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My Life In Twenty Years
As I open my eyes, the bright sun gleams into greet them. The sudden burn of light makes me rethink getting up. I sit up and see my wife still sleeping next to me. It’s 6:30 a.m. and I shuffle into the kitchen to make some tea. Waiting for the water to boil I see my son Jack come out of his room.
Long night kid.
I ask him as he grabs the Tylenol from the cabinet over the sink.
Yea, Kaylee’s birthday got a little crazy. I think I went ten games in a row on the table.
Don’t let your mother hear that. I had to cover your ass real hard last night.
Thanks dad. I love you.
Jack gets into the shower and starts to get ready for school. At only 17 he is a spitting image of me, long black hair, tall, skinny, lean with mysterious hazel eyes that draw all the girls in, and confuses them to. The whistle of the tea kettle draws me out of my reflection of my son. My wife, now up and getting ready for her job as a senior Vice President for a large programming company, sets my cup of black tea in front of me. She seems a little concerned and speaks up;
Jack seems sick. He’s real sluggish and pale. I think he was drinking last night at Sam’s house.
It’s ok babe. He just ate some bad Chinese while out. I’m going to let him sleep it off a little then take him in around nine thirty.
Ok baby, well I need to get going or I’ll be late for my presentation. Dinner is going to be barbecue. Can you manage that?
I got it baby, you worry too much. Get to work. I’ll have it under control.
After she leaves I tell Jack to get ready for school. He starts complaining and saying I was going to let him sleep in. I tell him that I said that just so I could keep him out of trouble.
You want to have fun on a weeknight; you better get up for your responsibilities in the morning.
He mulls it over for a second, than nods in silent agreement. He gets dressed and puts on a pair of khaki straight fit pants, followed by a white t shirt with a pen and notebook screen printed onto the front in various shades of green, white and orange. His final necessity, his backpack, is by the front door with his navy blue Vans sneakers. We get into the family Audi A4 and I take him to school. I get him there just in time for the bell signaling the start of first classes. Just before he leaves I tell him;
I have an assignment to do and don’t know how long it will take. So you’re going to need to get a ride from Jessica. She’s still coming for dinner tonight, right?
Yea, she’s still coming dad. Ok, thanks for letting me know. I have to get to class, I have a sociology exam. I love you dad.
I love you to Jack. You mean everything to me.
As I drive away from the school I am happy. I am happy I’ve done something right finally in my life. My son is the only thing I’ve done right in this life. He is my everything. I hope he makes it.
It’s only 8:30 when I get home. With no one home and the house silent, I am alone, at ease. I am calm. Ever since I was fourteen, being alone is the only feeling I feel comfortable with. I am me. I am free. I start scrambling eggs and pour a glass of orange juice and top it off with some Vodka. The light fluffy eggs smell great as I transfer them onto my plate, then the plate to the table next to my Screwdriver. The light smooth textured eggs just melt in my mouth as I pull up the e-mail detailing my assignment for the Times.
Free-lance journalism is hard, one of the hardest jobs out there. No consistency in work, never any steady pay checks. It sucks. I’ve been lucky though, able to work free-lance as a full time reporter. The assignment given to me is quite simple, write a seventeen inch column on the summary of the primaries in Western New York.
The next few months are going to be hell after the Primary though.Working as a full time writer means covering the campaign trail, from A-Z. I’ll think of that later. Sitting next to the big bay window in the back I look out over the lake and start remembering my life till this point; Long years of hard drug and alcohol use, trying to manage it in college, losing it. Then, her… I can’t think anymore, I need a walk.
With only one tree in my backyard, the sun is constantly warming the grass in spring. Walking over the grass in my bare feet feels as if it’s just a warm, tickly carpet. I walk down the twenty or so steps onto the hot sand and see what I’m looking for. A nice beach log washed up on shore from the lightning storm three days ago. I sit down and pull out a joint. Inhale. Exhale. I feel the smoke calm me, fill in the hole. It won’t last, but at the time it doesn’t matter, it only matters that at this present time, it is filled. It’s always been like this. Pain. Smoke. Pain. Drink. Pain. Snort. Pain. Get fucked up. When that hole begins to open, I shut it temporarily.
After I finish my joint and reflect for a moment, I get up and go back inside. I make another cup of tea and spend the next hour writing my column. It’s only eleven and I now have the rest of the day, week, month, year to myself, unless I get another assignment, but I know for today at least, I’m done. I make a tall glass of iced tea and Jack, and then go to the backyard. No wind, clear blue skies, bright sun, perfect for rolling up outdoors. Just as I start, my phone rings. I look down and see its Luke. I answer;
Hey man, what’s up?
