The Homecoming Game – Part 23

Sorry for the long delay in updates. Been travelling a LOT for work, and also… working… so, here we go:
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“We’re running out of alibis
From the second of May
Reminds me of the summer time
On this winter’s day”

- The Bitter End, Placebo

XV- ETHER

I arrive at the Hospital around 4pm. Einstein’s theory of relativity has been proven without ever needing to leave the planet. I’ve been back here less than 48 hours. I’ve been here for an unending, eternal lifetime. I sit in the car for a while. The car stopped in the Visitors parking lot, engine still running. Headphones blasting. Marilyn Manson is howling the lyrics to Irresponsible Hate Anthem at volumes that would induce bleeding in a lesser man. “Hey VICTIM should I black your eyes again? Hey VICTIM! You were the one who put the stick in my hand…” I’m sitting there. I’m listening. Trying to clear my head. Trying to wake up. Trying to blast away the emotions and that fucking internal voice that keeps chiming in. Trying to breathe. Trying to have just one more cig.

Trying.

And Brian Warner…Mr. Marilyn Manson… another one of us borne of redneck, middle-America. One who escaped, but still found himself haunted and fucked. Soul tainted and scarred by what he lived through as a child, he sings/screams out a possible answer. A baptism.

(Something to think about, at the very least.)

FUCK IT…FUCK IT! Fuck, fuck, FUCK!

I turn the car off. The ping… ping… ping… rings out.

Reminding me that my keys are in the ignition.

Reminding me of a heart monitor when someone is on life support.

Reminding me that I still need to call Elispeth and the kids.

Reminding me of sonar as it warns of something dark and unknown and wrong moving through the water, approaching with ill intent.

I grab the keys, and cigs, and make sure the headphones are in the glovebox, along with the remaining Red Bull I brought with me when I started out this morning. I check my jacket and jean pockets three times, making sure my phone and lighter and wallet and cigs are all on me and where I expect them to be. I haven’t had issues with this for years… the compulsive double-checking, the irrational, overwhelming fear that I’m forgetting something… but God or the Devil or whatever machinery causes the wheels of the universe to turn, thinks I don’t have enough currently on my plate, and really what is missing from this whole experience is a good old-fashioned bout of OCD panic. It’s been so long since this has been an issue that I don’t even have a prescription for Paxil anymore. I lock the car, even though it’s unlikely that I need to. I don’t even think about it… habits of protection and safety on autopilot.

The sun’s going down, the temperature’s dropping. I make a note to myself that if I stay here another day, I’m going to have to get another coat. My leather blazer is too thin. Ineffectual and useless in terms of keeping out the chill as the wind picks up and drives icy knives through the black cowhide into my skin. I start towards the main entrance, passing the glowing red sign that points out the way to the Emergency Room as I walk.

…..

I know this Emergency Room well. I spent my last night in town here. An unexpected, unplanned and melodramatic goodbye present from the town that had already inflicted a non-trivial amount of pain and discomfort on me over the course of 18 years.

It had started out with a simple enough plan. Michael and a handful of friends, gathered at the house of a slightly-older acquaintance (One who at the age of 20, was old enough to by alcohol in Idaho.) for a “farewell party”, at which my friends and I would drink. They’d toast and/or mock me, and thus we would spend the last hours of my life in the Valley in a drunken reverie.

That was the plan.

In theory.

I’m sure you’re well aware of the cliche regarding God’s opinion towards his silly little monkeys making plans. That night was a perfect example. Michael picked me up in the new car he had just been given by his parents in recognition of his recent graduation from High School. He, being the ‘responsible one” between the two of us… and likely in some small part because he wanted to show off his new car to our assembled cohorts… decided that he would serve the role as “designated driver” for the night. The term, circa 1987, meant only having a couple of beers during a party. The idea of completely abstaining from booze at a going away party? That was just crazy talk. Kid’s stuff. Silly babbling by uptight prudes who desperately needed to get laid. We were experienced partiers. We weren’t some “weekend dabbler”, who’d have a couple of wine coolers at a kegger and then spend the entire next week talking about how we got “sooooo wasted last weekend.” We’d done extensive testing. Experiments had been conducted with every possible variable under precise and carefully controlled conditions. All of us attending that night Knew Our Limits. Michael pulled up, and for some reason… even though she had never done so at any time prior during the previous 4 years during which I had done these laborious tests into the realm of alcohol, Pot and Speed… my Mom cautioned me, stopping me as I was on my way out the door.

Be careful” She said, her face creased with worry “I need you to promise me that you’ll be careful, Jack. Promise me.

I was confused and perplexed by her concern. While other kids got into trouble with the law, got caught drinking, having sex in public parks, got thrown in jail for being an intoxicated minor, or for drinking and driving, or… on occasion… ended up dead… that just wasn’t me.

I drank like a fish, smoked as much pot as I could get my hands on, and popped or snorted any bit of speed that showed up in town, but I was very, very, careful. I’d curl up next to a bush in a yard and sleep for a couple hours at 3am if I had even the slightest feeling that I was in a “state” that might lead to trouble. I was careful. I was cautious. I Did Not Get Caught. While Mom probably had a good idea that her son was no angel, I had given her no cause for concern over the four years in High School. I got straight A’s and B’s. I was involved in the Theatre and Art and Photography clubs. I was an editor for the school Newspaper. I had been voted in as a Student Body “Class Representative” for the graduating Seniors.

I was, by all outward appearances, A Good Boy.

I told her not to worry. That I would be safe. That I would probably just crash at Michael’s, and then come by in the morning to shower and pick up my stuff before heading to the train station in Spokane. I gave her a hug. I kissed her cheek. I told her that I loved her, and that I was glad that she was my Mother. She got teary-eyed, and I told her jokingly to “cut out the waterworks, sister” in my best Humphrey Bogart voice (which was, as we’ve already established in regards to my impersonations, pretty awful, sounding more like W. C. Fields) and told her not to worry, her Son would be coming home.

Safe.

Sound.

Whole.

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11 2013

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