Punk Rock Resurrection

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Punk Rock Resurrection Page 19

by Jenna Galicki

  The man’s head turned so quickly Damien thought it would snap. “I didn’t know you had a son, Judith.”

  “I don’t.” His mother’s eyes never left him as she denied his existence.

  A sarcastic snort left Damien’s lips. “I’m right in front of you. I’m not dead, and I’m not a bum on the street. I’m a musician. And a damn good one.”

  “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she hissed at him. “I never had a son, and if I did, it wouldn’t be the likes of you.” She walked passed him, but her male friend stayed in the doorway. They both stood side-by-side and looked at his mother with disbelief.

  Her words were a sharp kick in the face. “Are you fucking kidding me? You threw me out four years ago on my 18th birthday. Do you have any idea how hard it was for me? I had nothing. Nowhere to go.”

  She spun around with her teeth clenched and her lips drawn back from tension. “I don’t care. I told you, I don’t have a son.”

  “Yes! You do! Me! Damien!” He pounded his fist into his chest to solidify the fact that he was real, flesh and blood, standing in front of her.

  She turned her back to him, but her male friend advanced toward her. “Judith. What’s going on here? Why would this kid say he’s your son if it wasn’t true?”

  Damien’s mother glared at him with eyes as hard as steel. “He’s not my son. He’s a liar.”

  Everyone in the bar was staring, but Damien didn’t care. It was the denial that cut into him. He didn’t exist in her eyes. She washed her hands of him four years ago and probably never gave him a second thought until today. “Why do you hate me so much? What the fuck did I ever do to you? I cleaned the house, washed your car, and stayed the hell out of your way. I slept on the fucking street after you threw me out. Why are you so fucking heartless? You were supposed to be my mother.”

  His mother became visibly unglued. Her bloodshot eyes bulged, her face turned bright red and distorted with anger. “Stop saying that!” she screamed. “I don’t owe you anything! I took care of you! And I let you keep that stupid guitar!” She marched toward Damien, but she was eerily calm all of a sudden. “It was all your fault. You’re the reason my husband left me. He didn’t want a kid. He didn’t want the responsibility. So he took off and left me. I was stuck with a kid and no husband. I had to work two jobs to pay the bills.” She flew into another rage. “You ruined my life once! You’re not going to do it again! Stay away from me!” She drew her hand back to strike him, but she stopped when she saw the loathing in his eyes.

  “Don’t lay a fucking hand on me. I’m not 15 anymore. That’s the last time you hit me. Don’t think I’ll ever forgot every slap, every shoe or object that you threw at me. But you know what? None of it mattered, because you noticed me. It was the only time you paid any attention to me, so I was happy to get any kind of reaction from you.”

  The man looked at the both of them, clearly shocked by his mother’s outburst and the exchange that transpired. “Judith? What’d you do to this kid?”

  “I didn’t do a Goddamn thing.” She stormed out of the bar, and the man followed her.

  Damien was left standing by himself, staring at the door that his mother just walked through. She abandoned him for the second time – for the last time. Everyone’s eyes were upon him, and the humiliation burned his cheeks, but it was the slow crushing ache in his heart that immobilized him. He didn’t know why he cared about what his mother thought or said anymore, but his insides crumbled and disintegrated. The trembling started in his hands and worked its way up his back.

  Someone thrust a glass in his hand. It was the bartender. “I don’t know what the hell that was about, but you look like you could use this. On the house.”

  It was another tall glass of Johnnie Walker. He could recognize the smell three feet away.

  “Do you want me to call someone, kid? You don’t look so good.”

  Damien digested his pain and used it to fuel his strength. “No. I don’t need anyone. Thanks for the drink.” He looked at the glass and swallowed it in three quick gulps.

