I reached home in less than fifteen minutes. Usually, it took about thirty minutes when I was calm but this evening, I certainly was not calm. And when I say I’m not calm, I mean to say I was a walking dynamite with it’s tail on fire.
I practically killed the front door when I closed it behind me. Then I went straight for the basement. Once I reached there, I picked a pair of drumsticks and then began killing the drums too. I needed to vent my frustration and anger and everything through whatever goddamned beat I could manage in the basement. And guitars weren’t good enough for that. Obviously. But the drum, it worked fine. I could imagine it as that son of a bitch, Garfield, and beat the crap out of him.
Fifteen minutes later, somewhere along the wild and intensive thrashing of beats, even managing to break a pair of sticks, I drained out the wildfire inside my gut. I finally threw the new pair of sticks down and went up the stairs.
“Everything alright, Little Master?” Elaine asked from the kitchen counter.
I didn’t know she was there. Well, apparently not while I was a walking dynamite. My vision would always black out whenever I get furious. Even my driving would be solely dependent on subconscious instincts. It’s a miracle I was still alive.
“Good,” I mumbled and went up to my room.
I walked into my bathroom, splashed water on my face, dried it with a towel, came back out and then threw my body down on my bed. I closed my eyes and lay very still, breathing and trying to calm down. Five minutes later, there was a knock on my door. I opened my eyes and looked towards the door. Captain and Grammy came in. Captain silently padded over and climbed onto my bed. I didn’t tell him to get down. I could swear he probably was more hygienic than many high school boys. Grammy slowly walked over with a soft smile on her face and sat down on the edge of my bed.
“Are you alright, Xavi?” She asked lovingly.
I moved over to her and placed my head on her lap. I held her hand and placed it over my chest. Holding her warm and wrinkled hand always calmed me. With the other hand, she stroked my hair back from my face.
I closed my eyes and sighed, “I don’t know, Grammy. I don’t know what’s going on.”
“Well, I don’t know what’s going on either but for all I know, you, young man, need to learn to control that temper,” she said with a smile and I laughed.
She was right. Whatever the case, I really needed to control this bomb of a temper.
“I can’t,” I grinned at her.
“Well, that’s something to do with your Arquette blood line but it’s not impossible,” she smiled down at me. “Your grandpa and your dad were the same thing when they were younger but, I guess time taught them how to handle it.”
“I guess I should wait till I’m eighty then,” I smiled back.
She shook her head with a light laugh. I was feeling much better after she came. She knew just when I needed her. But when I closed my eyes again, everything came rushing back again like a flood. I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
... because you clearly know you’re not good enough for her.
“I don’t think I’m good enough for her, Grammy,” I said with a drop of tone and swallowed. My tongue tasted utterly bitter.
“Why not?” Grammy sounded surprised, “You love her, don’t you?”
“I do,” I opened my eyes, “I love her. She’s like everything to me. I can’t even imagine being without her. I... I just feel like... So much of a... Jerk. Sometimes,” I ended lowly, feeling hopeless enough, after finding the words good enough to express my feelings, and decent enough for Grammy to listen to. I couldn’t swear around her.
“Xavi,” she kept stroking my head, “If you love her that much, I don’t see why you’re not good enough for her. There is nothing greater than love and we all make mistakes sometimes. So well, I think you just need to grow up some more.” She smiled kindly.
I smiled back, “That’s good to know.”
“Oh, it is,” she beamed down on me, “You deserve each other, Xavi. You love each other. What else would you need? I see the way the two of you look at each other. And I think you make a beautiful couple. In fact, the most beautiful couple I have ever seen.” Her face was bright with cheerfulness as she spoke and even after she’d finished speaking, that glow of admiration remained.
Just watching her face and seeing the genuineness of her admiration, my heart swelled with pride and joy. I was more than proud of Alana as my girlfriend. I cherished her and every moment I spent with her. I wouldn’t change them for the world. Damn, I loved her. Love. That was it. I was in love with her.
It was almost nonsensical to imagine I could be in love with anyone this much but it happened. Alana happened. Miracle happened. And for all I knew, I wouldn’t ever feel the same for any other girl. And neither would I spare anyone who would try to take her away from me. Oh for the love of God, I’d make a special hell for him on Earth.
“What happened, Xavi?” Grammy asked softly.
“Huh?” I had zoned out.
