Living with the Avengers

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Walter spent all of Saturday in his room and the attached bathroom. Laynie spent it downstairs, where she watched television or did homework all day. Walter came downstairs a few times, but Laynie gave him the silent treatment, refusing to even meet his eyes.

She wasn't even mad anymore, just disappointed and a little scared.

Monday was the first day he spent completely well again, and they had dinner together after work and school.

It was silent, and awkward, but they struggled through until the end.

"Laynie," Walter began quietly. He never finished.

She sighed and slammed her fork down on the table. "This isn't okay Walter. I was terrified Friday night. You were so drunk you couldn't walk."

"I know. And I'm sorry." Walter rubbed his hands over his face, "Tell me what I need to do to make this better."

"Get help. I know you're grieving, but this isn't a good coping method." She leaned forward, putting her hand on her dad's. "I love you. You're my dad, but I won't stay if this continues."

"I will. I promise." Walter squeezed her hand gently, "I'm so sorry, Laynie. Please forgive me."

"I forgive you, but I want you to get help soon. Today."

Walter did just as Laynie wanted. That night, they went to an alcohol anon class. Monday, Shawn was very happy to hear all Laynie had to tell him. Tuesday, Walter went to the class again and gained a mentor. He was to call that mentor at any time if he needed anything.

Wednesday morning, Walter heard about Shawn and insisted his whole family come to dinner. He cooked, and Laynie was beyond impressed.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Friday was the worst day of the week.

Walter was supposed to go a month without drinking to get over the addiction he had created in such a small time span, then along with the help of his mentor, he could re-introduce alcohol at safer, more reasonable portions. He didn't wait.

Laynie discovered when she awoke that after she had gone to sleep, he had gone to a bar with a friend and did a hefty amount of drinking. Needless to say, she was angry, and he was ashamed.

The day only got worse from there. Every day, Laynie had been spending her lunch period with Shawn. They actually spent every free moment with each other.

Laynie checked her watch. "I've got to stop by my locker before algebra, I'll call you later," she said, scooping up her trash from the lunch table.

Shawn looked torn for a moment, then jumped up and grabbed Laynie's arm before she could go. "Wait, um, I had something I wanted to ask."

Laynie turned around with a smile. "I'll be okay with my dad."

Shawn laughed nervously. "Well you know I'm worried about that, but I..."

Her smile faltered as she waited for Shawn's question.

"I mean, would you be interested in like, getting some pizza or something tomorrow?"

She blinked. "Shawn. Are you asking me out?"

He laughed again, letting go of her arm. "Yeah, kinda."

She grinned bigger than she ever had. "Shawn, that's..." Her smiled faded slowly. "I can't. I-I have to go to the class with my dad tomorrow, his mentor said it's best if I come on the weekends and beyond that-"

"You don't like me," Shawn finished.

"No. I-I actually do. But... My dad needs me right now. If I'm going to make this work I can't be distracted." She grimaced. "That's not how I mean that to sound."

Shawn smiled. "It's okay, I understand."

"That doesn't mean I don't want to get some pizza sometime," she smiled. "Rain check?"

He nodded. "Definitely. I'll see you Monday."

"Walter! I'm home!"

Laynie flung her backpack on the couch and went into the kitchen to get a snack. Seeing her dad's car in the driveway this early was out of the ordinary, but she'd chalked it up to the fact that it was a Friday, and he'd had a trying week."

With her head resting against the pantry door, she heard something upstairs.

Laynie sighed aloud. "Do I want to know?"

She heard her father's voice.

"Yep. I wanna know."

Upstairs outside her father's bedroom door, she could hear him yelling. To whom, she wasn't quite sure. She got as close to the door as she dared, and could hear bits of what sounded like a one sided conversation.

"I can handle it!"

"No, you don't understand! I'm fine."

"The kid? She isn't even home from school."

"When does school let out anyway?"

Laynie leaped away from the door and into her own room just as her drunken father opened the door.

"Laynie!" he shouted.

She carefully peeked out of her room. "Yeah?"

He grunted, clumsily turning around to go back into his room.

"Is that a business call?"

"Sure," he sneered.

His door swung to, but didn't latch. Laynie could now easily hear him from her own room.

"Charles, I get you don't trust me, but I'm all good. We're doing a-okay."

Laynie's heart fell. He must've been more drunk than he was Saturday. Charles was his alcohol anon mentor.

She gently closed her door and retreated to the closet with her mom's laptop. She played Internet games for hours, trying to make the numbness last as long as it could so the panic and fear wouldn't set it. She contemplated texting Carter or Shawn, but she didn't want to admit anything was wrong. She still wanted to believe her dad could pull himself together. She still wanted to believe this could work.

At around nine, her hunger finally got the best of her and she ventured downstairs. There hadn't been any noise in the house for a while, and she'd lost track of where her dad was.

Laynie opened the fridge, and a six pack of beer came tumbling out of the fridge. One of the bottles burst open and spilled all over her. What did it was her startled shout.

Walter appeared out of nowhere and stared on in his drunken stupor.

"Walter, I..."

He looked up at her, as if realizing just then that she was standing there.

He pointed at the ground in front of her, soaked in beer and covered in broken glass.

"Dad," she breathed.

"Go!" He shouted.

"I didn't mean to!

"Get out!"

"And go where?" she screamed in reply. "I don't have a home other than here, and all this alcohol is pushing me out!"

"No!" Walter almost lost his footing and grasped the wall for support. "I'm throwing you out! Shoulda known you'd be too much like her!"

"Like who? Like my mom? She was a hero! You're a drunk and you didn't deserve her! I don't even know how long she put up with you, but I know it hurt her! She never talked to me about it, and I was all she had. We only had each other, and now I've only got you!"

"Well I don't want you!" he shouted. "Get out!"

She took a deep breath to still her quivering lip, and stood tall in the middle of the carnage around her. Laynie had no plans to go anywhere.

Walter kept shouting at her senselessly, and she kept standing there. She didn't let the words get to her at all; they didn't even brush her ears.

"I'm not leaving!" She shouted.

Walter pushed off the wall, taking an uneasy step toward her. Another step. A swipe.

Laynie screamed and scrambled away from her father as he charged her, set on getting her out himself.

Her feet were instantly on fire, glass catching in her skin and alcohol burning the cuts. Still, she flew up the stairs and locked the door behind her.

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