the strength came from, because she was ready to collapse. Her gut churned with anguish, but she knew she needed to take a stand – for Damien’s sake.

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Damien watched Alyssa race down the street and out of his life. He thought about chasing after her, but he knew it was hopeless. Nothing could change her mind once it was made up. He didn’t blame her. He was a mess. He endured a lifetime of pain, but nothing compared to the heartache of losing the only woman he ever loved. He was determined to win her back. She was the incentive he needed in order to turn his life around.

  He returned to his empty apartment, heartbroken and dejected. Elvira was happily munching on a chew stick in her cage. He envied her simple and uncomplicated life. Why was his world always so fucked up? A breeze blew in and moved the curtain. He remembered the day Angel hung them in his apartment in an attempt to make the place a little prettier for Alyssa. Now they mocked him. Curtains and slipcovers weren’t going to make this dump presentable. His apartment was shit. His life was shit. He pulled the small plastic bag from his pocket and emptied the contents into his hand. He rolled the pills around in his palm, then popped one in his mouth. He spit it on the floor with disgust, just before he was about to swallow it. He wasn’t going to lose the best thing that had ever happened to him – his girl – because of a little yellow pill. He would deal with the heartache and the turmoil, no matter how painful.

  Without the medication, the relief and solace that he longed for never fell upon him. Taking a pill, or drinking a glass of whiskey, was always his remedy to overcome grief, but he fought it. For once, he was going to do the right thing.

  He buried himself in the bed sheets and kept all the lights off, but sleep never took him into its embrace. Self-pity swam through him and collided with regret and shame. Why couldn’t he have had a normal life with a decent mother? His childhood played over and over in his head and ate away at him. He covered his head with the pillow and punched the mattress to make it stop.

  When he removed the pillow from his face, the sun was up, but he didn’t remember falling asleep. Had he spent the entire night twisting and turning in bed, begging for the ache inside his chest to go away? He jumped out of bed. He couldn’t stay in his apartment any longer.

  Damien opened the tattoo shop at 8:00 a.m., two hours earlier than scheduled. Alyssa’s first appointment wasn’t until 11:00, so he still had a few hours to collect himself. He had no idea what he would say to her, or if she wanted to speak to him. Perhaps they’d reconcile once they saw each other, or at least remain friends while he proved he could remain sober.

  The door chimed and Spyder entered the shop. “You’re here early.”

  “I couldn’t sleep.”

  Spyder studied him suspiciously before moving along to his work station.

  Alyssa’s empty chair stared at Damien from across the room. Yesterday he was in the exact same spot, only the love of his life was smiling back at him, flashing her shiny instruments in the light to tease him. It brought a smile to his face. The momentary bubble of joy quickly burst into flames at the memory of Alyssa running out the door last night. It was the lowest moment of his life.

  There were a dozen things Damien could be doing right now, but he kept his eye on the door, hoping Alyssa would walk through the threshold. He imagined she’d stop as soon as she saw him. She’d stare at him, slump her shoulders and shake her head, then slowly walk up to him and put her arms around his waist and rest her head on his shoulder. All would be forgiven, and they’d start over. In a perfect world, that’s how it would play out, but his life was far from perfect.

  Impatience made him check her schedule to see if maybe she’d cancelled her first appointment. Something was wrong. Her calendar was empty. He closed the program and reopened it. Still nothing. He checked Spyder and Axel’s appointments. They were all safe and still on the calendar. The other two artists’ appointments were also untouched. Confusion and panic rolled through his head. “What’s up with Alyssa’s calendar? Where’s all her appointments? She had a full day today. Now everything’s gone.”

  Spyder folded his newspaper and marched over to the front desk. “I knew there was going to be a problem between you two.”

  “What the fuck are you talkin’ about?” Damien’s heart was thumping in his chest, and fear made the blood rush through his veins.

  “Alyssa called me late last night and said she was taking some time off. She told me to clear her schedule for the next two weeks, but she probably wouldn’t be back before thirty days. She said she had to tend to a family problem.” Spyder narrowed his eyes. “Now I know what kind of problem she was referring to. She better come back, Damien.”

  If he wasn’t already sitting, Damien probably would’ve collapsed. His entire body went limp, and his hands caught his head. He squeezed his eyes shut to block out the reality that Alyssa was gone. She wasn’t coming back to the shop, and he might never see her again.

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  It had been a week since Alyssa left, and Damien’s head was constantly being pulled in a dozen different directions at once. He was the first one in the studio for band practice and sat in the corner by himself, plucking on his bass. It was hard to focus and concentrate, but music was the only thing that kept him sane. The hole in his life was only surpassed by the hole in his heart. His life was meaningless without Alyssa. The bluesy notes that bellowed from his bass reflected the sadness in his soul. He was lost without her.

  Her empty work station at the tattoo shop was like a shrine, untouched, with everything in the precise position as she left it. His days were spent either staring at her vacant chair or pretending she was in the back room getting ready for her next client, but he knew he was only fooling himself.

