“Listen to me first, Jackson, will you?”
“I already did. No.” I emphasized the word this time because somehow her sense of comprehension has gone down within eight hours or she absolutely doesn’t give a crap about her only child going against her for the first time in 19 years.
“Why? Give me one good reason.“, I appreciate the confidence in her raspy voice.
“One, she is a weird person which really creeps me out. Two, she has a bad attitude. Three, she is aggressive. Four, she doesn’t care about what others might feel because of her stupid pranks. Five, she never once apologized for the pranks she pulled on me or the rumors she spread throughout the school. Six, she is an alcoholic and a drug addict. Seven, she has spent more nights behind the bars than in her actual room. Eight, she is Satan. Nine...”
“Okay, okay stop.” She rushed. “I get it you don’t like her-”
“I hate her.”
“-but she isn’t that bad and you should not assume that she is an alcoholic or a drug addict because we haven’t seen or talked to her in five years. And, come on, she didn’t do anything to you that the Satan would do.“, She mumbled with an exaggerated sigh.
“Every-fucking-day was torture in school. Everyone used to laugh at my face saying I was stupid and weak. I had no friends because she threatened them to not talk to me. For four years I stayed alone in school with every student talking shit to my face. She made everything miserable for me, and that’s exactly what Satan does. Make life miserable to live.” Mom would never understand my hatred because in her eyes she is the same little girl who used to be my...
“She was your best friend.”
“Yes mom, she was. She stopped being my best friend after we had turned ten.” I clenched my jaw to stop the pain in my chest.
“There must be something you still like about her. There must be something good in her.” She said, purposely ignoring the pain in my voice.
I didn’t say anything for few seconds, no, not because I was trying to think if there was anything good in her; I know there was nothing, but I was trying to understand why my mother is so hell-bent on letting her stay in our house after the torture that girl forced me to walk through and I literally just said how miserable she made my life. How can she ask me to find good in the person who has never been good to anyone but herself? Something must be wrong with my mother to even consider that Satan is not a bad person.
“There are always reasons to call someone Satan and if there weren’t, won’t the real one feel offended that humans are misusing his great evil name and come down to hunt them. The entire grade school called her Satan and we were just ten. No ten-year-old should know who Satan is but they did because she was there, right in front of them.” I exclaimed.
“You really talk a lot of nonsense. How do you get through your day with customers? I should have never smoked cigarettes when you were inside me. They affected your brain. I’m sorry baby.” Okay! Her sarcastically sympathetic tone was affecting my brain now.
I think those cigarettes affected her brain more than her lungs or my brain. I bet she has one between her fingers right now that’s why she isn’t thinking straight. Or...
“Mom, it’s too early to drink or get high?” I said massaging my temples. I can’t go through this shit again. If she is drunk in the middle of the day again I’m cutting beer supplies to our place. But who am I kidding she’ll get her stock one way or another.
“I’m not drunk, you jackass. I’m completely sober.” Her voice was filled with rage, but steady though I doubt she is sober. She is never completely sober. There is inevitably some amount of alcohol or weed present in her veins if not too much. Every morning the first thing she does is make a joint even before opening her eyes completely. She has more skills and knows many different ways to roll-up a joint than Mike who is known as The Joint Dude in our college. That’s a really lame name if you ask me. I mean seriously, The Joint Dude! Even the word itself must be crying of the lameness. But seriously that guy is ‘the joint dude’. He can get you stock behind the bars in the presence of the sheriff without anyone knowing. How? Still a mystery. Though one person can beat him to his game. Josephine ‘Jo’ Walker, my mother whose ancestor I think was Pablo Escobar though we have zero connections with Columbia. Every so often I think Mike buys a stock and learns all those tricks from my mother when I’m not present. Because I know my mother and she is capable of anything even if it means selling or buying drugs.
“Are you?” I was running out of patience with her.
