Joshua’s head was pounding as he slowly woke up. His eyes struggled to open, while his back and shoulders were unbelievably stiff and sore. Why am I on the floor was the immediate question as he picked himself up, still trying to shake loose the cobwebs in his mind.
He put his hand to his forehead and rubbed. Blood. “What the fuck!” he expelled to no one in bewilderment. He looked around the room for clues and found none. The room was as he had last known it. One bed, twin, a desk with a computer and books and chair. All four walls covered with every muscle car poster he could get his hands on. The one different poster was an oversized picture of Pam Anderson. It wasn’t the most organized room, yet he could find almost anything at a moment’s notice.
Now here he is, sprawled out on the floor on a Friday night, sober, and with no memory of how he got there. He sauntered over to the door and tried to open it, just so he could wash his face and maybe get some memory back. The door knob barely turned, and the door stayed fixed in to the frame. “Fuck, now what?!” He banged on the door with a closed fist. He then rested, leaning against the doorframe, with one hand on either side of the door, head down, eyes closed.
“Joshua, is there a problem?”, a deep voice bellowed out from behind him.
Joshua’s body tensed up, while his heart shifted into high gear, and a cold chill went down his spine. He forced himself to turn, and see where it came from. Nothing. Nobody. Everything was as he knew it. He knew that voice though, yet could not place it or put a name to it. He grabbed a t-shirt from the hamper, wiped the blood from his forehead and hands. After putting the shirt back, he sat on the edge of the bed, with his head in his hands. “Oh, my God, this can’t be happening!” he said while not even close to comprehending his plight.
“Sorry Joshua, it is, and please don’t call me God.”, the voice replied slightly sarcastically, yet still very domineering.
Without looking up, Joshua now had a thought. I know that voice. He had heard it quite some time ago. It was that voice he heard several years ago. It was a brief conversation, yet stayed with him. Who did he say he was again? I know that voice he kept thinking as he knocked his fist on his temple. Its’ right here, why can’t I remember…. Wait, that was him, now he remembered.
“Delbert, is that you?”, Joshua asked while he kept his head down, now too scared to look up.
“Ok today’s the day, when I get my story started. I will be a writer, I will sell my stories, and I will prove to be somebody!”, Joshua exclaimed to himself as he strode toward his front door. He had long had a burning desire to write, yet procrastination had paralyzed him into inactivity. Yet, today, after had seen a guest speaker at his college, he was more determined to get on track, and not look back.
“Ok, I’m home!”, Joshua yelled as he got home. He peeled off his fake leather jacket, folded it under his arm, and made a straight line toward the kitchen. With a quick jerk, he was into the fridge, and scanning for something delectable to snack on, just to tide him over till supper.
Suddenly, the refrigerator door pulled out of his grasp, and slammed without warning. Joshua, flinched, and then after a slight pause, opened his eyes, to see what he probably should have known as to what happened.
“O c’mon, give a guy a break, I was only looking, I haven’t taken a thing!”, He cried out, knowing fully well it was pretty much a half-truth at best. Although he hadn’t taken anything, it was only a matter of seconds, and he would have had a plateful of something, and on his way to his room.
Joshua’s sister Mary stood before him, one hand on the fridge door, and the other on her hip, glared at him with her eyes squinted, yet just open enough that she could still see him. Then, without changing her stance, slowly smiled, and then laughed out loud. “You may fool mom and dad with that crap, not me, boy!”. Mary then walked passed him finally, and sat at the kitchen table.
Joshua hung his head, knowing fully well he was dead to rights. He knew it. She knew it. It was time to own up to it, this one thing, mind you. “Fine, ok, I was looking for a small something to eat just to get me by till supper. I was going to get something that would be undetectable, yet small enough that I’d still be hungry at supper time. Nothing more.” He exhaled out as much frustration of the moment that he could. “I was only doing this because I am going to start my book in a few minutes, and I want to be able to keep going when I really get going on it, so I’m pulling out all the stops.”
Mary laughed even harder at this. “you are a piece of work bro!”, she cackled, as she made little effort not to rather vindictively poke fun at him. “What , you’re going to write something, like what, that drivel you called Lefty and the magic Dime?”.
“Hey, you lay off Lefty!”, Joshua shot back rather defensively. “it may have gotten rejected, and who knows, it may again, yet I still believe in my story, as well as my new one. Period.”