“I saw how you came in. The front door was lucky enough to be still standing and I don’t know what you did to that drum set down there,” she raised her eyebrows wisely.
It cracked me up. She knew me too well. Maybe if it weren’t for Grammy’s vigilance and Claire and Matt’s mom continuously grounding me (us; Matt and me), I probably would’ve been a Mafia King by now, operating a bunch of gangsters. I was too reckless and stupidly short tempered. It surprised me sometimes how I hadn’t moved further than the streets.
“I met the villain of my love story,” I mumbled, “He was talking crap and... My temper took over. Okay, I admit my temper has a big part to be blamed but I wasn’t fully at fault.”
“Did you lay hands on him?” Her eyes were already lecturing me.
“No!” I exclaimed as if it was taboo. Not for me but to Grammy, it was. Yet I confessed. Keeping things away from Grammy was taboo for me. I just could never do that.
“I just fixed his collars. But I swear he was being a jerk.” I added quickly while lifting my head up from her lap and rolling over to my front, and then putting up my hands in the universal I’m-not-at-fault sign.
“What did he say?”
“I don’t even wanna remember it,” I grumbled.
“Alright, then,” she sighed, “Was Alana around?”
I tugged the corner of my bottom lip. I knew that Grammy wouldn’t like my answer. Yet I answered honestly. If she was going to chide me, bring it on. I needed all the advice I could get in this world to knock some sense in me. And Grammy was a smart one. Honestly, she taught me mostly all that I knew. Life values and all, besides school teachings.
“Yeah, she was... And... We kinda quarreled over it too,” I looked up to her like Captain would do to me after messing up my bed.
“She for sure didn’t want to see you fight just the way I do,” Grammy nodded at me with chiding eyes, but yet soft and sweet.
“Yeah, that was mostly it,” I agreed, slowly admitting I was at fault too.
Maybe things wouldn’t have turned out that bad if I’d just tried a little bit to contain my temperament. But how could I. There was no way I could. That fucker, Garfield, was lucky enough Alana was around.
“Now, you better not mess things up between the two of you because of your reckless temperament, young man,” she warned, waving an index finger over my face and I fully acknowledged it with vigorous nodding. “She’s a soft one, you know.” She smiled in the end anyway.
Remind me why I named her Mongrel, I thought and internally smirked. But Grammy was right though. Alana might seem a bit snarky at times but on the inside, she was a cotton ball soaked in water. And damn, she cried a lot. She was so kind and empathic.
I smiled back, “I promise, I’ll really try to control my temper from now on.”
She laughed, “You say that a lot, Xavi.”
Maybe this was my ten thousandth time promising her I would try.
I gave her a broad grin, “I swear I mean it this time.”
“Oh well,” she shrugged with a smile and stood up from my bed. “I better go down. Elaine’s alone. She’s making some soup. She wouldn’t tell me what. She said it’s a surprise!” She was now behaving like a child with that thrill of getting surprises from Santa. That was why Grammy’s the cutest.
I held her hand and looking up, I kissed it and said, “Thanks, Grammy.”
“I’m always here for you, Xavi,” she patted my hand and left.
I rolled back to the middle of my bed. Captain made space for me. He’d been here the whole time like a good listener. He was such a great pal. I reached out and stroked his back. He came closer to me, kept his forepaws one over the other on my belly and looked into my eyes.
“I screwed up,” I told him.
He gave a low yelp. It made me laugh.
When I turned to my right to look out through the glass wall, the moon was already up though it wasn’t dark yet.
Soon it’ll be dark, I thought, and Mongrel would be alone.
I bolted up from my bed.
What the fuck am I doing here?
We quarrelled. I left. I left just like that.
I’m such an ass.
She just didn’t want me to fight and honestly, she was really tired of it all. Something wasn’t right. She hadn’t told me yet. She cried just this evening in school, Arquette. How could I be so stupid!!
She told me to leave. Yes. But mankind didn’t say women are complicated for nothing. She really didn’t mean what she said. She needed me. She was just tired of another chaos. And I just left her. Fuck. I’m such an idiot. She needed me.
What if she’s crying again? All alone?
God! I’m an idiot.
Jumping down from my bed, I pulled out my phone and called her. And then, the most irritating thing on the planet happened. The computerized chirpy female voice told me her phone was switched off.