  Damien didn’t remember how he got home, or when he bought the bottle of Johnnie Walker, but it was a third shy, and he was on the couch staring at his reflection in the blank television screen. The confrontation with his mother was supposed to bring closure, that was the intention, but it peeled the scab off an unhealed wound. That wound was in the center of his chest, raw and bleeding, oozing pain and toxin through his blood like a poison. The venom his mother injected with her sharp tongue coursed through his veins. It debilitated him physically. He was probably more vulnerable right now than he was when he was a small child with no one to console him. There was never a loving hand or a kind word. Never a hug or kiss was sent his way. He never felt a mother’s love. He built a tough exterior early on, but it was gone. It burned up and fell in a pile of ashes the moment his mother said she never had a son.

  The alcohol usually numbed the pain, but tonight it amplified it. He wanted it to stop. He needed it to go away. It was suffocating him like a plastic bag. It was a machete to his gut, and his insides were tumbling to the floor. He zig-zagged to the kitchen, holding onto the wall and the furniture to stabilize himself. He searched the contents of the messy kitchen drawer and then dumped it on the floor with impatience. The amber bottle rolled toward him and landed at his feet, offering him solace. He swallowed two pills and washed them down with a handful of lukewarm water from the sink. He tucked the medicine bottle in the front pocket of his jeans and returned to the living room.

  The bottle of alcohol on the coffee table beckoned to him, and he chugged the harsh taste of the whiskey. He knelt in front of Elvira’s cage and found her in one of the tunnels that were part of the maze that attached to her enclosure. She had almost ran away last week. She had disappeared under the baseboard for several frantic minutes. It was stupid that he was so attached to a little rat, but he loved her. He stuck his finger through the bars of her cage, and she ran to him and sniffed his hand, just like she always did. It brought a brief and minuscule smile to his lips. The medication started to kick in, and his lids began to close. Each blink was an effort, and his legs were heavy and sluggish as he waked back to the couch. His vision blurred, his eyes sealed shut and brought relief with the darkness.

  Damien bolted wide awake. He was drenched in sweat and his heart was pounding. Thick fog clouded his head and masked the nightmare that jerked him awake, but one thing reverberated in his mind – his mother’s voice. He sat up too quickly and swayed from a sudden bought of dizziness. The room spun, and he forced himself to focus. His eyes settled on the bottle of whiskey. It was half empty. Had he drank it all by himself? He presumed so, but he couldn’t remember. The only thing he remembered were his mother’s words – “I never had a son, and if I did, it wouldn’t be the likes of you.” He clamped his hands over his ears to silence the voice, but it was useless. When he closed his eyes, he saw the hate in his mother’s eyes when she had denied his existence. She had despised him from the moment he was born. She told him that he was the reason his father left. She blamed him for her failed marriage. Every name she had ever called him, every slap in the face, every foul remark she had made about him, all swirled in his head. He balled his hands into fists and pounded them into his temples. He needed to silence the tornado that was ripping him to pieces. The overpowering rush of pain devastated him. He fished the pills out of his pocket, washed two more down his throat with the alcohol, and waited for the numbness to alleviate the pain.

  He stared straight ahead, and his eyes rested on Elvira. She was chewing on one of her toys and kicking up her bedding. She was the only ray of light in his world of darkness right now. He went to her, but stumbled and knocked over the bottle of liquor. It rolled off the coffee table and landed on the floor with a thud. The haze of alcohol and medication started to take over and threw off his perception. It took both hands to open Elvira’s cage, and she jumped out of his grasp and ran around his feet. He dropp
ed to the floor and rocked on his hips. He tried to pick her up, but he had trouble focusing, and his hands weren’t steady enough to catch her. She jumped into his lap, and he was able to hold onto her. “Sit with me, girl.” Her pink nose twitched at him, and a tiny smile formed on his lips. “Thass a goo grl.” The words were foreign, and he didn’t recognize them. His eyes lost focus, and his vision blurred. There were two, now three, images of everything. His lids wouldn’t stay open, and his head lolled back, then fell forward.

  He didn’t realize how much he drank, and the last two pills exceeded his tolerance. The alcohol mixed with the pills in his bloodstream and elevated to a toxic level. He needed to call for help, but his phone was in the kitchen and he knew he’d never make it. Alyssa would blame herself, but Angel would probably grieve the most. Elvira scurried away as he scrambled to get to his feet. His legs were like rubber and couldn’t support him, and he fell back onto the floor. The corner of the coffee table hit his temple on the way down. There was no pain, only the warm trickle of blood running down the side of his face before the blackness fell upon him.