  Damien hadn’t taken a drink since the night she left, but fell victim to the draw of the medication on more than one occasion. He had tried to hold out, but the ache in his heart pulled his head into a bad place. He had only taken one pill each time. No alcohol. It was a milestone achievement, but he knew it wasn’t good enough. He needed to be sober, and he needed to do it for Alyssa. He reminded himself of it every day.

  Jimmy was the first to arrive for practice, and Damien acknowledged him with a slight nod of his head.

  Jimmy stopped mid stride and looked back at him. “You all right, man?”

  Damien shook his head, but kept his eyes on the strings of his bass. “No. I couldn’t be further from all right. I lost my girl.”

  “What the hell happened? You two looked happy.”

  Damien pressed his lips together and exhaled loudly. “It was my fault. She’s an angel. I’m so fucked up in the head, I’m surprised she didn’t run in the opposite direction when she first met me.”

  “Don’t be so hard on yourself, man.” Jimmy sat on the couch next to him. “Is there a chance you can still work it out?”

  “Yeah. I think so. I’m trying . . . but it’s so fucking hard.”

  “Do you want to talk about it, buddy?”

  “I gotta turn my life around. I gotta stay away from liquor . . . and stuff.” He didn’t know how much Jimmy knew about his drug habit, and Damien wasn’t in the mood to enlighten him.

  “You can do that, man. Just remember what’s at stake.”

  “I think about her every minute of ev
ery day. It’s the only thing that keeps me from jumping off a bridge, or drowning in a pool of Johnnie Walker.” Or oxycotton. “Without her, I have nothing left.” He nodded his head with confidence, giving himself a silent pep talk. “I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna clean up my life and win her back. I can’t live without her.”

  “She’s a cool chick. She cares about you. She’ll take you back.”

  “She has to. There was a time when I didn’t care if I lived or died. When I met her, she brightened my world. I can’t go back and live in that black abyss again. It’ll swallow me whole, and I won’t be able to climb out this time. I won’t make it alone, not when I finally know what it’s like to be loved.”

  Jimmy squeezed his shoulder. “You’re not alone. You got friends. We care about you.”

  Damien nodded. He knew Jimmy and Angel cared about him, and Angel’s mom was the closest thing he had to a real mother, but none of it mattered. The only thing that mattered to him was Alyssa.

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Somehow, Alyssa knew Angel would eventually show up at her door. She stepped aside and extended her arm. “Come on in.”

  Angel had that look of concern on his face that always caused his brows to pinch together. He took a seat on the couch and leaned forward with his elbows on his knees. He stared at the carpet and clasped his fingers together. “I know Damien has issues, and I know it must be really hard to deal with,” he lifted his head and looked her in the eye, “but he needs you.”

  She sat next to him, but looked away so he couldn’t see the guilt-ridden worry in her face. “I need him, too. This isn’t easy for me, but I need to be strong and adamant. Tough love. If Damien isn’t going to enter rehab, he needs to clean up on his own. Now. Before he gets any worse. Before it’s too late.” She had second-guessed her decision to leave Damien a million times. She walked out on him when he needed her the most, but in her heart she knew she did the right thing. “He needs to know that I’m serious. I’m not going to put up with his drug use and sneaking around taking pills behind my back. He needs a reason to stop.”

  Angel ran his fingers through his hair and tugged on the ends. “I’m worried about him too, Alyssa. I always tried to look out for him and be a good friend, but I’m not around him the way you were. I didn’t even know he was using drugs. You’re the one who brought it to my attention. I let him down.”

  She took Angel’s hand. “No. You didn’t. You’re a loyal friend, and you shared your family with him.” She wondered how much of Damien’s troubled past Angel had witnessed firsthand. “Did you know his mother?”

  Angel sat back and lowered his eyes. “Of course I knew her. I don’t know how he ever endured growing up with that detestable woman. She was horrible to him. I brought him around my family as much as possible, but you know Damien. He hates to be a burden on people. He wants to deal with everything himself.”

  “What was it like for him? Did he talk to you?”

  “Damien never talked about her, but I saw some things. He’s a stronger man than I am, because if my mother treated me like that,” he slowly shook his head and pressed his lips together, “it would have destroyed me. But it didn’t destroy him. Damien shrugged it off. He acted like it didn’t bother him, even though I could see the hurt in his eyes. In a way, it strengthened him. It made him fight back. It gave him a reason to push forward and better himself.” Angel looked off into the distance, then turned to her. A small smile formed on his lips. “I always wanted him to meet a girl, but he was never interested in anything more than a hook up – until he met you.”

  Her heart broke all over again. She missed Damien. She missed the sound of his bass that had always boomed through her apartment. She missed the scent of hairspray that had always clogged her lungs after Damien fixed his hair in the morning. She missed his tender smile and the way he had cradled her in his arms at night. She leaned forward, held her face in her hands, and covered her eyes. “I’ve been a loner my entire life. I never thought I’d want to stick with one person. Something told me to stay away from Damien the minute I met him, but I couldn’t. I was drawn to him by some sort of unstoppable force.” Her hands began to shake as she recounted so many memories in her head. They all crashed together and overlapped each other. She wanted to go back to work and share the day with him. Even if they didn’t speak and avoided each other, at least she would know he was OK. It would give her comfort to be in the same room with him, but she knew it was unrealistic. “I miss him so much.”