I strode into my closet, grabbed a helmet and walked out. Captain followed me down the stairs.
“Grammy!! I’m going over to Alana!!!” I shouted as I came down the stairs.
She and Elaine quickly came from the direction of the kitchen.
“Now?” Grammy asked.
“The soup’s ready,” Elaine said.
“I gotta pass the surprise soup. Sorry. And yeah. Now. I’ve been an idiot.”
“Oh, I’m glad you made up your mind.”
“Yeah. Me too and I probably won’t be back tonight,” I said hurriedly.
Both the women widened their eyes at me weirdly, exchanging nervous glances.
“Are you planning to stay over at Alana’s?” Grammy slowly asked.
“I promise I’ll behave,” I said.
“Well, you better,” Elaine remarked.
“I promise. Okay. I promise,” I said hurriedly and earnestly, whilst striding over and kissing Grammy’s cheek, “I really gotta be there for her. She’s alone.”
“She’s alone? No dad at home. I don’t see how that could...” Elaine smirked.
“Gosh! I’m a freaking virgin. I haven’t been with any girl. I swear I can wait!” I practically shouted.
Nice try containing your temperament, idiot.
They cracked up. Elaine was openly laughing and Grammy was giggling with a hand over her mouth.
“You can go now,” Grammy giggled.
I sighed and rolled my eyes. “Thanks. I love you both,” I said and hurried out.
From the garage, I hopped onto my motorbike and sped down the driveway, leaving Charlie for today. Motorbike was the better option to reach her in lesser time. So in about fifteen minutes, I reached her house. I rang the doorbell and waited. When she didn’t answer, I knocked on the door, calling her out.
“Alana! Babe, open the door. It’s me.”
I waited again but when she didn’t answer at all, I began knocking on the door almost in the same way I abused my drum set. I pulled out my phone and called her. The annoying computerized female voice told me again that me her phone was switched off. So, I went round the house and climbed up the pipes to peek in her side window. It was closed.
I went back to the door and tried opening it two three times hoping there was some problem with the knob. Nothing happened. And then I wanted to kick it down but that would make me more idiotic or probably land me in jail so I didn’t.
Standing at the porch, I pulled out my phone again and called Kendra, asking her if Alana was there with her. She answered and told me negative. Even she herself was not home. She said she was at Connor’s. I called Brittany too though I doubted Alana would be there. I heard that Brittany was still crashing at her cousin’s place. Alana wouldn’t go there but I’d take any chance to find her. She wasn’t with Brittany too.
Where the fuck... Goddammit.
So I went straight to Kendra’s house. They were best friends. Who knew maybe Alana made Kendra lie to keep me away for a while. She was pretty pissed too when I left. I mean, when I was being a dick. I had to make up with her.
I reached Kendra’s house few minutes later. I rang the bell and waited impatiently. Her mom answered the door. I asked if Kendra was around. Turned out Kendra was honest ’bout that. And then I further asked Mrs. Sparks if she’d seen Alana with Kendra. Turned out Kendra was honest ’bout that part too. My gut began to pull up mad ninja moves.
My promise to Grammy ’bout keeping my temperament under control was slowly breaking loose. I wasn’t mad but I was entirely something else. I was literally panicking. I hadn’t panicked in a long while. The last time I panicked was when Matt and I accidentally messed up Claire’s car with paints in sixth grade. And that was it. I never panicked even when I got arrested for fighting... Repeatedly.
Running my fingers through my hair, pushing them back, I wondered where else she could’ve gone. It would soon be dark. Garfield popped up in my mind out of nowhere. I pushed him far back and locked him up in the basement of my mind. There was no way Alana could’ve gone there and especially not right after we quarrelled about it. I was sure she wasn’t there. She wouldn’t be with Brittany either.
So where else?
I went back to her house and paced around the front porch for about ten minutes, calling her again and again. Then drove towards the graveyard. Maybe she could’ve gone there to visit her mom’s grave. I was praying to whatever God that existed for her to be there. The sky was slowly darkening when I reached the graveyard. To my absolute horror, it was empty. Not a freaking living soul was out there. I sat down on her mom’s stone and called her again. Same thing happened. I held my head in between my hands, trying to think and calm down.
It would soon be dark, where the heck are you, Alana?!
God, if this is because of me... Kill me.
I shouldn’t have left her. I made a big mistake.
