The only person who seemed less delighted by the get together than myself was a plump twelve year old boy. He was some distant cousin of mine, sucked into a handheld video game, unkempt into a suit that was forced upon him. The art in the game looked good, but the game itself seemed pointless and stupid. From what I could make out, it was about a beefed up heroic someone who was going nuts shooting everything that moved. That kid wasn’t following any storyline. He just didn’t want to be there. He wanted to escape into something different. So did I, but I was not a child. The way out couldn’t be that easy for an adult.
My suit looked awkward on my skinny figure too. That kind of style was not my own, and such occasions where I had to dress up and be somewhere were very rare. I was obliged to borrow a formal kind of outfit from an acquaintance who trusted me enough to lend it to me. He happened to be a little bigger than myself, but I wore the stupid clothes anyway. Black suit, white shirt, dark blue satin tie, lame. It was a very hot breezeless day, and I was feeling uncomfortable even outside. If I took the jacket off I would have looked like one of the waiters. I suffered through the ceremony with patience, and then I settled for an untucked shirt and an untied tie.
Uncle go-getter got married at fifty-six, someone quite younger than him. I used to know people that didn’t get to reach fifty-six. I was feeling old at twenty years younger than that. My thick uncle had it in him to start anew at that age. To each their own. I was only there because my parents had dragged me, and I wanted to be on their good side for a change. The initial intention was to be polite, keep my head up for a couple of hours and scram as soon as everything wrapped up.
I was fortunate to have dozed off in my chair for most of the ceremony, hence the most tedious part went on swiftly. The reception took place at the enormous yard of the bride’s home, a huge two story house which screamed of wealth and spoiled upbringings. Both families were big, and the newlyweds were rather popular people, so the attendance was good. As long as the booze kept flowing, I was okay to hang around for a little while, for my parents’ sake, although I was already annoyed by the looks and sounds of all those people socializing, wearing fake smiles and making small talk, asking about each other’s news only to get a chance to talk about themselves.
I endured the first interaction with the first nosy uncle. He kept asking me about my current situation and I handled it well. I was expecting it to be rough, but I managed by answering in the most generic way possible, trying to minimize the chances for the conversation to keep going. For a tiny moment it felt like it was possible for me to live through it all. I did my best at first. Uncles and cousins, and relatives of all kinds came and went, stepping on my throat, asking about what I do, the degree I never got, how long I had been unemployed, my income, my crappy apartment, marriage and children, cats and dogs, and my views on the President. I was hammering away on champagne, giving them the most non-specific, monosyllable answers I could think of. Soon I ran out of those.
I snapped at an aunt I didn’t recognize. A drunken, barking rant came out of me about welfare, about art and creativity, about your abortion and your miscarriage, and about how grateful I was for all those things. With all my might I threw my half empty glass on the house’s beautiful, spotless beige exterior wall, and yelled out two words which felt like poetry to me at that certain point.
The din of the crowd stopped, and everyone was staring at me over the sounds of some familiar swing jazz music. I stormed into the house, up the stairs and into a bathroom which to my surprise was not occupied, despite all these people drinking up outside. I knelt before the shiny toilet and vomited hard, gushes of alcohol and crackers coming out, producing a godawful smell that made me want to throw up more, and I did until there was nothing left. It took me a minute to compose myself, wash my ugly pale face in the sink. I popped in a trusty Adderall and some prescribed anti-depressant which my pockets always carried.
I walked out in haste, bumping shoulders with random people on the way out. Distant voices called me out, but didn’t get a response. I was quick, down the stairs, through the yard, out the front gate, down the road.
My parents were my ride home, and I didn’t have any money for a cab or a bus, so walking was my only option. The town was about ten miles away. I thought I should make it in a couple of hours. I did it in three. It was past midnight when the surroundings started to become more familiar.
Three low life adolescents were chilling out on a bench, at the park were I used to score drugs back in the day. A bicycle and a couple of skateboards stood next to them, together with the used up, empty beer cans which were laying on the ground. I went closer to them, said hello and proposed to trade some of my Adderall for some weed. I was sweating my ass off.
They looked at each other, as if they were holding a fast conference and nodded, “yes.” The biggest guy got up from the bench, approached me and punched me straight in the teeth. Next thing I knew, I was on the ground next to the smelly beer cans. They beat me up more, robbed me off my pills and took off, left me there bloody and sore.
I drowsed off down there for a while, and when I found the strength to get up and shake the dust off, a car came by and blinded me with its lights. On its back seat there was that bratty cousin of mine, returning from the party, indifferent, still playing the game. I looked at him straight in the eye as the vehicle passed by, and he gave me the finger.
About half an hour later I was at your apartment. Luckily the teenage thugs hadn’t took my keys, so I got in, climbed the old building’s stairs three stories up due to the elevator being broken as usual. I found you sleeping in a pool of sweat on the mattress on the floor, with the old crackling fan facing out the open window, blowing the hot air out of the room. I was exhausted. I dropped my clothes on the floor and got in bed with you. I clinched on to your back which woke you up for a while. You mumbled that I stank, and I said that I was sorry. You said that it was alright.
Everything was alright.
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