“Yes, I’m. You don’t have to be a judgmental ass and assume that I’m high or drunk in the middle of the day.” Hurt was evident in her voice, but I couldn’t bring myself to care. She has never given me a reason to not judge her. The way she lives, the things she does is not the way a mother would want for her child to see but she doesn’t care. She is not a bad mother but she is not a candidate for the mother of the year either. She is bearable, but that’s not the topic.
“I don’t want her near me. I don’t even want her to step into this town.”
“I never asked if you want her near you or not. She is going to come near you because you’ll share your room with her.” She said as if it was the most casual thing to do. Like eating a cheesecake. Sharing my fucking room with Satan? Yeah, I’m sure it’s like eating a cheesecake just that instead of cream it would be covered with my blood and Satan will devour it like a bloodthirsty demon.
“Mom. NO. Not in my room. As if her staying at our place is not enough that I have to share my room with her. Fucking no! ” I breathe hard and fast until my lungs start hurting. Fuck! No panic attack, please. It has been four years since the last one. I’m out of practice to handle one at the moment. I need to warm up and get in shape first.
God! I really talk nonsense.
“We have only two rooms. She can’t sleep with me because I have guests some nights.” She tried to put the last part as subtle as possible and continued,” Which will make her uncomfortable so we have only your room left for her to crash.”
“All of those times when you decided to go best friends with her mom, you two wouldn’t leave each other’s side and she would stay at our place for days and I had to share my room with her evil daughter and always, al-fucking-ways I would end up with splintered bones because of her and her absurd pranks and she’ll do it again. She’ll do something terrible again to injure me physically and mentally. Mom please, I’ll go nuts if she’ll stay in my room.” By the time I finished, I couldn’t breathe because of saying everything in one breath or maybe Satan terrified me. Who am I kidding? There is no maybe; she did scare me to my bone in grade school and clearly, after five years her sadist charm still has its effect.
I was lost in my thoughts that I didn’t realize mom didn’t claim anything further. Fuck.
Satan’s mom was my mom’s best friend and when I mention best friend it means sister from another mister. And I mentioned her without noticing that her best friend was a sore subject to go to after she died in a car accident.
“What about the couch? She can sleep in the leaving room. We have a comfortable couch, though torn at places, but comfortable.” I tried to withdraw her mind off with a poor attempt.
“No. You’ll share your room. And what kind of man are you allowing a girl to take the couch while you sleep comfortably on your bed? Seriously! I did not raise you like that. She’ll sleep in your room and if you are not comfortable you can take the couch.” I sometimes don’t comprehend how the hell am I her son? She is an affectionate mother in her twisted ways but with her love comes the insanity she doesn’t even try to hide and she is insanely in love with that Satan. This sounds so wrong, but you get what I mean. And I don’t want her. I fucking don’t want her on my bed. Her on the same bed with me; I can see my future mornings. Either I’ll hang myself, or she’ll kill me the first morning itself, both which ways I’ll be dead to see other mornings and Satan will take my bed forever, never leave my home, stay with mom and corrupt her more.
Why the fuck does it sound so vulgar? I have to alter her name from Satan to something else a real quick.
“She is a walking sack of RDX. No one knows when the smallest spark will tick her off. I don’t know why you want her to stay with us. She has her own house, her family. Why is she coming here?” I know she could hear the edge in my voice.
“Oh come on. Give that head of yours a little rest and stop panicking like a baby. She is not all those things you mentioned. She is notorious, agreed, but not bad and she is coming and staying with us under my roof. Got the point?” Though her words were stern, slight discomfort was clear in her voice when she dodged the questions.
“Then why bother asking me if I was okay when you didn’t give a fucking rat’s ass.” My voice was monotonous now. I knew I have no choice but to bend to her say and even if I cry blood she is not going to change her mind. I will see whatever happens.
“I was never asking you if you were okay; I was informing you that she is coming. You took it upon yourself to think that you have a say.”
