Sunday, February 1, 2009

"I'm scared, scarred and probably irrevocably fucked up. But you're the fucking scum of the earth."

I spit the words at the dirty bastard, a thick, white, wad of spittle flicking onto his cheek with the force of my words, and it looks like something completely different, like he's finally the cocksucker I've always thought him to be. Maybe now he'll take a shower. No one should stink like that, a smell that wafts off his body and drags itself down my throat so that I can taste it with my every breath. Cigarettes, sweat, and food, lost forever under the folds of bulbous, yellowed skin. He laughs, and I watch his jowls shake with a kind of abstract disgust; that whole 'there-but-not-there' illusion has always been my best friend. My eye catches on a black piece of something rotten stuck between one of his dirty nicotine stained teeth and I stare at it in something like horror. Horror that this gelatinous creature could be related to me in even the remotest sense of the word. I refuse to believe that we’re even of the same species, the contrast between my stunted body and his too extreme to even consider a resemblance.

If forced, I think I could classify him as Homo erectus. Never did quite make it to modern man, did you dad? Not that there’s anything erect about him, I think as a sardonic grin slides across my face, the face that refuses to see any similarities to him when I stare at myself in a cracked mirror. No, nothing erect, he hasn't stood in about two years. Housebound (couch-bound if we’re being honest here) for as long as I can remember, he makes his nest in our soiled living room. And I get the filthy job of looking after him. Running out for cigarettes three times a week, for greasy buckets of fried chicken from the corner store everyday. The gnarled old woman at the take-out always marvels at my ability to eat so much chicken and stay as skinny, or runty like she really thinks, as I do. Whenever she shares this pearl of wisdom, I laugh. The idea of me even getting one piece is hilarious. I don’t touch the things, except to bring them to this monstrosity before me and watch with some sick fascination as the grease slides down his tremendous face onto his stained wife-beater as he feeds. They’re about the only thing that fits him these days, especially since my mother gave up sewing for him and just started buying them in bulk from the Warehouse. A wife-beater for a wife-beater, my mother used to joke, her blackened eyes swollen as much from tears as anything else. Not so much of a wife-beater now, he can make no more than weak swipes at me, leaning forward on those fat stumps that he used to called his legs. My mother’s long gone anyway, now that he can’t chase after her. She didn't take me with her, and the smashed furniture in my bedroom and holes where my fist connected with my unpainted walls are the only witness to my forever unanswered questions of why.

His words are muffled by yards of fat, as he asks me exactly what makes me think I'm anything better than the same scum he is. No job, no friends, no fucking life. Scum, just like him. And he takes a bitter delight in it, thinking that he's rubbed off, slithered between the layers of my skin so I'll one day become him too. He doesn't know anything about nights I've snuck off to the abandoned buildings where we would bootleg cheap alcohol that tasted sweet like freedom in its cheap bitterness. Where we danced and fucked and fought. We made our own little crucible of what we thought a teenage world should be. We fought with more ferocity, seeing walls that held us back instead of the bloody faces beneath our fists. We loved harder, frantically shoving down our pants in dark corners, silent but for the slapping of flesh against flesh and then the always-cold sound of metal against metal when we did up studded belts. And we lived faster; injecting, snorting and smoking what we could get our hands on, fuck consequences. We welcomed consequences, loved every minute there was pain and upset. Pain reminds you that you're alive, that you're still up and running against the metal machine that grinds your teenage heart and soul into a cold block of ice that sit behind desks day after day talking about when you were young. He doesn't know about that, couldn’t understand even if he tried. Nights when I would steal his ever-precious bottles of bourbon; not even to drink (vodka got you drunk faster, cheaper and nastier), but to smash against brick walls with all the rage that I’d never managed to express until now.

I think fuck you, and then, remembering the packed duffel bag that lies across my unmade bed, say it out loud. I say it once quietly to myself. Once more, louder this time and then I scream it, scream the years of hate-filled rhetoric that I've whispered to myself at night for years on the promise that I'd say it to his face one day. Fuck you for the years when you came home drunk. Fuck you for the years of teachers looking at me with pity in their eyes. Fuck you for not having enough money for shoes, but always having enough to make me go buy you cartons of Marlborough’s. Chest heaving, and completely spent, I run, fearing I'll lose the nerve if I walk, pick up my duffel bag and grab my bus ticket off the scarred wood of what passes for a dining room table these days. He see's the load I bear and his squinting eyes recognize the determination in my face. He stutters, trying to push himself off the couch that has moulded itself to his body long ago, whining in a voice that suddenly sounds pathetic to me that I cant leave, who'll take care of him.

I'm not listening; I'm walking out the door. Then, just before I hit the dirt, I turn. Can I leave? My nerve is failing, faltering to a stop as I realise the finality of what I want to do. I step back in through the door, the fight mostly gone from me, and he laughs. The bastard laughs in my face and tells me he knew I was too pussy, and to get my ass back in here, shut the hell up and get him some chicken. That seals it. I turn back to my purpose, out the door and into the blistering sunset. His voice is growing louder, following me as I walk, and then run, and finally sprint away from him. When I'm far enough that he'll barely be able to hear me I come to a dead stop, dirt clouding over a pair of sneakers that were ruined long ago. I turn calmly around, and scream as loud as I can.

Get your own damn chicken.

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