Nothing. It was a half day at the school today. Wanted to see if you wanted to hang for a little bit this afternoon.
Sure. I’m at the house, stop by man.
Ok, be there in twenty.
I hang up the phone and finish rolling. I start to roll a few more to have ready when Luke gets here. Sitting in the shade of this lone tree, I start to reminisce about mine and Luke’s friend ship. High school, college, adulthood, parenthood. Through it all, Luke has been there.
I hear a car pull in and assume it’s Luke. He walks around the back and jumps over the fence. He calmly strides over, already smoked a j on the way over, and says;
Oi, Oi. How ya doing.
Just peachy pal haha
We spend the next half hour smoking, listening to Wu-Tang Clan and just talking about the past week;
Yea, New York Times just had me write a column for the election. One Hour, 7500 bucks.
Because you’re a son of a bitch.
Luke always hates it when I get easy money like this. He then tells me about his fabulous job;
The schools having me head up art show. Countless hours. Zero dollars.
Haha, yea that does suck man.
Another hour goes bye of us just smoking and drinking and remembering. When we’re all done, we bid each other farewell and part ways. I stand in the driveway and watch Luke as he leaves. I finish my beer and go inside to the kitchen. The large windows let in an abundant amount of afternoon sun. The sunlight makes the white marble and steel appliances glimmer. I open the fridge and see the chicken with a note attached to it.
This is the chicken to barbeque. Marinate for twenty minutes starting at one fifteen. At two, put on grill for an hour and a half on low heat. I’ll be home at three.
Shit, its already one ten. I make the marinade in record time and get it in just in time. I kill time by listening to old records and playing pool. I hear the timer go off, so I grab the chicken, three beers and head out to the garage for the grill. In the beautiful, sunny, warm, spring afternoon, grilling chicken and drinking good, cold beer. Nothing gets better than this.
Around two thirty, Jack and his girlfriend arrive at the house. We exchange hellos and I tell Jack to set the table but not to pour drinks just yet. I finish the three beers and head inside for two more and a plate for the chicken to be served on. I pound the two beers and as I’m finishing the second one, my wife pulls into the driveway. She gets out and I melt. Her smile is so beautiful, it was the reason I noticed her at the bar during our senior year at Columbia. It always made me smile back. She walks over and we hug and kiss and I tell her dinner will be ready in five minutes. She heads inside and I plate the chicken on the clean white plate. I put down the chicken in between the corn, applesauce, mashed potatoes, chips, fries and other condiments. Jack and Jessica sit across the table from my wife and I. Dinner is peaceful and happy as everyone stuffs their faces with chicken, salad, chicken salad, iced tea and in may case, beer. As we “shoot the shit” with each other my wife tells me we are to be attending a get together at Luke’s house tonight.
He didn’t tell me that when he was over here earlier.
Must have slipped his mind dear. That’s why dinner is so early.
What about Jack and Jessica?
They’re going to a movie then Jack is spending the night at her house.
Alright, well I’m all finished up. I’m going to go upstairs and get ready.
Ok, we’ll will clean up.
I wipe my mouth on my napkin and then head up the dark stained mahogany stairs. I enter the bedroom and take out my phone and dial Luke’s number.
Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring
Hey man, what’s up?
You’re having a party tonight?
Yea dude. I thought I told you this earlier?
Nope haha. What’s the occasion anyway?
Did we need an occasion to get drunk in college?
Well played. I’ll see you in forty five then.
After I get off the phone, I am alone in my room from when I was a teenager. Large rap, skateboarding and punk posters decorate the walls. Numerous bottles and collectibles line the shelves around my stereo and it’s fortress of CDs guarding it. Kris and Dan sit on the couch taking bong hits and pass it to me. I accept and pull a cloud of smoke into the chamber before pulling out the bowl head and getting hit with a strong blast of smoke. Inhale. Exhale. As I exhale the more I exhale, the more Kris and Dan disappear till they’re completely gone. Alone, again. Except for one other. Her. She just stands there and stares at me. I can feel the blackness begin to creep in. A table of pills and cocaine appear in front of me. My room dissolves into the backroom of a bar. I recognize the room but can’t place where I’ve seen it before. I bury my face in the mountain of powder and blow. It burns, but the pain is better than the hole in me. I rise my head and she’s sitting across the table from me. Her eyes register all I need to see. Hurt, stun, pain, regret.
It all flashes backward and I’m back in my bedroom, screaming. I take five shots and start smoking a joint. These visions and nightmares are becoming more and more frequent. I finish smoking and go into the shower. I cry.