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Death. Damien thought it would bring him a sense of euphoria or peace, but he felt neither. His body ached, his head hurt, and his throat was dry and raw. There was darkness. His eyelids were weighted, too heavy to open. There were voices too far away and muffled to distinguish. He tried to move, but the ache in his ribs stopped him. He heard himself moan. Someone took his hand and held it. It was a woman. She was next to his bed speaking another language. It was prayer. He wasn’t dead. He was in the hospital.

  Damien forced his eyes open. His lids fluttered, allowing a sliver of light to enter, but it was too bright, and he squeezed them shut.

  The woman tightened her grip on his hand and called his name. “Damien! Damien! Wake up. I am here with you. You are not alone. Open your eyes and look at me.”

  His mother? Why was she here? He tried to pull his hand away, but she wouldn’t let go, and he was too weak to fight her. Something wasn’t right. Her voice was different. She had an accent. He squinted through the blur of his lashes, but only saw a haze of white light.

  The woman shook him vigorously by the shoulder. “Wake up, mijo! Wake up!”

  Mijo? At first, the Spanish term confused Damien, but he recognized the warmth in the familiar voice. It wasn’t his mother. It was Angelita, Angel’s mother. This time he forced his eyes to stay open, although they were little more than slits that were shielded by his furrowed brow. His vision slowly came into focus and he was able to identify the silhouette of Angelita’s dark hair. She smiled down at him. The love and tenderness in her eyes awakened his heart, and it ached with need.

  She placed her hand on his cheek and pressed her lips to his forehead. “You had us very worried, Damien. People love you. I love you.”

  A giant ball of emotion rose up from his chest. Angelita Garcia loved him. He gulped down the knot in his throat and tried to steady the corners of his mouth.

  “Why would you do such a terrible thing?” There was pain and genuine concern in her voice. “You are a young man. You have your whole life ahead of you with infinite opportunities.” A tear hung in the corner of her eye. “Why would you try to end your life?”

  “It . . . it was an accident.” His chest was weighed down with guilt. He needed to explain, but he barely had a voice and spoke just above a whisper. “I just wanted the pain to go away.”

  “Did something happen to upset you?”

  He was embarrassed and lowered his eyes to the bed sheets. He fiddled with the monitor that was clipped on the tip of his finger, careful not to disturb it and alert one of the nurses. He wanted to be alone with Angelita. After the horrible incident with his mother and the years of rejection, he needed a maternal presence in his life right now. “I saw my mother.”

  Angelita put a comforting hand on his arm. “Tell me what happened.”

  A deep breath calmed him, but he was still hesitant to talk about the incident. His insides were lacerated and injured, without any time to heal. He was raw and vulnerable, but he pushed himself to say the words. “I practically ran right into her. We were face-to-face for the first time in years.” He closed his eyes, but it didn’t stop the incident from replaying in his head. “My mother . . . she acted like she didn’t know me. She said she didn’t have a son. Denied that I existed. Then she said I meant nothing to her.”

  The horror that passed over Angelita’s face made his heart ache even more. It reinforced the loneliness of never having a mother’s love – a love that he was entitled to from birth but never received. Thoughts began to circle through his mind – the same thoughts that tormented him the night he took the pills. Was it yesterday, or the day before? He had no idea how long he was in the hospital, or why his gut ached. It was a physical pain, but it was insignificant compared to the emotional turmoil that gnawed away at his insides. Everything came crashing down on him all at once. It was too much for him to process, and he was overcome with grief and remorse. His face contorted with pain and he couldn’t control it. The walls that he built around his heart were destroyed, and he didn’t have the strength to steel himself against the harsh reality that was his pathetic life. The tears came and he was helpless to fight them. Years of repressed anger and frustration were finally vented.