“Fine. Do whatever you want to do. College is over, and I have to reach the grill on time. I have to go.” I was already mentally exhausted because it was the end of the week and I still had a job to do. Stretching this argument further was useless. She is not going to listen, and my body will be found near the river later if not soon but I’m going to die that’s for sure. So, fuck it.
“Jackson,” She called before I cut the call, “Are you really that scared of her or you just want to make yourself believe that you are because you don’t want to feel the hurt?” Her voice was gentle.
“Bye, mom.” I fastened my eyes and ignored the crawling pain in my chest.
“Okay, bye.” She cut the call.
Hold your breath and die.
Just do something.
Last option, given my current situation, felt so right that I almost wanted to do die. Five fucking years of my life was peaceful, like sun-on-the-face-and-wind-in-the-hair peaceful if it makes any sense. I was normal, my life was normal and mother was insane, always has been but now more, though for me she was normal in her ways. And now suddenly she has to walk in our abnormally normal life to make it truly abnormal.
Why holy mother? WHY?
“Are you okay?” Alex asked from behind placing her hand on my shoulder. Her brows rise and lips pulled in. I didn’t realize she was standing beside my locker.
“No. Yes. I don’t know.” Fuck! My head is stuck in a loop of her nightmares.
“You’re unsure means you are not okay. What happened?” She asked with a gentle smile.
“My life isn’t going to be mine anymore.” I huffed.
Alex’s playful brown eyes went wide in shock and her soft ebony features were replaced with horror.
“Really?” She said when she inspected my face for a trace of humour but couldn’t find it. I gave her a nod, took my backpack and started walking out of the building because that is the only response I can give to her at the moment. She didn’t say anything further as she walked beside me. It was too much for her to sink in the news even though she was never Satan’s target. It was always me and only me. She won’t bother anyone, but Alex has seen her in action and that girl was capable of many things.
I, Alex and Satan went to same grade school until Alex’s family shifted to Brookmount when she was thirteen and me and my mother when I was fourteen. I didn’t know her back in school, but she did and so did the entire school because of Fra... Fuck! I can’t say her name. It has been way too long since I took her actual name and not Satan.
When I shifted to Brookmount, Alex became my first person who didn’t pull any pranks on me and eventually my friend to my best friend within a year. And now the-girl-I-like-but-can’t-say-that-to-her-face for two years. She helped me get out of my shell and make new friends. Starting years was hard to trust anyone except for mom and Alex that they wouldn’t humiliate me or misuse any chance if I gave them. But as years went by I discovered people here were much nice than people back home.
With me in sore mood and Alex in shock, we reached the other end of the campus where all the vehicles were parked. Once we were near my motorcycle, I gave one helmet to Alex and pulled one on my head and we both sat and I rode out of the campus.
My college isn’t fancy or prestigious, it’s a local college. I wanted to go to an ivy league college but at that time it was impossible, it still is. Firstly even the idea of paying for prestigious universities was expensive, and I can never afford that amount without scholarships and secondly even if I had gotten a scholarship I can never leave mom alone. She is extremely careless for herself. Her drinking habit would have never left me at ease at the university. Leaving her alone for more than a day is never an option I want to consider because once I did and it took her days to recover from a hangover. And sending her to rehab makes me feel uneasy. If she is not in front of my eyes, I’ll go crazy.
By the time we reached to our workplace, The Brookmount Grill, ten minutes were left before our shifts start. Alex and I, we hurried into the changing room and wore our uniforms. Green and orange shirt over our already worn jeans. Once we were ready, we walked into the front of the diner and started waiting tables and taking orders. I had a regular customer, and Alex had someone new.
Seeing Alex work around the tables so flawlessly always does something to me. She is a pretty girl with soft brown eyes and dark brown skin. Her hair is what makes her stand out the most. Thick dark curls down to her waist complimenting her short and toned body but I love her eyes. They don’t hold any mystery or depth. They are plain brown eyes but the comfort they bring I can’t describe. I can’t describe my feeling for her in words. She is my rock. She the person I trust the most and she is a sane person unlike many others in my life. My eyes shifted from her when I heard a customer call out for me.