  Angel put his arm around her and rubbed her back. “He misses you, too. I’m keeping an eye on him. So is Jimmy. We’re trying not to let him sulk off on his own.”

  “Thank you. I hope I’m doing the right thing by staying away until he gets clean. My biggest fear is that it’ll backfire and push him deeper into drugs and alcohol. I’ll never forgive myself it that happens.”

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Damien didn’t know what to do with himself half the time. If he wasn’t working or if they didn’t have a gig or band practice, he was lost. Idle time was dangerous. He didn’t trust himself to sit in his apartment alone, so he walked, and it helped to clear his head. Every night he walked the same path, and after a while, he realized that he was getting closer and closer to his old neighborhood. It was a subconscious plea to make amends with his past and conquer the memories that kept infiltrating his head, but he debated whether or not he could really go through with it. Maybe a final confrontation with his mother was the only way to make the nightmares stop. Maybe that’s what he needed to do in order to put his drinking and drug use to bed once and for all. It’s the only way he was going to get Alyssa back. He needed to hold onto the thought that Alyssa would take him back as soon as he sobered up, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to function. Without her, there was no reason for him to be sober, and he would probably end up on an all-night bender.

  Tonight he ventured farther than any other night. The house he grew up in – his mother’s house – was only a few blocks away, but he couldn’t bring himself to continue. His feet were rooted in the concrete and wouldn’t move. He wasn’t ready to confront her, but this was the closest he came. On occasion, he thought about what he would say to her if they came face-to-face, but it was never anything more than a fabricated conversation that took place in his mind.

  McGinty’s bar was a few feet away. The local bar had poured him his first drink when he was only 17 years old. With the emergence of his bright blue mohawk, no one had recognized him, and no one gave him any shit. The bartender had never asked him for I.D. or questioned his age. He had sat at the bar and gruffed-up his voice so it sounded older, and he had ordered his old friend Johnnie Walker. It was Johnnie Red back then, the less-favored brother of Johnnie Black. Johnnie Blue, the best of the three, was still out of his price range, but it was an indulgence that he allowed himself once in a while.

  Damien peeked in between the half-lit, aged neon beer signs that hung in the window of McGinty’s, but it was too murky to see inside. The neighborhood bar had been one of his regular hangouts, and it brought back a fond memory or two. He stepped inside out of curiosity, only to see if the place had changed in the last few years, but he found himself sitting at the bar.

  The bartender placed a cardboard coaster in front of him and asked for his order.

  “Diet coke.” Damien threw some money on the bar. Although the bartender was different, the lacquered wood underneath Damien’s fingertips was exactly the way he remembered it – worn and scratched. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror behind the bar and saw himself as a teenager sitting on the same stool, only with a whiskey between his hands instead of soda. It was another omen that he needed to revisit his past in order to carry on with his future.

  Damien watched each bottle of alcohol as it left its home on the shelf, filled someone’s glass with liquid pleasure, and returned to its rightful place. He counted off the bottles against the wall behind the bar. They were all neatly arranged and sor
ted by types of alcohol, and his eyes rested on his favorite three Walker brothers, all sitting proudly with the other bottles of scotch whiskey. Johnnie Blue summoned him.

  The burly silhouette of the bartender blocked Damien’s view. “You look like you could use something a little stronger than that soda.”

  “Tall glass of Johnnie Blue. No ice.” It would be his last drink. After tonight, the bottle was history. No more alcohol and no more pills. Once he was clean for seven days, he would call Alyssa and tell her. She might still balk about taking him back so soon, but she’d know he was serious. He wasn’t going to fuck it up, either. Alyssa meant more to him than anything in the world.

  The whiskey filled the tumbler like a golden waterfall filling an empty reservoir. He swirled the amber liquid in the glass and held it up to the light. It was beautiful. “You and me are parting ways, brother. Thanks for the mind-numbing blackouts and the suppressed memories.”

  The alcohol went down his throat like a warm coating of honey. Johnnie would be missed, but he had to go. There wasn’t room in his life for that kind of poison anymore. He finished his drink, took his change from the bar and hopped off the stool ready to head home and start the countdown to sobriety on the calendar.

  An older couple passed through the door just as he was about to exit, and they almost collided head on. Damien froze. All color and warmth drained from his face in an instant. Every hair on the back of his neck stood straight up from the chill that was making its way down his body. He stared at her, waiting for her to say something, but she only looked back at him with disgust.

  He swallowed hard and realized he had been holding his breath. The man with her was eying them both, assessing their stand-off with confusion. Damien stood tall with his shoulders back and spoke in an even voice. “Hi, Mom.”


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