  Angelita put her arms around him and rubbed his back. His spine went rigid, and he froze. He wasn’t used to physical contact in the form of affection. No one had ever tried to console him – except Alyssa. He wasn’t used to being on the receiving end of sympathy and compassion. It was warm and inviting. It brought him solace and relief. There was security and acceptance in Angelita’s embrace. He felt a mother’s love for the first time in his life, and it brought a fresh set of tears down his cheeks.

  Angelita hugged him tighter and rocked him. “You did not deserve to be treated that way, Damien. You are a good man with a good heart.”

  He didn’t know how long he sobbed on Angelita’s shoulder, but he felt freed. It was an epiphany to finally let go of the pain that was building inside of him, instead of masking it with pills or alcohol or pretending it didn’t bother him.

  He sat back and wiped his eyes with two shaking hands. A deep breath made his body shudder. “Thank you. You’ve been nicer to me than anyone in my whole life. My mother never had one nice thing to say about me. All she wanted to do was tear me down and tell me how worthless I was. She never tried to comfort me, and I don’t think she ever hugged me once in my life.”

  Angelita’s brows furrowed over her blazing eyes. She scowled and spit on the floor. “That woman is not your mother! Not anymore!” She pointed her finger toward the ceiling. “I am your mother now!”

  Only a woman as classy as Angelita Garcia could make spitting on the floor look dignified. He gave her a small smile, and she leaned down and kissed his cheek. Angel was lucky to have such a wonderful mother. “Thank you for being here when I woke up. I don’t know what it would have been like if I was alone.”

  “We did not want you to be alone. We took turns and stayed with you around the clock.” She wiped a stray tear from his cheek with a tissue. “I am glad I was the one who was here when you woke up.” She patted his hand with reassurance. “Let me notify the nurses that you are awake. Will you be all right by yourself for five minutes?”

  He nodded. “I feel better than I’ve felt in years.” His heart did, but his body was weak, and he still had a tender pain in his right side. “Can I have some water before you go?”

  “Of course.” She poured him a cup of water from the pitcher next to his bed and handed it to him before she left the room.

  He watched her walk away. She was a beautiful woman, on the inside as well as on the outside. She was loving and nurturing – everything a mother was supposed to be.

  The water was ice cold and quenched his thirst, but his throat was still scratchy. He leaned back on the pillows and stared at the ceiling. By all rights he should
be dead. He still didn’t know who found him or how he ended up in the hospital.

  He heard someone approaching his room and turned to the entrance expecting to see one of the nurses, but it was Alyssa who stood in the doorway. She was his dark angel coming to his rescue. He couldn’t describe the relief that washed over him as soon as he saw her. He was a broken man, and he needed her in order to put himself back together. He heaved a giant sigh and pressed his lips together to keep them from trembling. His cheeks twitched and tears blurred his vision. The overwhelming sobs crept up from his throat and he couldn’t suppress them.

  Alyssa ran to his bedside and threw her arms around him. “Thank God you’re all right.” Her voice was shaky, and she held him so tight that it hurt his ribs.

  He missed her so much. The shame of his drug use and overdose washed over him like a tidal wave. He pressed his face into her shoulder, and his body convulsed while he silently wept. The crushing pain in his heart tore his insides to pieces. He was exposed and helpless, susceptible to every emotion that racked his inner being. The sobs choked him and took his breath away. He was horrified that she had to witness his emotional breakdown and see him in such a fragile state. He clung to her and crumpled the back of her shirt in his fists. She was his life preserver. Without her he would drown. She was his chance at life, his shot at happiness, and his reason for living.

  “Shh. It’s OK, Damien. I’m here, and I’m not leaving you.” She rubbed his back and pressed her lips to the side of his head. Her voice still wavered, but her words were strong. “You’re going to get through this. You’re tough. Believe in yourself, because you have so much to live for.”

  There were so many demons festering inside him. They were fighting to take control and overpower him. He wouldn’t let them win. He would fight the torment he suffered – for Alyssa. His sobs abated, but he couldn’t let go of her and rested his head on her shoulder.


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