Few hours passed in hustle and bustle of the grill. At the end of the weekdays, we had more customers than usual. All the booths were jammed with large crowds, and the front porch was filled with waiting customers. Orders were flying from all the four ends and that helped me take my mind off Satan. I was calm again and more focused. While coming to the grill, I was worried my panic state will scare customers but I was close to normal when we reached, that leads me to earn good tips within a few hours. All in all, this day will not end too bad for me after all, I guess.
It was close to ten when I went inside the supply closet to deliver ingredients for the chef as he was short on kitchen staff today. I climbed the ladder to gather the ingredient from the top shelf when the ladder slipped from beneath my feet and I lost my balance taking a rack filled with packed food down with me. My back collided with the cold floor sending a rush of pain through my entire body and then my head. The edge of the food rack hit my lower left ribs and a gush of air left my lungs.
Fuck! Falling on the freezing floor hurts really bad with a rack almost puncturing your lungs.
Too much for saying not a bad end of the day.
Son of a bitch.
I heard the door opening behind me and rushed steps coming in my direction. The rack was lifted from my side finally letting the cold air pass in my lungs. I took a deep breath and exhaled from the mouth. Hands fastened under my arms and someone uplifted me with a force.
“Fuck dude! My back.” I grunted.
“Sorry, bro.” Steve, my co-worker, apologized.
He helped me sit on a stool, and I rested my back on the wall. He cleaned all the mess before turning to me.
“It hurts really bad?”
“No. I’m fine.” Fuck no, I’m not, but I not saying him that. I may be scared of that human torturing girl but I still have a man’s ego which does not allow me to say that every muscle in my body hurts to another man.
Alex came rushing in, worry all over her face. She stood beside me checking my face for injuries and then lifted my t-shirt to where I placed my hand.
“We should go to the doctor to check your bone?” She said after I had told her how I fell and what fell over me. Her innocent eyes and curly hair make me want to her hug tightly sometimes, but I just shook my head saying no. It doesn’t hurt that bad for it to be fractured.
“I should take you home then. I’ll ride the bike because clearly, you are in no shape to.” She said securing her hand under my arm and supporting me off the stool before I looked at Steve.
“No worry man, I’ll stay to clean. You should leave and get that check.” He said pointing towards my chest. I gave me a nod and a fist bump.
Alex and I went into the girls and boys changing room respectively. I opened my locker and took off my faded uniform t-shirt and removed my dark green shirt from my backpack and wore it slowly as to not put pressure on my back and ribs. Stuffing my things inside the backpack, I left the changing room and through the backdoor. Alex was already waiting for me near my motorcycle with her palm out for keys. I handed her the keys while checking a message from mom.
Mom: You have to pick her up from the station. She’ll be waiting for you a station 4. Bye.
I closed my eyes and clenched my jaw. Mom just had to ruin my bad day.
“Are you going to be okay?” I know Alex wasn’t asking about my injuries. When I didn’t sit behind her, she turned around in concern.
“I just want to end this day.”
“Jackson, she won’t hurt you again. I won’t let her. I promise.” I gave Alex a peck on her cheek without thinking. I know she is not strong enough to face Satan and I’ll never throw her in front of that human slash monster to defend me, but her words were enough to lift my mood and I like her for that. I believe in her.
“I have to go to the railway station. I’ll drop you at your place first.”
“I’m fine now. Don’t worry.” I gave her my first real smile since this afternoon. She must have bought it because she gave me my helmet and slightly caressed my cheek with a smile.
I was about to get on my motorcycle when my phone rang in my pocket. It had to be my mother checking if I had picked the Satan from the station.
“My shift ended ten minutes ago and now I’m on my way to the station,” I said before she could say hello.
“Yeah about that...” Mom nervously trailed.
“What the fuck did she do?” I growled.