There was only one more place in my mind but I didn’t want to go there. Not there. But the sky was darkening faster now and my heart was almost jumping out of my throat.
Just hold on a minute, I wanted to scream to the sky. Just hold on until I find her. Please.
God, I hope she’s safe.
I wiped my face and felt my palms wet with perspiration. I was probably hyperventilating or either having a horrible nightmare without sleeping. I called her again. Still switched off. I called Kendra and Brittany again. She still wasn’t with them. I told them to call me if she ever showed up or if they saw her. Even a hallucination would do.
There was no time to waste. Time obviously wasn’t going to wait for me to find her. I bolted up, walked out of the graveyard and started driving again towards basically anywhere. I had no idea where else she could’ve gone. I went to Sundance just in case she was checking out movies and suppose her battery died. No sign of her. I went to every freaking store I knew, clothing, grocery, hardware, just basically everywhere just in case. She was nowhere to be found.
I drove back to her house again, just in case she was back from getting lost. The door was still locked. This time, I kicked on it about ten times. Then I finally gave up to the last straw.
Fuck my pride, if she’s at Garfield’s, let her be. I just want her to be safe.
Faster than ever, I sped down the street towards Garfield’s. I reached his house in less than a minute. I rang the bell and waited. My body felt like there was fire burning out of every pore on my skin. I wasn’t loosing my temper. I was exploding from worry. My body was literally shaking.
Garfield answered. Our rivaling eyes met.
“Is Alana around?” I asked.
“Is this some kind of a joke,” he sneered mockingly, “You came here looking for your girl friend? Lemme guess...”
He triggered it... Whatever I was holding back.
I shouted at his face, interrupting his garbage of a reply, “Oh fuck it, Garfield!! She’s nowhere in town. If she’s here, fine!! I just wanna know she’s safe.”
My breathing was staggering and I felt like I might have a stroke soon. It was already dark. Garfield stared back at me somewhat surprised. He didn’t say anything for a while. He just stared at me. He wasn’t sneering anymore either.
“She’s not here,” he answered eventually.
I was glad in some way that Alana wasn’t there but the most part of me wished and hope she would’ve been there. Now, she was literally nowhere.
What do I do?
Where do I go?
Where could she be?
Is she safe?
Damn, it’s dark now.
I swallowed hard.
“Is everything alright, Jacob?” I saw his mom standing behind him with a kitchen towel in her hand.
Garfield looked back and said, “Yeah, everything alright, mom.”
She nodded but with the way she was glancing at me, she wasn’t convinced. Whatever. She and her fucker of a son was home, at least. But Alana wasn’t.
Everything was alright for Garfield. But not for me. I had to find Alana first. Only then would everything be alright for me too.
“She’s not here, Arquette,” Garfield added lowly. He looked a bit worried too now.
What do you care? You can go clean your ass.
“Of course, she’s not here,” I replied angrily, “But don’t worry. I’ll find her. Thanks for the cooperation.”
With that, I stepped down from the porch, the grip on my helmet tightening. But I spun back again. He was still watching me. I went up to him and stood proudly in front of him.
“Here’s something you should know, Garfield,” I said, “She’d been all over you all these years but I still got her to fall in love with me. I think that’s enough prove that she loves me. And if you think that you care about her. Alright, go ahead. But know this that you can never care about her the way I do. Not even in a hundred years will you be able to love her the way I do in a second. So me - I’ll go find her. And you - Fuck you,” I fumed at him sharply and intensely with a finger pointed at his fucked up face and then I was out.
Garfield stood without a word and his mom was still standing behind him when I left. But I couldn’t care less that I was cussing at his son right in front of her. He needed to know that.
I called Alana again when I reached my bike. Still switched off. With a mixture of intense worry and a frenzy of passion, I lunged my phone at a street lamp without thinking. It hit the post and the device fell to the ground in parts. I got on my motorbike again and drove out.
I began thinking again.
She was nowhere in town now. So I decided to expand my search perimeter. I wouldn’t stop my search at any cost... Not until I’d found her. There was now only one more option. But at this point, it wasn’t an option anymore. That was the ultimate. Besides that, I had no more idea. If she wasn’t there too, I decided I would call the cops.
I checked the time on my watch - 6:30 pm.
I wore my helmet and revved the engine to the highest of speed.
You better be there, Alana.