Mary put her hands up in a mock misunderstanding mode. “Oh, I’m sorry, you must mean your new opus about a catatonic who saves the day, even though his brain has been fried for, I don’t know, MORE THAN A DECADE!” Her voice was raised at the end to match her feelings now.
“I knew telling you about my story was a mistake. I totally knew telling you about and letting you read about Lefty was a mistake.”, Joshua shot back. He the collected his thoughts, rubbed his eyes, and then thought better of a long drawn out response to this brief inquisition. “Screw it!” , he added as he turned his back to her, and walked up to his room.
On the way down the hall, Joshua stopped short. He then slowly pushed open the door to the room next to his. Inside was decorated all in light blue, with clouds, birds, and flowers all over the walls. In the furthest corner was a crib, which held his baby sister, Angela. He stood in silent enjoyment for a moment, as he watched the butterfly mobile turning, slowly serenading her asleep. The rest if the family may want to disown him, discredit him, or both. He has long since alienated all his friends as none of them understood one word he was saying. Not her. She is the only bright spot in his life. Just six months old, skin as soft as silk, yet squeezable as memory foam. He only had to stand there a moment, and a calmness would engulf him making all tense feelings about anything seem miniscule. Deep breath. Thank you, Angela. I needed that.
Now back to the task at hand.
He flung his jacket onto the coat hook on the wall which miraculously stopped gravity from letting it fall on the floor as usual. After donning his iPod, putting on his favorite song, he pulled his keyboard closer to himself, and began his slow deliberate hunting and pecking through an unfinished story that had been in his head for about a year.
The beginning was always the toughest part, yet he had to convince himself, that it was like pushing a wagon full of heavy items. Once he got it moving, or once the story began to take shape, it would go faster. At first the sentences went slow, then a little faster. Well, about the same really, only less backing up and rewriting as he went.” Yes, this could be good.”
His cell phone rang, which caused him to jerk abruptly, he froze for a second, and then relaxed with a puffed cheek expression. “Hello?”, he half asked, and half answered as he pulled the phone away, looking at the phone number listed on the I.D., and not having any clue who it was.
“Mm yes Joshua, this is Donna, from Algebra, I hope I am not catching you at a bad time.” the voice timidly spoke.
“Oh, yes, Donna, ok, um, no your good, I got a minute, what’s up?”
“I was worried about the test for Monday, and I thought I saw you taking pretty good notes, and just wondered if I could copy them, so I can, you know, like, be ready for the test and stuff.”
Joshua still bemused that not only a classmate called, yet a female called. “yes, I have no problem with that. So, like, when did you want to get them?” as he spoke he couldn’t believe he let himself get pulled into using the word like where he did.
“Oh, I don’t know, I was going to be out later with a friend, and thought I could swing by and get those about eight or so?”
Joshua scanned the clock in the corner, and the half empty computer screen in front of him, as he convinced himself, if it wasn’t for the phone call, the screen would be completely full. “Yes, I think eight will work out just fine.”
“Oh, thank you, so much! So just one more thing, since I am going there anyway, could you meet us down at the Burger King on the corner? If you could like, I can get you a shake, or whatever.”
“Oh…a shake huh?” Joshua now had a conflict. He knew she was playing him. This “friend” was not a girlfriend. Most likely the football player, what’s his name. So, it literally would come down to him helping her and whoever pass for a measly beverage. Yet she was so cute, how could he say no, just in case she was legit, and this was his big shot. “Yes, I can be there, it will probably be a little later, about a quarter after, yet I should be there.”
Bang! Bang! It was a sudden, and loud rapping on his door, that almost caused him to drop the phone.
“What is going on out there, I mean fuck already, give me a heart attack!” He then calmly closed the conversation on the phone, to give this new headache in the hallway his full attention. “Hey, what’s the big idea banging on the freaking wall like that, you almost gave me a heart attack!”
“Oh, can it loser, I only did that as I heard what you are up to! You can’t leave the house after eight on a week night when the parents are gone. And I know you know this, yet I will say, they ARE gone and will be for a few days, so, you are not going anywhere, loser!”
“Oh, damn it Mary, when will you butt out of my conversations, my hobbies, and for that matter, my life? Look I won’t be gone for that long at all. Can’t you just, you know, help me out for a change? Or at least ignore me for a moment, and turn a blind eye?”
“you will thank me later for this, as that bitch is only using you. The sooner you get your head out of your ass on that, the better! And no, I will not TURN A BLIND EYE to you on this or anything, so put your pajamas on bro, you ain’t leaving this house tonight!”